Author's Move to Ashby Ponds Inspires New Novel

Suzi Weinert on the real-life experiences she wove into "Woman at the Garage Sale"

By Kelly Shue
September 9, 2021
author Suzi Weinert sitting at a desk with her novels

Finding acclaim from both readers and Hollywood audiences, Suzi Weinert recently published Woman at the Garage Sale, her fourth book in the popular Garage Sale series.

“The new book continues the ongoing series story, so I already had the main characters, one of whom is [main character] Jennifer’s 87-year-old mother,” she says.

Before her December 2015 move to Ashby Ponds with her husband Don, Suzi found acclaim as the author of Garage Sale Stalker, a book she wrote at age 75. While working on the second book, Garage Sale Diamonds, Suzi’s writing caught the attention of a Hollywood production company interested in making a series of TV movies for the Hallmark Channel, based on the Garage Sale Stalker. The result was 15 two-hour, made-for-TV movies.

“The movies are all based on my work, but the screenplays are their own stories,” she says.

As the result of last year’s COVID-related physical distancing measures, Suzi found the time necessary to complete her fourth book.

“The pandemic tasked folks to invent constructive uses for their time during isolation, but presented a gift to authors,” she says. “We normally steal time from each day’s otherwise busy activities to write, but the pandemic handed us lots of the very time we covet.”

Community writing

Woman at the Garage Sale is the second book in the Garage Sale series Suzi completed from her Ashby Ponds apartment home.

“In my third book, Garage Sale Riddle, Jennifer helps her mother downsize from the home where she’d lived 30 years,” she says. “I began writing the story at the very same time my husband and I were downsizing and moving to Ashby Ponds. This provided me with first-hand experience. Similarly, Jennifer’s search in Woman at the Garage Sale to find the ‘right’ senior residence for her mother, mirrors our own experiences leading up to choosing Ashby Ponds. I even interviewed Sales Director Holly Henderson for accurate research for this new book.”

When it comes to her writing, Suzi admits that she typically begins with a few ideas and a rough idea of the start, finish, and a few specific scenes in the middle.

“But when I start writing, I let the story develop on its own,” she says. “It’s as if the characters are standing behind my chair telling me what they would do in each situation. Writers refer to those who prepare detailed advance outlines, prior to their writing, ‘planners.’ Whereas authors who let the story evolve as they write are called ‘pantsers’, as in, writing by the seat of your pants, improvising as you go. In my writing, I tend to combine these two approaches. Does that make me a ‘plantster?’”

Sharing her stories

With the New Year stretching out before her, Suzi is keeping a busy schedule promoting Woman at the Garage Sale.

“Launching a book to the public always presents a Herculean effort under any circumstances, but is crucial because people can’t choose a book they don’t know exists,” she says. “Launching during a pandemic, when crowds cannot gather for book presentations at libraries or book stores, is even more difficult.”

Fortunately, Suzi enjoys a loyal following among her neighbors. Announcements of the book are posted on community bulletin boards, and as a member of one of the many Ashby Ponds book-reading clubs, Woman at the Garage Sale is the group’s February selection.

Outside of Ashby Ponds, plans are underway for an upcoming author’s table at the nearby Barnes and Noble at One Loudoun. Suzi will also be traveling to Naples, Fl., several times in the next two months for a series of four book talks.

When not writing, or promoting her work, Suzi enjoys working with and encouraging other writers at Ashby Ponds.

“I hope my later-in-life writing experience empowers other seniors to discover and strum their writing skills,” she says. “Everyone has a story to tell and each person is the single best qualified person on the planet to write their own memoir. My advice is to let the ideas flow onto the paper as quickly as they can. You can always clean up the writing later with rewrites and edits. But it is so important to move the words from your head/memory to written form. The first page is always the hardest because it’s new to you. But after that, it’s a snap.”

As for a fifth book in the Garage Sale series, Suzi says, “If an exciting new idea pops into my mind, I’m ready to race to my computer and begin.”

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