Prayers At Night

The moon paints a silver path

along the river that sings hymns to my heart.

Following the path with my eyes,

my sinful soul could never walk on water.

I gaze at the holy trail that divides

an army of dark giants,

guarding the snow-capped temple.

On a pew of river rock, I fall to my knees.



Rachel McKee

Writing Anxiety

I’ve been struggling for a few weeks with writing anxiety. Every time I  think about my novel my heart races and I want to break down and cry. I’m beating myself up for starting a novel in the first place. Why is novel-writing so much harder than essay-writing for me?

After researching writing anxiety, I found an article on The Writing Center’s website at The University of North Carolina that explains writing anxiety and writer’s block:

“Writing anxiety” and “writer’s block” are informal terms for a wide variety of apprehensive and pessimistic feelings about writing. These feelings may not be pervasive in a person’s writing life. For example, you might feel perfectly fine writing a biology lab report but apprehensive about writing a paper on a novel. You may confidently tackle a paper about the sociology of gender but delete and start over twenty times when composing an email to a cute classmate to suggest a coffee date. In other words, writing anxiety and writers’ block are situational (Hjortshoj 7). These terms do NOT describe psychological attributes. People aren’t born anxious writers; rather, they become anxious or blocked through negative or difficult experiences with writing.”

In my particular case, the term writing anxiety is more accurate than writer’s block. I’ve never felt this type of anxiety associated with writing.

My anxiety is from writing about the unknown. In college, I wrote academic papers, and I’ve done a lot of personal essay writingbasically I’ve written a lot of non-fiction. Aside from a few poems, this novel is my first attempt at fiction and it’s a HUGE project. My expectations are too high for my first draft. I’m frustrated with the narrative discourse, and I’m having a really hard time grasping my character’s motivation. My story is all over the place and I need a way to wrangle it together.

I made a rookie mistake; I didn’t have a thorough outline. By using Jamie Gold’s romance beat sheet, I’m able to observe and organize my novel on a high-level and dissect the details.

I’m still dealing with writing anxiety, but the beat sheet has given me new direction. I also found a few methods for coping with writing anxiety that I would like to share with you:

  • Brainstorm/Outline/Organize

Sometimes you have to take a few steps back from your project and instead of writing your story you have to build your story. This is where the beat sheet can be extremely helpful.

  • Free Write

Give yourself 10 minutes with a pen and paper and  write whatever you want about your current project. If you can’t think of anything, or your mind goes blank, just write “nothing” “blank” “blah” until something comes, but you have to commit 10 minutes.

  • Find A Writing Buddy

Find someone who you can share ideas with and who is open for peer review. Try to find someone who has experience reading/writing the same genre you are writing. You will get invaluable feedback and will help with creative isolation.

Have you struggled with writing anxiety? How did you push through it?

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee




Book Review: Haven River



“Sixteen-year-old Luke Conway is in his last year of high school in the harbour side town of Haven River.

Writing is Luke’s life. All he wants to do is be a journalist and write stories about storm chasers.

But Ryan, Luke’s protective older brother and guardian, has other ideas.

When Luke meets newcomer to town, the mischievous Jamie Pascoe, his world is turned upside down.

Tragedy strikes and Luke is catapulted down a path of self-destruction.

Can Luke overcome the odds pitted against him? To make Jamie proud of him. To hold on tight to his family. To follow his dream on his own terms.”

 Haven River is a sweet, touching, tender story of a young boy named Luke and his four brothers all trying to live and cope with the loss of their parents. The five boys all have their own way of coping and their own unique passions.

Luke is a relatable sixteen-year-old boy. He is lovable, and sweet, and you will root for him throughout the entire story. Haven River is a quick read, but the young love, family bond, and tragic loss will touch your heart.

Remember the post, In Support Of Indie Authors, where I talk about reading more self-published books? Haven River by Casey Fae Hewsen is the first self-published novel that I have read. I am happy to announce that it crushed the doubt I had about quality and self-publishing. Hewsen produced literary merit, and proved that authors don’t always need a big publishing house.

You can learn more about Casey Fae Hewseon on her author website.

Happy Reading.

Rachel McKee

Picture Pick FriYAY: Northern California

Hello blog buddies! Happy FriYAY! Today I want to share with you some pictures from our Northern California trip in January, 2013. We visited Point Reyes National Seashore and Castello di Amorosa. (The most beautiful winery I have ever seen.)

Miles and I visited my brother (Shane) and my sister-in-law (Jen) while my brother was stationed in Petaluma, California. This trip was pre-kiddos, which seems so long ago. Wow, how our lives have changed in three years!

Point Reyes National Seashore






Shane & Jen at “H” Ranch.
Me & Miles at “H” Ranch.
We are goofey.


Castello di Amorosa

“Castello di Amorosa appears to be an authentic castle for one reason only: it is an authentic castle, though fancified. We either used construction methods and materials that would have been used 1,000 years ago, or we used very old hand-made materials that had survived up to modern times. A fireplace predating Christopher Columbus adorns the Great Hall, and Iron Maiden from the late Renaissance dominates the torture chamber. A wrought iron dragon from the times of Napoleon hovers over the massive main door. More than 8,000 tons of stone were chiseled, not sawed, by hand to be absolutely authentic. Nearly 200 containers of old, hand made materials were shipped from Europe to lend authenticity.” (Castello di Amorosa-Blog)





I’m standing in the doorway to one of the surrounding buildings of Castello di Amorosa.
Miles is standing in front of an outer building at Castello di Amorosa.

