In earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism at San José State University in 1984, Susan learned the importance of editing a story to make it as sharp and powerful as possible. 

“To write is human,” wrote Stephen King. “To edit is divine.”

In 2017, Susan edited “The Shortest Straw,” a riveting telling of Dean Rosnau’s 20+ years in Search & Rescue in the June Lakes area of California’s eastern Sierra Nevada. 

“I’m a lazy reader,” says Susan, “So the writing needs to be excellent to keep me engaged. When I come to a place in a manuscript where I am not paying attention to the reading, I think, ‘How could this be improved to keep me engaged in the story?’

"I also become emotionally involved in the story. I get sucked INTO the story. So, if there is a part of the story that jolts me emotionally in a way, if I feel ‘hurt' or ‘lost,' or, if I feel the reader is not being brought into the story, can’t hear the sounds, smell the scents, again, I say, 'Okay, how to I add to this story, so the reader is deeply engaged in the characters and the story in every way?'

"And, occasionally, I find a typo, but that’s not primarily what I do,” says Susan.

The Shortest Straw 3

The Shortest Straw, by Dean Rosnau

Dean Rosnau spent decades leading Search and Rescue in the June Lakes area of the Sierra Nevada. The Shortest Straw is chocker-block full of adventure, laughter and tears. Rosnau began journaling in the 9th grade at the suggestion of a teacher. For every Search & Rescue or recovery operation, he had to write a sherrif’s report. So he has a treasure trove of detailed stories, a few of which he packed into this exciting record. He also uses the book to explain many moutaineering terms, so the reader is never lost. Susan's job in this book was to bring the reader into the moment, interject the reader into Dean’s notes and reports and help the reader to feel what was going on in the book.

“I was spending the night at my 89-year-old friend, Vera Bohan’s house before a board meeting in the mountains of west Sonoma County, California,” says Susan. Vera stayed up long after I had gone to bed. “How late did you stay up last night?” I asked her the next morning over eggs, coffee and English muffins. “Oh, I don’t know,” said Vera. I had to get those boys down off that mountain!” 

Man Mission, by Eytan Uliel

The pickup truck hurtles down a dirt road in rural New Zealand. In the back it’s just me, four loaded guns, some kilo bricks of drugs, and several dead rabbits.

“I’m going to die,” I thought.  And not for the first time today.

In addition to the non-fiction “The Shortest Straw,” Susan also edited two books by business man, travel-lust-er and author, Eytien Uliel. 

The first is a fiction adventure of men who meet in college and hook up every year to go on a guys-only vacation somewhere in the world. The adventures range from being hijacked by drug runners in New Zealand to kayaking the open ocean on the south side of Kauai. All the while the author takes us inside the main character’s life, love, marriage and family. All are beautifully woven together by Eytien’s well-practiced writing and deep talent. The book is a fun read, and the author’s ability to relate the emotions of the main character is soul effacing. 

Head Waggling in Dehli, by Eytan Uliel

The second Uliel book that Susan edited is a graphic depiction of his travels with his girlfriend through India after graduation from college. The descriptions of Indian life allow the reader to hear, see, smell, feel and taste India of the mid-1990s. Uliel writes:

So I determined early on that I was not going to edit my thoughts and feelings for the sake of propriety or political correctness. Sometimes I loved being in India; sometimes I hated it and wished the earth would open up and the whole country would vanish into a cloud of dust. For better or worse, my stories tell it exactly like it was for me then – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have since been back to India many times, both on vacation and for work. In these later visits, I was fortunate enough to experience India from a very different perspective: luxury hotels, fine-dining, first class travel. But looking back at my backpacker stories almost two decades after they were first written, it amazes me how little things have changed in India. In many respects, the events I described way back then could just as easily have happened yesterday.

A Passionate Cheese Monger: My Life in Cheese, by Judy Creighton


Susan’s latest foray into editing was for Manzanita Writers Press’ published wine and cheese pairing book by Gold Country local author and cheese monger, Judy Creighton. Creighton owned and ran a beloved specialty-cheese shop in San Francisco for decades. Learning which wines to pair with cheeses was a natural for Judy. 

The book is “a must” for anyone who entertains with wine and cheese and “What do I server with that?” 

The book is in final stages of editing and publshing and can be obtained through ManzanitaWP.org.

© Susan Barich 2022