Monday, November 25, 2019


Q: Does your writing ever interfere with your family life? Do the demands of your fiction ever create friction with those closest to you?

- from Susan

Simple answer is no. One reason is since 2008 I have not had live-in family if you exclude cats. That’s the year in which my soul mate and best friend passed away shortly after he told me I needed to find an agent before he died. I found an agent a couple of months later. My sons and grandkids are prouder of my writing accomplishments than I have given them reason to be, I think, and are immensely supportive. I have plenty of time to write, do book events, blog here and attempt everything else I can think of for my career and still spend time with them.  So I’m going to pivot and answer a related question CM didn’t ask:

Q: Does your duty to pay it forward in the writing community ever interfere with your time and energy to write and publish your own books?

Here the answer for me isn’t so simple. I just completed five years as secretary and executive committee member on the national Sisters in Crime board. It’s a task I willingly embraced, enjoyed doing, and that took, at times, threefold what I expected it would. I didn’t do it for career visibility. I did it because Sisters helps so many writers move from the starting gate to publication, all the while standing up for inclusion, high standards of conduct, and service to its 4,000 members throughout the US and Canada. 

Before that, I was the president of the northern California chapter of SinC for two years, and volunteered for years before serving on the regional Mystery Writers of America board. I’ve been a teacher and coach at several writing conferences. I have written articles and spoken at events geared toward fledgling writers. I’ve personally mentored a couple of writers, just as I was mentored by a few extremely generous authors when I was just getting into the game.

All of this takes time, sometimes a lot of time. It’s all volunteer work. And, yes, at times these commitments elbowed away creative time for me. I’ve promised myself more “selfish” time in 2020 to finish at least one of the two books in process and to have more mental energy available when the muse comes to lure me into the zone where writing is pure joy and there’s no other task waiting to pull me away from the computer. 

We shall see.

Meanwhile, the five books I've had published so far, any of which (ahem)
 in print, electronic or audio version would make lovely holiday gifts!


Paul D. Marks said...

I think it's great to pay it forward, Susan. I know a lot of people have helped me along the way so I try to help others as well. And overall I find the writing community very supportive.

Brenda Chapman said...

An inspiring post, Susan. The writing community is lucky to have you among our ranks.

Terry said...

I have always admired how much time and effort you put into your work for the arts. Those of us who benefit from the time you spend are so lucky!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

As Brenda says, an inspiring post, Susan. And I hope you find plenty of writing time in the coming year.