Tag Archives: birthday presents

Susan Speaks: Things that Come in Two


April’s my favorite month, so maybe we’ll forgive it for starting on a Friday, meaning that today, Saturday, is the second.

The last time a month started on a Friday was January. Which meant that Saturday was the second.

Thirteen weeks, folks. Thirteen weeks.

My new glasses arrived, and I’ve got better — although not perfect — distance vision. Strangely, up close got worse with these new lenses. Weird. But… getting it right, I’m told, is going to be the equivalent of hitting a moving target. My vision will change, the surgeon said. It will, he said, resolve, although now that I am in the middle of the resolution, I realize I have no idea what that actually means.

I’m not even sure I should care. I mean, the odds were ever in the favor of losing my sight, if not my eye entirely. The fact that I can see things out of both eyes is, as far as I’m concerned, a blessing, and it’s not uncommon for me to pause and give a silent thanks for whatever it is I’m looking at. Sometimes, whatever it is I’m looking at is viewed only through my right eye, as I like to close my left and see how good or bad the right one currently is. I can see, and that’s something pretty big and even more special.

And yes, as the weather has improved, I’ve abandoned the walks but not the yoga (hey, it feels good) in favor of my bicycle. Right now, I’m only riding my mountain bike. The road bike still doesn’t have new handlebar tape yet, although a trip to REI to pick up an online order solved the issue of not having tape on hand. So until the tape goes on and I move the bike out of the basement, where it’s been for the past thirteen weeks, I’m on the mountain bike.

It’s probably just as well that I am. My mountain bike is old. Circa 1996, which is when I moved into my home. It doesn’t have shocks, it doesn’t have disc brakes, the frame is crazy heavy. And it’s that last part that’s important. The frame is heavy. I feel like I have something substantial under me, unlike my light-as-anything road bike. And I sit more upright on it, too. It feels easier to see the world — well, my street — in this position even though it’s harder to move up the hill I live on.

I texted my sister after my first ride. I have just proven I can ride a bike and not wind up in the ER, I said to her. She understood.

Understanding is a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s hard to be angry at people who try to be considerate, but when I realized I’d been excluded from a promotional event that I’ve done in the past and had a super time with, I was heartbroken. Every time I see something about it in any of my feeds, I cry a little bit. Really, folks… ASK. Don’t assume. Ask. I’m glad to chat, glad to tell you where I am, glad to join in. And glad to work on your manuscript, too, although April is starting to fill up. Book your dates now.

One last note… it’s April, and April is my birthday month, and that means I like to release a book so we can all celebrate, since my favorite present of all time is book royalties. That definitely isn’t happening; I have two in progress and a third that is percolating away in my brain. I’d like to release them real close to each other once they are done, and I’ll be hiring a PR firm or two for them, as well (anyone do PR specifically in Pittsburgh? THAT is what I most need), so we’ll just have to celebrate my birthday another month.

Of course, if you’re so inclined, you can get me one or two of these. Birds sweatshirt That’d make for a spiffy birthday present, too — especially if you accompany me to the field for a game… or two.

Happy April 2. Another unassuming day if there ever was one. But pardon me if I skip the bike ride today.


Where’s the book???


I can hear you. “Come ON, Susan. It’s April. If I look at when you published your other books the past couple of years, it’s about the time for your annual birthday book release. So where is it???”

It’s coming. Just a delay because we’re going to put new covers on Demo Tapes 1 and 2 and bring you Demo Tapes 5. They’re all being professionally formatted, too, so they’ll look better on your readers.

Print versions will follow at some point. I’m not sure when.

And I’m not sure when the special surprise will follow, either.

Truth is, not only have I asked a lot of my cover designer and my formatter, but I’ve been kind of unmotivated this year. I’m so focused on editing and other behind-the-scenes the work here at West of Mars that my own writing has fallen by the wayside. I’ve learned an invaluable lesson about my writing, and I’ll bring that to you in a longer, more thoughtful post that any of you are free to send to Passive Guy.

Hang tight. More Trevor and Mitchell is on the horizon, and I particularly like Demo Tapes 5. But then, I like them all. While DT1 is still my all-time favorite, it’s hard for me to choose the runners up. Go and weigh in with your favorites — both collection and outtake — in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say.



April Fool’s Blog Exchange, da Burgh style


I got an e-mail out of the blue, inviting me to join in an April Fool’s Blog Exchange. How could I — why would I — say no? The icing on the cake? The City to my Iron? All the bloggers are in my home town of Pittsburgh, a city I’m not nearly visible enough in.

Enough about me. Today’s blog post is brought to us by a fellow April baby and book lover. Could that matchup have been any more heaven-sent?

birthday wish.

Here’s Tiffany Harkleroad, a woman who has actually laid eyes on me and can vouch to the fact that I’m not an orange S on a red background.

I have been a book reviewer for 4 years now. I have been working at a library for 4 months. I have stacks of books in every room. I papered my living room floor with book pages. I think it is safe to call me a book lover. But how did this love of literature begin? I trace it back to my parents.
My parents are both readers, and even though they had little spare time to read while working full time and raising 3 children, books were always a present in our home. My parents always took the time to read to us, and with us, as our reading skills progressed. As I got older, I would beg my parents to take me to bookstores to spend any allowance or birthday money I had saved up. But the thing that I most strongly remember from childhood was my parents taking me to the library.

Trips to the library were not an easy thing for my parents. We lived in a rural, outlying area, so it was about a 20 minute drive to the library, then we could count on being there for at least an hour, plus the drive back. For busy, working parents, this was a sacrifice, yet my parents never complained a bit. As soon as school was out for the summer, my parents would take me to the library, and help me check out a tower of library books. Two weeks later, we would trek back, return them, and get another stack. I firmly believe that my parents’ support of my library adoration set me up to be a reader for life.

So here we are, 30 years later. I still love books, I still love libraries, and I want to share that love with others, the way my parents shared it with me. Since I have no children of my own, the best way for me to accomplish this is to encourage the children in my community to love books the way I love books. But how?

April is my birthday month, and I like to use that as an opportunity to celebrate the things I love best. Seems like the perfect opportunity to celebrate reading, and encourage reading in my community’s children. So here is what I am doing: I am asking folks to help me build a Children’s Literacy Activity Center for the Ford City Public Library (where I work). I have created an Amazon Wish List of items needed to create the center. I am asking friends, family, and fellow book lovers to purchase items from this list in honor of my birthday. The items will be shipped directly to the library. You can find the wish list here.

It is my birthday wish that I can share my love of reading with the children in my community. I hope you will help make my wish come true.
You can visit my personal blog at talltalesfromasmalltown.blogspot.com, or my book review blog at tiffanysbookshelf.blogspot.com

I think Tiffany might have topped me on this one… I usually release a book on my birthday, figuring I’ll get the gift of royalties and you can keep the goods. But this? Takes it to an entirely new level. Wow.

You go, Tiffany!


You can read my post over at Oh, Honestly, Erin.

A Librarian’s Lists and Letters

Beezus Kiddo

Crank Crank Revolution

D&T In the Burgh

Don’t Forget to Eat

Downtown Living

Emily Levenson

everybody loves you…

jelly jars

‘lil Burgers

Ngewo’s World

Oh Honestly, Erin

Orange Chair Blog

PGH Happy Hour

Radio Chumps

Red Pen Mama

Sean’s Ramblings

Small Town Dad

Sole for the Soul


Tall Tales from a Small Town

The Firecracker Blog

The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

The Steel Trap

West of Mars

Ya Jagoff

Yinz R Readin


Yum Yum PGH