How I Became a Writer by Christie Rich
I used to think of writers as these amazing creatures who made up worlds and creatures and characters. I was in awe of how someone could “come up” with a story line or that amazing character or a world that sucked me in.
Now I know better. All my life I’ve loved stories, partially because my family was relatively poor growing up, and I had to use my imagination to entertain myself, but also because there is a deep seeded need within me to “explore strange, new worlds.” I was raised on a steady mental diet of cartoons and fantasy (thanks to my dad), but unfortunately, I didn’t develop a true love for reading until I was in my adult years. Sure, there were the stories that I couldn’t put down, but those were so few and far between I don’t remember most of them.
You see, I actually hated reading in school (gasp). There was a very good reason for this. I have dyslexia. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it means my brain sometimes mixes up numbers and letters and generally makes reading comprehension hard.
Fortunately for kids these days, teachers are trained to identify those with a “learning disability” and are armed with the knowledge of how to help their students, but when I was growing up, it wasn’t the thing to do. My teachers just thought I wasn’t paying attention when I stumbled over words sometimes and couldn’t understand something and assignment. The more advanced the reading requirements became in school, the further I withdrew into my head. I used to daydream a lot in class. In my early years it was because I didn’t get what was happening. In my later years it was because I didn’t care.
I actually graduated with a 3.8 GPA which was pretty good considering, but I could have done better if I had known what was up with my brain. As you can imagine, studying was hard for me. I’d read the assignment and think, “What in the heck did I just read?” It wasn’t that I wasn’t paying attention. I was. I just couldn’t figure out how to retain what I read.
Eventually I started reading aloud, which got me some raised eyebrows from my parents. To this day, I don’t know if they realize how hard of a time I had in school, and that is okay. I did fine most of the time when it came to grades, but I had to work hard to get those grades.
So fast forward to adulthood. Like most people I associated with, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I went to college, got a job, and tried to make a living on my own. It wasn’t until after the birth of my daughter that I started reading for fun. Somewhere along the way, my brain seemed to have developed a way to retain information. Probably because my day job demands that I remember lots of information, but that’s another post (grins).
The minute I decided I liked to read, I couldn’t stop. I lived at the library, borrowed books from family and friends, and sought recommendations for the next big thing. I devoured the Twilight books, the Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter. I read others along the way, but those were the ones that stuck with me. Then I read some romance books by an author named Karen Marie Moning. I picked up one of her titles on a whim and read all of them in a matter of weeks. When I was left wanting, I saw she had another title, Dark Fever, and picked it up.
It wasn’t anything like the feel good Scottish romances she had previously written. The book was urban fantasy, which I had no clue even existed at the time. As I read I kept waiting for the romance to happen and when it didn’t I was disappointed, but those books had me hooked.
The mystery surrounding the fae in the Fever Series was what sparked my imagination thinking about them. In the Fever Series, the fae weren’t pint sized winged creatures flitting about causing mischief. They were dark and dangerous and intriguing.
I thought about those books more than any I had ever read. I became obsessed with “figuring out” what was going to happen and joined the KMM message boards where fans can postulate all day long about theories.
It was through that contemplation that the spark for my own series came. It was really from one question: What if the fae were misunderstood?
My mind began churning and pretty soon I was thinking about characters that had no home. At least not yet.
One of my good friends had been telling me for years that she wanted to be a writer, so when I finally had a full formed plot in my head, I tried to give it to her. I started out by say, “I have this great idea for a book.”
Little did I know that this particular friend was inundated with great ideas from her well meaning family and she was sick of hearing about other people’s ideas. She turned toward me and said, “If you have a story, you need to write it.” She wanted one of her own, and now that I know what that means, I can’t blame her.
As you can probably suspect, I went away from that meeting feeling deflated. My hopes for this burgeoning story inside me had been dashed. The truth was, I didn’t think I could write a book, yet I’d never tried.
The idea of my fae story never being told was so traumatic for me that I said, “fine” and went to work figuring out how to write a book. My first words were awful, and since I don’t have access to the computer I used back then, I don’t have to look at them anymore. But that was the beginning of my writer’s journey. My husband would laugh if he read this because he hates the way people throw out the term journey so often, yet I feel the word expresses what I’ve been through, what I continue to go through as a writer.
The truth is, I love writing more than any creative outlet I’ve tried. It’s liberating to sit down and let a story flow out of me, but I can’t say I created any of it. The characters have come to me, shown me their homes and their lives and I have tried to capture their story to share with the world. It’s a humbling experience, and I’ve read other posts from other writers that say similar things. What I get as a writer is a glimpse of an unknown world, a snapshot that I have to flesh out to make sense to readers.
