Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Write What you Know? Bleck!

When I was younger, I detested this age-old advice to writers. What did I know? Would anyone really want to read about a pig farm . . . oh, I mean wheat farm in a tiny town on the Idaho edge of Washington? And the grumpy Mormon girl imprisoned within its walls? Write what I know? Yuck. I was too busy fleeing to even consider that.

I am positive, “Write what you know,” gave me writers block for decades. But when I found myself in a safe, supportive place with a mandate to create, what did I do? I went home. I longed for what I’d known so long ago. I was far, far away, but could go home in my imagination. I didn’t realize how homesick I was until I started writing TAKEN BY STORM.

So, I pass this adage on to you with a twist and a cautionary tale.
I don’t want you to experience decades of writers block or end up writing a horrid self-absorbed tale that is great therapy but lousy art.

So here’s the twist:

What you know tomorrow is different from what you know today. That is the beauty of it. As we learn, discover, test, experience, what we know grows and grows. What we can pull out of our lives and put into our creation increases every day that we open our eyes and look around, read a new book, watch a documentary, listen to the news, or touch someone we love.

Now, the cautionary tale. When I put Leesie into my house, my high school, and gave her my faith and some of my most ghastly high school experiences, I kind of got carried away. I smothered her with way too many of those experiences, way too much me. I was using what I know, but I wasn’t letting Leesie develop into a fictional character. Ron Koertge, my first Vermont College MFA mentor, sent me the following:

Great. I’d totally failed. Messed it up. “Write what you know,” was garbage after all. Ron recognized the strengths of the chapters I’d written and wouldn’t let me junk them. He made me revise. I cut the nasty high school experiences that didn’t fit and left the one that did. I gave Leesie long beautiful hair and a thrift store leather jacket. Michael totally fell in love with both.

Then I started listening to both of them. A lot. They would wake me up in the middle of the night. I’d crawl out of bed and dash for my office where I could turn on a light without waking up my husband and scribble down another online chat.

As the story grew, it started swallowing up everything in it’s path. Not only my own memories and experiences, but everything and everyone around me, including books I’d read, movies I’d seen, even a yellow Valentino tie we bought for my brother-in-law when he and my sister-in-law watched our kids. Ebay and Facebook, church dances, and hill jumping, all fed my voracious stormy story.

I kept failing, kept messing it up, kept revising. I saved the good stuff and kept rewriting, kept resubmitting it. And finally, I got it right enough to hear those wonderful words, “We’d like to publish your book!”

Yeah, write what you know--but let it breathe. Let it germinate. Let it grow. And it will surprise you as much as TAKEN BY STORM surprises me every time I open its cover.

New eBook and paperback cover! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This is so cool. I'm participating in my first ever book bomb promotion today. Scroll down the prize list. What do you see? An all new ebook version of TAKEN BY STORM?? Yes!!! I've been dying to announce it. Check out all the cool gifts you can get if you buy CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS on your Kindle or Kindle app today! Then drop by for the new TAKEN BY STORM cover reveal!!

Celebrate the release of CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS by Connie Sokol with a special price today!

 I have a special offer for you—it’s only good for today—Thursday, June 14, 2012. Purchase CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS  from for only $1.99. Then email with your order confirmation/receipt. Once Rachelle receives your order details, she will email you an amazing selection of over 10 free gifts from Connie Sokol and several others!

 Here’s what’s in store when you purchase CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS  today:
(All items will be emailed to you from Rachelle after she receives your order confirmation.) You can purchase the Kindle Edition HERE for $1.99 today! Paperback also available.
To celebrate the launch of her new romance novel, Connie Sokol- author, speaker, and life coach is offering two incredible free gifts when you purchase CARIBBEAN CROSSROADS TODAY. 

  • ·         You’ll receive a free Ebook of Life is Too Short for One Hair Color-- A humorous collection of anecdotes and helpful tips to survive being a woman, wife, and mother. Laugh a little, lighten up a lot, and take something from each story to practically and positively help you change your life and perspective–one tip at a time.

  • ·         Mp3 file of Get Organized -- Need extra hours in the day? You can find them today! Learn how to realistically streamline repetitive tasks such as bill paying, laundry, meal planning and cooking to create FREE hours for what you need most. Discover a fabulous organization formula to use in ANY area of your life for more effective time management. Get organized and stay organized to enjoy a more fulfilling life!

  • ·         Shear Luck free ebook by Heather Justesen—a romance novella-- When salon manager Chelsea Robison walks into the restaurant next door, she's surprised to run into her teenage crush Vaughn Krenshaw. Though he is still mourning his wife's death, he can't help but take a chance and ask her out. As things start getting serious, family pressure about dating again, and rumors from his past surface, making the chance for happily ever after look farther than ever.

  • · offers the ultimate money management spreadsheet! Create and monitor your budget. A free alternative to Quicken.

  • ·         TheSeedtouch--An Epic Fantasy Romance by Rebecca Lyn Shelley
 When Keil's father succumbs to dementia, she disguises herself as a man to save her family. But her quest is threatened when she accidentally bonds with a man who has traded all his wealth and land for the addictive drug, tam. Furious, she rejects her new bondmate and takes control of the landholding that she believes will keep her family safe.  But the tam is spreading and will soon destroy not only her land but also all life if she cannot find a way to stop it. Like it or not, she's forced to team up with her bondmate to save their world. 

  • ·         Angela Morrison is the author of Sing me to Sleep, 2010 Goodreads Choice Nominee and USA Best Books 2011 winner for Young Adult Fiction, and the critically acclaimed Taken by Storm saga. Her free gift: All-new Taken by Storm ebook. 

Mormon girl, Leesie, has life figured out until devastated Michael lands on her doorstep. Originally published by Penguin, this intimate novel is a rare journey into a Mormon teen's inner life. Ebook includes a never before published scene and free chapter from Unbroken Connection (Book #2). Follow Angela's new "liv2writ" blog at

  • ·         Enjoy the incredible YA Paranormal Bestseller--Bound   by Christine Bryant.
     When a photo shoot ends in tragedy, Kira discovers her best friend, Lydia, has been keeping a secret. Knowing the truth, and accepting it, will change Kira’s life forever and thrust her into a world of ancient curses, magical objects, and savage enemies. What happens next will challenge everything Kira knows about her world, herself and the shape-shifting warrior she’s falling in love with.

  • Three free ebooks from award-winning author Karen HooverThe Sapphire Flute ( Book 1 of The Wolfchild Saga) Seven Keys and seven guardians born to save a dying world.  AND
  The Armor of Light (Book 2 of the Wolfchild Saga), TheMisadventures of a Teenage Wizard, Book 1: Two Souls are Better Than One
Chased by dragons. Saved by a Pegasus. Sharing his mouth with a wizardly spirit.

  • ·         Amy Chandler’s free gift offering--Where are your photos? Sign up today for a FREE account and get those photos out of a box, off your computer and into 100% customizable beautiful books your whole family will cherish!

Why a book bomb? A book bomb is when a large group of people purchase a certain book on a specific day on Amazon. This pushes the book's popularity up the Amazon ranks, which in turn gives the book more visibility to Amazon shoppers. That’s the goal today for CARIBBEANCROSSROADS. Grab your copy and help us celebrate! Just remember to email Rachelle with your order receipt! 

So feel free to pass this on to your friends and shout it out on FB, Twitter, etc. We’d like as many people as possible to benefit from these bonus gifts. Connie is giving an extra gift to you just for spreading the word about the book bomb. Visit and click on the green button to share for a FREE audio download of "CoachCast: Joy In Womanhood"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


This morning on my CaymanSummer blog, I was reminiscing about the very first free write I ever wrote and decided to share my favorite writing technique with you. I adore free-writing. I try to include a free write exercise in every class I teach--from grade school to high school to SCBWI! Everyone who has to write anything can free write. I'd never heard of free writing until I went to Vermont College of Fine Arts. I wish I would have heard about them when I was six and crazy to be a writer.

Whenever I get stuck with a scene--especially if it's something difficult or emotionally powerful or painful--I write what I've got to do at the top of a blank piece of pink paper, put it on my nightstand table, sleep on it, and as soon as I wake up, I pick up the paper and scribble away. I have a lap desk that I've used for years to make scribbling in bed easier. It feels so much less like work if I'm still in bed propped up by feather pillows. You don't have to free write in bed or first thing in the morning. This works anywhere. Anytime.

And you don't have to write on pink paper. White intimidates me. Pink works for YA romances. Pale pink. When we lived in Switzerland, I found this lovely ballet pink A-4 size paper that made me feel poetic every time I touched it. The pastel pink I use now isn't quite as inspiring, but it works for me--unless I'm trying to write for middle grade boys. I basically free write my entire first drafts so pens and paper are critical. (I'll have to devote an entire post to black Zebra gel pens with cushioned barrels.)

The book I just finished, The Order of the Flick, is a middle grade sci-fi adventure for boys. Big shift from "luminous" YA romances. I was having a horrible time getting the first draft going. Stuck all the time. I kept researching and putting off writing. Not good. Then I realized, I was trying to write it on pink paper. I went to my favorite store on earth, Staples, and perused the stacks of colored paper. Big sale!! So I had to stock up on extra reams of pink, and the peach was so pretty, and I couldn't resist the lilac. I bought a lovely yellow, too. The yellow worked for Flick. I got the draft finished. My agent has it. Next step, revision.

Okay, back to free writing. Bonus points if you've made it this far through my rambling. Here's a crash course.

rules for free writes

  • it must be done by hand
  • the leader will give you a prompt or give yourself a prompt (I like to make up my own.)
  • when the leader says, "go," start writing
  • you cannot lift your pen from the pad until the timer goes off (you decide 3-5 min.)
  • don't worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation--just scribble away
  • use unlined paper if you can--lines can restrict your creativity
  • writing, "ummmmmmmm," or "I hate this" is allowed--just keep writing
There are all kinds of writing books full of prompts, but I prefer to come up with my own. Students, if you have an assignment to write something, use that as your prompt. You'll be amazed how much you get done. Teachers, try free writes during journalling time. Give them a prompt and set the timer. Be sure to let the kids share what they've come up with. That's my favorite part when I'm in a classroom.

Writers, try a "what if" question relating to whatever is percolating in your brain today. Free write to get it on the page. You'll be so excited. I promise. I always am. Every time. I no longer time my own free writes because once I get going, I don't want to stop. Try it with or without a timer. What works best for you? 

Free writes can be transformed into free verse poems . . . but that's another post! 

Thanks for dropping by.

Happy writing,


Monday, June 11, 2012


Hello friends, writers and readers,

Welcome to my new liv2writ blog! I'm moving it from my website to blogger and expanding it.

I fell quite in love with the blogosphere when Sing me to Sleep launched. So many bloggers reviewed it with lots of tears and tissues, hosted me for interviews, character interviews, and guest posts, and ran great giveaways.

When my editor left Penguin, leaving Unbroken Connection (Taken by Storm #2) stranded, wonderful bloggers were there to help me make lemonade from all those lemons--launching the "Don't Break the Connection" blog campaign. To express my thanks, I launched a new blog,, and wrote Michael and Leesie's final chapter on it.

The Cayman Summer blog will now be devoted to all things Michael and Leesie.

On this blog, I'll share my every day ups and downs, rants and raves, best writing tips and news on upcoming books and sneak peaks at works in process. And contests. There must be contests!

This month I must archive and launch a new website. Apple has retired from the hosting business. I plan to rescue some of the posts from the four blogs I wrote on my old site and re-publish them here.

My brand new and improved website will appear at soon.