Spotlight on Susan Coryell

I am thrilled to spotlight author Susan Coryell and her three novels.

Here’s Susan!

susancoryelll2How’s the luck of the Irish treating you? Have you found any lucky pennies on the road lately? Four-leaf clovers? Luck is something we writers hope for in every phase of our projects: Lucky to get a good agent, lucky to grab the attention of an editor, lucky to be offered a publication contract. Well, my writing journey is a bumpy one, to say the least. Let me begin by saying I generally do not consider myself to be a lucky person. I do not win sweepstakes, I do not win drawings and once, at a fashion show, I was the only person at my table of 10 who did not win a door prize. Let’s just say, I am never surprised when this happens.

eagleI wrote my first novel, Eaglebait, about school bullies when I was teaching 7th and 8th graders. No research needed; my classroom, the school corridors and cafeteria were my lab. For once, I felt lucky when Harcourt offered a contract for a hardback version of Eaglebait. At the time Harcourt was a huge publishing company—later bought out by Houghton Mifflin. My luck ran out when my editor left immediately after editing my book, leaving no one to champion Eaglebait. Though I’d been told by the publisher that it would take two years to get through the library review system, Harcourt pulled my novel after 14 months. Sigh. I’d even managed to acquire two big awards—one national and one international in the short time it was in print, but they were done with me.

Then life intervened. A full-time working mother with three children and a husband who owned his own small business—I felt good if I had time to wash out my pantyhose, let alone write another book. So, even though I had a lot more in my writing mind, I simply had no time to create another novel.

Blessed retirement popped me right into free-lance writing in my new lake community. I loved writing for everything from my church to the local arts council. I wrote for the Chamber of Commerce, a political group and the charity home tour. I wrote for magazines and newspapers. Not much money involved, but I’d never been in the “business” for profit anyway. I was feeling very lucky!

untitledBut I finally found my muse when I looked around my beautiful Southern Virginia lake home and realized I was in an ideal setting for cozy mystery/Southern Gothic novels. Pastoral scenes and quirky small-town characters abound here, and, let’s face it, the South is ripe for drama, what with all that Civil War angst and unwillingness to accept change of any sort. A Red, Red Rose features Ashby Overton, a 20-year-old who travels from New Jersey to her ancestral estate, Overhome, where she finds mystery, history, romance and a ghost as she digs for her family roots at the historic Moore Mountain Lake horse farm. Offered a contract by L&L Dreamspell, a small indie press in Texas, I was in Seventh Heaven. But old bad luck struck again. Due to the death of one of the publishing team, Dreamspell folded, leaving 250 authors scrambling for new publishers.

Now I am counting myself one lucky author to be published by The Wild Rose Press. They are wonderful to work with—from the publisher to the editor—my experience has been a dream come true. Beneath the Stones, sequel to A Red, Red Rose released April 1st of this year. Guess what I am working on now? The third Overhome novel, of course. Wish me luck!



Ashby Overton has everything to look forward to, including a promising writing career and her wedding at summer’s end. But, Overhome, her beloved historic family estate in Southern Virginia, is in financial peril and it is up to Ashby to find a solution.

Interfering with Ashby’s plans is a dark paranormal force that thwarts her every effort to save Overhome. Supernatural attacks emanate from an old stone cottage on the property rumored to be a slave overseer’s abode, prior to the Civil War. As the violence escalates, Ashby begins to fear for her life. Who is this angry spirit and why is his fury focused on Ashby?

Mystery, suspense and romance flourish against a backdrop of Civil War turmoil and ancestral strife–where immortality infiltrates the ancient air breathed by all who inhabit Overhome Estate.

I’d like to add my author’s note for Beneath the Stones: The Civil War letters included in Beneath the Stones are based on actual letters written from battle fronts by family ancestors, Joseph Franklin Stover and John William Stover. After my mother-in-law’s death, the family found a nondescript box in her file cabinet. Inside we were amazed to find fifteen letters hand-written in beautiful, flowing script. Since this occurred as I was in the midst of writing Beneath the Stones, I immediately seized on the idea of using excerpts from the letters in the novel. Though, for practical reasons, I omitted many details, overall the letters reveal a haunting picture of life for the Confederate soldier. A final note: The flute mentioned in one of the letters is very likely the same flute on display at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox, Virginia.



