Saturday, October 17, 2015


I am a lineal descendant of a Knight of the Bath, Sir Geoffrey V Plantagenet. I read nearly forty books before I wrote Sprig of Broom, wanting to know as much about the man as possible. He married King Henry's daughter, Matilda, and fathered the long line of Plantagenet kings of England.

While history was not as kind to him as I was, I wanted readers to see Geoffrey's human-ness and understand the duress he must have had when constantly belittled and befuddled by his lady wife. I wanted readers to understand that even though he was a great warrior, he could also be remorseful and weak.

I hope I pulled it off. The novel has been released in all formats. If you are inclined to read it, please leave a review. Reviews are appreciated even if short. Please "like" it on my Facebook page and also on my author page there:

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a free signed copy of Sprig of Broom!

Here's a short excerpt to whet your appetite:

An ominous sound unexpectedly penetrated my thoughts and a cold fog washed over me like damp wool. My view disappeared as mist eddied and locked me in its cocoon of eerie dankness, alone. I reached for my blade to cut through it, hoping to open it up like a boar hog’s hide and step out into the light. No opening presented itself. I stopped in my tracks on the rocky road. I knew steep ravines were poised on each side, waiting to beat me to a pulp as I plummeted to the bottom. I could see nothing, but an unworldly and putrid smell invaded my nostrils.
“Blou? Hardouin? Paieri?”
I heard no response from my men, but a low moan grew louder. Did I hear sinister laughter? Could that be possible out here far between two kingdoms? Surely no other fools ventured out at dawn’s first light without due cause.
“Jacquelin? Is that your laughter I hear?”
Jacquelin did not respond.
There! Again I heard it. Menacing laughter. I grabbed the hilt of my dagger with determination as an ominous humming sound came closer to me. Could someone . . . or something see me through the fog? I began to shake from dampness or fear of what brought the laughter.
The cackling turned into a low groan and a hag chewing a brown plant appeared just out of my reach, wearing tattered clothes and displaying ragged and rotten teeth, ghastly wild hair, a prunish face, and foul stench.
“Listen and heed,” it warned.
More shrill laughter and another voice came from a different direction. I turned in a circle and tried to determine from which way the voice came.
“Mesh becomes chain,” a squeaky voice proclaimed behind me.
I blinked, understanding nought. I spun until my lightheadedness dropped me to my knees at the sound of yet another voice.
“Dark of moon brings realm of gloom,” a deeper raspier voice disclosed.
“Heat of broom becomes his doom,” yet another voice declared. I was surrounded.
“Gloom and doom for man of broom!” This deafening pronouncement came in unison from all the ghastly voices encircling me, making my bones creak.
“Who are you? Show yourselves, old crones,” I bellowed, trying not to display fear. But I heard no answer and the fog and the one apparition I could see dissipated. I again had a clear view of the next village, no being of any kind in sight. Where were the barons who had accompanied me from my home land and walked with me only seconds ago?
I turned when I heard a commotion behind me and saw the men running to catch me, Blou in the lead, sword drawn.
“Where did you go, my lord?”
“I have the same question for you, Blou.”
“We walked along the road with you until you disappeared into a fog. We nought could find you or hear you. We called out but no answer came.”
“You did not hear me call to you?”
“No, my lord.”
“Witches surrounded me and separated me from you,” I explained.
“For what purpose, my lord?”
“I have no answer, Blou, only riddles that made no sense.” 

Early review:

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Deal on September 21, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sprig of Broom, by Susan Whitfield, gives us a unique peek into the fertile mind of this award-winning author. While researching her genealogy she recognizes the life of the man from whom she descends, one gallant Sir Geoffrey V. Plantagenet, could be turned into a slightly fictionalized but also true accounting of his long and beleaguered life, its heartaches and satisfactions. Sir Geoffrey was the original Plantagenet who started the Sprig of Broom usage.

Whitfield’s ability to establish unique character personalities is well honed. The settings as described made me feel a part of the story, the action. I fought beside Sir Geoffrey in long and bloody battles, cringed at his wife's cruel taunting and treatment. I despised yet understood the Dowager Empress Matilda. So many diverse lives fill this story and make it an exciting and satisfying read. I am still amazed at how much history is packed in here.

Sprig of Broom is an historical novel that I didn’t wish to see end. But it had to because all of Sir Geoffrey’s life, from teen years and on is included in this exciting portrayal of life circa. 1127 in Great Britain. I don’t want to say much more about this book that wouldn’t end up being a spoiler. So, suffice it to say, I wholeheartedly recommend Whitfield’s Sprig of Broom to historical aficionados, for both the fiction and nonfiction of it. It’s difficult to tell what’s fiction and what’s not. Sir Geoffrey’s life makes it a most exciting read for any reader. Whitfield has paid a magnificent tribute to her ancestor.

