Collette's Crusade by Michelle Sutton
Our guest blogger is Michelle Sutton. Michelle is the author of over twenty novels with more to release in the next few years. She is an empty nester with two sons in college. She lives with her husband in sunny Arizona.
JO: Welcome, Michelle. Please tell us a little more about yourself.
MICHELLE: In February I celebrated my 9th anniversary as a serious writer. I attended my first writer's conference in the fall of 2004 and currently have 20 books in print. Since I've been a social worker and/or supervisor for the past 25 years, I have plenty of fodder to make my novels interesting. This August I will be celebrating 23 years of marriage to the same man. We have two sons, ages 20 and 21, who are full-time college students. We've lived in sunny Arizona since 1991.
JO: What 3 fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?
MICHELLE: Well, this isn't fun, but it's unique to me. I also don't know how well known this info is, but here goes…
I've lost both of my parents - one MS and one to cancer. My mom died in 1998 and my dad died in 2011, but they gave me the legacy of true Christian faith by having in a personal relationship with Jesus to pass on to my kids.
Also, the year before my mom met my dad, she was a nun in the Franciscan order. No, she didn't leave the convent because of my dad. She left because she wanted to have kids, and so she married and had me, my two sisters, and my brother.
My husband is almost twenty years older than me, and thus he is only ten years younger than my dad was. So when I tease and call him my old man, it's true.
JO: Please describe yourself with three words.
MICHELLE: Creative. Persistent. Caring.
JO: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
MICHELLE: Reading historical fiction.
JO: How did you become involved in writing?
MICHELLE: I had a lot of stories on my heart and decided to give it a try. Then God gave me the stories he wanted me to share to reach hurting people and hopefully be used to heal broken hearts.
JO: Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?
MICHELLE: Yes, I have an office full of books and with two computers in it. One for me and one so my husband can pester me while I am trying to concentrate while I write.
JO: Do you always know the title of your books before you write them?
MICHELLE: About 90% of the time.
JO: Please tell us about Collette's Crusade.
MICHELLE: Collette's goal is to help needy parents -- just not her own. When she begins dating a handsome counselor and he takes her parents on as clients, things get complicated.
After her first day on the job, Collette believes she must be the world’s worst social worker. She’s never seen a cockroach, let alone an infested trailer. She's not sure how to deal with such living conditions, but she's required to fulfill her one-year contract, or repay the university for her full tuition, which costs much more than she'd make at the agency her first year. Enter sexy marriage and family therapist Mark Wilcox, and suddenly things don't look so bleak. That is, until she remembers he's the man who tried to discourage her from getting her Master's Degree in the first place. Proving him wrong gives her a reason to try harder to succeed. Then she finds out Mark has a secret. He's her divorced parents' marriage therapist. While her parents' eventual goal is to remarry, she's against it. Whose side will he take?
JO: What takeaway value do you hope your readers receive after reading this book?
MICHELLE: If you have a passion for something, don't let others’ opinions discourage you from loving people and serving God in the way you believe God has intended for you to go. Also, forgiveness is a critical component of peace. Without it, you have no peace and holding grudges only makes things worse.
JO: Where did you get the idea for your book?
MICHELLE: Part of it came from "Legally Blonde" because the heroine, Collette, is blonde and fashionable and she gets judged for it even though she's a smart and caring person. When I worked for Child Protective Services, they had a program where people could get a Master's Degree for free in exchange for working in the field (the school's choice) for a year. The graduates rarely made it to the end because the jobs are tough, and a number of them chose to pay the school back rather than finish their time. And I'm a social worker myself, so I wanted to write a story that encapsulated the funny, yet often disturbing aspects of the job that people would understand (not everyone is a wedding planner or works at a bank or managing a small business) and thus showing the hard work people who choose to serve the poor often deal with. I also had a good friend once (she was a doctor's wife) who told me she was thrilled when her parents' divorced. I found that intriguing and kept it in the back of my mind. This story has an element of that conflict in it as well. Oh, and there is another character who I created because I met the bass player in a Christian Rock band and thought, "he's the one!" So I interviewed him and told him I'd like to use him to inspire a character for a future book. He agreed. In the story, he's Collette's crazy cousin who is also her best friend. I told him I hope he didn't mind falling in love with a girl named Serena (book 2) and he laughed.
JO: Did you have to do any research for this book?
MICHELLE: I did some character sketches and some was taken from my own experiences in social work. I call this my "legally blond social worker story."
JO: How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
MICHELLE: Started writing in 2003, went to my first conference in 2004, signed on with an agent in 2005, sold my first book in 2007 and it released in 2008.
JO: What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher in their novel?
MICHELLE: Keep pressing on. If it's meant to be it will eventually happen. Honestly these days you don't have to have an agent for some legitimate publishers. Many are smaller presses, but with the smaller houses there often comes more freedom as a writer. I prefer that to a large publishing house who tells me what I can and cannot write.
JO: What are you working on now?
MICHELLE: Two books at the same time. I alternate depending on my mood. One of them is the second book in this series.
JO: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
MICHELLE: Learn as much as you can. Writing is a lot harder than you'd think.
JO: Please tell our readers where they can get your book.
MICHELLE: On the publisher's site (that's where we get the most from sales due to no third party taking a chunk of the profits) http://desertbreezepublishing.com or on CBD, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. These sites may take a few days to a few weeks before there will be a link to the book. Depending on when it releases this month (the 15th or the 21st) will determine if it's up by this interview or not. But it will be up for sure on Desert Breeze's site because it can be seen there ahead of time.
JO: Please tell our readers where they can find you online.
and many other places (facebook is michellesuttonauthor and author michellesutton), twitter is michellesutton, etc.
JO: Any parting comment?
MICHELLE: Thanks for inviting me. This book is currently only available in ebook format but next year it will probably be in print. More than half of my books are available in ebook format and in print.
JO: Michelle, thank you for visiting today and giving the interesting interview. Michelle will give an eBook copy of Collette's Crusade to the winner of a random drawing from commenters of this blog post.
Till next time ... keep on smiling.