Category Archives: #WhyIWrite

Life Lessons Gleaned from Novel Writing

By Carolyn Astfalk

After I’d given birth to my first child, I vowed I’d never allow any task or experience to intimidate me again.

After all, despite my worries and fears, I’d just delivered a little human being, sans medication no less. If I could do that, I could accomplish anything.

But time has a way of dulling memories, especially those surrounding childbirth. (Thanks be to God.)

When in November of 2010, I decided to give National Novel Writing Month a shot, I was intimidated.

Surely fifty thousand words in thirty days would be less daunting than childbirth, right? But the bold sense of empowerment I’d felt after my son was born had faded. And childbirth had a clear advantage when it came to completion. A healthy pregnancy culminates in birth at the appointed time without much determination on my part. Birthing a novel? Those words weren’t going to write themselves, pushing themselves out of orifices and spilling onto a page in a coherent format, i’s dotted, t’s crossed, plot threads wrapped as neatly as a swaddled newborn.

Completing a novel may be a monumental task often compared to birthing a child, but the truth is, it takes a different set of life skills.

What I discovered, however, after completing those fifty thousand words and several books worth more, is that those skills and habits translate well into other areas of life. The lessons I’ve learned can be applied to a variety of tasks, projects, and seemingly unattainable aspirations. Put simply, writing novels taught me how to accomplish big goals over long periods of time.

Here are the universally-applicable life lessons I’ve learned:

  • Never stop learning. However much you may know or think you know, you’ve not learned everything there is to learn. However skilled you’ve become, you can improve. Whether it means taking classes, skimming blogs, listening to podcasts, attending workshops, or reading books, others have lessons to share with you. Be a ready learner, easily teachable and eager to improve.
  • Be patient. Big tasks take time, particularly those that involve big changes and new ventures. The world is not waiting for your success. Often what you see in your mind’s eye is a streamlined path to success and completion, free of barriers, setbacks, or a realistic assessment of how much time things take to come to fruition. Do not rush to the finish simply in order to check an item off of your list. Take the time to do things the correct way, even if it adds weeks, months, or years to your plans. Things worth doing are worth doing right.
  • There will be setbacks. There will be sick children, family emergencies, death, births, vacations, and celebrations. Your pace will slow or you’ll backslide. Your motivation will wane. Your time will ebb. Your feelings will change. Persistence is imperative. Don’t worry so much about your rate of progress so long as you resume moving in the right direction, however slow your progress,
  • Get over yourself. Humility is an underrated virtue. Yes, you are unique and special, and perhaps your accomplishment is stellar. But there are millions of other unique and special people on the planet who have also done great things. Maybe things much greater than your thing. Don’t let pride creep in, preventing you from accepting constructive criticism or the simple fact that everyone has an opinion and you’ll never please everyone. You can accept that even if what you’ve done isn’t the best or greatest, it has value, if not for others then at least for you.
  • You have unique value independent of whatever you do or don’t do. You may fail. You may succeed. You’ll probably do both many times over. Regardless, you retain your dignity. Don’t confuse who you are with what you have or haven’t done.
  • Don’t go it alone. Even the most introverted of introverts can’t go it alone. We’re meant to live in a community. You’ll need others, even if only a few trustworthy allies, to offer a listening ear, a helping hand, or a commiserating (maybe virtual) hug. Learn from others’ mistakes and successes, and then share your experiences with others. Having trouble staying motivated? Your compatriots can offer accountability too.
  • Just because you can’t do a lot doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all. It’s the old “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” So, you’re only able to make minimal progress. Maybe your rate of success is abysmal. That does not negate the value of what you’re doing. Small steps, small increments of time, and little acts, however seemingly insignificant, have purpose and meaning and will eventually grow into something much larger.
  • Don’t make your ambition your life. This thing you hope to accomplish, it’s not everything. Balance your life as best you can, being sure to care for yourself as well as the important people in your life. Make relaxation and your spiritual life a priority. You will be better off for it. Time spent outside of the relentless pursuit of your goal is not wasted time. Time spent re-charging or re-fueling, or sometimes, doing nothing of consequence, is exactly what you need.

Success – let’s be real, getting by – in some areas of our lives comes easier than others.

You may not need reminders or lessons in some disciplines. Because I had the necessary drive to write that first novel, I hung in there long enough to learn these lessons. The challenge is to apply them in cases in which my natural motivation is lacking.

With fourth births and three published novels behind me, I hope I can take these lessons and apply them to other areas in my life. Maybe I could apply them to the neglected areas I choose to avoid or ignore for the same reason that so many people set aside the seemingly impossible idea of writing a novel. Things like adding exercise to my routine, keeping up with the housecleaning, de-cluttering neglected areas of the home and garage, losing weight, and on and on. Surely you have a similar list. (Please say that you do.)

I’ve written a novel, but that was just the beginning. The lessons I’ve learned will help me accomplish my other goals too.

If you liked this post, you may also like:

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting or,

What’s Your Definition of Success?


Carolyn AstfalkCarolyn’s debut novel, Stay With Me, will be released on October 1, 2015. At that time, she hopes to earn a few pennies to contribute to her family’s wealth and offset the time and financial drain of her word habit. Until then, you can find me playing with letters and words at My Scribbler’s Heart Blog. Carolyn resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

6 Must-Haves For Nurturing Relationships With Readers

I love my readers! 

They say such nice things about me, like:

“Grubb thinks big. And it comes across in her novels. They’re packed with action and romance and great dialogue. But she never compromises. There’s a moral line she doesn’t cross…but they aren’t stuffy or stilted in any way.”

Or, “Entertaining and made the time fly. Hard to put down. I normally read 50-75 novels a year and most of them I read and forget. This one has stayed with me. Quirky romantic hero, well-defined characters, and a great story. There were a few typos and other grammatical issues, but easy to overlook when the story is so good. Highly recommend!”

Six Must Haves For Nurturing Relationships With Readers by Katharine Grubb

There isn’t a better feeling than having readers get you!

