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A figment of her imagination

 

By John Hallowell

Highland Lakes Weekly

Published 8/19/2011

 

 

                Elisabeth Wheatley’s goal is to have seven books written and published by the time she is 22 years old. For most of us, that would be an impossible dream, but for this talented sixteen-year-old, it looks very doable. She became one of the youngest published authors in Texas when her first book appeared on Amazon when she was just fifteen; her second book is already written (“It still needs editing,” she says), and she has plots already mapped out for what could well be a series of seven books (she hopes to produce one every year). The second one took three or four months of what Elisabeth calls “intensive writing.” For this prolific young writer, that’s between one and three thousand words a day, six days a week.

                Elisabeth Wheatley was born in Georgetown, and has lived near Bertram all her life. She attended preschool at a daycare near her mother’s work in Austin, but has been homeschooled ever since. She confesses that she “used to hate reading,” but her parents always preferred books to television, and after the library’s “story time” captured her imagination, she became a voracious reader. She has been dreaming up new worlds and fantastic creatures ever since she can remember, and by the time she was eleven years old she was writing down the stories that eventually became the basis for the first book.

                That book, called “The Key of Amatahns,” evolved through “many total rewrites,” but Elisabeth began writing the final version when she was fourteen. The 74,000-word volume was edited by West Texas author Suzanne O’Bryan, who was impressed enough with Elisabeth’s work to recommend it to a friend at Chengalera Press in Georgetown. It was fine-tuned by Walt Herbert, a Professor Emeritus at Southwestern University, before receiving final approval in May.

Elisabeth received her first “review copies” in March, but the work wasn’t over quite yet. She and her mother scoured the pages for typos and made a few last corrections. The Kindle version of the book was available June 30, and the first hard copies arrived a few days later. It took a while for the realization to sink in, but “a month later) Elisabeth says, “I’m really getting excited now.”

It’s no wonder. The response has been very favorable, and she has had some amazing experiences in the intervening weeks. On a recent trip to Houston, Elisabeth donated books to children at Texas Children’s Hospital, held a book-signing at a Houston library, and appeared on MyFox Houston for a TV interview (see http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/entertainment/110808-elizabeth-wheatley). Her best experience was at the hospital (chosen because one of her cousins recently had heart surgery there); the kids there were delighted to meet her and get the books, and several have contacted her via Facebook to tell her how much they enjoyed her story. A favorable review, written by 14-year-old Katie Wilkinson, was published in the Liberty Hill Independent newspaper.

The story itself, is what Elisabeth calls “young adult fantasy,” with an imaginary world and all manner of exotic creatures. The original names, well-written descriptions and non-stop action make it an interesting read even for unimaginative older adults (such as this writer), and it seems likely that there will be a growing interest in all her books as each sequel appears. Janir Caersynn (the first book’s heroine) may never be as famous as Harry Potter, but don’t be surprised if there is, five or six years from now, a well-known series of books about her.

 

 

 

 

Local teen is published fantasy author

By Kate Ludlow

Liberty Hill Independent

Published 7/21/2011


        One can describe teenagers in many ways, but lacking in imagination is rare. So while it is unusual, it is no surprise that 15-year-old Elisabeth Wheatley was able to come up with a story so imaginative that she was able to turn it into a book, which will eventually become a series. Miss Wheatley of Bertram recently had her first book, The Key of Amatahns, published and has big plans for where the story will head.

        “I decided to create my own world one day. Then I just sat down and wrote the story to go with it,” she says of her fantasy book.

        The Key of Amatahns is aimed at the young adult set, and features Janir, a young girl with magical powers. She begins an epic quest for the long-lost treasure, the Key of Amatahns.

        Miss Wheatley says that she is attracted to the fantasy genre based on its notions of chivalry and clearly defined sides of good and evil. She keeps a strict writing schedule.

        “I write in my room with my door closed and my little brothers banished. I try to write 1,000 words a day,” she said. “Usually, I average 6,000-9,000 words a week.”

        While the writing was easy, at times the process was not, she said.

        “It got frustrating,” she said. “I’d write, and there would be typos and I had to go back and look at every single word.”

        The Key of Amatahns is intended to be book one in a seven-book series, and she is currently working on book two. She works with an editor in Alpine and a press in Georgetown. The Key of Amatahns was edited by Dr. Walt Herbert, Professor Emeritus at Southwestern University.

