Sbr Martin's Blog - Posts Tagged "amazon"

I'm a proud Pittsburgher, and have been honored to work with other Pittsburgh talent.

Is Pittsburgh the center of the universe? Read this post and let me know what you think.


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Pig Blooms from Pittsburgh Orchard, Parented by Pittsburgh Artists

Question: What do you get when you combine a Pittsburgh author with a Pittsburgh visual artist, a Pittsburgh photographer, and a self-started Pittsburgh business?

Answer: “Pig.” -

Pittsburgh native and resident Sarah Beth (Rem) Martin, pen name sbr martin, is an author of contemporary psychological fiction. Her second novel, “pig,” was honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.

Of Martin’s submission, Publishers Weekly wrote: “The ultimate resolution ofthe story makes for quite a surprise… (Martin) is able to build good characters, flawed and believable, yet familiar; so that at the end one is saddened, butalso, in a strange way, enriched.”

Set in Pittsburgh, “pig” is the story of Lily, a woman holding on to too much pain and too many secrets, including a big secret she’s keeping from herself. The entire noveltakes place at her husband’s funeral, where she sits alone on a couch in the corner, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal.

The narrative comes from Lily’s memories, as stirred by the familiar faces of funeral home patrons. Physical abuse, graphic sex, and devastating loss arebut a few of the past events reawakened by Lily’s reflections - as are love, mothering, and redemption.

What does it take for a troubled woman to finally let go? How did her husband get in that box? And what is she holding in her hand? Step into Lily’s past toanswer the present questions. But don’t expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren’t meant to have happy endings.

When “pig” exited the 2012 ABNA, it was swiftly picked up by The Artists’ Orchard, LLC, a self-started Pittsburgh house in its toddler years. The Aritsts’ Orchard also published Martin’s first book, “in wake of water” (

Upon reward of pending publication, Martin sought tirelessly to acquire appropriate cover art to electronically cloak her writing. And, lo and behold, the perfect piece was right in her own backyard!

“Catwoman” was selected and acquired from the impressive portfolio of Jenn Wertz (,an accomplished Pittsburgh musician and visual artist best know for being an original member of multi-platinum recording artists Rusted Root, who are also based out of Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh partnership persists!

Author photography for both “pig” and “in wake of water” was generously contribued by PicChick Photography by Lizzy Bittner ( The talented Mrs. Bittner also provided cover photography for Martin’s first novel.

With all its Pittsburgh glory, “pig” was released as a Kindle edition eBook on 11 June 2012, and is available for purchase and lending on amazon at

More information can be found at

A digital review copy and/or press packet is available upon request sent to Interview/comment queries can be sent directly to Martin at

** So… Is Pittsburgh the center of the universe? Hell yeah! Just take a gander at all these stars shining in it. **

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
It's Friday the 13th! Of what are you scared? Check out my guest post on Cynthia Shepp's wordpress, where I compare supernatural villains to more natural ones. It's also part tribute to one of my favorite authors, Anne Rice.

There's a giveaway attached to the post - so read the whole thing and follow the rules for your chance to win!

Please take the time to explore Cynthia's site. Book reviews, author interviews, and editing services to boot - she's a busy gal who knows how to get the job done with tons of style and grace.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

A Friday the 13th Tribute to Mother Rice

How Vampire Fiction Influenced My Writing on Human Nature

I was first ensnared by vampires in 1994 when, like nearly every other lovelorn teenage girl in the world, I ran to the theater to see blonde beauty Brad Pitt star alongside top gun Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. The film was moving—deep and disturbing, yet inviting. It made me want to be a vampire a little bit, and not just so that I could keep company with two of Hollywood’s hottest hunks.

Since I was about 12 years old, I’ve been one of those people who is deathly afraid of death. To this day, I still have severe panic attacks when I attempt to contemplate the unknown. It’s always been an immobilizing fear that’s more than taken my breath away. So the idea of immortality seemed like a good thing to me. To live forever, to never die or face the unknown, if, that is, one actually faces anything after death—this seemed like a ticket I wanted to buy.

I overlooked a vital component of Interview though. I wasn’t able to see the suffering in Pitt’s pale eyes. All I could see was the promise of something more that his character’s eternal life offered. It wasn’t until two years later, when I decided to read the book on which the movie was based, that I caught a glimpse of the immortal’s inner struggle and turmoil.

A friend gave me a copy of Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” which I read in less than two days. In no time, I was off to the store to pick up the second installment in Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, followed by the third, the fourth, and the fifth.

Fortunately for me, I caught word of Rice’s work around the same time that she was coming out with additional books in the Vampire Chronicles and developing another bloodsucker saga, the New Tales of the Vampires. For the next few years, I spent a lot of time with my nose buried deep in any one of Rice’s books, reading, rereading, referencing, and reviewing. I’d say I was hooked, but that’s definitely an understatement.

In Rice’s volumes, I discovered something I’d never known before. The Vampire Chronicles were the first books I ever read for leisure’s sake, rather than as an academic assignment. Rice’s prose was more vivid, more alive, than anything I’d ever read in the classroom. The storylines were rich with flashbacks and side-stories so elaborate, so fascinating, that my jaw dropped several dozen times (per book).

What stood out to me most were Rice’s characters, the depth with which she explored them and the lengths to which she developed them. By far, they were the most intensely real and unquestionably human characters I’d ever encountered.

Keep in mind, however, that they weren’t actually human characters for the vast majority of pages. They were vampires.

But before they were vampires, yes, they were humans. And that humanness, that abstract idea of humanity, did not, for the most part, die when certain characters crossed over; if anything it was merely chilled to an icy cross between distraction and desperation.

The crux of my own mortal crisis was put before me via these beguiling beings. I saw in them a personification of my own greatest fears, and learned that perhaps I’d feared the wrong things.

By the time I was done with “The Vampire Lestat,” I’d already seen more than enough evidence that immortality wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The promise was not a promise, but a curse. The remaining novels in the series went on to prove just that.

