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Cecil County Life

Crystal Lake Inn

Oct 28, 2021 03:00PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
By Betsy Brewer Brantner
Contributing Writer

Before Susan W. Green retired in late 2018, she spent 35 years in the banking industry. She was an operations executive and certainly knew much about that subject and about effective leadership skills. Her peers might have expected Susan to write a book on leadership or operational effectiveness.

“I reported to the CEO and ran Operations for the deposit side of business, checking, savings, money market, fraud, and I managed complaints,” she explained.

So, what happened to that book on leadership?

“Well, it turned into a romance novel by the title of Crystal Lake Inn,” she laughed.

Although, when one listens to the story of how she got from “there” to “here” you can see how her personal leadership qualities got her to being a published writer of a romance novel.

She had never written a book. She did a lot of professional writing though. After retirement she started her own consulting business, because, well she knew she couldn’t just stop working. She travelled a lot in her leadership role and between the long hours and the daily pressure, she knew it wasn’t healthy to retire and not have a solid game plan.

But writing a book never completely left her mind. So, she did what any confident woman would do: She took a class to learn the mechanics of how to write a novel. How hard could it be?

Realizing quickly that she didn’t know enough to write an entire novel, she sought out courses and wound up taking one online at Cecil Community College. The class titled: “Writing, Publishing and Marketing Your Book, was taught by Michele Chynoweth, another local author who had already published four books. Chynoweth offers her services to the public along with a 30-minute free consultation for potential clients.

She explained, “In September of 2020, with the pandemic in full-bloom, I took the online course. By then I had written a chapter and I handed that in to my instructor. My teacher, Michele, said, ‘It needs work, but it is good. I think you should continue to write.’ That was all the encouragement I needed. It only took me four-and-a-half months to complete the writing. It took another six months to get through the rounds of proofing and formatting. Then I hired Michele to help me get the book published.”

Green explained some of the important assistance that Chynoweth provided. “She read the draft manuscript. She made changes, highlighted comments. She had me change some words for better flow and readability. I’m good at writing descriptions but I had to show people what I was trying to tell them. As a writer, I have to put words on paper that will help the reader actually see what’s in my head,” she explained. “I was fairly good at it, but Michele was an experienced writer and showed me several tricks of the trade. She would say, ‘that was good, but do you think you could go deeper?’”

What brought her to that particular book? She explained that people that knew her, knew she liked a happy ending.

“I’m a glass half-full kind of person,” she said. “During the pandemic, I thought people needed to read something that would make them feel good. I just created my own world, one I wanted to see. The first person that read it said, “This is like a Hallmark movie.” It is the first book in a series. Each book can be read independently, but they all have a common tie.”

Green said the fun part of writing was using her imagination to create a town for the setting of her story.

“I came up with the title and created a fictitious lake which also needed a B & B-type of hotel,” she explained. “I thought Crystal Lake Inn sounded like a pretty place to stay. I described the lake meticulously and that was fun too. I anchored the setting in the state of Maine which has gorgeous lakes and is known for picturesque inns. We’ve vacationed in Maine several times and I could easily see my inn being located near the coastline. There is an art to creating characters and places. Creating the characters and what they looked like and who they would resemble as an actor. I gave them a whole profile, where they came from and who or what kind of person their potential love interest would be.”

Again, her book coach was great at helping her stay organized.

“She taught me to write an outline, just a paragraph or two, of what each chapter will be about,” Green explained. “That may change as you go but having the outline will keep you on course when you start writing. You need to know where the dialogue is going. I was constantly coming up with new descriptive words to keep the story interesting. I had to convert my work vocabulary into writer’s talk.”

Green said that she was dedicated to the class. She did all her homework and read everything the instructor suggested. After the class on various publishing options, Green chose to self-publish her book through Amazon.

“Prior to the book coming out, I had created some marketing and social media buzz to build interest for the launch. I had people already waiting for Launch Day on Aug. 10 and sold over 80 books that first day. I had a few friends who read the book and suggested they knew who the characters were in real life. You always run the risk of people thinking your characters are real people in your life, but they weren’t. The book is pure fiction. No one in the book is a real person from my life,” she said.

Books two and three are already in the works.

“Book two is fully outlined and has a working title of Crystal Lake Gifts and book three is in my head and will be focused on a holiday story so has a working title of Crystal Lake Christmas,” she explained.

When asked if she always knew she would be a writer she said, “Personally, I’m a bit surprised, but I have two sisters and they aren’t’ surprised. I was always an avid reader and writing a book report always came very easy to me.”

Green said, “I was a professional for many years and I enjoyed that life. I also explored crafting and making quilts. However, I still have a quilt I haven’t finished since 1976. Several people in my family are crafters and we often get together at my house to work on projects and also volunteer projects like putting together toiletry bags for the homeless. But I’ll leave the detailed crafting to those with lots of patience.”

Although that unfinished quilt crosses her mind now and then, she is totally happy with her new love, writing books.

“I have to admit it did surprise me that I wrote a book,” she said. “I think some books would be very difficult to write, like emotional memoirs. My original goal was just to finish a book, get it published and sell one copy. I worked on it a couple of days a week and honestly, my typing couldn’t keep up with my brain.”

Green has always been a voracious reader. “I love listening to interviews with authors. I used to laugh when authors said, ‘my characters tell me which way to take the story.’ It’s true. It’s scary— but true. I may think one thing will happen but then it changes. It is not a straight path. Just like the couple in my book. There were so many twists and turns, mystery, intrigue, humor and that’s what makes it more interesting.”

Were her professional associates surprised that she had written a book?

“Yes, they are,” she said. “I didn’t say anything to them until the draft was completed. We would have virtual get togethers, coffee talks. I would listen to others talk about taking up yoga or learning how to cook. We would talk about what was going on in our lives. And one day I casually mentioned I was writing a book. I think it did surprise some people.”

Green added, “Since I retired, I do live a different life. I’m not an executive. I had to learn to write at a different level and changed the words I use. I had to think about what the characters in my book would talk about.”

She wanted to be a published author and now she is, so maybe that leadership book should still be written. Certainly, her leadership skills were evident in her own life. She heard her calling and she went for it. And it doesn’t sound like she ever thought she wouldn’t finish her book.

“I wanted to be published author,” she explained. “ I didn’t want to wait for years for a publisher to pick me up. I wasn’t writing for the money. I wanted to tell the story of Crystal Lake Inn, the innkeeper Cassidy Taylor, and her reclusive and secretive guest, Jack Burnett. And now I’m selling my book.”

Green is enjoying the marketing of her book and moving forward on two others. She lives in Fair Hill, and feels blessed to be surrounded by beautiful scenery, ever-changing farmland views and oh, as an added perk, family next door.

The book may have been an unlikely move during a pandemic, but her readers are thankful for giving them a welcome release from difficult times.

And those would be writers out there, well, they are dreaming, too.

You can purchase her book, Crystal Lake Inn, on Amazon.

It is a great read. It’s a curl-up-on-your-porch-with-a-cup-of-coffee read.

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