My Five Reasons…

As a writer of romantic suspense, along with being a member of Maine Crime Writers and Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, I’m also a member of the Maine Romance Writers. MRW’s newsletter occasionally has a feature called “My Five,” in which members list five items about anything—favorite children’s books, crazy Christmas gifts, a spouse’s foibles, writing challenges/successes/ frustrations, etc. So the opportunity to write mine came at a critical time in my writing career. A down time.

After my first book for Silhouette Intimate Moments was published in 2001, I went through a three-year drought before selling again. Then the next four books breezed through the submission process. Silhouette loved me. My books finaled in contests. Breaking All the Rules (now Dark Rules) was a top seller. Deadly Memories (now Dark Vengeance) was a Romantic Times Top Pick and nominated for Best Silhouette Intimate Moments of 2006. But after that book, I hit the skids again. The next submission was rejected. I figured I’d run out my string with the anti-terrorism series so I tried something different. That submission was rejected. And the next.

In the meantime, I was working on a stand-alone romantic suspense set in Maine, longer and more complex than the “category” novels I’d been writing. However, getting an agent and selling a stand-alone title is tough. As the publisher evolved and Intimate Moments became Silhouette Romantic Suspense and then Harlequin Romantic Suspense, they shortened the word count and changed the balance of suspense to romance, making it a lot less suspense and a lot more romance. This further meant we weren’t suited for each other.

Meanwhile, another stand-alone manuscript made finalist in a contest. Validation someone thought I could still write! At that point, writing the My Five prompted me to re-motivate myself. Maybe my thoughts will help someone else who’s hit a low point. Here are My Five Reasons to Keep Writing, in reverse order:

FIVE – If I stopped writing, I would have to get a real job so I can avoid cleaning out dust bunnies and pulling weeds.

FOUR – I have stories to tell and characters in my head that won’t go away and leave me alone. All my life, I’ve suffered from occasional insomnia and occupied my mind during the long nights with my stories. Writing down the stories for others makes those sleepless hours worthwhile.

THREE – Belonging to writer groups has given me acquaintances and friendships with other people who have characters and stories in their heads. I’ve always felt out of step but I feel a sense of belonging more in writing groups than anywhere else. Also, writer groups and writing conferences are always motivating and inspiring.

TWO – The excitement and joy when the words sing or the scene rocks or the plot comes together or the characters become real people. If all of those collide, wow!

ONE – The absolute thrill of holding my published book in my hand and seeing it on a store bookshelf or listed online. It’s my baby that I sweated over for months and sent off into the big world.

Along with that is the thrill of receiving emails from readers who enjoyed the book and ask about the next one. Knowing there are readers who want more sends me back to my computer to experience TWO again.

Since then, the book set in Maine, Primal Obsession, was published by a small press. After that I began publishing independently. I received the rights back from the small press, and have released Primal Obsession independently. The contest finalist became On Deadly Ground,  the first book in my Devlin Security Force series.

During the past few years, I’ve received the publishing rights back for all five of my Silhouette/Harlequin books. I’ve updated them all and re-issued them as The DARK Files series, and I’ve added a fifth, Dark Vision. Readers and online reviewers seem to like them, so my books are selling. I’m working on an addition to the Devlin Security series, tentatively titled “Genuine Fake,” so overall now I’m experiencing numbers ONE and TWO of My Five.

If you’re a writer, what is one of your motivators? If you have another creative outlet, what drives that?

About susanvaughan

Susan Vaughan loves writing romantic suspense because it throws the hero and heroine together under extraordinary circumstances and pits them against a clever villain. Her books have won the Golden Leaf, More Than Magic, and Write Touch Readers’ Award and been a finalist for the Booksellers’ Best and Daphne du Maurier awards. A former teacher, she’s a West Virginia native, but she and her husband have lived in the Mid-Coast area of Maine for many years. Her latest release is GENUINE FAKE, a stand-alone book in the Devlin Security Force series. Find her at or on Facebook as Susan H. Vaughan or on Twitter @SHVaughan.
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13 Responses to My Five Reasons…

  1. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    I so admire your outlook. I’m not sure I’m motivated at all, LOL. But I’m stubborn and I like to finish what I start.

    I do miss the social contact with other writers. Soon…

    • susanvaughan says:

      Maggie, given this past year, I agree it’s hard to stay motivated. I admire your stubbornness about finishing. I also miss seeing other writers. Zoom and email aren’t the same. Thanks for commenting.

  2. kaitlynkathy says:

    Sadly, the dust bunnies are safe whether I’m writing or not, but this is a great list. I’m not motivated to do much new writing right now, but I’ve been energized by figuring out how to reissue my long out of print children’s books and publish a few other projects that are well-suited to Indie publishing.

  3. Elizabeth Devlin says:

    Loved your “Five” and your persistence and determination! I so relate to the challenges when you combine genres, but since those are the books I want to read, that’s the only real choice.

  4. ashlynchase says:

    You described beautifully the ups and downs of traditional publishing. Getting contracts is hard! If only we had a crystal ball, right?

    Anyway, I love your books, but I think you know that. Best of luck with your future writing and releases

  5. Hey, Susan. I sort of knew your story, but having it laid out like this fills in the blanks. Gosh, there are a lot of ups and downs in this business whether you go with a more traditional publisher, a small press, or go Indie. I love your list of 5. I might add, that I’m pushed to keep learning by the business as technology changes, as groups change, and new opportunities present themselves. As long as the ideas keep coming and people keep reading, I’ll keep writing. I’ll share. 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    I always say you have to believe in yourself and have the hide of an alligator to survive as a writer. Good for you for persisting.


  7. Deb Noone says:

    Susan – thanks for this list – it renews my will to write. It has been a tough, crushing year that definitely suppressed inspiration and creativity. So being in touch with other writers and having control over one’s own work really helps. So glad those books got published, as the world isn’t the same without them.

  8. murdernan says:

    Susan, I love your Five Reasons to Keep Writing. Your publishing path interested me, too. Traditional to independent. I, too, have multiple stories in my head at any given time. Right now I have at least 5 novels partially completed because an idea struck and I just HAD to get it down before I forgot it (but then didn’t have time to finish it). I never need reasons to keep writing. I need reasons to keep pushing to get something published. That process has just begun for me and I have never worked so hard in my life. LOL

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