As time passes maybe I’ll begin to create my own worlds, but for now, I’m happy to be an observer sharing these wonderful glimpses with you.
So have you ever read a story that wouldn’t let you go? Has your mind focused on something in particular? Who knows, if you stay at it, you just might end up opening up the floodgates of story. Once that happens, your life will never be the same. I know mine isn’t.
Rayla quickly dismisses the encounter to her overactive imagination. She is determined to settle into her new life, yet the images and feelings of that night still haunt her. To make matters worse, her aunt seems to be in on the act, insisting that Rayla will soon be hunted by a pack of fae lords for a power over the elements she never knew she possessed—a power that could change the world. Quicker than she ever thought possible, she finds herself surrounded by stunning men that all seem determined to win her heart. Why does she feel drawn to each one of them? More importantly, what dark power do they hold over her? Rayla must quickly learn to fend off these beautiful and seductive pursuers using whatever means necessary or find herself lost to the fae world forever.
I grew up daydreaming about fairytales, and my love for discovering new worlds has never died. I am not one of those writers who always knew I would write. I thought that was what other people did until one day a few years ago, I took a challenge from a friend and typed my first words. My journey has been wonderful, and I cannot imagine a day where I would ever give up writing now. My love for reading is what fueled my imagination in the first place and still does. When I am not writing or reading, I am enjoying family time with my husband and two children. We live in a quiet community under the Wellsville mountains in Utah, and I am so thankful for the rich life I have been blessed with.
Excerpt Five (Elemental Enmity Book I) by Christie Rich
The view of the sunset reminded me of my favorite bluff back home. Nothing but sky was visible in the horizon. I might as well have been standing on the edge of the world gazing at the gilded gates of heaven.
“I will never tire of seeing that,” a melodic voice erupted behind me.
If I had gotten a bit more air, I would have landed on Mars. “Zach.” I put a hand against my pounding heart. “You scared me.” I hadn’t even heard him come up to me.
“I noticed.” He smirked. “I was trying my best not to disturb you. You looked so peaceful, but I am a selfish man.” He chuckled, moving closer.
My attraction to him was hard enough to handle when he had all his clothes on. My pulse raced with his approach for an entirely different reason. He had the sort of flawless body that belonged on the airbrushed pages of a magazine. His skin glowed golden in the blazing sunset that brought out rusty hues in his dark hair. My fingers itched to trace every angle of his sculpted abdomen and chest.
“Leave it to you to make this thing look good,” he said, running a finger under the strap on my shoulder. “By rights, it should be burned. Are you going to tell me why you insisted on wearing it?”
He traced my collarbone. “Really?” In one fluid motion, I was in his arms, and he was carrying me deeper into the water.
I hoped he couldn’t feel the thud of my heart beating against his chest. “What do you think you’re doing?” I asked more calmly than I felt.
“Changing your mind,” he said just as evenly.
I could see where he was going with this, and over the edge of a cliff wasn’t my idea of fun. “Don’t.”
He grinned. “Tell me.”
I stiffened in his arms. “If you do this, I will leave—without you.” His exaggerated exhale tickled my neck, sending goose-bumps down my body.
“Don’t you ever relax?”
I gritted my teeth, hating what I had become in the past few weeks. If he had tried this back home, I would have protested, giggled, and screamed but loved every minute of his antics.
Things were different now. I was on edge constantly. “I’m so not okay with heights. Let me down.”
The set of his jaw didn’t give me any comfort. He walked up a ramp between the two converging rivers that made the waterfall. On sure feet, he stepped to the edge. I honestly didn’t know how he was still standing with the water blasting against his knees. He leaned into my ear. “Tell me.”
I clung to his neck like grime to a barn cat. “I don’t want to.”
He looked over the edge and back at me. The humor in his gaze died. He sighed, stepping back a few paces. My heart found its way back into my chest. He carried me to a lounge chair, setting me down gently.
“You can’t possibly think that thing is pretty,” he commented after a while.
“Pretty isn’t everything,” I said.
He raised his brows, tucking his strong chin inward in mockery then looked at me sidelong. “It helps.” He smiled teasingly.
I shot him a dirty look before giving him my back. He placed a timid hand on my shoulder.
“Come, now. It can’t possibly be as bad as all that.”
Why couldn’t he just let it go? I wasn’t all up in his business, why did he feel the need to be in mine. “Drop it already.”
Zach sat beside me, coaxing my chin upward. His voice was soft. “Aren’t you having fun, lass?”
I wouldn’t look him in the eye. If I did he would see every insecurity I had. “I was before you decided to go all Tarzan on me.”
He thumped his chest, doing a great imitation of the call. I tried to smile, but I didn’t think it helped.
“You weren’t like this the other day.” He turned away as if in thought, glancing at me hastily. “Don’t you like swimming?”
The other day I didn’t have four terrifying men after me. I would have liked to give him an easy out, but I didn’t want to lie. “I usually love it.”
Cassie had an indoor pool back home. On the rare occasion I actually got to stay the night at her house, we would spend hours in the water. She taught me how to float first. I had progressively gotten better. I was an adequate swimmer now. The one thing I didn’t like was the high-dive.
He frowned. “Is it me?” His brows furrowed as though he was really worried. “Have I done something to offend you?”
I closed my eyes, inhaling sharply. “I’m sorry. I’ve had fun today, really. I just have other things on my mind right now.”
He grinned, tucking my hair behind my ear. “I’m a great listener.”
I didn’t like being such a disappointment, but I couldn’t snap myself out of it. I could just imagine how fast he’d be gone if I did tell him everything that was wrong with me at the moment. “I’d rather not talk about it right now.”
He knelt in front of me and took my hands in his. “You can’t expect me to not be curious.”
“It’s a free country,” I said. “Be curious all you like.” I was pushing him away when normally I would have been doing everything in my power to keep him interested in me.
The sun had made its final descent. The haze of twilight settled all around us with the stars spotting the barely glowing sky. In a few minutes, I would be able to relax a little.
Zach tugged my hand. “Do you wish to go join the others?” He sounded dejected.
Why was I acting like this? I needed to snap out of it. My mood wasn’t his fault. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather stay here for a while.”
He nodded then moved to a lounge chair opposite me, wasting no time in getting comfortable. “Why don’t you tell me of your home?”
The subject seemed safe enough. “Have you ever been to eastern Utah?”
He made an odd sound, sort of a half concealed groan. “It has been many years.”
He wasn’t old enough for it to have been that long ago. I leaned back and put my arms behind my head preparing to give him details.
“I see,” he said in a sympathetic tone, his eyes soft with compassion.
I followed his gaze down to my exposed torso. How could I have been so stupid? The bottom half of my scar poked out from beneath the fringe. I bolted up, pulling awkwardly at the fabric.
He shook his head. “Everyone has imperfections, Rayla.” In an instant he moved to the edge of my chair. Calloused fingers caressed my shoulder before skimming down my arm. “Some are just more visible than others.”
I turned away. Then I got mad. “Really, where’s yours?”
His face crinkled thoughtfully. His eyes held haunted shadows. “You’d be surprised.”
I gave him a look. “Enlighten me.”
“There are certain things I want to change so badly about myself that it consumes my life.” Unless he was a fantastic actor, he was being sincere.
He grimaced, only slightly, but it was enough to make me wonder. “I would rather not get into that with you yet.”
I cocked my jaw, clicking my tongue. “It’s okay for me, but not for you, huh?”
He leveled his gaze to mine seriously. “If a scar is all you have to hide, you should be thankful.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shoved a hand through his hair. “Only that there are worse things to bear than a scar.”
The truth burned me like a solar flare. I should have been able to put on a pretty bikini without so much as a second thought, but I wasn’t there yet. I hoped I would be some day. I felt ridiculous being so shallow. “You didn’t answer my question,” I said after a moment of hesitation.
The lines of his face turned hard. “I know.”
“There you are,” Natalie yelled, cresting the hill in a sprint with Sam close behind her. “Help me, Rayla!” She crouched down between my chair and the stacked rock wall.
“They can’t save you,” Sam said coldly, standing by my feet. “You will pay.”
I turned back, whispering, “What did you do?”
She smiled proudly. “Put ice in his trunks.”
Zach narrowed his eyes at Natalie. His jaw tightened. “You deserve anything you get.” He grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet.
Sam swept the chair sideways. Natalie squealed, trying to out-maneuver him. She didn’t make it.
Attempting to wrench away from him, she said desperately, “You can put ice in my suit. Rayla, do you have a drink?”
Sam smiled wickedly. He looked over at the edge of the falls. Did all male minds work the same? “I have something better in mind.”
She put her hands on his cheeks. “Please, Sam. I’m sorry. I won’t do anything like that again.”
He grabbed her wrists, pushing her into the river. She kicked at him and squealed the entire way.
“Not after this,” he said, grinning. Without another word, he pinned her arms to her sides in a bear hug. She smiled at him. I couldn’t see his expression, but her eyes flew wide just before he shouted, “Geronimo.”
Her “No” was squelched when they hit the water. Zach grinned down at me. My smile shriveled.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said when he came closer. Natalie’s laugh rang clear from below.
“Not that I don’t find the idea tempting once more, but I think I will pursue your affections another way.”