Teen publishes first novel available at Aunt Candy’s

Girl wrote, illustrated first in series 

A Rockford student is proud to offer her first book in a series of three for sale and believes the accomplishment is something anyone with a passion for writing can do if they put their mind to it. Riley Jensen, 14, will be attending the Rockford Freshman Center next school year and plans to complete the next two books in her “Alice Acadamy” series soon. She calls her main character Alice and the first book “Alice Acadamy,” which will be followed by “Finding Alice” and “Good-bye Alice.”

Riley Jensen, 14, has authored her first book in her Alice Series, Alice Academy. She will be a student at the Rockford freshman center this year.

“I have written my whole life and love to do so,” said Riley. “I also illustrated the drawings inside Alice Acadamy and plan to keep that as a tendency.”

Riley said her family self-published the books and plans to keep doing so “until I have become more established or if someone makes me an offer.”

Riley said she realized she wanted to write her own fiction when her sixth-grade English and history teacher, Sarah Reichard, gave the class a poetry

assignment in which her piece “Foot” was printed in the newspaper.

“I had always been trying to complete a book and never came close to finishing it,” Riley said.

Riley also loves drawing and doing a bit of photography. “These are two things I am debating on also making a part of my career,” she said. “I also enjoy kayaking down the river with my family as a great exercise in addition to being able to witness nature. I have a love for swimming also, but do not like going into it competitively. Reading is also another of my hobbies.”

Riley decided on Aunt Candy’s Toy Company as the venue from which to market her book because owner Candy Lancioni has been a life-long friend of the girl. “I have known Aunt Candy since I was a baby and she is a very close and dear friend of mine. Without her generous help, I wouldn’t have been able to sell my book like I have,” Riley stated.

The books are $10 each with personal illustrations by the author. “Who better than the author herself to bring the characters to life?”

Riley’s mother Yvonne said of her daughter’s efforts, “I’m very proud of her. Of course, it is quite an accomplishment for someone her age to have written a book. Most kids her age are texting, playing video games, or watching TV.”

The Rockford native is considering a life career as a writer of some sort, though she admits she is not completely sure. “I am for certain, though, that I want to be an author and am very much aware of the difficulties I will face. I understand it is not a career that you will get rich off of, but I am doing what I love to do and that is payment enough to hear the feedback from people who have already read my book.”

She has already had a book signing in the front of Aunt Candy’s Toy Company for the Start of Summer Celebration for 2011, but she is also hoping to attend the Reading Rocks in Rockford, a second-year celebration in downtown Rockford that is a Rockford Rotary Club event.

There isn’t yet a website for the Alice series, although the author is thinking of setting up a blog so she can tell people more about the book and maybe answer a few questions that people might want to know.

Riley is excited about her book and about following a dream in writing her first book. “Someone should always be there for your dream, and I had so many people there to help me, unlike many authors older than I. I am very lucky to have the support I have and to be able to physically hold my own book in my hands for the first time. It is a sensation that few people will ever get to experience. If it weren’t for all those people, mostly my mom, Alice Acadamy would not exist now.”

She advises others who dream of writing a book to think hard before they decide to take on the work. “Don’t sit down and say you want to write a book when you know that you don’t have the patience nor the knowledge of how hard it really is to do this. Many people think you can just sit down and write a book and someone will publish it for you. But another thing you have to remember is that there are others out there that are better than you and want this more badly. Like I said, this is a career where you bust your fingers to the bone with little reward in return. But for me, seeing my book and knowing it’s real and having people read my words is enough. If money comes later, that is fine too.”

She also admits it is a long, difficult process, if her experience is typical. “If it gives you any insight to how long this process takes, I started Alice Acadamy when I was in sixth grade and I finally got it out of print several weeks before the end of my eighth-grade year, though ‘Finding Alice’ has gone much more quickly and I am done typing it up. All it needs is editing and a cover.”

She also notes that the process is expensive as well as time-consuming. She is using proceeds of her book to publish the next in the series and is thinking of donating a dollar from each sale to a worthy nonprofit organization that will benefit others struggling with a health battle, such as cancer.

Finally Riley offers the following advice. “If you are truly serious about writing a book, then do it, and don’t be arrogant about it either. I am a shy person, and this, I feel, has done some to help my confidence with people. But I will never boast, though, even when unbelievably proud of my book.”

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.