110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Jen Horton
posted May 19, 2014 - 12:08:06pm
Two DeLand Middle School students, both in eighth grade, have written and published a novel.
The Story Called Jimmy was quite a surprise to just about everyone.
"Our parents didn't really take us seriously," Kenzie Whiting said. "My parents got a copy before I did. My dad came in the room with the book in his hand, and tears in his eyes, and said 'I didn't know you were serious.'"
They were serious about the seriously funny story about Jimmy.
Jimmy, they said, is just that guy. The boy everyone knows who seems to always be either in trouble or causing trouble.
Jimmy's story started four years ago, when Kenzie and Juliana Boisse, were, as they put it, "forced to hang out" together.
In 2009, Kenzie and Juliana hated each other. The girls, then 10, lived two doors apart, and their families were friends. That meant the adversaries had to be friends, whether they liked it or not.
The girls had a lot in common. Both are very intelligent, avid readers, and creative writers.
It didn't take long to turn animosity into best-friend-hood.
Now, as they finish eighth grade, the girls are not just friends, they're co-authors.
The Story Called Jimmy — This story is the story of a made up story, was published in April through Amazon.com's Create Space website.
The girls talked about self-publishing, the creative process, and how a 247-page novel came out of a pile of Lego building blocks.
While being forced to spend time together, Kenzie and Juliana would play with Legos.
They invented a character, Jimmy, and told stories about Jimmy, and the trouble he'd get into.
When it was time to go home, or finish the story, they'd close like an old-fashioned radio announcer, with "And that's the story called Jimmy."
The years progressed. In 2013, the story got written down.
"Kenzie got a new computer, and we wanted to write something together," Juliana said. "We had all of these storylines about Jimmy."
The book itself took about a year for the girls to write.
Even with all of the storylines, the girls had a lot to learn about fleshing out and developing characters, describing interactions, and story pacing.
"We got to Chapter 2 and ran out of story," Juliana said.
They would put the book down for a while and do other things. Then, they'd come back to it.
Occasionally, they'd still pick up a Lego or two for inspiration.
The next step was to edit the work, and find a publisher.
A professional editor cost about $1,000, they said. As eighth-graders, they didn't want to come up with that much money, so they decided one of them should edit the book.
Kenzie did the editing.
They told only a few people what they were doing. One of their teachers told them about Create Space.
On the free area of Create Space, the duo designed their book, edited it, and made it available for sale. Copies sell for $10.88 each at www.amazon.com.
In addition to Kenzie’s parents, the girls’ teachers and a few peers bought copies of the book before the authors had had a chance to buy one for themselves.
"A teacher said she was on Chapter 12, and then everyone asked what she was talking about," Juliana said. "We didn't even have a copy yet."
The girls earn royalties every time Amazon prints a copy of the book for a buyer. The Story Called Jimmy will also be released electronically for e-readers, but the girls said setting that up is more complicated than selling printed editions.
"I haven't read it yet," Juliana said. "We just finished writing it!"
Kenzie, who edited the book, has read it.
"The typos jumped out at me," she said.
And, as so often is the case, life imitates art.
"We had a cruise ship in the book called the SS Enchantment, and our parents didn't know about it," said Juliana. "We're leaving next week for a cruise on the SS Enchantment."
The girls are both straight-A students. They are active in the St. Peter Catholic Church youth group, and are both officers in DeLand Middle School's Beta Club, Kenzie is president, and Juliana is the chaplain. Both girls have been accepted into the International Baccalaureate program at DeLand High School.
West Volusians can meet the young authors at a book-signing noon-3 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the Family Book Shop, 1301 N. Woodland Blvd. Copies of the book will be available for sale.
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