Susan G. Mather shares her transition to writing Historical Fiction

Susan Mathis joins me today to talk about her latest release and how her journey shifted from writing non-fiction to writing Historical Fiction.

Thank you for joining us. Susan, you’ve had a long career in writing. Tell us how your journey shifted to writing novels.

I can’t remember not writing. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to 4-8 graders, had my own newspaper column, wrote missions curriculum, and have written just about anything God put in my path.

 

Before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of 12 Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction, co-authored with my husband, Dale. I also authored two picture books and am published in various book compilations including three Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. 

 

I swore I’d never write fiction, but never say never! My hubby and I went to a book talk/signing, and after we left, I jokingly said, “I could write a story about a quilt!” I then proceeded to tell him the entire story, and he said, “Well, write it!” Thus began my journey of writing historical fiction.

 

 What is your most difficult writing obstacle transitioning from non-fiction to Historical fiction?

Transitioning from writing nonfiction to historical fiction was a huge leap but a wonderful discovery in finding my sweet spot. I studied fiction writing for about two years before launching out in this wonderful journey. I read books about the craft, went to writing conferences, and learned from mentors, crit groups, and more, and I’m thrilled to dedicate the rest of my writing career to this genre. Now I’ll have five published historical fiction books on the market and am working on another for the end of the year.

 

What is your latest published project, Devyn’s Dilemma?

 

It’s 1910, in the Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.

Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her.

Why did you choose this time and setting for the second in your Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma?

 

I grew up just twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands. In fact, my husband and I visit the Thousand Islands region in upstate NY every summer. It’s a beautiful, largely unknown, piece of the world where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. There are nearly 1800 islands there, including the largest, Wolfe Island, which is in Ontario, Canada.

 

I chose the Gilded Age because that’s when the playground of the rich and famous took off…1872 until about 1910.

The Bournes were one of the Gilded Age titan families from New York city whose “hunting lodge” called The Towers was built on Dark Island. Intrigue, mystery, and beauty surround this Thousand Islands Gilded Age story.

 

All summer long, tourists enjoy cruising around the Thousand Islands, passing by Pullman Island, and hearing the stories of yesteryear. As a historic landmark, Pullman Island is invaluable, and so are the stories that go with it.

 

What kind of research did you have to do?

 

Ah, how I love research, and I love to be accurate. Besides combing through volumes of information, there’s nothing like being there, on the island. The owner of the island has had us over to visit the island twice now. He’s toured us around and let us roam at will to get the “feel” of being there. My sweet hubby took hundreds of photos, which make it really nice to jog my memory as I write.

 

I’m also super blessed because my historical editor is the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association and has written several nonfiction books about the island. She’s awesome and has gone through each of my manuscripts with a fine-tooth comb. When I mistakenly have my character take a left instead of a right to get to the kitchen, she faithfully corrects me.

 

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If you could go back in time where would you go?

I’d love to meet my great-great-grandmother, Margaret, and hear what she thinks of her story, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy.

 

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I enjoy reading everything from children’s picture books to nonfiction to contemporary and historical fiction. But if I had to choose, I’d settle in with Christian historical romance and that’s what I’m writing from now on. Smiles.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My dining room table overlooking the Rocky Mountain Front Range, Pikes Peak, and the Air Force Academy.

 

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

 

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.

 

Lighthouse Publishing: https://shoplpc.com/devyns-dilemma

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Devyns-Dilemma-Thousand-Islands-Gilded/dp/1645262731

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

My April Reads and a Giveaway

I love to read. What books have you read now that you stay at home?

Writers must read, it is part and partial of what helps us grow as authors. I love to read. More accurately I love escaping to other times and places. I have since I first learned to read. I want to share with you some of the books I’ve read so far in last month. I’m in the middle of my own writing projects so I don’t read as furiously as I like.  I enjoy a variety of genres. Each of these stories inspired me. The research was well-done and the story arcs solid. Things that writers need to see done, not just read about in craft books. These are fresh off the presses novels that I hope you’ll take a chance on. These authors write great stories.

Contemporary Romance/Suspense

Book Blurb of Within Golden Bands by Norma Gail:

Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child.

But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. When faith in love is not enough, where do you turn? Buy link.

My Review: This book is so new you can’t write reviews on amazon yet.

I loved Land of Our Dreams, book #1 in the series. Within Golden Bands is even better. The first book brought Keiren and Bonnie together and you expect a happily ever after. But Within the Golden Bands from page one presents a myriad of trials that could break a marriage. Add to that someone is trying to destroy everything they love. The character’s reactions to the situations are so real. Norma Gail’s description of the Scottish settings and the splattering of Gaelic throughout drew me into the story in a deeper way. There is a faith thread that is unmistakable but not preachy. The action will have you turning pages well into the night. A great story.

Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Book Blurb of Traces by Denise Weimer:

Even if she evades The Eye, someone wants her silenced.

When a failed romance and a $500,000 prize lure Kate Carson into participating in the reality TV show, Traces, the least she expects is to pick her partner. After all, she’s the PR spokeswoman of the company that derived a thirteen-lens, rotating camera from military use and installed it atop Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper. But she never would have chosen to evade techno hunters for twenty days with “G.I. Joe.”

