Showing posts with label Thoughts on Writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thoughts on Writing. Show all posts

Friday, March 11, 2016

Finally, they are here!

Finally every single book I've published is here in my hands in paperback. Well, the proofs are, anyway.

I'm really thrilled with them. My husband makes the covers. No, he's no designer, uses a ten year old program we found on an old computer.  This proves you don't need expensive designs to do well. My three novels sell like crazy. Back Again at the moment has been #1 in Time Travel on USA Amazon for the past week, and it outselling all the big guys, like Stephen King's 11/22/63, The Martian (yep, the book that turned into the Oscar Nominated film), and the WayWard Pines book that has it's own TV show, just like King's book.  

I got nada on any screen, but I must have a few wonderful readers spreading the word.

Just a few minor adjustments and that is that. I can get on with finishing The Troubles Keeper, the book everyone keeps writing and telling me to "Hurry up and finish."

I don't know about these unboxing videos, but apparently us Indie authors are meant to do them. Anyway, now it's there for posterity. If you are a writer working on your first book, yes! it does feel great every time.

Saturday, October 10, 2015



When you write a book you do it in isolation or, if you're like me, you sit among your family, school carnivals, AND all sorts of activities where you can half watch and half type. Ultimately, though, you're in the story in your head on your own. The sole responsibility for creating everything is yours alone, scary and wonderful as that is.

Then you send it to your editor and you spend a few weeks wondering what little tasks said editor will set for you.  Because you don't get it all correct first go. You miss little things or, as in the case of my editor, you upset her or him, by having a character do something with which they don't agree.  So you rewrite.

So you've done all that, then the next step is the readers. You need reviews so your work has validation for those looking to buy the book after its release. This is the fun part and the terrifying part. 

Doesn't matter how good the book is or who you are, just starting out or the biggest author on the planet like Stephen King, James Patterson, or Nora Roberts, you're going to get negative, sometimes scathing feedback. It's part of it all. You learn to live with it. And hey, I've hated books people have loved and visa versa; reading and films are all subjective. In fact, I might suggest life is subjective.

The surprising thing for me about Deadly Messengers (Deadly to his friends) is the mostly universal response. No matter the age, sex, or country, readers are loving it, saying they're finding it impossible to put down, and mostly reading this 330 page book in a matter of a few days. A few,wonderful readers have suggested it's one of the best books they've read in a long time. You live to write something that will impact readers in this way. It's certainly been a joyous and, at times, overwhelming experience. I've had tears reading some of these reviews.

On this page, I'd like to honour those who've reviewed the book on their blog or website. If I've missed you, let me know and I will add you in. Also, shout out goes to the Good Reads community for the way they've embraced me and Deadly Messengers. It's been a thrill ride seeing all the fantastic reviews and the passion people have for this book. You have my undying gratitude. My little baby has accumulated by launch day 30th September over 170 reviews.

Without readers what do I have, but a bunch of words on a page and a memory of hours writing and editing.

                                                        With love   Susan May

DEADLY MESSENGERS is available exclusively on Amazon worldwide. Also available on Kindle Prime and Kindle Unlimited for FREE.

Amazon US:                   CLICK HERE
Amazon Australia:         CLICK HERE
Amazon UK:                   CLICK HERE
Amazon Canada:           CLICK HERE
Amazon Germany:         CLICK HERE
Reading Room:              CLICK HERE
Library Thing:                CLICK HERE


Thank you to Kirsty at


“I loved reading this brilliant well written masterpiece by Susan May.” Danielle Urban USA Urban Lit Magazine

“I raced through this intense and edgy thriller.” Vicki Tyley (Australia) Author of ‘Thin Blood’

“I spent my entire study period, afternoon and English class in twelve hours, reading through this unforgettable book.” Rebecca McNutt  (Canada) Author of Smog City

“Suspenseful, maintaining it’s pacing as I turned pages furiously, finishing the book in a day and a half.” Doris (Canada)

“Thrilling, tense, interesting and topical. If you like your thrillers with meat on their bones get into Deadly Messengers.” Jo-Ann Duffy (Australia)

 “Impressed at the ingenuity of plot. I read A LOT of books and she offered up something very unique.” Deb

