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  • Writer's pictureSusan Koehler

Here's What I've Been Up to Lately...

What have you been up to? It’s a question I get asked a lot since I left the classroom. Do you sleep in? Do you travel? Are you looking for something to fill your time now that you’re not working?

Well, to be honest, I am working. A lot. I wouldn’t trade a minute of my 36 years of teaching because I absolutely loved it. I loved my students, I loved the forum for sharing books, I loved the sense of community that develops with each new class. But, when I got the nudge that it was time to shift my focus, I listened. I followed. And I’m loving it.

These days, most of my energy is devoted to writing. Writing is not new for me. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. As a young child, I wrote songs and poems. As a high school senior, I even received scholarship money for a poem I wrote.

As I grew into my career in education, I grew into a fascination with the teaching of writing. And then, in 2007, I published my first book, a resource for teachers of writing called Crafting Expository Papers.

I remained in educational publishing for a number of years before finally yielding to the tug to write fiction. It took a while to complete and publish my first novel for young readers. After all, I was still teaching full time and raising a family. However, that dream became a reality in 2019 with the publication of Dahlia in Bloom.

My journey into fiction was affirmed by Kirkus Reviews when they gave Dahlia in Bloom a starred review and named it among the Best Books of 2019. Even more fulfilling was the support of my community. The book launch was at Midtown Reader, a lovely independent bookstore, there was a standing-room-only crowd, and the book sold out!

In 2021, my next work of fiction became a reality. Nobody Kills Uncle Buster and Gets Away With It, a contemporary mystery, launched in two separate sessions to facilitate Covid protocols. It went on to win Children’s Book of the Year from the Florida Writers Association in 2022.

But those books were written while I was still teaching. I left the classroom at the end of the 2021 school year. So, what have I been up to since then?

Well, I’ve been doing a LOT of writing! A year ago, I got to work on two books for Lerner Publishing. They’re part of a series of paranormal books about sinkholes in Texas. And now, those books are available!

Cursed features Eli, a ninth grade science enthusiast who scoffs at his friend Freddy’s superstitions. However, when the boys discover a strange, glowing coin on the site of the old Broken Brand Ranch, Eli’s rational thinking is challenged, and he’s suddenly pulled into an unsolved mystery from a previous century.

Innocent Blood is about a high school sophomore named Rosa Vieja, whose father has recently disappeared. She hears a voice calling from the mist far outside her bedroom window, and when Foggy Creek High School’s wide receiver (and Rosa’s not-so-secret crush) disappears into that mist, Rosa can no longer dismiss the voice.

But that’s not all! I’ve also completed a sequel to Dahlia in Bloom. It’s called Charlie’s Song, and it features a new character, Dahlia’s banjo-

playing Uncle Ennis, a self-proclaimed traveling troubadour. It's partially inspired by a homemade banjo that was built by one of my mom's brothers.

An original song from the book has been set to music and recorded by local musician

W. Heath Fowler and will be available for download in conjunction with the book’s release.

The book launch for Charlie’s Song has been scheduled for May 6, 2023, at 3:00 at the lovely Midtown Reader bookstore in Midtown Tallahassee, and W. Heath Fowler will grace us with a live performance of the song. Mark your calendars! I’d love to see you there.

What have I been up to lately? Well, in addition to carving out time for my grandchildren and some volunteer work, I’m following my dreams, and that means I’m doing a LOT of writing!

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