Now I know that I can’t please all of them. I do have my share of 1-2 star reviews. But if I look at my body of work in the big picture, I want to nurture this relationship with my readers. I want to love my readers and strengthen our relationship for the long term.

These are six great must-haves for me if I’m going to love my readers.

1.  AN ATTRACTIVE ATTITUDE  I think that generally speaking, people are attracted to lightheartedness. And while there is a place in this world for controversy and strong opinions (perhaps in the books I write), I think our persona as authors should be one of cheerfulness. (This means NO COMPLAINING. EVER.) I know how much I’m turned off by bad attitudes, so I can imagine my readers would feel the same if I were whiny, condescending or rude.

2. AUTHENTICITY Writers are ordinary people who spend a lot of time thinking. We’re not some pretentious, chain-smoking, cat-loving hermits who substitute our stories for actual human intimacy and wear a lot of black. (At least I’m not.) I believe that writers who can show their humanity to others, who can allow non-writerly life to be seen by the public (within reason), who don’t isolate themselves or create a lofty image will be able to identify with their readers. I like to meet people who are real and if they aren’t afraid to show their weaknesses, then I love them all the more.

The FIRST EVER Conference for 10 Minute Novelists will be held August 9-11, 2018 in Cincinnati, OH. We’re featuring Donald Maass, James Scott Bell and Janice Hardy! Come and learn with us!

3. ACCESSIBILITY  We are so lucky in this age to be able to communicate with our readers. It used to be that readers wrote letters to authors and there were no reviews on Amazon and no one could tweet you. Wise writers should take advantage of these communication methods and figure out what works. This would include, among other things, having an email address on a blog and engaging in conversation.

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.”
Napoléon Bonaparte

4. AN INSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE  So, what was your favorite love song from the ’80s?  Our readers can provide all kinds of answers to questions, but we need to ask them! I found while I was writing, that my Facebook fan page readers have great insight, they have good ideas, they know exactly how feasible it would be to hide a laminating machine in a dorm room. Because I’m asking them questions, I’m starting some interesting conversations, think about things in a different way and outsource my research (all of this adds to my authenticity and accessibility!) My readers know I’m up to another story and so when it comes out, they’re all the more excited. Win-win!

5. APPRECIATION Readers are why I do this. Every time I find out someone read my book or left a review, I am a little humbled. My readers are taking a chance on me. A $3.99 ebook isn’t a very big chance, but still. Out of the millions of things these readers could read, they chose my book and from the response, I’m getting, they are willing to fork over even more. I can’t take this for granted. Perhaps fame and fortune are part of my future. I never want to be so big that I don’t forget who loved me in the beginning. I thank my readers often. You should too.

6. EXCELLENCE (and thus ends the A Alliterative point. Sigh.) If we go to the trouble of writing a book, then we must be diligent in all areas of it. We must take care to make it mechanically sound, not cut corners and not disappoint our readers with sloppy, unprofessional work. Poor editing communicates to the reader that we don’t care about them. I would hate for my reputation to be tarnished because I didn’t take the time to be excellent.

Granted, ten, fifteen years from now my own experiences may change this a little, but for now, I want to cultivate these qualities as a habit, so that I can continue to have great relationships with my readers.

 What else can you think of that readers want? What do you want as a reader? Which of these is hardest for you? Which of these is the easiest?

Did you like this post? You may also like:

Top 10 Ways To Get Your Readers To Fall In Love With You or,

Top 10 Things You Should Be Saying To Yourself That Will Help Make You More Successful


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community. 

Why I Write — By Paula Kelly Ince (A Series By The Writers of 10 Minute Novelists)

Why I Write by Paula Kelly Ince

When I read this quote from Philip Pullman everything inside me shouted; yes!

Fiction is my first love – I fell in love with fiction long before I fell in love with any boys or girls. I come from a large, chaotic family and whilst we all love one another, there is always some sort of drama going on, always has been. I was the eldest of five, on top of which my parents were emergency foster carers, so we regularly had neglected and abused children arriving on our doorstep at various times of the day and night and staying for anything between a few days and several months.

Story books were my refuge, my inner sanctum, they were the place I went to when the chaos outside got too much. My love of reading soon translated into a love of writing and despite being a painfully slow writer, (which I still am) I began writing about life through stories in primary school. I don’t just write fiction; I also write poetry and I have a blog in which I write about family, life and my experience of battling depression. However, as with reading, fiction is my first love.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

Writing fiction is not only instinctive for me, it is also essential. Through writing stories I make sense of the world. Through the creation of characters and situations I convey meaning in a way that is totally, and sometimes brutally, honest.

Last year I undertook a Masters by research. My main subject was the eighteenth-century Romanic poet, Mary Robinson. In it I considered how Robinson’s image has been manipulated and misrepresented in order to discredit her feminist writings. Integrated within the critical writing were four stories. Whilst it is extremely rare to have fiction interpolated within a critical piece, for me it was an essential part of the process.

Understanding the complex interplay of identity, perception and representation involves exploring personal prejudice, both historical and current. However, asking someone to consider how their prejudices interfere with their perception of others is like giving them a nut without any means of breaking into it.

Writing a story about the particular aspect of prejudice you are trying to explore is like giving them a nut and a nutcracker; there’s now a way in. Like Virginia Wolf, I believe that often fiction ‘is likely to contain more truth than fact.’ This is in large part why a considerable portion of the gospels are told through the medium of parables.

Stories are essential to our understanding of the world and how it functions. We tell our children stories to help them understand how to function in society. The social and individual importance of storytelling, demonstrated through myths and fables is fascinating. Storytelling helps us to explore issues which are unpleasant, uncomfortable or are socially taboo. We only have to look at traditional folk tales to see the importance that a variety of societies place on storytelling. Fairy stories contain gems of information regarding social roles and values which parents impart to their children as they tuck them into bed.

