I discovered the fictional McAllister family in 2002 when I first heard Wildflower’s voice in the middle of the night and she began telling me her story. I had no idea at the time that The Secret Sense of Wildflower, as those early writings came to be known, would even be published. Ultimately, it was my breakthrough novel. Kirkus Reviews deemed it one of their prestigious Best Books of 2012, and my writing career took off.
The sequel Lily’s Song came four years later after so many readers requested more of the story. When I realized there was one more generation that needed to be heard from, the Wildflower Trilogy was born, and I wrote the third and final book, Daisy’s Fortune.
The Wildflower Trilogy consists of three generations of coming-of-age stories: Wildflower at thirteen, her daughter Lily at thirteen, and Lily’s daughter, Daisy, at thirteen. Finishing this series has felt very satisfying to me as a writer. It feels as though Wildflower chose me personally to tell her story, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity.
Daisy’s Fortune is available in print or ebook here (audiobook February 2020):
Or your local bookstore can order it.
Here’s the official book description:
She must return to the place that twice brought her shame. She’ll have one final chance to save someone else.
Tennessee, 1982. Wildflower McAllister thought she’d put the past behind her. But when she learns her mother is dying, she digs deep and returns to the small mountain town that stole her innocence and cast her out. And she has no choice but to pull her thirteen-year-old granddaughter Daisy right back into the ghosts of her painful history.
As her mother passes, Wildflower’s grief turns to despair when Daisy’s fortune is read, predicting a dark future and the return of sinister threats. With her granddaughter keeping a terrible secret, Wildflower’s distress forces her to call upon the community that rejected her to prevent another tragedy from playing out in front of her eyes.
Can Wildflower stop a harrowing legacy from spreading to another generation?
Daisy’s Fortune is the emotional conclusion to the Wildflower Trilogy. If you like strong women, generational tales, and the power of family and the land to heal, then you’ll adore Susan Gabriel’s compelling finale.
Book 1: The Secret Sense of Wildflower
Book 2: Lily’s Song
Book 3: Daisy’s Fortune
Thank you again for reading my books. Without you, I could not live my dream of being an author. May we all live into our dreams! xo
Something for YOU, sweet readers, as a way to say thank you for reading my books:
If you would like to have an *autographed* copy of one of my books, but you ALREADY own the book, youâ’re in luck!
I now have bookplates which I can sign and dedicate any way you’d like. They have a peel and stick back so you can put them in your copy of my book. There is no cost. This is a gift to show my appreciation to my readers.
If interested, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you your custom signed bookplate! xo
P.S. My latest book is Gullah Secrets. I received so many requests from readers for a sequel to Temple Secrets, that I continued the story. Go to my website for more info.
Dear Sweet Reader,
Did you love Temple Secrets? Were you one of the many readers who asked me to please, please, please write a sequel? Well, I heard you and for the last two years, I’ve been bringing Old Sally, Queenie, Violet, and Rose back to life just for you. Like many of you, I love these characters, so it was a delight to continue their story and now it is finally here! Partially inspired by some true, stormy experiences in my own life…
Here’s the official book description:
A family legacy in danger. A stranger in their midst. Do they have the strength to survive the gathering storm of secrets?
For the Temple women, the winds of change are blowing. And if they’re not careful, it could sweep them all away!
After rising from Temple servant to tea shop owner, Violet finally feels in charge of her destiny. While learning Gullah folk magic from her aging grandmother, she worries much of her cultural heritage will be lost to the grave. Is there enough time for Old Sally to pass down all her special wisdom?
Bride-to-be Queenie has never felt younger at heart. Engaged to the man of her dreams, the feisty sixty-year-old won’t let anything ruin her big day – not even ancestral ghosts or a mysterious wedding crasher.
Rose’s southern roots run deep. Even after three decades away, she can still feel the shadow of her deceased high-society mother watching her every move. Can she shake her ghost and find a place among her family?
With a storm of trouble brewing across the island, the Temple women will have to survive more than a force of nature to put their ghosts to rest!
Gullah Secrets is the sequel to the bestselling novel Temple Secrets. If you like Southern gothic literature, characters you won’t want to close the cover on, and locations steeped in history, then you’ll love this hilarious and warmhearted saga.
Buy Gullah Secrets today to unlock a compelling tale of family ties and tempests!
Thank you again for reading my books. Without you, I could not live my dream of being an author. May we all live into our dreams!
