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


Hello Dear Readers,

As many of you know, I lost a dear friend last week. His death was sudden and shocking, and the last thing I felt like doing was writing a happy list for this blog.

But then I thought about how tragedy happens in everyone’s life. And no matter what, there are still lots of things to take comfort in. Often it’s the little things that mean the most. So here’s how I’ve been trying to keep my spirits up all week.

1) Animated Movies. You’re never too old for Monster University, Shrek 2, or some Kung Fu Panda action. When you’re sad, sometimes the best distraction is a funny movie. What’s your favorite animated movie?

2) Emotional Auditions. I don’t know what it is with these auditions for talent shows, but they never fail to make me cry. One of the best ones I’ve seen in a long time is Christopher Maloney’s audition for The X Factor. Anyone else a sucker for these auditions? I think the best ones of all time have to be Susan Boyle’s or Jonathan and Charlotte’s. Sob!

People told Christopher that he shouldn’t audition because he wasn’t good enough. More reason not to believe what people tell you. If you have a passion for something, go for it! Life is short.

3) Awesome Success Stories. Speaking of singing, Zendee Rose Tenerefe’s family was struggling to survive in the Philippines. Zendee would go to the local mall and use their karaoke machine. Of course she became a YouTube sensation. Now she’s been on Ellen and has a recording contract. Pretty amazing what one can accomplish with some determination and a ton of talent.

4) Accomplishing Goals. At the end of October, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month for the very first time. Participants agree to write fifty thousand words on a new novel during the month of November. I used to think trying to write a novel in one month was crazy, but then I discovered you “only” have to write fifty thousand words. Since I’d written thirty thousand words in a single week, what was twenty thousand more in three additional weeks? Piece of cake.

Then life threw every possible obstacle at me. It was the busiest month of the entire year for my freelance business–suddenly, I had over twenty-five articles due in a few weeks’ time. My dear friend died. Then I got sick. I’d given up hope of ever finishing, but as the last week dwindled, I was determined to stick to my original goal. To “win” NaNoWriMo, I had to write fourteen thousand words in two days.

As you can imagine, writing a story seemed pretty frivolous after my friend died. But once I resumed working on my NaNoWriMo project, writing seemed to keep me sane. It felt wonderful to hit the fifty-thousand word mark with four hours to spare. I still have a ways to go to finish the novel, and I plan to have it completed by the end of the month. Keeping that goal was the best thing I could have done under the circumstances.

5) Doing Something for Others. The other thing that got me through the past week was using the only medium at my disposal–this blog–to educate people about the dangers of depression. I wanted to open a dialogue about this disease. In the coming weeks, I’ll be volunteering to help mental health organizations as well. Now I understand why so many people start foundations when they’ve lost someone they loved. Some dark clouds have no silver linings except for the ones you create.

It almost goes without saying that the support of The Boy, close friends, and my family have been invaluable. Death has a way of making us realize just how lucky we are to have people who care about us. Thanks to everyone who reached out to me during this difficult time, and especially to those who supported Stan’s family and close friends.

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


  1. Crystal

    I will tend to choose an animated movie when given the option. They always leave me with happy feelings, and brighten my day! I love Pixar, Ratatouille is my favourite. 🙂

  2. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks for the comment, Crystal. I agree–animated movies are guaranteed smiles. With maybe the exception of Up. It’s a fantastic movie that gets happier later on, but the beginning made both of us bawl. Not what I could handle lately.

    Ratatouille is a great one. Very cute!

  3. Lisa S.

    Hoodwinked = favourite kids’ movie over in this household. Red Riding Hood, her “cool dude” granny and a singing goat. What’s not to love?
    Agreed…it’s the little things that keep you positive when you’re going through a tough time. Last week was definitely a rough week.
    Congrats on finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge. I can’t imagine doing that much writing in the last two days!

  4. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks for being here, Lisa. Chris LOVES that movie, but it drives me crazy. It’s the goat. I can’t stand that goat!

    Hope you’re doing okay, too. I hope we don’t have another week like last week for about a million years.

    Thanks for the kind words and for being such an awesome friend, always. Hope you know how much I love you.

    Oh, and I couldn’t imagine doing that much writing in two days, either! 🙂 But I’m glad I did.

  5. Suzanne Sapsed

    So sorry for your loss, it’s hard to continue with ‘normal’ life when something so affecting hits you xx But congrats on NaNo, I never made it – life got in the way!
    Suzanne @ Suzannes Tribe

  6. Holli Moncrieff

    Thank you, Suzanne, and welcome to my blog. NaNo was tough–a lot tougher than I thought it would be, but I’m so glad I did it. It proved to me that I can write through anything. Thanks for your kind words.

  7. Michelle D. Argyle

    What a lovely list, Holli! I love all of that, and I have to agree that sometimes an animated movie is really great when you’re feeling crappy. And NaNo!!! So awesome! Congrats. 🙂

  8. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks, Michelle! I can’t believe I finished that nasty NaNo. It honestly felt like the universe was conspiring against me.

    What’s your favorite animated movie? You must have watched lots with your daughter.


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