Welcome to my Reading Nook. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink.
Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.
To get us started, can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
Absolutely! And Dawn, thanks for having me as a guest today – and thanks for the drink!
My latest novel is STEALING FIRE, a love story between unlikely soul mates set in 1980’s New York and L.A. My hero is a disillusioned lyricist/librettist who can no longer get work on Broadway because it’s the era of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the big-production musicals. He lives in L.A. and survives writing commercial jingles. My heroine is a young woman just starting out, training to be a singer on Broadway and supporting herself as assistant manager at a small New York hotel. When the two of them meet over the hotel switchboard, it’s explosive – and leads to a passionate relationship neither could anticipate and that gives them both amazing joy and incredible success. But there are circumstances working against their staying together.
At the same time, I have another book out (hard to believe, but true) – this one is REALIZING YOU (co-authored with Ron Doades) and is a self-help NOVEL (honestly), where you can learn important life principles through the stories of five characters coming to a self-help conference in Dallas. I had to actually invent a genre for this one, which was a real challenge!
AND – I’m not kidding – at the end of October I’m also re-publishing a novel that first came out ten years ago. The new version is titled FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition (co-authored with Kevin Finn). It’s a time-travel thriller about the JFK assassination (which happened 50 years ago this fall, hence our title) and in our story, Kennedy doesn’t die in Dallas. Of course there have been many JFK assassination time-travel stories (honestly), including one by Stephen King recently, but ours is the only one that I know of that actually deals with trying to save Kennedy from a CONSPIRACY, not a crazy lone nut. I think that makes it a lot more exciting (not to mention real), and reader response for the original edition has been very enthusiastic – we’re looking forward to much more of the same when the new version comes out!
How would you describe yourself using only five words?
Um (that’s thinking, it’s not a word) … Enthusiastic, curious, detail-oriented, romantic, writer. (And the last word pretty much encompasses the first four!)
If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say?
WARNING: Cries at everything, including Hallmark commercials, so stay back if you want to stay dry!
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Ohmigosh, are you kidding??? How long can I make this list??
I’m not sure I ever met a combination of sugar and fat that I didn’t like – this includes ice cream, butter cream frosting and cake.
I also love buying on Ebay (thank God that’s not fattening!), long lunches out with friends and collecting Disney trading pins.
And reading. I do it every single day without fail, because I LOVE the written word and some of my happiest moments have come when I’m curled up with a book.
Name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.
STEALING FIRE features a Broadway lyricist/librettist, and I’m actually distantly related to one of Broadway’s legendary lyricists, Fred Ebb (half of the famous team of Kander & Ebb, who wrote CABARET, CHICAGO, ALL THAT JAZZ, and a little ditty called “New York, New York”). He was a very nice man I only met once, when I was working on THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW and he and John Kander were the subject of an entire 90-minute Griffin show. No, he’s not the inspiration for my character Beau (though there was a real-life Beau, he was not a lyricist). But I heard stories in the family that everyone thought Fred was crazy for wanting to write songs, working with this young girl singer on a failed off-Broadway show, working in a shoe store to support himself. My family told him to stay in the shoe store; he could maybe become the manager someday. Obviously he didn’t, and they stopped nagging him the night he got them tickets to see CABARET. Oh, and the young girl he worked with – whom he worked with for the rest of his life – turned out to be Liza Minnelli. And how’s this for another coincidence: she still lives in the building in Manhattan where my grandparents once lived! (Let’s all hum “It’s a Small World” here.)
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Not sure I could be any happier than where I live now – outside Charleston, SC. It has to be one of the most beautiful places around, and was recently named, by Conde Nast readers, their #1 favorite travel destination IN THE WORLD.
There are lots of places I’d like to travel, though, that I haven’t seen (so maybe I’d be happy in those places, too): Australia and New Zealand, the Greek Islands, Italy, Iceland, lots more of England (I haven’t seen nearly enough there; would especially like to spend time in Kent during the summer). And there’s a Daphne du Maurier festival, I’m told, in Cornwall every year. Would LOVE to be part of that!
