The History of Me: A Writer is Born

**If you’re reading this on the blog, you can see I have a new banner for a new book that will be released in November! While I already have it listed, I’m not going to talk about it yet. That will come soon. For now, go read The Captor’s Redemption!**

Now, on to the post.

I’ve been trying to write more personal posts lately to let you see a bit more of who I really am. Some of this might be information you’ve seen before, but I write this for myself as well. It’s interesting to look back and see how fiction writing has been a lifelong interest for me. It wasn’t something that I thought I’d ‘give a try’ in adulthood. It’s something that I’ve always felt a need to do. With that, I suppose my life story can be played out through my writing history because I’ve probably spent more time in fantasy worlds than in this one.

The very beginning

My first real word was ‘book’. I had a small bookshelf near the kitchen doorway, and my father says that one day I looked at him, pointed to the bookshelf and said ‘book’. And thus, my fate was sealed.

The first book I read

I’m not sure of my complete writer timeline when I was a child, because I’ve simply forgotten most of it, but I do know that I loved writing short stories even in elementary school. My favorite subject was ghosts and witches, which likely explains a few things. The first book I ever learned to read (in first grade) was The Spooky Old Tree. It was a Berenstain Bears book, but I’d like to say that it set the course for my love of horror and supernatural stories.

My first attempt

When I was in third grade, I distinctly remember trying to novelize a video game that my family had been playing on the Nintendo. It was called Maniac Mansion, and if you play it today, you will see that it is a rather fun but silly point-and-click adventure game in which a group of teens tries to rescue a friend from a mad scientist’s house. It is not quite horror, but at that time in my life, I thought it was extremely scary. (I was a kid!) If you moved your character into a room that one of the family members was in, they would grab you and lock you in a dungeon! But the idea of that game has stuck with me my entire life. The characters were all so different that they captured my imagination and I wanted to write a story about the complex ideas before me. Even in High School, this game stuck with me, and I played with these ideas many times in writing. Perhaps one day I’ll finally manage to capture that old inspiration. But anyway, in third grade, I was trying to novelize this game on notebook paper. I would write at school and a girl in my class was like “You are going to be a writer. Why don’t you write and I’ll sell it for you.” We even went so far as to say that she was going to be my agent! How either of us knew what that was at the time, I have no idea, but I remember telling her that we couldn’t do that because it wasn’t my idea, I was just writing it. So cautious and aware, even then.

Novelizing and the Typewriter

I had a typewriter long before my family had a computer. I had an old one for a while that had belonged to my mother. It had issues, but I loved to type on it. I remember having to press the keys with force just to make the letters show up. I remember pulling the teeth back and having to push them back in place when they got stuck. (Now I want to get another one…) I taught myself how to type on it, and to this day, I do not type correctly. My dad tried to tell me that I should stop myself and learn to type properly in case I needed it for the future, but I didn’t listen. I type quickly, but to this day, I consider my improper method a hindrance. But oh well. I’ve tried to retrain myself, but it doesn’t work.

After a while, my parents bought me a newer typewriter, which was much nicer. The keys were automated and I didn’t have to worry about getting my fingers stuck under the keys. Ouch! It would hold a separate ribbon which would erase mistakes. No more white out! Yay! I replaced both ribbons often and probably spent a small fortune on that. So what did I do with this glorious machine?

I novelized movies and TV shows that I liked, changing things as I wanted to. It was sort of like fanfiction, yet mostly, it was frame for frame and line by line of what was said on the show. I really enjoyed translating what I saw into words, and still do that a bit to this day. I see a scene in my head and then have to explain it on the page.

I would go to a movie and then come home and try to write a book about it based on what I remembered about the story. My most famous of these is a novelization I did of Homeward Bound, which was pretty short as far as books go, but I included pictures of my own animals. When I watched it again later, I realized I had gotten some of the details wrong, and oddly, I felt embarrassed! But it was pretty good for my age. People were always impressed with my memory skills.

The Grand Mystery

At some point, I remember that my best friend and I were writing a book together. That was an amazing and wonderful time. We were middle school age, I know. So maybe 12-13. I would spend the night with her on the weekends, and we would sleep in the small room above the garage all by ourselves, stay up late, and work on our book. It was a small room – her dad’s hangout, I think. There was a couch in there, a small tv, a computer that we didn’t use much, and some other stuff. It was awesome. We would talk about our book and write all night. It was great, because not only was it a small taste of freedom, but it was a great way to connect with my friend as we worked together on this project. I remember that the book was a murder mystery story about a will reading, and all the potential heirs were being killed off. I remember that we each had a character that was supposed to be ‘us’, and both of our characters had their love interest. All in all, it was terrible because it was just a mashup of all the stories and movies that we were fans of, but it was a really fun experience. I don’t think I have the entire story, but I definitely have parts of it somewhere. I believe that we did indeed finish it.

The rise of horror and my first real book

R. L. Stine was extremely popular while I was growing up. I read so many of his books. I went from Goosebumps to Fear Street through middle school and High School, and in seventh grade, I wrote my very first complete book: The Vampires of Riverdale High, based on some of my favorite R. L. Stine works. I wrote it all by hand in a small notebook and I know for certain that I still have this one. I haven’t read it in ages, but I was in seventh grade when I wrote it. I know that for certain. I was very into vampires back then, but for a long time afterward, I wouldn’t touch the subject because it has been done to death. But I’m not sure I care much about that now.

FYI: This is how I spent most of my time in grade school and college, writing when I should have been paying attention. Oh well. What’s done is done.

Embracing Fantasy

When I was in High School, I think I went through a ton of writing phases. I would read a lot as well. Mostly, I think I went back and forth between writing fantasy novels and writing teen horror fiction, both of which sometimes had sci-fi tendencies. At home, I would hang out with my brother while he played video games, and I would either write or draw. My brother was more into games than I was at the time, but he would tell me bits and pieces of the storylines of the games he was playing. I thought a lot of that was really cool, and so I would take little bits of that and add my own ideas to write stories.

When I was a Junior and Senior in High School, I wrote my first Fantasy novel called Versallies, about a group of people who were dealing with an alien invasion on their home planet. I was proud of it, even though it wasn’t great. It was supposed to be followed by my next novel The Ascension, which I started, but never finished. Still, I think it was a good idea. I had others, but many of those also went unfinished.

During this time and after High School, I was also into writing fanfiction, which I think can be a great learning tool for writers. You can take what you like about something and add what you think would make it better, or else alter events that might have been a bit better in your own mind. That, to me, is a big part of what I do in general. I like to capture things I liked about other works, and try to find a way to use them in what I do, in what I often consider to be a better way.

That’s just me. I like to rebuild.

The fanfiction that I was most interested in was anything to do with Final Fantasy, and I was extremely into writing Daria fanfiction. I wrote a lot of other fanfiction along the way until eventually, I decided that I didn’t really need that anymore. I wanted to write my own works. But starting with novelizations and fanfiction helped me to pinpoint the different aspects of other works, how they went together, and that helped me learn how to build my own stories.

So, jumping into retelling fairy tales seemed pretty natural. I was able to write my own stories, but there were already base ideas in place.

The Twisted Fairy Tale 

I was out of High School when I wrote my first twisted fairy tale. I believe I started with the American McGee’s Alice fanfiction called Behind Sanity, but I didn’t finish that one until much later. I think the first twisted tale that I completed was Jack and Jill. It was short, and I was pleased with myself when it was finished. From there, I went on to do others, many of which have turned into the stories that I have published today. Others, however, have not seen the light of day in years, and may never.

The Captor’s Redemption – a turning point

When I was 21, The Captor’s Redemption was the first serious novel that I wrote. Around that time, I had discovered Stephen King, and I became completely enraptured by his writing style. I wanted to write like him, to learn to capture images and feelings with words just like he was able to do, and reading his work brought me to a new level with my own writing.

Back then, I didn’t know much at all about publishing or genres or any of that, but I was convinced that if I completed this work, it would be a success for me.

I worked on The Captor’s Redemption for a year, writing and rewriting — truly putting my heart and soul into the work. I learned a lot that year about what I could do and what I should pay attention to as I pushed myself along.

All that came and went, and when it was finished, I still couldn’t find an agent or sell it. It was a frustrating time, and yet I was proud of what I had created.

The works that followed

Even after all this, I didn’t stop writing. I gave up pursuing any other career in favor of writing. In my mind, I was just holding out for success in this area, believing that there would one day be no need to do anything else. Sigh. I sometimes wonder if I would have made the same choice if I could turn back the clock, but it’s impossible to say.

As far as writing is concerned, there was only to grow. After I learned how to complete a book, I was able to go back and revisit older works, finishing them as needed. Finishing a book was no longer such a daunting task, and I learned to not begin a book unless I knew how it was going to end. Unfortunately for me at the time, I had so many unfinished works, and not all of them had a clear path to the end.

Retelling fairy tales worked for me because I already had a base story to work with and I could build from it with my own ideas, but I also wanted to write my own thing with ideas that I created from nothing. Aside from The Captor’s Redemption, I think The Needle’s Eye was the next original work that I completed, and I was extremely proud of that one. It was like all the elements that I had worked with came together in one book. There was a bit of fantasy, a bit of horror, and a bit of fairy tale.

I wrote story after story, posting chapters on Fictionpress and later on Wattpad as I wrote them. I earned a decent following from it and was excited to complete and post each new chapter. I enjoyed a lot about that, but there was still something wrong: I wasn’t making any money, and my books were not in print.

Project Nevermor

I had tried to get published and failed several times with different books. I pitched The Captor’s Redemption, The Needle’s Eye (I was hopeful with this one), The People in the Rickety House (which I believed ALMOST got me an agent, but it didn’t work out) and even Neverland: Forsaken Dreamscape. Nothing was happening, and I was bitter about it.

One day, I was having a routine conversation with a friend through text. I was at work, and I was doing something that I did quite often back then: complaining about popular published works, about how they had no literary merit, and about how they were only written for simple-minded individuals. Well, that was the old me — the young me. I don’t think that way anymore. (People are allowed to like what they like, however, I do believe that if you advertise something enough, eventually people will break down and buy it.) Anyway. Back to the subject. On this particular day, we were bashing Fifty Shades (which I have still not read but I did read a snippet of, and I never continue anything if I feel like it’s lowering my IQ.) So we were talking about that, and my friend said the magic phrase that made me so angry that it drove me to action:

“You know that Fifty Shades was originally a Twilight fanfiction, right?”

I’m not even sure why, but that infuriated me. These were two things I hated, and yet everyone seemed to love them, and it was terrible! It just made me feel like nothing when I learned that something so popular had roots in something else that I also felt was garbage. And there I was, feeling like I was a talented writer who no one appreciated. I was annoyed with the thought that I might be destined to live my life in obscurity.

Again, I think differently now, but at the time, that one statement was enough to drive me to self-publish. I was infuriated and determined at that point, and nothing could stop me — even though my friend tried. She did. To this day, she still doesn’t exactly love the decision I made, but I don’t know if she could truly understand my frustration either. I decided that I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way! If I wanted to see my books in print, I was finished with sitting around and waiting for someone else to decide that this was going to happen. I had waited on responses from agents – and waited, and waited – only to be rejected. No more!

So, in September 2012, Project Nevermor was born from my intent to rework and publish one of my most popular stories: Neverland Forsaken Dreamscape.

The rest is history – and the future!   

I’ve been on this path for nearly 6 years now. So far, I have 14 books published, and I don’t plan to stop. I may get off track at times, but to survive the struggle feels worth it. Still, I don’t make much money, and I always hope of finding a way to boost that so that I can truly support myself as a writer, but there are other things about what I do that make my work fulfilling.

All of these books and projects I’ve mentioned have played a large role in my growth as a writer. That said, writing is certainly something that you can learn to do, but I don’t believe that it’s something you can learn to do overnight. It comes from thought and experiences, from practice, and from finding out what you like and what works for you. Through a unique cocktail of exposure, you can find your own voice. No one can tell us exactly what is right and what is wrong, and I’ve always believed that no one can teach you how to write.

Do you have a writer story like this one? Is there something in your own past that reminds you of who you are and what you were meant to do?

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