May 26, 2022
In Defense of the Literary Happily Ever After
It’s psychologically restorative to feel catharsis through the (yes, yes, unrealistic) extreme happiness of literary characters.
May 10, 2022
Stay Thirsty, My Friends: On Freeing Writing From the Weight of Perfection
Perfect is not the goal. Perfect is nonexistent. Perfect is a machine button we push-push-push, filling our cup with whatever is the flavor combo of the day but never having our thirst quenched.
May 9, 2022
Sarah McCoy: On Sensitivity Readers, Performative Gender Roles, Finding Purpose, and Her Novel, “Mustique Island”
Write or Die Tribe
Anything worth something to us requires us to expose our most tender emotions (love) and be willing to potentially get hurt by it. It’s the sacrifice of ego. You can’t have the heroic ending, the happily-ever-after, or the promise of life eternal without recognizing the sacrifice…
April 19, 2022
‘I Lived in 10 towns Across America, This Is Where I Finally Settled Down’
That’s the thing with not having ties to a place. It absolves you from responsibility. But that applies to everything—the bad and the good. Sure, you get to leave bad plumbing and bad relationships, but you also have to leave good places and people you love. There’s a thin line between “get to” and “have to.” It wasn’t until recently—I am now in my forties—that we stopped our caravan in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
March 31, 2022
Your Guide to Water When the Inspiration Well Runs Dry
I often pull up my rope, drop my chin to my chest, and proclaim: “It’s dry, the well is dry! I’m never going to drink again. I’m going to die of thirst. It’s over.” When really, what I need to do is wait a beat. Let the rains come. Let deep waters stir. Allow the well to fill up organically. This was the case when I started writing my forthcoming novel Mustique Island.
October 29, 2020
Sarah’s Simple Pleasures: Traditions
Our traditions will come and go, bend, break, be lost, replaced, and even necessarily discarded. That doesn’t make them good or bad. Doesn’t make us good or bad. The memories are the significance.
August 25, 2020
Sarah’s Simple Pleasures: Dog Days of Summer
[S]o named the Dog Days of Summer. There’s something eternally uplifting about this ancient history in light of our volatile modern one. The promise that a bright, faithful friend will follow us is a comfort.
June 23, 2020
Sarah’s Simple Pleasures: Mind the Gap
I decided to use this as an opportunity to amplify the imperative voice asking, telling, warning us to mind the gap. Take a moment to stop and really look at the space between here and there, between your community and another’s.
April 29, 2020
Sarah’s Simple Pleasures: Birthdays
We’re in an unparalleled spring season. One that is precariously balancing great loss and great renewal. It gives me hope to know that each day is a fresh welcome. Each day, we have an addition that was not there before. Yes, a person only has one birthday, but there are 364 other days with at least 364 other people to claim them.
March 21, 2020
Sarah’s Simple Pleasures: Coronavirus Edition
While I am not scheduled to post a column this month, how could I not in light of a global pandemic? It is now when we are grasping for simple pleasures most of all.
Here are six simple pleasures that have been Sarah-tested and approved. These require nothing and provide great relief from the toxic fear plaguing us as tenaciously as this microbial foe.
February 25, 2020
Sarah’s Simple Pleasures: Sunset
Here begins my “Simple Pleasures” column.
Each post will highlight a simple pleasure to be shared. This is an opportunity to collectively celebrate ordinary moments that we might overlook in the frantic shuffle of our days. Life affirmations to bolstering each other through the months and remind us of why we seek to capture our experiences in writing. If nothing else, it will be a short, quick respite from the heaviness of our modern zeitgeist.
October 22, 2019
Confessions of a Lapsed Reader
I must confess: I stopped reading.
As a person whose vocation is writing books for people to read, I’m ashamed of this fact. I hid the truth from everyone, myself included, for nearly six months. I was busy, I said. Every time I picked up a book, I thought of something I needed to do.
June 25, 2019
My Garden Summer: Books to Blooms
So I set my mind to constructing my garden story. I bought seed packets at the local dime store. I followed the basic instructions: planting at the right depth and watering often. Much like opening a fresh word document, sitting at the desk, putting my hands on the keyboard.
April 23, 2019
Hurray for Independent Bookstore Day!
