Tennessee, just northwest of Knoxville.
Welcome to Vision and verse this morning, Sydney. It's a pleasure to have you here with us. So, tell us, Sydney, what have you written?
I have written two novels, Lessons Learned and Mountain Charm. Both novels are set in Appalachia. I’ve also written three short stories, all of which are available on Amazon: Force of Nature, Mistletoe Magicorce ofNature, Mistletoe Magic, and Stupid Cupid.
Lessons Learned is the story of Sarah Bray, an inner-city English teacher who returns to her hometown of Sycamore Falls after witnessing a traumatic event at her last school. She begins teaching at her old high school and becomes friends with the newest member of the faculty, Lucas Miller. As they grow closer, they learn that one of their students is hiding a secret. When that secret comes out, they do everything they can to protect him from bullying—from both the students and administration. It’s a story about tolerance and love, and I’m very proud of it.
Mountain Charm is a modern-day fairytale with a supernatural twist. Angelina Clark is a mountain wMountain Charm is a modern-day fairytale with a supernatural twist. Angelina Clark is a mountain witch who casts a love spell when she was thirteen years old. Since then, her father has passed away and her mom has become ill, so Angelina wants nothing to do with magic. On her twenty-first birthday, a newspaper reporter named Dylan Thomas arrives to write a story about Appalachian witchcraft. Naturally, sparks fly. Angelina doesn't trust his feelings for her because she's afraid they are being influenced by the spell. It's a sweet love story with just a hint of magic.
What is your favorite genre to write?
I love to write romance because that’s what I like to read. I can read any kind of romance, but when it comes to writing, I’m most comfortable writing sweet romances with mild steam. One reviewer compared Lessons Learned to a Nicholas Sparks-type book, and that made my day!
Oh, so when I read Mountain Charm, I should have a box of tissues close? Thanks for the warning. Favorite food.
My favorite food is turkey. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for that very reason! I also love fresh fruit.
Where would you like to visit?
I’ve always wanted to see London. Maybe someday!
Me, too! Let's go. Favorite musical artist.
I love music, so this question is impossible to answer. I love Adele, Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Mumford and Sons, and so many others.
Do you listen to music when you write? What?
As much as I love music, I find it impossible to write with music unless it’s instrumental. If it has lyrics, I have to turn it off. Music can really influence my writing, so I have to be careful.
What makes you laugh?
My husband, my students, and George Lopez (the show).
How old were you when you started writing?
I’ve written since I was a kid. I wrote a lot of poems and songs. I didn’t start writing full-length fiction until about four years ago.
Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from music, people, water (I love rivers, lakes, etc.), and the mountains.
What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I usually switch gears and write something else. Sometimes it helps me to just walk away and write something completely different for a while. Also, reading helps. Good writers inspire me, so I always grab a good book whenever I hit a speed bump.
Who is your favorite author?
Such a tough question, but my favorite author is Nicholas Sparks. I love how he weaves a story and really establishes the setting of his books. I also love J.K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Stephenie Meyer, and Louis Sachar.
Best book you ever read.
Another impossible question, but my current answer is The Fault in Our Stars. I don’t know that I’ve ever cried so much.
Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My husband. We’ve been married for nearly eleven years. He is absolutely my rock and keeps me sane.
If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with Pat Summitt, the former head coach of the Lady Vols basketball team. She is royalty in Tennessee.
What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Be ready for the business side of writing. Even if you’re signed with a bigger publisher, you will be expected to do most of your marketing and promoting. I read a blog post that basically said “writing a great book isn’t enough.” I always believed that if you wrote a great book, readers would find you, but I’ve learned that there is a sea of “great” authors out there, and I’m just a little goldfish. You have to constantly promote yourself and be active on social media, and even then it takes time.
What’s coming up?
We celebrated the book birthday of Lessons Learned on September 6. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the book’s release! We’re also gearing up for a 2,000 Likes giveaway on Facebook!
I am currently working on my third novel, which I hope to release in Fall 2014. I also hope to release a Christmas novella on Amazon in December.
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Thank you so much for being with us and sharing your insights. Please come back when you're ready to release your new book.
Thank you! I will.