“A thrilling suspense and whirlwind adventure.” Teri Hicks

“This is honestly one of the best thrillers I have ever read, I couldn't put it down.” Kirsty Ward (UK)

 A unique story line that made an excellent thriller.Diane Kasperski

“Frightening enough to prevent you from sleeping well for many nights.” Anne Martin (Canada)

Very compelling readShilpi Goel (USA)

“A unique idea with well-developed characters and a lot of tension.” Brian Switzer (The Belated Wordsmith)

“I found the premise extremely original and refreshing.Melissa (Australia)

“A unique idea with well-developed characters and a lot of tension.” Brian Switzer (USA) The Belated Wordsmith

“I really enjoyed this different take on a serial thriller.” Shelby (USA)

“Filled with suspense, compassion ... murder” Victoria Schwimley (UK)

“A quick-paced (dark) thriller which ratchets up the tension as you read.” J.L.Sutton (USA)

“Fast-paced, well-written, and everything moves at a terrific pace, the kind of book I might even be tempted to read in one sitting.” Dan Sihota

“Very well written with a fast-paced plot and compelling characters. It is not for the squeamish.” Lissa Johnston (USA)

“I really, really enjoyed this book. It's fast paced, exciting, has great characters.” Alysia (USA)

If you are a Stephen King fan, or love thrillers of any sort, you will definitely love this book.” Rupali (

Outstanding! Susan May did it again! I loved the first book I read by Susan “Back Again” and had high expectations for this one. Well Susan you exceeded my expectations!Loretta (CanadaFiction Addiction 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Deadly Messengers Proof is here

Or how a book had a great holiday on my dime!

   Well, the miracles of the modern world and airfreight have combined to allow me in Perth Western Australia to order a proof of my book Deadly Messengers from the east coast of the USA, some 11,439 miles (18,409 kilometres) away and have it delivered here in Perth on Friday at 10:30am.
   Along the way, this little baby has had quite the holiday, which obviously explains why the proof cost less than $10, but the freight cost me something close to $A40 to get it here. But, I can't have my wonderful readers reading copies of my book unchecked and that release date of 30th September is coming up fast.
 For your viewing pleasure (actually probably not a viewing pleasure), here is the grand unpacking video of the very first printed copy of Deadly Messengers, the book we all know will  go on to sell millions around the world. (Did I hear someone out there clearing their throat?) Well, ya gotta be optimistic, doncha?

   Deadly Messengers has actually garnered some amazing reviews and is enjoying quite the buzz around Good Reads since I put it up there about four weeks ago. As of today, it's been added by over 200 readers and already received 65 reviews, all positive bar a couple. The reviews and the words of complete strangers who've told me they love the book, with some saying it's one of the best books they've read in a long time, have been overwhelming. I've had tears, people. Really. An author dreams of readers universally responding to a book that way. What's surprised and thriller me is that the amazing comments are coming from all ages, male and female, and all around the world: USA, Canada, Australia, India, U.K., New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, and more. And its, all ages, too, from people in their sixties to cool young, twenty-somethings. Somehow, the story is entertaining across ages and cultures. I truly can't believe it.
   I've also noticed that most people seem to read the book in one to three days from the time they start. One reader said they only meant to read the first chapter and then couldn't stop. Another wrote me that she ended up not doing her housework, while another said she kept wishing she was at home reading instead of at work. You don't know how that thrills a writer to hear all these kind of comments. 
   The last two weeks I've had a horrible persistent head cold. I should have gone to bed and rested, but I haven't been able to rest with the steady stream of enthusiastic emails and messages sent by readers. 
   I don't care, though, how sick I am. You know what I've discovered? The best thing for a cold isn't vitamin C. It's wonderful readers taking the time to tell an author how much they've enjoyed their book. With that, I can run a marathon or climb the tallest tower, or keep editing this next book The Troubles Keeper, when I just want to put my head down and sleep.
   My books are reader-powered entertainment, so thank you all my early readers, I feel turbo-charged.
    Deadly Messengers is currently on pre-order at your local Amazon story for only 99c until the 30th September, and for a few days after. Order now so you don't forget and discover why everyone is saying it's a book you can't put down and why terrifyingly it could be torn from the headlines.

