In third grade, I was obsessed with Littlest Pet Shop, a toy line of little plastic animal figures that came with all sorts of play sets and accessories. They still exist, but they’ve evolved and become horribly ugly in comparison to the ones I grew up playing with. In any case, I loved them when I was a child, and some of my first stories were written about them. Every single pet of mine had a name, a family, a story, relationships with each other, everything. My collection was pretty much a tiny plastic soap opera.
It made sense that some of the first stories I wrote were about them, about my tiny little town and the peopleーwell, animalsーwho lived there. One of the earliest stories I remember writing was about a haunted piece of land where the visitors kept getting hurt or killed, though I don’t remember why they kept visiting that place. That reason is lost to time. I was also very into the Goosebumps series of books by R.L. Stine, which lead to me writing a lot of stories that I wanted to label as horror even if they, honestly, weren’t that scary. But I was young enough at the time to not worry about my writing being good or bad; I only cared about having fun and writing the stories of my beloved plastic soap opera and all of the crazy alternate universes that their characters got sucked into. I’d write them in class during free time. I loved them.
My elementary school had a fun little thing called Reflections. It wasn’t quite a talent show or competition, but somehow an amalgamate of both. We had several options of what we could do: write a poem, story, or song; take photos of anything we wanted to; record a video of singing or dancing. There were options for all different types of talents, and for those of us who didn’t have digital cameras we could use for photography if that was what we wanted to do, each teacher had a camera we could borrow to take photos around the school with. I was friends with a girl named Emily at the time, and the two of us borrowed our teacher’s camera one day to take a couple of pictures on the playground during recess. We got in the sandbox and piled some sand into a mound, used some pebbles for eyes, and a Y-shaped twig for a beak. This was our Sand Owl. She let me use the photo as one of my entries, though if she had told me why she was okay with it, I don’t remember why. Third grade was a long time ago.
And I made another entry: a short story, two pages of notebook paper covered in awful handwriting, about the life of a German shepherd puppy named, of course, Max. Max was adopted by a man named Nick and he grew to become a renowned police dog with all sorts of accomplishments. Everyone who joined Reflections got a participation ribbon, naturally. We were in elementary school, after all, so of course we all got participation awards. There was a real award, though. It was a fancier ribbon, one that was obviously more special than just a participation ribbon, and it was one that you could wear around your neck. It had a small plastic medal on it emblazoned with the images of the different submission categories. I was given one of those ribbons. Nobody told me if it was for the Sand Owl photo or my story about Max, but considering that one of my entries was literally a picture of a pile of sand and one was an original story that a third grader put together, it has always been easy to assume that I got the special ribbon for the story. I was incredibly proud of myself for that.
Then came fourth grade. When I was in fourth grade, I entered something called the Oklahoma Writer’s Project, the OWP. The OWP was a legitimate thing, a good few steps above my school’s Reflections program. I was still in love with the Goosebumps series and still wanted to write horror, so I entered a story that was meant to be spooky but, looking back on it, fell short. But hey, it was fourth grade. The OWP was impressed with my entry and I was invited to a sort-of convention for the winners, along with a few other girls from my school. A couple of the girls were in fifth grade, something incredible to me considering that the fifth graders were the kings and queens of elementary school. I spent the day attending various meetings and doing activities before we were all called into the main hall. The stories of all of the winners had been compiled into a book and, one by one, we were called to the podium at the front of the room to read our stories to the people gathered there.
I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened that day, but I remember my story. It was a simple concept. There was a haunted castle from which no one returned once they visited, apparently dying within the walls of the castle and never being seen again. That is, until a young girl visited the castle and met the Bat King, the over sized bat who was the lord of the castle and the cause of all of the disappearances. She befriended him. All he had ever wanted was a friend, and so when she said she would become his friend, he accepted wholeheartedly and stopped his evil doings of capturing those who visited his castle.
Not long after, I went into one of my longest, most absurd phases of all. The wolf phase. I played the PC game WolfQuest almost every day after school, I read and wrote stories about wolves, I watched every nature documentary about wolves that I could, and I even made PowerPoint presentations on them for literally no reason other than that I wanted to. There was no end to my love of wolves. It was then that I wrote my first multi-chapter story. It was about a wolf named Silvermist, a female wolf who made friends in several different packs, met a male who would become her mate, lived to form her own pack, and was, in the end, killed by hunters. It was, at the time, my masterpiece.
Things soon changed for me when fifth grade became my first year of being home schooled through k12. I no longer had the same kind of opportunities that I did when I was in public school (though they now insist that it is “brick and mortar” school because online schooling is also public, but I don’t see it that way), and so I started posting my stories to an art website that has since been taken down due to a lack of funds. I got lots of support from my friends as I branched out and I was no longer focused solely on one or two genres. I did keep writing stories about animals, cats now as well as wolves, but I soon managed to start writing about humans. Animals remained my favorite subject for a long time, though, and during that time I gathered all of my OCsーmy original characters, which I’m sure is a commonly known acronym but I’d like to clear up just in caseーinto one coherent universe. My username on that website was MyMinyWorld102. I had been about ten years old when I came up with that one, which was the reason why I misspelled mini as miny. I thought miny was a cuter spelling than mini at the time. The world in which my OCs lived was called The Land of Miny, an island nation with all sorts of residents.
The Land of Miny became the base of my operations, eventually developing into something big and new. For a long time, I wrote stories that took place either in the real world or in the Land of Miny. I’m very protective of my current world, the one that is a descendant of those times, as I’ve put my heart, my soul, and a long, long time into its creation and constant evolution. These days I usually write fantasy, stories about dragons and kings and warriors.
I don’t know if I’m going to keep on with fantasy or if, at some point, my tastes will change again. Then again, I think I love dragons just a bit too much to leave them behind.
It’s hard to make a living as an author and I know that very well. Really, though, I don’t want to write for fame and fortune. I don’t concern myself with movie deals or TV series adaptations. All I’ve ever wanted to do is to write and publish a story or two that make people happy the way stories have always made me happy.
I look forward to seeing where the future takes me.