Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bucket Lists—Have You Started Checking Items Off Yours?

Susanna Matthews
Good morning, my Messy friends. This Saturday we are once again visited by a talented author I have no doubt you'll take a liking to after reading her post. Living in Eastern Ontario, Canada, Susanne Matthews is a retired educator who enjoys writing romance novels and reading them too. In the summer, she gardens and goes camping—in a tent. In the winter, she hibernates in front of her computer or watches her favorite television shows while sipping a glass of red wine. Married forty years (That's an amazing feat right there), she enjoys her three children and five grandchildren as much as possible. She sounds like someone the girls and I would enjoy hanging out with and we are looking forward to checking out her books. I hope you do as well. Just click on the titles to be taken to the Amazon page.

Today she is going to talk to us about bucket lists and I must admit I am looking forward to it. I've been slowly checking things off of mine as I grow older. It's exciting to see those checks being added. So, settle in with your morning coffee and enjoy a great read. Don't forget to say hello afterward.

Bucket Lists—Have You Started Checking Items Off Yours?

A few years ago, there was a great movie released called The Bucket List. Shortly afterwards, the term “Bucket List” became synonymous with things people wanted to do before they passed on.  Like everyone else, I climbed on the bandwagon and made a bucket list of things I wanted to do before I died. Most of the items on my list were things involving travel around the world and seeing some of the famous places like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, the Grand Canyon… you get the idea. For many people, especially those with deep pockets, my list seems superficial, but money has never been overly abundant in my life, and those places might as well have been on the moon—now? Anything is possible. Why? Because I filled the number one item on the list, and if I can do the impossible, then anything else is a piece of cake.

What was the number one item on my list? It was to become a published author.  That might not seem like such a big deal to many of you, but when you consider I started writing novels after I retired from more than 30 years as an educator, you might look at it differently. Being an author is my second career, the one I’ve wanted all my life, but living interfered with my hopes and dreams. My husband of 42 years and I took the time to raise three wonderful children, and I worked fulltime as a teacher. Writing a book back then, the way I write them now, would have been impossible for me—no computers, no Internet… you can imagine how much more time consuming and difficult it would have been. As a teacher I spent hours poring through books and encyclopedias for information for my teaching assignment. I didn’t have the time to handwrite or type a manuscript, especially when I’m a two-finger typist—I might use more than two now and then.

At the end of my teaching career I had the opportunity to do some technical writing. I wrote curriculum for online high school courses and I loved it. I learned to use the Internet for research and countless other things and realized I was good at it. For the curriculum, I’d even written a few short stories and that was my favorite part. So, when I got a chance to write similar material, I jumped at it. I wrote Sunday school curriculum, non-fiction articles for teacher sites, you name it. In June 2010, I retired from teaching hoping to focus on this, but after one more stint writing for the Ministry of Education that line of work dried up. They wanted current teachers to do it and that made sense.

In September 2012, I got an email that changed my life. It was an invitation to participate in a romance writing contest. You wrote the first chapter and put it out there for others to read. Scared? I was absolutely petrified! As the weeks crawled by and I worked on my first novel, I came across other writing opportunities, among which was a regular chat with other unpublished authors and a chance to pitch a book to a publisher. A small group was formed from all of those on the boards, and we decided to help one another by forming a smaller chat group. I was absolutely devastated when my original idea was rejected in January, 2013. I figured, “that’s it. You aren’t a writer and were never meant to be one.”

I thank God every day for those writing friends who stuck by me and wouldn’t let me quit. One of them encouraged me to pitch my book in a Twitter Pitch to Crimson Romance. I was stunned when I got a revise and resubmit request from the editor. I made the suggested changes and on February 13, 2013, I signed my first writing contract, and since then I’ve signed 11 others. Fire Angel was released on April 29, 2013. After that came In Plain Sight, August 2013, The Captain’s Promise, September 2013, Holiday Magic, November 2013, and The Perfect Choice, December 2013. Have I signed them all with the same publisher? No. I actually have four publishers to date, and I’m hoping for more. Why different publishers? In this day and age, I believe the more publishers I have, the wider my reading audience will be. Each publisher has followers and the more followers I can get, the more chance I have to sell all my books. Social media is the same. The more people you reach the better.

