free book, Life in France, writer's life


A few have asked me if I’m still writing. I’ll admit life has been very chaotic since I published my last book. Moving to France has been more intense than I imagined, and although we’ve had some amazing moments, it is still a lot of work to create a whole new life overseas.

But, the really incredible thing is this: Northern France is the dream world I always wanted to live in. I am surrounded by things that inspire me at every turn. A wall of ivy, a set of ruins, a moss-covered pathway, fog creeping through the trees, a chateau peeking above the forest in the distance, ancient stones with faded markings… there is something new to discover every day.

And there are funny things, too, that stick in my head. For instance, the way someone looks at you when you try to explain you are moving here…on purpose. The way some words sound the same, but mean something VERY different. The odd little social rules that no one seems to realize are actual rules, but you seem to be breaking every single one. We weren’t here a week before I began to imagine myself as a character in a story that was equal parts ridiculous and adventurous. This lead me to invent other characters, people I could send off into the woods the way I wanted to be able to roam, or into a chateau where some local can embarass her and woo her all at the same time. I was writing stories in my head every day for weeks before I finally had the time to sit down and write a single word. Then, one day, my husband said, “I think it’s time for you to write. Tonight, I want you to sit down and write for a few hours. If you do that every night before we leave, you’ll have a rough draft of your next book finished.”

Okay, first of all, how lucky am I to have a guy who sees the story inside of me itching to get out and helps me prioritize that passion? I am so blessed! Secondly, I really thought I would be writing one of the two books I have slated to finish next. Instead, I found myself pouring out the first few chapters of a new contemporary romantic comedy. It’s fun to let the story take over and see where it goes. It’s so much fun to write characters who are desperate to be heard. I can’t wait for you to see a little of what life is like here in France through the eyes of my main character.

There are other stories to be told here, too. The village, the chateau, the medieval fortress, they all are fabulous settings. I can imagine Merrilyn and Justan here as I walk through the forest, and I’m eager to return to their journey with all of these beautiful scenes to help make it come alive. My mind is full of ideas to bring a troupe here to eastern France and see how the world I’ve created in the Soul Ties series takes on new dimension with the added cultures and history of Europe. I mean, just imagine a troupe of gypsies, or a scene that included the gargoyles of Notre Dame! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

There is so much writing to do here, and I’m only just getting started. So, don’t give up on me, friends. If you want to see me writing more, then share my books with your friends. Introduce them to one of my series. You can start them all for FREE! Here’s how:

The Light of Loian Series: A Light in the Darkness

The Wanderer Series: Seen

The Soul Ties Series: A Familiar Darkness


Indie Authors, writer's life, YA Author Club

Categorizing Books

YA Indie CarnivalHappy Friday, friends! This week the YA Indie Carnival is discussing the complicated topic of book categories. If you’re an author, I’m sure you know how hard it is to fit your book into just one (or even two!) categories. For the rest of you, please let me explain…

When I finished writing my first book, A Light In The Darkness, I called a fantasy. And it is a fantasy novel. Characters with magical powers, fighting an evil sorcerer, set out on an impossible quest across the kingdom only to battle the very essence of darkness. Add a few dragons and we’d call this thing an epic fantasy.

Well, the problem is…it’s not an epic fantasy. As a matter of fact, die-hard fantasy fans would say it’s hardly a fantasy at all since I didn’t use a lot of the traditional and expected elements of a fantasy. No wizards, no elves or dwarves, no dragons. Even the magic is very different. So, is it really a fantasy?

And another problem – I call this series “young adult” (YA) because the main characters are older teens. When I started shopping it around to agents the year after I finished it, I labeled it MG (middle grade) because it isn’t very “mature”, meaning there isn’t any bad language or sex or even much violence despite several battle scenes. It’s safe to hand to a 5th grader who loves to read adventure stories and you won’t be corrupting their brain or giving them anything too heavy to handle. Still, this creates a problem. Which category is it? MG or YA?