DEADLY MESSENGERS is released 30th September 2015

Available in e-book and paperback worldwide. Here's a few of the Amazon sites, but it's available from every Amazon store for $US99c or equivalent in other countires for a short time only.

3 massacres, 2 detectives, 1 writer, 0 answers
Freelancer Kendall Jennings writes fluff pieces for women’s magazines. When a horrific massacre occurs at CafĂ© Amaretto, she scores an exclusive interview with a survivor. Suddenly, she’s the go-to reporter for the crime. 

   Investigating veteran detective Lance O’Grady and his partner Trip are tasked with finalizing the open and shut case. Seven people are dead at the hands of an unprovoked killer wielding an axe. It seems simple.

   Then another mass killing occurs. This time, arson, and ten eldercare facility residents die in the blaze. Both killers die at the scene. The crimes have no motive, and Lance O’Grady is left wondering how evil can strike twice.
  Then it happens again. Even more shocking: a mother with a gun goes on a rampage at a family birthday party.
   The killers share one odd detail: none have a murderer’s profile. No history of violence, no connection to terrorists, no vendettas. Ordinary citizens suddenly became killers. 

Drawn deeper inside the crime investigation, Kendall finds herself not only clashing with O’Grady but also struggling with old demons. O’Grady resents Kendall’s involvement as her presence provokes memories of a personal tragedy.

   O’Grady and Kendall are caught up in a plan greater reaching than the crimes. They just don’t know it. Someone is sending a message. And unless they can decipher the meaning, very soon, many more will die.
   Deadly Messengers is a page-turning thriller taking readers into the minds of mass killers in all their disconcerting madness. It poses the question: Is there a killer lurking inside everyone? The answer could prove more frightening than the crimes.


Thursday, November 6, 2014


Here’s what I hear over and over on why writers can’t get that book finished or it takes forever:

“You don’t understand. I would write more if I could, but—”

I don’t have time.
I’m a big procrasinator.
I’ve got children and they’re my focus.
I’m only starting out, so I don’t really know what I’m doing.
I’m a slow writer.
I suffer from writer’s block.
I’m scared that what I write will be rubbish.
And, so on, and so on.

Okay, I’m here to reveal some secrets to you and some hard truths about writers. We writers who’ve been at this for a little while are in a little club. Yep, we’re a clique. We’re friendly, though, anyone is welcome. Entry is simple. Just sit your butt down and write and keep writing until you’ve got something to publish.

There’s no secret about this, right? 

However, there are a few truths you learn the more you write. Now some of these truths won’t be universal, everyone’s different. Although I suspect after a certain word count and experience a high percentage of writers will have found a lot of what I share here to be true.

Myth 1

It should take years to write a book. 

Oh yes, it will take a long time if you don’t attend to it every day, but the actual real time it takes in hours doesn’t amount to years. The research, if you need it, might take time, but the writing doesn’t. And you know, you can always research a bulk of it afterward. Stephen King does it that way, and so do I. 

It’s like building a house. If you turn up every day and keep adding bricks, eventually your house will be built. The time it takes will be based on how many bricks you lay when you’re there and your determination to turn up, rain or shine, disaster or calm day, busy with life stuff or not.

Imagine there’s a guy next door building a house, too, whose house building got off to a great start. He was all enthusiastic about how easy it would be; he'd always wanted to build a house himself. But its been languishing half-built now for two years. He turns up one fine day when the sun is out, and it’s not too hot and not too cold, and he's found himself at a loose end in his day-to-day life. He looks over at your house just completed in record time and says to you, “Hey that’s impressive, how the heck did you do that? I started before you, and you’ve gone past me. Your house must be simpler than mine to build, and it’s probably not as well finished. I wish I’d built a house like yours instead of my difficult one.”

“Oh no,” you say. “My house is around the same size as yours, and I’ve been just as meticulous. However, I did notice that when it was raining for two weeks, you didn’t turn up, but I was here building. When the temperatures soared, you only came around for an hour, and then went home because you couldn’t handle the heat, but I stayed. Then you took that holiday, and you told me you were busy because of summer break and the kids being so demanding. Then you mentioned you were sick a few times in flu season, just like I’d been sick.  I probably wasn't as sick as you, because I managed to still work, you said. Remember?”

