Don’t adjust your screen. You are seeing a picture of today’s featured author (and editor) Susan K. Stewart and her donkeys. Why? Because they play an important role in her most recent release!
You can learn more about that at the end of the post, but until you get there, Susan’s going to give us a peek at her writing life and how she’s made a career in the book publishing industry.
Thank you so much for being here! Let’s start with what you write: wow/why did you pick your genre?
I write nonfiction primarily expository writing. Most of my books and articles tend to give instructions or guide the reader. Although I do write devotions and essays also.
My goal had been journalism. My dream was to be Lois Lane. I love chasing the story, uncovering the facts. News writing and raising a family wasn’t compatible for me. So, I moved to magazine articles, then onto books.
How long does it take you to: write the book? Edit it? Finalize it?
I recently pulled a manuscript out of the drawer that I started about fifteen years ago. Will I finally finish and submit it? I’m not sure, but God has led me to take another look.
It doesn’t take me fifteen years to write most books, though. When research and editing time are factored in, two years is not unusual for me to have something ready for publication. One book took less than a year because I used previously published articles and blog posts for the foundation. The research was completed. I need to update some of the information, put it in order, then start the editing process.
If you’ve written multiple books, which was harder: the first book or the following books?
Each book seems to get harder because I’m harder on myself. I look back at that fifteen-year-old manuscript and think, “What terrible writing?” I drive to continue to learn and improve.
What’s your favorite book on writing? What do you like about it?
One? I have to pick one? If I were telling a budding writer who can only have one writing book, it would be Struck and White’s Element of Style. Yes, some of the style has changed in the years since it was written, but the basics of good writing are wrapped up in that tiny volume. If that same person can get two books, the other would be Getting the Words Right: How to Revise, Edit & Rewrite by Theodore A Rees Cheney. It’s a great companion to Elements of Style. I could spend the rest of the interview on all the other books I’ve read and re-read.
What’s your writing day like?
My day begins between 3 and 4 a.m. I homeschooled, so my children were still sleeping, and I could have some quiet. I also found people don’t make phone calls at that early hour. I continue the same practice now.
I start with a cup of coffee and warm up my brain by reading. I do devotional/Bible study reading as well as reading professional books. Then I dive right into writing with my second cup of coffee in hand. After a couple hours at the keyboard, I’m ready to join the rest of the world—have breakfast, read email, and maybe scan the news. My business day is ended by 11 a.m. or noon.
Oh, my! I thought my 6 a.m. start time was good. I’m happy to know that you’re done by noon. 😊 Otherwise, that would be a long day!
How do you prepare to write your books: pantser, plotter, both, something completely different? Describe your strategy.
I’m a bit of both. Having started out writing for a newspaper, I learned to find the facts and write from there. Then go back to verify and edit. I usually start with a skeleton outline. As I research, the outline becomes more detailed. Sometimes I start writing within the outline. This helps guide my research because it’s easy to go off on unrelated trails.
If you’re self-published, why did you decide to go that route? If you’re traditionally published, why did you decide to go that route?
I’ve published both ways. My self-published books are niche. Although they fill a need, the need isn’t big enough for most traditional publishers. My latest book, Donkey Devos: Listen When God Speaks, has been published by a traditional publishing company. The advantage for me is not having to do all the backend work—cover design, formatting, sending to distributors, etc.
If you’ve ever worked with a freelance editor, how did you find that editor? How would you describe the experience?
I wouldn’t publish a book without a professional editor. As a managing editor for a publishing company, I know the value of having a freelance editor before submission. I’ve become friends with my editor, but she’s still tough on me. I think the Christian Editor Connection is the best place to find a good editor.
Susan K. Stewart, Managing Editor with Elk Lake Publishing, teaches, writes, and edits nonfiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen, Preschool: At What Cost?, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook, and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. Her latest book, Donkey Devos: Listen When God Speaks, was released in July 2021. You can learn more at her website www.susankstewart.com.
Visit Susan and her donkeys at:
Donkey Devo Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DonkeyDevo
Practical Inspirations Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/practicalinspirations
Donkey Whispers Newsletter https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r6s4i5
Pinterest-Donkey Whispers https://www.pinterest.com/susankstewart/donkey-whispers/
Practical Inspirations https://www.susankstewart.com/