On a deep level we have always understood that stories are more instructive than, say, a set of instructions. It seems counter-intuitive, however, it’s easy to argue with or dismiss a set of instructions but a good story leaves you ruminating and asking questions about it long after you have finished reading it. Stories have the capacity to hold up a mirror and turn on the light; through them we get to see ourselves and one another more clearly and more honestly.

By nature I’m a bit of a people pleaser; I don’t like to hurt or offend, I like to keep the peace. Consequently, I’m often quite measured about what I say; I consider the way what I say or write could be interpreted or misinterpreted. It’s considerate, it’s polite, it’s kind, but it’s not completely honest. This desire not to offend extends to how I write my blog and to a lesser degree how I write my poetry. It is only in my fiction that I feel I have the freedom not to censure myself. Because fiction is made up it enables me to be totally honest. I can paint pictures that reflect society as it is and people as they are; no editing, and that is so liberating.

It gives me a freedom that I don’t experience anywhere else and is the reason why, after all this time, my first love has not faded.

Why I Write By Paula Kelly IncePaula Kelly-Ince is a mum, nana, and writer – pretty much in that order. Along with an expanding waist line, creaky knees and the suspicion that she really would benefit from taking up yoga, middle age is offering her lots of new perspectives. The most shocking of these is the realization that her youthful dreams of being a well-rounded, fully-functioning human being, like her adolescent dreams of being the next Madonna / Mother Theresa / Enid Blyton (dreams alternated, depending on mood and current level of altruism), were indeed just that; dreams. Consequently, dreams have been adjusted and re-named goals (goals sound much more achievable). She now aspires to be dysfunctionally happy, and her blog, A Guide to Getting Life Wrong, is a documentation of the triumphs and failures in the achievement of her newly lowered goals.

Why I Write: A Guest Post By Vickie Miller

I write for many reasons, some of which you wouldn’t understand. But most of all, I write because it’s freeing.

Growing up, there wasn’t much I could do. My family was poor. We lived far away from the center of town for many years. There were too many mouths to feed. And I was a nerd.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

Reading was my favorite sport. Can it be a sport? There was little else that interested me and I didn’t know how to draw.

So, when the moment came in third grade where the students were required to enter a writing contest as an assignment (is it really a contest if entry is mandatory?), I did what was expected of me. I wrote. The title of the story I wrote that year when I was eight escapes me. There might have been a clown in it. I’m really not sure.

What I am sure of, is that my teacher, Mrs. Moore, smiled when she read it to herself. I remember that smile like it was yesterday, when it was in fact, thirty one years ago.

For those of you that didn’t know Mrs. Moore, she was a rather stern teacher. She didn’t take education lightly. Once, she reprimanded me for scribbling out a wrong answer instead of erasing it. And then she instructed me to properly erase the blob of number two lead that I’d made all over my paper.

Mrs. Moore and I did not get along. I had a heavy hand back then and felt the need to make my pencil marks dark. Like ink well dark. So you can imagine how much time I spent erasing that blob of dark pencil mark that day. Perhaps she was preparing me for a career in desk work where only a single line was allowed to mark out an incorrect piece of information. Or, perhaps, she liked to see if she could make a poor little girl cry.

(If you’re reading this, Mrs. Moore, I just want to say I learned my lesson. Anything I write incorrectly gets one single strikethrough with the pencil or pen or computer keystroke. I still have my writer’s bump, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about you and the lessons you taught me that year.)

But the day I turned in my story and subsequently lost that school wide writing contest, I was in charge. I had crafted a lovely story written in solid print (I had yet to learn, much less master the art of cursive writing) that may or may not have been about a clown. And when she read the words, that stern teacher who was ever so fond of neatly written cursive writing and was adamantly against dark blobs of pencil lead, she smiled.

Why I Write by Vickie Miller

I believe that on that day, a part of my eight year old self internalized the power that comes with writing. Letters can be turned into words, which can be weaved into sentences and paragraphs, and stories. It doesn’t matter the medium used for weaving such words or if they’re written in print or cursive or Helvetica twenty-four point. What matters is that they’re written.

Was I looking for power that day? No. Not really. I simply wanted someone to read my story and find the humor in it that I’d found when I’d listened to the characters. Just that.

And that’s why I still write today. Because somewhere out there in this great big world, there’s an individual whose face hasn’t learned how to smile. Or there’s a kid whose heart is broken or a parent who really needs someone to understand him or her, if even for a minute. And those words…that clown…just might be what it takes to help a person through a difficult moment in life.

It just so happens that I believe it’s my job to write those words.

Vickie MIler, leads a chat on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook page. She lives in Alaska with her large family.

Vickie MIler, leads a chat on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook page. She lives in Alaska with her large family.

Fantasy: The (Not So) Easy Genre: A Guest Post by Joanna Maciejewska


Everybody says that writing fantasy is easy.

You don’t have to do research, and you can create just about anything your imagination conjures. It’s all nonexistent anyway, right? As a writer of speculative fiction, both fantasy and science-fiction, I can say from my experience: quite to the contrary. I think fantasy is one of the most difficult genres to write.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

While other genre writes can set their novels in known places, fantasy writers have to research everything.

To create their setting they need to understand politics, physics, economy, geology, climate … and the list goes on. Of course one could point out, that many of the fantasy settings, especially the ones creating a secondary world, break the rules of our reality, and that is true, but a good fantasy world has its own rules that control it as tightly as the rules of our world.

There is a lot of fun in the world building, but there’s a lot of work too.

A castle in the middle of icy wastelands? Wait, what will the people eat there? And suddenly it’s time to read about Greenland. Could people live in a volcanic world? What would they need to survive? Human anatomy, chemistry and physics research are about to start. How about flying people? Can they just be given wings? No, their bones probably would have to be lighter … Would they break more easy? Looks like finding information on birds will come in handy.

And then, there’s magic: the force with no equivalent in the reality (at least scientists have not observed, and measured it yet!)

It still has to follow some rules. We might not know it in our world, but for the characters magic should be like physics: they might understand it more or less accurately, but it’s a part of their world. Where does it come from? How is it used? What is the price for it and what are the limitations? Would it behave according to the first law of thermodynamics? Oh my, do I even remember what that law exactly was?

