The Magic That Happened When I Wrote Miranda’s Garden (Has This Ever Happened To You?) I Want To Know!

I talk a lot about the “magic” of writing. And I mean that in a certain kind of way.

I’m not talking about a fluffy, sparkly kind of magic. I’m talking about what I call the “rough magic” of writing. The alchemy that happens on the page and inside the writer, and that can’t help but ripple out into the world.

Let me know in the comments about your magical writing experiences. I know I’m not alone in this…

Get my “10 Ways To Banish Writer’s Block So You Can Write Your Novel”

Sending you mad writing mojo…

Happy writing!

Niching Down: Why I’m Only Teaching ONE Genre From Now On. Can You Guess Which One?

Since leaving academia two-and-a-half years ago, I have focused on growing my business to help people write books. But I made a grave mistake… I have recently realized I was doing something in my business life I haven’t done for YEARS in my personal life. 

But I have my head on straight now, and everything’s changing. Listen to hear about where my focus is going now and why… 

Get my “10 Ways to Banish Writer’s Block”

Sending you mad writing mojo…

Happy Writing!

#writing #writingcommunity #writingfiction #fiction #fictionwriting #stories #writinglife #writingpractice #niche #nichedown #writer #writingsupport #writeyourbook #writeyourstory

Starting Your Book—Step 1: Planning

Photo by Polina Kovaleva

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around, Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound. The summer sun is faint on them— The summer flowers depart— Sit still— as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.”

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

What are you holding in your musing heart that wants to make its way onto the page? Fall is a great time to refocus and honor our impulse to write—herbal tea, spiced cider, or mulled wine by your side.

And it isn’t too soon to establish a plan so you can finally start that book that’s nestled down inside your heart at the beginning of 2024.

To help, here’s your first step in building a solid foundation for your first draft.


Grab the downloadable, fillable handouts mentioned in this video right here.

Sending you mad writing mojo…

Happy writing!

Do You Really (Really, Really) Want to Write Your Book? Investing in Yourself is the Answer

Photo by Pixabay

I know many of you want to write a book, or at the very least, have a regular writing practice. I also know that way too many of you are struggling to make it happen. Creating, developing, and maintaining a writing practice requires both intention and attention. It also requires a whole lot of self-love. Making a few tweaks to your thinking could very well make all the difference and set you on your way to not just starting—but finishing—that book that’s been rumbling around in your mind and heart for way too long.

Think of it as an investment in yourself.

I always tell my clients and workshop participants that honoring our impulse to write and create is an act of self-love.

I believe this impulse to create is our life force wanting to move and flow, and when we stifle it, we experience dis-ease on mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Living in the modern (read: capitalist) world puts most of us to the test when it comes to honoring our creativity—and sometimes even recognizing it.

To truly tend to our own precious minds, hearts, souls, and spirits, we must tend to our creative impulses and invest in ourselves.

So, how can you invest in yourself when you want to write a book?

Privilege your writing practice in your mind.

Make it as important to your day as all the responsibilities you make time for on a regular basis. Instead of thinking I’ll get to my writing after I’ve taken care of X, Y, and Z, think I’m going to write XX days each week (or XX hours or XX pages).

Tell people.

Let people who are close to you know that you’ve made a decision to privilege your writing. Tell them what you need from them to make it happen. Time? Space? Quiet? Respect?

Give it space—in your day, on your calendar, and in your home.

Change some habits if you need to. Reduce time spent on social media, TV, and shooting-the-breeze phone conversations to create more time in your days. It all adds up.

Mark it on your calendar and treat it with respect. If you had a doctor’s appointment for yourself, for one of your kids, or for your pet… or a meeting at work, you’d remember it, you’d plan the rest of your day around it, and you’d show up for it.

Designate a spot in your home as your private, personal writing space where no one else is allowed. If you’re not able to do this, find a time when the people you live with are out of the house or asleep. Or find a place outside your home where you can write. If you don’t need quiet, coffee shops and pubs are great places to hole up and let the words flow (and you’ll be supporting local business at the same time!). If you do need quiet, head to your local library and find a quiet corner (some libraries even allow you to reserve a separate room to use for a specified period of time).

Get a new writer’s notebook.

Think of this notebook as a place for you to jot down your ideas and thoughts—about your writing—that drift in and out of your brain as you go about your day, as you’re drifting off to sleep, or when you first wake up in the morning. If you’re a journaler, you can keep doing that, but in a separate notebook. A writer’s notebook and a journal are two different things.


“Reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” So says Annie Proulx. Read books in the same vein as the one you want to write. Read books that are different from the one you want to write. Read short fiction. Read non-fiction. Read novels. Read poetry. There’s something to learn from them all.

View yourself as a writer.

Instead of seeing yourself as a parent or an employee at a company or organization who wants to write, see yourself as a writer who happens to also be a parent and/or an employee. And if you’ve yet to be published, it doesn’t make you less legit than people who have been published.

If it helps, use a mantra. Say I am a writer over and over in your thoughts throughout the day. Or writing is not a luxury. Or writing is an act of self-love. You’ll start to believe it.

Know that it’s a mind game.

So much of the act of getting the words on the page—is all in the mind. When we can think about writing differently, we can show up for it and give the creative impulse inside us the respect it deserves.

What can you do to move your writing practice further up your list of “Important Things To Do”?

Sending you mad writing mojo…

Shayla Raquel – Author Interview

What compelled you to tell the story/stories in your most recent book? (And specifically, why this genre?)

