How I Started Writing: The K.M. Weiland Novels No One Will EVER See

How I started writing? That’s a question I get asked a lot, and it’s a question that came up more than once in last week’s giveaway post when I asked you what you’d like to know about me and my writing life (and, by the way, a super-huge thank you for such an awesome launch to this new blogging adventure!).

My usual answer to “how did you start writing?” goes something like this: Uhhhhhhhhh…. (during which I make pained faces and offer a thousand-yard stare as I try to remember back to a time when I didn’t write).

But, wait, yep–there it is! There was a time when I didn’t write (I wanted to be a veterinarian–until I saw a calf being born on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, decided it was too icky, and changed my ambition to being a horse trainer). There was not, however, ever a time when I didn’t tell stories.

In the Beginning: My First Stories

My very first memory is of myself at about age two. I was up in a tree house at a family reunion. And what was I doing? You guessed it! Making up a story. This one was about how I would turn into a superhero should bad guys attack and save everyone (especially my favorite aunt).

The first story I remember writing was probably in first or second grade. There was a troll, and he was grumpy, and it ended badly. For better or worse, I couldn’t convince my mother to go rummaging through scrapbooks to find a copy to share with you.

But that’s kinda all prologue anyway.

In the Middle: The Newsletter Years

My writing really began at age eleven when I decided it would be fun to force my younger brother and sister into helping me produce The Straight From the Horse’s Mouth Newspaper. It featured blatant copyright infringements against wildlife and poetry books, advertisements for products we were totally unprepared to sell, and original stories. Mine were all about . . .  horses (sensing a theme here?).

Straight From the Horse's Mouth Newspaper by K.M. Weiland

The Straight From the Horse’s Mouth Newspaper started out as a typewritten, carbon-copied bi-fold, then eventually migrated to my very first hand-me-down PC.

After a couple months, my siblings mutinied. Left to my own devices, I evolved the family newspaper into the commercial ($5 a subscription!) newsletter Horse Tails. It went through a number of face lifts and lasted sixty issues and five years, right through high school. It only ever netted about thirty subscribers, but it got me to write hundreds of short stories and articles.

Horse Tails Newsletter

Turned out Horse Tails also taught me a lot about design over the years.

The End of the Beginning: The Novels No One Will Ever See

And then came the novels!

I think my first novel (for which I’ve been trying all week to remember its title and which just came to me: Tuff and the Tornado!) was written when I was eleven-ish. It was about a bull rider and an orphan girl, but it disappeared in one of those regrettable teenage episodes of embarrassment when it got burned.

My first “real” novel (at age thirteen) was about a barrel racer who was fighting emotional scars over her childhood abandonment by her parents. (My email address at that time was, so you know where the inspiration for that came from. Also, I was in love with Ty Murray.) It started out as a trilogy (see! I do do sequels!) but all the books were so short, I ended up combining them.

Thus Cry the Winds

I had to work admirably hard to get that “wind” motif to make any sense in the story.

After that, I was hooked. I think I was fifteen by the time I finished Thus Cry the Winds (nice poetic use of that fancy word “Thus,” don’t you think?) and started my first historical novel: the western For Justice inspired by Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett (who were my frequent riding partners out in the Nebraska sandhills). This one was all about a young Irish girl, living in the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s, who witnessed her family’s murders and took it upon herself to avenge them (but it wasn’t for revenge, it was “for justice.” Get it?). Naturally, she fell in with some charming outlaws.

For Justice by K.M. Weiland

As you can see, I was experimenting at that time with using my middle name for my nom de plume. So that answers one of the questions I know you wanted to ask!

Somewhere in my teens, I discovered (American) football. I’ve never been the same since. Naturally, I had to write about it. My story was about a cocky rookie quarterback trying to escape his legendary father’s shadow. He gets drafted by the Dakota Lightning (cleverly avoiding legal issues right there) and falls in love with the coach’s niece (also an orphan–hmm, sensing another theme here…). The poor girl then tragically ends up with a completely unforeshadowed bout of spinal meningitis. Naturally, he gets his act together and wins the Super Bowl for her.

Bria's Play by K.M. Weiland

Spiffy team logo, right?

And then finally, around age eighteen, I stumbled onto a writing how-to book at the library. Light bulbs started going off, angels started singing–and writing started to get a lot harder. My fourth book was a huge period of growth for me, but, honestly, it’s so bad I can hardly even remember writing it. It was about a girl who was captured and raised by Indians, until she was finally discovered by a guilt-ridden cavalryman who returns her to her family–where she struggles to fit in. I do remember the plot would probably have been a whole lot more interesting if the Indians had attacked a whole lot sooner.

