McGregor teen publishes book with help of NaNoWriMo

MacKenzie Gramlich
MacKenzie Gramlich of McGregor recently published her book “Five Deep Breaths.” (Photo by Andra Meana)

By Pat McTaggart

Not many 14 year olds can say they already have a book published, but MacKenzie Gramlich, McGregor, is one of those who has. Her book, “Five Deep Breaths,” was published earlier this month and is being sold on
Gramlich gave the following synopsis of her book “From all perspectives, Alec Alexander Blake was the definition of small town perfection. From the day they were born, Alec and his twin sister Charlotte were inseparable. But over the years Charlotte slowly drifts away, while her brother is still anchored. Yet Charlotte still depends upon his strength to keep herself afloat. When Alec finally sinks, Charlotte struggles to maintain her own sanity. But with the help of the one other person who was as close to Alec as she was, will she be able to deal with the repulsive picture the puzzle pieces arranged?”
The book is the result of an 8th grade writing assignment. “Originally, what is now the prologue of the book, was going to be the whole story,” Gramlich said.
“I just needed one writing assignment of about two pages to make a grade, but I was urged by my Language Arts teacher, Mr. Boylen, and a few of my friends to add on. I decided to leave it be for a while so I could figure out where I was going to go from there.”
“Then November rolled around, and our class participated in NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program, which is a site that keeps track of your novel writing goal,” she continued. “The minimum amount of words for a goal was 10,000. I repeatedly changed my mind, but finally decided I’d aim for 20,000 words. We had the whole month of November to reach our goal. By November 31, I’d met my goal, but knew I couldn’t be done. I took the month of December off to clear my mind and get everything back on track, and by January I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to finish it off. So, without the encouragement (slight pressure) of everyone around me, I wouldn’t have gotten back into it in May. I reread the structure of what I had and built around it from there.”
Gramlich’s next step was formatting her writing into createspace. “With the NaNoWriMo program, if you met your recorded goal in November you got a code to receive five  free copies of your book. But, the catch is, if you want your books, you have to do everything yourself, unless of course you want to drop a big wad of cash for someone else to do it for you on createspace. The whole createspace process was pretty frustrating. I get frustrated with myself too easily, so without my parents, friends, and family I probably would have given up. I didn’t necessarily decide to make it into a book, the opportunity was sitting in front of me so I grabbed it.”
Choosing the title for the book took some introspection. “When I think of taking deep breaths, I think of regaining composure and shaking something off your shoulders,” Gramlich said. “Throughout the book, Charlotte is put in some of those situations in which she is told to take five deep breaths. The name came to me when I was brainstorming with my parents and mentally reading vital parts of the writing.”
The subject of her paper, and later the book, came from life observations and experiences. “I’ve always been fascinated by the connection twins have,” Gramlich commented. “As for the name Charlotte, I don’t know why I just love it. There’s a lake near the Wisconsin Dells and my Dad’s boss owns a cabin right on the lake. It’s always been one of my favorite places. I knew I had to incorporate all those things somehow. As for the rest of the story—I read a lot. It’s literally my favorite thing in the world, so over the years I’ve gathered plenty of inspiration and ideas. Sometimes I even take notes.”
It took MacKenzie about three months to write her book, which included her November writing and spurts of inspiration. As for her future, writing will still be part of her life. “I really do enjoy writing,” she said. “Whether I have a pen and paper or my laptop, I’m in full control. I’m the type of person who likes it when things go my way. So, writing is good for me. “

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