Interview with Debut Author T. Sue Versteeg

I’m happy to be the first to interview newly published author Toni Sue Versteeg. I “met” Sue on Romance Divas and have been impressed with her good nature, how supportive she is of her fellow authors. I’m excited for her–her first release, Another Time, Another Place, releases December 1 from Port Town Publishing.

Ciar: Should I call you Sue or Toni Sue? Firstly, thanks very much for your willingness to get grilled, I mean politely interviewed!

Sue: I was the ‘little sister’ in my family, so I pretty much answer to anything. Sue is preferred though, and it is an honor and my pleasure to be your sacrificial lamb…err, interviewee.

Ciar: Start off by telling us about living in Missouri, in the Ozarks. It brings up all sorts of images to me, and I wonder if they are accurate? What are the biggest misconceptions about your “neck of the woods?”

Sue: Living in the Ozarks has been a wonderful experience. I met my husband, who is also the love of my life, while living here. I can’t imagine making a home anywhere else. Woods, wildlife and lakes, all with the comforts of city living nearby; it doesn’t get any better than this. The biggest misconception one might have with SW Missouri is that it is a backwoods, rural area. While there may be a fair share of hicks, we blend nicely with everyone else.

Ciar: Many congrats on Another Time, Another Place, coming out December 1 at Port Town Publishing. Am I correct that this is your first release? Tell us a little bit about that book…

Sue: This book is my baby! It was so much fun to look at another century and pretend to be there. Another Time, Another Place takes you on a wild ride to the past. The 13th century, to be exact. Tessa Garrett leads a mundane existence in the present, but wakes up in the castle of her dreams and is quickly pulled into the life of Lord Hadley, and into his arms. Gretchen, his wife-to-be from an arranged marriage, has other plans. She has Tessa abducted and left for dead in an abandoned tower. Will someone get to Tessa before it is too late? If they do, can Tessa and Eric find a way to follow their hearts? You will have to buy the book to find out.

Ciar: Had you written other books before this? Has it been a long, slow road to publication or does it feel like a whirlwind?

Sue: This is the first book I’ve ever written. I’m going to go with ‘slow road’ on this one. It has taken me five years to get this far, and only with my wonderful husband’s support and the grace of God, have I made it. I can’t tell you how many times that I would get a rejection letter, sit down and cry, then announce to my family that I was giving up. My husband would lend me his shoulder, dry my tears and then announce that I was going to get more query letters ready the next weekend, just as soon as I was done feeling sorry for myself. You know how tough it is to ride that emotional roller coaster!

Ciar: Was there any time when you doubted your ability to get your work published? How did you fight through that doubt?

Sue: Daily, hourly, and sometimes every minute. I have to give my husband most of the credit for this. He is my rock, and my biggest fan. Most guys won’t admit to reading romance, but my husband loves me enough to even do that. I’m sure that he follows that statement with something along the lines of being my inspiration for all of the love scenes, but I have to take what I can get.

Ciar: I bet you get all kinds of advice as a first-time published author, right? How much of it has served you well, or is it too early to tell?

Sue: The Romance Divas! Their support and encouragement, along with all of the publishing advice, has been priceless. The biggest help has been the stories of triumph and their advice to never, ever give up.

Ciar: Do you write everyday? How much? What are you working on now?

Sue: I try to write a little each day. Even if all I can do is open up my latest work in progress and edit a little bit, at least it is a step in the right direction. I actually have a query out to a publisher right now on my next finished story. It is a short story titled One Wild Weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for me on this! I have three other projects that I’m currently working on. One is a ghost story, the second is another time travel, and the third is a contemporary main-stream novel. There are blurbs about them on my website.

Ciar: What has been the biggest surprise about this publishing experience so far? How is it unlike what you pictured?

Sue: I had heard the horror stories about the editing process, but I never believed them. I do now! I have to admit that it has been the biggest learning experience in my life so far. I had pictured the publishing process like something from a movie. I thought it would be all glamour and fun. Not that it has been horrific, but it has been challenging.

Ciar: Tell us about that fab cover! I understand one of our pals at Romance Divas did the artwork? It’s lovely.

