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Stationery set for school on the table

Today I go back to campus to start another academic year. Another summer is over. Damn, no span of time moves as fast for me as mid-May through late August. I don’t feel quite ready to go back to the two-full-time-jobs pace, but here we are.


For these brief few months that I had only one job, I was very productive. Lola was strapped in and rarin’ to go. Of course, I’m usually at my most creative when my mood is wonky, and menopause + chronic pain + depression and anxiety = a fucking wonky mood. But at least shit got done.

So here’s my What I Did During Summer “Vacation” essay:

three blank poster

Wrote two novels and mooooost of a third.

  1. Book 4 of my Pagano Brothers Mafia romance series (Angie’s book—coming out in January 2020, title TBA)
  2. Book 1 of a new MMA romance series—Capital City MMA (coming out in March 2020, title TBA)
  3. 80,000 words of my next historical romance—an immigrant story set in 1900s New York City. Since I’ll probably have that one finished in about a week, I feel pretty confident saying that it will be out next spring, too (assuming my betas don’t hate it).

summer 2019 books read

Read—OMG—32 books this summer (and 64 so far this year)!

Most of them just for PLEASURE. Just because I WANTED TO. I know a lot of you read way more than that, but I haven’t been able to bathe in books with such abandon in a very, very long time.

With the teaching and the writing and various other responsibilities, I read ALL THE TIME, but I went actual years without picking up a book for no other reason than pleasure. Although to be honest, being an English professor basically means ANY book I read (and any movie or TV series I watch) could end up being work, because I can’t turn off the part of my brain that wants to analyze and critique and find a way to teach what I’m reading, if I find it worthwhile at all. It’s one of the dangers of making your passion your profession, of course—you turn the thing you love into work.

But I have found the Goodreads Reading Challenge to be really motivating for me to pick up a book during my sleepless nights, rather than binge Buffy and Angel for the billionth time. I am not an externally competitive person at all (in fact, I really hate competing against other people), but I am extremely internally competitive. Give me a mark to meet, and I have a Pavlovian need to strive to surpass it. I did the Goodreads challenge for the first time last year and topped my (very modest) goal by about ten books.

I upped my goal a little for this year and reached it in May, lol. So I think I’ve found a way to make time to read for pleasure again. And I should probably set a more ambitious goal for 2020.

Anyway, a few books I’ve read this year are re-reads that I love, but most have been new to me. I’ve read some AMAZING books this summer and have rediscovered the joy of just hanging out in my comfy chair and falling into somebody else’s imagination. It’s been awesome–as you all know, and I sort of forgot.

I will have some great fodder for my end-of-the-year books post. (For one thing, I discovered VE Schwab this year–and I am in love.)

I also took a couple weeks off here and there, played some Witcher III, and we had a lovely little mini-vacation at Tahoe. Overall, it was a pretty good summer, despite the wonkiness of my mood. This just in: menopause sucks, y’all.


London sign

My fall plans are pretty busy, too. Besides the very full-time job of teaching, I’ll also be in London at the end of September for RARE! (I’ll be teaching remotely while I’m there, keeping all my plates spinning as usual—here’s hoping for good hotel wifi.)

I’ve got Anywhere, the 3rd book of the Sawtooth Mountains series, coming out in a couple weeks (preorder is available now), and one more new release planned before the end of the year—that’s the Brazen Bulls prequel standalone, featuring Mo and Delaney, set during and just after the Vietnam War. I really, really love how their story evolved. The reveal for that is coming in a few weeks.

And I’m still hoping to get another couple manuscripts drafted before the end of the year. I’ve got more plans for the Paganos, and Sawtooth, and this new MMA series, and lots of other ideas getting antsy for their time on the page.

Well, I guess that’s the final bell on Summer 2019. It’s time for me to put my professor cap on and get to shaping eager minds.

I hope your summer was grand!



  1. Buy a stand up fan and prepare. Menopause lasts FOREVER. As always, I wait with breathe held for the next Pagano’s and really antsy for the MMA. Happy back to school

  2. Hello Susan,
    I am glad you are back When I have seen your mail (triggered by the newsletter) I smiled and thought „here she is again“. I think, that I already mentioned it several times, that I read all your stories and I like them all, but what I almost like more is, when you share your thoughts. Thank you for that.
    For me 32 Books are an incredible amount of books for one summer. I am happy, when my life let me read 4 to 6 books in the same time.
    I am 53 years old and I know your trouble with the menopause. I have dealt with rheumatism, arthrosis in hands and feet and menopause. So I know the pain and the psychological impact. Thankfully menopause is over (I finished early ). It is the same for every woman and yet so different, isn’t it? But things are changing. And today I can say that’s a good thing, because it makes room for something new. I am not young anymore, but not old either. But what I appreciate today is my serenity, my freedom to say what I think, not to be dependent on what others think of me. And menopause was part this process (that sounds a bit psychedelic, never mind ).
    Please don’t struggle with yourself. You have talent and your muse Lola. That is a real gift. You write wonderful books with heart and soul and I am convinced, many of your fans see the woman behind your stories. Perhaps you can write a story about a woman our age, who fell in love with a man, who is man enough to deal with all the tics and oddities, lol.
    I am looking forward for the next Sawtooth Mountains story.
    A big hug from Germany.

  3. 5 words that are music to my ears – “more plans for the Paganos” !!! I’m presuming the saga is not going to end with Angie’s story. I’m ecstatic you’re planning a continuance because just about every other mafia romance genre author out there is wretched.

    And from someone who is currently experiencing hot flashes and night sweats – I feel your pain

  4. Yr menopause + chronic pain + depression and anxiety = a fucking wonky mood, is my life also. Xcpt my chronic pain & illnesses have forced me to stop wrk’n & I miss it. I am currently reading Pagano Family set. I start John’s story 2day. I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of them! Not just the stories, the plot twists, the characters, the family ties crossing, but that you, also, included older romances. I am in the past 50 lane, but we are just as passionate & alpha male & strong women as the younger people. Maybe, even more so because we are older.

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