Wednesday, February 07, 2007

SEP GuestBlog: Musing On A Visit From A Hunky Genie

After you've hung out with Susan, please head to RBtheBook to read my Feature of "Natural Born Charmer," and a Sneak Peak at Chapter One (courtesy of Susan and Wm. Morrow/HarperCollins)!

Without a doubt, the woman I most often hear other authors laud as the writer who most influenced their work -- and the one they just adore reading -- is today's very special GuestBlogger, Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Please, Bellas, a warm buongiorno for everyone's favorite...

So…you’re walking in the woods minding your own business when this genie pops up in front of you. Not one of those pot-bellied genies either. This genie is 6 feet plus of steely muscle; dark, rumpled hair; blazing blue eyes, and -- But I digress.

“Babe,” he says, because that’s the way Hunky Genie talks. “I’m going to grant you a skill.”

“A skill?” you say. “No offense, but I’d rather have cold, hard cash.”

“Too crass,” H.G. says. “Trust me, this’ll be a lot better. I’m going to grant you mastery of a skill you’ve always wanted. Any skill.”

You eye H.G.’s tight-fitting genie jeans. “Like…X-ray vision?”

But H.G. is not to be trifled with. “You have exactly thirty seconds to stop messing around and decide what skill you want me to give you.”

Which brings me to this question.… What skill do others possess that you wish you had? I know from many conversations with readers that a lot of people would like to be able to write a book. That’s a skill I already possess, along with the ability to form my tongue into a straw and nag my grown sons. There are, however, many skills I’d like, including the ability to remember my multiplication tables.

One great aspect of being a writer is that I get to vicariously possess the skills of my characters. Sports, for example. I’ve been writing about the NFL for over fifteen years in my books about the Chicago Stars football team. It all started because of my own insecurities as a non-athlete. What would happen, I wondered, if a woman who knows nothing about sports inherited a professional football team? That idea eventually grew into IT HAD TO BE YOU, the first book in what would become my Chicago Stars series.

The last (final?) book in that series is NATURAL BORN CHARMER, the story of quarterback Dean Robillard and a woman dressed up in a beaver suit. (See the Sneak Peek at RBtheBook) But, as alluring as it would be to have Hunky Genie transform me into a great athlete, I’m going to pass for something I really, really, really want.

I want to be a great rocker.

There, I’ve said it. A little late in life, I know, especially for a woman born with a tin ear, but that’s what I want -- a gravelly, pitch-perfect voice and kick butt mastery of the electric guitar. The closest I’ve come to living my dream is through a character named Jack Patriot, who also appears in NATURAL BORN CHARMER. Now there’s a man who could park his Fender Stratocaster under my…uh…kitchen table any time he wants. Alas, writing about him didn’t improve my ability to carry a tune.

Oops… Hunky Genie is impatiently tapping one glossy black boot.

Quick… What’s skill do you wish you had? Tell him (and us).

Visit Susan at to learn more about NBCharmer and the rest of the Chicago Stars series!

Encore! The handsome guy with Susan in the Hawaii shot above, left, is her own Natural Born Charmer, her husband, Bill!
Encore due! One of SEP's favorite places that do good stuff is "Teens Alone," right here in my MN backyard. You may want to check it out.
Encore due! Samara O'Shea GuestBlogs
tomorrow. The love-letter writing expert will tell us just what guys think about a sweet, sexy Valentine's letter.


Anonymous said...

Susan - Love your books & your wicked sense of humor! Now if I could just get mine to come out on the page like you do - I know - it's not easy! I would love to be able to sing, but even more than that I would love to be able to Jennifer Lopez did with Richard Gere in Shall We Dance..sigh!

Billie said...

Susan, I'm still waiting to get your latest, but I've been a fan since the first book.

