YA Society

Creepy Fun Friday

YA Society Badge

Earlier this week I introduced you to a brand new site created just for fans of YA indie fiction, The YA Storytellers Society. Twice each month members of the society will blog about a common topic. This week’s topic is Creepy & Lovin’ It. So, here’s a creepy excerpt from my book, To Light the Path.

Path front coverMerrilyn sat staring into the fire, debating with herself silently over all the things the Dream Stealer had said to her. She couldn’t hope any longer that he would stay away, but at the same time, she didn’t want to hear his promises anymore. She knew he couldn’t keep them; they had to be lies. Still, she wondered about the man who could invade her thoughts so easily. Who was he, and what did he really want with her? She hoped tonight to find out.

She took her place by the fire Aiden had built and tried to force herself to sleep. Instead, sleep eluded her. She tossed and turned long after the others were snoring. Merrilyn wondered if maybe she had been foolish to think she would hear his voice again so soon. With a deep sigh, she gave up trying to sleep and watched the smoke curl up toward the stars.

The clouds were thick tonight and a chill filled the air. She was glad for her warm blankets and snuggled deeper into them. Justan’s arm fell off of her and he snored loudly before rolling over to face the opposite direction.

Merrilyn turned back to stare at the fire and nearly jumped in surprise. The smoke had changed. Instead of the thin wisp rising slowly away from the dying flames, it now billowed into a large cloud that puffed and grew as she watched.

The Dream Stealer’s voice called to her, and Merrilyn tried not to smile in relief.

“You were waiting for me?” he asked, a hint of laughter in his voice this time. “I am a little surprised, Merrilyn. It seems you can’t decide how you feel about me.”

Her mind had been drawing its own picture of him for weeks. Now she wondered if his face would match the beautiful voice she heard singing in her dreams.

The smoke billowed suddenly, and a man appeared stepping out of the haze. Though she could not at first see his face clearly, her first thought was that he was the most handsome man she had ever seen.

He smiled at that. He was dark, his hair a deep brown, almost black, and his eyes were the same. He wore a black cloak that covered most of him.

The smoke swirled around him, pooling at his feet and then rushing away along the ground. She looked around, surprised to find herself standing at the top of a mountain. She could see the land stretching out all around her in every direction. It was beautiful and she wondered about all the places she had never seen. She gazed at the expansive scene in wonder.

“It could be yours,” he said softly beside her.

She turned to look up at him, searching his face, eager to read his expression now that she could. But it told her nothing more. He watched her calmly, waiting for her reply.

“Who are you to give it to me?” she asked at last.

He laughed. “What a clever question. Haven’t you guessed?”

Merrilyn shook her head.

“Ah, well then. I have a question for you,” he said with a smile. “Why did you want to see me?”

He took her hand and raised it to his lips. Then, he turned it over, running his thumb across her wrist where her pulse throbbed a bit quicker. His smile widened as he pressed a kiss into the palm of her hand.

She watched him with a mixture of fear and fascination. He lifted an eyebrow as he watched the play of emotions on her face.

“Shall I answer that for you?” he asked, teasingly.

“I want to know what it is you want from me,” she said at last.

“I only want to give you all that you desire. Surely you cannot object to that.”

She appraised him warily, and his lips twisted into a smile.

“Ah, I forgot. You don’t trust me.”

He sighed dramatically.

“I suppose I will just have to convince you then,” he said. “Come with me and I will show you.”

Her eyes widened at this suggestion.

He waited, hand outstretched for her, his eyes locked on hers. At last, with a deep breath for courage, she took his hand and fog billowed at her feet. It grew into a great cloud, swirling around her until she could no longer see anything but the Dream Stealer smiling down at her.

Slowly, the fog faded. They appeared in a stone chamber that reminded her of the king’s great room back in Nomar. It held no furniture except an enormous throne made of solid stone. It was black and as her eyes travelled the room, Merrilyn noticed scorch marks along the walls and floor. Strange since the room no longer smelled of fire.

“This could be yours,” he said softly, pulling her further into the room. “Here, you could sit on a throne and rule the nations.”

He pointed to the far wall where several large windows looked out over a great valley. She stepped closer, staring out at the land below. From here it seemed as though she could see the entire world.

“All of this could be yours, if you will choose it.”