The sadness that some of Rice’s characters bled—oh, the sadness! There is no beauty in an immortal life, nor even any life as life implies an end. Sinking but never reaching bottom, falling but never landing, the vampire is burdened to linger in an unceasing decline as all the world around him changes and decays. The deaths of human allies, the troubles of mankind, and disassociation from nature—war, disease, disaster—to these things the vampire bears eternal witness.

So it was that I learned not so much to fear death as to fear life, to fear all the things that one is tasked to tackle during her time on this planet, whether in a finite or infinite frame. This is not to say that Rice’s work made me afraid to live. Not at all. Indeed, it made me want to live as much as I can before my time comes.

Her references to art and music, to history and culture, to sensation and perception, remind me that this life is a mixed bag. For all the darkness one must face, so too there is light.

And I needed to be reminded of that light, and recall familiar characters to whom I could relate, when my own life’s story began to unfold. Losing my mom, my only sibling, my father, and my grandmother within seven very short years, I felt like Louis, Lestat, and a handful of my other favorite characters. I was alone, neglected, forgotten. Forsaken, perhaps. The immortality I once craved would not remedy this. It’d only make it much, much worse.

Rice’s words helped me grow, from a teen to a woman, from a happy-go-lucky idealist to an open-minded realist, and from a reader to a writer. They allowed me to take a look at the human experience, as enlivened by nonhumans, and ground my perspective as an individual and a creator.

When I began writing novels, I couldn’t help but write according to how I read. It became my goal to see the complex plots, realistic characters, dramatic story-telling, and cross-genre style of Mother Rice’s work reflected in my own fiction.

Note that the stories I write are not Horror, at least not in any traditional sense. There are absolutely no paranormal, other-than-natural elements in my work. I write about people, human beings, some of whom are far more monstrous than any preternatural inhabitant of Rice’s literary world.

Through the Vampire Chronicles, I was able to hone my understanding of what does and does not constitute a real “monster.” Lore and legend, along with pop culture notions, would have us believe that vampires are dirty, rotten beasts of prey. Evil. No good. Mean-spirited, depraved, inclined to do only harm.

This is not the typical Rice vampire. Rice vampires border on being tragic heroes, for whom the reader cannot help but feel empathy and compassion. These characters are troubled creatures. They simply are not monsters.

But some of my human characters are. Dirty, rotten beasts of prey. Evil. No good. Mean-spirited, depraved, inclined to do only harm. Yeah. These words are better suited for my characters than for Rice’s.

Take, for example, Bender, the male antagonist in my most recent release, “pig.” He’s not a very nice guy. He beats his wife, calls her despicable names, and makes her live under his thumb. He drinks too much, shoves chewing tobacco in his mouth every chance he gets, and is generally pissed off because he never found fame.

Let’s look at Louis now—the vampire who was interviewed in the first title of Rice’s series. Louis didn’t too much like the idea of killing humans for blood, so he’d drink from rats when he had the chance. With limited exception, he never wanted to pass his Dark Gift on to others, because he didn’t want another to suffer as he’d done for centuries without end.

Louis could deliver a world of hurt if he wanted to. But he doesn’t want to. Now, Bender, on the other hand, he’s lookin’ to give far more pain than he’s willing to receive. Louis’ immortal existence brought suffering and torture mainly to Louis himself, while it was others who suffered and were tortured during Bender’s mortal stint. So who’s the loathsome swine here?

This post is live online as of Friday, July 13, 2012. That’s right—Friday the 13th. It’s a day we think of Jason Voorhees, the undead, and other things that go “Boo!” But these aren’t the scariest things in this world.

We are.

We, the humans, must endure a human condition not unlike the inescapable humanness and humanity embodied in the plights of the vampires in Rice’s series. Life, loss, death, upheaval, decline, and lots of other scary shit goes on around us, unstoppable forces eroding our very existence as if we stood as timeless pillars on a plane of perpetual fast motion.

We, the humans, have in our genetic code a primal disposition toward the gruesome, an uncanny ability to turn human circumstances into inhumane situations. Abuse, adultery, alcoholism, asshole-ism run rampant on this planet. We are the victims and the aggressors of the most heinous acts imaginable.

A scorned wife cuts off her cheating husband’s penis. A militant extremist storms into a youth camp and opens fire. Shoe bombs on airplanes and child molesters next door. You name it. The world of supernatural fiction suddenly seems so much more appealing. It’s easier to assign such base emotions and actions to something that is not human or living. We don’t want to confront the realities we are capable of, or have already committed, so we look for a scapegoat, something nonhuman to absorb our more prurient human inclinations.

Vlad Tepes had a penchant for impaling his captives on wooden stakes and is rumored to have feasted on their remains. Countess Elizabeth Bathory liked to take nice warm baths in the blood of young virgins. History has noted these blood-lusters, and they were human. But talking about Dracula as a fictitious supernatural character, rather than as none other than Vlad Tepes, heir to the Dracul reign, allows us to think that we humans are better than we really are.

Just as blind faith has been argued as an opiate for the masses, so too can be unyielding interest in the preternatural. We need something to dilute the truth and shade us from the inevitable, the unsavory, and the unknown. Immortality quashes the quandary of an afterlife. Nonhuman monsters allow us to sidestep human accountability, while simultaneously engorging the ever-present imp of our universal perverse.

But what of the fictitious bad guys like my Bender?

Writing him does the same thing that writing a vampire does, by putting real fears into fiction. But it does something else as well—or, rather, doesn’t do something else.

It doesn’t allow the reader to shift focus away from human instinct and incident. It tells the reader that shit happens, and that it happens because of people just like you and just like me. People. A man whose artistic ambitions failed, who is unhappy in his marriage, who looks at sex as a disgraceful and distasteful act is capable of cruel things. And his battered wife is capable of murder.

