Why I want to be Susan Elizabeth Phillips when I grow up

I was fortunate to be introduced to Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books in the last year and I can’t tell you what a treasure these books are. And I’ve only read TWO! Well, I’m about to the last chapter of the second but this book is incredible. It’s hard to explain how powerful this writing is but let me try.

On Wednesday, I was in a stressful situation in which I was anxiously awaiting someone. Well, with lots of time to kill, I ended up reading. After more than an hour, it just so happened that the person I was waiting for pulled up just as I had read the *black moment*. And oh what a black moment this was. There I was, more than 500 miles from home trying to stay warm in my truck, and I’m crying. The crack of these two broken hearts was like a gunshot to my gut. I wanted to rant and rave and cry and I was shouting, “If he’d just told her he loves her!!!”

Now, since the person I was awaiting had shown up and we had many miles to go, I couldn’t continue reading. I was left hanging there. All that angst and sadness and heartbreak sitting in my chest like a dead weight. I learned it’s not good for me to combine literature induced heartache with extreme stress and exhaustion – I cried for the first four hours of the trip.

But then tonight, just now, I came to the moment when all the heartache is washed away and the moment of triumph lifted me as high as the black moment had dropped me. I caught myself yelling again and realized I was going to wake up my daughter if I didn’t get a grip.

So, why am I going through all of this? Because this is what I want to write. I want to have this kind of power, to make my readers scream and cry and yell and want to celebrate. I want them to have a hard time staying in their seat as they read and then turn around and have to buy another box of tissues.

I’m not saying I’ll ever get there for sure. But I figure, if you’re going to aim high, aim for the Stars. LOL! And yes, Stars is meant to be capitalized. You see, I’m reading the first in the Chicago Stars series and I can’t get over this book was written 14 years ago and I just found it. How could I have missed it all this time?!?!

So, if you’ve never read a book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, run – don’t walk – and get one today. Hell, get all of them. I’m still working on that part but I can promise you, I’ll have them ALL before long. The first in the series is It Had to Be You and let me tell you, it’ll knock your socks off.

Do you have any SEP stories about when you found her books? Or is there another author that does this for you? I know Sherrilyn Kenyon fans are rabid and JR Ward’s would walk through fire for those bad ass boys of hers. And if you’re a writer, who do you want to be when you grow up? LOL!

25 thoughts on “Why I want to be Susan Elizabeth Phillips when I grow up”

  1. TiffinaC says:

    Holy cow… I would have said another word, but held back. The site is looking really good!

  2. terrio says:

    Awe, shucks, this old thing? LOL! Thanks!

  3. Marnee Jo says:

    The site is looking awesome! And check out your pic! You’re looking hawt!!

    I am not that rabid about anyone right now. I wish I were, but I’m trying to focus on my writing so I’m not letting myself read much. (I’m easily distracted). I think I’ve read this SEP though and I do recall loving everything I’ve read by her.

  4. Diana says:


    Could your blog look anymore professional? I’m seriously lovin’ it. And your pic. Too cute!

    SEP-LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I can’t get enough of her books. Oh, I recall feelin’ my heart break with “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Kiss an Angel”. SEP just creates this amazing, real characters, full of flaws and strengths. And her plotting is amazing. She is such a must-read, must-own for me. If you get a chance, I also suggest reading “Hot Shot”. Her earlier books were about women who fell in love at a young-ish age, and then fell out of love and into love again. But the way she shows the growth of these powerful heroines is just astounding. *sighs* I can’t say enough about her!

  5. terrio says:

    Oh, Marnee, you’d love her and reading her books is like reading a HOW TO book for writers. You enjoy it for the pure pleasure first then you sit and think about it and realize where she used what devices and how she made the character totally flawed but you loved her anyway. If you find the time, you have to try one.

    Di- I so have to get to those other books. I read Ain’t She Sweet first and was completely addicted. I’m starting Bobby Tom’s story as soon as I can. That will give me time to find the others.

    Can’t wait to read how she handles those heroines. You are so right – these are possibly the most *real* characters out there.

  6. irisheyes says:

    I knew you’d love that book! Keep going, girl, there’s more gold to be found! Heaven, Texas is hilarious, as is Lady Be Good. Kiss An Angel will rip your heart out and send you soaring. Match Me If You Can is the ultimate feel good read! And the only things I can say about the ones I didn’t like as much is that they are awesome.

