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3 Things I Learned While Writing WonderLand, by Miranda Renae

Be open to possibilities: they can take you to places you never imagined.

"Curiouser and curiouser!"

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

During my senior year of high school, my English teacher assigned us to read a book on the banned books list. I chose Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, not because I was a fan but because they were short. I'd love to say I fell in love with the books or there was something about them I connected with, but in truth I hated them. Add the disaster and complete embarrassment the report turned into, and I'd have been happy never to see those books--or any book assigned in high school--again.

Flash forward ten years. My book club decided to read some of those books assigned in high school. No, Alice in Wonderland wasn't one of them. But I enjoyed the books we did read more than I thought possible. So. I thought maybe if I gave the one book I hated more than any other another chance — I'd like it.

I didn't just like it. I loved it so much that I scrapped the fantasy novel I was working on and started my own retelling. I took inspiration from the debates my Pa (grandpa) and I had about conspiracy theories, my mom’s treatment plans for multiple sclerosis, podcasts, movies, and the horror novels I grew up reading.

Find your people.

"Have I gone mad?"

"I'm afraid so, but let me tell you something the best people usually are."

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The first draft of Wonderland was written over one summer. It was the same summer that one of my oldest and dearest friends was studying for the bar exam. We'd meet for hours at a time in coffee shops, libraries, anywhere with free wifi. She'd study, and I'd write. It was the fastest I'd ever written anything.

She wasn't the only friend to help. There was the sorority sister who'd ask about the research I was doing. A coworker/good friend volunteered to read every version of every story I've written, no matter how terrible.

This book wouldn't be what it is now without them. I wouldn't be who I am without them. These friends gave me the strength to not only finish Wonderland but to query it.

Things don't always go the way you plan, and that's okay.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In 2013, my Pa died. It was swift and sad. It started with a car accident in January; by the end of May, he'd been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Three days later, he was gone. My Pa was my compass, the guiding light that kept me afloat in this crazy world, and for two years afterward, I was adrift.

It was writing that pulled me out and gave me a way back to the person I was trying to be. I'd always written a story here and there but hadn't completed any of them. I'd even been in a writing group for a few years, but I didn't think anything would ever come of it. It was just something to pass the time--plus a chance to read amazing stories before the rest of the world got to see them.

But over time, the amazing women in my writing group pulled me out of the darkness of my depression. Writing and assisting other writers with their stories helped me realize that telling stories is part of who I am. It taught me that I have a way of telling a story that is my own and is something other people want to read. They saved me.

Author Bio:

Miranda Renae spent much of her childhood avoiding reading. Letters were nothing more than a jumbled mess. One day her dad gave her the novel he had just finished reading. It was full of suspense and horror like she'd only seen in movies--only so much better. From that day on, she devoured the written word. No genre was safe.

When Miranda isn't reading or writing, you can find her taking care of a pack of foster kittens or cuddling her two cats Hettie and Courage, the cowardly cat.

You can find her at

Best Piece of Writing Advice: Endings are important; you can't know how all the pieces fit together until you see how the story ends. Finish that first draft, and tell yourself the story.

Do you have any writing rituals? I'm a marathon writer, meaning I will write for long stretches of time, mostly weekends. On Saturday morning, I'll go over to the movie theater and buy a giant bucket of popcorn to snack on as I write.

How do you feel about writing groups? If you find one that works for you, they can be the best tool. Don't be afraid to leave a group if it's not working. You may need to try a few out before finding the right one. My writing has improved because of the help of my writing groups.

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