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Friday, February 7, 2014

3-Year Blogoversary Party ~ Interview with Sarah Sundin and Giveaway!

Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Sarah! Thanks for celebrating my blog's 3-Year Blogoversary with us! Will you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in northern California, and I’m a mother of three, on-call hospital pharmacist, Sunday school teacher, and an author of historical fiction.

How many books have you written/published and which one was the toughest to write?

My fifth published novel, On Distant Shores, was released in August. The most difficult was probably With Every Letter, the first book in my second series. After spending almost ten years with my first series (it took me a long time to get published!), it felt strange to shift to new characters and a new focus.

What is something the average reader wouldn't know about you?

I used to sew before I started writing—I made a lot of my daughter’s little girl dresses and even made my own wedding gown. Once I started writing, I lost all interest in sewing. It’s as if the tiny creative bit in my brain can only handle one outlet.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I wrote my first three novels longhand (with pencil on binder paper!), but now I write straight into the computer.

Where do you like to write?

I now have a desk in a home office, but I didn’t use to. I started writing when my children were little, so I learned to write wherever I could—on the sidelines at soccer games, in karate studios, during gymnastics classes, while waiting at the DMV…and I can still do that if I need to.

When you are writing a book, do you just write as you go or do you have a set outline for the novel?

I can’t write without an outline. I just can’t. But in general, I’m a list-maker and schedule-setter and map-maker. That’s how I work best. For some authors, an outline stifles all creativity, but for me, it releases my creativity.

I’m sure you do a lot of research for your novels, what is one of the most interesting facts you’ve come across?

Oh yes. Tons of research. In my latest novel, On Distant Shores, the hero serves as an Army pharmacist in WWII. As a pharmacist myself, I was fascinated by the many changes in my profession. A lot of the medications we depend on nowadays weren’t available back then—whole classes of medications. Other meds, like penicillin, were brand-new, and they were still experimenting on how to best use it.

What is the best and/or worst part about being a writer?

The best part is getting to write stories! And actually getting paid to do so!! The worst part is keeping up with publicity and marketing and all the technological and social media changes. It’s time-consuming and exhausting. But it’s vital—and I absolutely love interacting with readers—so I do it.


What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I’m sure this question refers to free time and hobbies…but I don’t really have either! I’m either writing, chauffeuring kids, volunteering, or working in the hospital. At least writing is very relaxing for me, so it still feels like a hobby.

What is your favorite genre to read and why?

I love all sorts of genres. The classics, historicals, women’s fiction, fun contemporary romances, thrillers, suspense, an occasional fantasy book. But absolutely no horror. Ever.

Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet? 

I’ve been blessed. My husband traveled for many years on business, so I benefitted from the frequent flier miles—England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Australia. I’ve been horribly spoiled. But I would love to go back someday.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Always, but it changes constantly, depending on what I’m going through or what the Lord is teaching me. The Scripture my pastor used in today’s sermon really spoke to me. It’s a lifelong favorite but addresses me where I’m at right now: Philippians 3:13-14: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?


Varies with my mood For movies, I love the classics and good, clean romantic comedies like You’ve Got Mail. For music, I listen to Big Band for “research” and fun, and I also love contemporary Christian music and classical.

What's your favorite season and why is it your fav?

Autumn, and not just because I’m a November baby. As a nerd, going back to school was always my favorite time of year, and I love the changing colors (yes, we have a bit of that in northern California) and chilly weather.

What's your favorite party food?

Anything small and cute. When my daughter and I were preparing our finger foods for New Year’s Eve, we were discussing how much better food tastes when it’s little and cute. Why exactly does a baby carrot taste better than a regular carrot? Or frozen mini tacos over regular tacos? I don’t know, but they do.

Some this-or-that questions:

Snowstorms or Thunderstorms?  
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we never get snowstorms and rarely get thunderstorms. Sigh. I love dramatic weather.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Yes, please!

Tea or Coffee?
Coffee in the morning—I need a more brutal form of caffeine (see early-bird or night-owl question below). In the afternoon, I adore the gentleness and subtlety of tea—hot tea in the winter, iced in the summer. No sugar. Just pure lovely tea.

Call or Text?
Call or email. Honestly, it takes my teen daughter five minutes to have a text conversation with her best friend—words that would take five seconds to speak. The only time I like texts is when phone calls aren’t appropriate.

Cats or Dogs?
I’m a lifelong cat person, but I married a dog person, so we have one of each. And I love both of them.

