Are You A Winter Person by guest Susan O’Brien

Welcome Susan O’Brien! I met Susan when we moved back to Northern Virginia. She writes the Nicki Valentine mystery series where single mom Nicki becomes a private investigator. Here’s a little about Sky Dive:

skydive-book-3-cover-art-susan-obrien-hi-resLife is finally settling down for private investigator Nicki Valentine, her kids, and her boyfriend Dean. But when a jailed mom seeks help for her endangered biological daughter, who just “aged out” of foster care, Nicki can’t say no. With Dean by her side and her free-wheeling BFF eager to investigate too, Nicki braves back alleys, drug dens, and the strip-club scene, all while wondering if any risk is too great when it comes to finding a teen in trouble. As if navigating the mean streets of King County, Virginia, isn’t enough, Nicki also faces the realities of dating as a single mom, including “sleepover” requests she never anticipated. Ultimately—in both relationships and work—Nicki must decide, “How much am I willing to risk for love?”

Susan: I’ve never been a “winter person,” so by early December, I’m already thinking spring. This carries into my writing and even onto my book covers. I set each Nicki Valentine mystery in a different season, and it’s no surprise that she hasn’t battled snow or ice yet. I was thrilled to see spring flowers on the cover of Skydive, which released in November. And the fall leaves on Sky High are my favorite part of its design. Finding Sky’s cover features a clothesline on a breezy summer day.

I wonder how many authors and readers consider seasons when writing or choosing books. As a reader, I’m especially drawn to covers and plots featuring beaches. I can almost feel the sun’s heat and the soft sand between my toes. I’ll read books with winter themes, too, but usually under a cozy blanket with hot chocolate or coffee in hand.

Seasons provide countless opportunities to define characters as well. Does the protagonist break out the skis when it’s snowing, or does she huddle inside? Does she sow seeds in the spring or admire gardens from afar? Does she go bikini shopping in the summer or avoid swimming altogether? Does she enjoy falling leaves or find them depressing? Or does she fit somewhere in the middle? (My protagonist hits the beach skydive-pic15during one investigation—with her crush, no less—and confidence is an issue for her.)

As much as I dread winter, I admit that cold days are nice for reading and writing…assuming there’s a warm mug and a crackling fire nearby. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a fireplace, so I use a space heater that looks like one.) If it’s snowing, I even have an excuse to skip errands and write for hours, only taking breaks for household responsibilities.

So tell me, what is your favorite season for writing, reading, or simply enjoying life? And do the seasons on book covers affect a story’s appeal? And are any of you reading this from a warm climate? Lucky you!

author-susan-obrien-hi-resSusan O’Brien is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Nicki Valentine mystery series. She lives with her family in Northern Virginia and donates part of her earnings to missing children’s causes. Visit Susan online at


26 Thoughts

  1. I write all year but, winter is an excellent time to write! I read somewhere that’s the reason there are so many successful authors in New England. Reading is for all seasons! Thanks for joining us today!

    1. Thanks so much for having me as a guest! I believe that about New England. Cozy winters and beautiful, inspiring summers!

  2. Welcome, Susan! I love the summer with all its lovely heat and local produce. But you can’t beat a snowy winter or howling rainy fall day for hunkering down to write. So true about letting seasons further inform us about the nature of our characters. That’s a great tip. All the best with Sky Dive.

  3. My favorite season is Spring because I love all of the flowering trees and beautiful blooms. I also like it because I hear the birds singing. I love reading in winter because it’s cozier. But it’s also nice on a Fall or Spring day. Summer is my least favorite season because my body doesn’t do well in extreme heat and humidity.

    Very cute book cover.

  4. I’m naturally not a winter person but this year I’ve grown to appreciate the slower rhythms of nature and am trying to follow suit. On the other hand, I only buy clothes twice a year and save my warm-weather purchases for winter so I’m reminded that the snow shall pass. Just got my new duds and have to say they lent the overcast day some much needed light!

