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“Never Impossible”: An Interview with Indie Author Sarah Sutton

For years, I have preached that nothing is impossible. In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “the word itself says ‘I’m Possible’.” This belief in all things possible has led to many valuable opportunities and dreams in my life.

My band director in fifth grade told me I would never be able to play the flute. A year later, I had given up saxophone and picked up the flute, remembering how devastated I was that I was not allowed to play. By my senior year of high school, I played flute and piccolo in our Wind Ensemble and had become Drum Major for our marching band.

It was this belief in possibilities that influenced me to start writing. It’s been a dream of mine for about ten years, a desire that has stuck with me to see my own book sitting on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. I’ll never give up on this dream.

Though I will say over and over, “Nichelle, nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible,” there can be some doubt at times. Fear and disappointment have a way of creeping in, and I’m sure we all have some experience with that. But we all have the potential to stand up to our fears and never back down.

That’s why I decided to interview my friend, Indie author, Sarah Sutton, about her experience with impossibilities in setting out her goals and achieving them as a now-published author.

94065426_222124532451180_8175583256937768148_n(1)Sarah Sutton is a twenty-one-year-old Indie author I met on Instagram. She has such a wonderful personality, and she and I clicked instantly as we talked about our writing.

Back in January, I followed Sarah on her journey of publishing her first Young Adult romance novel, What are Friends For?, and I knew immediately that she had quite a future in writing. She ended up sending me a What are Friends For? bookmark, and her thank you note was incredibly heart-warming–about as sweet as her romance novel.

Sarah SuttonIn April, she sent me another bookmark, out of the blue, for her new YA romance book, Out of My League, and another cute note. Needless to say, I think Sarah has a great future in writing, and I am very thankful to have met her. She is a huge light on my Instagram feed, and I will happily share her writing and her amazing personality.

She is creative and ambitious. As I came to know her and her dreams, I decided I wanted to ask her opinion on impossibilities and where she stands with her creative endeavors.

Without further ado, here is our “Impossibilities” Q&A with Sarah Sutton:


Q: How would you define a passion project for yourself? Is it an “all at once” endeavor, or do you pursue several at a time?

A: For me, I definitely think it’s one at a time! It’s a project I can delve all of my creative energy into and just let it all out. I love those kinds of projects!

Q: Tell me about how you developed your passion for writing and/or other passion projects you might have?

A: I think I really developed a love of writing by reading. Entering worlds created by other authors really stirred that desire in me to make those worlds of my own.

Q: How many passion projects have you felt were successful over the years? For example, I’ve written many beginnings to books, but I never really felt successful until I poured my heart out into my writing once I started high school. 

A: I think a “successful” project is very subjective for me. If I’m able to complete a first draft and fully get my thoughts onto paper, I believe—for me—that’s successful! If I feel connected with my characters and that we’re on an intimate level of understand, that’s a successful project for me!

Q: What helps you feel most inspired to complete your projects and share them with the world?

A: The idea of surrounding myself with my different “worlds” is such an inspiration to me. I love the idea of having all of my thoughts and ideas scribbled onto paper and to share them with the world. It’s kind of silly, but sometimes I just picture taking a photograph of me surrounded by all of my story ideas—I think I’m up to 10!—and it fills me with happiness!

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of fiction? What gets you most excited to read and write books?

A: I love how amazing these worlds can be! Let’s be honest, real life sucks. Especially right now. But diving into a fiction world—whether that be fantasy or contemporary—is so exciting to see all of the endless possibilities that authors are dreaming up!

A: In your book, What are Friends For?, the protagonist, Remi, struggles with art, so much so, that she might not finish her senior year! When I read this, I immediately related to Remi because I am so bad at art and drawing. When I want to do them, I usually get frustrated and end up quitting because I am just not pleased. Do you have any passions similar to that, where you feel frustrated that you are not better at them?

A:  For me, it’s definitely painting. When I was younger, probably middle school and high school age, I loved painting. I loved the idea of a blank canvas and covering it with something beautiful. However, I’m not great at painting, haha! I don’t have unique ideas to illustrate. I wish I did, though!

Q: How do you think your younger self would feel if she could see you now?

A: Oh, I think she’d be blown away. So blown away. She’d be impressed with how “out of my shell” I am, how I’m not letting anything get me down. I’m still kind of in awe of how my life is panning out. I never would’ve thought this would be possible!

Q: Do you have a specific message you want to share with others, for either social media presence or within writing?