Sierra Sunrise by K.M. Weiland

The book was baaaaad. But I did write a pretty good song to go along with it (one of only three songs I’ve written in my entire life–unless you count the one when I was ten about “kicking my brother in the nose”).

And from those delightful, nostalgic, ignominious beginnings has come my writing career, ladies and gentlemen. Needless to say, the rather spiffy covers are the only thing you’re getting to see of these books. Ever.

Let’s chat! If you’re a writer–do you remember your first story? If you’re a reader–do you remember the first story you read that captured your imagination? Tell me in the comments!

How I Started Writing: The K.M. Weiland Novels No One Will EVER See

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  1. Melinda Ickes says:

    Oh my, did this post bring back memories! My obsession with certain celebrities when I was a teen led me to write novels concerning the never-will-be-named celebrities. Many of them. Some where they were famous, some where they weren’t. I shared some of the novels with other fans via the internet. For a short time I wrote fan fiction about a famous boy wizard. Those are still up. And much better than the celebrity-based novels (which are either deleted or burned). I am not proud of the subject matter, but I can’t begrudge the learning and growing that took place because (in spite?) of teen heart-throbs.

    But if we’re going all the way back, as far as my memory can reach, I was four and sitting on the back stoop at my neighbor’s, reading to her a story (maybe it had to do with a bunny?) that I had ‘typed’ on the typewriter. And she listened. That was the beginning for me.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Honestly, I think those teenage heartthrobs of ours should get extra props for being our first muses!

  2. Ysa Rivas says:

    First off, this is a really awesome post.

    My story ideas actually began waayy back when I hated writing with a passion (for what reason, I can’t remember) and my mom had me keep a basic journal for writing development purposes. I wrote one story that was about a few horses – which I destroyed, I think – and one that was a short paragraph made up on the spur of the moment. My mom didn’t have much to say about the horse story, but she still remembers the short story and wishes that we could find it. Unfortunately – *cough cough* – I have no idea where to find it.
    Then, in August of 2013, I read a few stories that an online friend was entering in the Five Glass Slippers contest and realized that she was good. And wondered why on earth I didn’t try to write something like that? That idea grew rapidly, and was joined by a Narnia-style book, a book about dragons, and a book called In The Shadows. I still have them, although I confess that (much to my mom’s horror) I have destroyed, trashed, and banished into the abyss a great portion of the original writing. I think my writing style has improved, but I actually plan to go back and edit those stories at some point. Especially since two out of four of the first story ideas I ever planned have grown into series!
    I like to compare my story-growth to rabbits, because I have 100+ stories – and counting – from those four, and it’s only been about two years… but as yet, none of my stories are finished. When I tell my family about new ideas, they have come to simply roll their eyes and ask if I plan to *finish* any of them!

    I don’t remember learning to read. Mom began teaching me early, and when I was two I knew the alphabet, the combinations, and the sound you could make with them. Then she realized that if I could read, I might read the magazines in the store. Not cool. She stopped teaching me, but at four I decided I wanted to read and essentially taught myself. I’ve been reading since then, and honestly I get disappointed if I can’t find books that are at/about my level. Words are so cool.

    Anyway. Thanks for telling us your story!
    Love in Christ,

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Sounds like your mom put you on the right course early! Tossing my early stories was a big lesson in *not* throwing writing away. It’s never without value, and you never know when you might want one of those old stories.

  3. Well can’t compete with you young lady but always a dreamer and diary writer and boy did my teachers get an essay or an essay..ha ha I’m sure they loved me, any homework assignment was completed with illustrations where possible….Letters to friends and rellies..war and peace always….my fingers are attachd to mouth and brain and it’s akin to a runaway train …..Work newletters etc always given to me to pen and now in my golden years I am writing proper..ha ha…where it will lead me ..who knows but I am having fun…..:)

  4. robert easterbrook says:

    You have a grumpy troll?

