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Super Secret Project

Super Secret Project

Since January, I have been involved in a multi-author project, along with authors Brenda Sinclair, Sheila Seabrook and eight others.

Sheila has been calling this the “Super Secret Project”  or “SSP” because we are not at liberty to talk about it yet. All I can say is: I am totally enjoying myself!

The books will be released this fall. If you have not already done so, please sign up for my newsletter (Suzanne’s very Occasional Newsletter) and you will be sure to receive updates.

image from bigstockphoto #88230965

Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Last January, I entered the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards and I recently received news from the contest.

I didn’t  win, or even place, but—

I was encouraged by the comments I received from this judge:

“I’ll get my one gripe regarding Suzanne Stengl’s otherwise brilliant On the Way to a Wedding out of the way fast, and that’s that the plot itself will be familiar territory to romance/“chick lit” readers: a young woman, unsure about her approaching marriage, meets someone she might like better. Not an original concept, but in this author’s capable hands, it comes to life in a way that still feels fresh.

Though this may seem like faint praise, this book had me at the exceptionally well-written cover copy. An art form unto itself, only someone who’s spent years writing it can really appreciate when it’s done well, and in this case it’s only one of the very, very good first impressions this book makes. The cover is very good, entirely genre-appropriate, and the interior design is spare and readable, devoid of gimmickry, and in general presented in as professional a fashion as would be expected of the biggest publishing houses.

The writing, which has clearly benefited from a solid edit, is better than good enough, and the author has an ear for naturalistic dialogue that never gets too cutesy or too formal. The characters are likeable—just flawed enough to feel real, but never cartoony. The choice to open from the point of view of the male character was a bold one for the genre and Suzanne Stengl pulls it off well, showing a sort of authorial courage backed up by real talent.”

—Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

And now back to my writing desk. I’ve decided to turn ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING into a series. The next book will be released on October 1, 2016.

20 things this writer is grateful for

20 things this writer is grateful for

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada and I am grateful for all the important things in my life.

Things like:

family all together around the table
with good health
with good jobs and prospects,  
and with good attitudes.

As a writer, I am also grateful for the writerly indulgences I have in my life. I have more than quill and inkpot, more than just pencil and paper. And I appreciate that.

So for this Thanksgiving, I made a list of 20 things I am especially grateful for in my writing world.

  1. Writer groups
  2. Writer friends
  3. My quiet office
  4. Scrivener
  5. The library
  6. My bulletin board
  7. Three Act Structure
  8. Enya
  9. The Chicago Manual of Style
  10. My ergonomic keyboard
  11. Whole milk lattes
  12. Two monitors
  13. My bench in the backyard
  14. A really bright ceiling light
  15. My favourite mug
  16. Monday mornings
  17. Crystal sun catchers
  18. Storyboards
  19. Rainy days
  20. Long walks

Do you have a list of things you appreciate this Thanksgiving?
If you’re a writer, what would you add to my list?

acorn and oak leaves from bigstockphoto.com #52093915

Checking in

Checking in

Well, look at this. It’s the end of June and I’ve been delinquent with my blog. But I have been busy.

First of all, I am writing a lot. It’s a Christmas book, set in a blizzard. And last week, Calgary was 30+ Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). So it was difficult trying to imagine coldness.

imagining coldness for a Christmas story

imagining coldness for a Christmas story

We’ve got a bit of rain predicted now so the temperature is more tolerable. I’m humming Christmas Carols as I go through my day, and the story is working itself out.

The second reason for my absence: I’ve been working on another blog.

It’s for my primary hero, hubby Rolf. He’s just finished bicycling around Lake Michigan. Along the way, he took pictures on his phone, typed a story out on that tiny keyboard and sent it to me. I put it into WordPress. You can have a look if you’re interested: www.rolfstengl.com

bicycling around Lake MichiganHe’s back in Calgary now. I picked him up at the airport on Friday night. We had a Welcome Home BBQ on Saturday and it’s great to have him home.

And the third reason for my absence? I think it has something to do with not having a specific day of the week to be here.

Remember when I used to call this blog Tuesday Café and I actually showed up every Tuesday? I did that for a solid 4 years and then last March,  I decided to be more flexible. I also changed the name of the blog to the Chimes Café but most people still refer to it as Tuesday Café – whether or not I blog on the Tuesday. I supposed it doesn’t matter. Tuesday is a name. It’s doesn’t mean I can’t post on a Sunday if there’s something I want to say on a Sunday.

