Friday, July 31, 2009

Single Father, Wife and Mother Wanted - Sharon Archer

Please welcome my special guest this week, another debut Down Under author, Sharon Archer whose Mills and Boon Medical Romance, Single Father, Wife and Mother Wanted, is about to hit the shelves!

Sharon is a qualified medical scientist who has swapped test tubes and microscope slides for a pencil and a word-processing package. As a child, when she wasn't horse riding, she lived with her nose in a book. She's always enjoyed writing but it didn't occur to her to try to do something with it until she saw a television interview with Valerie Parv. The idea of writing romance stories for Mills and Boon fired her imagination. Her writing “apprenticeship” lasted many years but in September of 2008, she got the “Call” from Mills and Boon. She's just had her third book accepted for the Medical Romance line.

You can visit her website at

Hi Christina, thank you for asking me to visit! I'm thrilled to be here! You said I could feel free to send a picture of a 'hottie' so I thought I'd offer this one of Gerard Butler that I found on I love his pensive expression in this photo and the little curl at the corner of his mouth.

Well, we’re always more than happy to have Gerard Butler visit!! Sharon, can you tell us a little about your book?

SINGLE FATHER: WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED is Matt and Caitlin's story. They meet at a motor vehicle accident – a truck towing a horse float has run off the road. In the float is a heavily pregnant mare. Small-animal vet, Caitlin, swings into action and, with Matt's help, she saves the new-born foal.

Caitlin is a life-long nomad whose heart yearns for somewhere to call home. She's travelling to a small town in western Victoria to look for her family's roots.

Matt, is the town's GP. After a disastrous marriage, he's got his hands full making a home for his son so the last thing he wants is to fall for Caitlin. But she captures, not only his heart but his son's as well.

Caitlin longs to fit in to the niche that seems to be made just for her. But before she can belong, she needs to reveal who she is and why she's really there.

Christina, I was going to cut and paste an excerpt here, but then I remembered that Mills and Boon UK has a whole chapter up online so I thought I'd suggest this link instead.

Ooh, great chapter! How did the idea for the plot come about?

The idea for this story developed out of a love for horses and genealogy – which sounds a bit bizarre for a medical romance, doesn't it! I live in country Victoria and I love The Grampians area so I made up a small town near there for my setting. My heroine's background actually grew out of my first ever manuscript – that manuscript was rejected but the idea of a heroine wanting to find her roots after the death of her father stayed with me. When I started the “what if” game, I got more and more excited about the possibilities. “What if” the heroine was a veterinarian? And “what if” she was put in the position of working with large animals when she'd always worked in a small-animal practice? And then what if... LOL

At the time, I was unpublished, so I could indulge myself and play around with the more unconventional idea of having a veterinarian as one of the protagonists in the story.

I love sale stories (ok I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?

SINGLE FATHER: WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED took two years to travel from the slush pile to “The Call”. It went through three lots of revisions in that time. And I have to say it was the most marvellous experience to work with suggestions from an editor.

I've written six full manuscripts now. The first one was truly awful – apart from that idea about the heroine's background. Chronologically, SINGLE FATHER was the fourth story that I completed. The first three manuscripts plus a couple of partials got well-deserved rejections.

“The call” came at about 4.30pm after I'd been outside for much of the day burning off on our five-acre property to prepare for the summer bushfire season. I'd only just come indoors – if I had raked leaves for another five minutes, I wouldn't have caught the phone call! Anyway, the phone rang and it was the editor in the London office. It took a while for the reason for the phone call to sink in and once it did, I went completely rubbery. I think my side of the conversation was mostly “omigosh, omigosh, omigosh” I'm sure I made a great impression on Lucy!

It was a huge relief when she followed up with an email because as soon as I just hung up the phone, I was thinking... “did she really say what I think she said??!”

I love that sale story! Who or what inspires you and why?

Story ideas are everywhere – it's a case of being open to them and playing the “what if” game. Which sounds rather grand.... as though ideas must be swarming to get into my head! Sadly, this isn't true and I'm still learning to be more open to the “what if” game. But I'm enjoying the process.

