Novelist Susan Koefod ’81 speaking to students and faculty in Derham Hall. Photo by Michelle Mullowney.
Yes. You can have a career, English grads. That was the message at a recent event at St. Catherine University. It was an honor to be invited back and be among other accomplished professional women who found career homes in many places.
My thanks to Jill Jepson for the invite and to St. Catherine University for hosting!
I guess you could call it that. For more than several months, possibly a year or more, I’ve been in a state of writer-lethargy, a low-energy subsistence of work-eat-television/internet/screen viewing-sleep.
This is not the same as a writer’s block. Novel and stories noodled in my brain, but stayed there, slumbering through a very long, bone-chilling winter where I did nothing more than bundle my writer’s brain up and send it to bed. The ideas needed to stay warm and safe, and keeping them warm and safe meant they needed to be tucked away somewhere for a sunnier day.
Oh there has been plenty of publishing activity, and that is very very good, and I know it is good to be where I am on that front. (By the way, that front includes interest from Hollywood, fingers crossed.)
But you are not a writer unless you actually write, right? (Note to unpublished WRITERS – you are writers, one and all).
So now I have shouted my sleeping writer’s brain awake. WAKE UP, YOU LOSER! And I am writing again.
Further, I have banned the following excuses (i.e., conditions that I required for writing):
- Writing must be done in certain places (favorite happy places – like Nina’s Cafe – which now serves WINE). Well, I can pour myself my own glass of G-D wine, which I have at hand at the moment. Of course, Nina’s will continue to be visited.
- Writing can only be done on weekend mornings when I am awake. HELLO, I can write during other parts of the day, other parts of the week. Don’t be a pathetic lazy bones.
- Writing needs to be “inspired” – i.e., seat of the pants. Um – I could try an OUTLINE for once? Or, even easier, use an app, such as Scrivener – where I can write here and there, and easily reorganize as I need to. A little organization might allow one to have more than three or four characters in a book. Multiple plot lines. A little more depth. A lot more depth.
Note the pretty rainbow. I painted it myself, yes indeed, sometime in the last few years. It’s not perfect, in fact, it looks childish. I don’t care. Another rule from the list of banished excuses:
- Stop worrying about perfection. About the word count. About pumping pages out in a minimum amount of time. How about just enjoying the process for once, imperfect as it can be? Have fun with it?
So I’m feeling more joyfully-rainbowish about the whole thing. And that is the point.
She walked up the steps of her apartment one last time, and felt in her pocket for her key. She thought of kissing the key goodbye—a silly gesture to be sure—and felt self-conscious even though the cabbie wasn’t paying the least bit of attention and no one else was around. So she kissed it, and the moment her lips touched the key, she felt her wedding ring brush against her cheek.
Her husband’s prognosis had been terminal from the start, yet he’d lingered almost two years after the accident, and during those two years, Lydia gave everything away, sold the house, and rented an apartment near the hospital, furnishing it sparely. She told herself she was in limbo during Terrance’s long and slow decline, and this was why she hadn’t bothered decorating the place. But after he died and was buried, she’d immediately bought herself the open train ticket, planning to depart within the week.
She dropped the key into her landlord’s mailbox, and on impulse, she removed her wedding ring, dropping it in her own mailbox with little thought, no regret. The post office was holding her mail, so the ring would lie entombed until she returned. When that would be, she didn’t know.
Excerpt from “Open Ended”, now appearing in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Find it in bookstores everywhere.
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine has published my story in their December 2015 issue. In “Open-Ended,” a recent widow sets off on a cross-country train voyage. The issue includes a reader’s ballot, so you can cast a vote for my story as a reader’s favorite – if you so choose! You can find it on newsstands (at Barnes and Noble and other bookstores), or order it online from Ellery Queen, buy it at online at various book retailers, or order it at your favorite independent bookstore! Also available in Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader versions.
My first Ellery Queen story appeared in the December issue two years ago. December appears to be my lucky month for short mystery stories. Guess I better get cracking on a new story for a future December issue.
I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Curiosity Quills Press, as announced in Publisher’s Marketplace on Monday, September 21.
Susan Koefod’s NAMING THE STARS, in which a teen girl comes home from swimming lessons one day to find she is absent from family photographs, her bedroom has turned into a linen closet, and all of her possessions have disappeared; more troubling, her family goes on as if she never existed; the only person in town who can actually see her is a teen boy with a troubled past and secrets he’s determined to keep, to Kathleen Kubasiak at Curiosity Quills Press for publication in Summer 2016 (world).
This was the book I began writing in San Francisco during my McKnight Artists Fellowship year. The idea came to me on the flight there—I’d originally planned to write another novel, and during my first days there, wrote parts of both, but NAMING THE STARS took over my imagination and my speedy fingers.
To now see it on its path to publication is amazing! This next year will be filled with much activity around my debut young adult novel. The team at Curiosity Quills is already proving to be phenomenal, so it’s going to be a great ride!
Meteorological fall (weather-geeks rejoice!) is shaping up as a mouth-watering literary-eventful time. Oh yes, and FREE cake, served by this author at the first of these events. I hope to see you at any or all of these upcoming events.
September 10, 7 PM
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA
Black Dog and AZ Gallery
Corner of 4th & Broadway
Lowertown, St Paul, MN
Food, fun, and readings from the Saint Paul Almanac: A Ten-Year Retrospective. The book includes my story of a geeky Cray Research employee love affair－punctuated by elephant jokes. I’ll be serving cake so stop by and get a piece or two. Books available for purchase!
September 30, 7 PM
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA
Lucy Coffee Cafe
540 Fairview Ave N,
St Paul, MN 55104
Hear me read my story from the Saint Paul Almanac: A Ten-Year Retrospective. Love and elephant jokes – what a great combo. Other writers will also be reading their pieces. Books available for purchase!
NOVEMBER 14, 1 PM – 4 PM
APPLE VALLEY, MN
Galaxie Library (Apple Valley)
14955 Galaxie Ave.
Apple Valley, MN 55124
Come see me at the Dakota County Library Local Author Fair, where you can mingle with the book-loving public, buy books, hang out with authors, and attend optional literary workshops. All three Arvo Thorson mysteries － Burnt Out, Broken Down, and Washed Up － will be available for purchase.
It’s a thrill to have my story selected by Saint Paul Almanac’s community editors to be published in the 10th anniversary issue, so I thought I’d share this cover reveal and invite Minneapolis and St. Paul area readers and writers to join in the fun at the 10th anniversary bash (coming September 10th).
The editors culled through 10 years of Saint Paul Almanacs and I am so honored and pleased to have had my story of a geeky Cray Research employee love affair－punctuated by elephant jokes－appearing in the book this year.
This week also brought good news in the form of tiny final edits to my latest Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine story－Open Ended－which will appear in the December issue (out on the newsstands in October). It’s a huge thrill for a mystery writer’s stories to appear in the world’s leading crime and mystery fiction magazine. This will be my second story to appear in Ellery Queen! Beyond excitement!
If you haven’t checked it out yet, look at my Perpetua series on Revolver. Free! Quirky, bizarre, and experimental.
Forthcoming appearances include the Minnesota State Fair, a private book club event (YES – I DO BOOK CLUBS!!), and the Almanac party. I hope to see fans, fellow authors, and fellow readers at all of these!