Suzanne Hartmann's Journey to Publication  

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            Suzanne Hartmann is a homeschool mom of three and lives in the St. Louis area. When not homeschooling or writing, she enjoys scrapbooking, reading, and Bible study. PERIL: Fast Track Thriller Bk. #1 is her debut novel.
            On the editorial side, Suzanne is a contributing editor with Port Yonder Press and operates the Write This Way Critique Service. She has also written an e-book on the craft of writing, Write This Way: Take Your Writing to a New Level


While most authors write for years before they decide to get serious and seek publication, my journey began with a nudge from God to write out the stories I’d entertained myself with while I sat through my kids' violin and piano lessons and baseball and soccer practice. After questioning whether I could be having a premature mid-life crisis, followed by much prayer, I realized God was calling me to write.

So in spite of the fact that I had very little experience writing fiction (my training was mostly non-fiction), I dove into research about NASCAR, then set out to weave my stories into a novel. Once I began writing, it almost became an obsession to get all of the stories from my head into the computer—what I call a brain-dump. That became the narrative outline I followed to write the story. Essentially, it was a series of main plot points I needed to thread together. I thought of it like a dot-to-dot. The main plot points were the dots and as I wrote, I created with the lines that lead from one dot to the next.

After I finished writing the first draft, I had SO much to learn, but God was faithful and led me to some Christian writing forums, and from there to an awesome critique group (when I hadn’t even heard of such a thing even a week earlier). After spending five months doing a major revision under the guidance of my new critique partners, I felt I had polished “my baby” enough to send it out to agents.

Four months—and many rejections later—I found myself dejected and bordering on bitter. Thankfully, God sent me a wake-up call through a Bible study I had just started, and I realized I had taken my eyes off Him. Instead, I began looking to people in the publishing industry to tell me what I needed to do to improve my manuscript. Once I confessed, then turned my eyes back to God, He immediately sent two rejection letters with some hints at what I needed to do.

That led to another round of major revising and cutting the wordcount from 117,000 to 89,000 (yes, I actually cut out about 25% of the story). After that came another round of query letters and rejections. This time, however, I felt like God was leading me to wait. It was hard, but I did. Eventually, “out of the blue,” a friend offered to send a referral to her agent, Terry Burns. Although he initially rejected my manuscript, he said I could revise the first few chapters and resubmit. That was the key. He loved the new opening and offered me a contract!

It took another year and a half of waiting before OakTara offered a contract. This time the waiting was even harder because I wasn’t the only one (or even the main one) making the decisions regarding who to query. I had to put my faith in the agent God had led me to.

It feels like it’s been a long journey, but to go from never having written a novel to publication in five years, is relatively short for the publishing industry. Thankfully, God didn’t let me know at the beginning how far out of my comfort zone He was going lead me. But throughout the process, He has been faithful to lead me where I needed to go, has encouraged me when I thought I couldn’t go on, and continues to equip me as I now venture into the marketing aspect of the publishing industry.

Here’s a little about the book God nudged me to write. I pray that readers not only enjoy a good read, but will pick up on the themes of honesty and the importance of following God even when where He’s leading doesn’t make sense by human terms.

PERIL: A Fast Track Thriller:
A top-secret agent.
A high-profile assignment.
Danger at a NASCAR track.
A top secret agent with enhanced strength must use her extraordinary abilities during several high-profile assignments, from the White House to NASCAR tracks, while escorting the first Muslim king to convert to Christianity. When unwanted publicity and the attention of a NASCAR champion threatens to expose her secrets, she becomes a terrorist target with danger surrounding her on all sides.
 “Plenty of action and unexpected twists.”
Foreword by Jimmy Makar, GM of Joe Gibbs Racing

You can find Suzanne on-line at:
My Website – FastTrackThrillers 
My Blog - Write This Way
Twitter - @SuzInIL