So I’ve decided to be Tuesday Café again and to try to post every Tuesday. I still might not be here every single Tuesday, but it’s a goal.  

So that’s where I’m at. I hope your summer is what you want it to be – calm and relaxing, or off the beaten path and adventurous.  

I prefer a summer of calm and relaxing.

I prefer a summer of calm and relaxing.

typing from Depositphotos #103257084
imagining cold from iStockphoto #000019131823

bicycle gears and chain from Thinkstockphotos #83113308
coffee from iStockphoto #000024767120


Debra Dixon Workshop

Debra Dixon Workshop

It was one of those amazing weekends. On Saturday, May 2, 2015, the Calgary Association of the RWA held its Spring Workshop with guest speaker Debra Dixon. Debra is a writer and a publisher at BelleBooks.

Debra landed in Calgary on Friday. That night, the CARWA Board of Directors took her to the Sky 360 revolving restaurant at the Calgary Tower. Since I am the Membership Chair for the group, I was invited. And Amy Jo Fleming was invited since she was the critique winner. We enjoyed a lively conversation as we dined on menu items like Foie Gras and Goat Cheese Mousse, Wild Board Striploin and Wild Game Meatloaf Wellington. Then we headed up to the observation deck where we tested the glass floor.

Here’s the whole group.

CARWA Board of Directors

standing L to R: Amy Jo Fleming, Treasurer Brenda Sinclair, Debra Dixon, President Shelley Kassian, Secretary Katie O’Connor, VP Communications Win Day, VP Programs Ellen Jorgensen. Kneeling: Membership Chair Suzanne Stengl

The next morning, I arrived at the Valley Ridge Golf Club at about 8:30. The workshop started with breakfast at 9:00. That’s a great way to get attendees there on time. Debra began her presentation at 10:00 sharp.

We learned about the Goal Motivation Conflict chart, Dominant Impressions and Tag Lines. The Valley Ridge Golf Club served up a delicious buffet lunch at 12:30 and we recommenced an hour later with Debra presenting her take on the Hero’s Journey.

About four o’clock, we started a “finding your voice” exercise and Debra passed the microphone around the room for members to read samples of their work.

After the formal workshop finished,  about a dozen of us moved over to the onsite restaurant, Mulligan’s. Debra and Amy Jo stayed in the workshop room to review Amy Jo’s critique submission. And then they joined us at Mulligan’s. There was food and drink and Debra answered more questions and gave us more writing advice.

B. C. Deeks and I were the last to leave—about 8:30 pm. A twelve hour day and completely worth it. I’m still going over my notes and processing all this information.

If you can’t get to a Debra Dixon workshop, you must buy her book: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. This is one of the most helpful resources a writer can have on the bookshelf.



I got a new monitor and I was getting my wires crossed so I decided to sort out the mess.

First, let me tell you about the monitor. On Tuesday, I brought home a 24 inch Samsung SD390. It had a beautiful display but I didn’t like the stand. I type so fast that I set up a vibration and that was making the screen shake. So the next day, I returned the SD390 and purchased the SD590. It has the same beautiful display but with a more solid stand.

I’ve been using two monitors for some time now. This new one is my main screen and I have an older monitor, also 24 inches, that I use for a secondary screen. Since it’s older, the colours are not as vibrant but, hey, it works.

Why two monitors?

I open Scrivener on my main screen. On the secondary monitor, I  have several WORD documents open: a name chart, a calendar of what happens when, a list of threads to keep track of, and an INSPIRATION mind map that shows my character relationships.

Add a cup of coffee to this setup, and I am in my perfect writing place.

helpful husband

I have a helpful husband. A long time ago, he installed an 8 outlet surge protector under my desk to deal with the computer wires but since then I have found more things to plug in. So yesterday he installed another bar. This one has 7 outlets, giving me a total of 15. I’m only using 11 of them. Maybe I should buy another lamp? (just kidding!)

What’s under there?

I have power for:

  • CPU
  • main monitor
  • secondary monitor
  • speakers
  • USB splitter
  • inkjet printer
  • laserjet printer
  • external hard drive
  • backup hard drive
  • really bright lamp
  • cell phone charger

And this is the final configuration.

computer wires under my deskKudos to Rolf. Gotta love a hubby with power tools!