Susan May Warren, Giveaways, and Sky Diving! Oh, My!

Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author
of over forty-five novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside
Press. Two-time Christy winner, RITA winner, she’s also a multi-winner of the
Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol award. A seasoned
women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around
the nation and the author of the book, Conversations with a Writing Coach. She
is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a craft and
coaching community for novelists.

* * *
You have written a lot of novels. You also co-own the successful My Book Therapy for writers. How do you
keep it all together?
Keep it all
together? Ack! What does that look like, really? If it means I’m supposed to be
OUT of my pajamas before noon, have pre-thought-out crockpot meals on the
table, laundry that is not rotting in the washer and a made bed…well…you’ll
have to catch me between novels, or MBT projects. Because I’m sort of an
all-or-nuthin’ gal.
When I write, I’m
all in, huddled under what my children call my “thought” blanket. I claim no
responsibility for my words to the outside world while under this shroud. And
when I’m working on MBT, I’m all in, helping writers craft amazing stories.
(probably too all in, because working with me can sometimes be like
getting a blast from a fire-hose, but I’m working on that.) Here’s what I think: You gotta do what you
love, be passionate about that, and if you have to, hire a cleaning lady (and
let your hubby cook)!
Tell our readers about the Christensen Family
series.
The Christiansens!
Oh, how I love them. They’re a crazy, love big and live life outloud family who
*might* be a little like my family. They live in the north woods of Minnesota,
run a resort and try to figure out faith while living life (that often goes
wrong). They make mistakes, but they love each other through them. Right now, I
just finished book #5, The Wonder of You, and am working on plotting book #6,
the final book. It’s a little touch of Lake Wobegon—all the men are
good-looking, all the women heroic.
And it has the
overtones of small town Cheers, where everyone knows your name. Which means
that when you get into trouble, the entire town knows about it! The series
follows each one of the adult children through their trials and triumphs of
falling in love and finding their way in the world. (And oh, I feel sorry for
Ingrid, their mother!) The next book hits the shelves in February 2015—Always
on My Mind
, a story about Casper, brother #2, who just can’t get the wrong girl
off his mind…
I recently took a great class from you about
branding, that it’s not just your tag line, but the commonality readers will
find in all your works. I loved that, because it carries a writer into farther
fields. Can you elaborate for our readers?
Sure—as a
novelist, your brand is YOU. Or at least, your voice, your stories, your truths
that you put on the page. When someone picks up your novel, they are relying on
you to fulfil the promise you made in every other book they’ve read by you (and
for first time readers, you are cementing that promise in their minds). It’s
more than just place, or characters, it’s the FEELING you leave in your
reader’s mind. Just like John Grisham leaves a different feeling than Nora
Roberts –but both keep the promises (justice. Romance.)
Think about what
feelings you want to leave for your reader. I came up with words—Family.
Romance. Fun. Connectedness
All my stories
have some element of these pieces. This is my brand—when you pick up a Susan
May Warren novel, you’ll get a story about family, a strong romance, a lot of
fun story elements and a sense of connectedness to each other, the world, and
even God. So, if you’re a reader, ask yourself—how do your favorite authors
make you feel as you put the book down. Does that feeling make you want to pass
the book along, and go back for more? (Probably!) If you’re a writer, ask
yourself the same question, and then figure out what feeling would make someone
pass YOUR book along. 
Leave a comments to be entered
I learned some very fun and little-known
facts about you from your publisher, that I know our readers will love. Will
you tell us more about these? Especially the football letter and the skydiving!
>>Susan May Warren takes her research very seriously—from riding a
mechanical bull, to skydiving, to surfing and parasailing, to recently enduring
one of the coldest-ever Minnesota winters just to get the details correct for
her upcoming Christiansen Family novel, Always on My Mind. But her
proudest achievement is the varsity letter she earned . . . in
football.>>
Well, I really did earn a letter in football. Sadly, not for my amazing
skills on the field, but OFF the field as the manager for our state-winning
team. But, since I was the manager that year, I got a letter also, which is SO
fun when I mention to my sons that BOTH their parents were on state-winning
football teams (my hubby’s team won state also), and earned letters in
football. So, they have a double football legacy. 
As for skydiving—well, I wanted to write a sky-diving scene in a book, and sometimes you just
have to do something crazy. I am afraid of heights, but this was different,
almost like flying. Absolutely breathtaking. I highly recommend the experience!
My newest book is about a crab fisherman in Alaska, on one of those
Deadliest Catch boats…I’m thinking I need some hands-on research…
Leave a
comment for Susie and be entered in a drawing for a basketful of Susan May
Warren’s
The Christiansen
Family series
.
Journey to the remote Minnesota lodge
of Evergreen Resort and see where faith and family meet real life in Take a
Chance on Me, It Had to Be You, When I Fall in Love,
and Evergreen.

