Sbr Martin's Blog - Posts Tagged "aol"

I made another virtual stop today, at Bryce Beattie's StoryHack. This time, my guest appearance consisted of an interview. Bryce asked some really good questions, and I revealed some pretty interesting personal information. Click below to read or e-exchange.

Bryce's site features a lot of cool stuff for writers and readers alike. He also built and maintains, where writers and bloggers can find each other to plan the very best virtual tours - for free.

Check it out.

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What are three things about yourself that everybody should know?

My email signature reads:

sbr martin
author, journalist, and mother

So I guess these are the three things everybody should know about me. I am an author. I am a journalist. I am a mother. I’m a lot of other things, too, but let’s not get into all that right now. I list these three things in my signature because they are my callings. They are the three things I was meant to be, the three things I am.

What is one thing that almost nobody knows?

Well, I’m a married lady. Everybody knows that. What a lot of people don’t know is that it was I who popped the question.

I proposed to my husband when we were partying like rockstars at Thunder in the Valley, an annual biker rally held in Johnstown, PA. I don’t know many married couples who started out this way, where the lady got down on her knees. I thought it was an interesting occurrence, a twist on the common approach. So I tossed this fact into my fiction.

In “pig,” the main female character proposes to her man, much like I proposed to mine. But the circumstances surrounding their storybook engagement are entirely different than those surrounding mine.

Incorporating a real life event into my work is something I do from time to time. Where fact is stranger than fiction, I use it to my advantage. I take a tiny bit or reality and spin it into an elaborate, exaggerated, fictitious yarn.

What’s the best part about living in Pittsburgh?

My home. Believe it or not, I’ve lived in the same house since I was born. When I went to the University of Pittsburgh for undergrad, I stayed in the dorms for a while, shacked up with a fellow for a year or so, but those places were just rest-stops on my life’s road, a road which always led back to where I’m sitting right now.

Once upon a time, I was the little kid running around this house, breaking all the rules, tearing everything apart. Now I’m the parent here, the one trying to exercise control—raising my voice, making the rules, and cleaning up all the messes. At times, it’s somewhat surreal.

My father had a heart attack in this house—the heart attack that killed him. My mother’s heart failed here as well, when she fell on the basement floor, attacked by sickness inside her body. Congestive heart failure. Our Chihuahua crawled to sit atop her distended belly as we bustled to call the paramedics. Several hours later my Mama was dead.

It was in this home that I took care of my grandmother as she was dying, and it was in this home that I woke up at 4:15 a.m. on a June morning to find her dead. She’d died that exact moment, the moment I woke up.

But it was also in this home that I had oodles of birthday parties and found excessive amounts of presents under the Christmas tree. My mother left me notes and poems on the bathroom mirror, one of which I included in my first novel, “in wake of water.” My father sang me lullabies. My sister and I played on the front porch. And, here, right here, is where I brought my newborn babies home as an adult. I walked through the door with my children the exact same way my parents must’ve walked through the door with me.

This house is alive with what life is. It’s seen loss. It’s seen gain. It has become an accessory to my existence, a brick box that stores all of my memories and holds a future yet untold.

As per Pittsburgh itself, it’s a great city, and it’s all I know. I live close to the heart of the ‘Burgh—20 minutes from this, that, and the other place. I know the streets, the neighborhoods, and the personalities they hold. Living here is familiar and convenient for me. And, hey, we got a stellar football team. Go Steelers!

Do you have any strange writing practices or quirks?

Indeed, I do. I read most of what I write… out loud. I like my writing to have a certain rhythm or meter to it; it has to sound a certain way when recited or I won’t use it.

I’ve been told before that I speak this way, that there’s some type of tempo to my talk. And I try to put that into my work. I imagine myself as the narrator. I am the one telling you the secrets, the one letting you know what’s really going on. My voice reveals what’s between the lines.

Grammar and punctuation are the tools I use to bring my talk to my text. Those commas? That’s where I pause. Those complex sentence structures? That’s where I shift the speed of my conversational machine. I break some conventional rules of syntax here and there—and it’s all for the sake of semantics, my friend. I want my books to be lively and have a spirit that cannot be overlooked. So I try to put as much of myself into each book as I can, in hopes that my readers will read more than mere words.

