Friday, January 22, 2010

Playing Dominoes in Prison with Joseph by Susanne Lakin

Today's guest has been very busy around Seriously Write this month! Please welcome Susanne Lakin to share her success story with us this Fortifying Friday.

Playing Dominoes in Prison with Joseph
by Susanne Lakin

After twenty years of submitting agented work to publishers, God has kindly dropped a book contract in my hands. I had just finished the second fantasy book in my series when I chatted with Jim Bell. "Jim, I'm going to take your mentor clinic at Mount Hermon in the spring. Whoops--I don't really have anything suspenseful to share." So, I got the idea to write a psychological suspense for CBA (my other contemporary books were written for the commercial market). But I had an idea brewing.

I wrote one novel loosely based on Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians." My agent thought it might be a great trademark to take her novels and twist then. So my next obvious choice was "Murder on the Orient Express." I wanted to set it in a small town with people quick to blame and distrust a newcomer. I originally planned to make Billy Thurber really evil, but as I wrote, I kept feeling he was redeemable. The story evolved into more than a story just about how quick we are to judge, weaving in themes of faith, hope, security, and forgiveness. That's how Someone to Blame was born.

Since writing STB, I finished book three in my fantasy series (which just sold to AMG).
So, I am so humbled, thrilled, and beside myself (yes, that's me, standing over there across the room!) Here I was writing fantasy and God yanked me aside and said, “Oh, BTW, I have a completely different book for you to write (which was so much fun) and then you can go back to fantasy where you belong!” (Go to your corner and sit on a toadstool!) I am finishing my ninth novel, a commercial psychological contemporary mystery, but I do have four more books in the fantasy to write and have started plotting another book I hope to pitch to Zondervan.

So, for any of you who are frustrated and depressed that you are not published yet, I say try to enjoy the writing journey while you sit in your prison alongside Joseph. I always pictured myself playing dominoes with him, hoping Pharaoh would hear about our predicament. You know the rest of the story. In God's due time--perfect time--after Joseph spent two years wondering why God set him on this path, Joseph was remembered and brought out of prison to do great work. I believe God wanted to give him a season of testing, but also teach him patience and trust in Him. (He did have a bit of a cocky attitude back there with his snazzy coat.) So I think God needed to do some work in him. I know for a fact He did with me. It took me twenty years to get out of jail, but I did have something Joseph didn't have-- a window looking out at the world. Through it, I watched and learned all I could about this writing life and, more importantly, this godly life that includes seasons of uncertainty, of feelings of abandonment. God is good. That's what you learn.

C. S. Lakin writes contemporary literary mysteries and allegorical fantasy. She is completing her ninth novel and has had four novels contracted in 2009 for publication. She considers herself somewhat schizophrenic, having two agents and two genres she works in, but it’s always an adventure! When not writing, she earns her living as a professional copy editor and writing coach, always in search of the perfect sentence. To learn more about her upcoming books, click over to her Web site.