Creating Story World

Apr 23rd 2014
Posted by Susan


Why, why, why is JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series so popular? What is it about her stories that capture us so, that make us—and roughly 500 million other readers—stand in line for days to get their hands on the latest 800-page offering?

Aside from the depth of characterization, the twisting, detailed plot, the epic good versus evil theme, I think there is one thing that makes Rowling’s books (and other classics, such as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) riveting and a story we can lose ourselves in for hours or days.

It’s . . . story world.

What do I mean?

It’s that world the reader enters into in the book. EVERY BOOK HAS A STORY WORLD. Whether it’s a fantasy book, a contemporary romance, a historical suspense. Every book must have a backdrop against which the readers engage in the story.

It’s more than time period. It’s more than scenery. How do we create story world that envelopes our readers?

My current Craft book is one I’ve read over and over: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Maass says story world is “capturing not only place but environment, and the people interacting in that environment.”

Environment: It’s not just architecture or period fashion. It’s attitudes and cultural norms of the time. Colloquial speech and the spiritual mood. And not just in a broad sweep but in the finite details, as well.

Along with excellent ideas to creating story world, Maass suggests one in particular that resonated with me: details. “A setting can not live unless it is observed in it pieces and particulars.” In short, it’s in the five senses, the small things, that a person sees a scene.

That’s why, when we walk into a classroom at Hogwarts, Rowling takes the time to list the details of the room, including the obscure (and hilarious) names of the books on the shelves, or the headlines in the current issue of The Daily Prophet. She’s creating story world.

Try it! Find two or three rich details using the five senses to put into your scene today and see if it doesn’t make your scene deeper, your story world more compelling.

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I had tea with the KGB (and have a book to show for it!)

Apr 21st 2014
Posted by Susan

I had tea with the KGB; Nadia


Valentina met us at the door with a bit of a stern look, as if we were late. Andrew seemed oblivious as he pulled off the kids’ valenki (Russian boots).

Valentina stood aside and held out her hand, ushering me in. Stout, with a wizened face and sharp eyes, she eyed me up and down, barely a hint of smile on her face. A severe bun tucked back her long gray hair, dyed cranberry on the ends, and she hustled about the kitchen with a no-nonsense aura about her that would have made my grandmother proud. She wore a shapeless gray polyester dress over her barrel body with an antique topaz pin fastened to her collar and she looked every inch like the matrons I’d seen in old Communist Party pictures.

In fact, she was a former KGB Colonel.

Of course Andrew didn’t tell me her lifelong profession until after we’d sat down to tea with pickles – which had been soaked in vodka – boiled potatoes, tomatoes and brown bread. She even sliced up some cheese and sausage – a lavish spread for a pensioner.

She told me she’d been a translator. I wanted to make conversation, so I asked her what kind of things she translated. She hesitated, and we fell into a pregnant pause…then, “Let’s not talk about it.”

At that moment Andrew realized that I had no idea who I was talking to. I was drinking tea with someone who ten years ago would have had me under bright lights for asking such a question.

“What did you expect her to say?” he teased me later, “that she had translated the wire taps in President Kennedy’s office?” Oops.

But the realization that we were in the home of a former KGB Colonel made drinking tea with her like old friends and talking openly about who we were and why we were in Russia, that much more profound. She asked why we had come to Russia and I told her plainly, “To tell the Russians that God loves them.” Amazingly, she looked interested.

My children sang a song for her, recited a poem and David told her about Christmas. As we were leaving, she pulled me aside and asked where and when we were having Bible studies. She said she wanted to send her granddaughter, but I wondered if she wanted to send herself.

Valentina invited us back. This was only significant in that, to her, this was a complete embracing of the enemy. She told me that although she could speak fluent English she was never allowed contact with foreigners. Ten years into Perestroika, we were the first. I expected her to be wary. Instead, she welcomed us like we might be friends.

My friendship with Valentina taught me much about God, and His grace. Some might think that Valentina doesn’t “deserve” heaven. She has spent her lifetime denying its existence. But God doesn’t operate that way.

Valentina an inescapable reminder that salvation does not come to the worthy, but to the unworthy. If the Lord can change the heart of a woman like Valentina, a modern-day Saul, then there is hope for anyone – including me, that God will not stop His flow of grace into my life and that He will soften all my calloused places, if I will only let Him.

All we have to do, to receive grace, is to step out in faith and accept it. No games. No deception. No hidden cost. Just life.