  5. I am a pretty hardcore stalker of yours. So I did had heard snippets of this story all around the Web. But this is first time I came across such a detailed chronicle of your beating up the “just give up, who’s gonna read you anyway” beast and came to us with such an amazing blog and books.
    Whenever someone in my home taunts me about calling myself a writer for such a long time and not getting published until yet. I tell them KM Weiland had four unpublisheable novels before reaching that stage.
    I have only one and a half failed projects yet.
    And my mother just roll her eyes as if I am saying that just because I am lazy. But who cares, I am climbing the learning curve rapidly, finding amazing ideas and filling my creative well. Working everyday. Who cares about publishing at this stage, it is time to have fun. (before having the burden of keeping up with my readers expectation on my shoulder)

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      I say failed novels are the *mark* of a good writer. Very, very few of us succeed with our early stories–and for good reason. Writing is a process, and we need those failed novels in order improve to point where our writing is worthy to be read. Keep at it!

      • Yeah, I just can’t brag enough about how much I have learned from my mistakes. Now, beginning my new project, I at least know what I am doing and have some sense how will I do it.
        p.s honestly I am planning to write my chronicles of getting my first novel to the publishing stage in the future. 😉
        I think there is a lot for everyone to learn. lol

  6. I’d like to see that put into a story. haha 🙂

  7. I don’t remember how old I was, but I found one of my earliest stories recently. It was about a hedgehog who ran away (not to be found for months, somehow) and then discovered, in a hidden twist *gasp* that he had a twin brother living in the woods also. It ended happily ever after, as you can imagine somewhere around age 8-11.

    My dad used to make up stories for me before bed, that related to the huge stuffed teddies I had on my bed, and the adventures of a little girl called Bethany, who lived in a tree-house. Those were easily the spark that lit my imagination and the creative fire in me that just longs to be always writing or reading.

  8. Stephanie says:

    This was an entertaining read! I find it really interesting to learn about your writing journey started, and how much you’ve developed and changed over the years. I never wrote novels like you did, but I did write a whole lot of early fanfiction back in Primary School. Mostly about Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. 😛 I like the cover art for your novels, too! Some of the outlines sound really interesting, particularly “For Justice”. I’m all for charming outlaws. 😉 Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Crash and Spyro–that takes me back! I have vivid memories of sitting at my massive hand-me-down PC in the basement, writing these very stories, while my brother played Crash and Spyro behind me.

  9. Sara Baptista says:

    (‐^▽^‐) So much fun reading this post!
    I really get admired when I read that you created a “school newsletter”, they are so cute :3
    And all of your books are printed 😮 (I think)! I had to draw my “book covers” and along the way I have drawn more in the middle of text 😐
    “The K.M. Weiland Novels No One Will EVER See” Yes, I believe in that. I don’t know if your siblings read your stories, but my sister read and 😐 gosh, she make fun of me. In the next life, I will not show her the first draft

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Actually, my sister was the *only* one to read these early novels–except for Tuff and the Tornado. Nobody read that one!

    • So my story. When I had this first idea of actually become a writer. I begin by a fantasy novel project and was easily thinking myself the next J. K Rowling.
      Then…. all he’ll broke lose when my mom begin reading it, the worst part. My most sarcastic brother was sitting beside her and she was reading aloud. Needless to say, I cried the whole time. :/
      I was so heart broken that I stopped writing or even thinking about it for a whole lot of years.
      But we creative flock, we never learn from our mistakes. And so, I began again with renewed spirit.
      And here I am, discussing my journey.

      • K.M. Weiland says:

        That’s rough. I learned early on not to share works-in-progress–and *never* to share them with certain people. As writers, we have to develop a thick skin, but we also can’t afford not to protect our creativity.

  10. Aah…I see a bestseller in our future;)

  11. Bethany Clarke says:

    Haha something like that ? I’m positive he told me a cliff hanger one Christmas Eve and to this day I’m not sure I ever got the second half. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  12. JujYFru1T says:

    The first story I ever “wrote” was one that I rambled into a tape recorder at six or seven years old. I remember I was quite obsessed with the tape recorder (new technology for me at the time?) and would dink around on the piano or just inform it of what I was thinking; I think I’d been doing that for a while before I came up with a story.
    The story was about a Tiger and his adventures in the Forest. My parents were very helpful in typing it up for me. Apparently it became a trilogy, featuring Tiger’s continuing escapades with his new friends Lion and Rabbit. The trilogy was short, 10 or so pages altogether. I still have it somewhere.

    The first story I wrote officially was when I got Creative Writer 2 on a brand new Windows, when I was 11-ish. It was a Legend of Zelda fanfiction, sadly lost to time. I think I wrote a few other tiny fanfics which I don’t remember… I have a folder on my computer with various unfinished bits and pieces; it’s slowly expanded since I began it all those years ago.

