Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Interview with Susan Marlow, author of the Circle C Adventure series

Susan K. Marlow has found a way to combine three things she loves: horses, adventure, and writing. She's the author of the Circle C Adventure series published by Kregel Publications. Susan has frolicked by to talk about writing series, book promotion, and her latest Circle C Adventure, TROUBLE WITH TREASURE. You can learn all about Susan's main character, Andi, at Susan's great Circle C Adventures website. But don't leave here before entering Susan's giveaway! Details are at the end of the interview. There's real gold involved!

First, I have some questions for Susan along with a big CONGRATULATIONS on the new book release! Hooray! Now, my daughter and I are dying to know, what sort of adventure is Andi going to have in her new book, Trouble With Treasure?

Well, right off the bat, through no fault of her own (for once), Andi ends up in jail! A little horseplay with a leaky water trough in town brings the unfriendly new deputy swooping down on Andi and her friends. She’s hoping a two-week trek into the Sierras to pan for gold will put all her troubles behind her. But Andi and her friends are so wrong. They tangle with a rattlesnake, a couple of “two-legged” snakes, and a seriously injured brother. Toss in a couple of bags of bank gold and being stranded in the wilderness, and that spells “trouble” in a big way.

Where did you get the idea for this story?

I originally wrote the basic story years ago, and it looked much different from what it is today. I wanted a story that highlighted Andi and the youngest of her older brothers, Mitch, who hadn’t been in the other books much. I wanted Andi to be stuck alone in the wilderness and responsible for saving her brother’s life. But it was just Andi and Mitch, and it didn’t work so well, especially when Mitch was unconscious a good deal of the time (it cuts into your dialogue opportunities). So I rewrote it to include Andi’s friend Jenny (from Book 4) and her good pal, Cory, and expanded the story into a couple of different directions.

When you sold your first Circle C Adventure, Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home, you didn’t know it would become a series. How difficult was it to develop more stories for Andi?

I didn’t know it would become a series, but I was sure hoping it would. I had the first three stories already written (though I’d call them very rough drafts now). It wasn’t difficult to revise and submit those. But book 4 was totally new material, and it was tough filling in the blanks and making the story “work.” I wanted a story set in San Francisco for Book 4, but what in the world was going on in that city in 1881? So it took a lot of time to do the research and weave that research seamlessly into the book.

How did you learn to write series?

By watching TV during the 60s, mostly. Television shows are basically “series,” where your favorite characters have complete, new adventures every week. Without realizing it then, I fashioned my stories after shows like Star Trek. I knew there was a “teaser” opener (to keep people from changing the channel), scenes that always ended on a cliff hanger (to keep people from changing the channel), the “dark moment” or climax, and the satisfying ending. I knew and expected certain things from the characters. They interacted in a fun way. They never acted out of character. They evoked an emotional response in an impressionable young teen, and I made sure my first stories did the same thing. I guess I learned from observing.

Do you have any tips for aspiring series writers?

I believe that the most important element in a series is an engaging, likeable main character with whom young readers can identify. One young fan recently wrote me a letter and said, “Sometimes I pretend I’m Andi, riding and talking to Taffy.” Obviously, this young reader has connected with the main character. For her, it probably doesn’t matter what kind of adventure Andi and her horse have, so long as Andi invites the reader to become part of the story with her. It’s the character whom readers want to follow along on the journey. So make the development of your series’ “star” your most important consideration when thinking about writing a series.

You are an amazing book promoter. What are you doing to promote Trouble with Treasure?

You mean besides chatting with you and your readers? *grin* I have my usual bookmarks, postcard mailings, and Ezine campaigns. I have a growing fan list on the Circle C Adventures fan page on Facebook. I give away a lot of books through contests and sites on the web. I speak at Young Author conferences and do some school visits. And this year I’ve decided to have a booth at various homeschool conventions on the West coast.

I send out books for reviewers to review, and I created a book trailer, which I posted on Facebook. Then I asked a number of FB friends to “share” it on their profiles. This way my books and my name keep popping up, a little at a time. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of time, and it keeps me from writing.

How important do you think it is that authors promote their books?

Very important! On a scale from 1 – 10, the importance of partnering with your publisher to promote your books is probably a 9.5. I honestly believe that the reason I have six books in my serious (as opposed to two or maybe three) is because I have spent a significant amount of time (and money) getting the word out. The good news: it really does help. The bad news: it never ends. You can never stop, because once you stop promoting your book, people forget about it. The nice thing with a series is that a new book automatically promotes the other books in the series. This keeps what would ordinarily be a five-year-old back-listed book fresh for new readers.

What is one of the most fun things you’ve done to go along with your books?

I like doing contests on line and at conferences. I put a bunch of little plastic horses in a big jar and have a Guess the Number of Horses contest. The winner receives a Beanie Baby horse keychain, some real gold, a Chinese doll, or even a book, depending on which book I’m promoting at the time. The other fun thing is tying up a “set” of books with colored elastic string, along with a plastic horse, and selling them at a discount. They sell like hotcakes and they look so cute!