A: Such a good question! In terms of social media, I think it’s super important to remember that the followers you have are not numbers. They’re people behind their phones, cheering you on, rooting you as you go along your journey. They’re choosing to be there for you, and it’s important to never forget that!

Q: How would you encourage others to pursue their dreams, whether or not they fall within the writing world?

A:  I’d tell them, whether authors or not, to never lose heart. Don’t forget why they’re wanting to get to this destination. Don’t forget what’s propelling them forward. Don’t forget their dreams. It can be easy to allow yourself to feel discouraged—I definitely know that!—but don’t let that derail your train!

Q: Sometimes our passions seem impossible to complete. How do you feel about pursuing something seemingly “impossible”?

A: Nothing is ever impossible! Never! I know it can sometimes feel that way, but even if it takes time, your dreams are achievable. Why else would you want to achieve them? Would you allow yourself to want to pursue an unachievable goal? What purpose would that serve? No, if you have a dream, it’s because in some capacity or another, it is achievable. Never impossible. You’ve absolutely got this!


Never impossible. — Sarah Sutton

Sarah has such powerful dreams that keep her going. What an inspiration! Not only does she keep up a wonderful social media presence, developing a relationship with so many of her readers, she has also started a YouTube channel to discuss her writing career and challenges–something very impressive to this introvert!

95777849_238968753978360_2667861782139459335_n(1)She has been quite an influence on me over the past six months, and I know that she has great things in store.

Even if you are not an aspiring author, Sarah is an amazing example of setting your heart on something… and getting it! With hard work and patience, nothing is impossible. Thank you for being that reminder for me, Sarah.

What are Friends For? was released January 14, 2020, and her upcoming YA Romance, Out of My League, will be released on June 16, 2020.

Please follow the links below to support Sarah on her writing journey! If you would like to check out Sarah Sutton’s YA Romance books, the Amazon links are listed below, as well. If you have time, please leave a review on Amazon–they are a big help to our Indie authors!

Sarah Sutton’s YA Romance, What are Friends For?.

Sarah Sutton’s YA Romance, Out of My League.

Sarah Sutton’s Website.

Sarah Sutton’s Instagram.

Sarah Sutton’s Facebook.

Sarah Sutton’s YouTube.

Becoming a Better Listener

I’ve often been told that I’m a good listener, and while that is always my goal, I know I can improve. Recently, I truly realized that there is much more that I need to be doing as a listener, as an ally, as a human being. 

I’m sure we all know the state of our country right now. Facebook is flooded with arguments and horrors that make us uncomfortable. And as white people, it’s time we accept the uncomfortable feeling.

Being white gives me a privilege that can be easily forgotten if we let it slip our minds, but I will no longer allow myself to forget about it.

I am not here to engage in any arguments or to even state my opinion on the situation.

All I know is that it takes kindness and compassion to listen to others, to those whose voices are getting lost in the shouts of hatred.

So instead of talking, I am listening.

I am here to urge my white readers to take this time to research everything you can about the #blacklivesmatter movement. Use this time to reflect on the voices that are struggling to be heard.

Yes, even if you disagree with them.

We stand with youI am using this time to give you some articles to ignite your research. Please read through these and practice understanding and compassion for these voices. Listen as best you can, reflect, and research some more.

In addition to researching, there is more that you can do! Support Black-Owned businesses. Read voices from people of color. Set your feelings aside to listen to what they are saying.

In my own search to be a better ally and a better listener, I am looking for more voices to hear. I have ordered some books written by black authors, and I am searching for more. (I am open to more suggestions!)

I urge you to take a step back, forget about your own feelings, and face these issues head on in your own research. Let’s be better. And let’s do it together.

A few resources to start your journey:

For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies by Courtney Ariel

Dear White Friends, I See Right Through Your #BlackLivesMatter Posts by Elyse Cizek

You Asked, I Answered: 7 Difficult Questions About Racism by Shola Richards

Slam Poem “What the Dead Know by Heart” by Donte Collins

What is Systemic Racism?

First Five Days of Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2020

April has begun, and though the month does not seem to be what anyone would have imagined when we started 2020, I am really proud of how much I am adapting and striving to define my silver lings each and every day.

There is so much negativity on the news, and when I go on Facebook, I can’t help but witness the countless people who feel stuck in their houses, the people whose depression and anxiety are drowning them in their own home. It is hard not to feel that cloud follow you all around, and at times, I have felt this way, too.

Honestly, I am a huge homebody, so not being able to go out and do things has not affected me as much as it has other people. And I really feel for you if this is something you are struggling with. I know so many people who feel weighed down when they don’t get out and socialize or feel free to do so, and I am so sorry.