Why, thank you so much, Mary Deal!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Emmy Jane

I waited on the porch, munching a crispy apple watching Emmy-Jane to ride up on her horse near Saratoga Springs, NY.

Emmy Jane was born and raised in upstate NY, where riding horses was part of her everyday life. Though time took her elsewhere, she never forgot her love of horses or the lessons they taught her. Along the way, after acquiring two masters degrees in her Field, she left her doctoral candidacy in Clinical Psychology to start a family. Over the past several years, watching her children grow has often reminded her of life lessons she learned through her pony. Those reminders and her professional background inspired Emmy Jane's first children's book series. It begins with the story of Twinkleberry Pie for My Birthday, an uplifting family tale about a girl who learns her assumptions are far from true on a day spent with a new pony.
I"m enjoying this big apple very much, Emmy-Jane. 

So glad, Susan. Thanks for coming.

My pleasure. Tell me, how many books have you written?

Twinkleberry Pie for My Birthday represents my foray into the book publishing world. Scientific and clinical writing had major roles in my previous Field, but I haven’t written any related books. This is my first published work of imaginative writing that introduces my children’s series. At present, I have submitted the second story, Twinkleberry Pie in Wizzie’s Orchard, and am working on the third.

Give a short synopsis.

The story is about a girl who believes she can ride a horse independently because she has been learning to ride since age two. She thinks her parents do not believe the same, as they have never allowed her to ride without her mother holding a safety rope attached to the family horse. On the day of her sixth birthday, an occasion she thinks her parents have forgotten, she learns her assumptions are far from true when she receives a pony of her own.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

The book was loosely about my own childhood. I really did have a pony named Twinkleberry Pie and I did receive her around the time of my sixth birthday, but that’s where the true facts end. I used my background in Psychology to form a story that imparts valuable lessons via its main theme of learning from misconceptions, and its secondary theme of wanting unconditional parental support but not always feeling that support.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I’ve traveled for the sake of research. With the knowledge that people tend to remember more of the big picture from their distant past rather than the minute details, I decided to voyage to my hometown address and the nearby area to take pictures of things I haven’t seen daily for decades. Just as I suspected, the environmental visual cues helped me to remember some specifics from events I haven’t contemplated in over 25 years. I was then able to create colorfully descriptive fiction based on more comprehensive recall of days lived long ago.

What advice can you give new writers?

I think all authors would agree that a manuscript for any audience is only as good as its ability to keep the reader engaged in the story. Regarding the children’s book genre, there’s a notion in the general public that absolutely everyone can write a children’s story. Perhaps that’s true, but writing one that resonates with its entire audience is another matter.

If I may state the obvious conservatively, adults are very often the readers of children’s books. Therefore, those that stand out in the genre, aside from those published by celebrities, are those that appeal to people of all ages. Speaking as a parent, I can attest to the fact that many stories fall short of appealing to adults. So I ask the following of children’s story writers. What’s the point of writing something that a significant percentage of your audience gets nothing out of reading, or worse, feels like that act of re-reading it to a child who fancies it is an exercise in patience? I might add a reminder that adults are also the majority buyers of children’s books. In today’s economy, they should feel like they’re spending their money wisely.
Given the competition in the fast-growing children’s book market, I think that writers like me who are virtually unknown can’t afford to fail to consider their whole audience as much as how they’ll use their unique writing strengths to engage readers and build their brand. I’m taking my own advice by utilizing pieces of anecdotes from my life with my background in Psychology to share some of what I’ve learned personally and professionally in stories that, I hope, entertain and resonate with readers of all ages.  

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

I keep sticky note pads in multiple places in my house to facilitate scribbling ideas that are unrelated to my current writing project. Over time, I add to each in no specific order except as new developments in each come to mind until I have enough collected thoughts to piece together rough outlines.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

My ultimate goal is to diversify my writing across genres through different types of book ideas that have been taking shape. For now, I’m sketching outlines for the remainder of the Twinkleberry Pie series and developing storylines for more children’s books.

Where can folks learn more about your book and up-coming events?

People can see more about my books and events on my author page within my publisher’s website, They can also find information on my Facebook and Goodreads author pages, or my Twitter page:

Is your book available in print and ebook format?

My book was just released at the end of April. So far, it is available in both print and kindle formats on Amazon at Also, anyone who shops at Chicago area Target stores can buy book copies there rather than waiting for delivery from Amazon. I’ll post announcements on my website author pages, Twitter and Google+ as the book becomes available elsewhere.

Now, how about that horse ride?