How Susan Became a Writer

Life can lead you to your dreams.

by Susan Conner

Transcript of Layer Cake Podcast Episode #2

Welcome to Layer Cake!

I'm your host, Dr. Angela Brumett, and this is your English fluency podcast. Layer Cake is sponsored by Parlay Vacay English Immersion Weekends. Build your English fluency online and in person at beautiful and relaxing destinations.

Layer Up your English!

You can listen to Layer Cake on your favorite podcast app, or go to Parlay where you'll also find podcast notes, more about our guests, and learn all the new vocabulary and phrases in the content of our show.

And with that out of the way, let's get started!

For this episode Layer Cake is honored to feature the work of American author Susan Conner. Find out more about Susan on

Layer Cake presents "How Susan Became a Writer" by Susan Conner.

"New careers can start at any age, especially when you do it for the fun of it." - Louise Hay

Susan discovered a love for writing in fourth grade when her teacher left out a basket of extra credit books made of construction paper. They had titles and nothing else except for a few sheets of lined paper stapled inside.

The story Susan wrote, "A Real Mystery," featured ghosts, a sleepover, and, of course, twins with ESP. It's now lost to history, but it started a life-long love for stories and art that are a bit on the supernatural side.

In college, Susan studied Russian literature because it was deep, dark, and philosophical. All the things her own writing was not. But she loved the nuanced characters and symbolism of the 19th century classics. The absurdists of the early 20th century also influenced her writing style.

Although Susan continued writing creatively on the sly throughout many career jumps through academia, philanthropy, high tech, and the automotive industry, she did not apply herself to seriously learning the craft until she turned 50.

She was accepted into Arizona State University's "Your Novel Year" program, where she learned to craft novels for Young Adults. Now, she's writing like there's no tomorrow: flash fiction, short stories, novels (both YA and adult), memoir, and graphic pieces combining her own line drawings with narrative.

Susan recently moved to her family's abandoned cattle ranch in a remote part of Montana, where she's learning to cope with snow and isolation, taking in too many strays, and revising several of her novel drafts in the hope of future publication.

Did you hear any new words or phrases? Check out the transcript and the fluency builder lesson online at parlay

Susan Conner

Author Susan Connor is currently living with an array of animals on a cattle ranch in Montana.

Susan is an Arizona native who

has no idea how to keep her toes warm in Montana's sub-zero temps.

Susan's favorite time to write is in the early morning when her brain is fresh and while her cats and dogs are sleeping. Learn more about Susan Connor on her blog at

Layer Up your English!

These items may be useful before and/or after listening to the recorded episode.

Key concepts are followed by the Vocabulary and Phrases then Questions for understanding and Discussion Topics.

Items are presented in the order they appear and are defined only as used in the featured piece (other uses may exist).

Key Concepts

for the fun of it: just for enjoyment

YA: the Young Adult literary genre for teenagers

flash fiction: a very short story that is not true

memoir: any writing based on the author's personal memories that is presented as factual

graphic pieces: works of illustrated writing

narrative: a spoken or written account of connected events such as a story.

cattle ranch: farm consisting of a large tract of land along with facilities needed to raise cows

Vocabulary & Phrases

to leave out: to reserve or save something for someone or for a later use

extra credit: optional additional evaluative points which can be earned outside of course standards

construction paper: thick colored paper used for making models and other crafts

lined paper: "ruled" paper or paper with lines which serve as a guide for handwriting

sleepover: an hosted occasion of spending the night away from home as a guest, especially as a party for children

ESP: extrasensory perception or communication outside of normal sensory

lost to history: having no record of its survival in the present time

life-long: lasting or unchanging

a bit: a small piece or quantity of something

on the supernatural side: with special attention paid to the unexplainable or spiritual phenomena

deep, dark, and philosophical: complex and shameful or extremely private

nuanced: characterized by subtle shades of meaning or expression

classics: works of art of recognized and established value

absurdists: creators of art and literature which features satire and dark humor

on the sly: in a secretive fashion

career jumps: dramatic changes in jobs and, usually, fields or industries

to apply oneself: to make oneself work hard to complete successfully

young adults: people in their teens or early twenties

like there's no tomorrow: like it's the last chance

graphic pieces: works of illustrated writing

narrative: a spoken or written account of connected events such as a story.

abandoned: deserted, cast off, or left behind

remote: distant and usually isolated

Montana: large state in the Northwestern United States sharing the border of Canada.

to cope with: to deal with, handle, or manage something difficult

to take in: to provide shelter for

stray: a domesticated animal who has no home

array: a variety; several of different kinds

sub-zero temps: temperatures below 0 degrees

Questions for Understanding

1. When Susan was in the fourth grade, what did her teacher do?

2. Why did Susan study Russian literature?

3. What changed for Susan at age 50?

4. What is Susan's life like now?

Discussion Topics

1. What do you want to do that you haven't already done?

3. Who and what have been your influences and inspirations?

3. Should your age be an important factor when you make decisions?

Parlay Vacay sincerely hopes that you enjoy Layer Cake. Please like, share everywhere, and subscribe in your favorite podcast app. We'll see you at the next Parlay Vacay immersion weekend or next week, whichever comes first!

Thank you.

Got a weekend? Relax. Layer Up your English!

Parlay Vacay offers you

  • In-person structured immersion experiences for small groups at great destinations. Vacation with tutors!

  • Online live tutoring & coaching

For more information, please CONTACT us or email us at