Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Today, Suzanne Lilly, author of SHADES OF THE FUTURE, is my guest. Suzanne is on a blog tour to celebrate the release of her book, and will be giving away a pair of designer sunglasses to someone who comments on her tour.

Suzanne Lilly is a writer at night and a teacher by day, which is why she’s known online as the TeacherWriter. Her articles and stories have appeared in numerous places online and in print. She writes light romance, young adult, and middle grade novels. When not busy with words, she enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, fine arts, and cooking. She lives in California with her family and furry friends and has yet to feel an earthquake.

Caroline: I lived in California as a child and have experienced mild earthquakes. Tell us about growing up and give us a peek into your private life.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
from Stock Exchange
Suzanne: I am the youngest of five children. My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around, but when I was young, he got out of the service and we settled in Arizona. It was so hot in the summer even the locusts would stop their chirruping. To stay cool, I would sit under a tree or go to the library and read. The library in Maryvale was my favorite place to be. Today I’m married to a wonderful man and we just celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Rome. Molto bene! We have three children, one granddaughter, and a granddog.

Caroline: Congratulations on your anniversary and lovely trip! Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Suzanne: I read anyone who can spin a story with enough tension to keep me awake at night. Currently I’m reading Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. They make a fabulous team. Jenny has tremendous wit and humor, and Bob used to be a Green Beret. The two of them writing together brings such a contrast in the characters that I’m spellbound. I also like to read Susan Elizabeth Phillips, John LesCroart, and Harlan Coben. I like suspense with a happy ending, something all of these authors have mastered. I’m always looking for new authors, so if anyone has recommendations, please share!

Caroline: I also like suspense with a happy ending. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Suzanne: I love to read, swim, and cook, not necessarily in that order. We are lucky enough to have a pool and warm weather for several months of the year. I need to swim to combat the evidence from my love of food and cooking!

Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Suzanne: “This too shall pass.” A coworker of mine used to say that on an almost daily basis, and I adopted it as a way of looking to the future. Whether what we’re experiencing now is over the top fabulous or deep in the valley horrible, life changes and new things come along. I’m always looking forward to the next thing.

Caroline: How long have you been writing?

Suzanne: Forever. At least since I learned to write. I’ve always made up stories and always wanted to see my stories in print. I finally became serious about getting published five years ago and started submitting my work.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Suzanne: I have a quiet room of my own where I write, but I often bring my laptop out to the kitchen or living room. During the school year I get up ridiculously early to have time alone to write while the house is silent except for the soft snoring of my dog. Actually, she snores like a chain saw. That’s the music to my ears while I’m writing.

Caroline: Our dog does, too, and “talks” in his sleep. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Suzanne: Many people sit down and just start writing, and that’s how they get the creative inspiration for their story lines. Not me. I plot meticulously. First I pick a topic. Then I ask some “what if?” questions. Then I draw out a story arc and a three act structure. I let that rest, and work on other projects, short stories and things, while I mull over the personalities of my characters. Then I set up the turning points, black moment, and subplots, based on how the characters will interact with one another. I write this down on colored index cards, with a different color for each POV and subplot. I know this can be done on the computer, but I paste it all on a big board that I keep in front of me. That way I don’t have to keep flipping between windows on my computer as I’m writing. All of this plotting is part of my creativity. While things are on cards, I can put events in, take events out, move things around, whatever I want, without killing off any characters. Unless that’s part of my plan. Muahaha! Once the plotting is done, the story just falls into place, like a jigsaw puzzle going together.

Caroline: Ah, we write by the same method. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Suzanne: I certainly look to real events for inspiration, and I notice interesting things about people that I incorporate into characters. But no, you won’t have to worry about me writing a story about your most embarrassing moment, or look for yourself in one of my characters. It’s all a mashup when I get done with it.

Caroline: Mashup is a good word for it. Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Suzanne: I make it a point to write every day. I used to set word goals, but that seemed too arbitrary. I could write a bunch of drivel, or write off topic and still meet a word goal. So now I try to write one scene a day. I only have about an hour a day to write, if I’m lucky, so one scene is all I can do. It’s the same when I’m editing. I try to edit one or two scenes a day.

Caroline: But you have a plan, a discipline, and that’s good. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Suzanne: I want my writing to bring people a sense of hope for the future. I want them to feel empowered to bring good things into their lives. So although my stories have suspense, and bad things may happen, they all have happy endings.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Suzanne: To be a New York Times bestseller, of course! My plans are to write at least one novel a year, interspersed with short stories. By building up a backlist, I hope in a few years I’ll be able to be a full time writer. That would be bliss.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Suzanne: I prefer to keep my works in progress under wraps. However, I can tell you about UNTELLABLE, my next book which will be available in February 2013. Here’s a short blurb:

Aspen Marie Dwyer has a secret to keep and she picks Honey Creek, Ohio as the perfect place to hide. Arriving on a Greyhound bus with nothing but a duffel bag containing her clothes and personal belongings, she walks to the Honey Creek Lake Lodge, to begin her summer job as a lifeguard. Four years earlier, Aspen witnessed her father murder her mother, and her testimony locked him away in prison. Before being taken out of the courtroom in shackles, he swore someday he would find her and kill her, too.

