Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in small town of 700 people in northern Wisconsin. My parents owned the local grocery store and I have an older brother and sister. This town was surrounded by a farming community. Though it’s a peaceful place to live, for as long as I can remember, I couldn’t wait to leave home and explore the world. It was just in my blood, I guess. As a result, I’ve lived in some amazing parts of our country, nine states actually, and feel blessed to have had those experiences. Today, I live in Oregon with my husband who is a retired music director. I have two grown daughters, a wonderful son in law, and a seven-year-old grandson.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I always wanted to write a book but as many people today, I was too busy to sit down and do it. Then I was struck with a chronic illness and I was forced to sit for long periods of time. A type A personality, I couldn’t sit and do nothing so I started writing. As the disease progressed, I had more and more time to write and soon I was writing full time and actively pursuing publication.
What do you think is the hardest thing about writing?
Though people think writing is a glamorous profession, that writers live exciting lives, that we sit down at our computer and words flow out and our editors read them and gush over our work, in reality, it’s a pretty solitary life, with lots of research, tons of editing, writing drafts and more drafts before a final product is birthed. So I think the hardest part is that after learning the basic craft of writing you must be disciplined to continue through this process. No one is standing over you telling you what to do. How many words to put on paper that day. What needs to be edited. How to work at improving your skills. How to continue working on a book until your best possible work is achieved. How to handle rejection and critical reviews of your work and still keep going. You are all alone, in front of you computer. Facebook. Twitter. The TV all beckon. Shoot, on some days cleaning the bathroom looks more appealing than writing. So you have to dig deep and find the discipline to work.
What is your usual writing routine? Do you have a specific time of day or place that you like to write?
I start each day with coffee and devotions. Then I watch a popular Christian speaker on TV. I follow that with answering email, and of course, checking Facebook and Twitter. Then I begin with whatever project I have going that day and work to complete a goal I have set. If I am writing the beginning draft of a book, I must write a minimum of 3000 words before I can quit for the day. If I have edits due on a book, I assign a certain number of pages that I must edit before I can quit. And with my schedule of late in having multiple books being published per year, I usually am writing one book in the morning and editing another in the afternoon. Throughout the day, I check email and social media to respond to any comments. Since I work at home, I also take breaks to do chores as well. A load of laundry, the dishes, all of these things I fit in when I need a break. Also, at this time of year, I will pop outside and do some gardening for a few minutes to relax. Since I have some health issues, I cannot sit for at a desk for long periods of time so I usually write sitting in a recliner.
Can you tell us about Web of Secrets?
Web of Secrets is book three in my Agents Under Fire series. It features FBI agent Becca Lange who works on an FBI Cyber Action Team. At fifteen, she was abducted by a serial killer but managed to escape and the man was never caught. So she was given a new home, a new name . . . and the determination to save other foster kids from suffering similar horrors. Now Agent Becca Lange, she is the middle of a credit card fraud investigation when she’s faced with her worst nightmare: the serial killer, Van Gogh–given the name because he removed his victims’ ears–has resurfaced. Back in the nineties, Van Gogh tortured, then killed several young foster girls. Becca was almost one of them.
Over the years, she’s been keeping her own investigation going. So when the police come to her for help, she’s more than ready to do what it takes to put Van Gogh behind bars–even if it means working with Connor Warren, the easy-going cop whose attentions she’s been avoiding. Connor is too charming, too good-looking, too . . . tempting. He makes Becca want things she can never have. And might never have . . .
Because Van Gogh isn’t finished with Becca yet. He’s been searching for her all these years. And now that he’s found her, he’s got a plan to keep her . . . forever.
How did you come up with the idea for the Agents Under Fire Series?
I love computers and electronics—like stand in line for the next iPhone love them. And since they are becoming more and more a part of our lives I wanted to use my knowledge to share stories of how cyber crimes can impact our everyday lives. That’s how the Agents Under Fire series was born. This series features three female FBI agents who work on an elite FBI Cyber Action Team, so of course, the stories in the series need to revolve around cyber crimes.
What is the main thing that you hope readers will remember from this book?
