Denise D. Young


Surviving a Creative Dry Spell


I have been absent from the blogosphere for a while, taking a sort of mini-sabbatical. In the past two months I’ve rekindled my love of poetry, discovered the perfect banana bread recipe, and mostly just tried to figure out my next steps.

It happened like this: I was going strong, often writing 2,500 words a day. I was churning out manuscripts like crazy. Three years ago, I left my magazine writing job, and it was like all of these stories that had been bottled up for years came pouring out. And then, one day, I woke up, and that creative deluge was gone.

At first I thought it was writer’s block, but the feeling wasn’t the same. When I have writer’s block, I desperately want to write, and can’t. This feeling was different, a sense that I no longer wanted to write.

I’m a very driven person, and I need goals to focus on. Without those goals, I started to drift, feeling like I was wandering aimlessly through life, completely disconnected from my creativity. I had, in short, entered a dry spell.

I almost gave up on it, losing faith that I would ever again pen fiction. I tried to write new stories, but my imagination couldn’t cook up plots. I read articles about authors like Ursula Le Guin, inspiring tales of the creative process. It didn’t help. I still couldn’t write.

One day, I sat down in the café of a Barnes & Noble, my laptop in front of me. “Write something,” I told myself, unable to drift any longer. “Anything.” If I couldn’t write anymore, I’d decided, I would create a new goal. I dreamt up possibilities, but nothing stuck. I longed for the days when stories flowed like spring rivers fed by melting snowpack. I longed for the days when every moment held creative possibility. My creativity had always defined me, and it seemed to have disappeared.

That day in Barnes & Noble, I wrote a poem, the lamentation of a dragon whose kind have lost a war and are on the verge of extinction. If I couldn’t write fiction, I would write something else, I decided. I came home that day with hope that I could, once again, create.

I wish I could say that that day the dam broke. But it wasn’t like that. It was more the feeling of the first fat drops of rain falling on your head. A splatter here, a splatter there, but not yet creative energy in full force.

Drop by drop, my creative energy is returning. Perhaps what I felt was creative burnout, the result of penning story after story and setting completely unrealistic expectations for myself, expectations that went against my own creative process.

My plan is to publish another short story later this year, a piece titled Silver’s Stray. I’m not going to push myself to meet a lot of deadlines. I’m not going to set crazy goals. My goals are simple:

  • To really work on my author platform
  • To finish and polish Silver’s Stray and publish it by the end of the year
  • To finish and polish Spirits of Embers, a short story, and submit to at least one magazine
  • To launch my editing business

That’s it. I took a detour, saw a glimpse of what my life would be like without the creative drive that I wake to each day. It’s a drive to write something, anything—a journal entry, a spell, a story, a poem, a blog post. It’s a drive to create, however quickly or slowly. It’s a drive to give something meaningful to the world.

Have you ever gone through a creative dry spell? How did you handle it? How were you able to begin to create again?

denise signature

A Midweek Check-In—and a Request

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’m on sort of a mini-sabbatical. I feel like I pushed so hard with my writing for a few months, and I’m feeling a little burned out. I’m hoping a few weeks off will help me recharge my batteries.

So there’s not much to report on the writing front. I do need to do some editing to my short story Silver’s Stray and send it to my critique partners. We’re meeting later this month, so I hope to dig into that story tomorrow and Friday and get it sent to my CPs.

As far as reading, I just finished reading Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie. It was a little darker than I remembered it being at some points, but I hadn’t read it since grad school, so it was time for a reread. My mother-in-law lent me Shadow of Night and The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, so I think I’ll dig into those next.

I do have a request, though. I published two novelettes last week, The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key, and I’m offering free review copies to whoever wants them. A free e-book in exchange for an honest review. Let me know in the comments or via my contact page if you’re interested. And thanks in advance!

Click here to connect with other ROW80 participants.

What about you? How is your writing coming along? Have you ever taken the time to reread a book you haven’t read in years? Did the reread surprise you in any way? Are you interested in a free review copy of one of my stories? Let me know!

denise signature

Midweek ROW80 check-in

The big news for this week is that my novelettes The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key are now available on Amazon. Besides that, I haven’t managed to get a whole lot of writing done.

I’m trying to get in the habit of going for an evening walk. We’re fortunate enough to live right next to a park full of nature trails, so I’m trying to get out as often as I can and go exploring. It’s good for the body and, I think, for the mind to, just to wander under the trees.

This week’s check-in:

Writing: My writing time this week, so far, has been dedicated to getting my novelettes The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key uploaded to Amazon. Now that they’re officially live, I’d like to switch to revising either Spellfire’s Kiss or A Prince in Patience Point. I’d like to have those two books revised by the end of the year. I also have two short stories, Spirits of Embers and Silver’s Stray, that I’d like to finish.

