Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why I’m still proud of the first story I ever had published…even though it’s horrible

I’m one of those people who’s written stories pretty much since I could hold a pen. I was the nerd-child who stayed inside, happily typing away on WordPerfect, while the cool kids were out rollerblading. (I did love rollerblading, though. Almost as much as books. We have a home movie of me rollerblading with a book in front of my face to prove it.)

When I was 16 and busting out short story after short story, I found out about an online contest for teen writers where the winners would be published in an anthology. I was completely confident I would win. I mean, duh, I was awesome, right?

I didn’t win. But I did get an honorable mention, and that meant PUBLICATION. At SIXTEEN. In a BOOK. By a PUBLISHER. I would be on bestseller lists within the year. Just picture 16-year-old me (I had short, poofy hair, if that helps you with imagery), reading that email and flying into a wild, screaming frenzy and rushing downstairs to shriek to my parents that I was going to be a real, live, published author.

It was only semi-legit, really. It was a tiny publisher that went out of business within a year or so, and I never got paid a dime—but I never paid a dime to get it published, so it stopped short of vanity publishing. But me-at-16 didn’t know and didn’t care. My story was going in a book. This book, in fact. You can still buy it on Amazon, if you want to pay the high price for a thin paperback. Or if you really want to pay exorbitant prices, you can get it here. (I’d like to think that means it’s reached “collectible” status.)

The story you’ll find inside under my name is the tragic tale of a scientist who figures out how to break the laws of nature to create something out of nothing, and the universe retaliates by collapsing itself and killing…everything. If you were to read it, you wouldn’t find anything too brilliant. In fact, it might be a little cringe-worthy.

But even so, I’m proud of me-at-16 for getting that story published. I wanted to be a writer—so I was writing. I wanted to be a published author—so I was submitting. And I kept doing those things for 13 years until now, when I’m again going to be a real, live, published author.

And I’m not going to lie. I had the same kind of wild, screaming frenzy when I got that call as I did at age 16.

Shallee McArthur originally wanted to be a scientist, until she realized what she liked best about science was twisting it into fiction. She earned a degree in English and creative writing from Brigham Young University so she could do just that. When she's not writing books, she's attempting to raise her son and daughter as proper sci fi and fantasy geeks. Her other adventures have included wrangling a group of volunteers in Ghana, changing her hairstyle way too often, and marrying a fellow nerd. She lives in Utah with her husband and two children. Her YA sci fi, THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE, debuts from Sky Pony Press in November of 2014.


  1. Wow! If I got published in 16 I would be really Big headed by now, haha. God when I go back and read the stuff I used to right back then, I get the cringe your talking about, but your dedication paid at last so Go You :)

  2. Thanks, Haneen. It helped me keep a small head when I didn't get anything else published for, oh, fourteen years. ;)