Then, the problem gets messier. Several people reading it started to comment about how “religious” the story was in their opinion. I knew when I finished it that the theme of the story was faith and how it affects our relationships and our choices. Although I had set out to write a fantasy adventure, I somehow ended up with something a lot deeper. It wasn’t really intentional. I wish I could credit for it, but I can’t. It just sort of happened along the way and then as I’m reading through the book, I kept thinking, “Wow. Is that symbolism there? Huh.” Apparently other readers felt pretty strongly about it. Some were even offended, as though I were using the book to trick them into believing my own beliefs. I wish I were that clever! Instead, it looks to me like the book could be speaking about any sort of religion or belief system that someone really held on to. For that matter, the way the main character, Merrilyn believes in Loian doesn’t seem that far off from how some people might believe in aliens or big foot or fairies if they claim to have seen them. The difference is, Loian is telling her to do something and she does it. You can imagine the problems this creates around her when other people don’t understand her actions. THAT is what I believe the story is really about – how a person’s faith in something affects their relationships and the choices they make for their own lives. That seems interesting to me. Anyway, you can see how some began to categorize the book as “religious” or “inspirational”.

So what is it? An action adventure set in a fantasy setting with some magic and still some possible inspirational meaning that chronicles a “coming of age” between middle grade and young adult. Wait. That seems too long. Amazon only allows me to choose one main category. I can tag it in a few more categories. What should I choose? Ugh! This is tough! And for every single book I write, I find myself in the same predicament. How do I narrow this story down into one category?

For many of us indie authors, that difficulty may be one of the reason we’re indie authors in the first place – our books just don’t fit in with the mainstream books you’ll find on bookstore shelves. They won’t be chosen by agents or publishers because they cross enough genres to make marketing a little tricky. Does that mean the story isn’t good or that the writing isn’t excellent? No! It just means that we don’t fit in their nice little boxes that they’ve created to label stories that earn them the big bucks. For a publisher, it all comes down to the money. They must choose books that they can sell quickly and with the least amount of effort or investment.That’s business.But as a reader, that isn’t what I’m looking for exactly. I want a story that intrigues me, that pushes the boundaries of the expected. If you only publish books that fit into 4 or 5 categories, eventually all the books look the same.

Do you ever feel that way? Like all the books and tv shows and movies are all the same? Well, there’s a reason for that! But the indie writers are shouting, “It doesn’t have to be that way!” Give us a chance and we’ll knock your socks off! Grab an indie book and see the diversity you’ll find in our stories. We’re not offering you the same old boring product. We’ve got new things to share and we’re just looking for a few good readers. If that’s you, then check out my books and the books of these other fabulous indie authors listed below. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite and give up the same old boring for something new. Then, be a good friend and share it with others. An indie author will be forever grateful.

The Young Adult Author Club

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy

The Sutherlin Swag Shop

Seen necklaceToday I am so excited to introduce a new way for fans to get personal with their favorite Sutherlin books. Now you can share your love for the Light Series or Seen with the rest of the world by wearing exclusive gear from the Sutherlin Swag Shop.

We only have a few designs available now, but we plan to add more each month. Let us know what your favorites are and what you would like to see us add this summer. Tomorrow, LA will be here to talk more about our plans for the Swag Shop so stop by and get the scoop straight from the source.

Happy Shopping!
~ Heather

Light shirt 1

writer's life

Confession: I Hibernate for the Winter

I admit it – I fell a little behind. Okay. A LOT behind. I haven’t blogged in a month and I haven’t written any new material in almost three months. THREE MONTHS! How did that happen?

Well, winter came along and took all of my energy and tossed it in a deep dark hole somewhere. I’ve always had trouble with winter, but this one seemed extra dark and depressing for some reason. I’m not sure I have ever documented exactly how crazy my life as a writer has been in the last year, but it started to catch up with me around Christmas time and by mid-January I was burnt out. It went something like this:

March 2012: Decide to become a full-time writer. Rewrite 1st book.
April 2012 : Start a blog, edit 1st book, research self-publishing
May 2012: Find an editor, blog like crazy, start working on book 2.
June 2012: Finish rewrite of book 2, start work on cover art
July 2012: Read editor’s notes, revise book 1, finalize cover art
August 2012: Publish 1st book (A Light In The Darkness), send book 2 to editor
Sept 2012: Read editor’s notes and revise book 2, photo shoot for cover
Oct 2012: Publish 2nd book (To Light the Path)
Nov. 2012: Finish book 3 and send to editor. Get elected president of Fiction Writers of Central Arkansas
Dec. 2012: Read editor’s notes and revise, finalize cover art plans
Jan. 2013: Publish book 3 (Seen) and work on book 4
Feb. 2013: Host a month of book giveaways and call it “Share the Love Scavenger Hunt”

