with guest Susan Anne Mason.
Hello Seekers and Villagers! So nice to be back and a huge thank you to Tina for inviting me!
You’ve probably heard the old saying “Be careful what you wish for”! Well, I’m here to tell you it is all too true! One minute I was a writer struggling to get published, and the next I had contracts with THREE different publishers. In the space of 17 months (from August 2014 to January 2016) I’ve had FIVE books published. How did that happen??
Well, I finally figured out what had been holding me back on my journey to publication: FEAR! Fear of not being able to handle the pressure of writing on demand, fear of having to promote myself, fear of being confident enough to pull this whole “Author” thing off. Once I let go of the fear and turned it over to God (I figured He knew how much I could handle), I ended up with the joy—AND THE STRESS—of being multi-published. Because I’m not going to lie, there has been a lot of pressure, especially in the last six to eight months, which is why I decided to write about this topic.
So what have I learned from all this? I’ll try to cover the main points!
I’ve learned to —
JUGGLE!! In the past six months for Bethany House alone, I’ve had to juggle deadlines, editors, blog visits, contest giveaways, line edits and galleys – all with different expectations attached. It gets stressful when you have one manuscript due to the editor, galleys for another book arriving, and a new book release to promote. I’ve learned it’s important to prioritize your tasks and your time—and to just buckle down and do it. Also, it helps to tell the family not to expect much in the way of cooking, cleaning and laundry until the deadlines are over!
BE FLEXIBLE: Each publisher handles the publication process differently and I’ve had to learn to adjust to each way. For instance, with White Rose and Love Inspired, I was sent edits electronically and was able to view all the edits marked on the document. I knew exactly what was being changed. With Bethany House, it’s completely different. Once the content edits (to the plot and characters) are done, a line editor gets the document. When I see it next, my manuscript comes in the mail as one big document.
For Irish Meadows, I had almost memorized the whole book, so I could tell when the editor had changed something. But I had my laptop open to and went through along with the hard copy to find all the changes. For A Worthy Heart, I asked for a marked up copy. My lovely editor explained that they don’t want the writer to do that. She asked me to go through the edited manuscript as a reader, not a writer, and if there was something I really couldn’t live with, we could fix it. That made the second line edits much easier!
BE ASSERTIVE without being rude. This is hard for someone like me who likes to please people and doesn’t want to make waves. But I’ve found it necessary a few times to assert my opinion, in a way that I feel heard, even if the publisher chooses not to listen. For example, when “Irish Meadows” was coming out with Bethany House, I received the mock up for the cover and was horrified! I had pictured a lovely historical cover along the line of Karen Witemeyer and Tracie Peterson—something pretty with green meadows and horses in the background. I opened the document and almost cried (well, I did cry and had one sleepless night).
So I spent hours in the early morning searching for alternatives and tried to word an email to my editor about why this cover was SO wrong for the feel of my book. I found out later that they almost never alter a cover for an author, but thank heavens they changed the color of her hat and dress to royal blue. That made all the difference in the world! And happily, for the cover of A Worthy Heart (out now – shameless plug here!), I was over-the-moon thrilled! The beautiful dark-haired model is exactly how I pictured Maggie Montgomery, the Irish girl who wins Adam O’Leary’s heart!
Recently with my third contemporary romance for White Rose (Redeemed Hearts, also due out in September), I had another occasion to be assertive. For my first two White Rose books, I had a fabulous editor and everything went swimmingly. This time I had a new editor, and when I opened the document to a literal sea of red, I wondered if any of my original story was left. Again, I’ve learned to let the extreme emotional reaction simmer for a bit, and then after I cool down, figure out how to handle the situation. When I read through all the edits, I tried to take any personal hurt out of the equation and realize that this person’s style was simply VERY different than mine—which was okay, but she was cutting my voice, my personality out of the story. Which was NOT okay. So I left in the edits I could live with and where I couldn’t accept the changes, put back my original words. Then when I returned the manuscript, I included (what I felt was) a polite email asking the editor to respect my author voice and to accept the changes I had made. If this had been my first book, I would never have had the confidence or temerity to do this. I’m still waiting to see what happens, but I’m certain we can achieve a balance.
ASK FOR HELP. I’ve learned that it’s okay to admit you’re struggling and ask for help. The last two books in my Courage to Dream Series for Bethany House were challenging, to say the least, with really quick turnarounds. The nine months between books indicated in my contract ended up being six months, and that makes a huge difference in a 100,000+ word book. Throw in some family health issues and I was in over my head, which I didn’t fully realize until my agent asked: “Would you like me to get you an extension to your deadline?” I had never even considered the possibility. Right away I wrote back, “Yes, please!” And very quickly I had an extra month to finish the book. What a relief! Suddenly I wasn’t feeling paralyzed and could make the book much better than it would have been.
But the biggest thing I’ve learned from all of this is that God really does have my back in all the details! His timing is impeccable and everything will turn out all right in the end!
What fears are holding you back?
COVER REVEAL: Now for the first time I am going to reveal the cover of my third historical for Bethany House, due for release in September 2016. The title is Love’s Faithful Promise. This book is set mainly in the winter of 1922 and focuses on the youngest O’Leary, Deirdre. I think they did a great job getting the period clothing right! And I love the model’s face and eyes which are so close to how I envisioned Deirdre! Hope you guys like it, too!
GIVEAWAY: I’d love to offer one lovely commenter the chance to win a copy of either Irish Meadows or A Worthy Heart. (If you haven’t read Irish Meadows I suggest you start there since it introduces the whole O’Leary clan). Both Book 1 and 2 of the Courage to Dream Series, are out now! Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
A Worthy Heart
The answer to Maggie Montgomery’s dream of seeing America has arrived at just the right time. Not only will she be reunited with her beloved brother Rylan, but she’ll finally be able to escape Neill Fitzgerald and his increasingly unwanted attention. She’s intent on never returning to Ireland, hoping to build her future in the land of opportunity and perhaps find the love of her life.
While visiting Irish Meadows, she meets an intriguing man she thinks is a stable hand. Only when her brother demands she stay away from Adam O’Leary does she learn he’s Rylan’s brother-in-law, recently released from prison. Nonetheless, Maggie can’t seem to make her stubborn heart conform to her brother’s request.
Adam O’Leary has never felt worthy of his place in the family. Now a free man, Adam’s only desire is to earn back his family’s trust. Falling in love with the newly arrived Maggie, however, was never in his plans. Despite everyone’s effort to keep them apart, the two develop a bond it seems nothing can break—but they soon discover the past isn’t easy to overcome.
Susan Anne Mason
describes her writing style as “romance sprinkled with faith.” She loves
incorporating inspirational messages of God’s unconditional love and
forgiveness into her characters’ journeys. A Worthy Heart is her second
historical novel in the Courage to Dream series. Irish Meadows won the
Fiction from the Heartland contest sponsored by the Mid-American Romance
Authors chapter of RWA.
Susan lives outside Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She loves red wine and chocolate, is not partial to snow even though she’s Canadian, and is ecstatic on the rare occasions she has the house to herself. In addition to writing, Susan likes to research her family history on-line, and occasionally indulges in scrapbooking. Learn more about Susan and her books at www.susanannemason.com.