Guest Author S.E. Smith

I met Susan Smith almost a year ago at RTC in Ottawa. Not only are we both big fans of dragon shifters, but we hit it off and had some wonderful discussions. She’s just a wonderful person. 🙂 I’m very pleased to have her visiting my blog today. Please welcome S.E. Smith!

NYT Bestselling author S.E. SmithIt never ceases to surprise me that people like my books. I know that sounds a little strange, so let me take you back to the start. In 2012, I knew that I had to write down the stories that flowed around my head day and night.

I sat down and wrote them but didn’t tell anyone about them until I shared them with my sister, Linda. She immediately told me to publish them.

From what I have read, this is not such an unusual beginning for many writers. We write our stories because they demand to be told and I never thought that others would want to read my stories too.

I received this wonderful post from a reader the other day: “Susan, last night when I was on the phone with tech support about my kindle, I had a super nice lady and while we had down time while the kindle rebooted we talked books and how we can’t live without our kindle! So I said… do you read S.E. Smith? She says YES!! Then we traded fave stories and books for the next hour, lol.”

It is stories like this that readers share with me that warm my heart. It is important to remember my readers when I am writing; however, first and foremost comes my characters. There are times when my characters demand a story go a certain way and I know that I will get criticism from some of my readers. Being authentic as a writer is important and keeping the stories as told by the characters is part of this.

I listen to my readers; but what is even more important is I listen to my characters. They are the ones telling the story and they know what will happen next. Sometimes I wonder why a certain scene plays out. Eventually, the characters let me know the answer. I just ask that my readers be patient until they do.

Challenging Saber by S.E. SmithLet me give you an example. I recently released Challenging Saber, Book 4 in The Alliance series. I didn’t understand why Razor’s Traitorous Heart (Book No. 2) had to be the next one told after Hunter’s Claim until it was time to write Dagger’s Hope (Book 3). After all, Razor was only mentioned once in Hunter’s story.

I even had readers asking why I wrote Razor’s story instead of Jordan or Taylor’s. In my head, both girls needed to grow up before their story could be told, but it was more than that, Jordan couldn’t do it alone. That was when I understood how the puzzle pieces were beginning to fall into place. I needed Razor’s story because he and Kali were going to help Jordan. Without them, the story couldn’t happen.

Now, with the completion of Challenging Saber, Taylor and Saber’s story, even more of the puzzle has been revealed and I’m beginning to see the universe that makes up this amazing series – and more! Each book, each character, is so important in the larger picture of what is going to happen.

So, if you wonder why an author writes the way they do, keep an eye out for the clues hidden within the pages, because sometimes, the author doesn’t even know until the story is written!

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International & Award Winning Bestselling author who has always been a romantic and a dreamer. A prolific writer, she spends her days and weekends writing and her nights dreaming up new stories. She enjoys camping and traveling. Readers can find out more about her stories at http://sesmithfl.com

Home from NINC

Phew! I’m home again from the fabulous Novelists’ Inc conference, which was once again held at St. Pete’s Beach in Florida. It was – as ever – an informative and interesting conference, plus a chance to meet up with good friends and make new ones. I had a lot of good meetings, and will have lots of news to share with you in the coming months. While it was wonderful to spend the time to connect with friends, I could have spent another two weeks there, talking with authors I’ve only met online before.

©Deborah A. CookeThe beach makes this conference special – I tried to walk on it each morning, and again in the evening when the stars were so bright. I didn’t take any pictures this time, but we had the same sunny skies and warm weather as last year. Last year’s pix tell the story.

©Deborah A. CookeI did find some shells. There seemed to be more fighting conch shells on the beach this year. Last year, many were occupied by hermit crabs (like the one at right.) This year, most were still live conchs – and I saw several strike, which I’d never seen before. A little bit of research reveals that the Florida Fighting Conch, which is what I should have seen according to Wiki, looks a bit different. The shells (and conchs) I saw in St. Pete’s look like the West Indian Fighting Conch.

Here are the shells I found: three conch shells, all abandoned by their original residents and without new (hermit crab) tenants:Deborah Cooke's shells from St. Pete's Beach

I also met another visitor to the beach who was looking for shells for her son. While we walked along and chatted, I saw a piece of a lightning whelk that was about 3″ x 3″ that looked like part of a big shell. It was buried in the sand and there were a lot of broken whelks on the beach so I assumed this was another. All the same, I dug out this one, only to discover that it was almost intact – and HUGE! It was about 8″ across. It was pretty much a sphere – although the stem was broken off. I’ve never seen one so big, and gave it to her for her son. (I think she might use it as a planter in her garden. It’ll make a good one for some succulents.)

A friend and I visited the Salvador Dali Museum on the day before the conference began, and it was truly wonderful. The location is beautiful – we had a perfect sunny day – and I loved the design of the building. The visiting exhibit was the work of M.C. Escher, so it was well worth the trip to see it all.

Highland Heroes, a digital boxed set of Scottish medieval romances by Claire DelacroixAlthough I ended up being offline for the week, I found out on my way out the door that an interview I’d done with BookBub about creating multi-book single author boxed sets had been posted on their blog. It’s the result of interviews Diana did with several authors – I talked about my experience with Highland Heroes – and she pulled a tipsheet together from the various authors’ comments. You can read it on their blog right here.

Once the conference started, things got busy! On Thursday morning, I saw Susan E. Smith, who is just the most lovely person. I met her originally at Romancing the Capital in the spring, and will see her again there next year. (So can you, if you register for the RTC reader con!) She asked if she could feature me in her reader newsletter which was going out that day. Of course, I was thrilled to be asked – by the time we’d found each other again to do an interview, she’d written a post herself and sent it out. She’ll be visiting my blog in the next couple of weeks, so you can all learn more about her.

Right now, I’m glad to be home AND pretty much caught up on the laundry. The New Girl danced on her hind legs when I came home, then ran in circles of joy. Of course, Mr. Math spoiled her terribly when I was gone, but she just likes having the pack together again. I think she was too excited to know what to do next, but she’s been following me around ever since. 🙂 I was very excited to get home and get cooking again – I didn’t expect to miss it so much. I made fish tacos yesterday, then roasted a chicken for dinner. Yum!

Did you have a good week?