Have you ever cheated on a significant other? Ever slapped or hit a loved one? Ever wished somebody dead or called them a foul name? If you did these things, how’d you feel afterwards? I’m guessing you probably felt bad. Maybe you felt a little freakish, kinda like a monster.

And if you felt that way, if you did these things or merely contemplated them, guess what: You’re not alone. You’re one of millions upon millions of other likeminded people, though you’ll find only a small fraction willing to admit to these primitive impulses.

You can step into my fiction to confront those parts of yourself that are human, that you don’t necessarily like. Find a character to relate to—a victim or a perpetrator—and hunker down with human nature. See real life threads mimicked and woven into fictitious elaborations. Embrace what you are, what you were, and what you never want to be. Hide from yourself no longer.

In closing, I feel the need to issue a disclaimer. I love me a good vampire novel! The first half of this post should show just how much I’ve been influenced and affected by the work of the mother of all vampire yarns, the Queen of the Damned herself, Anne Rice. So don’t think for one second that I’m dismissing the subgenre. We need these types of stories to function as a society. Alls I’m sayin’ is that we need my brand too.

Wanna meet my monsters? Find “pig” on Amazon at and on Facebook at

Video Teaser-Clip:

Also by sbr martin: “in wake of water,” available for purchase at and likeable on Facebook at

Check out sbr martin’s Goodreads author profile for blog updates, reviews, giveaways, and other cool stuff—

Read it. Live it. Love it. sbr.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Today, my blog tour lands me at the cyber-home of author J. Dane Tyler, where I expounded on my own writing history and process.

Check it out at

Just like me, JDT has some mighty cool initials! But that's just gravy. Take a look at his blog and you'll quickly discover that he's more than just a cool name - he's a name to know.

His site features a "Short Stories" section that'll keep your jaw dropping for hours. And, once you're done exploring his free content, don't be surprised if you find yourself on Amazon purchasing his books, which are only $2.99 a pop (

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Writing as a Reader: My Novel Approach to the Novel

I have been fortunate enough to study under the greats when it comes to literature and the art of writing fiction. Chuck Palahniuk schooled me on plot twists and the intentional consequences of inserting highly technical medical jargon into otherwise smooth text. Anne Rice educated me on the finer points of character depth and development.

The idea that one character can be both a protagonist and an antagonist at the same time was taught to me by John C. Gardner, as well as by Gregory Maguire. From Mr. William Faulkner, I learned how to further broaden a narrative’s “God” perspective. William Shakespeare, Jean Racine, and Nathaniel Hawthorne were but a few of my other instructors, joined by nonfiction scholars such as Sigmund Freud, Bruno Bettelheim, and Howard Zinn.

Needless to say, though I’ll say it anyway, it was not directly under these greats that I studied. Practical considerations such as time and geography aside, I can’t even begin to fathom the tuition cost of a fabled institution that had all these famed artists on staff!

Every writer is first and foremost a reader, and I am no exception. It was through my academic and personal studies that I discovered and dissected my own writing curriculum. By reading the works of others—from the backs of cereal boxes to the most brilliant works of fiction—I learned invaluable lessons that have influenced the ways I live, learn, and write.

That said, I have had no formal, official, or university-approved training in my art. In college, I took only those writing courses required for graduation and the completion of my psychology major.

I am what some would call a self-taught writer/author. But what beauty I now create came from once-upon-a-time rocky soil. Writing was not always my strong point.

When I started high school at The Ellis School in 1992, my first English assignment was to write a critical analysis of Beowulf. After working at my typewriter for hours, I submitted a paper I thought was pretty damn good. My teacher, however, did not agree.

When the paper was handed back a week later, it was returned without a grade. The words “See me” appeared in the front page margin. What I had considered damn good was, in fact, a crude and poorly-written book report that lacked analysis and sentence variety.

Rather than conceding to my inadequacy, I confronted it, determined to equip myself with stronger skills. Though I embraced help from my high school teachers and a faculty tutor, I placed the brunt of the burden on myself. The scholastic guidance I received was but the first step in a long process that lead to my proactive adventure with the English language and my own understanding of the elements of artful and effective writing.

I honed these self-taught skills and put them to use in my undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving stellar marks in courses requiring essay work.

It was in my junior year that I again met a familiar situation. After working at my laptop for hours, I submitted a psychology paper I thought was pretty damn good. When the paper was handed back a week later, it was returned without a grade. “See me” appeared in the front page margin.

What I considered damn good was, in fact, so damn good that my instructor questioned whether I had actually written it and dismissively accused me of plagiarism, requiring me to defend myself in front of the head of the Psychology Department before penal action was taken.

Armed with samples of my writing submitted to other professors, I met with the department head, who thoroughly reviewed my work before tabling the claim and calling the instructor into her office to begrudgingly apologize to me for her false accusation.

The next scrutiny my work received was of a far more honorable sort. I was given an English Composition Award for a piece I’d written in an undergraduate legal writing course, a remarkable feat as such awards are rarely doled out for professional writing coursework.

After college, I studied law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where my writing was recognized by publication in the school’s Journal of Law and Commerce and by an invitation to speak at the 54th annual Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Having tackled critical composition and legal analysis, I next moved on to wrestle other forms of writing. Since 2011, I have worked as a freelance reporter, accumulating journalism experience with media outlets such as CBS Local Media Pittsburgh and AOL’s Patch Network. At Patch alone, I wrote approximately 150 articles over the course of ten months.

My debut novel, In Wake of Water, marked my entry into another genre of writing—fiction. Less than four months after its publication, I finished my second novel, Pig, which was honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Of my manuscript, Publishers Weekly wrote: “The ultimate resolution of the story makes for quite a surprise… (Martin) is able to build good characters, flawed and believable, yet familiar; so that at the end one is saddened, but also, in a strange way, enriched.”

A review like that is evidence that I’ve been doing something right. But what?

I’ve been asked about my writing process countless times. My answer is always the same: I write with the intention of writing a good story. To some, this seems like an evasive answer, like I’m purposefully trying to conceal my trade secrets.

