Today we welcome Sharon Buchbinder. She’s here to tell us about her history as a writer and a little on her recent release, The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle!
When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?
In all the author interviews I have conducted, I have found that most began as story tellers as children. I, too, have always been a story-teller. As a child, I got into a lot of trouble for “making things up.” Now, I’m rewarded for making things up! Now that we have a four-year-old grandson, he is telling me his stories. I do believe it’s genetic! LOL!
What has been your favorite experience as a writer?
I love it when a reader becomes so engaged in the story that he or she gives me her ideas, what she would be doing in that role as heroine. And, of course, I also love good reviews and nice Amazon sales rankings.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far?
When I returned to writing fiction later in life (ahem, age 52, cough, cough) I had a very steep learning curve. I was a published non-fiction author with numerous peer reviewed articles and textbooks. The writing for non-fiction is very different from fiction. So, while I was light years ahead in research, grammar, punctuation and other technical parts of writing, I was a newborn with respect to little things like character, goal, motivation, plotting, dialogue, pacing, etc. etc. etc. But, as the saying goes, “when you’re over the hill, you pick up speed!” I am nothing if not persistent.
How do you research and plan your books?
One of the good things about my academic background is that I am addicted to research. Anyone who has read my previous novels knows that before I begin to write, I conduct extensive research and steep myself in the materials. This book took about a year for me to research while I was working on other projects. This deep dive approach enables me to speak through the characters and narrative with rich and correct content. I also rely on subject matter experts and beta readers from diverse disciplines and cultural backgrounds who provide corrections and feedback to me before I submit a story for consideration for publication.
Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?
I am a reformed Pantser. I wrote my first book without a plan (or a clue!) After rewriting and revising the book ten (10, not a typo) times, I realized I had to do something different. I took a number of excellent craft courses on plotting and took away a lot from each course. I have settled on Alexandra Sokoloff’s Story Grid, as it suits my writing style best.
What advice would you give to new writers in the field?
A lot! I have my top ten tips here:
- Never grow up. Be curious about the world around you and wonder, “What if?” Grownups (i.e., anyone who is done growing) are boring. Childlike curiosity is not childish. It enables you to see the world with fresh eyes and to bring a new perspective to a story.
- Be yourself. There is only one you, and you have your own voice. Don’t try to be a clone of another author.
- Get a job that pays. Money. Preferably with benefits. Because you have to have a place to live, eat, and grow into your writing career.
- Seize the moment. You can write in 15 minute blocks, at lunch, on break, in a fast food restaurant, on a napkin (yes, I’ve outlined entire books on a napkin), before the kids are conscious, in the bathroom, in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. Carpe diem, carpe noctem, carpe wheneverem.
- Get rejected. Yes, get rejected. You will learn from those rejections what works and what doesn’t.
- Have trusted readers. Be brave, get alpha and beta readers and listen to their constructive criticisms.
- Be persistent. If I hadn’t been persistent, I would have never had the courage to send my work to contests, I would have never won writing awards, I would have never had the chutzpah to send my little story to a small electronic publisher and gotten it published. You must press on.
- Do not whine. No one, and I do mean no one, likes a whiner. If you get rejected, allow yourself no more than 24 hours to cry, stomp your feet, and have a pity party.
- Don’t take it personally. While the story of your heart is your baby and you know this is the best (fill in the blank) story ever told, publishing is a business.
- And finally, if it doesn’t fit, find another publisher–or publish it yourself. Right now, we have a lot of choices as authors. We have great prospects (with some caveats) to connect with our readers and do what we do best: tell a story.
What’s next for you?
I’m just wrapping up a sequel to The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle, called Bury My Heart, Book 2 in the Hotel LaBelle series. It involves a secondary character from Hotel LaBelle (Emma Horserider) and a smexy agent (Bronco) from Homeland Security. Bronco and Emma must infiltrate the infamous hate group, the American Schutzstaffel, and stop the neo-Nazis before they can deploy a squadron of unmanned long-distance killer drones on the capitol of Montana.
Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a PhD in Public Health. When not teaching or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.
Twitter ID: @sbuchbinder https://twitter.com/sbuchbinder
Tell us a little about The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle –
When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug, Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are the first to see him in a hundred years.
Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius” Stewart is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.
With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man. She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can’t help but wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again.
Where did your inspiration for the book come from?
My husband and I travel a lot for business and pleasure. Over the forty years of our marriage, we have stayed at everything from a stunning boutique hotels to fabulous bed and breakfasts to corporate chains. We even stayed at a Motel 6 in a blizzard in Davenport, Iowa in the late 1970s. It was so cold, my husband had to keep going out and starting the car every two hours so it wouldn’t freeze and we had to put towels at the door to keep snow from blowing in. After sharing numerous travel horror stories with a writing friend, she said, “You should write a book about this!” Ta-dah!! I drew from these experiences to create Tallulah Thompson, Hotel Inspector and her partner and pug, Franny.
What was your favorite part of working on this story?
I fell in love with Frank Linderman’s work and became fascinated with the Crows or Apsaalooké Nation when I wrote my first jinni hunter novella, Kiss of the Silver Wolf, a paranormal romance that involved the handsome and mysterious director of a clandestine division within a powerful government agency. Bert Blackfeather, a hero of the Gulf War with both a Purple Heart and a Silver Star, runs Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate’s Anomaly Defense Division. His agents vary in talents and skills, all paranormal, all outside the bureaucratic box. The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle, takes place in Billings, Montana and on the Crow Reservation, Bert’s home which he returns to from time to time.
What was the most challenging?
I’ve never been to Montana or any of the places in the book, so I had to do a lot of research on the area. Thanks to my friends Google, YouTube and the like, I was able to learn about the area. This summer we are going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and are flying into Billings so I can see the setting for my book. I also joke that we’ll stay at the Hotel LaBelle.
A book flew at his head—and sailed through him, bouncing off the wall and landing on the floor.
Mouth agape, the woman stared from him to the book and back to him again. “You’re a ghost.”
“Not exactly. Shall we start over?” He leaned against the wall and folded his arms across his chest. “After a hundred years of being invisible to everyone except you, I’d like to know who you are and what you’re doing here.”
“Of course. Why not? Could today get any weirder?” She sank into the desk chair, shook her head, and sighed. “My name is Tallulah Thompson. I’m a hotel inspector, hired by the current owner as a consultant to find out why the renovations are delayed and what he needs to do to fix it. He’s teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.”
“What tribe are you?”
She jerked her head up and those doggone lapis lazuli eyes of hers sparked as if she’d strike him with lightning and kill him with one look. “No one asks that. It’s not politically correct.”
“Well, I guess you haven’t been talking to the right people. And I don’t know what you mean by that last part. I’ve never been involved in politics.”
“Nowadays, it’s considered rude to ask about another person’s national origins.” She threw her hands up. “Why am I giving a ghost an etiquette lesson? What am I thinking?”
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/OB-RseyCWyM