    1. What a nice way to think about winter (and clothes shopping!), Sonia. I agree with you. I bought two extra-long, extra-warm sweaters this year, and they really made a difference in facing winter!

  5. My favorite season is fall. I live in a warm climate (Texas), so in the fall, temps have cooled down to the 70s and 80s–and most days are sunny. I love to read all the time, but especially in the summer when the temps are high–thank goodness for books and air conditioning!

  6. Thanks for visiting the Wickeds, Susan! I read and write all the year round with little variation. Deadlines require the writing, and lifelong love requires the reading. That being said, there is something very nice about the lack of guilt about reading during bad winter weather!

    1. Hi, Jessie! I always love visiting the Wickeds! Isn’t it strange how reading feels like a guilty pleasure sometimes? I reduced social media apps on my phone recently and replaced them with several digital library books. Now reading feels different/better during down times!

  7. I’m not really a winter person (she says, wrapped in a wool blanket, clutching a mug of hot tea, and contemplating building a fire). More late spring, early fall. Cool enough in the mornings for a light jacket, but warm enough that my toes don’t turn blue.

    I’ve set stories in lots of seasons. But seasons on a book cover don’t really affect my decision to read or pick it up. They can make for nice cover art elements.

    1. So funny, Liz. I’ve got the space heater going and a cup of coffee! 🙂 Late spring and early fall are wonderful. It’s great that seasons on book covers don’t affect you. I wish I didn’t get uncomfortable looking at winter scenes! I bet that will change when I move to a warmer climate.

  8. In December, I’m a winter person. I love the cozy feel and how it enhances Christmas. But once Christmas is over, I’m ready for spring. I love summer because I need heat. It’s a wonderful season.

    I will pick up books set in any season, although I am drawn to beach or warmer themes. Once I like a series, I will read all the books an author puts out regardless of season.

    I hadn’t thought about how season can enhance a character, but you are right. I’ll have to watch for that now.

    1. You have such a positive attitude about the seasons, Mark. That’s wonderful! And I’m with you about enjoying a series. I’ll brave winter scenes for my favorite authors, too!

  9. Welcome to the Wickeds, Susan!

    I don’t mind winter, but my husband hates it, which explains why we’re spending three months in Key West. The thing that bugs me the most about winter is the short days and early darkness. One of the things I treasure most about Key West is that it’s at the western edge of its timezone which gives us a full hour more daylight in the evening than we have in Boston.

    I’ll read about any season in any season, but I do especially like it when the book I’m reading lines up with the time and place where I am.

    1. Thanks, Barbara! Three months in Key West sounds magical! I completely agree about the early darkness. I’m going to mention the timezone issue to my husband. We are constantly discussing a future move to FL. And that’s a neat point about a book’s season matching up with real time. I enjoy that, too.

  10. I am a summer gal. And it’s a good thing because it is 75 degrees here in south Zlouisiana today.

  11. I’m happiest when it is at least 80 degrees, but anytime that isn’t winter is fine with me. I live in a temperate zone with all seasons represented without too many extremes. I like reading stories based in the winter if I can get warm and cozy. I get so involved in books that I start to believe the weather outside matches the book regardless of reality.

    1. Wherever you live sounds great! I know what you mean about books vs reality. Good books make me feel like I’m actually in their settings, weather and all!

    1. Summer is distracting for me too, especially as a mom. Schedule-wise, it’s the the toughest time for me to write. And yes, it’s amazing how books can transport us into different places, times, and seasons!

  12. Hi Susan, I wish I were a winter person but fall is my favorite – it’s comfortable and so beautiful for doing everything. As years go by, I really see why some people become snowbirds and spend half their time in a warm climate.

    1. Hi Shari! There is nothing like crisp, fall air. One of my relatives spent half her time in Maine and the other half in Florida. I realize more and more how wonderful that must have been!

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