I hope that soon we can socialize freely, but it is so important to keep our community safe and healthy, so I thank you for your sacrifices.

I also want to say another thank you to our heroes in the hospitals, in the grocery stores, those stocking our supplies. I am so appreciative of their sacrifices for us and the global community.

Anyway, my struggles come from my inability to compartmentalize my life at the moment. For those of you who know me, I keep everything separate, and while I have my different planners for work, school, writing, and a bullet journal with everything to keep my grounded, I usually account for certain days being my “normal” way.

Everyone’s normal has been flipped upside down, and for me, I am trying to separate work from school, and those two from free time. For all three activities, I am sitting at my desk, so it becomes difficult to differentiate what I am doing at any given moment.

My times and due dates seem to be changing because of the inconsistencies of doing university online. For me, a planner-person, I am frustrated with how many items in my planner I have had to cross out and move to different days–and this has happened multiple times for one assignment, on a few occasions–but there is one thing that I have found to be a huge blessing during this time of stress at my desk.

For the month of April, I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is an online community of writers who support and encourage each other to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Camp NaNoWriMo - Writer - BadgeThe official National Novel Writing Month is in November, but in April and July, the website hosts a camp to prepare for that goal and connects you with other writers who are writing new books, editing their manuscripts, etc.

50,000 words is a very ambitious goal, and I got a little worried that I wouldn’t meet that because of the stress of work and school, so I lowered the standard (because you are allowed to do that during camp), to 30,000 words.

So far, as of April 5th, 2020 (which is today), I have written 9,945 words since April 1st, which means my goal is about 33% complete with 25 days to spare. I am ecstatic about the progress I have made in just five days and how much I have enjoyed writing a new book (while still querying for True Power, of course).

Along with this new writing journey I have begun, I have met so many supportive and encouraging writers who are also participating in Camp NaNoWriMo on the NaNoWriMo website as well as in the Instagram writing community, and even on Twitter.

While making a post about Camp NaNoWriMo, I was invited to join a Discord group (never thought I’d be on Discord, but there I am!) to participate in word sprints and other challenges with other young writers, aged 15-22. It has been really inspiring to see all these young writers hard at work with a variety of word count goals.

I am extremely blessed to have this time to write and enjoy the words as they come.

I am so excited about the week ahead and the progress I’ll make this week.

Say it with me, Silver Linings. ❤

If you want to see my updated word count as I go, you can follow this link to my NaNoWriMo profile where I will be updating my progress every day.

 

What Else is Contagious?

It’s amazing how fast it spreads. It traveled around the world quickly, boomed in the media, and now it seems to be all I can think about.

If you think I am talking about COVID-19, you’re right, but I am also referring to the negativity, the hatefulness, and the panic I have witnessed since this whole thing began.

My entire Facebook feed is flooded with announcements, questions, what-ifs, and memes, and in the comments, there are nasty, ugly statements of people arguing with others about what the “right thing” to do is.

We are all struggling to cope with what is happening right now. My university is going online for the rest of our spring semester, and not only is the virus affecting school, it is affecting my work, my relationships, and my mental health.

When I say it affects my mental health, I mean that I am sad that I don’t know how long it will be until I see my loved ones, but I also feel a heaviness in my gut each time I think about those who are in need right now, those who are hurting, those I want to help, but I see no way to do so.

The negativity weighs me down, and I try so hard to remember what I can do to help the world go around.

Negativity is contagious.

It stays in our media, it latches itself to the words we’ve seen every day. Social Distancing. Self-Isolate. Positive Cases. 

Negativity stays with our questions.

How many deaths? Will we go on lock-down? How long does the virus stay on surfaces? What can we do to keep our families safe?

When I think about these questions and the scared people across the globe, that negativity becomes an anchor. I hope that soon it will release me so that I might be able to breathe. There is panic there, and it is difficult to remedy that in the state our world is in.

I want to take this moment to remind you, and myself, to take a step back, evaluate your actions, and decide how you want to handle it.

It won’t get better until we can stop fighting, until we can remember that we find safety and community together even though we must stay apart right now. The last thing we want to do is lose sight of our humanity.

It is human to be scared. It is human to wonder what will happen next.

It is also human to share happiness, to be grateful, to help others. It’s human to share.

We share so much in our world. We share memes, media, and common DNA. We share panic and dread. We can share COVID-19 with others. But you know what else is contagious?

Kindness.

Kindness is also contagious.

