Q: Let me start with asking you to tell us a little bit about yourself.
A. I grew up in a small Wisconsin town where I spent my summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, I channel this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com. I currently live in Florida, but have had the pleasure of living in nine states. My husband is a church music director and we have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. The life long love of reading inspired me to want to write a book, but it was God who arranged free time for it to happen. I’ve always enjoyed writing from creative to technical writing I’ve done in the corporate world, and I said for years that I was going to write a book, but I was so busy working full time, raising children, and volunteering at church that I never made the time. Then I had some health issues that limited my physical activity and I was forced to sit for long periods of time. So I started to research the craft of writing and began my first book. Soon I was writing as much as I could and actively pursuing publication.
Q: Could you give us the highlights of your professional writing career including how you got your first writing break?
A. In 2008, Barbour Publishing contracted my cozy mystery titled Nipped in the Bud for their Heartsong Presents Mysteries line, but it wasn’t until October of 2010 that this book was actually published because the mystery line folded the month before Nipped in the Bud’s release. I was devastated, but thrilled and surprised when Barbour published it as part of Hometown Mysteries, a new imprint. Alas this line folded too, but these books were too good to go out of print so now many of the authors are working together to release them in e-book format under the Spyglass Lane Mysteries imprint.
The same year, I contracted a romantic suspense book with Love Inspired and now have a three book series published in this line. These books, High-Stakes Inheritance, Behind the Badge, and The Christmas Witness feature the three Morgan brothers of Logan Lake, Oregon and can be purchased wherever books are sold both online and in stores. And coming this year I have a new series called The Justice Agency debuting with the first book Double Exposure to release in June and book two Dead Wrong to release in November.
Q: Would you tell us about your current book release?
A. Read Between the Tines is the second book in my Garden Gate Mystery series. As in Nipped in the Bud, this book features landscape designer, radio show host and garden shop owner Paige Turner. She has recovered from her near death experience at the hand of a killer in Nipped in the Bud and she’s certain her life will soon be a bed of roses. That is, until her employee, Daisy Rose Plante finds a dead body and the thorny police chief looks no further than Daisy for a suspect.
Paige digs in, weeds through the list of potential killers and before long, her sweet smelling rose of a life is soundly trampled. She would be much happier working over-thyme on her budding relationship with yummy attorney, Adam Hayes, but it soon becomes clear she’ll be in a hoe lot of trouble with him if she continues digging for the killer. Does Paige risk all and try to unearth the killer? Or does she settle down in peaceful bliss with the man of her dreams?
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for Read Between the Tines?
A: Well, I knew the book would feature Paige again and I was so enamored with Weed Whacker from Nipped in the Bud that I had to find a way to feature her in the plot of Read Between the Tines. So I simply thought about her personality and all the characters introduced in Nipped in the Bud and the plot evolved from there.
Q: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
A: No question here. God is in charge and, if we know what’s best, we will seek His guidance and follow His leading. I guess since this is something I continually struggle with, it shows up time and again in my writing. But I know I am not the only one who has a hard time wanting to be in charge of my life and so I write about it to remind others, too. We are taught as we grow up to be independent, take charge, and make something of ourselves, and we lose sight of the fact that only with God’s guidance can we become everything He has created us to be.
Q: What is your favorite scene/chapter from the book?
A: I have several favorites, but if I have to choose, I’d pick the scene where the police chief Mitch Lawson interviews Daisy about the man she’s just found murdered. I love how naive Daisy is and I think this trait really comes through in this scene. It makes me laugh every time I read it and it’s hard to make me laugh when I read.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A. I love to kill people, lol. No seriously, I just love to write. I love to create real characters that speak to my heart and struggle with the same life challenges that I think real people struggle with. And then offer the reader who may have these issues a way to work through them with their faith. And it’s fun to come up with stories that I hope will keep a reader guessing.
Q: How has being a published novelist differed from your expectations of the profession?
