Everyone has a journey from the first germ of an idea to becoming a best-selling author. This is the story of my writing background, of where I am now, and where I am headed. Are you interested in learning more? If so, read on!
The first short story I ever wrote was about a dream I’d had of a haunted house that was based on a derelict building in our neighborhood.
The story’s central character, Sander, must confront his outer fears of the haunted house, and his internal fear of not being accepted or liked by his peers.
Sander struggles with peer pressure, bullying and becoming the thing he fears before he finds acceptance and love. I completed My Brother, Sander, at the age of seven.
Discovering The Dream
When I was eight or nine, I read an interview with Bonnie-Alise Leggat, the 1991 winner of the 6-9 year-old bracket of the National Kids-in-Print Book Contest For Students. Her book, Punt, Pass & Point! was about a girl who likes football but has to take up ballet when she gets injured. The contest called for school-age children to write and illustrate an original story with the winners in each category having their book professionally published. The article appeared in an American Girl Magazine.
The story I chose to write was called, Fairview and Thereafter, and was a fantasy about a water girl who attracts the eye of the prince and must save her kingdom from evil men. In hindsight, the book was something along the lines of a YA fantasy, like Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern series, although not nearly as well-developed.
I struggled with illustrations and the book was never submitted. But a couple of years later, I worked with a cousin who was an artist to draw renderings of the characters and I had a bound book, my first “practice novel” completed by my thirteenth birthday.
Experimenting With Genres
As I got older, my experiments in writing reflected the issues I was facing: the instability of my school environment, the rocky marriages of my friends’ parents and my own introvertishness. These surfaced in my stories as my characters — strong, independent females, usually orphans, alone in an unfamiliar environment and on a quest. The quest usually involved a search for some physical treasure but the inner journey reflected the character’s need for family and finding her identity.
In middle school, I branched out from the fantasy genre and experimented in westerns, historicals, poetry, and non-fiction writing. Our homeschooling co-op was given the opportunity to work with a staff member of a local paper who acted as a mentor. The co-op started up a gazette, The Spirit of Homeschooling, and I was on staff from that time through freshman year, writing short articles and covering book reviews.
My parents moved me into public high school due to my poor math grades and to provide me with the opportunity of attending a school known for fostering creative arts in students. I spent the next three years studying and writing fiction under Mr. Thomas Gremaud.
Senior year I got my first real taste of publishing when an opinion piece written to a local paper was published.
I bounced around colleges over a period of eight academic years studying fiction writing, poetry, non-fiction writing and screenwriting at three different universities. My teachers included Ron Hughes (STLCC), Michael Nye (formerly WUSTL, now Managing Editor of the Missouri Review) and Michael Bezemek (WUSTL, screenwriting).
In June 2011, two of my poems were published in a small press, The Poet’s Art, based out of Islandia, NY. In Fall 2011, I was invited to give a short talk on world-building for Mike Bezemek’s screenwriting class.
April 2012 I attended my first writers’ conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield, Missouri and learned about platform-building in a workshop by Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal. I also participated in Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge. Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of the 2012 Writer’s Market.
What does the rest of the year hold? Subscribe to my blog and follow my journey.