I have long been interested in Southern concerns about culture and society, as hard-felt, long-held feelings battle with modern ideas. The ghosts slipped in, to my surprise while writing cozy mystery/Southern Gothic A Red, Red Rose and its sequel Beneath the Stones.

My first published work was the award-winning young adult novel, Eaglebait. I live at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.

When not writing, I enjoy boating, kayaking, golf and yoga. My husband and I love to travel, especially when any of our seven grandchildren are involved.

Where to find Susan…

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Clean Jokes for Toastmasters


Use one of these jokes at your next meeting.


A man walks into a nearly empty bar and orders a drink. After a few minutes he hears a voice say “Nice shirt.” He looks around, sees no one near him, and goes back to his drink.

A short while later he hears the same voice saying, out of nowhere, “I like your hair.”

Truly perplexed, he calls the bartender over and asks, “Where is that voice coming from?”

The bartender says, “It’s the nuts.”

“The nuts?” replies the man.

“Yes,” says the bartender. “They’re complimentary.”


A man goes to a bar and asks the bartender for three glasses of beer. He gets his three glasses of beer and sits down. He takes a sip from one glass, puts it down. He takes a sip from the second glass and puts it down, then takes a sip from the third glass and puts it down.

He carries on drinking like this, taking a sip from each glass in turn. When he’s finished he goes to the bartender and asks for refills.
The bartender asks him why he takes three glasses at a time, because he could serve him one at a time, that way the beer would stay cold and wouldn’t go flat.

The man tells him: “I have two brothers, and we used to enjoy drinking together, but now they’ve moved away, I like to remember the good times we had by drinking three glasses of beer at a time. I drink one glass for myself, and one for each brother.

The bartender, and all the regulars in the bar get it, and are used to seeing the man come in and drink three glasses of beer.

One day the man comes into the bar with a sad look on his face. He orders two glasses of beer, and proceeds to drink from the two glasses, taking a sip from one, putting it down, then taking a sip from the other.

When he’s finished he goes to the bartender and asks for refills. The bartender has noticed he’s drinking two glasses and summons the courage to say how sorry he is for the loss of a brother.

“My condolences are with you,” says the bartender, “is there anything I can do?”

The man thinks for a moment, then understands. “No, no, no, my brothers are alive and are doing fine,” says the man.”It’s just I’ve been to my doctor, he says I’ve got a medical condition, and I’ve had to give up alcohol.”

Juicing for Thyroid Health

juiceman 002While cleaning out my storage area, I spotted a colorful box hiding in one of the corners. I had received the Juiceman Junior as a Christmas gift over ten years ago and had planned to get into a juicing regimen. Somehow, the box had found its way to the basement of my condo building, two floors down.

Having rediscovered this wonderful gift, I knew it was time to start juicing and increase my intake of fruits and vegetables, especially the leafy greens. I was aware of the many benefits of consuming raw juice, among them improved immunity and enhanced weight loss.

In my research, I discovered that some fruits and vegetables contain goitrogens and, if eaten in raw form, could interfere with thyroid gland function.

What are goitrogens?

Goitrogens are substances that block the uptake of iodine, an essential mineral that activates thyroid hormone production and helps speed up cellular metabolism. According to the thyroid literature, more than four cups of the following foods (in raw form) can interfere with thyroid function: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, spinach, rapini, strawberries, peaches, radishes, corn, rutabagas and turnips.


Not a problem for everyone, but definitely a concern for me. In the past nine years, I have experienced two bouts of hypothyroidism. Thankfully, my levels have stabilized. I take a daily dose of Synthroid, exercise regularly, and watch my stress levels. I have also become more mindful of my diet and have cut back on the white devils—pasta, pizza, bread, rice and potatoes.

Anxious to start on my juicing regimen and avoid any interference with thyroid function, I decided to focus on the fruits and vegetables that are non-goitrogenic: celery, carrots, cucumbers, watercress, apples, beets, Swiss chard, and parsley.

After some experimentation, I came up with the following thyroid-friendly juices. Each recipe will yield anywhere from eight to ten ounces.

28264954_sShades of Green

3 carrots
½ cucumber
1 Granny Smith apple
2 celery stalks

In the Pink with Beets

1 Granny Smith apple
1 Beetroot
2 celery stalks
2 carrots

Delightful Swiss Chard

2 cups Swiss Chard
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1 small bunch parsley
1 Granny Smith apple


• Wash the produce.
• Cut the produce to fit through the juicer.
• Juice and enjoy!