If you have any questions about the places that I feature, the trip, or the photography itself, please ask away in the comment section. I would be happy to answer your questions. Unless it’s photography-technique related, I will have Miles answer those.

I encourage you to read about the fascinating history behind Castello di Amorosa on their blog.

The white barn that we are standing in at Point Reyes is called “H Ranch”. The hisorical barn is a relic from early dairy settlers who built their dairy farms at Point Reyes during the 19th century. The land was plotted and given a letter in the alphabet to represent each farm. To read more about early dairy farming at Point Reyes visit the National Park Service website here.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

Author interview with Tiffany McDaniel

MysteryDateWithaBook has some really good author interviews. Go check them out!

Mystery Date With a Book

Author: Tiffany McDaniel

Book: The Summer That Melted Everything

Published on: 26th July 2016

I had the opportunity to read Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel “The Summer That Melted Everything” back in July and let me tell you, we can expect great things from her! For those of you who haven’t read it yet, you can see my spoiler-free review of her book right here.

Now let’s get down to business, shall we?

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Four Reasons To Make Time For Your Soul Friends

I spent a lot of time with my girls this weekend. I am lucky to have many groups of friends, but these are my soul friends. I have known these women since high school, and a couple since first grade. They are the friends that are family, who know me better than I know myself at times. The friends who call my bullshit and know how to calm my deepest fears. They always have my back, and I theirs. Anyway, you get the point.

We all get busy with our own lives (family, work, etc.) but it’s important to us that we make time to see each other. They are a critical part of my life. Urban Dictionary describes the word framily as, “When friends become like family, they’re framily. closer than close, they may know you better than your own family.” I think that sums up our relationship better than any other word.

Here are four reasons why we all need to make time for our soul friends.


Only you and your soul friends find your shared stories: ab-ripping, snorting, pee-your-pants funny. You are the group of girls at a restaurant that people request not to be seated by because you are laughing so loud and obnoxiously that they can’t enjoy their meal. Talking with your soul friends is intoxicating.

group photo saltys


Your soul friends help you discover your deepest worries and fears, and better yet, they help you to solve them.

paddle boarding


Your soul friends will tell you the ugly truth, and love you anyway.



Your soul friends will believe in your dreams, even when you can’t possibly see how you will achieve them. By watching your soul friends succeed you revel in their success. You celebrate every acheivement with your soul friends.

Wedding At Whistler

Always make time for your “framily”. Fight for these friendships.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

Picture Pick FriYAY!: Wallace Falls

I hope everyone had a great week. I’ve been battling a cold so I’m a bit groggy, if I have any crazy typos I blame the cold medicine.

Two weeks ago, we hiked Wallace Falls located in Gold Bar, Washington. It’s about a five-mile hike round-trip if you go to the very top of the falls. We had a great time. Leif soaked up all the nature he could handle on the way up in his backpack, and then slept on the way down (What a way to hike, right?). We brought Zeus along too. He was a little resentful that he had to stay on the leash, but it was a really busy day and sometimes a super happy rottweiler can look like a crazy attack rottweiler to parents and children.

Have a wonderful weekend, I’m going paint-balling (is that a verb?) for the first time today. I’m definitely going to be the wounded gazelle that gets picked-off first.

Wallace Falls Hike Washington


Wallace Falls Hike Washington

Wallace Falls Hike Washington

Wallace Falls Hike Washington

Wallace Falls Hike Washington

Wallace Falls Hike Washington

Wallace Falls Hike Washington Wordsworth

Happy FriYAY!

-Rachel McKee


30,000 Words Deep

I reached 30k words on my YA story last night. Every time I hit another 10k word milestone, I think to myself, there’s no way I can write another 10k words, then, somehow, I do.

Fun/Frustrating Fact: My poor book still does not have a name, (a book has no name, the book who shall remain nameless).

You guys, writing a book is hard. It is the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. Every day I call myself crazy for even trying. I get overwhelmed by plot details, and maintaining realistic dialogue. Every day I give up. But after my son is tucked in for the night, and I pass the office next to his room, my computer glows and beckons me to write and I answer its call. I turn off my inner dialogue and I write.

girl typing computer glow

I write exactly how I see each scene unfolding. I picture the characters and how they look, their gestures, mannerisms. I’m constantly asking myself, how do they feel, and what do they want right now? I worry about the “what ifs” when I finally lay my head down to sleep, I worry about them when I clean the sink, or when I cook dinner. I don’t allow the overwhelming fear of failure to creep in when I’m writing.

You guys play a crucial role in my motivation. Your kind words of encouragement and motivation give me the kick that I need to keep going. The beautiful stories you share on your blogs inspire me, and chatting with you in the comments section gives me community. For that, I am forever grateful.

I’ve talked this darn book up so much, I don’t want to be the chump that doesn’t finish.

Love and Cheers,

-Rachel McKee


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