The Secret Sense of Wildflower and a Book Giveaway!



A post by writer Susan Gabriel:

Eleven years ago, around the same time as my first hot flash, I woke up in the middle of the night and heard a voice say: There are two things I’m afraid of. One is dying young. The other is Johnny Monroe.

Does mental illness run in my family? Did this voice come from a dream? Was it a product of a writer’s imagination? Had one of my dead relatives come home with me after a recent visit to the family cemetery?

Who knows. But any fiction writer will tell you that if you can get the “voice” of the main character in your book, it is a gift.

So I followed that voice. I got up at four in the morning (not an easy thing to do, even if you do suffer from perimenopausal insomnia) and began to write the story of Louisa May “Wildflower” McAllister.

Now, over a decade later, my hot flashes are finally winding down and Wildflower’s story is finally out in the world. So even though I am technically past my childbearing years, I can continue to birth book “children” and release them into the world.

The Secret Sense of Wildflower is southern historical fiction. It is about a girl coming-of-age who faces danger, death and new life in 1940s Appalachia whose life has been shaped around the recent death of her beloved father in a sawmill accident.

While her mother hardens in her grief, Wildflower and her three sisters must cope with their loss themselves, as well as with the demands of daily survival.

When Johnny Monroe, the town’s teenage ne’er-do-well, sets his sights on Wildflower, she must draw on the strength of her relations, both living and dead, to deal with his threat.

Ultimately, it is a story about courage, about honoring your “secret sense” and about resilience.

As a psychotherapist for many years before I turned writer, I know from experience that we can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control what we do with it. I hope Wildflower inspires readers to be the kind of person we all want to be.

Thankfully, Wildflower’s story has been well-received by readers, as well as Kirkus Reviews, who gave it a starred review, awarded to books “of exceptional merit.”

“…astute observations and wonderfully turned phrases, with nary a cliché to be found. She could be an adolescent Scout Finch…A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read.”— Kirkus Reviews (starred review).


They also named it one of the Kirkus Best Books of 2012.

So can good things come out of these roller-coaster years of perimenopause? Yes.

Our creativity can blossom.

Books can be born, as well as paintings, music, community projects and new relationships.

Like Wildflower, we can claim our own courage and resilience.  


You can buy Susan’s book through these sites:

Author’s site (autographed)


Barnes & Noble


GIVEAWAY!  I’m giving away one copy of The Secret Sense of Wildflower. To enter the contest, please post a comment by March 1 saying you’d like to win. The winner will be chosen at random.

More about Susan Gabriel:  Over a decade ago, Susan gave up her successful psychotherapy practice in Charleston, South Carolina to simplify her life and pursue writing. She writes with passion, humor and insight about Southerners, as well as a wide variety of other ordinary, odd and interesting characters, young and old. She lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Susan Gabriel

23 responses »

  1. This sounds like a wonderful book! Would love to win a copy. I love the title and loved hearing how the book came about in your mind. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Hi everyone,
    I just want to thank Barbara for inviting me to do this post. If you haven’t figured it out already, she is a wonderful advocate for writers and a terrific writer herself!

    Wildflower would be thrilled with this much interest in her story. On her behalf, and because I LOVE READERS the ebooks–kindle, nook, ibooks–are on sale this month for $4.99 (a savings of nearly 50%).

    With every good wish,
    Susan Gabriel

      • Hi Barbara,
        I was involved in the cover selection and even though I had several to choose from I was drawn to this one right away.

        I have no idea who this young woman is in real life, but to me she is Wildflower. In the book, this character is always trying to figure out God and why certain things happen in life. So the girl on the cover captures that introspection, that curiosity about life.

        And although a serious 13-year-old, Wildflower is also funny in how she turns a phrase and how she thinks about things. I am currently recording the audio version of the book and I have just fallen in love with this character all over again.

      • Barbara, doing the audio is much harder than I imagined it would be. It’s like breathing new life into the book again. But I am enjoying the process, too.

      • We have a little studio set up here in my office. The hardest part is having to stop and start whenever the dogs bark or when a cat jumps up to rub his whiskers on the microphone. But hey, at least this way it’s a family affair. 🙂

  3. Wow, sounds like great story. Being Australian, it is wonderful to read about different times and countries. Please enter me to win!

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