Meet Deborah Sharp--Summer Contest Runner Up!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
WOW: Congratulations to you, Deborah! How did you feel when you learned you were a runner up?

Deborah: I was thrilled my story was chosen. There were some terrific entries, so I felt like I was in good company.

WOW: We always have amazing writers enter our contests. Please describe the inspiration behind "The Worst Vacation Ever."

Deborah: I wanted to turn the prompt around a bit, because sometimes a truly awful vacation makes the best memories. Also, as a Florida native, I've always wondered what people do when they come on vacation to the Sunshine State and it rains non-stop. In my story, they sat on a soggy carpet at the putt-putt golf and laughed about the worst vacation ever.

WOW: I agree with you there. We always talk and write about our worst vacations for years afterward. Speaking of writing, you mentioned in your bio that you used to write for USA Today. How would you describe the transition from journalism into fiction writing?

Deborah: I joke that I'm a "recovering" journalist. I've found that my background as a reporter really helps in writing dialogue and meeting deadlines. Plotting was a bit trickier for me, since journalists get fired if they make things up. I've also had to learn how NOT to reveal my entire story in my first paragraph.

WOW: That makes for a challenge. You also mention that you're hard at work on your first mystery novel, MAMA AND THE MURDERER, which will be published in Fall 2008 by Midnight Ink. Can you tell us about the book and the path to the publisher?

Deborah: Actually, I'm now hard at work writing my second one, MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN. I obtained a two-book deal with Midnight Ink after I met the company's acquisitions editor at the mystery conference, Sleuthfest. (See? It can happen. Keep signing up for those conference pitch sessions!)

Midnight Ink will publish my first novel, MAMA AND THE MURDERER, next fall. They're currently reviewing my revisions on that one. The second one comes out in Spring of '09.

My books are cozy mysteries with a dash of comedy and romance. They're set in a down-home, southern-drawl slice of Florida that most people don't even know exists. Tiny Himmarshee, Florida, is mythical, but the region of the state is absolutely authentic. It's all cattle ranches and citrus groves; sweet tea and church suppers.

In MAMA AND THE MURDERER, Mace Bauer is just settling in to look for ex-boyfriends on TV's "Cops,'' when her mama calls, frantic. Mama's in trouble, which isn't unusual. Her antics drive Mace and her two sisters to distraction. But this time the trouble's for real: She's found a body in the trunk of her turquoise convertible, and the police think she's the killer. Unless Mace finds the real murderer, her mama goes to prison--just like the lyrics to a country-western song.

And, even though Mace is the main character in my books, Mama demands attention. She loves handing out advice, especially unwanted advice to Mace on how to find a man. So, I gave Mama her own advice column.

Check it out (and send Mama a letter, if you're brave) at:
I blog about writing and life at:

WOW: Thanks for sharing. Your works sound intriguing. So, let’s switch gears. Which craft books on writing do you find the most helpful?

Deborah: Ansen Dibell's book, Plot (Elements of Fiction Writing), helped me understand the basics, like how to get from here to there in plotting a story, and the tricky business of point of view. I also love John Dufresne's fiction-writing guide, The Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction. Other than those, my reference shelf has some volumes that scare my husband, such as Book of Poisons and Murder and Mayhem.

WOW: Wonderful. Do you have any other goals for your writing career?

Deborah: After a long stint as a reporter, writing other people's stories, I'm just happy to be writing my own.

WOW: I bet you are, and it appears that you’re doing a fabulous job of it, too. Tell us a little about the books and authors that continue to encourage you?

Deborah: I've found mystery writers and other authors to be amazingly generous in giving advice and counsel to those just starting out. All it takes is the nerve to ask.

As for those who I read, I'm a big fan of the late Anne George's mysteries. Her books were warm and funny and, like me, she wrote a Southern-flavored series about sisters. I also like Elaine Viets, Nancy Martin, and Sarah Strohmeyer, all mystery authors with a comic edge. Laura Lippman and Margaret Maron are good when I'm feeling a bit more serious. But usually I like to laugh when I read fiction. Covering news, I wrote stories for too many years that made me sad.

WOW: I can understand that comment. I don’t watch news on a regular basis, simply for that reason. What words would you like to leave with our audience?

I like this quote from Paul Theroux: "You can't want to be a writer. You have to be one."

WOW: How true! Good quote. Thanks so much for sharing a little of your writing self here with us today, Deborah. Good luck to you in all your writing!

Readers, check out Deborah’s winning entry here.
Deborah Sharp
"The Mama Mysteries''
In 2008 from Midnight Ink


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