The Mentor-Mentor(ee) Relationship & 7 Ways to Gauge Success

Mentor-TeacherEarly in my career, I met my own mentor, Michael Collins. He nurtured my writing and was key in the completion of my first novel. We worked together for two years and I feel that if I had not had his help, I would still be struggling through that first novel. Certainly, I would not have the personal, expert advice I received from Michael during that time. Right now, I’m working with one student who is a dream student–considerate, willing to try new things and to take advice.

So, how does the mentor-mentor(ee) relationship work? Well, for those published authors with the heart to help see other writers grow in their careers, all you need to do is mention that you wish to work with a mentor student and you’ll have several knocking at your email within hours.

Conversely, for emerging writers searching for mentors, it’s a little more difficult than just a mention but don’t fear. I’ve included this topic as part of my 7-part discussion on the mentor-mentoree relationship.

  1. Finding a mentor–It’s not all that difficult, really. If you attend writing workshops and conferences, all you have to do is go up to an author presenter, someone you feel you could learn from (this is key) and ask if they ever accept or are accepting mentor students. If they do not mentor, move on to someone else. Also, ask authors you may know via your social channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkeIn) but keep asking until you find someone to work with. Finding a mentor sometimes takes perseverance but it will be worth it to your writing career.
  2. Setting boundaries–Boundary-setting is as simple as stating how many times per month you will meet (or e-meet) with your student. As a published author you are busy not only writing but marketing your published work so the student will need to fit into your schedule and not the other way around. Next, decide how long each meeting will be and where–whether in a cafe, via email, the phone or on Skype. Stick to your scheduling as closely as possible. You do not want to send mixed signals about the meetings or their times. Although sometimes issues come up and you may have to postpone but try to stay on a fixed schedule.
  3. Goals for you as the mentor–Mentoring emergent writers is one of the greatest and most fulfilling activities I do as a career writer. My time spent with mentorees not only affords them information I have received from my many (many) years writing and working in the publishing industry, but it also tests my knowledge. I learn so much as we discuss writing and the industry as we work through our meetings.
  4. Goals for the student–The best mentor students come with set questions and goals for their writing. Of course, every writer wants to hurry up their careers and to become published but sometimes the hurry-up part isn’t the most important. Sometimes learning craft is or learning business issues (approaching a publisher or agent, writing the query letter or proposal). However, one thing I wish I had known, before venturing into this whole writing thing, was to be patient. I tripped and made many stupid mistakes along the way and have suffered for those mistakes. This is one lesson I try to instill in my mentor students who seem to suffer from impatience as I did. And then, of course, to answer their set of questions about publishing, marketing and writing.
  5. Tracking progress as the mentor–The mentor can either track progress on paper or simply by asking from time-to-time if the mentor student is still benefiting from the meetings. But make sure the student doesn’t feel like you’re trying to get out of the relationship unless, of course, it has become onerous or toxic, because every once in a while the mentor will get into a relationship where the student is refusing to apply concepts to their writing or is not doing the work you’re setting out for them. If you (as the mentor) are feeling anxious about each meeting then maybe it’s a tell that you should get out. Maybe you should move on and let the relationship end. If this happens, do it kindly but truthfully.
  6. Tracking progress as the student–Likewise to tracking progress as the mentor, the student should be the true beneficiary of the mentor’s knowledge. Sometimes, however, the student will be intimidated and not as upfront about how they feel sessions are going, or how much they are benefiting from the relationship. As a mentor student, you must tell the teacher what you need to learn but you must also tell her if she’s not fulfilling what you need from her. This is why goal-setting is such an important part of the mentor-mentoree relationship.
  7. Mentor relationship success–Progress checks with each other are critical to gauging success between the mentor and student. I find out by asking my students these questions: (1) is there is anything they are not getting from me that they want from me (aside from a publishing contract, that is); (2) if they are still feeling inspired and motivated to write; (3) if they are still happy with the relationship; and (4) if they are feeling stuck on a subject or in their writing. I guess one true way to calculate success comes after the relationship ends. Several of my mentor students have sent me emails letting me know that they have since become published. What great news! And what a wonderful way to gauge the success of our relationship.

Remember, discouraging critique causes confusion and dwindles the spirit. Whereas, motivation and encouragement will create in your mentor student a sense of achievement and the will to win.