I guess if Mr. Sexy Genie could grant me any skill, it would have to be the ability to make friends. My son has that ability, in spades, which he undoubtedly got from his father (the dirtbag). I work on a college campus, and while my son has chosen to not attend school here, most of the students seem to know him and are friends with him. People just seem to gravitate towards him and there is always a crowd of kids hanging out in his room.

I do have friends, but it seems like I have to work so hard to get those friends (now I sound like I'm whining. I guess I am.)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Susan! What a treat to have you here. Hope you're having fun on your NBCharmer tour.

My fantasy skill would be the desire to excersize, to get out of the house and move. Especially here in the land of Norwegian/Swedish folks who love the outdoors and -- ugh -- physical exertion. I feel the desire, I know it's good for me, but, the urge passes. But that's a lame fantasy skill, so I'll come up w/something better.

Billie, don't be so hard on yourself. It's much tougher for women to make friends, because there are so many minefields to maneuver through. We expend so much energy reading between the lines, reacting to what's not being said. And once we spread a friendship to include more than us and another, things get especially tricky. I'm thinking your son wouldn't be so good at making friends if you didn't influence his ability in some way. What do you have in common in your friendships?

Nina, ain't it true? She makes it look so easy. And wicked's the perfect way to describe the humor, too.

Julie in Ohio said...

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome, Susan!!!! I'm so excited you've come back to play with us. :o)

Mornin', Bellas!!

Nina/Billie- I would love to have either one of those gifts...

The skill that I would love to have is creative cooking. I can cook/bake and love doing it but I'm not very imaginative. I would love to be able to look in the fridge and see a 1/4 cup of milk, last nights pasta leftovers and a bag of frozen peas and make a 5 course meal. :o)
A Kitchen Macguyver, if you will.

Julie in Ohio said...

Michelle-- That is not a lame skill. I have also wondered what it would be like to have the ambition to stick with a program longer than a week.
I find *watching* others sweat to the oldies much more entertaining. Especially if it's done while eating ice cream...

amy kennedy said...

Susan, welcome. My friend Julia walked up to me at work (years ago) handed me This Heart Of Mine, told me you were her favorite author and basically I had to read you or she would disown me...

Well I started to fall in love that day--yes I started in the middle (second?) book of the Chicago Stars series--but that book...images from that book still pop in my mind. Thank you.

Okay...skill, at first I was going to go with writing, but I feel as if I'm on my way for that, then I like Julie's idea of creative cooking, but no. My husband has a beautiful singing voice and my two older children are so artistic.

Maybe my skill would be to persevere and that would lead to other skills.

Maybe my skill should just be to make-up my mind.

Day three of child sick at home...

CrystalGB said...

I would love to be skilled in interior decorating and organization. I am horrible at both of these.

Kati said...

It's SEP! Welcome Susan! I've been on an SEP binge lately and re-reading the Chicago Stars books. Well, the Bellas can tell you that I am a huge NFL fan, so I adore the way you write athletes!

Let's see, well, I'm already in my chosen field and I love it (I'm a meeting planner), but I've always said that my absolute dream job would be to be the planner for the Governor's Ball, which is the ball that takes place after the Oscars. You've probably seen pictures of it, Wolfgang Puck is always the chef for it and the entire event is top of the line everything.

As for a skill, I guess I'd like to be more creative. My sister-in-law is one of those people who can make a quilt out of a couple of pieces of fabric, hand stencil stuff on her kids' bedroom walls, etc. I'm just not that girl. I've got a good eye for color, but I don't have any flair. So, I guess I'd want flair.

Monica Burns said...

Hi Susan! I've been a fan since Ain't She Sweet!

Hi Bellas, I've missed you!! Been busy writing. ROMANCE writing. Btwn that and the day get the picture.

Let's see what skill...hmmm it's a toss up between having a voice like Streisand or being an expert swordswoman in the style of Sir Percy Blakeney. I know, I know, what a contrast. LOL


Cherie said...

