Here at Inspire(d) we are big fans of print media (right?)!
When we heard about 12 year old St. Ben’s student Jenna Hartz publishing her first book, “The Guardians of Middle School”, we thought, “Dang girl – you go!” We decided it would be fun to hear a little bit about the book, process, and all that goes along with being a not-even-teenage (yet) author. Not only was Jenna inspired to write the book, but along with her parents researched publishers and worked through the process of bringing a book to life with Outskirts Press of Parker, Colorado. Jenna has also offered to donate her book to all area community libraries, including the Decorah Public Library as well as the Decorah Community School District. You can find out more about “The Guardians of Middle School” and purchase your own copy at Dragonfly Books – including a special Author reading and signing on Monday, November 28, 2016 at 7pm.
Author Jenna Hartz with St. Benedict’s 5th Grade Teacher Mrs. Galligan.
I(d) = Inspire(d)
JH = Jenna Hartz
I(d) – What inspired you to write “The Guardians of Middle School”, and how long did it take you to finish the book?
JH – My friends inspired me, as well as my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Galligan. It took me about 10 months to finish including writing, editing, and publishing.
I(d) – How many pages is the book in its finished form? When you were writing did you have any idea how long the book would be?
JH – There are 95 pages in the book. My goal originally was 100 to 200 pages, but that was a little more challenging than I thought. I’m pretty happy though how it turned out.
I(d) – Writers often have favorite places to work or rituals that help them get words on the page; did you have any special places you liked to write or things that helped you get through any tough spots in the story?
JH – I always wrote at the computer on the counter several times a week after school. Since I was having trouble coming up with the main conflict, I just typed multiple ideas, and figured out which one worked the best with the rest of the story line. If there was something I didn’t like, I wouldn’t like to keep changing it over and over again because then it would start loosing it’s touch. I’d do it all over again though.
I(d) – Some of the locations and people in”The Guardians of Middle School” are real and local here in Decorah. Can you tell us about those and how you decided to include them?
JH – The characters from the book were all people that were in my life including my friends from my class, and my teacher at the time. After I got the main idea of what the book was about, I let my friends help with deciding their elements. Then I tried figuring out a part for my teacher to play. After a lot of thinking, I decided that she should be our trainer and our mentor. As for the locations, I decided to pick ones that my friends and I love.
I(d) – Being print magazine makers, we love the process of creating something you can hold in your hands and read – desktop publishing has revolutionized the ability to do that as well. Can you tell us how you went about getting the book printed?
JH – After I finished editing, I looked for great publishing companies with my parents. They helped me find one that didn’t just have a computer edit it, but with an actual editor who could work with me. That’s when we found Outskirt’s Press. With all of that done, then we had them help us with the cover. We took the photo of my hand, and combined it with an amazing design that Outskirt’s Press came up with. Finally, they printed the books and we ordered a bunch of copies.
I(d) – What has been the most fun part about having the book finished and out to the public?
JH – The part that I find most fun is that I can actually say that I am a published author. I really hope that this will inspire others to do what they love, and to follow their dreams.
I(d) – Any plans for future writing projects?
JH – I don’t have any plans right now, but I’m hoping to get more writing done in the future when school work begins to slow down a bit.
I(d) – What’s your favorite snack to have while writing?
JH – I honestly don’t know what my favorite snack is, but while writing I usually have a range of things from fruit to chips.
I(d) – Anyone you would like to acknowledge for helping with the process?
JH – I’d like to acknowledge my friends for being so supportive through this writing process, my family for always being there for me, and especially my 5th grade teacher for inspiring me so much and for being so trustworthy.
And of course, to every great (almost) teenage writer, there is a great support network! Jenna’s parents (Jodi & Michael) and two brothers were all excited to support the endeavor, especially once they realized how in depth Jenna had taken the idea of writing a book! Jenna also credits her 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Galligan, for sparking her interest to write a book. Jenna encourages others to pick up a book, hold it, and read from real pages!
Don’t miss a special evening at Dragonfly Books – including an Author reading and signing on Monday, November 28, 2016 at 7pm.