Sunday, August 10, 2008

Welcome Author, Sharon Oliver


Today I interview author, Sharon Oliver. Sharon holds a special place in my heart, because she has relatives in the same South Carolina town that my "people" are from. We've yet to connect the dots on the family tree, but I'm convinced she's my distant cousin. I've gotten to know her well over the last few months and even if there's no blood relation, I love her like family.

Welcome Sharon! Tell us about your novel, Keeping Your Enemies Closer: The story is set in South Carolina because of my familiarity and love for the people AND the food. Keep Your Enemies Closer is a humorous tale about how folk in a fictional town in South Carolina learn how to deal with life’s interruptions and deceptions without falling apart or killing one another. When the pastor skips town with the church’s money and a pair of twin sisters mysteriously disappear right along with him, the protagonist, Charlotte Morley’s summer vacation almost turns into a nightmare on Elm Street. However, with a little help from an acid-tongued friend of the family, a millionaire cousin, her skeptical best friend and a host of others, Charlotte is able to show a reason to hope to an impoverished community. Eventually, she and her family discover the truth surrounding the disappearance of the conniving twins, who happen to be Charlotte’s cousins.

What inspired you to write Keeping Your Enemies Closer? One day while seated at my computer, a gush of memories came flooding in. The next thing I know, my fingers had typed out a couple of chapters. In my mind, I even knew what I wanted for the plot twist. From that point on, God kept the desire and determination going for everything else in between. The book was completed nine months to the day I started.

You originally self-published your novel, tell us about that experience. How does being with a mainstream publisher differ from the self-publishing experience? Aside from not having to come out of your own pocket to pay for publishing, mainstream publishers provide a support system such as getting your books in the stores, a little promoting, etc. Of course, the author has to do a lot of leg-work as well, but at least not all of it. Plus, at that house that I am with, we have an online group. The camaraderie is great, supportive and unselfish in sharing resources. But self publishing has its benefits. It introduces your book to family, friends, etc., and establishes you as being published. To have work published (self or otherwise) is an important credential that agents, publishers and editors often take into consideration.

What would you like readers to take away from your story? I want the readers to feel “light” and enlightened on some aspects about God. I say “light” because there are too many people whose hearts are heavy. Even though there are some serious points interjected throughout the story, there is plenty of humor weaved in. Life is too short and being burden down with so much drama and nonsense in our lives will only shorten it more.

Do you consider your writing a talent, gift or calling and why? Hmm, I would say a calling simply because writing was never one of my aspirations. Now I find myself getting excited over words and how I can center a story, line or situation around them.

What advice do you have for an aspiring writer who wants to become published? Once you become pregnant with the passion…research, research, research. Also, PRAY! Seek out an agent. Don’t get discouraged by the amount of rejection letters you’ll probably receive. This is typical. Familiarize yourself with publishers who accept your particular genre. The Writer’s Market Guide is an excellent resource to have and can be found in the reference section of your local book store or ordered online. Taking classes and/or joining writing groups are always good choices to make. And above all, trust God to open(s) any door necessary.

I asked Sharon to share some personal information and she answered the following questions:

Favorite color? None. I truly love all colors.
Favorite time of the year? Spring.
Beach or mountains? Oh, Lord. I had to sound fickle, but I enjoy both.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? England and Israel.
If you could have a one hour meeting with the person of your choice (living or deceased) who would it be and why? My mom, who has now been deceased for almost ten years. I miss her and a lot has happened since she’s been gone.
If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one fiction book with you, what would it be and why? Any nice and thick Agatha Christie novel. Her stories are my favorite and I can always visualize characters and scenes from them.
What would readers be surprised to know about you? That’s a tough one. The only thing I can think of off-hand, and its probably more quirky than surprising, is that I don’t like certain things in all forms. For instance, I love oranges, but can barely tolerate orange juice (crazy, I know). Love grapes, but detest grape flavored Kool-Aid. Give me a raspberry lemonade, tart or what-have-you, but not the fruit itself. Wow! Apparently, I have issues with fruit. This has been very therapeutic.

I'm glad I could help with your issues. :o)
What’s next for Sharon Oliver? More writing and whatever the Lord has in store. I will keep you posted.

I know God is going to do awesome things for you, cuz! Keep me updated.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Sharon is a resident of the Atlanta area. A former Systems Administrator for the Social Security Administration, she is also a contributing writer for an online magazine, The Light of the Low Country. Keeping Your Enemies Closer is with Urban Christian Books/Kensingston Publishers and is available at Amazon.com (click to the right), Barnes and Nobles, Books A Million, Wal-mart, Kmart and where ever books are sold.
Thanks for stopping by cuz! I'm praying for great things for Keeping Your Enemies Closer.
You can visit Sharon and learn more about her online homes:

8 comments:

Jessica said...

Well, I thought it was only me!
So you understand how hard it is to explain to people why I'll have strawberry jam on my jelly but cannot stand to eat the fruit.
My hubby thinks I'm crazy or making it up.
:-)
Now I know there are others like me!

Ty said...

Woo-hoo! South Carolina writers in the house!

Great interview Sharon. Still hoping to meet you when you come back through.

Blessings,

Ty

Rhonda McKnight said...

Love South Carolina, best barbeque in the country, especially in my cousin's back yard.

Jessica said...

Wow, strawberry jam on my jelly????
It wasn't me writing that. Someone else . . .

Hi Rhonda :-)
I think maybe it's not a review, but more a blog mention? Actually, I'm not sure.
It's for Brenda Coulter's new Love Inspired and I'm just supposed to blog about it.
So it's not like I'm a bona fide reviewer. :-)
Yes, I'm green about ACFW, too. Especially since it's in Minneapolis where I have a ton of family. But I have three little boys, all four and under, so I'm trying to put off my conference attendance until next year when they're older. :-)
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Missy said...

KYEC sounds like a book I have to have on my shelf not only as a collector but as a read. Wow I cannot wait to find out how the twins are connected with the church drama and how Charlotte's life change by the time we read the last page.

I believe our Father can really do some things and man oh man I'm sure these characters will be leading us in some kinda funny painful drama!!!

BTW maybe we all are kin.I have family in St. Stephens, SC and was just there and Paris Island the last few weeks of July....
Thanks Rhonda for the interview and I thank God for giving Sharon this story and keeping here ideas, and plots cooking. Sharon thanks for being obedient and writing KYEC.

I love to ask this questions of authors:

How did the character in KYEC change you?

upwords said...

Congrats Sharon. Sounds like a great read. I'll be on the lookout for it.

Rhonda McKnight said...

Missy,

Sharon has been trying to comment, but is having problems with my blog. Here is her response to your question:

Hmmm, how did the character(s) change me? Actually, most of the characters are a mixture of actual people who help to mold me into the persom I am today. As for the twins, I wish I could tell you what happens but I can't (smile). I will say this, while the reader will find receive some significant answers towards the end of the story, there is a cliffhanger. So look for the sequel around March 2009. God bless

Sharon Oliver, Author Remember to "Keep Your Enemies Closer" Psalm 23:5

Missy said...

SMile thanks for the response Sharon!!!