I welcome edgy fiction writer Michelle Sutton today. Michelle is one very busy woman who’s getting her name out there big time. She is the creator of edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com, a social network, and of the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, as well as the author of her debut young adults novel, It’s Not About Me.
Q: We know that It’s Not About Me is a young adult novel, but do you write in other genres, too?
Michelle Sutton responds: I write in two main genres. Young Adult and Women’s fiction.
Q: How many books have you written and over what period of time?
Michelle Sutton responds: I’ve written nine books and several additional proposals, but this story is the first one I’ve sold. The rest of the series is pretty much contracted, too. We started the cover of the next book and added the first chapter to the end of It’s Not About Me, so this isn’t just a one book deal.
Q: Did you enter any writer’s contests prior to publication?
Michelle Sutton responds: I finaled in the very first contest I entered. It was the Great Beginnings contest through RWA. I finaled in 2005. I haven’t sold the book yet, but had a few close calls. I’ve never entered the Noble Theme or Genesis contests.
Q: Besides novels, have you had any other work published?
Michelle Sutton responds: If you want to count the hundreds of book reviews I have published all over the internet and my magazine columns.
Q: Tell us something about yourself. What are your hobbies?
Michelle Sutton responds: Right now? Just reading. I used to enjoy cross-stitching and watching chick flicks but I don’t have time to do that anymore. I still enjoy a nice walk or playing board games with my family. I still enjoy singing.
Q: Is there something unique or special about you or how you write that you would like to share?
Michelle Sutton responds: I like reading edgy fiction and I love writing it. Edgy fiction to me is fiction that dares to tell the truth about the human condition. That’s what I write about. My characters all hunger for something. Some find out it’s Jesus they’ve been looking for. Some never figure this out. Some already know Him in my stories. My characters don’t always make the wisest choices but they always suffer full consequences for their actions. My characters have emotional lives, spiritual lives and sexual desires. I consider them fully human. That’s what I like to write. If you read any of the reviews posted on my book you’ll see that my writing is described as daring, honest, etc.
Q: How long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?
Michelle Sutton responds: About 3 ½ years.
Q: Were rejections a part of your writing journey?
Michelle Sutton responds: I stop counting after the first twenty. I never allowed myself to focus on the fact that my stories weren’t a good fit. In fact, most of my rejections were very nice. They liked my writing and even my story but didn’t think they could sell it and did I have something less edgy to offer? I’ve never had a rejection that was mean or said I had no business trying to sell my work. That was very helpful in keeping my spirits up. A lot of people said that publishers weren’t ready for what I had to offer yet, but they would be soon, and I’d be ready. I tried focusing on that perspective rather than the rejection of my manuscripts. In truth, I’m glad I didn’t sell sooner because it took me four years to get my name out there and attract a following of likeminded readers. They will be what keeps me going in the publishing business. Them and God, of course.
Q: Do you hope to sell all the novels you have written so far?
Michelle Sutton responds: I have a few novels that are great but so poorly written (head-hopping and passive language) that I’d have to completely rewrite them to make them good enough to sell. I may do that someday but for now I’ll consider them practice novels.
Q: Initially how long did it take for you to write a novel? And what about now?
Michelle Sutton responds: About six months. Now I can whip out a nicely polished 100+ word manuscript in four months, tops.
Q: What is your writing method?
Michelle Sutton responds: I write SOTP (Seat of the pants) but not until I’ve mulled over the plot in my head for months on end. By the time I sit down I already know what I’m going to write (in my head) and where the story is going. I just need my fingers to catch up with my thoughts.
Q: What was the timeframe involved between signing your initial contract to seeing your book on the shelves? And tell us about the revision process, please.
Michelle Sutton responds: From the time I signed the contract until the time it would be on the shelves was about 10 months. I only had to do minor revisions to eliminate pet phrases and such. I did this twice. No gutting of the story or anything jarring to deal with. The story is essentially the same, just tighter now that I’ve edited it again.
Q: What does your publishing house expect of you with regard to self-promoting your novel(s)?
Michelle Sutton responds: No more than any other publisher does. You have to get reviews and endorsements and have people get a buzz started about your book. Whether it’s a big house or a small press, the promotional piece is largely left up to the author. And honestly, I don’t want wimpy sales numbers. They are a career killer.
Q: Do you have any direction for or thoughts that you care to share with weary authors-in-training?
Michelle Sutton responds: Just keep honing your skills and writing until you find your voice. Attend writer’s conferences and read books on writing. You’ll know when you are getting closer to publication when people get excited about your stories and it’s not just because you are friends.
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Michelle. I wish you all the best with your writing and life. To learn more about Michelle Sutton please visit http://www.michellesutton.net/ or http://edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com/.
It’s Not About Me (A Second Glances Novel, #1)
YA fiction, in stores Sept 1, 2008.
Sheaf House Publishers, LLC
Available now for pre-order online at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Annie has it all. She's attractive, graduated with honors, was accepted at the college of her choice, has supportive parents, good friends, and a steady boyfriend who loves her. One night when an unexpected visitor appears, Annie's safe world is destroyed. As she tries to recover the pieces of her broken life, a war ensues between two brothers who both claim to have her best interests at heart. But who will Annie choose? Or will she decide to turn her life in a different direction?
Book Giveaway: For a chance to win a copy of Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Me, leave a pertinent comment in this post by 9:00 pm Eastern time on Wednesday, September 10, 2008. Good luck to everyone.
Congratulations goes to Little Missus Sunshine. She won Michelle Sutton's book.