Thank you, Rebecca, for having me here today. I enjoy reading about the lives of other authors.
And we would like to know about your life. You say on your website you always wanted to be a writer. How did you get started on the road to publication?
I’ve always had stories running through my head. I can remember laying in the grass on ahot summer days, making up stories about fairies, kings, queens and evil wizards. The Boxcar Children was one of my favorite books, so I made up stories about children living on their own in the woods. Unfortunately, in those days, (I won’t say how low ago), writing wasn’t an emphasis in schools, so I didn’t know I could write those stories down. In college, all of my writing was in the form of papers.When I was in my thirties, after one of our family’s many moves, I found myself without a job. I was going through a woman’s magazine and came across an ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I submitted a story about a tornado my family had gone through when I was a child. I was accepted and the rest is history. So my journey in writing started with children’s books. After another move, I started writing local history and military books. In between, I dabbled in writing romance, but wasn’t very serious about it. I finished a few manuscripts, which I can honestly say weren’t very good, but I persisted, went to conferences, workshops, read books, started a romance writer’s group and improved my craft.
Two years ago, when I entered my sixth decade of life, I decided if I didn’t do anything with my romance, I never would. So I took a deep breath, put on my big-girl panties and pitched a book to one publisher and submitted a short synopsis and the first three chapters to another. A month later, within two weeks of each other, I received a request from both publishers for the full manuscripts. The following May (2013) “Riding for Love,” a romantic mystery set in small-town Wisconsin, was released in e-book form with Soul Mate Publishing. Three weeks ago, it came out in paperback. The other book, written under a pen name, will be released some time later this year with The Wild Rose Press.
That's a great story and good luck with your next book. Tell us about your writing process. What do you start with – characters, the plot of idea?
That depends. Sometimes, if I’m in a restaurant or a park, bus, etc. and I see a couple interacting (or not) with each other in a certain way, a story idea will come to me. I guess I’d have to say that most of my stories come to me as ideas, then develop into a plot, then the characters develop based on the plot.
Give us an idea of how you develop your characters.
I use worksheets to develop my characters. You know, their name, age, height, weight, likes, dislikes, any issues they may have that will change during the story. Sometimes, the characters just don’t keep to the sheets, though. In a book I’m editing now, I developed a character that I intended to be, not so much a villain, but not quite a nice guy. In one scene he went ahead and did something so nice, I wasn’t sure how to handle him. Suddenly, I had this bad guy who turned into a good guy and remained that way. It turned out to be a good thing, because I came up with his own story for another book.
Characters have a way of misbehaving like that sometimes. How do you research your stories?
It depends on the era I’m writing in. I have a time travel set in 1840 that I’ve been working on. That took a lot of research. I needed to find out what books were published, what type of clothing they wore, how on earth they kept diapers on babies, etc. One of the stories I’m working on now, I wrote in the early 1990’s. After re-reading it, I decided it wasn’t too bad, but I wanted to add some mystery elements to put some meat into the plot. It’s been nearly twenty years since I wrote it and had to add cell phones, internet and other current items that changed the way my characters acted.
Do you always know how your story is going to end?
On paper I do, but those darn characters have a way of changing things when you least expect it. In “Riding for Love,” I thought I had the ending written, then the heroine decided the story wasn’t over, so I added a twist, which the readers seem to like.
What are you working on now?
Right now I have several irons in the fire. I’m waiting for the edits from my editor on the book coming out later this year. I have two books I’m editing. I was editing one, while two of my writer friends read the other draft. They both recently gave me the manuscript back, so right now I’m actually editing two books. I've decided I need to focus on one at a time. I keep forgetting my characters' names. I also have two children’s books being released in August. I have the writing part done, but I’m waiting for the illustrators to get their work to me so I can put the book together.
You sound like you're really busy with your writing. What would you tell beginning writers?
There are so many things I would tell a beginning writing, but the first is believe in yourself and your dream of getting published and don’t give up. Hone your craft. Read books about writing. Take workshops. Enter contests. Be professional. Don’t let rejection slips get you down or make you give up. As my writing improved, so did my rejection slips. Those letters are proof you are doing what you love. Don’t let the success of other authors, diminish your desire to write. So many times we hear of the “overnight” success of this author or that author. What we don’t hear is the number of rejections they received or the "practice" manuscripts they probably have in their closets or under their beds. And most of all – never give up.
That is so true. Tell us a little about your writing day – how do you make time?
Making time is the ultimate problem of most writers. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find time. I don’t write every day. My other jobs sometimes get in the way and as I get older, I can’t write into the night like I used to. But – there’s always a but – I’m always writing my work in progress in my head. While I’m driving, doing dishes, waiting to pick up the grandkids, etc. I’m asking myself, “What if the hero/heroine does this? What would happen if I make them do that? How can I make this scene work?” Once while I was getting a massage, instead of relaxing, my mind was going a mile a minute trying to figure out what type of job to give my hero. I had changed the plot and his current job wasn’t working anymore. I started telling my therapist about the plot and my characters. Before I knew it, between the two of us, we’d solved my problem. I keep a notebook or paper on hand so I can write down ideas.
When I am at home for a full day, I get up early and go for a walk or use the elliptical. I do any chores that need to get done and head to my office my 8:30 or 9:00. I go through e-mails, Tweet, check Facebook, pay bills and handle correspondence. Then I write or edit or re-edit and re-write. In the summer I enjoy writing and editing outside, otherwise it’s in my office.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
Of course I love to read. I can’t imagine not having a book to read. I never go anywhere without a book. I also love to hike, bike, garden, camp, snowshoe, and spend time with my children and grandchildren.
Where can readers find out more about you?
Readers can reach me at:
Facebook: Tina Susedik, author
Soul Mate Publishing Author Blog: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/tag/soul-mate-publishing/
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/riding-for-love-tina-susedik/1119333999?ean=9781619354289
Good luck with your new book, Tina, and thank you so much for being my guest today. Questions or comments for Tina?