NEW: Let’s Write Together turns 36 students into published authors

As seen on My Palm Beach Post, article by Antonio Fins.

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Thirty-six students, mostly from Palm Beach County schools, are now published writers.

They are authors courtesy of the Let’s Write Together program founded and run by a Boca Raton high school student. The three dozen students were honored Friday in a ceremony at the Hagen Ranch Road public library branch in Delray Beach.

As their parents and teachers applauded and snapped photos, each of the students, representing area elementary, middle and high schools, was called by name and presented with a certificate. They also received a copy of the Let’s Write Together anthology, a softcover book with each of their short stories. Several of the students read excerpts from their stories.

The program was started four years ago by Alex Watson, who is completing his junior year at St. Andrews School. Watson, 16, said he started the project as a way to promote reading and writing.

“People I know don’t read as much as they used to, or not at all. Especially people my age,” Watson said. “I’m just trying to encourage everyone to keep writing. Reading and writing is a beautiful art. I don’t want us to lose it.”

To that end, the program’s website — www.letswritetogether.com — features a writing guide with tips and advice. It includes an explanation of the different genres and advice on developing a storyline, researching a subject and developing characters.

This year, Watson said Let’s Write Together’s call for writers to step forward drew about 100 entries, mostly from students in Palm Beach County schools. Those short stories were then judged by a committee that also included teachers and members of the Palm Beach County library system.

The winning entries were then published in what is a nearly 300-page book printed by Trimark Press, a 30-year-old company based in Deerfield Beach, that specializes in independent publishing.

The company’s owner, Barry Chesler, said he agreed to print the books to promote reading and writing.

“I enjoy providing an opportunity to the kids. I love seeing their faces when they see their names and their stories in the book,” Chesler said. “Everyone says we need to support reading. I agree. But we also need to promote writing. This promotes writing.”

In Watson’s case, he says he got his start in writing five years ago when he was 11 when he set a goal to write a book. He completed that effort, Tsunami, in 2012. It’s about two youths who are separated from their parents when a tsunami hits Hawaii while they were there on a family vacation.

“There’s a feeling I get from writing that I don’t get from anything else,” he said. “I hope the kids who participate in Let’s Write Together keep it going.”

As he closed Friday’s event, Watson announced that the submission process for the 2018 Let’s Write Together competition was now open. Unfortunately, he told the crowd of about 150 people, including the students, gathered at the library that next year’s contest, the program’s fifth, may be the final one for the program.

“I have to go to college,” he said. However, he held open the possibility someone will take over running the program beyond 2018.

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NEW: Let’s Write Together turns 36 students into published authors