Tag Archives: thanks

Susan Speaks: Next Steps


It’s Monday. Ten days since I fell off my bicycle and yes, I will tell you guys the story of what exactly happened because it’s too funny not to. But not right now.

Today’s the day we take the next steps to recovery. The first retinal repair surgery. And I say first because no one knows if today will fix it entirely or there’s more surgery in my future. I’ve been told that until they start talking about the cataract surgery, we’re not anywhere near the end of the road. (Yes, cataracts and no, I am not THAT old, thankyouverymuch. But if they’re going to do it now, maybe I’ll get fifty or more years before they have to do it again. It’s better longevity than if I needed a new hip tomorrow.)

Your prayers and thoughts and comments and texts and Facebook messages have been keeping me going all week, so please keep them coming. I keep my personal Facebook page pretty closed to people I don’t interact with on a regular basis, so you’ve missed such fun as me posting an actual picture of myself. No surprise that of all the FB posts since this began, it’s gotten the fewest number of likes. And my eye doesn’t look that bad. I’ve seen it more swollen after a good cry. But… it’s a picture of me, and cameras have known to break when pointed at me, so I get the lack of love.

There was the night when I went to put my drops in — there is no better way to cure your massive eye anxiety than to injure your eye — and I held up the bottle of drops, only to stop myself. “Dodo,” I said because, yes, I call myself things like Dodo, “take OFF your glasses first.”

That turned into a pithy Facebook status. As well it should have.

Spirits are high and I’m trying really hard not to think about the bills, both monthly and medical, that are piling up. Every time I write a check, I take a big gulp and remind myself to breathe, that it’ll be okay somehow. I’ve had a million and five adventures up to now and after every single one, I’ve come out better than before. I am like my cats: I have a habit of landing on my feet. Maybe I’ll play the Powerball, although if I have to choose between vision and cash, I’ll take the vision. It’ll help me see the cash I’m going to come across down the road.

More when I know it. Keep the good vibes, the prayers, and the thoughts coming. Next steps are always terrifying before you lift your foot to take them, but it’s good to know you guys are at my back.


#SaystheEditor: March Madness


Up until March 1, I would have told you that March is historically my second-worst month, in terms of client demand (or, in business words, income).

Around mid-month this year, I started saying that I was hopeful the curse of March was ending.

And now, I can definitively say it did. Best March on record. I have worked on a lot of different manuscripts for a lot of different clients and … you guys know the drill. You know how much I love what I do, and how much I appreciate what my clients bring to my desk.

Spread the word. My new windows are in progress — it’s been a comedy of errors worthy of the Three Stooges (and last week, there were three of us) — so I still have to pay them off.

Lots of changes on the horizon, good things, opportunities for clients and friends and people who just want to drop in and promote themselves, no strings attached. I just need the time to implement it all!

(Yes, maybe it’s a time management issue. Maybe it’s a bit of burnout, I’ve been working so hard. Maybe it’s that clutter has built up in my life and on my desk again and that’s dragging me down. Who knows? I’m too busy to stop and figure it out!)

Book your dates for May and beyond ’cause April? Pretty darn packed, too, and yes, I’m doing the happy dance. All this good fiction about to hit the market!


A Day for Thanks


I know. You’re deluged by the posts and Tweets and Facebook status updates that are all about Thanksgiving.

But for the first time since life officially fell apart on Thanksgiving 2009, I’m sitting here on Thanksgiving day 2013 and I’m able to see that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a freight train. It’s the sun, and man, it feels good.

I’ve got a flourishing business. The best editing clients ever, who push me to be a better editor as they push themselves to be better writers. But they also help me shape my vision for what West of Mars can (ought?) to be, and by seeking my help and advice, they enable me to take those scary steps that make it all happen.

I’ve got two fantastic attorneys and I’m always glad to share them with anyone in need. One turned a vague dream of one day owning a business into something real. Something with the letters LLC after its name.

My business mentor has been a boon and a balm. She pushes me when I need it and holds my hand and promises me it’ll all be okay when I freak out. So far, she’s been dead-on right. Next time you ask me what I do for a living and I reply, “I play with words. Your words, to be exact,” you can thank her.

All of this has come together for me just since August, when I poked my head out of the tunnel and found the world on the other side isn’t so scary after all. And it’s only the start. An exhilarating, whirlwind of a start.

