Why I Wrote This Book


Dsc_8819Photo by Jerry Waters.

Coming in October, 2013 from HarperCollins–Chickens in the Road: An Adventure in Ordinary Splendor, the wild and juicy memoir of my life at Stringtown Rising Farm. (Cows, cookies, high water, and love!)

My publisher asked for a couple of paragraphs from me about why I wrote my book, for marketing purposes. I was surprised to discover that it was actually a hard question! The book is so organic to my life and what I’ve been writing about for years that it wasn’t as if it was some sudden decision–I’m going to write a book! I have, in fact, been writing a book for years, right here. So many readers have emailed me over the years telling me how they found my site and went back to the beginning to read every post through to the present, to get the whole story. That’s a hard way to go about it, of course, and involves people spending hours at the computer clicking through post after post, some of which don’t really contribute much to the real story. Some posts are just random events or photos, stories that may be cute or funny but don’t complete the picture.

When I sat down to put the book together, I did what so many readers have done–went back to the beginning and did the crazy task of sorting out the story from the morass of posts. (There are THOUSANDS of posts, five years’ worth.) It was hard to see the forest for the trees. My wonderful editor at HarperCollins helped me find the final vision for the story, as did my agent earlier in the process. Sometimes it’s easier for an outsider to see what is important.

Once I understood the arc of the story, and that it WAS a story with a beginning, middle, and end like any good story, it was easy to choose the pieces that contributed in important ways to building that story in all its facets, from the animals to the people to the farm itself, along with the personal journey that I was on within all of that. There were significant pieces missing from the story I’ve told here, of course, and those pieces were in my private life. That was the most difficult thing for me to do, to complete the picture I’ve written about in public with the private life I was living at the same time. But it was also necessary to tell those personal stories in order to bring this journey to life with depth and emotion. I went through revision after revision, like peeling back layers of an onion, bringing myself to give up those pieces of my private life that were relevant to the story. Those stories were always there, woven invisibly into the fabric of the public story–and now was the time to tell them.

I wrote this book for the same reasons I write this website. I live on a farm–so you don’t have to. (Ha. Favorite line from a video I made a couple of years ago.) This website is my journey into the simple life in rural America, a life that has largely vanished in today’s world. The only ones living it today are those who seek it out and choose it, because there are so many other easier choices available. I write to inspire you, entertain you, teach you, and most of all, to encourage you to have fun. I want to make you laugh, even though sometimes I make you cry. I believe life should be LIVED, which means joy and pain. I believe in taking risks–and going on adventures. I wrote this book because I experienced a big adventure at Stringtown Rising, not all of which I wrote about at the time, but I was ready to write about it now. And every big adventure comes with big lessons, and joy and pain.

In the same way, I’m on a new adventure now, and it’s shaping up to be a big one. Maybe someday I’ll write the adventure of Sassafras Farm and tell the personal stories I’m living here that I keep private today. It’s a journey to independence–that sometimes, ironically, works against me. Lately, a lot of it has been wildly romantic–and that is only because I was willing to take a risk again and go on another adventure. There’s been joy, and there’s been pain, and there’s been kissing in the fencing aisle at Tractor Supply. It’s all worth it. I’m living.

And if anything I write encourages you to do the same, oh yeah, that is why I write.


  1. thistlewoodmanor says:

    I knew it! You’re too amazing not to attract the attention of a sexy man!

  2. pugwaggin says:

    You have inspired many. Attending the retreat this past fall was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I will miss meeting so many gals from so many places. The presenters were so awesome. I live in a suburbon neighborhood and can’t have a farm obviously. I have embraced bread making, canning, dehydrating and gardening because of the retreat. My chicken coop is almost completed. I am working on learning to knit and sew. At some point this year I will pick up the used dulcimer I bought and learn to play it.

    You gave me the courage to pursue a life that I missed but had enjoyed during my childhood at my grandparents. I feel such a connection to what my view as an authentic life is again. Being around like minded ladies was such an inspiration. I can’t wait to read your book. Thank you!

  3. Granma2girls says:

    I am continually inspired,encouraged,learning a lot, laughing AND crying, and entertained. I guess you could say you’re accomplishing what you set out to do. I’m happy for you that you’re on a new adventure because you were willing to be vulnerable and risk. Enjoy the sweetness of romance,Suzanne!

  4. SarahGrace says:

    5 years of blogging. Wow! I found you four years ago as we were moving here. Though you had no influence in our choosing this lifestyle, you’ve definitely been an encouragement along the way both in the cyber world and real world! :sun:

  5. Snapper119 says:

    Can’t wait.
    Thank you!

