Monday, July 09, 2012


Author Sylvia McDaniel

Please welcome a long-time friend and fellow author, Sylvia McDaniel. Sylvia and I are members of Dallas Area Romance Authors, where she is President-Elect. Now, here’s Sylvia’s interview:

Caroline:  I feel I know about you, but please give the readers a little peep into your life. Where did you grow up?

Sylvia: I was born in San Angelo, Texas and we moved to Irving, Texas when I was a twelve. The change was quite a culture shock for me. West Texas schools were so much more laid back than the Metroplex school I attended.

I've always been a bookworm. My mother took me to the library when I was in second grade and I felt like a whole new world opened up to me.

Caroline: The library opened wonderful worlds for me, too. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Sylvia: Kathleen Woodwiss is the author that turned me on to historical romance. I loved FLAME AND THE FLOWER, A WOLF AND A DOVE, and SHANNA.  Today, my favorite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Wiggs and Rachel Gibson.  Today, I read more contemporaries and women's fiction than I do historicals, mainly because I burned out on the regency period.

Caroline: I am an eclectic reader. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Sylvia: I love to hike and fish. Yes, I've been into fishing since my Grandfather taught me when I was a little girl.  I don't get to go very often anymore.  There is nothing like being on the lake early in the morning when the water is calm, the air is cool and everything is still.  It's so relaxing that you don't care if the fish bite or not.  Just rocking in the boat is enough to make you forget about the every day stresses of life.

Caroline: I agree sitting in a boat lets all your cares float away. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Sylvia: Not really. Life is always changing. I've learned to accept that people, jobs and things come and go in your life.  Make the best of your time with those people while they're in your life, but always know someday they will be gone.

Caroline: How long have you been writing?

Sylvia: Oh God! Twenty-two years and I still feel like I have so much to learn.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Sylvia: I would prefer to write in Colorado in a log home up in the mountains, but I spend my time in my office. I need quiet. If music or the television is on, I'm either singing to the music or watching the television. I'm easily distracted from the movie I have playing in my head.

Caroline: I always thought Estes Park in summer and Texas in winter. Like you, I write in my office. Although I know the answer to this, I’ll ask for our readers: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Sylvia: Definitely a plotter. I do a storyboard before I start writing the book. I know what needs to happen in each scene, but making that event happen is always a challenge. And things often change along the way. I'm always open to change, but I have to know the ending way in advance.

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Sylvia: Years ago I did. But not anymore.

Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals?

Sylvia: I spend a lot of time plotting. Once the storyboard is done, then I write fast and furious. No one sees the first draft but me. Why? Because I don't need a lot of criticism when I'm trying to get the story down on paper. After I do the first draft, then I start taking chapters to my critique partners. I'm not a fast writer, but I'm hoping in the future, I will get faster when I no longer have a day job.

I spend months editing and revising. On the next two books to be published, I've hired Beta Readers.

Caroline: A day job gets in the way of creating books, doesn’t it? What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Sylvia: I want the reader to laugh, to cry and when she puts the book down, say 'I loved that story. When is the next book coming out.'  That's the experience I'm always looking for as a reader.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Sylvia: I'm hoping that I can become a full-time writer in January. I will never be the next Nora Roberts. But I hope that my readers will enjoy my books enough to continue to read them and know that my heart and soul goes into every story.

Caroline: I certainly enjoyed each of your books. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Sylvia: Ohhh....I just finished a Christmas book, that I loved. The hero in this book wrapped his arms around my heart and I fell in love with him. (Don't tell my husband.) Colin is such a wounded soul and there are angels and children and a puppy. It's called THE RELUCTANT SANTA and should be available the end of October. Some books just come to an author and this one holds a special place in my heart.  

Caroline: Sounds intriguing. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Sylvia: Finish the book. You can always go back and edit a book, but unless there are words on the page, you don't have a product. When you finish one book, start a second.  Keep writing no matter what anyone says to you. I stopped writing for awhile and I regret that decision. I'm about to start book fifteen and I should never have let the market, critiques etc get me down. Turn off the criticism and write.

Caroline: A fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Sylvia: I use to be my high school’s number one women's tennis player. I went back and forth between being number one and two. I was skinny when I played tennis, but today my knees would scream at me if I tried to play.

Caroline: Something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Sylvia: Thanks to an ankle sprain in New York last year, my doctor recommended that I do Yoga to improve my balance. For the last year I've been taking Yoga. It's been incredible and has helped my body so much.

Caroline: Yoga is wonderful for the body. So is Tai Chi. Tell us about your book series.

Sylvia: The Burnett Brides is a series. There are three books and if I ever get the time, I may write one of the grandkid’s story.  Right now there is just not the time.

Caroline: If only we had time to tell all the stories! Tell us something you learned researching your book that surprised/interested you.

Sylvia: I knew Fort Worth was a wild town back during the cattle drives, but I was shocked to learn just how bad it was for women.  There were so many women who where soiled doves who lived conducted business in a tent. When I thought of soiled doves, I thought of Miss Kitty on “Gunsmoke.” She had a great place. These poor women had nothing. Very, very sad.

Caroline: So true! Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

Sylvia: Eugenia Burnett wants grandchildren and she's determined to find wives for her unruly brood of sons anyway she can.

