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Susie Bazil:Notable Minnesota Mom--The Sick Bug


by Julie Burton

Susie Bazil, wife, mother of three (Sam 8, Jamie 6, Tess 4), part-time attorney, and now author is a talented, strong, and determined woman whose energy is literally contagious and inspiring. When talking about her book, she is....giddy, in sort of a "LOOK, LOOK, I REALLY DID IT!" kind of a way. And she deserves to be proud. She took an idea, turned it into a story, found someone who could make her words come to life through pictures, and turned it into a book. And "The Sick Bug" is a GREAT book. My four-year-old has yet to get sick of it and continues to request it even after reading it at least 1,000 times (okay maybe several dozen, but she pretty much has it memorized).

For Susie, the book took form one night when she was up with her 3-year-old who had the stomach flu. Their conversation went something like this: Susie said, "Oh babe, you've got a bug." Her daughter threw her covers off and screamed, " A BUG!! Where's the BUG???" and Susie replied, "No, you have a sick bug inside of you that makes you feel icky." "That night the dialogue for the book literally spilled out of me," Susie recalls. "The next morning I got up and wrote it all down. My husband was out of town and when he came back I said, 'guess what I did this weekend? I wrote a children's book.' He read it and thought it was great." And Susie's book took off from there, but stayed true to her original vision. "The final book is 85% the same as what I wrote that first day," she explains.

Susie submitted her story to about 10 national publishers, knowing that it would take three to six months for them to even look at it. She heard about Beaver's Pond Press, a local publishing company that gives authors the resources they need to get through the gatekeepers of the publishing world, and decided to give them a try. She submitted her book to Beaver's Pond on a Thursday heard back the next Tuesday. She was impressed with the people at Beaver's Pond and the services they provide. Working with Beaver's Pond is a "hybrid between self publishing and having a traditional publisher," according to Susie. She continues, "They are selective about which manuscripts they accept, and they facilitate the publishing process by connecting you with editors, illustrators, design companies, and printers. One of the main benefits is that I continue to own all the rights to the book."

Susie knew that the dialogue in her book could come to life with imagery and imagination if she had the right illustrator. With the help of Beavers Pond, she was thrilled to find Shawn McCann, a local artist and award-winning illustrator whose artwork stood out from the others she considered. And what a great team they make! The illustrations in this book are fabulous, and truly bring the story to life. Furthermore, they are kid-tested and mommy approved -- "During the process I sat down with my 7 1/2-year-old and we read it and looked at the pictures. On one page, he pointed out that the words say that Tess is crying but there is no tear on her cheek. So I told Shawn that we needed to add a tear."

And so the process went...and it all came together. "After reading so many children's books with my own kids," Susie says, "I have found that some stories work and some don't, and I feel like "The Sick Bug" has the right blend of rhythm and content." Well, I would have to agree. As a mother of four who has been reading to my children for 14 years, I had so much fun reading it to my daughter and seeing how much she enjoyed it and learned from it. And this is what Susie had hoped to accomplish. "Not only can everyone relate to this book (who hasn't been down with a cold or flu at some time or another?), it is one that parents and kids will enjoy reading together," Susie says. "The dialogue has a good rhythm, it sparks your imagination, and there is a lesson to take away from the story that kids need to take care of themselves when they don't feel well. It can also be a bonding experience between child and parent, where the parent gets to explain, and not in a scary way, what it means to have a "sick bug." The book is targeted for ages 3-7, but Susie has ideas about bringing future "Sick Bug" stories to a more mature audience.

Because of the way in which this (her first) book "flowed" out of Susie, she claims that finding the right material for a children's story was not too difficult, HOWEVER, timing is everything. Before becoming a mother, Susie spent many years practicing law. She also worked for United Health Group until her second child was born and her first was a year and a half. She took some time off but shortly thereafter she got pregnant with her third child and decided to work on a part time basis doing wills and trusts (in addition to changing diapers and washing bottles). But the idea of writing was rumbling in the back of her mind. "I have always thought about writing but it was hard to find the time," Susie recalls. "But once my oldest was in school and I was coming out of the "haze," I could actually focus. And because Susie came upon the "right" idea for a story, "It sort of just wrote itself," she says. Susie found time to work on the book (and continues to work on marketing the book) when kids are at school and a lot of nights after they go to sleep. She can also be spotted writing in her car while waiting at the bus stop.

Susie's advice for other moms who have always wanted to write a children's book or go after a dream: "It takes courage and maybe even a little bit of "craziness." It has to be the right time in your life to devote the energy, but there is never that "perfect time," so it also takes a leap of faith. "I definitely went outside of my comfort zone to bring the book to fruition, but I am so happy that I did!" According to Susie, a big part of how she defines success is "creating something you can be proud of." Susie is not the only one who is proud of her accomplishment. Her husband has been extremely supportive from the get go, and her children are some of her biggest fans, even though the book has taken up a lot of her "spare" time. "I overheard my son telling his friends, 'Did you guys know that my mom's an author?' They take the book into their classrooms, and they think it is so cool that their names are in it. Seeing the pride in their faces is the best validation any mom can ask for!"

In addition to the attention and approval that Susie has drawn from her children's classmates, Susie has received quite a bit of attention from the media. She has been featured on Fox 9 Morning News and KARE 11 News Saturday. She has been to Boston with "The Sick Bug" where she read at the Target Stores' Children's Book Festival, and she has participated in book events in San Francisco and Chicago. She has also done numerous readings and signings at bookstores and shops around town, and she has read to kindergarteners and first graders at many local schools - a "job" she especially enjoys! You can visit her website at thesickbug.com for a list of upcoming events in the area.

What's next for Susie? "I would love to do this full time and have people find enjoyment from something I created," she says. Well, my four-year-old will certainly be happy.
The Sick Bug is available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, The Red Balloon, Wild Rumpus, The Bookcase of Wayzata, Toy World, Machel, The General Store of Minnetonka, and Ooh La La in Excelsior just to name a few spots. and it is also available on her website and at Amazon.com . Make sure to check out the forward written by another one of Momtalk's Notable Minnesota Moms, author JoAnne Pastel. "I had heard of JoAnne and then picked up a copy of Momtalk at Kidshair, read the story about her and that inspired me to call her," Susie says. Notable Minnesota Moms unite!

Susie, an Edina native, lives in Orono with her husband and three children.

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, Feature Stories, MomShare,

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