Today I'm taking you through a mini-journey of my life. Why? Because I'm leaving for my freshman year of college in less than a week, and you're supposed to do sappy stuff like this. The world might also want this official biography once I'm a famous author, LOL.
I was born in one of the larger cities of the partly-desert, more-cattle-than-people state of New Mexico, which is the only state I've ever lived in. I was an adorable little thing, super talkative and precocious. Even before anyone could understand, I was talking, because words are the most important thing to me (besides love). But I wasn't so good at walking and stuff. I had this amusing habit of shuffling along on my knees instead of actually walking.
I started off at a nice but useless little preschool, where I had fun playing with other girls. One of my brothers was born about this time, and I became extra talkative to make up for the lack of attention I was getting. I was also obsessed with The Little Mermaid. I like to think this was because of me being a romantic who believes in reciprocal rescuing. (You know. 'Cause she saves him first.) But it probably had more to do with the singing, which I loved to do myself.
In kindergarten, I was at a normal elementary school and had a great time. I loved to be read to, and though I learned how to read myself at a typical age, it clicked very suddenly and strongly, which shocked my teachers. I had a "boyfriend" to whom I was devoted (I liked him because our name meanings matched), but he dumped me near the end of the year during recess.
In first grade, I moved to a new, special school where you were homeschooled half the day and taught at a mixed-grade classroom the other half. It was really cool, although my mom and I had issues with the homeschool part. Her tests were the only ones I ever failed. Anyway, I liked that school because it allowed for more freedom to learn at my own pace and level, which worked to my smarty-pants advantage.
I also officially discovered writing there. I'd always liked talking and reading and all the school stuff other people hate, but at the end of the year, when we did separate projects, my mom and I decided to do writing. We went through poetry, short stories, picture books, and diary writing, and I was immediately hooked. Since then I've written in diaries pretty consistently, and I am now on my 58th. One of the reasons I loved writing so much after that project was because I got to read one of my picture books to my brother's preschool, and looking into their rapt little faces focused on me just felt right.
My second little brother was born around that time. For the next couple of years, I dealt with bullies at school who didn't like me being so smart, and I dealt with losing the only friend I'd had because her allergies were too extreme for her to go to school. I also wrote lots of ill-advised love letters to boys I thought could make good boyfriends. At the end of third grade, my family moved to the smaller town in which I now live, which is full of geniuses, making me less ostracized than I had been. I made a group of girl friends who were all pretty imaginative and not terribly popular, and I'm still close with a couple of them today!
Over the summer and during the beginning of fourth grade, I had a serious episode of melissophobia that really shook me. I suppose that was my most intense "loss of innocence," where I realized that I could carry terrible darkness within myself. Soon after, I started trying to write full-on novels, with the hopes of a) helping and inspiring others, b) seeing my name on the library shelves, and c) making sense of myself and my experiences. (I also started playing cello around this time.) My genre focus was fantasy because that's what I loved most. I'm drawn towards great potential, which fantasy is all about.
Of course, writing a novel, especially when you're that young? Not easy. I probably wrote five or six novel attempts as well as many other shorter pieces (some of which got published or awarded, as seen here) before I achieved a book of 100 pages, which I thought made for a full-length novel. That was in sixth grade, the same year I fell for my first real crush. #DragonStory was an MG epic fantasy novel based off of a game my friends and I had been playing at recess. I was so thrilled to finally have a book written. I printed it out, with a copyright page and all, and gave it to my friends to read. I "hired" one of them to do illustrations and then fired her for another friend I thought drew better. Then a younger girl who had attached herself to our group got mad at me for the title. Ending the conflict mattered more to me than holding on to one single book, so I "trunked" it in an excessive fashion: by throwing away the printed copy and erasing the document from my family's computer. (I now recommend keeping the files of all your old pieces, even trunked ones, for future references.)
Immediately after that, I finished my second novel, #IceEnchantressStory (MG epic fantasy), and in my Gifted and Talented class, I got to work with a publishing publicist! She found me very hard to work with, but she also was surprised by my gift for writing. From her, I learned all about query letters and other authorly career stuff. That summer, I started sending out to publishers and literary agents for the first time, even though I had only editing a little and clearly didn't understand how literary agents worked.. My mom had strict parental controls on the Internet that kept me from doing research, and I didn't have my own email address, so I submitted from her email with the help of our library's latest copy of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. Of the 12 rejections I received, I was most upset by Scholastic's reply, where they said that they didn't publish children because children might be embarrassed about their writing when they were older. (RUDE.)
