Getting to know you...
I've spent the past six years sharing my personal life story over on my now-defunct development blog, twenty(or)something, and sometimes I still don't know if I can fully answer that age-old question "who am I?"
I'm someone who will spend her whole life trying to find meaning in questions that maybe have no answers. A girl who has spent her life searching the world for everything beautiful. A writer documenting the hard stuff and sharing the simple moments--the tear-soaked prose belonging to loss, those deep belly-laughs and heart-to-hearts, the everyday mundane that seems to add up to something special at the end of the day...
I write stories of nostalgia that unlock a moment in time and unveil the simplicity of everyday life because that's what moves me. These characters who aren't great heroes but who fight their own battles and make their own discoveries are what inspire me, reminding us that it's the details of a life that make it extraordinary.
But that's not why you're here, is it?
I could wax poetic about identity and purpose and trying to find the meaning behind life and the will of the universe all day long--and I probably will, if you stick around and read the blog. But you're here because you want to know what I'm all about in brief--the simplified version:
Am I smart? (I'm not unsmart.)
Am I funny? (I've got a couple dozen knock-knock jokes for ya.)
Am I nice? (I refuse to be mean.)
Am I cool? (Meh.)
Do I like dogs? (Hell, yes!)
Do I like Faulkner? (Hell, no.)
What else is there?
So much more...
I grew up in suburban Pennsylvania with two older brothers and went to college at a small state school where I earned my BA in English. I've worked as a communications specialist, administrative assistant, and in sales and marketing, and I spent nearly ten years in foreign exchange at a local, mid-sized bank. Attempting to keep my creativity alive in a field dominated by numbers, I channeled T.S. Eliot (also a banker!) and wrote during lunch breaks, including the start of what I affectionately call The Damn Novel--a work-in-progress ten years in the writing loosely based in WWII-era France.
I started my own business, Brown Beagle Books, to help other writers develop their craft and nurture their creativity. Ten years after losing my maternal grandmother to Alzheimer's, I'd publish my first book under this imprint. Gold in the Days of Summer is dedicated to her, a woman whose spirit is still a strong and gentle presence in my life today. That book welcomed me to a town that spans the decades with characters who remind us how connected we all are. It's a world that has woven its way through three published books and continues to have so much to share. Two additional books will be available in the Fall of 2021.
My one wish is to spend my days writing on a small farm in the French countryside with a dozen rescue dogs, a couple of horses, and some sheep. (Humans optional.)
In a nutshell...
In 2008, I began my blog in an attempt to figure out my life--and myself. In November, I traveled on my own to southern France and spent a month at a writer's retreat located in a tiny mountain village in the Languedoc region. Here, I planted vegetables in a cliffside garden, rolled logs down a medieval mountain, finished the first draft of Gold in the Days of Summer, and learned more about myself and what I'm capable of than I ever thought possible.
In 2012, I was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease after being sick with little explanation for nearly 15 years and declining quickly. My doctor, my family, and my dog all played a part in saving my life. With a treatment that gets you sicker before you get better and unable to do little more than walk from the bed to the couch, I spent every waking moment (which wasn't exactly much) starting my business and dreaming of publishing my first book.
In 2013, with the help of a community of family and friends through their generous Kickstarter donations, I published Gold in the Days of Summer under my company, Brown Beagle Books. The book has since been shortlisted in two contests, was a finalist in another, and won the 2014 International Rubery Book Award Children's category. It all feels pretty damn cool.
In March 2014, I helped an author friend publish the first in a series of romance books under a pseudonym. After ghostwriting five books in this genre, I fell in love with the art of writing again and was motivated to move on to my own work. The first draft of my second novel was completed in early 2015.
In April 2014, I unexpectedly lost my beloved cat, Mikey. Three weeks later, I adopted Moxie. Riley has embraced her wholeheartedly.
In May 2014, I passed the two-year anniversary of being in treatment for Lyme Disease, and in November, I officially went into remission. This disease--and the overcoming of it--has taught me more about myself, what it means to have strength, what it means to survive, and what it means to live than I could ever imagine. I've documented my struggle with Lyme Disease here: Lyme Chronicles.
In October 2014, I officially launched the mentoring and consulting aspect of my business. Services now include creative coaching, editorial development, and publishing consultation.
In June 2015, after a few months in remission, I experienced a relapse of Lyme Disease. In many ways, the relapse has felt harder than the original diagnosis. One year later, I'm still struggling to heal from this disease and its co-infections, but my spirit remains strong. I've poured my heart into sharing the emotional ramifications of living with such a complex illness both on my blog and on my new social media page, Being LymeBrave.
In August 2016, I launched a video campaign for Lyme Disease Awareness to coincide with the publication of my second book, The Last Letter. This book, my first full-length novel, was published in September and is a semi-autobiographical account of my experiences living with late-stage, Chronic Lyme Disease.
In December 2016, I became a contributing writer and speaker for Global Lyme Alliance, a leading non-profit organization helping to fund world-class Lyme research and bringing awareness to the general public. Check out the links to these essays on the blog and press page. I'm also happy to be a part of The Mighty community in which I share my experiences with Lyme Disease (cross-posted from this blog).
March 2019 marked the release of my third novel, Lilac in Winter!
In June 2020, my beloved dog Riley passed away. Brown Beagle Books continues in his honor.
In March 2021, I officially launched my spiritual services practice, Susan Dawn Spiritual Connections, LLC, after three years growing this passion and hobby on YouTube and other social media platforms. Services include spiritual development coaching, tarot readings, channelings, and more.
That was the longest about page ever.
Yeah, I know. But that's my life, for better or for worse. It's been peppered with loss and pain but also blessed with love and beauty, and I'm grateful for every last bit of it.
If you want to read more about these life experiences, head on over to The Blog.
If you want to know more about my love of stories, check out Brown Beagle Books.
Think we could be friends? I think so, too. Say hi.