Interview with Sarka-Jonae Miller

I would like to welcome a fellow member of the World Literary Cafe today, Sarka-Jonae Miller.

What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?

In elementary school our teachers would sometimes tell us to write stories. I remember being in 2nd or 3rd grade and just writing pages and pages for this one story even though the assignment only need to be a page or 2 long. I just loved sitting there and coming up with more details. I even enjoyed going back over it and trying to make it better. All my classmates seemed to dislike the assignment or want to finish as quickly as possible. I guess I realized then that there was something unique about enjoying creative writing as much as I did then. I still love it that much.

Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?

My family and friends are very supportive. Many of them went through my book chapter by chapter with me to make it as good as it could possibly get. They often gave me criticism and even more often disagreed with each other. Their feedback was invaluable. Now that the book is out everyone is helping me to promote it. People are buying copies for friends and writing honest reviews. They prod me to finish the sequel, which I am working on. They’re all really great.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?

I don’t know that there is anything I have to do before I start writing or a particular odd habit, but I do think I write better when I have a soy mocha and I definitely cannot write at all if I am cold. I’d wear a ski jacket and ear muffs inside if I had to to stay warm enough to write, even if that meant everyone else thought I was insane. It’s come close to that a couple of times when I’ve tried to write at coffee shops that keep their AC on full blast despite the fact that the female customers are shivering and covered in goose bumps.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Just write. Many new writers get hung up on thinking up the perfect story before they start writing, and then they never start. Experienced writers already know how to organize a story but newbies are going to have to make a lot of changes as they figure out what it takes to make a book work. I think new writers are better off just putting something on paper (or onscreen) and seeing where it takes them, then going back and making changes to a first draft. I also highly recommend that writers take a class or two in editing. If you choose to self-publish you may have to edit the book yourself, which is nearly impossible to do well. If you take a proofreading course or learn basic editing at least you are less likely to have all the dreaded copy errors that readers understandably complain about from self-published books. Also, if you submit your book to literary agents riddled with copy errors they will almost definitely reject it, even if you have a good story.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

Finding time to write while still having a day job is really tough. Fortunately for me, my day job is writing articles, mainly about health, fitness and wellness. It isn’t the same type of writing I use for my books but at least it keeps my basic writing skills sharp. Still, freelance writers don’t make a lot so I have to work a lot and that does not leave a lot of time for writing novels.

Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?

Everyone who has ever commented on “Between Boyfriends” has complimented my writing, except one person, but if enough people read your book someone eventually is going to hate it. I think the best thing anyone has told me is that my book is both hilarious and full of emotion. It is hard to find a balance between being funny and bringing up tough, emotional issues and situations.

What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?

I am currently working on two books, mainly. One is the sequel to “Between Boyfriends.” Jan does study abroad in Thailand and what happens in Thailand stays in Thailand, or does it? The other book I am writing is a one off that takes place split between San Francisco and Paris. I spent a week in Paris doing “research.” I also spent two months in Thailand. I think I may have an addiction to traveling for inspiration.

Tell us about your latest book.

“Between Boyfriends” was inspired by people I knew in college. We all have that one friend who jumps from relationship to relationship. She changes for every guy and bends over backwards to make him happy, even to the point of screwing over her friends. The relationships never work out because you can’t be happy when you are trying to be someone else. I wanted to write a book from the perspective of one of “those girls.” However, because those girls drive us all crazy I thought I would see what would happen if someone like that did what we all wanted them to do: STOP DATING. Just stop going from guy to guy and be single for five minutes. Figure your life out and why you act like this. So that’s what the book is about. Jan is a true relationship addict who gets her heart broken one too many times and adopts the extreme view that dating is insane and she is better off not doing it. She also gets the rug pulled out from under her when her mother cuts off her financial support because Jan decided a traditional college education wasn’t for her and she wanted to try massage therapy. I actually was a massage therapist for a couple of years so I know how struggling to pay for college, looking at how much debt you’d be in, realizing how terrible the job market is even with a degree, and hating having to take classes outside of your major that you are not interested in can make alternatives like massage school quite appealing. Though I did get my undergraduate degree first.

How can people find out more about you?

I have a blog on Goodreads and Word Press. I post a lot to my Facebook page and have two accounts on Twitter, @boyfriendsnovel and @sarkajonae. I update all of those pretty frequently with updates on my novels, my most recent articles and other random stuff in my life, plus tips on publishing and free book alerts. My Amazon profile has more about my past if anyone is curious how many countries I’ve been to, what music videos I have been in or how many rescued pets I have. Riveting stuff, I swear 🙂

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