He stared down into her eyes and she felt her pulse quicken. “I will see to it that you have all that you want, all that you long for. I will make you the greatest woman who has ever lived. All will know your name and speak it with reverence.”

She glanced away from his intense gaze and looked again out the windows at the world below. It was dark now, as though a storm were growing and the clouds choked out all the moonlight, obscuring the earth below from her sight.

Merrilyn took a deep breath, suddenly fearful. Something deep within her warned of an unseen danger and she tried to understand it, to see it clearly, but it eluded her. She looked up at the man beside her and saw how he watched her with coolness, as though he understood the reason for her fear better than she.

Intrigued?
Merrilyn’s adventure begins in A Light in the Darkness
and continues in book two, To Light the Path.

Read more creepy tales by our society members HERE.

My Books

Seen Gets a Facelift

Yesterday Seen, the first book in the Wanderer Series, got a beautiful new cover from Author/Designer Donna Dull. What do you think?

Seen Cover 2There’s more coming up for Wanderer Fans! Next month Seen will become an audiobook through ACX. The sequel, Wandering, will get an updated cover, and the series will have it’s own page on my website. Finally, we’ll be adding all new graphic designs to our Swag Shop so that you can share The Wanderer with your friends.

writer's life

Whew! What a Summer!

my summer hatWhat an amazing summer! Last night we stumbled in from a long weekend at the beach with my family and I’m telling you – we were exhausted!  This morning as I sipped my coffee in relative tranquility I thought back over the last few months and could hardly believe all that has happened. Here are a few highlights:

June

  • I attended my first EVER writers’ conference: The Arkansas Writers’ Conference. I even managed to win a few prizes for a short story or two.
  • I had my first EVER book signing event in Nashville, TN and got to meet some amazing YA authors and a few fabulous fans.
  • I went to UTOPYA! It’s a conference for “women who write paranormal YA books and the fans who love them.” This was epic and I already have my tickets for next year’s stellar event. Can. NOT. Wait!

    My very first book signing!
    My very first book signing!

July

  • Traveled to Colorado on what turned out to be a grand adventure and spent the better part of a week working on the characters for my new book series. 
  • Went to camp for a week and met some of the most incredible teens you could ever know. A powerful reminder that many of our young people carry terribly heavy burdens on their beautiful shoulders.
  • Spoke at the Arkansas Reading Association‘s annual leadership conference. Let me tell you, these girls ROCK! Love them!
  • Record sales month! I nearly cried when the numbers passed the mark it would normally take me three months to reach. Amazing!

    Arkansas Reading Association's Leadership Conference 2013
    Arkansas Reading Association’s
    Leadership Conference 2013

August

  • Family vacation into the Smokey Mountains left me breathless. It was so relaxing and stunningly beautiful. I spent the week writing on book three of my Light Series just because it wouldn’t leave me alone.
  • Came home and started our 5th year homeschooling and this year I have a freshman in high school. Wow!
  • Invited to be part of the writing team for a local 48 hour Film Project team. We went from brainstorming to finished film in less than 48 hours and our film is already creating some local buzz. What an incredible experience!
  • Quick weekend trip to Gulf Shores with my entire family. It was amazing!

         Writers on the set! LR 48 Hour Film Project
    Writers on the set!
    LR 48 Hour Film Project

So, now that my crazy amazing busy summer is over… What next? Well, here’s what I’m working on this fall:

  • Finish writing book three in The Light Series, The Light Within.
  • Begin work on the audio versions of The Light Series and The Wanderer Series.
  • Possible book signings and conference appearances
    (Watch my Events page for more details!)
  • Finish up a contemporary romance story just in time for Christmas.

How about you? Was your summer incredible? What fabulous plans do you have for the fall? I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to while I was away.

Happy writing!
Heather

My Books, you gotta read

New Release: Wandering

It’s time to celebrate, friends! I finally found Rory and now you can find her, too. Her story continues in Wandering, a brand new release in The Wanderer Series that’s out today. To celebrate my new book release, I’ve put the first book in the series on sale. If you haven’t yet read Seen, you can grab it for just 99cents, this week only, on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes. Grab it while they’re hot! This deal won’t last long.

Wandering front cover

When you’ve traveled between worlds, there’s nowhere left to go but home.