He shakes his head and begins to say, “But you don’t understand. My life is busier than yours, and I can’t help it if I can’t handle the weather extremes and this special family thing came up, that probably doesn't happen to you, and—“ 

You shake your head and interrupt, “You just asked how I built it quicker than you, but you don’t really want to know do you? Well, I built it on those days that you didn’t turn up. It’s that simple, my friend.”

The moral of the story, people, is that wherever you are in your writing journey, the only part of the job that really matters is the turning up. NO. MATTER. WHAT. I know this, because in the first three years of writing, I wrote when I felt like it. I used all those excuses above, and I marvelled at other writers, especially some independent authors who seemed to be able to write a book in a month. Stephen King and his prolific writing, well, that was because he was a talented freak. Ah, ah, ah. Not so.

Myth 2  

Writing quickly means the work is sub-par. 

Wrong. I always thought that, too, that maybe these fast writer’s work must be crap and someone helps them and fixes it up; or they had some special, magical power; or they simply had found a way to add more time to their day. That was until a happenstance occurred and I joined this group of authors who can write a quality book in a month or less and, to prove a point to myself and ensure the first one written in 26 days in May/June wasn’t a fluke, I wrote another book in 33 days in August/September, straight after I finished the 2nd and third drafts of the first one. 

There’s an interesting story around the May/June book. It taught me how to write quickly. Settle in. It’s a good story.

In March, I wrote a time travel short story, Back Again, for an anthology. It ended up at around 13,000 words and was written quickly in a week for a close deadline, and I blogged how I did it here. This was my first breakthrough of writing quickly in one single week.

Then I sent the story off to my two editors, copy and structural. Both editors asked a few questions about the plot, more out of curiousity than plot issues. They both loved it. Then two days later, my structural editor wrote me and said that she’d been thinking about the story and how much she enjoyed it, and she urged me to turn it into a book.

There were other projects I had planned, but I did think when writing the short that there was more to the story and that just maybe there was a novel in there. However, I didn’t want to spend too much time on a novel attempt. First of all, it seemed like a pretty tough task. It was a time travel story and they’re hard anyway, and did I have the writing chops to do it. 

My other challenge was that in a short story you don’t have to explain everything; so my character's abilities and background would now require some problem solving. My big issue was that I didn’t know how my protagonist actually did time travel. I hadn’t needed to know. There were so many things I didn’t have to know to write a good short. As well, the short story would have to fit in somewhere within the story. Readers were already responding and connecting with the published short. There was magic already there, and I didn’t want to lose that. So I would have to write a novel, knowing that at some point, I needed to have the novel story arc meet seamlessly with the short story prose. Then I would have to go beyond the end of the story and solve the leave-it-up-to-the-reader-to-decide ending.

Thirty days. That’s all I gave myself. If it turned out to be a fail, I didn’t want to waste too much time on it. So, I set up a spreadsheet to track my output and tell me how much I needed to write each day. If I missed a day or my word count was short, I would know how much extra I needed to write the next day, or how much less if I pulled a few marathon days and got ahead. I told myself I would write 65,000 words including my short story, so I had a 13,000 word start. So basically NaNoWriMo pace with a little bit extra. 1,800 words a day.

Yes, I did it! Writing between 10,000 and 16,000 words a week, I had my novel. It actually seemed quite easy and the spreadsheet made it fun. I banked words into that thing every day. That’s how I thought of it, "banking words," not writing a book.

Then it needed two more drafts before it went to my editor. Yes, only two drafts, even though I threw it down onto the page. By draft stage, something amazing had happened. I’d developed a habit. After the 2nd draft, I had 81,000 words and that was 20 days of work. Third draft, 85,000 words, edited in 18 days.

Then off to the structural editor it went. Since I wrote so quickly, only 1 draft and two edits, and with no original plot plan (yep, a proud pantster here), you would expect plenty of edits, right? Wrong! It came back with very basic editing, very little rewriting, and at the end the greatest compliment from my editor: “You’ve written something pretty wonderful here.”

Then it took me 11 days to fully go through the book again for a 4th draft because I am meticulous. There wasn’t many edits, but I wanted to look at it with fresh eyes after it had been gone for three weeks. I made many minor edits, superfluous words, rewriting sentences that I didn’t like and a few minor chapter rearrangements.

