My name is Julia Elizabeth Flowers (if you haven’t gathered that from the name of the website), I am fourteen years old, and I have just completed my first novel.
It all started around three years ago when my family got into a major car accident; my dad broke his pelvis in six places, fractured his spine, I got quite the concussion, and my mom and sister managed to walk away with only a few scratches and bruises.
Before then, we were your normal American family. We honestly barely interacted with one another because we were so busy with our own lives: school, work, extracurricular activities, blah, blah, blah. We often ate fast food and lived in a medium-sized suburb on the outskirts of a big city in California. My dad commuted about an hour each day to work, working from around eight am to around six pm not including the drive in each direction. My sister and I went to public school like almost every other kid for six hours a day and then would end up with about the same time devoted to homework.
But afterwards, everything changed (and, oh, do I mean everything). Our eyes had been opened to the fragility of life and we weren’t about to waste it. After my dad had finally healed enough to continue with work, he worked from home because he couldn’t make the commute anymore. He was at home all the time for around the first year after the accident because he could barely move (with the exception of the endless doctors appointments he had to go to). After we finished up the year at school, my mom pulled my sister and me out and began homeschooling us, freeing up the majority of my time.
But those weren’t the only things that changed. Our entire diet converted. We discovered that you really are what you eat. Every time we would eat any form of junk food, my dad’s pain levels would spike, so we switched to all organic everything. No more Carl’s Jr. or pizza or anything of the sort. And we all started feeling exponentially better.
Then my parents realized that they weren’t even happy! My dad didn’t like spending all day behind a desk with meeting after meeting and not spending any time with the family. So then came the lifestyle change. About a year ago we began the search for our ranch. Something secluded with all the resources we needed to be self-sufficient. It took a long time, but about seven months ago we found the perfect match and put our old house on the market. It sold within the first week and we moved out within the end of the month to a tiny town still in Northern California, but three hours from where we once were.
And, man, the culture shock was insane. We went from living in a town of around 25,000 people to a town of about 600 people. To put this into perspective, the high school in the town I used to live in had a student body of around 5,000 people. The high school in the town I live in now has a student body of around 50 kids. At first I was sure I would die. But I fell in love with the liberation and open space. I could walk outside in my underwear if I wanted to because no one would see me (not that I tend to walk around in my underwear, but you get my point). And now I don’t see how I ever survived in Suburbia.
Homeschooling and the tiny community freed up around 80% of my time, so, in a way, without the accident, I would never have written my novel.
I had already known that I wanted to be an author, but I figured that I wouldn’t begin my career until after I completed college. But one of my mom’s friends, a fellow writer, gave me the idea to use my abundance of free time in a constructive manner, writing the book that I had talked about for so long.
So this November, National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), I started (and completed) my manuscript. After I had finished it, I submitted it to a publishing company who immediately jumped at the chance to publish it. Sadly, when I told them I was a minor, they informed me that they couldn’t publish me and the deal fell through.
But my mom’s friend (the one I mentioned earlier) told me about self publishing and I simply fell in love with the idea! So here I am, writing on my own author website! It’s crazy (how many times can I say that word?) how my life has taken a 180 in the past three years.
I enjoy spending my free time writing, baking, reading, with my family, around the ranch, and raising my dog, Bandit. (I’m sure you’ll hear about plenty of his antics!)
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Thanks For Reading,
Julia Elizabeth Flowers