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IWSG: The best of times, the worst of times

You may have noticed my participation on this blog, in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and in returning comments, has been sketchy lately.

Admittedly, I’m emerging from one of the more difficult periods of my life.

This summer, my eight-year relationship ended. This was so upsetting that I found myself unable to write. As you can imagine, this was extremely stressful, given that I’d left my freelance career to focus on fiction. For the first time in my life, I had bonafide writer’s block.

I hated my novel. Whenever I sat down at the computer, I felt nothing but exhaustion and despair. It seemed like every second of the day, I experienced a new emotion.

Finally I accepted that I would probably never write again and started researching potential new careers. And then, thankfully, things began to turn around.

On September 28th, I finished Temple of Ghosts, the third book in the GhostWriters series and the continuation of Kate and Jackson’s adventures.

Temple of Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff

The gorgeous new cover by Kelly Ann Martin of KAM Design. What do you think?

 

Instead of the Halloween release date I’d anticipated, the novel will see the light of day in November, but considering I believed I’d never finish it, I’m not complaining. I hope my readers will understand and forgive me.

Severed Press, who published Monsters in Our Wake, my very first best-seller, offered me another contract! Dead of Winter, a murder mystery featuring yetis and probing the dark secrets of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, will be released in early 2018. I plan to hit that project hard next month for NaNoWriMo.

This week, I’ll be one of two guest authors at the League of Utah Writers’ fall conference, giving six workshops and sitting on three panels. While I’ve given workshops before, this is a bigger workload than I’ve ever taken on, so I’m both excited and nervous. There were many times this summer I almost cancelled, feeling it would be wrong to masquerade as a writer when I could no longer write. I’m so glad I didn’t.

At the end of the month, I’ll be manning a table at the Central Canada Comic Con in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

As dark as the summer was, there are so many promising opportunities on the horizon. I’m grateful for everyone’s patience and kindness, my wonderful readers, and my amazing friends.

And I’m especially grateful to my partner of eight years, who has helped me through this difficult time and who continues to be my editor and one of my closest friends. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through this without him.

Are you able to write through extreme emotional stressHow do you cope with writer’s block?

I will respond to all comments, both on this post and the last–it just will take me some time. Please bear with me.

The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

75 Comments

  1. Hi J.H., The cover is gorgeous! Well done on coming out the other side of a tough time, so pleased things are looking up for you. (And interesting to know that writers block does exist – I always felt that those who claim it doesn’t sound a bit too smug)

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Angela. This is my first experience with it, and it’s not fun. I hope to avoid it in the future.

      Reply
  2. We need to give ourselves time to grieve and move through emotional stress. It certainly does make you wonder if you can do creative work, and at times, you put it on hold. I’m so glad you worked through it and are seeing the successes. You are a terrific writer. You’ve helped me appreciate the horror genre. I look forward to your latest release!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Mary. What a wonderful thing to say. You’ve made my day!

      Reply
  3. Wow, glad everything is falling back into place for you! Congratulations on the books. Let me know release dates and I’ll plug them for you.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Alex! I appreciate your support. I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.

      Reply
  4. Glad to hear you’re doing better and that things are looking up. Keep hanging in there!

    Love the cover!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Madeline. Glad you like it!

      Reply
  5. Glad everything worked out and you made it through the summer. Hopefully, things continue to improve. It already sounds like they are! 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Mandy. I feel very fortunate that I’m able to write again. Thanks for your kind words.

      Reply
  6. I am sorry the relationship ended, but that’s touching he’s still helping you. Your muse is back. Just keep running forward with her.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Diane. He’s a great guy. I’m hoping we’ll always be friends and editor-writer.

      Reply
  7. What the? You’re just now mentioning this? We could have struggled together?

    Reply
    • JH

      I tend to turtle when things get ugly. Sorry, my friend.

      Reply
  8. It’s totally understandable that the break up of a longterm relationship would stop you writing – though it’s a shame that we sometimes can’t escape into fiction when we’d most like to.

    I’m glad you’re back writing again now.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Patsy. It was a really scary stretch, but it seems to be over. Whew!

      Reply
  9. The cover looks great. Sorry you’ve been through a tough time–glad things are looking up.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Damyanti. Me too.

      Reply
  10. I’m sorry to hear about your relationship ending and the rough period you’ve been going through. Glad that you’re seeing opportunities on the horizon. The cover for you new book is really striking. All the best with the release.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Ellen. Glad you like the cover!

      Reply
  11. I’m sorry. It must have been horrible and I’m glad you’ve come out of it. The future is bright, or it will be eventually. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Anna. I really hope so.

      Reply
  12. You went through a rough place but it sounds like you’ve come out the other side better and stronger than ever. At least very focused! Stick with your work and your accolades and accomplishments will continue to roll in.

    IWSG October

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, CD. What’s that saying…fake it till you make it? In any case, I hope you’re right.

      Reply
  13. That’s good both of you ended still as friends. I can’t write through stress. It gives me bad writer’s block, so I can totally relate. At least it never lasts and we’re both writing. If you need a blog to borrow for your release in November, let me know and I’ll highlight your new book.

