I’ve always been fascinated by process, especially when it comes to craft—painting, sculpting, sewing, knitting, woodwork, writing—all of it holds endless fascination for me. I love how a person can create something useful or beautiful from humble material and thin air. Although I’ve been a published writer for a good chunk of my life, I love to hear other authors discuss their process. The ways we approach our work is ever changing, always evolving, and there’s so much to learn from one another.

If you’re of the same mind, you might be interested in a podcast called LAUNCH, which I love, love. LAUNCH, presented by screenwriter and author John Austin, takes us step-by-step through the book creation process. Austin, debut author of ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE, a recently released middle grade novel from Roaring Book Press, takes us from idea to publishing through Austin’s eyes as he experiences each step. The four-part podcast shows us what it takes to go from idea to reality. The pod covers conception, manuscript submission, publishing contract, revision, book cover art and font, and the book’s printing (Austin actually travels to the press in Virginia to watch his book being printed and bound). It’s a behind-the-scenes look that even published writers rarely get to see.

Click here to listen to LAUNCH. And happy book release day to fellow Macmillan author John Austin and ARLO FINCH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE!  

About the Author (from Macmillan website)

Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, John August earned a degree in journalism from Drake University and an MFA in film from USC. As a screenwriter, his credits include Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie. His books include Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire.In addition to his film career, he hosts a popular weekly podcast, Scriptnotes, with Craig Mazin. He also created the Writer Emergency Pack, an educational storytelling tool that was distributed to over 2,000 classrooms in partnership with non-profit literacy groups like 826LA and NaNoWriMo. John and his family live in Los Angeles.  

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Hi everyone, just a wee note to say I’ve decided to leave  the Twitterverse.  We’ll meet again, Twitter, don’t know how, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.

But you, dear readers, can still find me on my Instagram account, which is filled with absurd pictures of my goats, cats, dogs, and other happenings on my farm.  I’m also up on my Facebook page, although I post sporadically there.  However, I do answer every email, so please drop me a note through shazwriter@me.com. Let’s chat!

Also, on the news front, I’m finishing first draft edits on GIRLS ON THE VERGE, publication of which has been pushed to spring of 2019.  And I’ve hung out my shingle and will be giving manuscript critiques,mentoring, and query assistance, information of which you can find here:  Manuscript Critiques. 

Happy fall!  Enjoy all the pumpkin-flavored goodness the world has to offer.



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Tomato Soup with Orange, adapted from The Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, that is her name).

I had so much fun giving a talk on heritage vegetables at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville, Chicago.  I love talking about veg about as much as I love talking about writing YA novels.  Here is one of the recipes I mentioned. I’ll post a few more in the coming days; keep checking back!

I love cookbooks, I must admit. But I often buy them and then forget I have them. Ms. Dragonwagon’s book is memorable and high on my list of cookbooks to be cherished. I’ve had this book for years, and like all wonderful cookbooks my favorite recipes are splattered with ingredients from by-gone soups. Cooks often have signature dishes, the ones that everyone requests year after year, and the following recipe for tomato soup with orange is one of mine. I plant around 30 tomato plants each year and most are made into soups and sauces and frozen. This soup is perfect for freezing—I recommend those quart size plastic “Ball jars.” One of these will give you a main course for two people. Serve your lovely soup with a grill-cheese sandwich made from crusty sourdough bread and cheddar cheese and you will be in foodie heaven. This soup makes a wonderful gift. I package mine (frozen or fresh) with a little box of cream and a loaf of homemade sourdough bread or gourmet crackers.

You can double, triple, quadruple this recipe—it all depends on how big your soup pot is, really. I have a huge restaurant sized pot with a heavy bottom. It’s the best pan I own and I’ve dragged it all over the world to every place I’ve lived.

3 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and squished through your garlic press

1 ½ teaspoons dried basil (I’ve used herbs de Provence too)

2 tablespoons honey

3 to 4 whole cloves (count these carefully because you will be fishing them out later. I use a slotted spoon.)

4 pounds of ripe tomatoes pureed (To make the puree, cut tomatoes and toss them in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, toss in some sea salt and a small handful of sugar. If liked, throw some fresh herbs over the top—thyme and basil are nice. Cover with foil, roast until soft, remove foil and allow the toms to caramelize a bit. When cool, run through a food press.)

Grated zest and juice of one orange

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup of whipping cream

Melt the butter then sauté the onion until soft. Lower heat and add garlic, basil, honey, cloves. Cook for two minutes, add your tomato puree and simmer for another few minutes. Add the orange zest and simmer for around 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the soup to cool a bit. Pick out the cloves with a slotted spoon making sure to remove all of them. Add the orange juice. Use an immersion blender until the soup is smooth (you can also use a blender but be very careful. Hot soup can shoot out the top of the blender and paint your kitchen a lovely shade of red.) Season with salt and pepper and taste. Adjust the taste with honey if needed. At this point you can freeze the soup or add the cream and serve.


