writer's life

The Real Me

photo (3)An icy milkshake is just what my sore throat needed this morning. And a bunch of fabulous friends is just what my heart needed after saying goodbye to my sweet friend T last week. I was blown away by all of the Facebook shares and comments I received when I took a leap of faith and shared my heartache with all of you. I am surrounded by such fabulous people who stood together to lift me up when my heart was broken. Thank you for your incredible gift of kindness!

Last week I poured out a bit of my pain and you all took my breath away with your response. It gave me hope that maybe I could be myself after all. Maybe a blog written by a real, live person (flaws and all) is something worth reading. Maybe even preferred? I know my favorite moments with authors have been when I got a glimpse of them as real people with real passions and ideas and questions. So, that is where I’m headed. I hope you’ll be along for the ride. I want to be real with you. I realize that this means I may put my true self out there and you, dear reader, may decide you can’t stand the real me. I hope not. I can fully admit that I want you to like me. No, that’s not true. I want you to adore me. There. I said it. I want us all to be friends and I want you to come over and have dinner. I’ll bake bread and we’ll have tea. I want to hear all about your hopes and dreams and then we’ll stay up late playing cards (I prefer Dominion) and end the night with hugs and smiles and promises of another night soon. THAT is what I wish for as I write this post.

If that’s ever going to happen, then I can no longer hide behind an impersonal persona on this website or in my business life in general. I started out thinking it was best business practice to appeal to as many as possible. So, I tried to focus on what I thought my audience wanted to hear. It wasn’t long before that began to wear on me. It’s hard to keep up a neutral image and really, in the end, quite pointless. I’m a passionate person full of big ideas (those who know me are snickering. I can hear you!) and I want to share those ideas with the world. That’s part of why I’m a writer. But it’s a scary thing to put yourself out there in the world where someone might come along and stomp on your dream right in front of everyone. It took me seven years to tell anyone other than family that I was writing. So, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I’ve spent my first seven months as a published writer hiding behind a pristine business image and hoping none of you would notice the real me.

So, here it is. Here’s the real me, like it or not:

  • I’m a Christian. I believe in one true God and I worship Him. I go to church several times a week and can’t quite get enough.
  • I love people. I love being with people, I love serving people, I love feeding people. I love people.
  • I am a talker. I have a hard time keeping my thoughts and comments to myself. (And I have the marks on my report cards to prove it!)
  • I love to feed people. I enjoy cooking, but it’s really seeing the smile on someone’s face when I hand them a homemade dish that makes me happy. I especially enjoy cooking for those who are living with true hunger. I want to invite the hungry world to dinner and see them well fed and happy.
  • I care about the homeless and hopeless. I have served in soup kitchens and in shelters. I especially mourn for all of the millions of single moms in America who are trying to raise their babies without living on the streets. This often drives them into desperate situations and it breaks my heart to hear their cries of pain and fear and loneliness as they feel judged and abandoned by the world. This needs to stop. I’m going to do everything in my power to help.
  • I am a homeschooling mom. I love exploring the world with my kids and watching them learn new things. We have a blast and they are growing fast. Soon they’ll leave me behind to explore on their own. Until then, I’m going to soak up every minute I can!
  • I am a writer. I write stories that let you escape this world for just a bit and travel on new adventures with some fabulous people. My characters aren’t terribly flawed, my stories aren’t tragic, and I’m certainly no literary expert. However, I believe this world holds more magic than we suspect and I try to tempt you to wonder about it just a bit as you journey along with a few characters as they discover their own surprising reality. Maybe you’ll find your reality a bit surprising, too.

If any of that makes you think you don’t want to be my friend, then I wish you the best of luck. Thanks for hanging with me this long. I hope your life is fabulous and you pursue your purpose with passion.

If, however, you have reached this sentence and still want to give me a chance… I consider myself blessed. Thank you for showing me kindness and sticking around. I’m not perfect. I’m deeply flawed. But I have a few stories to tell and I would love to share them with you. From here on it, it’s the real me.

Thanks for reading!

