My Seven Questions author feature has been on hiatus, but it is not forgotten! Getting it back into full throttle with a May edition, I welcome the lovely Sydney Scrogham, whose new contemporary fantasy about overcoming a difficult past–and flying unicorns!–is coming out in June. Her book is Ariel: The First Guardian.When she’s not writing, Sydney is at the barn with her horse, Snowdy, or she’s catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever–Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe.
Here’s a chance to get a tiny glimpse inside her mind with Seven Questions:
EJS: Pitch your book in three sentences or less.
SS: Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone—ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force that can only be cured with the help of another human. Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.
EJS: Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.
Note from EJS–Sydney has a blog post all about how to make this decision that you can read in full here. However, here is the final portion of that post, from Sydney’s blog at sswriter.com, that explains which way she ended up going:
SS: “I want to have control over my books so I can make them look and feel like I imagine. I want to have higher royalties. Since I’m controlling the majority of my marketing anyway, I’m willing to commit to this for the long haul. I decided to self-publish because it is a good fit for my writing goals in this moment.
That doesn’t mean I’d reject a publishing contract from the Big 5. But I did recently reject a publishing offer. After reading through the contract I was offered, I decided the only boost they could give me was a little extra marketing.
To me, that wasn’t worth surrendering to a cover I had no control over, signing away my ebook, audio book (even though there was no intention to make an audio book by this publisher), and print rights for three years (!!! – one year is enough…), taking about a 10% royalty from a sale, and having no say in the product price all in exchange for a tiny bit of marketing.
My book would’ve been published through Createspace with that publisher. That’s exactly what I could have done for myself and chosen my own cover, price, and a 70% royalty. Yes, it’s a little more work on my end, but to me, that’s worth it.”
EJS: What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?
SS: I read a lot of romance, and then fantasy. I’m a big believer of what goes in comes out, so I tend to aim for the books that are labeled “best-sellers.” But still, if a book doesn’t capture me by the first chapter, I put it down. If I’m going to write things that are captivating, I’m going to only read things that are captivating.
EJS: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
SS: From Ted Dekker, “Make writing your spiritual exercise.” That’s what I did with Ariel’s story. I journeyed into a painful situation from my past (no, I won’t reveal which one) and as my pain became Ariel’s pain, something shifted in me when Ariel got her moment of healing. I was set free, too.
EJS: What makes a great sentence?
SS: Clear, to the point, and—oh, plenty of personality.
EJS: How and when did you first know you were a writer?
I’ve always lived in a story. It started as a kid playing with toys for hours and hours, and then when I was 11, I wrote my first “book” that was not even 20 pages, a sentence on each page, and I illustrated it myself. Then I wrote a 30-some chapter book series about the Alicorns of Agalrae (creatures in my published books now), and after a lot of hard work, released Chase in 2015. I’ve never really stopped writing. It’s a part of me.
EJS: What’s your secret superpower?
Speaking and interpreting all the languages in the world.
EJS: Many thanks to Sydney for joining me for Seven Questions. You can learn more about her and her various passions at her website: http://www.sswriter.com/.