The pursuit of anything meaningful in our lives requires persistence, especially our creative endeavors. I have been writing for 22 years and have published several novels, three of them bestsellers on Amazon and Nook. A large part of my success as a writer can be summed up in one word:
I’m not sure why I am able to persist when others have not. Maybe being obstinate is a good thing. Maybe my belief in myself–that I have something to say–is just enough to keep me going. Maybe I know I will always have regrets if I don’t persist. Maybe it is fear that drives me, in addition to love for the craft of writing stories. Perhaps persistence is made up of several small things.
One thing that has stayed consistent over the last couple of decades while I’ve grown and lived into my writing career has been my collection of quotes that I look at whenever I feel discouraged. I guess it’s my way of standing on the shoulders of giants. With that in mind I offer you my
Top 10 quotes about persistence:
When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
–Harriet Beecher Stowe
A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence. Â Â â€” Jim Watkins
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. Â Â –Maya Angelou
Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over. Â Â Â Â –F. Scott Fitzgerald
If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. Â Â Â –Buddhist Saying
Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.Â –Vivian Komori
Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend upon the brilliancy and the impetuosity with which you take told, but upon the everlasting and sanctified bull-doggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold. –A.B. Meldrum
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying:Â ‘I will try again tomorrow.’Â –Mary Anne Radmacher
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. –Calvin Coolidge
First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.
–Octavia E. Butler
What do you think of these quotes about persistence? Do you have a favorite? Or are there others you might add? I love hearing from readers so feel free to comment. xo
P.S. Please consider joining me onÂ my Facebook Author Page.
Susan Gabriel is an acclaimed southern author who lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Her novels, The Secret Sense of Wildflower (a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012), Temple Secrets (2015) and Trueluck Summer (2016) are Amazon and Nook #1 bestsellers.
In our modern world, it is easy to feel anxious with the constant barrage of news and information that saturates our days. Many of us areÂ discovering the need to calmÂ ourselves and take a break from the seemingly unending things to worry about.
With this in mind, yesterday morning I sat at my favorite local coffee shop (having a cup of tea) and made a list of 72 things to do during anxious times. I wasn’t aiming for 72, or any number, I just kept writing until I had to leave. My goal was to create some suggestions for activities that might take our minds off our ever-changing and sometimes-scary world.
As a former shrink turned novelist, myÂ hope is that you find at least one of theseÂ suggestionsÂ helpful and that it will somehow make your time on this planetÂ a little less anxious and perhaps even a tad more enjoyable. xo
72 Things to Do During Anxious Times
- Read fiction–escape into a really good story
- Sit in the sun for 10 minutes
- Take a 10 minute walk
- Sit or walk by a body of water or a fountain
- Listen to live music
- Breathe deeply for 4 breaths every hour
- Read a poem
- Smile at a stranger
- Write and mail a postcard to an oldÂ friend
- Join a book club
- Sketch a really bad self-portrait from looking in the mirror
- SingÂ Zip-a-dee-do-dah in the car
- Write an old-fashioned fan letter to someone you admire
- Watch young children play
- Write a really bad poem
- Watch birds for 10 minutes
- Make a cup of tea
- Buy a small plant and talk to it
- Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for
- Write a positive word for every letter of the alphabet
- Listen to a song from when you were a teenager
- Make a list of 10 thoughtful things you can do for someone you care about. Do one a day for 10 days. Or do all 10 for 10 days
- Ask for help while doing something hard and then return the favor
- Make a donation to an organization you believe in
- Seek out good news stories
- Pet your dog or cat or visit a shelter
- Cancel subscriptions to things you don’t have time for or that make you feel anxious
- Make a list of things to do during anxious times 😉
- Write a noteÂ and tell someoneÂ what you appreciate about them. Do this once every day for oneÂ week, or a month, or a year
- Make a list of things you believe in
- Volunteer one afternoon a month
- Attend a support group
- Have one night a week where you play old fashioned games with your friends or family
- Study a tree, plant or flower. Imagine what is going on inside them
- Find photos of your ancestors and thank them for allowing you to exist
- Spend one hour straightening something you’ve been meaning to put order to
- Tell someone that you love them
- In silence, watch it rain or snow
- Eat an entire meal of unprocessed food
- Dance in front of a mirror to your favorite song
- Pretend you are the happiest you have ever been. What will you do next?