Here are some links to help you find a mentor:

American Writing Programs:

Writer’s Relief:

Goins Writer:

I write books and some of them are bestsellers. ~Susan.


Day 1 of Crime Scene Investigation for Writers: 5 Major Activities

CrimeSceneTapeI started writing mysteries and thrillers way back when. Writing the detective procedural is one of my favorites because they involve so much detailed information.

I’m sure a bunch of you crime and mystery writers know a lot more about this subject than I do. But to help others I’ve listed some of the information below for those writers who may not know the 5 elements to “attack” a crime scene–for real and in your novels. The first step below shows detailed info about the process of the first step when arriving at a crime scene. I’ve only summarized each other activity but, in the coming days, I will further flesh out (ew) the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th activities with actual step-by-step processes for crime scene investigators.

So, here we go. First you must know that there are several levels of Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) and I’m sure that with every city, county, parish, and state they have their own way of setting up these designations differently. I’ve researched most of my information about different employment levels of CSI from the Phoenix Police Department’s Crime Scene Response Site because my next novel is set in Phoenix. For Phoenix, there are 5 levels of CSI and they are designated as “specialist” levels 1, 2, and 3 with an additional two supervisory roles called Shift and Scene Supervisors.

The First Step involves the initial response when CSI arrive at crime scene
Paperwork – There will always be paperwork. When we write about governmental entities such as the police department and crime scene units (CSU) someone will be asked to fill out some paperwork for the receipt of information and for legal entry into the premises.
Safety Protocol – Everyone at the scene will be expected to follow safety procedures set out by their departments.
Emergency Care – Emergency services for living victims will be given.
Secure and Control Persons at the Scene – There should be investigators at the scene who will act to keep the scene as close to as it was when the crime was first committed. These people are responsible for boundary control. They will tape off the areas deemed pertinent areas of the crime scene and will protect the boundaries they’ve set up. Which leads to the fifth protocol.
Identify & Establish Boundaries, Protect and Secure – Need I say more?
Turn Over Control of the Scene and Brief Investigator(s) in Charge – Detectives or other levels of police will arrive at (or enter) the scene after the initial responders “lock down” the crime scene. Once they go through, they will then turn the scene over to the investigators of the scene, such as detectives in charge or other branches of the police department (note: typically murder scenes are given the highest levels of attention where a breaking & entering scene might get less attention and even lower CSU investigators arriving at the scene)
Document Actions and Observations – Someone in the CSU will be charting what is being seen by the knowledgeable CSI. Usually, lower level CSI who are working up to higher grades of pay will take these notes.
Set-up a Command Post and Take Notes Throughout – This step could well be done upon arriving at the scene and is used in circumstances where a major crime has been committed. Think a bomb going off, here or a plane crashing (the National Transportation Safety Board would handle a plane crash). A truck careening into the side of a bank would initiate authorities to set up of a command post.
Manage Any Witnesses at the Scene – Of course, people who actually witness the scene are only required to remain at the scene as their consciences will allow. There are those people who will not become involved. But more often than not, witnesses will step up and help police with their investigation. When they do, they need to be controlled. For one, they should be separated from the scene and other witnesses–in order to avoid homogenizing their statements. Then, they should be questioned and paperwork should be drawn up for each witness statement.

The 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Steps are outlined below and will be covered in the coming days. These 4 additional steps are:

  1. Preliminary Documentation and Evaluation of the Scene
  2. Processing the Scene
  3. Completing and Recording the Crime Scene Investigation, and
  4. Crime Scene Equipment

As well, I will be listing several equipment items used by the CSU. For now, I’ve listed 10 interesting items that a proper CSU will use on a day-to-day basis. In fact, there are hundreds of items. But, I will list the equipment in shorter, more digestable amounts.

Initial Responding Officer(s) should bring with them items such as:

  • CrimeSceneEquipmentConsent/search forms,
  • Crime scene barricade tape,
  • First-aid kit,
  • Flares,
  • Flashlight and extra batteries,
  • Paper bags,
  • Personal protective equipment (these are items are considered items of high importance and should be kept in police vehicles or readily available for the initial responding CSI),
  • Audiotape recorder, and
  • Camera with flash and extra film, if not digital camera

I love writing procedural mysteries, if not for the research alone.

I write books and you can find them all here on my website or on Amazon and B&N or simply click on the image below to zoom over to Amazon.