~ Heather

PubIt, writer's life, YA Author Club

YA Author Club: Barnes & Noble

YA Indie CarnivalHappy Friday! This week in the YA Author Club we’re all chatting about our experience with Barnes & Noble. I had a bit of trouble putting into words how I felt about this topic, so I snuck over to the blogs of my fellow club members, Bryna Butler and T. R. Graves, and scoped out their responses to this week’s question: What has Barnes & Noble ever done for you? Reading through their responses I am finally able to put my thoughts into words.

Nothing. I suppose that’s only one word.  Allow me to elaborate. When I first published A Light in the Darkness, I was thrilled to see my book listed on Barnes and Noble’s website. To me, that was the pinnacle of success – having your book listed at Barnes and Noble. I live just down the street from our local B&N store and I have many a time walked past their large Nook displays. It was easy for me to dream of all the Nook sales that would soon be pouring in now that my own book was available for their high-end device. Then, a week went by and then a month. No sales. It has now been six months and I have sold a grand total of two books on Barnes and Noble’s site. TWO!! 

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah! Disappointed. I was deeply disappointed. That is not to say that my book hasn’t sold. That would be different. If my books weren’t selling I would think “maybe I’m not such a great writer after all.” But that is not the case. I have had some success at Amazon and it seems to be growing, increasing momentum with each passing month and each new title I place out there in the market. No, this is a problem with Barnes and Noble and how they do business. You see, Amazon makes it easy for everyone to buy, sell, interact, and enjoy ebooks. They have multiple ways to encourage us as writers and you as readers to know each other, to share with our friends, and to recommend new writers to one another. On my Amazon author page you can even see a snippet of my blog or host a discussion about my work. I can even add a calendar of events showing where I’ll be for book signings or author talks. It’s remarkable and yet so very simple as though Amazon brought us together. “Author, meet reader. Reader, here is the author you were searching for. Say hello. Chat. Buy a book or two. Tell a friend. We’ll be right here when you need us.”

Oh wait. This was about Barnes and Noble. Well, you can see that I’m clearly not impressed with them. So, why are my books still listed with B&N for Nook? Well, remember that little discussion about KDP Select? The gist of it is this: I want my books to be available to as many readers as possible. I am willing to lose out on a few dollars here or there in commissions in order to be certain that the reader who is searching for my book can find it when and where she needs it and be able to enjoy it on her (or his) device. If I can’t place my book in their hands, then it seems to me that writing it was a bit pointless (not to mention the hundreds of other hoops I’ve jumped through to get it published.) So far my books are available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and in print on Amazon. (You can find them here.) Sony will be next, I think. If there is a platform where you would like to see my books, please let me know. I’m doing my best to get into your hands. I promise.

And if you love Nook and buy a lot through Barnes and Noble, please let me know that, too. I appreciate hearing from all of you!

Happy reading!


My Books, nanowrimo, writer's life

What’s Next?

I am proud and very relieved to say that my new book, To Light The Path, is now available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Soon you’ll be able to order a print copy from Amazon, too. I am very proud of this book and grateful in so many ways. The process of editing this book helped me to understand why I am writing and who I am writing for as I work on each new project. I started out with a story to tell, but it has grown into so much more. I can hardly wait to see where this journey takes me!

So, a lot of friends have asked me, “What’s next?” Ha. Well, that is a complicated question. I have a lot of amazing things coming up soon. Here are just a few:

  • A Light In the Darkness will be featured on some really fabulous blogs for Christian fiction fans. Watch this site for more details to come in the next few weeks!
  • Next week, I’ll be speaking at the North Little Rock Leadership Symposium. Elementary students in our district’s gifted and talented program will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be an author and hear all about how important leadership skills are in this business.
  • Next month, I’ll be leading an after school program at the Main library for young writers. We’ll be working toward finishing books for National Novel Writing Month along with writers from all over the world.
  • Meanwhile, I’m leading my annual young writer’s club every Monday afternoon and this year I’m typing up all my lessons. By the end of November, the club will all have finished novels and I’ll have a complete curriculum to share with teachers and parents everywhere.
  • Oh! And did I mention I’m working on a new series? I already have the preliminary editorial notes for my next book and I’m hard at work on revisions. I hope to introduce all of you to a new batch of characters and a whole new adventure sometime in November. It’s going to be epic!