Not all these things, so thoroughly considered and pieced together, will ever make it into the story, but they are in the background, making the world coherent and believable.

They add the flavor of “real” to the unique taste of a fantasy world. And even though fantasy requires the reader to give in the “unreal” parts of the world, it doesn’t mean a writer shouldn’t strive to make it plausible. A great story might carry few questionable plot solutions or aspects of the world, putting showers in the primeval village in the desert might stretch the reader’s willingness to accept the created world a bit thin.

Joanna Maciejewska

I write fantasy and science-fiction, because the speculative fiction not only carries me and my readers to the unexplored worlds, but also encourages me to learn more and more about our own reality in all its aspects.

Did you know Mayans were lactose intolerant? I didn’t know either until I had to research their ancient culture for a story. I probably won’t pick up wood carving as my additional hobby, but I do know which wood is the best and all the steps of preparing it, because a character happened to carve wooden sculptures. I admit to have cheated a bit, adding magic powder for quick-drying the logs, since she couldn’t wait for months for it to dry … but I kept the rest real, for the readers to believe my world makes sense.

And this is how well-written fantasy should be: unreal, otherworldly, amazing, mind-blowing and … still believable.

Seasoned readers of the genre will instantly know whether the author did their research, and thought not only their plot, but also their world through. So if you still think writing fantasy is easy, try to plan a diet for those biologically adapted people who live on the volcanic planet with little oxygen and a lot of sulfur in the air…

Come to think of that, I might do so to. In the end, being a fantasy writer means I’m excited how the worlds—all the worlds my imagination can conjure—work, because there are so many stories hidden there, still waiting to be told.

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska was born in Poland, and spend there a bit over a quarter of her life before moving over to Ireland. She studied primary school teaching and entholinguistics, and currently works as a video games localization specialist. When she’s not busy translating and tracking text bugs in the games, she reads, plays video games, does arts and crafts, and— of course—writes, both in Polish and English. She’s been published in main Polish magazines (“Nowa Fantastyka”, “Fantasy, Science-Fiction i Horror” and “Esensja”) and anthologies, both in print and digitally. She has short stories in English published in Fiction Vortex and the anthology “Of the Dead and Dying: Tales of the Apocalypse”. You can find her on Twitter: @Melfka and Goodreads, or visit her site at

Why I Write: A Guest Post By Carolyn Astfalk

I only recently pondered why I write. I simply knew that I had to write, so I did.

My love affair with the written word started with clumsily-illustrated stories and spelling bees and grew to student newspapers in grade school, high school, and college. My affection for pen and ink led me to try my hand at calligraphy. During summer visits, I sat spellbound as my aunt, my mother’s only sister, analyzed my handwriting as well as written samples from my family members, friends, and teachers.

My penchant for fiction grew out of Nancy Drew speed reading competitions with my best friend and blossomed into the memorization of S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and my love for Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone With the Wind. I savored the beauty of classical Latin and Greek in college and later became known as the resident “Grammar Lady” in my office. At one time or another, I devoured the content of sundry magazines and newspapers, blogs, and nonfiction books.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

My love of books eventually moved me from a self-proclaimed loather of libraries to one of their biggest fans. (To be fair, the gloomy, musty local library and a snippy librarian had more to do with my enmity than books themselves.)

I kept a daily journal from the age of thirteen clear through to twenty-five, recording mundane details, events, and feelings (a lot about boys who didn’t like me back). I poured out boredom, heartbreak, confusion and joy in slanted cursive created with blue ink.

I continued to write as part of my work in public relations and communications. There were news releases, summaries, newsletters, columns, and position papers. I dabbled in short fiction with a community college course in short stories and a library class on children’s writing.

I was still a newlywed on the beach in St. Martin when I started scribbling notes and dialogue in the back of a journal, trying to capture all the details of a story that started as a dream and evolved into a drama.

It wasn’t until National Novel Writing Month in 2010, while my husband travelled for work and my children slept, that I dove headlong into the craft of novel writing. Without a clue as to what I was doing, I set my sights on writing 55,000 words in thirty days, an unprecedented feat for me.

I began with a printout of a newspaper story that intrigued me and the vague idea my protagonist would be a teenage girl. There was treasure, intrigue, and a light, innocent romance. Then day after day I stared at the large, white expanse of a new Microsoft Word document and proceeded to make stuff up, following every tangent as if it were the lifeline that would save me from leaving my muddled morass incomplete.

I emerged from that experience with a horrible first draft but a concrete means of transferring the stories that flickered like movies in my mind into coherent, concrete products.

Until that point, I hadn't realized that the cinematic scenes that played out in my imagination while I cleaned, drove, or showered, could be translated into a coherent mass of words with arcs, themes, tension, and plot. -- Carolyn Astfalk

Until that point, I hadn’t realized that the cinematic scenes that played out in my imagination while I cleaned, drove, or showered, could be translated into a coherent mass of words with arcs, themes, tension, and plot.

The more I indulged the words and scenes in my head, the more they flowed, often unbidden and intrusive.

I scrambled for pens and scraps of paper, afraid of losing any nugget of potential literary gold. The words and the ideas multiplied faster than rabbits in spring. That was when I conceded that I had to write, if not for my love of words then for my love of sanity.

There are other, lesser reasons I continue to write.

Yes, I feel “called” in a sense to write, to share particular stories, experiences, and themes that I hope will edify, entertain, and glorify. I’m certain I’m neither the most talented nor most skilled writer (not even close), but perhaps there is some small way in which my work has purpose beyond the sphere of my small and short life.

How else could I explain the time, energy, and bits of my soul I’ve poured into writing, reading, and attempting to improve my skills? For nearly five years, this fiction-writing gig has amounted to a part-time job, one for which I’ve not yet earned a penny.