Other sites with great crime scene and forensic information can be found at the following links:

How to Add Pandas into Your Daily Mix of Writing: 5 Easy Steps

Writing new work for me is a time of creativity and exploration. I certainly have many more starts of stories than I have finished pieces but I never feel as though I have wasted my time writing those unfinished starts. Why? Well, because I tend to view any writing as time at practice of my craft.

So, here’s my promise to you today. The answer to that gnawing question: how do I include Panda bears in my daily writing? I think we might all agree that a certain amount of stick-to-it-iveness will be employed. But, really, the reason for this post is because of the video at the end. I saw it on Facebook and simply had to include it in today’s how-to-write article.

Normally, when I begin writing a story, I think in terms of the beginning, middle and end.

  1. 14PandaBabiesAnd, typically, I start writing at the… wait for it… the beginning. Voila! I start by doing some free writing in order to uncoil images planted in my subconscious brain. As I travel through this beginning journey, I usually come to a stopping point and must consider why readers might care about the characters in this beginning. What is the character’s problem and how will she solve that problem. In this beginning time, I write until I stall out on how the story is unfolding. When questions begin to outweigh the story coming forth, I stop and move to the next step…
  2. EndangeredPandaI jump to the end and ask myself: is this going to be a happy story or a tragedy? I know. Right? I didn’t go to the middle first. It’s okay. Don’t call the writing police. If this process doesn’t work for you, no worries. Proceed with what works best for you at finishing your novel. During this second step, I ask several more questions. They are: what is the ultimate action outcome (i.e. does someone die, does someone have a child, does someone get married?). Other important questions include: what will the character learn at the end of the story? What will immediate other characters learn? What will the community learn? But most imperatively, I ask: what will the reader learn?
  3. panda-hanging-from-treeAfter considering the end, then I consider the story’s climax action–the big blow-out, the major point at which we see the protagonist pitted against the antagonist. This occurs at the very end of the middle part of the plot–as close to the end of the story as possible. Because to have a bunch of stuff happening after the climax is just… anticlimactic.
  4. After the first draft is a time when you can weave in elements you deem important to your story such as theme (pandas), metaphor (pandas) and mood (pandas).
  5. Mood can move throughout the story, for instance, we might first see playful baby pandas. Then, later on, we might see (skip to the 3rd image) a panda thriving in the wild. And by the end of the story we can see redemptive images of humans feeling bad about the blight we have placed on pandas. By the end, you have successfully woven in several elements all pointing to the end. What has the human character learned? What has the panda learned? And, most importantly, what has the reader learned?

So, that’s how you add pandas into your daily writing. Maybe I have fulfilled my promise? And… maybe not. But I had fun!

Now, here’s a little extra panda wonderfulness that you should view. Enjoy!

And, you can buy my latest book #1 Amazon bestseller THE DEER EFFECT by Clicking Here!

10 Ways to Improve Your Writing Productivity

This post represents my beliefs as someone who has been writing full-time since 2004. First off, let me say that I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think writer’s block is an excuse to stumble. Productivity, or word count, must remain high on a writer’s list of most important things in their daily work. Why? Because with any business having a product to sell will determine whether or not you will succeed–not marketing, not social media. If you don’t have books to sell then you won’t sell any books. Pure. Simple. 02122015-IfOpportunityDoesntKnock-BerleQuote

So, how does a writer improve their word count? By improving their habits. And, as a side note, excuses irritate me. Don’t tell me why you can’t do something. Tell me how you can make it work for you.

I’ve developed the following list of 10 items to help improve your productivity and to add word count to your stories.