- Introduce yourself to a neighbor you’ve never met
- Learn to play didgeridoo
- Sit in a coffee shop and people watch instead of looking at your phone or tablet
- Explore what kind of art you like by visiting a museum or art gallery
- Go somewhere you’ve never been before
- Pick up trash in a natural area for 30 minutes
- Thank someone for their service
- Do one thing every Saturday that you’ve never done before
- Place something in your kitchen that inspires you or that you find beautiful
- Create a Haiku
- Call or visit someone that you usually only email or text
- Look out a window and make a list of everything you see
- Tell someone they are not alone
- Spend an hour with someone who is very old. Think about what kind of old person you want to be if you have that opportunity
- Remember a pleasant experience from your childhood and try to replicate it
- Make your favorite meal and share it with someone. Or if you are seldom alone, go have a favorite meal by yourself
- Say ‘thank you’ to everyone you interact with for an entire day
- Hand deliver or send someone flowers or buy flowers for yourself
- Detach from the internet and television for 24 hours and study your reactions
- Remove yourself from someone who is toxic to you
- Practice extreme self care
- Detach from all news sources for one day and see if you feel calmer
- Help someone in trouble (if they want help)
- Read a genre of fiction that you don’t usually read
- Go to the library and enjoy the quiet
- Taste a vegetable that you’ve never eaten before
- Read one book considered a “classic.” See if you agree
- Read a book you used to love as a child
- Open the door for someone
- Write a love letter with crayons
- Devote yourself to something creative
What would you add to this list of things to do during anxious times? Do you have any that you want to try?
Susan Gabriel is the acclaimed southern author of Amazon #1 Bestselling novels Â The Secret Sense of Wildflower (named a Best Book of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews) and Temple Secrets. Her other books include Grace, Grits and Ghosts: Southern Short Stories and her latest southern historical novel,Â Trueluck Summer.Â She lives in the mountains of North Carolina.
Happy New Year! Many of my readers have told me theyâ€™re interested in sneak peek into my life as a writer, so I decided to share with you some highlights of 2016.
- January 29 & 30 â€“ Temple SecretsÂ reached #1 bestseller on Amazon & Nook
- January â€“ Incorporated my writing business
- January-February-March â€“ final revisions and proofing Lilyâ€™s Song (sequel to The Secret Sense of Wildflower )
- Feb. 16 â€“ Formed Gabrielâ€™s Angels, my early review team. (Sending love and gratitude to all my Angels who are receiving this!)
- Feb. 18 Harper Lee died 🙁
- March 22 â€“ Lilyâ€™s SongÂ published
- April through Sept. â€“ Worked on final revision and proofing of Trueluck Summer
- April 24 â€“ Met with St. Timothyâ€™s Book Group and discussed The Secret Sense of Wildflower.
- July 6 â€“ Featured interview in Southern Writers Magazine (click to read full interview)
- July 9 â€“ Lilyâ€™s Song audiobook available, professionally narrated by actor Holly Adams (my first professional audiobook)
- Aug. 9 â€“ Met with Lake Lure book club and discussed Temple Secrets
- Fall 2016 â€“ Wrote the beginning pages ofÂ the third book in the Wildflower trilogy and the sequel to Temple Secrets
- Sept. â€“ Hired Holly Adams to do the Temple Secrets audiobook. Available early this January!
After 22 years of writing, this is only the second year I have written full-time, without also doingÂ freelance editing or teaching. This would not have been possible without you!
Whether you discovered my books recently, or you have been a fan for a while, I am very grateful that you areÂ reading and enjoyingÂ my books.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into my life as a writer. I also hope 2017 brings you good books, good friends and a few delightful surprises.
P.S. My goals forÂ 2017 include finishing a first draft ofÂ the third and final book in the Wildflower trilogy, as well as the sequel to Temple Secrets.Â
In my last blog post I told you about my interview in Southern Writers, the July/August anniversary issue of the magazine, andÂ shared with you the first question I was asked on the interview.
BelowÂ is the second question I was asked, followed by my answer. At this point, most of my stories take place in the southeastern United States (mountain settings, as well as coastal, since I’ve lived in both). I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee and now live in the mountains of North Carolina, so I am considered a “southern” writer. Although I’ve run from that label in the past,Â in the last few yearsÂ I have embraced it.
Interview in Southern Writers:
SW: What do you think makes stories about Southerners so interesting to read?
Me: In southern fiction, not only are the characters quirky and sometimes bigger than life, but they are also grounded in the landscape and a sense of place. Throw in a crackpot, an old wise woman and a preacher and readers love it even more. But we southerners love our countryside.
We have a different rhythm here in the South. It is the rhythm of cicadas, mountain streams and sea breezes. It is the rhythm of weary travelers seeking out a welcoming front porch to converse with the locals and the land, to ponder their purpose on earth, and their place.
We also have secrets here. Delicious ones. Destructive ones. Redeeming ones. It was Flannery O’Connor who said the South was â€œChrist-haunted.â€ After living here for over 50 years, I tend to agree, and would add â€œCivil War-hauntedâ€ as a possibility, too.