    I wanna be SEP when I grow up! (I think I wrote that somewhere before when asked this same question). Her dialogue is what I’m used to hearing day in and day out. She gets characters spot on for me. She combines hilarity and angst like noone else I know. I can go on forever but you pretty much nailed it in your blog. Every time I read a new book by her I have to take a break and savor it and the next book I pick up is always a disappointement (unless it’s hers!).

    I get like a crazed teenage fan talking about the latest hearthrob when I talked about her. I could discuss specific scenes from her books forever.

  7. irisheyes says:

    I forgot to mention that I went to one of her booksignings and she’s a delight in person. I didn’t actually go up and meet her (I know, I know!), but she was a hoot. Someone you’d love to have as your best friend or next door neighbor. She’s real down to earth.

  8. irisheyes says:

    That’s what I think is so incredible about her characters, Terri. She creates these people that you really aren’t that fond of and a couple that you really hate! Then she makes you fall in love with them and cheer when they get their HEA! You’re right… her books are amazing HOW TO guides.

  9. terrio says:

    Ok, Irish, we have to dish just a bit. LOL! If you haven’t read this book – STOP NOW! Spoilers ahead.

    I was practically jumping up and down when Dan threw that ball to save her life then couldn’t believe he took her to the 50 YARD LINE!! LOL! And even the guy stuff was so perfect. When Dan got really pissed and he and Ron played that hard ass basketball, one-on-one game. That was so….guy! And then when he kicked the shit out of Reed. I have no idea why but that so did it for me.

    This must be why I like really big guys. Oh, I can’t wait to keep reading. LOL!

    And you didn’t talk to her?! Irish!!!

  10. irisheyes says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. irisheyes says:

    Spoilers ahead…

    I LOVED when they were at the art fair in Naperville and he came through for Molly! That is like every teenage girl’s fantasy. I also loved their first time when he mis-read her “No”. I thought his “I’m too old for this crap” attitude was hilarious! I also loved the dinner when he realized what she was doing. That was classic. I’m with you on the kicking Reed’s ass scene, but I loved that he had half the team with him. She creates such a great community/family atmosphere. Wait till you keep reading. Match Me If You Can really brings that home!

  12. terrio says:

    When he dragged her into those woods and I knew what she had been through and how fragile she was, I about died. Then when he was such a jerk after their first time.

    But even when he was acting like such a…a…guy, it was real. That’s how a real guy would have acted in all those situations.

    I loved what he did for Molly too. And how Molly came around and was there that night after she said those horrible things to him in her room. That’s where I started crying and I couldn’t stop for a while. LOL!

    Oh, and that those other players went with him and gave him an *alibi* when he went to see Reed. That was so great.

  13. irisheyes says:

    Yeah, that woods scene gave me the creeps, too. And when he said all those awful things to her in Ron’s office… right before Ron put him on suspension.

    I just LOVE stories where the hero/heroine believe the other person is completely different than they really are. SEP is the best with those type of romances.

  14. irisheyes says:

    I forgot to tell you one of my favorite things about SEP books. The epilogues! She does some great ones. It Had To Be You is one of my favorites.

    She didn’t do one for Heaven Texas. I found out on her site last month that she had actually written one but thought the way she ended it was a better choice. So, as a little Christmas gift to her readers she put the epilogue on her website and you can get access to it by signing up for her e-mail updates.

  15. terrio says:

    You know, Ron turned out to be a pretty cool character too. He sorted of arced through the story with Pheobe.

    I know about those extras on her website but I have to read the books first. LOL! Then I’m going to get right over there.

  16. MsHellion says:

    I haven’t read SEP in a long time. I do remember Kiss an Angel and loving it.

    Older authors I cut my teeth on:

    Jude Deveraux (God, I was depressed when she stopped writing good books)

    Julie Garwood (historicals, not her RS. Depressed to hear her last historical wasn’t very good.)

    Judith McNaught LOVED Whitney, My Love and Something Wonderful.

    Kasey Michaels I still love her historicals, but I think her older ones are better (I think writer’s voice must evolve or something): favorites: The Unicorn’s Bride and the one with The Peacock–Secrets of the Heart!–I love that book. Kiss from an Angel…there were about 5-6 books back to back in the mid-90s I just loved by her.

