Ledbetter, Suzann 1953–

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Ledbetter, Suzann 1953–


Born April 15, 1953, in Joplin, MO; daughter of Howard A. and M. Sue Rodgers; married; children: four. Education: Attended high school in Joplin, MO.


Office—P.O. Box 1032, Nixa, MO 65714. Agent—Robin Rue, Anita Diamant Agency, 310 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10017. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, educator, and public speaker. Quassare Femina, Inc., president. Southwest Missouri State University, instructor in continuing education department; guest on television programs, including The Today Show and The Bertrice Berry Show; convention and workshop speaker, through Program Corp. of America.


American Society of Journalists and Authors, Western Writers of America, Ozarks Writers League (member of board of directors), Ozark Creative Writers (member of board of directors), Missouri Writers Guild.


Awards for best humorous article, Missouri Writers Guild, 1989, 1990, and 1991; Golden Spur Award, nonfiction, Western Writers of America, 1994, for Nellie Cashman.



On the Edge of Forever, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1992.

Trinity Strike, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.

Deliverance Drive, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.

Redemption Trail, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.

Klondike Fever, Signet (New York, NY), 1997.

Pure Justice, Signet (New York, NY), 1997.

Colorado Reverie, Signet (New York, NY), 1997.

In Hot Pursuit, Mira (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Ahead of the Game, Mira (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Once a Thief, Mira (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2006.


East of Peculiar, Mira (Buffalo, NY), 2000.

North of Clever, Mira (Buffalo, NY), 2001.

South of Sanity, Mira (Buffalo, NY), 2001.

Halfway to Half Way, Mira (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2007.


Nellie Cashman: Prospector and Trailblazer (biography), Texas Western Press (El Paso, TX), 1993.

The Toast Always Lands Jelly-Side Down and Other Tales of Suburban Life (humor), Crown (New York, NY), 1993.

I Have Everything I Had Twenty Years Ago Except Now It's All Lower (humor), Crown (New York, NY), 1995.

Shady Ladies: Nineteen Surprising and Rebellious American Women, Forge (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of the column "The Flip Side" and contributing editor for Family Circle. Contributor to magazines, including Entrepreneurial Woman, American Forests, True West, Careers and the Handicapped, Lost Treasure, and For Women First.


As a child, Suzann Ledbetter read Nancy Drew mysteries and harbored fantasies of being a detective when she grew up. Instead, Ledbetter became a writer, and is the author of several novels and volumes of humor. The road to becoming a writer was not an easy one for Ledbetter. She noted on her Web site: "When I was a kid, Daddy often told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up, if I wanted it badly enough. I was in my mid-thirties before I understood the ‘badly enough’ part required more effort than wishing and waiting for the Book Fairy to find me."

Ledbetter's humor pieces, some of which have been published in Family Circle, are collected into such Erma Bombeck-patterned volumes as The Toast Always Lands Jelly-Side Down and Other Tales of Suburban Life and I Have Everything I Had Twenty Years Ago Except Now It's All Lower. Of the latter book, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the subjects include carpooling, Christmas shopping, and packing for trips. The critic found some of the humor "labored and out of date," but also cites "funny highlights," such as a section titled "You know it's gonna be a bad day when…."

Ledbetter has also written historical novels, including Pure Justice, one of a series of Westerns. The story tells of feisty Halley Brandt, out to avenge the murder of her brother at the hands of real-life outlaw John Wesley Hardin. Halley joins forces with two Texas Rangers, also based on true figures from Western history, and the posse tracks Hardin from Texas to Florida. A writer for Publishers Weekly welcomed Pure Justice as "another must for discerning western buffs."

Ledbetter launched a madcap detective series in 1997 with East of Peculiar. The novel introduces Hannah Garvey, a former advertising executive who gives up the rat race to manage an upscale retirement community in Missouri. The murder of one of her elderly charges puts Hannah in the company of Sheriff Dave Hendrickson, a man several years her junior. The sparks fly as Hannah and Dave attempt to solve the mystery while getting in some quality time together. Susan Scribner, reviewing the novel for the Romance Reader Web site, claimed that Hannah's dialogue is "too full of wisecracks to be satisfying," though "some of the book's sections written from David's point of view aren't half bad."

