My Guests

How You Know You’re a Writer – Guest Post by J.C. McKenzie, Author of Shift Happens

Shift Happens, a paranormal romance by J.C. McKenzieI’m a writer!

First of all, I’d like to thank the wonderful and talented Babette James for hosting me on her blog today. It’s truly an honour to be here.

I’m not sure about other authors, but I had a hard time “coming out” to my friends and colleagues, and didn’t until just recently. For some reason, saying “I’m a writer,” felt and sounded so…deceitful. Like I tried to cover up a sham.

I’ve been writing since Elementary school. I remember being in Mrs. Matthews’ grade 7 class and getting those little hand held word processor things (might be dating myself a bit, here). No, I don’t mean iPads or laptops—their predecessor. I wrote about five stories on them within a week for no reason besides my own personal enjoyment. I went on to write more six-paged “books,” and started asking questions, like “how do you spell pregnant?” which made my dad a little nervous (fyi: I needed the word for my HEA closing sentence—apparently, at age thirteen, I decided HEA meant married and pregnant). In high school, obsessed with Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, I created a whole fantasy world with characters and started writing about a sorceress with untold powers. University sucked a bit of my creativity out of me and my writing went on hiatus, but a few years after graduating, I picked up the pen again—figuratively, since I work off my computer—and and madly started writing down the stories in my head. Now, I’m a published author.

So why do I feel so weird saying I’m a writer? Like I’m some sort of fraud and the “writing police” are going to swoop down and point their fingers at me, yelling, “liar, liar.”

I’m not sure.

Maybe there’s a social stigma around writing and being a writer. I never thought there was before. If someone else told me they were a writer, I’d say, “cool!”

Maybe this all stems from being a socially awkward teenager.

Maybe it’s because the road to publishing is paved with rejection letters and the idea of putting myself out there in a new way to get slammed puts me ill-at-ease.

Whatever the case, I didn’t feel like a writer until my book released on March 27th, 2014, and I don’t think I’ll truly feel comfortable with saying “I’m a writer” until I have the print copy IN MY HANDS in mid-July. And that’s completely silly; absolutely absurd, because I’ve been a writer my whole life. How could I not be a writer before I got published? I had to be, because my book didn’t write itself! Simple logic!

For all of you out there struggling with coming out of the writer’s closet, or struggling to decide whether you are a writer or not, here are a few tips to help you identify yourself. They’re part of my personal mantra to bolster my self-confidence.

You know you’re a writer when:

  1. You ask your husband/wife if he/she can read something, and he’s/she’s suddenly busy (in my case, with xbox)
  2. You have pen marks on your arms and clothes. If you have youngsters, possibly your face as well…or theirs
  3. You get up in the middle of the night to write something down because you HAVE to
  4. Something bad/good/funny happens and you think, “that would make a great story”
  5. Someone’s mean to you and you fantasize about how you’d kill them off if they were a character in your book
  6. Your mood depends on what’s happening in your story
  7. Deleting a scene in your book is the emotional equivalent to stabbing yourself in the heart
  8. You note passive verbs, POV shifts, telling instead of showing, and sentence fragments when you’re reading someone else’s work and wish you could’ve been their critique partner
  9. You even fantasize about how you’d phrase your comments to them
  10. You own a number of notebooks—some filled, some partially filled, most empty—yet you keep buying more.
  11. You like the smell of paper and stationary and may or may not have been banned from Staples by your spouse (or been issued a threat of banishment—true story).
  12. You get mad at yourself for sentencing a likeable character to a literary death
  13. You proofread your status updates for spelling and grammar before posting

If you’re a writer, when and/or how did you know you were a writer? When did you feel comfortable saying it?

If you’re a reader, do you agree with the above picture? What do you think writers do?

I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Amazon! Enter here for a chance to win:


Andy should be solving a mystery, but  she’d rather play wolf. Can she get both jobs done?

Andrea McNeilly’s job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire’s human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can’t afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.

Wick’s job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.

Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.


A large black wolf trotted into the clearing to confront me. He had a white-tipped snout, white boots and mitts and would have looked cute had he not been the most intimidating Werewolf I’d ever seen. Standing tall and solid, power rolled off of his body. His eyes bore into mine. I sniffed the air. The strong Werewolf scent of rosemary swirled around me, strong and seductive, laced with sugar. A weird fuzzy sensation spread out from my chest. Whoa.

My other form growled low, demanding release, straining against my skin. The energy of the wolves built—layers upon layers of excitement and impatience. The air pulsated with anticipation. They could sense the imminent kill.

Let me out! My other form repeated, throwing her power against my built up walls, howling in defiance.

When the energy of the Werewolves surged, I finally released her. My wolf form flowed out fast, wiping out the feline in little more than a heartbeat. Smaller, weaker and the size of a natural wolf, a Shifter in this form was no match for a Werewolf, especially a dominant one. I had time to meet the eyes of the Alpha for only an instant before the pack leapt forward. My limbs shook. It went against every instinct ingrained within me, but I rolled onto my back—submissive.

You can find Shift Happens at: | | |

Available in print and all other electronic formats on July 16th, 2014

J.C. McKenzie, Author of Shift Happens, a paranormal romanceAbout the Author:

Born and raised on the Haida Gwaii, off the West Coast of Canada, J.C. McKenzie grew up in a pristine wilderness that inspired her to dream. She writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

You can find J.C. at:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

 Goodreads | The Wild Rose Press| Amazon


30 thoughts on “How You Know You’re a Writer – Guest Post by J.C. McKenzie, Author of Shift Happens”

  1. J.C., you nailed it! Everything you said, and all 13 ‘how do you know’s’ are true of my journey to author-hood, lol. I’ve written stories in my head since I was a child. I keep a voice recorder by my bed because I often wake up with info I need to add or subtract to my WIP, or ideas for a new story. I just published my second novel. Despite that, I’m still having trouble getting my family/friends/acquaintances to believe I’m a real author because they see it as a ‘nice hobby’ – a problem a lot of my author friends also share. But the day I held a print copy of my first book in my own hands, and understood it was a book I had written (that may sound weird, but it was in the way of being a strange sort of ‘revelation’), that was the day I became an ‘author’ in my own mind.
    Great post. Enjoyed the blurb, too. Best of luck, and congrats on publishing Shift Happens!

