100 Ways to Describe Your Character's Eyes

100 Ways to Describe Your Characters' Eyes

As I have been doing a lot of fiction writing, I have discovered how essential it is to use unique words and phrases to describe my characters. Specifically, I have been looking for new ways to talk about people's eyes. So for all of you writers out there, here are 100 words you can use to describe eyes:

100 Ways to Describe Your Character's Eyes

Hope these are helpful to you. Log back in soon for my next blog, 100 Ways to Say "Went."

3 Tools Every Writer Should Utilize



After countless hours of writing letters, drafting my novel, and working on other projects, there are several tools I have found to be essential to the writing process. Other than my computer, here are my three favorite writing aids:

1 - Pen and Paper

It's probably pretty obvious that I am a big fan of pen and paper. And while some writers prefer to directly type all of their work into the computer, I have found that there's something organic that happens when I write my initial words out by hand. Thoughts and ideas that I didn't even know were inside start to come out. Sometimes my mind starts moving so quickly that I can't write fast enough to keep up; that's when I begin to consider typing.

2 - Digital Dictation

Sometimes when the words just don't come by hand, I talk out my ideas and hear what I want to say first. This the beauty of a dictation device. I find this especially helpful when I am running around town and just need to get my concepts logged.

With current technology, you can use digital dictation to record your thoughts then simply email the transcribed work to yourself. Most cell phones already have a digital dictaphone app already installed on their notes section. There are, however, a range of apps you can download for free or for minimal cost. (I currently have Dragon Dictation on my cell).

3 - Walks

The third writing aid I use is simply the act of taking walks. I get some of of my best writing done before I write anything down at all. I have also had major insight when I've been cycling or on the treadmill at the gym. In her book If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, Brenda Ueland has a fantastic chapter with several pages detailing the close connection between physical exertion and good writing. My point: go take a walk.

I hope these are helpful ideas for your writing. Please comment below and share your favorite writing tools.

The Writer and the Computer Collide

There is a reason why I'm a writer. I like words, and I like stories. 

When it comes to blogging, I understand very little about RSS feeds and html code and domain names. I just like putting words down on paper and sharing them with people.

A month or so ago, when my friend and excellent writer Bethany Martin suggested that I subscribe to my own blog (light bulb going off here!), I realized that the"subscribe" button on my website didn't actually do anything. 

Now I am four months into this endeavor, and I do believe that I have made the proper computer code adjustments so that you can now subscribe to heidibethsadler.com. At least I think you can...Let me know if something doesn't seem to be working. I need all the help I can get.

With much admiration for the computer savvy people out there,


Return of the "F" Word

Return of the F Word

If you read "The Notorious 'F' Word," you know that Fear attempts to intimidate my creative spirit.

Well, Fear turned up again when I began receiving letters from people that I have written this year. And while it might seem ridiculous, I took several days to open some of these letters because I, the letter writer, was nervous to read what others might say to me.

Seeing that I am sending letters that I want others to open and enjoy, it has been good for me to be on the receiving end of love. Clearly, I can be one of those people who fear vulnerability and struggles with embracing words of affirmation.

Once I was brave enough to open my letters, I was encouraged by the words that my friends had to say, and I recognized that I didn't need to fear love.

This experience brings me to a realization that we live in a society that tends to be critical. Whether it's movies, books, restaurants, or celebrities, we are constantly critiquing others. 

Because there is so much negativity around us, we tend to assume that others are thinking the worst about us. But what would happen if we created a culture in our homes, in our schools, and workplaces where we were known for being people of encouragement rather than people who criticize? If we expected to be affirmed rather than cut down, we might not fear answering the phone or checking our email or opening letters.

As I think about my own community, it is good to ask myself:

Who can I encourage today? Who can I affirm? Did I encourage or discourage others today?


Perfection or Practice?


When I set out to write my 365 Letters at the beginning of this year, that number was significant to me because it communicates a daily practice.

Before I started this project, I recognized that 365 is a lot of letters. While my desire would be to never miss a day of writing, I would likely need a measure of flexibility. The odds that I might get sick or have an incredibly hectic day was a strong possibility. My plan, therefore, has been to double up on letters for those occasional times that I might miss.

Well, this past Saturday was the first day of the year that I missed writing a letter. My husband and I were helping my sister and her family move into a new house, and by the time our evening church ended and I crawled into bed, I had completely forgotten about it.

