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Monday, November 2, 2009

The Ravens Eye Is On : Sunny Frazier

I've known this woman for several years now and she's never failed to impress me. First and foremost, she is one hell of a talented writer. Secondly, she is a smart and saavy career woman who has taught more than a few fledging writers not only the intricacies of writing a great story, but the more hazardous and pitfall laden path to the business of being a published author. Her Christy Bristol series, with astrology as a enticing hook, is a great read and one I highly recommend. Christy is an underdog heroine, the kind we love to root for and who resonates as a true modern woman, with no fancy bells and whistles but rather a honest perspective and one extrordinary skill at reading the planets.

Was there ever a moment when you reconsidered being a writer?
No, it never crossed my mind. However, I remember when I decided to give up journalism and devote my talents to fiction. It was after I dealt with discrimination as the only woman on a small newspaper and they paid me much less than the male summer intern. The publisher told me I didn't need equal pay because I should have a husband to take care of me. This was 1979. I sued.

Is there anyone, author or otherwise, in particular you draw inspiration from? If so, how has that influenced your writing?
I've always considered J.A. (Judy) Jance a mentor; she is accessible to her fans and very honest in her writing. However, Chuck Palahniuk is the author I wish I were brave enough to imitate.

What’s the first thing you do once you get a great idea?
I mull. I let my mind play with the idea, add to it, see the characters. I also look to the outside world for more ingredients for the stew. I can simmer an idea for years before I sit down and write. But, at that point, the writing is simply an aftermath.

What comes first for you, the plot or the character?
Character. My stories are all character-driven. I have no idea how the plot will unreel until I know who is involved.

I know you have a unique and innovative approach to getting published, tell me more about it.

While I was writing my first novel, FOOLS RUSH IN, I also wrote short stories for contests. My teacher and other writers warned me against this, they were afraid I would get off-track or give up the book. Oddly enough, it was the short stories that put me on the map and got my name out there. I published many of my prize-winning stories in VALLEY FEVER and went on to contribute to three other anthologies. I now teach guerrilla tactics on how to win short story contests.

What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Right now it's putting down other books to attend to my own. I'm submerged in historical fiction and don't have my head in mystery at the moment.

While getting a book onto store shelves is a huge challenge, the work doesn’t end there. How do you go about publicizing your work and keep expanding your fan base even at this stage in your career?
I found out early on that marketing was my second love. And not just marketing myself, but other writers. I do this through The Murder Circle, my cyber gossip column of who's publishing in mystery circles. Locally, I maintain contact with all the Central California authors and set up book events for them at the library and other venues. I blog, do interviews and stay active on approx. 35 Internet sites. I also sweetened my own sales by telling people I would do their horoscope for 6 months if they would order my books directly from me. In my mind, by promoting writing in general people will gravitate to your works and words. So far, it's working.

If your characters could describe you what would they say?
Christy would definitely bad-mouth me. She thinks I push her buttons and I'm only here to make her life miserable. Rod would probably agree and tell me to back off. Lennie and I would go drinking together and compare guy-notes. She'd keep me up past my bedtime.

Do you work with a schedule to get to your deadlines or do you have a more freeform style towards your writing?
Schedules don't work after you publish. There's so many expectations and opportunities, I stay fluid. Plus, I got into writing to make my own hours, so I don't like working for someone elses deadlines. My publisher understands this.

What is the single best piece of advice you could give to someone striving to become a published author? What is the greatest pitfall for a new author?
It's a balancing act of following your artistic vision and realizing you have to sell it to the public. Don't sell your soul to commercialism or the latest trend, but always know who your audience is and respect them. Don't buy into your own success. Keep people around you who are supportive but not afraid to tell you when you're full of shit. You can't write on a pedestal.

Who do you read when you have the time to?
Any book that Daniel Silva produces. Right now I'm entranced with Margaret George and Philippa Gregory.

What sort of process do you use to create? Is there anything special you do to get in the mood to write?
Competition fires me up. If I think another author in my circle is eclipsing me, I feel I have to prove I'm still in the game. That's probably a personality flaw.

What are you working on now and when can fan’s hope to get their hands on it?
The third astrology mystery, A SNITCH IN TIME, should be out next spring. I'm also experimenting with THE CHRISTY CHRONICLES where my character discusses how she feels about the people she does charts on, then the person continues the story with what happened in their life as predicted by the stars. With the new Dan Brown book out, I think there may be a raised interest in astrology.
I'm also putting finishing touches on a children's book I wrote 30 years ago. THE KING'S TABLE is "Pirates of the Caribbean meets The Food Channel." Children should know the history of where the food they take for granted comes from.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I just returned from a Mexian Cruise. It was a cruise saluting Veterans, very patriotic(I am a Vietnam Era Vet). I was on a panel of authors talking to the vets about writing their memoirs. We got together later with the travel agent who pulled together the trip and pitched the idea of a Mystery Cruise: Murder on the High Seas: A Cruise To Die For.
Details: Nov.14-21, leaving from Los Angeles. Three days at sea for the panels and such. Ports-of-call Puerto Vallart, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. No extra charge for the conference, just pay for the cabin. Really encouraging fans, small presses and and their authors to attend. I'm also trying to negotiate with the ship so we can sell our books. Bev has wrangled 20 cabins. She'd like to see $100 deposit to hold the cabin as soon as possible, with a second installment on the deposit of $150 by June 1st, and the remainder by Aug 25th. Go to She'll send your readers a flier.


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