Just freedom.



I’m so excited to announce the re-release of Nadia, one of my favorite books in this series.

This second title in the Heirs of Anton series takes place in 1970, when former CIA spy Nadia “Hope” Moore must sneak behind the Iron Curtain, spring her estranged husband from a Russian gulag, and prove to the CIA that Mickey Moore isn’t a traitor-at least, not to his country. Mickey has secrets that will save American lives, but a double agent isn’t about to let the spy duo escape, even when her well-placed father attempts to help. Will Nadia be able to resurrect a love she thought had died? God is her sole ally, and only He can give her the wisdom to save her husband, her father. . .and her country.

When I wrote this book, I had just finished 10 years of living in Russia as a missionary. It’s one of my first books…so hopefully I’ve grown as an author since then. Still, I love the story and I hope you do too.

Nadia landed the honor of being a 2005 Carol Award finalist, and RT Reviews had this to say: “This second in the series thrusts the reader along a fast track of adventure with all the elements of vintage romance.”

You can find it here!

And, if you missed book 1: Get Ekaterina!

Creating Living, Breathing Characters

Apr 16th 2014
Posted by Susan


There you are, you’ve got a blank computer screen, and the smallest tickle of an idea, something you’ve read, or seen, some question you think might be interesting tackled in a book. But where do you go from there? How do you turn a blip of an idea into a full novel, one that will resonate with readers?

Regardless of the genre — suspense, romance, historical, or chick lit — stories can touch our lives, even change us. And, while plot lines are important…it is characters that drive stories. When we think of The Hunt for Red October, we think of Jack Ryan. When we think of The Fugitive, we think of Dr. Richard Kimball. Characters drive the plot. So, how do we create characters that live and breathe and drive a story into our hearts?

Throw away the list!

When I began writing, I did what seemed logical – I filled out character lists. Answered hundreds of questions. But my characters still felt flat, and more than that, their actions, dialogue and conflict didn’t seem to connect. At the time, I was home schooling, and as I looked at developing my children’s self-esteem, it hit me. People reveal themselves from the inside out, based on how they see themselves, or want others to see them. And discovering how a character defines himself is the key to making them come alive.

Who am I?

I have an identity – as a wife, a mother, an author, and by those three words, I’ve given you a glimpse into who I am, based on your understanding of what those words mean to you. Everyone has an identity, a way they describe themselves. Knowing how our character defines him or herself will help us understand his/her motivations and values. And knowing those will help us figure out what their greatest fear and dreams are, and help us craft internal and external conflict.

Let’s take the characters I mentioned above:

Jack Ryan — a CIA analyst, rising in the ranks who hasn’t had much field action. He’s a family man who wants to keep the world safe. His greatest fear in this movie is misinterpreting the actions of a Russian sub that has gone AWOL and accidentally igniting WW3. His greatest dream is to be right…and gain access to this sub. His motivation is his family…keeping them safe.

Dr. Richard Kimball — in the Fugitive. He’s a doctor who has been wrongly accused of murdering his wife. His greatest fear is never having her murder solved. His greatest dream for the purpose of this movie, is apprehending her killers. His motivation is his love for his wife, and his freedom.

Knowing a person’s identity makes their actions believable. So, how do we discover our characters?

First, as you create a character, ask how he defines himself. For example, I’ll create Joe, who calls himself a drifter. Why does he call himself that? Because he has been on his own for year. Why? Because he left home as a teen. Why? Because it hurt too much to stay there. Why? Because his father left them after his little brother was born with Down Syndrome. Why? Because he’d been close to his father and his heart was broken.

See the pattern? Start with an identity and start asking WHY. The key is to keep asking until you get to the underlying motivations behind your character’s identity. Once you’re there, it’s not too hard to discover the three things that will give your character resonance:

  1. Your character’s values
  2. Your character’s greatest fears
  3. Your character’s greatest dream

Values drive actions.

We do things because we believe in them. For example, if my character has a broken past, maybe he values trust and family. And maybe he’ll do anything to protect the ones he loves – i.e., his brother and mother. But maybe he also values his privacy? One way to create internal conflict in a story is to pit a character’s values against each other. What if this character has to sacrifice his privacy to earn someone’s trust? Or sacrifice his family to keep his privacy?

A person’s values also lead to mannerisms and ancillary information. For example, my character might carry a picture of his family in his glove compartment.

Make them suffer.

