What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
a life revealed
TRAGEDY CAN STRIKE IN A SPLIT SECOND. BUT WHAT IF THAT TRAGEDY BRINGS WITH IT BOTH HEARTACHE AND MYSTERY?
After her parents are killed, seventeen-year-old Chloe Jacobs discovers that she’s been part of the Witness Security Program her entire life. While enduring twenty-four hour protection from U.S. Marshals, Chloe secretly searches through her tangled family history…and realizes that in order to find the truth, she’ll have to fight for her safety, dreams, love…and ultimately her life.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in a suburb of Boston and absolutely loved it, but when I was offered a job opportunity in Orlando, following graduate school, I took it and have been here since 1997.
I am the youngest of 6 girls in my family. We fished, painted, danced, played sports, chopped wood, sailed and just about everything else. I loved growing up in a large family. We are all very close and supportive of each other.
I earned a Master’s Degree in Sports Business and Recreation and Management from Northeastern University in Boston and a Bachelor’s in Communication/Media with a specialty in Technical Writing.
I have worked for the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) for the last 16 years, a non-profit dedicated to providing diversity training, gender violence prevention training, alcohol education, and more to college and professional athletes. My mentor has been Dr. Richard Lapchick who is our founder and executive director.
I am a former figure skater and still love to get out on the ice. I love reading, writing, working in the community and hanging out with my husband Jay Slowinski and our daughter Maia.
I am looking forward to finishing the sequel to a life revealed and hope that people enjoy the continuation of Chloe’s story.
What inspired you to write this book?
It’s kind of a funny story. I was checking my Facebook and my niece wrote an update on her page, letting everyone know she was writing a novel. I called her up laughing and told her I thought she’d write one paragraph and quit. We laughed, but then it became a challenge for us. As a former athlete, I am quite competitive.
I earned a degree in communications/media with a specialty in technical writing so I was sort of ready to go. I had an idea about a main character and nothing else so I decided to build the entire book around this one person and her experience as a young person in the Witness Security Program. Right now I am working on my sequel and I haven’t seen anything from my niece yet, but I am being patient.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
In the beginning I really didn’t know the difference between traditional publishers and self-publishers. I found out quickly and decided that I wanted to do things my own way. I wanted complete control of the process, all the way from the cover design, marketing, publicity and everything else right down to the size and type of font. With that in mind, I decided to start Suzi Katz Books as a small press. I mean really small…it’s just me. I went through Lightning Source, which is a distributor who does print on demand orders. I felt like this was a good place to start. This allowed much more opportunity for me within the book industry. I was able to get my book into Barnes & Noble through their small press division. Receiving the letter from them notifying me that they were putting it on their shelves, had to be the most exciting experience.
I’ve also had the opportunity to get involved with the Amazon Breakthrough book of the year awards, Independent Publishers as well as their awards program, and the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group. It is great to be able to talk to other people who are doing the same thing I am.
It is amazing how many people I’ve known or met, during the process of writing my first book, who love writing and have always wished they’d written poems, books or short stories. I say go for it. It’s never too late to do something that you love.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I loved reading as a kid. As I’ve heard many other authors say, Judy Blume was really instrumental in my becoming a reader. I loved her stories, but more importantly, I loved the voices of her characters and the way in which they were written. It made me want to write all the time.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
For me the hardest part of writing is not having control of the characters. Sometimes a character might do something that I don’t agree with, but I can’t change that. They don’t have all the same values and beliefs that I do, so I have to let it go. I might not even like them, or would ever pick them as a friend in my real life. But, I can’t erase something they’ve done, if it is part of who they are, then it has to be.
Finding the time to write if often difficult since I work fulltime during the day so nights and weekends are the times I have to work hard.
How do you do research for your books?
I love talking to people. So my research, especially for a life revealed was a lot of fun. I got to speak with U.S. Marshals who made a tremendous difference for me. They started out by asking me about my character, so I knew I was dead on as far as the types of kids they have to deal with. It is nice that not every situation is the same and they have to kind of roll with the punches as far as decision making with each person brought into the program.
Medical research was both extremely exciting. While I did a lot of research for the first book, the second involved a lot more. I took advantage of speaking with my own personal surgeon who had worked in a trauma center and I learned so much about procedures and things that can happen afterwards i.e. infections, etc. It was a great learning experience.
With technology, I would say that I am pretty lucky with regards to the research I had to do about the different cities and places the characters lived. When the character was looking for information at a certain place or if she were visiting somewhere, it didn’t just happen to be close to where she lived for convenience purposes, it was the actual mapped distances, etc. I had to see it in my head in order to write it for the characters. Looking at college requirements and schedules was really easy as well since everything is online and it really only took a few telephone calls to get everything I needed.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
Absolutely!! I learned a lot of what not to do while trying to publish a book. It took some time to find people who I respected and trusted, and who I could work with comfortably. It is so important to be able to have honest conversations with the people you work with. If they can’t tell you something isn’t right or is not working, then it’s probably not a good match.
What are you reading now?
I read about three to four books a week. I recently finished How the Light Gets In by M.J. Hyland and just started Cruel Summer by Alyson Noel.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Generally, I read a wide variety of books. I really like Ellen Hopkins. Her books are sometimes difficult to process because of the subject matter and the honesty that is behind them, but they are amazing stories. I always recommend them, especially for young readers. They really make you think. I also like Judy Blume, Cassandra Clare, Alyson Noel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shel Silverstein, Lisa McMann, Simone Elkeles, Tiffanie DeBartolo, P.C. & Kristin Cast, Jay Asher and so many more.
I love when I really connect with the characters and the story. There is nothing better then opening a book and feeling like it’s a door to where the story takes place.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes, I am working on the sequel to a life revealed, which right now is not officially titled. It is a continuation of the life of Chloe Jacobs and the new challenges she faces. I don’t want to give much away since there are still people reading the first book.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Write every day, even if it is for a short time. Get something down on paper. Carry a notebook so you can write ideas down anytime. You never know where you’ll be when an idea might hit you. Trust me, you won’t remember it later.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I really started off by promoting it on my Facebook page. I was lucky enough to go to a high school with over 6 thousand students and then attended college and graduate school so I had a huge network of friends. I have also worked for a national non-profit for 16 years so those connections were also great. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and I am grateful to all of them for reading the book and telling people about it. There is nothing like being 221 on the Barnes & Noble list, even if it was for a week.
I also belong to Goodreads.com which is a great website for book lovers and authors. I was able to get the word out on my book and promote it, but also follow my own favorite writers, their blogs and talk to readers. I heard about other authors, and books that I may never have come across just walking through a bookstore. Some of them are print on demand and needed to be ordered online. I have been grateful for hearing about them.
I purchased short-term ads on Facebook which brought a lot of traffic to my website and did several book give-a-ways. I have a great publicist who has gotten me some great opportunities.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
I have a book website at http://www.suzikatzbooks.com. I love to hear from people and will always answer emails or letters.