My First Publications (Writers Reveal)

Welcome to the November round of Writer’s Reveal! Unfortunately, because Emily Hawker is unable to continue organizing the event, this may also be our last Writers Reveal. So for what could be our closing topic, Melissa of Melissa Writes sent us a prompt centered around publishing.

All writers start somewhere. What is the first ever piece of writing you had published?

Thanks for the prompt, Melissa! Hope you enjoy my take on it!

My First Published Work(s)

What exactly was my first published work? This question is a little tough for me to answer, since it depends on how I would define being “published”. Was it the first piece I wrote that was actually read by someone other than myself? Was it the first story I shared publicly? Or was it the first work of mine that was officially printed? The truth is that I can’t pinpoint one exact piece for any of these cases because I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. What I can do, however, is list examples that fit into each of these different categories of “publishing”.

So thinking back on my history as a writer, here are some of what I consider my first published works:

Snoopy_Typewriter1) School assignments and first books – If being “published” means having any of my work read, then elementary school is definitely where I started. Though I wrote frequently as a child, most of the pieces that made it to readers were the result of narrative assignments for composition classes. One of my favorites was a handcrafted book titled “My Pet”, a first-person narrative told by a girl who owned a pet dolphin. Other works included short stories that were usually only read by my teachers and my parents, several of which are still somewhere in my mom’s archive of our childhood memories. And of course, there was my first attempt at writing a novel when I was ten. Even if those stories weren’t that good, it’s touching to know I’ve had my family’s support from the very beginning, so in terms of having my work read and enjoyed, I’d say I’ve been successful.

2) Fanfiction and online poetry – If being “published” means getting my work out to people who don’t know me personally, then my first published works were probably video game fanfiction stories I shared online. Silly as it may sound, these were essential in my development as a writer because all the positive feedback I received from strangers really helped boost my confidence in my talent. My favorite pieces among these were two novel-length stories set in the Sonic the Hedgehog universe: “Generation Beta“, my first publicly available story over 50,000 words long (and which, after five years, still gets hundreds of hits a month); and “Chaos and Control“, the story on which I’ve worked the hardest in my life and which has become the model for the original novels I plan to publish in the future. Around the same time I was writing fanfiction, I also used to post some of my poems on DeviantART, some of which have since been reposted here on my blog. They may not be printed in any “official” media, but if people out there are reading my stories and poetry, I already consider myself a published writer.

3) College thesis and Reader’s Carnival submission – If being “published” means having my work available in print, then my first real publication was my undergraduate thesis. This was also the first non-fiction work of mine that was made publicly available. It’s not exactly what I imagined my first book would be, but the thesis about West Atlantic reef fish evolution sitting on my shelf is still something to be proud of. As for a creative piece, I have a sonnet published in the October issue of Reader’s Carnival, which just went into print this month, so that’s something to be excited about too! It may not seem like much now, but hopefully these will prove to be stepping stones to a whole career of my printed works!

These are just some examples of what I would consider to be my first published works. There have been many “firsts” throughout my writing history, but they’ve all played an important role in my growth as a writer, and for that I value every single one. Here’s to many more publications to come! Thanks for reading!

What was your first published work? How would you define being “published”?


This has been a special topic post for Writers Reveal, a monthly blog swap among several talented writers. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the event. Thanks for reading!

writers-reveal-logo

Other bloggers in Writers Reveal
Melissa Khalinsky: Melissa Writes
Becky Fyfe: Imagine! Create! Write!
Ashley Howland: Ghostnapped
Emily Hawker: You Learn Something New Every Day
Lee-Anne Walker: Is it just me?

Scary Stories and Creepy Characters (Writers Reveal)

Time for this year’s October round of Writers Reveal! This month’s prompt was sent to us by Ashley Howland, who suggested we write about something “scary”.

It’s almost Halloween. Do you like scary stories? What characters scare you the most? How do you create a villain?

Based on that idea, here’s my take on writing scary stories and characters. Thanks for the topic, Ashley!

Dare to Scare

The Nightmare Before Christmas Poster

Poster for Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

To be perfectly honest, I have minimal experience with scary stories. Horror is definitely not my favorite genre; in fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the themes I like the least. Maybe it’s because I was kind of a fraidy cat growing up, so I made a point of avoiding anything that I thought might scare the pants off me, including horror stories.

In order to discuss what makes a story scary, I guess I’d have to think about the reasons I avoid them. What is it about horror and certain thrillers that repels me but likely attracts others?

  • They bring out that innate fear instinct I don’t usually experience.
  • They touch on certain emotions that I’m not used to feeling.
  • They make me more aware of the terrifying things in the world.
  • They sometimes give me nightmares.