Stoic, ex-military Alex Mitchell is the sort of man she always vowed to avoid, while the shadows of Alex’s past cause him to spurn emotional involvement. When Kate’s insider knowledge makes her a target of someone more threatening than game show hunters, Alex offers her only hope to reveal the dark plans of proponents of The Eye. Buy link.

My review of Traces:

Denise Weiser has taken a what-if moment to create a wonderful love story and so much more. Putting two people together with nothing in common to compete in a Reality TV show is interesting enough. Add someone trying to kill them and you have a heart-pounding Suspense Romance that leaves you wondering just how much Big Brother is watching. Love the vulnerable characters and the inspirational thread that made me root for their happily ever after moment, even more. Denis Weimer delivers well-written stories with satisfying endings. I find myself thinking about the characters throughout the day anxiously waiting for a chance to rejoin them on their quest. Grab a copy.

Women’s Fiction

Book Blurb for Libby’s Cuppa of Joe by Rebecca Waters:

Sonja Parker is about to find out.

Excited to leave her stale life in the big city behind, Sonja takes the money her grandmother left her and purchases Libby’s Cuppa Joe, a thriving coffee shop in a small community in Wisconsin’s Door County. Sonja may have business sense, but is she ready to face the world on her own?

Sonja soon discovers owning a business requires more than offering a good cup of coffee. She must make major repairs to the building as well as major repairs to her heart. Do the former owners, Libby and Joe hold the answer? As Sonja seeks to make Libby’s Cuppa Joe a viable business, can she also find herself and the God she has abandoned?

Libby’s Cuppa Joe is a riveting tale of second chances, forgiveness, and not living on borrowed faith. Buy link.

 

My Review of Libby’s Cuppa of Joe

Sonja Parker is your sweet naive girl next door who buys a successful coffee shop in Door County. The story is told from her viewpoint and we watch her stumble about as she finds her brand for the business. She makes foolish mistakes and discovers her need for true faith. Sonja is bright but deals with the fear of failure. The community of shopkeepers and year-round residents help her find her way. Door County is a wonderful setting and the coffee shop makes the whole story more intimate. A fun inspiring read for lovers of Women’s fiction. I look forward to more from Rebecca Waters.

Book Blurb for Devyn’s Dilemma (Book two of the Thousand Island Gilded Age series) By Susan G. Mathis

Longing for love, can she escape the shadows that follow her to Dark Island?

1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.

Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her. Buy link.

My review of Devyn’s Dilemma

I so enjoyed learning about The Thousand Islands through this sweet romance. The characters were well-developed and Devyn’s love interest Brice being Irish added to the story with his appropriate Irish sayings scattered throughout. Exploring the castle summer home of the Bourne’s, real life people from the early 20th Century, held my interest. The details regarding the secret passages showed how much research the author did to capture the setting. The dialog and attitude of the time were spot on. I cheered on Devlyn and Brice and booed the bad guys as the story unfolded. I will say although Devlyn had a guilty secret that haunted her, I thought she cried or held back tears way too much. That said, I loved all the characters, even the wicked ones and can’t wait for the next book in the series. Stories such as this set in Historical places have always perked my interest. Susan Mathers has done such an excellent job of sprinkling history and historical characters throughout the story that I learned all sorts of wonderful things about the time period. I will definitely be ordering the next book in this series when it comes out.

Before April is over I plan to finish a few more books on my to be read pile. What have you been reading since your confinement? I’m offering a $10 Amazon card to one lucky winner who posts what they are currently reading or their favorite genre. I will notify the winner next Monday.

 

 

 

Avoiding Conflict? Not in good writing!

I hate conflict. I don’t like getting into disagreements with my husband. I don’t like having a spat with a friend. As a parent, I hated the constant conflict resolution that was needed when my two kids didn’t get along. As a teacher, I sure didn’t enjoy being the one who had to break up the many tiffs between pubescent girls. And as a Grandma? Well, let’s just say that I sometimes choose to become an ostrich.

 

So when I began writing fiction, I had a problem. I knew that conflict is a main ingredient to a good story, and if I was going to write good, compelling fiction, I had to have compelling conflict that would hold the reader’s attention. But how was I going to address the very thing I was tempted to run from? I had to settle that question, and quick!

 

Although conflict is often present in almost every day of most of our lives, we often overlook or ignore it. For me, when confronted with conflict, I tend to self-talk, fret, stew, worry, and struggle with sleepless nights. But those ways of dealing with conflict won’t make a good story.

 

Conflict is uncomfortable, and most conflict just plain hurts. But that’s what keeps readers reading. Like you and me, readers want to know how others deal with conflict, how characters try and fail and try again and finally succeed.

Because it’s hard for me to invent conflict when I want to avoid it, I had to be aware of this weakness. So when I was doing my rewrites and editing, I often had to add an element of conflict or deepen it. In Sara’s Surprise, there’s a lot of conflict going on—conflict I drew from personal experience.

Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic.

In Sara’s Surprise, her boss abuses her in lots of ways, as was all-too-common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, underpaid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.

