By Patricia Crisafulli

After the publication of my novel, The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor, I couldn’t wait to write the sequel, The Secrets of Still Waters Chasm. And now I am polishing the third book in the series.

While I have been repeatedly told and I know the importance of publicizing my novels, that hasn’t been where I’ve wanted to focus too much of my energy. Like most writers: I approached the idea of marketing and self-generated P.R. as a necessary evil.

But then I had an epiphany as I was coming up with ideas for blogs on two websites where I am a regular contributor about writing and creativity. After further thought I realized these blogs aren’t just “marketing material” for my books. They have value in and of themselves and help define what I call my writing life.

That realization changed everything. Now I see it as a privilege and a joy to share my experiences along the way of what one magazine called my bold journey. That journey did not lead to a destination called “being a novelist”—whatever that means. Perhaps the writing life means more than just writing our novels.

  • It’s not selling—it’s creating community. Of course, we want to sell more books. But if that’s the only reason we post blogs and drop podcasts, we’re missing a bigger opportunity. Whether we write on our own website (as I do on or for other sites (for me, that includes and we’re connecting with others and creating community that’s measured in more than followers and likes. The value is in the conversations generated with others. When someone shares a link or posts a comment (as I hope you will with this blog), it means I’ve said something that resonates with and helps others in the community. That’s rewarding.
  • Paying back and paying it forward. We may write alone, but it’s not a solitary endeavor. Our journeys are marked with milestones of encouragement, helpful feedback, and guidance from others. Looking back, I am grateful for so many people—from my tenth-grade world history teacher who was the first to call me “a good writer” to an editor who saw the potential in my stories to develop a mystery series. Now it’s my turn to encourage other writers via blogs, articles, and podcasts—as well as a “how to write a mystery” intensive class I’ll be teaching this summer. We all know how scary it is to put our writing “out there”—to venture beyond our comfort zone into the realm of possibilities. If we can help other writers find their courage, we pay back what we’ve received—and pay it forward with gratitude.
  • Embracing abundance. If your nagging inner voice is anything like mine, it has probably kicked up by now with a chorus that goes something like this: Between having a day job, a family, pets, and a household, there isn’t that much time left for my book! I simply can’t do all this other writing … It’s true that time is a finite commodity—we only have so much of it. But the creative life is one of abundance. We have enough time, energy, and ideas to write our books as well as the blogs, articles, and essays that are expressions of our writers’ journey (and, yes, help publicize our books). There are a few ground rules, of course: Don’t overcommit, Write on topics that are of keen interest, and (this is the big one) Make more time by cutting down on distractions.

The stories we tell are not limited to what appears between the covers of our books. They can be found every place we share our thoughts, ideas, and experiences. That’s what a full writing life looks like.

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patricia cristafelliPatricia Crisafulli is an award-winning writer and a New York Times bestselling author. Her first novel, The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor, was published by Woodhall Press in 2022, and her second, The Secrets of Still Waters Chasm, was published in September 2023. Follow Patricia on Instagram, or connect with her on on