I was bored. Second semester of seventh grade, and somehow I had managed to land myself the easiest schedule ever. I started going through three books at the library a week. I started writing notes to my friends like crazy. I started–well, I started a book.
I took a piece of notebook paper, folded it in half, and wrote “Walk Me Home. By Tamara Hart. Chapter 1.” This became my biggest obsession. I didn’t finish writing the book until right before school started in eighth grade. But I did finish it.
So I began to rewrite. The characters got older. I cleaned it up, taking out lengthy descriptions and random silliness that made me roll my eyes.
I got all excited, because it looked like someone was interested enough to inquire about a sequel. (I mean, if you didn’t like the first one, would you care about a sequel?) I responded right away, letting her know about my outlined sequel. Then I sat on pins and needles, waiting.
On July 6, I received another email. This one said:
We are very impressed with your submission. Your story is incredible, fast-paced and a really, really good read. Your plot development is excellent, and the characters are also well-developed and likeable, except for the villains, who are incredibly frightening.
Um, yeah? Of course I said yes. Thus my novel went from being a YA coming-of-age novel to a YA thriller/suspense novel. In some ways, I felt like I sacrificed a lot of my original plot so that I could get it published. But the end result? It’s published.
Natalie Aguirre says
Congrats! What an awesome story of publication. Thanks for sharing what the editor actually said.
Good luck with your book. It sounds really exciting.
I know. Tamara is a real sweetie. Great story!
Kelly Bryson says
That’s amazing! Nothing I wrote at that age will ever see the light of day;) Thanks for sharing!
Catherine Denton says
What an amazing story! Congratulations on your book.
Tamara Hart Heiner says
Caroline, you’re an angel! Thanks for hosting me!
@Natalie–every time the editing process got scary, I’d read back over those first words and feel confident again.
@Kelly–lol! I bet you could take the idea of something you wrote back then and make it stellar today!
@Salarsen–Hey! Nice to see a familiar face!
Lindsay N. Currie says
What a fantastic story!!! Thanks for sharing it. I just popped over from the comment challenge and am enjoying your blog:)
Julie Musil says
Holy cow, what a story! I can’t believe an idea from middle school became a published YA novel. Incredible.
Kiki Hamilton says
Congrats Tamara! That is really inspiring that not only was it a book started in middle school but also picked out of the slush pile! Now I can’t wait to read it!!
Solvang Sherrie says
You’re not going to believe this, but I wrote (and finished) my first novel in 7th grade, too!! Mine is in the garage somewhere, though, not a published YA novel. How cool that you were able to shape it into a publishable manuscript!
Tamara Hart Heiner says
@Solvang–I bet you could too! It’s definitely a debut novel, and I think it’s fairly clear that the idea is amateurish. But I’m so proud of this little novel I wrote when I was a kiddo.