While you’re asking your character the whys, also ask him about his greatest fear, and greatest dream. Because, your goal is to make him suffer. For example, if my hero loves family, maybe his greatest fear would be to lose the family he has left. And maybe his greatest dream is having a family of his own? By asking these questions, you’ll then learn how to torment them. (And authors are all about the torment, aren’t we?).

What about the extras?

Oh, you mean the kind of car he drives? The clothes he wears? Your character’s identity, motivations and values will make them reveal the “list” questions. My character might drive an old pickup . . . maybe unconsciously the same kind his dad did. Or maybe he’d drive something completely opposite. Maybe his hobby is fishing . . . reminiscent of the old trips with his father. Once you know your character’s identity, he’ll fill in the gaps. Your job is to listen.

Creating a character doesn’t have to be about mining your brain for interesting quirks. Simply sit down with your hero/heroine and have a little chat. (Preferably in a room with a closed door where no one can hear you.) Hopefully you’ll discover a character who leaps from the page and into your reader’s hearts.

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Throwback Thursday — Get the Russia Book that Started it All (for FREE!)!

Apr 10th 2014
Posted by Susan

Ekaterina Deal

It all started in Siberia . . . with a birthday greeting . . . from published author Susan K. Downs.

We all dream of that moment when someone “discovers” us and partners with our dreams.

Happy Birthday, Susie May. Would you like to write a book with me?

Published author Susan K. Downs knew me from a small fiction email loop we both participated in, but the day she wrote those words changed my life. She’d read my infrequent short-story postings on the loop and knew I lived in Russia. More, she’d worked as an adoption coordinator in Russia for years.

I worked in a hospital for kids going to America to be adopted.

Would you like to write a book with me?

I had already written three books, knew the basics of novel writing, but they had yet to be published.

Yes. I wrote back. What about?

We threw a plot back and forth, and I dove in, writing the third book first: Marina. Meanwhile, she had other contracts to fulfill, so when I finished Marina, I asked her if I could write the first book, Ekaterina.

We would send chapters back and forth—I’d write the rough draft, she’d polish it. We began to call ourselves Spit and Polish. (I’m Spit.) We wanted to write a family generational saga about a woman who had been adopted out of Russia, searching for her ancestry. And we added a twist: The story started in the present, asking the question, then wove through each book to find the answer in the past.

Much like how someone might discover their generational history.

I finished Ekaterina, and by this time, we discovered we loved our method so much, we continued it for books two (Nadia) and four (Oksana). But the magic happened when I arrived stateside for furlough and met Susan. We pitched the books together. We sold them. And we’ve been dear friends ever since.

Susan now works as an editor for Guideposts, mentoring and believing in more young authors. Changing their lives.

The books, Ekaterina, Nadia, Marina, and Oksana, came out in 2003–2005. They won awards, hit the best-seller list, and launched my writing career. Although they went out of print recently, I was able to acquire the rights, recover them, and I’m excited to announce that they will launch again, on Kindle, this month.

Do you like stories of intrigue from the past, with romantic heroes, set in foreign lands? I invite you to take Ekaterina’s journey with me again.

GET it NOW for FREE!

About the Book:

Upon receiving an unusual package in the mail, Ekaterina “Kat” Moore boards a plane to Russia, her ancestral home, to seek some answers. What she finds leads her on a perilous journey through time as Kat must flee the Russian underground. To further complicate matters, she finds herself falling in love with FSB Captain Vadeem Spasonov, a man trying to forget the nightmares of his own past. When Kat’s secrets lead to the answers Vadeem needs, the treasures they find unleash an avalanche of God’s design.

Read the First Chapter!


2004 Runner-up American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year (now the ACFW Carol award)

What people are saying:

“Susan K. Downs & Susan May Warren tell a vivacious tale full of romantic suspense in this first of the Heirs of Anton series.” —Romantic Times Magazine

“Warren and Downs team up to create a masterful story of intrigue. I was hooked from the very first scene and couldn’t put it down until the end. This is a must read if you enjoy a great mystery that takes hold of you and won’t let go!” —Tracy Peterson, best-selling author of the Desert Roses Series

“Riveting! I couldn’t put this book down! Heirs of Anton: Ekaterina is a best-seller!” —Debra White Smith, author of the Seven Sisters series

“Get ready for an exhilarating adventure through modern-day Russia. International intrigue and a handsome stranger combine in this moving romance from Downs and Warren.” —Jefferson Scott, author of the Operation Firebrand series

Thank you for reading and joining me on the journey! If wanted to share this offer with your friends, I wouldn’t be sad. Blessings to you!

