You have two opportunities to win a copy of Sue’s book, Never Ceese if you post a comment. Or you can Buy This Book.
BG: Tell us about your life, where you grew up, your interests and hobbies.
SD: I’m a very creative individual and always have been. I enjoyed drawing from an early age. No, I craved it. Had to do it. I pursued this all through high school and decided to major in Fine Arts. I was lured away from art for a short stint and went into computers. Oddly enough, I use those now for my art and writing. Odd how that worked out. I graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in Business and a concentration in Data Processing. My last official job was with the Department of Natural Resources in Jackson, Mississippi where they created a position for me as a Technical Specialist IV. This is where the writing bug bit. During slow times, I would write, (yes, at work! Hey, I said slow times. LOL) Eventually this carried over into writing at home and then carrying a laptop around to write in other places as well. I’d found a new way to express my creativity and I loved it.
I also played professional Foosball for a while and even toured but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.
BG: Tell us about your writing journey. Did you always want to be a writer?
SD: I wouldn’t say I always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always enjoyed writing as much as I enjoy art. But writing is my focus now. It’s not messy nor hard to clean up. After I had the third story bouncing around in my head, I decided I might try to publish something so others could enjoy. I had no idea how the publishing process worked but I was willing to try and figure it out.
BG: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?
SD:I guess John Grisham because his story telling ability really got me back into wanting to get something out there. Oddly enough, I lived down the street from his law office in Southaven, Mississippi, just as his second book was coming out. Guess I missed my opportunity to run up there and have a chat with him. LOL I did get a picture with him at a local book signing as he used to come to Jackson often. Other than Mr. Grisham, I suppose Roger Zelazney, Piers Anthony, Philip Jose Farmer to name a few.
BG:What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?
SD: Before Pirates of the Caribbean? Was there anything before Pirates? LOL *doing my best Capn’ Barbosa impression, “What arrrrrrrrr ya doin!?”
Favorite book? I absolutely love the Chronicles of Amber series by Roger Zelazny. Yes, I know that’s more than one book.
BG: Vampires and Werewolves, this is something new in Christian fiction. Can you share how you take what are typically evil characters and create stories of redemption.
SD: Okay, first off, I don’t believe vampires and werewolf’s are new to Christian fiction. There are tons of Christians I know who write and have written about vampires and werewolves and monsters and zombies etc . . . In that respect, there are already many Christian vampire and werewolf fiction novels out there.
What there isn’t, however, is a recognition of the genre as such, with “that” genre referring to Christian Speculative Fiction. There are a few stories on Christian bookstore shelves today that fit this genre but the genre itself is still very new. There are MANY Christian Speculative Fiction books on secular bookstore shelves, however, they’re just not called such.
I’m glad that readers are waking up and realizing that these novels exist, because the more they respond, the more likely authors like myself can get into more places, including Christian bookstores.
Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror are all big markets but most writers don’t understand how to write GOD into the stories. Ironically, they’ve got the Satan part down pretty good. If I can help show it can be done, then I feel like I’ve done something. Vampires and werewolves, zombies, aliens, dragons, just another way for Christian to spread the news. Eric Wilson will have a vampire trilogy coming out this next year from Thomas-Nelson! I find this exciting.
BG: Tell us about your latest release.
SD: Forever Richard is the sequel to Never Ceese. I couldn’t finish Never Ceese in a word count most small publishers would accept from a debut author so I risked leaving Never Ceese hanging. You can read more about the premise of Forever Richard at
The site was set up for me by my new publisher The Writers Café Press. I cannot tell you how excited I am about working with this company. We’re holding our breath for an October 31st release but I won’t compromise quality to meet that deadline. We’re currently in the editing stages.
BG: What is the message you hope to get across in this novel?
SD: The same message I hope to get across in all my stories. That you can write a good novel in any genre without compromising who you are or what you believe.
BG: Can you share about your experience with small publishers and how you’ve found success?
SD: Yikes! Have I found success? I did find a publisher. With my professionally edited MS, I targeted any publisher or agent at WritersMarket.com that would accept an email query. I tried this first without a professional query letter or synopsis. If you want to know the difference this made, just count my rejection e-mails. Without the extraordinarily well-written query and synopsis, not one bite. With the extraordinarily well-written query and synopsis, a positive response ten minutes after I sent the second proposal out. “Intriguing,” it read. “Can we see the entire MS?”
Now before you go thinking JK Rowling success, nothing happened for me with this publisher until after I self-published and started trying to sell the book on my own with an ISBN I bought from Bowker all with my potential publisher knowing what I was doing. When I realized, after about six months, that the only way I was going to be able to get into bookstores was with a publisher, I called them back and asked if maybe I could say we were working together. I needed their wholesalers and distributors. This is when they offered me a contract and printed 5000 books.
Still, 95% of the publicity and promoting was done by me and that’s not a bad thing. That’s the ONLY way your book is going to sell. EVER!
