This night owl got up early Saturday morning and drove two hours to attend the Southwest Florida Reading Festival sponsored by the Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library in the riverside district of Fort Myers, Florida.
Parking on the top deck of a nearly full parking garage, I paused to enjoy the bright sunshine, comfortable 75 degree weather and lovely view of the Caloosahatchee River, bridges and distant ocean. Stepping out of the elevator onto a busy street and street fair atmosphere, I accepted the schedule handed to me by a library volunteer. Although Alice Hoffman, Nelson DeMille and Linda Fairstein were some authors listed on the program, I knew who I wanted to see.
I slipped into Auditorium A1 just in time to hear Susan Elizabeth Phillips discussing how she began her writing career. I’ve both known and been a reader fan of Susan since her third book, Glitter Baby, which was a big women’s fiction contemporary book that launched her career.
Her newest hardcover novel, Call Me Irresistible, is her twentieth book. So I listened with interest as she recalled how her wonderful writing career actually began.
It’s encouraging for aspiring writers that Susan’s story is similar to many others: a young mother whose talk with a friend about favorite books led to the quick decision to write a book together, although neither had any publishing experience. Of course, nothing is ever as easy as it seems and Susan and her friend soon discovered this. However, they kept making time to write until an indirect chance conversation led to an early read by an New York editor, request for material and a surprising contract for the pair’s first historical novel.
When her friend moved to another state, Susan continued writing solo and the rest is history: a bestselling writing career spanning thirty years. Call Me Irresistible is her newest hardcover novel and pairs secondary characters from previous books—Ted Beaudine aka “little Teddy” with Lucy Jorik, much to readers enjoyment.
Susan talked about her love of including sports—either golf or football—in many of her novels. Here are some of the writing tips she shared with Saturday’s audience:
- Writer’s block: Put bottom in chair, turn on the computer and work through it [the block.]
- Time management: Use a timer for whatever time you commit to write, stop timer whenever there’s an interruption, hit it to continue to write and use this stop/start timer method for however long it takes you to fulfill the time you set.
- Write for one person: yourself.
- Protect the Work: Do whatever you have to do to protect your writing/ work, depending on who you are. For instance, not reading reviews or online comments.
After autographing my copy of Call Me Irresistible, Susan left to catch a plane back to Illinois. She left me energized and glad I’d made the trip to see her.
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