Saturday, November 2, 2013

How I Got My Start

It was a quiet afternoon. I had just finished about ten pages worth of story and illustrations. Smiling proudly, I handed them to my mother. “Here, go and get these published.”

My mom didn't want to disappoint me, so she agreed. But the truth was, she didn't know anything about the publishing industry. I didn't either. I was only nine.

In the meantime, I kept writing and illustrating, hoping that I would be able to publish my books one day.

When I was fourteen, I had a computer in my room for the first time. Now I had easy access to learn about the publishing industry. I opened a search site and typed in “publish your book”. Several results came up. I was overwhelmed.

After reading the first two sites, I felt a little sick to my stomach. This was going to be a long, grueling process. And I might never become an author. That thought alone terrified me. I decided to write some more and worry about the research later. I didn't look up publishing again for almost two years.

When I was sixteen I moved to New Port Richey, Florida with my family to be closer to my grandmother. My grandmother, who was an artist herself, saw my raw talent and began working with me, teaching me art, and giving me constructive criticism on my stories. We spent a lot of time at the local library. I delved back into my publishing research. I checked out every book the library had.

This time I read them all. I learned that there were many different routes to becoming a published author. None of them were wrong or bad. All of them had their own trials and tribulations. I learned about traditional publishing, vanity publishing, and later POD (print on demand publishing).

I dreamed, I made lists, and I mulled over the pros and cons of each type of publishing.

When I was nineteen, and barely out of high school, I finished my first book, Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy. Destiny and Faith were based off of two twin babies I had written about when I was younger (about ten years old) named Lillian and Filana (Destiny and Faith's middle names are a tribute to these original characters)

I wasn't ready to publish the story yet, though. It wasn't ready. I wasn't ready.

I had read that a great start for new authors was to get a short story published in a magazine. So I focused on that. I pulled my short story Bristol's Big Wish out and began cutting the word count until it was acceptable for a magazine submission. When I was finished, it was only 800 words.

I sent it to Highlights For Children without really knowing the criteria for submission. I was rejected. But it was the nicest rejection letter that I could have probably received. The letter mentioned how I was talented and the story was great. It just wasn't a right fit for their magazine. Maybe they were just being nice. I don't know. But I moved on.

Between nineteen and twenty-two I focused on writing fiction for adults. This was mainly romance and mystery romance. It was a whole different ball game than writing for kids. I liked it more and less at the same time.

While I had more freedom of expression, I also had less freedom for creativity. Or at least that's the way it felt. 

At twenty-two, I dug up Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy and decided that it was time to get it published. My mom was a nurse to a patient who also happened to be a former editor. She looked over my book, edited the grammar mistakes, and thought it was a great story.

In late 2011, we moved back to Missouri, using Poplar Bluff as a landing point. We ended up staying here.

In 2012, I finally finished publishing Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy with Createspace. I had chosen this route for a few reasons.

One, I wanted to keep all the rights to my book.

Two, I wanted to illustrate my own book.

Three, and most importantly, my father was dying of cancer and I wanted him to see me as a published author before he died.

Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy came out in January 2012.

My father received his own signed copy. He passed away two months later on March 9, 2012.

But for me, this was just the beginning.


  1. Your story means so much to me and inspires me to keep writing the nonfiction book I am working on.
    I too have spent SO much time on researching the differing publishing venues.
    I loved your story and feel a kinship with your writing and publishing experiences. I am glad your father was able to read your book!

    1. Hi Sharin,

      Thanks for reading my story. I'm glad to hear it inspired you to keep writing your nonfiction book. Researching different publishing venues was a lot of work but completely worth it.

      It's nice to feel a kinship based on experiences.

      And thank you. I'm glad he was able to read my book too. :)


  2. Teddy, I just left two replies to your comments that I was not sure would reach you. They are on my website....
    Thanks so much for your advice and encouragement!