Carolyn AstfalkCarolyn’s debut novel, Stay With Me, will be released on October 1, 2015. At that time, she hopes to earn a few pennies to contribute to her family’s wealth and offset the time and financial drain of her word habit. Until then, you can find me playing with letters and words at My Scribbler’s Heart Blog. Carolyn resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

What Is Beautiful To Me by Katharine Grubb


What is beautiful?

 It is beautiful to stop and take deep breaths. To understand that your breathing not just helps your body but it also calms you down. Your deep breaths soothe your mind. Deep breaths free you up to think and act clearly. Deep breathing is a pacifier, a soother, a psychological binky.  You can wrap yourself up in your own breaths and rest deeply. You can breathe the toxins out of your body. You can breathe out the bad thoughts and the invasive poisons.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

What is beautiful?

It is beautiful to choose to be free and walk in truth. What’s beautiful in the journey of truth is to see all of the people join you. They want to hold your hand and lead you along. They want what you’ve got. It is beautiful to be winsome and lovely, to be calm and kind. It is beautiful that these things are so much better for us than almost anything else.

What is beautiful?

It is beautiful when words inspires new life and new hope. It is hard to understand that something new and fresh and hopeful can come out of such suffering. How can that be? How can it be that the suffering produces so much beauty?

Now with every step that I see this beauty unfolding around me, I have to make a choice.

Do I keep going with more and more beauty or do I stop and listen to the voices that are behind me?  The jarring voices behind me are filled of accusations. They are blind to the beauty around me. They are blind to the richness in hopeful words.  They’d rather find comfort in their mockery and hatred than look up to see beauty.

Beauty is looking at all my scars and knowing where they came from and getting up and fighting anyway.  Katharine GrubbWhat is beautiful?

Beauty is looking at all my scars and knowing where they came from and getting up and fighting anyway. Beauty is choosing to live my life away from anyone who harms me emotionally. Beauty is knowing my preferences and my passions and my talents and my ideas and working hard to put them into action. Beauty is speaking only good things about others. Beauty is defending the boundaries of others.

This is why I write. I write because the fight for beauty is worth it. 


KI am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.atharine Grubb is the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day, Falling For Your Madness, and Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayBesides homeschooling her five children, baking bread and doing crazy amounts of laundry, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists, the liveliest writers’ group on Facebook. Her new book, Soulless Creatures, about two college roommates who bet a brand new car that one of them doesn’t have a soul, will be released August, 2015. Katharine and her family live in Massachusetts.

Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, The Rallying Cry,  will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing.

Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, <em>The Rallying Cry, </em> will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing. <em>The Rallying Cry </em> will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

 The Rallying Cry  will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

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Why I Write By Katharine Grubb, Founder 10 Minute Novelists


 You may have been like me. You may have always needed to write.

You may have been like me and you had five children under eight years old and all you could think about is a story.  Or maybe you wondered why if you could tell a funny story about a bunny at bath time, why you couldn’t tell something more complicated and interesting for others? So in your desperation, you checked a book out of the library and you read it while you were nursing the baby.  Or when you sat at the playground or watched the children play in the back yard. You thought about writing even though you were supposed to be watching to see if  your son ate dirt again.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

I write because there was something deep inside of me that longed to create.

I’m not the only one who had that something.

We create because we are hungry for expression. We create because we know that life is more than folding laundry and planning dinner and reminding the three year old, as patiently as you can, that she really needs a nap. We create because we have these active imaginations that aren’t happy with the story about the bunny. We create because we see bits and pieces of beauty in the world around us and we want to gather them all up together in our arms and reshape them into something wonderful. We create because we know that if we don’t, it would feel like smothering our souls. We create because we’ve always had a box of crayons or an idea of a story, or a wonder about us. We create because we so easily feel the nuances of pain and sadness, of glory and love. We create because we must.

We write because if we don’t, we’ll be defeated by the forces of darkness around us.

We write because if we don’t, the words will swirl around in our brains and our souls and eat us alive from the inside out. We write because if we don’t, then as we are exposed more and more to pain and relief, hope and despair, passion and stoicism, we’ll have no way to process it. We write because we have read the words of the great writers and we want to imitate them, even if it means doing it feebly. We write because there are people whose stories we want to tell; they have become old friends in our hearts and we think others  should know them. We write because we saw something magical and we want to tell the world about it. We write because our fingers love being on the keyboard. We write because we know when a bouquet of words comes together well, their aroma lasts longer than flowers.

We write because we don’t what we would do with ourselves if we didn’t. 

We write because we don’t like the messiness of the bits and pieces of things scattered in our homes, our computer’s desktops and in our brains. We have no places to put them, no vision of what they could be, no organization or plan. They are messy and imperfect, but these little creations are ours to cherish, not unlike the children we snuggle with at bedtime. We write to make order of them.

Why do you write? I want to hear from you.

Pushing Your Own Boundaries: A Guest Post By Patricia D. Eddy

 May has been a pretty terrible month for me. April too, for that matter. You see, I sent my latest book, A Shift in the Air, off to my new editor, and she…well…she ripped it apart.

Now, let me be clear. She was incredibly supportive and not at all mean about said ripping, but I’m still finding little shredded pieces of manuscript all over the virtual floor. I wrote about the struggle several times in an author’s reality, I did it, Breaking up is hard to do, and Editing: the good, the bad, and the ugly, approached the whole thing with a “suck it up, Buttercup” attitude. I could do this.

So I rewrote the whole book in two weeks. Yep. A whole, 65,000 word book in two weeks.

I did nothing but write, sleep, work, write, sleep, work…I’m pretty sure my husband thrust plates of food at me at regular intervals, but I can’t honestly remember. I sent it off again to my editor.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

And again…confetti from the shredded pages landed all over the place. ARGH!

At this point, while I loved my editor dearly, I did start to contemplate a voodoo doll.
I’m now on the third full rewrite, and this one, finally, is getting hearts and flowers and WHY DIDN’T YOU SEND ME WORDS LIKE THESE BEFORE? YOU’VE BEEN HOLDING OUT ON ME! THIS IS WHAT I KNEW YOU WERE CAPABLE OF messages from her at regular intervals. And yes, they’re all in caps.