        Miss Wheatley was raised on a ranch between Liberty Hill and Bertram filled with goats, sheep, donkeys, horses, turtles, and more. Her father is an engineer, her mother is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools Elisabeth and her three younger brothers. While her youngest brother is “not very interested, he’s too young,” the other two brothers are extremely supportive. They read her stories as they are written, though they lean more toward drawing rather than writing .

        “My brother was the first person I showed it to, and he’s the first one who reads the drafts as I go along,” she said.

        Her mother instilled in her a love for reading, and she considers Madeleine L’Engle and Gail Carson Levine among her favorite authors.

        Though it’s easy to draw comparisons between Miss Wheatley’s book and series featuring characters like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, Miss Wheatley has a fierce determination to create something original.

        “I don’t want to mimic anyone. I want to be my own person,” she said. “Of course I want to be successful, but I still want my words to mean what I say.”

        While most of her peers are pursuing interests stereotypical of her age group, Miss Wheatley enjoys a wide variety of activities.

        “Well, other than write, I make my own cheeses, I keep bees...they’re for our own personal use. We make candles out of the wax. With the cheeses, I’ve made cheddar and colby, I’ve experimented with parmesan and next I want to do gouda. The way we were raised, my parents wanted us to do things. To make things,” she said.

        The Key of Amatahns is available on www.Amazon.com in paperback and a Kindle edition. Miss Wheatley’s publisher uses CreateSpace publishing tools through Amazon, meaning that when a copy is purchased, it is immediately printed and shipped, eliminating the traditional amount of backstock and cutting down on potential waste.

        As for the future, Miss Wheatley is still uncertain.

        “I don’t really know what I want to do later. I want to get the rest of this series written...But the future is an open book,” she said.

 

 

 

 

Teenage author’s dream world takes book form

 

By Brianne Tolj

The Sun

Published 7/13/2011

 

 

        While many children dream of an imaginary world, 15-year-old Elisabeth Wheatley made hers a reality. At the age of 11, Ms. Wheatley put pen to paper and began creating a story about a magical yet hated society.

        After four years and many drafts, Ms. Wheatley’s imaginary escape has finally become a novel, The Key of Amatahns.

        Ms. Wheatley said the book is a coming-of-age story.

        “It’s about keeping promises, being forgiven, enduring hardships, and persevering,” said Ms. Wheatley.

        The main character of the novel, Janir, was born an Argetallam, but was raised outside of her society as the daughter of a lord. Her adolescence appears to be normal, that is until one day her powers awaken and her life is no longer what it seemed.

        When she completed the tale, Ms. Wheatley gave the book to her brother and mother to read before sending it to an editor.

        “I get nervous when other people read my stories but I enjoy writing very much,” Ms. Wheatley said.

        Ms. Wheatley said the editor liked the book and after meeting with a publisher Chengalera Press in March, she decided to publish the novel with them.

        To prepare for print, the novel underwent several rounds of editing including suggested changes from Professor Emeritus of English T. Walt Herbert, who retired from Southwestern University in 2006.

        The title of the book was changed after the book was complete, drawing inspirations from the legends of King Arthur.

        The novel is the first of seven in the series titled Argetallam.

        “I have almost finished writing the second book,” said Ms. Wheatley.

        Ms. Wheatley, who is homeschooled, said for her writing is synonymous with freedom, but did not always feel that way.

        “I used to hate reading,” Ms. Wheatley said. “My mom encouraged me to read by searching for books she thought I would like.”

        She is now an avid reader. Her favorites include Gail Carson Levine and Christopher Paolini, who wrote the Inheritance Cycle.

        Ms. Wheatley said she began writing stories at the age of 8 and decided that is what she wanted to do for a career three years ago.

        The oldest of four, Ms. Wheatley lives with her parents and three younger brothers on a ranch in the Liberty Hill area.

        When Ms. Wheatley isn’t drafting her next story, she said one of her hobbies is keeping bees and collecting their honey to eat or their wax to make candles. There are around seven hives on her family’s property. She also plays the piano.

        “I do have a few ideas for other series, but they are really tiny right now,” said Ms. Wheatley.