Resurrecting a Life: One Writer’s Journey Back to Writing by Sierra Dafoe #GuestPost #ParanormalRomance #Writing @sierradafoe

Image by stilfee from Pixabay. Provided by Sierra Dafoe.

Here’s the truth: As  a reader, I don’t care about my favorite authors’ personal lives. I wish them well, of course — I wish them health and wealth and hope they are happily ensconced in whatever constitutes contentment for them. But on a nitty-gritty level, I just don’t care, so long as the stories keep coming.

Which makes me feel doubly hypocritical, asking your indulgence in talking about my personal life as a writer, and about a long, vast, terrifying stretch when the stories didn’t come at all.


In 2008, I would have qualified by anyone’s standards as a bright young author with every likelihood of a successful career before her. The stories and novellas I’d published over the prior three years had been warmly received by both readers and reviewers, garnering quite a number of awards and recommended reads. I’d begun working on a series of paranormal romance novels with an eye toward traditional print publishing, and had just landed a truly outstanding agent on the basis of a partial novel and series outline.

And then, crash. Absolute, total, smashed to slivers crash. Virtually overnight,  I went from happily married in a home in New Hampshire to driving laps up and down the eastern half of the U.S., for all intents and purposes living out of my car because I couldn’t stand to stay in one place more than four or five days.

And worst of all, I couldn’t write.


It’s hard still to think back on those days, to put together the pieces of what happened. The worst of it was that at some level I had felt it coming – my ex-husband’s increasing ire at my near-total absorption wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret, and my exasperation at his increasing interruptions helped fuel my dangerously-spiking high blood pressure. On the penultimate day, that blood pressure and the final argument with my ex-husband caused something to snap. Whether it was as one neurologist later suggested a TIA or “mini-stroke” or simply a plain old-fashioned nervous breakdown, I have no idea. But something radically changed, inside as well as out. I began stuttering. I had a brutally hard time finishing sentences. And on top of the grief and heartache I felt at the ending of my marriage, I found to my horror that my ability to write, to imagine stories and transfer them into words, was gone.

Do I blame my ex? No, I don’t. My early success wasn’t out of the blue – I worked like a dog for it, as most writers do. And after three solid years of a wife who was pouring sixty, seventy, eighty hours a week into building a writing career and was simply not present ninety percent of the time… well, if I’d been him, I’d have been irate, too. 

I can wish I’d handled things differently. I can regret not having tempered my complete absorption with writing. I can also wish I’d married a reader, someone who understood the magic a good book can weave and who might therefore have been somewhat more supportive of my efforts (although honestly I think it would’ve taken a saint not to resent my days and weeks of mental absence). But all of that was water under the bridge and here I was, floundering in deep water with no sight or scent or even hope of shore.

Eventually, like the drowning person I was, I let go of everything – my reader’s group, my website, my newsletter…even my agent. Or rather, I gave up so thoroughly on even so much as checking my email that she eventually let go of me. (Once again, I sure don’t blame her!) I lost, during those dark years, a newsletter mailing list of almost 2000 subscribers, a reader’s group that was over half that, my facebook page, my twitter account, everything. All the infrastructure that I had so painstakingly built over those first three years, infrastructure which, while it may not be crucial to writing itself, is absolutely essential if a writer wants to actually sell what she writes. All gone.


I tried writing during that long, long tiresome stretch – literally years where I cast about, trying to figure out how to rebuild a life that was so thoroughly broken. I even finished a few stories, mostly by gritting my teeth and putting down one word after another. The stories showed it, too – torturous, wooden, haphazard things that no amount of rewriting was ever going to breathe life into. After a few attempts, I gave up. I let it lay fallow.

With time, my stuttering stopped. Speaking in complete sentences became easier and easier, although to this day I still occasionally reach for a word and say something completely different — “Let me get my escalator,” for example, rather than “Let me get my coat.” It’s quite wild! And finally, after over a dozen years, stories started to stir again in my head. Even better, I found I could once again capture them on paper.

So here I am, like those pansies in the picture at the top, slowly shaking off the ice of a very long winter and finding my way slowly, step by step, back into the sun. Will I ever reach the success I might have had if none of this had happened? I don’t know—it seems doubtful. But I also, at some level, truly don’t care. I am writing again, and that alone is miracle enough. And if I am truly, truly lucky, some at least of my old readers will forgive my long absence – and perhaps some new ones will find me, too.


Sierra Dafoe has won numerous awards for her paranormal and contemporary romance stories. Learn more about her and her books at, and check out her latest release, Immortal Lust, on sale at Amazon and other online retailers!

Read an excerpt at Changeling Press!

A Knight of the Templars, Gerard is sworn to chastity, but Cytharea stirs him as no woman ever has.

BOOK TOUR: We All Fall Before the Harvest by C.M. Forest #horror @c_laforet

We All Fall Before the Harvest

by C.M. Forest

Genre: Horror

In the guts of a nameless city, career criminal Owen fights for his sanity and his life. After stealing a morbid piece of artwork at the behest of his boss, Owen discovers the original owners of the grotesque painting are part of a twisted cult known as The Family—and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

The longer Owen possesses the painting, the more it warps his mind and alters the very world around him. Between those that want him dead, his own dark past, and his crumbling grip on reality, the walls are closing in. Unstable but determined, Owen is the only thing standing between our world and the coming Harvest.

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weallfallbeforetheharvest - guest post

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

Why would you ask the impossible? If you wanted a top 100, I would still have to narrow it down. Sigh. Okay. I’ll just name authors because, in most cases, they would have multiple books in my favourites list anyway.

