Author Friends: Sarah Hadley Brooks

Are you a panster or a plotter?

To be honest, I am a bit of both. When I come up with a story idea, I like to roll it around in my head for a week or two, just getting my characters down. I make notes, of course, and build a Pinterest board to help keep myself organized. From there I end up plotting out or I just start writing. I let the story lead me. A lot of times when I plot things out, I end up veering off in another direction anyway.

That being said, I have learned that when it comes to longer stories, I do better when I plot. It keeps me on track.

 Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

I am not sure if I’ve ever had true “Writer’s Block”, but there are days I struggle to write, for a variety of reasons. Time, exhaustion, and life in general can all get in the way of writing.

I’ve learned that when I am stuck on a scene, I try for a short time and if nothing comes to me, I make a note there and continue, otherwise I can lose an entire afternoon of writing.

If I’ve had a bad day, or worked later at the day job, it definitely influences my writing. Somedays I can push through it, somedays I can’t. Over the years, I’ve dealt with depression and agoraphobia and those issues can absolutely bring my writing to a complete halt for a day, a week, or even a month. That old saying ‘get back on the horse’ is something I try to adhere to. It may be hard, but at some point I make myself write something. Anything. After not writing, for any reason, the hardest thing is the first step—even when writing is what brings me joy. It know it doesn’t always make sense, but I’ve learned to accept my issues and move forward. I have to admit though, most of what I write during those times is awful! Something I wouldn’t share with my cats. But it gets me going again.

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over. 

I love “The Secret” by Julie Garwood. I have it in paperback and when I want to sink into another time and place, I grab it and lose myself in old Scotland.

 Describe your perfect writing space: 

I am easily distracted, so it’s important for me to have a clean and blank space—meaning I have just what I need at the desk. My laptop, my phone to listen to music, my tea or flavored water, and maybe one or two items to just make me smile. (Currently I have my new Star Trek Voyager Chakotay action figure sitting on the desk.)

 Do you write your title first or story first?

I’ve actually done both, but for the most part I write the story and the title usually comes to me. There have been a couple of times, though, where I’ve finished the story and struggled to come up with a title. If that happens I brainstorm by listing words pulled from the story, or feelings the story gives me. Even songs I listened to while I wrote. There’s a title hidden in there somewhere!

 And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

The last picture I received on my phone was one of my one-year old grandson chewing on his new shoes.

 The young mother exited Famous Footwear, guiding the high-priced stroller out onto the walkway, protected from the sun by a series of awnings. Her phone glued to her ear, she was unaware her son had declared war. Seated on a wooden bench, I watched in fascination as the cherubic little boy grabbed his feet and wrapped his pint-sized fingers around the offending new shoes. His face scrunched in concentration as he quietly protested his mother’s latest purchase. When she rolled him closer, pausing to glance in the window, I heard him and smiled. He was softly growling.

The boy shifted in his stroller, lifting one foot to his face and that’s when I saw the sparkle in his eye. Those shoes never stood a chance. He yanked hard and the shoe came off in his hands. The look of glee was unmistakable as he held his hand over the side, dropping it without another sound. His mother pushed on and I caught his eye as they passed. I winked, but he ignored me and turned to his other foot. He had a mission to complete.

Motorcycle Man was just published on January 13th, through JMS Books. It’s a very short story that I had a lot of fun writing.


Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have co-starred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity to live. She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.

You can check out her website here:





Twitter: @SarahHBrook