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Populated by Susan Helene Gottfried is a Snuggle Up Event pick #womensfiction #newrelease #giveaway

Title: Populated


Author: Susan Helene Gottfried


Genre: Women’s Fiction (but with a slow burn romance as a secondary subplot)


Book Blurb:


Delia Ford is Port Kenneth’s newest social media darling, a young woman with a camera and a habit of showcasing what she views as the best of the city’s people in a social media series she calls Populated Portraits.

But Delia Ford is very much alone.

When an art thief breaks into the Woolslayer Art Gallery and steals all of her art—and only her art—and then inexplicably leaves some of it in public places, often with taunting notes attached, Delia fights back the only way she knows how: By engaging her thief in a game of cat and mouse that elevates the entire Port Kenneth art scene, including elementary school artists and knitting bombers.

People flock to Delia’s cause: her parents and brother, her neighbor, city influencer Tess Cartieri, the cop working the case, and one Meter Shaikovsky, her casual man who offers more benefits than friendship—or so it seems. 

By the time the art thief is revealed, Delia has become a force for change in Port Kenneth, and her world has become strangely populated.




There was only one other person who had the key to Delia’s place: her younger brother, Leon. That was because Leon was the only person she could trust with it; if she’d given it to her parents, her dad would have come by to paint and change lightbulbs, and her mother would clean the kitchen and do her laundry.


And other than her parents and her brother, Delia didn’t have anyone left in her circle. Not anymore.


So when someone jerked her out of an alcohol-induced sleep—not a drunk sleep, but the after-effects of hitting the sweet spot of just enough—she didn’t freak out the way she might have if she’d still been seeing Chad. She was safe. She could trust Leon.


And he did have a reason for being there.


“Stevie needs you down at the gallery, like an hour ago.”


“Why?” Delia rolled over and put an arm on her forehead. She had no responsibility at the Woolslayer gallery. She made sure new things were delivered as promised and picked up the checks for the old. That was it. Nice and simple.


“You just need to get down there,” Leon said and twisted around, looking for, probably, clothes he could throw at Delia.


Too bad for him she’d learned to actually put her clothes away. Even what she’d worn to Journey’s End the night before had been summarily deposited in the dirty laundry basket. Or, more likely, the floor in front of her very small laundry machines. Small was better than not in the condo, though. She’d take small.


“Is it really a national emergency?”


“Apparently,” Leon said.


When he started opening the drawers in her dresser, she stopped fighting him. After all, he’d come across town, used his key to get in, and wasn’t backing off. Whatever this was, it was real.


“Can I shower?”






“I’ll fix you something. Just put some clothes on and let’s go.”


He had a package of Pop-Tarts ready for her when she came out of her room dressed in ripped black jeans and a dark purple t-shirt. She was trying to both walk and tie her Docs at the same moment, and that wasn’t going so well, so she jammed the laces inside, grabbed the Pop-Tarts, her wallet, camera bag, and then her own set of keys, and followed him downstairs to his car. Like usual, he was in the loading zone out front.


The gallery was hopping, Delia noticed as Leon drove past and turned the corner so he could park. Whatever this was, she thought, maybe it wasn’t so bad, even if the gallery was really only open on Sundays during the December shopping season.


As they walked over, Delia decided hopping wasn’t the right word and that yes, it was as bad as Leon had hinted at. Stevie was in the center of the thick group of people who’d gathered, and she was talking to a cop.


And Tess Cartieri.


“Whoa,” Delia said, stopping in her tracks. Leon bumped into her, fumbling as he swung around her body, grabbing her upper arm and starting to tug her forward.


“I told you.”


“Yeah, but Tess?”


“Nothing happens in Woolslayer without her knowing,” Leon said, like it was no big deal.


Rumor had it that Tess had her fingers in the finances of the gallery, like she did with almost every other woman-owned business in the neighborhood. And there were a lot of women-owned businesses these days—thanks to Tess.


“Delia, there you are,” Tess said as Leon pulled her through the people who’d gathered to sightsee, most with their phones held up, possibly to get pictures of Tess, although that didn’t make perfect sense. From what Delia knew, Tess didn’t keep a low profile in the neighborhood. She looked Delia over, then turned back to the cop and made introductions.


Delia paused. She’d never met Tess, but clearly the other woman knew who she was. Or maybe it was that Leon had escorted her through the onlookers and Tess wasn’t stupid. Leon had said they were waiting for her.


Even though she knew it was stupid, she was glad Tess didn’t react to her clothes. Then again, she was wearing an electric blue oversized hoodie, dark yoga pants, and a pair of sneakers that were probably more expensive than Delia’s last grocery run—although, to be fair, Delia still shopped at the discount grocery. Tess’ dark hair was down, as always, spilling over the hood and, in spots, into it. It had the perfect look of carelessly messy and Delia would have thought it was arranged except that as Tess turned her head, her hair moved in and out and around the hood.


Delia itched to pull out her camera, but this didn’t seem to be the right time for that. She didn’t even want Tess’ face in the shot. Just that hair.


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):





November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?


What am I thankful for this year? Wow, this is actually simultaneously hard and easy, as my family lost one of our own in early October. I am thankful my mom died quickly, without suffering. I am thankful for my dad, who’s a total rock star. And I am thankful for my friends and family who have held me up, often without knowing it.


I will be very thankful when we sit down at the table this year and the turkey is edible. Not that my son’s a bad cook. Just that, you know. Things happen. And cooking an organic turkey can be different from cooking a Butterball.


Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?


Oh, I adore Delia Ford. She’s a photographer with a painful past and a tenuous present, but this woman who doesn’t need the services of a window salesman winds up triumphing in the end.


And isn’t that the goal of women’s fiction? To watch the main character change and grow and populate her world with the right people at last?


Keep your eye out for Meter Shaikovsky, though. Early readers told me he’s their new book boyfriend. I can’t disagree!


Giveaway –


One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card



Open internationally.


Runs November 1 – 30


Drawing will be held on December 1.


Author Biography:


Susan Helene Gottfried is the heavy-metal-loving, not-disabled enough divorced Jewish mother of two. A freelance line editor to authors of fiction by day, her select roster of clients tend to hit bestseller lists, and more than a few have quit their day jobs. It’s not entirely her doing, but like does attract like.

Tales from the Sheep Farm is her offer to her fellow diverse authors to create a world in which all are welcome. Come dream and build it with her.


Susan holds a BA (University of Pittsburgh) and MFA (Bowling Green State University) in English Writing and Fiction, respectively.

She lives with a couple cats in the Pittsburgh suburbs, just West of Mars. Visit her at and


Social Media Links:


West of Mars website: 

Tales from the Sheep Farm website:

West of Mars Groupies on Facebook:

West of Mars fan page:


Nov 25, 2023

I’m thankful for my family, my cats, & authors!


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Nov 21, 2023

Thank you, Susan, for sharing your new release in our Snuggle Up With These Books Readathon!

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