Early-bird or Night-owl?
Night owl through and through.

Introvert or Extrovert?
Introvert, but I can play extrovert in social situations.

Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook—it’s so much more interactive and relational. But I do both.

Are you currently working on any new novels? If so, would you give us a hint?

The last novel in the Wings of the Nightingale series, In Perfect Time, is finished and it comes out in August 2014. Also I have a story in a WWII Christmas novella collection with Tricia Goyer and Cara Putman (working title: Where Treetops Glisten) coming in October 2014. And now I’m diving into the first book in my new Waves of Freedom series (working title), which follows three American naval officers based in Boston in WWII.

Thank you so much for being here! Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers and where can we find you on the web?

I’m so glad you came by! You can find me on the web at…


Enter for a chance to win a copy of On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin! Giveaway is open to the US and Canada. Ends 2/15

How to enter: Sign into the Giveaway Tools form below (it might take a moment to load) and submit each entry you complete. Commenting alone will not get you entered – you must click enter on the form. Happy entering!

Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Giveaway Tools and announced here as well as emailed and will have up to one week to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Giveaway Tools or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. I am not responsible for any packages lost or damaged in the mail. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

78 comments:

  1. I read this book when it came out . . . Loved it!

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    1. Thank you, Madilyn! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel ;)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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  3. I absolutely love Sarah's work and would love the chance to win! Thanks for hosting!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoy the books!

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  4. I absolutely love Sarah's work and would love the chance to win this! Thanks for hosting!

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  5. I love stories about WWII and I would probably hate having the marketing and publicity part of writing too.

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    1. Not many writers do enjoy marketing & publicity, but it's necessary and we do it :)

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  6. I have this book on my must read list! Love the interview!!

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  7. Happy Birthday! Thank you for the chance to win On Distant Shores.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Isn't it fun for Melanie to share her blogoversary with us? Love it.

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  8. I'm glad someone who writes WWII fiction loves big band music - it's absolutely the best to swing dance to!

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    1. I would love to learn to swing dance! I'm a dancer at heart - but I married the dearest, sweetest, most wonderful man - who can NOT dance.

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  9. It is interesting to me as well, the medicines and remedies they used long ago for medical issues. I love reading historical books. Thanks for the giveaway.
    koho143 (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    1. Thank you, Heather! It was so interesting to learn about.

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  10. I loved Sarah's earlier series, but haven't read any of the new ones. I am eager to get my hands on them!

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    1. Thanks, Kandra! I hope you enjoy the Wings of the Nightingale series!

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  11. I enjoyed the post with Sarah. I have just started reading her books. Love the history and story lines. Thank you
    mcnuttjem0(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Jackie! I'm glad you're enjoying the books!

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  12. Sarah,
    You books look really delightful! I have not had the opportunity yet to read any but I am truly looking forward to it.

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  13. For some reason I have a hard time writing longhand with pencil and paper beyond note-taking. I can't seem to get my thoughts as organized that way! But I can identify with what you said about only being able to handle one creative outlet at a time...I used to play the piano before I started to put more into my writing. :) Looking forward to reading your books!

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    1. I write less and less longhand every year. And the less I write, the worse my handwriting gets. And the worse my handwriting gets, the more it frustrates me, and the less I write. Writing by hand might become a lost art soon!

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  14. Research must take you a very longtime, how long approximately?

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    1. It does. It's hard to say just how long because I'm constantly reading a research book or looking something up on the internet. I do an intense amount of research before I begin a project to make sure I get the details right, but then the research continues all the way through the project. On average, I research about an hour a day - so about an eighth of my total working time.

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  15. Sarah - I love your books - I have not read this one yet - putting it on my TBR list now :)

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    1. Thank you, Sharon! I hope you like it.

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  16. I loved the first one of this series! Thanks for the giveaway! :)

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    1. Thanks, Anna! That's my daughter's name :)

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  17. These books look great! I am going to have to check them out :)

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  18. I met you at the B&N in Antioch for my nephew's book fair. You were very pleasant and so sweet to explain to me that Antioch was a backdrop your first book "A Distant Melody," which was my first exposure to your work. Needless to say, consider me a big fan! Thanks for signing my book. I'm working my way through your Wing of Glory series now and look forward to reading your other works! God bless!

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    1. Hi Irene! I remember you :) I'm so glad (relieved) that you enjoyed the story. I hope you enjoy the rest. I'm glad we met!

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  19. Hi Melanie and Sarah, Hope you both are doing well! I am a chocolate ice-cream person but if there is vanilla and as long chocolate syrup is available I'm good.