A: The biggest surprise beyond the amount of time it takes to market and promote your books, is how intrigued people are with writers. We are not so different from the average person, except that we put our daydreams in writing, but I think most people have at one time or another thought about writing a book and wish they could do so. Also, people often think—as they do of actors—that we are the people we write about. Though we do put some of ourselves in a character, they are fictional people. And they also think that writers are all wealthy. That we all receive huge advances for our work. The truth is, many writers work full time jobs in addition to their writing to make enough money to live on.
Q: What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?
A: If being published is your dream, don’t give up. Ever. No matter what setbacks may occur. But keep working at the craft, learning through critique groups, books and conferences and have a teachable spirit so when advice is shared you can learn from it.
Q: Would you share with us what you are working on now?
A. I am working on book three in The Justice Agency, the romantic suspense series I mentioned earlier. This series is about five adopted siblings who work in various fields of law enforcement until their adoptive parents are murdered. When the police can’t figure out who killed their beloved parents the Justice siblings come together to solve the case. They discover in the process that they like working together and they form an investigative agency called The Justice Agency. They dedicate the agency to helping people who traditional law enforcement is either unable or unwilling to help.
I’m also working on completing book three, Seed You Later in my Garden Gate Mystery series. This book also features Paige Turner who receives an invitation to her class reunion and seeds of doubt are planted in her relationship with yummy attorney, Adam Hayes. Doubts that stem from strange gifts arriving in the mail from one of Paige’s old boyfriends who wants to reconnect with her at the reunion.
Why would this man be sending gifts to Paige? Is he simply trying to rekindle their relationship or are the gifts a sign of something underhanded? Paige ignores the warning signs and Adam’s advice, and attends the reunion. But when the old boyfriend turns up dead, and she is the only suspect in his murder, does Paige shrivel up like a spent bloom or does she dig until she unearths the real killer?
Q: What is something your readers might be surprised to learn about you?
A. Something many people don’t know is that due to both my work and my husband’s work, we have lived in nine states since we’ve been married. We started our married life in Wisconsin where I grew up—go Packers—and then moved in order to Texas, Minnesota, New York, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Texas again (it’s such a big state you have to live there twice), and now Florida. We have loved every place we’ve lived, but do have a special fondness for the Portland, Oregon area where one of our daughters still lives and the other goes to college.
Q: When you’re not writing what do you like to do?
A. I love to travel to Oregon to spend time with my family and when I can’t be there, I enjoy Skyping with my children and grandson. I’m a self-professed computer geek. I love to do website design and programming so I spend a lot of time working on my website and TheSuspenseZone.com and learning new things about computers. I also love to read and watch my favorite television shows. And of course, if you’ve read Nipped in the Bud and thought perhaps I am a gardening enthusiast, the answer is yes, yes, yes. I love to garden as much as Paige does.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?
A. One of my favorite things is to connect with readers. Either via email or in social media. You can contact me via email by using my contact form found here and connect with me in social media at any of the following places. I hope you’ll do so.
MYSTERIES BY SUSAN SLEEMAN
Garden Gate Mysteries
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Nipped in the Bud (Garden Gate Mysteries – Book 1)
By Susan Sleeman
WHEN YOU FIND YOUR BOSS PUSHING UP DAISIES. . .
Life in full bloom, landscape designer, Paige Turner, scores her first landscaping contract to spruce up the park, her radio talk show shoots to number one, and her retail shop is simply blossoming. Yes, her life is a bed of roses. Until she finds City Manager, Bud Picklemann served up on the blade of her favorite shovel mere hours after she’s threatened to have his head on a platter, then the thorns come out. And there is none thornier than the local police chief declaring Paige the one and only suspect and threatening to plow her under.
YOU’VE GOT TO FORMULATE A PLANT OF ATTACK . . .
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Read Between the Tines (Garden Gate Mysteries – Book 2)
By Susan Sleeman
IF YOU PLANT THE WRONG SEEDS. . .
Recovered from her near death at the hand of a killer, landscape designer Paige Turner is certain her life will soon be a bed of roses. That is, until her employee, Daisy Plante, finds a dead body, and the thorny police chief looks no further than Daisy for a suspect. Paige digs in and weeds through the list of potential killers, and before long, her sweet smelling rose of a life is soundly trampled.
YOU’LL HAVE TO REAP WHAT YOU SOW . . .