I lived in Charleston SC for many years, and the heart of town is The Market (as in, the old slave market). Sitting in the middle of all that history are these beautiful African-American women weaving sweetgrass baskets, as if theyâ€™ve been sitting there for the last hundred years. The past is still alive in Charleston, and perhaps it is still alive everywhere in the South.
[The novel I’m finishing up now takes place in Charleston in 1964 and one of those lovelyÂ basket-makers is a secondary character. I love exploring the past through the eyes of a character. The working title is The Trueluck Rebellion, and I hope to release it by the end of this year.]
Charleston has its fair share of ghosts, too. Confederate soldiers rattle around in the attics of old mansions. Churches and cemeteries have their spirits, as well. You can take more than one ghost tour when visiting.
My novel, Temple Secrets, sprang from something a friend told me 25 years ago. She moved to an old house South of Broad Street (the most historic section of town), and while living there she heard from her neighbors that many of the housekeepers who worked there were the descendants of slaves who had worked for the ancestors of these same white families. What must it be like to know that your ancestors were slaves owned by the same family that you currently work for?
This fascinated me. I wasn’t even writing then, but somehow I knew I would explore that idea later. That’s what Temple Secrets is all about: how the past is still alive in the present day, ghosts are a fact of life, and how secrets can be kept alive for generations.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my interview in Southern Writers. Comments? Questions? As always, I thank you for reading. xo
P.S. Please consider joining me on my Facebook Author PageÂ for shorter posts and more frequent interaction.
Dear Ones, IÂ was invited to doÂ an interview in Southern Writers magazine this month. It was great fun to be interviewed about my southern roots and the southern themes in my work, as well as my writing process.
Susan Reichert (Editor-in-Chief) and Annette Coleman Mastron (Communications Director) of the magazine did a great job with the interview, and I am grateful for the opportunity to appear in the magazine.
Here’s a promo on their website:
Here’s the magazine cover:
For more information go here.
Unfortunately, the only way you can read the interview is to buy aÂ copy. I understand if that isn’t an option, and I will share some of my answers to the interview questions here on this blog at a later date. Keep in mind it won’t be the actual interview, but the questions and answers their professionalÂ interview was based on.
Here’s my answer to the first interview question I was given. The finished product is based on my answers.
Southern Writers: I read on your website that you write with passion, humor and insight about Southerners, both wise and wounded; teens, both ordinary and odd; and the people who love them, both explicit and unconscious. Did you choose writing insights about Southerners or did it choose you?
SG: In the interest of honesty and perhaps braveryâ€”considering this is a magazine for southern writersâ€”I will tell you a secret. For many years I was ashamed of being a born-and-raised southerner. In fact, until a few years ago I was running from it. In college, I dropped (most of) my southern accent and cringed every time I saw Confederate flags on the back of beat up pick-up trucks, a common sight in my neck of the woods, as well as the abundant church signs telling me to Repent!
For a decade of my life, I became a marriage and family therapist. In part, to understand the crazy characters in my southern gene pool. Then when I finally got around to writing (at age 38), I swore I would never, ever write southern fiction. Never. Sure, I had famous southern writers on my bookshelf. I even dreamed about them. One night in a dream, William Faulkner came and sat on the end of my bed. Another night, Eudora Welty delivered a box full of letters to my bedside table. Yet I was convinced I was not that kind of writer.
A few years ago, I finally divorced myself from the South and moved to the West. Of course, in the first week I was living in Colorado, a pickup truck from Texas passed me with the biggest Confederate flag I’ve ever seen in my life waving out the back. Point being, even when you move across the country, you can’t get away from your roots.
It was in Colorado that I learned how truly southern I am. I missed shade. I missed people who moseyed. I missed people who asked about my day and had a minute to chat at the mailbox. I missed the softness of the ancient Blue Ridge mountains, as opposed to the jagged, upstart Rockies. I missed the lushness of the southeast: the moisture, the rivers, the gentle rains. I think I may have even missed kudzu!
Eventually, I realized I was trying to be something I wasn’t. I was an oak tree trying to survive in a semi-desert. The West was starkly beautiful. It was stimulating. It was wild. But it wasn’t me.
In the end, it was the land that called me home. And once I returned to the southeast, I reclaimed my roots with renewed humility. Or perhaps I claimed my roots for the first time. With this choice, I began to see beyond all the issues that had bugged me and still bug me sometimes, (think bathroom law!) and started noticing the things I really love. Then I began to put these things in my fiction.
While my non-southern (agented) writing never took off, my southern writing has flourished. It turns out that I am good at telling southern stories. Who knew? Certainly not me for many years. But sometimes the thing we run from the most is the very thing that will save us.
