I love this interview and getting to know my fellow Mysteristas gal, Susan Boyer, even more. We would totally have a blast hanging out together. And the lovely and talented Susan has offered to give away one of her books to a reader who posts a comment on this post by Wednesday, Sept. 26th. Thanks, Susan!
Here are Susan’s words of wisdom:
1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
I typically try to be at my computer by nine in the morning with my second cup of coffee. Because I can’t seem to help myself, I check email, just in case something treś important requires my attention, which is almost never, but still. I log into and quickly out of Facebook and Twitter, again, just in case someone has posted something I need to see before I begin my day, like a really funny YouTube video.
By ten I’m putting words on the page or editing them. On a good day, I’m so engrossed in what’s going on in my alternate reality I forget to eat. When my stomach starts growling, I go to the kitchen and forage for anything to make the noise stop so I can get back to my characters. I’ve eaten some really odd food combinations because I couldn’t be bothered to go to the grocery store, or even a drive-thru window.
After lunch, I repeat the process until either my stomach growls again or it’s time to go to Jazzercise—or the exercise room if I’m out of town. When I’m traveling with my husband on business trips, I stop working when he does and we exercise then have dinner together.
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
I don’t allow myself to believe in writer’s block. If I don’t believe in it, it can’t hurt me. I show up for work at my computer. Some days the words come to me easier than others, of course. But on days when I struggle, I simply start typing. I give myself permission to write really badly as long as I write—I can fix it later.
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?
A few of my favorites are On Writing, by Steven King, Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. For style, I like Elements of Style by Strunk & White, and the Chicago Manual of Style.
4. Who do you read for fun?
Oh, wow. I’m such an eclectic reader, and I have many favorites. Off the top of my head, Charlaine Harris, Robert B. Parker, Dean Koontz, Carl Hiaasen, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sue Grafton—among many others. Most of my favorite writers hang out in the Mystery/Thriller or Romance genres. A notable exception is Joshilyn Jackson, who writes fabulous Southern novels.
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
In fourth grade. We had to write a story about pioneers going west on a wagon train, and I fell in love with bringing characters to life. But at the time I wasn’t really thinking in terms of a career. My first of many college majors was English, but I was persuaded that a steady pay check would be a good thing. I wasn’t interested in journalism—I liked making things up too much for that. Somehow, I ended up in computer science and took a long detour through corporate America.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
I honestly don’t think I’m qualified to offer advice to other writers. I’m still learning the ropes myself. But here are a few things I’ve advised myself to do, if you will. Read widely. Don’t get caught up in what folks are saying on the Internet about the publishing industry—just write. After you’ve written the best book you can and have edited it yourself, get other eyes on it—beta readers, critique partners, and/or a freelance editor. Take from these readers what resonates with you, but don’t rewrite your novel based on the advice of others unless several people you trust are telling you the same things. When you are satisfied your manuscript is ready, send it out into the world. Then start the next book.
Oh, and hang out with other writers when you can. Join writers’ organizations and take advantage of local meetings, regional and national conferences, and workshops.
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
I love pasta—any kind of pasta—with a glass of pinot noir.
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
Choosing a favorite book would be way too hard—too may favorites. I have many favorite movies, too. But one that stands out is Sweet Home Alabama.
10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?
I love connecting with fellow book-lovers or anyone with a funny YouTube video to share. I hang out in all the usual places (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Good Reads). Y’all come see me when you can!
Also, I’d love it if you’d join me and the rest of the Mysteristas on Tuesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern for our mystery themed Twitter chats. (Hashtag #Mysteristas)
On Wednesdays, come hang out with me and some of my writer friends and chat about books at Little Read Hens Facebook page and littlereadhens.com.
Born and raised in Faith, North Carolina, Susan M. Boyer was blessed with a quintessential small-town childhood. She’s had a life-long love affair with books, and is grateful to have been gifted with an over-active imagination. Susan was one of those children whose teachers were always telling her mamma that her talents needed to be “channeled.” She’s been making things up and writing them down her whole life.
Susan took a sampler’s approach to education. She attended N.C. State University, Catawba College, and College of Charleston. She has a long list of majors, one of which was English. Unfortunately, none of the above institutions could be convinced that her hodgepodge of credits–though impressive in number–merited awarding Susan a degree.
Because computer programming offered a steady paycheck, Susan practiced that art for a while, then segued into systems analysis, and later project management.
But her day job interfered with her writing habit, so in 2004, Susan had to give up rush hour, project plans, and staff meetings. She declared herself unemployable by any other means and has spent her days writing and daydreaming too much in her pajamas ever since.
Susan is the recipient of Relief Journal’s editor’s choice award in fiction and has been recognized by the Carrie McCrary Memorial Literary Awards program.
She served on the board of directors for the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop 2006 – 2009, and was chairperson for the organization’s annual conference 2007 – 2008. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America® (Kiss of Death, Palmetto Romance Writers, and Golden Network chapters).
Susan loves to hear from readers. Y’all come visit with her on the web anytime!
NOTE: In a random number generator, Stephanie won a copy of Susan’s book. Thanks for commenting and thanks Susan for the giveaway!