Hello, Susan, I’m so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First, can you tell us a bit about your book and what inspired you to write this story?
Selah’s Stolen Dream is where I was headed on this trail ride when I started writing the very first novel. It is the nightmare every horse owner dreads. Selah loses what she thinks she can’t bear to lose only to find out there are things in life even more important.
And is this the first book you have published?
Selah’s Stolen Dream is book four in the Dream Horse Adventures Series. You don’t have to start with the early books, but why wouldn’t you? Each is completely delightful. I know because I’ve had them read to me by my grandchildren.
How long has it taken you to get published?
I submitted my first book, Selah’s Sweet Dream, to several agents and dozens of publishers. Got it critiqued at Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators conferences. Essentially, I was told horses were an elitist topic, and that most girls live in the city now, and weren’t that interested in horses. Then I figured out if a publisher did pick it up it wouldn’t belong to me anymore. How could I sell a book I’d written for my granddaughter? So, I’m Indie Published. Writing a novel or four is a challenge, but being a publisher is more so.
What draws you to writing for the middle grade reader?
I truly knew nothing about the expectations or requirements for the many different categories of children’s books. So, with no preconceived ideas, I just started writing my story and I loved it. I’d read what I’d written the day before and add to it. No pressure on word count. No pressure to make it lyrical. Writing is a joyful experience for me.
What books have most inspired you?
You should see my bookshelf! They are filled with horse books even after starting the process of gifting them to my granddaughter, Selah. There is something profoundly moving about our relationship with horses and many writers have created beautiful tributes to that relationship.
What are you reading now?
When I start writing something new, I find myself re-reading my pile of craft books. I’ll work my way through Super Structure by James Scott Bell, Save the Cat by Jessica Brody, On Writing by Stephen King and about six others. What is it about writing that I never feel like I can just rock back as if I’ve got this?
What advice would you give to other writers trying to break into the Christian market?
My perspective is middle-grade. I was told by agents and editors to write for the secular market. The market for middle grade is small and difficult enough to reach without limiting it even further. I write with a Christian world view expressing the love of Christ more in deeds than words. Reviewers have commented that there is prayer in the books, but it’s not too distracting.
What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Can work be a hobby? I love to drive my tractor around doing stuff—flipping the compost pile, moving sand, dumping logs into a washed-out area.
I don’t think of riding my horse as a hobby, but most people would. I need to ride. My Rocky Mountain Horse carries me though the forest and I am completely in the moment—enjoying creation. Nothing refreshes my spirit like a trail ride.
Do you have any quirky, must-have rituals before you get to writing? (candle burning, café latte, coffee shop only, etc.)
The only must have ritual for me is to write a list of things for my husband to do to keep him busy. J
LOL, I’m sure those of us who have husbands working at home can relate to that! Do you stick to a writing schedule or are you more go with the flow? Same question on plotting, do you use an outline or let the story guide you?
My schedule changes with the seasons of my life. The best of times is when I can ride and write every day. When the weather is bad, I write more. If it’s glorious, then I ride more.
Plotting is the greatest fun. I write the story beats on sticky notes and plaster them on a glass sliding door. I especially love to plot with my grandchildren. They are full of fun ideas. I have to keep asking them “and then what could go wrong” because they will stick a happy ending into every scene. How delightful to be a child.
If you could have dinner with three famous authors, alive or dead, who would they be?
I’ve subscribed to the Master Classes so I feel like I have had dinner with many of the greats. I love them all. Just finished James Patterson who says there are no rules from God about how to write your novel. Starting Judy Blume and hoping she will inspire me to be as daring as she is.
Where can your readers find you on social media?
There is my website which has a short story if you sign up: http://www.susancount.com
Facebook is my favorite. https://www.facebook.com/susancount/ On my author page, I mostly post horse videos. I will also post for other equestrian writers, but unless I have a new release or something amazing to share I don’t talk about my own books.
And Pinterest: I could waste days on Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.com/susancount/
I’m not too sure what to do with Instagram, but I’m on there. https://www.instagram.com/susancountauthor/
Twitter even less so, but I’m on there too. https://twitter.com/SusanCount
And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
I’m in the last stages of preparing for publication an ecology story for my grandboys. The Firefly Warriors Club is the story of two young warriors thrust into battle to save the last firefly family.
I’m also working hard on the first draft of a series of novellas. Each story is about a horse girl struggling through what makes her life impossible.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today, Susan! Your books sound fascinating and I know many parents are looking for wholesome stories for their middle-graders. Here’s a look at Selah’s Stolen Dream.
One girl’s victory is another’s tragic defeat.Thirteen-year-old Selah’s perfect life unravels when her beloved horse is stolen.
Then ten-year-old Emma buys the dream of a lifetime at a horse auction. When she learns the horse was stolen, even removing her hearing aid won’t drown out the voice telling her to make it right.
But two girls can’t divide the horse they both adore. So will life surprise them with an answered prayer?
Buy it here: