Holiday Updates – NaNoWriMo, Events, Releases, Hooliganism

Just kidding… no hooliganism.

This year I decided to take a break for the holidays. Of course, a break for me simply means I’m only tackling half of my normal workload. No rest for the wicked.

10407650_10205022985601664_1147909807632707945_nNaNoWriMo: First, I finished NaNoWriMo on the 23rd, which makes this my fifth winning year in a row. My project this year was Empire of Shadows (Book 4 in the House of Crimson & Clover), which is already, without doubt, shaping up to be my longest and most ambitious work yet.

I’ll be working on Empire of Shadows through next March, when its scheduled for edits.

Upcoming Event: On December 13, I’ll be doing a reading and signing at Rusty Grape Vineyards in Battle Ground, WA, alongside authors KL Bone, Greg Wilkey, Brandy L Rivers, and Alys B Cohen. For more details about this and other events, you can stalk my events page.

Facebook Contests: I’ve let two of my Minions loose on my Facebook page through the end of the year, and they will be doing daily contests for points, leading to weekly prizes and one grand prize.

St. Charles at Dusk: This series prequel of mine has been free for most of 2014. But in early 2015, I plan to remove it from free. If you want a free copy, now is the time to grab it! Click here for a list of retailers.

Upcoming Releases:

Face the Music– The next Dauntless Indies anthology will be out on January 5th, exclusive to Amazon. You can pre-order it here. My short story contribution features something you haven’t seen from me before: vampires!

Shame: A Crimson & Clover Lagniappe- Storm and the Darkness fans… ever curious how Jon ended up the way he is? This short bonus story digs into a very dark chapter of his history that changes the truth as Summer Island always knew it. Coming in late January. Cover coming soon.

Empire of Shadows (The House of Crimson & Clover Book 4)– The lives and worlds of the Deschanels have been changed forever. A dark history and a past they can no longer ignore become front and center. Every single one of them plays a role in the family’s hour of reckoning. Coming Spring 2015. Cover reveal in December.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday! Thank you for all your support this year!

~ Sarah

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Week 3 Recap

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9In case you missed any of my A to Z Challenge posts from Week 3, here you go!

And here are the posts from A-L:

N is for NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo-posterIts no secret that I am in love with NaNoWriMo. I love the inspiration it gives me and other writers, I love the community that is built around it, and I love the anticipation of knowing that I will be surrendering myself to an entire month of writing abandon…and that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will revisit this project and it will become something even greater if I put the effort into it.

To the critics who criticize the process, saying it promotes quantity over quality, I say: Wrong. It inspires writers to get off their ass and write something. No one ever said first drafts were pretty anyway. To call yourself a writer, you must do one thing only: write. Writing well is something that comes from practice.

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2009. I signed up that year and promptly failed miserably. I learned pretty quickly that I was not prepared for the commitment and that I could- and would- do better the following November. And I did. 2010, 2011, and 2012 were all winning years for me, and this year I’m stretching even further and am/will be participating in the April and July Camp NaNoWriMo sessions.


Why NaNoWriMo? Why not just write when inspiration strikes? Because most of us writers are also perfectionists. And if we wait for the perfect ideas and the perfect moment, we will write very little and very seldom. NaNoWriMo not only provides specific goals and timetables, but a community of fellow writers pushing you every step of the way. It’s fun, and exciting, and having something tangible to work with at the end of thirty days is like a gift that keeps on giving. The process has taught me better discipline as a writer, and has introduced me to some pretty awesome folks along the way.

I have created a NaNoWriMo page on my blog, that is a central place for my history with NaNo, my updates, links to my profile, and any articles I write about my experiences, as well as tips and tricks. Its easily accessible from the main page, using either the top menu or side menu navigation.

4/16 Camp NaNoWriMo Update: 30k words. Scheduled to finish 5 days early.

Happy noveling!


I is for Incomplete (You Won NaNoWriMo…Now What?)

5766889608_f092ff652e_zWinning NaNoWriMo is pretty awesome. Not because you get a prize…because you don’t. And not because you win money…because you also, don’t. No, it is awesome because you have something at the end that you did NOT have in the beginning: 50,000 words written of a novel that you could potentially do something with. As a writer, the act of creating is only topped by having a finished product of your creation.

Except…you’re not finished. Not even close. Continue reading

Mitosis (Or, How to Outline When You Suck at Outlining)


Update from the Author 1/28/21:

If you’ve come across this article, you’ve probably noticed it’s from 2013 (in case the gratuitous science cat memes didn’t tip you off to that first). You may also be wondering if, eight years later, I still use this process, because there’s no better test of a process than it’s efficacy over time.

Well… I do. Not only that, but this process has turned me into a plotter. That’s right, about six years ago, I handed in my “pantser” card, because viewing my work through these logical steps got me where I wanted to go quicker and better. Around 30% of my stories still unfold in a discovery process as I write, but the core structure and most of the main plot points are there for me when I start.

This is especially key for a writer like me who can’t stick to just one or two MCs. All my books have ensembles. 10-20 or more POV characters, and just as many storylines to keep straight.

When I wrote this in 2013, I had two books published.

Now, in 2021, I am working on my fortieth.

I’ve used this process, in different iterations, on every single one.

I’ve refined this process some over the years. It was never meant to be perfect, only a concept that could help take your idea from “hey, cool,” to something workable, and more importantly, finish-able. If you were one of those who adapted this concept, I’d love to know if, years later, you still find it successful as well.

These days I also think of this process as blossoming. The more I discover in the act of dividing (mitosis), the more I learn… the more I see new ideas take shape and become part of the whole picture. Having a great brainstorm partner helps add even more color to this process.

I’ll let you read on, and decide if this can help you as well.

P.S. It’s tempting to go back and edit some of my strange little idiosyncratic comments and poorly embedded cat gifs on the original post (just as its tempting to go back and re-edit your older books), but I won’t. Although my writing and blogging is smoother now, these glimpses into who we were are still part of us.


Original Post:

I have always had a love-hate relationship with outlining. On one hand, my writing is more focused and precise when I use one. Editing is certainly easier. On the other hand, it can be disruptive to my creative process. When I start writing something, I often only have a vague idea and a character or three to start. I rarely ever know all the meat and bones of the story going into it. The process of writing for me is also a process of exploration, and I love letting the story unfold naturally. It’s how my brain works. I know its how the brains of many “pantser” writers work as well.

So, for me at least, the hardest part of outlining is going from a vague idea with a few general plot points, to a detailed chapter-by-chapter sequence of specific events. For me, it feels very “cart before the horse,” and it squelches that lovely story unfolding process thingy (technical term right there) that I described. But I knew my writing would benefit from outlines, and so, stubborn as I am, I was determined to find an approach to outlining that worked for someone with a brain like mine. Continue reading

Fun with Subplots

Last week I talked about all the NaNoWriMo prep activities I’ve been working through. This week is the final stretch, and with only 6 days of planning left, I will be filling in the finer details of the outline, character sheets, and other research items. It can be tedious work for those of us who just want to write already, but sometimes the fun of planning can sneak up and surprise you.

One of my main characters, Estella Broussard (a Deschanel cousin) comes from parents who are cultural anthropologists specializing in occult studies. When their children were little, they opened a museum in the French Quarter that touted itself as a headquarters for occult artifacts (which is a pretty lofty definition in New Orleans), but they learned the hard way that museum ownership was not all it was cut out to be…they were hardly breaking even with expenses, and obtaining rare items was putting them in the red. Continue reading

Camp NaNoWriMo Countdown & Preparation

2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover (1)

Today marks the official 10 day countdown to the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo, and I am pretty amped about participating in the spring this year.

Naturally the biggest decision to make each year is what to write about. For me, this will be Book 5 of the House of Crimson and Clover series so I needed to decide how this story would fit into the greater series, what the plot and importance of the plot would be to the greater series and story, and, of course, who would be the feature characters in this story. Since books 2-4 centered around the Deschanels, I decided to switch to the Sullivans for a change. Continue reading

Aaaaaand….We Have a First Draft!

It’s coming, precious!


There are not words adequate enough to express my happiness and relief in finally finishing a first draft of The Storm and the Darkness. HOO-FREAKING-RAY!

I started this story, which will be the second published book in the House of Crimson and Clover series, as my NaNoWriMo project in 2010. It sat for a couple of years (at the same 50k words where I left it) while I worked on other projects, and I picked it back up again in December last year to polish it up and get it ready for publication.  Continue reading

Camp NaNoWriMo- April 2013- Who’s In??

camp_nano_logo login-welcome

If you’ve ever been bored enough to scroll down the main page of my blog, you’ll see I am a 3-time NaNoWriMo champ. Every November, I basically shut myself off for thirty days and write a book. The other 11 months of the year, I’m thinking about what I’m going to write about in November.

So its weird to me that I’ve never tried either ScriptFrenzy or Camp NaNoWriMo, the other two activities sponsored by the Office of Letters and Light. Continue reading