And, for the record, I just read my response to this question aloud. I think it sounded pretty good.

What are a couple of your favorite novels? (Doesn’t have to be the top two per se)

My favorite book of all time (so far) is “Grendel” by John Gardner. I love the story, but love the writing even more. Another favorite is “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire. The story is so intense. The plot is so thick. I really enjoyed every aspect of that novel.

These two books, my two favorites, share a common theme. They both reinvent antagonists from other works. “Grendel” is written from the perspective of the beast in the 8th century epic poem, “Beowulf.” And “Wicked” centers on Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz.” Both works look at characters who were dismissed as “bad guys” in the original works in which they appeared. They were characters who didn’t get a lot of attention in the first place—all that was shown was the trouble they caused. But each of these books steps into an already-established literary world and takes a closer look. As you read these masterpieces, you discover that these “bad guys” aren’t really all that bad after all. They have redeeming qualities, extenuating circumstances, and struggles of their own. You get a full picture, a well-rounded perspective.

This is something that I have carried into my own writing. There are some flawed characters in my tomes. But, just as they are flawed, so too they are gifted with some good. I try to make my characters as believable and sincere as possible. To do so, I must tell the whole story. Humans have peaks and pits in their personalities and behaviors. We are heroes and villains alike. I want my readers to see both of these sides in my characters, to feel compassion for the antagonist once in a while, or to feel disgust at the protagonist when she steps out of line. My books don’t have “good guys” and “bad guys.” They have characters that will strike you as surprisingly real.

I see on your many pages around the net that you went to law school. Were you ever a lawyer?

Nope. I realized, at some point in my second year of law school, that I did not want to practice law. But I finished school, mostly to finish something I’d started.

I had the degree, but nothing to do with it. Then life stepped in. My Gramma was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and I spent my time caring for her. After that horrific ordeal, I found a man, got married, and had two precious babies who’ve brought me tremendous joy.

I learned a lot from law school about reading and writing, and it was my experiences as an editor and contributor to Pitt Law’s Journal of Law and Commerce that got me hired for freelance writing gigs. I soon developed a fat portfolio of articles with media outlets such as AOL’s Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.

So I ain’t a lawyer, but the law school thing helped me get where I am. I’m grateful for the time I spent there, not so much for the money though.

Tell everybody a bit about your book, Pig.

“Pig” is a cross-genre novel of contemporary psychological fiction. It’s the story of a woman named Lily who’s lived a life filled with ups and downs. From domestic abuse and alcohol addiction to motherhood and amazing sexual encounters, she’s seen it all and bore both misery and redemption each in her own special way.

The entire novel takes place at her husband Bender’s funeral, where she sits alone on a couch in the corner, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper she refuses to reveal. It’s that same scrap of paper that holds the truth about what really happened the night her husband suffered his fatal “accident.” And it is through flashbacks invoked by the familiar faces of funeral home patrons that the rest of Lily’s story and secrets unfold—including a very big secret that’ll make your jaw drop.

What should I have asked you about, if only I knew you well enough to ask?

You don’t have to know me well to ask about this. All you’d have to do is read through my answers to the previous questions to see that I’m partial to something that’s nowadays disfavored.

The serial comma—I love it! I’m a strong proponent of its perpetual use.

I employ the serial comma in my fiction, and in my multi-site online presence. I do not, however, use it in my journalism assignments. I’m not allowed to, as the Associated Press Stylebook condemns its usage except where why-so used for clarity in a complex series.

Kinda irks me a little, having to change something that I consider an integral part of my style so that I can conform to an official Style. But I gotta follow the rules sometimes to get that paycheck, right? I don’t think that’s selling out. It’s just making ends meet by doing what’s expected. Rest assured though, when I’m not under somebody else’s thumb, I stick that puppy in there every chance I get!

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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 (

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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

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Reblogged on The Writers' Nesst at on July 19.
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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.

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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:


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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.

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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:

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SBR on Twitter:


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