Behind the Curtain: The End of an Era

Fourteen years ago, I wrote a short story titled What’s What? as a way to deal with a thought that terrified me. The idea my dad could pass away soon. Not sure why my brain had zeroed in on that thought, but it had. On top of the sadness it brought, my mind delved into each of the ugliest possibilities, and thus, my journey began.

Though the story came purely from my imagination, I can remember shaking so hard I had to stop writing and take a break on certain scenes.

When I finished it, I set it aside and went onto the next story, but God had an even bigger plan for it. About a year later, I found a site for teens that had different games (it was connected to a television network which shall remain nameless though I retained all the rights to my work), it also had message boards. Some of the boards had teens chatting with each other, others had advice columns (of which I also had one), and on a third were stories other teens had written. Up to this point, I had only ever shared my work with friends and family. People who had a reason to be kind. I wanted to know what total strangers would think.

I grabbed a couple of “old” stories I was done with, thinking I could throw them onto the boards and not change them…how wrong I was. One day after I finished with my lessons, I posted portions onto the board, waiting with baited breath to either be raked over the coals for how terrible my writing actually was, or for people to love it and think it was the best thing they had ever read. To my young mind, there was no in-between. A week went by, I check the site daily, but nothing. No one was reading or commenting. I had been utterly ignored. Was my writing that bad? I scrolled through the board to see what stories were getting traction. What did they have in common? That’s when I made my discovery. The stories which were doing the best, all had a question for a title. Or rather, a well-formed question. What’s What? was not going to hack it. So, I made the choice to repost both stories with better titles. That was the day Would You Have Believed Me? was born.

This time, I also began to lengthen and improve the stories. I posted my first 500-word segment before class and waited. After school, I checked the message board and people had read it and left comments too! They wanted more! I couldn’t believe it. Each day I wrote and posted a bit more, spurred on by my readers excitement. I woke up each morning giddy to write some more for the 15 readers who regularly commented. I even kept a little list of the usernames of those who asked me to message them when there was more to read.

Thus, Would You Have Believed Me? turned to Gut Check, and The Future Looks Forward. Then came Echoes of the Past and now New Wounds. As I near the end of edits on the fifth and final book of the Step Into Darkness series, I can’t help but reflect on where I, and these characters, began so many years ago and how far we’ve come together. A part of me feels like a dear friend will be moving away soon, but I know they’ll always be a part of me. To each of the readers who has supported this series, I say thank you. I hope you’ll enjoy book 5 and I thank you for sharing the adrenalin, the laughs, and the tears with myself, Justine, Eric, Leland, Camille, and Dirk.



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5 Responses to Behind the Curtain: The End of an Era

  1. Hi there Justina, I hope you are well.
    The Penable Magazine 2020 is out Now and available as an ebook on Amazon here:
    It has your interview inside it and your writing tips, so I hope you purchase it and share the News!
    Thank you and stay safe!
    Phoenix 💖

    Liked by 1 person

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