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Kindle Author Interview: Susan Schreyer

Susan Schreyer, author of Death by a Dark Horse, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Death by a Dark Horse?

SUSAN SCHREYER: Death By A Dark Horse is a cozy-type mystery with an edge and a dash of romance. It takes place in the real town of Snohomish, Washington and features Thea Campbell, an almost-thirty, self-employed accountant and accomplished amateur dressage rider. Here's the back-cover blurb:
Thea Campbell goes out for revenge when the one person who is the most likely and least likely candidate for thief steals her horse. But Olympic hopeful Valerie Parsons is past caring about being arrested. She’s dead. At first Thea’s horse is assumed to have killed the woman, but when the coroner determines it was a human hand and not a horse’s hoof that ended Valerie’s life Thea becomes a person of interest. Now intimidating people with little regard for due process are showing up on her doorstep looking to even the score. Toss in her wrecked love life, a sexy geology professor who stirs up more than dust, and an alleged psychic horse, and it soon becomes apparent that Thea’s predictable life is now out of control. As she takes charge of clearing herself of the murder she discovers the victim had a knack for making enemies—one of whom is Thea’s ditsy sister. She pursues her investigation with more at stake than ever, and in a seedy biker bar comes face-to-tattoo with information that will lead the police to the real killer. She dutifully reports to the detective in charge. But Thea is wrong. As close to dead wrong as she ever wishes to get.
DAVID WISEHART: What research did you do for the novel?

SUSAN SCHREYER: I've trained and taught dressage for many years and live in the area where the story takes place so those aspects of the story didn't need to be researched. For other issues I knew less about I made excellent use of the Internet as well as friends and acquaintances who have the necessary areas of expertise.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

SUSAN SCHREYER: Major characters will sometimes come to me fully formed (Juliet is one of those) while others reveal themselves more slowly (Paul is a good example of this type). Then there's characters like Thea who I think I know well at the beginning and yet find more and more layers as the story progresses. I often write an extensive biography for the major players in the story after the first draft is completed. This helps define the goals and motivations of each character when I go back to do the rewrites creating better conflict and better differentiation between them.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

SUSAN SCHREYER: Readers who enjoy character driven stories will like Death By A Dark Horse. The interactions and relationships make the reader feel part of the family. Readers who enjoy animals, and particularly horses will find DBADH speaks to them, too.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

SUSAN SCHREYER: I don't believe my journey is so terribly different from other authors. The "writing" part of me has always lurked and sometimes had a chance to come out. It wasn't until I had the opportunity of time-on-my-hands that I made a conscious decision to write a book. Several years ago I had to step back from a job I loved, and found I needed a creative outlet. Writing DBADH was born from what initially was an unexpected turn in my life.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

SUSAN SCHREYER: My process is ever-evolving! I started out as a "pantser"—no outline, vague idea of where the story should end up, some plot points I wanted to include, but no real structure. I've become more of an outliner/planner. It's more efficient if I build a story structure first. That's not to say my characters won't surprise me and say or do things I hadn't foreseen. That still happens, and I still love it.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

SUSAN SCHREYER: I have quite a lengthy list of authors I adore. I'm inspired by anyone who can write beautifully and pull me into their stories by the force of emotion—love, fear, excitement, humor…the whole range! Suzanne Adair, Ann Charles, Amber Scott, and Marsha Moyer are among those on my list.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

SUSAN SCHREYER: I wish that of any book I read and enjoy! Most recently The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch, by Marsha Moyer, had me wishing I'd written it from the very first chapter. Great book!

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

SUSAN SCHREYER: A good cover will send a message about the story, telling the potential reader what they can expect to find inside. My short answer is: I got help. Although I have a background in art I had absolutely no vision for the cover of Death By A Dark Horse. I contacted a writer friend, Tracy Hayes, who is also a graphics artist. She read my manuscript and put a drawing together. I loved it immediately and was thrilled she captured the story, characters & mood so well.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

SUSAN SCHREYER: Marketing and promotion is an ongoing learning experience for me. I believe strongly in being accessible to readers, so I participate in Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. I have two blogs I update weekly and drop in frequently at other blogs to comment. My advertising budget is pretty slim, so more traditional avenues are out of reach for me. However, I believe the Internet provides great opportunities to become known.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

SUSAN SCHREYER: E-publishing has always drawn me. It's a fabulous way to make books available! Once I owned my own Kindle I found I bought more books. It's easy and cheap to fulfill one's reading wish-list. You can try new authors without spending a fortune and have access to books that you can't find in stores anymore. It's a book-addict's dream come true! When I decided to self-publish there was no question I would want to do so on Kindle. The royalties, huge distribution reach, and ease of publishing made it an excellent choice. That Amazon is so responsive to authors and does a great job maintaining a positive business relationship is the big reason I'll stay with them for future books.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

SUSAN SCHREYER: My first piece of advice is to write the best book you can and make sure it is well edited. Then take your time, and follow the directions. It's not difficult, but it is sufficiently different from print books to require a bit of format re-thinking. Don't worry about making a mistake. There's lots of help available.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan Schreyer lives in Monroe, Washington with her husband, two teenage children, an untrustworthy rabbit, and a demanding old cat. Her horse lives within easy driving distance. When not working diligently writing her blogs "Writing Horses" and "Things I Learned From My Horse," articles for worthy publications, or about people in the next town being murdered, Susan trains horses and teaches people how to ride them. She serves on the steering committee of the Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime and is co-president of the Puget Sound Chapter of SinC. Death By A Dark Horse, is Susan's debut mystery and the first of a series.

Her website is www.susanschreyer.com.

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