What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Sometimes, interviewers ask when you first knew what you wanted to do in life. As a child, I remember aspiring to be a dancer because moving to music looked fun. But when I found this “magazine” I had made for my mother when I was ten, I realized my interests (aside from trying to get my mother to buy Cocoa Krispies cereal) tended toward my future reality.

In the photo, notice that the lucky old penny initially taped to the top of the page is missing. Never one to waste a penny, my mother surely took it.

On to the Ad

Do You Like Mysterys? (The misspelling is evidence that I needed a good editor.)

For each mystery ordered, send 10 cents plus one box top from Kelloggs Coco [sic] Krispies.

If you do order, you will get your mystery in November. (I wrote this in May, giving myself time to write the book. I recall figuring if she ordered two or more, I’d write faster. Writers, do you recognize yourselves here?)

Write your name and address on the back of the order form.

Check the mystery(s) you want:

__ The Mysterious Letter

__ The Strange Disappearing of Clarke David

__ Strange Footprints

__ The Letters of the Phantom

I provided my address.

As a note: (All of these stories are about Lilly ‘n’ Millie.)

I thought creating these stories would be entertaining and, hopefully, my mother would enjoy them. I was excited about the fictional Lilly and Millie.

Foreshadowing a Second Career

This ad illustrates some elements of an agent’s pitch letter.

Audience: My mother loved to read Nancy Drew mysteries. Likewise, I send proposals to editors whom I feel can offer serious consideration.

Price: Though I don’t set a contract offer goal in a pitch letter, I have figures in mind for that author when I write the letter. I can assure everyone that my price has increased, although anyone who wants to throw in a bonus box of Cocoa Krispies is welcome to do so.

Timeline: When can the author submit the manuscript?

Great titles: Make the customer eager to read the book!

Series potential: Discussing more than one book depicts a career author.

Contact information: Make sure the editor knows where to find you.

Excitement: Fans of Lilly ‘n’ Millie are sure to want to read these books!


Do you remember when you first wanted to be a writer? What did you first write for publication? Why?

13 Responses to What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 2, 2021 at 5:58 am #

    I wanted so to be an author,
    to see my name in lights,
    and then decided not to bother
    when I found I couldn’t write
    my way out of a paper bag
    with a pen honed like stiletto,
    and I thought, yeah, what a drag,
    my work’s like the libretto
    to Oberon, von Weber’s opus
    writ while he was dying,
    a fact he hoped would bring success,
    but he to himself was lying,
    and though with its plot he was smitten,
    it’s the lousiest opera ever written.

  2. Donna June 2, 2021 at 6:02 am #


  3. Kristen Joy Wilks June 2, 2021 at 7:05 am #

    That is so cool! Did your mother order any mysteries? I
    can just imagine her smile as she read your ad. How long have I wanted to be a writer? Well, when I was in first grade, our teacher had to choose one child to go to the young writer’s conference and listen to Steven Kellogg speak. She chose me. I have no idea why. But my heart just grabbed onto that. She thought that I could be a writer!!! I had never been singled out before and to have her think that she saw ability in my crazy imagination was thrilling. So I worked hard on the required book that everyone had to make before the conference. Mine was shaped like a guinea pig and told the chilling tale of how our blood-thirsty (but cute) Scottish terrier tried to kill my brother’s guinea pig. Don’t worry, Fluffy survived! I also got my first taste of rejection as only one child in our group was allowed to read their story aloud and they chose some kid whose book was shaped like a house. A house? When mine was clearly shaped like a guinea pig and was available! Still, it was amazing to hear Steven Kellogg and my Mom even allowed me to buy one book. A Rose for Pinkerton survived my own childhood and I even read it to my own three sons before the poor book dissolved after all that reading. That first conference was an amazing experience!