So, here it is spring and I’m finally coming out of hiding. I apologize to all of you and especially to my Young Adult Author Club friends who missed out on a month’s worth of author promos and personal indie author chatter. I am so deeply sorry that I dropped the ball. I’m going to make it up to you. Cross my heart! As a matter of fact, starting tomorrow I’m going to be posting all the fabulous author awesomeness that I missed while hibernating. In the meantime, hop on over to the YA Carnival website and check out what you’ve been missing. Those girls have got it going on!

Love you guys!




Share the Love Scavenger Hunt

Books for a Buck!

Today begins an event so epic, so colossally awesome, I could hardly keep it secret. But now it is finally here! I will shout it from the roof tops!


Bestsellers * Award Winners * Hot New Releases

 30 authors offering 35 titles at an amazing 99¢ price (limited time offers)

That’s right, the Books for a Buck blog hop has arrived! For two days a crew of incredible authors have lowered their prices, placing their bestselling titles at 99cents – for TWO DAYS ONLY! Snatch these up while you can, readers! Some of my favorites are listed on there and I’m going to add the rest to my kindle. Don’t use kindle? No problem! Just choose the author you’re interested in and follow their link. Their books will be listed on their website along with all their available formats. My YA fantasy books, A Light In the Darkness and SEEN, are both listed this weekend at 99cents for the hop and you can find them in all major retailers which I keep listed under the My Books tab.1st books

 Want to check out the other incredible authors featured in this Books for a Buck blog hop? Here are the books listed by category:

Young Adult

Defy the Stars by Stephanie Parent (romance/verse)

Ghost Hand by Ripley Patton (paranormal)

Seen by Heather Sutherlin (fantasy)

Sally Singletary’s Curiosity by JM Cataffo (fantasy/mystery)

Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry (contemporary)

Duplicity (Spellbound #2) * 1st book NOW FREE! * by Nikki Jefford

 New Adult/Upper Teen: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Treason (Grimoire Saga #2) * 1st book NOW FREE! * by S. M. Boyce

The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear by M. Pax

ReVamped by Ada Adams

Troll Or Derby, a Fairy Wicked Tale by Red Tash

Neverlove by Angela Brown

Flight (The Crescent Chronicles, #1) by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Vaempires: Revolution and Vaempires: Zombie Rising by Thomas Winship

What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter by Nikki Jefford

New Adult/Upper Teen: Contemporary Romance

Preservation (Preservation, #1) by Rachael Wade

The Unloved by Jennifer Snyder

Make It Last by Bethany Lopez

My Paper Heart by Magan Vernon

Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Horror

Day of Sacrifice Omnibus by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Fall for Me by K. A. Last

The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton

Reunion by Jeff Bennington

Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) * 1st book FREE! * by Karina Halle

Guardian Of Fate by L.J. Kentowski

Ember’s Curse by Gena D. Lutz

FEARLESS by Tawdra Kandle

 Science Fiction and Fantasy

Perfection Unleashed by Jade Kerrion

To Ride a Puca by Heather McCorkle

Contemporary Romance and Chick Lit

The Reunion by Elizabeth Aloe

The Game Changer by Marie Landry

Broken and Mending by J.B. McGee

What are you waiting for? Go grab some great books at fabulous prices! Oh wait! I almost forgot today’s clue for the Share the Love Scavenger Hunt. Here it is:

Visit the hop and you will find
a few new reads that are one of a kind.
Come back and tell us about one that looks nice
The best part of it is, they’re all just the right price!

Want a bonus entry? Share the love by telling your friends on Twitter or Facebook about the Books for a Buck bloghop. You can use the buttons below to help you out. Then, remember to post it here so we’ll know to award your bonus entry. Happy Hunting!

My Books, Share the Love Scavenger Hunt

Tea Time With My MCs

Indie_Author_Month-784206Hey! How’s your weekend going? It’s Indie Author Month and I’m running a bit frazzled today as I try to finish up the sequel to SEEN so that I can send it off to my editor next week. To make things crazier (and I’m really good at making them crazier) I invited my main characters over for tea. They’re both very nice girls, so I hope they’ll get along. Oh! I almost forgot. If you’re following my Share the Love Scavenger Hunt, here’s today’s clue:
It’s day number two, there’s no extra link.
Just read this and tell me, What’s Rory’s favorite drink?