Reading: I’m currently rereading Peter and Wendy, mostly because I’ve been reading darker books and wanted something lighter—although there’s an edge to Peter and Wendy that I didn’t remember, and some comic moments. I especially liked this line:

“Mrs. Darling loved to have everything just so, and Mr. Darling had a passion for being exactly like his neighbors; so, of course, they had a nurse.”

I guess people were keeping up with the Joneses, even then!

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What are you reading? Do you enjoy long nature walks?

denise signature

Now Available: “The Beltane Kiss” and “The Faerie Key”

It’s official; my novelettes The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key are now available on Amazon. The stories follow the McAllister sisters as they find romance and are drawn into a world of faerie magic.

More info:


The Beltane Kiss fantasy romance book cover(Into the Faerie Forest: Book One)

Daisy McAllister would do anything to save her sister, Lily, plunged into an endless sleep by faerie magic. Even enter a forbidden wood.

But braving the forest means facing the “lord” of the manor—wealthy recluse Rhett Fairshadow. He sees himself as a guardian, protecting humans from the fae who inhabit his land.

When a determined Daisy meets an angry Rhett one Beltane night, sparks fly.

THE BELTANE KISS is a novelette of approximately 11,000 words.


“The magic in this story really sparkles, and the fae episodes are eerie and haunting.”— Amelia Denyven Ross

Now available at Amazon.



The Faerie Key fantasy romance book cover(Into the Faerie Forest: Book Two)

A simple protection spell. What could go wrong?

Lily McAllister learns that spells can backfire when her magical dabbling summons a house-elf to her door—a six-foot-something, muscled house-elf with glittering green eyes.

But Neer has a history, too, and soon his past catches up with him, forcing him and Lily into the faerie forest. Together they will face the perils within.

THE FAERIE KEY is a novelette of approximately 14,000 words.

Now available at Amazon.


denise signature

Stuck…but determined to move forward

Ever since I left my teaching job, the words have been flying as fast as I could type them. I had a plan, clear goals and was zooming toward them. And then, two weeks ago, I just got stuck. And I couldn’t seem to get unstuck.

It was partly the dose of reality that hit me. I realized that I couldn’t afford to publish books at the rate I wanted to. Could I write at that pace? Sure. Could I publish that many books without going broke? Uh, no.

That led to a lot of thinking and rethinking about my path. At the present, I think I’m going to aim for a hybrid path, submitting some of my books to publishers while self-publishing my short stories.

So last night I became determined to write something—anything. Just open a Word document and type a few words. As I was drifting off to sleep, a story idea came to me. So this afternoon I wrote—a little. I wrote a whopping 429 words in a middle-grade novel. Will I ever finish it? Who knows? But it got me unstuck and moving forward. My next goal is to revise Spellfire’s Kiss and get it ready for submission. So in the coming weeks I want to move forward with that.

My ROW80 check-in:

Writing: Wrote 429 words in a middle-grade story about triplets who find out they’re witches. A little cliché, I know, but after two weeks of no writing, I’ll take it and see where it goes. I’ve also been doing a lot of business things for writing: getting a PO Box, creating a new checking account for royalties and expenses, creating a spreadsheet to track the same, buying ISBNs, etc. I have a plan in place for the rest of the year. Now I just have to act on it.

Reading: Finished The Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee last night and really enjoyed it. If you like fantasy with a mystery thrown in, I highly recommend this one.

Other goals: I haven’t gotten into an exercise regimen yet. I want to add some yoga and long walks to my daily routine. I did manage to paint the downstairs hallway, so hometending is coming along. I’m also trying to utilize other creative outlets as well. I’ve added some scrapbooking supplies to my Amazon cart for my next order, and last night I baked a loaf of banana bread that turned out well (I think the sour cream the recipe called for helped the bread stay nice and moist).

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How do you get unstuck creatively? Have you read any good books lately?

denise signature

Oh? I need a budget?

In our house, I’m the budgeting nerd. I’m the one who knows how much things cost and how much we can save each month.

Which is why I was confused when, the past couple months, we hadn’t really been saving. I looked at the numbers and saw why: We were pouring a lot of money into launching my indie author career.

There are the normal expenses, such as editing, proofreading, cover design, web hosting, RWA dues, etc. And then there were expenses I didn’t expect, such as getting a P.O. Box because, apparently, you have to make your address public to create a newsletter through MailChimp. Lesson learned. I also found out that I need to apply for a copyright on my work, which costs about $35 per work. And I need to buy ISBNs.

It’s going to take some sacrificing, and it means slowing down a little, but really, I needed to slow down anyway and give each story time to become whatever it needs to be. Time for the characters to whisper in my ear and reveal their secrets. Time to add layers to my stories.

And, going forward, I actually have a budget for my indie author business instead of just randomly paying editors and designers. Yet another lesson learned.

A midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing: The Faerie Key is finished! I had one scene that really wasn’t working, but I hunkered down and dug in deep, and now it’s where I want it to be. My plan for the rest of the week is to finish the second draft of Silver’s Stray. Next week I’d like to start revisions on Spellfire’s Kiss.