I hear so many people say, “if J.K. Rowling can do it, so can I.” I’d like to take the opportunity to point out something very important here; J.K. Rowling is an exception, not an example. I suppose I could win the lottery too if the odds were better.
BG: You have an aggressive appearance schedule. What does your typical day look like?
SD: Whew! I thought you were going to say I had an aggressive appearance! :0 Okay, so the avatar I usually use is pretty aggressive looking, I’ll give you that. But my schedule is pretty lame. Right now, I’m trying to type till my fingers fall off. I have several readers who keep at me about this. LOL (E.J. put that whip down.) They’re ready for the sequel, not to mention my publisher who keeps saying, Sue, you do realize it’s October. ☺. Oh, but I was invited by Nicholas Grabowsky, author of Halloween IV, to the World Horror Convention this past March in Toronto Canada where there were several Christian Writers giving forums. One on Zombies! I didn’t make it to the forum but I understand his novel is up for a Stoker this year. It was so nice to go to an event like this and meet other like-minded authors, including Nicholas who did an excellent review of Never Ceese.
I also had the pleasure of selling my books at the FaithWriters conference this past August in Detroit. I play around a lot on the forums there and so enjoyed meeting all my friends. I sold out of everything I brought.
And then there was the book signing in Vestal New York with Bryan Davis that Kevin Lucia set up.
Okay, I guess that’s pretty aggressive and it pulls on my finances to do many of these events since I pretty much have to pay to get there and back. That’s hard to deal with sometimes when one realizes that an author pretty much doesn’t make any money back on their books until after they get the third or fourth one moving. By the way, moving means selling. Soooooooo . . . help me!
BG: Do you credit your book tours with your success?
SD: I credit a professionally edited MS and of course God, for my success. You have to have something to sell. My goodness! I don’t care how many tours you do, or how many blogs you write, if you have nothing to offer, people are eventually going to catch on. Now the book tours were definitely good, don’t get me wrong but I NEVER would’ve attempted one without a product I could depend on. I’d never written a book. I didn’t know what publishers were looking for. My editor did and I learned sooooooo much from her.
BG: What do you believe is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?
SD: Sick of hearing it yet? Have your MS professionally edited. Other than that, I wasn’t trying to catch an editor’s eye. The title “Editor” used in this instance, referring to an acquisition editor, was very confusing to me. I kept thinking, “huh, I paid an editor so I could get an editor to pay attention to my MS?” Well, yes, but an acquisition editor. There is a difference. I think acquisition editors should come up with a new title. LOL This is VERY confusing. But yes, they need to see the best you have to offer ESPECIALLY if it is your first attempt at getting published.
People like to ignore this step or avoid it altogether. Some simply say they don’t have the funds to pay a professional editor. Well, guess what, your competition is going in with a professionally edited MS and theirs is the one that’s going to get picked up. It’s a bigger turn around for the publisher and small publishers like that. Plus, it lets them know you’re serious about your work. Once you get a publisher, they pretty much have their own editors. YaY!
And here’s another learned lesson, the edits that PODs offer are not considered professional no matter how they represent it. Typically, they do a line by line proofread. Again, this is where I often see the J.K. Rowling flag flown high. Yes, J.K. Rowling is quite the wonder isn’t she? Able to self-edit well enough so that her reader isn’t distracted. Bravo but I’ll hold on to my lottery ticket thank-you!
Again, an exception not an example.
BG: What would you say was the toughest part of the writing craft for you to learn? Any tips for others who struggle with this same element?
SD: How to “know” when you “know” what you’re supposed to “know.” I’d say I had a tough time with POV but I just didn’t understand what it was at first. I read about it, listened to my editor, got it and no longer have problems with it. Thank-you so much Arlene and now, Cynthia. Show-not-tell was also difficult. Now I have great fun with this. Everyone tells me dialogue is my strongpoint but you were asking for the toughest part. LOL I’m sorry, writing is just not tough for me. If it were tough, I probably wouldn’t do it.
BG: Any marketing tips?
SD: Well, and this is going to sound strange but when I have a product I’m excited about, I want to tell everyone! When you have a good product, it can almost sell itself. Note the word almost. You do have to do a little work. I submitted to awards when I got brave enough. Submitting for a Bram Stoker worked out really well considering I didn’t expect anything to happen. Honestly, I don’t know what I did to get out there as much as I’m out there. I did deliberately do a few things but my goodness, I’m showing up everywhere. God is good! Maybe that was it! LOL
BG: I can feel your excitement in this interview! Closing thoughts you’d like to share?
SD: This genre is so needed in the Christian market place. So many good Christian teens are being drawn away by the alternative. The writers of this genre have so much heart. There is no better genre equipped to deal with the subject of good and evil. Ultimately, it is up to you to make sure we stick around.
Thank you so much, Sue, for this interview. Very interesting stuff!