What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
I’m listing and the number is not a ranking. They are all my favorites.
1. Bianca D’Arc – Grizzly Cove series
2. Lynsay Sands – Argeneau series
3. Charlaine Harris – Sookie Stackhouse series
4. Ursula LeGuin - The Lathe of Heaven
5. Anne Rice – Prince Lestat
6. James M. Barrie – Peter Pan
7. J.R.R. Tolkien – Lord of the Rings
8. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter series
9. Diana Wynne Jones (once a student of J.R.R. Tolkien) – Howl’s Moving Castle
10. Mary Shelly - Frankenstein
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for over 50 years but not all that time in my current genre. I was also a creative writing teacher for over 20 years. Sometimes you have to learn about other writing jobs, before you find your fit. Many authors have told me that they have had lots of various jobs, some writing jobs, some not, and then used that career experience later in a book.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I always dream about my characters. The main characters are usually in the first dream, and I meet the others in later dreams.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I don’t do any research until I have had that first dream. Then I start researching everything about the setting or settings, customs, beliefs, legends, and food. When the next set of dreams happen, I write that and then continue research.
Do you see writing as a career? Any advice for new writers?
Writing is a very tough career. I’m a professional member of the Romance Writers of America and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and I’ve learned from the writing stars, that most authors have a day job. I’ve been told they work at the day job until after the books have exceeded they day job salary for several years. I’ve also learned that authors make a good living when a big movie studio makes a movie from a book. One author told me that she paid off her mortgage, all the debts, and set up college funds for her kids. She had won awards and sold over 50 books and still camped in a campground outside the city of a conference she was speaking out. The difference the money from the movie made was huge. Another author praised the series contract she had with HBO. Books by themselves don’t usually make enough.
Writing is usually a solitary profession, so you are responsible for paying for health insurance and setting up a retirement fund in addition to paying all your bills. You have to take that into consideration before leaving a day job.
Write first, because you love it. Writing brings me joy. Write every day to make it natural like breathing.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s is tough but doable. It’s changed in just a few years, and I expect it will change again.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I am equally in love with romance and science fiction and fantasy. I’m an associate editor for Space and Time Magazine (not a romance venue), so I read a lot of submissions and pass the ones I think are good quality and a fit for the magazine on to the fiction editor. I also read that genre and write in it from time to time.
I love paranormal romance and read it. I also read folklores and research documents on vampires and the paranormal.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I usually write with noise, so I can be in the room where my husband is watching TV. It becomes background noise, as I focus on the story. This comes from the years where I had to squeeze in time to write. I also found that if I was downstairs in my little office writing, I was away too long from the family.
I need silence to edit or proofread, because I often read aloud to listen to how the words sound and weed out any clinkers.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I have four or five manuscripts in various stages. Some are in outlines and some have chapters and summaries for future chapters.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I start out a lot of books with pen. I love pens and collect different types. Then at a certain point I switch the book over the computer. It used to be the type writer. The computer is such a time saver.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
My first favorite character was and is Peter Pan. He wanted love but didn’t realize it. When he lost his shadow, he just wanted to be whole again. There is an eternity about him. Peter is always the hero for others.
Advice they would give new authors?
Give yourself a good writer’s education. Find out where the nearest chapter of the Romance Writers of America is. Look them up on the internet. They have the best education process for fiction writers. Many of the chapters like CTRWA in Connecticut have a yearly conference that provides workshops and talks that help any fiction writer.
Keep your day job, and enjoy being a writer.
What makes a good story?
Conflict, passion, and coming close to losing. The main characters can’t be perfect from the beginning and not learn and grow during their story. They need to be confronted with a problem so big, that they don’t think they can solve it.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I write the dream in my journal. I will summarize and/or do an outline that is more like a list of each action. When I’m writing it, I come up with chapter titles.
A common trap is to think you have to plot it all out before writing. Some minds don’t work that way.
Just get the story in your mind down on paper. Read it aloud. Dream on it.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I am always original and hopefully deliver what the readers want at the same time. My main characters are always different from book to book. My current readers know there is a familiar vampire family but that every book has a spotlight on a different vampire member and their individual story.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
That depends on the word count. I have written a book under 50,000 words in 3 months. Currently, I write the big full-sized novels and that can take a year to 3 years. I am including research time in that.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I know it is real. For many years, I was a creative writing teacher and helped people get past it.
For me, it happened when I was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. It wasn’t so much writer’s block as writer’s fragmentation. My dreams and thought processes weren’t as clear as usual. The wonderful authors at the Facebook group Writers Helping Writers told me to keep writing even if it isn’t clear. I had to get out as much as I could and also maintain my routine. I wrote two chapters and it was as if I skipped every other sentence.
I have writer’s overwhelming normally, which means I have 4 to 6 books in my head all waiting to land.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Life. I try to live my life as fully as I can. I talk to people everywhere I go. I love meeting people. Become one with your experiences whether it’s going to a country fair, seeing New York’s Statue of Liberty, building a snowman, or doing other things and going places. Absorb cultures and history. See the food. Dance to the music. Listen to the silence of the forest. Inspiration is all around you. Embrace everything your life is and then write.
Love. Friends and family give us a wealth of secure happy feelings. Love inspires.
In 1938, Vampire Prince Răzvan and his companions on their way to see the king, take the snowy path into the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. In the deep woods, they find a gypsy encampment and take refuge with them for the night. His heart is lost gazing in the exotic pale blue eyes of a raven-haired beauty. Saraina and her people just want to be free and live peacefully. Meeting Prince Răzvan changes everything, first with his dire prediction and second, with his warm hands and gaze that tear of her heart.
Vampire Princess of New York
Arnhem Knights of New York Book 2
Publication Date: October 5, 2016
Noblesse is the daughter of the Vampire King of New York Maximillion Vander Meer. In the over two hundred years, she’s been a vampire, Noblesse has never found a true love or discovered what happened to her mother who disappeared just prior to the French Revolution.
Noblesse has to choose between two men. Both profess their love. Both are keeping a secret from her. One wants to destroy her, and one wants to love her forever. But which one?
**Read FREE with your Kindle Unlimited subscription!**
Vampire King of New York
Arnhem Knights of New York Book 1
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Max Vander Meer is a modern day Viking, CEO of VMeer Industries, and a Vampire. He makes a plea to the Goddess Freya to find the only woman who can heal his heart, the woman haunting his dreams. But, the Goddess strikes a bargain with him. To find this special woman, Max must return to the city he helped build-New York, which is threatened by an ancient terror. When he meets Evelyn, he is astounded. Could she be the one who inhabits his dreams? But Evelyn is haunted by loss and betrayal. How can Max win her love when she doesn't trust him as a man, and she doesn't want to be a vampire? If Max returns to Iceland without her, he will be encased in ice . . . forever!
I'm married with two children and a granddaughter. Pete the dog and Bella and Buffy the cat sisters are the furry members of my family.
I have two college degrees, a BFA in Theater and a Master's in Education. I've explored a myriad of occupations from being a teacher to a deli worker to a webmaster. My favorite thing to do in life is writing.
My only goal for my writing is for my readers to have fun.
I write science fiction, fantasy and paranormal romance. In addition to writing, I'm also an Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine. I'm a member of SFWA, RWA and CTRWA.
My hobbies are traveling, collecting sea shells and dragons.
Please join Susan for the TRS Holiday Party on Dec. 19-23, 2019!
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