Nick Cutter

Adam Nevill

Andrew Pyper

Laird Barron

Stephen King

Junji Ito

Dan Simmons

Caitlin Starling

Michael Slade

T. Kingfisher


What book do you think everyone should read?

If we’re talking the spooky stuff, then it has to be Stephen King’s It. I know it’s thick enough to choke a donkey, but it’s worth it. Truly an epic horror novel.


How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for about ten years. Although, to be fair, only about five of those were with any sort of serious intentions. It felt more like a glorified hobby at first.


Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

I usually have a handle on all the major characters in a story before I start writing, but a bunch of secondary characters will inevitably pop up along the way. I will say, it is rare for these surprise additions to ascend higher than secondary character status though.


What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

Confession time. I do almost no research. This is completely because I’m lazy. My process is to write the book with little to no regard to research, then, afterward, when cleaning it up, I’ll fact check the stuff I wrote. Even then, I try to dance around as much research as possible. Again, I’m lazy.


Do you see writing as a career?

Not to sound naïve, but yeah, I do. As much as I would love to be raking in Stephen King money, that’s not the only path to success as a writer. Hopefully, in a couple years, with a few more books under my belt, I’ll be making enough to transition into writing as my full-time gig.


Do you read yourself and if so, what is your favorite genre?

I read about 50 books a year. I thought this was impressive until I started making friends in the industry and found others read hundreds! Like, how is that even possible?! Anyway, I read across multiple genres but my fav, obviously, is horror. I would say I read three horror books for every one of a different genre.


Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

I always write with my headphones on. I find silence off-putting. I can hear my own heavy breathing and it reminds me of how unhealthy I am. At least with music in my ears, only those around me have to hear me gasping for air.


Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

Traditionally, I would write one at a time, but there have been occasions when I’m editing one project while writing another. I try to avoid this, as my mind works better when I can keep things separate.


If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

Tough question. Okay, I would probably narrow it down to Stephen King’s It, or Dan Simmons’ The Terror. I love both books dearly, and think both are monuments of horror. Obviously, It is more well known, but The Terror is nearly flawlessly written and full of so much detail and research that it was mindboggling to me while reading (it’s the exact kind of book I could never actually write).


Pen or type writer or computer?

Computer. I like the idea of writing with a pen, and have done so before, but ultimately it was just adding in an extra step to the process since I had to transcribe it onto the computer anyway.


Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

Easy. The protagonist, Owen. I felt connected to him very early on. He’s like a caged tiger, just waiting for somebody to carelessly leave the door unlocked. He’s my opposite in so many ways, that I kinda sorta want to be him. At least, have his confidence, not the whole violence thing. That I don’t want.


What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment I decided to try my hand at writing. I’ve always been a creative person, and even went to school for animation, so that desire to tell a story was sort of always there. But the catalyst which heralded my writing career in earnest was the birth of my first child. Lelaina Blue. She signaled a turning point for me, a loud, flashing sign that said, “DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE!”

A day in the life of the author?

Get up and drive my kids to school. I am not a morning person, so this process is painful and messy to watch. Afterward, I hit the local library and write from 9am till about 11am. I like to get in 1500 words a session, and usually come in just above or below that. Once done, I spend another hour beta reading other works, sending emails, and finishing odds and ends (like answering interview questions). The it’s lunchtime. After lunch, I’ll spend some time on social media. Side note, I am not a fan of social media (okay, being real, I kinda hate it), but it’s a valuable tool for authors, so I make time for it. And then the kids are home from school and the author stuff is essentially over for the day.


Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?

Write. Every. Day! This sounds like an obvious bit of advice, but it must be said. I used to be very guilty of this. I would take a few days off, or even a week or two, while writing. Inevitably, when I returned to it, I would waste a whole day just trying to get the feel for it again. You can’t beat the momentum everyday writing creates.


Describe your writing style.

I would say visceral and descriptive. I want you to really see the space, to smell the stink, to taste the decay. Gross, I know, but it’s what I shoot for.


What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

I always start with a few paragraphs describing the idea. From there, I begin outlining. I’m definitely team plotter (in the great plotter vs pantser debate), and as such, like to break down almost the entire book before I actually start drafting. My reliance on plotting has burned me in the past though, as a small change early in one particular project snow-balled into a complete rewrite by the end. Because of that, I try and leave some wiggle room in the story during the plotting phase.


What is your writing Kryptonite?

Video games! I am a sucker for video games. The worst thing I can do is sit down and “just play for twenty minutes or so”, because that will be the next three hours of my life, and there goes my writing time.


Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Great question! I would say I try and straddle the line. On the one hand, I want the creative freedom to write whatever the old grey matter conjures up. But, on the other hand, I am trying to be successful and as such, I have to be, at the very least, aware of the marketability of what I’m are writing.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I spent a lot of years trying to tone down my writing voice, only to realize after a lot of heartache, that it was a mistake. At the end of the day, every story has been told, nothing is truly new or unique, so all that matters is how you tell it. Younger me would have benefited well from such advice.


How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I haven’t written all that many yet, but I would say, on average, about a year.


Do you believe in writer’s block?

I absolutely do! Thankfully, I’ve not felt it much myself, but I have friends that suffer from this to a debilitating degree. It is real and it is awful.

C.M. Forest, also known as Christian Laforet, is the author of the novel Infested, as well as the novella We All Fall Before the Harvest. A self-proclaimed horror movie expert, he spent an embarrassing amount of his youth watching scary movies. When not writing, he lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife, kids, three cats and a pandemic dog named Sully who has an ongoing love affair with a blanket.

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