Author Spotlight: Susan Gourley

WarriorandGovernorSMThe authors featured on my blog range from debut authors still anxiously waiting for their release date to multi-published authors who can actually call writing their full time job. Today’s guest, Susan Gourley, is one of the latter.

I’m  thrilled to have Susan here today to share her story and some tidbits of wisdom that can only be gleaned by having achieved some recognition in the writing world.

Please give Susan a warm welcome.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming release, Keepers of Sulbreth?

My latest science fiction romance novel, The Warriror and the Governor, is the second book in the Gaviron Warriors series. The planet of Gaviron was destroyed by the intelligent, arachnid-like invaders that are sweeping across the galaxy and decimating planets like a horde of locusts. Only three warriors survive and make it their mission to battle the merciless enemy until death. Liam’s superior fighting skills keep him alive long after he’s ready to die and join his loved ones in the afterlife. But when his small band discovers an Earthling colony, they realize humanity is not at an end. Once again, Liam finds a reason to not only continue the fight but to make sure the brave leader of the colony and her daughter survive the war. He learns that a man can find love more than once in his lifetime and that love can drive a warrior to greater deeds and demand the ultimate sacrifice.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?

I’ve never consider writing as a hobby. I’ve always been the kind of person who decides I’d like to do something and then I go about learning how to do it. I wrote my first novel in long hand and then went to my first writer’s conference and learned how much I didn’t know about the publishing industry. From the very first page I wrote, I worked toward a goal of publication. And it was a lot of work because I had so much to learn.

3. Is there a turning point or “aha” moment that really got your career going? What was it?

I joined a local writer’s group, a subchapter of RWA, and met really nice people. They were in all stages of their careers from multi-published to having only a few rough pages written. Their welcoming attitudes and helpfulness led me to believe I could really achieve my goal. I felt like every resource I needed was present in those meetings. More than any one thing, those people helped be believe in myself.

4. Can you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?

I start all my novels with a creation of a ‘bible’ that has character descriptions, relationships and everything about the fictional world they inhabit. Then I use two or three sheets of paper where I’ll use bullet points for what my main characters want and feel as well as their major obstacles. The papers will also have a long list of plot points though they’re seldom in the correct order. Sometimes those are brief descriptions of scenes. I always know how a novel or series will end before I put those first names in the bible.

5. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?

I used to think editing was the most difficult part but now I find the first draft the most difficult. I believe it’s because the more books I write, the better my first drafts are. I’m putting more thought into getting things right the first time and that actually slows down that part though it makes second and third drafts go quicker.

6. What’s your take on writer’s block? Does it exist, and if it does, how can you cure it?

I don’t really believe in writer’s block. On the other hand, I know that life can interfere with the creative process. A family emergency makes it difficult to concentrate on your writing. I do get stuck on scenes or realize I’ve left a big plot hole. I usually go for a run or a walk while I think it through. Driving is also a good time to figure out a way through a tangle.

7. Do you ever find it difficult to move from one novel to the next? If so, how do you make changing projects easier?

I actually have the exact opposite problem. When I’m finishing one novel or series, I’m already eager to start on the next one. I have to make myself slow down and make sure I get the ending right because I’m in such a hurry to move on. Usually I write the last 15,000 -20,000 words faster than any other part of a novel.

8. What advice would you give to a first time novelist learning to market their own work?

Make contacts well before your novel is published. Listen to the advice of people who have gone before you but also only do what you’re comfortable with. If you force yourself to appear on a hundred blogs or post a tweet every ten minutes for an entire day and you don’t like doing that, you’re going to miserable. Marketing is difficult so don’t do things that will make it hateful also. Don’t be afraid to ask other writers to help you. They’ll be glad to do it if you reciprocate.

9. If you could give an aspiring writer any one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t get discouraged. I had seven romance novels published before I had a bestseller and then another two before I had another big seller. Keep going. Only a very few people have their first book skyrocket to the top of the lists. And listen to your editors about titles, opening scenes and many other things. Work with them.

10. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?

I’m finishing off a science fiction romance series under the pen name, Susan Kelley. March will also see me busy working behind the scenes to make sure the A to Z Blogging Challenge goes on as intended during the month of April. We’re expecting close to 3000 participants this year.

Susan Gourley writes epic fantasy from Pennsylvania where she’s raised five boys and a daughter. After teaching for many years, she now writes full time in her large country home. She’s also published in science fiction romance that she writes as Susan Kelley.

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