In all its forms, it spreads, and it coats everything it touches. It becomes smiles, and butterflies, and rainbows, and laughter, and helping hands. It can create so much, but it is often overlooked.

Kindness is a powerful source of love and friendship, a tool for community, and I think it is time to use it.

In an effort to show what else is contagious outside of COVID-19, I challenge you to share something kind and good with your loved-ones, and even with strangers.

Here is your challenge:

There are many components of kindness including (but not limited to) helping hands, smiles, laughter, gratitude, and anything you might consider a “good thing.”

Every cloud has a silver lining. 

You could share a silver lining, too. Find the good in our bad situations. Let’s find some positive aspects!

Please share a picture of your “good thing”, your helping hands, your community, anything that brings a smile and a kind feeling into your world.

Please caption it with:

“I’m kind because…”

“I love my community because…”

“My good thing is…”

“I’m smiling today because…”

“I’m grateful for…”

“My silver lining is…”

OR anything else you feel fits with the theme. I want you to be creative and share your kindness and your good things for the world to see. Share something good with others, and let’s prove that it isn’t just COVID-19 and negativity that is contagious.

In your post, please include #kindnessiscontagious so that others can see what you’re sharing, and please share these good things with me!


If you would like to see some inspiration from members of our community who have spread some kindness, you can follow these links, here and here. If you have seen more, please feel free to share them!

 

*I also want to remind everyone that it is inappropriate to make racist comments concerning COVID-19. There is no reason to treat other people as if they are less because of where they or their family come from. This is absolutely unacceptable, and it hurts me to think that people use this time as an excuse for bigotry.*

Opportunities to Learn

One of the best things about this stage of my life is how much I actually get to learn on a day-to-day basis. As a child, I always loved school, and though it has changed throughout the years, I have found that I am even more in love with learning.

Anthropology gives me an opportunity to learn about other people and expand my mind in ways I had never known before, and I am so thankful for all that I have learned about humans and the ways we all live, even when it does depress me. But outside of college and all the wonderful things I’m learning through anthropology and creative writing, I have been doing so much research about the publishing process and what I need to do to get my stories published, and it excites me to think that someday soon, I might see my own book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.

So, as I announced last week, I am now seeking representation for my novel, True Power, and after sending out some query letters, I have already received one response back–my first rejection. The first few people I told gave me sad looks, but I think this is an amazing experience for me.

We all knew I would not be accepted the first time around, especially in the very first response back. Though it will always be a let down that someone did not want to read my work, I do not feel deterred by it; in fact, if it is possible, I am even more inspired.

In high school, I sent out a single query letter for my novel, Undeniably Underestimated, and I never received a response, which is a rejection, of course, but I really wanted to see some sort of feedback.

I am very thankful that I received a response at all, and though I didn’t receive feedback about what exactly the agent did not like about it, the agent did say it just was not the right fit and wished me luck finding the right representation for it. The kindness in the response made me feel a lot better, too, and I just became even more eager to hear back from the other agents while I send out another round soon-ish.

There is so much to be learned in this stage of my writing career, and while it will probably be a slow process, as it is for most writers, I am ecstatic to learn everything I can, and even if there are some failures with this project, I will learn something for the next one.

This week, I also had an amazing experience in my Intro to Creative Writing class as I got to listen to a poet, Veronica Patterson, read her work Wednesday evening, and she was a special guest in our class Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, I listened to her poems, and they were so vivid and emotional and raw that I felt heartbroken and complete all at the same time, tears poking at my eyes and a contagious smile on my lips. My favorite that she read on Wednesday is called Margaret, and on Thursday, she shared a bit more about the emotional poems she has written.

Needless to say, I fell in love with her words, and I immediately bought one of her books of poetry. While she signed it for me after class on Thursday, we talked about how to write about heavy and emotional hurdles when it still hurts to think about, and I appreciated how honest she was, how much she was willing to share with me.

Opportunities to Learn PicWhen I left the classroom after our conversation, thinking about how much I love writing and how beautiful it can really be, I opened up the book she signed to see the message she left me.

“For Nichelle– Your words will fly. — Veronica”

If there ever comes a day that Veronica Patterson might read this, I want her to know that I appreciate these kind words, and I really needed them; I have thought about them ever since. Hope has rooted itself in my belly, and I can’t wait to see what grows from it.

There are so many opportunities to learn in my life, and I am so grateful for everything, every webinar, every writer I might meet, the resources my mom provides me with. Everything. Absolutely everything!

I am so full of gratitude today, and I simply can’t wait to see what else I’ll learn through my writing career.