Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Sheila Roberts, Romance/ Women’s Fiction/ Devotionals/ Non-fiction

Hi! I’m Sheila Roberts, and I write women’s fiction. My most recent publication, The Road to Christmas, is out right now.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?


I have been writing since I was a child. Hard to answer the why. I jus felt the urge. I love telling stories, and to be able to do that for a living is a blessing.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?


You know, it was so long ago, I can’t remember. But I do remember writing it all in long hand and then typing it on my little electric typewriter. A typewriter! That should give you a clue how long ago it was that I wrote my first published book.

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?


These days I am expected to deliver two books a year to my publisher, so I don’t have the luxury of unlimited time.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?


I’m traditionally published. Back when I started that was the only option I knew about.

How did you determine your target audience?


I didn’t begin looking for a target audience. I started writing Regency Romances – something I enjoyed reading. I think that’s key. Write the type of book you love to read and you will find your audience.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?


I was in a critique group for years – all published authors – and the input I got from my fellow authors was invaluable. We eventually all got too busy to meet on a regular basis and now just meet occasionally to visit and brainstorm book ideas, so my main input comes from my editor. I do have a good friend who loves to read my messes in progress and serves as a beta reader sometimes, and it’s always good to get that extra input.


What is your launch plan for your works?


I always have a virtual book birthday party on my Facebook like page. Then there are blog tours where I get to meet bloggers and readers, and Instagram, which I really like. Then of course there are email and eblasts. In addition to that I do both virtual and in person events. I am a people person and I love to party, so getting out and talking about a new book is always fun.

How do you get reviews for your books?


This is handled by my publisher and my publicist. I have been around a loooong time and have built up a great network of reviewers over the years. Building a readership, getting your name out there takes time and persistence.

How do you promote your content?


Social media is the key these days.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?


I honestly think there comes a time in a writer’s life when she has to consider hiring help. A publicist is one of the best investments you can make.

How do you define success as an author?


Seeing my books available in a variety of outlets, and, of course, making best-seller lists. And making a good living, of course. But, having said that, what warms my heart most is when I hear from a reader how much she enjoyed my book. Sometimes a reader will even find a particular story encouraging. Knowing you’ve touched someone’s heart is priceless.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?


I love fiction, love taking a character or cast of characters and spinning out a life for them, taking them from challenging times that build their character and make them strong all the way to that well-deserved happy ending.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?


I would say upbeat – a few tears, a good dose of humor and a happy ending. Life’s hard enough and I don’t want to add to anyone’s misery by writing a depressing tale. I don’t know if this type of thing is a conscious decision. Sometimes the stories we write end up reflecting our own life philosophy. The things we believe are important can’t help but creep into our work. In most of my stories you will find women working together to build a better life.

How many works have you published?


I’ve written over fifty books – everything from non-fiction and devotionals to romance.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?


And in my new release, The Road to Christmas, I like to think I’ve given readers a fun holiday romance … as well as inspiration to let go of those negative feelings that can hold us back. The story follows three different journeys as various members of a family all make their way to their holiday gathering. Lots of mishaps and misadventures, some tears and, most important, love and new beginnings.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.


Humor, inspiration, problems to overcome… and food. There’s always mention of food, and there are often recipes.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?


When I first started I just wanted to find an agent and get a book published. But, as with any career, there are always new goals, new career mountains to climb, like making best seller lists. Sometimes it’s easy to get greedy and want more and more success. I temper that by reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to earn a living doing something I love. I get to sit around and make up stuff – what a great career!

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?


Just my website:

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?


Inspiration and happiness.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?


Your local library! Most libraries have shelves of books on writing. Check out everyone and read it. That is a course anyone can afford.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?


Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs, Nancy Naigle, RaeAnn Thayne, Marie Boswick. These women are wonderful writers and friends.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?


I have read in my genre and I’ve also read outside of it. I think it’s important to read a variety of books by a variety of writers. It helps you expand as a writer.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work?Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?


I am big on planning out where my story is going to go. That’s not to say I won’t make changes along the way, but it does give me a base to build on, a skeleton, so to speak, on which I can flesh out my characters’ journeys.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?


Somewhere in between, I supposed. I’m a pretty fast writer, but I think more important than the pace you write at is the consistency with which you write. It’s an art and a craft, but it’s also a job, and you have to show up regularly for work.


Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?


Keep writing, keep learning. The ones who “don’t make it” are the ones who give up.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?


Not a thing!

How do you keep yourself motivated?


Deadlines are a powerful motivator. I have to turn in a book by a certain time. I can’t afford to be a diva. For someone starting out and struggling with motivation, try imposing some deadlines on yourself – with a fine if you don’t make that deadline and a reward if you do. It might help.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?


Happily for me, my family has been very supportive – my husband especially!

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?


That we lead glamorous lives.

Fun Stuff

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or awarm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?


Sitting in my living room, working on my laptop. I have a beautiful water view from there.

What book are you reading at the moment?


I am reading Mornings on Horseback, by David McCullough, which is a biography of Teddy Roosevelt. If you want to get inspired, read the biography of a successful person.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?


Chocolate! It’s vitamin C for a writer’s brain. J

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?


It came from my mother. If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Her other favorite adage was: Pretty is as pretty does. My mother was a very smart woman.

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