Welcome back to For Your Reading Pleasure. Today’s guest is Susan Burdorf.
1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)Hello. My name is Susan Burdorf and I am the author of a YA Contemporary book called, “A Cygnet’s Tale” which is a modern retelling of the story of The Ugly Duckling. I am also a mom, a grandma, and I work full time as well as write. Here are some links to keep in touch with me (I LOVE it when my readers send me messages) Twitter: @susanburdorfauthor Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susanburdorfauthor website: http://www.susanburdorfwrites.com
Buy Link: a Cygnet’s Tale
2. How do you choose names for your characters?
Character names are not that hard for me. For some reason, maybe because the characters are contemporary, I do not have to work too hard to find names. I am a Girl Scout Leader and work with teens a lot so I draw my names from their names.
3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?
Yes, I do.
4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?
I do listen to music, but I do not pick songs to match scenes like a lot of authors do. I find that music, or the tv playing, or the grandkids running around in the background is like white noise – I hear it, but I don’t really pay attention to it. It soothes my mind to be around noises that are familiar, but otherwise I ignore them. I really enjoy listening to James Blunt, One Republic, The Calling, or Enya when I write. Sometimes I like instrumental music like 2Cellos or Lindsey Stirling.
5. How long have you been writing?
Someone else asked me this question the other day and I told him the story of my “What I Did Over the Summer” essay that we all had to write when I was in school. It was third grade and I wrote such a long essay that it was twelve pages (in my defense, it had been a very busy summer) and a teacher told me I should be a writer. I never stopped writing, but the real question here is not how long I have been writing, but how long have I thought of myself as a writer. And that question’s answer is – since I was a teen. I have numerous stories buried in a box that someday will be rediscovered as my “lost manuscripts” ala Harper Lee (no, not really, I am nowhere near her skill level and know it, but it is nice to dream) and then I will know I made it! I love to write, always have. As a young teen I wanted to go to college to be a journalist, but my parents talked me out of it. Every job I have ever had I have had a way of making writing a part of it. I love stories, I love plots, and I love to see my name in print.
6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.
See the answer above.
7. Do you have a muse?
I do not have a muse. Although I believe I have a writing fairy who keeps sending me story ideas…usually when I am in the shower or in the car driving someplace or sleeping. Everywhere you can be where you cannot write down the ideas the ping pong around inside my head and that I wish I could write down! But, I think every writer has that issue!
8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)
I am lucky to have started getting very serious about writing when UtopYA (now known as Utopia Con) began. I made connections and new friends. I joined groups on Facebook devoted to writing. I attend a monthly call with Heather Hildenbrand (the guru of everything writing) who invites guest speakers and allows fantastic conversations. I joined local writer’s groups to help me get started, and attend several conferences a year at which I am lucky enough to meet with and converse with folks who have made it onto best sellers lists and they let me pick their brains. The Indie writing community is vast and generous. I also attend workshops. At first I went to every workshop on writing I could find – query letters; plotting; character development, etc until I felt that they started repeating the messages. Now I am much more selective. For newbie writers I always recommend knowing what you want out of your writing and direct your outside activities toward achieving those goals. And I also tell them to READ. Read everything, not just how to books, but also books in and out of your genre. Write down phrases that make you think or are interesting to you and analyze them – it will help your writing improve. And make friends. Make friends with your fellow authors and your fans. WE, the writing community, are the best resource to improving writing, both our own and the rest of our community.
9. Writing quirks or superstitions?
I don’t have any.
10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.
I have a series of YA novellas that will release beginning in January 2016 with each one releasing each month. The series will involve a party where all the female guests come dressed as their favorite Fairy Tale character. Unbeknownst to the lead character who has invited her friends and their boyfriends, a demon has been released into their midst and forces them to act out the fairy tale of their costume with a twist…they must battle the demon and if they lose, he gets their souls. I am having a blast with this one, because it is so different and dark from anything I have ever written before. It is called the “A Little Midnight Madness” series. But before that one comes out I have two stand alone books releasing this year. Both are YA. “Breaking Fences” is the YA Contemporary story of Cutter Boone and his inability to release his guilt over the death of his father until he meets Melodie Graham, a former barrel racer and feisty daughter of a drunk who beats her. Both help each other discover the mystery of some cattle rustlers and face down three rabid coyotes along the way. The next book, due to release in December 2015 is called “Clockwork and Lace” and is a Steampunk novel about a young girl who must find her grandmother utilizing the help of a metal dragon who can talk and time travel.
11. What book are you reading now?
I am a moderator on a panel for Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN in October 2015 so I am reading the books of the panelists I will be introducing. One is “The Same Sky” by Amanda Eyre Ward and the other is “Dear Carolina” by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I just finished reading “The Orphan Queen” by Jodi Lawrence Meadows which I highly recommend.
12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?
I have written so far in YA Contemporary and one book, “A Cygnet’s Tale” is in first person POV. “Breaking Fences” is also YA Contemporary and is in third person. I know most YA books are first person, but I like the freedom of third person.
13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?
I do like to do character sketches for my complicated characters. Sometimes I have as much as 7 pages of information listed that show me where the character was born, what they like to eat, if they like designer clothes, what they watch on tv, what their favorite subject at school is, etc. I like to look online for pictures of people I think look like my image of the character. I outline some of the story to keep things on track, but I have found that as I write I tend to go off track anyway, the characters sometimes hijack the story…and at those times I let them take the lead.
14. Do you know how your stories will end?
Yes, I do. I know the beginning, the middle, and the end of all my stories. That helps keep me on track. I find that not doing this first sends the story all over the place. That is no fun to read, and definitely no fun to edit.
15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?
Yes. I like my books to carry one theme since they are YA I want people to know they are okay just the way you are.
16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?
17. Tell us about your other passions.
My family is very important to me. I also love to hike and photography is something I enjoy. I also like to collect DVD’s. I have a pretty extensive movie collection. I like hockey, and enjoy going to games.
18. What’s something interesting about you?
I am a conservationist. I helped create an Arboretum in a town I lived in. We also created a Nature Trail and a butterfly garden which a local school uses to conduct science experiments like rainfall totals and plant growth.
19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.
This is the beginning of “A Cygnet’s Tale”:
“Fairy tales don’t always have a beautiful princess…or a happy ending.
Sometimes they have ugly ducklings who never grow into their wings.
And sometimes they have something altogether different, just because they can.
There are no rules in fairy tales, except that they must start with ‘once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a… and then you get to fill in the blank.”
20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?
I want to remind readers to READ. Whether you read my books or not, just read. And after you read, please take the time to leave a review. Your author friends will appreciate it very much. Thank you for taking the time to visit with me and I hope to hear from you soon!
Susan Burdorf, Author
A Cygnet’s Tale (released May 2015)Breaking Fences (releasing soon)