    Who I want to be when I grow up:

    Jill Barnett or Teresa Medeiros. (I love Sherrilyn Kenyon too…but I don’t do paranormal well…so probably a curious hybrid of all these authors.) Jill’s is just so frothy and fun and sweetly romantic; and Teresa is lush and funny; and Sherrilyn is sarcastic and funny.

    So funny…that’s what I want to be when I grow up.

  17. terrio says:

    McNaught pretty much got me through my teenage years alive. I was a mess and her books were the perfect escape.

    I think I’ve read one Barnett and just remember it was pretty funny. I have others on my enormous TBR shelf. I also have several TM’s on that shelf and have yet to read them. Can’t believe I haven’t done that.

    So funny is what you want to be? Well then you’re there. LOL!

    Oh, and I picked up the new Woodiwiss today. Her books were also a staple of my early reading years and I just couldn’t pass it up. *g*

  18. Lissa says:

    I cut my romance teeth on Woodiwiss but haven’t read her new one. I was crushed when she passed away.

    I truly want to be SEP when I grow up. Nobody’s Baby but Mine is my fav.

    The thing I love about SEP is her ability to write the awe factor. I can relate to all of her heroines. She has terrific black moments and the unbelievable *sigh* ability when you close the cover of the book at the end. I never want her books to end. If I could write one book in my life time like her I would die a happy woman.

    The only one of her books I haven’t read is the latest…Natural Born Charmer.

  19. Janga says:

    I’m an SEP fan too. I think Hot Shot was my first Phillips book: dream a Little Dream and First Lady are my favorites. She has long been an autobuy for me, and she is one of a very few for whom I am willing to pay hard cover price.

    She, Nora Roberts, and Jenny Crusie are my textbook authors, the ones that I return to again and again to study their charactization, dialogue, pacing, etc. What SEP does with Sugar Beth in Ain’t She Sweet is one of the marvels of romance writing IMO.

  20. I discovered SEP in the library by accident several years ago, and have read whatever I could get my hands on. Just finished the beaver-suit one, which was lovely. I enjoy how she gets all these fragmented people togther to make a family.

    While I am really a historical harlot (Loretta Chase, Jo Beverley, Heyer, Christine Merrill, Carla Kelly, way too many etc.), I do like to read contemps too. And Terri, you are so cute!

  21. Diana says:


    I have some SEP books if you want me to send them to you.

    I’d love to figure out how she gets males so on target. Sometimes, when you read romances, the males are clearly written by a woman and their motives are indistinct. But I feel that SEP just nails male characters.

  22. Quantumphase says:


    I read ‘Dream a little Dream’ and loved it. I have a number of others on the TBR pile…all the books available in e-book format in fact.

    You guys should also have a look at the Jan book club title if you haven’t already. Everyone who’s read it is raving about Joanne Bourne’s ‘The spymaster’s lady’ and with good reason!

    I don’t know an author that I would really like to emulate.You lady authors do such a superb job with romance novels of course, but for me that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ is still missing….still looking for the magic at the end of the rainbow I guess.

    Nice pic Terri..can almost see a pout from here…or is it an enigmatic smile forming. Sorry, I’ve been reading about glamorous spies!

  23. terrio says:

    Janga – Sugar Beth was a very hard character for me to like but by the end, you can’t help but want her to get her HEA. Amazing characterization there.

    Maggie – Thank you. And I’ve probably read more historicals over the last two decades than anything else but I just don’t have the chops or the voice to write them. You, on the other hand, can write ANYTHING! LOL!

    Q – I picked up that Joanna Bourne book just this afternoon. Even paid full price at B&N which I never do. But I couldn’t find it at Wal-Mart and I had to know what everyone is raving about.

  24. Santa says:

    I love your new digs.

    I was first introduced to SEP by Eloisa James. As a new writer, I was trying to find my voice. She suggested I read SEP to get a feel for how she writes and uses dialog, etc..

    So, I picked up ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ and read it cover to cover in no time flat. I immediately fired off an email to Eloisa thanking her and wondering if I’ll ever be able to write like that!

    I have to tell you the book was beyond fantastic and so have all the others I’ve read both new and backlist. The woman is a marvel!

  25. terrio says:

    Santa! Thanks so much for visiting. I cleaned up just for you. *g*

    Ain’t She Sweet was amazing. I learned about SEP on Eloisa’s board and I’m so happy I did. But you’re right about wondering if we could ever write that well. I mean, she’s quite intimidating.

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