Meet Novelist Susanne Dietze

Susanne Dietze writes inspirational historical romance and is quite good at it, as her contest finals testify. She lives on the West Coast with her golf-loving pastor husband and two kids, who could win significant money if there was a Star Wars themed episode of Jeopardy. Before motherhood, Susie worked for a seminary, the US Navy, and for a bishop. She has a BA in English

Susie loves “fancy-schmancy tea parties and all the goodies and china that go with them.” To indulge her habit, she collects new and vintage teacups and sighs longingly over Tea Time magazine. Some of her favorite finds are featured throughout the post.

When Susie’s not writing, she enjoys travel and is digging into her genealogy. She learned that she’s related to Huguenots, a blind axe-thrower who could hit a target at ten paces, and brothers who fought on opposing sides of the Civil War. Despite her fondness for Ugg boots, fish tacos, and Christian rock concerts, she spends most of her time in the 19th century, escaping into historical novels and film adaptations of Jane Austen books.

I invited Susie to share a virtual treat with you, and here’s what she said . . .

Whether I’m with friends or alone with a book, I love nothing better than to sit down with a steaming pot of tea. A cream tea is even better, so why don’t we enjoy my favorite blend of tea, nutty Buccaneer, with some scones, strawberry jam, and Devonshire cream? There are no calories in this cyber-cream!

Susie’s Journey Begins

•With your penchant for words and the fact that you have a degree in English, I’m guessing you’re one of those people who was born with a pen in her hand. Am I right?

As the boxes of embarrassing juvenilia in my garage can attest, I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. I wrote a traditional Regency over ten years ago with the intent to pursue publication, but ultimately I decided to put off writing seriously until I was finished having babies.

In early 2008, I’d completed a few chapters of an inspirational Regency. I wondered if it had any potential, so I entered it into the Romance Writers of America® Faith Hope & Love Chapter’s Touched by Love Contest, and to my absolute astonishment, it finaled! Since then, I’ve been working on the craft so someday, my lifelong dream of publication will come true.

•Your stories are historicals, but the periods and settings vary. Please tell us about your two areas of interest and what led you to write in each of them.

I love Historical Romance in just about every setting, but my own writing is limited to Regency England and Historical California. I think these eras appeal to the flip sides of my personality. Regency England was a time of regimented social expectations and rules, and I’m intrigued by that sense of structure and how people worked within it. I’m also taken by the converse idea of breaking free from the past and forging new paths. Even though California was settled by several groups before the Gold Rush, the state’s heritage as a land of hope and opportunity—and lawlessness that sometimes rivaled Tombstone—can’t be denied. So I guess you could say I’m a little bit Anglophile and a little bit calico.

"I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but I love this Lady Carlyle pattern."

Susie’s Squee-worthy Successes

•You obviously have oodles of talent because your story has made an impressive showing on the Contest Circuit. What is its track record so far? Any requests? Nibbles?

Oh, thanks, Keli. I’ve been blessed to final in some fantastic contests: the 2010 Genesis and the 2009 Gotcha! in addition to the 2008 Touched by Love mentioned above. These experiences have allowed me to receive valuable feedback from dedicated judges and to get my work in front of some wonderful editors (with whom I’d love to work!). I’m so grateful for the opportunities my contest finals have provided.

•Wow! An American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis final is impressive. Please tell us about that experience, what it meant to you, and how you reacted when you heard the exciting news that you were a finalist?

I’d entered the Genesis in the hopes of receiving feedback. I wanted to know what strangers thought of my work and what areas I could improve. I never expected to final, and I mean never.

I was outside, hanging up laundry, when the call came. I entered the house and heard the enthusiastic voice of the coordinator leaving a message on the answering machine. I picked up the phone, blurted out something probably incomprehensible, and burst into tears. But that’s better than what I did to the Gotcha! coordinator who phoned to tell me about my final. Which was to blink repeatedly and say absolutely nothing for way, way too long.

•Contest finals are way cool. Congrats on yours! But you’ve experienced an even greater thrill: seeing your name in print. Please tell us about your published piece and how it felt when you saw your story and byline.

Thanks so much, Keli! This past year, one of my devotionals was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Mothers. I am so thankful for the writing credit and the check, which I kissed goodbye and sent on to the orthodontist.

"A replica of the first-class china on the Titanic."

