posted on July 1, 2014 by Susan Wiggs

Getting Personal

by Susan Wiggs

claraOne of the most frequently asked questions readers ask on my Facebook page is, “What’s the meaning behind the dedication page?” I usually dedicate a book to someone who is important in my life at the time I’m writing it. Sometimes it’s obvious–my parents, a family member, my editor or agent, a fellow writer.

In THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL, it commemorates one of the most joyous things that ever happened to me. I became a grandmother for the first time. Clara Louise is named after my awesome mom, and she is showing signs of being every bit as awesome as her predecessor. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos!

claralouiseThere are always hints in my novels about things that have happened in my personal life. There’s a lavish wedding in THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL, and it has lots of elements of my own.

Like Isabel in the novel, I was happily single and had a happy life, filled with friends and family, adventure and travel and writing. When you think nothing can be better than the life you have, and then suddenly you meet someone and the world shifts, you should definitely pay attention to that. It’s kind of like watching a really good movie, and then putting on the 3D glasses. It’s different. Brighter, clearer, more vivid.

My 3D moment came along as I was working on THE APPLE ORCHARD. On a perfect summer day, he came riding on a bicycle from the ferry terminal to my house to make homemade guacamole and margaritas. (I already know you want the recipes, so I’m including them below.)

What happened after that was a combination of chemistry, magic and timing. The lightning bolt of attraction left me breathless–but family and work obligations kept us apart for weeks. There is a special kind of yearning that takes hold when love is brand new, and you can’t be with that person. Jerry had to leave for a remote surf beach in Tofino on Vancouver Island, Canada, to take his two sons on a long-promised holiday. After that, he had a work meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the U.S., followed by a business trip to Hong Kong and mainland China. In the meantime, I was headed to Melbourne, Australia to give a keynote speech to the Romance Writers of Australia.

As in any good novel, complications ensued. While visiting Australia, I took a young Doberman Pinscher skateboarding (that’s when “adventurous” turned to “foolishness”) and ended up shattering and dislocating my wrist, engendering a trip to the emergency room, a hospital stay, and surgery. It seemed as if circumstances were conspiring to keep us apart.

beekeepers_ball_3DBut like any smitten fictional couple, the heart wants what it wants when it wants it. Despite being in different hemispheres and different time zones, we were determined to get to know one another and see if the magic we found on our first date was the relationship we’d both been looking for all our lives. In a matter of a few weeks, we traded hundreds of e-mail and text messages, online chats and photographs. We talked about our lives, our feelings, our past and our present. Families, kids and dogs. Education, work, ambition, values. And love. Neither of us shied away from talking about love, because we are both true believers.

In one of the many heartfelt or funny or poignant messages I sent, I mentioned that I had declared for myself an official “Year of Yes.” Wanting to focus only on positive energy, I made a vow to myself that no matter what anyone asked me, no matter what the question, my answer was going to be “yes.”

Most of the time it was easy:

Will you come to Australia and give a keynote speech? YES.

Will you write a book about Isabel as a follow-up to THE APPLE ORCHARD? YES.

Will you take a Bikram yoga class? YES.

Will you put on a bikini and go to Byron Beach? YES.

Will you take the Doberman skateboarding? YES. (Some of my “yesses” didn’t work out so well.)

And then he asked me,

Will you meet me in Hong Kong and stay at the Peninsula Hotel for a week?

Um, that would be a YES.

I arrived in Hong Kong with a cast on my arm and a heart full of hope. We had already written our love story, in all those messages back and forth. By the time we saw each other at the most incredible hotel in the world, we already knew everything we need to know.

The emotional truths that emerge for the characters in THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL are that people might not always be in the happiest of places, but love makes everything better. And life can’t always be perfect, but a moment can. In the novel, my message to Isabel is the kind of advice I’d give anyone in the middle of her happy, fulfilling life: It’s true that life gives lessons–but it’s up to you to pay attention to the message. What Isabel realizes in the course of her story is that the best time to fall in love is when life is good. Because that way, you can’t miss love when it comes along.

My other piece of advice–whip up a batch of guacamole, make margaritas for your friends, invite someone new into your life…and say YES.