Plenty of people seek out horror because they like to get back in touch with those primal emotions that humankind has been gradually leaving behind since the days of prehistory. I suppose it’s the same reason people ride roller coasters or go skydiving: they enjoy the thrill of fear contained within safe conditions. Many people like to be scared. But I’m not one of them.

I admit it: I don’t care very much for scary stories in general. But what about their characters?

What Makes a Good Villain?

Though most of the thought I put into character development is for protagonists and secondary figures, antagonists are just as important. After all, what’s a hero without a villain to balance them out? My protagonists drive my stories forward; my antagonists give them something to drive toward.

So what does it take to create a good villain? I guess it mostly depends on the story, but the way I see it, there are a few criteria by which every antagonist can be measured. Good villains fulfill their role as the “bad guy” in their stories, great villains evoke the strongest negative emotions in us, and the best villains are those infamous evildoers who are simply impossible to hate.

Vader-Loki-Voldemort-Joker

Some of cinema’s most beloved villains. From left to right: Darth Vader (Star Wars), Loki (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Voldemort (Harry Potter), The Joker (The Dark Knight)

My favorite villains are the ones I remember long after the story is over, which ironically is also what makes them the scariest characters in my eyes. They’re evil and creepy with just the right amount of lovable madness to make them really stand out, sometimes even more than their respective heroes. I hear the words Star Wars and immediately think of Darth Vader before I think of Luke Skywalker. I watch The Dark Knight and silently cheer every time the Joker appears on screen. I play Portal and the passive-aggressive psychopathic A.I. GLaDOS captivates me with her witty sarcasm before I can even remember Chell’s name. Even Inglourious Basterds makes me question my standards of evil, thanks to Christoph Waltz’s brilliant performance as the charismatic yet ruthless Nazi Colonel Hans Landa.

Antagonists are a common necessity in good fiction, but they don’t have to take a back seat to the protagonists. The creepiest characters are the ones who leave their mark, who are believable enough to make us feel the most powerful emotions and who fascinate us into wondering what they’ll do next. Keep that in mind, and you can create some truly scary stories with awesome characters that leave your readers wanting more! Good luck!

Do you enjoy scary stories? What sorts or stories or characters scare you the most? How do you create your villains?


This has been a special topic post for Writers Reveal, a monthly blog swap among several talented writers. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the event. Thanks for reading!

writers-reveal-logo

Other bloggers in Writers Reveal
Melissa Khalinsky: Melissa Writes
Becky Fyfe: Imagine! Create! Write!
Ashley Howland: Ghostnapped
Emily Hawker: You Learn Something New Every Day
Lee-Anne Walker: Is it just me?

We’re looking for more bloggers to join our circle! If you’re interested in participating in this monthly roundup, be sure to contact Emily Hawker so she can include you in our email list. Thank you!

Finding Creative Inspiration in Dreams (Writers Reveal)

Welcome to the September round of Writers Reveal! This month’s topic was sent to us by Becky Fyfe of Imagine! Create! Write! Her prompt for us is “dreams”, so I decided to take advantage of the idea to write about a topic I’ve been meaning to share for a while: dreams as a source of creative inspiration. Thanks for the prompt, Becky!

The Stories Hidden in the Subconscious

Movie poster for Inception (2010)

Movie poster for Inception (2010)

We’re all well familiar with dreams, those little “films” that play out in our heads while we’re asleep. Some people easily remember their dreams after waking up, while others recall them only once in a while. There are nights when we seem to have several and nights when we barely seem to have one. Dreams have been associated with prophecies, divine messages, our deepest desires and a strange combination of the things that happened to us the day before. But one thing they apparently have in common is that they’re a way for the subconscious to tell stories.

Dreams are a subject that I’ve always found intriguing. It’s one of the reasons Inception is on my list of favorite science fiction movies. I almost always remember my dreams when I wake up, and because of that, I’ve found plenty of inspiration for stories hidden in them. More than once, I’ve written a story based on an idea taken directly from a dream. Many of my dreams tell romantic stories, while others are full of action and adventure. I’ve had nightmares that inspired horror stories and euphoric dreams from which I was sad to wake up. My favorites even include some element of fantasy such as flying or breathing underwater. Yes, my dreams can get pretty bizarre, but I like to think they’re a reflection of my active writer’s imagination!

Harvesting Ideas from Dreams

DreamingSo how can you get the most use out of your dreams? It’s simple. If you’re lucky enough to remember your dreams after you wake up, I highly recommend writing them down. Dreams can be invaluable sources of story ideas, even if (and sometimes especially if) they’re confusing and surreal. If you tend to remember your dreams from almost every night, it may be good practice to keep a dream diary. Much like a regular journal, it can help you hold on to inspiration and can serve as a reference for ideas you didn’t even know you had!

