Susie Baxter is a fifth-generation Floridian, who writes about the Florida she knew before air-conditioning and before anyone dreamed of the Florida Turnpike or the Magic Kingdom.
For most of her career with Mosby, a health-science publishing house in St. Louis (now an imprint of Elsevier), Susie served as an acquisitions editor, writing proposals for clinical reference books, and recruiting and contracting with physicians to serve as authors.
While working as an editor, Susie says she never considered writing a book herself. But upon losing her favorite grandmother, she began to think of preserving her own memories and those of family members. In retirement, she set out to do that.
Her first book, C.G. and Ethel, A Family History, 2008, focuses on the hardscrabble lives of her parents, who struggled to make a living on their small farm, a half mile from the Suwannee River. “Although Mama and Daddy didn’t live to see the book in print,” Susie said, “they enjoyed providing anecdotes.”
Susie is now working on a memoir of her own rural childhood. She also teaches memoir writing. For nine years, classes were regularly held at branches of the Alachua County Library. Courses are now offered through the Enrich Program of Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida.
To improve her craft, Susie attends writing conferences as often as possible. Here, she walks beside her writer friend Bev on a windy afternoon, after a day at the Cape Cod Writers Conference. “Every writer,” Susie said, “should have a friend like Bev who offers encouragement.”
Susie is one of about twenty volunteers who hold positions of leadership in the Writers Alliance of Gainesville (WAG), an organization designed to promote, encourage and support aspiring and experienced regional writers. She serves on the WAG Board as the Immediate Past President, and she is Creative Nonfiction Editor of Bacopa Literary Review.
“One of the benefits of WAG,” she said, “is that members may join pods, small groups who get together regularly to critique one another’s work. We meet in restaurants, coffee shops, or in members’ homes. Regular deadlines keep us focused.”
Upon request, Susie gives talks on preserving one’s memories. Check out her Speaker page, and contact her if your organization needs a speaker.