So, that’s what’s going on here at my writing desk. How about you? Do you have big plans this fall? Is anyone joining me and the writing club for NaNoWriMo? If so, you might want to stop by next week as I start a new series on pre-writing activities that will get you ready for the big day. For more information about NaNoWriMo and how you can participate, visit their site.

Happy Writing!


Indie Authors, My Books, writer's life

More “Ask the Author” Questions

Yesterday I shared a few questions from third graders in Nashville, Tennessee. Here are the rest of their fabulous questions and my responses.

7. Do you keep a notebook or something else to record ideas for your books?  How do you come up with new ideas?

I do keep a notebook. Actually, I keep a LOT of notebooks and pens everywhere. I also carry an ipad with me, but when I have really good ideas, I take out a notebook and start writing. Sometimes I end up writing in really funny places like in the middle of the grocery store or at the pool while I’m dripping wet. I just don’t want to forget my ideas, so I hurry to jot them down.

All of my big ideas have come from dreams. I have very vivid dreams that I call “movie dreams.” It is like I’m watching a movie. I can see all the characters and hear them talk and usually I can even feel the main character’s emotions. I watch them go through something amazing like falling in love or running from some bad guy or searching for a treasure. Then, when I wake up, I can’t stop thinking about it and wondering what happened next, so I write it down. I almost never dream about real life, so all of my stories are fantasy in some way. I once dreamed about Africa, but then the characters were attacked by alien cat monsters, so… I guess my dreams are never normal.

 8.   Was it fun making your book?

YES! The most fun I have ever had, I think. I don’t write like most writers. I write to find out what happens next, so I don’t have the whole book planned out like you are taught in school to write. (Sorry, Mrs. Hayes) So, writing for me is like reading a really good book. It is the book I most want to read and I can’t wait to find out what happens. Will they be saved? Will they get what they wanted? I don’t know, so I keep writing. And the best part is something most people don’t know about writers: The characters will surprise you! Sometimes you are thinking they will do one thing and then while you are writing all of a sudden they are doing something else and you sit back, staring at the screen and say, “Huh. Why did you do that? That messes up everything!” And it’s kind of amazing. Like they are alive and you have to try to keep up with them. So, you start writing again and try to get them out of whatever they just got themselves into. It’s my favorite part of writing.

 9.   How did you come up with your title?

As I was writing, I was spending a lot of time thinking about my book. One day I was reading the Bible, which I try to do every morning, and I got to a place where Jesus is talking about being the light in the world that is full of darkness. I sat and thought about that for a while and realized how much my character is like that. So, then I started looking for other places where the Bible talks about light and darkness. Pretty soon I had a long list. I ended up using a lot of those ideas in making my books for this series. All of the books originally had titles that were from the Bible and all of them have the same theme. Light changes the darkness, pushes it back so that we can see things, but the darkness is constantly threatening to put out the lights.

 10.  Does your story relate to your life?

Well, it is a fantasy, so… not entirely. However, since I am a Christian, I am trying to do what Jesus said about being a light in a dark world. So, in that sense I am a little like Merrilyn, the main character. Mostly I just wish I could run around in fantasy lands saving people from danger and healing them magically like she does in the book. Wouldn’t that be cool?

 11.  Did you download your own book? 🙂

Haha. After my book was converted from Word into the ebook file, I was able to load it onto my ipad and read it as a kindle book. That way I could check to see if it looked okay and make any changes before customers bought the book. So, I didn’t have to pay for it. But, my husband and our daughter downloaded it on their phones, so we have a copy everywhere we go. My book just went to paperback and people can order it on Amazon, so I am going to order a big box of them and take them to a few schools here in Little Rock that can’t afford to buy books. Then, whatever is left will probably ride around in the car with me so that I can hand them out to people I meet who might help me sell them, like bookstore owners, librarians, or book reviewers.

