The short version
I’m a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. I write mostly for children and young adult, not because it’s trendy but because those are the only stories that ever come to me. Honestly, I find adults extremely boring.
I’m going all in to make my writing career an actual career. No more wishing. No more doubt. No more making up pen names to hide behind. No more excuses.
Cheer for my success or route for my demise. Either way, at least I’ll have readers.
The long version
This is my 8th attempt to build my writing career. Yes, I said 8th.
Attempt 1: It began when I was six years old and Santa brought me my very first type writer. No, I’m not a million years old. It was an electric typewriter from the 80’s. I would sit in a makeshift office typing away, producing the finest stories to ever come from a six year old. I wrote a story of how the hummingbird got its speed, and a hero’s journey through shark infested waters…you know, life changing stuff. This practice allowed me to go on to win a writing contest in the 6th grade. Something I’m still proud of and will worm into any conversation today. After that, I was hooked. Convinced I would be the next Laura Ingells Wilder.
Attempt 2: Alas, my teen years hit. I dove into poetry and song lyrics, writing about the dark void of my heart and all that other teen angsty crap. I was going to be the next Alanis Morrisette or Jewel, pouring my angry, misunderstood soul out onto the page. Thankfully, none of that writing ever saw the light of day.
Attempt 3: In my early twenties I had my first son and so overcome with love and joy, I changed my style. I wrote about motherhood and love. I saw the world with new eyes and I felt the old me, the one who wrote stories of hummingbirds and sharks, coming back. I began writing for children again. I wrote a few picture books, some poetry books on motherhood, and even tried my hand at writing those sappy greeting cards for a small company (I don’t recommend. The pay is crap).
Attempt 4: By my late twenties, I couldn’t shake this dream of one day spending my days simply writing stories. So I went back to school. I took fiction writing classes (painful, yet imperative to my craft), and decided to drown myself in words from every angle. I started a blog called Mom of Steel, where I wrote about the comedy that is motherhood. Sort of an Erma Bombeck, Lucille Ball sort of humor. Not satisfied with just blog writing, I began writing a middle grade chapter book. Even though I was raising two young boys at the time, I was determined to make my dream a reality. Oh, and this was at the height of Harry Potter fame, so naturally, I was going to be the next J.K. Rowling.
Attempt 5: Then, in 2008, my life came crashing down. My husband was involved in a near fatal car accident that left him with a life altering Traumatic Brain Injury. With two young sons and a husband to care for, I went into survival mode, trying to pick up the pieces of our life. But even in the midst of tragedy, I never stopped writing. In fact, it was during this time, when I needed to escape the war zone of recovery, that I came up with my first real novel. It would be nine years before I would finish and publish it, but it was in those first years that I can truly say “that novel saved my life.” After watching my sons struggle to accept their “new” dad, I also wrote a children’s book about TBI in a parent. I started a blog titled Daddy’s Different to connect with other spouses co-parenting with an injured partner.
Attempt 6: After years of watching my husband recover, I realized I could no longer wait for life to come to me. For our future, and income, I needed to make something happen. I enrolled in school again with a new determination to finally graduate with a degree. I completed my Associates then transferred to a University as an English major. This is where I felt my writing begin to grow. I published a short story and a poem into a literary journal and began a critique group. In an effort to gain even more experience, I began submitting articles to online publications. I built a website under a pen name (G. Hayden Forest), and tried my hand at publishing. I didn’t stick with it though as school and life once again got in the way.
Attempt 7: In the beginning of 2017, with my BA in hand and my novel nearly complete, I began to seriously contemplate publishing. I researched agents, how to write a query letter, and watched tutorials on how to build an online readership. Then the fear set in. An introvert to my core, the prospect of others actually reading my manuscript was too much to bear. So I stalled. I tried to think of a way to be a novelist without anyone knowing. Thus, my second pen name was born. I could write under an alias, live out my author fantasies, and no one would ever be the wiser. Like my inner superhero being let loose on the world. So I took a page from Indiana Jones and used my dog’s name and my grandfather’s name and merged them together to form River James, my official alter ego. I queried agents with this new found bravery. I set up a website and social media channels and felt the excitement of finally doing it. But after months of rejection letters and dwindling courage, I started to doubt my original plan. Yet, I refused to give up. I owed it to my novel to keep going. So I turned to self-publishing. I published my precious novel under the name River James and waited for mysterious readers to read it. And a few actually did! But unless I wanted my career hanging on the following of 10 readers, I needed to beef up my marketing. Unfortunately, the side effect of having an alter ego is you are expected to live two separate lives. Meaning you have to run two separate lives. I barely had time for one life, let alone two. I also discovered another author using the same pen name River Jaymes writing Gay Romance. I took that as a sign and abandoned my alter ego, publishing Star Walker under my actual name.
Attempt 8: So here I am. Announcing to the world that I, Ginille Forest, am a writer. I wrote a novel and even though the introvert inside me is trying to hide herself away in a deep dark cave, I’d like you to read it. And then read everything else I go on to write. Because my entire life, I’ve told myself stories. And now I’m finally ready to tell them to you.