A teen writer publishes against all odds

For her high school senior project, Kendra Stefan wanted to write, illustrate, and publish a children’s book, and I agreed to mentor her through the project. As writers out there know, a book is a lot of work. For Kendra, the challenge was over the top. She was suffering from heart failure.

We got an early start, working on the book between her other studies, her numerous doctor’s appointments, and rising fatigue. As we got her story down, her condition declined and her position on the waiting list for a donor moved up.

When the story was essentially done, but the illustrations just started, Kendra got the call. In July, she received her new heart.

Kendra’s work on the book continued while she recovered in the hospital – between rehab sessions, medication adjustments, and the hard and painful work of building up her strength.

When she was released for visits home, we worked on the book. Still unable to return to school, we inserted the artwork. Between her follow-up doctors’ appointments, we formatted. Between her naps, we uploaded and worked through the myriad of glitches that plague even seasoned authors.

And then Kendra hit PUBLISH. Jackie Moves to Bunsvill is live in print and ebook.

She’s running a sale today and tomorrow – the ebook available at the low price of $.99.

If you feel like giving this young writer a big smile, click this global link:

Amazon ebook or Amazon paperback.

Now back to Kendra. She was kind enough to do a mini-interview with me.

Hi Kendra, so you hit the publish button on your first book! How does it feel?
It showed me that I really did write a book. I was so surprised that I actually wrote a book! It was an adrenaline rush.



What did you enjoy most about writing a children’s book?
I think the thing I enjoyed most was drawing the characters for the first time and coming up with their personalities and how all of those different personalities would mesh together. It gave me so much creative freedom… there was no limit.

What did you like least?
Working with [the formatting program] and fixing grammatical errors. Just because it was so tedious and time-consuming. Diana and I spent three hours just to fix two words.



Was there anything that surprised you about the process?
Yes. There was a lot that surprised me. I never knew it would take so much time and so many computer programs. I was surprised by how easily I would make mistakes.

What might you do differently next time besides not having a heart transplant in the middle of the process?
I would work more at lining up dates and setting up plans to do readings instead of doing it at the last minute.



Any advice for other young authors?
As soon as words start flowing through your head, write it down because you can always organize those ideas into stories.

Any other books in your future?
I think so, but I don’t know when. I think that my books in the future will be more targeted towards teenagers and adults.




Thanks to everyone for stopping by to learn about Kendra’s journey and her book! I was so honored to play a small part.

Now get busy writing!

222 thoughts on “A teen writer publishes against all odds

  1. Very inspiring story. It send a strong message of encouragement to aspiring writers. Congratulations to Kendra! Great teamwork! And it was so kind of you to mentor, help and encourage her to persist until the book was done. Wish you both a lot of success!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Matilda. She had a highly successful senior project and is now working on her college applications. 🙂 I was honored to be a part of her journey. I appreciate the visit and kind comment. Happy Writing!


  2. All the best to Kendra and her new book. I think it’s great you were her mentor for this project. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for reading. Kendra has to speak in front of the school and community about her project this coming Wednesday. Then she’s done – and I think she’ll be relieved! Ha ha. Have a wonderful Sunday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is wonderful for both of you Diana. Teaching someone else and watching them excel is a gift – thank you for sharing your story and Kendra’s work! Happy New Year, may 2019 be the best yet!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. inesephoto says:

    So wonderful, Diana! Just got the book, will read it with my eldest when I see her this summer. Way to go, Kendra! you guys are amazing xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cheers for Kendra!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. K'lee L. says:

    This is fantastic, Diana, and truly inspirational. Well done.🌟🌟🌟

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What an amazing gift you gave her, D! The illustrations are charming, and I’m sure the project not only got her (life-giving) endorphins going but also helped keep her mind off darker things. The perfect holiday tale, this story of a story. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anneberly says:

    Book arrived today. It is the cutest book. I love the artwork too. Kendra keep writing, I’m definitely a fan. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cath says:

    Congratulations and well done, Kendra. The book looks great, and it must give you such a buzz to see your hard work out there.

    And to you, too, Diana. This is such a lovely interview. What a great Christmas present for both of you. Good luck with the sales.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Teri Polen says:

    Congratulations, Kendra – you set a goal and accomplished it – what an inspiration you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide and commented:
    What an amazing story!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congratulations to both of you. She made a wise choice for a mentor. I’m going to go give her a smile right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, what an inspirational story from both of you. Congratulations, Kendra. Best of luck with your writing endeavors. ❤ Love the illustrations!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jennie says:


    Liked by 1 person

  15. What an amazing story and an amazing young lady, Diana. Kendra is an inspiration to us all, I certainly remember her story every time I think it’s not worth writing anything. Her illustrations are fantastic. I’m sorry I missed the offer on the book, but I’ll go ahead and promote this post on social media and hope she’ll get a few more sales.

    Thank you, too, for being Kendra’s mentor. You did a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Hugh! I had the same reaction – no more complaining when I think writing is hard. It was a huge project, far more time-consuming than her school required. Thanks so much for helping to spread the word. 🙂 It’s a very cute read for little kids. Happy Holidays!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Joanne Sisco says:

    What an awesome story – not just for Kendra who is obviously a superhero, but also for you, Diana. You got to hang out with a superhero 🙂

    What Kendra went through to publish her first book is …. I can’t even find an appropriate word. I think there is no question that she will be a major force to reckon with in the years ahead. Clearly she has the drive to see a vision through to completion. You must be bursting with pride to have been a part of that journey!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had so much fun, Joanne, and yes!- proud of her accomplishment. She never complained about the work, and it was a lot! She had a book signing yesterday with a lovely turnout. Thanks so much for the visit and Happy Holidays. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. acflory says:

    congratulations, Kendra! I hope this is the first of many. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Widdershins says:

    Way. To. Go. Kendra!!! 😀 … and you too, writing partner! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Vashti Q says:

    What an inspiration you are, Diana. Congratulations to Kendra! That’s a huge accomplishment. I enjoyed the illustrations and interview also. Wishing you both and your loved ones the best holiday season ever!
    ❤ xo

    Liked by 1 person

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