Meet First-Time Urban Fantasy Novelist Susan Goldsmith

Before becoming a novelist, Susan Goldsmith was an undercover private investigator, worked as an outside sales rep, and spent five years in pharmaceutical sales. In this interview, she talks about her journey as an author and her exciting road to publication. She also discusses her creative process and offers tips to aspiring writers.
Q: It’s wonderful to have you here, Susan. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about your background and how you started writing?
A: Stories are what got me through my childhood. When real life was overwhelming, I’d crawl into my imagination where sick mothers could be made better with a magical potion, or crazy fathers weren’t really crazy. They were just more evolved than the rest of us. Could see whole words and realities we couldn’t. Mean teachers? Witches – the whole lot of them. I soon branched out, and after sitting in Stephen King’s head for a while, decided my life was a Disney movie compared to the stuff his characters endured. Poor Carrie. Now that girl had issues!
I loved stories, and had an endless supply of original ideas that would make fantastic books, but darn it, no matter how hard I willed those ideas to be carried through osmosis from my brain to my favorite authors’, it never happened. There they sat, alone in the dark, wilting, while I pursued every career, but writing, and no, graduating with a degree in Journalism most definitely doesn’t count. Journalism and imagination are two words that don’t belong in the same sentence.
A creative imagination was also frowned upon in my brief stint as an undercover private investigator with Pinkerton when I was placed in a company (no, I’m not telling which one!), and was told to write down my observations. Uh oh, I had a captive audience but couldn’t embellish what I was seeing and boy was my imagination coming up with some really good stuff. In reality, I was bored silly. Eventually that boredom had me shaking things up… but that’s another story entirely.
Several career paths later, fate intervened and I found myself home, being a full time mother and wife. Suddenly, I was staring at the blank computer screen, not writing, just staring. I’d make a point to walk by it on my way to the bathroom, in-between Barney episodes, or during those times when my children actually did fall asleep during nap time.
Eventually, I did turn the computer on, and have been writing ever since.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your first novel, Abithica. That’s an unusual name. How did you come up with it and what does it mean?
A: Abithica is a word I made up. Without giving too much away, it is the name of the main character, so it had to be both unique and otherworldly.
Q: What is Abithica about and what was your inspiration for it?
A: Abithica must borrow all that she is from others: names, lives, even bodies, but only for periods of time she cannot control. What is she, and why is she compelled to fix the lives of the people she inhabits, even the despicable ones?
When she switches into the troubled life of Sydney Turner, she ends up breaking the one rule that has sustained her, the one thing in her control-never get attached-and learns the pain of loving and being loved in return.
My vacuum, Thomas Moore and my very persistent imagination were the inspiration behind Abithica. Maybe I should explain that. You see, all my best thoughts have come while pulling a vacuum. Now enter Thomas Moore. He wrote a book called Care of the Soul. In it, he asked a very profound question: what is your worst fear? Hmmm, what is my worst fear, I wondered. Naturally, I grabbed said vacuum and unleashed my imagination.
Losing my husband and children was the answer. Oh, but what if I was taken from them without their knowledge and they didn’t even know I was gone? Ouch! That would definitely suck. But what would suck even more is if another soul took my place and I was there, unseen, invisible, watching their lives continue as if I had never existed.
I was getting closer to my worst nightmare, but I wasn’t quite there yet. It needed a little something more. Got it! What if the body I was in had never really belonged to me in the first place? What if it was me who had been the intruder all along? I had been borrowing the woman’s life… and now… she wanted it back.
The question became an obsession, and my vacuum and I spent a lot of time together. Soon, the idea of “switching” was born. It grew legs and arms and even acquired a face, Abithica’s face.
Q: What is your protagonist like? Tell us something irresistible about her.
A: She is you and me. She is anybody who has ever asked the questions, why am I here? Is there a God, a purpose, a cosmic plan? She perceives herself as a victim, a pawn in some cosmic joke, only to discover in the end she is oh, so much more!
Q: Who is your target reader?
A: My target readers are bound to be urban fantasy lovers, the romantic at heart, and those of us who like to ponder all those enormous, unanswerable questions about life, and what the heck we’re doing here.
Q: How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
A: You have no idea how funny that question is! My “creative process”, if you insist on calling it that, was throwing tantrum after tantrum. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, but the words… they weren’t matching the woman in my head. The tone was wrong. The voice was wrong. The action was wrong. The whole darn story was wrong. It wasn’t Abithica, not even close.
The problem I soon learned was I didn’t have an outline, so I ended up re-writing the first chapter 30 different ways and every one of them was the beginning of a completely different story. I was like an artist standing over an empty canvas. Was I going to use pastels, pencil or paint? Was it going to be a nature scene, or a portrait? Why not an elephant? Did it even have to be on a canvas? Why not the side of a building or a sidewalk? I had no idea so I kept trying a little of everything, until eventually, nothing worked and I found myself pinned to the ground, screaming uncle.
At the same time, I was well aware that some of my best writing had come about by accident when I had unwittingly allowed the characters to tell their own story. They were the writer, I was the vessel. Every single writing session after that, it’s what I strove to duplicate. I’d sit down at the keyboard, clear my mind, and relax enough to set the characters free. On a really good day, they’d talk for eight hours straight and take me places I had never even imagined. Eventually, I got better at it, I started to set an alarm to remind myself to eat. I’d then set it to remind myself to start dinner and then again to remind myself to pick up the kids. This was the reason I wrote, and the reason I kept coming back for more.
I had a problem though. What I needed was something to keep Abithica on task, without constricting the creative flow I craved. The answer: a plot summary. I took the next couple of days building on that concept until I had a sketchy beginning, middle and end. I now had a direction, but Abithica still had plenty of wiggle room to be creative and I was still willing to follow her on whatever tangents she chose to take me on.
Q: What is your writing schedule like?
A: My writing schedule revolves around my family. When the girls are at school, my hubby is at work, and I’m alone, (if it’s possible to be alone with 3 dogs, 2 cats and a bird!) I unleash my imagination and hold on for dear life. My favorite part is the end, when I get to read the crazy places my imagination took me that day.
Q: How did you find Twilight Times Books?
A: Twilight Times Books was recommended to me by my mentor, Gerry Mills, who helped me put some “magic” into my writing. It didn’t hurt either that TTB was recommended by Predators & Editors, or that the water cooler discussion on Absolute Write had nothing but positive things to say about TTB and its founder, Lida Quillen.
Q: What has been the most surprising aspect of publishing for you so far?
A: I was delusional. I actually thought when I wrote, The End, I was done. Oh contraire! That was only the beginning. The hardest writing I’ve ever done was condensing 95,000 words into a one sentence summary!
Now, I’m learning the wonderful world of marketing. All I can say is, God Bless Goodreads! If it wasn’t for that website nobody would know Abithica exists, and believe me… she is so done with that!
Q: I hear there’s a sequel in the horizon. When is it coming out?
A: Yup, there is a sequel. I am 40,000 words into it. The beginning and the end are done. All I’m doing now is filling in the middle.
Q: What is your best tip for aspiring novelists?
A: Don’t just talk about it, do it. Write it for yourself, and then later, after you’re convinced it’s a masterpiece, set it in a drawer and forget about it, the longer, the better. Then read it with fresh eyes. Fix all the problems, and then repeat, again, and again, and again….

