For many teens, writing is just something that they have to do for school. But for these three creative and highly motivated high school students and one dynamic and highly cohesive father-daughter writing team, writing books is a pleasure.
Teenagers attempting to defeat dark forces; personal struggles; saving the world; mystery; action; and romance all combine in Emily M. Spina's e-book, "Book of The Legion."
The 17-year-old Starpoint High School senior wrote "Book of The Legion" when she was 13. Emily's inspiration to write the story was that she thought all the princess stories were girly. She wanted to add a more adventurous spin that would appeal to a wider readership.
"I just always liked telling stories and making stuff up," Emily said.
She added that her characters have to be lifelike.
"The two sisters are exact opposites and I like when characters are different because real people are different," she said.
Emily says her book would appeal to everyone because it encompasses and features a large variety of genres.
With dreams of hard copy prints someday, she is always on the lookout for a literary agent or publisher. However, for "Book of The Legion," she decided to self-publish online with PubIt! from barnesandnoble.com.
"It's nice that people can see what took me a whole year and a half to do," she said. "Everyone has that special something that they are good at and they want other people to recognize their talent, too. I think writing is a form of art, it's really a form of self-expression. A lot of kids don't like reading or writing because they don't like the books they are reading in school. So my goal is to write books that kids can relate to and will inspire kids to follow their dreams because anything is possible if you put your mind to it."
If you like a story with lots of twists and turns that keep you guessing, "Book of The Legion" is available at Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com for those with Nooks or Kindles. For those who do not have a Nook or Kindle e-reader, go to Amazon.com and under the departments, go to "Kindle Store." Search "Free Kindle Reading Apps." This will allow you to download to various devices.
A sequel to "Book of The Legion" called "The Five," is coming. In addition to this series, Emily is working on a trilogy called "Machine."
Captivated by books from the time he was a baby, Justin Smith, a junior at Williamsville North High School, published his first book when he was 15. "Society of the Machine," a futuristic novel, features power hungry robot Sudokus on a mission to take over the solar system with Earth being the last safe haven. The story's protagonist, Leon, a test pilot, becomes a war pilot in a battle to save himself as well as the planet Earth.
A fan of science fiction, Justin prefers to read fiction over nonfiction. Inspired by books written by Stephen King and Ray Bradbury about the craft of writing, he also enjoys reading fiction by Kurt Vonnegut. Justin finds Vonnegut's ability to skillfully incorporate certain elements of science fiction and humor into some of his work a very interesting combination.
When asked about his writing process, Justin said he does not outline his story ideas. Instead, "in my head I know the beginning, middle and end and I just write to connect the points."
When it comes to writer's block, Justin said he didn't experience much but described how he overcame it during a few instances. "Sometimes I just waited and eventually something clicked."
Justin said he discovered that he liked writing in fifth grade. Looking toward his future, he said he hopes to pursue professional writing but understands it can be difficult to accomplish. He published his book using createspace.com, a self-publishing website.
"One day I hope to publish through a publishing company," he said.
His advice to other teen writers is "Read a lot."
"Society of the Machine" is available in soft cover by going to amazon.com and under books, search "Justin Smith Society of the Machine."
He recently held a successful book-signing event at Williamsville's Epic Sports Center, where he plays roller hockey, and a sequel is currently in the works.
Abby Ward, a senior at Sweet Home High School, wrote a book with her father, Russell, a retired postal worker. The e-book is called "Slimmer's: 101 Ways to Laugh and Cry Yourself Slimmer."
The book was written for "anybody who wants to get slim and stay slim," said Russell Ward. "Food manufacturers taunt us into making their choices. We have to make the decision not to [be influenced by] the taunting."
He adds, "Everything's so serious and we need to put a humorous spin on it."
"Slimmer's" offers tips and hints on how to resist overindulging.
"This book doesn't promote some fancy diet that makes a lot of promises," he said. "This book will give you a more informed and humorous mentality that you can apply to any diet that you truthfully would like to pursue."
Abby said she wanted to add a chapter to the book that would help teens relate to the topic of losing weight in a fun, interesting way.
"Make it so kids can understand it more, it's like their language," she said.
She created physically motivating texting abbreviations to keep teens interested and engaged. Some examples include: FFD -- Fun, Fierce Dieting; EMV -- Eat More Veggies; IFF -- I'm Fat Free.
To write their book, the Wards used Microsoft Word and acted as their own editor and publisher.
Russell Ward said that writing a book "is a constant work effort."
The Wards said they work well together, respecting and valuing each other's ideas.
Russell Ward advises anyone interested in writing a book: "It's not a matter of wanting to write the book, it's a matter of not being able to stop writing it."
To purchase their e-book, visit Amazon.com, under departments go to "Kindle Store."
Also, groups interested in using this book as a fundraiser may contact Russell Ward at 587-1120.
Another young writer, Dave Caya, a senior at Akron High School, is currently working on his first novel, a Middle Age tale with a contemporary spin. The plot involves a peasant boy who works for a queen and falls in love with a princess. She in turn falls in love with an unworthy fellow. This story of adventure and fantasy written for young adults incorporates elements of sarcasm and is loosely based on people in Dave's life.
While juggling school, participation in a performance choir, a lead in the school musical and his own band, Dave makes time to write at night before turning in. Preferring to use a spiral notebook to record his ideas as well as sketches for the story, he outlines the direction of the book.
"I'm making a sloppy version, basically a summary to do work off of," he said. "What motivates me to write is escaping from my own world and becoming part of a completely new one I can create myself."
Looking ahead, Dave hopes to publish "The Princess and the Awesome Peasant" using an online publisher. He advises other teens who are thinking about writing to "just write. Write about whatever you want, however you want to write it. It doesn't have to be the next New York Times best seller, just write what you want to. You don't have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to tell a story."
Eliza Lefebvre is a sophomore at Sweet Home High School.