Dagnamit, I’m not trying to be cagey! I’m being perfectly candid.

I don’t sketch out a plot. I use no outlines or plans other than those in my head. I just think about what I want to write until I am ready to write it. And, as I write it, more thoughts come to me.

When penning (or, rather, typing) Pig, I started off with a general idea of the story I wanted to tell, the story of a woman reflecting on the loves and losses of her life. My main objective was to have her be a well-rounded person who endured both pits and peaks during her existence. She, as well as the cast of supporting characters, was to be both beautiful and flawed, just as we real people are.

I decided to have her life recounted in a setting where reflection is quite common: at a funeral home. I have experienced the deaths of many family members, and, therefore, understand and appreciate how the faces of funeral home patrons can stir memories, both good and bad.

Along that vein, I formulated the general structure of the imminent novel. I set out to alternate present tense happenings at the funeral home with past tense recollections of the main character’s life.

At the beginning of my writing process, that’s all I had in mind. I didn’t yet have the specifics of the story. I let those come to me, one chapter at a time. I’d sit down, write a chapter, and then think about what should come next.

What else would I want to know about this character or that event? What would shock me? How about a red herring, something that seems important but is nothing more than distraction? Where can I hide a clue to a secret I’ll reveal later? Can I make my characters any more believable? Any more compelling? Why did she do this, he do that, or they do the other thing?

Etc., etc., etc. until completion.

And, speaking of completion, I wrote the end of my novel when I got to the end. I didn’t have the ending in mind at the beginning. The conclusion flowed from me as the chapters before it had done, in a natural, coursing manner. In many ways, I think the resolution was there all along. It was just waiting for me to find it.

Perhaps my approach to the novel is novel, although I doubt I’m the first person to ever write this way. Given my background, or lack thereof, I write the only way I know how—as a reader. It is my greatest hope that my work will affect other readers as strongly as reading others has affected my work.

Read it. Live it. Love it. sbr.

Books by sbr martin:

available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Reblogged on The Writers' Nesst at on July 19.
Today I made a virtual stop at the blogspot of Madison Sevier to discuss a wide range of topics from my work-in-progress and the authors who've inspired me to John Stamos, zombies, and thrift stores -

Madison is a fun-spirited gal, to whom my work was referred by Night Owl Reviews reviewer Stacey Jo. Her blog is relatively new, but it's already jam-packed with interesting material. When you're done reading my interview, click on the links to her previous posts and keep reading!

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Shootin' The Breeze with Sarah Beth Rem-Martin (Sbr Martin) author of 'Pig' and 'In Wake of Water'

Hi Everyone! Today, I've baked up a batch of brownies and brewed a HUGE pot of coffee. We're having company! Yay!

Today, my dear friend and very talented author, Sarah Beth Rem-Martin a.k.a. Sbr Martin is stopping by to chat. Without further ado, let's get to it!

Hope she likes flowers...

WELCOME to my place, Sarah! Come on in and get comfy. Enjoy the brownies and coffee and we'll get down to business whenever you're ready :)

Sit right there, my beautiful friend while I tell folks a little about your book.

First, I'd like to tell everyone how absolutely amazing your book, 'Pig' is. My friend, Stacey Jo read and reviewed it. That girl was down right speechless! When she could speak again, she was tongue-tied. Now, if you ask me...any book that can do that to her is a book I HAD to read. Stacey Jo was right! I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't had the chance to read it, but 'Pig' is the most mind-boggling story I have ever read. I thought I had it all figured out and then WHAM! Yes, friends, it is so very damn good!

Here are a few promotional tidbits, purchase links and the review by my friend Stacey Jo. While y'all peruse those, I'm going to get our friend Sarah some more coffee.

Purchase links:

Pig is FREE for PRIME members right now:

In Wake Of Water is also FREE for PRIME members right now:

Sbr's website:

Stacey Jo's 5 STAR, making a 'Top Pick' Review of 'Pig' for the highly acclaimed Night Owl Reviews:

Now let's get back to my guest. Sarah, since this is your first time here I'll let you in on a little secret :)

Instead of doing the normal round of questions, I like to jazz things up. It's a 'get-to-know-you' session and readers love to know real things about their favorite authors. If any question is too personal or you'd rather not answer, just say so, okay?

Sounds good to me, Madison. Ask away—the sky’s the limit!

**Awesome! Since we are coming up on the 'dog-days' of Summer, what's your favorite season?

I like late-fall, when I’m neither sweating nor shivering. I’m a little picky about how I dress. I don’t like wearing shorts, and I hate wearing coats. So fall suits me perfectly, if you’ll excuse my pun.

I have to agree on the 'coats' thing. I want to hibernate every winter.

**Can you pick one thing you LOVE about every season?

My favorite thing about each season is that all seasons change. Each year, we get a little of this, a little of that, something else, and then the other thing. The changing of seasons is one of the only predictable, constant things we have going for us in this world. No matter what is, or isn’t, going on in our personal lives, the seasons continue to change. The Earth keeps on living a life of its own.

Beyond the deeper meaning of it all, I like to watch the seasons change. Seeing leaves turn colors, flowers bloom, tiny snowflakes fall and then melt—it’s all beautiful.

That's a beautiful answer. I have to agree, the magic of it all is wonderful. Sometimes, I just wish I could watch winter in a snowglobe. Ha ha!

**What's your favorite holiday?

Halloween. It’s when all the freaks come out and play. I always liked the holiday as a kid, because I have a sweet tooth and was all about getting tons of free candy. As a young adult, I liked it as a party holiday, where grown-ups got dressed up and drunk. Now that I have kids of my own, I like seeing it through their eyes, witnessing their awe and joy at all that goes down on that festive eve. Plus, I still have a sweet tooth… It’s my duty to ransack their loot.

Agreed! Ransacking is the best part.

