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COLLEGE FOCUS

Writing Success:

Tenacity and the Right Niche A CLC writing course helps a former engineer build a career as a children’s author.

S

uzanne Slade had a mechanical engineering career, designing and testing NASA rocket engines and automotive parts. But after becoming a stay-at-home mom, the Libertyville resident decided to pursue her earlier dream of becoming a writer. After enduring eight years of rejection letters, she published her first children’s book 10 | COLLEGE OF LAKE COUNTY

in 2007 and has since published more than 90 additional ones. Slade said she gained confidence in her ability to become a writer in a six-week personal enrichment course taught by English instructor Mary Dunn, who has since retired. Slade, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Valparaiso University in 1986, had no formal training in writing. “I had thought about writing things for children, but the thought of publishing books seemed so ludicrous,” she recalled. “I didn’t have a solid writing background in college beyond a one-semester English course. I had no idea how to start, and I didn’t know any publishers. It seemed out of reach.”

But Slade decided to give the class, called “Writing Books for Children,” a try. “Mary was so welcoming and nice,” Slade said. “The course covered practical aspects of writing and publishing, including making fiction and non-fiction compelling, writing query letters to publishers and formatting a manuscript. Everybody in the class was encouraging, and Mary encouraged us to write about subjects that we know.”

Selecting science, history niche proved fruitful With her engineering background, Slade decided to focus on science and nature-related books aimed at young children. After eight years and dozens of rejection letters, she published

College of Lake County Fall 2012 Alumni News  

The College of Lake County Alumni Association serves as a vital link between alumni and the college by sponsoring educational, social and cu...

College of Lake County Fall 2012 Alumni News  

The College of Lake County Alumni Association serves as a vital link between alumni and the college by sponsoring educational, social and cu...