Please help me welcome Micki Suzanne to Writing Under Fire’s Author Interview Friday. Micki, was there a particular inspiration to start writing?
As a kid I was obligated to write for church and school assignments. I didn’t enjoy the topics, but I’ve always loved wordplay.
In the sixties my high school English teacher told my mother I had talent and urged her to send me to college; she just didn’t have the money.
In the 80s I worked my way up from secretary to event planner for a Detroit-area marketing company. The guys in the creative department enjoyed passing informal essay contests around via email. Themes ranged from “what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done on a date” to “what’s the most humiliating thing you’ve ever done for money.” My contributions garnered guffaws, so they decided I should be hired in as a writer.
The creative director – an f-bombing bear of a man – took me under his wing and taught me the ways. That generous act changed my life. I’ve been writing professionally ever since.
Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
In the 90s I studied non-fiction with William X. Kienzle (author of The Rosary Murders and other best-sellers). His wife Javan was his editor, and they taught as a team. We became friends, met for lunch and discussed possible scenarios for his latest book “Til Death.” It came out in 2000; he passed the following year.
What brought you from Michigan to Fort Myers?
A deer tick. In 2002 I had a writing career that paid so well I was able to open an antique shop on the side; then I got sick, lived with undiagnosed Lyme disease for two years and never fully recovered. I lost my job and my health, but I still had the antique shop. I was known for my estate jewelry, which I bought and sold online.
In 2006 eBay invited me out to join their Voices of the Community group. I returned inspired to write my first book, “Sick Mick’s Guide to Selling Antiques & Collectibles.” It was for people (like me) who were dealing with chronic illness.
When my boyfriend started wintering in Cape Coral, I closed my shop for the season and brought my estate jewelry down to sell online. I noticed I felt much better here!
When the relationship ended, I stayed and – to my surprise – managed to make it as a freelance marketing writer. That’s not easy at my age in a tourism-based economy.
This is my personal website/online portfolio: www.mickisuzanne.com
Are you a pantser or a planner?
Neither; I need to be inspired.
What inspired your new book?
When my freelance writing business slumped in 2012, I panicked and took two bags of my best jewelry to the gold buyers. I knew better, but I was teetering on the brink of financial disaster. Fortunately, I didn’t give them all of my gold. I walked away with some cash and the best of my stuff; which I promptly sold on eBay for substantial profit.
Once I calmed down, I was ENRAGED by the prices the gold buyers deemed “generous.” People needed to know how to sell their own jewelry online! I thought I could just revise my previous book, but it was terribly out of date. I needed to write a whole new book – it is:
“How to Sell Vintage & Gold Jewelry Online”
It’s available on Kindle (or PC) for $4.99 and as paperback for $9.99
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?
I published my first book through a respected self-publishing company; I was lucky if I received pennies on the dollar. In their hands, my first book is – and has always been – out of my control. I will be shutting it/them down this year.
If you have the smarts to write a book, you have the skills to manage the publishing process. I’m extremely happy with my results through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space; most important, I own and control my work!
Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?
My voice is my tone. We have a different tone with certain types of friends. I choose who I will write to. I see their faces and know their reactions.
Challenge brings sadness, so I attempt to soften hard truth with wry humor. This sample briefly explains how I acquired Lyme and what it felt like to part with my first heirloom.
“Weekends with Randy were my salvation. He had a hot tub, swimming pool and five acres of woods. One Sunday I should have been poolside catching late day rays, but no – I was cranked back in his bony blue La-Z-Boy watching Sex and the City.
Sassy ambled over, circled three times and curled up at my feet. She had been out back chasing deer. Her soft wavy fur carried the parasitic freeloader that would steal my health, my wealth and my man.
‘The thing’ I clawed from my thigh that day was a deer tick; but I didn’t know that. I wouldn’t know for a long time. It was round and hard as a bullet with my blood.
Years of crushing illness and brain fog passed without income or diagnosis. I literally kissed my house good-bye, ran a red light and cried all the way back to Randy’s.
It was time to rethink the spoils of failed relationships; the skating rink [3 carat diamond] was the first to go. I was freaked about putting something so valuable on eBay.
The day it sold, Emma was checking the pool filters for trapped frogs.
I vaguely remember putting the big pear cut diamond in her sticky little palm and apologizing that it should have been hers one day.
Then I cleaned it, insured it and shipped it to Texas. The new owner was ecstatic.
I was encouraged; I could do this.
So can you.”
What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Editing is the hardest part. I’ve gone in to tweak a sentence and wound up restructuring one chapter that affects five more.
It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
As a marketing person, I know the importance of establishing online relationships. My favorite method is sharing my estate jewelry buying and selling experiences on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MickiSuzanneAuthor
What advice would you give to new non-fiction writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Find a need and fill it.
Thank you Micki for being part of my blog today. Okay guys and girls, let’s run out and sell our vintage jewelry. Joanne