Writer & Book Coach

I fell in love with stories because of my mom. We always read together. From my earliest memories when "Are You My Mother?" was my favorite book to reading chapters to one another from Anne of Green Gables, The Little House on the Prairie, and Little Women, time spent reading with my mom sticks out in my memory. Even now, we talk about books a lot, and I often give her my own fiction to read.

My writing tastes have changed over the years. I got my start writing fiction with fan fiction, which is a great way to learn about some of the elements of writing without having to worry about all of them at once. Then I started writing horror stories, especially those involving zombies.

I fell in love with historical fiction after I read Pillars of the Earth and corresponded with the author, Ken Follett. 

Storytelling, to me, is an ancient art. It's something all people can enjoy, and something all cultures have enjoyed in one form or another for thousands of years. Stories teach us empathy. They provide us emotional shelter and succor. They entertain. Stories broaden our minds. Telling stories is what I was put on this Earth to do (at least in this lifetime), and I choose to follow that dream while helping others walk their own storytelling path.

Most people are surprised to learn that I have a third-degree black belt in Chinese Kempo (basically, this means I've tested into the third level of black belt, which requires three black belt tests...not going to lie, they were grueling!). I treat writing and book coaching with the same dedication I brought to the martial arts. Everything I learned while studying and teaching martial arts--self-discipline, self-control, self-respect--translates directly to writing and coaching.


I also try to think of martial arts and life in general in terms of the animals studied in my system. The leopard is tenacious, the tiger powerful, the crane balanced, the snake precise, and the dragon agile. Writing and coaching writers requires those traits: tenacity to help a writer dig deep, power to help a writer conquer their fears, balance to help a writer create a well-structured story, precision to help a writer make the story come to life, and agility to help a writer navigate the many choices they--and their protagonists--will face.

In 2014, I joined the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). This involved a comprehensive, three-month leadership training program that was part self-study and part formation of an accountability group. I learned not only how to harness the natural leadership skills I'd developed in the dojo, but how to guide others in becoming leaders, too. 

Being a writer can mean riding an emotional rollercoaster. The thrill of a new idea is like the car being pulled up the hill. Finishing a story is like cresting it. Getting rejected? That's a fast plummet. Learning to bounce back from rejections, learning to use constructive criticism, that's when the ride evens out so it can start another climb. Everything from my short fiction publications to my education to my membership in Sigma Tau Delta represents a piece of this ongoing journey. 

I'm still riding this 'coaster. I'm writing books, inventing characters, submitting work, entering contests, throwing my hands up in the air and screaming at the top of my lungs while the wind whips through my hair and against my face. 

Being a writer is an emotional rollercoaster, but it's not one we have to ride alone.

Get in Touch
Margaret McNellis
153 Boston Post Rd. #405
East Lyme, CT 06333
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© 2020 by Margaret McNellis