In case you weren’t aware, April 27 is a national holiday: it’s Independent Bookstore Day. Only five years old, you might not have heard of it and that’s okay… because you have now! What could be more exciting than discovering we have a new holiday to bedazzle on our calendars?
February 26, 2019
Yes, I’m Still Sick: Writing with Chronic Illness
Seven authors, living and dead, who exemplify endurance while being a chronically ill, flawed, less than super-powered, human. If you battle a chronic illness, there is a community of writers who understand and support you.
October 23, 2018
Auspicious Days: Musings on Childhood Readings
It’s clearly an auspicious date. This Writer Unboxed post falls on the launch of my new novel, Marilla of Green Gables…
October 23, 2018
Marilla of Green Gables: A Future Feminist
Literary Ladies Guide
Sarah McCoy, author of Marilla of Green Gables (2018) explores the formidable yet loving Marilla Cuthbert (who raises the irrepressible orphan Anne Shirley, better known as Anne of Green Gables) in this meditation on family, community, and character…
October 19, 2018
Why ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and ‘Little Women’ Still Inspire Us Today
The authors of “Marilla of Green Gables” and “Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy” discuss the enduring influence of these classic heroines
October 19, 2018
Green Gables’ Great Reads: Sarah McCoy’s Favorite Books About L. M. Montgomery
L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is a childhood classic that has doubtless turned many young readers into lifelong bookworms, and even writers themselves. Sarah McCoy is just one of the many inspired by Anne and her creator. McCoy’s latest novel, Marilla of Green Gables, takes readers to Green Gables in the days before Anne lived there. Here, McCoy shares why she was so inspired to learn more about the life of L. M. Montgomery, and lists her favorite books about the beloved author.
August 28, 2018
Book Business: A Bookseller Interview
The bookseller is the fulcrum on which the reader-author/buyer-seller/consumer-creator relationship functions effectively… It’s with great pleasure that I introduce Beth Seufer Buss, the brilliant community outreach manager of Bookmarks in North Carolina.
June 26, 2018
For the Love of Libraries
Each of these library castles, dotting every township across the nation, acts as a living story antenna. Reading is thriving and emitting wave after wave of insightful catalyst with each recommendation… Librarians are the noble royalty of that kingdom.
February 27, 2018
Magic Cloaks, Lucky Charms, and Other Writerly Superstitious Habits
I wear a cape when I write. Technically, it’s a red tartan robe that my mother gave me… I posed the question to a forum of contemporary writers: 60 percent said they do not have superstitious writing habits and 40 percent said they do.
January 1, 2018
One Author’s Thoughts on Paying It Forward
Read It Forward
No matter how we differ, everyone is deserving of respect and compassion. Strangers and neighbors, we’re all in this together.
October 24, 2017
Re-Envision Revision with Sandra Scofield
The Last Draft is an invaluable guide to a novelists’ revision process. All the lessons I learned from Sandra for the last ten years are bow-tied and bound into this compelling resource.
August 22, 2017
Friends, Countrymen, Take Up Your Words!
As men and women whose lives are dedicated to the craft, the responsibility falls on us to be facilitators of a positive language exchange.
July 3, 2017
“What Did Your Book Teach You?” A Wisdom-Filled Q&A With Four Authors
We write to create. We create to live. We live to write. It’s a circle we must accept or the nature of it will grind us like grist.
February 28, 2017
A Hard Change Will Do You Good
Change is the essence of life. People do it every day. Even nature is perpetually evolving: winter, spring, summer, fall. So this should feel organic, right?
Not quite. I won’t sugarcoat the truth. This has been one of the most arduous journeys I’ve ever experienced.
August 23, 2016
Listening: the Lost Art
We live in a culture and time of Listen to Me.
Listen, we preference our statements to family, friends, and strangers. Did you hear me? We ask when someone doesn’t do as we request… But stop a minute. Hush yourself and think about it: if each of us is talking, how can the other ever be the listener?
June 28, 2016
Frame of Place
The packers are here. Yes, this very hour. We’re moving. Not down the road, across town, or even as close as a state away. We’re traveling 1,500 miles north to an entirely new place… Place. Such a powerful thing. A story world cannot be composed without first being grounded in a place and time.