  1. Decide how many days a week you will write–Knowing your current schedule will limit your time to write. Some people rue over this, that all they can write is in the evening after the kids go to bed or only on the weekends, on Mondays and Thursdays, or on Sunday after Church. No need to rue when you have solid information that tells you, “Well, I can write between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evening.” Basically, you’re turning your negativity and your limited time into a huge positive. When people have limited time for an activity–whether cleaning the house, playing a round of golf or writing, they tend to fit in the time for that activity. It’s all about choice here. If you want to write and you prefer to write, you will find time to write.
  2. Set aside time to work on your writing–Setting aside a specific amount of time each day to write will not only help improve your craft but it will also add word count to your story.
  3. Write in Segments–Segment writing will cause you to focus on what’s important about your current story. Break your writing up into several 15-minute chunks. Set a timer and begin and end with your timer. If you are not currently writing to a story, segment writing can be a great way to find a new story to expand into a longer piece. Segment writing is what I like to call “free” writing in that you can play around with new ideas, techniques, ways to format, new genres, poetics, and any other idea you want to practice on such as deepening characterization through voice, setting through applying different sensory perceptions, and conflict by employing hooks, foreshadowing and cliff-hangers.
  4. Read books about writing–Reading books on how-to-write or how-to-edit your work will make you a better writer. Much the way watching golf instruction on TV has made me a better golfer (no lie), reading within your craft about how-to develop character, setting, and conflict will strengthen your writing. Books like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne & Dave King, will help you avoid common writing mistakes before a real editor gets hold of your manuscript. Titles like The War of Art, and Bird by Bird are other books that focus on craft and the writing life.
  5. Writing-MotivationTake defined breaks–Defining your writing between stints at work and stints during breaks is key to being able to get back to writing. Allowing yourself “coffee” breaks of 5- to 10-minutes each, allows your mind to settle on what you have accomplished during your time at writing. Taking a defined lunch break allows you time to refuel your brain (see my “healthy choices” post). Eat, relax, walk the dog, read a book. Hey! You can even fold laundry or clean the toilet. All these things will fuel your writing mind to create better scenes with more visceral imagery to strengthen your story.
  6. Make sure to edit–Editing your work at the end of your writing session and again at the beginning of your writing session is always a good practice. At the end of writing, is when I catch all of my major boo-boo’s. I run my spell-checker to catch spelling errors and then go to my “usual” problem children such as to and too, they’re and their, hear and here–those problem children. I use the find and replace function in Word and fix those problems. When I come back the next day, I re-read what I wrote yesterday (or last time) and I edit for word choice and sentence structure. By the end of my story, my manuscript is fairly clean when I hand it off to an editor… can you guess what item #7 is going to be?
  7. Hire an independent editor–Editing your own work is great and makes your independent editor happy that she doesn’t have to delete or correct silly spelling errors and typos. It allows them to line edit for structure and grammar, syntax and clarity. Never send out your manuscript or self-publish without using an independent editor. Your work and your sales will suffer. Believe me, I know. I learned the hard way. Editors like Emily’s Eagle Eye Editing, Jim Thomsen, Jodie Renner, Renni Browne will strengthen your work and make it look professional when it arrives at the agent’s or the publisher’s desk. Put your best foot forward by hiring an independent editor to go over your work before sending it out.
  8. Set deadlines–Self-imposed writing deadlines will keep you on track. Sometimes. However, when you tell someone outside of you that you will be completed with a writing project within 6 weeks, you subconsciously make yourself accountable to that person. This works too, sometimes. So, why not make yourself accountable to your editor? Tell them you will be done with a project by May 13th (or whatever) and you will get them your MS on or before that date. What happens when you work with an independent editor is that they will clear their schedule for you. And you had better get them your work on or before that deadline or else they will lose money. Being responsible for someone else’s financial losses is a huge motivator but it can also be key for you to complete another project and get that story to an agent or a publisher for consideration. I like to set up deadlines for myself because when I meet the deadline I get a great sense of accomplishment in that I’m doing something to further my career by staying on track, by getting another story finished and by clearing the slate for my next writing job.
  9. Join a writing group–By meeting up with other writers on a regular basis will focus you to get work done on time. You will clear your slate when one or more authors are relying on you to give constructive comments about their writing in exchange for their comments on yours. I have been involved with several groups and the most successful ones are those who allow 5- to 10- double-spaced pages of work. Also, join groups where the writing is of fiction or nonfiction. Mixing genres can lead to weird dissatisfaction among members. Don’t ask me why but I have found that either fiction or nonfiction groups work well–but not both intermingled.
  10. Find a mentor–I often mentor fiction writers. I write fiction so mentoring students who write in nonfiction doesn’t work for me. I had a mentor early on in my career. Michael Collins will remain a key figure in my writing career. He gave me expert advice when I was flailing. He motivated me to write and encouraged me to continue a career in writing. He was honest sometimes brutally but I grew from our mentor-mentoree relationship. It was a priceless experience.

There are many more methods on how to become a more productive writer, I’m sure, but this list will help you right away. Basically, buckling down and pressing ahead are the ways to succeed in this industry. Try not to be discouraged and if you do, drop me a note. I’ll be your encouragement and will try to talk you out of your frustration. We’re all in it together. So let’s help each other the best we can.

I write books about God. Amen. 😉 ~Susan.

The Deer Effect by Susan WingateB&N-Button-LgAmazonImage

22 Fiction Publishers in 5 Fiction Genres

Here’s a little more help today with getting your books published. Below I’ve listed 22 publishers within 5 different fiction genres with click-thru”able” links. Most pay advances but check the submission guidelines to make sure.

!!!Remember, if you do not know how to approach a publisher or agent, or if you do not know how to write a query letter or a synopsis, please go to Writer’s Digest and other knowledgeable publishing trade magazines for help with the business side of books. I cannot stress this enough.

General/Mainstream Fiction

Young Adult/Children’s Books




Best wishes with your books and with your writing career!

I write books. You can check out my latest releases by clicking on the link below. And thank you for reading my work. ~Susan


5 Essentials For Writers While Travelling

Old_Alaska_Airlines_logo_on_a_DC-3_(6194350906)I’m travelling this weekend, 2,000 miles south from where I now live. It’s not what I would call a happy trip although I’ll be seeing people who will make me happy just by seeing them–my sister, a girlfriend from times past, and my aunt who I feel is like a second mother to me. We grew up with her sons who were like the brothers my parents didn’t have. I remember these times with fondness and ennui. One of my “brothers” died years ago and my aunt is ill and this may be the last time I see her. So it goes…

But this post isn’t about why I’m travelling, it’s about how to travel… as an author.

I cannot impress to you enough, and above all else over clothing, food, or funds, take something handy to write on. Whether your writing equipment is your peripheral (smartphone, iPad, or other) or simply a memo pad and that old-fashioned thing we used to call a pen, always make sure to bring something handy with you to write on. You will inevitably find yourself waiting in lines or sitting at a terminal. Whenever you can, take plenty of notes. Doing so will help you with the following elements in a future story.

Characterization–Watching people interact and how they do so is key to characterization. I once saw a man in front of me yell at the security person checking people through. He asked her why she couldn’t hurry up and chastised her for her job, that it was a ridiculous job and worthless. He was demeaning and nasty. I think he might’ve been an author! I’m making that up. I have no idea what he did for work but I can feel sorry for those people he had to work with. I added my two cents about him and felt sorry for the gal he was giving it to. Now, here’s the thing: I have no idea what he was going through personally. All I saw was his treatment of other people. As an author (and a human being), I should ask questions of my characters, of what they might be going through that the reader isn’t aware of presently. Questions like these can add great subtext to your story.

sstein-140-exp-Sol_photoScene-setting–Airports are great for scene-setting because they are usually so utilitarian. Airport settings make it difficult to use words other than loud, sterile, harsh. But these words are general terms. What if we used words and phrases like echo-chamber, surgical, bitter as descriptors? These are words that make readers sink their teeth into your writing. Sol Stein goes into great detail about word choice and scene-setting in his book “Stein on Writing.” Grow your scene-setting and you can build great, new worlds for your reader.sstein-140-exp-Sow_jacket

Tension–Tension is the thing that makes our heads turn and causes our skin to prickle. Tension makes our hearts beat faster and our palms become sweaty. Tension is a reaction to something that may or may not erupt in seconds–whether an actual bomb, a fight, or a sudden sorrow. Tension can lead to conflict but doesn’t necessarily have to. Sometimes tension is deflated. Sometimes it’s aggravated. Either way, tension makes us react physically to a situation that may become bad fast.

Taxis and airports are great for observing tense moments. In the taxi, and I don’t care how many times I use one, the taxi driver never fails my expectations of him–to drive like he’s the stunt man in the final scene of Thelma & Louise. Swerving the cab, back and forth, to the each side of the white lines as he tries to shimmy in-between two buses–both flying at sixty mph and so close to each other that they could be one bus. Or… the child on the airplane in the seat just behind you who will not stop chattering, crying and kicking your seat. Or… the man who has fallen asleep and is listing toward your soft shoulder as he breathes out last night’s garlic dinner into your air space.

The taxi ride becomes heart palpitations. The child becomes clenched fists. The man becomes nausea. Write that. Let things happen to you and write them down.

ClanoftheCaveBear-51eWZxrwarLConflict–Conflict is the thing that happens (and usually swiftly) after initial feelings of tension. Although sometimes conflict can happen quite suddenly and without forewarning. I remember reading CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean Auel. After the first page of scene-setting comes, in an instance, sudden, unexpected conflict. It’s awesome. If you have read this story, you know what I’m talking about. Auel leads the unsuspecting reader along by the nose and then, Boom! she drops the bomb. I love this story and use it often as an example in my writing workshops. For one, it’s a perfect way to start a story and two, her conflict is utter disaster. Utter. Disaster. The reader has no other choice but to continue reading to find out what happens.

Conflict is the thing that makes a character choose either the right path or the wrong one. In novel-writing, we must make the character fail at least two times until the final conflict choice is set–always against our hero’s foe–and one our character has no other choice to do but to choose–to end all of the trouble, whether to live–think of my latest story The Deer Effect. Or, to die–think of Thelma & Louise.

Voice–Voice is one of my favorite elements of writing. It distinguishes authors. It creates sound and sets theme and can even be metaphorical if used correctly. Voice will separate your writing like nothing else. Ernest Hemingway was what I call a “voice-y” author. But his voice was found in authorial voice, not necessarily in character voice although he employed character voice as well. No, his voice can be found in his writing style, his word choice, his sentence structure, his poetics. I love the first line in his great novel A Moveable Feast. It goes like this: Then there was the bad weather.

He begins the story as though the reader has just walked in on his conversation with someone else. The phrase doesn’t particularly make you want to know what’s going to happen. Not really. What this sentence does do is make you want to know what you missed! Brilliant. You feel like saying to Hemingway, “What were you talking about?” But you’ve already missed that part of the story so you have to sit down and hear the rest. That’s genius.

Hemingway’s authorial voice distinguished him from other lesser authors of the time. How do you distinguish yourself in your writing?

Anyway, writing while you’re travelling will also give you something to do during the down times. And, life, as we know, can be filled with dull moments between the conflicts and tension. And, aren’t we blessed for those dull times. They are what allow us for introspection and meditation, for prayers.

But also writing while travelling is a means for you, you lovely authors, to get away from your usual writing spot. Writing while travelling will focus your writing, in ways your usual environment will not. You won’t have the cat wanting in or the dogs barking. You won’t have to stop to prepare the kids’ lunches and you won’t have to clean up the kitchen. What you will have is free time. Time to observe your new environment and all the new bodies taking up space in that environment. An airport, a train, a taxi ride are author’s smorgasbords. So, enjoy the variety. Taste how good these new sights can be. When you do, your travel will fly by and, hey, you will be writing. Go figure.

I write books. ~Susan.


5 Healthy Ways to Increase Your Productivity as a Writer

Make sure you get plenty of quality rest — I’m a big believer of sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night. I learned to sleep longer when I read about the benefits of sleep in cancer patients. In 1997, I was diagnosed with melanoma. I basically changed my lifestyle. Sleep was part of that lifestyle change. So, when I recently read about a study posted in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine about sleep and productivity, I wanted to share it. This study found that groups with at-risk sleep patterns, insomnia and insufficient sleep syndrome had significantly poor productivity, performance, and safety outcomes. It also goes on to state that: “Fatigue-related productivity losses were estimated to cost $1,967/employee annually.” And the study’s conclusions stated that sleep disturbances contribute to decreased employee productivity which in turn creates a high cost per employee to employers.

Exercise is shown to increase productivity — This isn’t new information but I like the results from this study. The latest research shows that a regular exercise routine can make you happier, smarter, and more energetic. An article in the Huffington Post states that you don’t need to overdo to get your brain working better. In fact, it showed that the low-intensity exercise group was less fatigued than the higher-intensity group. But both benefited from brain cell stimulation equally. As writers, we can sit for hours without blinking but when you do, you will become sedentary and I’m not just talking about our rear-ends here, I’m talking about mentally sedentary. It behooves a writer to bolster their creative juices through a daily routine of exercise–whether that is a walk around the block or a set of controlled calisthenics. You don’t need to over exert to maintain healthy brain activity through exercise. Just make it regular.

Play, produce or both? — As parents we see kids benefiting from controlled mind-stimulating play. We just had our grandsons over and they brought with them a game called Snap Circuits by Alenco. You snap all of these pieces together where the pieces have sensors that you arrange in a circuit that connects everything together. The outcome when you finally flip the on switch is anything from a whirligig spinning, to a siren, and to flashing lights. This is organized play. Much like Legos is but with whistles and bells. The kids end up building something. Well, adults have these sorts of games too. Such as Wii products, Luminosity and Brain Age. These “games” train our brains to problem solve and by doing so help us with memory and retention, even creativity. Aha! Writers can use that, right? So, think about pulling out a game (I don’t mean throwing dice at a wall and yelling “Sevens!”) and working through it. Give yourself a mentally-stimulating challenge.

Eat more whole foods that help spur on brain activityWebMD lists these foods as “brain” foods: blueberries, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains, beans, pomegranate juice, freshly brewed tea, and (wait for it…), DARK CHOCOLATE! Yay! To me, this list of foods sounds like an awesome meal all on its own and with dessert, no less. The article goes on to state why and how these foods work well for brain function. Such as with blueberries, “researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.”

Read books — I’m shaking my finger while I write this so that you know how important it is to read other author’s works. Stephen King reads something like 2 books per week. It’s part of our job as writers to learn from the classics and to understand what is driving contemporary readers to contemporary authors. Reading books should be a no-brainer but, I guess one might assume that your lack of exercise, play, sleep and proper food makes you not want to read as much as you should. Joking, of course, but you get what I’m saying. To know your business is to know other people working in your business and to know their product. I’ve been reading two books this week, Amy Hatvany’s Heart Like Mine and Frank Peretti’s The Oath. Hatvany’s is what I would classify as women’s fiction. Peretti’s is Christian thriller. Both are subjects I enjoy reading and enjoy writing. Plus, they’re both awesome storytellers so this part of my job is one of my favorites.

I hope this list has helped motivate you to eat better, play well, exercise more often, to sleep longer and to read. If it has then my work here is done.

I write books. ~Susan.

#1 Amazon Bestseller Christian Fantasy Metaphysical  Visionary

Classic Noir Mystery Novel Dark Gritty fiction

Mystery/thriller collaboration with the Prime 5 Authors

Writers! 18 Awards in Four Fiction Genres

Writers! Winning awards can launch your career. Below, I’ve listed four different fiction genres and a few awards within each genre. You might want to check these out.



Science Fiction/Fantasy

Christian fiction

Hoping you win a few of your own. And you can find my award-winning titles at: or simply click the image below! ~Susan.


Here We Go, 2015. It Had Better Be Good… Or Else!

Here We Go, 2015. It Had Better Be Good… Or Else!

Mother used to end all of her threats with, “Or else!” That’s how my sister and I grew up. “Clean your room!” Wait for it… then boom! “Or else!” Understand a little better now?

The problem was we never heard what might happen if or elseever came. Would we melt into a puddle of glue like the Bad Witch? Would we be made to dig 6-foot deep holes in the backyard? Would we have to stand for an…

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Here We Go, 2015. It Had Better Be Good… Or Else!

Mother used to end all of her threats with, “Or else!” That’s how my sister and I grew up. “Clean your room!” Wait for it… then boom! “Or else!” Understand a little better now?

The problem was we never heard what might happen if or else ever came to fruition. Would we melt into a puddle of glue like the Bad Witch? Would we be made to dig 6-foot deep holes in the backyard? Would we have to stand for an unendurable 15 minutes in a corner with pepper on our tongues? Okay. That one really happened but you get the gist.

Seriously, though, our mom never ended the phrase, “Or else, I’ll have your father hold your tongue on the end of a battery for three days or until you light up the sky!” She couldn’t really say this anyway because my dad was not what I would call a disciplinarian.

However, none of these concerns matter today. I was just waxing nostalgic. Maybe because another year has come and gone with another on its heels and so much hope bubbling through the internet, through the television set, on people’s faces, in their voices–that I just had to put up a poll. Because isn’t that what people do when they see a vision of hope… they put up a poll? Some even tie a little flag on it? Or, wait. Am I thinking pole. No matter. I’m not rewriting this post because of one little slip of the word.

So, answer these questions… OR ELSE!

I write books.

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