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N. N. Light's Book Heaven presents Susan Helene Gottfried #authorspotlight #womensfiction #fiction #mustread

So this is my standard bio: 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.


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


But c’mon. That doesn’t tell you all that much. It doesn’t tell you I began publishing in 2009, with a series about a Bad Boy Bass Player named Trevor Wolff, based in part in the years I’d spent working in the music industry. I called the series The Trevolution and I had great fun with it. I’m still working on bringing out the final book, a compilation of the four Demo Tapes compilations of short work, plus bonus material.


Then I took a decade away from publishing (mostly) to get divorced and launch my editorial business, and fast forward a bunch of years and… I came up with this crazy idea for a series. I call it Tales from the Sheep Farm, and it’s my attempt to create a Sesame Street for us adults. Diverse characters. Great stories. And not anchored to any genre, to appeal to the widest variety of readers. These are the books featured in this spotlight.


My goal is to one day (hopefully 2026) bring in other authors to help me tell those stories.




Because people are treasures too.


I believe that. I firmly believe that. I firmly believe that our world is enriched by all the skin colors, all the ethnic backgrounds, all the things that Mr. Rogers used to teach us about.


It’s probably no coincidence that I live in Pittsburgh, where Mr. Rogers lived and filmed his pioneering TV show.


So I invite you to join me in this crazy project of mine. Right now, the Tales from the Sheep Farm series is three books long, and I’ve got plans to release two more in 2024. You can also pick up my recent short story collections, Broken but Undaunted (all previously published works) and Permission to Enter. I love them both, but P2E is pretty special. It’s my ode to strong women. They are us.


Otherwise, I’m pretty normal. I watch Netflix. I love to cook and especially bake, and I’ll yeet into the sun any recipes that call for boxed mixes. I make my own Old Bay and Garam Masala. I can’t keep up with my son’s culinary adventures, and I’ve quit trying even though I have the nicer kitchen. He’s a grad student, living in a grad student apartment. My left leg is longer than his counters, combined, and I am not a tall woman.


I love to laugh. I love to be outside. And I’m always always always (nah, not me padding out the word count here) thinking of more story ideas, more characters, more fun to put on a page of fiction.


That’s kinda me in a nutshell.


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Title  Maybe the Bird Will Rise

Author  Susan Helene Gottfried

Genre Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Fiction

Publisher West of Mars, LLC


Book Blurb


Tess Cartieri has called Port Kenneth, TN home for her entire life. An architect specializing in urban renewal, she’s long dreamed of renovating an old sports field at her alma mater, Kenilworth University. But without the funding, the field sits, forgotten—until the day she’s hired to take on this project at last.


The money is coming from, of all people, the man Tess set free after college, Emerson Mackenzie. He had shared this dream with Tess but had turned his back on her and Port Kenneth when the family business needed him.


But now Mack is back in Tess’ life, still reeling from the recent loss of his wife and hoping this project will help him heal. There’s something about Port Kenneth, though, something more than how normal and natural it feels to be with Tess again, that calls to him and he begins investigating what it would take to move his company to the city.


Old family secrets come out of hiding and as Mack and Tess face them together and discover the legacy of the Mackenzie Treasure, they cement their commitment to each other and begin to understand how the past will affect their futures.


Maybe the Bird Will Rise is a story of the search for answers, the hope that adventures brings, and a second chance at love.




Tess Cartieri tried not to think about where she was. It was just an old, unloved, rundown stadium, just a set of crumbling concrete stairs that demanded her attention as she picked her way down them. She tried to convince herself she’d never used this route as a shortcut across campus and met anyone special, never come out to the field down below with a blanket and a boyfriend so they could look for the Milky Way, never taken off her shirt and lain back on the metal bleachers that were dented even then, their coolness against her back a startling contrast to the heat of Mack’s body above hers.


“No, no, no,” she chanted in time with her steps. Forty rows.


She knew this place all too well. If a place could know a person, it knew her. Or, rather, it knew who she’d been. It had known a Tess who was full of hope for a future she’d thought would be hers: Architect. Mack’s wife. Urban renewal expert. 


Two out of three. She’d made her choice and, she told herself, she had no regrets.


Time hadn’t just changed her, it had changed the steps too, and she stumbled on a piece of loose concrete. She reached out for the nearest bleacher, trying not to flash back to the day she’d done the same thing, landing equally as awkwardly back then as she did in the present.


That was the day she’d met him.


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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.


