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Sharon Sala: Balancing Caregiving with Writing - Connie Mann

 

Bestselling Author Sharon Sala

Bestselling Author Sharon Sala

I am delighted to welcome bestselling author Sharon Sala as my guest today. I “met” Sharon online several years ago, but have been reading her fabulous books far longer than that. When my novel, Angel Falls, came out, she graciously read and endorsed it. We finally met in person at the ACRA conference in October and I’m honored to call her friend.

In case you don’t know Sharon, here’s a bit about her background.

Sharon Sala is a long-time member of RWA, as well as a member of OKRWA. She has 90 plus books in print, published in five different genres – Romance, Young Adult, Western, Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. First published in 1991, she’s an eight-time RITA finalist, winner of the Janet Dailey Award, four-time Career Achievement winner from RT Magazine, five-time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, and five-time winner of the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence, winner of the Heart of Excellence Award, as well as winner of the Booksellers Best Award. In 2011 she was named RWA’s recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books are New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate.

*We are giving away a copy of Sharon’s new book, The Curl Up & Dye, today, so be sure to follow the instructions below for your chance to win.SS_Book cover

Like many of us, Sharon juggles various responsibilities along with her writing. Her mother, whom she calls Little Mama, lives with her.

Can you tell us a bit about what life is like with Little Mama?

Life with my Little Mama is a bit like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates. I never know what I’m going to get from one day to the next. She is 94 years old, has no short-term memory and has dementia. It is, at the least, daily chaotic. At its worst, very sad to watch someone you love coming apart one memory at a time.

She loves to read her newspapers, even though she doesn’t remember what she just read. She loves chocolate and she likes to still do her laundry, even though some days a load of clothes may consist of a change of underwear, a pair of socks and a towel. I let her do what she can because as long as she feels useful and needed, she is satisfied. When she’s having a bad day with dementia, she can imagine all kinds of things and she’s either afraid of the people she sees (who aren’t there) or she thinks someone is taking her things. It’s hard, but at the same time I’m grateful I can keep her with me.

I can’t imagine what that roller coaster is like. In the midst of that, how do you balance caregiving with writing? Or do you?

Balancing my writing with taking care of Little Mama is like juggling ten things at once. Usually I write when she finally goes to bed, which may be anywhere from 9:00 p.m. to all hours of the morning. I am continually sleep-deprived, but fortunately I write rather quickly and have been able to keep up.

What’s the hardest part of all this for you?

The hardest part of this whole journey is watching my mother come undone. In fact, the person she is now is no longer the woman who raised me. She’s more like my child.

You are someone who always looks for the positive, so what’s the easiest/most rewarding part?

Seeing joy on her face and baking cookies to make her happy. And knowing she feels safe.

What led you to write The Curl Up & Dye? How did you come up with the town and LilyAnn?

I am a child of the country and grew up near a very small town, so that life was familiar to me. I had seen the name CURL UP AND DYE on more than one beauty shop over the years and always wanted to write a series of books that revolved around the comings and goings on at a local beauty shop. As for coming up with the town, I knew it had to be southern, and there is no state more southern that Georgia and old southern charm. There is a LilyAnn in everyone’s high school. The smartest, prettiest girl who made everything look easy and garnered all the awards, then never quite figured out how to transition that success into adulthood. I wanted to write about a woman like that who found a way to put the past aside and step into her own.

(Connie: don’t let the pink cover fool you into thinking this is just sweet southern fiction. The story includes some very strong language and several very intense scenes.)

What’s your best advice for women trying to balance dream-chasing with their other responsibilities?

You can not WAIT for everything to be perfect before you go after your dream, because life is never going to be perfect. So you have to figure out how to step out of your comfort zone and go after what you want, while not letting down the people who depend on you. It’s a juggling act, too, but it you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

Any other advice you’d like to share?

The only advice I have for anyone is to remember that everything in life eventually comes full circle, so be aware that what you give out; bad or good, you will eventually get back.

Thanks so much, Sharon! We appreciate your wisdom and your example.

Readers, leave a comment about how you juggle your responsibilities with dream-chasing (along with your email) and you’ll be entered in a drawing for The Curl Up & Dye. (Print copy, US only.)