O'Fallon Progress

Carriel students publish anthology of short stories

Junior high school writing club publishes book

Amelia Carriel Junior High School Writing Club students have recently published an anthology of short stories. The book is titled "Wings, Rings and Fairytale Things" and will be available at the Carriel Jr. High School library in O'Fallon and at t
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Amelia Carriel Junior High School Writing Club students have recently published an anthology of short stories. The book is titled "Wings, Rings and Fairytale Things" and will be available at the Carriel Jr. High School library in O'Fallon and at t

Looking for a good read to dig into in the new year? You don’t have to look far, according to Katherine Murray, the Amelia V. Carriel Junior High School Writing Club sponsor.

“Wings, Rings and Fairy Tale Things,” an O’Fallon student produced short story anthology, will be available at the O’Fallon Public Library and the Carriel Junior High School library.

There are eight students in the club, but only six were published at this time.

In her third year as study hall supervisor at the school, Murray said this semester the students created short stories based around a theme they voted on — fairy tales.

“They have worked extremely hard, and I am so proud of their efforts,” Murray said.

Murray quarterbacked the editing process of the submissions from sixth through eighth-grade students. This is the first year the school offered a writing club, as well as published a book filled with stories written by students.

“After editing their submissions, I had the pleasure of compiling them into an anthology, which is nearly 400 pages long,” Murray said.

The writing and editing process took all semester.

Tyler Haerr, a sixth-grader, said his family is very proud of him for his short-story titled “Nothing is Real,” which is about a young boy who thinks he’s living in a period of ancient history with the Romans and Greeks.

The boy’s empire gets attacked, and he wakes up in a new dimension, Tyler said. Setting out on a mission to find his way back to what he thought was his life, Haerr said the plot takes another twist and turn. The main character then lands himself in a position to be the hero against an evil foe, who is supposed to be his best friend.

“It feels pretty good to have my own book in my own hands and not just in some Google docs. I’ve completed other short stories too, but this is the first time I’m being published. Almost everyone in my family has a copy,” Tyler said. “I hope more people join the club, because it’s really fun.”

It feels pretty good to have my own book in my own hands and not just in some Google docs...I hope more people join the club, because it’s really fun.

Tyler Haerr, Carriel Jr. High sixth-grade author

Sojourner “Journee” Brownridge said her story titled “Inside” is about a girl named Tess who goes many years without knowing she has powers, and then she and her siblings travel to another dimension to save their parents.

“I haven’t really finished a book (before), so I’m really excited about it ... the fact that this would be my first published book kept me going, and I really want this to be good, and I just can’t not finish it because that would be like breaking a promise,” Journee said.

Murray said she hopes the same kids as well as more will come back next year to join the writing club because participation in projects such as this one will help them in the long run.

“Writing club has been great for them to teach them life skills. They’ve learned about pushing through obstacles, making promises and keeping deadlines, expressing themselves in a way that is really helpful and powerful,” Murray said.

Having their book on the shelf, Murray said, will serve as a reminder for the kids to not forget they were able to persevere against challenges they were confronted with.

“I love that they have a physical example of what their hard work and dedication can do for them, that’s why we did the print book instead of just writing stories and tossing them into a digital folder for them to forget,” Murray said.

Writing club has been great for them to teach them life skills. They’ve learned about pushing through obstacles, making promises and keeping deadlines, expressing themselves in a way that is really helpful and powerful.

Katherine Murray, Carriel Jr. High writing club sponsor

Sixth-grader Jessica Dittmar said she’s had her hopes on being a writer since first grade. Her short story titled “The Magic Ring” is about an average girl who finds a magic ring and wishes for a bigger house because she is poor. Getting her wish, the girl is transported there, but not in the capacity she foresaw — she’s living in a bigger house, but she is a servant.

“I wanted to become a published author since second grade cause my teacher inspired me to read books and be an author, so I was so excited when I got published,” Jessica said.

Ethan Nieroda, a sixth-grader, said he enjoys writing and liked participating in young author events at his elementary school. His story is titled “A Lynx Tale,” which is about a lynx named Oak who is transported to the planet Mars because Earth had become unstable. Ethan said Oak found a way off of Mars like he wanted, but was then abducted by aliens.

“I just wanted to feel my writing in my hands as a paper book instead of a document on a computer, and when I got that book I was excited that it actually happened,” Ethan said.

Murray covered the cost of the books being published as she is a published author of 17 romance novels. She said she knows the people working at Create Space publishing company, and they were willing to assist in the process.

“Essentially each book cost about $10 to make, so we paid about $70 in total cost, which I’m recouping by just asking for $10 per book. Anybody can do it. I don’t think the kids really believed me at first when I told them I was going to try and have their stories published, but they were very excited when they saw the final product,” Murray said.

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch

“Wings, Rings & Fairy Tale Things” authors:

Six of eight Amelia V. Carriel Junior High student members of the school Writing Club published it’s first-ever short story anthology.

  • Introduction by Katherine Murray
  • “A Lynx Tale,” by Ethan Nieroda
  • “A New Perspective” by Aliya Braddy
  • “Charlotte’s Journey” by Taylor Byrd
  • “Inside” by Sojourner ‘Journee’ Brownridge
  • “Nothing Is Real” by Thomas Haerr
  • “Daphne In Oswald” by Katherine Murray
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