My Story: Part 1 (Once Upon A Time…)

I don’t generally get too personal online, and I try to keep my posts about my or other people’s books, rather than about myself. However, I’ve read some inspiring stories by other authors brave enough to speak of their writing and publication journeys, and thought perhaps it was time to share my own. In two parts, here it is. I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a time book coverOnce Upon A Time…

I began penning stories as soon as I learned how to print. My mother would staple sheets of paper together, and with a pencil and box of crayons at the kitchen table, I would put myself to work for hours. My family had always cultivated in me a deep joy and appreciation for reading, so writing my own books came naturally to me at a very young age.

In middle school, like many in my generation, I discovered the Harry Potter series and became more enraptured by reading than I ever thought possible. When one fan asked author J.K. Rowling what her readers ought to do while waiting for each next book in the series, Rowling replied with the advice to read – read everything, to set a goal to read as many books as possible in the interim. I took that advice to heart. By high school, I became known as the bookworm, my nose always in a novel, all of my free periods and community service hours spent volunteering at the school library. I continued to write my own short stories, fan fiction, and novellas, even self-publishing one piece – my attempt at a philosophical sci-fi about reincarnation.

In 2008, I moved from my lifelong home of Maryland out to the Midwest to marry my husband. I attempted college several times during the recession era, but given the state of the economy and my creative spirit, and I longed instead for some sort of artistic entrepreneurship. I worked at a few bookstores during holiday seasons (the two big national chains), and continued to nourish my passion for literature. But it wasn’t until 2012, while I was six months pregnant with my son, when I decided to become a book blogger, and my long-time hobby became a tad more serious.

For over a year, I read and reviewed countless books I’d checked out at the library or purchased on my new e-reader. I began to grow more savvy and aware of how stories were formed and told. I detected the seams, grew accustomed to the tropes, caught onto the formulas, and began to long for a different kind of tale… one which I couldn’t quite find on the shelves. I wanted a fantasy world, but without magic or sorcery. I wanted a heroine who was curvy and plump, maybe with short hair, vulnerable and spunky… and without paranormal abilities. I wanted a journey not between a trio of friends, but a trio of rivals, even enemies. It seemed no such book existed. And so, perhaps it was mine to write.

I knew the only way I could stick with a project was if the subject material mattered to me. Until then, the only serious pieces I’d completed were the aforementioned novella about reincarnation, and a chilling haunted house novelette – reincarnation and ghosts being topics that had fascinated me as a youth. There was only one other topic that had really intrigued me, and it was Anastasia Romanov, the last Grand Duchess of Russia. For many years, it was questioned whether she had really been executed, or might still be alive out there, in hiding somewhere. I began to wonder, could I possibly make a story out of that?

After battling years of depression and uncertainty as to what I was (or wasn’t) doing with my life, I spent a night in fervent prayer and profession to God that I was ready to write any story he gave me. Tell me what to write, I begged, and whatever it takes, I will write it. The next morning, I was playing on the floor with my baby, and inspiration struck. I grabbed a notebook and began to jot down an outline – my first ever. For over an hour, an entire story poured into my consciousness – every character, place, name, twist, turn and beat of action. I faithfully transcribed it all. Thus was how The Duchess Quest was conceived.

Continue on to Part 2, where I share more about my quest to finish and publish my first novel!