Tell us a little about yourself
In 2014, I retired from a fulltime career and hope to devote more time to writing and even more time to researching, which I like doing a lot more than writing.
An admitted history nerd, I enjoy painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on my front porch watching rabbits and geese eat my day lilies.
Forty-five years ago, I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog.
My new post-Revolutionary War romantic suspense, Laurel, was released January 16 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC).
In 2011, my Revolutionary War romantic suspense, The Chamomile, won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick.
How and when did you begin to write?
I wrote my first book (10 handwritten pages) when I was eight. I bound it using two pieces of cardboard box sewn together with dental floss. I entitled it, The Secret of the Whistling Cave. I was into mysteries, having read every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on.
I kept my writing to myself in my teen years, and then went to college where I earned a BA in Journalism. My first job was as a writer for educational television. From there, I was an assistant director of communications at a SC state agency, then a continuing education planner for the SC College of Pharmacy, and ended my 41-year career as a proofreader for the SC Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Some of it was, I told myself at the time, not what I really wanted to be writing—articles for agency publications, informational materials, speeches for the agency director. It was “my day job” that I couldn’t quit because I couldn’t get anyone interested in my novels.
Over the years, I realized that any writing hones your craft—the thought processes required to come up with an idea; the utilization of resources to research thoroughly; the time to learn correct grammar and spelling; the willingness to learn from the masters; the discipline to sit in the chair and work; the development of thick skin in order to learn from, and not resent, criticism; the humility that comes with rejection; and the absolute joy that comes when someone really likes what you’ve written and says those magic words, “I couldn’t put it down.”
How did you first become a published writer?
Many of the articles and materials I wrote during my career were published. I wrote a children’s book, Puzzles, Pictures, and Paper Airplanes: What We Do When Our Parents Get Sick, which mental health center staff from throughout South Carolina used to explain mental illnesses to children whose parents suffered from mental illnesses.
My first novel, A Perfect Tempest, I published myself in 2006. My second and third novels, The Chamomile and Laurel, were traditionally published. The fourth, Cassia, will be published in September 2015 by LPC.
Can you give our readers a short description of Laurel?
Searching for their toddler and her Cherokee aunt kidnapped by slavers, Lilyan and Nicholas trek from their North Carolina vineyard, through the South Carolina backcountry to Charleston, a tinderbox of post-Revolutionary War passions. There Lilyan, a former Patriot spy, faces a grand jury for murdering a British officer during the war. Once free, they follow Laurel’s trail by sea and are shipwrecked on an Outer Banks island. Will they be reunited or is Laurel lost to them forever?
What led you to write it?
I wrote Laurel because I received such a strong response from readers of The Chamomile, which is a prequel to Laurel. People felt a part of the Xanthakos family and wanted more. According to one review of Laurel, people feel the same way about it: “Characters become like family with whom you do not want to part, and the emotions expressed are spot-on for the circumstances. My hope is that there is a sequel to Laurel in the works as the book left me wanting to spend more time with this incredible family first introduced in the author's award-winning book The Chamomile. In my opinion, Laurel is also a winner and award-worthy.”
So, of course I listened, and there is a final book in the trilogy being released this September. It’s entitled Cassia, in which the Xanthakos family experience high seas adventure involving pirates!
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a book about The Great Wagon Road, a trail that spanned the East Coast from Philadelphia to Savannah, GA. From 1720-1760, immigrants, mostly Scots-Irish, traveled the trail on their way to settle in the Southeast. I’ve researched for about two years and have been ruminating for months, and am about ready to start putting the story on paper.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
A speaker at a writers’ workshop I attended made a statement I will never forget, “Persistence trumps talent.”
I could be the poster child for persistence (some might call it hard-headedness). I’ve been writing for 35 years, honing my craft at more writing conferences and reading more books about writing than I can remember. I simply refused to give up until I found someone interested in representing and publishing my novels. All those years I worked fulltime, took care of my family, and made time for writing—sometimes into the early morning hours. And praying … I should have said that first.
My advice to aspiring authors – keep on keeping on and surround yourself with others passionate about writing. When you’re discouraged by rejection, other writers can inspire you to continue. My writers’ critique group, The Inkplots, kept me from giving up and gave me the kick in the pants I needed on several occasions.
As always, I give the glory to God from whom all blessings flow.
How can my readers find out more about you and your work?
Here are some places readers can find me:
www.susanfcraft.com (my website)
http://historicalfictionalightintime.blogspot.com (my personal blog)
http://colonialquills.blogspot.com (post the fourth Monday of each month)
http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com (post once a month)
http://www.hhhistory.com (post on the 31st of months that have a 31st)