Blog Archive

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Stay Teachable: Author Interview with Susanne Dietze

My interview today is with an author who is an award-winning, RITA-nominated author of multiple romance novels. Her work has been seen her work on Publisher's Weekly, ECPA, and Amazon Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Read on to learn how she learned to be successful. 

For the past 5 years you’ve been writing historical romance from novellas to full novels. Tell me how it all began.
I've wanted to write a book since I was a preschooler but wanting to write and seriously working toward publication are very different things. It took me a while to get going, but once my youngest was in school for a few hours a day, I was able to focus on writing.

What motivated you to write your first book?
My first story was a Regency. At that time, I was not a member of any writing groups, but I learned about a writing contest for unpublished authors called Touched By Love, put on by the Faith Hope & Love Chapter of RWA. I decided to enter it to see what a stranger thought about it, and to my shock, it took third place in the Historical Romance category. What a motivation to keep on learning and practicing the craft!

How did you go about finding an agent and publisher for your books?
I first attended a RWA conference back in 2012 and met some of my online friends face to face--what an encouragement! That was my first time pitching to editors and agents, too. It was a great experience. I credit two things for helping me get an agent and a publisher: networking/friends and writing contests.

It's a long story, but relationships with other authors is how I was able to get my work in front of  my dream agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, who helped me get a contract with Barbour, and contests first put me in front of  my current Love Inspired editor, Emily Rodmell.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Staring at a blank page is always the hardest thing for me. I'm a plotter, so that helps me to know where I am and what I'm supposed to be doing, but I don't plot every single thing I'm going to type.

Sometimes I get a little stuck on details when the story is new. Sometimes, I type something as a placeholder and later, go back and rewrite a beginning scene after I've completed several chapters and feel I know the characters better.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
There are highlights, like being a RWA RITA nominee last year, that have given me great encouragement. But it's always such a blessing to hear from readers, and when they tell me something specific in the book touched them or resonated with them, I feel like God has answered my prayer that something in the book will help or bless someone. 

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?
I've had many, many rejections. My best rejection was from my current Love Inspired editor, Emily Rodmell, who wrote a three-page rejection letter--clearly, she was taking the time to coach me and help me, for which I am still profoundly grateful.

Some rejections have been hard, though, especially when I was entering contests. The best advice I received for handling touch criticism was to take a day to administer some self-care and then move on. I also determined to accept constructive criticism and learn from it as best I could. After all, contest judges give of their time and truly want to be helpful to new writers. I appreciate that.

What has surprised you the most in writing and publishing?
Before I started writing, I was naive about the whole process of publishing, marketing, etc. One thing I realized is just how many people are involved with the process of publishing a book. There are teams of editors, cover artists, marketing specialists, liaisons, and more who make each book what it is.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
Sometimes getting published is a matter of timing. I once heard that to be published for the first time an author needs two of these three: perseverance, talent, and luck, which I'd amend to call good timing.

Sometimes it's a matter of having the right story at the right time, and on occasion, publishers have holes in their schedules that they'd like to see filled with a certain type of story. The best way to prepare for that is to finish our stories! That's the perseverance part!

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Stay teachable. There is so much to learn! Attend conferences and workshops, read up on different aspects of writing, and listen to others' expertise. Read in the genre you write, but read other genres, too.

Support established and pre-published authors. It's a generous, giving community, and there's a lot to be gained from participating in lifting one another up.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
I would say don't give up and don't stand still. It took me years between first entering a writing contest to the day I received my first contract. Fortunately, I was blessed with the support of my husband and family, so I could keep on learning the craft.

But when my first attempt wasn't a success, I had to decide when to stop working on it and start something new. I'm glad I did, because that story had so many problems with it, it's a good thing it never saw the light of day! 

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
The Blizzard Bride releases February 1 from Barbour Publishing. While it's part of the Daughters of the Mayflower series, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone. 

Here’s the back cover blurb: A Blizzard Changes Everything

Abigail Bracey arrives in Nebraska in January 1888 to teach school…and to execute a task for the government: to identify a student as the hidden son of a murderous counterfeiter—the man who killed her father.

Agent Dashiell Lassiter doesn’t want his childhood sweetheart Abby on this dangerous job, especially when he learns the counterfeiter is now searching for his son, too, and he’ll destroy anyone in his way. Now Dash must follow Abby to Nebraska to protect her…if she’ll let him within two feet of her. She’s still angry he didn’t fight to marry her six years ago, and he never told her the real reason he left her.

All Dash wants is to protect Abby, but when a horrifying blizzard sweeps over them, can Abby and Dash set aside the pain from their pasts and work together to catch a counterfeiter and protect his son—if they survive the storm?

Sounds intriguing! If you’d like to learn more about Susanne’s writing, here are some links to get you started.

Twitter: @SusanneDietze
BookBub, Pinterest and Instagram: Susanne Dietze

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