  6. cherylinwv says:

    I’m looking forward to October! :happyfeet:

  7. jeninid says:

    Kissing in the fencing aisle?! :snoopy: Yay Suzanne, you sure deserve everything good life brings your way! Will the book have a Kindle version? Can I pre-order?

  8. JeannieB says:

    Girl, you know I love you and will buy your book! I admire you so much and am as proud of you as much as your parents are/were. Keep it up, you have influenced amd encouraged many ladies and a few men.

  9. VAfarmer says:

    HOORAY Suzanne! Congratulations on this incredible milestone! :woof:

    I can’t help but feel that your life and mine have run parallel in so many ways, both public and private (from what little I know about your private life). I can’t wait to read your book! I don’t have an ounce of creative talent, so I would never be able to write my own, so reading yours should end up being a bit like a memoir, if I’m right about how your life and mine are similar.

    Why is it that us ‘strong’ women tend to make such poor choices when it comes to relationships? Seems like it takes more than one frog before we find our prince. Savor the romance, and enjoy the excitement of new love. I wish you and your mystery man all the best! Just remember, you, your writing, your passions, and your farm, come first! It took me much too long to figure out that was where I was going wrong all along.

  10. Leah says:

    I know I’ve only seen glimpses of your lives but I like what I see. That’s why I keep hanging around. 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading your book also.

  11. MousE says:

    I can’t wait for your book…. Congratulations! And thanks once again for sharing your adventures…

    Meanwhile, ‘kissing in the fencing aisle’? DO TELL. 😆

  12. Luann says:

    Just preordered, yea….I found your website through a friend 4 years ago before I moved here. I knew I was moving but didn’t realize it was so close. So glad I was able to take a workshop of yours and grateful I have met the person who writes in such a way to comfort me, make me laugh and inspire me to try new things. Thanks! :happyfeet:

  13. SuzieQ says:

    Kissing in the aisle…………HOORAH!!!!
    Way to go!!! :snoopy: :snoopy:

  14. MousE says:

    So how does one preorder? i went to Harper Collins but couldn’t find it… Links? Thank you!

  15. holstein woman says:

    All I can say is I would love to come to one or more of your retreats, workshops.
    I feel like I found a real sister in farming when I found your blog through the “Cheese Queen”.
    Keep kissing, don’t let him get away with anything..I used to have a girl friend that said she told him she NEVER paid for anything on her back. I’ve learned my lesson!!!!! :dancingmonster:

  16. Luann says:

    i preordered through amazon.

  17. Della says:

    :wave: Hey Susan
    Wonderful news the book and the adventure. New love is a wonderful thing.I have laughed and cried with you over the years. I am looking forward to the book.

  18. cabynfevr says:

    I’m just happy you chose to write :hug:
    Cannot wait for the book!

  19. CarrieJ says:

    I discovered your website while googling “how to can ham”. I was instantly hooked, and I too, went back through all the posts. Starting with the barnyard, because that is nothing but funny, except when it’s not. Since then, I’ve learned to make bread, soap, roast beans, dehydrate and can everything I want to can. I traveled across the country to attend the 2011 retreat and met a bunch of like minded, beautiful people who I am friends with today. The ups and downs have been incredible and it’s been a wild ride. I’m in it for the long haul!

  20. Glenda says:

    I am waiting impatiently for October….and now I want to read the romantic story on Sassafras Farm! I am just glad you are having the romance now!!!! A kiss in a farm supply store sounds delicious. Good for you.

    Once I read an author I like and whose storyline is ongoing I am off and running. I have currently started at the beginning of John Sanderson’s Lucas Davenport series and have read three and have 6 more ordered! Like I said, I am waiting.

  21. Glenda says:

    That should be John Sanford!

  22. ibpallets (Sharon B.) says:

    holstein woman, If there is any way at all you can attend one of Suzanne’s retreats, you should do it. They are fabulous! I’m signed up for the Spring and Summer and the girls who are coming with me are super excited. There’s tons of fun and laughter (and we learn news things too! LOL)

    Suzanne, kissing in the aisle of Tractor Supply??? Has Morgan had the ‘talk’ with you? LOL Just kidding- I’m so happy for you- you deserve to share your life with someone who is worthy of you.

  23. Taryn says:

    I have pre-ordered your book, also, and am looking forward to reading it. Thank you!

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