For I know the (writing) plans I have for you

Hello, Blog readers! Susan Karsten here.

It occurred to me that the Gracious Woman blog needs more posts about writing, so here I am with a report on my speaking engagement last night. The leader of the Fond du Lac Writers Club, John Silah, invited me to speak to the group after seeing a magazine article about me and my debut novel being published.


Wow, was I ever honored by all the preparation Mr. Silas had done. Approximately fifteen people showed up. I had forty minutes to talk. My talk included an explanation of my genre, Regency romance,  historical background on the Regency era, the tale of my journey to publication, and I also gave a few semi-random tips on getting published.

The Tips:

  1. One of the VERY best ways to secure a literary agent’s representation is to meet with an agent at a writing conference. When you are ready, seek out a conference that includes the opportunity to sign up for pitch appointments. You will have fifteen minutes to pitch your book (and yourself) to an agent. Chances are, if all is as it should be, you will be invited to submit a sample of your work (usually, the first three chapters or first fifty pages of your completed manuscript). You will then go home, read that agent’s submission guidelines, and prepare the required materials, referencing the meeting in your cover letter. Another aspect is  that most people who are invited to do this never follow through, thus winnowing the field to make more room for YOU.
  2. Get in a critique group or find a critique partner. Your work must pass the eyes of someone, or several someones, before it is anywhere near ready for publication. ACFW, of which I am a member offers this opportunity as one of the many benefits of membership.
  3. Research the accepted length of books in your genre. You don’t want to have your book automatically rejected because it is too short (happened to me), or perhaps way too long.

Susan’s book is available on Amazon.


Make a protective bag for washing delicates (or Velcro items)

Here’s Susan again, with another fab thrifty tip. This is a bag for washing delicates: bras, nylons, sweaters and knits that you don’t want to get agitated too hard, etc. Can also be used for washing soccer shin-guards (which was actually what I invented it for).

Especially great since you don’t want the hooks on bras to catch and snag other delicate items, right? So, start with a pillowcase you are done with (this one was torn and worn).


Make cutting lines as seen below.


Go ahead and cut on the lines.103_1030


Use the resulting narrow ends to tie the bag closed.103_1031


You can use the cut-out for rags, too.103_1032

I hope you like my easy, thrifty “delicates washing bag”, thanks!

Thrifty Tip: Make a poly mailer out of an Under Armour bag

HI from Susan! Those who know me, know I am thrifty. Being thrifty is one of my hobbies, honed over the years. Do you ever need to ship something and don’t have a mailer? I bet you do have one of those “too-good-to-throw-out” bags like the ones that come from the Under Armour store.


Here’s what I’m talking about. Now turn it inside out, as you see below…


Here’s the pile of clothes I was shipping. You can see that I needed a larger mailer, right?



Voila! Here’s the finished product, a sturdy mailer. Feel free to use this idea yourself. That would make me happy! 🙂



Mommy Needs a Raise, by Sarah Parshall Perry

Oh joy! Here’s another mothering book, jammed with hilarious anecdotes…very well-written. It amazes me how many moms must really struggle with what other people do, what other mothers think, what people think of them, etc. Many moms must set their own standards impossibly and unrealistically high.

Because book, after mothering book, seems to be always about this. These books seem to amount to one long permission slip. They say to moms, “It’s okay to be who you are.” There must be a great call for this message and this book brings it…once again.

Please share a comment with your favorite mothering book title, or tell me if you struggle with meeting unrealistic external standards and how that affects you.

Vanishing Point, by Lisa Harris

Hang on to your hats, readers! This one’s a nail-biter. You’ll immediately care about the main character, Jordan Lambert, and her love interest, Garrett Addison.

They are thrown back together on the trail of a serial killer. This author takes you down into the nitty-gritty of such an investigation.


The twists and turns of this one will have you turning pages into the wee hours of the night. Very suspenseful and tautly plotted.


Lady Jane Disappears, by Joanna Davidson Politano


Set in 1861 England, this unique book will keep you guessing. This is not your run-of-the-mill story and is quite unusual.

Written in the first person, this tale of Aurelie Harcourt’s journey of discovery brings her face to face with deception, rejection, mystery, and a battle to win her rightful place within a family and society she was never a part of before her father’s death.

If you like family sagas, intrigue, and want to root for your protagonist, this book should fit the bill.

The reviewer, Susan Karsten, has just debuted her own first novel, A Match for Melissa, available on Amazon. 



The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, by Bethany Turner

Okay, best book alert…! This one! I loved it. So funny, different, and intelligent. The debut author’s voice is quite original and amusing. This is the sort of book that if I stumbled across it, I would rush to find the author’s other books…but this is her first. We can only hope she writes more.


The story made me wonder which parts were perhaps based on real-life events…The main female character is a newly born Christian who thence becomes a former erotic fiction author. The back cover blurb calls it a “witty debut” and I concur.

The writing is excellent, the story riveting, and on top of all that, reading it will make you smile and laugh, if not out loud, at least to yourself.

Review by Susan Karsten, author of recently released, A Match for Melissa…available on Amazon.