free book, Life in France, writer's life

Inspired

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

 

inspiration, Writing

The Question

pablo (1)It took me a long time to figure out who I was and why I am here. As a friend once said, “I was trying to live all the lives.” But you only get one. Just one life, just one chance to make something beautiful of this experience on earth, even if you believe in an afterlife. This is our one chance to live our best life here and make a difference.

So, who am I? Why am I here? I can’t say I’ve answered the whole of that question yet, but this I know: I’m a writer and I’m here to make you wonder, “What if…?”

What if the stories are true?

What if the world is more magical and mysterious than we can imagine?

What if you have a part to play?

What if you really could change the world by simply believing?

What if people can really have supernatural powers or experiences?

What if the heroes and villains are really battling it out all around you while you sit there wishing you were part of the story?

What if they’re only waiting for you to choose a side?

What if it’s true? All of it? What then? What does that mean?

How would your life change if right now if you discovered it was all real?

That’s why I write. I write to make you think, to make you wonder, to make you dream. I write to change us all, and in so doing, to change the world. And it all starts with one little question:

My Books, nanowrimo

NaNoWriMo 2015

nano_logoDid I ever tell you about the time I wrote my first book? I don’t mean the years I spent scribbling story notes in spiral bound notebooks or dreaming up stories in my head, but the year I actually sat down and wrote an entire book from beginning to end.

No?

Well, sit back, because it’s story time, kids. Once upon a time, a long time ago in 2007, my brother (the talented best-selling author, Aaron Pogue) dared my father and I at the dinner table one night to write a book.

“You’ve been talking about writing a book for years,” he said to the both of us. “It’s time you actually sat down and did it. What’s stopping you?”

I”m sure we made up a lot of very clever excuses, but in the end, he held up his hands to silence us both. “This year, I want you to do this. Write a book during National Novel Writing Month. We’ll all do it, we’ll share word counts and cheer each other on. I’ll even send you some prewriting exercises to help you get prepared. You can do this. You just need to make yourselves sit down and get it done.”

I looked across the table at my dad and said something like, “Well, I’ll do it if you do it, Dad.”

And that was the end of that. Or, the beginning rather. Because the next week we had writing exercises in our inboxes and we started talking like we were actually going to do this thing. A novel in a month. 50,000 words in just 30 days. It was insane. And yet…it was also thrilling. I’d had this crazy dream just a month before that would not leave me alone and I really, REALLY wanted to know the story behind it. The dream was something like this:

A beautiful girl sits by a pool of water at the base of a waterfall. She is flirting a little with the boy sitting next to her, but most of her attention is drawn to the man standing up on the hill watching her with an ever deepening frown. She can tell he’s angry, but she’s stubborn and won’t go talk to him. Then, she sees someone behind him, an enemy. She runs up the hill to defend him, but she can’t get there fast enough. As she reaches him, the enemy casts some dark spell toward him, but she jumps in the way, light and darkness colliding and she falls in a heap on the ground, unconscious.

That dream haunted me and I just had to know what happened next. Who were these people? I could feel her intense emotions about the man she’d saved, it felt like love and panic. It was clear she’d rather die than let this man be hurt. Why? Who was he? How had they gotten there? Where were they going? Who was the enemy and why did he attack?

These questions went with me into that first Nanowrimo. On November 1st, 2007, I wrote the first sentence of what would be my very first book. Now, eight years later, I have just published my sixth book. It’s all because my brother wouldn’t let me keep dreaming about being an author, and pushed me to actually be one. Now, I have a bookshelf full of dreams come true.

And by the way, that book I wrote? It turned out to be A Light in the Darkness. You can find that dream I had in the middle of chapter eight.

Are you an author? Are you daydreaming about a story you just have to know the ending to? Tell us your story and let us cheer you on. Then, go write that next story. You never know when it will be the dream come true.

Are you joining us this year for Nanowrimo? Stop by and visit me. You can see all the books I’ve worked on through the years during Nanowrimo and get a sneak peek at what is coming next: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/sutherlin2/novels

inspiration

Divine Inspiration

pablo (1)A lot of writers talk about the authors and books that inspire their writing. It’s a common topic in interviews and I have more than once found myself stumbling over my answer.

