March 17, 2014

Made It Moment: Susan Sundwall

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 5:15 pm

The Red Shoelace Killer

Lately I’ve been reading the Moments with music. It makes sense, I suppose. Both artistic expressions, words telling a story. When you read Susan Sundwall’s words, I dare you not to cry. Not because it’s sad but because it’s beautiful. This run we’re all on, right? Each of us seeking to tell and share our story. Sure, the years do slip away, as Susan so poignantly notes–and Jimmy Buffet does too in this song. But look what we can achieve along the way!

Susan Sundwall

I was in the airport waiting to board a plane with my new husband. As we happily discussed our future I, full of the ridiculous confidence of youth, said, “I will be a writer.” I wanted to assure him that I would be no slouch of a wife – I had a dream.

Then forty years went by at Mach 5 and I found myself sitting at work staring at a computer screen wondering what the devil had happened. Life happened, that’s what. Kids and critters happened, jobs and houses and in-laws happened. The dream had gone underground.

Oh, there were some tattered remnants of it along the way. Classes, contests, stinky novels under the bed. And then one day I wrote a story for a family newsletter – a Christmas story about a little sparrow. It met with such rave reviews I gave it to our pastor to read during the children’s service. It met with rave reviews.

The dream glimmered in the mist. And there I sat staring at the computer screen wondering what the Sam hill I was waiting for (for those under thirty that’s really old fashioned cussing). I decided to go seeking online. I needed to know what I was up against. Turned out the world was overflowing with writer wannabes and needy me befriended some of them.

New vistas opened up for me then. I wrote and sold to small markets. Each acceptance goaded me on. I landed a lucrative assignment for a writer’s guide. I got praise for my humerous essays and children’s stories. But the book was the thing. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The book you just know will strike a cord in a half million readers if only you could get it out there. I forged on – and on.

Landing a publishing contract is no small feat and if it takes ten years, like with my book, it can be discouraging. Suddenly you have great sympathy for Sisyphus. But then that bright, gasping, beautiful day comes when someone sees your book like you do, and you’re offered a contract. And ten months later you find yourself signing book after book at your launch where almost sixty people come to buy your book and congratulate you.

And when it was over, forty years dropped away at Mach 5, and the young girl inside whispered, “Hey, writer, I think you’ve made it.”

Thank you so much, Jenny, for letting me tell it!

Susan Sundwall and her husband live in a one hundred and fifty year old house on four lumpy bumpy acres lined with pine trees in Columbia County, New York. Her work has appeared in several anthologies including two stories in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Many of her poems, essays, and articles on writing have also been published. Her first mystery,The Red Shoelace Killer – A Minnie Markwood Mystery, was published in 2012. Her second book in the series is written and she has high hopes of hitting some bestseller list sometime, somewhere, in any country, and in this century.


  1. Susan, I loved your post! Your story is very like my own. I’m so glad you recaptured your dream! I can’t wait to read THE RED SHOELACE KILLER.

    Jenny, you probably don’t remember me, but I met you at Steve’s Bookstore in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Comment by Jackie King — March 18, 2014 @ 9:42 am

  2. Susan,

    A lovely post! Congrats on finally being able to do what you always wanted. Life is too short for anything else.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — March 18, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  3. LOL! And congratulations, Susan! So happy for you.

    You keep writing. Folks will keep reading.

    And bless you on the way.

    Waving and smiling,


    Comment by Rhonda Schrock — March 18, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  4. Nice post, Susan and Jenny! Keep up the great writig – both of you!

    Comment by Barbara Ebel ('Doctor Barbara') — March 18, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

  5. Congratulations, Susan — and just think of all the living that’s informing your writing now. It adds something it wouldn’t have had back when you were a newlywed.

    (Also, here’s a neighborly wave from Rensselaer County.)

    Good luck with both volumes and those still to come.


    Comment by Sandra Hutchison — March 18, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

  6. Oh, Wow! Thank you all so much for your kind comments. Keeps a girl’s spirits up, ya know? Waving back, Sandy, and blowing a kiss to the rest of you.

    Comment by Susan Sundwall — March 18, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

  7. Ah Susan, been there, felt that and yes, the years whiz by with so many other things to fill them with. Suddenly, you wake up and with nothing to lose but time and that is in short supply to those of us who have left it 40 years, you go for it. Well done and good on your for taking the risk. Noting ventured, nothing gained. If only we had realised that 40 years ago and stopped putting off til tomorrow… we all know, tomorrow never comes. But then again we make our own luck (with lots of hard work) and in the end there it is; the book. Well done and long may you write and continue to have success. You never know, one of those 60 book buyers might just be looking at you and thinking that if she can do it so can I. :) Lovely piece thanks Susan and thanks Jenny. :)

    Comment by Jane Risdon — March 18, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

  8. I am a big “Susan” fan, so it was wonderful to hear more about the journey from there to here. Thanks and blessings to you both! :)

    Comment by Karen Lange — March 18, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

  9. Jane, Your words are so heartfelt. But in the years I didn’t write I was gathering material and I’ve made use of so much that the younger me never could have. Blowing you a kiss, too!

    Comment by Susan Sundwall — March 18, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

  10. Great to know that a dream is only a keystroke away! Or maybe a million.

    Comment by Karyne Corum — March 19, 2014 @ 11:09 am

  11. Good for you, Susan, for never giving up on your dream. When we have others who rely on us–children, elderly parents, a spouse, etc.–I think it’s the responsible thing to do to pursue our dreams when those dreams fit practically into our lives. Others may disagree with me on this point, but if we’re part of a family or some other unit, we have to think of the good of the unit as we consider pursuing a dream that would impact the unit’s other members. So you are where you are because this is the right time for you to be here, and the sky’s the limit for you now. I believe that, anyway.

    And if I’m not mistaken, I believe I’ve read your story about the little sparrow, and it was beautiful.

    Jenny, thank you for hosting Susan and letting her share her story with us. Wishing you ladies the best.

    Comment by Janette Dolores — March 19, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

  12. What a great story, and I hope you find those half a million readers. I’d like to find them, too. LOL I’m so glad you found the right publisher.

    Comment by Marja McGraw — March 24, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

  13. Marja, Thank you so much for reading my confession. =0)Every writer has such a story, though, and I’m truly grateful for every reader who finds me and spends precious time with the characters and stories I’ve created. I hope the same for you!

    Comment by Susan Sundwall — March 25, 2014 @ 7:33 am

  14. Janette,I agree that the right time in our lives for things will present themselves as such. And I do hope the sky’s the limit. Thank you for your comments! And I’m so glad you liked “Mary’s Sparrow.”

    Comment by Susan Sundwall — March 26, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

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