I hope they take away the fact that, though technology is great, it can be dangerous and that safeguards need to be put into place to protect your privacy and keep you safe. Also, I hope that they see three strong women who struggle with an issue in their lives and overcome those issues. We all have something we are struggling with and it is possible to be an overcomer.
What has been your favorite book that you have written and why?
Choosing a favorite is hard to do, but there are a few books that have always resonated with me. No Way Out, book three in my Justice Agency, Emergency Response, book four in my First Responders series, and Web of Secrets, book three in my Agent’s Under Fire series, all have a special place in my heart, but I can’t tell you why as I honestly don’t know. It’s similar to when I read a book by a favorite author, and I like one better than the others, I can’t put my finger on the reason, I just like it. I wish I could figure it out as I could purposefully implement the findings as I write, but alas, it’s an elusive thing for me.
Which of your characters would you like to spend the day with and what would you do?
Well, since I admitted my love of technology, it will come as no surprise that I would love to spend the day with the agents in the Agents Under Fire series. I’d love to go to work with them and see their actual day to day work. See the tools and techniques they use to catch the bad guys. Oh, and maybe take a trip to the firing range with them and shoot a few rounds.
What writing projects are you working on right now?
I am working on so many projects right now my head is spinning. I am completing edits for Christmas Conspiracy, the final book of my First Responder series that will release in December. I am also finishing a cozy mystery and edits on another mystery for a multi-author series called Antique Shop Mysteries. I am also working on a brand new series, White Knights, to be published by the FaithWords imprint of Hachette Book Group. This series is about a group of FBI agents as well. The elite Critical Incident Response Team headquartered in Washington, D.C. includes experts in crisis management, explosives, ballistics/weapons, negotiating/criminal profiling, cyber crimes, and forensics. All team members are former military and they stand ready to deploy within four hours anytime and anywhere to mitigate the highest-priority threats facing our nation. I have finished book one, Fatal Mistake, and it is scheduled to release in May of 2017.
Is it hard juggling multiple writing projects at a time? How do you keep the different stories straight and separated?
In a word, YES! It’s very hard juggling them all. Working on two books is easy for me. Add a third or a fourth and my brain melts down. I have used the wrong character’s name in the wrong book. I have started to insert secondary characters in the wrong books. It’s particularly challenging in writing suspense and mystery stories as the plot elements are so complicated. But the way I mostly keep it straight is that I take a short break before moving between projects and get my mind back into the head of the next project’s characters. It seems to work, but I have to say I will never have three books due on the same day again as I did in April. LOL
With so many books turning into movies, have you ever thought about any of your books possibly becoming a movie someday? If so, which one(s) would you like to see become a movie?
I would love to have one of my books be a movie. In my opinion any or all of them could be a movie.
Is there any particular book or author that has influenced you in any way?
There’s not a particular book that comes to mind, but I have to say reading many, many romantic suspense and mystery books gives me the feel for the genres and tells me what I like and don’t like in a book. This helps me decide what I want to include in my books and what I want my books to be known for.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it be and why?
I’d have to say the Bible. I’d like to have written one of the books as a first hand observer.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love, love, love to garden and spend time with my family.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Probably the best advice I can give is to write, write, write, and then write some more. Though we can learn writing techniques in classes and seminars, which I highly encourage, it’s one thing knowing the rules of writing and quite another thing applying those rules to your own writing. So practice, like anything you learn to do, is essential, and that means writing a lot. Each book you write you will learn new things that you can then add to your repertoire and craft better books as you go along. And second, I would say that writer’s have to be open to criticism and be able to take a long hard look at their work to see if the criticism is valid then make changes accordingly.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
Just a very BIG thank you to all the readers out there. Both people who read my books, but also, those who read books by any author. You all are a special group, and I am thrilled that many of you enjoy reading the words that I put on paper. I am honored to be a writer and thrilled that I can spend my days in a make believe world that brings enjoyment to others. So READ ON!
Thank you so much, Susan, for taking the time to answer my questions. I enjoyed finding out more about you. Have A Wonderful Day!!!