Susie’s Challenges and Solutions

•As a busy mother of young children who require much of your attention, I can’t help but wonder how you find time to write. How do you juggle the needs of your family with your writing and other pursuits?

Like just about every other writer, I struggle with balance. I’m married to a pastor and the mom of school-age kids, so we keep very busy around here. There was a period where I felt overwhelmed and I made a grave error: I wrote at the expense of other activities, like exercise and prayer.

It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but I’ve found that what works for me is to consciously take care of necessities first (family, meal planning, exercise, prayer, etc) and write after that. I also don’t write in the evenings, which is family time. It also means I have to carefully schedule my writing, but it’s worked well.

"A vintage cup and jam pot passed down from my husband's grandmother."

Envisioning Success

•Let’s take a journey into the future. The phone rings. It’s your agent telling you about your First Sale to your dream publishing company. Who would be on the phone? Which house would be offering the contract? Which of your stories would they be buying?

Oh my, I’d feel privileged to have a relationship with a number of wonderful agents and publishing houses. I hope that whoever’s on the phone would be interested in my most recent book, since my first one should probably remain buried forever in the Crypt of Mistake-Laden Manuscripts.

•When you envision your debut novel, what do you want to see on the front—after your name, of course? And where will it be on the shelves?

I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I am a sucker for rich patterns, flowers, and period costumes. One of my pet peeves is incorrect costuming on a cover. I’m not nitpicky about minutia, but when I see a book where the heroine is wearing an empire-waist gown, I expect a Regency—not a Victorian. As for where my books would be found, they’d sit on the inspirational shelves alongside some of my favorite authors!

"High tea meets the twenty-first century with hand-painted earthenware."

Partners on Susie’s Journey

•Who are some of the people who’ve been behind you with that much-needed support we writers so appreciate? What blessings have they bestowed on you?

I wouldn’t be anywhere without the help I’ve received from fellow writers. I can’t believe how gracious so many people have been with me, from contest judges to folks on the ACFW loop to established authors who’ve shared their expertise with me.

But the greatest help I’ve received has come from my supportive husband, kids, parents and friends. I also owe a debt to my critique partner, Ruth Reid, and my fellow contributors at the Inkwell Inspirations blog. What a group of women. We’re at different places in our careers and we write all sorts of fiction, but these ladies have taught me, supported me, and prayed for me. I feel very blessed to know these women.

Susie’s Journey Continues

•What are you working on at this point? Are any new characters begging you to tell their stories?

I have a few new projects brewing. A hero’s been whispering in my ear for a while now, so I’m determined to get his story down.

"The teacup that started it all: a gift from my husband when we were first married."

Five Fun Questions for Susie

•Since your interview is appearing on Valentine’s Day, what would you like to tell us about your personal hero?

My personal hero is definitely my handsome husband. He’s hilarious, righteous, and the best man I’ve ever met. And he does dishes. If that weren’t enough, he supports my writing and listens to me babble on about my imaginary character friends. I’m very proud to be married to him.

•How did you and your hubby meet?

We met in college, at an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship ice cream social, when we were both eighteen. We didn’t have much interaction, however, until our roommates dated. When they married a few years later, my husband and I were the best man and maid of honor at their wedding. That night he took me out to pie (mine was berry. And I wore groovy green jeans.).

•Was your wedding a day when things went perfectly, or did you encounter some surprises?

My husband’s counsel to the couples he marries is that something will go wrong on your wedding day. For us, there were flower issues; my matron of honor’s baby fell and cut his head during pre-ceremony pictures—the poor little guy was ok, but we were shaken up and there was blood all over her dress; I stupidly didn’t go to the bathroom before I donned my giant white gown; and something happened to the communion wine, so my husband had to hunt some down before the ceremony. A twenty-two year old guy buying cheap port at 8 AM didn’t look at all suspicious…

What says romance to you? Dinner out? Jewelry? A freshly washed car?

I love dinner-movie dates. Escaping into a movie and then enjoying relaxed conversation in a restaurant that doesn’t offer crayons or chicken nuggets—what bliss!

•When your friends find out you write romance, are they surprised?

If someone has known me a long time, they aren’t surprised. I’ve always had my nose in a love story, and during high school, I’d write my friends into silly romances where the boys we liked were arrogant lords or hunchbacked smugglers. I still tend to make up goofy stories about people. I just can’t help myself.