How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
It helps more than anything never to stop. I don’t mean that facetiously: Stephen King’s advice never to go a day without writing is really excellent advice. If you have a project that’s ongoing, and you keep adding pages day after day, you can’t get bored with it, though you certainly can have days where you can’t think what to write. I’ve spent most of my life trying to be professional about my writing, which sometimes means doing it even if you don’t think you have anything to say. I think if you wait to write till you think you’ll enjoy it or are inspired, you can sometimes wait a long, long time, and professionals don’t wait. They deal with whatever they have at the moment. I know I’ve had some terrific writing days on days when I couldn’t think of a blessed think to say when I sat down at the keyboard.
So I would say … make sure you write every day. Even 100 words written is 100 more than you had yesterday. Keep doing it. The story will haunt you even when you’re not at the computer, and that’s what you want; it’ll keep you connected and interested enough to finish it.
Can you share with us your typical writing day? Is there anything you have to have while writing?
A diet soft drink, close at hand!
My typical day, though, depends very much on what time of year it is. For 11 months of the year, I work on my latest project, and unless there’s a stringent deadline, I try for a decent number of pages per day: 5 or more is great. I work for a few hours, satisfy my inner editor with the page count and go on to other writing-related activities (which could be writing down story notes on other projects, notes for edits, book promotion, whatever).
Then there’s November – and Nanowrimo. When I’m doing Nano (and I did it for 7 years, winning it 6 times), word count is the most important thing in the world (not quality, just page count), so running up those words, even if they’re awful, matters a lot. (You win Nano by finishing November with 50,000 words of an original novel, written during that month.) I once was late in starting Nano due to other commitments in early November. I got to about November 10th and was thousands of words behind, so I took my laptop into bed with me (which I don’t usually do but is quite comfortable!), sat there with the bedroom door closed and typed away madly. I even did 8,000 words in one day – my all-time word-count record. Strangely enough, the work wasn’t bad at all. Or maybe I was too tired from typing to know whether it was good or bad!
Who are some of your favorite authors?
All-time favorite is Dick Francis – absolutely love him! Also love the wonderful writing and mood setting of Daphne du Maurier, adore Noel Streatfeild’s SHOES books (which are still as wonderful today as when they were written), love the mostly unknown writers who wrote my favorite series books, like Nancy Drew, Donna Parker, Connie Blair. Fabulous stuff. Love Ayn Rand – ATLAS SHRUGGED is one of my all-time favorites too. And I still enjoy Judith Krantz’s novels and the novels of Judith McNaught and Jude Devereaux. Also love LITTLE WOMEN still, PRIDE & PREJUDICE, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, TOM SAWYER. Can’t say I love all of those authors’ work, but those titles, for me, really hold up.
What is in your To Read Pile that you are dying to start or upcoming release you can’t wait for?
With this year being the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I’ve been reading books on that subject – which is a longtime favorite of mine, with all the research we did on FORWARD TO CAMELOT. I’ve read the book HIT LIST, about all the witnesses who died mysterious deaths after JFK’s assassination – fantastic stuff. I’ll definitely be wanting to read others, too – and for sure, there’ll be a lot of them!
Is there something special you do to celebrate when one of your books is released?
Usually dinner out with my sons when the manuscript goes off to my publisher – I figure I deserve it! And it’s about all the breathing room I get – because as soon as the writing ends, the editing, production and promotion begin.
Do you have a favorite TV show you can't miss?
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. I adore it. My sons got me into watching it, and I intend to see every single episode of every season – thank God for Netflix!
If you could date any character from any book, who would it be and why-no it doesn't have to be from your books?
Wow – the whole male literary universe to choose from, huh?
It would probably be one of Judith McNaught’s heroes. I like Stephen in UNTIL YOU. Or Jason in ALMOST HEAVEN. Or Jordan in SOMETHING WONDERFUL. Any one of them and I’m a happy girl!
What is the strangest source of writing inspiration you’ve ever had?
My latest Nano novel (not yet completed, but on my list to finish in the next couple of years) is based on my own recent experience managing a political campaign – something I never dreamed I would ever do but which ended up being fascinating and teaching me tons about the political process. I actually managed two campaigns – one for Congress, the other for our local Town Council – within 2 years. And that’s even more exhausting than writing!
If your muse were to talk behind your back, what secrets would he/she tell?