GIVEAWAY! Post a comment below, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for one of five signed copies of THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL, which will be shipped along with a Sweet Cream & Honey Relish Glass Candle, to set the mood for a great evening of reading. Post your comment by July 7 and the random drawing will be on July 8.


susanwiggs-0104edited photo by Yvonne WongSusan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction.

She lives at the water’s edge on a Puget Sound island and finds inspiration in the rhythm of the seasons, and in the emotional dramas of everyday life. She’s been featured in the national media, and is a popular speaker locally and internationally.

A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has received three RITA(R) Awards and numerous starred reviews. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages. THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, and a passionate supporter of libraries and literacy. She loves hiking, biking, yoga and skiing, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book.

Please visit her at And check out her Facebook page at


Recipes by Request!

Guacamole by @imakepesto

3 ripe avocados–the Haas variety is the creamiest and more flavorful
2 ripe tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch scallions
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small bunch cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper
1 lime, juiced
sea salt to taste

Chop all the ingredients and combine in a nice big bowl. Or put all the ingredients together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly until everything is chopped but not smooth. Salt to taste. Serve immediately with fresh corn tortilla chips.

Homemade Margaritas by @beachwriter

1 jigger top-shelf tequila, such as Patron or Don Pedro
1 jigger Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 jigger fresh squeezed lime juice
sea salt and ice

Place tequila, liqueur and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake vigorously. Pour into glasses with salted rims and serve immediately.


THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL can be purchased in hardcover or eBook format


Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs

Using blunt scissors, pages from a Big Chief tablet, a borrowed stapler and a Number Two pencil, Susan Wiggs self-published her first novel at the age of eight. A Book About Some Bad Kids was based on the true-life adventures of Susan and her siblings, and the first printing of one copy was a complete sell-out.

Due to her brother's extreme reaction to that first prodigious effort, Susan went underground with her craft, entertaining her friends and offending her siblings with anonymously-written stories of virtuous sisters and the brothers who torment them. The first romance she ever read was Shanna by the incomparable Kathleen Woodiwiss, which she devoured while slumped behind a college vector analysis textbook. Armed with degrees from SFA and Harvard, and toting a crate of "keeper" books by Woodiwiss, Roberta Gellis, Laurie McBain, Rosemary Rodgers, Jennifer Blake, Bertrice Small and anything with the words "flaming" and "ecstasy" in the title, she became a math teacher, just to prove to the world that she did have a left brain.

Late one night, she finished the book she was reading and was confronted with a reader's worst nightmare--She was wide awake, and there wasn''t a thing in the house she wanted to read. Figuring this was the universe''s way of taking away her excuses, she picked up a Big Chief tablet and a Number Two pencil, and began writing her novel with the working title, A Book About Some Bad Adults. Actually, that was a bad book about some adults, but Susan persevered, learning her craft the way skydiving is learned--by taking a blind leap and hoping the chute will open.

Her first book was published (without the use of blunt scissors and a stapler) by Zebra in 1987, and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Mira and Warner Books. Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the Romance Writers of America conference, the PNWA and Maui Writers Conference. She won a RITA award in 1994, and her recent novel The Charm School was voted one of RWA's Favorite Books of the Year. She is the proud recipient of several RT awards, the Peninsula RWA's Blue Boa, the Holt Medallion and the Colorado Award of Excellence.

Susan enjoys many hobbies, including sitting in the hot tub while talking to her mother on the phone, kickboxing, cleaning the can opener, sculpting with butter and growing her hair. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jay, her daughter, Elizabeth, and an Airedale that hasn't been groomed since 1994.

34 thoughts on “Getting Personal”

  1. Brenda Rumsey says:

    Love reading your stories….Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter…but I’ve gotten behind. Hope to read your new one soon.

  2. irelyn says:

    Loved reading this particular blog and finding out how you met your love, and the recipes are a bonus!!

  3. Leanna says:

    I would love to read The Beekeepers Ball. I love your books!

  4. Kris Ten-Eyck says:

    I read and re-read your books when I am troubled, similar to eating mac & cheese as a comfort food. Thank you for your stories.

