My fascination with the written word began with a diary in grade school. Then I discovered pen pals in junior high, and at one point wrote regularly to eight people, including several from South America. I enjoyed writing and did well with grammar, so in college I declared my major as Composition & Linguistics, and much of my study time involved writing research papers.
My first professional writings were the most boring things you could think of: legal documents. For eight years, I worked as a paralegal. The thought of writing a novel never entered my mind.
How about fiction? I began creating stories in the early 2000s. They were simply something I used to occupy myself during my children’s music lessons and sports practices. The scenarios I made up revolved around the same main character, as I continually asked myself, “What if…” I thought through the scenes over and over, tweaking, changing, and adding to them as more what-if questions came to mind.
I never considered writing these stories down, much less writing a novel, until the thought crossed my mind one a chilly day in October of 2006 while on a walk through the neighborhood. The idea seemed foreign, as though not from myself, which was reflected in my next thought: Gee, I never thought about that before.
The thought didn’t go away, however, and after much prayer, I realized this was a nudge from God. I had no idea why, but I held on tight to Him and stepped out in obedience.
Although I still had doubts, God reinforced the calling by providing encouragement as I wrote the first draft of what would eventually become my first published novel, Peril: Fast Track Thriller #1. He then led me to a wonderful critique group only weeks after I learned what the phrase meant. The wonderful ladies in this group honed my writing skills and taught me fiction writing style.
After two major revisions to the manuscript, another series of events that obviously had God’s handprints all over them led me to my literary agent, Terry Burns. He then found a publishing home for my novel at Oak Tara, which has published both Peril and its sequel, Conspiracy.
After the release of my first book, Peril, my writing journey shifted. As the need for marketing increased, the time available for writing decreased. With the focus of my writing time divided, much of my writing for Conspiracy, the sequel to Peril, was done by consistently applying the butt-in-chair technique, with occasional bursts of creativity.
And the third and final book? A fresh year and new members in my critique group spurred my creativity. Accountability and keeping track of my wordcount totals helped motivate me . . . until I underwent major surgery in early 2013. What was supposed to be four months of recovery stretched out to a year. Continued pain and medication caused such brain fog that the writing I attempted was disjointed and needed much revision. Participation in National Novel Writing Month (Nano) pushed me to work through plot issues, but sustaining that intensity of writing was impossible once the holidays arrived.
The story isn’t over. A string of stressors has greatly strained my creativity: my sister’s stroke, two more surgeries, unexpected complications, confrontations, deaths, financial decisions, and illnesses. Even good things, such as the release of Conspiracy and unexpected speaking opportunities, have added stress to the scale.
I’ll be honest–it’s a struggle some days to hold onto God through the jumble. But even though it doesn’t make sense according to my understanding, I know God must have a purpose and a plan (Prov. 3:5-6). He has provided for all my needs throughout my writing journey, so right now I lean on His faithfulness for my creativity and look forward to the time beyond the darkness and the beautiful dawn that is coming.
Suzanne’s love of books has led her to work in nearly every aspect of the publishing industry, from library clerk to Editorial Director here at Castle Gate Press. Her blog, Write This Way, offers a plethora of easy-to-understand writing tips and advice. She also writes Christian suspense novels, and her Fast Track Thriller series is an exhilarating, action-packed ride with compelling characters and a plot full of unexpected twists. When not writing, editing, or homeschooling, she enjoys scrapbooking, Bible study, and scouring local library sales.