Monday, October 1, 2012

That Integral Part Which is so Important to all Books

Eastside, Westside, all around America's towns, we get to hear from our writing friend, Susan Page Davis, native of Maine and  author of more than 40 novels, who now lives in western Kentucky. Susan is the mother of six and grandmother of eight, whose books have won many awards, including the Will Rogers Medallion, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award.
Welcome, Susan. What are you working on right now?
I’m writing a mystery for Guideposts, in their Miracles of Marble Cove series. I’m also involved in their Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop and Patchwork Mysteries series, and it’s been a joy working on these books with other authors.
Do you put yourself into your books?
Not really. I’m not nearly as adventurous as most of my heroines. Millie Evans, in A Lady in the Making, is a lot more brave and determined (and a much better cook) than I will ever be!

How important is faith in your books?
 It’s an integral part of most of my stories. For Millie, faith is something new and untried. She’s not sure she’d doing everything “right,” so far as God is concerned, but she aims to do her best to please Him. When things get scary, she turns to God for help and comfort. For David Stone, it’s hard to believe Millie could change that much—but as he sees her living out her faith, his distrust starts to crumble.

What themes do you like to write about?
 Forgiveness and reconciliation are favorites of mine, as they touch so many of us. In this book, there’s a lot of repentance and forgiveness needed.

What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
I like this series a lot because it blends British characters with the American West. It was a lot of fun and refreshing to write. But it also required a lot of research.

What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?
Usually I have a detailed outline ready before I begin to write. I also do quite a bit of research first. Sometimes I prepare a timeline of the period, listing the historical events pertinent to my story and the major events of the story. I print out a calendar of the month(s) my historical novel occurs in, with the moon phases marked.
If it’s a contemporary book, I would probably make a calendar instead of a timeline, laying out when each event in the story takes place on a blank calendar page. For most books, I also make index cards for the characters with a thumbnail description—appearance, family members, car if applicable (or horse), pets, important dates, and so on.

In your opinion, what is the greatest danger or pitfall in the life of a writer? 
There are so many! I guess for me it’s procrastination.  I try not to put off my writing-related tasks because other things always creep in to fill the time.

If you could ask our readers anything what would it be?

What would it take to convince you to trust someone who has betrayed you? ((Be sure to write in and give us your thoughts. You might win Susan's new book.)le

Let us know your thoughts and get your name added to the giveaway contest)
The featured book is A Lady in the Making being offered to one of our viewers.
Millie Evans has changed, choosing to leave rather than join an outlaw gang with her brother. Hoping for a new future, she boards a stagecoach and finds that one of the passengers is David Stone—a man she and her brother once tried to swindle. As she tries to convince David she’s changed, her brother’s gang holds up the stagecoach. Fighting beside David goes a long way to softening his heart, but he’s still not convinced. Someone is trying to keep him from reaching England to claim his inheritance. Is Millie involved? Millie must trust God to show David the truth, but will he see before it’s too late?

 Susan's Writers how-to:

When I start writing a new book or series, I make a three-ring binder for it. I do keep some files on my computer, but for me some are easier to use on paper. The contract and any correspondence I have with the editor go into the notebook first. If the publisher has a stylebook or a series guide, I make dividers for those sections. I usually wind up with a lot of print-outs from research I want to keep to refer to, so I make sections for those. For A Lady in the Making, sections included: Historical Timeline and calendar of 1857; Period Costume; Oregon Trail; Early Stagecoach Lines in the Area; St. Louis; Independence, Mo.; British Peerage, and so on. This notebook helps me to keep my papers related to the book or series organized and easy to find.
For online research, I bookmark a lot of sites in my “Favorites.” I have a folder for “Historical,” and within that are several other folders, including  “Colonial,” “Costume,” “England,” “Maps,” “Oregon,” “Railroads,” “Texas,” “Victorian,” “West,” and more. Organizing the websites I use for research this way makes them easy to find again if I have to check something, or if I want to return to them for a future book. To me, it’s very frustrating to know I have information SOMEWHERE and not be able to find it!



    I have actually been betrayed before, and I know that it would take a literal act of God to help me. I am not a very trusting person to begin with...I guess I would have to read the Bible a lot (passages about forgiveness). And pray a LOT!!! Only the peace from Jesus could I do it/have I done it.

    Amada (pronounced: Chavez


    Matthew 5:44

  2. Good, thoughtful answer, Amada. I agree--it's one of the hardest things to do.

  3. I have been betrayed many times and have been forgiven many times. It's hard but I can't let bitterness rule my life. Forgive and move on.
    Campbellamyd at Gmail dot com

  4. For the battle of betrayal I have learned as a Christian to just forgive and go on. Jesus faced the biggest betrayal of all, how can we complain? Learn from the past so it doesn't present itself in the future.

  5. Thanks, Amy and Melody. If we can put that bitterness away, it's so much easier to get on with life! I hope your new day is a productive one.

  6. Good post. I'm more of a reader than a writer. Still struggling. For me the greatest trial is getting those words down enough to make sense. Please put me on the list to maybe win a book.
    Marci Kellen

  7. Brain Block is my answer. Definitely.
    Janice Ian