One more thing: When I was little I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t understand how many people it takes to make a book arrive in a book store or library for me to read. Even though I self-published, it still took a lot of people to make it happen. I had my cover designer/photographer/artist, my editor who helped me make the book even better, a formatter who turned it into the different formats for Kindle or Nook and cleaned up messy spaces. Then, when it is all finished, most people also hire someone to help them market the book. Selling a book is very different from writing one, so sometimes we need help. But the best help of all is the reader. A reader who loves a book will tell all their friends about the book. When you love a book and you tell a friend, “That book was awesome! You should go read it!” you are sharing that love with the author. Even though you never meet the author, maybe you don’t even remember their name, you are giving them a precious gift. Because each book that sells is money that helps that author write for another year. Each book that sells says to the author, “someone loves your books, so keep writing!” If you love an author, if you love their books, then tell a friend. I always give books as Christmas or birthday presents because then I am sharing what I love with someone else and in the meantime I get to encourage an author somewhere to keep writing.

And for those of you in this class that wish you could write amazing books. Keep trying. Writing is fun, but it is work, too. Just like you have to practice to become a better soccer player or a better singer or a better artist, you have to practice if you want to be a better writer. Even now I am working hard to become better. I write every single day. I edit every single day. I read books about how to write, I talk with other writers and with editors and with teachers who teach people to be writers or editors. I am all grown up, but I am just now really learning how to be a true writer. I wish I had started when I was young. So, if you want to be a writer, if you have wonderful ideas for stories, grab a notebook and carry a pencil with you and WRITE!

Happy reading and writing!

Love, Heather

 If you have a question for me, please leave it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer you.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Indie Authors, My Books, writer's life

Ask the Author

Recently I had the immense pleasure of answering a few questions about what it is like to be an author. Mrs. Hayes third grade class from Nashville, TN created a fantastic list of questions for me and I was very impressed with how much they understood about the writing and publishing process. They had eleven questions and I gave them twelve answers. Today I’ll share with you the first half of our conversation and tomorrow I’ll reveal the exciting conclusion, giving you a chance to ask a few questions, too.

1.    How did you get the idea for your book?

I had a beautiful dream that was a little bit scary at the end. You see, I was this girl, dressed all in white, standing with a bunch of people near a waterfall. People were splashing and playing in the water and I laughed because they were grown-ups but acting like kids. I looked up to say something about it to my friend, who was the prince, but I saw a man in a black cape coming down the hill to attack him. So, I ran to stop him from hurting my friend the prince. I jumped in front of him and then… I woke up.

2.    When did you start working on this book?

Well, I woke up from this dream and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know how I became friends with a prince. I wanted to know who the girl in white was since she didn’t seem very much like me and I thought it was weird that she thought she could fight a big bad guy like the one in the black cape. So, I got up out of bed and found a notebook and started writing notes. I thought about it all day long and most of the day the next day. Then, I put it away. About a year later, my brother, who is a writer, said to me, “You should write a book. Let’s both write books in November for National Novel Writing Month.” So I did. I wrote the whole book just to see what happened next.

3.    Was your book rejected before it was published?  If so, how many times?

Oh Yes! Many times! I tried for a whole year to get it published and I received 14 rejection letters. Many agents wouldn’t even respond to my letters. They didn’t think my book would make any money, so they didn’t waste their time writing to tell me so. It was very depressing. I actually gave up trying to get published. BUT, I did not give up writing. Once I realized I could write a book, I wanted to keep writing books. It felt good. So, I wrote another and another and another.

4.    How did you find a publisher?

Actually, I never did find a publisher. I gave up, remember? But a funny thing happened. My brother had written a lot of really good books and he had been trying for many years to get published and then one day he decided to publish his own books. Now that many of us have computers, we can publish books for ourselves. So, my brother figured out how and he made so much money that was able to quit his job! Then, he taught me how to do it, too. Now I am writing every day and this year I plan to publish three books all on my own. That is called self-publishing, but most of us call ourselves Indie Authors because we are independent, we don’t rely on publishers.

5.    Did you type your book on the computer?  If so, what program did you use? 

What a clever question! I started out writing in a notebook. Nearly all of my stories start in a notebook. Then, I took the pages I had written and typed them into the computer using Microsoft Word so that I wouldn’t lose them. Also, it is easier to add more or to edit if you are using a computer. Then, when I started really writing on my book during National Novel Writing Month, I used Google Docs because I could easily share my work with friends or family and I could save it at home, go on a trip somewhere and open the internet and be able to see my document no matter where I was or what computer I was using. Isn’t that cool? Now I use Word, but I save everything I do in google drive so that I can still reach it from any computer.

