Suzanne Burke is an amazing woman, and some days I wonder when she finds time to sleep! Although I usually feature authors here who are primarily mystery oriented, I think writers of all genres can learn something from her experiences and her “can do” approach to her writing. Sit with us a while and enjoy!
PJ: How long have you been writing?
Suzanne: I’ve been writing for over 20 years in a corporate environment and only recently have switched over to creative writing.
PJ: I know you’ve been working with the Greyhound rescue organization for years. What inspired you to get Logan’s Secret and the other stories into print?
Suzanne: This real-life story began seven years ago. After I witnessed the miracle of Logan being found, and the multitude of coincidences (actually I no longer believe they were coincidences) surrounding his story, I promised myself I would write his tale someday. I created the first draft of it 5 years ago and sat on it that long before an opportunity arose that allowed me to focus 100% on its completion this year.
PJ: What has been the most surprising aspect of your journey so far?
Suzanne: I left a high-paying IT corporate job at the end of 2011 to take six months off to write and publish this story. I made a promise to Logan and myself that I would finish and publish his story while he was still alive. I had always visualized him being by my side at book signings. I knew Logan was turning twelve this year and my time with him over the last seven years was quickly slipping by. This effort is my homage to him for his incredible spirit and zest for life. During these last 6 months, I have worked incredibly hard in meeting my own self-imposed deadlines, but I enjoyed every moment of this work. It has been the most satisfying and fulfilling work I’ve completed so far in my lifetime, and the best part was it was accomplished in the company of a pack of greyhounds!
PJ: Have you reached a place where you feel successful as a writer?
Suzanne: Yes, I have learned an incredible amount in the last year. The deadline I set forced me to not only learn in-depth about creative writing, but also about marketing, social media, and the creation and management of my website, GreyhoundStories.com. I have learned more in 6 months about a new career in writing than I have learned in 2 years of information technology.
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Suzanne: I really didn’t have any expectations. I just knew I had 6 months to write a book and get it published. My career as a project manager inspired me to set a very tight plan to make this happen and I was able to accomplish it! I love to write as it’s very freeing to the soul. I haven’t tried to make a career of it just yet, but I am having a lot of fun!
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
Suzanne: I do not believe all that I read. It usually takes years for writers to become successful. I have visualized my outcome of being able to sustain my standard of living at writing at some point in my life. This may not come for a while, but I am fortunate to be able to have my project management skills to support me as I continue with my writing. Writing is a joyful enterprise for me and it is what I do to relax. To do this on a full time basis would be my greatest joy!
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
Suzanne: Once you’re published, the real work begins – promotion and marketing. You need a team of individuals to get the word out about your book. From all the great reviews and very positive comments about Logan’s Secret, I think it’s a matter of promotion. Kids love this book and surprisingly, so do adults. I really didn’t expect that.
PJ: What made you decide to forego traditional publishing for the self-published route? How long did it take you to come to that conclusion?
Suzanne: I know several writers who went through the painful process of trying to get published. I also did a healthy amount of research on the Internet about publishing. I talked to several publishing companies. In the end, through my research, I determined that self-publishing would accomplish what I wanted – to get the book in the hands of children and animal lovers while Logan is still alive on this earth.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
Suzanne: I don’t think so. This has been an amazing journey! I don’t think I would have learned nearly what I did had I tried the traditional route and from what I have read, the traditional route can be a test to one’s psyche. I learned an incredible amount about publishing through the self-publishing process. I am self-taught by nature, and I prefer to have control over my destiny, so self-publishing was the right choice for me! I am thankful for my project management skills because a solid plan kept me on schedule.
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
Suzanne: That’s a tough one….this was a huge part of what I had to learn in the last 6 months and I am so thankful I had 6 months of 100% devoted time to this project. I conducted a lot of research on authors and how they kept up with writing, social media marketing, etc. It all comes down to a carefully orchestrated plan of time management each day and week. I finally developed a plan where I would spend 1-2 hours first thing in the morning to work on the social media aspect (website content, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.), then I would devote each day of the week to a different task. As a project manager, the greatest asset you have is your team. I pulled together a great team of folks to help me with editing, website development, etc.) This is a team effort!
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
Suzanne: Finishing my book and getting it published within 6 months and appearing on Good Morning Texas less than one month after its release. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk about the book through radio interviews and another TV interview in my hometown in October.
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
Suzanne: Understanding that promotion is a huge part of the success of your book. It’s the journey that is often time consuming and frustrating, but understandably so. This aspect takes a huge amount of work, but the education is priceless!
PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
Suzanne: Logan by my side as we promoted our book on Good Morning Texas – this was a true high point!
PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
Suzanne: I conducted a lot of research with children prior to deciding on the format for this book. This is a children’s chapter book, so I asked a lot of children what would make a first chapter book the best. They all said short chapters and lots of illustrations, so that’s what I set out to do and I have to say that the feedback from children has been phenomenal. The book also is designed to help children expand their vocabulary, so there is a vocabulary list at the end of the book as well as creative writing projects to engage children.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
Suzanne: Network with other writers, join writing clubs, and pull together a team of professional editors to assist you. Do all the research you can on self-publishing if this is an interest. Being able to self publish is very liberating. Engage with a good PR person who can help get you noticed out in that big world! PJ Nunn has been excellent in her skill of promoting my book to get interviews – word of mouth is critical!
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
Suzanne: Hire a good PR person that has experience in promoting books – this is key!
Suzanne: The Logan Trilogy
- Logan’s Secret
- Logan and the Mystical Collar (2013)
- Logan’s Legacy (2013)
PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
Suzanne: Logan, the champion racing greyhound is at the top of his game. Today, he is at the racing start gate, the race begins, he takes off and gains an expert lead, but events take an unexpected turn and his life changes forever! Follow Logan on his adventurous journey as he makes a decision that launches him into a world of uncertainty and challenge. Discover the secrets he uses that help him achieve his life dream. A great story for adults or children! Logan’s Secret will teach children important values about life, and to think positively no matter what challenges they face. If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything!
Where can we buy it?
It is currently available in print and ebook formats on Amazon.com and Kindle, my website at greyhoundstories.com and The Greyhound Adoption League of Texas. Soon to be available in iBooks and Barnes & Noble Nook.
PJ: What do you hope to achieve with your current book, Logan’s Secret?
Suzanne: With Logan’s Secret, I hope to educate readers in many ways. First to learn about the greyhound breed and what wonderful companions they are for families, they are truly a breed apart. But also to impart to readers the importance of pet adoption from shelters – that older dogs often make better companions than puppies because they are so forgiving and so enthusiastic about someone selecting them to be a part of their family.
Further, I hope my book educates children and adults alike about the values of overcoming adversity by using a positive attitude. Logan is the perfect model for courage, endurance, positive thinking, and forgiveness. I owe much of my personal growth to him over the last seven years!
Thank you, Suzanne, for spending time with us today. I’ve fallen for Logan, I hope our readers here do too!