Stories that Matter

The Magic Formula

Sharing some thoughts on writing, and life.

So I’m asked this a lot. Mostly in author interviews, occasionally in an email from an aspiring author who just wants a break, wants her words to be seen, heard. “What’s the magic formula?”

I’d tell you if I knew. Honest.


So this is the part I could send you to several sites on how to write well. I could give you the names of my favorite go-to books that would walk you through the process and teach you how to plot the breakout novel or draw a snowflake or fix your sagging middle. I could recommend writer coaches and conferences and critique groups. But first I’d ask you this.

How much do you want it? 

Most writers I know can’t not write. It’s hard-wired into them. Like breathing. So sure, if that’s you and your dream is to eventually get published, you probably know all the things I’d tell you already. And you probably know the truth.

There is no magic formula. 

If there is, I certainly haven’t heard of it. Writing is hard. Writing well is harder. And good books, well-written books, are not published overnight. Do what works for you. For me it was a combination of all of the above, and a lot of hard work. Still is. For every book I finish, I second guess myself and wonder if I did it right. Wonder if readers are going to like it or if it’s going to bomb. I’m pretty sure you won’t find a published author out there who doesn’t share those same thoughts, at least once in a while. Self-doubt is one nasty dude. And there’s no magic formula to get rid of it either. I wish.

Which brings me around to what I really want to say. (The part about life).

Come May, I will have written and released six books, eight if you count the two I re-released after new edits. That’s a lot of books I guess. Not as many as some. But for me. It’s a lot. A lot of writing, re-writing, editing and reading. A lot of creativity and fear and freaking out mixed up with a whole lot of fun. And as I sit staring at the screen, attempting to start something new, (really start, there are a few words written) . . . I’m stalled out, and I had to ask myself why. What is it that’s holding me back? Why can’t I just plunge in and write into the wee hours and hey presto, lovely agent, here’s another book, tell me what you think . . .

Why? Because.

There is no magic formula.

And life. It comes and goes in a flash and I don’t want to miss any of it. And.



There. I said it.

I’m a chick in that not so fun stage of life, you know, where the mood and the body temps run hot and cold and I’m liable to snap your head off for no good reason then hug you hard and burst into tears all at the same time. I’m truly a joy to be around.  And I’m feeling a little bone weary, emotionally drained and all out of energy some days. Much of last year was tough. It took a lot from us. And this year? Who knows what this year holds. So yeah, I’m tired. And I need a break. I haven’t wanted to admit that because it feels like giving up. And I don’t give up. Eight books. Heck no, I don’t give up. So here’s the thing.


That’s it. If you’re still after that magic formula, this is the closest thing to it. Really. It’s all you need to get you where you want to go. Be honest with yourself, not just in your writing, but in your soul care, and the rest will fall into place. It’s the only thing I do know for sure. Be honest.

Something I’ve said from the beginning of my writing career is this – when it’s not fun anymore, stop. Not quit. Stop. Take a breath. Take a break. And wait. Wait for the joy to return. And the world will not end if you do. (I tacked that on there mostly for me).

So that’s where I am. This season. It may be short. It may be long. But it’s what I need. To rest and focus on the good things. To have some fun. Spend time with friends and family. Maybe do a little more traveling. I’ll be launching my brand new website next month, so that’s exciting! I also want to spend more time intentionally connecting with my readers, establishing that community through real relationship. I don’t know if the blog is the place to do that or not. It may be one of many, I’m testing the waters here.  If you’re reading this, I’d love for you to leave a comment so I know you’re out there.

I’ll be hanging out on Facebook, on my Author Page and Reader’s Group, so come find me there. And maybe I will start blogging again more frequently. Who knows. I’ve stepped back a bit here because I didn’t really know what to write for a while.

Will I be writing? Working on the next book? Well. You probably already know the answer to that.


Of course we’re counting down to the release of Where Hope Begins, May 22nd. And I need to be all in for that. Because this book . . . well, this book is probably one of the reasons I’m so tired right now. 🙂 It took. A. Lot. But I believe it was worth it. I know it was worth it. And I cannot wait to share it with you.


We’re definitely going to have some conversations, interesting and heartfelt and all the feels conversations. And I’m figuring out the best place to do that. Where we’ll all be most comfy. So hang in there with me?

Thanks for listening, letting me share and being a part of my community. And if you’re out there feeling a little like me today, know you’re not alone. I’d love to hear from you.



  1. Winnie Thomas on January 22, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    I really do love your writing, Cathy, whether it be books *sigh* or posts like this. You are amazing, dear friend, and don’t forget it!! I think you hit the nail on the head when you said to stop and take a breath or a step back if it’s not fun anymore or if you’re tired. I think when authors push themselves too hard to get books out there, the quality usually suffers.

    You are one of my favorite authors, and I’d hate for you to stop writing, but I can take you slowing down if you need to. 😀 Hugs, my sweet friend, and know that you are loved and appreciated! Take care of yourself and that beautiful family you have.

    • Cathy West on January 22, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      Oh, thank you!! Never fear, I will never stop writing! I will be working on the next book, I’m just not going to kill myself doing it. 🙂 Hugs back, and thank you for being such a faithful reader and friend!

  2. Melody Bis on January 22, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I always love reading your blog posts. They’re heartfelt and inspiring. I hope you keep writing them, but you need to find what works for you. Enjoy your break. You deserve it 🙂

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