So you want to be a writer


I often get emails from aspiring authors who ask me for advice about their dream of becoming a writer. First of all I want to go on record as stating that I am THRILLED to help and support aspiring writers, and I fully encourage anyone who has the dream of writing a book to do so, but…

I know there is always a but.

In order to be a writer you have to be willing to write.

Here is an example of a typical email chain:

Dear Ms. Daley,
I am an aspiring writer who hopes to publish my first cozy within the next year. Any tips you might have would be welcome.
Signed, Aspiring Author

My response:
Dear Aspiring Author,
The best advice I can give you as to how to become a published author is just to write. Set a goal as to when you would like to publish, divide the number of words you’d like the book to be by the number of days to your goal, and then commit to write an average of that number of words a day.
Best of luck, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
I find that I can only write on the days I feel really inspired and most days I just don’t feel inspired. How do you do it?
Signed, Uninspired.

Dear Uninspired,
Trust me there are days my brain simply won’t function but if my goal is 5,000 words for the day I write 5,000 words for the day. Yes there are times I get up the next morning and delete everything I wrote the previous day because it is total crap, but write anyway. There are times that magic arises from the crap so write your words!!!
Pulling for you, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
How do you handle writers block. What if you just aren’t sure where a story is going?
Signed, Blocked and Impotent

Dear Blocked,
As I have stated before JUST WRITE. This is an actual passage (text in red) from Hopscotch Homicide. I had no idea who the killer was or where to go next. I was stumped so I started out typing blah blah blah. Yes those actual words. Then I deleted them. I then began to ask myself some questions to try to work it out.

In the following passage I was really stuck so I just inserted Zoe and we worked it out together.

Who killed Mrs. Brown?

I looked at the question for several minutes without anything coming to mind.

Why was Mrs. Brown at the school the day she was murdered?

I tapped my pen on the pad at least a hundred times. Then I drew a happy face, as well as a few random squiggles.


Why was Mrs. Brown making a huge pot of hamburger gravy?

This last one should be solvable. There were most likely only limited answers. The correct answer might lead to the killer. Unless some random person happened along and killed Mrs. Brown on impulse, the killer had to have known she would be at the school that day. It seemed likely the person or persons she was making the gravy for would know she planned to use the school kitchen to make the large batch, ergo, the person the gravy was intended for was the killer.

Long shot? Maybe. But at this point it was all I had to go on.

The school wasn’t open yet, so the gravy couldn’t have been for the students. The freezer at the school was being replaced, so she didn’t intend to freeze it. I’d already checked with the church and the senior center. Neither were having a potluck. Who else, I asked myself, would need the quantity of gray slop Mrs. Brown had been preparing on the day she died?

Maybe a better question, given Mrs. Brown’s reputation, was who would ask her to contribute to a potluck in the first place?

I clicked my pen open and closed. I drew a series of random shapes on my tablet. I was really, really stuck.

I looked at Charlie. He glared at me. It was obvious he thought it was time for us to be in bed. And he was right. I was getting nowhere.

“Are you ready to go back up?” I asked Charlie.

He lifted his head and wagged his tail.

“I’m really losing my edge,” I complained. “Maybe I do have too much going on and there really isn’t room left in my brain for sleuthing.”

My actions became Zoe’s actions and between us we figured it out.
Pulling for you, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
Where should I start?
Signed Confused.

Dear Confused,
Anywhere. Just start. You can always change it. I usually change it. Really, you just need to WRITE! Words. Everyday. If you write every day eventually you will have a novel.
Hugs, Kathi


Dear Ms. Daley,
I finished my novel. Now what?
Signed, Nervous

Dear Nervous,
First off CELEBRATE! You set a goal and you accomplished it. Whatever happens from this point forward no one can take that away from you. Published or not, you my friend are a writer. Once you have celebrated: submit, pray, love.
Signed, So proud of you.


I always try to respond to every comment but I am actually going to be out of town for three days beginning today so I probably won’t. I will read them all and there is a giveaway so please comment anyway. 🙂

Giveaway – Comment below to be entered to win a Halloween in Paradise Book and Mug.

IMG_1580  Halloween In Paradise Paperback


56 thoughts on “So you want to be a writer

  1. candace knight says:

    I’m glad that you and other authors have the ability to write great stories. I don’t think I could do it.

  2. I am forever facinated how a writer can write a book. I have lots of great ideas here and there but I could never make it into a complete book. Do they burst into your head or do they randomly meander? Are you inspired by things you see every day or do they come from your dreams or what? Where do your ideas come from?

  3. Anne Osherowitz says:

    The quote “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration” is true for writing, too.

  4. Della Williamson says:

    Think the key is. No matter what. Just write. You can always edit later. Often those edits lead to more ideas, and often, better ideas. Fleshing them out, building on them. Story ends up completed before you know it. Nice ideas, Kathy. Thanks

  5. Thank you for being the kind person you are. You are a constant reminder of the support and kindness that we all can share in our cozy community and with the world. Your. Examples of conversations was very generous and allowed us all to apply these to ourselves. I know your words helped ease today!
    Thank you,

  6. Peggy Hyndman says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, Kathi. You are an awesome author and so kind, thoughtful and wonderful … always taking time for your family, readers and potential authors. Your words of encouragement are good for everyone, not just aspiring authors. Thank you, Kathi. 🙂

  7. Debbie Hiemstra says:

    Interesting. This applies to so much. Some things are just a matter of discipline-you can’t do anything without actually doing it. So many people think they can write a novel , paint a canvas, or play the piano without any study or effort nd I’m glad you point out there is work required. Love your books.

  8. omygato2015 says:

    That post was awesome! I write often, mostly just to get the thoughts out of my head, not to be published. Very inspiring!