My friends outside the writing world don’t understand.

Why in the world would I put myself through such a terrible time? Why not just do a line edit and be done with it? A Shift in the Water, the first book in the series, is successful. Wildly so. Fans will probably gobble up the book even if it’s rubbish (and even the first version wasn’t rubbish, it just wasn’t what it needed to be).

Well, because part of being a writer, of trying to make a career out of this craziness, is wanting to constantly improve.

I’ve always struggled with confidence. I think we all do. That struggle drives us to do better, to work harder, and to bust through those blocks and walls and ceilings that keep us down.
That’s what I’ve tried to do this month. I’ve pushed myself harder than ever before. I’ve given up sleep, movies, gardening, and running. I’ve done all of this because I need to be better.

I’m the Six-Million-Dollar-Man. Better, stronger, faster. Okay, not faster.

This last rewrite is taking forever, because I’m building so much lore into this paranormal romance that I can now tell you the origin story of every mythical creature, every single werewolf, and can explain away half of recorded history in supernatural terms. It’s epic. But better nonetheless. This process has shown me just what I’m capable of. And while I can’t say I want to repeat it, I also don’t think I’ll have to. I’ve learned so much. I’m a better outliner. I have detailed character development sheets that give me the hows and whys of each and every character, back to childhood. I know why the hero loves the heroine, and it isn’t just because of physical attraction. I know why the bad guy is a sympathetic antagonist, and what his undoing will be in the end. And I’ve learned how to recognize sticking points in my own story. Hint: If you’re struggling with a scene, it’s probably because your tension is lacking. Or you’re in the wrong character’s head.

I started to write because I loved creating stories. Worlds came alive in my head, characters fought, died, fell in love, and redeemed themselves. But I keep writing because I want to be better. I want to be the kind of writer who inspires others Patricia Eddy
I started to write because I loved creating stories. Worlds came alive in my head, characters fought, died, fell in love, and redeemed themselves. But I keep writing because I want to be better. I want to be the kind of writer who inspires others. And I want to know that I’ve done something I never thought possible. I want to push myself beyond my normal limits, fly farther, faster, and higher than ever before.

I can do this. There will be blood, sweat, tears, and possibly that voodoo doll.

There will be cursing and railing and probably sobbing from time to time. When you bleed your words out onto the page, you leave scars behind. But those scars can heal you. They’re a testament to your strength, your dedication, and your love for your craft.
I write for those scars. Because Liam and Caitlin deserve my very best. When A Shift in the Air comes out, I hope they’ll be pleased. I hope I’ve done them justice.

But I also hope when I tell the next story, that perhaps I won’t end up with mountains of shredded manuscript towering over me. My vacuum cleaner just can’t keep up with the mess.


Love shifters? Grab your copy of A Shift in the Water or pre-order A Shift in the Air today!

Patricia Eddy author of A Shift In The Air
Patricia Eddy author of A Shift In The Air

About author Patricia D. Eddy:
Patricia D. Eddy can’t stop writing. Not that she’s tried. Her characters won’t let her. 

She fuels her writing with copious amounts of caffeine-she lives in Seattle, after all-and rewards herself with good Scotch and red wine. 

In between writing, editing, and mentoring other authors, she runs around lakes, reads late into the night, and is terribly addicted to Doctor Who and Sherlock. She has a thing for quirky British men and isn’t ashamed to admit it. 

Her quirky-but-not-British husband never gives her grief for working long hours or occasionally talking to herself when she has disagreements with her characters, for which she is very thankful. You can find more about Patricia and her books by visiting

Beauty, Truth, and the Power to Transcend: A Guest Post by Carolyn Astfalk


Sometimes we recognize beauty on sight.

Where beauty exists in the natural world, it’s often easily discernible. Other times, we have to dig to see the beauty or observe from a different perspective to grasp its intricacy or totality.

Whether we readily recognize beauty or not, its creation isn’t a slapdash affair. It can be a complicated, messy process that requires deliberate planning, execution, and revision.

Beauty, Truth, and the Power to Transcend by Carolyn Astfalk

However difficult it may be to infuse our art with beauty, it is critical to its acceptance and appreciation. Truth and beauty create transcendence, and it’s transcendence that resonates with readers. Beauty, in its universality, becomes personalist.

“In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”

This passage, taken from Pope Saint John Paul II’s 1999 “Letter to Artists,” sets the bar high for any artist. Writers assemble letters into an inexhaustible number of unique arrangements to create truth and beauty, and in doing so, touch upon something so innate, so universal, that it brings life to the deepest stirrings of our souls.

While writing can and many times should be light, its purpose is not to be taken lightly.

So often in life, we choose expedience over luxury. The shortcut rather than the scenic route. The functional over the ornate. Pressed for time and pulled in a dozen different directions, short and to the point is often better than long-winded and grandiose.

After all, you can appreciate music anywhere, not just in the confines of a spectacular concert hall. You can eat anywhere, not just in a fine restaurant. And you can worship anywhere, not just in a grand cathedral.

So, too, can the words you create and consume be utilitarian. Words are used to describe furniture assembly, medicinal dosage, and technical documentation. But they are also used to profess love, offer prayers, and pour out heartfelt confessions.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

So accustomed are we to those humdrum uses, that we can fail to recognize and recall the beauty and artistry of words.

In a 2002 message, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:

“The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can correctly evaluate the arguments.”

To illustrate this arcane point, he follows with an example, one to which many can relate. Then Cardinal Ratzinger recalls attending a Bach concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. He says, “The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s imagination.”

He’s talking here about the existence of God, but even aside from the theological implications, it rings true. Who hasn’t felt the truth in the swelling crescendo of music, the subtlety of a painted likeness, or the recitation of mellifluous words?

Words capture truth and beauty in myriad ways. Not by sight or sound or meaning alone, but by all three.

