Friday, August 1, 2008

Interview with Susan Meier

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Susan Meier. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! is actually the fifth book in an author generated continuity series. I was lucky to work with Shirley Jump, Melissa James, Myrna MacKenzie, Linda Goodnight and Melissa McClone on this one! At the time we began creating the series, we were former Silhouette Romance authors who had decided to see what we could come up with to entertain ourselves and also to showcase that we were fairly gifted girls! With so many great minds at work, LOL, we ended up with a great series idea and the editors loved it!
The series tells the stories of the romances of six women who work in a wedding planning business, Wedding Belles…owned by a wise “older” Southern woman Belle.

Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! tells the story of the group’s accountant, Audra. The year before Audra had been left at the altar by a playboy, so when a slip-up in the records occurs, and they can’t afford to create the wedding they had promised their assistant, Audra makes a special “deal” with multi-millionaire playboy Dominic Minelli. He’ll pay for their assistant’s wedding, if she’ll work at nights for him, caring for his baby until he can hire a nanny.

She’s absolutely positive his playboy status will be enough for her to resist him, but she soon discovers there’s more to the man than that choreographed exterior.

It’s a rich, detailed story that’s sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, about two people who are afraid to trust, finally finding the real person of their dreams, but painfully aware that sometimes the best of intentions can lead to read pain.

Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I didn’t. LOL. My editor did. My title was Suddenly a Daddy, but in retrospect my title (though good…LOL) didn’t fit the book as well as Suzy’s does!

What made you decide to write in this genre?

This genre chose me. My first two books were an Intrigue and a Desire and though I was right on the money with those two stories, the editors told me that my next effort, STAND-IN MOM was a traditional romance and the Silhouette Romance line actually fit my voice better. So we put STAND-IN MOM in Silhouette Romance and from that point forward Traditional Romance became my book of choice.

My voice fits, my stories fit…I feel as if I found my place. LOL

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

For years I studied every book and went to very workshop on plotting and honest to goodness tried to become a plotter…because plotters always know what they are doing and I love the feeling of knowing what I’m doing.

But this year I gave up and admitted I’m a pantser. LOL. Not that I don’t use all the great stuff I learned in the plotting workshops … I do! I even teach a lot of great plotting tricks in the workshops I give online and for RWA chapter conferences. Because you don’t have to be a plotter to use the tricks of the trade. Pantsers can use them too!

I’m actually doing a workshop CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED for the OCC chapter in September. There are a lot of FANTASTIC plotting tips in there. Tips you can use if you’re a plotter or a pantser!

But it seems that no matter how hard I try to pin down a story before I begin writing a book, once the characters get moving they start changing the script! And the outline.

So, I pants…but with a bit of control. I only let myself go 50 pages into the book, before I go back to the beginning and make sure everything fits and works…then write I another fifty pages…and go back to the beginning to make sure everything fits…then another fifty…You get the picture!
(I sure do. Maybe there's a name just for us. KW)

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I did minimal research. Most of it on Boston. In my past life, I worked with accountants and lawyers and also worked for numerous “companies” in my illustrious career as a Kelly Girl (thinly disguised writing research…learning as much as I could about as much as I could…LOL).
But when I hit a problem in a story, I’m afraid I have to admit that I don’t run to books as much as I do the internet. You can search for something like “best real estate in Boston” and in seconds discover the best place to “set” a wedding planners business! The Internet is my research venue of choice!

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

As I mentioned before, this book as part of a continuity series created by six former Silhouette Romance authors. Shirley Jump, Melissa James, Myrna MacKenzie, Linda Goodnight and Melissa McClone.

We simply fell in love with the idea of putting so much “wedding” stuff into six stories. When I was writing my book, even though my heroine is the group’s accountant, I loved writing the opening scene which takes place in the Wedding Belle’s offices, where there’s always a bride trying on a flowing gown and bridesmaids being fitted in colorful dresses, and the scent of wedding cake and flowers!

Now, wouldn’t that be a dream job!

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I loved Audra because she was a contradiction, but also because she didn’t know what she really wanted from life. And isn’t that true of all of us?

I identified with her, but also I believe most readers will too. Her journey of self-discovery gives us all hope that someday our lives will make sense.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I typically come up with a very troubled character first…either the hero or the heroine.
Normally, that inspiration comes from something I see in real life…a husband who loses his wife, a woman who gets pregnant and her boyfriend dumps her, a very smart character who doesn’t have any common sense…And then I create the worst possible partner…a character totally opposite (J) of the person they should ever marry…and make the two incredibly sexually attracted and stuck in a bad situation that forces them to deal with each other long enough to fall in love.

