Today is the start of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I have to say, I am very intimidated. The goal is to write an entire first draft of a novel in 30 days (Nov. 1 – 30). That is approximately 50,000 words.

So – I’m officially procrastinating – writing this blog post.

I have the idea of the book in my head. Has something to do with a teenager that “selectively mutes” due to a trifecta of conflicts in her life. Then, through friendships she discovers her voice again.

We’ll see how it evolves. I’ll keep you posted – the next time I feel like procrastinating :-).

Until then, it is time to put some words down. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

Anyone else attempting NaNoWriMo?

~ Gretchen

NaNoWriMo…You In?


So, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo- have you? National Novel Writing Month has always seemed intimidating. I mean, 50,000 words in a month! Intimidating.

But then again, I wrote the first draft of “Titanus McDuff and the Birthday Surprise” in 5 days. While it wasn’t 50,000 words, it was over 15,000…while working full time teaching.

I’m toiling with the idea of making the plunge.

Anyone out there willing to share their experience below in the comments? I’d love to read how it was for you.

Here’s to being creative…really fast! 😎

~ Gretchen

writing calendar

How to Keep the Ideas Coming

Do you ever have trouble coming up with ideas for your next writing project? Whether you are focusing on fiction or non-fiction, sometimes our minds just go blank. It happens to everyone. But getting over that rather large bump in the road is an absolute must if we want to keep the writing juices flowing.

I’ll admit, sometimes I’m exhausted from writing one piece and I just need a break from my self-imposed pressure to keep pumping out the articles, blog posts, books. But we are writers and somewhere deep down, we love to write and tell stories. So, overcoming the ‘blank’ must happen, sooner preferably, than later.

Here are a few ways I get my writing mojo reactivated:

1. I review my “Ideas” log. I have a list on my computer of ideas that have interested me in the past but I haven’t done anything with them yet. I’ll review the list to see if any are now itching to get written.

2. I’ll flip through photos of places I’ve been that I have strong feelings about. The feelings do not have to be happy ones – in fact sometimes the scary or ugly memories are the best ones for getting that idea spark.

3. Reading in the genre you are thinking your next project will fall into is a great way to get more ideas crawling up from the depths. Also, I find that reading a book that is at a different level than what I write for, helps me see story ideas. Such as reading a picture book for a middle grade idea or an adult mystery for a YA novel idea.

What if your issue du jour is not what to write but how to get started or keep going? I put together a tip sheet for how to get around writer’s block. Check it out – it’s free!

Here’s to a great day of writing effortlessly!

~ Gretchen

Creative Writing Courses

Hi All,

I’m really excited to tell you that I am developing online creative writing courses through my new company: Write Like the Wind.  I am hosting it through my Sunshine Impressions website.

It is super fun to be putting what I teach in person into a format that anyone, anywhere can learn from.

Here are the first two titles of my upcoming classes:

  • Adventurous Writing ~ Seven Secrets to Creating Captivating Children’s Stories
  • How to Craft a Story that You Can’t Put Down

If you or someone you know is interested in either of these upcoming classes or future options, sign up below and you’ll also get – today! – my FREE Ten Tips for Getting Past Writer’s Block – lots of great info!

Stay tuned for developments!

Creative writing course

A Couple Weeks in August

Last week I concluded the two creative writing classes I was teaching at Sacramento State University this summer.  It was really fun to witness the individuality and imaginations of my students.  During the class we went outside and played with bubbles and chalk, creating worlds within worlds, I threw in non-sequiturs and had them write from a variety of perspectives.  Their protagonists were made to be antagonists and ultimately they learned to build suspense and critique each other’s work.  Then they courageously stood up and presented their final story to the class.  It was fantastic to see their minds at work.

Now I am on vacation for two weeks, relaxing up in beautiful Oregon visiting friends and family.  Then a few days on a gorgeous river in the mountains at a little cabin hiking and illustrating.  “The Jade Serpent” is about to fly free in the world.  I can’t wait to share Koen’s next adventure with you all.

Happy writing!

~ Gretchen


Soooo Close!

The Jade Serpent is nearly ready for pre-orders!  I am so excited.  Finishing the final illustrations.  Stay tuned!

And…coming up: “My Year in Myanmar” – working title, but can’t wait to share my incredible experiences with loads of photos to boot.

Happy writing!  Gretchen


SCBWI Inspiration

Hi All,  I hope Spring has sprung in your neck of the woods.  It is lovely here in Sacramento, CA.  I’ve been out gardening and enjoying the lovely weather on hikes around the area. I’ve also been making some changes to The Jade Serpent. My protagonist is now a young writer.  He is documenting his adventures with his co-conspirator through his retelling of their escapades in writing.  I really like the idea of a young writer.  Maybe I’ll have him sketch along the way too!

Last Saturday I went to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring conference (#SCBWISPSP17).  It was my first writer conference and it was packed full of great advice.  I had the chance to speak with Kate Sullivan of Delacorte Press (an imprint of Random House) and learn more about what an editor does.  I also went to two talks by Beth Phelan with the Bent Agency and Peter Knapp with Park Literary – both agents.  Everyone offered such great advice and were so nice.  I left not only excited to write, but also determined to submit The Jade Serpent to an agent this spring – yikes!

So of course I came straight home and started reworking the opening, and changed up parts of my protagonist.  So now Koen is a young writer (and illustrator perhaps).  His adventures with Titanus McDuff, the Keeper of the Treasure Chest are still forefront.  But I like the added dimension of his character.  Not only is he afraid of heights, he loves to write.  Here is a doodle I did thinking of Koen awhile back.

Happy Spring to you all!


Draft Five

For some reason writing has taken a back seat in my life this year. I teach an after-school writing class and I love creating new ways to engage my class in creative writing. But when I get home I do not write much. I go in spurts. I spend six hours writing on a Saturday and then do not touch my work for weeks. I’m not sure what my problem is. Although there hasn’t been consistent writing, I am on draft five of The Jade Serpent. Through SCBWI, I joined a critique carousel, only to come down with the flu right before and was unable to attend.  I am excited to be going to the SCBWI conference on April 1st and thus am determined to have the book fully edited and flushed out by then so that I can show it to agents if possible.

So my goal by April 1:

  1. Rework one more time
  2. Go through AutoCrit editing software one more time
  3. Complete 5 illustrations

I think it is doable.

How’s your writing coming along?