Guest Post by Amy Kampstra
There are three things you'll notice if you've ever had the privilege of conversing one-on-one with budding novelist Sarah Winter: Her unforgettable laugh, her ginormous vocabulary, and a mischievous shine in her self-proclaimed "shit brown" eyes. (No, that's not what her eyes are really full of.) But that humor, with the ability to paint with words using stark honesty, combined with that genius wit swirling under the surface, create a perfect storm of qualities that permeate each page she writes.
1) Author Sarah Winter (photo by Sarah Winter)
Fittingly, Snowbound was published on Jan. 6, 2014, upon the heels of Winter Storm Ion, in which a polar vortex swept through the United States, slamming several states with sub-zero temperatures and wind chills that no one has experienced in 20 years. (Hmm… a chilling coincidence or TERRIFIC marketing ploy, Ms. Winter?)
Well, let's chalk it up to a coincidence. In fact, "The idea has been with me since I was 15 or 16," Winter reminisces. "I read a romance novel of one flavor or other that had the hero and heroine caught in a thunderstorm and they wound up together in an isolated cabin. My brain ran with it, begging for more drama and more dire circumstances."
Snowbound may trigger its own vortex in the literary world. The romance does contain swear words, and it's full of detailed, explicit scenes for anyone that loves The 50 Shades of Grey stuff. But it's the fascinating world she's shaped of characters thrust against the Wyoming landscape that will hook you.
"The book is a straight romance," explains Winter, "but there is a lesson to be found about taking risks and not letting the circumstances of life beat you down to the point that you shut yourself off. There's a quote that my main character Liam says that sums it up quite well. 'We don't get to choose the things that happen to us in life. What we can choose is how to react to them, how we deal with them, and how we move on.'"
Wyoming plays a huge part in the plot. She's a siren luring Englishman Liam Freeman to see her intense beauty and rich history before throwing him into a life-threatening situation. And, if Wyoming seems merely like a cold-hearted, formidable region, we forget, because she has nudged Liam right into the arms of River, an intelligent, well-deserving heroine any reader can respect.
1) Snowbound cover
She kept the fire going, the grate in place to protect them from getting burnt, keeping the cabin so hot she was sweating. He moaned once in a while as soreness started to set in, the sound plaintive and pain-filled. Every time he did, she jumped up to check him and usually found him tossing and turning. His muscles cramped from the change in his core temperature and his joints stiffened from the shivering and exertion of his walk through the storm. He was nearly incoherent sometimes, his mind still shaking off the effects of the cold. He asked for water, glass after glass. She stirred salt into each warmed glass to help with the muscle cramping and fed him ibuprofen tablets.
Being married, raising two sons, and crafting a novel is more than most people can handle. But, Winter determinedly tapped on those computer keys any chance she could (especially in the wee hours of the morning when all was quiet), finally giving breath to that idea she had so many years ago. She explains her writing process as "brain vomit" in which she scratches down any idea or hint of dialogue on whatever she can get her hands on. Interestingly enough, one of her Snowbound characters was conceived by scratching notes on a pizza box. No matter the method, she was relieved and quite giddy to see her baby in print.
Winter's friends, Beth and Shanna, helped her with understanding a readers' perspective and with the tedious task of editing. Formatting the novel and getting it ready for sale on Amazon was also time-consuming.
Alas, a writer's work is never done. Reviews on Amazon are positive and may create a snowball effect, one that prompts Winter to write more books.
"Snowbound is a stand-alone, but I do have other irons in the fire" Winter assures her new readers. "I have several different ideas I've been outlining, one that's being very selfish with my time. I'm far from done!"
Contact Sarah Winter via Twitter and Pinterest with username SisterSadieG. Check out Sarah's blog.
Excerpt used with Sarah Winter's permission