Welcome, today we are talking with Susan Winters! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, let’s delve into who you are. Some of the questions may be untraditional but you’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.

Can you share a little something about Susan Winters that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?

One of the things my boyfriend and I love to do is check out small towns that are off the beaten track. Living in Northern Nevada there are so many out-of-way places to explore. I take plenty of pictures with my phone to use in my blog or journal in my sketch book. 

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

When the literary and art magazine at Santa Rosa Junior College published one of my short stories and I saw my name in the byline, I was hooked.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve filled spiral-bound notebooks with stories and journal entries since I was a teenager.  I published my first short story as a freshman and wrote articles for the college newspaper and I’ve alternated between fact and fiction ever since.

What have you found most challenging about it?

Whenever I start any of my writing journeys, I generally have the destination in mind, but I’m not always sure of how I’m going to get there. Sometimes if I’m feeling bogged down in the middle, I’ll write the later scenes so I’ll have the end in sight.

What does writing do for you? Is it fun, cathartic, do you get emotional?

In writing fiction I have the opportunity to revise a real life situation to have a more satisfying solution.  However, sometimes characters or the current of the story can take a different direction and you have to see where it leads. It can be frustrating at times, but it’s never boring! 

Describe what your writing routine looks like. Are you disciplined with a strict schedule or do you have to be in the mood?

I’ve been writing on weekend mornings since my kids were little because with working full time those mornings were the longest periods of uninterrupted quiet time available. Now that both my kids are grown, I have more free time during the evenings, but I prefer to do longer stretches of writing on weekend mornings.   

Did you go into writing thinking that it would be a hobby or a job?

When I first started writing, I treated it like a hobby and wrote when I felt like it.  A friend who was trying to get me into his home-based business network had me listen to a call to action speech from his district manager. The resounding theme was that in order to be successful in that business model was that you had you have to show up every day like a job instead of dabbling like a hobby.  I turned down my friend’s business opportunity and applied that philosophy to writing instead. When I started being more intentional about my writing, setting goals and holding myself accountable, it became more fun. 

What inspires you?

I’ve been inspired by how the creative community has responded to the challenges of the past year. With galleries being closed and public events cancelled, it’s been difficult for artists and performers to bring their work to the public. But the creative spirit finds a way. One gallery owner posted frequent Instagram posts displaying artists’ work which could be purchased for curbside pick up.  A local Children’s Theatre group did a virtual theatre camp for the kids and brought in in a wide range of instructors from Broadway actors to Disney princesses. 

Let’s move on and give readers some insight into your personal life.

 What is your favorite:

  • Animal – Bear-you have to love an animal that looks cuddly but is also fierce.
  • Food – Just about any type of pasta
  • Movie – Romancing the Stone
  • TV show – The Jack Ryan series
  • Singer – Carrie Underwood. Her Lessons Learned really spoke to me during a difficult period in my life.
  • Author –Hmmm…so tough to choose one. I’d say Maeve Binchy.

 What are your pet peeves?

Having worked on the phones in customer service in my earlier career, I have no patience for rude people.

Who is your hero?

Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child I loved reading her Little House series and I admired her strong, independent spirit. In reading more about her as an adult, I discovered she also wrote a newspaper column and strived to be an advocate for rural women. Sometimes our heroes don’t survive past our childhood. I’m happy to say that is not the case with Laura. 

Give us one thing on your bucket list.

According to 23& Me, I’m almost half Irish. Being a land of great story tellers, Ireland is at the top of my must-visit list.

What would readers find surprising about you?

After reading the opening scene of Howl, most readers would be surprised to discover that I have a cat. Bentley is quite spoiled and likes to nap at my feet while I’m writing.

If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?

I’d visit my grandmother. A lifelong reader and writer at heart, she lived with us until I was sixteen and inspired my love of reading. 

Any bad habits?

While I’ve had a membership for some time, when stressed I’m more likely to head for the kitchen than the gym. Ahhh…if only I loved the treadmill as much as baking.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

One of my interviews for Reno News & Review, was with a local rock band. Since all of us had day jobs, we agreed to meet during lunchtime at a nearby fast food joint. I was careful to order a salad so I wouldn’t be asking questions with a mouthful of burger. As lunch drew to a close, I was ecstatic. I nailed an interview with a rock band! When we stood to leave, the lead guitarist motioned to me and brushed his fingers against his chest. Puzzled, I stared at him and he repeated the motion. I glanced down at my own chest and that’s when I saw it…the carrot in the cleavage.  

Is there a reason that you write romance as Mariposa Cruz and women’s fiction under your legal name Susan Winters?   

When I started writing romance I wanted to be free to write what I wanted without feeling like my boss was looking over my shoulder. 

Now that our readers know who Susan Winters is let’s get down to the business of your book, Howl, a paranormal romance. By the way, love the cover!

Thanks for the cover kudos. Harris Channing has done almost all of my covers and she does amazing work!

Please tell us a little bit about, Howl.

What was your hardest challenge writing this book?

Writing Linda Underwood was one of my more challenging characters. With her abrasive personality and caustic remarks it was tough getting into her head at times. However, being able to truly connect with a difficult character whether in real life or in fiction is worth it. 

What kind of research did you have to do?

For Howl I researched wolves and bears, but I’ll admit taking artistic license when it comes to were behavior.  The forests and coastal region of Northern California is a favorite escape for me, so the setting of Haven was based on plenty of “field research”.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

I believe its human nature to be attracted to someone who has what may be lacking in ourselves.  Oftentimes we’re not even aware of it. Kate who is struggling with upheaval in her life is drawn to Jack’s strength.  Having been raised in a nurturing family is reflected in Kate’s love for her daughter and Jack is drawn to her loving nature. 

Any other works in progress?

I’m almost finished with the first title of a new contemporary romance series. I can tell you it involves a beer-imbibing knitting circle,  a rocking karaoke bar and a terrifying car accident.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Nowadays there are so many writer resources and author groups available which is wonderful but can also be daunting. Learn from and be inspired by others, but don’t be intimidated by authors with higher word counts or larger sales numbers.  What is most important is to stay committed and consistent.  For some people that means writing for short blocks of time every day. For others, it means writing on weekend mornings while the kids are asleep. Figure out a routine that works for you and stick with it.

Final words?

My Create on the Side blog features interviews with authors, artists, actors and musicians who balance their creative pursuits with day jobs. This year I’ve reached out to some of my former guests to share their insight on a particular expertise.  My web designer, Christina Nellemann, will do a post in May on logo design tips.  I continue to be inspired by my blog guests and the work they’re doing.

Please include the following links:

Website:  www.createontheside.com

Blog:  createontheside.wordpress.com

Instagram: susan_winters65

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