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Don’t judge a book by its cover

Profile image for By KJ Cox
By KJ Cox

Freshmen pair recall process of publishing children’s book

When people picture an author, many see an old man or visualize someone who looks like an English teacher.

But that wasn’t the case for freshman Annika Ellis, who envisioned herself instead.

In eighth grade, she wrote and published a book titled Seasons with the Cosmics, a science fiction/fantasy written for young children.

When Ellis was in middle school science class, her teacher brought a writing contest to her attention, and she began to think of ideas.

“It was my science teacher’s idea to write and publish a book,” Ellis said. “They had this author contest, and she suggested that I plan out and write a book. Then all the kids would vote on the submitted books and it could get published.”

Ellis also had help from one of her English teacher’s previous students, who had also written a book.

“When I was in the seventh grade, I showed my English teacher some of my stuff, and she recommended me to one of her former students, who had written a book,” Ellis said. “I started writing a short story and sent it to her, and she said, ‘Your writing’s great, just change this and that.’”

She worked on this project with her best friend and fellow freshman, Natalie Cygan.

“My job was the illustrator and I came up with storyboards, and she ended up writing everything out,” Cygan said.

Writing and publishing a book was a huge personal accomplishment, Ellis said, since she is passionate about writing and literature.

“I really want to be an author,” Ellis said. “One of the main reasons I started writing was Christopher Paolini, J.R.R. Tolkien, Orson Scott Card. I was reading their books and thought, ‘I want to do that, too.’ I want to be an author because I want to make people smile. I want to make people feel for my characters.”

Ellis said her whole family was supportive of her during the writing process.

“She would stay up until midnight for five nights in a row collaborating with Natalie over this book,” said Ellis’ mother, Margie.

Having already published a book, Ellis said she uses her experience as a source of motivation for her to continue writing and improving herself.

“She wants to become a published author and she got that, so I’m sure that really motivated her to do better,” Cygan said.

Ellis loves writing and she said she wants to encourage others who love writing to pursue their interests.

“For all the writers out there, do not give up if you have writer’s block,” Ellis said. “Read another book. Try writing another story. Read someone else’s story. Just don’t give up because it’ll come to you.”

KJ COX is a senior at Denton High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” program for student journalists.