Because I'm writing Medical Romance, I spend quite a bit of time researching and sometimes that inspires an idea for a scene. Often it will be for a completely different story line to the one I'm working on. There's nothing more tempting to a muse than something new. Still, some of those ideas.... you never know when they might be handy...

There was an interesting blog recently by Josie Metcalfe on the e-Harlequin Medical Authors Blog where she talked about a writing exercise that she uses. She randomly picks a newspaper article and then gives herself two minutes to work up a story line about it. It really resonated with me so I've decided to prod my muse more often and get it doing some stretching exercises.

I find going for a walk can get my thoughts flowing. Sitting on the back of the motorbike can really help me there too – I think my muse is a biker chick!

Where do you see yourself as a writer five years from now?

My writer wish list is...

--- that I'll still be writing for Mills & Boon

--- that I'll have heroes and heroines lining up to have their stories told

--- that I'll be a much much MUCH faster writer than I am now! And MUCH more disciplined!

--- and lastly, I'd really like to see myself perfecting the art of being a “hobo writer” so I could combine two things that I love – seeing new places and writing. We've just been travelling for three and a half months and I found fitting in manuscript time was a challenge. We stopped in Broome for three weeks so I could complete the revisions on my third manuscript. I'm pleased to say that the revisions got finished, I fell in love with Broome and I was reminded all over again why I fell in love with my husband. Without his patience and support, I'd have been tearing my hair out to try to do the work on the road.

Your trip sounds awesome. What's the best, and worst, things about writing for you?

The best thing about writing is the opportunity to indulge in day dreaming and to be able to call it working! What other job gives you that sort of permission!

The worst thing for me is starting a new manuscript – that 50,000 words still seems huge. I'm a tortoise with an over-active internal editor so I squeeze words out slowly. I'd love to be a hare with an internal editor who knows how to look the other way – but then I guess that would come with its own set of issues – I'd have to delete more words!

Which brings me to the second worst thing for me as a writer - having to push the delete button! That's painful for my tortoise! But revising and editing are such an important part of the polishing process.

Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?

The first bit of advice stems from being a tortoise because I'd say don't be too impatient. Use the time while you're unpublished to learn, to make mistakes, to perfect writing craft, to try different things.

My second piece of advice comes from my time working with a Romance Writers of Australia scheme to help newer writers --- learn how to accept constructive criticism of your work. Often the feedback that makes us wince is the stuff that will help us move ahead with our writing. And adding to that, I think it's a great idea to put feedback aside and come back to it when you've got a bit of distance from your work.

Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?

Yes! Yes! YES!

(Christina: LOL, that’s a yes, then?)

It is! I have fabulous critique partners who are also very dear friends. They read my manuscripts and give me wonderful feedback . And I don't mean that they've told me what I want to hear.... they've accorded me the respect of telling me what I NEED to hear. It's always lovely to hear that someone thinks what you've written is marvellous – but it's pure gold to have someone tell you why a scene isn't working or that a character isn't behaving logically or that you need more emotion.

I met my writing CPs through Romance Writers of Australia. The RWA and RWNZ conferences are great places to talk to other romance writers and find out if you “click” with them. And of course, now, we have the terrific Critique Partner Scheme that Rachel set up with RWA and RWNZ.

I also have non-writing friends who have read and given me feedback and encouragement along my writing journey too – including my husband who was my only reader at the time I completed my second manuscript.


Mel Teshco said...

wonderful interview Christina and Sharon! And Sharon - holidaying and working combined - what could be better than that!! I'm also thrilled to see someone who gives so much to the writing community (isolated writers scheme) get something back! Well done Sharon!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Christina! Hey, Miss Sharon! Great interview! Sharon, I had to have a bit of a giggle at you as a hobo writer. Kinda pictured you wearing torn up clothes and a beard... Hmm, no, that didn't quite work. Congratulations on the release of your fantastic first novel. I was one of the lucky people who got to read it before you sold and it's a bonza story, my itinerant friend!

Sharon Archer said...

