Please welcome Sharon Cupp Pennington, author of two novels, and this month's Featured Author.

PDB: Sharon, welcome to the PDB and congratulations on being the top visited profile for September!

Pennington_lgSCP: Thank you, Jamie. PDB is a lovely site, and I’ve encouraged other author friends to join in the excitement here.

PDB: What is your first memory of writing, a point in time where you knew writing was more than a school assignment or a journal entry?

SCP: I was one of those shy kids who spent hours in the local library, then carted books filled with adventure home in my bicycle basket. I found refuge in the imaginary world of those glorious characters. I recall, at about nine or ten, writing my own adventure. I stapled the pages together book-like and read and re-read my story, making changes here and there, adding characters, then re-stapling my finished product. Though I never showed my “book” to anyone, it was my first experience at editing. If I’d only known…

PDB: Your bio mentions the support your husband offered when you decided to write full time. I'm curious to how you felt that first time, no longer having a “real job,” and sitting down to write knowing -- this is your chance.

SCP: Our kids were grown then, off making their way in this world. Still -- I have to be honest -- I felt horribly guilty for placing the financial burden squarely on Wayne’s shoulders. But his shoulders are broad, his back strong, his faith in me unwavering. I’ll never forget the day my copies of Hoodoo Money arrived from the publisher. He stood there holding a copy, grinning. In a huge and very real sense, he had made my dream possible.

PDB: Describe a typical writing day.

SCP: My writing days are not at all typical, especially now that our house is crowded again with two of our adult children temporarily moving back home after divorce -- and one with a very active child. A sign of the times, I suppose.

I’ve always done my best writing in the wee hours of the morning, when the house is still and quiet, when this old brain’s a bit fresher. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night with a thought or an idea, a plotting problem solved. I get up and jot notes on paper so I can continue developing them later. I write one day, and then start the next day reading aloud what I wrote the day before.

PDB: I love talking to people who have started a new venture mid-life! They are filled with excitement, promise, and are revived from all that has previously passed. How has your age and experience helped make you a better writer?

SCP: There’s no doubt that age and experience and folks I’ve met along life’s journey, have enhanced my writing. It’s like trace evidence: every person you come in contact with, every encounter or stumble, leaves a fingerprint of sorts. I never know when that memory morsel will pop into your head, or as part of a character in my work in progress. There’s also a maturity to my writing I believe wouldn’t have been there in my twenties, or even in my thirties. Focus is clearer, goals more defined. I'm not as afraid to fail in my sixties so I'm able to take chances I otherwise wouldn’t have dared take. Maybe because somewhere along the way I have already failed, and I found that failure doesn’t define  or destroy me. If anything it makes me a stronger, more determined individual. God, I love writing!

PDB:
Tell us what makes your most current release, Mangroves and Monsters, special to you as a story.

SCP: Since reading Theresa Weir’s Amazon Lily years ago, and sharing the author’s humor and jungle adventure with my grown daughters, I dreamed of writing such a tale. This one was for my girls.

PDB: If you could secretly step into the book and be one of the characters or in one of the situations, which would it be?

PenningtonDuoSCP: I’d definitely be Kat O’Leary in Mangroves and Monsters. She’s not drop-dead gorgeous, but Kat’s feisty, clever and brave. And she’s a bush pilot, living in an exotic paradise -- how could her life not be filled with adventure? I’m dragging her and Brent into the third novel, by the way, and plan on stirring up plenty of trouble for them.

PDB:
What's something surprising about Hoodoo Money, your first novel, that would surprise readers if they knew?

SCP: The predominant crime scene in Hoodoo Money -- the murder of the Delacroix brothers -- mirrors a scene I’d researched early on for a true-crime piece I planned to write with my youngest daughter, Jennifer. We’d done all the legwork, visited the DA’s office and the home where the murder occurred. We had evidence lists and statements, obtained photos, and even exchanged correspondence with the convicted killer. In one letter, he asked, “Why would a nice lady like you want to write such a vile story?” He followed it with, “Write something people will love to read, something they’ll enjoy and share, something that’ll make them smile, fantasy maybe.” The lead detective on that case had once told me that he considered the killing justifiable homicide -- off the record, of course. And I’d struggled with the idea of writing a tell-all book that would follow the boys involved for the rest of their lives. So . . . instead of a tell-all, I used that accumulated research and wrote Hoodoo Money. I sincerely hope it does make readers smile and brings them pleasure.

PDB: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing this book?

SCP: I suppose it was Angeline St. Cyr. I’d planned on throwing the readers a curve ball and killing her off from page one. But I wanted them to grow to like her first, so they would care when she died. Unfortunately, I grew to like Angeline, too, and to appreciate her stubbornness and her charm. So did my critique group. Her death caused quite a stir.

PDB: What are you working on now? What can we expect next from your writings?

SCP: I’m currently writing the third installment of the Hoodoo Money series, Reparation, as well as putting finishing touches on a stand-alone romantic suspense novel with a supernatural twist, The Churchyard Watcher.

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PDB: What is your most successful marketing technique to date?

SCP: A tough question because I’m constantly searching for that most successful marketing technique. It’s like a quest, with the author watching and listening and learning. I can share the wonderful printing company my publisher turned me on to, Vistaprint. Once you’ve made an initial purchase from them, they continually offer freebies: postcards, pens, refrigerator magnets, business and rack cards, posters and flyers. The only thing you pay for is the postage.

With printing companies in mind, here’s a little marketing trick I can also share. You can design and fit three bookmarks horizontally on an oversized postcard. You have to cut them yourself and punch holes for ribbon, but the bookmarks turn out beautifully and are very cost efficient. I’ve used a lot of them.

PDB: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

SCP:
Oh, yes. This is a discussion I’ve had with my husband a few times. When you read a book -- whether you purchase it from Amazon, B&N, or the swap-n-shop bookseller around the corner -- write a review and post it somewhere. A lot of booksellers allow reviews even if you haven’t bought the book from them. It doesn’t have to be five-star review or a thousand words. A few honest lines will do. Besides, I've learned through forum participation that readers often pay more attention to the two and three star reviews. Reviews help both the reader and the author.

I’d like to end my interview by thanking you, Jamie, again for allowing me to talk about this craft I so love. Happy reading, everyone!

Click Here to view Sharon Cupp Pennington's profile.