A junior at Washington Township High School has used an English narrative assignment to complete a self-published story called “The Magical Woods.”
“I always loved to write and I was always interested in creating stories,” said 16-year-old Sydney Cella. “But most of my writing through the years has been for school assignments. I have done a little bit outside of school, but most has been for that.
Cella was given the narrative assignment by her English teacher. It was meant to be a few pages long, but Cella was so inspired by the story she created, the words continued to flow. The assignment extended to over nine pages and turned into a full children’s story complete with the author’s own illustrations.
“The idea to publish came from this book; when I first wrote it for the assignment, I thought it was really good,” Cella explained. “I thought it could be turned into a story that people would actually want to read. Before that, I don’t think I have ever written anything that could have been published and developed into a story.”
The book notes that the woods have secrets beyond belief. It features two best friends and one magical mystery. For middle schoolers Alex and Mia, life is about to get much more complicated. After a huge snowstorm overnight, a normal day of sledding turns into a magical adventure. They meet whimsical creatures, including Mr. Chill, a snow person who lives in a calm part of the woods called Snowtown.
Through a turn of events, the girls find themselves transported into the world of the snow people as they meet an unexpected enemy. They must decide what to do: If they help the snow people, they could stay lost in the woods for eternity.
According to Cella, the book is meant for children between the ages of 9 and 11. It was inspired by a hill near Cella’s house that led sledders into snowy woods she found magical and beautiful.
“I was really inspired by the winter time,” she related. “We have a hill right beside our house, and across from the hill, there is woods. Me and my brother would always go sledding back there, and when the woods are covered in snow, it always looks magical. I was always inspired by what’s going on in there, and that’s where the inspiration came from.”
After the story was written, Cella decided she wanted to publish it by herself. It took research through YouTube and Google before she finally discovered a way to self-publish through Amazon.
“When I originally decided I want to get it published, I really knew nothing about the process,” Cella said. “I was looking it up online and looking at YouTube videos, and that’s really when I figured out you could self-publish. There was another option, which was to traditionally publish, but I really wanted to try everything out myself. I really want to see if I could do it, if I could illustrate this book and write it and get it published.”
Cella’s family helped her read through the story and make changes and edits. And her story-writing adventures will not end with her first book. Cella hopes to finish a sequel to “The Magical Woods” before graduation and also plans to write young-adult mystery novels.
“I’m not 100 percent sure yet what I want to go to college for,” she acknowledged. “[Writing] is definitely something I am considering and I do enjoy it a lot and it’s something I have a lot of fun doing. It was a great process.”
“The Magical Woods” can be found on Amazon for less than $10.