English assignment becomes e-book for PHS student

Plymouth High School student Shannon McKee turned a classroom assignment into this e-book. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School student Shannon McKee turned a classroom assignment into this e-book. — Submitted photo A Plymouth High School student has published a classroom assignment as a Kindle e-book available for purchase on Amazon.

Freshmen in Janet DeJean Newton’s English I class explore the elements of a short story: plot, characters, setting, theme and pointof view. Students then write and illustrate a book, which they publish with a mock publish company, De- Jean Newton Publishing Inc.

During the process, students peer edit their work, revise it, design and build a book jacket, lay out the story, and then build a physical book using cardboard, printer paper and contact paper, including stitching up the binding with a needle and thread.

“We all ‘learn by doing,’ so the goal of this project is to go beyond a paper and pencil test,” Newton said.

Shannon McKee, one of those who completed the assignment, said her mother asked her one day for the files used to create the book without explaining why. “The next week, she showed me on her computer that she set up an account for me on Amazon’s self publishing as another Christmas gift,” Shannon said.

The result is “Black Light,” a 27-page Kindle book with this description: “Swiftwing, a young dragon warrior, ventures alone through the dark lonely corridors of the Blackblood’s prison in search of his comrade, Bloodspill. What was unknown to him was that a deep cruel secret was lurking between the cell bars …”

The biggest challenge was adapting the book – which originally had been formatted as a physical book – as an e-book, Shannon said. That meant putting in different page breaks and adjusting the placement of the illustrations, which she created.

Shannon settled on a price for the book – it’s available for 99 cents – and Amazon reviewed the work to be sure it is original, before it was made available online.

“It’s not a difficult process,” Shannon said. “If you like to write short stories or have a novel in the works or anything around that area, that can help you with your writing career.”

Newton agreed. “Shannon is a prolific writer,” she said. “Her dedication to writing will certainly help her develop a writing career.”

Newton has not had a student publish this assignment before, but former student Dick Grunert wrote a play produced at PHS in 2004, “Scenes From a Dance,” which since has been professionally published and produced by other schools around the world.

Grunert, who has won numerous awards for his horror screen plays, is a production coordinator for Cartoon Network in Los Angeles, where he is also one of the writers for the popular Cartoon Network animated series, “Adventure Time.”

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