I can say how I love C.S. Lewis and his ability to create a world that I wanted to dive into headfirst. I want to write allegory like he did, weaving it so seemlessly with fantasy that readers can be inspired and changed without even fully knowing his underlying concepts. I want to write like Madeleine L’Engel who could take complex science and merge it with the even more intricate and mysterious world of the spirit, creating something that felt new and daring. But most of all I find inspiration in a book that would probably surprise you…the Bible.

I know it may seem an odd choice for a fantasy writer, but you’d be surprised how often it influences my work. As a writer, I’m always wanting to inspire readers to think, “What if…?” When I read the Bible, I’m constantly faced with that question. My imagination goes wild!

What if a group of people were being chased through the desert by an entire army and they find themselves trapped at the edge of the sea? They turn around with their babies in their arms and stare into the distance, enemy chariots stirring up the sand as they race toward the defenseless people. What if the sea splits open, creating a pathway to safety, and the path isn’t even muddy or wet, its completely dry ground?! They cross the sea on dry ground with the water piled up like mountains on either side of them. What if the army chases them right into the middle of the sea and when the last person reaches the other side, the water rushes in, collapsing on top of the army, washing them away?

What if a man lived in such a dangerous place, with enemy troops patrolling around so often that people couldn’t even live normal lives anymore? The people were so scared that they abandoned their homes and went to hide in the mountains, living in caves and crevices. Their crops were stolen by enemy soldiers on a regular basis so that his people were not only living in fear, but hungry, too. So, there he is, hiding in a wine press pit in order to thresh wheat for his family where no one can see it. What if a man suddenly appeared to him, an angel, and called him a mighty warrior? He’s nothing but a weak, cowardly farmer but some divine higher power has chosen him to be the warrior who ends up destroying the entire nation of people who keep invading his land. What if he becomes not only a warrior, but a leader who rescues his people and leads them to reclaim their land.

What if you were sitting in a boat one day with your friends, trying to cross the lake? You travel all night, the wind pushing against you so that you don’t seem to be making any headway at all. Sitting there in the middle of the lake, exhausted, you look out in the darkness and see something moving toward you. It looks like a person. You’re sure it’s a person, it’s a ghost floating above the water and it’s coming right at you! What if, as it comes closer it calls out to you and you realize it’s not a ghost but your friend? The smart alack in your boat yells, “Oh, yeah? If you’re really him, why don’t you call me out to walk with you on the water?” And he does! What if your stupid friend gets out of the boat and actually walks on the water?! The wind is blowing, waves are crashing against the boat and you are sitting there watching two of your closest friends walking on top of the water!

Don’t those sound like great fantasy stories? Each one of them makes me want to ask, “What happened next?” They set my brain on fire. But here’s the real kicker: What if they were real? What if they really happened? Whether you believe the Bible or not, there are billions of people who do! History even proves that many of those people, those places, they were real. So…what if it was all real? What if people could walk on water, teleport to another city, speak to God and hear his voice, glow like lightning? What if someone could understand all languages at once without training? What if you could heal the sick, see spirits, fight demons? What if it was possible to never die or to die and then live again?

THAT is why the Bible is my biggest inspiration. I just can’t help wondering…pablo

What inspires you?

Share the Love Scavenger Hunt

Inspired to Write

Today I’m sharing one of my secrets to writing fantasy over on my friend Christine Locke’s blog. I thought that would be a great place to hide the answer to the next clue. So, here it is:

Christine asks what inspires me most,
So, I shared what compels me.
It may not be eloquent or worth a boast,
But it’s the power that propels me
To write.

Stop by and say hello. I would love to hear what inspires you, so please leave a comment on her blog and share it with us. Then, come back here to comment with the answer to today’s clue. I would love to give you a bonus entry for sharing the love, so Please share Christine’s blog post with friends on Twitter or Facebook. Then, come back and let me know so we’ll get your name entered for prizes. Happy Hunting!