**Do you have a favorite food (comfort or otherwise) recipe? If so, would you mind sharing it?

I’m overweight, so there a lot of foods in which I excessively take comfort. In college, when I’d bring a friend home for dinner with my family, I’d always preface their visit by saying, “Once you have dinner at my house, you’ll finally understand two things—why I’m fat, and, why I’m crazy.”

My mom and grandma were great cooks, and I learned a lot from them. But what I learned wasn’t so much recipes as it was techniques. People have asked me to share a recipe with them before, only to be disappointed when I tell them that I have no recipe to share. Sometimes my friends think I’m being elusive, but I’m not. I really do just go with the flow when I cook.

I don't think you're fat, I think you're perfect as you are. I love the fact that you 'wing it' when cooking. Sometimes, that's more fun anyways. Following your own path, right?

**Okay, Favorite drink (alcoholic and/or non)?

How boring is this? My favorite drink is water—very cold water, preferably with chipped ice that I can chew. As far as alcoholic beverages, I avoid them nowadays. I’m a recovering alcoholic. But when I did hit the sauce, I was a Long Island Iced Tea, Irish Car Bomb, and 22-ounce whatever-is-cheapest draft kinda gal.

Congrats on your sobriety! Kudos to you for sharing that with us :0) LOVE IT! I'm not a big drinkin' kind of gal either. Too much to do around here.And water isn't boring, it's the one thing we all need and I commend you for not being afraid to say you love it.

**How about your favorite place to shop?

I am addicted to shopping in thrift stores, absolutely addicted! Not only are the bargains great, but I approach each trip to the thrift store as a mission, a game of sorts, where I am tasked to find either something that is ridiculously more affordable than retail or something that is incredibly stunning because it is true antique, heirloom, or vintage quality.

I’ve found a lot of amazing pieces at thrift stores In Pittsburgh, PA, where I live. From authentic Coach handbags ($12) and Coldwater Creek knit denim jeans ($3.98) to eye-catching jewelry (typically under $10) and mint-condition DVDs ($1.99), I’ve acquired so much cool stuff that’d otherwise be beyond my means.

Again...LOVE IT! There are so many great finds out there and they are cheap! I need to go shopping with you. You've scored some pretty awesome stuff :0)

**Who would you say is your favorite author and what is your favorite book by that author?

My favorite author would have to be John Gardner, author of my favorite book, “Grendel.” I totally dig how Gardner approached that novel, writing as the antagonist in the 8th century epic poem “Beowulf.” But I dig his style of writing even more.

I first read the novel in high school, but still remember my favorite quote by heart:

"Pick an apocalypse, any apocalypse. A sea of black oil and dead things. No wind. No light. Nothing stirring, not even an ant, a spider. A silent universe. Such is the end of the flicker of time, the brief hot fuse of events and ideas set off, accidentally, and snuffed out, accidentally, by man. Not a real ending of course, nor even a beginning. Mere ripple in Time's stream."

Beautifully written. Deep. Disturbing.

I have to agree. I am now hooked and need to read that for myself. Thank you.

**Favorite book series?

Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I loved each and every book in the series, and learned a lot about my own writing goals from Rice’s work. Her characters are so deep and compelling, which is something I like to consider a hallmark of my own fiction.

AR is one of my favorites, also. As for your characters, they are definitely deep and compelling. I can attest to that.

**What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I’ve been profoundly affected by some of the books I’ve read so far in my life. Both my writing and my outlook on life have been honed through reading the works of others. It’s my greatest hope that my writing will reach out and touch someone the way that so many other authors’ books have grabbed a hold of me.

I am moved by the thought of someone miles away from me kicking back with one of my books, sipping coffee as she shakes her head in disbelief every now and then, pausing to consider what she’s just read, or racing to her favorite chair so that she can sit down and pick up where she left off. To think that my words can reach and touch others is a mind-boggling thing.

Beautifully said, Sarah. You definitely touched Stacey Jo and me. We still talk about your book. Constantly shaking our heads because it's phenomenal. I think she'd be a great side-kick for you (if she ever gets un-tongue-tied, LOL). She hasn't stopped telling everyone she meets and knows about 'Pig'.

** What are the top 5 things on your bucket list?

Other than enjoying a long life where I get to see my daughters grow to be healthy and happy, I’d have to say:

1. Write and publish 5 books in 5 years;
2. Have (at least) one of my books turned into a movie;
3. Go to SeaWorld and be the one who gets selected to kiss Shamu;
4. Acquire property along the Maryland-Delaware border, close enough to the beach for easy access but far enough away so as to limit the possibility of seasonal/water devastation; and,
5. Come up with better things to include on my bucket list.

Aww. I love your Bucket List!

**Okay, if someone were to write a book about your life, what would be the title?

“sbr.” It’s short. It’s simple. It’s me.


**What's the one place you've always wanted to go but haven't?

John Stamos’ house…

LOL! I'm sure some of our readers would agree with you.

**What is your all-time favorite vacation spot?

Ocean City, Maryland. Whenever I think of that location, I always smile. My family vacationed there often when I was a child, and my husband and I take our own kids there now. We typically like to go in the off-season, when it isn’t so crowded and is more affordable.

The ocean and the beach are so very stunning, a living portrait of Mother Nature at her best. The way that the boardwalk flushes to the sand and adds human traffic to the equation is intense. Walking on the boardwalk, one can be both a part of civilization and of nature at the exact same time, dispelling the myth that man can’t have the best of both worlds.

Ocean City sounds amazing. Some of my friends have gone and they love it too.

**Coffee or Tea? (yes, it matters (0: )

Coffee. I enjoy its flavor, but not nearly as much as I enjoy its effects. Oddly enough, I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 30. Before that, the caffeine had such pronounced effects on me that I simply couldn’t drink it. Just one cup had me so wired that I felt like a drug addict with ants under my skin. I couldn’t sleep and had to keep busy with whatever insurmountable tasks I could find.