The 10 Commandments of Author Branding is an authorship reference book, according to Amazon categories, but I like to call it a self-help book for writers. Reference sounds so dry, doesn’t it?

It was NaNoWriMo 2018, and I needed a book idea. I was a few days late coming up with something, and I had just published my debut novel, The Suicide Tree. While I was at a coffee shop with my writers’ group (we do Saturday NaNoWriMo write-ins during November), it struck me to start compiling all of my articles, email newsletters, Facebook posts, and more into a Word doc. 

It just kept growing and growing. I knew then: This is my book. I need to help authors learn about branding, marketing, and authenticity. And so I did.   

What obstacles—either inner or outer—did you encounter while writing the book?

The Suicide Tree took me three and a half years to write. I was constantly battling with perfectionism. Thankfully, I learned my lesson (to some degree) with Commandments. In fact, that book was written, edited, and published in under a year.

I did, however, encounter quite the setback when I realized an entire chapter (Commandment IX: Thou Shalt Not Bear a Boring Book Launch) had to be completely rewritten in two days before going to the editor. Originally, that chapter taught authors about Facebook launch groups. I knew, though, that they didn’t work anymore. 

That meant sitting down in my recliner and writing an entire chapter from scratch. Funny thing is, that chapter gets the most compliments! 

How has writing your most recent book changed or added value to your life?

I’m currently finishing up a book of poetry entitled All the Things I Should’ve Told You. Out of everything I’ve written, this has been the most important to me. It’s me bearing my soul and talking about grief, love, loss, resilience, and anger. Almost every poem was written in the moment—in the moment of grieving the loss of a loved one, in the moment of falling in love, in the moment of dusting myself off and trying again.

These poems helped me get through some dark times, and they’ve also shown me the light. It’s my hope that these poems will guide others out of the darkness and into a brighter world.

Did you self-publish or did you go the traditional route? Why did you choose the route you chose, and what was that process like?

Oh, self-publish all the way! I’m too much of a control freak to hand my books over to anyone else. Plus, the waiting game is unbearable. I have a hard enough time waiting on a microwave minute, let alone two years after getting a deal. 

I’m a self-publishing mentor and have been working with indie authors for years. It’s a blast for me, and I wouldn’t want to go any other route. 

The process for someone who has done it for years isn’t tough. But for those who are new to it, it’s seriously like taking on a full-time job. There are so many learning curves! I’ve been blessed with a team who helps me publish high-quality books, so that certainly takes a load off. 

I also have the Pre-Publishing Checklist: A To-Do List for Indie Authors because so many of my clients needed a road map for the process. 

Are you friends with other writers? If so, how do they influence your writing? (No need to mention names unless you and they are comfortable with that. We’re more curious about what your writing life looks like and who/what influences/supports you.)

Absolutely! I’m the organizer for the Yukon Writers’ Society in Yukon, Oklahoma. In fact, the majority of my friends are writers. We organize workshops and conferences together; we attend conferences in Texas (road trip!); we go to coffee shops to write; we send each other writerly memes and quotes. I’ve said it before in previous interviews, but there is no doubt in my mind that my books wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for writer friends.

I think, yes, accountability is a part of success, but it’s this loyal support I get unlike any other from them. If I talk about a new book I’m working on, or if I tell my friends about ideas for workshops, they immediately cheer me on. And I do the same for them.

Find your people, my author friends. It will change you.

Do you maintain a regular writing practice? If so, what does it look like? If not, how do you stay engaged in your writing projects?

No one has ever accused me of sticking to a routine. Ha! I’m kind of all over the place with my writing. The weekends and week nights (after 8 o’clock) are a lot easier for me. I get my coffee, a snack, my Bose headphones, and I get to work. I love setting a timer too, because it’s fun to see what I can accomplish in an hour. Or on the days when time is so limited, just 15 minutes of writing is better than none.

One thing that helps me stay engaged—and this is an odd answer—is ensuring my mental health is up to par. If I’m not exercising, eating healthy, staying in my devotions, and spending time with wonderful people, my mental health will deteriorate. And if my mental health is meh, then my writing is meh

How many other books or stories do you have in progress right now?

As I said, the book of poetry! But I am wildly excited about my first psychological thriller. It isn’t named yet, but I’ve been in research mode most of the year. This one . . . well, let’s just say it’s my magnum opus. 

For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m using this time to outline my entire novel using the Save the Cat! Writes a Novel method as my guide.

Do you view writing as a spiritual practice?

As a born-again Christian, I know God gave me the gift of writing, and I never want to let a talent grow stagnant. So I’m very grateful for that. When I’m writing, I do think there’s a spiritual aspect to it, because I am genuinely bearing my soul to the world. I don’t care what genre I’m writing in; there is a piece of my heart in my writing. 

You need to take that writing time seriously. Turn your phone on silent or leave it in another room. Turn on some rain sounds (I like And for the love of Pete, leave your blasted social media alone.

What would your life look like if you didn’t write?

I wouldn’t call it much of a life at all. Honestly. My whole life is centered on books. I think I would feel empty. I would always know something was missing in my life. A void.

Why do you write?

Because I can’t not write. 

Shayla Raquel is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, “The Rotting” (in Shivers in the Night), The Suicide Tree, andThe 10 Commandments of Author Branding. In her not-so-free time, she acts as organizer for the Yukon Writers’ Society, volunteers at the Oklahoma County Jail, and obsesses over squirrels. She lives in Oklahoma with her dogs, Chanel, Wednesday, and Baker.