6.    Why did you choose that candle for the cover?  Was there an illustrator?

I chose the candle as a symbol. The girl in my story is very special and she is asked to do something really unique. She is supposed to tell the people she meets about the god of light who wants to help them. While she’s trying to do that, the god of darkness is trying to stop her. So, she is like a little candle in a very dark place. If you blow out that one little candle, then the whole place will be dark.

My sister is an amazing photographer. I asked her to create the cover for me so that I could tell people that my family is awesome (because they are) and because I trusted her to make the cover the way I wanted. She did a great job and she is going to create all the covers in this series.

I met a girl who is a very talented artist and I asked her to read my next series which is about a few kids who wander through a portal into another world and follow a wizard to fight a mean woman who has kidnapped his queen. She read the book and loved it, so she agreed to paint a cover for my book. I think she did a fabulous job and I wish you could see it. I have the paintings hanging in my office and soon my sister will take special photos of them and turn them into a book cover on the computer. Isn’t that amazing?

Do you have any questions for me? Ask away and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.

Indie Authors, My Books, writer's life

Behind the scenes

It has been an exciting week with the release of my new book, A Light In The Darkness. As a bonus for all of my fabulous readers, I thought I would show you where you can find a little more about the series and what’s next for Merrilyn and her friends.

You can see some of the visual inspiration for the books over at Pinterest. My Light Series board is full of photos and art depicting scenes from A Light In The Darkness as well as a few sneak peeks at what’s coming next in that series.  If you have a Pinterest account, you can follow my board to get updates on new images and links for The Light Series. Or, you can explore my other boards to see what else I’m cooking up. I’ll give you a hint, you haven’t seen this before!

Want to know more about the publishing side of things and stay updated on all the news for HeatherSutherlin.com? Check out my Facebook page where I chat about writing, publishing, and a whole lot more. Just click “like this page” to get updates in your FB feed. You’ll notice I’m very chatty, so feel free to stop by and leave a comment or ask a question.

Have you read the book yet? You don’t have to own a Kindle to read A Light In The Darkness.  You can download the FREE app for your smart phone, ipad, or even your computer. Own a Nook or Kobo? Light is coming soon just for you! Keep an eye on this site or over at Facebook for when it will be available, but I expect it to be released on Nook by the end of this week. For all of you die-hard print lovers, A Light In The Darkness will be available this fall on Amazon.com and I will be doing a book signing or two as well! In the meantime, enjoy all the behind-the-scenes fun.

inspiration, nanowrimo, writer's life

Heather Goes to Camp

I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks and for two very good reasons: 1) I have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on my soon to be released novel, Light In The Darkness. And, 2) I went to camp.

That’s right, folks. This thirty-something mother of three went to camp for a week with a bunch of the coolest teens I know. We got dirty, down right stinky nasty running around and playing crazy games in the hot southern sun. We played games like Fish Baseball and Zombie Apocalypse Capture the Flag. We built a giant slip-n-slide. We swam in the river and had a blast. It was a wild and crazy week.

One of the things I enjoyed most about camp was meeting so many amazing kids. I discovered that two of my young friends hope to be writers someday (Hi, Anna and Kaitlyn!) and enjoyed talking with them about books they love and the stories they plan to write. I talked with a few gals who insisted they hate to read and are terrible in school (Hi, Rose and DeeAnn!) and this shocked me because they were so very cool and smart. I wish I could be their teacher for a year or two and share with them all of my favorite books and teach them how very fun and fabulous writing can be.  I hope they will stop by the site to visit once in a while and maybe pick up one of the books I have shared in You Gotta Read posts.

Another awesome thing about visiting camp as a writer is the concentrated look at teen relationships that you get in a week of camp. We saw young love and heartbreak, major girl drama and teen angst.  Mostly I saw a lot of great friendships bloom out of seemingly nowhere. We all arrived strangers and left with friends. What an amazing thing. Those memories will be useful when I am creating new characters in my YA books this next year. You can’t beat the experience of real life when you are crafting fiction.

