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In Print

Home-schooled teen uses unusual curriculum to publish first book

Most high school seniors come away from their final English assignments with a grade they hope is good enough to earn a diploma.

Rachael Wardyn finished her high school English class with something a little more tangible than a grade. She published a book.

The 18-year-old home-schooled student who lives south of Brady has a 246-page paperback book with her name on it … as the author.

“I guess I would describe myself as a dreamer,” Wardyn says. “I enjoy reading and writing and I also consider myself an artist. Writing, for me, is just another way of making pictures.”

Wardyn started writing short stories with a special friend, Brianna, when she was 10 or 11 years old.

She said they would take a published series and make their own characters.

“She would be the editor,” Wardyn said. “She was more into the structure than the story.”

Wardyn’s love of writing blossomed from there. She has a handful of manuscripts in various stages of the process, in addition to her personal journal and her Facebook blog.

“I enjoy writing about things I’ve learned and instances that have shaped me,” she said.

Her book, “The Black Robin of Ferryn,” came about out of both assignment and amusement.

Becki Wardyn, Rachael’s mother, is an avid reader and writer herself. When the opportunity arose to use an adventure novel as the basis of the English curriculum for her daughter’s senior year, she jumped at the chance.

“I’m a wanna-be writer,” Becki said. “I’ve had a few things published but I’ve never gone to this extent.”

The Wardyns purchased the curriculum, which outlined the process for writing a 12-chapter, first-person novel in one year.

“It was very structured,” Rachael said. “A third of it was structure and the rest mostly writing.”

Rachael said she has always enjoyed fantasies so when the English curriculum required a spur-of-the-moment writing idea, she turned to a computer game and a pirate map.

The main character, Robin, developed over time.

“At first she was more mysterious,” Rachael said. “She was revengeful and not really very human.”

After awhile, though, Rachael was surprised at how much Robin became like herself.

“She seems so brave but on the inside she’s not so much,” she said. “I saw a lot of my own struggles in her, like fear of doing things alone and the pressure of leadership. The whole process was very eye-opening.”

The curriculum model not only led Rachael through the process of writing the book but it also taught her how to put the manuscript into a format to be published.

“After she completed the book for the course, I encouraged her to get it published,” Becki said. “It was a very good story and having it in book form would give her something to show for her work.”

They decided to try and get it done before Rachael’s graduation in May.

After interviewing a self-published author, Rachael decided that would be the way to go.

“The turn-around time was going to work better for us,” she said.

So Rachael chose a photo for the cover, the font for the title, the words for the preface and everything about the book.

Then they sent it off to www.48HrBooks.com.

One thing about self-publishing,” Becki said, “is that it’s your book. Everything about it is yours. You retain all of the rights but you also do all of the work.”

That means it’s up to Rachael to market and sell her book.

Rachael said she feels like people look at her with a whole new level of respect when they learn she has written and published her own book at 18 years old.

The best compliment she has received so far was from an 11-year-old boy at church.

“He told me he stayed up until midnight reading it because it was so good,” she said.

Knowing Rachael and reading her book inspired him to write in his own journal, his mother told her.

Rachael’s next adventure will take her to classes at North Platte Community College where she plans to pursue an associate of arts degree through general studies classes and maybe continuing later in an English field.

“I’ve also looked into photography and drama,” she said. “I like to be in plays but I know I’m not an actress.”

People have asked Rachael if there will be a sequal to “The Black Robin of Ferryn.”

“I have an idea but whether it will turn into another book is yet to be determined,” she said.

There are several other stories floating around in her head, though. Her first is not likely to be her last.

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