    Reply
    • JH

      Aw, thanks so much, Patricia. That’s always welcome. I’ll take advantage of all the help I can get!

      Reply
  14. I’m sorry to hear about your relationship and how draining that must have been. Life can sap creativity, and you’re right that is a problem when you make a living at it! You seem to be picking up. Good luck with your next releases. I’ll look out for them!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Stephanie. It was incredibly draining. Your kind words and support mean the world to me. xo

      Reply
  15. The cover is beautiful. I’m glad the writer’s block lifted. That’s generally what happens, I’ve found. Usually, it happens when you’re not expecting it, either. Like, just when you finally give up and look away from your fictional stories, they wake back up and start to speak to you again. Anyway, I’m a big proponent of journaling. Daily. No matter what. I honestly believe that it proactively diminishes the frequency and length of episodes of writer’s block (all kinds of creative blocks, actually). So, I tend to journal my way through extreme stress. And I cope with writer’s block by writing other things that have nothing to do with the thing I feel blocked on. Have you ever heard of the book “The War of Art?” If not, check it out. I just grabbed it from my local library. I’m only halfway through it, and I already know that I’m going to buy my own copy.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Kathy. I did read The War of Art, but it didn’t resonate with me, for whatever reason. Perhaps I should give it another try. I journaled during my darkest day, but found it hard to keep going. Same with my gratitude list–kept dropping it. I’ll think about making a more serious commitment to it–glad to hear it’s helped you so much.

      Reply
  16. The cover is beautiful! I’m glad to hear that you made it out the other side of the block, and are writing again. It is very hard to write when life is in turmoil (I’ve been dealing with basically happy turmoil, and it still has knocked me off the tracks), so kudos to you for sticking it out.
    —Rebecca
    My IWSG Post

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Rebecca. A doctor once told me that even good stress is stress, and can have a similar impact on us, so I’m not surprised. Glad to hear it’s happy turmoil, though.

      Reply
  17. Your books sounds and looks awesome. I usually find writing therapeutic, but sometimes life crashes my rhythm. I hope you’re doing better. -Teresa

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Teresa, and welcome to my blog. Happy to meet you!

      Reply
  18. I like the cover muchly Holli – is there a sadness in the woman’s eyes? Is the person with whom the relationship has ended the same person as your editor and friend? Just wondering as each seems to be of 8 years standing. I am sorry for this rough period, if it helps I remember a saying that only a broken heart is a whole one. May yours mend and the muse continue to inspire you …

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for your kindness, Susan. Yes, my editor and best friend was also my romantic partner. Thankfully, I get to keep him as an editor and friend, though our friendship has to change. Still, sad times.

      As for the woman, you’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉

      Reply
  19. I’m blown away by your strength, fighting through something so awful and difficult. I’m also glad you had people around you to help you through it.

    I don’t write well under severe emotional stress either. When my life feels unstable, any time writing seems inappropriate. I convince myself I should be doing something else, fighting the battle, regrouping, finding the courage to fight on.

    I’m sorry you had to go through this, but pleased you found your way back. I noticed you were silent, and I was concerned. I wish I’d reached out earlier.

    Congrats on the books. Well done.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Ryan. You’re a wonderful friend and don’t need to regret anything. I know you care.

      It was great to meet you this month! Thanks for making time for me.

      Reply
  20. It’s amazing how many have struggled this year. Mind-boggling, actually. I’m sorry for your sadness, but I love the cover. She resembles Selma Hayek. Beautiful.

    Reply
    • JH

      I didn’t notice it until you said it, but now I can see the resemblance. Thanks for the kind words, Joylene.

      Reply
  21. Congrats on finishing the book! Like you, emotional stress derails me. I actually gave up on a novel during a hard time. It took me a couple years to return to it, actually (I went to short stories instead). Wow, 6 workshops and 3 panels! I think the most I’ve had to do at once conference was 2 workshops and 2 panels. Major good luck to you. The LUW are a nice group of people. And I love the mystery of Dyatlov Pass!

    Reply
    • JH

      They are a super nice group, you’re right. I had a blast. I wasn’t sure about teaching that many in quick succession, but because my attendees were so engaged and asked great questions, the workshops went by pretty fast.

      Glad you found your way back to your novel as well.

      Reply
  22. Sorry about the end of your relationship and the writer’s block. Great to read you’re back at it. The new book cover is excellent. Good luck when it’s released. I’ll be in touch soon about the author interview you mentioned.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Dave. Did I miss it? My inbox has been flooded lately. Feel free to give me a nudge.

      Reply
  23. Gorgeous cover! I’m glad you’ve been able to bounce back into writing, though I’m sorry you’ve had to endure all the emotional turmoil that caused it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Loni. Glad you like the cover. It’s been tough, but I’m so happy to be able to write again. It’s certainly taught me not to take it for granted.

      Reply
  24. So glad you are still writing and things are getting better. Hang in there. Hate hearing you were dealing with so much stress. Happy IWSG Day
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Juneta. Much appreciated.