3 Horror Novels That Will Scare You to Death

When it comes to literary horror, there are a lot of different paths that you can take in order to get the most out of the fear created by writers, but it’s sometimes hard to decide which book to read next. In order to help those that are not sure where to venture next, it became important to look into a list of 3 of the scariest books that you can get your hands on for a low cost. The following is a list of the best in horror writing from years past, and can still strike fear into the hearts of even the most jaded of imaginations. Look at the following if you dare, and never stop reading.
Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice – The first book seems innocent enough, but the pages are full of terror and fear. Long before shiny vampires took over the landscape of vampirism, Anne Rice was creating a long-standing record of beauty and terror. The book is filled with real life lamentations that would befuddle a person that had to live forever and feed. While the motion picture made this into a more dramatic and polished version, the book still stands as one of the better examples of what you can do with genre fiction.
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson – This best selling novel took the haunted house genre and created something bigger, badder, and something that still creeps people out. Could a house really push someone into the brink of insanity and then bring them back with no recollection? The boundaries of real life terror play victim to the genre here and it truly showcases how far a person will go when psychologically tormented by spirits within a house. The house recently sold and hasn’t been an issue, but that hasn’t stopped people from reading, watching and exploring the original big, bad, haunted house.
The Shining by Stephen King – The master of horror has written one of the most eclectic blends of books in the past but in The Shining he really turns up the volume to 11. Here we get everything from psychotic rampages, to telekinesis, and beyond. You thought the movie was creepy? Wait till you get a hold of this epic in nearly 800 pages of length. You just can’t compare the movie to this solid book, which will give you nightmares if you’re not careful.
The above 3 books are novels that were written long ago and are still gaining new audiences. The main reason why it’s important to explore these titles is to preserve reading as a form of entertainment and learning. Remember, everyone spends years learning how to read and write, so why not continue that tradition for pleasure in your adult years? The above are just a taste of some of the better horror novels you can read and love today.