    So really the next thing I wrote, aside from the handful of fic I finished and put on, is my 2010 Nanowrimo novel, the first time I remember creating characters that actually stuck around. That was followed by an unrelated Nano the next summer. They both are unfinished but I refuse to let go of them, in case I edit/revise them someday.
    And that brings me to today, when watching Attack On Titan a year or so ago forcefully launched me back into the world of fanfic and started up a pile of plotbunnies that still follow me around. So I guess for now I’m “just” a fanfic writer, but I have a healthy collection of original story ideas as well, waiting patiently.
    Sorry for the long comment but your retrospective inspired my own. ^_^

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      That’s cool that your parents typed it up for you. Yay for supportive mentors! I remember going through a recorder-obsessed stage too.

  13. Our mutual love for Ty Murray–and Justin McBride–is what linked us to begin with. And I’ve been honored to know you ever since. Wow. you’ve come a long way!!!

  14. Greg Smith says:

    Love the evolution of your newsletter, quite professional by the end.

    “I do remember the plot would probably have been a whole lot more interesting if the Indians had attacked a whole lot sooner.” I felt the same about 7 Samurai (though, not Indians attacking)

    There are two stories I remember writing, one fiction… read by the teacher in class. I was equally embarrassed and pleased. Unfortunately, don’t remember what that one was about. The other was as an entry to one of those writing schools you see advertised in magazines. It was about an experience I had fishing on a jetty, exploring tide pools and having a large school of perch bouncing off my legs as they swam through shallow water… nearest thing I had to walking on water as I envisioned the black mass as piranha attacking and raced for the beach.

    Yours was a fascinating adventure through time, thanks for sharing it!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      “Equally pleased and embarrassed”–I think that pretty much sums the entirety of the writing experience!

  15. A Random Reader says:

    When did I read first read a story that got me hooked? Well, my memory only stretches back so far. I first read Harry Potter in first grade, and that really got me hooked, but I can’t remember before that. So, Harry Potter, I guess, when I was 6.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      It’s amazing how often Harry Potter comes up as an early influence. That series has inspired so many people.

  16. My first short story, written in high school, was about a Cherokee boy who escapes being rounded up by the soldiers for the Trail of Tears. I entered it into a school competition, but didn’t win. I don’t even remember the title. My second short story was a spin-off of In His Steps, about what happens to the character, Jasper Chase. This was also entered into a contest and the only judge to comment penalized me for the spin-off. She thought I should have changed the character’s name. Now I see a lot of writers who do those kinds of spin-offs. I guess she never read the sequel to Gone With the Wind. It didn’t discourage me from writing, though. 🙂

  17. My first book was about a Viking captive girl who said all her thoughts out loud and ended every sentence with an exclamation point. She also had a dog who seemed creepily human-like. :/ Never finished that one. The plot wasn’t thought out at all. I pretty much just was going on the inspiration rush of the HTTYD soundtrack. 😛
    Of course, this is not counting my picture books I wrote. “The Ginent: A story ov faith”, “Rosey and the bere: Part 1” (a lovely story about me getting kidnapped by a bear), “Adventures in Veggietown” and “Kidnap in Veggietown!” (liberal use of chloroform. Seriously, I was 10.)

  18. So fascinating to see your book covers! They’re beautiful, especially compared with my dollar store journals scribbled on with silver sharpie…lol. I remember the first “book” I wrote, about my crush in fifth grade, and an adventure me and him and some of my friends went on. It was illustrated by a professional stick figure artist (a.k.a. ten year old me). I filched some extra paper from the teacher’s basket to make it, and when asked about why I had all the paper, I told my parents it was for a school project. When they called the teacher to brag on me about my creation and discovered my lie, they scolded me firmly about lying- but made sure from that point on that I never had a shortage of fresh notebook paper and journals.

    The first ‘novel’ I wrote (which I keep only to remind myself of how far I’ve come in less than ten years) was an angsty, teenage paranormal/fantasy, heavily based on myself and all my friends, that I cowrote with 2 of my housemates in middle school and the early years of high school. There was, naturally, a trilogy/quartet that I planned to make with it, and I even went out and bought matching dollar store journals to draft them all in. When the housemates moved away, I pretty much trashed the original idea but kept some of the characteristics of the characters in it and developed an entirely new story and world from the original concept of kingdoms at war. I’m currently working on this idea and have finished drafting (FINALLY!) the first title in the series (thanks in no small part to your outlining and structuring books, and all of your lovely and inspiring posts, Katie!).