Did you know I have a non-fiction department? Here’s one I bet you didn’t know about… the non-fiction department now has an intern, too.

And there’s more. A new While Writing service and the existing Back Cover Copy (or query letter) service, both which are available only to my current clients. More subcontractors, so that I can help my clients with all their needs. More relationships with other author service providers. And more to come.

For those of you who’ve been here for a long time and have watched the transformation, thanks for being along this crazy journey. I know you haven’t understood about 95% of it, but thanks for sticking by me as it’s evolved. Five years ago, I’d have laughed if you’d told me I’d be here now.

But as I look back, I know life is so much richer, sweeter, and rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

Never fear what lies ahead, I’ve learned. Sometimes, you’re standing in the worst. And then you wake up and realize the worst is behind you.

I may never stop fearing the worst will come back for another attempt at swallowing me whole. But I survived the last time. I’ll survive it again.

After all, if this fails, there’s always real estate.


Pleasant Surprises


A number of years ago, I signed my book club up for every publisher and agent and other group who was taking book club registrations. I was, as always, upfront with our focus: Jewish Lit.

I got a few suggestions for books. I got a lot of postcards from people who’d just snag my name and not bother to look at what our group is all about. I even got a few books.

And then… silence. For years.

A few weeks ago, Kensington Press was kind enough to send me two books: Scrapped and Chihuahua Confidential (written by Mollie Cox Bryan and Waverly Curtis, respectively).

Hmm, I thought. They look cute, but they’re not Jewish-themed. We’ll read cute, so long as it’s Jewish-themed. That’s our thing. Jewish lit.

Kensington was kind enough to send me a catalog of their other upcoming cozy mysteries, and it features a work of Jewish lit. From Herring to Eternity, by Delia Rosen. It looks like it’s part of a series, and we prefer to read series in order — which isn’t a problem, except the setting is what makes this Jewish-themed. That means it’s not a Jewish-themed series. Possible strike out, right there. It’s not due out until August, so I’ll discuss it with my group, but I’m not optimistic.

Well, thanks for the thought, I told myself. It was nice of them to send me two books.

This week, I picked up an advance copy of Joanne Fluke’s new Hannah Swensen Mystery, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder.

Still not Jewish-themed.

I’m still appreciating the thought.

If you know of any Jewish Lit not already on our book club page (did you even know that was there? I bet not!), throw the titles my way. I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t been able to keep up with the search.


Smashwords July Sale Final Look


Mid-month, I took a look at how the Smashwords Summer/Winter July sale was going for me. The results were interesting, so if you missed it, head on over and see how the month was shaping up.

Now that the month is over, I have even more fascinating facts to report.

First is that even though I have one new title out since last year’s sale, I sold eight fewer books. This is despite having two books for free that had never been free before, including Trevor’s Song.

Demo Tapes 1 and 3 tied for top seller. If you recall, mid-month, Trevor’s Song was tops. It actually came in fourth of my six books, trailed only by the standalone short story, Mannequin, and my non-free title, King Trevor.

Conventional wisdom holds that novels sell better than short stories, especially short story anthologies, and the Demo Tapes are, I think, marked pretty clearly that they are short stories. Not only are they short stories, they all appeared on The Meet and Greet in a less-edited fashion.

I don’t know. I don’t get it. Maybe the opening of Trevor’s Song is too rough for people; he’s too hard to like. Maybe you really do need that intro of the Demo Tapes to come back for the novel. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s that The Demo Tapes were more visible, since more people write novels than short stories. Maybe it was the phase of the moon, the severity of the sunspots, the colors of the Northern Lights…

In short, who knows? Only the people who bought the books know for sure what they were thinking, and even if they leave reviews, we may still never know what led them to their purchasing choices. We’ll only know what they thought of their reading experience — and so long as that experience is good, that’s ultimately all that matters. It’s those reviews that help power sales. We all know this.

Which means I’ll wrap up with a big thank you to the people who’ve joined the Trevolution for the first time; a lot of gratitude for the repeat offenders, so to speak; and a reminder to leave even a few words in a review. “I liked this because… but I didn’t like…” Fill in the blanks, folks. That’s all it takes, and us authors will be your fans for life.