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From Russia with Love

Apr 9th 2014
Posted by Susan


This year marks the tenth anniversary of my first novel being published. Happily Ever After came out in 2003 just as we returned home from the mission field in Russia, and I still remember staring wide eyed at the cover thinking…how on earth did this happen?

See the truth is that I never set out to get a book published. I was a missionary in Russia and loved what I did, had no desire really to do antic else. In fact, when someone suggested that I write a novel I thought, I can no more write a novel than I can be fluent in Russian.

At the time I was struggling to learn the language and the helplessness of being in a foreign country, unable to communicate drove me to books for escape. Oh, the sweetness of my mother tongue! But it was there, engrossed in the pages of a novel, I first felt the tugging, first heard the whispers . . . What if?

If I could learn Russian, perhaps I could also pen a novel.

Oh, my ridiculous attempts at speaking Russian should have scared me off. But I was just desperate and naive enough to believe I could learn this language full of guttural khas and sharp itchkas.

But perhaps that is what it takes to learn something as daunting as another language . . . whether it be Russian or the language of story. Naiveté. And passion.

And perhaps a few other things.

The truth is that all it took to be fluent in Russian is a commitment to the task, willingness to look like a fool and the determination not to quit.

Yeah, that’s all. Right.

But the truth is, one misspelled, then corrected word at a time, and someday you will get there.

This truth slowly hit home as, armed with nothing but a stack of giveaway novels, I would open them in the cold night after my children were ticked tight into their beds. Armed with a cup of Russian tea and a highlighter, I’d go to work, reading, dissecting, tabbing down pages, and noting words that sang to me in my little Russian notebook.

Never, I thought, as I studied these masters, and then put words to paper. Oh, my efforts could make me weep with frustration. How did these authors arrest words into these amazing sentences, create such realizing characters, whittle such intricate plots? I looked at my own sweaty attempts and nearly quit, over. And over.

But, like the acquisition of a new language, the more I fumbled about, the more fleeting success I had putting together a sentence, then a paragraph, then a chapter, the more the desire . . . and dare I say confidence grew, blossomed, and began to bear fruit.

I will never forget the triumphant joy of finishing my first novel. Yes, it was 400,000 words and completely unpublishable, but I had finished it.

Which meant I could finish another. And another until suddenly one day, the words would congeal as if by magic . . . and I’d make sense.

And then . . . someone might listen.

People often ask me what the secret to getting published is: There is no secret, of course. It’s hard work, and pressing on, looking foolish, being misunderstood, frustrated at your own inabilities to get it right until one day . . . you do. And you find that one person who suddenly hears you, understands your story. Your crazy Russian.

So, two thoughts I bring from Russia, with love, to my writing friends on the journey:

1. Fluency takes time and practice. It doesn’t come overnight. Keep speaking and don’t despise the little steps, the tiny victories.

2. You will lose it if you don’t use it. Or strive to improve. After the sweat of learning Russian, I’ve used it little since retiring to the states, and although, when I need it, it will come back to me like a favorite song, some of the words are missing. Don’t let your skills stagnate.

What have you found to be the most difficult part of your writing journey?

Ya vero tebe!
C Bogom!

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Winner Announced from My ‘It Had to Be You’ Visa Cash Card Giveaway

Mar 31st 2014
Posted by Susan


Congratulations to the winner of my It Had to Be You giveaway, Heather Young! Heather, you’ve won a $100 Visa cash card and copies of It Had to Be You and Take a Chance on Me! My assistant will be in touch with the details.

Five Secrets of Best-Sellers

Mar 26th 2014
Posted by Susan


Best-selling story will have a hero or heroine who is both strong . . . and damaged . . .

J.K.Rowling, John Grisham, Karen Kingsbury, Tom Clancy, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkein, Robert Ludlum: all best-selling authors, from different genres, markets, even eras. How? What sets their stories apart from others that make them a must-buy for readers?

They know the secrets to a best-selling story. And you can to.

Secret #1: A Sympathetic Hero or Heroine

Harry. Jack Ryan. Jason Bourne. Frodo.

Who are your favorite characters in a novel or movie? Why do we get addicted to television shows, or buy every book in a series? Because we love to love our heroes and heroines. We love people who struggle, yet overcome. They give us hope and encourage us in our own battles.