Thank you for your kind words, Mel!
I'm hoping for lots of opportunities to hone that holiday/work combination! And practice makes perfect, doesn't it!

Authorness said...

Fabu interview, Sharon and Christina! Sharon, I might have to steal Josie Metcalfe's writing exercise. Sounds like something I need! But first I want to read your book because it's sure to inspire me too.

The "what if" game is so useful, isn't it? You're right about using your time as an unpubbed to really learn your craft. I'm in the midst of a rather long apprenticeship. At least I've gained the virtue of patience so far!

~ Vanessa

Sharon Archer said...

Miss Anna! Please! I have standards... I'm a beardless hobo with a well-stocked toiletry bag, a computer, very sharp pencils and a chiropractic pillow! LOL

Thank you, my very dear friend! Your feedback on Single Father was utterly invaluable!

Sharon Archer said...

Don't give up, Vanessa! Your patience with your writing apprenticeship will be rewarded when you become an "overnight" sensation.

Hey, I'm glad Josie's writing exercise resonated with you, too. I can just "see" my muse doing some sit ups and getting her core strength improved! Er... pity about mine! LOL


Fiona Lowe said...

Gotta love that pic of Gerard!
As you know, Sharon, your debut book gave great pleasure to my elderly neighbour and in what turned out to be our last conversation together she told me how much she enjoyed your story. She'd read Mills and Boon for 72 of her 89 years so she could pick a good story from 40 paces:-) Congratulations and I'm looking forward to buying a copy on August 15th

Sharon Archer said...

Gerard is rather gorgeous, isn't he, Fiona!

That story about your neighbour makes me feel very misty-eyed. I'm honoured that she enjoyed it.


Rachael Johns said...

Great interview Sharon! Am ecstatic that I've already ordered your book from eharl! Sounds like a gorgeous story :)

Annie West said...


Thanks for having Sharon over to visit. Lovely intereview. Hi Sharon! I love your call story. Even more I love your debut book, which is a real cracker.

Am giggling at your aim to be more disciplined and a hobo. When you know the secret, let me know!

Looking forward to more of your books.


Sharon Archer said...

Thank you, Rachael! I hope you enjoy Matt and Caitlin's story.


Sharon Archer said...

Hi Annie,
A disciplined hobo does seem like an oxymoron, doesn't it! Still, wouldn't it be fun! If I find the secret to combining the two, I'll definitely let you know!

Thank you for popping in!

Paula Roe said...

Hey Shazza! Is it the time already... your book baby time?? Time flies! Love the idea about 'hobo writer' - can I come along too? ;) And I totally hear you about being a slow writer... maybe we should join a support group? :D

Serena said...

Hi Sharon,
I can just imagine you,. pencil poised while sitting on the back of the Harley - I can't wait for your wonderful baby to hit the shelves!

Great interview, Christina!

Sharon Archer said...

Hi Paula
It really is book baby time for me! It seemed like there was ages and ages to go and then 'bang' it's here with all the excitement and downright scariness of it! :))
And you fancy life as a hobo writer, too?? Sounds like there's a few of us that have itchy feet!
LOL on the support group - Slow Writers Anonymous?!

Sharon Archer said...

Serena! Hello! Thank you for the hugs!
Actually it would be hugely helpful to be able to jot things down while travelling on the back of the bike... but the paper flaps around, darn it! LOL

Shelley Munro said...

Hi Sharon, it's great to meet you. Congrats on your release. I loved your sale story. :)

Cari Quinn said...

Great interview, Christina and Sharon! Sorry I showed up late, but I'm glad I didn't miss it!

I also have an overactive internal editor, Sharon. Guess we just have to keep beating her back, LOL

Wishing you lots of success!

Sharon Archer said...

Hi Shelley
Thank you so much for your kind words! The day that sale happens gets indelibly tattooed in a brain cell, don't you think? You sold a while ago now and I bet your sale day is just as clear now as it was then!


Sharon Archer said...

Cari, how lovely of you to pop in!
Oh, you've got one of those hyperactive internal editors, too! They need reassuring that they don't have to be quite so stingy with the words, don't they!
Good luck with training yours! ;)