Tags: Mehlville School District News
September 26, 2012 - Fourteen-year-old Hannah Hoffmeister set a goal to finish writing the five-book series she started at age 12½ before she turned 14, and she succeeded.
Hannah Hoffmeister, 14, is the author of a book series called ‘The Dream Ring Series.’ Hannah, a freshman at Oakville Senior High School, is pictured with Ayden and Carleigh Schuster at a book signing at KD’s Books in Lee’s Summit. (click for larger version)
"I got rejected, which was really exciting because all famous authors — you always hear about them getting rejected like a million times..."
~ Hannah Hoffmeister
Two of the books already have been published. The third is expected to be released this fall. And the series is being used as part of the curriculum at her former elementary school, Queen of All Saints.
"It's been a really neat experience because all sorts of stuff has come out of it that you would never have thought would ...," Hannah said, "and to look at all these kids with a book like this, I'm like, 'You're reading what I imagine,' and it's so weird. It's been cool."
Hannah's series, "The Dream Ring Series," tells the story of a young girl, Ava, who finds out she is a witch on her 13th birthday.
The series follows Ava and her friends through their adventures on Neptune, where Ava must go for her training as a witch.
Hannah, a freshman at Oakville Senior High School, said seeing her first book, "Ava," completed was "just incredible."
"It was amazing," Hannah said. "I couldn't believe it was done after all the hard work — and it looked really good. And I was really nervous when I went to get it because I got to go to the publishing company, (Buttonwood Press), in Michigan to see it, and she just said it's in that room. You go in and see it by yourself."
Amanda Hoffmeister, Hannah's mother who helps edit the series, was impressed with her daughter's work.
"I always tell our friends that I don't think I have 1,200 pages to say about anything, but when I read the first book, I loved it …," Amanda said. "It just draws the reader in and makes them want to keep following through the series, but seeing it published and seeing how beautiful the cover (looked), and how it all came together, I'm very proud of her."
When Hannah started writing "Ava" at 12½ years old, she said she "had no idea what it was going to turn into." But in her younger years, she played witches with friends, which sparked the idea for the series.
"We got a lot of ideas from that, and we wrote it all down, so I was kind of able to draw from that," Hannah said, "and since I've been writing since I was four I just kind of got the idea and started working on it and then I thought I was out of ideas, so I stopped."
About a year and a half ago, Hannah said she went back to the future book series with many more ideas.
"... I kept working on it and it just turned into a series," Hannah said.
Each book took, on average, about six months to write, but the whole series took about a year a half, according to Hannah.
Using 'Ava' in class
Katie Renkins, a fifth-grade teacher at Queen of All Saints, teaches "Ava," Hannah's first book, in her classes.
Renkins, who was also Hannah's fifth-grade teacher, said every year "a new thing" happens — "some little surprise" — to include in the year's curriculum.
And using Hannah's book, which she did for the first time last school year, was "the surprise of the year."
"It was a new experience. It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity," she said. "I thought, 'I will never have this happen again.'"
Hannah has been able to make a question and answer sheet for students, and Renkins also made a test, which she showed Hannah after students completed it.
"I got to see (the students' tests) afterward, and it's cool to see the different kids' answers," Hannah said. "So it's been really neat knowing they like reading the book and kind of weird because I've had these ideas in me for so long ..."
Public speaking engagements
Hannah also speaks to students ranging from third to eighth grade, including schools in Wentzville and Fort Zumwalt.
"I speak about following your dreams and how it worked out for me and how you don't have to be an adult to do what you want to do with your life," she said, "and I think it's cool they can have a role model that's closer to their age than to their parents' age."
Amanda said she believes hearing Hannah speak is inspiring to school children because "the thoughts are coming from a 14-year-old, not from a teacher."
"I think an older author can offer their insight to their writing process, but I think as a young author, kids in the schools can identify with what she's doing and strive to reach their own goals," Amanda said.
One piece of advice Hannah always gives the groups she speaks to is the importance of enforcing goals — goals that do not have to be "something really tricky."
When editing the "Dream Ring Series," Hannah's goal was chocolate cake.
"I'd make myself a chocolate cake and every five chapters (of editing), I (would) have a piece and just remind myself I can keep going," Hannah said, "and so the kids always find that really funny."
Search for a publisher
In searching for a publisher, Hannah first decided to seek an agent. In doing so, she was rejected a few times, much to her delight.
"I got rejected, which was really exciting because all famous authors — you always hear about them getting rejected like a million times, so I got rejected and then we decided to try by ourselves," Hannah said.
Her family has a connection with Buttonwood Press, based in Haslett, Mich., a company that publishes series. And it "just worked out" that Hannah had a five-book series waiting for them.