      Reply
  25. i totally understand because my first husband and I were together for 16 years and it was tough. We are still very good friends and, with time, we realized that it will always be special but it wasn’t meant to be as we just grew in different directions. There is always much more but I had friends and my mom to rely on so I hope you have the same. I’m glad that you have remained friends even though the first year is the most difficult…and most strange. Now, as for your book-love the cover and am so glad you got your mojo back. I think, when one goes through something very stressful, creative juices can stop…but only for a moment. Suddenly, without realizing you find it again and seem to be even more creative than before. Glad your release date is coming and who cares if it happens in November, the main thing is that it is happening.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Birgit. Sorry to hear you went through this as well–wow, 16 years is a long time! It must have been agony to end things after being friends and companions for so long. Eight years was bad enough for me.

      Reply
  26. Grief of any sort does strange things to us physically, mentally and emotionally. I had no doubt that you would bounce back in your writing because it’s so much of who you are. You obviously needed time, which is understandable. I am so glad you are back on track and feeling better. You are such a wonderful woman and I know your writing future is bright! 💕

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Nikki. Your love, support, and friendship kept me going. Can’t thank you enough. xo

      Reply
  27. What a lovely cover, Holli! The model has a haunting beauty…
    Sorry to read about the struggles you’ve been going through. I’ve mentioned this before but you probably need to hear it again – you are an amazing writer, so hang in there! (Hugs)

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Michelle. My cover designer is a genius. Hope all is well with you.

      Reply
  28. Well done! Both on the book and on overcoming the pain of losing a part of your life. Impressive that you kept going despite the little voice telling you to give up. It’s a compelling little voice, and resisting it takes effort. A lot of effort. Effort and energy you’d much rather pour into your writing. Yet you made it this far, I’m sure you’ll make it all the way! <3

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Chris. That means a lot. Do you still have a blog? I wasn’t able to find it.

      Reply
  29. Sorry to hear about your breakup.
    Having writer’s block after something like that is understandable. The seeds of doubt are quick to move in. 🙁 I’m happy you were able to overcome it and find your muse again. That is a lovely cover! Congrats on the contract for your next book as well. Happy release next month.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Meka. I’d never had writer’s block before, and it was terrifying. So glad it’s over.

      Reply
  30. Sorry to hear you’ve been going through a tough time, but sounds like you’re back with a vengeance. Good luck with NaNo and the panel appearances. And the upcoming releases, too – I’ll be happy to help promote them. The cover is awesome!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Nick. That’s really sweet of you. I’ll definitely take you up on that!

      Reply
  31. So sorry to hear about the end of a relationship. Give yourself time to grieve. Congrats on the new contract. Life throws so much at us. I let life keep me from writing for almost five years. But then I returned and wrote for fun. That worked for me. Probably doesn’t work for everyone.

    Reply
    • JH

      Writing for fun is so important, Diane. We lose a lot of that when we start doing it to earn a living, but it’s crucial to recapture. Otherwise, we forget why we wanted to do this in the first place.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Reply
  32. The cover is amazing – crisp, attractive, intriguing, mysterious, beautifully done! Congrats on finishing number three, J.H.! Well done under all those circumstances. You are a writer by heart, and I am super glad you found your groove and passion again. Welcome back.

    I also have no idea how you could have done all these writing projects and the future ones and the workshops and… if you would have kept doing your old job. I think you made the right decision!

    Have a great and not too nervous time in Utah. I hope you get to meet Ryan, if you haven’t already. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Liesbet. You’re such a sweetheart.

      I had a wonderful time in Utah, and meeting Ryan was a big part of that. It’s so nice when blogger friends are even better in person.

      Reply
  33. I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles, but I love to hear that you’re doing better. Keep moving forward!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Heather! I’ll do my best…no alternative, right?

      Reply
  34. Awe man! I’m so sorry to hear about your relationship ending, but I’m glad that you still managed to finish your book anyway.

    I hope the coming months will be better for you.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Misha. I really hope so.

      Reply
  35. So sorry about your relationship and your writer’s blog. Glad to learn you’ve overcome it. Congrats on the new contract and book. I think it’s good you have a lot going on. Sometimes being busy is best.
    As for me, writer’s block is more of a lack of focus. I can always write, I just can’t always finish what I’ve started. I work on multiple projects at once, but sometimes I have to stop everything and focus on whatever story seems to have caught my muse.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Toi. Even though I’m busy, it’s all self-imposed deadlines, which can be challenging. Sometimes it gives me far too much time to wallow.

      I’m in awe about your multiple-projects-at-once superpower. I’ve tried it, but couldn’t make it work for me.

      Reply
  36. Sometimes life throws us a sucker punch. Good for you for getting back up and punching back with writing related activities, even when you didn’t feel it in your heart. Congrats on the new books (so much for the masquarade). The new cover is awesome!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Lee. I’ve been sucker punched a few times this year…hopefully my luck has begun to change.

      Reply
  37. I wish you all the best, lots and lots of energy and writing!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Cecilia. I could use the energy, that’s for sure. 🙂

      Reply
  38. Another great cover. I’m looking forward to reading it whenever it is ready.

    Reply

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