The Southhampton Review
Looking back at us standing on the idyllic streets of Santa Fe while couples strolled by with cinnamon churros an wooden flutists played serene melodies, our reality was all too clear: conjugal hyperglycemia.
February 23, 2016
[T]hey are ephemeral. In truth, paperbacks are the titles passed from literal hand to hand; the books that bring readers together in groups to cry into, spill their coffees on, and swat away intruding summer gnats. They are the books of the everyday, right?
February 14, 2016
7 Deadly Sins of 7 Legendary Lit Loves
Read It Forward
These lovers take their chances with the 7 deadly sins… Capital vices, moral wrongdoings, fatal flaws, whatever you wish to call them, these are the crimes of passion that bring lovers to tragic ends—or nearly. And in truth, isn’t that what solidifies their place in the love canon?
October 27, 2015
Game On: #ScareCareShare
By the time I’m home again, it’ll be the holiday season. All white wonderlands and wintry delights. So either I flew around the country with a witch’s scowl for missing Charlie Brown jack-o’-lanterns, baking apple pies, and handing out candy corn or I brought the merry trick-or-treat spirit with me. I decided on the latter and concocted a game to play with dear authors who met me on the book tour road. I call it #ScareCareShare. Akin to trick-or-treat, truth-or-dare, or any of the make-a-choice diversions we used to play with school friends on crisp harvest nights.
August 24, 2015
#TenThingsNotToSaytoAWriter: An Etiquette Lesson
When it comes to professions, being a Writer is unique in that people often feel inspired to say to us whatever pops into their minds. From strangers at cocktail parties to long-standing relations, we’ve all been confronted with pretty odd parlays.
June 23, 2015
Author Epiphany: I Film-Track My Novels
I’m one of those “black hole” writers. No music, no phones, no sound… I realized then that something else had become a staple of my creative process: watching old films at night when my brain was too tired to wordsmith anymore. They are my soundtracks—my quasi-playlist of inspiration.
April 28, 2015
Inside the Mind of an Author the Week Before Her Book Publishes
Publishing a book is like giving the world sudden X-ray vision. Everyone sees my inner bits and is invited to judge them. That’s the very nature of our business. A book is not merely a collection of words bound together in paper and glue. It’s an author extending herself to the universal reader population…
February 24, 2015
Shag, Marry, Kill (Literary Edition)
Game shows of every variety equalize the millionaire actor and the street vendor under the banner of “contestants.” A person’s past or even how they arrived on the show is inconsequential. All that matters is the present… Well, I said to myself, why not authors in a literary edition—this is Writer Unboxed!
October 28, 2014
Story Mapmakers (No GPS Required)
I love that you can take a road map… and suddenly, the world rises up off the page in vivid sensations: rocky, wet, and smelling of basin swamps and mountain air. It unspools —north, south, east, west. Each compass needle pointing to a story.
August 26, 2014
It was the first time I’d ever experienced synesthesia of the body and more significantly, of books…Toothpaste tasted and felt like baking soda on my tongue; mouthwash, like too-sweet honey… But what scared me most was that my imagination seemed to have been impacted too.
May 25, 2014
Underwriting Versus Overwriting: Just Write
Yes, yes, of course we all agree, but between the mind and hand on the journey to the page, it’s been my experience that the writing can decide to take the long road or the shortcut: overwritten or underwritten. Is one better than the other, and if so, which?
September 20, 2013
Bubblegum Rewards: Ten Lessons Shared by Reality TV and Classic Literature
Just when I’d pronounced myself lost to empty, mindless indulgence, I invented a game: matching reality programs with classic literature…“So, what book is this like?” Inevitably, I discover one lesson on how to live and another on how to write.
What is it about Summer Romance: The One Who Stuck
The summer I turned 18, I fell in love with the ice cream man.
June 27, 2013
Dear Love: Modern War Letters
It’s an entirely new age. Vastly different from days gone by when loved ones put pen to paper and sent it on a hope and a prayer to soldiers ‘over there.’
November 27, 2012
Finding True Love, Finding a Literary Agent
Your [literary] agent relationship is akin to a marriage.
April 26, 2012
Men of War are Conflicted Characters
In my novel The Baker’s Daughter, four chapters are from the perspective of a Nazi officer. Writing these was no easy task. For those four chapters, I slipped on the psyche of a soldier dedicated to his country’s code.