An empty nest has Ingrid
Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be
more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad
planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in
Paris?

Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees
to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch,
needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters
strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.

As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the
north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and
Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of
keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and
embracing a new chapter of their future.

Hot Tips for Writer’s Conferences

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of over
thirty-five novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside
Press.   A five-time Christy
award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the
Inspirational Read­ers Choice award and the ACFW Carol. A seasoned women’s
events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the
nation. A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:
www.susanmaywarren.com. Contact her at: susan@mybooktherapy.com.
Are you
attending a Writer’s Conference this summer?  Are you going to pitch your book? A few tips from
award-winning author Susan May Warren, founder of My Book Therapy, the craft
and coaching community for writers!
A writer’s
conference is a great place to pitch your story. But it can be daunting to sit
across the table from an editor or agent and sell them on your story.  Here’s a few tips:
You’re not really competing
Huh? I know the
world might say otherwise, but for believers, if you truly believe that God has
your life in His hands, then you step forward with your faith and He’ll move
the mountains.  He arranges every
appointment, every moment in the elevator or food lines, every accidental
editor meeting – all of it.  So,
don’t panic.  He’s got this.
Be Yourself
Remember that a
great writing voice is personality on the page…so your personality as you meet
people and pitch to editors and agents gives them a clue as to how you
write. 
Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of
pitching
First, when you
pitch, you should have already done your homework to know which agent or editor
to pitch to.  Every house/agency
takes different manuscripts and you don’t to waste anyone’s time.  Know what other books they have
published that are similar to yours, and know how yours are different, also.
But you have some answer as to why they’d be a good fit in that publishing
house.  And agent might even ask
you where you see this book being published.  Do your homework and give them an informed answer. 
Then, if you are
in a pitching appointment, shake their hand, introduce yourself, smile and hand
them your one sheet. 
They’ll
probably look at it and say “how are you today?”  or something to break the ice.  Go ahead and make friends, briefly, and then segue into your
pitch.
            “I’m
great, Mr. Anderson. I enjoyed your class, Writing the Bestseller.  Intriguing.   I’ve written a contemporary romance that I hope fits
your best-seller category….A story about a talk show host to the lovelorn who
has never had a date. Why?  Because
she is waiting for the perfect man. 
But when he moves in next door, will she recognize him?  It’s set in small town Minnesota and a
story about being trapped by our fears and perfect love setting us free.” 
            “Interesting.  Why hasn’t she had a date?” 
            “Good
question – She made a list in high school because she saw her best friend
crushed by love when they were teenagers, and she never wanted that to happen
to her.  And then, tragedy
happened.  Her mother was killed in
an auto accident and died in her arms. 
Fear took control of her life and she became agoraphobic.  She’s trapped in a tiny radius around
her home.  But she has a national
talk show and no one knows it – including the new football coach who’s moved in
next door – someone who drives her crazy. 
See, he’s got his own scars and secrets, after being wounded in Iraq,
and he’s hiding something too. 
When he starts calling the show, in need of help to befriend the
neighbor, they begin to fall for each other online, without realizing they are
neighbors.  But will their love
last when they discover the truth? And what will their secrets cost them?”
            “Why
would this make a sellable story?”
            “Think
You’ve Got Mail, set in small town America with a little of Friday Night Lights
thrown in.  It’s something I could
see trade size at Tyndale or Waterbrook Multnomah.” 
            “Hmmm.”
Now, here’s
where they’ll pause.  They might
ask you more questions.  They might
ask how long you’ve been writing. 
Or if this is a stand-alone or part of three part series.  They might ask you where you got your
idea. They might offer ideas to tweak it. 
They might ask to have you send them a proposal. 
Sometimes they
might even say…”How can I help you with this?”  Obviously, we WISH they’d say, “Hey I love this,” and pull
out a contract right there.  Not gonna happen.   It’s wise to arm yourself with
some sort of feedback question for that situation. 
            Be
armed with an answer, something that allows them to give you real, usable
feedback:  “How can I make the
story more compelling?”   “How
could I tweak this to make it more sellable?”
The key is to use this time to talk about
your story
 