You say you’re a shy person, yet you do quite a bit of public speaking, from teaching kids to talking at author events to radio interviews. How have you learned to do public speaking?

Being a teacher and loving kids has been a “key” to making it through public-speaking venues. I’m comfortable around kids (my peer group) so of course school visits and writing workshops are my favorite kinds of events. For big groups (like school assemblies) I have found that a well-crafted PowerPoint presentation saves the day every time. It can be shortened or lengthened right at the time, depending on interest level and/or time available. Holding the remote is like clutching a security blanket. But outside the kid audience, I’m afraid I’m hopeless. The way I have learned to “do” public speaking in those cases (speaking to adults and doing radio) is by plunging ahead and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it,” and then taking a step of faith that God will see me through as long as I’m prepared. It’s totally nerve-wracking, and I don’t like it, but so far, God has seen me through.

Will we be seeing any more of Andi after Trouble with Treasure?

Oh, yes! Andi has one more adventure in this series, Andrea Carter and the Price of Truth. A quick blurb: Andi’s eyewitness testimony places a beloved citizen at the scene of a crime. Will the price of telling the truth be too high if it means losing Taffy forever? But Andi and Taffy’s adventures are not over. I’m writing a series of chapter books for young readers (grades 1-3) about Andi and Taffy when they were young. Those books should hit the market a year or so from now.

I’d ask you what book you would live in if you could, but I imagine you’d be right in there with Andi, or cruising outer space with the Star Trek crew. Am I totally wrong?

Heather, you know me too well! To be honest, I can’t decide which world I’d rather live in: the Old West or aboard the starship Enterprise. Either one is a journey of imagination that “. . . boldly goes where no [kid] has gone before.”

Susan is going to giveaway an autographed and personalized copy of Trouble with Treasure to one lucky winner. Plus she's throwing in a vial of real gold! What do you have to do to win? Just leave a comment on this here interview. If you tweet, blog, or facebook the contest and let me know I'll add another entry. U.S. residents only. Contest ends February 16th at midnight. Good luck!


  1. I liked reading through this interview, and I learned some new facts about Susan Marlow!
    (I would like to enter the giveaway!)

  2. What a great interview! I loved hearing about Susan's presentations and how she markets her book!

    You know I love contests--I'm spreading the word about the contest through Fish For a Free Book and I just became a fan of the series on Facebook! :) Thanks for sharing.

    All the best,

  3. I'm glad I happened across the link to this interview--it was fun to read!

  4. Glad to hear you three enjoyed the interview, and thanks for helping to spread the word, Lori!

    Caleb, if you want to be entered in the drawing just let me know how I can contact you. If you want to keep your info private just go to my contact link and email me privately.

  5. I loved the interview! Can't wait to read Susan's next book.

  6. Great interview! My dad pans for gold all the time, we grew up on prospector stories! Tweeted @fireicephotos

  7. I forgot to include my contact info. If needed, you can email me here: bigcrashbangboom@yahoo.com

  8. Hello, I'd like to enter the giveaway!

  9. As a librarian I am always looking for new books and authors...looks cute

    ykatrina at hotmail dot com

  10. i found out quite a few things about susan and i just happened to be the young fan who wrote the letter.I never thought susan would mention part of my letter in an intervew!

  11. Wow! I learned a lot from that interview!I know Nadia, my little sister, is crazy about your books! Because of her I'm interested in reading them now! I would like to enter the giveaway, too!

  12. Any writer who's inspired by Star Trek AND is a polished speaker despite being shyness is okay with me.

  13. hey susan i love your books like i told u like 100 times lol and i would love to get the 5 th so i can give it to alaina i just let her use them and she said that she loves them and her b-day is coing up and i want to give it to her!

  14. My kids and I just assigned each entry a number and put them into a random number generator and Tamara, you won! Woohoo!Congratulations!

    Susan does book giveaways from time to time. Join her Circle C Adventures fanpage to keep up to date. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1467190877&ref=nf#!/CircleCAdventures?ref=ts

    Thanks everyone for playing!

  15. Thanks, Heather, for doing this interview with me. It was a BLAST! And thanks for all the great responses. Congratulations, Tamara, and I'm sure Heather will be sending me your mailing information ASAP.

  16. [url=http://www.ralphlaurenonlineshopoutlet.org]Polo ralph lauren[/url] seriously really are a precise issue that virtually each and every dude or girl would need to wear, having said that the price regarding the [url=http://www.ralphlaurenonlineshopoutlet.org]ralph lauren onlineshop deutschland[/url] is a particular issue that stops a lot of people currently from obtaining these wonderful common Ralph Lauren polo t-shirts. The level of high quality about the [url=http://www.ralphlaurenonlineshopoutlet.org]ralph lauren outlet[/url] may well be regarded a equivalent amazing stage of good quality but credited utilizing the producing need, the costs about the t-shirts have certainly modifications. The prices have shot up as when compared with when they arrived new in market.Opt for different coloration [url=http://www.ralphlaurenonlineshopoutlet.org]ralph lauren online shop[/url] brought gentlemen, on collocation should shell out awareness to coordination, or even a you should not take care are going to be classified as not a grade.