But it’s not just their strengths that draw us. It’s their weaknesses, their fears, their broken histories, their obstacles, their wounds. We love a hero who isn’t perfect.

My favorite James Bond movie is Casino Royale. Before this movie, Bond didn’t capture my heart—yes, he was dashing and his movies riveting, but I didn’t love him.

But seeing his back story in Casino Royale—his betrayal and broken heart—I became a fan. No wonder he can’t stay in a relationship; the only one that mattered was stolen from him.

A best-selling story will have a hero or heroine who is both strong . . . and damaged; someone who will win your reader’s loyalty.

Secret #2: A Noble Quest

A Noble Quest is different from a theme. It’s that purpose, that one goal the reader can embrace and pump her fist in the air and shout, “Hurrah!” It’s that one cause that makes the reader forgive the characters for their mistakes, their bad behavior, their quirks, and even iffy choices. The Noble Quest is that one element locked inside the hearts of the hero and heroine that will keep them going forward, over the mountains and through the dark woods to victory.

How do we find Noble Quest? Ask your character what he would die for, and why? His country? Because he believes in freedom? Or, is it because he had a buddy who was killed in 9-11? What if your hero isn’t trying to save the world? What if she’s compelled by a belief that love has to touch a person’s soul? So much that she’s willing to drive across the country, give up her life, her career, her fiancé, and her future for a voice she heard on the radio (Sleepless in Seattle)? A well-motivated Noble Quest will be one a reader can believe in and cheer for.

Secret #3: A Rich Setting

Most of us don’t live on the French Riviera. Or in an Italian vineyard. Or in a penthouse in Manhattan. But maybe, for just a moment, we’d like to. When readers open a book, they want to be transported from their living room sofas into the hero’s world—the future, the past, today’s world, or in a made-up world. They want to see it, taste it, touch it, hear it, and smell it. They want details that make the story come alive: the social norms, the speech, the attire, the political climate. A rich setting embraces a reader and acts as a magnet to the story.

Secret #4: Insurmountable Obstacles

Without obstacles, the reader simply doesn’t care. And the more difficult the tasks, the higher the curiosity of the reader and the more glued they’ll be to the story. Frodo is going to sneak into enemy territory and throw a ring into the center of a volcano? And not only that, but he’s about the size of a ten-year-old? C’mon! That’s an insurmountable obstacle.

Even a story about relationships should have insurmountable obstacles. Pride and Prejudice creates an obstacle in Mr. Darcy’s immutable shyness, the social decorum that holds them all on a tight leash. We want to see a hero overcome his personal, as well as public, obstacles. Because if they can, then maybe we can, too.

Secret #5: A Theme with an Epiphany.

We want more to a book than just a fun read. Yes, reading is a pastime, but books that resonate and keep a reader buying more are those with a theme that touches our hearts, that makes us think, that applies to our lives. We want answers, or at least suggestions, to help us navigate this world, and a good novel can weave a story, borrowing threads from the fabric of life, and create a tapestry for us to examine and learn from.

Writing a book is never an objective experience. It’s about probing deep inside to see what matters to us, what questions we have, what answers we’ve discovered. It’s about journeying inward and pulling those questions and answers out for examination on the page.

And I guarantee that, as an author, the things that matter to you will matter also to your readers.

A best-selling story doesn’t just drift out of the mind of an author. It’s about seeing characters as real people, giving them a cause, examining the world and bringing those details into the story world, about throwing up obstacles, and finally, connecting us all to a common theme. It’s about writing a book that leaps from the shelves and into a reader’s heart.

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When a Finished Book Arrives in the Mail

Mar 19th 2014
Posted by Susan

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 2.29.55 PM

I admit it—I love reading my books . . . after they’re published. During the writing and editing process I can get so overwhelmed with every word, every sentence, every piece of dialogue.

But when it arrives, bound, pretty, and finished, it’s done. I can’t fix it any longer. So, I sit down and savor it. (Part of that is choosing to ignore any mistakes I find!)

I also take a highlighter and underline my favorite parts. Why? Because now that the angst is over, I can see God at work in the story. I spot all those nuggets He was trying to teach me through the story, and finally, the story becomes something outside of myself, to nurture me. In fact, sometimes I forgot I wrote it — and just soak in the story, the lessons, the emotion.