There is nothing
worse than to have an author pitch their story, then sit back and smile, and
make the agent/editor fill in the blank space.  You have fifteen
minutes to communicate your vision for this book – use it!
The difference between the 15 minute
appointment and the elevator pitch is the amount of time you have to sell your
story
 
In an elevator,
or in line to eat, or even at dinner, you have one sentence.  If they like it, then go ahead and
offer your premise.  If they ask
for your card before you get off the elevator, then you’ve done your job. 
But the 15
minute appointment is designed to let you sell your story, your way.  Yes, use your pitch, use your premise,
and hopefully by then you’ll feel comfortable enough to be yourself and weave
them into your story. 
And here’s a
hint – don’t memorize your premise word by word.  It feels canned. 
Let the story come out on its own, with enthusiasm. You know your story
– just tell it.
Now – if you’re
serious about having a great writer’s conference, we have a special offer for
you.  The My Book Therapy Staff has
put together a manual for attendees to help them chose, budget, prep and attend
a writer’s conference with success. 

Learn:
How to choose a conference
Budgeting for a conference
How to prepare professionally with business cards and pitch sheets
Choosing the right workshops
How to handle appointments
Organizing your time and information
Standing out in a positive way
Conference Etiquette
How to pack for success

And even how to network to after the conference is over!

And, for readers
of Novel Rocket, we’re offering 25% off the cover price, hard copy or ebook
version!
  To get your discount,
sign up HERE:  (http://forms.aweber.com/form/92/1262654792.htm)
(Launch date:
August 10th, 2012!)
For more hints
on pitching, check out the My Book Therapy blog – www.mybooktherapy.com
See you at a
conference!
Susan May Warren

Passion vs Publishing

 Susan May Warren’s got a lot to say about writing the
story of your heart versus writing something “to get the sale.” Grab a cup of java, sit back, and read some of her sage advice…
I receive a
lot of questions from aspiring writers and this one caught my eye.
Q: Have you
ever had a story that you wanted to write, a spiritual message you wanted to
share, but it won’t let you just yet?

A: Yes, I have a couple stories sitting in my heart that I haven’t had the
opportunity or perhaps the divine timing to write yet. 

I’m a firm
believer that God will work out the story in the right time, so I continue to collect
ideas, impressions, do research and let those ideas soak, waiting for the right
timing.  But sometimes I’m not ready –
emotionally, or even professionally to write it.  Maybe I don’t have the skill level yet.  And I certainly don’t want to waste my swan’s
song on mediocre writing!  So, in the
meantime, I move onto the stories I have the ability to write right now.
This is what
happened with my “Josey” series.  The
story of my hilarious happenings in Russia simmered in my heart YEARS before
God opened the door to write it.  And
when he did, the timing was perfect.  (My
first book in that series, Everything’s
Coming Up  Josey
was a Christy
finalist).   The same thing happened with
Nothing but Trouble.  I cooked up my heroine PJ Sugar four years
before I saw it come to publication.  And
I’m glad I waited – I was able to write a deeper story than the one I had
originally envisioned. 
I’ve always
loved historical fiction, but I had to wait until I had the time to do the
research, as well as the ability to pull them off.  I envisioned something more literary, so I
had to grow into those skills, reading widely and doing a thorough scrutiny of
my writing.  My first dive into the historical
genre was Sons of Thunder (which won
an ACFW Carol this year) , and I’ve continued my love of Historical with Heiress and Baroness (due out next month!) 
I think a lot
of writers believe they have to write the stories on their hearts…but perhaps
they’re also not ready to write that
story yet
.  I think it’s wise to ask
God if it’s time…or if there is another story that could hone your skills in
the meantime, in preparation for that heart story.
 
So, don’t give
up on your heart story. Wait on Him, and be open to working on something else
in the meantime to that you’re ready to write the “story of your heart.”
God Bless you
on your writing journey!
Susan May
Warren