Susan Cummins Miller

Author of the

Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, Mysteries


I was raised in Pasadena, CA, educated at UC Riverside, worked all over the West, lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Virginia, and now reside in Tucson, AZ. My educational background is in the geosciences, social sciences, and liberal arts. I have bachelor’s degrees in history, anthropology, and geology, and an M.S. in Geology.

Before becoming a full-time writer I worked for the U. S. Government (primarily with the U. S. Geological Survey), conducting fieldwork in California, Nevada, Idaho, and Utah. Subsequently, I taught introductory geology and oceanography at the college level and offered short courses in writing, geology, paleontology, and oceanography in Tucson area schools. I am currently a Research Affiliate of the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women and a SIROW Scholar ( I teach occasional writing workshops and speak to groups about geoscience outreach through my mystery series.

Facebook page: Please drop by and check it out. For your convenience, I’ll be listing my workshops and events on that site, as well--though events will be on hold until the world manages to bring Covid-19 to heel.



In mid March I put my mystery novels on the back burner in order concentrate on poetry. If you're curious as to how I've been spending the last six months, here are links to some of the poems that have been published recently online. The poetic style/s may not be everyone's cup of tea, but feel free to share:

 Unstrung [] (you'll find my contributions on p. 27-34);

 The Write Launch [

In addition, The Dewdrop published a poem on August 23, and I have poems in both print volumes of Darkhouse Books’ What We Talk about When We Talk about It: Variations on the Theme of Love I, Ii (the second volume to come out shortly). Poems are forthcoming this fall in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing  (Sept.), Iris Literary Journal, Other Worldly Women Press Winter 2020 Anthology and Tempered Runes Press: Bluing the Blade (Dec.).

And here’s a link to an autumn poem published online October 22:

The Closed Eye Open/Maya’s Micros []

I've been trying to make this time as productive as possible--as much for my mental stimulation and emotional health as for progress in my craft. It must be working, because I haven't yet run screaming into the street or offed my nearest and dearest. So I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. (But I’m not tempting fate by focusing on crime fiction during a time of forced seclusion and election countdowns.)

Additional News:

On April 14, in an effort to make their books available to as many readers as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Tech University Press is releasing 95 TTUP titles as e-books. This includes (at long last) at least four of my titles. All books are priced at $9.95 and available on Kindle, Nook, or on your favorite platform. They'll also be spotlighting one e-book every day for 95 days, so make sure to follow them on Instagram and on Facebook to catch the book promotions and share with your friends.

For any of my readers who were wondering what I was doing before I launched the Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, mystery series, you can check out the following US Geological Survey online publication (URL below):

Oberlindacher, H.P., Hovland, R.D., Miller, S.T. , Evans, J.G., and Miller, R.J., 2018, Geologic map of the Lower Valley quadrangle, Caribou County, Idaho: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3215, 6 p., 1 sheet, scale 1:24,000,

My pre-pandemic writer’s residency with Pima County Public Library was a successful and fulling adventure. I thank the wonderful staff of Kirk-Bear Canyon library for welcoming me and facilitating my three-month sojourn. And I’m grateful to all the writers who attended my workshops and individual writing consultations. I look forward to catching up with your projects in the future.




“Bury the Secrets Deep,” an historical short story, was published in And all Our Yesterdays, a collection released by Darkhouse Books (trade paper and E-book). Darkhouse has bundled the anthology with two other mystery/crime anthologies. It’s available online under the title The Darkhouse Books Collection – Volume One.

Another short story, “Case #15-4037,” was included in So West, So Deadly, a mystery anthology published by the Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime. And one of my poems, “Unharvested Water,” appears in More Voices of New Mexico (Paul Rhetts and Barbe Awalt, eds., Rio Grande Books/LPD Press; ISBN-10: 1936744295; ISBN-13: 978-1936744299). The books may be ordered via local bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes&

Detailed synopses of all my mysteries are included on a separate Web page. Please use the directory at top of the page, or on the left. But here are short versions:

CHASM, Book 6: Attempted murder and a masquerading student turn geologist Frankie MacFarlane's whitewater raft trip down the Colorado River from sublime teaching experience to ordeal, as strangers with disparate agendas converge in the depths of the Grand Canyon. (Texas Tech University Press, 2015; ISBN: 978-0-89672-915-5, paper)

FRACTURE, geosleuth Frankie MacFarlane’s fifth adventure, is a quest mystery set in Tucson, Arizona and on the San Francisco Peninsula, California . The title refers to the San Andreas and related faults that mark the boundary between the North American Tectonic Plate and the Pacific Plate. The subject matter is timely. Since the release of Fracture in February, we have witnessed destructive quakes in New Zealand and Japan. The Japanese event was attended by an even more devastating tsunami. (TTUP, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-89672-685-7)

HOODOO, Book 4: While  on a field trip in southeastern Arizona, Frankie MacFarlane, her geology students, and her old friend, rancher Joaquin Black, discover a body in the Chiricahua National Monument. When Frankie and Joaquin become prime suspects, Frankie must decipher interlocking puzzles to clear their names and find the killer—or killers—before they strike again. (TTUP, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-89672-623-9)