Writing Your Novel Is The Easy Part

“Michael, are you crazy?”
Maybe. What about it.
Sometimes an idea just comes out of nowhere and won’t leave me alone until I write about it. So, I write about it.
Then what?
Isn’t that enough? Can’t I just write?
No. Time to do the real work now.
Next comes self-editing. Truth be told, that’s really my favorite part. But it is more workmanlike than “the fires of creation.”
What’s my goal as a writer? I want people to still be reading my stuff centuries after I die.
Self-editing matters. Do you want to know why? Because it’s a novel, not a blog. Make it easy to read, easy to understand, easy to enjoy, easy to edit, and easy to publish. And easy to hate, as the case may be. Easy.
Then you have to decide among dozens of publishing options. Big press, small press, hardback, paperback, ebook, traditional print, self-published, print-on-demand, straight to a publisher or through an agent or acting as your own publisher…
Oh, and rejection happens. A lot.
If you involve an editor in this, he’ll teach you how to write better and how to self-edit better. If not, oh well.
Authors don’t pay publishers. Readers pay publishers. Publishers pay authors.
Writing is a calling but publishing is a business.
Writing your novel is looking easier all the time, isn’t it?
I haven’t even mentioned self-promotion after you’re published. Just one more source of aggravation to steal your time and your focus away from writing your next novel.

Magic in Stories For Younger Readers – Part Seven – Magic and Reality

In stories for children, it is the boy or girl who solves the problem, rather than the adult, which children reading the story find it much easier to relate to. Harry Potter is just like his young readers, an ordinary child with admittedly extraordinary powers. Even those of his friends who come from magical families have the same things to deal with at Hogwarts, such as homework, embarrassing parents or annoying siblings, making it more believable and thus rooted in the real world, despite Harry’s enrollment in an exclusive school for wizardry.
Harry even has trouble becoming a wizard and struggles at school with some of his subjects, while his classmate Hermione consistently streams ahead of him. On more than one occasion, Harry curses himself for not having studied the history of the magical world or some other topic more deeply.
In the earlier novels too, Harry is quite simply not good enough to take on more powerful wizards. Much of the strength of the novels is the journey of Harry from the age of eleven to manhood and his complicated learning curve along the way, which is reflected not just in his relationships with his friends and teachers, but also in his growing comprehension of the laws of magic. Although magic is the predominant theme running through these and other novels, the hero still has to overcome his difficulties though his own efforts. Magic should never be used simply as a way to solve all problems and just wish them away.

Should I Write a Novel Now?

Ask yourself the question. The decision is really yours to make. If you procrastinate you have already made a decision to put it off. Be positive. Get out of the place where the majority of people are sitting and do it. Surveys suggest that over 80% of people believe they could write a book but never do. Break the cycle this year! Surprise your friends and family with a new talent.
What will writing bring you? The answer to the question depends on many things. However, should you finally publish your work, you would be proud of an achievement that relatively few people can legitimately claim. You might become a best-selling author with your own television show or you might revel in your own accomplishments. If you think you can do it, get on with it. The best time to start is now!
You might find that you get a penchant for more travel. You need locations for your novels and the more exotic the location, the more interesting your stories will become. Take your camera with you when you travel and take random photographs. Let the richness of your life come through in your writing.
When I travel, I photograph all kinds of places including street signs so that when I write I can accurately describe directions in places that I am not very familiar. People also provide me inspiration when I travel.
My advice is to start writing. I did several years ago. Tired of wasting time watching boring shows on television I sat in front of my computer and started by first novel. (Please note – I do find many interesting shows on television). I chose to write fiction because I could be loose with the facts and let my mind wander. The challenge was to create a credible story line. The first page was easy and then I had a blank so I did something else. The following day, I came up with more ideas and this is how it went until three months later I had written almost 70,000 words.
I choose to write novels that weight less than 500 grams when posted because I sell them online and from internet sites. You might prefer to sell from bookshops. It does not matter at this stage how you are going to market your work. The important thing is to turn your dream into reality.
It only takes a few minutes to start the novel-writing process that can consume your spare time for years to come.
Consider the other benefits which could include a residual income. A few minutes of thinking might give you the impetus that you need to become the best writer that you can be!