Probably that I don’t write as much as I should. That I procrastinate (but if he/she knows anything about writers, they’d know that’s par for the course!) That I’m more concerned with creating the right mood and the words LOOKING right on the page than I am about picking the perfect expression or more interesting verbs. That I get really annoyed as a reader reading books where it’s clear the writer doesn’t use words well. (Two quick examples: People seldom ‘grab’ stuff – that’s a fairly violent act. You may grab someone and hold a gun to their head, but you don’t grab a cup of coffee unless you’re going to sprint out the door. You take one, or pick up. It’s okay to say take or pick up. That’s accurate.
It’s also not a good idea to use the word ‘stated’. “I’m walking out the door now,” he stated. How overwritten is that? Stated is for something momentous, like “I know the meaning of life,” he stated. Unless you have a sentence with that much weight to it, don’t use stated.)
Too many writers were influenced by their English teachers, who emphasize using strong verbs, and so writers use words that are too strong for the context and they end up overwriting and sounding ridiculous. Keep it simple. Let your character ‘take’ his phone list or coffee and “I’m walking out the door now,” he SAID is just fine. Save the momentous expressions for the momentous moments in your book. Readers will appreciate it.
Anything else you want to add?
Please visit me at http://susansloate.com. I’d love to hear from you!
Stealing Fire by Susan Sloate
“How do you recognize your soulmate?
In glittery 1980’s
Beau Kellogg is a brilliant Broadway lyricist now writing advertising
jingles and yearning for one more hit to compensate for his miserable
marriage and disappointing life. Los Angeles
Amanda Harary, a young singer out of synch with her contemporaries, works at a small
she dreams of singing on Broadway. New York
When they meet late at night over the hotel switchboard, what begins will bring them each unexpected success, untold joy, and piercing heartache ... until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.
is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the
transformative power of love.”
was a Quarter-Finalist (Top 5%) in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
The phones were ringing off the hook, and it was after three. And Amanda was tired.
She disposed of all the calls; she didn't think she could be bright and bubbling tonight. As she started to put down her headset, she realized she'd left one call on hold; the red light winked tantalizingly at her. She pushed the button, and was startled to hear a light, clear whistle delicately sounding one of her favorite old songs.
For a moment, she just listened. Then she started to hum along, filling in the words where she could remember them.
The whistling stopped, and the voice she'd come to recognize and dread pushed out at her. "So you know it."
"It's one of my favorites." She hummed a few more bars, hesitatingly. "I've known it for years."
"Remember the title?" It was a challenge.
"`Bursting Bubbles'." That was easy. She remembered the scratchy old record that Josie had broken years ago. Even now she felt a small pang at losing it. "From a show called The Life and Times."
"Well, well. I'm impressed. Two points for you."
"And for you, 704. Are you into trivia games?"
He chuckled. "So you know who I am. That makes you one up on me. I don't know who you are."
"Why do you want to know? Gonna complain to the boss?"
"I wanted to thank you. I don't often have a chocolate shake for breakfast, but it really hit the spot this morning. I never get service like this, not even at the Lorelei."
Please leave a comment and your email address in order to be entered to win this cool prize from Susan Sloate. Susan will be awarding a notebook perfect for journaling to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Then drop by the other stops and leave comments there as well. The more you comment, the better the chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/06/virtual-book-tour-stealing-fire-by.html
Susan Sloate is the author of 20 published books, including FORWARD TO CAMELOT (with Kevin Finn), an alternative history of the JFK assassination, STEALING
FIRE, an autobiographical love story, and REALIZING
YOU (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre – the self-help novel. FORWARD TO CAMELOT was a #6
Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned for
film production by a Hollywood company. STEALING FIRE was a
quarter-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Susan has
also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including RAY CHARLES: FIND ANOTHER
WAY!, which won a silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards,
AMELIA EARHART: CHALLENGING THE SKIES, a perennial Amazon bestseller, and
MYSTERIES UNWRAPPED: THE SECRETS OF ALCATRAZ, which led to her appearance on a
special for The History Channel in 2009, as well as books for five girls’
fiction series. As a screenwriter, she has written an informational film for
McGraw-Hill Films and optioned two scripts to Hollywood production companies.
As a sportswriter, she’s covered the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pittsburgh
Pirates and the New York Mets. She’s also managed two recent political
campaigns, founded the East Cooper Authors Festival (which put 18 professional
authors in 17 area schools in one day) and serves on the Culture, Arts and
Pride Commission of the Town of . Mount Pleasant