It occurred to me as a high school senior that the world just doesn’t fully appreciate nor have nearly enough books about elves and other fantasy creatures. So I decided to right this terrible wrong single-handily by writing one myself.
I say “myself” but really I was much too insecure to create a world on my own at this time, so I borrowed elements of a world imagined by my sister. I used it as a stress relief project throughout my college career. Again, I was very insecure about it, so I frequently had to reassure myself that “no one would ever see it” and it was “just for me” in order to keep myself writing.
Then something unexpected happened. I finished the book.
It wasn’t much, but it had a beginning, middle and an end. In fact, it had a whole lot more than that because it was freakishly long. But I was so proud of it that I decided to show it to one or two people. They were friends and family, so naturally they were very encouraging. I almost thought I might have something good. Then my mom got the brilliant idea of showing it to someone in her church group who had actually published a book.
This wonderful lady didn’t say much about the initial piece I showed her, but she did invite me to join a local writing group she was part of.
Then they attacked.
I never saw so much red ink on a page before in my life. My poor little elves were ripped to shreds and sent running back to the forest crying (elves, they are sensitive like that).
I was kind of crushed too, but then something funny happened. I kept writing. I took some of their suggestions, actually did some research and came back with a freshly written prologue which was given a much more positive reception. Mostly I think they were just happy that I came back at all, but I was willing to take what I could get.
As I went through some chapters with them and interacted with a critique forum online, I soon realized that however epic and awesome my elf book may one day be, it really didn’t look good as a debut. It was too long, too unfocused and its ending left people in the lurch. And believe it or not, some people just didn’t like elves very much (crazy, right?).
So I went back to the drawing board. It was time to write another book. After fully claiming custody of my “borrowed” world from my sister, I found another plot and started writing a book set many years before my first.
This book had a djinni.
I made a good start with that book and had a few other ideas, but nothing seemed to completely come together. I was also struggling to launch my “actual” career and had some very depressive thoughts. So I started to write another book. This one was based on a fairytale I loved growing up, vastly annoying another one of my sisters by watching a poorly done cartoon of it over and over and over again when I was younger.
The Snow Queen.
Before you all start singing “Let it go,” you must realize that the original Snow Queen looks nothing like Frozen and neither did mine. Mine featured a very depressed girl that attempts suicide in the first chapter. And it fit the mood of my life at that time more closely than I probably should admit online. But once I was finished with that book, somehow I was ready to face the world again.
I did some spiritual soul-searching and decided to move to Utah to live with another one of my sisters (if you haven’t guessed by now, I have a lot of sisters). I got a job offer almost immediately—something I saw as a near impossibility at the time.
And something even more amazing happened.
My second week there, I had an instant connection with a girl at a book signing. In fact, I remember sitting across the room and thinking “I need to sit right next to her” even with a ballroom full of empty seats—not something I normally would do. Turns out we had a lot in common. She wrote books. I wrote books. What more could you possibly need? She also had just recently started a critique group and she wanted me to join.
I was so freaked out! I had my group before, but it had been a year or two and my confidence was gone. And when they sent me their stuff, it was even worse. They were so much better than me! I mean, so was my last group, but as a jr member of that group, I was more comfortable with that. These were girls my own age, writing in my genre.
I agreed to come, but they weren’t going to see any of my stuff. Ever.
I hope you realize by now that I am very good at lying to myself. I think that's how I get myself to do anything scary. And you would be surprised at how many things I think are scary. My elves and I may have a lot more in common than one might think.
My resolve not to show them anything only lasted through the first meeting. Then I showed them my depressing fairytale. They didn’t complain too much. Well, some of the time they did, but only in ways that were very helpful.
I finally finished my djinni book and showed them that too. They seemed to like that one.
Then I showed them my baby: the elf book that I edited and re-edited and couldn’t seem to discard no matter how I tried. And suddenly they were all telling me it was their favorite.
You see? I was right all along. There simply are not enough books about elves.
So, with their encouragement, I went back into that trilogy full force. The first book, that had been a project of many years, now had two sequels drafted in less than a year. I have written five books and thanks to the writing friends I collected, along with the conferences I attended along the way, some of them aren’t that bad.
I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with my life and career over the years. I always had my writing to turn back to. Now I really want to do something with it no matter how much it scares me. So this is the start of my story and the start of my blog.