Sue: The background picture was taken by my husband down at Table Rock Lake. Night Diva Maria took the task to hand with her wonderful graphic art talents when my publisher was hospitalized and had emergency surgery. Maria jumped in and helped me out of a hard situation by working her magic. It turned out better than I had ever dreamed! If anyone is interested, she is available and very reasonable. Email me and I will have her get back with you.

Ciar: What are your writing strengths (in your opinion)? Your weaknesses? Do you work with a critique partner?

Sue: My biggest strength in writing would have to be my vivid imagination and ability to tell stories. I used to get my mouth washed out as a child for that, and now I am getting paid for it! My dad got a chuckle out of that revelation. My weakness would have to be not having enough confidence in myself, or my work. I guess that is why I keep the hubby around, for moral support. And no, I’ve never had a critique partner, but always wanted one.

Ciar: What direction would you like your writing to go? Are you writing for yourself, the “market”, or both? What’s the heat level of your writing? Have you struggled with that at all?

Sue: What direction do I want my writing to go? Well, straight to the top of the NY Times Bestseller’s list, of course! Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I would be extremely happy just selling enough copies to be considered a published author by RWA standards, or to merely be able to quit my day job and write full time. As for whom I write for, that would have to be me. I honestly don’t think I could write something under someone else’s direction, but then again, I’ve never tried it. On the subject of heat levels, Another Time, Another Place would be rated mild. It has its moments, but it is far from the popular erotica genre of today. One Wild Weekend, which is the short story I mentioned earlier, has a substantially higher heat level, so I guess I’m open to all areas.

Ciar: What does Sue do for fun? Tell us your hobbies, fav guys, TV shows, etc.

Sue: My husband and I adore the outdoors and the many lakes here in the Ozarks. We have a ski boat and take full advantage of any nice weather to use it. Now that we are well into the fall season, I will undoubtedly get more writing done. We have a son who is a senior in High School, so the only television that I get to watch is when I’m bonding with him, or spending time with our 22 year old daughter. I have become extremely fond of Family Guy and American Dad, which bring me to my favorite guy. Seth MacFarlane, creator of the aforementioned shows, happens to be my flavor of the month. I have his picture on my blog, and his voice, whew! Talk about heat level.

Ciar: How would you describe your personality?

Sue: Serious, professional, workaholic…anything that you could use to describe someone that is completely the opposite of that, can be used to describe me. My husband says that the word ‘ornery’ pretty much sums me up. So, I have a playful side!

Ciar: Finally, where can folks find you on the Web? Give us the lowdown!

Sue: My website is . Please leave me a comment in the guest book area! Don’t make a grown woman beg! You can access my blog from there, so take a peek at Mr. MacFarlane. I also have a MySpace page. Yes, I’ve joined the herd. I’m always hanging out with the guys and gals at Romance Divas too. If you are a reader or writer of romance, you have to check them out. They are a wealth of knowledge and experience, not to mention the friendliest people I’ve ever met! It’s free to sign up, so take a look around.

Good News Monday

Hope you had a good weekend. Mine was mostly lovely. Husband and I spent a 70 degree day in Ocean City NJ–it was absolutely spectacular! Lots of walking on the boardwalk, too much food.

My good news? Hmmn, let’s see, I finished a round of edits on Princes of Anfall, coming in December from Samhain. I’m halfway through rewriting Unholy Vows, for release from Samhain next year. Not much else to report this week. How about you?

Post your good news, whether you’re a reader, writer, editor, or even if you stumbled here by accident!

Who, Me? I’m Up at Erotic Escapades! Interview Wednesday

Look here every Wednesday for an interview of some romance personality (as long I can find a willing victim–and volunteer by posting a response if you’d like to take part!). For now, ahem, I’m humbly submitting myself as the sacrificial lamb. I had a ball chatting with Miaka Chase at Erotic Escapades, where they’ve also reviewed a number of my books. And I promise, my hair looks much, much better these days.

Tuesday Picks! Add Your Own…

It’s voting day here, so having had a very frustrating few moments staring at the machine, wishing it were a pinball game instead (it seemed just about as useful), I decided to offer some suggestions on other areas to explore. I hope you’ll add your own recommendations, serious to silly.

