Today fellow Clean Reads author Sue Searles is sharing her Path to Publication Story. Without further ado, here’s Sue…
For me, writing is a deeply fulfilling creative outlet; it’s what I was born to do. Anybody who’s written a book knows what a challenging but rewarding journey it can be. Writing involves elements that a casual reader can’t begin to imagine (to name a few: building interesting characters, creating a believable plot with twists and turns, sub-plots that blend seamlessly, remembering the nitty gritties of publishing rules—point of view, show vs. tell, dashes and ellipses, the grueling editing stage…), but there’s little more fulfilling than reaching that last page, and the contentment of seeing the end result.
Let me go back a few years. From as early as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for writing. As a kid I was always tinkering with one story or another, and lengthy poems about the stories I’d written. I had notebooks filled with the stuff. Then high school happened, and writing was pushed to the back burner of my life. Tertiary studies and marriage followed, and then my son was born.
When I look back, it’s probably my son whom I can thank for giving me the courage to take that first step as a serious writer. As a six-year-old, his wonderful imagination led me to write my very first book about the delightful characters in his head…a children’s book which I called An Adventure With Little John and the Coaspies (the title’s long, I know). Writing that book gave me a taste of what it would feel like to actually take my writing seriously. I wrote its sequel, and then in about 2005, tried my hand at my first adult novel, a human trafficking story called Finding Freedom. Since the subject matter was still very hush-hush back then, it took a huge amount of research on my part and, all in all, took me three years to complete. It was a crude attempt, but the results are something I’m still proud of today. My sister loaded it onto Amazon for me, and within a short space of time it had received about two thousand downloads and unbelievable reviews. That gave me the confidence boost I needed—maybe I could do this after all—and so I plunged into another manuscript. This time it was a trilogy about three generations of women whose lives are turned upside down by the family patriarch.
But I had one problem. I was content to sit on my passion and keep it all to myself. Every time I finished writing a book, I left it to gather cyberdust on my computer and literally did nothing with it (except for Finding Freedom).
But, then came Lucia’s Web. I can’t pinpoint any particular event that sparked the plot concept…it literally just popped into my head one day—three girls share a house and there’s something sinister about one of them…. I played around with character sketches and plot outlines, and immediately knew I could make it work. The book started off in the third person, but something was nagging at me…it could be better. And then I realized what it was: This book was screaming to be written in the first person. I went back to the beginning and rewrote it as such, and the story exploded right off the page. To top if off, there were the stabs of humor I hadn’t even planned. Somehow it all worked wonderfully!
I finished writing Lucia’s Web early this year, and plucked up the courage to submit it to Clean Reads. Within a couple of weeks, it was accepted for publication, and I received my first contract!
Lucia’s Web is, by far, the book I’ve had the most fun writing. The characters are so real to me that I feel I know them personally. (I’m on a serious hunt for a “Sam bag” as I call it—an embroidered “hippie-type” bag that my character Sam carries around with her; my husband thinks I’ve lost my marbles, but I just gotta have one!) Seriously, my characters are that real to me.
While the writing of my other books required a great deal of effort, Lucia’s Web flowed onto the page like a fresh water stream. Even the title gelled with me after just one day (previously, titles took months to form). I’m beyond excited about this latest release and can’t wait to start getting reviews. I didn’t think it was possible to have so much fun writing a book. Hopefully that carries through to my readers.
In a nutshell, I feel strongly about writing stories that are different to the norm. If I’m going to enter into the exhilarating (but exhausting) challenge of writing a book, it must be memorable and life-changing to my readers. There’ll always be a touch of romance in the sub-plot (what girl doesn’t like a bit of romance?), but that is not the focus of my stories. I tend to think outside the conventional box or, as I like to put it, write “sweet stories that defy convention.”
While I loved working on the earlier books, I came alive as a writer when I started Lucia’s Web. Having a book accepted for publication, and the subsequent journey, has been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced.
Creepy characters and shadowy scenes are woven through this suspense-filled story, steeped in strangeness with splashes of humor. When Ali Duncan advertises for two tenants to share an upmarket apartment with her, she has no way of knowing the series of cryptic events that is about to unravel. When one housemate turns out to be a quirky nonconformist, the other a Gothic misfit, she has to rely on her own defective judgment to find her way.
With circumstances stacked against her, whom can she trust when she finds herself alone in her quest for normality, but nothing in the house is as it seems?
Sue Searles has written several books, ranging from women’s fiction and short stories to poetry and children’s books. Having worked on various forms of storytelling since childhood, writing has been a lifelong passion.
Now somewhat older and wiser, she is passionate about thinking outside the conventional box, and conveys messages that are thought-provoking and life-changing.
Her inspiration comes mainly from studying people, reading, and daily life.
Sue is happily married and lives in sunny South Africa with her husband and son.
Instagram – Sue Searles