Up for a Challenge?

I like challenges.

Especially when life feels like it’s drifting towards auto.

In the past, I’ve challenged myself to wear everything I own or donate it, try 100 new recipes in a year, shop only local for three months, and write a novel (see where that got me?).

Of late, I’ve challenged myself to read 52 books this year (goodreads is keeping me accountable) and finish my current novel-in-progress by April.


Big challenges are all splashy and fun, but it’s the little stuff that can make you batty. It’s also the little stuff that can change your life.

The minutiae that nag at your conscience (and your soul) can bog down your days and your to-do list. You know what I’m talking about – the tasks that won’t stop your world from turning if they don’t get done but would certainly improve your world if they did get done. You probably remember these things while you’re brushing your teeth before bed and then promptly neglect to do them again the next day.

And once you tackle these insidious little jobs, there’s room for inspiration and ideas and projects. All of which are accomplished one little insidious task at a time!

So I have a plan for me and YOU—so we can get some stuff done, maybe even change our lives.

This past week, I was the host of one of my publisher’s Facebook groups – The Back Booth: Talking Women’s Fiction. (btw, you’re WELCOME to join – we’d love to have you! The Back Booth offers daily discussions and visits with its authors and members.)

On Monday, I challenged members to post one thing that had been languishing on their to-do list– a task they would accomplish that week. I called it their Monday-Must-Do.

Lots of people were game and shared tasks big and small (make a doctor’s appointment, put away Christmas decorations, update a resume). On Friday I checked in with all of them and guess what? – nearly everybody had taken care of their Monday-Must-Do!

Telling people you’re going to do something, especially publicly in writing, creates accountability. It worked last week and it’s worked for me time and again when I took on challenges publicly via my blog.

So, for all our sakes, I’ve decided to create a way for us to challenge ourselves each week publicly, for real, on my little corner of the internet, and then hold ourselves (and me) accountable.

Even though many of you are dissing Facebook at the present (but please, who actually thought Facebook wasn’t collecting your stats and selling them?), I’m going to do this on my Facebook writer page.

You can follow along like a commoner lurking in the shadows OR you can join in! Every Monday I’m going to be telling you what my MONDAY MUST-DO is and asking you for yours. Are you game? Want to change your life, or at least get *hit done?

Monday must do

On Friday, I’ll follow up with you and ask how it went. Me, and my thousands hundreds (for now) of followers will want to know.

What I’m hoping, is that most weeks you’ll discover that if you push yourself, just a teeny-tiny bit, you’ll succeed.

And all those little tiny successes, week after week, add up to big things—of this I know. It’s how I wrote all my books. It’s how I’ve saved over 100 dogs. It’s how I took the toxins out of my house and my life. One little challenge each week. That’s all it takes to change your life, or at least make it a little bit better.

Up for the challenge? Follow me. (and be sure to click the notifications tab so you don’t miss my reminders! I promise I won’t nag, I will be only balloons and champagne, and if some weeks your To-Do gets the better of you, I’ll just casually look the other way and nod my head in understanding. We all have those weeks.)

I’ve got another challenge for myself brewing, but I’ll need a running start for that one. Look for it in next week’s post!

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.


COMING AUGUST 2018 FROM Pegasus Books:

Another Good Dog cover

But lucky you! You can preorder your copy now!



Avoidance Techniques from a Master (Week 4 of my Be-a-Better-Writer Reading Program)

Reading multiple writing books at once has my head spinning. This past week, while distracted by my BIG NEWS, I had a hard time making myself sit down and follow my reading plan for becoming a better writer. I do my assigned reading in the evening, but each night I found a reason not to read. Instead, I spent a lot of time with my foster puppies…..


And I caught up on The Crown and sorted my Netflix que and finished reading Dogged Pursuit by Robert Rodi (hilarious) 6480008 and The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (exquisite). 15705011Next, instead of doing my assigned reading Continue reading “Avoidance Techniques from a Master (Week 4 of my Be-a-Better-Writer Reading Program)”

NaNoWriMo Day 25: Waffling

Half of these chickens didn’t survive the latest fox attack. My odds at finishing NaNoWriMo seem similar. sigh.

