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

 

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.

My Books

Help Us Find Rory!

Where's Rory?Rory is missing! This crazy character of mine fell through a portal at the end of her book, Seen. Now the sequel, Wandering, is coming out in just 8 days (Squee!) and I need your help finding her!

Maybe you’ve seen the posts other author friends of mine have been leaving around the internet these days. They’ve been doing their best to help us narrow down the search by telling us where Rory definitely is NOT going to be found. They’re such great friends, that they’ve even decided to offer a reward. Will you join the search? The clock is ticking and we could really use your help!

All you have to do is follow the clues left behind by the other authors. You’ll find them all on the Where’s Rory page. Then, come back and leave a guess in the comments on the Where’s Rory page. Anyone who leaves a guess that gets us closer to finding Rory will be entered to win one of the ebooks offered by our authors.

Hurry! The search ends on June 24th!

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.

writing advice, YA Author Club

Word Count Madness

YA Indie CarnivalMany first time authors struggle with word count. How long should my novel be to get published? Is my novel too long? Is it too short? What the heck is a novella and what’s the difference between that and a short story? If you’re an indie author, does it even matter?

Excellent questions. The YA Indie Carnival decided to tackle this confusing topic this week in our Indie Author Series. When I was starting out, I didn’t even know it mattered. Seriously! I had no clue about things like word count and publishing industry standards. Why would it matter how long a book is? Well, like most things, it’s all about the money. Word count in the publishing world affects both the cost of the book to print, and it’s likeliness to be sold to readers. I won’t go into too much detail on this topic because my fellow indie author club member, Bryna Butler, has already covered the basics in her article Do Word Counts Count?

I’ll tell you that I really struggle to get a book over the 60K mark. My stories tend to be action packed and fast paced. My editor always turns in a stack of notes on where I can expand scenes instead of the standard cut and slash method most authors have to endure. In real life I’m obnoxiously verbose, but in my writing I tend to race from one plot point to another. That keeps my word count down. The day I finish a book above 100K, I’ll be calling it “epic” whether it deserves the title or not!

In my opinion, this is just one of the many fabulous reasons I call myself an indie author. I don’t have to worry too much about word count. I get to tell my story, mold it and sculpt it into something I can proudly share with all of you, and then set it free. I don’t have to worry about whether it is meeting some marketing team’s standard, or the printing budget. I know authors who are traditionally published sitting at their desks right now trying to find an extra 30,000 words to cram into their story or a sum of 50,000 to tear out just to meet that industry standard for a publisher. In the end I think the reader suffers most because we don’t see the story as it was meant to be. What a shame that we let business people determine how our stories are crafted. At least if it is a professional editor, we can trust that they care about the integrity of the story, but what does a CEO or a financial team know about our stories? They’re job is to watch that bottom dollar.

Let me tell you how indies are using this freedom to do incredible things for readers in this modern age. We’re seeing the resurgence of the short story and the serial novel in the literary world thanks to indie authors around the globe. With ebooks, authors can share their work so easily, that a reader can now get shorts without having to buy an anthology or search through literary magazines to find them. Some of my favorite authors are even including short stories in their marketing plans these days, fitting them in between their longer novels in a series. For instance, Aaron Pogue has published several short stories to go along with his Taming Fire series, including back story and short stories to give more detail into side characters from the series. As a reader, I love this concept! If I’m engrossed in a world of characters, you can bet I want more of it! This is an area I think I’ll be dabbling in this year as I fill in the missing years between Seen and Wandering in The Wanderer Series.

Another concept I’ve been watching is the use of the serial novel in the ebook world. Once upon a time many of the world’s best stories were written this way and published in local newspapers or magazines. Now we’re seeing this traditional form of story telling reemerge. Wool was crazy successful from author Hugh Howey, netting the author millions of dollars and a ground-breaking publishing contract. Now my friend, author Susan Kaye Quinn, has created her own incredible serial titled The Debt Collector. I’ve been watching her progress very closely as I consider how I might use that model in my own work. She’s set a crazy pace, releasing a new episode in the series every few weeks! Wow! I’m not sure I could keep up with that pace, but I’m inspired to look at my list of future writing plans and see what might work best as a serial. I especially like the value this offers both to the reader and to the writer. Readers can catch smaller chunks of a story at a low price or choose to purchase the entire series for a discount. It’s amazing how this old form is making a new comeback on the modern stage.

What do you think? Does word count matter in this modern age and in the indie publishing scene? What trends are you seeing? Do you have a word count preference? Let us know what you think and then check out the opinions of other indie authors in our YA author club.

Take a few minutes to hop around to the authors’ sites and find out their preferences as well as their rationale behind them.
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 16. Melika Dannese Lux, author of Corcitura and City of Lights
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

Swag

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

My Books

Seen bookmarks

Well, I finally gave up on designing a stellar looking bookmark for Seen – and I’m so glad I did! Look at the lovely bookmark Leah Kaye Suttle made for me to share Seen with the world!

SutherlinBookmarkWEB

Isn’t that fabulous? I am totally fan-girling over her work, y’all. She’s not only talented but a lot of fun to work with as an author. I can’t wait to see what magic she cooks up next. Go check out her website and friend her on Facebook to see more of her incredible talent. And tell her I said hello!

If you want a signed copy of this sparkly new bookmark, stop by the Arkansas Literary Festival this weekend. I’ll be there at 10am this Saturday sharing some writing tips and tricks at the Main Library on the fourth floor. Or you can catch me afterward at the Spine Shuffle where a handful of young adult authors will be sharing our work and answering questions. Stop by and say hi.
I’ll see you there!

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”
March2013:  CRAWL IN BED AND DON’T COME OUT UNTIL SPRING!

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!

Heather

 

 

Share the Love Scavenger Hunt

Scandalous

Seen Recently author Larisa Walk asked authors to share something scandalous or quirky about one of their characters. I had to think about that for a while. I have quite a few quirky characters including one kid who sees visions of a mysterious girl and sketches her obsessively, and a girl so caught up in the man she sees in her dreams that she leaves behind the love of her life and almost dies! But scandalous? Ha! My characters are as clean as fresh fallen snow. They are nearly perfect. Sure they may whine or complain, but they are basically good. But… they aren’t ALL good. I mean, what’s a good adventure story without a villain, right? My main characters may be offered sainthood, but my villains are down and dirty. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that they are truly scandalous. And yet, I never really cover those nitty gritty details in my story. So, today I’m digging in to what makes my villains tick. What makes them so mean and nasty? I’ll give you a sneak peek in today’s Share the Love Scavenger Hunt Clue:

Click here and scroll down to find today’s clue

You’re looking for SEEN and then here’s what you’ll do

Read about Margo and tell me this quick

What makes her evil? What makes her tick?

 Want a bonus entry? Have you seen the long list of prizes we’re giving away on the 28th? Wow, it’s getting long! A ton of great books from some fabulous authors. We have a lot of chances to win. You gain entries by commenting your answers to our clues here on the blog, but you can also win on FB with our daily games. So, for today’s bonus entry, Share the Love by sharing the link to our FB event either on FB or twitter. You can visit my Twitter page and retweet my announcements to make things easy. Don’t worry, we’re keeping track of who follows through. Don’t forget to #sharethelove!

Heather