Then in 2012, Kirkus Reviews gave my novel, The Secret Sense of Wildflower, a starred review and named it a Best Book of 2012. Offering further proof that I’d found my way home. I imagine I’ll stay here the rest of my writing life. What I can’t believe is that of the over twenty years Iâ€™ve been writing, I resisted being a southern writer for over a decade. We humans can be a tad dense sometimes.
Did I choose writing insights of southerners or did it choose me? Good question. I think both things are true.
Other questions were:
What do you think makes stories about Southerners so interesting to read?
Tell us how the story for The Secret Sense of Wildflower came about and what drove you to write the sequel in Lilyâ€™s Song.
What was the most difficult scene concerning techniques to write in either or both?
Tell our readers about Susan Gabriel. What is it like, writing, for you?
Don’t these sound like fun questions to answer? Stay tuned. I’ll post the answers to the rest of the questionsÂ at a later date.
Meanwhile, thanks so much for reading! And thanks again to the wonderful Susan Reichert and Annette Coleman Mastron forÂ my interviewÂ in Southern Writers magazine.Â xo
Most of my interaction with readers these days takes place on my Facebook Author Page. I post several times a week onÂ that page, both funny and serious things, as well as updates on my writing. It is easier than setting up a blog post and leaves more time for my prolonged habit of writing novels! I’ll still be sending out blog posts, too, as well as my newsletter from time to time whenever big things are going on. But I also wanted you to be able to find me if you’re ever curious aboutÂ what’s going on here in Writer World.
Below, I’ve included a sampling of what I post on my Facebook Author Page:
…Here is the latest email to make my day. I love book clubs! And I especially love books clubs full of “wise, old Southern ladies.” I will be emailing to express my gratitude to the Book Angels. I only wish I could have been there to tell them in person. 🙂 xo
I don’t often write authors of books I have read; however, I just must tell you how very much my book club and I enjoyed reading TEMPLE SECRETS. Most of us are “wise, old Southern ladies,” and we thoroughly enjoyed both reading and discussing your book.
Thank you so much.
Book Angels, Gainesville, Florida
And of course, I love to post a good cartoon!
Or a favorite quote:
Here isÂ my favorite quote of the day:
“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” â€“Vera Nazarian.
Isn’t that great? May we all read books that allow in more light! xo
Or a photo of my dog, Emma:
…I have a St. Francis statue on my back deck and my sweet dog Emma (14 years old) loves to drink out of the little bowl! xo
Did I tell you I love to post cartoons?
…as a former “shrink” turned novelist, and lover of cats, I really love this cartoon. I hope it gives you a chuckle. 🙂 xo
…One of the writing prompts I used in my Fearless Writing for Women classes was: write about a time when everything changed. I used it as a teaching prompt because that’s what most good stories are about: a time when everything changed for the characters. Everyday life is boring. Especially in fiction. It’s when things change that there is tension and conflict. Tension and conflict grabs the reader. All of my novels are about a time when everything changed. xo
So that is a small sampling of what I do in any given week.
Please consider joining the party over on my facebook author page, and if you “like” it,Â I will do my best to entertain you and keep the party going. Not to mention, there are some absolutely GREAT people over there that you might want to get to know.
If you’ve sworn off facebook, I understand. Some days I contemplate doing that myself. But I am also grateful for being able to connect with readers in a more immediate and informal way.
As I said before, I’ll still be posting periodically here on my blog, as well as sending outÂ my newsletter whenever I have big news. But I’d love it if you joined me over there, too.
Thanks so much for reading! xo
P.S. If you like helping out hard-working writers,Â please consider sharing this post with your friends or on your own facebook page. Thank you!
Susan Gabriel is an acclaimed southern author who lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Her novels, The Secret Sense of Wildflower (a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012) and Temple Secrets (2015) are Amazon and Nook #1 bestsellers.
Francine Christophe is an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor and the story she tells in the documentary film, HUMAN, is one that proves without a doubt the powerful nature of stories. And perhaps most especially the stories that come from our own personal experience. This interview (under five minutes) made me stop everything else IÂ was doing today and create a blog post so that you could perhaps listen to her story, too.
I had never heard of Francine Christophe until today.Â But I find it heartening thatÂ this YouTube video has been viewed nearly 18 millionÂ times so far. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll take the time to experience a story that explores the far-reaching results of kindness.
Francine ChristopheÂ was deported with her mother to aÂ concentration camp in northern Germany in 1944. She gives frequent lectures to tell her story.
If you decide to watch it, please let me know what you think. xo