Local volunteer firefighter Colton Moraine is always up for a challenge, and Aspen is just what he needs to liven up his small town summer. Through driving lessons, picnics, and romantic kisses under the fireworks, the two fall in love. Aspen fatalistically knows their summer romance will end if Colton finds out her history. But not telling him tortures her, making her feel like a fraud.

When her father is granted parole, she can no longer keep her dark secret. She has to make a life changing decision. Will she continue to run and hide, or fight for the love she’s discovered with Colton in Honey Creek?

Caroline: Your story sounds intriguing. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Suzanne: Honor your writing time, and don’t let other tasks or people or diversions take you away from it. When it’s your writing time, write. Keep writing. Write and write and write some more.

Caroline: More easily said than done, right? A fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Peanut Butter Love
from Stock Exchange
Suzanne: I am in love with peanut butter. Literally. My husband knows to clear the way when I’m heading for the peanut butter jar.

Caroline: I love it, too. Something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Suzanne: When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had food cravings, as many women do. I craved peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. Just writing about it makes me want to urp, but at the time it hit the spot!

Caroline: That’s funny. Is your book a series? If so, how long? Family saga, other?

Shades of the Future is part of the Honey Creek Books line from Turquoise Morning Press. All of the books in this line take place in the fictional town of Honey Creek in beautiful, bountiful Ohio. Being a small, rural community means that everything anyone says or does becomes public knowledge in a matter of seconds. There are no secrets in small towns.

Caroline: I love small town settings, though. Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

What would you give to see the future? Would you make your dreams come true? Would you change the things you didn’t like?

Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future.

When she glimpses a disaster looming, she tries to avoid it but fails. She has a car accident that lands her in a wheelchair, smashing her hopes for a running scholarship to the veterinary program at Ohio State University. She pushes Kevin away, thinking he’ll want to end their relationship now that she can’t walk.

Will she ever learn to trust and love again? She could search for an answer in the sunglasses. But she’s afraid what they reveal might destroy her.

Caroline: How about an excerpt:?

Mariah scooted closer to the inside of the booth to read the digital display. As she slid across the red vinyl seat, something poked into her thigh.

“Hey, somebody left a pair sunglasses here.” She picked them up, rubbing her leg where the frame had made a dent in her skin.

“Those are nice,” Hayley commented between fries.

“These aren’t random sunglasses. These are Dita Aviators.” Mariah turned them over, checking the thin metal frame to make sure she hadn’t bent it. She held them up to the overhead light. The lenses were clean and unscratched. “Plus, they’re like brand new.”

“Let me see them.” Hayley took the glasses out of her friend’s hands and started to put them on.

“Give them back,” Mariah told her. “Your hands are all greasy and cheesy. Not to mention saliva-y.”

Hayley laughed and handed the aviators back across the table to Mariah. “When I have clean hands, I’ll try them on. They’ll look good on me.”

“You think? How do they look on me?” She put them on and a warm tingle washed through her veins.

Caroline: You’ve hooked me. Where can readers find your books?

Suzanne: Amazon


Turquoise Morning Press


Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Suzanne: I love chatting with readers! Here are my hangouts:
 Suzanne Lilly Website:
 TeacherWriter Blog :
 Suzanne Lilly Author Facebook page:
 Goodreads author page:
 Twitter: @suzannelilly
 Amazon author page:
 Google + :

Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Suzanne: Yes! I’m giving away a pair of designer sunglasses from to a person who comments on this blog tour. So follow the tour, and the more blog posts you comment on, the more chances you have to win. Plus, as I said earlier, I love chatting with readers!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today. This interview was great fun.

Caroline: Thanks for coming, Suzanne, and best wishes for your series.

Thanks for stopping by!


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Suzanne today

Caroline Clemmons said...

Suzanne, welcome to the blog. Good luck with your new release.

Suzanne Lilly said...

Caroline, thank you so much for hosting me today. I LOVE the photos you picked for the post. Trevi Fountain was one of our favorite spots, and there's a little gelato stand to the right of the fountain with the best flavors in the world. If you ever go to Rome, be sure to stop at that little shop.

Unknown said...

Great interview! I am so addicted to peanut butter too! I'll have to show you the 'ode to peanut butter' video I made sometime, Suzanne. I love your idea of using index cards to keep characters and plots organized. I'm definitely gonna borrow that from you. :)

Suzanne Lilly said...

Wow, Evelyn, we're finding more and more things in common! Scrivener has index cards in the program, if you like having everything on the computer, but I like having that board right in front of me as I write. Borrow all you want!

bn100 said...

Happy Anniversary! Very nice interview.


Elaine Stock said...

What a great interview, and thanks for sharing some interesting, insightful encouragement to fellow writers!

Autumn said...

Great interview. Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. Wow I may have to taste it to see how that taste. I have not had any cravings since I have become pregnant.

Suzanne Lilly said...

@bn100: Thanks for the anniversary wishes! It was a dream come true trip.

@Elaine: Thank you for stopping by Caroline's blog!

@Autumn: I wouldn't recommend those sandwiches. They're very odd. I hope you crave something wonderful like chocolate or fruit. Good luck with your pregnancy!