The Doorknob and the Dollar

When I was in eighth grade I decided I wanted to try writing a story for our school’s Reflections Contest. This contest happens every year, has a  theme, multiple categories and is creativity based (art, photography, writing). That year, 1997, the theme was “It could happen…”

I sat in our basement at our computer, the house quiet, the room dark, searching my mind for inspiration. What story should I write? Behind me on the wall was an odd looking doorknob, placed there decades ago by my grandmother. We lived in the house my mother grew up in. My grandmother worked for a short time in a doorknob factory, where they made these ornate, resin knobs. There must be a slight flaw in this knob because she brought it home, hung it on the wall.

Some of my earliest memories of that house include admiring this pretty doorknob. As I sat there that night, digging for inspiration, I turned around and my eyes fell on the doorknob. The story leaped into my mind in an instant.

In the tradition of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, this glass doorknob was a gateway to another world, a world of fantastical creatures, handsome princes and dreams coming true – all the things of my 13/14 year old imagination.

A few weeks later I was awarded first place in the writing category for my story titled, “The Glass Doorknob.” The thrilling prize was  a coupon for a free doughnut at the local shop and ten dollars.

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The award certificate and doughnut coupon

My mom took the money, went to the bank and changed it out. She got a brand new one dollar bill, put it in an envelope and said to me, “Make sure you keep this safe. It’s the first dollar you ever made on your writing. One day when you are a published author you can frame it.”


About to show the dollar to the launch party audience…

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The dollar on my bookshelf

I told this story at my launch party, crying my eyes out. But what I didn’t talk about was the gift my parents gave me earlier that day. I opened this box…

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Notice the red and gold ribbon that coordinate with Blood Moon’s cover…

And found the doorknob that inspired my little award-winning story. I sobbed.

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Mom and Dad took the doorknob off the basement wall and installed it into this fancy display. It’s just so cool!

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Pretty, huh?

But this doorknob also inspired the first book I ever wrote. Six years ago when I decided I wanted to write a book, try to become an author, that original eight grade story came to mind. I thought the symmetry of writing a book based on this doorknob – the first story I won an award for, made money on – and having it be the first book I published was too outstanding to pass up. It had to be fate, right? So I once again sat at a computer and wrote a fantastical story about magical glass doorknobs opening to a world beyond our own.

I spent three years writing, editing and submitting that book to agents. And collecting a large stack of rejections. Only one agent read the full manuscript, Fran Black of Literary Counsel. She ultimately rejected it, but when I moved on to BLOOD MOON, she was the first agent I queried. We signed a contract a short time later. So, no, that story wasn’t the first book I had published, but it did open the door to success.

The doorknob and the dollar now sit on my bookshelf, constant reminders that I do not stand alone in my quest for success and that dreams do come true. The best feeling in the world is making, “It could happen…” turn into “It did happen; I did it!”

SHARE NOTES: @TeriHarman #amwriting


9 thoughts on “The Doorknob and the Dollar

  1. Love this story! I’m so glad you shared it. How great that your mom and dad saw this potential in you and remembered the significance of the doorknob. It’s also a special connection to your grandmother.
    Proud of you!

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