40,000 Words Deep

I finally made it to my next 10k word milestone. I finished my first draft and powered through beginning to end. I created the skeleton of a novel. Going through the first edit I cut thousands of words, but then added thousands more. Now my story has the bones and a few ligaments. And most important, it has heart.

I hope my skeleton/book analogy made sense. I’m running on caffeine right now. With Miles working over time, that means I work overtime.

Back to writing/reading/entertaining/playing/tucking in/tucking in again.

Have a great night you guys.♥

-Rachel McKee

Don’t Trash That Novel

If you are struggling with your manuscript and you need someone to ask you questions that challenge and stretch your novel to the max, then you should read “The Breakout Novelist: How To Craft Novels That Stand Out And Sell” by Donald Maass.

Here is my experience:

A lot was missing in my novel when I wrote the first draft. I expected the first, second, and third drafts to be rough, but I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know how to shape my story. I needed help, but I didn’t want to hand off a first draft for review. I felt like a protective mama bear guarding her little newborn cub.


I also felt helpless and that I failed as a writer. I was ready to trash my novel.

Another writer suggested that I read “The Breakout Novelist” (TBN). He said, “Maass’ book is THE writing book to read if you are writing a novel.”

I took his advice and read TBN. It really is the best tool I have used to develop my story.

The Breakout Novelist

The problem with my first draft was that it was shallow. TBN asked probing questions about premise, stakes, characters, plot, theme, and so much more. I’ve been able to add depth to every aspect of my novel. My second draft has substance and a clear understanding as to what my novel is about. Every character has substance and aren’t just “filler” characters.

TBN has taken me a very long time to read, but purely by choice. I applied every point Maass made to my story. I didn’t ignore a single suggestion because I could clearly see how each one stretched and shaped my novel into something better. Maass also provided exercises to help the writer apply these concepts to their manuscript.

I’m glad I wrote the first draft blindly. There was something very holistic in writing from my heart with no other voice chiming in, but then I was stuck. My mental wall was growing taller every day and I’m so grateful that I found TBN when I did. It truly saved my sanity and my novel. I had to share this helpful tool in case someone else needed guidance.

Happy writing,

Rachel McKee


Writing Romantic Scenes

This is an impromptu post fueled by  white wine and a desperate need for empathy. In other words, I’m wine writing and I “Blame it on the ah ah ah ah ah alcohol.” – Thank you Jamie Foxx.

I’m struggling to write sex romantic scenes between my protagonists. Every time I approach a steamy passage I get so embarrassed I just skip it. I’ve written around, over, and under, three romantic scenes because I get so bashful. I am not a prude, why is this happening?!

I have been a romance reader since I was twelve. I was sneaking Harlequin romances from my Mom’s collection before I was wearing a training bra. I haven’t been this awkward about sex since a boy in middle school asked me to “come sit on his lap and talk about the first thing that pops up.” (And since I can still feel the horror of that invitation, let me tell you I sent a very swift declination his way.)

The wine is helping immensely, and I was able to write one of the risqué passages in my novel. What do you do when you are writing romance? Is this a problem for anyone else? Do I become a temporary alcoholic until my novel is finished?

Cheers, (literally)

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


Three Distractions That Kill Writing

Since I began writing my YA novel I have become incredibly efficient at everything other than writing. My house is cleaner than it’s been before my son was born. My office is organized, my kitchen is tidy and de-cluttered. We rearranged the furniture and I planted my hanging baskets.

Every time I think, I should get back to my book, a new chore pops into my head that has to get done right away. Procrastination is fickle, ever-changing, and a writers worst nemesis. Aside from chores, here are the main culprits of distraction that I battle every day.


Oh sitcoms, you are my downfall. F.R.I.E.N.D.S, The Golden Girls, The Middle, and many more. I could easily lose days watching these shows. It’s so tempting to zone out when my son is sleeping and just let the television entertain me.

Turn off the damn television Rachel.


Here are the tabs I currently have open on my screen:

  • Amazon
  • Redfin
  • Yahoo
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Etsy
  • WordPress (duh)

Poor little Microsoft Word is minimized at the bottom of my screen and shovedlike a pair of dirty socks out of my immediate visual proximity.

I can justify WordPress because I’m writing and engaging with other writers, but the rest of the tabs I should just close up and put away for an indefinite while. They are total time-sucks. I spend so much time reading about other people’s success (real or otherwise) when I should be focusing on my own goals.

Close the damn tabs Rachel.


Reading is valuable research, but also my deadliest procrastination. If someone told me I had to chose one source of entertainment to pick, reading would win hands-down every time. Aside from spending time with my friends and family, reading is my greatest joy. It’s my drug and my own YA book pays for  my addiction.

My Solution: Balance

To complete our goals we all need balance. If I gave 100% to my goals, I would burn out and I can’t allow my patience to extinguish, because my husband and son need me too. I have given up A LOT of my television time, that addiction was by far the easiest to weed-out. I’ve tried cutting back on the internet, but it’s more persistent and follows me wherever I go (hello smart phone). So I try really hard to just check my notifications, and I don’t allow much scrolling. I focus on the most important media outlet (WordPress) and spend most of my time there. I still get sucked in, but I’m working on it.

As far as reading goes, I am only reading one book at a time and I allow myself to read AFTER I write before bed. I also sneak pages in while my son is playing or during nap time. I’m a firm believer that reading is critical for writers, and I simply refuse to deprive myself of the joy of reading.

What are some of the deadliest distractions to your writing? How do you battle your procrastination demons? Let me know in the comments below.

I gotta go, my Microsoft Word icon looks sad and neglected at the bottom of my screen.