How about you? Did you go to camp this summer? Did you meet any totally cool kids that you wish you could hang out with all year? What awesome new experiences will you be using in your writing this year?

If you’ve got a fabulous idea for a story, why not go ahead and write it? It’s too hot to do much of anything else, so a few hours at your computer desk or on your bed with a pen and a notebook will keep you cool and entertained. Besides, mom and dad can’t get too irritated when they find you writing a book instead of watching tv, right? Man, I’d give my kids cookies for that!

Here’s a great way to help you get started: Camp Nanowrimo! You can join thousands of other writers around the world who are racing to get their stories written before August 31st.  That’s a whole book written in a month!  Think it can’t be done? It can and its a blast.  The perfect kick in the seat to get you motivated to get that story that’s been bouncing around in your brain for years out and into the open page. Sign up now and scroll through their website to see all the fun and silliness that can be had when a bunch of writers jump into the word frenzy that is writing a book in a month.  It’s a blast.  As a matter of fact, my first very first novel was written during Nanowrimo a few years ago. Now I’m getting ready to share it with the world in just a few short days. You never know what magic can happen when you sit down with that idea and let it all out onto the blank page.

Gotta Write,Heather
writer's life, writing games

Road Trip Games for Word Lovers

Road trips are my favorite summer pastime!  Every summer my family would take a few trips to visit family or go camping.  We never had big fancy vacations until I was in high school, so a six hour drive to grandma’s was as good as it was gonna get.  My parents are incredibly creative and made the journeys in a cramped car without air conditioning across west Texas or southern Oklahoma seem like an adventure.  The car catches on fire? How cool!  Bet you haven’t seen that before, hey kids?  We run out of coolant and need to hike off-road to a nearby stream to carry water back to the car?  Awesome!

Aside from vehicular mishaps, my parents taught us car games like The Alphabet Game.  My husband came into the family with a few car games himself, but they mostly involved counting things like tractors and grain towers. Now we have a few kids and find ourselves taking to the road ourselves, only with more reliable cars.  Our crew is pretty imaginative and loves a good challenge.  So, here are a few of the road games we’ve created to keep the boredom and sibling infighting at bay:

Where’d That Come From?
This game is like I Spy for the story loving crowd.  Spot something random or fairly unexplainable along the way and pose this question to the crowd.  Take turns coming up with a fantastic explanation for how the bizarre item could have come to rest in that location.  The more ridiculous the explanation, the more my crew would cheer.  Hubby added the rule in our car that you had to have at least five sentences to your story.  This keeps you from just throwing out the same silly statements each time like “Aliens!” or “Terrorists!”  Elaborate.  Make it more exciting.  Hubby’s advice to our crew: add back story.  What happened to create the scenario where aliens ended up breaking the fence along the roadway so that the cows escaped?  Why were the terrorists creating secret bombs that look like trash bags the highway crews leave along the side of the road?  Back story is where it’s at, people!  Of course, this game got wildly out of control after a few turns and we began adding on to each other’s ideas so that our stories were more like 20 minutes long.  Very entertaining!

Examples from our recent road trip:
Why is that town named Wooster?
How did that school bus end up in the middle of a field?
Why does that water tower have a giant hole in it?

 Billboard Songs
We love music!  This one is fun for those of you who know a bajillion songs and like to show off.  That describes my husband pretty well, so he made up this game for us.  Actually, it started like this: We saw a sign that reminded us each of a song.  He started singing his and I laughed because it reminded me of a different song, which I sang for him.  That’s how it all began.  Soon we were competing to see who could come up with the most songs.  Each sign we passed had one of us bursting into song based on one word or phrase from the billboard.  For example “We’ll keep the light on for you” becomes “This little light of mine” or “Valley View Retirement Center” becomes “Down in the valley…”

You could make it more challenging by calling out a sign/word and everyone takes turns coming up with songs from that one sign.  When no one else can come up with a song, the last person to sing gets to choose the next sign.

