Her Earliest Work

Someday, if I publish a book that people read and love, someone might want to interview me. And, if I’m lucky enough to pen a bestseller, and my name begins to be mispronounced* on tongues all over the literary world, someone might want to know, “But what was her earliest work? What did she write before she was famous?”

Well, I’ve got a little time on my hands, so I’m going to go ahead and save you all some trouble.

[*Note: Juettner is pronounced YOOT-ner. It’s German, and was a gift from my husband. My maiden name, Kinder, is pronounced like kindergarten, not like more kind than you. Kinder is also German and means children.]

Publications from my 2nd grade, 4th grade, and 6th grade classes at Terrace Elementary School
Publications from my 2nd grade, 4th grade, and 6th grade classes at Terrace Elementary School

Opening the Vault (And By “Vault” I Mean the Door to My Parents’ House)

My parents keep everything. I’m tempted to add the word “literally” to the end of that sentence, but since you won’t see them on an episode of Hoarders, I’m going to leave it off. They keep ALMOST everything.

My feelings about their tendency to over-collect are hard to express. During visits home, I can often be heard saying things like, “I can’t believe you kept all this stuff. Why did you keep all this stuff? You know, eventually, you’re going to need to get rid of… OOO! Is that my She-Ra coloring book? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

Apparently I send mixed signals.

The truth is every time I open a box at my parents’ house or rummage through an old cabinet, I find more treasure. I then move the treasure to my house, while shaking my head at myself.

Recently, I unearthed a pretty good find.

My First Published Pieces


Three things I remember about second grade:

  1. It rained a lot that year. We ended up with a lot of “indoor recess” days where we played games and worked puzzles on the floor instead of running around outside. I now know that these were probably not fun days for my sweet teacher, Mrs. Medina. One of the games we had was Memory. In my memory, no one would play Memory with me because I was too good, but in reality it was more likely because I was a sore winner.
  2. We kept eggs under an incubator in Mrs. Medina’s room and hatched some of them into chicks. However, we also cracked open several of the eggs at various stages of chick development to see what was going on in there. It was VERY educational. I have no idea what happened to the hatched chicks.
  3. We made a book—a real, honest-to-goodness book—called All About Friendship. My story “The Runaway Horses” was published in it. Here it is in its entirety:
Not bad, but I'm not sure the horses have a strong enough motivation, and the farmer character needs a lot more development.
Not bad, but the horses could have had stronger motivation, and the farmer character needs to be more developed.

I also designed the cover of All About Friendship. While my writing has been published in various places over the years, I believe this may be the only professional illustrating I ever did.

In fourth grade, Mrs. Hammack took us on our first trip to Enterprise City. Enterprise City is a fake city inside a building where kids get to practice for the “real world.” We learned how to write and cash checks and make out receipts and everyone had a job—You could work at the bank or a store or the post office… There was even a police officer who could write tickets for anyone breaking the laws, like walking across the grass (carpet) where we weren’t supposed to walk. We all had work shifts, for which we were paid in Enterprise City money, and then we had time to walk around “town” and shop or hangout. It was pretty cool. I worked at the newspaper as the reporter.

Unfortunately, I was extremely biased in my reporting. Here’s a sample article, written in cursive like all good newspapers:

Ah, the purple ink of the mimeograph machine...
Ah, the purple ink of the mimeograph machine…

Paul Toal was my friend and coworker at the newspaper, Kelley Hamrick was my cousin, and Carie Kinder was… Oh, wait! That’s me! Yeah, the whole paper was like that. I dedicated an entire page to my best friend Camille’s store (Cami’s Snacks) but wrote not a word on the town’s crime statistics. Oh well.


In sixth grade, our teachers produced an eighty-page (eighty actual pieces of paper because page numbers were only written on one side) book called Reading and Writing Work Together! which included multiple writing pieces from every student in the sixth grade. This mammoth publication was printed on bright orange paper and a copy was given to every student. (80 pages x 40-something students = a number that would give any principal today a copy-budget-related heart attack, but these were different times.)

By this time, a boy named David Liu had taken over the job of cover artist, and rightly so. We were in awe of his dragon drawings. But I was well-represented in the pages of the book. My work in the anthology included two poems about Halloween, a descriptive paragraph about spring, a persuasive piece entitled “GIRLS’ RIGHTS,” and a personal narrative about the day I got braces. [Excerpt: “As we were about to pull into the driveway, I asked my mom if I could punch my brother if he called me names. She said no. I punched him anyway.”]

However, my favorite piece was my short story, “Mystery Mansion.” Here it is, with present-day commentary:


* “Mystery Mansion” was previously published in Reading and Writing Work Together!, by Mrs. Fordyce’s sixth grade class, Terrace Elementary, 1989.
* “Mystery Mansion” was previously published in Reading and Writing Work Together!, by Mrs. Fordyce’s sixth grade class, Terrace Elementary, 1989.

Hmm… a horror story with a cliffhanger ending? Yep, I’m still partial to those today. For proof, you can check out “The Jack-in-the-Box.”

My earliest work has taught me that I’m on the right track. I’ve abandoned my dreams of illustrating and have (wisely) veered away from a career in investigative journalism. Fiction, poetry, and memoir writing seem to be my niche, and I’m sticking to them. Who knows, maybe I’ll turn “Mystery Mansion” into a full length novel someday.

Thank you to Scott Montgomery for the illustrations on my poem.
Thank you to Scott Montgomery for the illustrations on my poem.

Thank you to my 2nd, 4th, and 6th grade teachers– Mrs. Medina, Mrs. Hammack, Mrs. Fordyce, Mrs. Cottam, and Ms. Ouzts– for providing me with such a great start in my writing career and for giving me such wonderful souvenirs of my time at Terrace Elementary. Thank you also to my 3rd and 5th grade teachers– Mrs. Jonas, Mrs. Henderson, and Mr. Dodd. I have so many wonderful memories from your classrooms.


Published by Carie Juettner

Carie Juettner is a former middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England, The Ghostly Tales of Austin, The Ghostly Tales of Burlington, and The Ghostly Tales of Dallas in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as The Twin Bill, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Richardson, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

5 thoughts on “Her Earliest Work

  1. I feel so inspired right now. I was just thinking how much I used to love writing stories in grade school. It’s actually funny how creative writing is such a huge part of grade school and then just dwindles out of the curriculum. I’m rooting for you so hard!! I hope one day I get to read a book by you!

      1. I’m sure that I do.. My mom is also a hoarder of “memories”. But after my youngest sister moved out, she crazy organized the entire attic.. so she could probably find it in 10 seconds.

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