Once I had kids, however, this all changed. I needed the caffeine boost to keep up with them, and to get things done. The effects have worn off over time. I’ve built up my tolerance, so to speak. But now, like a true addict, I need my daily fix. I’m unapproachable before that first cup of coffee in the morning. So don’t even *try* to talk to me before I’m about six ounces in!

LOL. There I have to disagree. I'm all about the flavor and before my first cup, I'm about as approachable as a mama bear in the Smokies. After that first, heavenly cup, I'm sweet as can be.

**When shopping, do you prefer paper or plastic?

Plastic, by default. I do most of my household shopping at Walmart these days, and they only use plastic. More and more stores, it seems, are doing away with paper. Growing up, my mom used to always say, “Paper and plastic, please.” It made the bags more durable and easier to carry, and we’d use the double-bags as a sturdy trash receptacle in our 13-gallon garbage cans.

Same here.

** Dog or cat?

Woof woof. I’m a dog person through and through, both in terms of pet preference and in terms of my own personality. Petting, kissing, snuggling in bed, going for long walks, being silly, and playing interactive games—I ain’t talkin’ about romance here. I’m talking about life’s essentials, what I need to survive comfortably. I like to get reassurance from others, and like attention, praise, and companionship. Dogs need these things, too—and they tend to dole them out as well.

Cats are too independent for me. Kittens are fun, but the typical cat is a little too adult-like for my tastes. She’s like a mature friend who doesn’t ask much of you, who comes and goes as she pleases and expects you to do things according to her schedule and her needs. Plus, I’m highly allergic to certain breeds of cats. We tried having a kitty for a while, but had to surrender her to the shelter because I couldn’t breathe around her.

As you can see, there's a mix of everything around here/. But, I knew you were stopping by, so I tucked away the kitties for our visit(0:

**Would you rather have Chinese, Italian, Mexican or none of the above?

Well, Madison, what are we talking about here—food or men? Not that it matters though, because my answer would be the same to either question: all of the above.

As far as food goes… I love Italian food, and can cook some pretty tasty Italian grub. For this reason, I don’t really like to eat at Italian restaurants. When dining out, I prefer to eat cuisine I can’t make at home. I haven’t mastered the art of Chinese cooking, so I like to hit fancy Chinese joints every now and then. I’m not really down with the fast-food Chinese spots or buffets though. Authentic Mexican fare is another favorite. I can make some mock Mexican dishes at home, but much prefer the real deal at a proper cantina.

OMGOSH! Too funny! LOVE IT! I guess I should have clarified that a bit **snickers**

**Okay, serious question time. ( LOL ) IF there was a zombie apocalypse, what would be your weapon of choice and why?

A huge silo filled with reefer. Smoking pot kills brain cells, right? If we had an ample supply of marijuana, we could all smoke it and kill off our brain cells until our brains became unappealing and unappetizing to the hungry zombies. Then they would starve to death and become extinct. And, hey, even if things didn’t work out as planned, at least we’d all go out with a bang!

PFFT! I am so sorry for blowing my coffee all over you. Let me just get that cleaned up. That is the funniest answer I have ever gotten! And it makes perfect sense LOL!

**What three things would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a mountain?

There are two ways to answer this question.

The most practical response would somehow involve things that could get me off of the mountain—like, (1) a fully-functional helicopter; (2) a well-trained, alert, and sane helicopter pilot; and, (3) enough fuel to safely carry the pilot and me to a non-isolated, civilized destination.

But that answer isn’t any fun! It doesn’t tell you anything about my personality, now does it? So, in the alternative, I’ll say: (1) a Nintendo GameBoy with immortal batteries and a Tetris cartridge; (2) a down-feather pillow in a water-repellant pillowcase; and, (3) black eye-liner. The necessity for these particular items need not be explained.

You are such a riot! I'm all about the eyeliner and I'd add mascara. Both can be used for keeping the harsh glare of the sun out of your eyes (0; LOL That was fun! I love random questions :0) Thank you so much for participating and for sharing a bit of yourself with us, Sarah.

But, we need to get back to your writing career. What do you have planned for the upcoming months? Any super-secret WIP's you can tease us with?

Yep, I’ve got a WIP… It’s called “No. 20,” and it begins: “My name is Salvatore Monticelli. I have killed 19 people, and am currently plotting the death of No. 20.”

I already have the whole story written in my head. All I have to do is tap it out on my keyboard. I started tapping away at it last month, but had to force myself to stop. I don’t start writing a book unless I intend to finish writing it within three to six months. I’m gonna be “going away” for 90 days shortly, so I didn’t want to get too deep into “No. 20” before I left. I’ll just keep developing the story in my head and churn it out when I get back.

Now, to where am I going? Hmm, Madison, I won’t answer, since you didn’t ask. Let’s just say this: It’s not John Stamos’ house…

Wow! I have goosebumps just imagining your next book! So excited! As for you leaving town for a bit...booo! I will definitely miss you and I hope you'll stay in touch :0) John Stamos doesn't know what he's missing.....

Thank you so much for shootin' the breeze with me, Sarah. I really enjoyed having you here.

Now, readers I cannot emphasize enough how badly you need to add Sarah's books to your TBR pile. Alot of you follow my friend Stacey Jo's reviews and you know she means business when it comes to books. So, please get your hot lil' hands on 'Pig' and be sure to let everyone know, by leaving a review on amazon or goodreads what you thought of it. Okay?

Until next time, everyone, I send you hugs and kisses!


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Who said you can't be two places at one time? Thanks to the web, the impossible is possible! Today I made TWO virtual visits.

The first is to Loran's Heart, a website dedicated to spiritual practices and growth. Read my guest post at http...://

And please take the time to look around Loran's site. Loran is the author of three different "Journey" journals, which each prompt the reader-writer to explore parts of herself and motivate enriching change.