Here are some of the nuggets that jumped out at me as I read It Had to Be You this weekend (wrapped in my blankie, with a cup of hot cocoa—the best way to read a wintery book)!

“You don’t have to change the world to earn the applause of heaven.”
~ Ingrid Christiansen to her daughter, Eden

“You can blame God for your circumstances, get angry and turn away, or you can lean into Him and let Him turn this to blessing.”
~ John Christiansen to his son, Owen

“God really doesn’t care if you play hockey at all, Owen. God’s only concern is what you do with the life you’ve been given.”

“We expect God’s love to be all nice and neat packages. But He’ll do what He has to in order to draw us to that place where we need him. Know Him. Are overwhelmed by His love for us. Satan’s plan for our suffering is the destruction of our faith. God’s plan is for life. For love.”
~ John Christiansen to his children

“When life seems to go south, we feel like God doesn’t love us. But . . . Maybe we have to start by redefining how we understand God’s love. My dad says that hope is one part confidence in God’s love for us, and one part our delight in Jesus. And that when we start to hope, it changes us, sets up apart. Makes us see life more clearly.”
~ Eden to Jace Jacobsen

Jace couldn’t shake the sense that he lived a mediocre Christian life. Caught in the no-man’s land between God’s grace and God’s favor. After all, how could God truly delight in a man who had lived Jace’s violent life?

“God’s love simply is. We can’t sin it away — our only option is to accept or reject it.”
~ Eden to Jace

Jace didn’t truly understand grace. Maybe that’s what made him feel like he had to keep checking, keep finding the limelight. Because he couldn’t get his head around the fact that he already had it. A fresh start, in God’s eyes, every day.

And finally, a word the Lord gave me for this story:

“I see you, and My heart breaks for you. I long to heal you. To comfort you. For you to rise up and know you are Mine. I am proud to be your daddy.”

Just for fun . . . here are a couple of my favorite romantic lines in the story.

What Eden had just invited into her world was anything but normal. In fact, she might as well admit it. Trouble just sat down next to her for a five-hour drive.

I hope the story offers you nuggets of hope, grace, and laughter as you read it. Thanks for being a reader, friend, and for sharing the story with me and others!

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Do you want to leave a legacy?

Mar 15th 2014
Posted by Susan


Nan Lodge 1_flag flying [1280x768]

You’re invited to a very special weekend: From Memories to Memoir…The Naniboujou Create a Legacy Weekend

Do you have stories from your childhood itching to be told?  Did you come from a legacy of storytellers whose tales have disappeared and need to be preserved for the next generation?  Is there an event in your life begging to be set free?

It’s time to tell your story.

If you like to tell stories, if you long to preserve your heritage for your family, if you have a life story meant to be shared, then you can take your truth, and turn it into art.

This weekend is for you.  (and a loved one – because stories are meant to be shared!)

Join me as I teach you how to put your stories to paper, and craft them into a legacy for your family – and the world.  With step-by-step instruction, easy to implement activities, focused writing time and feedback, it’s a weekend to explore the past…and turn memories into memoir.

(For everyone from musers to accomplished memoirists wondering how to get their book in print.)


What is memoir and why write one?

Different types of Memories

Are you ready to write a memoir?

How to start?  (with discussion topics)


Saturday morning:

Gathering the pieces

Finding the right Structure and moving around in time.


Building the scenes

POV, Storyworld building, Dialogue.

Finding your voice



Saturday afternoon:

Free writing time



Discovering truth in Memoir

Legal issues

Dealing with real people


Next Steps

Why it matters – encouragement on the journey.

And here’s the best part – well be gathering at the historic and inspirational Naniboujou Lodge!  Built in the 1920s, the lodge is the perfect place to stir up stories!

Join us April 4-5th.  2014

Go to: or call 218-387-2688

I hope you’ll join me – it’s time to create your legacy!

‘It Had To Be You’ $100 Visa Giveaway

Mar 12th 2014
Posted by Susan

I’m celebrating the release of my newest Christiansen Family novel, It Had To Be You, with a $100 Visa cash card giveaway and offering readers a free book club kit.


One winner will receive:

  • $100 Visa cash card
  • Take a Chance on Me and It Had to Be You 


Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 29th. Winner will be announced April 1st on my blog. Also, visit this page to learn more about the It Had To Be You backstory and my free book club kit.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by my blog on April 1st to see if you won.

Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference

August 4-7, 2014
Portland, OR

ACFW Conference

September 25-28, 2014
St. Louis, MN