Blog Archive

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Finding a Writing Community: An Interview with Susan Anne Mason

I see you write both contemporary and historical romance books. Do you prefer one genre or another?
I love both categories equally, though writing contemporary stories is much easier since it involves so much less research. For now, though, I’m loving historicals.

What’s the most difficult part of writing a romance novel?
The most difficult thing about writing romance is getting the pacing right. You want to build the emotional tension between the couple until they finally have their first kiss, then throw all kinds of obstacles at them to make them work for their ‘happily ever after’.

Many of your books are written as series. Did you start out with that idea in mind? Or was the story too big for one book?
Good question! Neither series actually began as one. My contemporary Rainbow Falls series branched out when a secondary character, Maxie North, became larger than life and I had to give Maxie her own story. Plus, I loved the fictional town I had created and wanted to play there a while longer!

My Courage to Dream series started with Irish Meadows, but when Bethany House showed interest in the book, they asked if I had any plans on writing any more about the O’Learys. I gave a hesitant “Well, I had thought about writing Adam’s story.” And they said, “Good! Do that!” So the series was born!

This newest series I’m writing now is the only one that I planned out from the beginning as a series. Quite a daunting task to do actually!

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Plotting? Dialog? Tension?
Without a doubt, plotting is the hardest thing for me. I can come up with the characters, their backstories and goals, their personalities, what makes them tick — but figuring out what is actually going to happen in the book, that is so challenging for me. I need to have a basic outline of the plot and know where I’m going before I can begin writing, so that part takes me quite a while to get nailed down.

You’ve published 9 books since 2014 with two more in line to publish. How long does it take you to write a book?
Overall, it takes me about 6 months to write a book, and about another 2 months to edit it. My writing process has changed a lot since I’ve become a published author. I used to meander my way through a book without a plan, but now I have to give my editor a fairly detailed synopsis before I begin (which of course changes when you actually start writing! LOL!)

I usually begin with a basic idea (ex. What if you believed for your whole life that your father was dead and then discovered he was alive all along?) Then I create the characters, their backgrounds, and their goals for the story. I use Susan May Warren’s The Story Equation to do all this. Then I try to envision the events that will take place in the book and the turning points for the characters. Once I have a fairly good outline of the story, I start doing the necessary research, which can take weeks or months.

At some point, when my characters can’t take me procrastinating anymore, they shout at me to begin writing already!! I try to power through the first draft with as little editing as possible until I’ve got it finished. Then I go back and do all the editing.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
The best source of encouragement for me was when I finaled in the 2008 Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest. This came at a time when I was seriously doubting my writing ability and it gave me new hope. Through that contest, I developed a relationship with my fellow finalists, and then came into contact with a group of writers who ran the Seekerville blog. For the first time, I felt part of a community.

This was huge in finding resources to hone my writing skills, and eventually, it led me to join the American Christian Fiction Writers. I highly recommend any aspiring writers to find a community of support because writing can be a very solitary endeavor!  

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?
Oh, where to begin! I guess with my first published book. Betrayed Hearts was rejected many times until an editor from White Rose Publishing saw some merit in it, enough to give me some pointers on where the story was weak and how to strengthen it. I took about 6 months to revise the story and then re-submitted it. My first lesson in proper plotting!

What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?
How hard it is to juggle multiple books. You have to be prepared to promote one book while finishing edits on another and begin writing another. There are always many balls in the air.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
As I’ve said before, perseverance is the best advice I can give. Take the time to really learn the craft of writing and just keep trying. If you really want to be published, you will accomplish it, if you dedicate your time and talents to pursuing it.

Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add? 
It’s important to get feedback on your writing. The best way to start doing this is to enter contests and really take the judges’ advice to heart. They generally know what they’re talking about and can give great insight into where your writing needs improvement. Also finding a wonderful critique partner (or two) is a fabulous way to get feedback and potentially develop friendships with people who know exactly what you’re going through!

What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
My next book will be Book 2 in the Canadian Crossing series. “The Highest of Hopes” releases in the spring of 2019. It’s about Emmaline Moore, a girl who learns that the grandparents who raised her kept a secret from her all her life. That her father, who they told her died of a broken heart after her mother’s passing, is actually alive and living in Canada. Accompanied by her best friend, Jonathan, Emma travels to Toronto to meet the man she is sure will be thrilled to finally meet her. When her plans don’t go exactly as she hoped, Jonathan is there to help her decide her next move.

That’s all for today’s interview. If you’d like to meander through the towns and characters Susan has created, here are some links to get you started.


1 comment:

  1. Great interview, Susan and Christine! I have to agree with you regarding the multiple books and multiple balls in the air - that’s a challenge!