The next day, when I realized I had not written a letter, my first inclination was to emotionally abuse myself. Words like failure popped up as that achievement part of my personality kicked in.

However, I soon realized what was going on internally and asked myself the question:

"Why am I writing letters to people each day?"

Am I seeking perfection? Or am I developing a lifestyle of blessing people? Is this a law or a way of love?

As I wrote my "make-up" letter, this led me to consider how many other areas of my life would be more enjoyable if I viewed them as practice rather than perfection. I would probably be more consistent with exercise, healthy eating, and creating if I viewed them as lifestyle rather than as a law.

What are the areas in your life that you are developing as a practice? Is this becoming a law or a lifestyle for you?

Why Adults Need Field Trips Too

My dreaded nemesis known as writer's block recently paid me a visit. But rather than be defeated by it, I am choosing to reject the lie that there is no more creativity left in me. There is a natural ebb and flow to such things, and I am confident that a fresh burst is just around the corner.

With all that being said, there are times when we need inspiration, a change of scenery, if you will, in order to get our creative juices flowing. For this reason, I am a firm advocate of field trips.

When I think about field trips, I conjour up images from elementary school: sack lunches, chaperones, and a buddy for the day. Some of my best memories of school are of outings with classmates as we explored museums and farms and pumpkin patches.

Benefits of Field Trips

Why should adults take field trips? I can think of a few reasons:

  • Field trips provide us with creative inspiration.
  • Intentional outings remove us from the daily stress of life, which often blocks creativity.
  • We get to experience the creativity of others and of God.

Guidelines for Adult Field Trips

In my effort to embrace field trips, there are a few tips I've discovered:

  • Bring snacks -- There's nothing worse than getting the hangries (hungry and angry) on an outing.
  • Bring water -- While I have no scientific research to prove it, my creativity is stunted when I am dehydrated.
  • Bring a camera -- Even if you're not going to use your pictures, snapping shots of your outing will give you a visual prompt when you go to create.
  • Be intentional -- Pick an outing that will be stimulating to you. If you're feeling blocked in a particular area, pick an adventure that will stimulate that subject.

Simply put, field trips are fun, and sometimes, we just need to play. 

I hope you will take a creative adventure soon. If you need some ideas, check back tomorrow for my next post, Fifty-Two Field Trips That Release Creativity.

Enjoy, Heidi

What was your favorite field trip as a kid? I'd love to hear in the comments below.

What I've Learned From the Fifty Shades' Hype

Fifty SHades of grey Hype

Currently, I'm in the middle of doing research for a novel that addresses the sex trafficking issues in Portland, Oregon, where I live. Ironically, the erotic movie Fifty Shades of Grey is scheduled to release during this process.

I could spend the majority of this post relating the themes of the story and asking you to stay home from the movie. I could discuss how our culture's approach to sexuality contributes to domestic violence and sex trafficking. But rather than reiterate what others have thoroughly addressed (see the excellent Resources below), I'm compelled to ask myself:

What does the hype surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey teach me about myself, and what can I do about it?

What I've Learned

I'm Curious

I'll be honest - when the books first came out, part of me wanted to know what was in them. Thankfully, I heard a few excerpts and watched an interview with the author, which solidified my decision to decline. However, I have to admit that the desire to know things is a temptation. I have to take responsibility for what I have participated in just because my mind is easily drawn to the unknown.

I Battle Fear

In writing this post, I have felt a measure of fear. Fear of being misunderstood, fear of what people might think, fear of being viewed as intolerant. Because my voice might be contrary to the millions saying this story is just fantasy for consenting adults, I am tempted to remain silent and let the "professionals" discuss it.

But at the end of the day, it's okay for me to disagree. If I want others to be honest, then I have to be honest too. Granted, I could avoid this topic, but if I fearfully opt out of the conversation, I miss the opportunity for a respectful, healthy dialogue.

I can exercise my freedom of speech and say that, as a strong woman, I'm offended by any story that would manipulate me into thinking that graphic sexual entertainment is beneficial.

I Am Inconsistent

In this country, women have intense feelings about equality and independence. We advocate for homes without violence. We expect our husbands to be faithful. We see how pornography destroys marriages, and we insist that women be treated as more than sexual objects.