So what do I write? Romance of course. I write in a number of sub-genre—suspense, contemporary, historical, and most recently paranormal/suspense. The one thing all my books have in common is a happily ever after. I’m well aware of the fact that, in real life happily ever after or even happy for now isn’t as easy to get as it is within 100 to 300 pages of a romance novel, but books provide an escape from the here and now, and that’s all they’re meant to do. The fact that I can take people away, even for a little while is the most wonderful feeling in the world, and I’m thrilled if you walk away from the book thinking “I enjoyed that.”

I’ve grown as a writer in the last year. I publish under my own name as well as coauthor under the name Misty Matthews. Working with Misty has added a new dimension to my writing and I’ll be forever grateful she’s agreed to work with me. Coming Home was released in September 2013 and Grand Slam in January 2014. Misty and I continue to collaborate.

On April 14, 2014, almost a year after publishing my first book, I will be releasing through my original publisher, Just For The Weekend, a contemporary novel that is set at a sci-fi convention in Vegas. I was astounded to hear about the problems that occur at those events. It seems people in costumes can behave rather badly, something that doesn’t reflect well on us as a race. The worst aspect of it, is that many people will turn a blind eye to this behavior. Writing and researching the book was an eye opener, but despite what I’ve learned, a trip to a sci-fi convention remains on my bucket list.

About Just For The Weekend:
Sometimes, you have to step out of the box.

Kindergarten teacher, Cleo James, needs a break. For the past three years, she’s put her life on hold to help her father deal with grief, but now she’s ready to move on. A weekend in Vegas at a sci-fi convention may be just the place to start. She’ll be costumed as an alien and no one will recognize her. What could go wrong? Things get complicated when she’s attracted to a conventioneer whom she believes is a gorgeous Chippendale dancer.  Can Cleo set her strict moral code aside and enjoy what promises to be a once upon a time weekend?

Multimillionaire real estate developer, Sam Mason has sworn off serious relationships. In Vegas to visit family and friends, he’s talked into attending a sci-fi convention for the night. Dressed as an alien, he’s confident he can elude the usual gold diggers looking to star in the role of Mrs. Sam Mason. When he spots a beautiful woman dressed as a green-skinned slave girl, he’s captivated by her and changes his plans to leave Vegas in the morning. The more time he spends with her, the more he realizes she’s unlike any woman he’s known. Fantastic sex and too much alcohol find him married to his alien siren, but before he can tell her the truth about himself and see if they can make their marriage work, the bride vanishes.  Finding her is going to be a challenge.

So what’s next? I have four more books due out by the end of July, three of them romance/suspense, the fourth my first venture into paranormal/suspense. I’m currently at work on a YA mystery, another historical romance, and a romance/suspense. I hope to keep adding items to my bucket list and checking them all off for years to come. What about you? Do you have a bucket list?

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You can follow Susanne or buy her books by checking out her website:

Like and follow Susanne at:
Twitter: @jandsmatt
Facebook Author page:

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A quick thank you to Susanne for joining us at the Mess. It was great having you here and I hope you'll return and share more of your books and writing with us. You are always welcome.

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Did you enjoy what you read?  Leave me a comment and then join me at The Mess that Is Me on Facebook!

See what you've missed ~ There Is No Bedtime on Vacation
                                      Stepping Out from Behind the Wheel 
                                      Road Rage Doesn't Need a Road

Thanks for visiting The Mess! Keep chasing your dreams!

Pick up a copy of one of my books today!


  1. Replies
    1. Very nice to meet you, Susanne. Our paths are very similar: retired teachers, kids and grandkids who are important, and a long-standing desire to write stories and books. Thanks for sharing on this blog. :-)

    2. Always a pleasure, Susanne :) Feel free to come back anytime.