Hi Susan! Welcome! Great Interview! As for a skill, I would love to be a great writer and have thousands be hooked to my books. It must be an awesome feeling. You could probably tell us all about that. I just wonder where you authors get all your plot ideas. There is such an amazing amount of great books with wonderful new types of plots that my wallet is always empty.

Cherie Japp

Kati said...

Mon! Where've you been?!?! I missed you.

I hope this means you're cooking up a little sumpin'-sumpin' spicy for us to read!

MUAH! Missed you Bella!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, Mon! I have an email started to you that I lost once, started again, and closed the outlook on. It basically echoed mk: i miss you, too! Your fantasy skills don't surprise me in the least. :)

Now that I'm thinkin about it, I totally fear decorating, but it would be cool to just look at a room and know what to do. Then I could go shopping -- for fun -- and say, "oh, look at that lovely vahz. Wouldn't it be perfect for the salon. If I talked like that. And had a salon.

Cherie, you're in such good company here with the EWS (empty wallet syndrome). MK could write a book about it. If she had the money for some note paper after her last visit to B&N...

Do you like writing, Cherie?

Kati said...

Cherie, you're in such good company here with the EWS (empty wallet syndrome). MK could write a book about it. If she had the money for some note paper after her last visit to B&N...

Welcome to my world, cherie. It's kind dank, but hey, at least the reading is really good!

amy kennedy said...

I like that MK--flair as a skill. I wonder if there's an adult education course for that--there's one for flirting, there must be one for flair.

Monica! Hi, when I was in jr. high we actually had fencing in phy-ed, we also had archery. It was the absolute coolest phy-ed program.

Cherie, I want to know too--are you writing?

Jennifer Y. said...

I have been told by so many people that I need to read the Chicago Stars I went out and got all of them...yet, they still sit in the TBR mountain. They all sound great though. Now I need to add the new one!

I wish I could read faster and still get the same enjoyment.

And Michelle...your fantasy skill wasn't that lame...kind of wish I had it myself...that or the ability to write down all these stories in my head in a way that makes sense to someone other than me...but that probably won't ever happen. LOL

Amie Stuart said...

Susan you are a writing goddess! Thank you for so many hours of enjoyment =)

A skill? Hmmm rocker sounds pretty good, so does the decorating ability (which I lack in sad abundance), but barring that, I'd say the ability to speak and understand any language I wanted would be kinda cool (because I sucked at Spanish in hs)

Monica Burns said...

MWAH! Back at ya Bellas. MK I've been writing a steamy book that has really pushed the limits for me. The question now is whether Deidre and I can find someone to love it as much as I love it. That could easily be a 2008-09 release. The pub business is soooo sloooow sometimes!! LOL

However....I do have a new book coming out with Samhain (A Sheikh's Passion, Ancient Prophecies and Hot Desert Nights -- Mirage)eBook in Oct print will be in Apr 2008 thereabouts. (It's my GH2005 finalist entry)

Michelle, I'm the same way...keep meaning to email, and get involved in writing, then shut down for the night and as Windows is shutting down I'm muttering all types of cuss words under my breath! LOL I don't know what it is about peri-menopause, but the F-word is becoming quite predominant in my vocabulary. And I DESPISE, absolute DESPISE, that word. *sigh*

Amy, I had both fencing and archery in school too!! Was lousy at the bow and arrow deal, but I was actually pretty good with the swords. LOL

BTW, If any of youse bellas are near Kingsport TN, I'm gonna be at the Women's Expo in Oct so email offline for a meal get-together!
I know it's a long way off, but I can't believe how full my calendar is ALREADY!! I'm gonna turn around and it'll be Christmas again!! Oy!


amy kennedy said...

Mon, I wonder if it's our age (I think we're close) a kind of 'back in the day' thing.

I picked-up the bow and arrow for the first time and shot a bulls-eye, my nick-name was Robin Hood after that. Sadly, the bulls-eyes were few after that.

Vivs, I was gonna tell you that I opened my HQN e-mail and there was your book. Yay!

