Did you know I’m a novelist?

Yes, I wrote a book. In fact, I’ve currently authored 5 novels and a short book of poems. My first book is bound and everything. It’s called . . . well, now that I think about it, there’s not really a title page. My first grade teacher is the one who typed and bound it, so I blame her for this oversight. Let’s just take a look, shall we? I was 6 years old:

The opening paragraph


This piece of original artwork had the following wise words about parents below:

“Sometimes my parents are mean. And sometimes nice. Some places are fun to go where they take us. And sometimes not. It is fun to live with parents. When I live with parents it makes me feel good. I could not live without parents because we would have to be born from them. We love them.”

Some places are fun . . . and some places not . . . yes, I was nothing if not a very fair thinker. Like in the following observations on the subject of “Sisters”:

“My sisters always yell at me for no reason. They always blame me for bad things that they did. So then I get in trouble. It’s just terrible to have sisters like them. It’s just terrible! Just to have any sister is just terrible, simply terrible. They get into everything. But . . . sometimes nice!!!!!!!!”

Yes, I never indulged in exaggerated statements without presenting the balancing view at the end.

Let’s end on a fanciful note with my thoughts on “Dinosaurs”:


A treatise on our prehistoric reptilian friends

My second book came years later. It’s called “Cry Baby”, featuring a girl named Amanda who was always getting bullied and crying. You may not be able to find this on amazon.com, or at Borders. In fact, the only copy sits on my shelf—that makes it really valuable, right? A collector’s item, or something?

"Cry Baby", first edition


Amanda was tyrannized by her teachers as well as the school bullies, and the pent-up hurt roiling about in her inmost being causes the following outburst: “you violent humbug, piggy of the mud!!” Later on in a heart-aching twist she even turns on her best friend: “You dumb, ugly little tyrant!” But the most emotional tirade, also directed at a teacher, is: “You barfed upon lady with a rooster head! You hard-hearted, unloved, unthink-for-yourself, baby-brained computer-directed cry-baby!” Apparently my 9-year-old soul was rife with insults. Especially “computer-directed”–ouch. I would say that takes the novel from a “G” to a “PG” rating.

My thoughts as a budding young author were recorded in this inspirational journal entry dated February 8th, 1993. Original spelling retained.

“I am doing well in my story “Cry-Baby”, but mom said to many bad things happen to the main character, Amanda. She hurt my feelings by saying that excrushiatingly and . . . well anyway, I’m kind of glad she said that, so that that way I can change it, by making something good become of all the bad things. Wow!!

Dad said maybe I could get my story “Cry-Baby” published, and he wasn’t joking either. I suppose I could get it published . . . Actually, I think it’s very possible. Many kids my age have gotten books published. Maybe I could. And anyway, why not? Dad knows a writer (not personally), but he knows of a writer who they pay by the word. I’m not sure how much though. I wish I did , so I could have an idea how much, how rich he is. Not that I’ll ever be payed that much but. . . I wish they did pay me that much, but then again I don’t want to be famouse either. That surely would not be fun. Imagine people visiting you every second of the day, while you were so very hard trying to write? Ugh!!! The very idea of that is disgusting.”

I guess you could say based on this that Charles Dickens was my true inspiration. Or rather, his pay structure was.

My 3rd book, the short work of poems, is called “The Acrobat’s Fall”, inspired by Shel Silverstein. The only thing is, it was my Christmas present to Dad one year, and to this day it’s the only copy in circulation. Dad, I hope you’re taking measures to preserve and care for this national treasure.

My next 3 books (“Changes”,”Times to Remember”, and “Our God is an Awesome God”) centered around a girl named Rachel Byrd and her adventures starring in a play, riding horses, building a secret fort in a hay barn, and going to a million pool parties, where the boys expressed their avid interest in her. It pretty much sums up everything I wanted out of life at 11 years of age.

At the beginning of each book, I made a little bio for Rachel to get the readers on board with her interests. While leafing through it, this caught my attention:

“Things she hates doing: going on errands, cleaning, social studies, spanish, listening to grown-ups’ conversations.”

Hmmm. . . that kind of rings a bell. I wonder why?

“Favorite food: rice and mushrooms.”

 Hey, that’s my favorite food! Whaddya know.

Let’s jump right into the first paragraph of the very first book:

“”Dear Diary”, I began to write, “Today my sister broke my porcelain cat, I yelled at her and now I’m sitting in my room, grounded . . .” I bit the end of my pen, and a tear dropped onto the yellow page. Flinging my diary aside, I covered my face and sobbed. I finally blurted out “It’s so unfair!” I stifled back a few sobs and stuffed my fists into my eyes.”

Wow, that’s so intense I don’t think I can read anymore for today. I can only digest this in extremely small chunks–like with all quality writing, right?

I even started Book #4, which jumps right into the rehearsals for the play Rachel is starring in. Doesn’t every girl fantasize about having to kiss the boy of her dream in a play they star in together?

“I began to get nervouse . . . and Jesse, who was acting the part of my love, walked on to the stage. Trudy softly played her flute , and I looked at him dreamily. Then, we both knelt down and put our faces close as if we were kissing. Mrs. Lenbraum applauded softly, and I grew red hot. “Very well!” cried Mrs. Lenbraum.”

OK, yep, I can kind of see where that might not have quite been the writing quality that would zoom me to the top of the bestseller list. But where there’s not quality, make up for it with quantity! Or at least that must have been my motto, since there are hundreds of pages of this stuff–hundreds, my friend.

After pouring my heart into these 3 novels, I kind of fell off the wagon. As with all great writers, after your masterpiece you need time for your soul to regenerate. I think I require spa treatments for a full recovery to take place. In the meantime, are there any editors out there who want to do a second run of these books? I mean, a first run? I think I’ve discovered what my life has been missing all these years–royalties!

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8 Responses to Did you know I’m a novelist?

  1. Carrie says:

    Brilliant! You genius, you! Amanda’s insults really are impressively creative for a nine-year-old. What in the world were you reading at the time? Surely Anne of Green Gables couldn’t inspire such passionate diatribes!? Wow, I really need to read that series… I’ll ask Eric whether he’ll edit your masterpieces. But I’m pretty sure, at this stage of the game, you’d have to pay *him*. ;)

  2. Sarah says:

    My sides hurt from laughing! I’m so glad you shared your early masterpieces with us. I also wrote a book when I was 10. It was an autobiography titled “Sarah Ryan: The First Decade”. Mine was much more formal and, I now realize, suffered for the lack of insults. I’ll let you read it when you come to visit. :)

  3. Eric says:

    I charge by the word. But I give discounts just for pleasure if the ms. includes phrases such as “You barfed upon lady with a rooster head!”

  4. Laura says:

    This is awesome, Jenna. I was an early writer too, and still harbor a life-long dream of publishing… something!!! I’ve resigned myself not to worry about taking that on until at least my 60s… or whenever “retirement” occurs. Hopefully I still remember life’s perspective from younger ages at that point, and hopefully my journals and early writings will help! I don’t think I ever progressed quite as far as your skill and dedication in your writings though :) However, it’s very likely that if we have a boy this time around, his name will reflect the “perfect” boy’s name I came up with when I was about 12, as part of beginning one of my many unfinished manuscripts. I usually spent more time naming characters than developing plots, I think!

  5. Vesselina says:

    mascara- infused tears are running down my cheeks from laughing this hard. If I keep it up, I’m afraid my cube neighbors will call 911 for fear that the sobbing emanating from my computer is an indication I’m in dire need of help. Which I am, in a way… wow. Just wow!

  6. Holly says:

    So funny! I love it. I used to be an aspiring writer too, but I have lost all of my poems and stories. What a loss to the world. My mom just got published last year and we found out that you really don’t make much money at all. Although you seem awfully prolific, so maybe that would even things up.

  7. orange says:

    I read this at work — where I am supposed to be working on an extremely important and serious proposal — and I almost died trying to stifle my laughter. I am trying to hide my red, tear-streaked face and my shaking shoulders from the rest of my open-plan office…. I want more! please write up more, scan more, I want MORE!!

    • Jenna says:

      I’m so glad it made you laugh–it makes me laugh too, but in a more embarrassed kind of way. =) I’ll have to consider doing a Part 2, since there is so much more material . . .

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