In South of Sanity, Hannah recruits a squad of seniors to help clear her boyfriend, David, who becomes a prime suspect in a shooting. A third entry, North of Clever, finds Hannah and her crew investigating a traveling circus—in particular, magician Reilly Boone, who claims to be Hannah's long-lost father. Reilly ends up suspected of murder after apparently shooting his wife during their circus act. While Hannah wants to believe in her ostensible father's innocence, her senior-citizen partners are less trusting. "They arm themselves with implements purchased from the Private Spy Supply catalog and don clown costumes to infiltrate the circus's inner circles," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, who commented that Ledbetter "[keeps] the pace moving at the speed of a magician's hand."

In A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves, Ledbetter presents a historical mystery that takes place in Denver in the 1870s. Josephine Beckworth is a female detective who pretends her father is still alive so she can get work in the old West. In addition, Josephine, who is tracking down a robber and possible murderer, has a Chinese guardian who is fond of quoting Confucius. "In the final analysis, it is the cast that makes Suzann Ledbetter's tale one of the better sub-genre entries as they take the reader through a fun experience," wrote Harriet Klausner on the Harriet Klausner's Review Archive Web site. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted the mystery's "witty wordplay and lovably eccentric characters."

Once a Thief features Ramey Burke, whose lonely life in a small town in Missouri is interrupted when an aunt and two uncles, who were once notorious bank robbers, show up at her house. Now elderly, the three promise to be good if they can stay with Ramey, but soon a dead body turns up on the property. Further disrupting Ramey's life is Detective Mike Constantine, who investigates the murder and falls in love with Ramey. "Funny, smart, and moving, Ledbetter's original romance is a real treat," wrote Maria Hatton in Booklist.

Ledbetter is also author of the nonfiction book Shady Ladies: Seventeen Surprising and Rebellious American Women. The book contains brief biographies of women of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who stepped outside the normal confines of womanhood as dictated by society at that time. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "Ledbetter fills a gap in feminist history with her short descriptive bios."

Ledbetter told CA: "If I could give one piece of advice to those dreaming of a writing career, it would be: spend as much time and energy learning the business as you do the craft. To my mind, there's no better job in the world than spinning yarns, smoothing the warp, and weaving the best combination of idea, thought, and expression one can possibly create. Once that piecework is complete, however, the next step is compelling an editor to buy one's wares and that takes as much skill, common sense, and flat-out hard work as it did to produce, if not more."

Ledbetter continued: "As far as I'm concerned, that marketing aspect provides almost as much fun, and is definitely as challenging, as putting thoughts and plots on paper. Bear in mind, this comes from a writer who has been, and continues to be, rejected by some of the best publishers in the business, one who has thrown varying degrees of hissy fits whenever those ‘thumbs down’ notices arrive."

"That's part of the game," adds Ledbetter, "and I am fortunate to be a player. Writing professionally has been a dream for most of my life. To be living out one's dream, regardless of the trials and tribulations, is the most joyful, satisfying, wondrous experience imaginable. I wouldn't take a million dollars for it. Of course, a few more zeroes on those book advance checks wouldn't be turned down!"



Booklist, May 1, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of Once a Thief, p. 75.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1995, review of I Have Everything I Had Twenty Years Ago, Except Now It's All Lower, p. 299.

Library Journal, April 1, 1995, Pamela Daubenspeck, review of I Have Everything I Had Twenty Years Ago, Except Now It's All Lower, p. 95.

Publishers Weekly, February 27, 1995, review of I Have Everything I Had Twenty Years Ago, Except Now It's All Lower, p. 93; July 15, 1996, review of Deliverance Drive, p. 72; March 31, 1997, review of Pure Justice, p. 72; October 29, 2001, review of North of Clever, p. 41; March 10, 2003, review of A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves, p. 58; April 3, 2006, review of Once a Thief, p. 47; May 29, 2006, review of Shady Ladies: Seventeen Surprising and Rebellious American Women, p. 47.

Roundup, February, 1996, review of Trinity Strike, p. 31; August, 1996, review of Redemption Trail, p. 30; October, 1996, review of Deliverance Drive, p. 31; June, 1997, review of Colorado Reverie, p. 34; December, 1997, review of Klondike Fever, p. 30.


eHarlequin,http://www.eharlequin.com/ (August 4, 2007), brief profile of author.

Harriet Klausner's Review Archive,http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/ (August 4, 2007), reviews of Halfway to Half Way, In Hot Pursuit, Ahead of the Game, and A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves.

Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (May 8, 2002), Susan Scribner, review of East of Peculiar.

Suzann Ledbetter Home Page,http://www.suzannledbetter.com (June 11, 2002).