Need advice on writing your first novel? Karyn Rae has all the tips you need!

Yes, writing a novel sounds crazy, far-fetched, time consuming, overwhelming and tedious. Write it anyway.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 10.04.06 AMThe people who you expect unwavering support from may not give it to you, but giving up on your dream because someone tells you to stop dreaming is an excuse. Don’t buy into other people’s expectations of your life.

Research everything! This is a big one because not all of us have traveled the world and lived every experience. As a writer, you need to have the ability to tap into all of your senses by just looking at a picture, imagining every element of the moment.

Perspective is the key to career happiness. The last two years have certainly had ups and downs, but where I am now: a publishing company, one book published, halfway through book #2, an amazing editor and over seven hundred books sold in eleven weeks – I’m ecstatic to be here.

Don’t be afraid of anything. Don’t hold yourself back if you want to write about Switzerland, just because you haven’t been there. Don’t get pigeonholed into formal grammar rules when writing the dialogue of a country boy – he’s country, he is fixin’ to do somethin’ and it ain’t a big deal. Don’t tone down a sex scene because your grandma won’t like it – grandma doesn’t have to read it, and sometimes you’d be surprised about grandma! Don’t shy away from the work, because the work is what makes the finished product worth the risk.

“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway: I love the honest savagery in this quote. It’s so true! Just get the words on the paper. This has become a way of life for me, because otherwise, I’d spend an hour on one paragraph, and I don’t have that kind of time.

Make the time to write. I wrote my first novel from 10pm-2am, with two toddlers under my wing. Looking back, that seems crazy to me! I was hungry for the story, and by the time everyone in my house was asleep, I couldn’t wait to escape into my character’s world.

After you finish your novel, step away from it for at least two weeks, more if you can control your willpower. During that time, ideas will come to you and when you go back to make your first round of edits, the story will feel fresh. You’ll get to experience your own novel as a reader and not just the author.

Spend the money to hire an editor, it’s worth every penny, but do your research. My first editor stole my money and made me feel like I was an incompetent novice whenever I asked about the status of my edits. However, per #4 above, I learned about the self-publishing business while I thought she was editing my book. The perspective I have chosen to take towards her is gratitude, and everything happens for a reason. I have a lovely editor now, and I hope she sticks with me for a hundred more books.

Join writing groups. The members are usually a very helpful and knowledgeable bunch of people who can answer questions and give guidance. Once you get yourself established, pay it forward to those who seek your advice. The writing community is a wonderful place to live, and we need to keep it that way.

I hope some or all of this helps any aspiring author out there, convincing them to take the plunge!


Annie Whitman’s ordinary Midwest life is shattered with the sudden death of her husband Jack. Thirty-five and failing at life as a widow, she turns to the comforts of vodka in an attempt to camouflage the cold sheets of an empty bed. The necessary inebriation helps her to cope with Jack’s death, but proves to be a deterrent in recovering any sense of normalcy.

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After spending several months at the bottom of a bottle, Annie stumbles upon a lockbox in the crawl space of her basement. Opening this box also opens her eyes to the likelihood that Jack Whitman might not have been the honest and doting man she married. Annie embarks on a mission to the Virgin Islands to uncover the truth about her husband’s past and seek safety from her brother-in-law, who seems to be the captain of his own sinking ship. While settling into paradise, she meets the wickedly handsome, but surprisingly reserved Kessler Carlisle, who is struggling with his retirement from country music superstardom.

With Kessler’s help, Annie discovers the heart’s uncanny ability to heal, and the possibility that dead men don’t always keep their secrets – even if they’re buried in the Caribbean waters of St. Croix.

The Achilles Heel delves into the formidable fact that everyone harbours darkness, and some will go to the depths of the ocean to keep their secrets hidden.

Karyn Rae is an emerging romantic-suspense author. Her debut novel The Achilles Heel was released in May 2014. She is a member of the Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild. Karyn resides in Missouri with her husband, son, daughter, and chocolate lab – Augusta Mae. The first half of her life was spent in the South, and the last fifteen years have played out in the Midwest, but she’s still holding on to a shred of her Southern roots.

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