Susan BurnsNew Adult and Adult Sci-Fi Romance Author

Writing about:

*Heroines with Attitude
*Heroes with Heart
*Themes of Diversity
*Blending Science and Spirituality.

A scientific generalist, graduate of more coursework than I want to remember. The wife of the next Bill Gates of alternate energy. The mother of the smartest son on the planet.

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Author Interview

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.

What inspired you to write your LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS SERIES about dreadlocked albino psychic vampires?

As a youngster growing up in Charleston, West Virginia, I played in the woods with other children. We’d gather around the burn barrels for warmth, and I had no idea I was different from the others. My skin was white and theirs was black. They were descendants of slaves who were forced to America, and I was the grandchild of Russian Jews who fled to America. But that didn’t make any difference. When the children sensed danger, they would gather around to hide and protect me.

When I heard albinos were taken by Tanzanian gangs for body parts that they thought were imbued with some supernatural power, I began wondering what it would be like if albino aliens from outer space were mistaken for these white Tanzanians. The aliens let themselves be killed because of some twisted prime directive of noninterference with humans.

The aliens, Goldens, are psychics, and much more powerful than regular vampires, the nasty kind; however, teleporting, tele pathing, shapeshifting, healing and orbing to parallel universes was exhausting, requiring lots of down time. So, Goldens came to Earth to learn from us humans how to chill out.

The diverse world Goldens found themselves in included their android slaves who sought independence, the world government who sought power and control, the African gangs who lived in mysticism, the Dacon vampires who looked for their next meal, and the Maclaurin clan of humans who possessed their own kind of supernatural defenses.

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?

I like to write sci-fi romance and historical sci-fi or steampunk. When I worked on my advanced degrees in engineering, I studied hard to do well on tests. Determined to find a different way of learning, I decided to join lots of read and critique groups so I could learn how to write naturally in a relaxed manner.

I do not write unless I’m sitting at my computer. And I don’t constrain myself or edit myself when I write. It’s all right to write really bad prose and then go over it a gazillion times. If the words don’t flow, then each editing pass serves to clear things up, smooth things out.

My parents were in little theatre as I grew up, and I read plays from a very early age which helped in my natural ability to write dialogue. I write the dialogue first, then add the behavior and descriptive tags second. My storytelling seems to work out well that way.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Because I do not put pressure on my creative self, I never have writer’s block. I’m in this writing thing for the long haul and so I had to find a way to be supremely uncritical of myself.

What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?

Keep your mind open. Let your characters surprise you.
There is nothing wrong with outlining your scenes, but it’s no fun to go overboard with that (unless for you plotters, it is).

What are your current/future projects?

Within a few months of pitching my first books, they were sold to midlevel publishers. Now I find I want to make all my books clear and tight, so I self-publish so I can, every once in a while, re-edit my works.

At present, the second novel of four in my LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS SERIES LOVE ME, BITE ME will be published at the end of August 2015.

I also have two sci-fi historical novels as part of a steampunk-like series called AGES OF INVENTION which involved time travel to important times in history in the scientific revolution.

I wrote a contemporary that won the Golden Claddagh 2014 contest of the Celtic Hearts chapter of RWA. It’s about tennis champs who fall in love at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship.

My last foray was into the world of erotic romance. But, sadly, I find this genre so funny, that my novella is more a comic romance than an erotic one.

I have a young new adult voice and have found an editor who is quite thorough with her beta feedback. I, also, employ a very talented cover artist. We all have loads of fun collaborating with one another.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

Just about everything I write has some science wrapped up in it, me being a published science researcher and all.

Right now I write four stories at once. One at a time, I create material to present to my two read and critique groups each week, and to my RWA critique partners.

I don’t know why, but I have little trouble going from one genre to the next, though I must admit, my stories probably all take the form of Regency historicals, my preferred reading.

What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?

Unless an author has a robust network of reader friends willing to work with them, they need to immerse themselves in all forms of promotion, with this proviso–if it isn’t fun, don’t do it. Just enjoy writing for yourself. But if you want to entertain, as I do, then forget about making money right away, study how movies hook their audiences and, at first, give your stuff away for free. That kept my novella A FAR FAR BETTER THING in the Amazon top 100 (for its sub-genre) for over three months.

Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?

At this point, I either go to Draft2Digital or Kindle (KDP) to publish my eBook and CreateSpace on D2D to get my paperback automatically formatted.

Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?

For a self-published author it’s rather easy to go through an eBook and change it or its cover. Honestly, I would have stayed with my publishers if they hadn’t taken on so many authors that they didn’t have time to change their mistakes. Though my editor now is many times better than those I worked with for free.

What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)

My RWA critique partners write mostly historicals, so I’ve learned to incorporate research into scientific historical events. By doing that, I’m learning more about history than I did in my history classes in college.

Two of my writing buddies and I are taking a two-week trip to Ireland at the end of September. They write amusing travelogues, and I’m anxious to discover how the Irish countryside will inspire me.

What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?

As you can see from my answers here, I tend to be particularly verbose.
So I chose Twitter and its accompanying applications Buffer and Tweepi. And I’m learning more. I queue up and send out a day’s worth of ads at a time, but I also tweet about links to scientific articles and suggest how the writer might use those ideas in their world building.

Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?

It’s all about the characters and their arcs. They tell you when the ending is emotionally satisfying.

Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?

Reviews of any number of stars, if they are well thought out, are precious and insightful.

What are your thoughts on authors doing review swaps, paying for reviews, or reviews that just don’t seem right for the book?

Readers might prefer passively accepting what is written (especially in sci-fi and fantasy) suspending their disbelief, rather than thoroughly critiquing a work. So the author sometimes needs an overwhelming amount of motivation to get feedback in the form of a review.

Personally, I prefer reviews from those familiar with the genre. Although it becomes obvious when the reviewer doesn’t GET the genre. My work is mostly sci-fi romance which is evident everywhere from my cover to my blurb to my excerpt. I got a review that said she wasn’t thrilled with the book but that anyone who liked both science fiction and romance may feel differently. Obviously she wasn’t familiar with the genre. Admittedly, it isn’t the hottest, but it is gaining ground–see The Galaxy Express.

Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?

I think an author either cares about writing cleanly and in an entertaining way or they don’t. The rest doesn’t concern me.

Have you ever had an interesting, funny, or even bad experience during a live interview, reading, event, or autograph session?

While pitching an agent for one of my novels, she asked me all sorts of questions about it. My answers were not meant to be rude, but my stuff is very different from what’s out there. She knew there was suspense in the novel at the beginning and after getting me to answer all her questions, abruptly, maybe two minutes before our session ended, she said she already had a novel exactly like that.

I hit the ground running by pitching her another novel in the time remaining which she then asked for. But I never stopped wondering what her motive was for grilling me then telling me she already had a novel like mine. What a waste of time.

That experience is another reason I’ve lost interest in pitching or querying agents and editors. I think of it this way if my books make any money then someone (an agent or an editor) will want to get in on the gravy train. And if I were lucky enough to reach a large audience, I would greet publishers with open arms and share the wealth.

My whole raison etre is to write entertaining books and get them into the hands of readers.

If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why?

Each book is better than the last. So my next book is the best.

The best book I can write will have hero and heroine at the end of their character arcs realizing for the first time that they totally belong–together–just where they are.

What is the intended audience for you book?

I have a young writing voice and my characters deal with the lack of adequate family ties, so I have to say New Adult.

Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?

In the book to be released at the end of August, LOVE ME, BITE ME, now in pre-order, the heroine is a psychic vampire who has never been kissed. She’s practicing on a blow-up man-doll, so when she gets turned on and her fangs descend, she punctures it, needing lots of duct tape for mending. She decides to practice on her boyfriend from another universe, but becomes inextricably attracted to him and can’t decide which hero she loves the most.

If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?

Holding hands in the innocence of youth is amazingly romantic.

What makes a good story, why?

When the walls that characters build for themselves come crashing down.

What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)

Love scenes are definitely the hardest for me to write. They take the most edits of all the scenes.

Books by S. B. K. Burns



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