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


When I was in my late teens, I dated a rockstar.

Well, not really…perhaps playing gigs at the local Pizza Hut didn’t count. But to me, he was a rockstar all the same. He had the skintight jeans and the long hair to prove it, and he was awesome at playing the drums. I would listen to him play for hours, and never failed to be enthralled.

If anyone asked him what he planned to do with his life, he answered without hesitation. “I’m going to be a rockstar.”

As much as I believed in him–and I really, really did–his answer was scary. After all, how many people get to be rockstars? What was his Plan B, just in case?

Since my rockstar clearly wasn’t interested in Plan B, I decided to help. I came up with a few options that were quite clever, because he could earn money by working in the music industry (as a studio musician, an engineer, a sound tech, among other things…) while he waited to be discovered.

Clever or not, he wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to play the drums, not be part of the great machine that was the music industry. It was rockstar or nothing.

Meanwhile, I wanted to be a novelist. But how many people get to be full-time novelists? I came up with a sensible Plan B, and learned how to use my writing ability to earn a living. At various points in my career, I was a journalist, a publicist, and a communications and marketing specialist. I blogged and tweeted. I wrote website copy, newsletters, and annual reports.

Not only was it difficult to find the time to write fiction, I often had no enthusiasm after writing for other people all day long. My Plan B had become my Plan A, and even after quitting my day job over a year ago, I’m still struggling to realign those priorities.

I’d love to tell you that the boyfriend of my teenage years became a rockstar after all. That would make this a much better story. He didn’t. BUT he found a job he loves that pays the bills and has nothing to do with music. His music never turned into work for him. He didn’t wear out his creativity by becoming a sound engineer. He played for love when he was nineteen, and he still does today.

Thank god he didn’t listen to me.

I thought I was so wise back then, with my sensible Plan B. And while I don’t regret the incredible career I’ve had and all the amazing people and experiences that have come into my life because of it, I do regret how long it’s taken me to return my focus to Plan A. The place where my focus should have been all along.

So, to those who have an “impossible” dream, I give this irresponsible advice: go for it, and go for it wholeheartedly. Hold nothing back. You may not achieve it, but you’ll never regret the effort.

Don’t worry about Plan B. Having a Plan B is saying it’s okay to fail at Plan A. Plan B makes it too easy to give up. You can get a Plan B later…or never.

Go ahead.

Be a rockstar.

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  1. Elle

    I love this. That is all.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Elle. Soon enough, you too will be a rockstar.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      You’re very welcome, Susan. Thanks for commenting–much appreciated. Welcome to my blog.

  2. Bish Denham

    I hear you. I’ve been writing most of my life and like you did a lot of writing for other people. I wish I’d started seeking publication for my own stuff a long, long, time ago. But, better late than never!

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Exactly, Bish. We can only look forward. We have no control over our past. And, for what it’s worth, it sounds like you spent your non-writing time helping kids who really needed you. You can’t regret that.

  3. Chrys Fey

    Maybe not a rockstar, but definitely a rocker. 😉

    I still think you had the right idea because doing those things give us knowledge, experience, and a way to make money by writing, but I can see where doing all of that, while getting you closer to your dream, wasn’t helping you fully achieve your dream by writing novels.

    I love your advice at the end though. Go for it!

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Chrys. I really wish I’d done things differently–if I ever meet a young person who hopes to be a novelist, I would never suggest following my path. But, that said, I’m trying to do the right thing now. As Bish commented above, better late than never.

  4. M.C.V. Egan

    I bet your plan B has turned you into an even better writer than you would have ever been without it! We are all so different and your post is FANTASTIC and I love the idea of shooting for the stars but the world keeps on working (limping at times) thanks to those willing to have a plan B ! I bet you will succeed and write amazing novels, I just bet you will !#AtoZchallenge ☮Peace ☮ ღ ONE ℒℴνℯ ღ ☼ Light ☼ visiting from http://4covert2overt.blogspot.com/

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks so much. I appreciate the kind words. Welcome to my blog. I’ll make a point of visiting yours as well.

  5. Kirsten

    There is no easy answer to this question, but I sure like the take away.
    As my day job has very little to do with writing, I often wonder if it wouldn’t be better to seek employment doing what I love more.
    But then, I hesitate. Right now, I spend all day thinking about what I’m going to write when I get home, and open my laptop with my fingers itching to write.
    Would I feel this way if I wrote all day? I’m not so sure.
    Of course, if I made enough money selling books I wouldn’t have to compromise with a day job at all would I?
    Let’s hear it for Plan A! 🙂
    Kirsten @ A Scenic Route

    • Holli Moncrieff

      It may not seem like it now, Kirsten, but you’re totally doing the right thing. That feeling of itching to write when you get home? It’s hard to feel that way when you’re writing all day long. Keep on pushing, and you will get there!

      Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope to see you back here. 🙂

    • Holli Moncrieff

      It’s never too late, Tui. And what you’re doing right now is awesome!

  6. Frank Powers

    Very well said. My wife is practical, I am not. I am an all or nothing kind of guy. I’m all for being responsible but for far too many people, responsible means boring and safe. They aren’t the same thing.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      I agree; they’re not. Sometimes it’s good to have balance like that in a relationship. If your wife helps you to be sensible and you help her to be adventurous, it’s a great match.


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