Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meet S J Clarke Author of Mind Over Matter Coming Soon from MuseIt Up Publishing

RW:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

SJC:  I'm a wife, mother, friend and writer. The order changes depending on the day. I strive to create what I imagine most writers do – stories that touch the soul of a reader. Just one will do, for me anyway. Knowing the reader took something away with them lets me know all that hard work meant something, that it had a purpose. When I'm not writing I'm reading, or dreaming up ways to get characters into, and if I'm in a good mood, out of trouble.

RW:  How long have you been writing?

SJC:  When I was in grade two, so age six or seven, we often had show-and-tell in class. When I didn't have anything cool to show, I'd entertain the class by telling stories. I told this one story about a fire in my brother’s house, and how they couldn't get one of my nieces out in time. I painted gruesome pictures with words, right down to the spill of red stains from the flashing lights on the fire engines pooling on wet pavement. I must have done a good job because the teacher called home at recess to convey her condolences to my mom. My poor mom had to explain to her that none of it happened. When the teacher gasped, saying she couldn't believe I'd lied, Mom just smiled. I wasn't a liar, she said, I was a story-teller. That's when I knew I could be a writer. I started writing a couple of years later, in grade four.

RW:  What is your favorite genre?

SJC: I write paranormal romance, and it's got to have an element of suspense to it. This touches all my hot buttons. It's what I read voraciously, so it's what I gravitate to when I write. I read a lot of urban fiction as well, and one day, I suspect I'll try my hand at writing one. I don't think I'll be able to resist. I need to read more of them first though, to understand all the elements of the genre. But my passion will always be paranormal. Even in grade four, I wrote paranormal stories. And when paranormal goes out of style, I'll still be writing them. It's not a fad to me, but a genuine love and facination for the genre.

RW:  Who are your favorite authors?

SJC:  Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb tops the list. Followed by Christine Feehan, Christina Dodd, Juliana Stone, Ilona Andrews, Jayne Ann Krentz, Allyson James, Nalini Singh, and when I'm in the mood for a little – okay a lot – of spice, Shelly Laurenston. I could go on indefinitely, of course, so I'll stop there.

RW:  When do you get your best writing done?

SJC: It took a while to figure out when my peak writing time was. I finally realized I'm an early bird writer, (not to be confused with being a morning person) turning out my best work before noon. On a really good day, momentum carries me through the afternoon. Evenings are out. I have no creative juices left by that time. I'm home full time at the moment, writing, freelancing and taking on editing clients, but for the bulk of this book, I wrote around a full-time job outside the home. Writing my second book, I still worked a full time office job, so I wrote an hour a day while I ate lunch at my desk. I wrote almost the entire book in four months writing only on my lunch hours. It takes discipline, but it sure helps that I love what I do. The bottom line is that we don't always have the luxury of having our ideal writing time to work. And we can't use that as an excuse for not getting the work done.

RW: What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?

SJC:  For me, the hardest, yet most essential, part of writing any story is plotting. I am an extensive plotter. Coming up with all the ideas for the book in one or two sittings is hard. But I use a system a mentor/teacher taught me. I come up with one sentence for the whole story, containing a protagonist, an antagonist, a need for each, an interesting setting, a conflict, and a twist – oh and it has to be thirty words or less. The result is the sentence that becomes the tag line for the book. Then I do the same thing for each scene. If I'm staring at a white screen with a blank look on my face I pull out my scene cards. All the necessary ingredients for a perfect scene are right there. Then I just have to write it. I need that solid foundation to work from. I might veer away from the plan now and again, but it's there to guide me on those days when my muse hides under the covers. This is how I'm able to maintain the discipline to write every day. No excuses. (For those who might be interested in the system of writing I described above, you can visit her site at:

RW:  What kind of research did you do for this type of story?

SJC:  Mind Over Matter is set at the base of the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, and the mountain range plays a big part in the story, though we had to change the name of the mountains in the book. Townspeople, specifically city officials, prefer not to read about murder and mayhem in their backyards. I've never been to Arizona, or to any desert environment, so I had to rely on good research to get the details right. I poured over the internet and through books noting down the big things. Then I reached out to online communities I'm active in, asking people in the region for tidbits about the area, smells, textures, local slang, names of specific flowers that only bloom under moonlight – things only someone who lives there would know. Writers are a knowledgeable and generous group of people. Never hesitate to reach out to other writers for help. For the paranormal angle, I deferred to a couple of writer friends who have experience with the phenomena.

RW: What is your marketing plan?

SJC: I know some writers out there will cringe when I say this, but online media is your friend when it comes to marketing your books. We're an e-society now, as much as we might hate to admit it. Traditional marketing is expensive, and depending on your target audience, not always effective. I used this ten week social media marketing plan as a model. It's an excellent start.

RW:  What else have you published?

SJC:  I co-authored Touretties, a collection of short stories sharing what life is like living with Tourette's as told from the perspective of both patients and their families. I've also published over fifty articles on a variety of human interest websites on the subject  of families and women's interests. I have another novel, The Missing Time, that I'm shopping around right now, and a third novel – a sequel to Mind Over Matter – well underway.

RW:  Tell us about Mind Over Matter.

SJC: This is the story of a mother who faces her worst nightmare when she discovers her missing daughter is schedule to die.