Oprah and Tim Storey


Yesterday, Oprah sat under the oaks with spiritual teacher, life coach and author Tim Storey. Throughout the telecast, Oprah quoted from Tim’s book, Comebacks & Beyond: How to Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks.

For the first ten years of Tim’s life, there was joy and a definite rhythm to life in the Storey household, but all that changed when his father died. Tim watched as his siblings medicated themselves to deal with their loss. Even at an young age, Tim sensed that setbacks could be transformed.

At age seventeen, he received the calling to become a pastor and decided to devote his life to helping others find meaning in life. In 1992, Tim started a Bible Study at the home of actress Dyan Cannon. Seven people attended that first meeting and today the group known as “The Study” attracts more than 1000 attendees. In the past three decades, Tim has shared his inspiring message in seventy different countries.

When asked about a common denominator to setbacks, Tim pointed out that some people tend to live in the shame and guilt of their experiences. Frustrated by their inability to go back and “fix” the situation, they “nurse it, curse it, and rehearse it.” Instead, Tim urges everyone to accept the Now and take an inventory of what is working.

Another common thread is a sense of unworthiness: “I don’t think I deserve to experience this because of past setbacks.” Tim reminds us that God has forgiven our past mistakes and we need to renew the way we think. When a challenging situation arises, we should ask: “Why is it here? What is my lesson?” God often steers us into unknown corners (spaces and places we’ve never been) as part of his divine plan.

Tim also stresses the need to turn up the volume on our lives and get our “shouts” back. Disappointments can knock out the shouts and reduce our voices to whispers. To prevent that from happening, Tim advises shouting on purpose. He takes a moment each day where he inwardly shouts about what is going well in his life.

Quotable Quotes

Your dream has a voice.

A comeback is not a go-back.

Your life isn’t about a big break. It’s about one significant life transforming step at a time.

Play it down, pray it up, and look for the wisdom.

Darkness will surround, but it doesn’t have to get in.

If you’re trifling, the real YOU will say, “Get it together.”

There is a lesson in all our failures: We can fail forward.

Better Than Before – A Book Review

betterthanbeforeA fan of self-help literature, I look forward to each year’s crop of inspirational and motivational books. Right now, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives is at the top of my Favorites List.

New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin has expertly woven research, anecdotes, and personal insights in this excellent study of habit formation. She does not provide a one-size-fits-all approach or prescribe specific habits. Instead, she explores how to develop sustainable habits that will help us achieve our own versions of Everyday Life in Utopia (a chapter title suggested by her daughter Eleanor).

Rubin starts by outlining The Four Tendencies—Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, Rebel—and then suggests appropriate strategies in the Pillars of Habits section. While the concepts of Monitoring, Foundation, Scheduling, and Accountability are not new, they are presented using a lively, conversational style aimed at increasing self-knowledge.

I paid special attention to the following strategies:

Foundation Four – Begin with habits that help us sleep, move, eat and drink right, and unclutter. These habits will serve as the foundation for forming other good habits.

Power Hour – To deal with the small, one-time tasks (e.g. creating a photo album) that Rubin kept putting off, she decided once a week, for one hour, she would work on these chores.

Clean Slate – Fresh starts such as a new apartment, job or school and changes in personal relationships wipe the slate clean and can help us launch a new habit with less effort. But a clean slate can also disrupt good habits or break positive routines.

Lightning Bolt – While this is a very effective strategy, it cannot be invoked. A new idea triggered by an inspirational book, milestone birthday, pregnancy or another event can instantly transform habits.

Blast Start – When small steps are not working, a blast start can help us take the first step. This kind of shock treatment cannot be maintained, but it can give momentum to a new project.

Bright-Line Rule – A clearly defined rule or standard that eliminates any need for decision-making can help us achieve greater clarity. E.g. Answering every email within 24 hours.

Throughout the book, Gretchen Rubin shares her own successes and challenges along with those of family members, friends, and blog followers. Intrigued and inspired by the low-carb diet she adopted and the ripple effect it created within her circle, I picked up a copy of Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes.

And I couldn’t resist classifying myself: I am an Upholder, Abstainer, Marathoner, Finisher, and Owl.

Where to find Gretchen Rubin…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Linked In | Amazon