Rory has never been so cold in her life. But the biting wind only reminds her of another pain that grows more intense with each passing day. Each night Jaron’s beautiful voice sings in her dreams, and each day her footsteps draw her closer to his side. Danger and intrigue at every turn, no distance is too far when you’re returning for true love.

Rin has spent the last five years searching for Rory across two worlds. Now a series of visions have him convinced he’s growing closer to finding her. But when Rory slips through another portal, taking his visions with her, he finds himself back at square one. To find her now he’ll need the help of an old friend and a little otherworldly magic.  This time he intends to bring The Wanderer home for good.

Wandering

Available on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes

My Books

Cover Reveal: Wandering

When I asked my cover artist, Kate Gardner, to design a cover for Wandering, she disappeared with the book and her sketchpad for a few days. What she came back with was incredible. I took one look at her notes and said, “It’s perfect! Do it just like that, it’s perfect.” Then, I went on with life and she went back to school for the spring. A few months later I was putting the finishing touches on Wandering when I got the call. “It’s finished. When do you want me to bring it by?” I nearly dropped the phone!

Here is what she brought me:

Wandering painting

I promise you, the photos do NOT do it justice! Rory’s hair has an auburn sheen to it that shimmers in the light. The mountains hold both texture and depth. But my favorite part is how the air above her sparkles. It reminds me of when we lived in Maine and the air was so cold one winter morning that the moisture in the air froze into tiny crystals, making the air literally sparkle in the sunlight. You would hardly believe it until you saw the beauty of it for yourself. Looking at this painting, I almost can imagine Rory’s expression of wonder as the wind lifts her hair and the snow swirls around her feet.

After the painting was in my hands, I had it photographed and then the images were sent to my cover designer, my incredible sister, Shannon Iverson. She’s the talent behind all of my other book covers, but for this one I wanted the painting to really shine. So, the design was simple this time: focus on Rory.

Wandering front cover (548x800)

I hope her expression captures your attention as it does mine. I hope you can feel her longing and sense the enormity of the journey she’s on and, most of all, I hope it makes you want to know more. If you haven’t met Rory, you can find her story in Seen. Discover why we’re all searching for her now as Wandering hits the shelves later this month. Then, join us in our search for The Wanderer.

All week we’ll be searching for Rory and following the clues some very talented indie writers have left for us along the way. You can join the search HERE. A new clue will be posted each day and you can leave your guesses in the comments on the Where’s Rory? page. We’ll end the search with a big giveaway from some of our participating authors on the 20th. A whole stack of ebooks will go to our readers who guess the closest answer to Rory’s actual location.

Think you know where Rory is hiding? Join the search. Follow the clues, find the Wanderer, and win great books from fabulous indie authors. Want to follow the action? Don’t miss a single clue! Share the fun with friends on Twitter with the hashtag #WheresRory.

Indie Authors

HUGE Book Signing in Nashville

nashvillesigningfb

Are you ready for one of the biggest author signings of the summer?

Metamorphosis Books is hosting over twenty authors in

Nashville TN

 June 27, 2013

at the Hotel Preston.

Come and meet authors Lizzy Ford, Julia Crane, Tabatha Vargo, LP Dover, Ella James, Bethany Lopez, Brina Courtney, Jamie Magee, Heather Sutherlin, Michelle Miller, Kate Chase Mathias, Sarah Ashley Jones, Amy Miles, Frankie Rose, Morgan Wylie, Annie Walls, Andrea Heltsley, Rebecca Ethington, Alexia Purdy, Cameo Renae, Felicia Tatum, Cambria Hebert, and Melissa Andrea!!

Are you squeeeeeing yet? I know I am! What a great chance to meet so many fabulous authors in one place! Come visit, get books signed, purchase new ones, take pictures and get to chat with our bestselling authors.

Authors will be selling books and other goodies so please bring cash for transactions.

 Don’t forget your camera!

RSVP and get more information. Can’t wait to see you!

Event is sponsored by Metamorphosis Books in partnership with Indie Inked

 

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
Swag

LA Notes: The Swag Shop

Hey, it’s LA. Mom wants me to introduce the new Sutherlin Swag Shop!!! We’ve been working on it for quite a while and I’m excited that we finally get to show you the results. Here I’m going to explain about the shop, why we started it, and what my favorite swag is.

