Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Once Upon a Time by Deborah Woehr

I didn’t always like to read books. In fact, I hated them when I was in the third grade, when my teacher began forcing book reports down our throats. Despite a kind mom’s efforts, I still couldn’t stand the thought of sitting there and reading some stupid story that I would forget a few minutes after I’d finished it.

Three years later, I was introduced to Judy Blume. All of the cool girls were reading this book. I just had to have it because they were reading it. Forever, it was called. I bought it with my own money, took it home and began to devour the pages because I knew what it was about. My parents wouldn’t approve of their 12 year-old daughter reading this book about a young woman’s first sexual encounter, which made it all the more thrilling to sit there and read it in front of them. Forget Nancy Drew! This was much more exciting!

Well, my mother caught me as I was reading The Act. Stunned shock came first, followed by outrage. My parents let me finish reading the book, which still remains in their night stand, 29 years later. I went on to rebel her by buying the books of Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Piers Anthony, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King.

She couldn’t understand what drew me to these books, but I loved them. They took me to other worlds and into moral situations that I couldn’t yet understand, such as the affair one of the heroines had before she and her son were trapped in their car while a rabid dog snarled and lashed at them. I also remember the passage in Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, where he describes what happens when you place a pink monkey in a room full of brown monkeys. It was pretty powerful stuff that I’ve carried with me years after I read these books.

One afternoon, I set a book down and pulled out my notebook with the idea of writing my own story. I stared at the blank page and froze, my pen poised several inches over the first ruled line. My mind went as blank as that page. After a moment, I put both the pen and the notebook away.

You’re no writer, I told my young self. You’re a painter and a scratchboard artist.

I kept a journal to chronicle my personal life, but I never got up the courage to attempt to write a story until after I turned 30. That morning, I was lying in bed, playing what I call a “mind movie.” My mind is always playing them. That morning, I was thinking about a serial killer who decided that he was bored hunting down single white females. How would the police react if he caught the daughter of one of the police chief? This would be the finale for the single white female hunting, I thought to myself. Then, he can start hunting after married women.

I got out of bed, grabbed my artist’s sketchpad, and wrote the first paragraph for this “finale” scene. It was horrible. This time, I didn’t panic and give up. I kept writing. Nine months later, I had a novel-length manuscript. Eight months after that initial paragraph, I published my first short story.

Writing became an obsession as soon as I saw my name listed in the table of contents of that magazine. I shelved my first manuscript for a variety of reasons and started what would become Prosperity, a ghost story set in a remote rural town in Arizona.

About the Author
Deborah Woehr is a writer, designer, and problogger who lives in San Jose, California with her husband and two children. She earned her A.S. in Computer Graphics in 1993 and began writing in 1997, publishing one short story and several articles. Currently, she is a freelance writer for Syntagma Media. In 2006, she edited and published the 2006 Writer’s Blog Anthology, a collection of essays and poems written by bloggers. Her novel, Prosperity, will be available on Amazon in February. For more information about her books, please visit her website at
PROSPERITY: A GHOST STORY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on Feb. 1, 2008 and continue all month. If you would like to follow Deborah’s tour, visit

Win a free copy of Deborah’s book by commenting on her tour stops! One lucky person will be chosen at the end of her tour on Feb. 29 and announced on her tour page at!

Deborah’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours at and choreographed by Dorothy Thompson. Check out to


Cheryl said...

Awesome story Deborah. I loved hearing about your journey. Best of luck with your tour.


Deborah said...

Thanks on both counts, Cheryl. :)

To the StoryCrafters team, thank you for having me.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Great story, Deborah. Good luck with your virtual tour!

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach

Deb said...

I wish I had a buck for every kid who was put off reading through having to do boring, dull, tedious book reports. Teachers should cease the practice if they haven't already.

Kudos to you, Deborah, for hanging tough despite all they could do to prevent you from loving books.

Jean said...

When I was a kid, it was a special treat to spend the weekend with my grandmother.

Special cause she had some of the coolest paperback books on her shelves. And she let me read them:-)

We'd go to bed about 10:30 or so with a book and read for a couple hours. I read a lot of Victoria Holt, Frank Yerby, Ian Fleming, all sorts of gothic, horror and even some "erotic" books that I probably shouldn't.

But, I'll always blame my love of reading on my grandmother.

Deborah said...

Suzanne: Thank you!

Deb: Me, too. Today's teachers are cramming books down kids' throats even harder.

Jean: Your grandmother reminds me of my childhood neighbor, who had a wall of floor-to-ceiling shelves crammed with the types of books you described.