Alphabet Game
This is an old one and most of you know it, but just in case you missed the awesome fun of The Alphabet Game, here are the rules. Everyone starts at A.  Look at signs you pass (they must be signs! No truck logos or words found in the car!) When you see a word with the letter you are seeking, call it out.  So, you might see a sign that says For Sale.  You yell, “Sale! A!” and then move on to the letter B.  Everyone else now has to find a word that is not Sale and has the letter A while you are searching for B.  You’re winning!  Whoever gets to Z first wins.  It’s tricky because there are only so many words that use Q, Z, and X.  So, if your obnoxious little brother yells “Exit! E!” then you are going to be tortured when you find yourself sitting at X and passing exit signs.  Everyone learns to save certain words for when they hit the hard letters.  That, or they cheat.  My mom would get bored with this half way through and wish she had never suggested it.  I think she preferred to listen to our bickering over the constant shouting of random words and letters.  We would add to this torment by declaring a rematch, beginning again at A the minute anyone hit Z.  Hint: This game does not work well with small children.  Just because they know their a,b,c’s does not mean you will enjoy playing with them.  Everyone needs to be a reader to make this as cutthroat fun as possible. 🙂

Then What Happened?
I play this game with my writing club each year.  It’s easy and lots of fun.  Start off a story with a basic sentence that leaves room for the story to grow.  Then, the person beside you adds a sentence to the story.  Go around the circle/car adding sentences until you come to a ridiculous end and then start over.  If you get stuck, you can always use some of our story starters.  We usually end up trying to trump each other with the most ridiculous, most silly or most disgusting sentences.  It gets wildly out of control.  But then again, most of our games do.  I think that’s because we are wildly out of control… uh, I mean fun.

Do you have any wordy games you like to play in the car?  We would love to try out a few new ones.  Leave the instructions in the comment section and we’ll give your game a whirl next time we’re in the long stretch between civilization in a mini-van.

encouragement, nanowrimo, writer's life

Write to Fight Summer Boredom

Writers are lucky creatures.  We keep entertainment at our fingertips.  So, there is no excuse for complaining that you are bored this summer like all the other kids.  Kick that rear in gear and grab a notebook or a laptop and get busy throwing some words down.  Here are a few sites to help you get moving and fight that summer boredom:


  • What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.
  • Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
  • Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.
  • When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster. Writing begins 12:00:01 AM on June 1, and again on August 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by 11:59:59 PM on the last day of the month. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.


From JuNoWriMo’s about page:

JuNoWriMo is June Novel Writing Month, started by Becca J. Campbell and Anna Howard to have a slightly different take on a month long noveling adventure. For starters, you don’t have to write a novel (you can write creative non-fiction, so bring on the funny/meaningful memoirs or whatever), write a new novel (did you write 5 pages last month and you can’t get going? That’s okay, write the next 50,000 words with us!).



The dare machine is still running over at Nanowrimo’s Young Writer’s Program page.  Why not hop on over and give it a whirl.  It can help you power through the brick wall of Writer’s Block or at least provide a few laughs when you’re stuck in Writer’s Grump.  Make a game of it with your writerly friends.  Spin the machine and challenge each other to a dare.  You can also bum around their forums and make a few new writer friends if you are starting to feel alone in your literary world.


And please don’t forget to come back here for lots of writing fun.  I have more books, interviews with authors and writing exercises to get us all through the dog days of summer.  See you soon!


writer's life, writing advice

The Writer’s Life: Sick Days

>Sometimes you are going to find yourself too sick or tired to string words together. For instance, that sentence just took me five minutes of typing, editing and retyping.

I’m taking a sick day. When my cold medicen kicks in, I will probably read a book like Dragonfriend by Roger Eschbacher so that I can blog about it in a week or two.

Why don’t you read a good book, too? May I suggest one? Oh! I already have! Scroll through the blog and choose a few. Can’t afford books? Enter to win The Grimoire by S.M. Boyce.

Not in the mood to read someone else’s awesomeness? Why don’t you try out one of our writing exercises? Grab a notebook and a pen and get busy creating your own awesome. Or, you could play “Find the typos” in this Sick Day post.

Go ahead, write amongst yourselves. I’ll just lie here and sniffle.

Gotta Kleenex,