  5. CharleneMcD says:

    What a wonderful romance. I loved your story about falling in love. Yes it only takes a moment and the heart knows what the heart knows. I have not tried that yes thing, I am not normally a no person, but there are a few things that I will probably never say yes too – like bungee jumping or jumping out of an air plane.

  6. Millie Swank says:

    I love your books and am looking forward to your newest. Good luck everyone and to whoever wins Happy Reading!

  7. Amber says:

    I loved hearing your own love story! Thanks for sharing. Your year of YES sounds like it comes with lots of stories! 🙂

  8. Jessica Zeidan says:

    I love your books and thank you for writing!

  9. The story sounds like it will be a lot of fun to read. I can wait to get my hands on it.

  10. Thank you for the chance!!! Would love to add this to my collection!!

  11. Jami Birnbaum says:

    I fell in love with your books through the Lakeside Chronicles. Happily read The Apple Orchard and am waiting (impatiently) for my library to get in The Beekeeper’s Ball (I’m #1 on the list!). Thanks for sharing your life (as well as your guac & margaritas) with your fans…

  12. Rhiannon Rowland says:

    Can’t wait to read Beekeepers Ball! Been a fan for years!

  13. Scriblet says:

    I’ve often wondered how closely fiction intersects the life of the writer. I find some of the most enjoyable stories are those that mirror the writer’s experiences because they can bring a depth of understanding to the situation that sucks me in and makes me feel like I’m sitting down for a conversation with an old friend.

  14. MaryC says:

    Looking forward to reading The Beekeeper’s Ball!

  15. Cindy says:

    We all need bees! Can’t wait to read this book!

  16. Dorothy MacDougall says:

    Table for five is current favorite – hoping Beekeepers Ball gives it a run for its money!

  17. Jennifer Essad says:

    so many “trials and tribulations” along the way as we are growing each day, I’m anxious to read “The Beekeeper’s Ball” – hope you all enjoy a quiet summer

  18. Barbara Tobey says:

    I say “yes” to The Beekeepers Ball.

  19. Sonnetta Jones says:

    I love your story of how you fell in love. As a single woman I am constantly telling people that I do not need to look for love bug that God will present the guy at the right time. I need to be complete before I meet him. I do love your stories.

  20. Kelli DeWitt says:

    I enjoyed reading a part of Your Story. I am looking forward to this book. Thank you so very much.

  21. Jane Dickerson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal “year of yes” story-it is so encouraging and gives me hope!

  22. Kim Gardner says:

    I love the idea of “a year of yes” very neat and adventurous idea. I am new to your work but this blog really intrigued me.

  23. Florence Mims says:

    What a beautiful grandchild! I love the guacamole recipe you posted as well. I am looking forward to “Beekeepers Ball.”

  24. Cindy says:

    Thanks for a chance to win!

  25. Marcy X says:

    How interesting to have a Year of Yes and it not turned out to be overwhelming with commitments. I do enjoy reading your books. Thank you for sharing your gift of storytelling with us.

  26. Fran says:

    What a beautiful love story, more so because it is a true one. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  27. Shirley says:

    I’ve read The Beekeeper’s Ball on Kindle and loved every word of it. Are we going to have more of Bella Vista? I hope you’re still saying YES.

  28. Forty Paws says:

    Clara Louise is so pretty! And I love the story of how you and Jerry found your love!

  29. Diane Whitworth says:

    I have been a fan of yours for many, many years. I hope to read The Beekeeper’s Ball soon. What a wonderful time of life for you!

  30. Dionne Wyly says:

    I love reading your books…..they become like family…..always hate when I am finished reading.

  31. Mary Lee Olson says:

    I love your love story.

  32. Katie says:

    I love all your stories and look forward to reading The Beekeeper’s Ball. Thank you for sharing your love story with all of us.

  33. Carol Causey says:

    Absolutely loved The Apple Orchard. Looking forward to the Beekeepers Ball. Hope to have many more Bella Vista stories. I say “yes” to that.

  34. Patsy says:

    Your love story is so sweet!

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