My eighth grade English teacher turned to me in the last week of school before summer break and said, “Why don’t you write a book this summer.” She’d obviously observed my love of literature and of writing—scores of short stories written and submitted as a part of class—and, perhaps, thought I’d be pleased and possibly inspired. So, as any good military brat would do, I did write a book. Thank you, to Ms. Hall from Bayside Junior High School. That summer, I crafted my first novel with pencil and wide-lined paper (typewriters were expensive, hard to come by—even if I could learn to use one). By summer’s end, I had one hundred pages—a fine novel.
When my biggest fan—Mom—found the handwritten text, she spent what many called “good money” (Is there bad money?)…anyway…to have it typed into a manuscript, while a school pal of mine—an extraordinary artist, Carl Bush—penned several drawings (Carl went on to complete an extraordinary military career, and I thank him for his service). A young adult fiction story about kids traversing across the U.S. on bikes only to come front and center with disaster—this novel was a mix of the Box Car Kids meet Encyclopedia Brown with a dash of a want-a-be Agatha Christie sleuth (I am a carnivorous reader, even now). Mom sent our only copy and Carl’s original drawings directly to a reputable publisher of children’s fiction. And, we waited.
Several months later, Mom followed up. The text had not hit the slush pile (amazing, right!), but it certainly wasn’t publication ready—my first rejection letter. The publishing house editor, as I reflect back now, was very gracious in her reply: “You already have two of the qualities a good writer must have—imagination and perseverance.” Little did she know a mystery writer was born that summer and that her words challenged me to continue writing, to learn craft, and to use my imagination. Thank you, Phyllis Braun (wherever you might be now).
However, life intervened, as it often does. High school, college, work, and graduate school—you get the picture. I never received the typed manuscript back (I found out years later that it had cost my Mom a “pretty penny”—another of those phrases used about money). One day many years later, looking in an old trunk I’d kept, I found the original text along with all the short stories and reams of poetry I’d written. I was instantly in Ms. Hall’s presence, immediately plugged into my dream of being a mystery writer.
Author Crystal C. Coombes
I'm a lover of mystery fiction, chocolates, homeless canines and Latin ballroom dancing. Here I'll share a bit about myself and what I'm thinking. Join me to learn about some of those times I remember — that might even become a part of my next novel — the things we all wonder about, and the best method to brew an authentic cup of English breakfast tea.
"All Things Equal" review:
"A gun, a girl and something to prove. Lu Garcia plunges into a closed community with murder on its mind. A fast-paced and satisfying read!" ~Karen Jones, author, speaker and broadcast journalist. Kjwriter.com