Turning Point -- Guest Blog by Suzanne Lazear, author of INNOCENT DARKNESS

Katherine Longshore 12 Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I'm holed up cramming as much Tudor drama as I can into Book 2, so the lovely Suzanne Lazear, a 2k12 Classmate, has agreed to share a MAJOR turning point in her writing career with us.  Thank you, Suzanne!  And readers, don't forget to click the button in our header for a chance to win an ARC of Donna's debut, SKINNY.

I’ve wanted to be an author pretty much all my life.  Back in the third grade my teacher touted us “publishing” our own books as part of our curriculum.  I was heartbroken to discover “publishing” meant my mom using the school binding machine to turn our stories into little books.  I wanted my book to be in the bookstore—not displayed on a table in the school library.

I wrote stories instead of essays for assignments whenever I thought I could get away with it.  During freshman year of high school whenever we had “free” journaling in English I wrote an ongoing story about Elves. I read books about writing and querying.  I still have pages and pages of hand written chapters torn from notebooks in high school and college.  I regaled my friends with my crazy story ideas.  In graduate school sometimes I’d write stories instead of taking notes, since we all used laptops in class.

In late 2006, about a year before my ten year high school reunion, post grad school, marriage, and baby, I was sitting in front of the computer and I went, wow, ten years.  I always thought I’d have a book published by now.

Then I took a moment and thought about why I hadn’t published a book.

It hit me like a sack full of bricks.

In order to be published you have to sit down and write an entire manuscript.

I’d never, in all my years of writing, ever actually written an entire book from start to finish.  Short stories, but not a full novel.  I’d write chapters and chapters when inspiration struck, then as the ideas ran out another shiny idea would grab my attention and I’d write that one instead of finishing what I was working on.

So, for my 2007 new year’s resolution, my goal was to write an entire book from start to finish.  After two false starts, I wrote an entire 118k adult urban fantasy novel in three weeks.  (It was awful).  In 2007 I wrote four complete different manuscripts.  All pretty dreadful.

I never looked back.  I still had the occasional false start as I figured out I liked certain genres more than others.  It wasn’t until mid-2008 I really starting figuring things out like when you write the end, your story is hardly finished, editing can often take longer than the actual drafting.  I also had to learn that books needed plots--they couldn’t just be thirty chapters of dialogue and explosions.  I hadn’t even attempted the next big step, querying, or truly or discovered the YA genre.  Those are other stories.

But what I learned in 2007 was the most important lesson that I think a writer can learn – write a story until it’s done.   I did all this without a community of writers—this was before I’d discovered online writing forums or the Romance Writers of America.  I wasn’t on twitter, I didn’t blog.  I didn’t read any books on craft.  All I did was put my butt in the chair, my hands of the keyboard and write.  And write and write and write.  When I hit The End I’d do it all again.

INNOCENT DARKNESS, written in 2009, was the manuscript that finally sold.  It was completed manuscript number ten, and the fourth manuscript I’d queried.  With the three others I’d amassed hundreds of rejections.  I’d entered them in contests, pitched them at conferences, and learned the lessons of editing, querying, plotting, and that writing at YA was even more fun than writing for adults.

But the tale of my YA steampunk dark fairytale, too, is a story for another day, one I’d never be able to tell if I hadn’t decided that in 2007 I was going to sit down and write an entire book.

Write on!

 ~Suzanne Lazear

Suzanne Lazear writes for teens because her dancers made her and she never looked back. She’s a regular blogger at the Steampunk group blog Steamed.  Suzanne plays with swords, runs with bustles, and is hardly ever described as normal. She lives in Los Angeles with her daughter, the hubby, and a hermit crab, and is currently trying to make a ray gun to match her ball gown. Her 
YA Debut INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, will be released from Flux August 8, 2012.


Wish. Love. Desire. Live.

In a Steampunk version of Los Angeles, Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed.  If Noli doesn't die, an entire civilization will.


Thanks for sharing, Suzanne. Over the past few days I have been thinking along the same lines and asking myself, "What's the hold-up?" And I know, in part, that it is because I have not established enough discipline in my writing. Eventhough I have completed three full manuscripts (middle grade), it has taken me an outrageous amount of time to do it. And just this morning I told myself, "You can't operate like that and call yourself a writer." A real writer writes, not continuously dwell on the idea of publication. And, eventhough some of my ideas might not see the light of day, I at least need to have the discipline to finish what I've started. So, again, thanks for the inspiration and confirmation.

Ray Bradbury famously said that your first million words don't count, and there's only one way to get over that hurdle.

Suzanne, thanks for sharing your turning point with us. There is no greater obstacle to publication than finishing an actual book. Like you, I talked about it for years, with lots of fits and starts before I finished something. Can't wait for INNOCENT DARKNESS!!!

There is no better truth than knowing you have to begin and get to the end to take the next step in the process.

Innocent Darkness has a wonderful premise. I look forward to its release.

This post couldn't have come at a better time. I keep telling myself I will write it when I am done with this...done with that....it keeps getting postponed and I too thought I would "be a writer" by now. Thanks for the inspiration to actually get to it!

- Jessica @ Book Sake

I was the same way until a few years ago - lots of chapters & idea snippets floating around, but no finished book.

I'm glad we've both had that turning point! It's so much more fun to see how the story ends. Although, yes, more work.

Thanks so much for all the kind words, and thank you for having me on!

You are so right Suzanne. Great post as always.

Yes! Great post, Suzanne. Thank you so much for sharing your story for us -- a real inspiration!

Keeping with a story until The End is the hardest part for me. I tend to jump around and abandon projects for the next idea that comes along. My writing goal for this year is to actually finish my current story - it's go reassuring to knoe I'm not the only one that's struggled with this, and that you cmar through it. Thanks for the guest post! :]

Thanks, Suzanne, always fascinating to read your posts.bthis resonated with me:

"the fourth manuscript I’d queried.  With the three others I’d amassed hundreds of rejections"

That sums up nicely the amount of effort and dedication involved, and that we can't always expect our first m/s to get picked up.

Thank you for that!

Suzanne, thanks so much for the awesome guest blog! The pleasure was all ours (and the readers).

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