Words possess physical beauty. It is seen in a looping descender or a graceful ascender. There is beauty in practiced, professional calligraphy and in a loved one’s unique script. There is intrinsic beauty in a recipe written lovingly by the hand of a now-deceased grandmother and in the elementary scrawl of a young child writing “I love you” for the first time.

Words have aural beauty. A beauty expressed in rhythm, alliteration, and sometimes onomatopoeia – a beautiful sounding word in itself.

Words have cognizant beauty. They possess the power to elevate and enlighten, to encourage, and to embolden. Perhaps most importantly, through their truth, they communicate that we are not alone.

That perhaps is the greatest mystery and magic of words. Created alone or consumed alone, in private or public, in silence or aloud, executed by flesh and bone or binary sequence, they exist because another exists. Because truth exists. And beauty exists. If only we have eyes to see it.


Carolyn AstfalkCarolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart ( Her debut novel, Stay With Me, will be published by Full Quiver Publishing in October 2015.


Why I Write: A Series By Members of 10 Minute Novelists — By Tyler Omichimski

I have a cheap and easy cop-out for this one: I write because I don’t know how not to.

I started writing when I was five or something, writing terrible things that were filled with deus ex machina and what would have me castigated for flagrant copyright violations. Fortunately, none of that got published.

I also read. Reading is like a religion to me. It’s a challenge.

Friends and family have joked, in the past, that I don’t read so much as eat books. I read fast. That’s thanks to my dad reading the entirety of The Hobbit, and then the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to me prior to me actually finishing kindergarten, then encouraging me to read it myself shortly after. Its why I have a tattoo of a Tolkien quote on my ribcage, my way of appreciating and reminding myself that without that, I wouldn’t be where I am.

I tell stories. That’s all I can do. I don’t really know how to do anything else. I make things up, I obsess over words, and I repeat interesting phrases over and over in my head to dissect them.

None of this really explains why I write though. It’s all kind of tangential reasons.

Except, its not. I’m going to write because there’s just some little spark or something deep down inside me that informs me that this is just “what I do”. I’ll work a day job, have a career, and even be happy with it, but I won’t be able to stop writing. I’ve tried. There were periods where I did stop writing because school or work or other things that just sort of happen on the road of life got in the way. And I would stop, for a while.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

Then later, whether weeks or months or whatever, I’d start again. There’d be an idea, or a phrase, that would just niggle at me and wear at me until it was typed up. Then another would follow. And another. Then I’d have a short story or some chapters or whatever sitting in front of me. At that point, something has to be done with it.

Why do I write? I can’t not. It’s a compulsion. There’s not really a choice in it for me.

I may end up toiling in obscurity for the rest of my life, though I sincerely hope not. I’m going to keep at it. My parents sowed seeds, though I expect not on purpose, that gave me a love of stories.

Words, I’ve learned, are important.

You see it everyday, even if you don’t realize it. They’re these crazy little combinations of noises and symbols that unlock feeling and emotion and thought in our brains. You can use them as weapons, lashing out and hurting others. Or you can use them to heal, to provide a balm for those that are suffering. They can force us to think. We use them every day and it blows my mind the amount of power they have.

This is why I write. It is important. I have to.  And I like to think I have stories to tell. I’ve had some success thus far, and I’m going to keep going. You should too.


Tyler OmichinskiTyler Omichinski is a writer, game designer and freelance writer from the Great White North of Canada. He writes for a number of review websites, has a number of short story publications, and is about to self-publish a novella. He has an inexplicable fascination with survivalism, fitness, travel, and painting. His work has been published in the science fiction magazine “Grey Matter” and in the upcoming anthology “Den of Thieves”.  

Why I Write: A Series From The Authors Of 10 Minute Novelists Featuring Melissa Graham

From Melissa Graham:

About 10 years ago, I was in a very bad place. I was young, married to one of the most selfish beings I’ve ever met, and had two very young children.

I’d lost my home, my possessions– including a car, which is an absolute necessity in this city– my security, my confidence, my independence and, worst of all, my identity. Barely into my twenties, all I had to my name was the love for my babies and the pity of my family. While my children and I were stuck in my parents’ house, their father was absent, doing whatever he did to pass the time, except when he needed to “borrow” money, food, or cigarettes from my parents. Though I knew my parents loved me with all their heart, I felt ostracized by them due to their overwhelming dislike of the man I had stupidly chosen to marry. Friends, I once held close familial bonds with, kept their distance because no one wanted to deal with “the drunk idiot” that always seemed to turn up if I attempted to go anywhere. I was at my most lonely. Yes, I had my babies but they were two and one and weren’t able to hold even the shortest of conversations. Believe me, I tried.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

It was in one of my darkest days, when the kids were particularly difficult, my parents were at work, and my husband was, again, nowhere to be found, that I retreated to my old bedroom and cried.

I cried and I prayed for the higher powers to guide me out of the chaotic maelstrom that had become my life. While I was laying on my bed, I noticed the small shelf in the corner and the stack of books therein. Since leaving my childhood home, my bedroom had begun a slow transformation into “guest room” but there, on that shelf, were remnants of my childhood. Books that I never took with me. There, on top, was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The first Harry Potter book I ever read. With nothing else to do, I grabbed the book and read. When my children woke from their naps, I found myself much calmer and in better spirits. I hadn’t gotten terribly far, but a few chapters was enough to pull me from my world and into one of magic and mystery. A small respite, but one much needed.

It came to be that, every time I felt like I was toeing the edge, I would grab my book and escape for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes became an hour and, the more I escaped, the calmer I became.

It was easy to get lost in the troubles and trials of fiction. Much easier than facing my own reality. When I was done with that book, I went to the library and got another. And then, another. Something amazing was happening. I stopped worrying and fighting with the horrible things in my life, and started to find peace and positivity. I tapped back into that childlike part of me that thrived on imagination. That was when I discovered the world of Online Roleplay  (I give a more in-depth understanding of what Online RP is in my blog at and dove into writing. Five years, and several roleplay sites later, I figured out what it was I wanted to do with my life.