I wanted to get published before middle school started
In the meantime, I made a disastrous attempt at collaboration with the other writer from my gifted and talented program. It ended when she called my crush and told him I liked him. He did not like me back. I cried for two days straight.
As it is for most people, middle school was tough for me. (Bullying was just one of many issues I faced.) But I wouldn't be who I am without what happened in middle school: most importantly, my very intense first love.
Yes. I fell in love in seventh grade, and it drove my existence for the next four and a half years, even though nothing really happened. What can I say? I'm a romantic. This love was a very frustrating and emotional one, and it gave birth to the most prolific period of writing in my life so far. I also was given permission around this time to join Scholastic's heavily moderated Write It boards, where I learned a lot about publishing and met some of my best writing friends! So my writing career was looking up. First, I finished #FourElementStory (MG superhero fantasy, trunked in 2009), then #SplitStory (MG speculative fiction, trunked in 2011), then #ApocalypseStory (MG speculative fiction), and then #MiddleSchoolStory (MG contemporary, trunked immediately).
Eighth grade was the worst year of my life, full of the formative fire and brimstone of questioning everything. My youngest brother was finally diagnosed with autism that year, which was a shake-up for our family. Meanwhile, I dealt with romantic doubts, imperfect parents, religious questions, and even suicidal thoughts. That year I finished #FairytaleStory (YA epic fantasy fairytale retelling, trunked in 2011), #DreamlandStory (YA epic fantasy, trunked in 2010) and #PsychicStory (YA fantasy romance, trunked in 2011 but up for a major rewrite). Almost as soon as I finished #PsychicStory, I knew I had my next big project on my hands. I was really passionate about it, and so were my friends! So I edited it and started submitting to literary agents again. This time, I was able to convince my mom to give me my own email address (email@example.com, good stuff🐬) and more access to literary agency websites with updated submission guidelines.
I wanted to get published before I graduated high school.
Ultimately, for #PsychicStory, I received 46 rejections, 4 requests for more material, 1 "acceptance" from a scam agency, and 1 R&R with the promise of future representation.
But before that came ninth grade, which was wearying thanks to people moving away and friendships being lost. I wrote two novels, later split into three, which formed the beginning of the YA speculative fiction series #ChosenFourStory. That's the story this website is now dedicated to! I've had so much support from others with this series--my writing friends, my IRL friends, other acquaintances--and I'm incredibly grateful.
During tenth grade, I mostly focused on getting over my severe self-confidence issues. Let's just say it didn't work out as much as I wish it had. I received the #PsychicStory R&R and went back and forth with the agent on that throughout the year. I learned a lot more about how to edit my writing from her, but then she stopped responding to my emails. I still have no idea why! Another highlight of the year was that I started having chronic pain symptoms after I caught H1N1, bronchitis, and strep throat all in a row during the 2009 epidemic. Finally, I wrote the last book of #ChosenFourStory as my first run at National Novel Writing Month. (Since then, I've written a book a year through NaNoWriMo while I focus more on editing/publishing the rest of the year.)
When my junior year hit, my post-H1N1 symptoms exploded into full-on fibromyalgia, I had to adjust my whole life to a chronic pain and fatigue syndrome that would most likely never go away. It still wasn't as bad as eighth grade, but it was definitely a difficult grieving period for me. That year, I wrote #ProphecyStory (YA epic fantasy), and I fell for another guy in my typically tragic, unrequited way. On the upside, my mom had granted me access to Facebook, and someone from Write It managed to track the rest of us down despite not knowing our real names. For the first time, I could communicate with my writing friends outside of the moderated discussion boards! They cheered me on as I edited and began sending out #ChosenFourStory to literary agents. (As of today, the series has had something like 17 rejections.)
My senior year was a good one, thankfully. I got on antidepressants for my fibromyalgia, I was accepted to college before I even started being a senior, and I had the chance to celebrate my last year before adulthood. Of course, there was the usual romantic stress, plus the fact that I don't like goodbyes. But overall, it was a really good year. I wrote #FibromyalgiaStory (YA medical spy-fi) and then finished the long-in-progress sequel to #PsychicStory, #PsychicDystopiaStory (YA fantasy romance). This puts me at having written sixteen novels in the first eighteen years of my life. I am a winner! You know, besides the fact I'm not yet published and all.
So here we are now. Sixteen novels, around seventy-five rejections, and about to move into a dorm at Adams State University. I will be majoring in creative writing and minoring in music. Who knows what's going to happen, really? I just know I want to get published--maybe before I graduate college?
I leave you with this:
What do you think my next NaNoWriMo novel should be? (Poll is now closed.)
(For a continuation of this little biography, click here.)
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