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


Hello Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! I hope 2013 is treating you well so far.

2012 was a year of tremendous change for me, at least when it came to my career. I left my job as communications and public relations manager at a museum–a job that I dearly loved but had outgrown. It was with a heavy heart and many tears that I said goodbye to coworkers who felt like family after working together for seven years.

I started a new position as a director of marketing for a health-related charity, a highly demanding job that left me very little time to write or to blog. And kickboxing? Forget it! I was lucky to leave my desk and walk around the office during the day. This may be TMI, but a lot of the time it was so busy, we’d forget to pee and would rush to a bathroom before a meeting with bladders aching.

While the work I was doing was admirable, I missed my life. I was stressed out, relying on comfort food to get me through the hectic days way too much (gravy was suddenly a staple), and the only extra-curricular writing I was managing was freelance articles for a local newspaper and magazine. Sometimes I regretted leaving the museum, where work-life balance had been encouraged and fully supported (being unionized helps).

But they say everything happens for a reason, and in this case, leaving my comfort zone for this new position crystallized something for me…something I must have known but had been trying to ignore for almost TEN years: the office environment is not for me. Maybe owning a full-time freelance business for 12 years ruined me for working for anyone else, but honestly, I’ve never needed to be told what to do. I don’t need someone peering over my shoulder, making sure I’m working. And I definitely don’t need to sit at a computer for eight hours a day, five days a week, to get my work accomplished. What I do need is a certain amount of freedom, autonomy, and quiet time in order to write well.

The more corporations I worked for, the more I realized my “get in and get the job done” approach wasn’t appreciated. If I finished the work I’d been assigned and the tasks I’d developed for myself, I wanted something else to do. This is typically frowned upon in the workplace, where more often than not, acting like you’re much busier than you actually are is the key to success. I was saddened by how often employees were pitted against each other by their supervisors, as if there was only so much success to go around. And even worse, how much time and energy co-workers spent undermining and backstabbing each other. Not everyone is like this, of course, but I’ve never seen a workplace where it doesn’t exist to a certain extent. If you just want to do the damn job and not get involved in the wonderful world of office politics, you’re either the target or you don’t quite fit in. And while I was lucky enough to have some amazing supervisors, there are a lot of bosses out there who NEVER should have been given the right to manage people.

So when the opportunity arose for me to go back to freelance writing and work on my novels full-time, I decided to take the leap. Money isn’t everything, and using a day job to support the dream of being a full-time novelist just wasn’t working. I gave all my creativity, writing energy, and time to whatever job I was in, with nothing left over for chasing the dream.

Of course I’ve fantasized about making this move for a long time. It didn’t happen like I imagined it would (namely with a published novel and a six-figure advance), but how does that saying go? Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

It’s early days, so I may come to miss the rush of the corporate environment and the adrenalin surge that comes when you have a hot news story and need to throw together a press conference in mere minutes. I met a lot of incredible people along the way that I hope to stay in touch with. I’ve become a better writer and communicator, and I hope, a better person. I’ve definitely learned a lot, but sometimes the most important thing you can learn is “this isn’t for me”. Wish me luck…I may need it.

What’s the biggest change you’ve made in your life lately?

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


  1. Mark

    Happy New Year, Holli! Great article, and good luck with everything that you accomplish in 2013.

  2. Story Teller

    Thanks very much, Mark! And a very Happy New Year to you as well.

  3. Angela

    That’s a fantastic revelation Holli! People who lead with their hearts never have regrets! Now, which tropical locale to choose for your next big change…

  4. Story Teller

    Thanks, Angela. I actually thought of you while I was writing this. 🙂 I hope you’re right–whatever the result, I couldn’t keep going on the way I was. I would have had a heart attack or a nervous breakdown.

    We’re trying out Curacao first!

    How is the new job going? Hope all is well with you.

  5. Lisa

    Congrats, Holli, on making the big leap into the unknown. Exciting to know you had the courage to follow your dreams – and go where most people are too afraid to go.
    As for biggest change in my life, I’ve made it more of a priority to work on creating music – and took most of October to early December to write the music score to an upcoming film.

  6. Story Teller

    Thanks for the kind words, Lisa. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my incredible friends and loved ones. Taking a risk is much easier when you have such a strong safety net.

    I have noticed your renewed dedication to your music. That’s awesome! Follow the dream, girl. You have always inspired me.

  7. Randy

    Big step! Congratulations. Much more to life than a desk job.
    Wishing you all the best.

  8. Story Teller

    Thanks very much, Randy. I miss my days at the WFP. I was much more suited to being a journalist.

  9. Ev Bishop

    Wow, Holli — a new year and a new life indeed!!! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear you’re doing this. It’s been your desire for a long time, and I think it’s going to be purely wonderful (even if there is a small adjustment period, the sun and sand will cure it). Congratulations!

  10. Lisa

    Hi Holli,
    I’ve missed your blog – hope to be reading more in the days to come.

    No big changes for me except maybe learning patience. Due to a freak ankle twist back in December I have been unable to run, period. Being an active person it has killed me to watch runners out on the River Trail and on Saturday mornings when I could barely manage a hobble to cross the street. I am FINALLY able to start back, but have been taking it really slow.

    Maybe my big change is just being able to appreciate the very small things in life that one takes for granted.

    Enjoy Curacao!!

  11. Story Teller

    Ev – thanks so much for your kind words. I hope to get back to writing in earnest next week. Needed a bit of a break after the vacation. Hope you are doing well. Do you still go to SIWC every year? I’m considering returning this year, depending on how the freelance goes.

    Lisa – Nice to hear from you, but so sorry to hear about your ankle. I’m glad you’re recovering…take it easy!


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