So writers, don’t take your dreams for granted. Embrace them, write them down, try to understand them (however incomprehensible they may be) and extract as many ideas from them as you can. There may just be a goldmine of creative inspiration in your own subconscious!

Do your dreams inspire you? What stories have you written based on an idea that came from a dream?


This has been a special topic post for Writers Reveal, a monthly blog swap among several talented writers. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the event. Thanks for reading!

writers-reveal-logo

Other bloggers in Writers Reveal
Melissa Khalinsky: Melissa Writes
Becky Fyfe: Imagine! Create! Write!
Ashley Howland: Ghostnapped
Emily Hawker: You Learn Something New Every Day
Lee-Anne Walker: Is it just me?

We’re looking for more bloggers to join our circle! If you’re interested in participating in this monthly roundup, be sure to contact Emily Hawker so she can include you in our email list. Thank you!

Dreaming Big (Writers Reveal)

Hello, and welcome to this year’s August round of Writers Reveal! First off, I’d like to welcome a new member who’s joining us this month: Lee-Anne Walker of “Is it just me?“. Welcome to the circle, Lee-Anne! Glad to have you with us!

Today’s topic was sent to us by Emily Hawker, who suggested the prompt: “when I grow up”. Since I’ve already written a nonfiction post about this topic for Writers Reveal in the past, I decided to use this second opportunity to write a short story based on that idea. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for the prompt, Emily!

Dreaming Big

Pixar UP - House and Balloons

Carl Fredricksen’s house, from Pixar’s UP (2009)

You have to choose one.

That was all Sophie had been hearing for the past two weeks. To say it was starting to get on her nerves was an understatement.

Everyone else already knows. You should too.

But how could she? There were so many options that it was impossible to pick just one! It was too much pressure from her teacher, from her parents, from society in general. Fourteen was too young to know what she wanted to be when she grew up, and anyone else her age who said they already knew was almost definitely lying.

“Sophie…” Ms. Miller took a seat at her desk after all the other students had left. “I understand this is difficult, but I really do need you to make a choice by Friday. This paper is part of your grade. I don’t want to have to fail you because of something so trivial. It doesn’t have to be your final decision for life; I’m only asking for three to five pages on a career that interests you now.”

The teenage girl looked down at the pencil she was nervously tapping on her own desk. It was hard enough to produce an essay about any topic, but having a separate deadline for the subject matter only made it all the more stressful.

“I need more time”, she muttered awkwardly for the third time since last Monday. “Can’t I just surprise you at the end of the month?”

The English teacher shook her head. “The reason I ask for the topics two weeks in advance is so you’ll all have plenty of time to write the actual essays. I don’t want you scrambling for something to write about at the last minute, otherwise your work will suffer. Please think about it, Sophie. I expect you to have an answer by Friday.”

On that cue, Sophie grabbed her backpack and headed out the door, leaving Ms. Miller to sigh in exasperation at an empty classroom. It was going to be a long week.

From that Monday afternoon to Thursday morning, Sophie questioned everyone she knew about their chosen career paths, and each of them seemed to have a different insight on the subject. Her father claimed to enjoy his job as a business executive, while her mother encouraged her to consider a career in the sciences. Her older brother, who had been working toward a football scholarship for the last year, said he might want to become a professional athlete. Her friends had already expressed interest in every profession from doctors and lawyers to astronauts and world-touring singers. Even her parents’ friends and her friends’ parents had some interesting input, as several of them had switched majors in the middle of college and others still had yet to figure out what they really wanted to do with their lives!

So many ideas had been contributed in the last few days that by the time Sophie sat down at her room’s computer desk on Thursday afternoon, her head was still spinning with all the possibilities. The problem was not that she didn’t want to try any of them; it was that she wanted to try all of them. How could she hope to choose only one career when they all sounded so appealing?

Frustrated, the teenager glanced over at her bookshelf. She couldn’t remember ambition ever being this overwhelming. She used to spend hours getting lost in her books, reading about people who sailed across the ocean or had adventures in the sky, who solved mysteries and saved lives and fought for justice, and she’d always wonder if real life could be just as exciting as the stories on her shelf.

And that was when it hit her. Perhaps there was a solution to her dilemma after all, a way she could give her teacher an answer while still staying true to herself. Suddenly inspired, Sophie turned back to her desk and began to type. She typed all through the afternoon and well into the night, pausing only once for dinner and stopping only when the final period had been placed on the very last sentence at a quarter to midnight. Breathing an immense sigh of relief, the 14-year-old printed out her work and shut her computer off to prepare for her first good night’s sleep in weeks.

The following afternoon, after the bell rang at the end of English class and all her peers had filed out, Sophie approached Ms. Miller at her desk.

“So, Sophie”, the teacher began, “have you finally come up with–?”

Her question was cut short when the teenager dropped a stapled stack of papers on the desk. The adult glanced at it in surprise before looking up at her student with a puzzled expression.

“What is this?”

“My essay”, said Sophie with a smile. “All five pages of it. I had to edit some stuff out to make it fit, but it’s all there.”

Ms. Miller was amazed. “How did you manage this?”

“I thought a lot about what you said, that I had to make a choice, and I realized – no offense – that you were wrong. I figured out a way that I can choose everything and still do something completely different from all of it. And now I finally know what I want to do with my life.”

The teacher picked up the paper to study it closely. After reading the title, Ms. Miller looked up at her student with a smile that suggested she had never been prouder of her. Sophie could hardly contain her excitement as she announced her dream with a broad grin.

“I’m going to be a writer.”


This has been a special topic post for Writers Reveal, a monthly blog swap among several talented writers. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the event. Thanks for reading!

writers-reveal-logo

Other bloggers in Writers Reveal
Melissa Khalinsky: Melissa Writes
Becky Fyfe: Imagine! Create! Write!
Ashley Howland: Ghostnapped
Emily Hawker: You Learn Something New Every Day
Lee-Anne Walker: Is it just me?

We’re looking for more bloggers to join our circle! If you’re interested in participating in this monthly roundup, be sure to contact Emily Hawker so she can include you in our email list. Thank you!

The Stories That Changed My Life (Writers Reveal)

Time for July’s round of Writer’s Reveal! Once again, it was my turn to suggest the topic of the month, so the prompt I chose this time was: “the story that changed my life”. Hope you enjoy the topic, and be sure to check out everyone else’s take on this subject. Enjoy!

Five Stories That Changed My Life

Change Ahead SignI chose this topic because I thought it would be interesting to see how everyone would interpret it. What exactly constitutes a life-changing story? Is it one that took your life in a different direction than it would otherwise have gone? Is it one that motivated you to pursue your dreams? Is it one that made you look at the world differently? There are many ways to define life-changing stories, and I consider mine to be the ones that inspired me to become the writer I am today.

Now I know the prompt I sent refers to a single story, but when I thought about it, I realized how difficult it would be to choose just one. There are many stories that have played a role in helping me grow as a writer, and I can honestly say that my life would likely have gone a different way were it not for every one of them. So to summarize my journey as a writer and as a person, here are five of the stories that changed my life:

1) The Cat in the Hat – Maybe two years old is too young for anything to be life-changing yet, but reading The Cat in the Hat with my mom is one of the first memories I have of enjoying a good book. Dr. Seuss’s stories sparked my love of reading at an early age, and that was the all-important first step into my passion for creative writing.

2) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I’ve loved reading since I was little, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the story that first motivated me to become a writer. Roald Dahl’s colorful worlds and fantastic adventures inspired my imagination, and thanks to his books, I’ve known since I was nine years old that creating stories of my own is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

3) Harry Potter – Wanting to write stories wasn’t enough to make me a writer yet; I had to know how to do it well. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series taught me dozens of excellent storytelling techniques such as character development, plot construction and conservation of detail. These novels are also the reason I decided at age 11 to focus on writing in the fantasy genre.

4) The Mists of Avalon – I first read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Arthurian fantasy saga at the age of 14, which was a critical point in my personal development. The Mists of Avalon was the series that introduced me to adult themes such as religious fanaticism, political radicalism and feminism, and it did so in a way that made me feel empowered as a woman. These books are what inspired me to create strong female characters, a practice I still keep to today.

5) My parents’ story – This last one isn’t a novel, though I strongly believe it should be. The most inspiring story I’ve ever heard didn’t come from a book, but from my own parents. The story of their relationship is one that has inspired me my whole life, and the best part is that it’s still being written! My parents are the reason I believe in true love, and why I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing romance. It’s not a novel, but it’s still my all-time favorite story!

These are the stories that I believe have changed my life. They may seem simple or insignificant to most, but if they played even the tiniest part in my growth as a writer and a person, then they definitely changed me for the better.

What about you? What are the stories that changed your life?


This has been a special topic post for Writers Reveal, a monthly blog swap among several talented writers. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the event. Thanks for reading!

writers-reveal-logo

Other bloggers in Writers Reveal
Melissa Khalinsky: Melissa Writes
Becky Fyfe: Imagine! Create! Write!
Ashley Howland: Ghostnapped
Emily Hawker: You Learn Something New Every Day

We’re looking for more bloggers to join our circle! If you’re interested in participating in this monthly roundup, be sure to contact Emily Hawker so she can include you in our email list. Thank you!

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