Interview with Susie Warren
ELF: What advice do you have for an aspiring author?
SW: Keep reading. There is so much to learn about the craft of writing that it is crucial to study how other writer’s tell a great story. Pay attention to the elements of the novel that draw you in and notice where you attention wanders.
Spend time on your craft. Even after you have been writing for years, you can become re-energized by how someone else thinks about a topic. For example, I came across a writer who wrote a blog post about productivity. She had three useful strategies, when combined together enable writers to consistently write 1,000 words an hour or 8,000 words a day. I tried her technique and it worked beautifully. If you find me on twitter, I retweeted the link to her blog.
Learn how to plot. Most writers have read either The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler or The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Vogler’s book is based on Campbell’s earlier work and it is considered more accessible. These books do an amazing job of explaining the structure of a story.
Spend time considering the emotional life of the characters. For me, the hardest part of being a romance writer is the willingness to explore the emotional core of the story. I get lost in intriguing plots and the structure of the story and have to push myself to fully investigate the emotional life of the characters. But the reader ultimately is looking for the emotional impact in the story so the setting and plot details in a well told romance will be somewhat invisible.
Writing is rewriting. I find the most challenging aspect of writing to be printing out the first draft and knowing what to do next. Once I read the entire manuscript and make notes then I begin to know what to do in terms of changes and revisions. But to take a story from good to great, you will need to learn how to tighten and polish. This can only be accomplished by rewriting each scene several times.
Seek feedback. I enjoy being part of a critique group. The direct feedback is helpful in understanding aspects of writing that may have eluded me. For example, I was always showing and telling and it took several sessions for the group to get me to understand the issue. In a group situation, when everyone has read the same pages, an interesting discussion can result. I think it can move a writer closer to understanding the elements of their own writing.
Learn how all the pieces fit together. Writing a great book is just the beginning. There is a tremendous amount that you will need to know about branding, marketing, publishing, contracts, publicity etc… Most successful authors will cultivate relationships with other authors and industry professionals to get first- hand knowledge about the market, to understand what is changing and how to best position themselves. There is no right answer for every author but instead you will need to weigh your goals and strengths against what is happening in the publishing world.
Attend Writing Conferences. I highly recommend attending writing conferences and workshops to learn new skills and network with other writers and industry professionals. I try to reach out of my comfort zone and attend a few workshops that I’m not naturally drawn to instead of just sticking with my favorite topics. As a romance author, I attend RWA conferences but there are many local and regional writing workshops as well.
by Susie Warren
A filmmaker wanting to honor her family’s legacy approaches a reclusive billionaire for help
Isabel Neri’s innocence captures the attention of a well-known Italian marble mogul, Marc Santoro, when she approaches him against her family’s wishes. Wanting to honor her disgraced grandfather, Isabel needs Marc’s permission to produce a film about the Carrara marble industry.
Faced with honoring an old family obligation, Marc allows Isabel to travel to Italy with him but seeks to limit her exposure to his family’s tragic past. Isabel discovers the untold story and challenges Marc to reveal the truth. She is forced to expose her own secret as their desire sparks out of control.
Isabel couldn’t believe she allowed herself to get drawn into this conversation. It was none of her business. She needed to go home and work on the schedule for tomorrow.
He looked at her and she could feel her heart race. “I have a completely different feeling about you. You are incredible at getting people to open up and, if anything, you tempt me to say and do things that I wouldn’t normally do.”
Without thinking she said, “What do I tempt you to do?”
He stepped closer and she could feel the nerve endings in her spine become heightened with anticipation.
Unconsciously, she bit her lower lip. She watched in fascination as he moved closer to her. Knowing that she should break the spell and step away, she felt powerless to do so. Her body felt hot all of a sudden and she waited for his touch without drawing a single breath. He traced his thumb over the sensitized area where her lower lip met her skin, causing her to draw in much needed air. His hand moved to the back of her neck, pulling her forward, and his mouth came down on hers. His kiss was gentle and coaxing until she opened her mouth fully and moved closer to him and then his kiss become more demanding.
Suddenly his hands were on her back, urging her closer, and his tongue deliciously explored her mouth. His body felt warm and solid as she pressed against him. The sound of their harsh breathing echoed in her head as she ran her hands over the taut muscles in his shoulders. She felt a tremor go through his body and it excited her.
She moved closer yet and luxuriated in the feel of his hard, strong body. He kissed her again and she moved onto her toes to fit her body against his perfectly.
He began to unbutton her shirt and she froze. Breaking away, she said, “We need to stop.”
“We are completely alone, cara. And you are driving me insane.” His voice was soft and coaxing as he gently touched a strand of her hair.
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