{Doorbell rings}

Ah, here they are. Excuse me.

{Opens the door to find two pretty teenage girls standing on her front porch. Rory is taller with long dark hair wearing jeans and a t-shirt and Merrilyn is petite with the most shocking silver hair you’ve ever seen trailing over her caped shoulder past her waist. She’s wearing a beautiful, though simple, dress that looks like she came from a Renaissance fair.}

Hi, girls! I’m so glad you made it! Come in!

Rory: Hey, Heather! How’s the writing?

Heather: Well, actually… It’s getting a little crazy. I’m almost finished with your sequel and I’ve got to run. I’m sorry. I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ve got the table all set up and I’m sure you’ll both have a fabulous time, but if you don’t mind, I’m going to go back to my office and finish up these last two chapters. Is that okay?

Merrilyn: Sure, sure. We understand. You can’t keep the fans waiting too long! Go finish Rory’s story and we’ll bring you some tea when you’re done.

Heather: That would be fabulous, thanks! I knew you’d understand. Have a good time!

Rory: {turning to Merrilyn} Hey, I’m Rory, by the way.

Merrilyn: I’m Merrilyn, but my friends call me Merri. I’m so happy to finally meet you!

Rory: I know! I’ve been so curious about the other girl taking up so much of Heather’s mind. How are you?

{The girls walk in and sit at the table set for an elaborate tea party.}

Merri: Oh, I’m fine. I’ve been on vacation for the last few months, just enjoying a little quality time at home after all the adventure last fall.

Rory: That would be nice. I can’t wait to get home. I’m afraid my adventure is just beginning. Can you pass the cookies?

Merri: Sure, those look delicious, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like them before. Would you like some tea?

Rory: {Crinkling her nose} I’d rather have a Dr. Pepper, but… sure. Why not? I suppose it is a tea party.

Merri: What is Doctor Pepper? Is that a person or a drink?

Rory: {Laughing} A drink. Sorry, I forget you’re not exactly from Earth.

Merri: No, I’m afraid our world is a little different than yours.

Rory: Tell me about it! I just spent the summer in a magical world full of creatures that want to eat me and a villain that is… Well, never mind. You don’t want to hear about my problems. They’re messy.

Merri: Don’t worry. I know all about villains and monsters. Last year I was hunted by a dark wizard from one side of the kingdom to another and then his master…”  {She shivers. Rory pours her some tea.}

Rory: {Handing Merri the antique looking teacup} A dark wizard, huh? Did he shoot lightning at you?

Merri: No, just the opposite. He used shadows. Why?

Rory: For a minute there I thought maybe we were talking about the same place.

Merri: So, there are wizards where you are from?

Rory: Ha! Goodness, no. I’m from Oklahoma. The most interesting thing we’ve got are Cherokees. No, I was talking about the world beyond the portal. See, there was this magical portal in my backyard. Well, not in the backyard really, but in the forest, and –

{Doorbell rings}

Merri: Who could that be?

{Rory shrugs and starts to get up, but before she reaches the door, a head pops around the corner. It’s a boy about her age with bright red hair wearing a loose fitting white shirt that looks like something a pirate would wear and a smooth leather vest over tight fitted pants. He glances around the room and as his eyes fall on Rory he grins devilishly.}

Merri: Aiden! What are you doing here?

Aiden: {shrugs and steps into the room} We got tired of waiting, so I thought I’d come and see what’s taking so long. Ooh! Cookies! {He snatches a cookie from her plate and pops it in his mouth, then grins at Merri. She huffs and he turns to wink at Rory.}  Who’s your friend?

Merri: {with a resigned sigh} Aiden, this is Rory. Rory, Aiden.

Rory: Hi.

Aiden: {crossing the room, he dips into a dramatic bow} At your service, my lady.

Rory: {She glances at Merrilyn} Your boyfriend sure is flirtatious.

{Aiden chuckles and Merri coughs on her tea, spilling a little on her plate.}

Merri: He is NOT my boyfriend.