Loran and I will be penpals when I am "away," and together we will exchange letters where I work on the steps of her "Transformation Journey." So stay tuned for my follow-up post in a few months, after I have embarked on this journey.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Uncovering This Cloud’s Silver Lining: My Spiritual Practices as an Alcoholic by SBR Martin

This is a very special guest post by SBR Martin. Quite often spirituality plays an important role in recovery from alcoholism. Sometimes it’s a difficult path. (Intro from Loran Hill)

I woke up, drenched in sweat and disoriented. Where was I? Images filled my head, confronting me one after the other: a dozen discarded beer cans; an empty fifth of vodka and two bone-dry glasses; a naked man, a stranger, on top of me, making love to me on the floor of his stall-like shower.

My head started pounding, my heart racing. Was I hung-over? Still drunk? What had I just done? Did I slip… again?

I turned over where I lay and saw my 4-year-old daughter in bed next to me, nestled in the crook of my sleeping husband’s back. My 2-year-old was jumping up and down and giggling in her crib in the far corner. Calmness soon overcame me, for I was home, I was safe—and I was sober. It was just a dream.

Dreams like these are called “drunk dreams.” I, like many other alcoholics, have them every so often. They’re terrifying and uncomfortable, but they’re not so much a curse as a blessing. Five months into my newfound sobriety, I see them as a manifestation of my fears and a reminder of both my successes and my failures. They show me what would happen, and what has happened, if I pick up a drink.

The dreams started some time after the nightmare ended on Feb. 20, 2012. That’s the date of my last drink in a 10-month-long bender of compulsive binge drinking, during which time I forgot I was a wife, a mother, and a human being.

I’d been slightly more than 3.5 years sober when I relapsed. The gestation and birth of my daughters, combined with my creative endeavors, allowed me to stay sober for what was the longest period of sobriety in my adult life (so far). Having been clean for so long, I thought my disease was cured and that I could once more drink like a normal person.

I was wrong. Just one drink opened the floodgates, and soon enough I sunk to new depths of addiction.

I was arrested on Jan. 2, 2012, for driving under the influence and open lewdness. When the cops found me, I was parked and engaged in sexual activity with a 25-year-old rocker boy I’d met a half-hour earlier in the bar. Although it is physically impossible to do what I was doing and drive at the same time, my mere possession of the car keys was enough to constitute the backbone of a DUI arrest, which was fleshed out by my .217% blood alcohol content.

My arrest was a low point, but it didn’t stop me. I kept drinking, regressing at a rapid rate. Over the next few weeks, I fell down and broke the fifth metatarsal in my right foot; wrecked my car into a parked car; and, was sexually assaulted by a stranger with whom I’d hitched a ride.

Things weren’t getting out of control—they were already out of control. I didn’t know how to stop, and, despite the devastation I caused, I didn’t know if I even wanted to stop.

I’d isolated myself from friends and family, who nonetheless kept calling and begging me to seek help. However, it wasn’t until a call was placed to someone else that I finally got the message.

An unnamed person had called the county’s child welfare unit, a representative of which showed up at my door to investigate a claim that my children were being neglected by their alcoholic mother.

I was sober when the rep appeared, and even more so when she left. Upon finding no evidence to support the claim, the case was dropped. But the fact that suspicion had been raised, and that fact alone, was the last straw I needed to break my back. Things had to change.

The first thing I changed was my isolation. I picked up the phone and returned a call I had received from a dear friend. He was a drunk, just like me—only he hadn’t drank in well over a year, and was living a productive life that glimmered with a successful career and a happy family.

This dude used to be hardcore. Though he’d been lucky when it came to things like driving, he had been just as bad as me, if not worse. If he could quiet his demons, maybe I could too.

Because he was like me, I was able to listen to him and take his words to heart, something I couldn’t do when nonalcoholic folks tried to talk sense into me. He understood addiction, compulsion, and withdrawal. He knew what it was like to be in a place where you couldn’t live with, or without, booze.

He suggested that I go to in-patient rehab, to which I reluctantly agreed. My stay in rehab was short-lived, because I jumped on the chance to come home when my husband had difficulty finding adequate childcare in my absence.

Leaving the rehab center after only a few short days, I immediately set up an appointment for out-patient care and again called my dear friend, who suggested that I affiliate myself with other recovering alcoholics post haste.

And so began my path not only to sobriety but also to discovery, growth, and enlightenment. For the first time in my life, I admitted, and accepted, that I was an alcoholic. I finally embraced things I’d shied away from in the past, welcoming the likes of rehabilitation, therapy, and fellowship with likeminded alkies.

What I have now is different than what I had for those 3.5 years—those years were not lived in sobriety. They were nothing more than dry years, where I simply abstained from drinking but remained an alcoholic in my thinking; where I never had any type of program in place; where I didn’t use any outside tools for recovery and selfishly thought I alone held all the power.

So what does any of this have to do with spiritual practice? Simple answer: Everything!

It was through this process, through the ups and downs here described, that I was able to find a certain comfort in my existence and the ability to address life’s situations with level-headedness and gratitude.

In my recovery process, I have heard a prayer repeated constantly. I’m sure you’ve heard it, too. At first, it sounds like a lovely little poem—something that’d look nice on a prayer card or bumper sticker, something easy to recite and to remember.

The prayer goes:

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

Yep. The good ole’ Serenity Prayer. Told ya’ you’d know it! Do you really know it though?

Something so sweet and simple is very easy to gloss over and undervalue. But if you take the time to really think about the meaning of each and every word, it makes a world of difference, and makes the world a different place.

This one prayer is the basis of my spiritual practice, of my daily living. I say it to myself, aloud or in my head, at least three times a day, more when needed.

It is by this prayer that I am able to face my alcoholism. Each day, I remind myself that I am an alcoholic. I cannot change that fact. What I can change is how deal with my compulsion to drink. I can give in to it, or I can subdue it.

It is by this prayer that I am able to face arguments with my husband, guff from my children, or financial problems. When something comes up, I remind myself that I cannot change my husband’s personality, I cannot change the trials of raising toddlers, and I cannot change the economy. What I can change is how I respond to these stressors.

