Monday, August 30, 2010
I honestly can say I don’t set out to include myself in my characters. Because of my life’s experiences and perceptions, I couldn’t write a character without something of myself in them, but I try to make each character different and unique and that means they have to possess a variety of characteristics. If anything, I try to write characters that have features I would want to have or that I admire. Unless of course, it’s the bad guy.
That said, though not done intentionally, when I finish a book and evaluate the spiritual struggle of the main character I am surprised to see issues I am either struggling with and or have recently come through. Though Christian fiction entertains, and some would say that is the only purpose of fiction, God can really help us develop our spiritual walk through great stories.
I so agree. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Laughing and enjoying all the fun memories this question brings to mind. Hmm, now which one do I want to be publicized on the internet?
When I was young, there was a contest to stretch Slow Poke suckers. These were hard taffy suckers that could grow to incredible lengths if you worked on them for hours. So I did and sent them a letter with the length of my sucker—don’t remember how long it was now—and received an award from the Holloway Candy Company for my achievement in stretching a Slow Poke sucker to extreme lengths and the title of Super Sucker Stretcher. I still have the letter from the company.
I loved Slow Poke suckers. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Wow, that’s a tough question. I always wanted to be a writer, but I guess I really felt like one when I started submitting work to agents and publishers for publication. Then when I finaled in a few contests and an agent accepted me as a client, my writing was validated enough for me to say I am a writer.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
For entertainment, I read in the suspense genre. I love a good mystery, thriller and romantic suspense and is attested by my selected writing genre and my book review website, http://www.thesuspensezone.com/ . I also like to read books related to writing fiction, and inspirational non-fiction books to challenge and grow my faith.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Some, like my family, would question that I have kept it. LOL
I guess the key would be balance. Not going overboard on any one thing or trying to do too much. Lately, I’ve been struggling with getting all the things done that are expected of a published author, promoting two books that are releasing this fall and working on edits for my third book due out in 2011. But recently God reminded me of what is important and what my priorities should be, bringing me back into focus.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
The first thing I start with is the era in which the character was born to make the name appropriate to the age. Then I look at ancestry to see if that is an important focus for that character. If it’s a minor character, I may use a random name generator. I also try not to use characters whose name start with the same letter or sound similar to not confuse the reader.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Though, I don’t think of this as an accomplishment per se, I am proud of my two daughters. Of the women they have turned into and of their walk with the Lord. It’s hard to raise godly children these days with all the competing noise and distractions and the fact that faith is so important to both of them makes me so happy.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Hmm, I would have to be a house pet as I don’t like roughing it. At first I wanted to say a dog because I love dogs and they are, after all, man’s best friend. But then I thought about what life was like for our dog and decided on a cat because when nature calls they don’t have to go outside in the rain and snow. They also stay up all night and rule the roost they live in. But, wait, they like mice and I so don’t like mice. Is it too late to change my mind?
What is your favorite food?
Sweets of pretty much any variety are what I like best. If they involve chocolate all the better.
Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
The life-long love of reading inspired me to want to write a book, but it was God who arranged free time for it to happen. I’ve always enjoyed writing from creative to technical writing I’ve done in the corporate world, and I said for years that I was going to write a book, but I was so busy working full time, raising children, and volunteering at church that I never made the time. Then in 2000, I began having health issues that limited my physical activity. Forced to sit for long periods of time, I started to research the craft of writing and began my first book.
As my health deteriorated, I had more and more time available and soon I was writing fulltime and actively pursuing publication. I continued to work on the craft and to submit books, got the requisite rejections and then in the fall of 2008 at the ACFW conference, I was awarded a book contract in front of 500 or so of my fellow writers. My agent, crit partners and the editor had conspired to keep this a secret from me for five months. Since then I have contracted additional books in the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense line and look forward to writing for years to come.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest roadblock or challenge is crafting that all important first chapter and not rewriting it a zillion times. I can spend more time on that chapter than the rest of the book. And note I’m not talking past tense here as I haven’t really overcome it. But, if I am to meet my word count goals, I will have to stop being a perfectionist. We’ll see how it goes.
If being published is your dream, don’t give up. Ever. No matter what setbacks may occur. But search deep to learn why you want to be published so you understand your motivation. In The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass talks about two kinds of writers and I will very badly paraphrase him here. One type of writer is only seeking publication because they want to see their name on a book and is unwilling to do the work that it takes to become published. The other type of writer writes because they love to tell stories and want to do nothing else. He calls them status seekers and storytellers. Deciding early on which one you are may make the process easier.
Tell us about the featured book.
High-Stakes Inheritance is a romantic suspense book published by Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line. In High-stakes Inheritance, family counselor Mia Blackburn’s Uncle Wally dies and leaves behind a will that requires her to return to Logan Lake, Oregon, to live at the rustic Pinetree Resort for one full year in order to inherit the valuable property. If she fails to stay at Pinetree for the full year, the property reverts to her brother.
But on her first day in town she receives a threatening message: Leave Logan Lake or you will pay. Despite the warning, Mia won't let anyone scare her from the rustic resort. But when a fire traps her in a burning barn, she fears that she won't get out alive. Just in time her ex-boyfriend volunteer firefighter Ryan Morgan rescues her from the deadly blaze. He had once broken her heart, yet she still has feelings for him. With Ryan insisting on keeping a close eye on her, Mia feels safer-and closer to Ryan than ever before. Yet the threats haven't stopped, and soon Mia's high-stakes inheritance includes a murder-and Mia could be the next victim.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Pinetree will never be yours. Leave Logan Lake now or you will pay.
Mia Blackburn stared at the cutout magazine letters glued to stark white paper.
Was this some kind of a joke? Did someone really plan to hurt her for honoring her late uncle's wishes? To meet the terms of his will, she had agreed to live at Pinetree for the next year in order to inherit the resort. Yet nothing about the idyllic Oregon setting and worn cabins would garner this kind of threat.
With trembling hands, she flipped the envelope and searched for clues. The hate mail held a postmark from three days ago right here in the Logan Lake Post Office.
She rubbed a finger over the neat rows of shiny magazine letters. Anger seemed to leap from the page.
Her mouth went dry, and her throat tightened, nearly cutting off her air.
Only one person harbored such bitter feelings for her. Her father. And knowing him, he'd lurk in the shadows to see her reaction to his threat.
The space seemed to darken with her thoughts.
Was he here, in the room watching her? Or would he be outside on Main Street, sitting in his Cadillac, drumming his fingers on the wheel as he did whenever he grew impatient?
Sounds intriguing. How can the readers find you on the Internet?
I can be found at the following places.
http://www.susansleeman.com/ Personal website
http://www.thesuspensezone.com/ Book review website
http://www.facebook.com/susan.sleeman Facebook friends page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Sleeman-Books/124844037537711 Facebook fan page
Thank you, Susan, for spending this time with us
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