  17. There are many solutions to spend less and time on this technological development society. One particular great way to purchase [url=http://www.ralphlaurenpaschershop.org]Ralph lauren pas cher[/url] is to shop within the [url=http://www.ralphlaurenpaschershop.org]ralph lauren online[/url]. There are various on the web retailers of Ralph Lauren and [url=http://www.ralphlaurenpaschershop.org]ralph lauren shop[/url] on line shop is among these famous online outlets. There you may obtain quite a few Ralph Lauren on sale which includes Polo Lauren Lauren Mens Tee. [url=http://www.ralphlaurenpaschershop.org]Doudoune ralph lauren[/url] is in desirable layout, top rated quality and acceptable price. The quality is very outstanding making sure that if you wear it with appropriate treatment it could be uesed for several years. And there are plenty of colours for you to select such as blue ,black and red and many others. The raw material is refined fabrics which assures the softness and comfortableness of [url=http://www.ralphlaurenpaschershop.org]polo ralph lauren pas cher[/url]. The excellemt raw material makes the item itself breathable. It might be cleaned by machine which is really convenient. It truly is much cheaper to order [url=http://www.ralphlaurenpaschershop.org]polo ralph lauren[/url] within the [url=http://www.ralphlaurenpaschershop.org]ralph lauren france[/url]. So just seize this precious opportunity and if you miss the chance you'll ensure to regret extremely
    a lot.

  18. Cut for just a cozy, typical fit in comfortable cotton mesh [url=http://www.ralphlaurenoutletdanmark.org]ralph lauren polo[/url] is heavy welcomed by men and women through the whole globe. These are the most popular merchandise on sale in the Ralph Lauren clearance.[url=http://www.ralphlaurenoutletdanmark.org]ralph lauren dk[/url] is one of essentially the most useful promotion method to draw in consumers and improve the sale ofitems.Generally speaking, [url=http://www.ralphlaurenoutletdanmark.org]polo ralph lauren[/url] can be obtained in quite a few sizes, hues and leaves an impression of good taste on the minds of all. [url=http://www.ralphlaurenoutletdanmark.org]ralph lauren danmark[/url] is a stylish version of garment which reflects the charm of the modern-day. [url=http://www.ralphlaurenoutletdanmark.org]ralph lauren skjorter[/url] can go well with many kinds of cloths like jeans and sweaters.They attract lots of individuals for its leading quality, low cost selling price as well as good after-sale support and it is also these three excellent features that enable [url=http://www.ralphlaurenoutletdanmark.org]ralph lauren skjorte[/url] remain in high repute all the time. [url=http://www.ralphlaurenoutletdanmark.org]ralph lauren outlet[/url] provides polo sport shirts for many people at market leading costs.

  19. [url=http://www.cheapnorthfaceoutletonline.com]Cheap north face[/url] is extremely Great, Secure and light. The North Face Jackets is in natural, tasteful structure. Main the style craze, vogue type into environmental safety, leisure principles. Our North Face online store have the most fashionable models of price cut [url=http://www.cheapnorthfaceoutletonline.com]north face sale[/url]. Welcome you to purchase within our [url=http://www.cheapnorthfaceoutletonline.com]north face outlet[/url].The king on the mountain, the cream in the crop, the comfortable shell to finish all gentle shells, The North Face presents the defense, warmness, breathability, efficiency, and style you have been on the lookout for all along in a very gentle shell, with all the superior you may rely upon through the [url=http://www.cheapnorthfaceoutletonline.com]north face outlet online[/url].Created on the defensive shield acknowledged as TNF Apex Local climate Block, a drinking water resistant, windproof, and breathable product that also packs the heat with no the burden, the Apex Bionic shields like no other comfortable shell available. The [url=http://www.cheapnorthfaceoutletonline.com]cheap north face jackets[/url] are your very best guess on the best cost!

  20. After the Second World War, the pursuit of delight domains the earth ambiance, [url=http://www.saclancel-soldes.com]Lancel[/url] (Lancel) to adapt easily for the needs of this period of time to adjust their uniquestrategies to [url=http://www.saclancel-soldes.com]vente privee lancel[/url] Inexpensivegrowth. Meeting the leisure culture in 1950, resulting in soft bag sequence [url=http://www.saclancel-soldes.com]sacs lancel[/url]. The very firstcompact pocket of the [url=http://www.saclancel-soldes.com]soldes lancel[/url] on the cover of the series, and also for the first time the production procedure of the mixture of nylon and leather, so that the colour elements and tone leather nylonblended with organic and natural, [url=http://www.saclancel-soldes.com]lancel pas cher[/url],[url=http://www.saclancel-soldes.com]sac lancel[/url] Theexquisite and refined layout are deeplyrespected.