    Fanfictions…yes. I co-wrote some with my friends in my middle to late high school years that were based on anime. I started one on my own based on the Death Note anime series, but abandoned it because I realized how completely juvenile it was. The next fanfiction was much more successful in comparison, with 10K readers and counting; I started it about 4 years ago and have finished it this year. It’s a Disney crossover between Cinderella, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Pocahontas. That project has given me a lot of feedback about my voice, my strengths, as well as my weaknesses, along with giving me a tiny bit of a platform. Also, it was just a ton of fun to write. =) Much easier to write with a backbone for plot already in place. Haha. It’s good practice.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      I love the anecdote about your “school project.” That’s classic writer beginnings stuff right there. 😀

  19. I wrote stories in English class in school, helped with school, university Geology Department and company newsletters. But the latter were always of a technical nature except for one account of a visit to Derbyshire Peak District where I wrote a story about a Pub in a Dickensian writing style, can’t even remember the plot or title but I do remember it was fairly well received. Otherwise everything else was technical writing including a mammoth 125MB Health & Safety Manual. I have a good imagination and spent many hours making small plasticine models of soldiers, ships etc. and inventing scenes and stories in my head and playing them out with the models.
    I was retired in December last year as I had to help care for my wife (I’m only 67!) and hired a full-time nurse to help me care for her as she has Dementia and Parkinson’s. Her geriatrician advised me to take up a pastime to help relieve stress. I collect postal history of Derbyshire, England and it’s a frustrating hobby as material from 18th and 19th century is very difficult to find.
    One day, in my frustration I wondered what it would be like to travel back in time and actually collect the material from source. This gave me the idea to write about finding a time machine and doing just that. My own reading interest is Fantasy/Science Fiction/Historical Fiction and I love what Eric Flint is doing with the 1632 series.
    I researched the early Victorian era in UK and bought about $500 of reference books and after hours of internet research, I started writing. After 6 months, FOUR versions and a final V5.0 of 98863 words later, plus filling 6 A4 notebooks with ideas, bios, timelines etc. – remember it was originally a therapeutic exercise – I found your Blog site and was HOOKED!
    I’ve ordered your Outlining and Structuring books and haven’t written anything except Character Bios for 2 weeks (I only have time in early morning and/or mid-afternoon – 2-4 hours a day), and am waiting for your books to arrive so I can string together a Novel instead of a somewhat disorganised set of scenes. The book has environmental protection and conservation, life in 1840s England and some romance.
    I can’t wait to get started on your books. Thank you for all your time and effort in helping writers and all the best with your Dreamlander sequel.

  20. I’ve also remembered an outline for a couple of stories I wrote on the “plane from UK to Singapore in 1972 (no non-stop flights in those days – long journey, stopped in Milan, Abu Dhabi Bombay and finally Singapore after 22 hours). One about finding a frozen cave man in a cave in Yorkshire – way before the movies Iceman (1984) or Encino Man (1992),

    and another about how a technology was developed to activate Genetic Memory or as Jung calls it Collective Unconsciousness. Set in the far future takes a man back through to pre-history.

    Now I have to find that notebook. I’m a squirrel, so it’s got to be around here somewhere!

  21. Elizabeth Parr says:

    XD this is awesome.
    I don’t have a lot of old stories, mostly because I never finished writing them…
    I have a few short stories- three finished ones that I know of- all of which are rather cliche fantasy. (3 foot talking squirrels under a curse? Your stereotypical girl-escapes-castle-defeats-dragon-and-apparently-dies-and-meets-love-interest-again-in-some-kind-of-afterlife? Time traveling through a tornado for no apparent reason? XD) from when I was obsessed with fantasy/medieval during 2016-2017- I THOUGHT they were novels! (Didn’t know enough about structure to make them longer than 5k-10k words)
    And a bunch of either fantasy or slice of life that I never finished XD I tried a mystery once, too, and never finished it either.
    And stuff for school that I lost or never finished. Lol…

    Then somehow I jumped from that to plotting real length novels. And outlining. And researching a ton. And pretending to be a writer but spending more time looking up cat memes or how to write better villains. XD.
    And listening to the HWBA podcast.
    And finding music on YouTube.
    And procrastinating in general.

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