For three years Rebecca McKenney grieved the loss of her daughter. Now, a vision showing Sabrina three years older, suggests her baby is still alive, and the FBI agent who gave up the search is the only one who can help find her. Rebecca once witnessed a psychic connection between Agent Cooper and her daughter. She only hopes their fragile bond remains – and that the coward has the decency to pursue it.

Special Agent Dan Cooper, haunted by a tragic mistake made early in the investigation, agrees to help Rebecca to ease his conscience, if nothing else. Together they fight inner demons, all too real bad guys, and an attraction neither wants to admit to. Each step closer to finding her daughter unearths wide-spread deception and an evil so vile it threatens to break Rebecca's spirit. The thought of having her daughter back in her arms is all that keeps her going. Until she learns the horrifying truth – her daughter is scheduled to die in mere days.

RW:  How can we reach you?

SJC: I love to hear from readers! Feel free to contact me through any of the following mediums.
·         At my website. Sign up to receive updates from my blog at
·         Follow me on Twitter at!/sandrajc 
·         Friend me on Facebook!/profile.php?id=558392550.

Unedited Excerpt:

Rebecca knew from experience she didn't have much time left. A vision came at her, hard and strong...
The child's face from the milk carton, about six or seven years old, hovered before her, similar yet different. Shivers wracked her body as she huddled in a corner, her long brown curls limp and dull. Smudges on her face spread when she used a dirty forearm to swipe away tears, and a cut bled through the tear in her dress. A flickering light illuminated the dark room, hinting at secrets in the shadows. The sound of dripping water, slow and steady like a leaky, faucet met Rebecca's ears and her nose crinkled at the stench of urine and human waste. The child looked up. All trace of color drained from her face when a deep voice crept out of the darkness.
“It’s time.”
“Rebecca, did you hear me?” Ruby’s voice penetrated the fog surrounding Rebecca’s mind.
“W-What?” She lifted her head, taking in the dining room around her. The tourist family still sat waiting for their breakfast. “I’m sorry Ruby, what did you say?”
“You okay, hon? You were in another world there for a minute.”
“I’m fine. Really,” she added at Ruby’s doubtful expression. “Didn’t sleep well again last night, I guess.” She forced a grin. “Good thing you caught me before I nodded off and started drooling in my coffee.” The mention of coffee drew Rebecca's gaze to the carton of milk again. The girl’s innocent face stared back. Something seemed wrong. Rebecca leaned in, reading the caption under the photo. Nicole Wilson; missing for six years, before Bree even.
“I hope you don’t mind that I helped myself to the milk.,” she said, explaining what happened. “Didn’t want to be a bother.”
“Honey, it’s no problem at all, but you didn't have to do that.”
“Not to worry, it’s over and done now.” Rebecca looked down at the pancakes and fruit before her and knew little would make it past her lips “Breakfast looks delicious, as usual,” she lied.
Ruby held her gaze for a moment longer, and then nodded as if confirming something in her head. “Okay then. Enjoy.” Ruby picked up the milk carton as a bell dinged from the kitchen area. “Let me know if you need a refill on your coffee.” Smiling, Ruby went off to deliver the next order.
Rebecca’s stomach roiled at the thought of eating. Nausea and a headache overwhelmed her. She needed to  get home where she could decipher what this vision meant. With Ruby monitoring her every move, coming up with a way out of the diner proved difficult.
Forcing another smile, Rebecca picked up her fork and knife and waved them in the air for Ruby to see. At Ruby's disappointed frown, Rebecca cut the pancakes, and placed a small piece between her lips. Once Ruby smiled and turned away, Rebecca spit the bite out into a napkin. She spent another few minutes cutting and moving food around, hiding small bits under the second pancake. Pulling some money out of her wallet, she kept an eye out. As soon as Ruby went back to the kitchen for the next order pick-up, Rebecca threw the bills down on the table and made her escape.
Rebecca’s first deep breath came when she  sat safe inside her car at the other end of Main Street. Home. She had to hold it together until then. Shoving the key into the ignition, she crossed her fingers, and then groaned at the dull grind that met her ears.
“Crap. Not today!” Rebecca cursed for putting off taking the car in to Joshua. Hands shaking, she tried again, holding her grimace until the engine caught.
 The edge of another vision crept in while she pulled into the driveway. “Shit. One more minute, come on, one more minute.”
 She fumbled at the keyhole, hands shaking too hard to fit the key in the lock. Rebecca crossed the threshold and fell to her knees as the pain sliced in again, worse this time. Never before had two visions come so close together. What the hell?
Rebecca’s world faded and in its place…
 Sabrina appeared. Her baby. Sitting on the floor in a room of shadows, chin resting on drawn up knees. “Where are you Mommy? Why haven’t you come?” The shadows opened up, pushing forward to swallow both the light and Bree.
“Nooooooooo.” Rebecca came back tears streaming down her face, and fell to the floor. Limp, she laid there, an arm thrown across her eyes. “So close.”
Rebecca rolled as her stomach revolted, giving up its meager contents. Pushing herself to her knees with the last heave, she drew the back of a hand across her mouth.
The memory of losing Sabrina burned in her mind forever, but these fresh images; God, they made it so much worse. Rebecca crawled the few feet to the still open door, shoved it closed and leaned against it, shaking with sobs.

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