    • Cheryl Coffman June 3, 2021 at 3:20 am #

      I was always an avid reader, including Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. . I dreamed of writing children’s literature and wrote several. They never left my children’s book shelf.
      Now I enjoy writing novels. I do remember cocoa Krispies with fond delight.
      It is amazing how our abilities as a child carry over into adulthood. Thank you Tamela Murray.

  4. Wendy June 2, 2021 at 8:25 am #

    I love this. Isn’t it amazing how God knits us together with a purpose in mind?

    As a child, I wanted to become many things when I grew up, and most of them were in a creative vein. I wanted to be an artist, actor, a songwriter, poet and teacher. Most of these aspirations I’ve achieved in one capacity or another, but I didn’t plan on becoming an author until I was walking in the rain one day as a mother and wife, reminiscing of some childhood events, and a story began playing out in my mind. One day I will finish it, but for now my memoir is keeping me busy.

  5. Lois Keffer June 2, 2021 at 11:24 am #

    This couldn’t be any more heartwarming. Thank you for sharing. What a wise little girl you were—and still are!

  6. Joey Rudder June 2, 2021 at 12:15 pm #

    I love this, Tamela! What a priceless treasure and what foreshadowing! I wonder what other gems might be hiding in old diaries.

    I remember opening a rock shop in our backyard when I was a little girl. Using cardboard, our picnic table, and an old blanket as an awning, I camped out underneath that table with rocks lined up on the bench as my storefront display. What fun! Sadly, no one wanted to buy the rocks I’d found in our driveway a few feet away.

    Thankfully Mom and Dad gave me a Royal typewriter, boxes of onionskin paper, and a metal desk they bought at an auction when I was about eight years old and saved me from my entrepreneurial shame. 🙂 I began writing a short mystery and was thrilled to share it with them only to have them figure out the ending before I finished writing it! (One of the reasons I don’t share until the work is completed. I call it my purple elephant theory.) That’s when I first wanted to be a writer.

    No more selling rocks for me!

  7. Amy Lively June 2, 2021 at 1:26 pm #

    SO sweet! God wrote this calling on your heart from a very young age. I wrote an illustrated book in elementary school called “Seek” with all the faces made from brackets like this – {

  8. Barbara Ellin Fox June 2, 2021 at 3:03 pm #

    This post made my day! What a determined little girl you were!

  9. Linda Riggs Mayfield June 2, 2021 at 8:27 pm #

    Such an encouraging post! When we passed around “slan books,” in junior high, in which we answered personal questions, I always wrote that my future career was “author illustrator.” My first published work was a poem in high school. 25 years later, after college, marriage, 4 kids, grad school, 3 years on the mission field, teaching, and more schooling, I started publishing articles in the academic and popular press; but the 12 books I’ve written are in several genres, and since I can’t decide what kind of author I want to be when I grow up 😉, I’m only now finally working on my platform, with difficulty.

  10. Beth Gooch June 5, 2021 at 11:33 am #

    What a precious treasure! Love that your mom kept this for you.

  11. Sue Schlesman June 7, 2021 at 1:18 pm #

    YES! I knew in the second grade. I wrote a series of books about a family of well-dressed mice whose last name was “Tiny.” All the children’s names also began with “T.” After about 15 little mice children, I think I ran out of “T” names. I illustrated their antics and wrote about love and family. After the Tiny family, I began writing and illustrating stories, which we “bound” with construction paper titles and color illustrations, glued to pages inside. I make my mother type up the narration so the books would look professional. My mom was my hero and my encourager. She loved books and passed that love on to me.

  12. Hope Ann June 18, 2021 at 2:00 pm #

    I love this so much. XD I had a newspaper as a child and was able to keep it going for six or so years by bribing siblings to write articles for it.

    I’m not sure when I knew I wanted to write. It was something I always wanted, I think. I do remember getting my hands on a book when I was in my early teens though, and it talked about taxes and agents and proposals, and I mentally gave up on the idea of being a published author and figured I’d just write for myself. Eventually, I got old enough and cared enough to study and put the work in for actual publication, but… XD

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