A St. John-Hudson graduate has a new diploma and a newly published book.
Most high school seniors have a long list of accomplishments they have achieved during their high school career. Recent St. John-Hudson graduate Julia Taylor has a very unique item on her list. She is a published author.
Taylor’s book, “Blue Eyes and Butterflies” has just been published and is available on-line at lulu.com. The book tells the story of a high school girl, Edie, who has just gotten out of a relationship with Sean and just wants to work in the family restaurant A Taste of Country. But a new boy, Haden, starts working at the restaurant and Edie has to train him at his new job. Its a new beginning for both of them and Edie has to new emotions to deal with about Haden. That's when her ex-boyfriend comes back into the mix, Taylor said.
Taylor started her novel in creative writing class her junior year. The big project for the year was writing a novel. She started working on the novel in August 2016. She worked on her novel in the class room about 45 minutes, three times a week because of her other class assignments.
She had weekly word count deadlines with 415 words due each day. Students were allowed to write and revise their stories at their own pace but they had to keep up with the word count deadline. Subject matter was up to the students. She ended up with 40,000 words and 12 chapters.
So most of her work happened outside the classroom where she spent about eight hours a week and it took her 35 weeks to complete the project. In May 2017, Taylor had a completed manuscript. Taylor did all the work with guidance from her teacher Courtney Emery who did the majority of the editing.
The creative writing class is an elective and five students were enrolled including Taylor, Riley McCandless, Zach Blue, Jeffrey Lyon and Remington Walker, Emery said.
At the start of the class, a published author, Kim Vogel Sawyer, who has written 50 novels, visited the class to give advice and was a good resource. Sawyer suggested novels be 50,000 words but that was just too long for the class to get done in the time allowed so 35,000 was required or they could go up to 45,000, Emery said.
The novels of each student in the class are all available on lulu.com. Each has a copy of their own novel. There is also a copy available at the circulation desk at the library.
“It’s cool that they have a hard copy to show for all they did,” Emery said.
Her family always begged Taylor to let them read a chapter or two but she wanted them to only read the finished project so she kept the document to herself.
The story line has elements that are close to her heart. There are inside jokes that her family can relate to. Her grandparents Don and Rita Taylor actually own a restaurant A Taste of County.
Although the restaurant is real, none of her characters are based on any one specifically. But, there's a little of Taylor in all her characters.
“There’s little pieces of me throughout,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s work caught the eye of her teacher. Taylor was a natural and a gifted writer. Emery said she saw that from the first chapter. She wants to be a writer and that’s feasible with her talent.
“It was refreshing to see that kind of talent in a high school student,” Emery said.
Emery pulled her aside and told her the novel was really good and she should pursue it more seriously. So Taylor got busy and she and the rest of the class completed their novels in May 2017. The book is now available on-line at lulu.com, a self publishing company.
Emery put Taylor in touch with another author, Melody Carlson, to work with Taylor on final editing. But Carlson did not respond and Taylor wanted to get her book published while she was still in high school so it was published in April 2018.
Taylor got a lot of support from her family and the community. The amount of support was overwhelming and amazing. The community thought it was so great that Taylor had accomplished all this before she graduated from high school.
It was the strangest thing for Taylor when people who have read the book talk to her about the characters and how they related to the story.
Her classmates were curious if any of them were in the story and were glad when they found out none of the characters were based on them.
Taylor has always enjoyed reading. She didn’t want to wait for her parents to teach her read when she was a child so she taught herself to read before preschool, Taylor said.
“Books have been a part of my life since day one,” Taylor said.
Ernest Hemingway is one of her favorite authors. One of her favorites quotes is “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know,” Hemingway said.
Hemingway was a pretty big inspiration for Taylor.
Another inspiring author was Jane Austin. She loves “Pride and Prejudice” and has noticed that many authors use the same process the Austin used. Austin influenced many authors today, Taylor said.
As for the future, Taylor is going to study communications at Kansas State University. She also plans to keep on writing and she would love it if she could write another novel.
She has thought about another book. She always has ideas but whether they make it onto paper, that’s another thing, Taylor said.
“I hope this book isn’t my only book. But for right now, it’s only a sideline,” Taylor said.