Saturday, April 18, 2015

Author Interview: IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS with Susan Sheehey

My guest today is talented author, Susan Sheehey, Susan  writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. She lives and laughs in Dallas-Ft Worth with her husband and 2 sons. After the diagnosis of her eldest son, she is a strong advocate for Autism Awareness and support, and spends most of her time caring for his needs. Writing is her escape and passion. Every story she writes includes an element of water, and is addicted to French Vanilla coffee and Diet Coke.

So, Susan, let's jump into our interview:

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What things would inspire me?

(Susan) Setting and music inspires me most. I peruse around the internet looking for scenes and character images that fit my imagination. I print them off and post them around my desk so I can fully emerge myself in the scene as I write. Then I turn on Pandora and choose a station of music that I think works for the emotion of the scene and just plug away. It’s also how I create my book soundtrack to be released around the same time as the novel. By the end of writing a novel, I normally have about 30-40 songs picked out that truly inspired me as I wrote.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write longhand, on a laptop, tablet, etc.

(Susan) Normally I type on my laptop (never on a tablet or phone). Occasionally when I’m out and about and only have a short time to write, I’ll bring along a notepad. It’s also the method I use to pull myself out of writer’s block. Pen to paper is very inspirational and gets the creative juices flowing. But I type considerably faster than I write longhand, so if a scene just pours out of my mind, I’ll definitely type it up first.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I belong to any writing groups, if so, why?

(Susan) Writing and critique groups have been CRUCIAL to my publishing path. I first joined a
critique group (Greater Fort Worth Writers) where I could physically bring in chapters and get feedback in person. I also joined an online critique group of a few romance writers to get genre-specific feedback. My writing improved so much just from their advice alone. Improving my craft and my voice had to be accomplished first. More than that, I also joined Romance Writers of America, and the local chapter North Texas RWA. They provide additional networking, support, and knowledge that I wouldn’t have received anywhere else. They were the ones who told me how to write a blurb that really sold to agents/editors, and provided workshops on business and networking that were invaluable. I would not have sold my first novel without this group and their connections.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I tell a beginning writer to never do/always do?

(Susan) To Do: ALWAYS back up your work. Every time you finish a chapter, every time you pass a critical moment in the storyline, and at LEAST once a week. Don’t just save it somewhere else, send it to someone you trust just to hold onto it (via email). Computer crashes happen CONSTANTLY. Don’t lose your work that you sweated over for so long. Also, keep writing. Even if it’s only a measly 250 words a day. Even if you know it’s not worth crap and you’ll probably delete it anyway. WRITE. Don’t fall into the abysmal trap of writers block and not write at all. WRITE. Blank pages cannot be edited. Lastly, the best promotional or marketing tool out there is another book. KEEP WRITING.

Never Do: Quit. Never Quit. Keep pushing forward. Keep writing forward. Improve your skills, strengthen your prose, find your voice, even if that means rewriting a scene multiple times. But never quit. Also, NEVER bash an editor or agent (or other author) after a bad rejection letter or review. As many books/authors out there, this is a small world and that kind of negativity always comes back to bite you. As frustrating or hurtful as those kinds of things are, rise above it. This is a subjective industry, and even JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer were rejected a bajillion times. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything. Just write another awesome book. Prove ‘em wrong. J

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I take manuscript rejections well. And how do I feel about reviews, both good and not-so-good?

(Susan) my first manuscript, I received over 50 rejections from editors and agents. Only a small handful actually sent back useable critiques for me to improve. That’s when I joined a writers group and realized how much that first manuscript wouldn’t work. So I wrote another manuscript, and was rejected another 50 times. But I kept working. I wrote a third manuscript, and was rejected another 15 times, but I had a lot more nibbles on it (partial or full requests). Finally, I sold that novel after a year of querying. You have to push past rejections and keep working. Keep improving. It may take several manuscripts to get there, but eventually it will work. It’s the same concept with reviews. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and this is an extremely subjective industry. What doesn’t appeal to one reader might blow away another. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and get shot down. Also, there are a lot of ‘trolls’ out there who do nothing but write bad reviews. Get over those very fast, because it won’t help you. They are the ones living their life in negativity, so don’t let them bring you down with them. Just keep moving forward. And when someone writes a glowing review about your work, thank them! Even publicly on their website or blog. That kind of niceness and manners goes a long way!

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I tell a Kindergarten and Senior class about writing?

(Susan) Kindergarten: Pick out a crayon, any color you want, and write a story. Crayons feel more creative than a mere pen or pencil. Then pretend you are a hero: a superhero, a policeman, a princess, or whatever you want. Then pretend you are holding a magical phone. When you press the button on the magical phone, what happens? Does it call someone? Are you transported somewhere? Does a group of unicorns appear and start dancing? What do you do? What do you see? Who are you with? Tell me what happens next.

Senior Class: Fiction is about bringing a story to life with as few words as possible. Write a scene about something, then go back over it and cut the word count in half. Today’s readers have a much shorter attention span than before, so you have to grab their attention faster, and keep it. Best way to do that, choose better verbs and descriptors to keep the word count lower. Cut all adverbs. You have to be efficient in the words you choose to keep people’s attention. And to bring them back to the next novel.

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  1. Great interview. Loved your advice to writers Susan. Thanks

  2. Informative for anyone thinking of being a writer. Enjoyed. Good luck. an Aggie down the road wishes you well.

  3. Great advice! I like to keep inspirational images around me as well, but I can't concentrate with music, although I love it. Envy you that.

  4. Thanks, ladies! Hope it was helpful!

  5. I like your inspirational insights. Music is a biggie for me, too. And I'm addicted to Tab, old timey diet drink before they made Diet Coke.

  6. Excellent advice to those high school seniors, and beginning writers as well! Best wishes with your publishing career.

  7. Wow! Loads of great advice here. And that was a fantastically inspiring picture. I might have to go and write 250 words about it :)