Reading: I’m currently reading Harvest Hunting by Yasmine Galenorn, and it’s an enjoyable, fast-paced read full of magic and adventure. I haven’t read any craft books this week, but I need to read Let’s Get Visible and finish reading The Anatomy of Story.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What lessons have you learned on your creative journey? Any cost-saving tips for a new author?

denise signature

When a List is the Solution

It’s no secret that I have a lot of WIPs. So many that at times it makes my head spin. Sometimes I’ll write a few pages of a story and realize that it’s not going anywhere, and I’m okay with setting those stories aside indefinitely. But I have a number of projects begging for revision, or stories with a lot of potential that I’m determined to finish.

That’s where the almighty list comes in. I’ve created a list with four categories: stories that are finished (only one in that column so far, soon to be two), stories to be revised, stories with uncompleted first drafts, and stories that may or may not be completed.

My goal, then, is to go from one category to another. So first, I’ll revise a story from the “stories to be revised” list, and then finish an uncompleted tale. And, of course, along the way new stories will pop up, and I’ll try to make room for those, too.

A midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Honestly, there’s not much to report so far. I finished a read-through of The Faerie Key. I don’t want to make major changes to it at this stage, but there’s one scene that needs a little bit of work before it’s ready. I’ve uploaded a number of my WIPs to my Kindle for read-throughs. I’m not sure I’ll finish everything I set out to do this week, but hopefully I can at least finish a draft of Autumn Ember.

Reading: I’m currently reading Harvest Hunting by Yasmine Galenorn. She writes these wonderful, fast-paced stories featuring kick-butt heroines, and I’m enjoying the story so far.

Click here to check in with fellow ROW80 participants.

What about you? Do you work on multiple projects at once? If so, how do you balance them?

denise signature

Sunday Summary

ROW80LogocopyWriting: Wrote 4,323 words in Autumn Ember, a retelling of Cinderella. Did a final read-through of The Beltane Key. It had some formatting issues, but hopefully those are resolved. I think it’s ready to be uploaded! Did some edits to Silver’s Stray, a short story, and sent it to a beta reader. I have her comments back and need to dig into those after I did a final read-through of The Faerie Key. Goals for the upcoming week:

  • Final read-through of The Faerie Key
  • Revise Silver’s Stray.
  • Finish a first draft of Autumn Ember.
  • Possibly start After the Tower, a Rapunzel retelling that’s been rattling around in my brain for ages.

Reading: Read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was amazing (not surprisingly). Read Taming the Dragon by Kendra Leigh Castle, which wasn’t bad, although I thought the other stories I read by her were better. And I read Under a New Year’s Enchantment by Barbara Monajem, and loved it. I’m not even sure read is the right word. I devoured it.

Life: The kitchen and dining room are painted! They just needed a fresh coat of paint to brighten things up, and the rooms look so much better, fresher and more cheerful. Took a few short walks, but no real exercise this week. Lazy, I know.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How are your writing goals coming along? What did you read this week? Have you done any home improvements this summer—or do you have any planned for the fall?

denise signature

Countdown to Publication

The Beltane Kiss fantasy romance book coverI’ve chosen September 6 as the release date for two of my short stories, The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key. That gives me a little more than a month before those stories are out in the world. Both stories are back from the proofreader, all edits are made, and they’re currently on my Kindle, awaiting one final read-through. I’m hoping (knock wood!) that I’ve done the formatting correctly—that’s something I’ll be checking when I do the last read-through.

Wow. This has been a long journey. I graduated with my M.F.A. in 2008, and I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs on this journey so far. In some ways it’s still overwhelming because I don’t know what to expect. Will I even make back the money I’ve spent on editing and proofreading and cover design and all the miscellaneous expenses associated with my writing business? How badly will my first negative review sting? Will I ever receive an email from a reader who was inspired or moved by my work?

Unknowns. There are a lot of those. Ten years ago they would’ve driven me crazy. Today, although I’d like to know more, I feel like I’ve accepted that the unknown is just part of life. Being an indie author means embracing a level of uncertainty and carrying on without knowing exactly what will happen.

Overall I’m excited. I want to share my stories with readers, to get my characters out of my head and off my computer and into the hands of others so their stories can somehow be solidified, so my characters can live.

One month to go.

Lastly, an ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Did a read-through of Silver’s Stray, a short story, did some editing, and sent that piece off to a beta reader. I’m hoping to get comments on Spirits of Embers, another short story, soon and to get that piece edited and submitted to magazines this month. Entered my proofreader’s changes to The Faerie Key. The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key are formatted and are now on my Kindle, awaiting final read-throughs. And then begins the process of uploading files to KDP.

Reading: Read Taming the Dragon by Kendra Leigh Castle. It was a cute story. I just bought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and am looking forward to reading that one.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? If you’re an indie author, any suggestions for a newbie? Are you reading the new Harry Potter book? Thoughts (but no spoilers!)?

denise signature

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: