Monday, October 7, 2019

Rules of Survival for Writers by Gayla K. Hiss

Gayla K. Hiss
In my latest book, Cold Pursuit, the hero has a set of rules for surviving the wilds of Yellowstone National Park in winter. While I was writing the book, I took a trip to Southern Utah and hiked through a couple of slot canyons, which are very narrow, cave-like passages with only enough room for one person to squeeze through at a time. From that experience, I developed my own set of rules for making it through a slot canyon, which can apply to making it as a writer as well.

1. Don’t go it alone. Like hiking in narrow, dark canyons, writing can be a very daunting and lonely endeavor. It’s important to have people around to encourage and support us and help us out of a jam. For writers, this could be a critique group, a writers’ organization, or just good friends we can count on.

2. Never give up. It can be easy to become discouraged when we keep hitting dead ends and unexpected twists and turns, but if we keep persevering, we’ll eventually get through.

3. Don’t lose your way. I discovered in the slot canyons that as long as I went in the direction of the sunlight at the end of the tunnel, I would eventually find my way out of the canyon. Likewise, we Christian writers must keep following our Light and not go off course by worrying about worldly concerns like sales numbers, marketability, and what people will think of our books.

4. Once we’ve committed, there’s no going back. Maybe you’ve discovered that your journey is harder than you thought it would be, and you’re tempted to turn back. If you do, you may never have the satisfaction of conquering your canyon (or book). Chances are, you are probably closer to succeeding than you think. The Apostle Paul said, “…press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 3:13-14.

When we apply these rules to our writing, we discover that we have what it takes to get through the tight spaces. Like hiking in a slot canyon, we may not be able to see the light at the end of tunnel right now, but if we walk by faith and not by sight, eventually we will.

Your turn: Have you been tempted to turn back? How did you handle it? What's some advice you have for fellow writers who may be facing their own hurdles?

A Writer's Survival Guide by Gayla K. Hiss


Cold Pursuit
Can they elude the relentless danger before it’s too late?

A December tour of Yellowstone National Park sounded like the perfect escape from Faith Chandler’s problems at home—until she discovers her tour guide is her jilted childhood sweetheart, Jake Mitchell. Faced with guilt from her past mistakes, plus a disturbing pattern of suspicious incidents, Faith has second thoughts about staying on the tour.

Despite her misgivings, the serene splendor of the winter wonderland provides a much-needed respite from her stressful life and gives her a fresh perspective. After a little soul-searching, she wants to come clean with Jake. But can he forgive her for the heartache she caused—or the truth she’s withheld from him? Meanwhile, Jake wants to keep Faith at a distance, yet he must protect her from the menace stalking his tour group.

As her enemies close in like ravenous wolves, Faith is the only one who can stop the mayhem by finding the missing piece of the puzzle. Is it a smoking gun—or a trap set to destroy both her and Jake?


Award-winning author Gayla K. Hiss began her writing journey painting landscapes. In her imagination, characters and scenes came to life as she painted beautiful natural settings. Her inspiring novels combine her love for the great outdoors with romance, suspense, and adventure. Her book Wildfire recently won the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award for romantic suspense. Gayla and her husband often tour the country in their RV, visiting many state and national parks. She enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.

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