I’ve been writing novels since I was about fourteen years old (maybe even earlier). In fact, before Wall of Fire, I had written five complete novels and more short stories or partial novels than I can even recall.
Just recently, I was looking through a box of keepsakes from my teenage years and found a binder with the first 5 chapters of a book I had totally forgotten about. I only vaguely remember writing it, but from what I read and can recall, it was going to be about a handful of teens across the county who discover they have some kind of hidden connection they didn’t know about and maybe some kind of super powers. I’m not sure the plot was really going anywhere, so it’s probably a good thing I abandoned it.
My novels have featured time travel/time manipulation, aliens secretly living on Earth (and planning to terraform the planet), natural disasters, and mystical creatures.
Of these unpublished works, perhaps the one I love the most and may eventually publish is entitled In an Instant. It’s quite different from my usually dystopian/Sci-Fi style, which is one obstacle to moving forward with publication. In it, Liz, a twenty-one-year old nursing student, discovers that she has leukemia. From that point on, the book follows two parallel story lines in alternating chapter: what happened, and what would have happened if she didn’t have leukemia. I describe it as Sliding Doors meets Steel Magnolias.
But my very first completed novel was a fairy tale story called The Twisted Tree. I completed the first draft when I was sixteen during the summer after my sophomore year. It was based on a short story I’d written for my English class. I pounded out the short story in a single sitting to meet a requirement for an English portfolio which was my final assignment for the class.
I just wrote the first thing that popped in my head. The whole story was about three pages with far more questions than answers about what was going on in the fairy-filled forest where a girl had, seemingly just be betrayed into the hands of an evil dragon.
Over the course of the next summer, I kept thinking about it and soon wrote the rest of the novel. Over the next seven years, I edited, and rewrote that story more times than I can count. It was through The Twisted Tree that I learned a ton about crafting a story, world-building, character development, and so much more.
I have to pause here to credit and thank my mother who was my editor on this project and patiently read and re-read my story, offering kind but insightful ideas about how to grow and improve the story.
I did self-publish The Twisted Tree for a brief time back around 2006. That was before Kindle publishing was even a thing. I used a print-on-demand service called Lulu. This was before I knew anything about publishing or marketing, and the options were more limited. I think I sold about a dozen copies of the book before I eventually pulled it out of print.
Honestly, that’s a good thing. Even though I worked very hard on the book, and I’ll always love it for what it is, if I’m being honest, The Twisted Tree isn’t that great. I re-read it about a year ago and one of the things that struck me was what big words and complicated sentence structures I used throughout the book. It’s funny that one of the hallmarks of a good writer is that they learn to use simpler language. That’s not to say that big words and flowery language don’t have their place in novels. They definitely do. The key is to make sure they stay in their place.
My philosophy now is to strive to write in such a way that the words don’t get in the way of the story. I want my writing to give just the right meaning and feeling, and to flow so easily that it’s easy to get lost in the story and forget you’re actually reading. That’s my goal, at least. I suppose it will be up to each reader to determine whether I’ve succeeded with Wall of Fire.
I won’t be sharing the entire novel of The Twisted Tree, but here’s an except for those of you curious about the story and my writing. This is basically what the original short story entailed. I only ask that you not hold the amateurish writing against me.