Susie’s Question for You

For tonight’s Valentine’s Day dinner, I’ll be sitting down to a heart-shaped pizza with my family. What sort of plans do you have? What was your best Valentine’s Day memory?

Susie’s Drawing

Susie has generously offered to give away a $15 Starbucks card, so you and a friend can enjoy your favorite tea or coffee drink and a bakery treat!

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Susie by midnight February 20th (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)

On February 21st, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)

Congratulations to Mary C., winner of the Starbucks gift card.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Learn More About Susie & Enter a Second Drawing

Visit her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book, where on Valentine’s Day she’s offering a giveaway in honor of her visit to Romance Writers On the Journey: the January/February issue of Tea Time magazine.

Visit her group blog ~ Inkwell Inspirations

Friend Her on Facebook ~ Susie Dietze


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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62 Responses to Meet Novelist Susanne Dietze

  1. Hey Susie, I loved the post and the photos. I have one real tea cup and saucer – a Roslyn bone china made in England with a #8413. I can’t remember the pattern, but it’s of a garden arch and flowers. I believe it’s from the 50’s. I don’t know why I’ve kept it because as you know, I like collecting coins and rocks – heavy, solid things – not delicate bone china tea cups. But it makes me smile whenever I look at it.

    I’m blessed to be your Inky sister. Especially since your emails and posts make me smile, too. And I pray we’ll meet one day soon.

    Thanks for featuring Susie, Keli.

    Anita Mae.

    • Anita, I’ve loved seeing pics of your coins. Each has a history that charms the imagination. Who spent this coin, and on what? Did it sit in a treasure box or pass through greedy hands? And don’t get me started on rocks. They are so much fun. I’ve got a Jr. Rock collector in the family.

      You’ve got a good point about the china. I guess that’s one thing that appeals to me about teacups; they’re fragile and special. I love that I’m supposed to use them to bless people, but they need care. And they can be so pretty 🙂 They can be a fairly inexpensive thing to collect, too. I’ve found a few gems in antique stores that are probably worthless but I imagine where they’ve been!

      You’re a precious blessing to me, too. Can’t wait to enjoy cowboy coffee with you!!

  2. Karen Lange says:

    Wonderful interview! It was fun to learn more about Susie. 🙂 Thanks to both of you for doing this. Have a great week!

    • Hi Karen! Thanks so much for coming by. I enjoy your blog so much; you’re a fabulous resource for writers.

      I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s celebration! Blessings!

  3. Aubrey Fick says:

    Great interview. I’d love to win!
    aubrey fick at yahoo dot com

    • Thanks for visiting, Aubrey! I’m sure Keli has you entered into the drawing. Good luck!

      It’s pouring rain at my house…this would be a good day for a nice Starbucks latte. Mmm.

  4. Jill W says:

    Hi Susanne! Sorry for coming in late in the game. I flagged the e-mail a few days ago so I could comment and it got buried in my in-box. Great interview, ladies! Oh my, the Lady Carlyle pattern is my favorite as well. I have a cup and saucer and a pitcher from my grandmother. She was a collector of tea cups and pitchers. I can hold them in my hands and feel her hand.

    • Hi Jill! Thanks for popping in! I love what you said about your grandma’s collection, feeling her hands when you take hold of her cup and pitcher. That’s beautiful. To me, that’s a true heirloom — something that reminds us of the love and character of the person who left it to us.

      My grandma died when I was small, and the one thing I wanted of hers was her curling iron. She used as a little girl, back in the 20s, and pulled it out of the drawer when I came to visit. I remember her heating it in the sun (!) and trying to do something with my fine, stick-straight hair when I was about five. It was a precious memory to me of a warm afternoon, just me and my grandma and our hairdos!

      So I know what you mean about your grandma’s teacup.

      Thanks for visiting. I hope you’re having a great weekend!

  5. Thanks for having me here, Keli! I loved the tea party.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      My pleasure. It was great having you. I enjoyed the tea party, too.

      I’m sipping peppermint tea with honey this morning, although it’s in my “Enjoy the Journey” mug and not a beautiful tea cup like yours. =)

  6. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who visited Susie’s post and to those who left a comment.

    I’ve held the drawing for the $15 Starbucks gift card Susie so generously offered as a prize, and the winner is Mary C.

    Congratulations, Mary! I’ll be in touch via email.

Comments are closed.