A warm welcome to today’s Spotlight Author, Sarah Hadley Brook
Did you always want to write fiction?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write stories. As a young child, I created and wrote little stories for my dolls. For a while, in college, I debated majoring in Journalism, but finally decided I didn’t want to report the news. I didn’t have the drive for that—the need to break a story. I have a lot of respect for journalists, but I wanted to create my own characters and see where they led me.
Of course, my life went down another path and in my daily life, I am an Executive Director for a nonprofit, which I truly love. But the writing bug was always there, just beneath the surface and one day I just decided to go for it. Now I can’t stop myself from writing!
What song means the most to you?
When I was in third grade, a boy brought a record in for Show-and-Tell. It was The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. I grew up in a fairly religious home where the only music that we listened to was instrumental, religious songs, or those children’s records with stories or songs. Until I heard The Gambler, I had no idea those kinds of songs even existed!
As I grew up, I didn’t continue to listen to very much country music, but I will always love The Gambler because it opened my eyes to a world of new music.
What is your most prized possession?
I have two and they’re both books. (Surprise, right?) The first is one of the Little House paperback books. It was given to me in second grade for reading the most books that year. But what makes it so special to me is that it was from my very favorite teacher, Mrs. Nichols. I adored her. I struggled in elementary school due to a lot of fear and anxiety and she always made me feel that everything was going to be okay. She could have given me any old book, but because she had taken the time to truly get to know me, she knew how much I loved the Little House books. And she wrote a sweet note inside.
When my oldest son was a baby, he got hold of a pen and drew all over that book, but I still have it. I wouldn’t get rid of it for anything in the world.
The other book is a hardcover of Little Women. I read that story when I was young and in fourth grade, I bought it with my own money. It was the first book that was truly mine—that I had paid for myself. I’d seen it in a bookstore at the mall and fell in love with the cover and all the special things added—the gold on the paper edges, the beautiful illustrations scattered throughout the book. It took me a while to save up to buy that, but I did. (I know my grandma helped a lot by letting me do extra things around her apartment to earn money.)
Ever since I had read that story I wanted to be Jo and somehow, buying that book made me feel a little closer to my dream.
I still have both of those books. They sit together on a bookshelf and I still pull them out to flip through them.
Is there a temptation you wish you could resist?
Chocolate! Anything chocolate. There is no such thing as too much chocolate. But I wish I had better willpower when it came to chocolate.
What is your writing process?
When I start a story, it’s either because I’ve seen an open submission call from a publisher (I love taking an idea and running with it) or it’s because a story has popped into my head and I can’t get it out of my mind. Anything can trigger an idea: sitting in traffic, talking to a friend, watching my cats play—anything.
I work on building my characters first. I use Pinterest to create a board and start pinning like crazy—hair styles, eyes, careers, etc. Once I have my characters down, I try to plot out my stories, but sometimes the characters lead me down an entirely different path. Instead of fighting it, I just go with it.
Since I work full time through the week, it’s a balancing act to write as often as I want. I do tend to hole myself up on the weekends and write, ignoring the outside world as best I can, until I emerge Monday morning.
I also prefer deadlines. They tend to keep me focused.
Do you have a philosophy for life?
I do! When I was a teenager, someone I greatly admired gave me this advice: “Never do something that would embarrass you if it was printed on the front page of the newspaper.” Although, when I think of it now, I swap out newspaper and use website, but I still try to live by it. I try to live an honest life and the people around me know my life is an open book. (That’s not to say I don’t keep a few secrets to myself, though!)
Have you ever considered writing anything other than romance?
I’m a huge Star Trek fan and love Sci-Fi. Star Trek Voyager is my favorite show of all time. So, at one time I considered trying my hand at science fiction, but my passion isn’t writing it—just watching it and reading it. So I stick with M/M romance, my favorite genre to write.
Thank you for sharing more about yourself.
Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the nonprofit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have co-starred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity to live. She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.
GENRE: Gay Erotic Romance
LENGTH: 50,076 words
Jacob Baumgardner is struggling to get his nonprofit shelter for gay teens off the ground because the building needs a lot of help before it can pass inspection. Raised by his grandparents for part of his life, Jacob feels that the shelter is his chance to honor them, but someone is making things difficult. An anonymous extortionist seems determined to ruin Jacob’s late grandfather’s good name and keep the shelter from opening.
Luka Smith is struggling to find his place in the world after a traumatic event in his teen years pushed him to run. When Jacob hires him to help with repairs at the shelter, Luka falls for his new boss hard. Luka wants nothing more than to help Jacob realize his dream.
As they work together to ensure The Promise of Hope Shelter gets off the ground, their feelings for each other only grow. But will a calculating blackmailer close the shelter before it even has a chance?
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