Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Newspaper Article - June 10, 2009

Serafino driven to tell stories - by Christopher Tuffley -News Sun

Sunny Serafino always wanted to write. But a sick husband, widowhood, raising three children as a single parent and a 46-year career as a legal secretary never gave her the time. Then she remarried and retired. In the last 12 years she has published 10 books -- nine novels and a memoir of her parents.

Her most recent work, "Second Chances," has just been released. It is a sequel to "Echoes," an earlier book. In "Echoes" Serafino tells the story of a dying woman's last wish t0 bringing her far-flung family together again. So many readers wanted to know what happened to the family next, Serafino said, that she was forced to continue their story.

"Second Chances" deals with change and how people react. Main characters include the dying woman's husband, her best friend, and her youngest daughter. All three have to adjust to her loss, but Patty, the daughter, has perhaps the most problems. "This is a story about old friends, new loves, and a deep-seated trust that holds a family together," she said.

Serafino said she thinks her story through, before she sits at the keyboard, so she has an immediate idea of where she's going. That doesn't mean, she added that the characters don't take on a life of their own--she has frequently been surprised by unexpected twists in the tale.

She said she is not a disciplined kind of writer. She doesn't sit down the same time every day, or write a specific number of words each session. Instead, she writes in her spare time, after waiting until she has something to say. Then she types until she is done. That might mean working all day, several hours, or only 25 minutes. "I don't sit there with a blank face," she said, "If I have a blank face, I don't sit."

It typically takes her from six to nine months to get a book finished. Her drive is her passion to tell stories. While her plots are all different, they always involve courageous women.

Her books are all self-published, primarily because waiting to be discovered by an agent and traditional publisher can take a lifetime and requires as much luck as talent. She has discovered however, that self-publishing has a tremendous advantage--she has complete control of her work. She is very proud of the fact that three of her novels have won literary awards.

Serafino also teaches creative writing at South Florida Community College, and holds writing workshops throughout the state. She runs a writer's critique group that meets at the Avon Park Public Library on Friday for individuals with works in progress.

Her books are available on Amazon.com, or at her web site www.authorsden.com/sunnyserafino or http://www.sunnyserafino.com/.

Monday, June 8, 2009

First Place - Wow!

Sometimes in life there are unexpected surprises and some of these surprises can be exciting. Nothing beats the surprise I received when I was notified that I had won first place in the 2008 Royal Palm Literary Awards for my novel, A Grandma for Christmas; an award sponsored by the Florida Writers Association. And today a lovely person from Florida Writers Association sent me a copy of my award so that I could post it here. Thanks, Karen. Another wonderful surprise.
When A Grandma for Christmas, took this honor, it wasn't the first literary award I've be honored to receive but a 'first place' has special connotations. To receive recognition from your peers to this degree is a rare and wonderful occasion. I'll never forget when the trophy was delivered. It came in a manila envelope and when my husband slid it out of the mailbox he asked me if I recognized the sender's label. I thought the name was familiar but the address wasn't. Tearing the parcel open the trophy fell into my hands. I was overwhelmed and tears filled my eyes. I kept saying, "First place, first place oh, my God, first place." My hands were shaking so much I had difficulty dialing my best friend to tell her about the award. I had to dial her very familiar phone number four times before I got through. I said, "Hello, Bette," and she said, "You won first place." How did she know? We hadn't been talking about this at all. She knew I entered months earlier but after that we just didn't talk about it. I knew I couldn't attend the conference when the awards are given out so it wasn't really on my mind. She says she heard it in my voice but I don't think so. We may be miles apart but our friendship transcends logic. She knew because she felt my excitement. Well that's my theory anyhow.
In my short writing career I've been blessed with friends and fellow-writers who have helped me in so many ways. Through my husband's encouragement and support I feel I've been able to achieve whatever successes I have. But behind it all is my sense that God ordains what happens in our lives. I've always said I didn't do any of this alone. I guess that's why I want to give back. I love coaching, teaching and mentoring budding authors. That's why this coming fall I'll be teaching another creative writing course at South Florida Community College and why I chair a writer's critique group every week. It's all part of my late-life career and I love it.

New Adventures

I guess you are never too old to look for new adventures and boy, did I find one this past weekend. Actually it wasn't something I was really looking for.

For months friends have been nagging me to go on Facebook. Well, I didn't because I felt so unsure of myself. After all, I'd be out there in cyberspace with all those folks that I didn't know. But when they ganged up on me, there they were in an early Saturday morning email; four people I knew urging me to just got off the stick and do it. So I signed up.

Actually, my weekend had been reserved for something else. I had planned to complete a couple of things that had the dreaded deadlines facing me. I had planned to finish a chapter in my newest manuscript, something I had been unable to do this past week. Good, I thought, Saturday and Sunday will be just the time to complete these things.

But no! Little did I expect the deluge of folks asking me to be their friend. Little did I know that I would be pecking away at the computer keyboard all weekend. Little did I know that I would find this fun and an experience far beyond anything I expected. Little did I know Facebook wasn't a scary place and that those people I didn't know weren't invited.

This venture into the world of internet networking is so new to me. Oh, I have a couple of blogs and I have a long snail-mailing list of people who are readers of my books and who, God bless them, are eagerly awaiting the next novel. My email list of contacts has grown to a length I never imagined.

What does all this mean? I think it means I have opted for an adventure never anticipated. I think it means I'll be on the compute more than planned. I think it might be just the networking tool I have been looking for. But, and there is always a but, I think I might just have to take this adventure a bit slowly. Get my feet wet and then wade in further. I'm sure I'll have encouragers along the way because they seem to be lining up already. I guess my writer/author friend on the east coast of Florida is smiling as she reads this. She's the adventurous soul in our friendship who has exposed me to high-tech stuff, some of which I've already thrown up my hands and surrendered to.

Still, there are aspects of every adventure that are scary. However, Columbus didn't give up in mid-Atlantic did he? Edison didn't give up with an empty light bulb in his hand. I guess I won't give up either. After all, and adventure is an adventure.

See you in cyberspace.