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Hi all,

As part of the Chef Magnus Nilsson photo exhibit entitled Nordic:A Photographic Essay of Landscapes, Food, and People, I’ll be giving a talk on heritage vegetables at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville, Chicago. There will be a farmers market going on and Big Jones (a restaurant that has the best bourbon selection around) is right around the corner. Hope to see you there! Sharon

Food as Historical Artifacts” Lecture with Sharon Biggs Waller
July 26 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
In connection to our exhibit, “Nordic: A Photographic Essay of Landscapes, Food, and People” by Magnus Nilsson, the Museum will host a lecture by Sharon Biggs Waller, author of feminist novels A Mad, Wicked Folly, The Forbidden Orchid (Viking), and Girls on the Verge (Holt).

Heirloom or heritage produce not only taste delicious but also have a storied past: the Trail of Tears bean was carried by the Cherokees on their forced march to Oklahoma, and the Moon and Stars Watermelon was a long-lost variety re-discovered in a backyard in Missouri. Heirlooms give us a way to experience what our ancestors collected, treasured and (of course) ate—living history at its best!

Author, journalist and food history enthusiast Sharon Biggs Waller will give a presentation on heritage fruits, vegetables and livestock and their importance as living historical artifacts.

Admission $10 and includes a copy of Magnus Nilsson exhibit book. Reservations recommended, and can be made here or at the Museum.

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Dear Reader:

I hope you have a fantastic Fourth of July.  I’m going to spend it reading and weeding the garden and maybe a little bit of writing.  Sparklers will be in there somewhere too.




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I recently finished the first draft of my third novel, GIRLS ON THE VERGE, and sent it off to my editor. It’s an odd thing to hit send and go on about your day when your characters have occupied your every waking moment for months and months, but it’s also nice to clear your brain and have a ponder about what’s up next. And this always makes me think about the mission statement I made several years back. A mission statement is something every artist should make before she steps out onto that path. A mission statement helps remind you about who you are as an artist and what you want to say. The other day, while I was frantically trying to pull the last strings of my story together, I was listening to a soundtrack I made when I wrote my second novel, THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID, which you can listen to here: THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID soundtrack . I had thrown a Wailin’ Jennys song on it, simply because I really like the harmony, but I listened closely to the lyrics and realized how much the song reflected my mission statement. For me, I want every story I write to show that your dreams are worth the struggle, and that you, my dear reader, matter.

Do you have a mission statement for your life? I’d love to hear about it!

You Are Here, Lyrics

You wonder why you wonder when

You wonder how now and then

How you became who you’ve become

You are here

And yet you dream of being there

Of being where you think the good life has begun

Every darkened hallway

Every fallen dream

Every battle lost and

Every shadow in between

Will bring you to your knees and

Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases

For getting out or trading places

And there’s no turning back

No you are here

Who can say who made the choice

In the matter of your birth

Who brought about that fateful day

Well you are here and born with fire and desire

You’re the only one can stand in your way

And every broken arrow

Every hardened smile

Every foolish gamble and

Every lonely mile

Will bring you to your knees and

Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases

For getting out or trading places

And there’s no turning back

No you are here

And every sign of love

Every seed that’s growing

Every sweet surrender

To that silent knowing

Will bring you to your knees and

Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases

For getting out or trading places

And there’s no turning back

No you are here

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I’m incredibly pleased and proud to announce my latest deal for my third book, a contemporary YA novel called GIRLS ON THE VERGE. Those of you who have read my other books, ORCHID and FOLLY, know that I am first and foremost a feminist writer and that the theme of girl power runs through the veins of my stories. So guess what? GIRLS ON THE VERGE is no different.

Here is the announcement from Publisher’s Weekly

Christian Trimmer at Simon & Schuster has bought world English rights to Girls on the Verge, a YA novel by Sharon Biggs Waller. When 17-year-old Camille discovers she can’t obtain an abortion anywhere near her small hometown, she sets off for a Planned Parenthood clinic in the next state. Accompanied by Annabelle, the one-time star of her high school who has wound up stocking shelves, Camille embarks on a road trip of self-discovery in this coming-of-age story pitched as Going Bovinemeets Thelma and Louise. Publication is set for spring 2018; John M. Cusick of Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management brokered the deal.

The story of girls and their autonomy over their own bodies and their own fertility is an important one for me to tell and I am pleased and proud to have the chance to tell it. It’s not often that I get to write a story like GIRLS ON THE VERGE that is very close to my own life story.

But no worries, I haven’t abandoned my first love—historical fiction.   Lots more of those to come!


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