  9. Denise Shaw says:

    I started my first “Diary” at 20 years old. I was 2 weeks from delivering my first baby. I had just moved from my family , with my husband, to a New state. I was nervous , no I was scared to death!

    I wrote everyday, even if it was just a Hi! I kept this diary and wrote for four years. Then one day I was cleaning house and decided to get rid of junk and at the time I considered my diary junk. I wrapped it in a nag and tossed it. Hundreds of pages that I had put my speci thoughts in? Poems, I had written, drawings and random babbles. After a while I was devastated , I wished I had kept it. To this day I still sit and write my thoughts down and then just toss them out 😦 I love to write I just don’t keep what I write!

    I would NOT be a good author, because I wouldn’t keep my work!

  10. Brenda Rozek says:

    I really don’t know how you have time to do all you do for yourself, much less take the time to help aspiring writers. Between your writing, your giveaways, your Facebook pages – you respond to most every post on all of them, your friends and family, your animals, housework, cooking meals, how do you manage to do it all? I’m amazed. Some days I do well to just put dinner on the table. Of course I spend a lot of time with my face in my IPad, that may explain it, haha. However, your random thoughts have inspired me to get some projects done that I’vd been putting off simply because I couldn’t get them done quickly. “Just write” can apply to many other things. Seriously, you’re amazing and I hope your family knows it!

  11. Joyce C Moser says:

    I usually comment in my reviews of your books that I am amazed at how many books you publish on a tight time schedule–every two weeks to four weeks. And they are fabulous books! Besides your obvious talent, it never occurred to me that you are a master at self-discipline. Duh! I truly admire you for your talents, your love of family, friends, and animals, and your devotion to your fans. Thank you Kathi, and hugs!

  12. Guillianne kolb says:

    I write poetry sometimes and that is hard so I can imagine trying to write a book but I guess if you feel a story inside that has to come out put it on paper…

  13. Christi King says:

    Although I’m not a writer, I love to read about the process of creating those stories I enjoy so much. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. Mari Krampach says:

    I have always dreamed of writing a book, however I find I’m best at poetry which can tell a story with fewer words. Love all your books, and admire your kindness towards your readers. So happy to have YOU in my library.

  15. I have a children’s book I’d like to get published but have not found the right publisher. I have gotten lots of rejection letters, but my favorite one had instructions on how to make the rejection letter into a paper airplane. That made me laugh.

  16. Betty Jo English says:

    I have had a lot of varied experiences in my life where I say “one day I am going to write a book”. But I have not actually done any writing except travel journals. I just read instead. Would love that mug.

  17. Misty says:

    I loved your responses. I think some of us struggle with simply sitting down and writing. We allow life to interrupt us and make excuses as to why we can’t write. I know I do. Thanks for the tips!

  18. servedogmom says:

    Your replays were great. I often think one of these days I need to compile and edit all of my caringbridge journal entries and consider compiling them into an inspirational book. My family laughs and says there would be no market as no one would/could beige or relate to the life our family leads. One of those truth is stranger then fiction! This post may push me to rethink that potential. I definitely had many episodes of writers block or how do I put this into written words.

  19. Patricia says:

    Thanks for the tips.. I write notes of experiences thinking some day MAYBE a book. So now I am going to write every day.. You are the BEST !!
    Thank you !!

  20. Michele Hayes says:

    I am always amazed at how well some people write, and I admire all who do. It is very hard for me to put my thoughts together on paper so I’m content to just read what others have written. Thank you for being so encouraging to those who do want to write.

  21. JoAn V. says:

    I really enjoyed your blog today. Your support of new authors is awesome I honestly don’t know how you accomplish everything in your busy life. I am so glad that I found your books. Thanks for the giveaway.

  22. Sharon says:

    I have been writing since I was 12 years old, and will be 68 this fall. Some I have finished, but I have never sent any of them to a publisher. Many thanks to you, and to a couple other authors, I am now encouraged enough to get it done, and will self-publish my current project. 🙂

  23. Mary Jane Hopper says:

    That’s a great scenario Kathi! I’m going to forward it to my granddaughter who is an aspiring author with writers block!

  24. Linda Kleback says:

    Love the advice to WRITE. So true! I wrote a weekly genealogy newspaper column for 19 years. Some weeks when I had no new ideas, I would just write thoughts, and it always got me unblocked.

  25. Diane Cooney says:

    Love this column. I think you are amazing and can personally vouch for your openness and willingness to help new authors. Thanks to your help, mysnuscript is with a editor.
    Thank you so very very much!

  26. Stephanie Strawn says:

    I admire writers. I wouldn’t have the patience to write. I know it’s a lot of hard work but I appreciate it. I love to read.

  27. Debbie S says:

    I found this interesting, I was surprised. I thought I was going to read stuff like draw a draft, get a thesaurus and dictionary, etc. I like your answer…write something, anything. Makes sense to me, hands on experience is the best.

  28. I write every day when time allows. I am not working on a cozy but a fantasy novel & a paranormal “romance”. Not easy but one Fay at a time. I just dread the editing portion. 😉

  29. Pamela Woodfield says:

    These are extremely helpful suggestions. I always have a few ideas on the back burners but lack the discipline to do much with them. Maybe one day…
    Thank you for sharing with those who seek your help. It’s one more reason we all love you.

  30. My son has the ability to sit down write anything and it is able to be published in anything. His only issue is he is lazy about spelling, thank the lord for autocorrect and momma who will proof read. That was when he was in school. He is 31 and does not write anything. I on the other hand would love to have your passion, but god made me to read your wonderful books! Lucky Me!

  31. sallycootie says:

    Amazing how all you writers take the time to just sit down and write. It’s like anything else in life, if you wait until the perfect time when everything else is running smoothly you’ll never get it done. Thanks for writing!

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