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  20. All these books sound sooooo wonderful! :)

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  21. It sounds like a wonderful read. Thanks for having the giveaway.

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  22. What wonderful and memorable novels which interest me greatly. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  23. I am so looking forward to reading this series of books... just the covers draw me in. :) ladettek[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Thanks, Ladette! Revell does spectacular work on their covers. I'm always stunned they come up with covers that perfectly express the heart of the story - and are gorgeous.

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  24. Hello Sarah. I have your first book in this series and would love to have this one. I love these WW ll books. I was young but remember this war. My oldest brother served in this war. Also two brother-in-laws, cousins, and many friends. I remember my family moving to Houston, Tx. so my dad could work in the Shipyard. We moved from a very small town. I remember how the Americans joined together to help and support our troops in every way they could. Unlike today, when too many people just want to complain. I remember my older sisters going to the USO to visit with and dance with the servicemen. Also, my mother sometimes fed 5 or 6 of them a Sunday dinner. Please put my name in to have a chance to win.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Hi Maxie! It's always good to hear from you. You have such wonderful stories - keep on keeping them alive!

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  25. I know this is wrong to say about I had forgotten about this author. so excited to enter and check my local library
    jnu1@yahoo.com

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    1. That is SO funny! :) My teenagers will get a kick out of that.

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  26. Would love to win a copy of your newest book, Sarah!

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  27. I have always been interested in WWII. Comes from having a mother and grandmother who love watching old movies and making history so interesting! Thank you for the chance to win!
    Brittany McEuen

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    1. My parents & grandparents made history interesting to me too - and my mom introduced me to the joy of classic movies. I always feel kind of sad for people who aren't interested in anything more than a year old :(

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  28. I enjoyed what you said about your creativity being focused in one area at a time. Good for you for making your own wedding dress. Both my cousins did that, and I still impressed to this day!

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    1. It's a wonderful memory, and I'm so glad I did it. But I will NOT sew my daughter's dress - as if she'd let me :)

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  29. I 'm so glad to hear about your new series Wings of the Nightingale, I love the WWII settings.

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    1. Thank you, Merry! It was such a fun and interesting series to write!

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  30. This was really fun to read! The 1940's is my favorite era, so I love Sarah's books. I've read all of them so far and am really looking forward to In Perfect Time.

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    1. Thanks, Sereina! And I love your Pinterest boards :)

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  31. You are writing a book with Tricia??? Oh, that will be good!!! I cannot wait for each one of your books! I have a few authors that I buy every one they write, and extra to give away and you are one of them!

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    1. I am! We had so much fun writing the collection. Working on the edits right now :)

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  32. Fun! I love the two books of Sarah's that I've read (A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us) and I'm excited about getting my hands on more! Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Thanks, Rachelle! I'm glad you've enjoyed the books!

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  33. Love this time period! Thanks for the fun interview and giveaway.

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  34. I have read a couple of your books, Sarah, and quite enjoyed them! I recall crying once, which as you know, is a big compliment to the author. ;) Thanks for sponsoring the giveaway!

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    1. Sad to say - authors live for moments like that. And for making readers lose sleep. Hmm. Maybe I should make an appointment with a psychologist...

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  35. So I have one of your books waiting for me on my Kindle, but I haven't opened it yet. It's now a priority for me!! Thank you for the great interview!!! :) I can't wait to read ALL your books. :D

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  36. You are blessed to be able to travel so much. Have you had to go back to any country for research purposes or do you take good notes or have a great memory?.

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    1. A definite blessing! My husband used to travel a LOT on business, so he accumulated gobs of frequent flier miles. Each time I visited a country, I already had the story plotted out, so I knew what I wanted to see. I take lots of notes, photos, and video - and pick up books and brochures and maps. All of these really help when I'm writing the scenes.

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  37. I'm the same way with creative outlets. Only with more - I obsess with a hobby for months and then dump it when I discover something new!

    I bet some of your research gives you a renewed appreciation for living in today's time! ;)

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    1. Yes, researching WWII makes me appreciate our time of peace even more - but it often makes me frustrated with our selfish and short-sighted generation. So there are negatives :)

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  38. This interview is probably one of my favorite's that I've read on this blog. And Sarah, you seem like you'd be a really cool and laid-back person to get to know in person. :D

    ~Camille M.

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    1. "Cool and laid-back..." I'll have to read your comment to my teen daughter - she loves a good laugh :)

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Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8