In the category of book of the week: Rebecca Goings’ Hearts Eternal, available today at Samhain Publishing. I read this book in its first release, and it’s a solid, solid read. Go Becks! You can read more here.

Keeping with the Samhain theme for a bit, my vote for really attractive website goes to Rene Lyons. It sets a very clear tone that matches her books beautifully.

I wonder if Yahoo loops are going the way of VHS tapes, but I want to offer props to Karenfindoutaboutnewbooks’ two loops. Karen is one of the most hardworking promoters I’ve seen, between these loops and Coffee Time Romance, I’m not sure how she does it.

Off the topic of writing, one of the places I visit regularly:
Penn Vet Medicine, for updates on Barbaro (yes, I’m strange): The lovely horse got his cast off today.

What are your favorites???

Good News Monday

Don’t be shy. Grab a cuppa, pull up a chair, and tell us your recent good news! A new addition to the family? A new pet? A book sale????? Or are you simply happy to have worked through that block? Share!

I already announced my sale to Ellora’s Cave (below) and so that will suffice for me for a bit. Oh, and my book Love’s Alchemy and I are going to be the featured book/author at Two Lips reviews in January. I’m the author of the month at Erotic Escapades (, although I don’t think my interview is up quite yet.

VOTE? How can I vote? How can I not vote?

Joe Piscopo called. (Many of you don’t know who he is, I know…) Yep, he left a voicemail on my answering machine today, telling me that he’s a Democrat but that he’s going to vote for the NJ Republican candidate. Yesterday, Al Gore called. “This is Vice President Al Gore.” I know you get to keep that title, but do you get to call me on a Saturday?

I don’t know what it’s like around your neck of the woods if you live in the US, but it’s probably about the same as it is in New Jersey. I can’t vote for Bob Menendez, because “he’s evil and is going to give all your social security money to illegal immigrants.” I can’t vote for Rick Santorum, because “he’s evil, and he’s Bush’s bitch.” There was an ad against someone named Patrick Murphy, using a tone usually reserved for five year olds on the playground. Evidently he eats children while they’re still alive. That’s pretty evil.

Unfortunately, we pick up both New York and Philadelphia ads too, and all those people are evil. Evidently Satan is controlling all the candidates this election.

I have voted in every election for which I’ve been eligible, even when I lived in Greece and England, and that was no small thing to get those ballots done. I usually don’t vote for the winner, but if I do, they generally turn out to be losers anyway.

I’m not liberal, I’m not conservative. I’d like the government to run efficiently, and for social programs that make sense to work. I don’t care if gays want to get married and call it marriage in New Jersey. Let them. Don’t tie up our tax dollars debating it for the next decade. They’re adults; they pay taxes. I don’t want the tax cut reversed, and I don’t want another Vietnam (but I’m not smart enough to know the right thing to do regarding Iraq).

I don’t want Joe or Al to call here again, I want John Kerry to get his scripts down tighter in the future, and I want someone to vote for who isn’t the devil. They say Obama may run in the presidential election. Just wait til they find out about his satanic cult.

Maybe it’s time for this country to become a monarchy? Cause if these clowns are the best a “democratic” system has to offer…

Love’s Alchemy a RR from Two Lips!

Thrilled with this wonderful review! Ah, they may be for readers, but sometimes they give you the kick you need :o) Thanks, Kerin. A recommended read from Two Lips Reviews!

“Love’s Alchemy will definitely “wow” you. I became so engrossed while reading this fantastic tale that hours passed and before I knew it, I had read it from cover to cover in one sitting. This intricately woven and suspenseful plot had me wonder what would happen from one page to the next. Laced with a strong dose of humor, Ciar Cullen has penned a definite must read! With such emotionally powerful writing, I found myself laughing as well as crying right along with Sidra and Van. Van’s mix of strength and vulnerability is compelling, exciting and extremely erotic. I desperately hope that Ms. Cullen will share the stories of Van’s brothers, Alex and Went and maybe even his other “siblings.” Love’s Alchemy is definitely not to be missed. I absolutely, positively, adored this book and cannot say enough good things about it.”–Kerin

Love’s Alchemy is available at Loose ID!