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: 


Title  Populated

Author   Susan Helene Gottfried

Genre Women’s fiction/Contemporary Fiction

Publisher West of Mars, LLC


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.


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Title Safe House

Author Susan Helene Gottfried

Genre Women’s fiction/Contemporary Fiction/LGBTQ fiction

Publisher West of Mars, LLC


Book Blurb


A deadly virus is bearing down on the world and Emerson Mackenzie, CEO of PharmaScience Technologies—now back in its ancestral home of Port Kenneth, Tennessee—opens up the historic Mackenzie house on the family’s defunct sheep farm to six people: himself, his wife Tess Cartieri, his house manager, two members of his board of directors, and his executive assistant, Taylor Alexander.


Taylor won’t abandon Emerson, but at the same time, they don’t want to be there. Taylor has secrets, a past and memories they cannot face, and they fear that being locked in a house with five others will be entirely too revealing.


Taylor’s passion is to be outside, hiking, in a world that makes sense to them, and Emerson harnesses that, asking Taylor to map the boundaries of the old sheep farm and maybe help discover secrets buried on the land. Taylor is glad to do so, although the secrets they help Emerson and Tess discover are immediately darker and more disturbing than any had expected.


As the virus rages, as tensions across the country simmer, as relationships within the house change, and as the land gives up its secrets, Taylor realizes time has grown short. Their secrets cannot remain hidden any longer.


When they spill, Taylor is exposed for all in the house to see.


And every person inside the house responds in ways Taylor never expected.




Taylor Alexander, first executive assistant to Emerson Mackenzie, CEO of Pharmaceutical Sciences Technologies, or PharmaSci for short, sat cross-legged in the middle of a queen-sized bed in one of the bedrooms inside the farmhouse belonging to said employer.


The promise among Taylor’s group of friends had been to keep a journal, and Taylor Alexander firmly believed that a promise made was a promise kept—or at least that every attempt would be made to keep it.


It didn’t sound like such a horrible task. They all knew a virus was sweeping the world, they all knew it was most likely the defining event of their lives, and as a group, they had agreed to journal their experiences. The fact that Emerson and his wife, Tess Cartieri, had extended the hospitality of their farmhouse to Taylor and a few others had just made Taylor’s friends all the more eager to see how this particular journal came out.


The problem, of course, was that Taylor was a private person. So private, the idea of keeping a journal gave them hives. After all, if you wrote something down, it could be discovered. Read. Ridiculed.


Journals weren’t safe things.


Taylor took a deep breath and looked around the room yet again. Although Tess had said she hadn’t redecorated, it seemed as if she had. A desk had been put in the room, for one thing—Emerson had made an effort to point it out. “And a desk,” he’d said, giving Taylor a look like maybe he thought his assistant would hug it or something, even though Emerson had never seen Taylor even consider hugging anything or anyone. “For you. So you can do Taylor things. Like map out hikes.” He’d nodded once, as if proud of himself for that pitch, then said, “Assuming you don’t want to do it downstairs, that is.”


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Title Permission to Enter

Author Susan Helene Gottfried

Genre Women’s fiction/Contemporary Fiction/Short stories

Publisher West of Mars, LLC


Book Blurb


Women feature in this collection of short stories and one novella. Women regaining their power, moving forward through life, learning to face and deal with their pasts. These women have lived, loved, and lost. They have optimism for the future and darkness in their pasts. They have been granted permission to enter, they have seized it, or else they stand ready to do so.Really, they're just like us.




I heaved the next load of magazines up onto the lip of Clay’s pickup. He would take it from there, moving them deeper into the bed, where I couldn’t reach without jumping up. In this, I was just the courier pigeon. But this courier pigeon had the harder job, since I had to carry the stacks outside and over to the truck while Clay merely sat there. He got to wait while I ran in and out, in and out until I was covered in sweat, breathing hard, and desperate for a break.


I envied him.


This had been my choice. She’d been my aunt. That made it my mess. Not his.


So while I traipsed in and out of the house, carrying stack after stack, Clay got to sit in his pickup, say hello to the scarily few, curiously uncurious neighbors wandering by, and chill.


In a sense, I was grateful he was giving me some space. This wasn’t an easy task. Not on many levels.


When we’d gotten the call that Aunt Esther had died at last, we hadn’t had any clue that of all the remaining family, it was me she’d left the house and its contents to. And when the lawyer had said, “Contents,” we’d never imagined anything out of the ordinary.


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1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jun 11

Thank you, Susan, for sharing your writing journey and your books!

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