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Hudson student now a published author

Lily Van Allen, 13, Hudson, holds her new book "Lost & Found." She said so far she's had great positive feedback on her book. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia.

One day, when Lily Van Allen's dad John Van Allen came to pick his daughter up from preschool, he found young Lily reading a story to the other kids. Some of the other kids were older than her, Lily's mom Leanne Van Allen said.

"It was really fun to see at that young age," said Leanne.

Lily has stayed an avid reader throughout the years. She's read Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" three times. She's read "Pride and Prejudice" twice, and enjoys Charles Dickens, as well as some more modern authors.

"(Her) happiest place on earth is Barnes and Noble," said Leanne. "Or any bookstore."

But 13-year-old Lily doesn't just read books. She also writes them. She said she's always enjoyed writing. And now, she is a published author.

"It's very exciting and and surreal," she said. "There's been a lot of support from my fellow students too."

Lily's parents, older sister Morgan, friends, and teachers have all been great supporters.

Lily's book, "Lost and Found: Five People, three Stories," was officially available for publication on Aug. 12. So far she's sold about 15 copies online, and 10 printed copies of her book.

"It's about a single mother who had her son taken from her, and has to team up with her ex to find him because he's the town's leading detective. And they find the son, and he grows up and he goes off to New York and he becomes a musician and reaches international fame. And a figure from his past comes back to save his life.

"I was between writing short stories when I found an old notebook I was using last year and the story just kinda came to me," she said. "It just kinda developed as I wrote."

One day, Leanne saw a story about Sigma's Bookshelf publishing company on KARE 11 while Lily was getting ready for school.

"My mom said, 'You should watch this, it's really interesting,'" Lily said. "And from there I started typing up the story and sent it in, and within a month they approved me for publication and it went from there."

"Knowing Lily really has this desire to be a famous author someday," Leanne said, "I thought well, let's give it a shot and see if it's something she's interested in."

Sigma's Bookshelf is a Minnetonka, Minn-based nonprofit organization. It was started by teenager Justin M. Anderson in 2016. A published author himself, Anderson started the nonprofit to help other teens publish their books, with the help of his parents, according to the Sigma's Bookshelf website (sigmasbookshelf.com). Sigma's Bookshelf is sponsored by Springboard for the Arts and the Wayzata Rotary Chapter.

"It's been so exciting to see the whole process," said Leanne.

She said that whole process has been a great opportunity for Lily to get a taste of the publishing cycle at an earlier age than most authors.

Lily and her mom said Lily's early interest in reading helped spark her interest in writing.

"I started reading in preschool," Lily said. "By Kindergarten I was already helping the other kids in my class with reading."

She would bring little board books with her everywhere she went — even the doctor — in case she got bored.

Leanne said she starting to write books herself was just the next step for Lily.

"I've always kinda enjoyed writing stories," Lily said. "I think it's the appeal of being able to create your own story. Like if you think of a book that you'd want to read, but it's not out then you can write it for other people to read."

Lily said teachers have read the book, and friends helped her proofread and read the book as she wrote it.

She said she's been asked to sign a few books.

She's also encouraged other students she knows to try getting their work published.

Lily definitely plans to keep writing. She's already planning her next book.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048
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