I don’t create sheets…Though I do write out a lot of each characters’ “history” because I believe we find the best quirks and conflicts in our characters’ pasts. So when I start writing page 1, I have a lot of fodder for scenes and for the characters to rub each other the wrong way!

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Authors who inspired me? In the beginning of my career Nora Roberts inspired me greatly. After I got over my amazement at her accomplishments, I realized that if she could do what she did…I could at least write a book or two a year.

But later on others inspired me. I’m in awe of the wonderful category writers who can take complex issues and tell them in the succinct, yet poetic way, necessary for a focused romance.
I think category romance gets a bum deal these days. Everybody’s interested in single title. Few would-be authors even read category…Yet, we tell emotionally intense stories in a very short amount of pages. If an author truly wants to learn how to be succinct and poetic…category should be what he or she is reading.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I advertise locally. There are only a few hundred thousand people in my county, yet if I get the word out on time lots and lots of them dive for my books. I think I appeal to the people I live with because I’m one of them. I’m writing for myself when I write, so it only stands to reason that the people I share a county with would also share my reading tastes. LOL

So my best advice to the published authors reading this is…Don’t forget the readers in your own back yard!

What do we have to look forward next?

I have an utterly adorable Christmas Book coming out in December. Her Baby's First Christmas. It’s a heartbreaker, but it’s also so funny that readers will probably find themselves simultaneously laughing and crying.

I don’t often say one of my books is better than another because I typically love all my books equally and I don’t want to slight any of them by bragging on another, but Her Baby's First Christmas is the kind of story that will get readers in the mood for a really great Christmas…Because all Christmases are supposed to be great.

In the same way, Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! will get readers in the mood to celebrate a wedding – or maybe just appreciate their own good marriage! Glimpses of wedding cake and bridal gowns throughout the book will remind readers of their own weddings, or their kids’ weddings or their sisters’ weddings…
Sigh. Doesn’t remembering your favorite wedding make you feel wonderful? LOL

Thanks, Susan!
To celebrate her book release, Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! Susan is offering a free copy of Her Pregnancy Surprise to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please make sure we have a way to contact you if you win) She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Susan Meier is the author of over 30 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, The Kindness of Strangers. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Reviewer's Choice Awards.

Her 2007 release, Her Pregnancy Surprise, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. The Millionaire’s Nanny and Her Baby’s First Christmas are her 2008 releases.

Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Plot Points, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article, “How To Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan has also given workshops on and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters.

One of eleven children, Susan was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and continues to live there with her husband, three children and two very personable cats. Susan is an avid, but terrible golfer, and a woman who desperately wants to lean to cook without having to involve the fire department. Her 2008 goals include getting involved with blogging -- she but hopes no one is holding his or her breath waiting for that, losing fifteen pounds -- don't hold your breath on that one either -- and figuring out the financing for an oceanfront condo in Virginia Beach. She swears she will wear Number 30 sunblock and never subject anyone to the sight of her in a bikini! (Unless asked -- and paid…handsomely.)

Upcoming online workshops include CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED for the Orange County California RWA chapter.

I’ll be presenting a 2-hour craft workshops…LET CONFLICT TELL YOUR STORY FOR YOU…at the New Jersey RWA chapter conference in October. Check their newsletter for details!

Check out author’s website at Buy


Susan said...

Hi! Susan here!

It's almost 8:00 here in Western Pennsylvania. I slept in! I typically get up at five to drive my son to work, but he only works four days a week, ten hours a day, so Friday are like a gift from heaven.

Feel free to post questions!


Anonymous said...

Good morning, Susan. I-er-slept in today too, so it may take a while to get things rolling:) I have a question for you. Is there a scene or part in this book or any of your other books that you loved but the editor made you take out? Or as they say in Hollywood "hit the cutting room floor?" Thanks for blogging with us today. She's also started teaching a class today, so she's going to be one busy lady. Check some of them out, they look awesome.

Kathryne Kennedy said...

Great to meet you, Susan! And good advice on remembering the readers in your own back yard.

Susan said...