Aiden: She wishes! No, her boyfriend is a stuffy prince named Justan.

Merri: Aiden! That’s not polite. You shouldn’t call him stuffy.

Aiden: {shrugs and reaches for another cookie} Well, he shouldn’t be so stuffy, then I wouldn’t have to call him that.

Rory: You’re boyfriend is a prince? Wow.

Merri: You mean your boyfriend isn’t?

Rory: Uh. No. He’s a football player. I mean, if he were my boyfriend. Uh…

Aiden {Raising his eyebrows} You don’t sound sure.  A real man doesn’t leave his girl wondering about his affections. Maybe you just need a real man.

Merri: Cut it out, Aiden. She’s not interested.

Aiden: {Ignoring Merri} So, Rory. What’s your magic power?

Rory: What do you mean?

Aiden: Well, Merri can heal people and I don’t want to brag, but I have a few hidden talents myself. What sort of magic can you do?

Rory: Well, if you come outside, I can show you. {She winks at Merri}

Aiden: {shrugs} Okay, sure. But these biscuits are delicious. I think I’ll just take a few with me. {He scoops up the plate.}

{Rory leads them outside. The door shuts softly behind them. A muffled shout from Aiden is followed by feminine laughter. The two girls come back inside, giggling.}

Merri: Now that is some trick! Justan would love to have that ability. He’s always trying to get rid of Aiden.

Rory: Don’t worry, I’ll bring him back for you later. Too bad he took all the cookies.

{Heather comes rushing in}

Heather: Is everything okay? I thought I heard someone shouting.

Rory: Don’t worry about a thing. We’ve got it covered. Want some tea?

{Heather looks from one innocent expression to another and then sighs.}

Heather: Why not. I could use a break. You won’t believe the trouble I’ve just gotten you into.

Merri: It’s okay. I’m sure she’ll forgive you. I know how good you are at writing happy endings. Rory will want to kiss your face when she sees how her story turns out.

Heather: Well, maybe not my face, but I know a certain boy in Oklahoma who will be happy to oblige.

{She winks and Rory turns a pretty shade of pink. Merrilyn laughs and pours the tea.}

Curious about their adventures? You can find Merri, Justan and Aiden in The Light Series and Rory’s adventure begins in Seen.

Did you catch the clue? If not, scroll to the top and try again. Then, post your answer in the comments below. Want bonus points? Share the Love by tweeting this post or sharing it on Facebook with your friends. Then, let me know in the comment section. If you missed yesterday’s clue, you can find it here. Happy hunting!

book reviews, Free book giveaway, My Books

Last Day to Win!

I was featured last week on one of my favorite Christian fiction review blogs, Labor Not In Vain. The author interview was a lot of fun and then Faye brought tears to my eyes with her excellent review of A Light In The Darkness. She called it “An action packed medieval tale of what a light can do in the darkness,” adding that it had a “spell-casting quality to it.” Wonderful praise from one of my favorite reviewers! I am so grateful for the many book bloggers who share their time and opinions with readers so that we all have an easier time choosing that next book to add to our shelf (or kindle!)

If you haven’t yet read A Light In the Darkness, today is the last day to enter to win an ebook copy of the book on Labor Not In Vain. Just click through to the blog and leave a comment for us about the interview and why you want to win this book. Faye will choose the winner today, so hurry on over and enter. Then, be a good friend and share the news with a few of your more literate friends.

Happy Reading!

                                       ~ Heather

book reviews, Free book giveaway, My Books

Interview and Giveaway

I was thrilled to be interviewed this week over at the fabulous book blog, Christian Bookshelf Reviews. I want to thank Melanie at CBR for inviting me to share a little more about myself and my books.  I thought her questions were insightful and unique. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet new readers and hope you will all stop by to say hello. She reads and reviews Christian fiction and I’ve become a true fan of her site in my constant search for great books.

If you are curious about why I write or want to know a little more about me as a person, please stop by and read through the interview. While you’re there, go ahead and enter for a chance to win my first book, A Light In the Darkness.  If you know someone who has been wanting to read it, now’s a good time for them to have a shot at getting it for FREE. So, be sure to share the link with your friends.

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

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 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 and I will be doing a book signing or two as well! In the meantime, enjoy all the behind-the-scenes fun.