Amie--what a cover!

Jennifer Y. you'll enjoy the books so much--I started with THOM, but It Had To Be You is first, and wait till you get to the one about the minister's widow--ack! what's the name, Dream a Little Dream?

Monica Burns said...


I meant to say what a great couple looking couple you and your Bill make in the photo Michelle has on the blog!


Julie in Ohio said...

I just read the excerpt for NBC and now I have to get the book. I was going to wait until March when I'm doing a BIG book buy but I don't think I'm going to be able to wait.

Susan-- Where did you get the idea for a beaver costume? That is just too good. :o)

Wolfy said...

I just read the excerpt over on RBtheBook and the feature and what a terrific sounding book. I have not read any of this series, but feel that I have been missing something. Thank you for being here today. Love the picture of you and your dh.

Anonymous said...

Welcome Susan and mornin' Bellas :)

Hold on a minute...'I digress...' Susan, you can't digress! I was all for wandering down a path with HG (and ignoring life) when... I know grovelling looks kind of bad but pretty please with sugar on top can he come back?

OK, on to the important question - skills. Do I have to pick one? I would like to be normal. They may not sound like a skill, but believe me it is. Oh, and I agree about the knowing what to say skill. I definitely have foot in mouth disease :)


Julie in Ohio said...


Hi, Monica!!!!! We've missed you, Bella. It doesn't surprise me, at all, that you want to be a better swords-woman. What does surprise me, is that you aren't a master already. :o)

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Bellas and Welcome Susan,
I'm a big fan of your books and your style, and it's so nice to "meet" you. Aside from the stories, I just appreciate getting satisfaction in the search for a good writer! I haven't read the newest books yet, they're on the TBR pile - but I'm looking forward to them.

As for a skill - well, other than one that would give me the ability to keep that Hunky Genie just a-hangin' around kinda forever (to look at if nothing else) the skill(s) I would choose have to do with "nots" rather than wants. I would desperately love NOT to be a procrastinator. Tied to that, I would ask to NOT be so distractable. The curse of finding anything and everything-- from a rerun of MASH to an ancient magazine clipping found under my bed in a box--absolutely fascinating is something that's hard to live with, and really cuts into my writing time! (Not to mention cleaning time. Cleaning? Tomorrow, maybe.)

Michelle-it's so absolutely not lame to want to get active. But I'm not sure it's Scandinavian either. Weren't we the ones who invented running out into the snow (without clothing) and then running back to the warmth of the sauna? A good aphrodisiac perhaps, gets the heart rate up ... Hmmm, maybe we Scandihoovian Minnesotans do know our outdoor sports after all. Have to try it and see... with the Hunky Genie perhaps?

Anyhow - what a great question. And, Susan, keep those great books coming!

ev said...

Hi Susan!!! Love your books!!

I would also love to be able to sing and play an Axe. I am such a concert whore (that's my daughter's description for me) that to be able to be up there and perform like so many of the ones I have seen.

Will jack patriot be getting his own story??/

Ann Christopher said...

Hi Susan, Michelle, and everyone--

Susan, when I teach writing craft workshops, I start by giving the "SEP advice," which I heard you give once at Nationals: "if this advice makes your stomach hurt, don't take it!"


Skill? I'd like to sing like Mariah Carey. Or at least hold a tune.


Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Susan, your books are such fun to read! You and your husband look relaxed and adorable...the picture makes me long for warmer weather. It was below zero in Maine this morning.

And a skill? I wish I could plot out my books and write faster instead of going in fits and starts (and spending waaay too much time on the Internet). :)

LizbethSelvig said...

Ev - A concert whore! I love it. My son is in a rock band and they practice in our basement. I'm so in love with them and the pounding music. And I love anything live from blues to rock to classical. I, too, hope Jack will get his own book. My next manuscript is about a singer - they really are my biggest heroes.

Ann (and Susan) - I hadn't heard the wonderful "stomach hurt" advice. That help so much for all of us who are info gluttons.

