Work in Progress


Work in Progress is a newly released anthology of unpublished excerpts from works in progress by over fifty authors who are all members of the Pulpwood Queens International Book Club. The collection was edited and published by author Mandy Haynes. You can order copies directly from Mandy HERE. (or on Amazon, etc.)

As author Leslie Lehr says in her Foreword for the book:

“In these pages, you’ll have over fifty flavors of mystery, romance, memoir, historical fiction, Southern gothic, even suspense. I dare you to see the titles and resist reading one or two right now. Sure enough, you’ll discover new authors and new titles to add to your Must-Read List.”



My contribution to the book is a chapter of an unpublished memoir I wrote before any of my seven published books came out. The memoir’s working title was DRESSING THE PART: WHAT I WORE FOR LOVE.  It chronicles several decades of my life and includes everything from training bras and cheerleader uniforms to head-coverings (for church and visiting monasteries.) The chapter I shared for Work in Progress is titled, “Spandex and Leg Warmers,” It’s about my experiences in the 1980s teaching aerobic dancing in Jackson, Mississippi. My parents, Bill and Effie Johnson, opened BILL JOHNSON’S PHIDIPPIDES SPORTS, a sporting goods store with an adjacent aerobic dance studio in 1982 and I taught aerobics there until 1988, and directed the program for the last couple of years I was there. I was 31-37 years old, and as I say in the opening paragraph, like Baby in “Dirty Dancing,” . . .

I’ve had the time of my life . . . .


Most of the instructors were in their 30s, some with full-time “day jobs,” others were “stay-at-home moms.” One was an ER physician! Some were also serious runners and ran in the races hosted by Phidippides Sports. Some of us did demonstrations at local ladies luncheon clubs or business meetings to advertise the program. Some of us taught off-site classes at various businesses around town.

The last couple of years that I taught classes, I was also the coordinator. I hired and trained instructors, chose and taped the music, and choreographed the routines. It was the 1980s, and I bought 45s of each song and recorded them on a cassette player and made copies of the cassette tapes for all the instructors. It’s funny now looking back and how low-tech we were! But here’s the best part: 30 years later, whenever I hear one of the songs we worked out to, the memories come at me and I can even remember parts of the routines!


Before you begin to think this was all fun and games, let me warn you that I also wrote about my struggles with disordered eating, body-image distortion, and exercise addiction in this and other chapters of my memoir.  I quit teaching aerobics in 1991, and my struggles with these issues is still with me, although turning 70 in March has helped, as I am learning to embrace the things that really matter in this 8th decade of my life. I think surviving a life-threatening car wreck in 2013 has also helped, as it left me with exercise limitations, but also with a thankful heart for life! I hope my story speaks to you. BUY A COPY OF THE BOOK and read “Spandex and Leg Warmers” and let me know what you think!

2 thoughts on “Work in Progress”

  1. As always, Susan, this is great. You weave it all together, the dark and light and that era when we did aerobics to cassette taped music. And what a perfect structure for a collection! Happy New Year, BTW!

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