How I became an Author

First and foremost, I wanted to welcome everyone to my very first blogpost! 

Writing is a profession that never ceases to amaze me because there are so many ways to do it. Fiction writing is so very different from academic writing. And while you can be amazing at one, you can be terrible at the other (shout out to my FIU committee director who read through all my terrible theses). 

And so, I begin my official journey as an author. How did I get here? This one’s an interesting one. 

While a lot of writers focus their love and attention on their first book, and even publish it, Diamond City is not my first book. I started writing in high school with a friend of mine thanks to the Twilight/vampire craze. I’m a huge anime fan, too, so put the two together and you’ve got someone with an overactive imagination who has two outlets: art or writing. I went for both, but soon focused on the latter. Like so many writers out there, my first terribly written manuscript was about vampires!

At this point, publication wasn’t even a thought, though. Writing was a pastime with my friend amidst Doritos and Gatorade during first lunch. We actually finished the story that senior year, and then never picked it up again. We went our separate ways in college, and I focused my writing on science fiction because I was a chemistry major. I had to drop CHM1045 my first semester for all those wondering what became of my scientific talent. While I stuck with inorganic, organic chemistry at FIU killed me.

Killed me. 

Because I came to a crossroads. I realized that science just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t something that I woke up to and thought about. Constantly. Or as I was walking up and down the (too) many flights of steps at the FIU library. And that’s when I switched to English, where I’d get more exposure to classic literature, writing, and creative writing. That was 2012. But by then, guess how many books I had already written? 

Like five, lol! Badly written, of course! As I soon learned when I tried to publish traditionally, and the first response I got to my query letter was “We won’t be requesting this book.”

My first true and somewhat ready manuscript, which was a strange YA/Adult blend, was called Struggle to Prosper. It was about a young man who had freaky shape-shifting powers. That is still my baby, but was nowhere near ready for publication. My query was put through the ringer quite a bit and serves as a classic example of it’s not the query letter—it’s the story. Here’s a sample of it below for those of you who are curious. I don’t think it fit into the publishing world in 2012. Or 2013. Or 2014. 

Query #1

Eighteen-year-old Kasimir wants to start college, rent an apartment, and land a girlfriend. He definitely doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in a lab getting analyzed—literally—to death. True, the disease he has isn’t fatal like the one sweeping America, but hiding frostbite, blood-vomit, and premature aging is harder than passing chemistry.

Kasimir’s problems multiply faster than bacteria on a petri dish when he becomes the prime target of Officer Edmund Taylor, who’s kidnapping random people for illegal experiments. Taking cover in a forest seems like a good idea until he runs into a doctor. Hello lab table. Time to run, but then Officer Edmund Taylor drops by.

Yep, Edmund’s still on the hunt for Kasimir, but he’s also tracking his best friend…the doctor. It’s Edmund’s job to capture test subjects, and the doctor and his pregnant wife look like pretty good candidates. Unfortunately, the doctor won’t believe Kasimir when he says Edmund’s a crock. Oh, well. Looks like they’re goners. Because it’s either run for his life, or expose his disease to a doctor that could keep him under the lens of a microscope forever. The school counselor never mentioned this.

STRUGGLE TO PROSPER is a YA sci-fi complete at 87,000 words. It takes place in the U.S. and highlights the issues we as Americans struggle with today in the healthcare world: doctors, pills, and paranoia. It is a standalone in a completed series. I am a college student completing an English degree and am currently working on other science fiction and fantasy titles.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

So…I gave up. The publishing part. I started writing fantasy and romance because I went back to my roots. The anime Blood+ is a huge inspiration to me and my writing, and there was something subtle about its romance that I loved. Again, vampire girl against the world which every writer and their mother has done, but Blood+ was done right. I took the romance element of it and wrote a book about a girl who used soul energy to power her powers. 

Yeah

But again, no publication. Just a really well written query letter that I paid so many editors to read and critique but never really got any results. Then again, it was more adult than YA, and remember that YA was the hot market back then. Maybe still is today, although NA and Adult are growing. 

Query #2

Single mother Sophia Stevenson busts her ass—or more accurately busses her ass—at the local diner, but if that’s what it takes to secure her twelve-year-old daughter’s future and her elderly mother’s wellbeing, she’s all in. That is, until a car rams into her and kills her.

In the afterlife, bad guys are purged of their sins and reincarnated on Earth while good guys strive to enter Paradiso, a place that offers everlasting peace and luxury. Two words: fuck that—Sophia doesn’t care about the perks of eternity. All she cares about is winning a ticket back to her family, ensuring her mother stays healthy and her daughter doesn’t end up in foster care (or worse: with deadbeat dad). She finds her chance in a tournament to become a Collector, a job that entails traveling to Earth and transporting souls between worlds.

She throws herself into training with Orion, a current Collector, who becomes her mentor and teaches her about fighting, spirit energy, and betrayal. He’s a looker and a nice distraction from her worries, but as their relationship heats up, so does the Corruption, an evil made up of people’s purged sins. It’s been consuming the afterlife, slowly eating souls, and growing more powerful by the day. Shit really hits the fan when Orion becomes possessed and instigates the destruction of the afterlife, damning any chance of everlasting peace and welcoming impenetrable darkness.

Now Sophia has more than just a tournament to win if she ever wants to see her family again both in life and death. If she doesn’t find a way to stop Orion and contain the Corruption, she can kiss all of existence goodbye.

IN OUR WORLDS is an adult fantasy laced with romance and feminist values complete at 96,000 words. Think Jane Ellsworth from SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY lands in one of Terry Pratchett’s worlds. Per your submission guidelines, I’m including XX pages of IN OUR WORLDS and would be happy to send more upon request.

Then in 2018 I started my Master’s in English Literature. And after a few semesters of reading Ulysses (yes, I read the whole thing), I started reading actual contemporary fantasy/science fiction. From, you know, today’s time because books today are very different than the ones in the 1800/1900s. Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, and Holly Black got me started on a path I know I won’t be deviating from any time soon. I started with Shadow and Bone, fell in love with the Darkling (the inspiration behind the Warlord), and wrote Diamond City in 2021. Fast forward all the publishing/marketing research I did, and…

Ha, I know I jumped over the juicy stuff! The steps to publishing are not easy and require a lot of patience. More on that coming soon, but sometimes it helps to know that publishing didn’t happen overnight. For me it certainly didn’t.

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