Deny The Moon By Melissa Graham
Deny The Moon By Melissa Graham

I wanted to be the very thing that saved me. I wanted to write. Not just write books, but create worlds and stories and people that someone could get lost it.

If I had never gotten immersed in the worlds created by J.K. Rowling, or Laurell K. Hamilton, I don’t know where I would have gone. I was mentally broken, emotionally starved, and lonely. By being able to escape, I was able to heal. The more I healed, the more control I took of my life and fought for the betterment of it. I’ve said from the start, I am not writing to make money. I don’t ache for fame or fortune. I write my stories because, somewhere out there, there is another person in need of refuge from harsh realities.

Deny the Moon, which can be found on Amazon in print and eBook format, is my first attempt to provide such an escape.

I’ve shed tears, and maybe a layer or two of sanity, as I learned, not only the book-writing process, but the emotional and mental struggles of publishing as well. It’s been three years of, a different kind of, heartache and joy. Three years of uncertainty and moments of complete clarity. Though I was often tempted by the siren’s call of the “delete” button, I pushed through until I finished. Even now, as I start on other stories and my first book sits patiently on the virtual shelves, I feel that I am walking the right path.

Even when the naysayers ask me why I write, why I even bother when I am seeing no financial success, I know I am doing something spectacular. Because, if something I’ve written can heal one lost soul, even if it’s just giving them an out for twenty minutes a day, then everything will have been worth it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.13.24 AM
Melissa Roth is a member of 10 Minute Novelists. She blogs at

Melissa Roth

Why I Write: Literature’s Role in the Teen’s Journey to Self-Acceptance, A Guest Post by YA Author Ellen Mulholland

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, I was a high school English geek. I was the nerdy girl who loved and debated every book we read. I was the good friend who helped with essays and theme analyses. I savored each minute of class and could have spent the entire school day reading and writing. We read the greats –Austen, Knowles, Steinbeck, and Lee. Stories about courage, love and discovery. We discussed characters’ journeys and authors’ themes. We explored friendship and family; and I fell in love with Elizabeth Bennet, Gene Forrester, Tom Joad, and Scout.

Why do I write?
You can get to know Ellen better by checking out her website! Click the image to go there!

Inside my own middle-class upbringing, I understood that every teen embarked on a journey to self-acceptance.

I loved to read and write. My path was clear to me. I would major in English Lit and Journalism at USC.

There, my world opened wide. I heard and read about liberal thinkers and journalists like Ted Kennedy, I.F. Stone, Daniel Ellsberg and Geraldine Ferraro.

Like many college students, my innocent suburban childhood crashed head-on into the world’s inequities and injustices. I discovered the underdogs.

I soon understood that my task in life was to tell others’ travels.

What books has Ellen Mulholland written?
Click the image for more information!

My role as a writer would be to give voice to the mute and form to the invisible, tell the stories of real life heroes.

However, after spending internships and short stints reporting on drunk drivers, gang violence and dirty politicians, I quickly ditched the journalism career. This wasn’t the footprint I wanted to leave on the world.

First, one life-changing assignment for a small paper in a sleepy and conservative Southern California community changed my life forever.

Why Does Ellen Plotkin Mulholland write?
Ellen Mulholland, Author of (THIS GIRL CLIMBS TREES and BIRDS ON A WIRE)

It was 1982, and the AIDS epidemic had just begun hogging headlines. My assignment: interview local citizens and gather their reactions to this crisis. I did. Their responses shocked me. I was a 20-year-old journalism student, and they were housewives and businessmen. My worldviews were just opening up. Theirs were mired in the past.

Homosexuals needed to change their lifestyle.”

“ AIDS is punishment.”

After college and ditching the journalism dream, my path grew murky. I moved to London and travelled. I wrote a novel about childhood, about growing up amidst life’s challenges – death, love, family, and gender stereotypes. It took me another 25 years before I published “This Girl Climbs Trees”. During that time, I married, raised two kids, taught teenagers, and divorced. I lived a life.

What book can I read about climbing trees?
Click the image for more information!

Back in California, I was ready to write about that heroic underdog.

As a middle school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve met many young people who struggle with fitting in, how to dress, what to say, whom to friend.

These teens search to define themselves. Many of them find role models in the media. Celebrities entering and exiting rehab. Instagram and YouTube phenoms. Not all exemplify good choices. Not all live a realistic life.

I decided my students lived the real stories I wanted to tell.

My second YA novel, “Birds on a Wire”, begins with a boy – an ordinary likeable kid who anyone might identify with or as a friend. Matt West, a 16-year-old bright and quiet high school junior, struggles with his sexuality. He has two best friends – one with a long-term girlfriend, one with many short-term girlfriends. Matt’s reality makes it difficult to say who he is; he questions how he’s viewed. His friends are loyal but very heterosexual; they illustrate life’s gray areas.

I didn’t want it to be easy for Matt to come out. I didn’t want it to be impossible either. I wanted it to be his choice. His journey.

Matt West is my underdog. He’s a hero I could love because he is so deeply conflicted with expressing his true self and maintaining his lifelong friendships.

I believe this conflict is at the heart of much teen angst. When we reach adolescence, we discover our autonomy; we glimpse our destinies. We arrive at a crossroad between venturing forth to our truth and preserving the foundation of our past. This is our coming of age. A story told repeatedly throughout literature.

With “Birds on a Wire”, I try to tell this story. Matt West must not simply choose his destiny, he must preserve who he is and accept who he can be. Matt must realize the importance of friendship, family, love and honesty; he must own the impact he has on those around him. Matt’s journey is not defined by his sexuality; it is merely his vehicle to self-acceptance. His is every teen’s journey.

Many stories that I read as a teen influenced the characters and themes I developed in “Birds on a Wire”. Here are 5 deeply moving classic novels that demonstrate the teen’s impassioned journey of self-discovery.

“A Separate Peace” by John Knowles

“The Chocolate Wars” by Robert Cormier

“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

“Monster” by Walter Dean Meyers