It came back from the proofreader with 217 small edits; that took an hour to go through.
Then final fifth draft of a printed out copy took four days, and still I didn't find much. 

But there’s more to this story...

When I sent the manuscript off, initially, to the structural editor, I was worried. Was this a one off, and had I only written it quickly because I had the short story? All of these thoughts were real possibilities. So after Back Again was off for its edit, I took one day off and then started a new book that I would finish in 30 days. Target 65,000 words.

Myth 3

You need to plot and plan and prepare to write quickly. 

Oh, Susan, but you must have prepared for this one, I hear you say? Nope, it was a start from a full stop. 

Two nights before, I'd thought to myself: I really enjoyed writing the antagonist in Back Again—now, I want to get inside the head of some really nasty people, so I’m going to write about a series of mass killings that are connected. In that way, I thought I could have a field day with multiple killers all in one book (I know, I have a crazy mind). Two days later, with that my only pre-thought on the story and no pre-planning (not one note), I sat before my blank page and told my mind to “Go."

Well, I can report: It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t always fun. I was terrified as heck some days. You should see me procrastinate when I'm scared. But... I turned up every day, and I got it done.

74,893 words in 33 days and the first draft of my next book Messengers was written. Faster than I’d written Back Again. I might add that it ended up being a police thriller, and I don’t write police thrillers. They seem far to complicated for my simple brain. I’m a speculative fiction author—horror, sci-fi, and creepy people. They require little research, and I can make fiction world rules up as I choose.

But I did it!

How did I beat up those myths. How did I do it? 

I used a few props and did a few things differently from how I'd done them before that I will share with you. The first one is the most important.

1.   I lost the attitude that excuses were me being honest, that they were reasonable and understandable. They weren’t. I held myself accountable instead.
2.    I set up this spreadsheet (I freely share it with you here) and it became my boss. If I was behind, well it told me that I couldn’t go out for that coffee or watch that TV show, or go to sleep until I had my word count done. We became partners.
3.  Every day I wrote something, even if I was sick or busy or had a full day scheduled. Family get togethers, birthdays, school excursions, lunches and coffee with friends (I wasn’t a hermit) were not an excuse. Even if I could manage 300 words—one measly little page—that was 300 words I didn’t have to catch up the following day.
4.    I didn’t let writer’s block or plot issues slow me down. It’s about the word count. If something at the beginning didn’t match with where the story was headed, I ignored it. Second and third drafts would fix that.
5.    Procrastination is just as much my Achilles' as every other writer, but I recognize now it's my brains way of resting. I need to stop every now and then and let myself catch up. Hey, I’m big on social media, and I love to potter around the house. So when I had chunks of time like one or two hours, I adopted a variation of the Pomodora Technique where I wrote for 30 minutes at a time, undisturbed, by switching on a countdown clock. As soon as I hopped on my computer I would switch it on, otherwise I’d zip over to Facebook or Twitter (just to check) and then get stuck there. Facebook and cruising the internet were my rewards in between my writing blocks. I couldn’t have them, if I didn’t write for thirty minutes.
6.    I stole time from everywhere. You know that thirty minutes before your kid’s game where they’re warming up, when you normally play on your phone or chat with the other parents? Well, I was in the car writing.  Kids in the shower, well that’s ten minutes free. Any waiting time is writing time, even if it’s writing on a piece of paper. Ten minutes is 200 words for me. Thirty minutes is 500 words. Time matters when you have a goal. You don't throw it away when you're answering to my spreadsheet.
7.    Finally, I stopped listening to that damn monkey in my head that always told me the stuff I was writing was crap; that I wouldn’t be able to work out where to go next in the plot; that I didn’t have the chops to fix the mistakes in the 2nd draft. You know that monkey knows diddly squat about me or my work. He’s not a writer. I am the writer. The muse belongs to me. So he could scream all he wanted, but as long as I turned up to write and put my butt in the chair, I was the boss. And I was writing, no matter how I felt or what he said.

I can hear your excuses

Now you’re going to say: But, Susan May, you have a different life to me; you write faster than me; you’re better at this than me; you’re amazing; and yeah, yeah, yeah, everything else you can throw at me. Come on! Get it off your chest. Now look in the mirror and say it to yourself. Be honest.