As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly too, and I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.

Sara’s Surprise explores this problem from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries. And the lovely Christmas surprise will delight you this holiday season. I hope you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy the story.

Back Cover Copy of  Sarah’s Surprise:

Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare. Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?

Author bio:

Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.comfor more.

 

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.

 

Buying links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Saras-Surprise-Susan-G-Mathis/dp/1087235715

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

A Peek into the Writing life of Author Susan G. Mathis

Susan G. Mathis is my guest today. Her journey from journalist writing to historical fiction is an encouragement to all writers that there is a season for everything. And she has had many seasons. Welcome Susan, let’s get started with one of my favorite question.

SusanGMathis pro(1)

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

I can’t remember not writing. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to 4-8 graders, had my own newspaper column, wrote missions curriculum, and have written just about anything God put in my path.

Before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of 12 Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction, co-authored with my husband, Dale. I also authored two picture books and am published in various book compilations including five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. 

I swore I’d never write fiction, but never say never! My hubby and I went to a book talk/signing, and after we left, I jokingly said, “I could write a story about a quilt!” I then proceeded to tell him the entire story, and he said, “Well, write it!” Thus, began my journey of writing historical fiction. I currently have two published historicals, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and Christmas Charity.

I love hearing the diversity of your writing journey. What is your latest published project?

Katelyn’s Choice is the first in the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series releases March 15, 2019 with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Katelyn's Choice by Susan G Mathis cover

Katelyn Kavanagh’s mother dreamed her daughter would one day escape the oppressive environment of their Upstate New York farm for service in the enchanting Thousand Islands, home to Gilded Age millionaires. But when her wish comes true, Katelyn finds herself in the service of none other than the famous George Pullman, and the transition proves anything but easy.

Thomas O’Neill, brother of her best friend, is all grown up and also working on Pullman Island. Despite Thomas’ efforts to help the irresistible Katelyn adjust to the intricacies of her new world, she just can’t seem to tame her gossiping tongue—even when the information she’s privy to could endanger her job, the 1872 re-election of Pullman guest President Ulysses S. Grant, and the love of the man of her dreams.

Sounds very interesting. I love the idea of adding actual historical characters to your work.

How do you research for your book?

A few years ago, my husband and I visited Wolfe Island, Pullman Island, and Singer Castle on Dark Island. We met some wonderful people who kept the intriguing Thousand Island history deep in their hearts, and I gleaned all kinds of valuable information and made special friends in the process. My historical editor is the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association and a Thousand Islands author herself. Seeing and experiencing the area as I wrote made my writing come to life, and my historical editor keeps the history accurate.

I love hearing you have a fact checker for you historical details. This is so important for any writer. Even contemporary genres need those go to people to be sure the descriptions are accuate.

What inspired you to write your book?

I grew up in the Thousand Islands and there are so many wonderful stories to tell. The Thousand Islands Gilded Age is full of wonderful islands and characters like George Pullman, Frederick Bourne, and hundred of famous people like J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt and others. So, I aim to tell at least some of them.

Sounds so interesting. I’ve read about some of these historical celebrities so it will be interesting to visit them in the pages of your books.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Jeremiah 29: 11, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Quite an inspirational verse for writers. Thanks for sharing.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband, Dale, is so supportive, loving, and patient. He encourages me, puts up with me spending hours on the computer, and listens to all my crazy creative thoughts. He’s a saint!

Where is your favorite place to write?

I write at my kitchen table overlooking the beautiful Rocky Mountain Front Range. I usually have a scented candle and cup of tea keeping me company.

Sounds wonderful, I’m envious of your view.

Tell us about your next project.

Book two of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series comes to life in Devyn’s Dilemma. It’ll release in April 2020. Here’s the summary of the story: Twenty-year-old Devyn McKenna is nervous about working on Dark Island in the imposing Castle called the Towers, a 28-room structure complete with dungeons, underground passageways, and castle secrets. Devyn struggles to find the self-confidence she needs to carry out her duties as a housemaid in the summer home of the wealthy president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, Frederick Bourne. As she serves the likes of Brig. Gen. Cornelius Vanderbuilt III and others, her curiosity for learning grows. But when she is accused of stealing his plans for expanding the NYC subway and learns her brother ‘borrowed’ the plans and the man she loves believes she was the culprit, her faith is tested like never before.

Wow! I’m definitely interested. Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself and your books with my readers. And readers grab a copy of Katelyn’s Choice and if you have a moment post a review for Susan.

Susan’s bio:

Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in Upstate New York. Katelyn’s Choice, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, and Christmas Charity will transport you to a time and place few have visited. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes time with her four adorable granddaughters. Find out more at www.SusanGMathis.com.

Buying links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Katelyns-Choice-Susan-G-Mathis/dp/1946016721/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1548078303&sr=1-1

 Barnes & Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130536525?ean=9781946016720

Lighthouse Publishing: https://www.shoplpc.com/product/katelyns-choice

 

Connect with Susan at:

 

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/108568340293012416399

 

 

 

 

Katelyn's Choice by Susan G Mathis cover