I’d like to introduce you to another author you may enjoy reading. Sadira Stone writes both cozy mysteries and contemporary romance/erotica. But she’s more than just an author. Read on…
Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Sadira: Through the Red Door is my first published book, though I’d previously completed two cozy mysteries and a women’s fiction novel. The second book in the Book Nirvana series, Runaway Love Story, is coming soon from The Wild Rose Press, and I’m currently writing the third book in that series.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Sadira: I started off in cozy mystery, a genre I love to read. My first mystery was inspired by an awful boss. Killing him off on paper was great fun. While I’ve had some preliminary success with mystery fiction—I was a finalist for last year’s Daphne Award in the unpublished division—I swerved toward romance after reading about how lucrative writing erotica can be. Always a fan of steamy love stories, I thought, what the heck? Let’s try.
I have never had so much fun with a writing project! Through the Red Door nearly wrote itself, though it damned sure didn’t edit itself. I’ve totally immersed myself in the world of romance, gobbling books like popcorn, filling my ears with romance podcasts, and joining the Romance Writers of America. I find this genre excellent psychic self-defense against the current political poop-storm. At least in these stories someone will have a happy ending.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Sadira: The need for balance is a theme that pops up again and again in my stories. Clara, my protagonist, struggles to balance her loyalty and love for her late husband with her growing desire for a new man. That tug of war between a self-directed life and the needs/expectations/demands of family features in all my stories. It’s a struggle everyone faces, and each woman must find her perfect balance point—pursuing her own dreams while caring for loved ones.
Letting him inside could be her salvation…or her undoing.
Clara Martelli clings to Book Nirvana, the Oregon bookshop she and her late husband Jared built together. When rising rents and corporate competition threaten its survival, her best hope is their extensive erotica collection, locked behind a red door. In dreams and signs, her dead husband tells her it’s time to open that door and move on. When a dark and handsome stranger’s powerful magnetism jolts her back to life and he wants a look at the treasures of that secret room, she can’t help but want to show him more.
Professor Nick Papadopoulos is looking for historical erotica. Book Nirvana’s collection surpasses his wildest dreams, and so does its lovely owner. A widower, he understands Clara’s battle with guilt, but their searing chemistry is too strong to resist. Besides, he will only be in town for two weeks, not long enough for her to see beyond the scandal that haunts his past.
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Sadira: I’m blessed with a sweet little office, painted celery green, with a sit-stand adjustable desk and a cushy floor mat, plus almost-adequate bookshelves and a comfy reading chair. The view’s not great, just the side of the neighbors’ house, but it gives me the cozy solitude I need to write.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Sadira: I usually write all morning, in my PJs or gym clothes, stopping only to eat or refill my coffee. When my concentration flags, I’ll walk around the block or clean house for a few minutes. I can’t write to music with lyrics—interferes with the voices in my head. But I enjoy YouTube’s selection of study music and quiet jazz. Instrumental bossa nova or smoky sax is great for writing love scenes.
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Sadira: In 2017, I entered Pitch Wars, a Twitter pitch event. A small publisher asked for my manuscript, then offered me a contract. After discussing her offer with my RWA group, I submitted to The Wild Rose Press, where I’m now happily published. That hit of external validation did wonders for my determination. I may go indie someday, but for now I’m glad to have an experienced publishing team holding my hand.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Sadira: I have a knack for realistic dialogue, and I loooove writing steamy love scenes.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Sadira: Situation, then characters, then setting.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Sadira: My writing day is pretty structured, but I do have to work around errands, appointments, and visitors. My daughter’s grown and living out of state, and Hubs is quite understanding about my need for chunks of time. He says I’m the only wife he knows who urges her husband to go play golf.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Sadira: Most of my reviews have made me smile, but there’s always a reader who didn’t like the book. I grit my teeth and read the negative comments, because I need that painful feedback to improve the next book.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Sadira: I did, twice. NANO established my daily writing habit, but I no longer need that external push to get me to write.
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Sadira: On my Kindle: Tessa Dare’s A Week to Be Wicked. I don’t write historical romance (yet), but I love reading them. I’m a latecomer to audiobooks, but I’m interested in recording my own. Overdrive is the best! Right now, I’m listening to Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon a Prince.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Sadira: Besides romance and mystery (not too gory, please), I enjoy women’s fiction, historical fiction, memoir, and lots of miscellaneous nonfiction. Also, whatever my critique partners are working on.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Sadira: These fall into two categories: craft books and examples of really well-written romance at my heat level. I try to read a craft book a month, and I’ve just re-read Jennifer Probst’s Write Naked. Romances I’ve kept to dissect include works by Damon Suede, Tessa Dare, Lauren Dane, Robyn Schone, Alyssa Cole, and more.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Sadira: I read mostly romance. Some writers worry about unconscious plagiarism, but I have a memory like a sieve—so no worries there.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Sadira: After a short stint in the army, I worked for twenty-seven years as a high school teacher (English, German, French, drama), but took early retirement in 2014. Now I write full time.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Sadira: How long it takes to create a polished manuscript, and then to get it published. It takes me a good year to write and polish a 90K novel. One whole year of blood, sweat, tears, headaches, backaches, haunted dreams, and frustrating arguments with imaginary friends.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Sadira: Get help! You absolutely need critique partners, and you’ll find so much support in the writer community. I’m not talking about hired help, though you’ll need a professional editor at some point. Just jump into communities of writers on social media. Use venues like Meetup.com to find an in-person writing group. You’ll feel so much better about your journey when it’s shared with others on the same path.
Take critique, and give it. You’ll learn lots from both sides of the process.
Read widely in your genre. Know what readers expect. Join an organization for writers in that genre.
There’s so much free information available on the publishing industry: websites, blogs, podcasts, craft books from your library. Study the business!
Finally, write the story you want to read.
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Sadira: After the Book Nirvana series, I’ll keep my hand in the erotic romance field with some shorter tales. I’d like to start a series set in a bar in Tacoma, Washington, my hometown.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Sadira: I’ve published one short horror story, and have several others lurking in drawers. Horror’s a fun respite from all the smooching. Perhaps I’ll polish them up and self-pub a collection.
You’re braver than me, Sadira! I get too nervous and upset when I read or watch horror. It’s been fun getting to know more about you and your books. Thanks for stopping by!
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