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


Last week was so incredible that I spent most of it walking on clouds (and nearly collapsing from exhaustion–it was also a really busy week). I was headed home from lunch with a friend, the autumn sun warm upon my face, when I was moved to tears by one unexpected thought.

What if I had missed this?

I struggled with suicidal thoughts as a teenager. I won’t say they completely disappeared when I became an adult, but they were much less frequent. There were many reasons for what I was going through back then, but suffice it to say that the underlying cause was that I hated myself, I hated my life, and I didn’t see any hope that these things would ever change.

Whenever I read about a teenager who has killed herself, I feel such overwhelming sympathy and sadness. For I know a little about what they were going through in those last desperate moments. A young person who takes his own life is in so much emotional pain that the prospect of living through one more day is unbearable. He honestly sees no other way out. He does not take his life to hurt the ones that love him most, because he believes with every fiber of his being that they will be better off without him.

It may seem strange to kick off a happy list by talking about suicidal depression. I’m sure it does. But I thought it was worth a little strangeness on the off-chance that one day, a teenager may read this. A teenager who feels very much like I used to.

I’d like to say one thing to them–it gets better. I know everyone says that, but it really, really does. Things that seem like the end of the world now get much more manageable later on. Once you move away from home and have control over your own life, a world of possibilities open up. You have a chance to heal.

Take it from me. I’m one who knows.

If you’re still with me, here’s my happy list for the week. And it really is happy, I swear!

1) Finishing a novel. It’s hard to express in words exactly what this feels like, ironically. In the early morning hours of today, I completed my fourth publishable novel. (I say “publishable” because, like most novelists, I had to write a whole bunch of crap to get to this point.) It’s a bittersweet feeling–sweet because you’ve achieved something that is still relatively rare, and bitter because it’s also a goodbye–a goodbye to the world you created and the people who live there. This novel is what I’d call “the ultimate haunted house story”–the kind of book I always wanted to read but could never find. I wanted my antagonist to be more than a boogeyman. I wanted to paint the picture of a man who was so desperately, brutally wronged that he had damn good reason to be pissed off in the afterlife. I think I succeeded, because–surprisingly–it is his character I will miss most of all.

2) Aiming high, expecting nothing. Last week I participated in two huge events. One was #AdPit, which gave me the opportunity to pitch one of my novels to agents and editors on Twitter, and the other was the virtual launch of Lost, which took place right on this blog. A day before the launch, I had an appointment with my life coach, who was concerned about my expectations. I told her I expected nothing, but I hoped for a lot. Of course I hoped agents and editors would snap up my work, and that dozens of people would read the first instalment of Lost and love it enough to comment and share it and donate. And most importantly, to come back again the following week. Hoping is fine, but if I’d expected those things, I would have been opening myself up to crushing disappointment. Which is never fun.

So what happened? Two NY agents and one publisher requested a partial from me, courtesy of #AdPit. Hopping over the slush pile I go!

And the launch of Lost was a tremendous success, thanks to your support. I received a record number of comments, very generous donations, new blog, Twitter and Facebook followers, and an undefinable amount of support and encouragement.

If I’d expected this or more, I might have been disappointed. But because I expected nothing, I’m overjoyed. I really can’t imagine things being any better than they already are. And that’s a great place to be. I highly recommend it.

3) Discovering unburied treasure. In the midst of my exhaustion, my friend Kyla dragged my tired ass to one of her favorite places, The Old House Revival Company. It instantly reminded me of the treasure hunts I used to go on as a kid, only way better. We spent hours poking around, exploring floors of antique furniture, clothing, jewelry, toys, kitchenware, and various oddities. Overwhelmed by all the glorious stuff, I caved and bought a bag of antique glass marbles and an old brooch that is reminiscent of a peacock feather, neither of which I needed. But I restrained myself

well–if I wasn’t moving, I would have furnished my entire house with their wonderfully aged, beautifully peeling shelves and cabinets. There were chairs made out of old steamer trunks and stools made out of antique milking bowls. Even the baskets of ceramic doorknobs and metal face plates and skeleton keys were strangely beautiful. If I’m ever short of inspiration, I definitely know where to go.

4) The world’s fluffiest rabbits. I recently discovered that Chloe, my bestest kitty friend, is part Angora. And Chloe is definitely fluffy, but she’s no match for the Angora rabbit. Can you imagine owning one of these puffballs? How does one ever stop cuddling them?

5) Zombie repellent. Organizing a huge Halloween event for the museum I used to work at completely killed my love of Halloween…almost. The event was successful, but it was also stressful and totally draining. It killed any urges I might have to don a costume or go to a party at this time of year. But I still enjoy the miniature candy, the scary movies, the chill in the air, and adorable Halloween novelties. When I discovered the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. made a seasonable soap called Zombie Repellent, I had to try it. It smells irresistibly of black licorice, its tag line (It’s a no brainer) is just too clever and cute, and like all Rocky Mountain Co. soap, it’s made from natural ingredients that are good for your skin. Snap some up while it’s still in stock.  

Well, that’s the Happy List for this week! Be sure to come back on Friday for the next instalment of Lost. Starting Wednesday, I’ll be blogging from the Surrey International Writers’ Conference–wish me luck!

And, as always, I’d love to know what’s making you happy. Have a great week!

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


  1. Elle

    Wait wait wait. 2 agents AND a publisher? You never said anything about a publisher. That’s fantastic. Send me details!

  2. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks so much, Elle. The publisher was late to the party-she didn’t look at the pitches until the next day.

  3. Lisa S.

    Thanks for sharing all this, Holls. Great post.
    Sending every good thought your way re: the book.

  4. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks, Lisa. I’m glad you liked it. I’ve already been asked to mentor a young girl, so I’m happy about that.

    I appreciate the good thoughts and am sending them back to you.

  5. Maxine

    I too love the Zombie Repellent! Congratulations. Hope often beats out expectations for me as well.

  6. Holli Moncrieff

    Welcome to the blog, Maxine! Thanks for all your support, here and on Twitter. It means a lot.

    And I’m glad to not be the only one who’s discovered that amazing soap. It smells so good it probably attracts zombies, but I’ll cross that bridge when the undead come to it.

  7. matthazard

    Congratulations! This is a huge achievement! I wish this could be me someday!

  8. Holli Moncrieff

    Hi Matt,

    Welcome to the blog, Twitter friend! It’s so great to see you here. Thanks for commenting.

    If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the writing industry is full of ups and downs. You get the highest highs, but also the lowest lows. I’m up now, so I’m enjoying it, but I will get rejected again. It’s the nature of the beast.

    If you can stick with it and focus on the story you are dying to tell, you will achieve great things. It can totally happen. Don’t give up, and you’re halfway there.

    Have an awesome week!


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