The shop was created in Café Press and we got to use our own designs to sell in the shop. We mostly made the shop because we need more money if mom’s ever going to write more books. So, mom started with just designing jewelry. Since then we have added a lot more and plan to keep adding new items each month. My favorite thing so far is the Aiden T-shirt.

Light shirt 1

It’s so cool, right? We have tons of swag but my slow computer won’t let me upload any pictures. We are so excited to finally have the shop go live and we hope you enjoy shopping. Have an idea for our next design? Let us know!

   Rock On!

   LilliAnn

blogging, writer's life

A New Direction

Heather headshotI mentioned last week that I’ve been searching for a new design for my website. We worked on ideas for ages, it seemed, sketching out new headers and debating the overall direction of my website. The more we worked on it, the more we discovered that I needed a clearer picture of what I want readers to know about me and my work. It’s hard to look at yourself and try to sum up your entire persona in one image or phrase. That’s called personal branding, and I’m not sure I’m quite there yet. Still, I feel that we’re getting closer. Here’s how we came up with my new theme:

1. Each of my books (so far) includes a big forest scene and to me a forest is always full of mystery and adventures lurk just around the next tree. I wanted to capture that air of mystery and excitement. Also, my lovely assistant suggested that I reminded her of a tree. So, there’s that…

2. We looked at illustrations and clipart of trees, but none of them seemed to capture the mood we were going for. So, in the end we opted for a stock photo. This was when we knew we were getting closer to our goal. The dark forest with it’s rugged pathway bathed in light and beckoning seemed to fit perfectly with the image we had in mind. It would’ve been easier to brand with an illustrated logo of a tree/forest, but we’ll have to find some way to work out that dilemma in the future. (If you’ve got any ideas, PLEASE share them in the comments below!)

3. Next for the tag line. How on earth do I narrow my work down to one short sentence? I’m basically summing up my entire mission as a writer. Yikes! We played with a lot of ideas, but most of them leaned toward one story line or another. I needed something that would work whether I was writing YA fantasy or contemporary romance (hey! It could happen!) Finally we decided on “Escape to another world” because it seemed to sum up what I hope readers will feel as they read my books. Some readers want to experience reality in a deeper way, but I write for those of you who want to escape reality altogether.

In the last week I’ve been reminded once again that I have no natural aptitude for graphic design, no matter how much I wish it weren’t true. I love images and the idea of creating just the right picture to illustrate a thought or a concept to the world. I deeply wish I could design my own covers and all of my own branding material, but it is a TON of work and in the end I”m not very good at it. After fighting with graphics for the last week we’ve decided to start learning Photoshop, so that should be an adventure! I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

We have a lot more to reveal in the next few weeks. I think it’s time you met my incredible assistant, LA. She has been working hard to give me young reader’s perspective and I’ve put her to work researching the best of the best. I can hardly wait to show you all that we’ve been working on lately. I’ve invited her to introduce herself to all of you tomorrow and she’s getting her own weekly spot on this blog so that you can see a little more of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in this indie life. So, come back tomorrow and say hi to my sidekick.

What do you think of my new website header? What else do you hope to find here on HeatherSutherlin.com? Leave your suggestions in the comments below and maybe you’ll find your wish is granted the next time you stop by to visit.

Happy reading!

~Heather

writer's life

What Do YOU Want to See Here?

I’ve been thinking about updating my website lately, but I’m not sure where to start. So, I browsed through a few author websites and found that I’m not the only one whose site could use some TLC! That made me feel better. I roped my daughter into helping me surf the web for the best of the best author websites. We found a few really gorgeous sites and started making a list of our favorite things. Here’ what I’ve got so far:

We loved Trisha Leigh’s graphics. Her site is beautiful and fun.

Author Trisha Wolfe releases new bonus material when her street team helps her reach 50 reviews. I also love that you can tell what kind of books she writes just by looking at her page.

My music-loving daughter voted A.M. Hargrove‘s site the best because she included playlists for each of her books. Wouldn’t that be fun?

That’s as far as we’ve gotten so far in our search for the most fabulous author website. I’m sure some of the big name authors have fancy expensive sites (J.K. Rowling, cough, cough) but I’m just looking for what makes readers and fans want to come back for more. So, what do you think? Do you have any author websites you love to visit? What makes them memorable? What do you wish you could find here on my website? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and maybe I’ll be adding your request sooner than you think!

Happy web-surfing!

~ Heather