I don’t know if I’m going to make it. There are only five days left in the month and writing time is at a premium considering the house is overrun with kids and their messes and their friends and my need to be amongst them. Add to that a couple foster dogs/puppies and well, I’ve got a boatload of excuses for not finishing NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got just under 13,000 words to go. Doable? Sure, but will I do it? Not so sure.

I’m doing what I’ve done with pretty much all five of the novels I’ve written – stalling in the middle. Ask any writer – the beginning is the easiest part. And then for many writers, the ending is obvious, but the middle….that’s terribly tricky. It’s very easy to wander. It’s very easy to obsess over unnecessary detail. It’s very easy to play favorites with your characters and entertain an odd darling or two.

For me, though, what happens in the middle is a lot of circling and stalling and avoiding the ending. I don’t want the story to end. Once it’s over, the real work starts. The tedious, painful editing. The sorting out whether there’s really a story here or not, and after 90,000+/- words, there really better be a story here.

Hanging out in the middle is safe. It’s easy. I like it there. The tail end of the middle is the time when I get anxious. What if the ending doesn’t appear? And what if it does and it sucks? Or what if I jump the gun and force it?

Much better to just stall and await a sign.

The problem with NaNoWriMo is there is no time to stall. There’s not time to explore tangents and wiggle my way into an ending. I have to write 13,000 words. NOW.

But what’s the worse that happens? I don’t finish NaNoWriMo? (or in the NaNoWriMo lingo – I don’t win?) So what? No big deal, Easter seal. I can handle it. I don’t have to achieve my goal. I can finish in another week or two. What’s with the arbitrary deadline? There’s nothing hanging in the balance here. The only person I owe this to is me. And I’m easy. Ask my kids. I talk big, but in the end I always cave.

Will I make it? It’s so very hard to say. I wouldn’t wager any money on it, but then again, I’m a more or less reliable person. I usually do what I say. So, you know, maybe it’ll happen….let’s just wait and see.


crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76NaNoWriMo is not some kind of cult-inspired chant or childish taunt. (Or is it?) It stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s held each November. It’s the crazy idea that you can write an entire novel in a month. Well, maybe not a novel, but you’re supposed to shoot for 50,000 words.

Even if you take the weekends off, that’s only 2500 words a day. As a professional writer, I’ve had days where I got on such a writing jag that I churned out 15,000, so, 2,500? Chump change. And yet….I do not write 2500 words every day. For a month. Ever.

If you’re the type of writer who agonizes over every turn of phrase, well, 2,500 words in one day might seem unreachable. Still, the main idea of NaNoWriMo is to sit down EVERY DAY and write. In exchange, you’ll get encouragement, direction, accountability, and commiseration. All things that most writers are sorely lacking.

When I mention to other writers that a few years back, I tried the craziness of NaNoWriMo, I get a knowing nod. I’m not sure if that nod means, “Yup, I knew you were nuts, now you’re just confirming it,” or “Ah—you’re one of us!”

I remember that month as being one in which I was very focused. I nearly reached my goal but was sidetracked by several personal issues that stole my time and attention. But still, I did flesh out a novel. And that was the novel which hooked me an agent. Sadly, that novel still lives only in my heart and on my laptop, but writing it taught me a lot. It set me on the path to publication. Someday, I hope to get back to that story. It deserves to be told.

This fall I’m flailing around on several projects, spending way too much time with my puppies, and berating myself for not getting back to the novel I started last May. That novel is presently 27,000 words. If I added just 50,000 words, I’d have a novel that falls nicely in the sweet spot between 75,000-85,000 words that most publishers appreciate. So, yes, I’m tempted. NaNoWriMo is calling. I could use the direction and motivation, but mostly the accountability.

I posted recently on Facebook that what I needed most was a boss, so maybe NaNoWriMo could be my boss for the month. Giving this serious thought. Anybody else out there up for the challenge? We could commiserate at Starbucks (where I know one of the baristas pretty well) or via the internet (which sadly has no baristas).

Click on over to NaNoWriMo.org and get the details or just go crazy and sign up!