Friday, April 03, 2015

LAUREL - Susan F Craft - One Free Book

Welcome, Susan. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I don’t see or feel a lot of me in my characters, so if readers see me, it’s unintentional.

Except for not being able to find my way out of the woods, I identify most with my main character in my novel Laurel. Lilyan Xanthakos relies on her faith in God to get her through the dangerous and tragic happenings in her life, as do I.

There’s a pirate in my novel, Cassia, which is being released this September. His name is Captain Galeo (which means shark in Greek) and he is pure evil and the nastiest character I’ve ever written. It’s humbling and a little more than unsettling to realize that he lives inside me … I created him. Scary, right?

I wrote a nasty pirate in Pirate’s Prize. I had fun writing him. I want to feature Cassia, on this blog, if you’ll let me. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When I was younger, I was a very active person. But at age 66 I have become sedentary. So it’s quirky for me that in the past few years I parasailed and I went whitewater rafting. I hope to ride in a hot air balloon and take a mule ride through the Grand Canyon.

You go, girl! When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wrote my first book (10 handwritten pages) when I was eight. I bound it using two pieces of cardboard box sewn together with dental floss. I titled it, The Secret of the Whistling Cave. I was into mysteries, having read every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on.

I kept my writing to myself in my teen years, and then went to college where I earned a BA in Journalism. My first job was as a writer for educational television. From there, I was an assistant director of communications at a South Carolina state agency, then a continuing education planner for the SC College of Pharmacy, and ended my 41-year career as a proofreader for the SC Senate Committee on Judiciary.

Some of it was, I told myself at the time, not what I really wanted to be writing—articles for agency publications, informational materials, speeches for the agency director. It was “my day job” that I couldn’t quit because I couldn’t get anyone interested in my novels.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I have a lot of author friends, so my reading runs the gamut. Right now, I have 10 books on my Kindle waiting for me— mysteries, an 1890s suspense, a young adult fantasy, a Victorian era romance, a devotional for busy women.

I’m partial to historical romance, especially the Colonial American era.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I recently retired after working fulltime for 41 years. I liked working and made some dear friends among my coworkers, so I’m going through a transition.
When I was younger I felt like one of those spinning plate jugglers with a husband who traveled, two children, and an ailing mother to care for. My faith, singing in the choir, and painting helped me keep my sanity.

It’s taken me three months to decompress, and it’s only in the past couple of weeks that I’ve started to discover how freeing retirement is. I want to take some painting and pottery classes and maybe learn Tai Chi. I have to be careful, though, not to get too busy again.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I often find names in my research. For example, for my novel The Chamomile, I found a roster of almost 200 prisoners aboard one of three British prison ships anchored in the Charlestown (Charleston), South Carolina, harbor in 1781.

We have some very old cemeteries in South Carolina, going back to the 1600s. I’ve found names of people and their stories on tombstones.

Many of my characters are Scottish, and I found names in a book I have about the clans, their history, mottos, battle cries, and tartans.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of my 45-year marriage and the loving relationship and friendship my husband and I have maintained and nurtured. It hasn’t been easy. Like many people we’ve had good and bad times, times of plenty and times of leanness, good health and sickness, and lots of give and take.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would be a horse, probably a mustang, maybe the head mare of a herd racing across the Western plains. Wild or not, horses are creatures of habit and love to maintain the same pattern. Horses make sturdy, honorable, and reliable friends. (The only thing bad about being a mare is their gestation period is 335-340 days!)

What is your favorite food?
Chicken divan with an extra dash of curry powder.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Working fulltime and caring for a family was my greatest roadblock because I couldn’t settle down to write until 11 p.m. and wrote until 2-3 a.m. I overcame it by ruminating on entire scenes and conversations and retaining them until I could find the opportunity to write my thoughts down. This meant learning to create while stalled in traffic, in doctors’ waiting rooms, and in grocery lines.

Tell us about the featured book.
Desperate to rescue their kidnapped daughter, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos trek two hundred miles through South Carolina mountains and backcountry wilderness, fighting outlaws, hunger, sleeplessness, and despair. When the trail grows cold, the couple battles guilt and personal shame; Lilyan for letting Laurel out of her sight, and Nicholas for failing to keep his family safe.

