I’ve been a reader practically my entire life. When I was young, I would get in trouble for staying up all night reading under my covers with a flashlight. That habit is probably what makes me a night owl to this day.

Horror and suspense/thriller were my go-to genres (Stephen King was–and still is–one of my favorite authors), though I did read just about anything I could get my hands on. The librarians at my local library kept their eyes out for incoming books they thought I’d like to read. When I ran out of new books to read, they gave me access to the storage room where they kept the books that weren’t being borrowed (out of commission, I guess?). I stayed far away from romance; the few romance novels I tried reading did nothing for me.

Several years ago, I stumbled upon a website that posted free, original stories of men falling in love with other men and finding their HEA. I was immediately hooked and could totally get behind this kind of romance. I devoured every story, every word. Some were hit or miss (I’m a grammar snob, and bad grammar or misspelled words make me lose interest no matter how good the storytelling.), and I began rereading several times over my favorite stories.

Flash forward to November 2016 when I was introduced to the Hoopla Digital app through my library and discovered a treasure trove of published LGBTQ+ books. I was in heaven! Every free moment I had was spent reading, my face glued to my phone. There were so many authors out there waiting for me to find and immerse myself in their stories.

I also began seeking out my new favorites online to keep abreast of new releases. Twitter seemed to be where the queer writing community could be found. So, I dusted off my abandoned Twitter account and became part of that community as a reader and, eventually, reviewer. I’m an extreme introvert and debilitatingly shy to boot, but I came out of my shell a bit and interacted with other readers and discovered even more authors to read.

Then in February of this year, I had a craving for a particular plot. I searched and searched but couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. For whatever reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to try to write this elusive story. Previously, I had only ever written poems–and that was back in grade school. I didn’t have much faith in myself and my ability to tell a good story, but my intention wasn’t ever to have anyone read it. This was just going to be a fun little project for myself.

Unexpectedly, someone I had become really close to online gave me the encouragement and confidence to make this story happen. I got excited to continue, and the characters I created in my mind kept talking to me and doing things that I hadn’t planned in the beginning. I was hooked. The end result is a complete mess and far from my original intention but, I’ve been told, has good bones.

That one cluster of a story ignited the desire to write more and create different characters. In addition to that first effort (which I have plans to split into two books), I have three other projects in the works. And (here comes the big news), I completed a short story that I submitted to a publisher on a whim earlier this month.

Amazingly, that short story was picked up by JMS Books and is scheduled to be released on November 17th. How wild is that? Never in my life did I imagined I’d publish an original story created by my imagination.

I’ve met some fabulous people along the way. The level of support and encouragement I’ve found from people I’e never met in real life is awesome. This community is wonderful.

Now that I’ve gotten bitten by the creative bug, there are so many things I want to accomplish. I want to write a decent full-length novel. I want to try self-publishing. I want to hold my paperback in my hands. I want to write a story that someone loves.

But even if I don’t check off each entry on my to do list, I’ll still find pleasure in writing.