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Children’s author inspires 12-year-old to write

by on December 13, 2018 10:24 AM

BELLEFONTE — Last year, children’s author Stephen Kozan visited Marion-Walker Elementary School, and it is safe to say he left quite an impression on student Annie Cernuska, now a 12-year-old middle schooler who just published her first book.

While visiting the school last year, Kozan spoke about being an author and how he started his own publishing company after being turned down by others. He also offered a bit of inspiration to any young authors out there by sharing the details of the Flash Fiction contest that allowed students to submit work to Kozan, with the potential of being published by his Harrisburg-based publishing company, ReadyAimWrite Publishing.

This got Annie hitting the keypads and starting her own creative journey. Over the summer she worked with an editor and illustrator on a science fiction book that is targeted for ages 8 to 15, called “The Hunter Voyage.” It was printed this month and Annie and her parents, both teachers in the district, could not be more excited.

Annie said the process was a lot of work, but like most hard work, it was worth it.

“When I first started writing the book, I had a lot of ideas that came naturally to me. After writing all of my thoughts down, it got more difficult to expand and elaborate to develop a more detailed story.  I had to sit down and spend time during the summer and talk through parts of the story to make connections between the plot points. My teachers throughout the years have taught me to keep readers engaged by using conversations and visualizing to add sensory details. Also, Mr. Kozan had recommended to put myself in the different character roles and visualizing the different settings. These points helped me to finish the book,” said Annie.

Her parents offered support for their daughter.

“Annie is usually excited to take on new challenges and enjoys competition in general. We weren't surprised that she wanted to enter the Flash Fiction contest. When she won, we were very impressed and happy for her. As she was writing the book, our first impression was that it was such an original idea that she expanded on as the book developed,” said Erin Cernuska. She added that seeing their daughter’s name on the cover of the book was a wonderful family moment.

The book follows the Hunter family in attempt to find a missing family member, while navigating through an uncharted unfamiliar area, all the while fighting for survival. Annie said she started with characters that are inspired by members of her family; the rest of the plot was developed in her head.

“I guess I just thought and wrote about what was special to me and what I recognized, and the rest was just an idea I had,” Annie said. She said she will get to see the finalized version of her book next week and she can’t wait to see it.

“Winning the Flash Fiction contest in May of this year was really exciting and I knew that I would head into my summer vacation with a big goal to reach. I will get my first copy of ‘The Hunter Voyage’ next week. I can envision myself feeling very proud for this accomplishment,” said Annie.

Students in the Bellefonte Area School District will get a flier about presales for the book. On Dec. 14, Annie will also be touring the four district elementary schools for meet-and-greets with younger students and participate in a read aloud of a part of her book. She’ll also hold a book-signing event from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 18 at Bellefonte Area High School.


Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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