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Friday, January 19, 2007

Fiction Fridays
Reclaiming Nick by Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia , was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia , Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Reclaiming Nick
Back Cover Copy

Nick Noble hadn’t planned on being the prodigal son.

But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle—the Noble family ranch—to Nick’s former best friend, he must return home to face those he left behind. And to make sure that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family.

Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she first anticipated. So does resisting his charming smile.

As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will—and Piper digs for answers—family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone who wants to see the Silver Buckle leave Noble hands, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, even if it means taking a life.


I guess I should start off by saying I'm not a very good reviewer and don't really read romance, or cowboy novels for that matter, but stay with me because Reclaiming Nick definitely kept my interest until the end. Susan's modern tale of the Prodigal son took me back to cowboy country, and I didn't mind a bit. Nick is every cowboy lovers dream, though he carries guilt from his jaded past. The characters were engaging and the plot moved along at a good pace. I thoroughly enjoyed the subplot, I think even more than the main plot (translation: too much romance for this suspense lover).

The icing on the cake of this sweet tale of mistakes, regret, forgiveness and love hit the spot, was the message that God offers love and forgiveness to all people.

So bottom line, if you love cowboys and romance, go out and grab yourself a copy of Reclaiming Nick! And even if you're not a cowboy lover, after Reclaiming Nick, you just might become one!

Interview with Susan

Tell me a little about your family and what a typical day at the Warren house looks like.

A typical day! These days, the only thing typical is that I’ll open the fridge about 6:00 pm every night and say, Hmm, food…wonder what I should serve for supper.*grin* But, if I were put it all together and shake it all about, the “average” would look something like:

Get up at 6am, have my QT while I intermittently harass my daughter to get out of bed and into the shower. She’s out the door with my husband by 7:30, and then I throw in some laundry and hop on the treadmill, reading a good book while I walk 1-3 miles depending on how much I have to get done. (Or how good the book is.) Then I wake my boys (ages 10-12-15) and roust them out of bed while I hit the showers. We spend the rest of the morning working on home-school assignments (in-between me doing email and other writing-biz stuff).

Then, after a lunch break where I either answer more email or maybe watch a TiVoed episode of Prison Break/Gilmore Girls/NCIS/Men in Trees, or Heroes, I go up to my room, hang a sign on the door that says, “Cry me a River,” which translates to “You’d better be bleeding from the ears or have a really technical math problem before you THINK of knocking on this door.” And then I write like crazy, or sometimes just WISH I were writing like crazy and not surfing the net reading my friends’ blogs. But no one knows, because, well, the door is CLOSED. I do try to write 3000-5000 words a day.

I take a break around 4pm to greet my daughter, and hear the latest Jr. High gossip, and check in on the home-schoolers, maybe do some threatening of missed Play Station games if they don’t knuckle down to work, and then retreat to the office for more writing/procrastination. Which brings us to the moment, when my husband is puling into the driveway and I’m looking at the fridge wishing I had a cook. The rest of the evening is spent with the fam…

Every time I turn around, it seems like you have another novel coming out. How do you balance your writing career with the responsibilities of everyday responsibilities of raising children and caring for a home?

Balance? Oh, you said the B-word! I once lamented that I go in cycles – sometimes my house is immaculate, but I haven’t written a word in weeks. Then I’m a writing maniac but no one has any clean clothes. My girlfriend, who also happens to be a life-coach said balance isn’t when everything is perfect all the time – balance is an average, say a month, where if you put it all together, you managed to accomplish it all, just not all in one day. I really liked that definition. Mostly, I prioritize my family and my time with the Lord, and if the house gets cleaned, if I have balanced meals, if we have clean clothes and if I get my allotted writing done, well then life is very good. I do have to interject that 1. I ask for help from the kids. 2. On my gravestone, I am okay if it never reads, “And she had a really clean house.” (Although I have to say, my house is pretty clean…*g*)

Do you ever feel your priorities slipping and if so what do you do to get back on track?

Sometimes, if I am up against a deadline, and I’m spending a lot of time writing and haven’t seen another living soul for a few days, well, I might feel as if my mothering priorities have slipped. But even if I am swamped with work, I make sure I take time out to tuck the kids in bed. If they don’t have a story read, they’ll live through the night, but they have to have those few minutes with me. Or rather, it’s me who needs those few minutes with them. And, if I am going through a couple weeks when writing takes a higher priority, I talk to them about it before hand, and I find they are surprisingly supportive. If I involve them in my dreams, I believe they will involve me in theirs. I also brainstorm with my kids, and ask them to go on “brain-cleansing” walks with me, and talk out plots with them. They are involved in my stories and as excited as I am, and very proud of their mom when I have a new book come out. And I in turn tell them how proud I am of them, for being such great kids as to give me the time and support to write.

At one point you were a missionary in Russia, writing as well as homeschooling. When did you find time to write and did you ever feel like you’re neglecting your children when you did write?

Here’s the thing about home-schooling – when you are with your kids for six, seven hours a day, they WANT you to go to your room and leave them alone! By 3pm my kids were all but pushing me into my room with promises of heavenly behavior, housecleaning and cooking. At that time, when they were little, I had an absolute OPEN DOOR policy, where they could come in anytime, for any reason. (And I wrote more than one book with a child on my lap!) But I did ask them to respect my time, and if they could solve the problem themselves, I asked them to do it. I think it taught them not only responsibility, but an understanding that Mommy was a person with dreams, too. Also, I made them a part of the celebration process. When I finished a chapter, we all got ice-cream. When I finished a book, we went out for dinner. They practically begged me to write! *g*

The one year that they were all in public school, I only wrote when they were gone. Now, I have to say that although I started writing when my youngest was two, I didn’t commit any significant time to writing until he was about five or six. One of my tricks was to let him watch a movie (or a learning-channel show) while I sat in the room with my laptop and earphones on. I was there for him to see when he needed me, and yet able to focus on my work. I think the essential component here is, my children always knew that they were numero uno in my life, even if I wasn’t spending every moment with them.

Has there ever been a time God told you to set aside your writing to focus on other areas of your life? If so, how did you handle that?

God has asked me to wait upon Him for writing projects, or asked me to use my writing time for other purposes than writing books, but so far, He hasn’t asked me to stop writing novels. I don’t know that God would ever ask me to stop writing in general – perhaps He’d ask me to stop writing for publication during a time -- but writing is part of my devotional life, so even if it is just God and I, on a desert island, there I am, writing in the sand. Like a singer must sing. But as for novels, my entire purpose for writing is to glorify God in the process, and in the end product. If I am not doing that, then I shouldn’t be writing, and if God asked me to stop writing for publication, I would have to look at why He might be doing that. And, yes, I would be obedient.

Has the time you were able to commit to writing for publication been different in various seasons of my life?

Yes. When my children were very small, I only wrote on Saturdays, when they were spending time with Daddy. I have been blessed with a very supportive spouse, and there was never any conflict with him feeling neglected, so I very much felt God’s blessing on my writing time. Also, during the season where I only had Saturday, and then later 1-3 hours a day, I prayed that God would redeem my writing time, and make it productive. He really answered my prayers and I was able to crank out books surprisingly fast. I think, as a writing mom, that’s the best way to keep it all in focus – prioritizing the kids, and trusting God to give you the words to write for Him. I always try and remember that God has my writing journey planned out – one that is tailored to my personality and dreams and designed to speak softly to me just how much He loves me.

Thank you for sharing your experience with other writing moms here at Portrait of a Writer…Interrupted.

Thank you for letting me share a bit about myself and my writing journey – God bless you as you write!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Susan! Great stuff. It's always great to read about other journeys.