I don't remember a scene that they made me take out. But I do sometimes get carried away with adorable babies! LOL

My sisters are young enough that they are still having babies and right now my sister Tammy has a daughter Lainie who is so cute...I could write about her every day. LOL

But the focus of the book is on how cute the HERO is...LOL.

So, yeah, some of my adorable baby stuff hits the cutting room floor!

Susan said...


Nice to have you here!

I'd like to take credit for keeping up witht he readers in my own back yard, but an advertising rep from one of our small local papers contacted me.

Now, when locals say...I never know when your books are out...I can say ... Keep watching the OUR TOWN paper. LOL

It's very effective in a number of ways!


CrystalGB said...

Hi Susan. Great interview. Millionare Dad, Nanny Needed sounds wonderful. I love the cover.

Susan said...

Thanks, Crystal.

I've been very lucky over the years to get some frantastic covers for both my Silhouette and Harlequin Romances.

It doesn't hurt to have babies in the stories! But, I've also gotten some very attractive heroes and heroines on my covers.

And...also covers usually do represent my books!

So it's win/win/win for me on covers!

Now, I hope I haven't just jinxed myself! LOL

TamiC said...

I didn't grab any chocolate while reading the interview, on a diet! I enjoyed the interview and that book sounds interesting. I wouldn't mind being a nanny for a millionaire. Hope you all have a great day.


Susan said...


I laughed!

I wouldn't mind being the nanny for a millionaire either!

The book truly is one of my favorites. Not just because it's fun to fantasize about what it would be like to have all that cash and a GREAT LOOKING GUY at your disposal, but because some of their issues were unique.

All in all, the book was fun to write and I think it's going to be fun for readers to read too.


Pat Cochran said...

Thanks for the lovely chocolate, it
really hit the spot!

Great interview, lots of very good
information. I'm looking forward to
Her Baby's first Christmas! I love
baby-themed and Christmas-themed
stories, so this one will really take
in all my interests!

Pat Cochran

Susan said...

Thanks, Pat!~

My editors and I liked the Christmas themed book so much we're doing another for next year!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic article, Susan! Would love to eat chocolate but can't since I've lost 100 pounds. It's a no-no. However, I'd gladly hand it over to the next person or share it with a family memeber.

Anyway, congrats on the lovely cover of your book....I love babies since I have two great grandchildren I adore. Your cover is precious! I hope you lots and lots of books!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hugs and Hugs,
Renee-Marie Roy

Tina LaVon said...

Thanks for stopping by MCTT.
Can you tell us how your line is different from the others over at H/S?

Susan said...

Hey, Renee-Marie!

Congrats on the 100 pounds! And the grandbabies!

Losing 100 pounds can't be easy! That's so great I'm at a loss for words, except congratulations!


Susan said...


When I first began writing I wrote a book or Desire and one for Intrigue (which I mentioned in the interview). Then I was shifted to Silhouette Romance because the sweeter, more traditional stories fit my voice.

We also wrote lighter stories. Not necessarily stories that made you laugh out loud, but stories that didn't have a sad conflict connected to the romance.

Our characters still had to grow. They still had to display grits and guts overcoming a problem. But the problem that made everybody mad or sad didn't always involve the romance. In fact, falling for the hero or heroine is part of what gives the "troubled" character the strength, will or grit to grow or change or do what needed to be done to resolve his problem.

When Silhouette Romance closed I was shifted to Harlequin Romance and there the problem DOES have to deal with the romance.

When it comes to Harlequin, Silhouette and Mills and Boon lines these are the kinds of differences you will find.

There are also some "external" kinds of differences for each line, hallmarks of a sort, things that pertain to story. Like: Intrigue has a suspense/mystery plot. Blaze readers like a sexy premise. Special Edition books like themes that revolve around home and family.

Those are just some of the many ways the books differ!

Interesting question! Thanks for asking!


Shirley Jump said...

Hi Susan! Saw you were on here and just wanted to pop in and say hello! This whole series has just been a blast to write and Susan's character is GREAT!


Susan said...

Thanks, Shirley!

I'm guessing you're back from Nationals!

This was a fun series to be involved in. Shirley started us off with a fabulous book about the wedding planners' florist!

Shirley's books are always fun. But in this book she has a character, a friend of the hero, who sounds like a displaced surfer. LOL. He made me laugh...and was a great foil for the hero!

We all had a lot of fun with this series!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Tami. You're the winner for this week's guest author interview! Thanks for remembering to leave your e-mail address.