And it is by this prayer that I am able to face a difficult situation looming in my immediate future.

I did the crime. Now I must pay the time. I have been sentenced to serve 90 days in a correctional facility because of my DUI offense. I cannot change my sentence. What I can change is how I handle my time on lockdown and how I approach my incarceration.

I can enter the facility bitter and closed-minded, or humble and open-minded. I can view my time there as an interruption of my freedoms, or as an opportunity to polish my appreciation for them. I can consider myself damned, or I can find redemption.

The firsts of each of these options are the easy way, and are the way of the alcoholic who is still in denial. I choose the harder choices, taking on the challenge of uncovering this cloud’s silver lining. With serenity, courage, and wisdom, I shall dedicate my time to learning more about myself and God as I understand him. I’ll work to figure out God’s plan for me, and pray for the strength to put that plan into action.

SBR Martin is an author of contemporary psychological fiction. Her most recent release, Pig, was a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, where Publishers Weekly wrote of Martin’s work: “The ultimate resolution of the story makes for quite a surprise… (Martin) is able to build good characters, flawed and believable, yet familiar; so that at the end one is saddened, but also, in a strange way, enriched.”

Martin was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to live and work as a writer, journalist, and mother. She holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, as well as a journalism portfolio replete with contributions to media outlets such as AOL’s Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.

Pig is her second book, published less than one year after the Oct. 2011 release of her debut novel, In Wake of Water.

Books by SBR Martin:

available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

SBR Martin’s other online presences:

SBR can be found online in myriad places, including multiple stops along her virtual tour. Guest posts, interviews, and other visits are chronicled on her Goodreads blog. If you’d like SBR to make a special appearance on your blog/site, contact her directly at

SBR on Goodreads:

SBR on Amazon:

SBR on Facebook:

SBR on YouTube:

SBR on Twitter:


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Nanci had questions, and I had answers. Move your mouse to the link below, and click. The site is called Page Readers, and there you'll find a short interview with me.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

SBR Martin shares “PIG”

A troubled woman sits alone on a couch in a crowded funeral home, in wake of her husband’s “accident.” In her right hand, she holds a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal, and, in her heart, she holds a lot of secrets, including a big one she’s keeping from herself. As the familiar faces of funeral home patrons stir in her a lifetime of memories, her story and her secrets unravel in a narrative of domestic abuse, sexuality, reflection, and loss.

What does it take for a troubled woman to finally let go? How did her husband get in that box? And what is she holding in her hand? Step into Lily’s past to answer the present questions. But don’t expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren’t meant to have happy endings.

What inspired you to write this story?

I can’t really say that anything in particular inspired me to write Pig. I feel as if the story already existed inside of my mind and was just waiting for me to let it out.

I was struck with the basic idea one day. I thought it’d be intriguing to write a novel about a woman reflecting on her life at her husband’s funeral, and thought it’d be even more intriguing if that woman and her husband shared a troubled life together.

So, I mulled the story over in my head for a while and then just sat down to write it, in what was more of an organic process than a mechanical one. It took me approximately three months to write Pig from start to finish. There was an unspoken urgency in getting this story out there.

How are you marketing your book/growing your audience?

I write my books for readers, so I try to market directly to them.

I handle most of my PR. While I follow the traditional routes of querying renowned reviewers, mainstream periodicals, and literary publications, I also target the lesser-known folks who enjoy a good book just as much, if not more, than the guys and gals who get the big bucks for writing about books.

I’m talking about the everyday bloggers and website owners out there—the stay-at-home moms, housewives, college students, and aspiring writers; the librarians who can’t get away from books even after work is done for the day; the people who can’t wait to crack into a new book and share their resulting opinions with anyone who’ll listen (or, read).

These people represent the bulk of an author’s readership. They are the lifeblood, the pulse, that allows our work to circulate. So it is to them that I’ve sent most of my review queries, and it is on their blogs that I make the majority of my virtual stops.

This may not be the quickest way to the top, but I’d rather have a slow and steady rise than a speedy one that swiftly fell flat.

SBR’s AH-HA! Moment

When it came to getting my work picked up by a publisher it really was all about being in the right place at the right time. I’d been sitting on a great novel for a couple of years, too intimidated and inexperienced to pitch it to anyone. From finding publishers open to submissions to writing inquiry letters, I had absolutely no idea how the industry worked and feared that I’d never find an “in.”

But then, as luck would have it, that “in” came to me in the form of a journalism assignment. Working as a reporter with AOL’s Patch Network, I was asked to cover a local author’s book signing. When I spoke to the author the night before her signing, she told me that her publisher would be at the event. So I set to proof and edit my entire novel that night, in order to print it and ever-so subtly place it into the publisher’s hands the next day.

Guess what? It worked! The head honcho of that publishing company, The Artists’ Orchard, LLC, contacted me within two weeks and signed me for my first novel, In Wake of Water (published Oct. 2011).

When it came to my second novel, Pig, The Artists’ Orchard picked it up instantly after it exited the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, where it was honored as a Second Prize Quarterfinalist and received a stellar manuscript review from Publishers Weekly.

Okay, so maybe my ah-ha moment wasn’t all about being in the right place at the right time. It was also about having the hutzvah and gumption to walk up to a complete stranger in a crowded library and hand her an unsolicited manuscript. It was about breaking some of the conventions in the literary world and taking the risk to go after my goal. And it was about having those risks pay off in the end.

SBR’s Links:

Books by SBR Martin:

Pig: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

In Wake of Water: available for purchase on Amazon at and likeable on Facebook at

SBR Martin’s other online presences:

SBR can be found online in myriad places, including multiple stops along her virtual tour. Guest posts, interviews, and other visits are chronicled on her Goodreads blog. If you’d like SBR to make a special appearance on your blog/site, contact her directly at

SBR on Goodreads:

SBR on Amazon:

SBR on Facebook:

SBR on YouTube:

SBR on Twitter:


~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~