They track Laurel to the port of Charleston as post-Revolutionary War passions reach fever pitch. There, Lilyan, a former patriot spy, is charged for the murder of a British officer. She is thrown into the Exchange Building dungeon and chained alongside prostitutes, thieves, and murderers. Separated from her husband, she digs deep inside to re-ignite the courage and faith that helped her survive the war. Determined to free his wife at any cost, Nicholas finds himself forced back into a life of violence he thought he’d left behind.

Following a rumor that Laurel may be aboard a freighter bound for Baltimore, Lilyan and Nicholas secure passage on a departing schooner, but two days into the voyage, a storm blows their ship aground on Diamond Shoals. As the ship founders, both are swept overboard.

Will their love for each other and their faith sustain them as they await word of their missing child? Or is Laurel lost to them forever?

Please give us the first page of the book.
Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
May 1783
Inching forward on a ladder-back chair, Lilyan Xanthakos propped her elbows on her worktable and pressed a walnut shell into the pliant skin of a clay pot. Her face tight with concentration, she gingerly pulled out the shell and admired the pattern left behind.


Once again, her anxious gaze was drawn from her task to the road that meandered through the valley and wound its way up to the cabin.

What’s keeping them?

She turned the pot toward the old man who sat beside her on the porch. “What do you think?”
Callum, his body wizened from years of hard living, hunting, and long-forgotten battles, stilled his rocking chair. He studied Lilyan’s handiwork. “It’s a fine pot, lassie. Like you. Beautiful, strong, dependable.”

Adoration gleamed in his watery blue eyes, barely visible beneath their sagging lids.

How can readers find you on the Internet? (my website) (post the fourth Monday of each month) (post on the 31st of months that have a 31st)
Twitter: @susanfcraft

Thank you, Susan, for sharing this book with us today.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Laurel - Paperback
Laurel - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Anonymous said...

sounds like a great book! Shelia from Mississippi

Susan F. Craft said...

Thank you so much for this interview, Lena. I loved your questions and had a good time answering them. I don't think I've ever revealed so much of myself in a blog post. I'd rather talk about my books (and other authors' books!) than myself.

Susan F. Craft said...

Hi, Sheila. I tell people that I like researching far more than writing. So, if you enjoy historical facts subtly woven into the fabric of books, then I think you'll like Laurel.

Melanie Backus said...

I have read so many great things about this book. Susan is a great writer and I would love to read Laurel. Thank you for the opportunity and the wonderful post.

Melanie Backus, TX

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Susan, I know what you mean. The whole reason for the blog is so I can promote other authors and their books. It's been a real blast for all the years since I started in 2005. So many readers have found so many authors they might now have ever heard about.

Anonymous said...

would love to win. Angela in KY

Susan F. Craft said...

Hi, Melanie. Thank you for the compliments. So glad you enjoyed the post.

Susan F. Craft said...

Angela, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I wish I had a book to give to everyone!

sm said...

I read and enjoyed The Chamomile and would love to read another of your books. Laurel looks very good and full of suspense. sm CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Mary Preston said...

This story sounds like it is going to tear at my heart.

Mary P


Beth Gillihan said...

Sounds like a can't put down read! Great first page. Makes me want to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win!

Beth in Montana

Susan F. Craft said...

Hi sm. I'm happy to hear that you like The Chamomile. Laurel is the continuation of Lilyan and Nicholas's story. The third book in their trilogy, Cassia, is being released this coming September. It's an all-out adventure with pirates and sea battles near the North Carolina Outer Banks.

Susan F. Craft said...

Hi Mary. When writing one particular scene in Laurel, I was crying. My husband hurried in to my office to see what was the matter. When I told him, he patted my shoulder and said, "They aren't real, you know." What?!!!

Susan F. Craft said...

Hi, Beth. I'm so happy you like the first page. Although each page in a novel is important, it's the first that's got to catch a reader's interest.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this author or this book, but now I'll never forget either one. Can't wait to read this!
J.C. -Indiana-

Susan F. Craft said...

J.C., thank you for your nice comment. It is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lena. Thanks for having Susan here. I would love win and read this book of hers. Sounds really interesting. Please put my name in. Texas gal.
Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway, SC.

Sierra Faith said...

Love learning about new authors!


Susan F. Craft said...

Hi Maxi, Sharon, and Sierra. Thanks for coming by and leaving your comments. Sharon you live "down the road from me"; I live in Columbia.