Today, we're joined by Susan Griner, who's sharing the details of her latest book, her path to publication, and biggest lessons learned...

The Cemetery Sleeper is a middle grade book about a boy named Freddy Pesterfield who is lured into sleepwalking to a nearby cemetery by a vengeful ghost. Freddy desperately searches for a remedy against the ghost named Tump, but his cousin Emily believes Freddy's grief over his mother's death is what leads him to the cemetery every night. As Freddy learns about the ghost's mysterious death he begins to suspect his family's involvement in Tump's drowning. Will the secrets Freddy unearths keep him from walking to the cemetery for one last time?

My path to publication of a book was a slow one, but I wrote poetry and short stories on the side and had them published in Cricket and Babybug magazines. I recommend taking time to write something shorter and submitting it as you work on your book. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and some writing credits when your work is published. Committing to revision means being willing to throw a ms away even if you've completed it which I have done. I joined critique groups, submitted my work, went to conferences--all the usual routes to grow as a writer. I submitted my story to an indie press called Saguaro books which is open to middle grade novels. From there I had my first book published.

The best part of getting a book out there in the universe is having the students I used to teach reading my book. I recently finished an author visit with a group of third graders who brought up scraps of paper for me to autograph.The hardest part about having a book out there is getting someone to notice it. Marketing is tedious and many times fruitless. I'd rather be writing.

The biggest surprise in my writing career is how involved friends and acquaintances become in promoting your book. I'd had friends who have made sure my book in available in libraries, who gave me opportunities to speak in their classrooms at a number of schools. There are so many solitary benefits to writing for me, but it's good to for me to remember the support from others that I have received as well. 

The pitfalls I've faced as a writer is too much interior dialogue. I like my characters to ruminate on their dilemmas which is the last thing a kid wants to read. I catch myself doing it when my characters start asking themselves questions. 

My favorite writing tip takes up a lot of time, but it works for me. If I'm having trouble creating a character and I'm writing in third person, I'll take the character and write about him or her in first person at length. This gives me the voice which I am struggling with. Some writers do a character inventory but that's not usually enough for me.

I've finished my next manuscript which is a YA historical novel called The Hunt for the Heavenly Horse. It's a real departure for me and took years of research about ancient China and Central Asia.  The book is about a 14-year-old nomadic boy named Tagan who refuses to give up his horse after she’s taken by the Chinese army. Tagan sets out after her and the other 3,000 blood-sweating horses seized from his kingdom in an epic journey across the Silk Road.He endures the brutality from the soldiers who call him a barbarian but he later earns their respect by saving them from the hardships in the desert. 

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