Maggie - you've hit my problem right on the head - wish I could stop writing in fits and starts. I draw great comfort in knowing I'm in such good company.

Lois said...

I wish I had a photographic memory so I wouldn't have to study or try to remember something!! LOL :)


flip said...

I love, love your books. I think that It Had to Be You is still my favorite. Now, my 16 year old daughter is reading my copies of your books. I think that Connie Brockway was dead on on her comments about your writing. Your characters come to life, no matter what their age. In fact, I think that your portrayal of children are among the best.

I would love to be able to sing. I can't carry tune, I can't even remember tunes. I sing out of pitch and mostly flat. Once I was rocking my oldest, who was a toddler and singing to her. She put her little hand over my mouth to make me stop. So I would love to sing. I don't necessarily need a great voice, just a passable voice.

tetewa said...

Hey Susan great to have you here and love the question. My skill I would love to have is to be a great bowler again, and to be able to bowl a 300 game. I was a pretty good bowler about 15 years ago and on several leagues. But now that I've gotten up there in age arthritis has set in to my knees. So I can't bowl like I used to be able to. A perfect game would be the ultimate, the closet I came was a 289. Darn old age.

ReadingIsSoMuchFun said...

Hello Susan,

It's great to have you here with us. I loved your book MMIYC and I am really looking forward to reading Natural Born Charmer. I love that cover btw.

What’s skill do you wish you had?
I wish I can write a book, I wish I can get rid of all the diseases and cure people. I wish I can help the homeless people and give them a home and things they need.

Ok I know this is not a skill but I really wish I can meet you in person Susan.


ReadingIsSoMuchFun said...

Btw love that picture of you and your husband. You's look so cute together and very happy :-)

SEP, What has inspired you to become and author?

Does your family read any of your books?

For your character are any of them like you or your family?

Happy Valentine's Day To Everyone.


Cathy M said...

I loved this series and can't wait to read Natural Born Charmer. As far as a skill I wished I had, I would say it would be singing. My sisters' and mom all have these beautiful singing voices, but me, I got stuck with my dad's voice, scratchy, in a non-sexy way, and ALWAYS out of tune.

Amie Stuart said...

Amy--thanks! =)

Playground Monitor said...

Sounds like you wrote that with your "last breast," Susan. *g*

What would I ask H.G. for? I'd love to be a whiz on the acoustic guitar and have a great singing voice to go with it. But that's two wishes, isn't it? Well, just give me the guitar skills.

I've only read one of the Stars series -- Nobody's Baby But Mine -- but I absolutely adored it. I've also read Ain't She Sweet and as a born-and-bred southern gal, I've known a few Sugar Beth's in my day.


Monica Burns said...

Ames, I prefer to think of it as we're simply enjoy the residual skills from a past life. I was one hellava swordsMAN in France. Worked my way through a lot of women (ok,ok, I was a MAN for crying out loud! It's what men do!) and a lot of husbands came calling. Lost that last duel though. It wasn't pretty!

{{{{JulieO }}}} That means hugs in geek speech (in case you didn't know) *smile* See, my comment to Ames above. In this life, I prefer to keep a low profile. Dying for love ain't all it's cracked up to be...HOWEVER, dying for a romance book??? Well, hot damn THAT is worth it! LOL


catslady said...

Oh any skill in the arts - music, writing, painting etc. and to make a living at it lol.

Anonymous said...

Hi, everybody! And what a "skillful" group you are. Thanks for all the lovely comments. I just got back from the NATURAL BORN CHARMER tour yesterday or I would have posted sooner. Finished my last signing today and have decided I won't wear make-up or blow dry my hair for a good two weeks. As for hose and heels... It's not going to happen! That aside, I had such a fabulous time meeting hundreds of readers and autographing hundreds of books. (No, it never gets old.) Thanks, Michelle, for inviting me to blog. Fun!