Well my answer to you is this: Yep, I might be faster than you at writing, but when I started four years ago, it took me more than an hour to write my goal of 300 words a day. Writing faster with more confidence is the reward for practice and persistence. 

Lets say you have practiced for years now, and the best you’ve got is 500 words an hour, and this is just throwing it on the page just to get something down. Let’s say, too, you can only steal seven hours a week. Then a 60,000 word first draft will still only take you 120 days, only four months! That’s it. By the time you finish it, I almost guarantee your speed will have picked up.

Now I hear you say, but what if I get stuck, and I don’t know where to go—writer’s block loves me? Well your spreadsheet goal doesn’t care. You need those words, so just write the next bit that you do know and go back later. Write around it. As a writer friend said after experiencing writer’s block, but finally adopting the use of my spreadsheet, “I wrote 16,000 words last week, because its in the writing that I worked out where to go.”  He commented that he’d been so caught up in his writer’s block that he’d forgotten that when you end up in a cul-de-sac the way out is to keep driving.

So fellow writer, you could take this information a few ways. You could say: she’s got something special that I don’t. She’s got a different life, so I’m staying where I am, even though I feel bad about myself, because I’m not special like Susan May. She has all the luck.

Or you could say: I don’t write like that, and I don’t like being under the pressure. One day I’ll finish this book without putting myself under the pressure. Maybe you will. Or maybe you won’t. Only you know if that reasoning is sound.

But if you’re determined that, yes, you want to join that club of writers who appear fearless (even though we’re as scared as you). If you’re determined that, yes, you do want to churn out work like Stephen King, then you’re going to give it a go.

Get that monkey off your back—prove him wrong. Throw those excuses out—they’re lies you tell yourself. Try something new—try challenging yourself and becoming a tougher boss.

Don’t wait for NanoWriMo. It's too slow for me now anyway, and it's only once a year. They might be too slow for you, too. Sheesh, 1,667 words a day. That’s cruising speed now.

Just shut up with excuses, rock up to the page, and take this thing seriously. It’s not magic. It’s just doing what needs to be done to build your house, brick by brick, word by word.

You could be thirty days away from writing your book, that could make you money, that could build your confidence, that could make you feel great about yourself, that might just change your life.

Are you ready? Get set. Go.

P.S.  If you’ve found this post helpful and feel in my debt forever, or at least for the next ten minutes, then please hop over and purchase a copy of Back Again. It’s a page turning read, and aren’t you just a little curious whether a book written that quickly is quality? I’m really proud of it but, even more so, I’m proud of what I have learned from taking the challenge in writing it quickly. Now I know I can do it, I’ll never go back again to how I wrote before. My writing practice has been forever changed. And let me know if this system or post has helped you, will you? I love success stories. We're in this together, you know.

BACK AGAIN was released 21st November 2014

Click here to purchase:  CLICK HERE

Could there be any greater nightmare than living through the death of your child?
Yes! Reliving it again and again.
A tragic accident takes Dawn’s only child right before her eyes. The following surreal days are filled with soul-destroying grief and moments she never wants to live again—until, inexplicably, she finds herself back again, living that day.
It’s a second chance to save her son. But changing fate is not as simple as it first appears. Time is not Dawn’s ally.

“She’d lost count of the number of times she’d lived through this. Every time it hurt as much as the time before. Eventually, she thought that she must become immune to the events, and that her heart wouldn’t shatter into a thousand, million pieces—
But it always did.”

Reviews of BACK AGAIN the Novelette

“Well-written. Thought-provoking. Highly recommended.” Peg McDaniel-Amazon
“I recommend this book to fans of time travel, parents, and those who thing texting and driving is okay. Please, read this story!” Chris Mentzer, author of the Askinar Towers
“It is a story not easily forgotten.” L. Frier-Amazon
“A MUST READ novella that will tug at your heart!” Ana Medina-Amazon
“A well written and haunting story that the reader will not soon forget.” Evie-Amazon

“Heartbreaking and, yet, wonderfully told.” Tamara-Amazon

Check out an excerpt here:  CLICK HERE



If you have enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straightaway you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I have exciting news to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: