When I was a little girl, my basement was divided into two parts: a family room and a playroom. There was a large bookcase that divided the two rooms. I was always drawn to this bookcase that was filled with books. I would sit in front of this bookcase for hours and just stare at the books, running my hand over their spines, pulling them out, and flipping through the pages filled with words. So many words! I loved the look of the words on the pages. I loved the way the books looked grouped on the shelves. I even loved the smell of the books.
One of my fondest memories of my childhood is going to the library. It was one of my favorite places on earth. I would check out a stack of books every time, protectively carrying my treasure home with a huge smile plastered on my face.
While I had a deep love and appreciation for books, the sad truth is - I couldn’t read them. They were a mystery to me. A mystery that I so desperately wanted to unlock. But, I didn’t know how.
In grade school, my teachers would read to us, shining a light on some of the mystery. However, what I wanted more than anything in the world was the ability to read the books myself, but the ability to read eluded me. Actually, this isn’t exactly the truth. I could read. It’s just when I read, it was like decoding a message from a spy. If I read for long periods, I would often get confused or lost. Words seemed to float off the page and dance around. Sometimes letters would change places. It was extremely frustrating.
At the end of my third-grade year, my teacher finally admitted that there was a problem. I was promptly held back a grade and I was labeled with a reading disability and put into LD classes. My nice teacher was replaced with a mean woman who constantly reminded me that I wasn’t smart enough to be in her class, which made leaving the classroom to go to my LD class a lot more bearable. My LD teacher was nice. She helped me to realize that the reason I couldn’t read wasn’t related to my not being smart enough. It was because I wasn’t able to see things like the other kids. I got a pair of glasses. And suddenly learning was fun, but now I was stuck in these remedial classes and my education now had a ceiling. I was basically told - you can learn this much and no more because you have a learning disability.
Eventually, I became bored and consequently started to daydream. Well, if I’m truthful, I always had a problem with daydreaming. I was a very creative child. But now I wasn’t daydreaming because I couldn’t process what the teacher was saying, I was daydreaming because I was bored.
While I grew in my ability to read, chapter books were still an issue for me. Whenever I was assigned a book report, I would read the back cover along with the first and last pages, and if I was feeling especially adventurous I would skim through the book and pick out key storylines. Then I would write them down and make up the rest. I guess most of my teachers never really paid attention or cared because they never caught me. Maybe I should say that they never confronted me.
Not until I hit Ninth grade. I worked really hard and fought my way out of remedial classes and was now in all regular classes. I was assigned a book report and I did my usual thing, yet this time my teacher did catch me. She kept me after class and talked to me about it. She was the first teacher to recognize my gift for storytelling. She was also the first teacher to encourage me to think about becoming an author.
That was a magical day for me. I walked on clouds for the rest of the day. Wow! What a thought, that I could be the one to write the mysteries contained within the books I loved so much would be a trip! Unfortunately, my mom and stepdad decided to move us out into the country and away from this teacher who had been so encouraging to me.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year that we moved to Missouri where another teacher took note of me. She helped me read through the book “Of Mice and Men” - I know; what a book to cut your teeth on right? We would read a chapter aloud in class then read one at home until we finished the book. For some reason, breaking it down like this and discussing it along the way really helped opened the door to reading for me. I remember reading the last word on the last page of the book and just sitting there in stunned amazement. That Julie, the Learning-Disabled student read a whole book and understood it. After that, there was no holding me back. I would read a chapter, then write about what I read. This really helped keep me focused, and if I got lost or confused, I could go back to my notes and find myself back on track.
After this, I was like a sponge. I read every book I could get my hands on. I went from not being able to read a chapter book to reading 30-50 books a year.
I thank God every time I finish reading a book for the teachers who took the time to see me, and to see the potential I had rather than the label I wore.
As time moved on, I got married and I began to journal. I wrote a lot in my journals. I would write about my day. Notes from Bible studies and yes: even short stories and story plots. It was during my pregnancy with my third child that I went on bed rest for a short while around Thanksgiving. I remember Michael was in the kitchen cooking a turkey and I was resting on the couch watching TV. As I flipped through the channels, I came across this movie marathon on USA and it caught my attention. I should interject that I grew up in a home that we really didn’t go to see movies in the theater. I really didn’t know what I was watching. I was watching Star Wars. A movie my mom did not approve of. I was instantly a fan. I Started reading all of the books. I wanted to become a part of the Star Wars universe, so I began to wright my own Star Wars novel hoping to become part of that world.
However, I had a friend at the time who wasn’t really a fan, and really discouraged me from doing this. I was 18 chapters into my book when she became so adamant that I not write that book. I decided to pray about it. Not long after, I tore up all the pages I had typed out and pledged to God from that day forth I would only write things that brought honor and glory to Him. This was the birth of “Firestorm” - my first novel. I am so excited to share my stories with you. My passion is to share my love for Jesus through exciting, adventurous stories. Along with my blog posts and books, I will be adding a place to go check out my latest projects and progress and upcoming release dates.