Caroline: How about an excerpt:

    At the sound of the rapid knock, Tucker glanced up from the paperwork on his desk. Why did the sight of Sarah always cause his heart to give a small leap? She stood in the doorway, her face red, her body taut Something was dreadfully wrong.
     “Can I come in?” Her voice was polite and brisk.
Tucker jumped up from behind the desk and hurried around to greet her. “What’s wrong? You wouldn’t have come if there wasn’t a problem”
     He could see the tension in her body in the way she walked toward him carrying a small tin.
    “What’s in there?” he asked, afraid of the answer.
    “This is what’s the matter,” she said, laying the tin on the desk and pulling off the lid. Then she reached inside a layer of white tissue paper and pulled out his mother’s bridal veil.
    Tucker cringed. “I tried to warn you.”
    Sarah watched him, a frustrated expression on her beautiful face. “I was bluntly honest with her, and she didn’t hear me. She had the gall to ask me to wear the thing when I marry you!”
     Tucker stared at her, thoughts racing through his mind. How could he honor his plan to help Sarah find another man when his own mother was so determined to see him wed to Sarah? And when all he could think of was the chance to kiss her again...

Caroline: Lovely excerpt! Where can readers find your books?


Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Sylvia: Here are some links:
@writerSylvia -- Twitter

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Sylvia: This ebook world is such a new frontier. I'm learning as fast as I can to try to keep up with it, but I'm not a computer guru, just a writer. I hope that you will come along for the ride with me and we both can experience this changing world.

Thanks and I appreciate your having me and everyone stopping by to visit.

 Caroline: Thanks for sharing with us today, Sylvia. I look forward to your October release.

Readers, thanks for stopping by!


Liese said...

Sylvia: the series sounds fantastic! Best of luck with it and the wonderful world of ebooks!

Sylvia said...

Hi Liese,
Thanks for coming by. I loved this series. Eugenia made it fun!

Roxy Boroughs said...

Until recently, it was difficult to find historical westerns. Now they seem to be everywhere. And are extremely popular. What's your take on the cyclical nature of publishing?

Sylvia said...

Hi Roxy,
I think everything comes back around. Yet, with self-publishing now being so popular, I think we're going to have so many choices and get to choose to read whatever we want. Yes, Western Historicals just seemed to die back in the 90's and they were so hard to find. Now, they are seeing a resurgence and I love it. I have two of Caroline's on my Kindle ready for my vacation coming up soon.

Molly Cannon said...

Sylvia- I love western historicals, so I can't wait to read your books!

Sylvia said...

Hi Molly,
Thanks for stopping by. I love western historicals as well. This series has a matchmaking mother, so it was fun.

Stephanie said...

The Marshall Takes a Bride sounds great--and what a gorgeous cover! I'd buy it for the cover alone!
Good luck, Sylvia!
Stephanie Queen

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Caroline and Sylvia!

I really enjoyed your Burnett Brides series Sylvia. So what's next for you?

Sylvia said...

Hi Stephanie,
Thanks the Fabulous Kathleen Baldwin created that cover. Love it. Thanks for stopping by.

Sylvia said...

Hi Kat,
Next for me is a new contemporary called My Sisters Boyfriend, which will be out in August. This one has never appeared in print before, so I'm kind of excited about it. Then the Reluctant Santa comes out in October. Thanks for asking. Everyone Kat is the designer of my covers and she is doing an awesome job.

Celia Yeary said...

Well, Sylvia, I think I like you. West Texas girls are the best.
And I enjoyed your interview very much. Caroline is so good at asking the right questions.
Your newest book sounds like one I'd love to read..and write...if I'd though of it. The premise is wonderful! I hope she finds wives for all those rowdy boys.
I'm so happy to meet you.
Caroline and I have decided we share so much in common we can be cousins--not sisters because we don't resemble each other at all.
Cousins of the heart.

Sylvia said...

Hi Celia,
Yes West Texas girls are special. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Cousins are often better than sisters. Not all that jealousy there in the mix. Momma Eugenia, pulls some fast ones to get her sons married. Thanks for stopping by. It was great to meet you and hope to talk to you again soon!

Paty Jager said...

It's always fun getting to know other authors.
The excerpt was intriguing. Good luck with your series.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Sylvia,
I enjoyed your post! It was nice getting to know you a little better. :) Your series sounds like fun! Good luck with the world of ebooks!!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Hi Sylvia, It was delightful getting to know you today. Absolutely love your pretty bright cover.

I love Kathleen Woodiwiss, too. I am writing today because I fell in love with Shanna and wanted to see if I could write, too. Have almost all of her books and love them.

Best of luck with continued success.

Sylvia said...

Hi Paty,
I see your name everywhere. I feel like I should know you.

Sylvia said...

Hi Karilyn,
Thanks for stopping by. We've known each other forever it seems, but we've never really talked.

Sylvia said...

Hi Paisley,
I loved Shanna. It was one of my favorites by Kathleen. I still go back and re-read one of her books just because I enjoy them. So sorry she's no longer here with us. Thanks for stopping by.

Carra Copelin said...

Hi Sylvia. I enjoyed your interview so much. I agree it's hard to write successfully while working. I stopped actively writing for about 10 years due to work and I regret it as well. You're right about writing regardless of criticism and I'll add to that, general lack of respect and support.
I enjoy your work and have a couple of yours on my TBR list.
Caroline, thanks for having, Sylvia, today!