I’ve always wanted to say that. To those of you who haven’t known me since childhood, let me introduce myself and give you a bit of my background. Since you found my site, I’m going to assume you know my name. (If not, it’s in the URL.) What you may not know if that since I can remember, I’ve loved two things: horses (most animals really) and books.
All through elementary and high school, I was a fanatic when it came to horses and books or stories about horses were the best things ever. I devoured Black Beauty, The Black Stallion series, and any other book I could find that had a horse as a character. As my reading improved and my tastes expanded, horses as part of the setting or background were acceptable. Eventually, I read anything and everything from Shakespeare to Harlequin romances.
At night, when I couldn’t sleep, I would tell myself stories. I had stories that continued night after night. I would just keep adding to the plot, inventing new characters and new situations for them. Sometimes, I told them to my Siamese cat who slept in my bed. It was a natural extension to begin writing.
My first attempts at writing were songs and poems—very bad ones. In school, I wrote narratives and stories, some of which came from the stories I’d already invented. By the time I got to college, writing came easily. I remember writing a fiction story in Spanish for an advanced Spanish course. We read them out loud to the class. Most student’s stories took five minutes or less to read. My story took a class and a half! Man, were those students bored!
I began my first novel while in college. I had a mentor, an English PHD candidate, who opened my eyes to the idea that authors include specific literary elements in their stories…wait for it…ON PURPOSE! I know, right? So crazy! We read Ursula K LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness in his Science Fiction and Fantasy class, and I got it. For some reason that novel clicked with me. Not only could I pick out the literary elements used, but I could understand what was meant by them and how they all fit together. It was amazing and cool and I wanted to be able to do that, too. So…I started writing.
I never finished that novel. Maybe some day. Quite unbelievably, I still have those words. This was back in the day of floppy disks and the floppy disk that I saved my novel on survived moving from Indiana to Spokane, Washington to Montana, to Indiana to Illinois, back to Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska, and back to Indiana. Whew! That’s a lot of travel. Anyway, I was able to get it taken off the disk and saved on my Google Drive. I love Google! Auto save is my best friend! So, after all that, I may someday have the opportunity to finish that novel.
Fast forward to 2013 or 2014, I think. (I can’t remember for sure.) I was sitting in my eye doctor’s office reading a Guidepost magazine when I saw an advertisement for a writing contest sponsored by Guidepost. I scratched down the details in my Bible, the only thing I had with me at the time, and decided I was going to enter.
The contest, called Inspiring Voices, had a 50,000 word minimum, if I remember correctly, and a deadline of February for submission. It was June. I set about writing my first complete manuscript. I had no idea what I was doing, but the words came pretty easily. The story shaped up after a few revisions, and I sent it in having only one person, my daughter, Sierra, read through and help me with the first drafts.
To my complete surprise, I made it into the top 33. That was it, though. I did not place in the final round. The story sat. A few years later, I decided to revise it again. This time, I had several people read it and offer suggestions. While that was indeed helpful, the best thing I did was begin to study writing. I went through some courses on writing fiction, and began to read with an eye to style, imagery and dialog.
Now, I’m getting ready to pitch my first complete novel to agents. The more I find out about what it takes to get published, the more I realize I don’t know and need to learn. I am a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). If you are interested in writing and publishing, I highly recommend this group. I’ve learned more in the few months I’ve been a member, than in all my years of working on my own. A big thanks to author Nancy Moser for sending me in that direction. Best move I’ve ever made, next to saying ‘yes’ to Jesus, of course.
So, I’m writing the sequel novel to Strength to Stand as I submit chapters to Scribes, the critique group at ACFW, and work on editing, blogging, reading and learning. I’ll keep you posted on what happens next. In the meantime, have a blessed time doing whatever the Lord has you doing at present. If you’re not sure who Jesus is, or why you should care, send me an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on facebook. You can find me as Rebecca Reed Writes. Send me a message. I’d be happy to chat or share with you.