In spite of all this, millions of women have flocked to read this book. By substituting the word erotic, it suddenly doesn't seem so bad. (See Merriam-Webster's simple definition of pornography).

As a woman, this phenomenon forces me to look at the inconsistencies in my own life. When have I acted against my core beliefs so that something doesn't seem quite so bad?

What I Can Do

I Can Value Myself

I've worked with many women in crisis: abused women, women involved in the sex industry, and women facing unplanned pregnancy. Behind a mask of sexual freedom, my conversations with them would often reveal that they had little value for themselves. 

So what can I do to value women? One of the best things I can do is to value myself. This might be as simple as talking well about myself rather than constantly degrading my weight, my skills, my personality...When I value myself, then I am eager to express value for others.

I Can Value Men

Watching the Superbowl, I cringed as the Fifty Shades trailer and a graphic Victoria's Secret commercial graced the screen. It grieves me that my husband, my father, my brother-in-law, my nephew, and my friends can't watch a football game without being subjected to sexual images that exploit women.

While it seems that most of the criticism surrounding this Fifty Shades has focused on the way it degrades women, I'd like to propose that this story is just as offensive to men. Shadowed by fantasy elements, the message to men is that women want to be treated in a violent, controlling manner. How confusing and insulting it must be for good men to see millions of women enthralled with this violent expression dubbed as love.

One of the most loving things I can do for men is to proclaim that all the "tee-heeing" around this movie is a harmful masquerade. The emperor literally has no clothes on, and women need to say so.

I Can Turn Around

I've often been found guilty of falling into the lie, "Well, I've gone this far. I might as well go the rest of the way." In my life, this train of thought can be as subtle as:

  • I didn't exercise on Monday. I suppose I shouldn't bother on Tuesday either, since I already blew it this week.
  • I already ate half the tub of ice cream. Might as well finish it off.
  • I already wasted an hour of my day. I might as well waste the rest of the evening.

Millions who have read Fifty Shades may think seeing the movie is just part of the package deal. But this doesn't have to be the case; we aren't animals who can't control ourselves. Nobody has to see this movie.

Over the years, I've had to throw out magazines, movies, and books because I realized they weren't beneficial. Just because I have the freedom to do something doesn't mean I should, and there's no shame in turning back to the road less traveled.

I Can Create Out of Love

Some time back, I heard the author of Fifty Shades admit that she would be mortified if her kids were to read her work. This disconnect convinces me that anything I create needs to be something I'm comfortable with my parents reading or my nephew hearing. If I can't share my writing with those closest to me, then I probably shouldn't write it in the first place. Whatever I create should be a gift to my friends and family.

The Good News

This is a teachable moment for our society. As individuals, we have the ability to make our own choices, which also means we are free to choose the best path. Thanks for hearing my heart on this difficult topic. Whether you agree or disagree with my insight, I welcome your respectful interaction in the comments below. 

Be loved this Valentine's Day! - Heidi


Visiting Narnia

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to take a trip to Narnia.

Ok...so maybe it wasn't actually C.S. Lewis' fictional kingdom behind the walls of the wardrobe, but I did get to utilize the Narnia Room at the Willamette Writer's Dream House in West Linn, Oregon. This is a place of intentionality for writers, dreamers, and thinkers. With a map of Narnia and a photograph of Clive Staples looking down on me, I entered the wonderful world of writing and spent the day in solitude.

Creating Space

In our culture, we're easily distracted by alluring forms of entertainment and endless problems that swirl around us. We have to work hard in order to create intentional space for dreams and callings. Whether it's writing a book, praying, or exploring nature, intentional planning for such things is essential.

Personally, I have to schedule a specific time and setting that will facilitate the creative process. otherwise, another week, another month, and another year will go by, and I will have walked in circles.

  Key to the Narnia Room

 Key to the Narnia Room

Your Narnia

We each have different dreams and goals. For some of us, it's art. For others, it's being in nature. In the movie Chariots of FireOlympic runner Eric Liddell says, "I believe God made me for a purpose,  but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

What makes you come alive? What breathes life into your soul?

Some of us like noise around us, while some of us like complete quiet. Whatever you are called to do, carve out dedicated time and space to do what you love.

Where is your Narnia? Where is that coffee shop, that garden, that mountain trail? Where can you go to spend dedicated time on the things that make you come alive? I encourage you to visit there soon.