Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


I have to level with you, Dear Readers. I really hope she doesn’t read this and take offence, but I had my doubts about this “life coach” thing. Some were specific doubts about the life coach I’d chosen.

For one thing, she prefers to work with people in their twenties, which made me a tad suspicious. And for another, her pink, glittery, hearts-and-flowers approach was so NOT me. Which sounds odd, coming from someone who adores Hello Kitty, but I can’t help rolling my eyes at things which are over-the-top girly. Unless they’re over-the-top girly in the way I particularly happen to like. So there you go–I’m a hypocrite.

Anything that reeks of New Age mumbo-jumbo brings out the cynic in me. On the other hand, I’m not above seeking out unusual methods of finding solutions to problems. I’ve been to a medical intuitive, and although my medical doctor can roll her eyes as much as she wants, the truth remains that the intuitive was able to diagnose my illness while my doctor couldn’t. And, as far as I can tell, the intuitive was right. But not all intuitives or life coaches or reiki healers are created equal. The only way you can separate those who have a true gift from those who thought it would be a great way to make a fast buck is by word-of-mouth. I tried my best to apply this to Ashley, speaking to the woman who’d recommended her and a former client, keeping in mind that they could both be friends of hers. Finally, I figured I had nothing to lose except for some money and some time. It was worth the gamble.

Before our first coaching session (a two-hour phone call), she sent me a questionnaire that forced me to evaluate different areas of my life and say which aspects made me happy and which needed improvement. Simple enough. We began our telephone conversation with a brief introduction to who Ashley was and why she’d become a life coach, and then she went over my answers.

Through exercises, talking, and more talking, I experienced two light bulb moments. Light bulb moments are those flashes of insight most people get very infrequently, and to have two in the course of a single conversation was pretty amazing. One of those light bulbs was switched on by Ashley; the other I discovered for myself through our conversation.

When I left the corporate world behind, I came up with a schedule that I hoped I could stick to. It divided each weekday into chunks–time for my writing, time for my freelancing, and time for marketing my writing and ideas. In reality, freelancing has taken over the whole shebang. If finding time and energy for my own writing is difficult, the marketing has really taken a back seat. I haven’t done the slightest thing to market myself this year, unless you count entering the query blast contest.

In hindsight, it seems so simple, but Ashley pointed out that working on yet another novel is not getting me closer to being a full-time novelist on a tropical island in 2015. However, marketing the work I’ve already done will bring me closer to my goal. She suggested moving marketing way up on the priority list. It was so obvious I could have slapped myself on the forehead. And this is exactly the reason life coaches are awesome. They can see the things that are right in front of us that we’re somehow missing.

The other light bulb is this: almost everything I’m doing is benefiting the short term. Yes, I’m saving money with all this freelancing, which will help with the move out of country. But since I don’t intend to spend the rest of my life writing about steel and education and nursing and economic booms in small towns, it’s not really helping me with my long-term goals. Every time I while away the hours on Facebook or reading or watching movies, that’s not helping me either. Since I quit the day job, I’ve become hedonistic…doing only what I feel like doing when I feel like doing it. I work only when I absolutely have to, so other people’s deadlines have of course taken precedence over my own.

‘Laziness’ is a sign that you actually don’t want to do something. – Ashley

Ashley gave me some homework which will help me start working towards my five goals. I’ll discuss my progress with her during our 50-minute conversation next week. Here’s a sample of my homework assignments:

  • Journal about what writing means to me and what my life would be like if I decided to give it up, with the intent of making sure that the life of a novelist is really what I want.
  • Rewrite the first three chapters of Dragonfly Summer so I can submit it to publishers.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity in this week.
  • Talk to my kickboxing coach about the fears that are keeping me from returning to the dojo.

After today’s session, I’m not only optimistic that this process will help me…I’m convinced. How about you, Dear Readers? When was the last time you ventured outside your comfort zone and tried something you were skeptical about? How did it work for you?

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Lisa

    Those three attainable goals sound like a great way to concentrate energy and focus.
    I believe in you, Holli!
    re: your ? about trying something different/skeptical about – I try to do that every week during band jam rehearsal. It’s a challenge every week ’cause I’m stubborn as hell, but it usually leads to better results. 🙂

  2. Story Teller

    Aw, thanks Lisa. There’s actually quite a bit more homework than that, but that’s a sample. We’re working towards five main goals together.

    Good for you for pushing yourself every week. Too many of us get stuck in a rut, I think.

  3. Michelle D. Argyle

    This is really amazing to read about! Thanks for sharing. I’m not sure I totally agree about writing another book not getting you closer, though. The more books you have, the better, but I guess you’d also have to be actively pursuing publication on other books too. If I’ve learned one thing in publishing and making a living at this, it’s not really about who publishes you, it’s about getting your work out there and in front of people as consistently and quickly as possible. The again, my publisher wanted to publish my latest novel more quickly than I could handle, so I told them I needed more time to just write the new books I’m writing instead of worrying about a new book coming out. It’s all about balance and keeping your sanity too!

    I believe you can do all this!

  4. Story Teller

    Thanks, Michelle. I really appreciate your insight, especially since you have so much more experience than I do.

    I understand where you’re coming from about writing more books, and I completely agree. What I should have mentioned in the blog is the matter of timing. Yes, it’s great to write as many books as you can. But if you have a year and a half to two years before you hope to be writing full-time in another country, marketing what you’ve already done might be a quicker way to get there than writing book after book and not marketing.

    I’m still going to try for both. The life coach just helped me to realize that marketing has to be a big priority in order for me to reach my goals, when it hasn’t been on my radar yet at all. My line of thinking was, “I have more work than I can handle; why would I market myself even more?” But I was thinking of the wrong kind of marketing, focusing on the short-term rather than the long-term.

    Thanks for your comment!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.