How I Became a Writer
by Deborah Heal
I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time. I remember when I was very young taking the scribblings I had made to my mom and asking her “is it writing yet?” But I don’t believe I could have become a writer if I wasn’t also an avid reader. Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin, which is why when people ask, I say, if you want to be a writer—be a reader.
I didn’t grow up in a Ward and June Cleaver sort of family. My mom didn’t wear pearls to do housework, and my dad never wore a cardigan in his life. He worked at the Chevy factory, and there wasn’t much money. I lived with my brothers and sister in Woodburn, Illinois, a tiny unincorporated village, really only a bump in the road.
I was raised in a working class family, but one on the rise. Our success has come about because of the family’s love of learning and books—lots of books. When a salesman came by one summer, my mom insisted on investing in a set of World Book Encyclopedias, we could little afford. And we all loved studying them. My dad would sit at the kitchen table, lost in thought as he thumbed through them with his rough hands, often forgetting what he had originally planned to look up. That love of learning was a powerful example.
My love for fiction came from my mom. She didn’t have to say a word. Just watching her glued to the pages of whatever book she was reading, I knew reading was fun. Mom made sure there were books in the house when we were growing up, even though there was little money for frills. And when I was in second or third grade, sye signed me up for the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club through our school. Libraries are great, I know. And today, having a Kindle is nice for conveniently storing lots of books. But there’s nothing like handling a physical book, especially one that belongs to you. I still remember the excitement and happiness I felt when the book club books arrived and my teacher distributed them to those who had ordered them. The only thing better is the feeling you get when you first hold in your hands the book you yourself wrote.
I still have several of the books from the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club. Parcifal Rides the Time Wave was the first time-travel story I ever read and I still love it. Another favorite was My Father’s Dragon, a mystical, mysterious, adventure story. Later, there were Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books for birthdays and Christmases. I moved on to other books, hundreds of other books—from Agatha Christy mysteries to the great classics in college. And each of those books has become a part of who I am as a writer.
Reading, and I’m not just talking about great literature, (although the better the quality of reading material, the better) can teach you a million things. (Just so you know, I don’t sit home evenings reading Shakespeare.) Effortlessly, and enjoyably, you pick up a breadth of general knowledge, a large working vocabulary, and an understanding of English syntax (the way words should go together to make sentences). And most importantly to the writer, extensive reading gives you a sense of the way a story should be told—the characters, the plot, the conflict, and the suspense.
I am so grateful my parents modeled curiosity, a love of learning, and the joy of reading. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that.
By the way, I have a couple of great books I’d like to suggest…
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Deborah Heal is the author of the young adult novel Time and Again. She lives in Waterloo, Illinois, where she enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about southern Illinois history. She is married and has three grown children, three grandchildren, and a canine buddy named Scout (a.k.a. Dr. Bob). Currently, she is working on book three in the Time and Again trilogy.
Where to buy the books
Due to this post being late, my fault, we at MBA are offering up a $10 gift card to Amazon or BN to one lucky commenter. Just comment on this post and tell us what you think is most exciting about Deborah’s books. This part of the giveaway will run for one week, until October 9th, 2012.
“No…There’s no way that would work. I mean no one could invent a software program that could do that. No way.”
“What are you talking about?” Merrideth said, staring at her.
Abby didn’t answer, but taking the mouse from Merrideth, she placed the cursor on the View icon on the menu bar and clicked. “This is so similar to my brother’s architecture program,” she began, “that maybe we’ll be able to …”
When she clicked on Flip, both girls simultaneously gasped. “…do this,” Abby said with satisfaction.
The screen view had rotated on its vertical axis and now they were seeing the back side of Colonel Miles’ house. White sheets on a clothesline snapped in the wind. A young woman in a long blue dress and bonnet was stooping to pull a wet sheet from the wicker basket at her feet. A gray cat came out of the barn and, stepping delicately through the wet grass, cautiously bypassed the flapping sheets to lay in the sun on the back step.
After a moment of stunned silence, Merrideth said, “It’s her! It’s Charlotte.”
Merri leaned forward and studied the monitor and then, laughing, said, “It’s them.”
Frowning, John looked closely at the monitor. “That’s crazy. This is just a computer program. It can’t be them.”
“See the resemblance? Just project forward fifty to sixty years,” Abby said. “That’s definitely Beulah and Eulah.”
“Boo and Yoo,” Merri said. “Get it?”+
“That’s insane! No one could make a program that could—”
“We don’t know what this is or where it came from. All I know is that it’s awesome,” Abby said. “And we really are seeing Beulah and Eulah back in the forties—you got the bit about food rationing, didn’t you? And if you think that’s wild, just wait until you see what happens when we lock onto one of them and go virtual mode.”
“Virtual mode? Show me.”
Abby smiled smugly and turned back to the controls. “Okay, John. Hold onto to your hat.”
First, there was a confusing blur of color and whirring sounds and then…
Book Blurb for Time and Again
Abby expected to spend the summer in the dilapidated old house in Nowhereville getting to know her student Merrideth.
She didn’t expect to get to know Charlotte Miles, the girl who had lived there 160 years before.
She planned to tutor Merrideth in math and English–not history. But that’s before the freaky program on her new computer started waking her with its invitation to “take a virtual tour.”
It turns out a lot of stuff happened in that old house. . .and most of it never made it into the history books.
Time and Again is a story told in the past and in the future. A story of three girls and their journey of self-discovery and faith. It is available on Amazon.com.
Book Blurb for Unclaimed Legacy
“I call it time-surfing,” Abby said. “It’s like being there,
except no one can see or hear us.”
“Whatever you call it,” John said, “that was crazy—what we just did.
Beyond realistic. I mean, I was in that guy’s head
and knew everything he was thinking.”
Abby’s weird computer program is working again. And it comes in handy when they agree to help the Old Dears next door with their family tree. Except Abby and John learn more about one of the ladies’ ancestors than they ever wanted to know. Convicted in 1871 of murder and arson, Reuben Buchanan is a blight on the family’s reputation. But was he really guilty? Abby and John get inside the mind of a murderer to find out. But while they’re rummaging around in the Old Dears’ family history, they discover the truth of God’s promise to bless a thousand generations …
… and a legacy waiting to be reclaimed.