    1. Thanks sjmn60! I laughed at your tape recorder by the bed, not laughing at you, but at myself. I wish I had one! I keep waking up in the middle of the night, and try to use my phone, but by the time I’ve tapped my screen, put in my password and scrolled to the right app…I’m asleep again! Why is it our ideas always come at the most inopportune time? Mine are at night and in the middle of my shower! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. I had the same resistance to publicly calling myself a writer before my first book was released. It’s as if, if I couldn’t point to a “product” I had no proof of my claim to artistry. Well, still working on the artistry part. Congrats on your first release and on emerging from your cocoon!

    1. Thanks Ashantay! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way. Sometimes I feel our society really is backwards! Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  3. Hi, JC! Great post! I guess I’ve been a writer from the time I learned how to put marks on a piece of paper before I went to school. Didn’t do anything about it until computers were invented. I had an ongoing war with typewriters. Shows that I’m older than dirt!

    1. I couldn’t imagine trying to write with a typewriter. I think I’d go certifiable! There’s definitely be marks in the drywall from me chucking it at the wall! LOL! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Thank you again Babette for hosting me on your blog today. You have great friends and followers and it’s an honour to gab a little about myself to them. And already I’ve received such a warm welcome!

    Just wanted to add that Shift Happens is on sale right now for $0.99 for a limited time!

    Thanks again 🙂

  5. What a great post! I went through the same thing. I’d been writing stories since grade school, but it wasn’t until I was in my forties and had published my first book that I came out and started calling myself a writer. All those years in between when I was writing and submitting stories, I also felt like a fake. How could I call myself a writer, when no one wanted to read my stories?

    It’s funny the way our minds work!

    1. Hi Susan! That’s why I love writing groups like RWA. They acknowledge the pre-published writer as a person of value. I can completely relate to feeling like a “fake.” Our minds are our worst critics! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  6. So true! Before I was published, I rarely mentioned that I was a writer because if I’d tell that to someone, their next question after “What do you do?” was “Where can I buy your book?” and I’d have to admit the answer was “Nowhere.” It’s very hard to be taken seriously as a writer if you have nothing to show for it. I think I speak for a lot of writers when I say we only call ourselves writers when others – namely publishers and editors – call us writers.

    1. Awe Jana! I know exactly how you feel. i still get a bit of that because my book is only available on Amazon right now. Soon it will be available in print and all other digital formats, but because I’m published with a small publisher, it will never be in Chapters or other Brick and Mortar book stores. When I tell them that, I feel like I’m admitting I’m not a real writer! I need to get over that. And I think you’re right. When others start to use the label, it makes it easier to accept it. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation!

  7. Absolutely loved your post, J.C.! Most of the items on your list mirrors mine, especially 3,6,7,10,12 and 13. I didn’t “feel” comfortable saying I was an writer until I got my signed contract. When I hold my print copy, I will have come full circle. Wishing you all the best with “Shift Happens,” too!

  8. You are so right. I’m the same way.

    I wrote stories in my head since I was a child. My seventh grade teacher loved what I wrote and told my parents that I should be a writer.

    I didn’t actually start writing until I was twenty. Then off and on until thirty-eight, and that’s when I started writing seriously for publication. It took ten years before I was actually epublished. And then another three and half years before I held my first paperback book in my hands.

    The only ones that knew I was writing was my mom, daughter and husband and later my online friends. I didn’t want to tell anyone else because I was afraid I would fail.

    I was stunned when I received my first contract offer and had to have my husband read the email to me, because I thought maybe I was reading it wrong.

    To date, I have three published books and one short story. And a contract for twelve SF romance novels.

    Good luck with your recent release and I wish you many sales.


    1. Oh you nailed it with that fear of failure! I couldn’t quite believe my “we ‘ll publish you” email either, but my husband was out of town for work so I had to read it out loud multiple times and then I gave up and forwarded it to him! Lol! Congrats on your publishing success and thank you for the well wishes and for stopping by to add to the conversation!

  9. What a great post, JC. I could identify with every item on your list. I hated the inevitable question after saying I was a writer–are you published? For years, I had to say not yet. Now it’s fun to say yes!

  10. Yes! Yes to the whole list.
    I only “publicly” came out, umm…. yesterday. My husband and a beta reader nagged at me until I posted about Finaling in a couple of contests in the last few weeks.
    I still haven’t said it out loud though and I’m not sure I feel like a “legitimate writer.”

    1. Well congratulations on “coming out!” Even if it was only electronically and not vocally. One step at a time! And congrats on finaling in the contests. That’s a great accomplishment and definitely where I got the motivation and nudge to take writing more seriously. Plus, it gave me something to beef up my query letters! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  11. I still don’t say I’m a writer, and if I do, it’s almost by accident and I feel I have to explain myself. Part of it is due to the fact that I have a full time job, so writing is unfortunately more of a hobby. The other part is because it is “only a novella” and “only on-line”, it just doesn’t seem real.

    1. What?!? You better say start calling yourself a writer, lady! You’re about to be a multi-published author. Who cares about the length or the format/venue? Many writers are going epub only these days.

      *sigh* But I get it! And I get not wanting to explain myself. But you’re a writer and author to me, my friend.

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