Monday, August 09, 2010


Welcome back, Susan. It's been a while since we talked to you. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I’m just a kid at heart, and I like reading kids’ books. As a homeschooling mom, I also loved reading great children’s literature aloud to my kids. So when it came to writing, I was naturally drawn to that genre. And having read countless of these kinds of books, I was able to get a feel for how the good ones are put together.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

I can’t pinpoint one “happiest” day. But the one continuing “happy” time is having grandchildren. Somebody once said, “Grandchildren are a reward for parents who did not kill their children.” This gives me a chuckle, but I never thought any “reward” could be better than being a mom. But all the other grandparents out there are right: being a grandparent is better.

I totally agree with you. Now I'm experiencing it again with our first great grandson, who turned 3 last week. How has being published changed your life?

Here’s a news flash: I never desired to be published. I was perfectly happy writing stories for myself and a few close friends. But publishing is the vehicle God used to prod me—kicking and screaming—into the wide world outside my own little homeschooling world. My little family, my little church, my little group of friends. My little homeschool co-op. Very comfortable. Very cozy. Very stagnant. “To whom much has been given, much shall be required.” I felt God had blessed me with a writing gift, but to keep it to myself started to remind me of the unfaithful servant who—out of fear—hid his one measly talent in the ground. I did not want to be that kind of servant. But being published required a willingness to do hard, scary things. Like book signings, radio interviews, talking to an editor at a conference, or marketing in general. But because I’m a person who tries to do what she says she’ll do, once I signed that contract I knew I had to follow through with my goal of making my publishing company successful—even if it meant doing things I never dreamed I could do! I’ve grown a lot spiritually because of being published. I have learned to depend on God to see me through things that really frighten me, but end up being so much fun!

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading (for probably the fifth time) The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some classics are just better when you pick them up a second, third, or fourth time. The first time you read to find out what’s going to happen. The next few times you read to become part of the characters’ lives, to enjoy the journey into a new land, and to pick up the nuances you might have missed during previous readings. (Yes, and I always loved summer TV reruns, as well, for the same reasons.)

What is your current work in progress?

I’m writing a series of “chapter” books for beginning readers (ages 6-8), based on the characters from my Circle C Adventures. Andi is six years old, Taffy is a new foal, and Andi has a friend, Riley, with whom she shares adventures on the ranch. The first two titles, Andi’s Pony Trouble and Andi’s Indian Summer, will release just before Christmas and include black-and-white illustrations throughout. It seems that whenever I sell books at a homeschool conventions, parents ask, “Don’t you have anything for younger readers?” I’m happy to say that yes, now I do!

What would be your dream vacation?

I would like to visit the Holy Land. Walk where Jesus walked; see the places the Bible talks about. I think it would seem more real that way. I’d like to tour with somebody like Ray Vander Laan, who makes the people and settings in the Bible come alive in his That the World May Know DVDs.

Sounds wonderful. How do you choose your settings for each book?

For the series in general I looked at a map of California and said, “OK, which city is closest to the Sierras and was around in 1880?” Turned out it was Fresno, so that became the setting. I wanted the series set in California because not only was it the frontier, but San Francisco was a slice of sophistication and could provide a totally different setting for Andi’s adventures. Book 4, San Francisco Smugglers, did just that. I used the Internet to ask, “What was going on in San Francisco in the 1880s?” I discovered the Yellow (Chinese) slave trade and learned that even little children were smuggled in to be sold as domestics. Eureka! Send Andi to a young ladies’ academy in the City and see what happens! In Trouble with Treasure, it was time to get Andi out of the Valley and into the cooler mountains for some gold-panning and back-country horseback riding. And for some trouble, of course.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

I thought and thought about this question, and I think the person I’d like to spend an evening with is one of my first long-distance, Internet “author” friends, Stephanie Reed. We met via e-mail when our books were featured in a brochure Kregel was creating for homeschoolers. We discovered we both love the old Trixie Belden mystery series. She became “Trixie,” and I’m “Honey Wheeler.” We’ve been good friends ever since, but I’d like to meet her in person so we could be real friends. Share a Starbucks. Give and receive a hug. Laugh. Just two children’s authors sharing an evening together.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

My husband and I have a 14-acre “homestead” in North-Central Washington, 3,000 feet up in the Okanogan Highlands. Pine trees, snow, hot summers, no close neighbors, the National Forest walking distance. So whatever one can do with a 14-acre homestead is my hobby. My personal favorite is gathering up deadwood and stumps and burning them for days in a huge bon fire. Just cleaning up the old downed trees and leftovers from logging years ago.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Writing the rough draft is my most difficult writing obstacle, getting that seed of an idea to sprout on paper so I can start the fun part—revisions. There are always so many distractions in the writing business, the foremost being the pesky marketing we authors are all called on to do these days. I overcome this problem by writing the rough draft on my laptop while traveling—far away from the Internet and e-mail. Since I travel a lot to homeschool conventions, I get quite a bit of first-draft writing done this way.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Go to a writers’ conference! Invest the time and money to learn the craft from those who have “been there; done that.” At my first writers’ conference I sat under the teaching of Lee Roddy. What a great experience! I will always remember those mornings of his intense, practical teaching of how to craft a novel.

 Tell us about the featured book.

Here is the back cover text. It does a nice job of talking about the book without giving too much away:

Thirteen-year-old Andi Carter wants to surprise her mother with the perfect birthday gift. But keeping her plans to earn money a secret from her family is easier said than done. When her peach harvesting job ends in disaster, she secures a position at the local general store after school.

At last, one of Andi’s ideas is working out . . . until the day she witnesses a back-alley crime that places a beloved citizen at the scene. A divided town and the suspect’s vengeful younger brother put pressure on Andi to admit she made a mistake.

When she learns that her horse, Taffy, has been stolen, Andi must re-examine her conscience and decide: Is the price of telling the truth worth losing Taffy forever?

Please give us the first page of the book.

Too Many Peaches

San Joaquin Valley, California, Summer, 1881

“Oh, no. Not again.” Andi Carter watched in dismay as her bushel basket of plump, golden peaches toppled over and spilled to the ground.

“I told you this was a loco idea,” her best friend, Rosa, grumbled in Spanish. “We should go back to the house before your brother catches you out here.” She glanced around warily, as if Chad might pop out from behind a peach tree at any moment.

“No,” Andi said. She squatted next to the overturned basket, righted it, and began piling the ripened fruit back in. This was not the first basket of peaches Andi had ruined during the past three weeks, nor did she expect it would be her last. The full baskets were heavy and awkward to handle—especially for a girl barely turned thirteen. Even together, she and Rosa had a hard time lifting the fruit into the wagons.

“Rodrigo threatened to fire us if we spoil any more fruit,” Rosa said crossly. She made no effort to help Andi pick up the fuzzy golden balls scattered at her feet.

Andi paused and gave Rosa a quick smile. “He won’t fire us.” She brushed aside her long, dark braid and reached for another peach. “He needs every pair of hands he can hire.”

“But he will scold us again. I do not wish to be yelled at by your brother’s foreman.” She gave Andi a pleading look. “Dressing up in my clothes and speaking Spanish might disguise you for a few weeks, but you cannot go unnoticed by the capataz forever. One of these days he will see who you are and then . . . how he will scold!” She cringed.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

You can visit me at my website:  or on Facebook. I also blog at  In addition, Andi has her own blog, where she shares (even pictures!) of her family, friends, and life in the Old West:

Thank you, Susan, for another interesting interview.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.


Charity said...

Please enter me:) I know the first comment never wins but someone has to be first:D


Mozi Esme said...

I'd love to read this!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Robyn said...

Love historicals!! Can't wait to read this one.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Michelle said...

Thank you for entering me! I read an article about this series in a Brio magazine (if I remember correctly!).

scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

Bakersdozen said...

i would love to win this and share it with my daughters. vidomich(at)yahoo(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

Count me in, please.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Wendy said...

I like the premise of this story.

Cindy W. said...

I would love to be entered into your contest for The Price of Truth.

Cindy W.


apple blossom said...

Please include me in this giveaway. Thanks
ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Nancye said...

This sounds like a really interesting book. Please include me.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

barbjan10 said...

Susan Marlow comes across as such a natural person and nice to know. I enjoyed her interview. I do have grandchildren who would enjoy her books; as well as contributing to the church library for the youngsters. Please enter me into the giveaway and thank you for the chance.

Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Brenda said...

Please enter me!

dancealert at aol dot com

Susan Marlow said...

I would have stopped by earlier, but wedding plans and "life" threw me off. LOL
But it was sure fun to read your comments, and good luck on winning a copy of Price of Truth!
And Michelle, you have a GREAT memory, as the Brio article about my "Homeschool Cover Girl" came out in July 2008. Nice to know somebody reads those things. :-)
And thanks, Lena, for the opportunity to be on your blog!

rubynreba said...

Please enter me for this good book.

barbjan10 said...

This is a great book to place in our church library. Any library as a matter of fact. Please place me in this book giveaway and thank you.

Blessings in Christ,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Judylynn said...

I would love to win this book! Thanks.


Molly(Buukluvr81) said...

Please enter me! Thanks so much! Looks like an excellent read!

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said...

I don't know if this one is still open, but I love the Andrea books,s o please enter me if it is!

jennifer at quiverfullfamily dot com