April 14, 2012
I live and have lived all my life in active battle readiness. Ready for orders that a family member must leave for some threatening place and may not return. Ready for him to take up the oath, “Duty, Honor, Country,” and all the inner contradictions that come with it.
March 14, 2012
Why I Write
The Divining Wand
All of that changed the day my mom put a blank page on the table and handed me a pencil with the instructions, “Write it down, Sarah. Write down what you’re feeling.” I can still vividly see that clean, white paper and smell the newly sharpened pencil shavings.
February 3, 2012
Happy Birthday, Book Baby!
The on-sale date of an author’s book is akin to a birthday. And like the bearing of a child, I’ve noticed the way in which we commemorate the occasion often falls into one of two camps: the Father’s versus the Mother’s celebration style. Both are noble outpourings of devotion and not at all particular to author gender.
January 27, 2012
The Significance of Settings: Bee Mindful
Beyond The Margins
One season yielded markedly different flavors from the next. One place from another. To say that the environment was a trivial factor would be unthinkable. Likewise with my stories. I’m merely the bee buzzing from stem to stem collecting as much as I can carry.
January 26, 2012
The Journey is as Great a Story as the Destination
Great Thoughts: Travel Thursday
Flight has always been a mind-blowing concept… I firmly believed that we walked through an enchanted maze until we reached the nest of a colossal bird with a stomach full of seats, á la a Flintstone’s cartoon.
January 25, 2012
Who is that Man in the Moon?
Brava! with author Beth Hoffman
I thought I’d take a moment to highlight a couple of men in my book. Specifically, the fathers. Although they don’t take center state, both of my protagonists, Reba and Elsie, are deeply affected by their fathers, and both of their fathers are profoundly transformed by war.
July 5, 2010
Between the Pages
Being a reader is like playing tricks with time. You turn the page of the fictional story while an hour of your own passes. The characters breathe, laugh and cry, and so do you. When you finish their tale, you close the book and set it aside, dreaming of their ever-after, while stepping out into yours.
June 22, 2010
Hope Fires in the Desert
The Heart is Not a Size Blog
Across the border in winter, Juarez families burn trash to keep warm. Smoke rises liked dirty cotton candy spun heavenward in hot plumes. Driving around the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), you smell it before you see it. Ripe and burnt, it assaults. You wriggle your nose, hold your breath, circulate your car fan and press on the gas pedal to get away, pass the unpleasantness.
May 13, 2010
V: Lizard Aliens as a Social Reminder
The latest TV hit: a 2010 sci-fi remake of a 1980s sci-fi hit, itself an adaptation of a 1935 novel warning against the growing threat of fascism. We live in a world where history repeats itself; where old ideas cloak themselves in various contemporary skins and pretty packages for each budding generation.
April 22, 2010
The Baby-Sitters Club is Back, Baby!
Given the current YA vampire and fantasy craze, I wonder if novels staked in the normal can find the ardent following they did with my generation. Will young readers with an acutely developed taste for bloody bites and wizard wands be captivated by the story of industrious teenagers facing the universal travails of growing up?
February 26, 2010
Joy of Cooking: A Novel Experience
The truth is, I read cookbooks like novels. Cover to cover, page by page, the dedication, the acknowledgments, the indexes: I devour everything.
May 20, 2009
Pequeño Germany, USA
El Paso Magazine
The thriving German community on the Tex-Mex border is a delightful surprise, especially for a girl who lived in Deutschland as a child. Here I spotlight my time with the German locals at Marina’s German Bakery in El Paso.
Sarah’s Writing for Your Health Monthly Magazine
March 2009, Family Column
A Pox at Your House
February 2009, Family Column
Interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz
January 2009, Family Column
Mayhem on 34th Street
December 2008, Family Column
To Flu or Not To Flu?
November 2008, Family Column
Will Mommy Be Okay?
October 2008, Family Column
The Gateway Drink
September 2008, Family Column
Back To School Supplies: Steroids?
August 2008, Family Column
Passport to Your Health
July 2008, Cover Feature
July 2008, Family Column
The Goldilocks Syndrome
June 2008, Family Column
My Precocious Child
May 2008, Family Column