QUARRY, Book 3: When Frankie returns to UC-Del Rio, CA, to defend her geology dissertation, what should have been a quick trip turns into a disaster. Her mentor is victim of a hit and run; someone's stalking her dissertation committee; the police seek her help in resolving an old murder; and a student's disappearance triggers a manhunt in the Mojave Desert. (TTUP, 2006; ISBN: 0-89672-574-4)

DETACHMENT FAULT, the sequel to DEATH ASSEMBLAGE, is set in Tucson, AZ, and the borderlands of Sonora, MX. After Frankie MacFarlane pulls a body from the Sea of Cortez, a friend disappears in Mexico, and a colleague and student are slain in Tucson, Frankie's search for answers leads her into the shadow world of money-laundering and the antiquities trade. (TTUP, 2004, ISBN: 0-89672-520-0; trade paper, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-89672-686-4).

DEATH ASSEMBLAGE, the first mystery featuring geologist Frankie MacFarlane, involves ancient and recent murders in Pair-a-Dice, Nevada. (TTUP, 2002; HC ISBN: 0-89672-481-6; PB ISBN: 0-89672-517-0)

Signed copies of all books may be ordered from Clues Unlimited [], Mostly Books [], and Antigone Books [], Tucson, and from the Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale []. Books also are available from online vendors, including Texas Tech University Press (


Copies of my anthology, A SWEET, SEPARATE INTIMACY: WOMEN WRITERS OF THE AMERICAN FRONTIER, 1800-1922 (ISBN 978-0-89672-618-5) may be ordered from any bookstore or online vendor, including Texas Tech University Press (, or by calling the Chicago Distribution Center at 1-800-621-2736.

POETRY (see above for recent pub information):

In February, 2020, one of my poems appeared in the Darkhouse Books anthology, What We Talk about When We Talk about Love, I. The anthology is available in softcover and e-book from Darkhouse Books or online retailers during this time of “sheltering in place.”

My poems have appeared in, among others: Unstrung, The Write Launch, More Voices of New Mexico; ROUNDUP! Western Writers of America Presents Great Stories of the West from Today’s Leading Western Writers; New Texas 2009: a Journal of Literature and Culture; SandScript 2009 Art and Literary Journal; OASIS Journal; Sandcutters; and WHAT WILDNESS IS THIS: Women Write about the Southwest (2007; 2008 WILLA Award, Nonfiction).


My affiliations include the Geological Society of America, Western Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Arizona Geological Society, Women Writing the West, Sisters in Crime (National, Tucson, and Desert Sleuths chapters), and Arizona Mystery Writers.

Recent Awards:

2018 Writer in Residence (Winter/Spring), Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ.

2016 WILLA Award Finalist (Contemporary Fiction): CHASM.

2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award Finalist (FICTION/Other): CHASM.

2012 Poets & Writers grant for Tucson Sisters-in-Crime workshop: “Act II: Into the Belly of the Beast.”

2012 WILLA Award Finalist (Contemporary Fiction): FRACTURE.

2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award Finalist (FICTION:Mystery/Suspense):   FRACTURE.

2012 Will Inman Award, Tucson Poetry Festival’s 29th Annual Statewide Contest: Five poems from On the Divide (a work in progress).

2011 Finalist, ForeWord Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year Award (Mystery): FRACTURE.

2011 Notable Book, Southwest Books of the Year: FRACTURE.

2011 1st Place (Short Story), Society of Southwestern Authors Contest: “Owlshead Stew.”

2010 Poets & Writers grant for poetry reading at Other Voices Women’s Reading Series.

2009 WILLA Award Finalist (Contemporary Fiction): HOODOO.

2009 1st Place (Poetry), SandScript Art and Literary Magazine: “Reality Check.”

2008 Bronze Award (Mystery), ForeWord Magazine’s Books of the Year: HOODOO.

2008 Panelists’ Pick (Notable Book), Southwest Books of the Year: HOODOO.

2008 1st Place (Inspirational Poetry), Arizona State Poetry Society Contest: “The Waiting Game.”

2008 Writer in Residence, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA (Winter).

2007 Turquoise Award (Mystery), New Mexico Book of the Year:

2007 WILLA Award Finalist (Contemporary Fiction):

2006 Gold Award (Mystery),
ForeWord Magazine’s Books of the Year: QUARRY.

2006 Notable Book, Southwest Books of the Year:

2006 Arizona Humanities Council grant for presentation at the Arizona Book Festival.

2004 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Book Award Finalist (Adult Fiction),:

2004 Writer in Residence, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA (Winter).

2002 Writer in Residence/Tevis Fellowship, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA.

2000 Longan Award Finalist (Nonfiction): A SWEET, SEPARATE INTIMACY: WOMEN WRITERS OF THE AMERICAN FRONTIER, 1800-1922.

Contact Me


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