One Example

Shanaya Fastje is eleven years old. The homeschooled sophomore loves to write and illustrate her own stories. Shanaya and her family decided to use a small publishing company to get her stories into print (three of them so far, and she’s working on a fourth). Read more here.

A Brief Disclaimer: Small publishing companies can be very expensive, which leads detractors to refer to them as “vanity” presses–printers people use when they want to see their stories in print at any cost. Some have very tricky contracts with some serious disadvantages for the author. Others are on the up-and-up. A website such as Preditors & Editors can help you sort out the good guys from the not-so-good, and of course you know to ALWAYS read the contract carefully and seek legal advice for any parts that raise questions. My purpose here is neither to recommend nor caution against any particular company.

That said, I thought it was interesting to note what Shanaya has accomplished.

  • She won a National Award of Extraordinary Excellence in 2008 for her first book, Mystery School.
  • In 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry recognized her as “A Shining Star” after her second book was published.
  • She has organized an anti-bullying program.
  • The National Association of Secondary School Principals and Prudential Financial presented her with the 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community Award for outstanding community service,
  • and President Obama  recently awarded Shanaya the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her outstanding accomplishments.

Not too shabby! 🙂 Congratulations are undoubtedly due, and there’s abundant encouragement and inspiration for all!

About Lynn Dean

Lynn Dean dictated her first story before she could write and continued to write stories, illustrate them, and bind them into books throughout childhood. As a homeschooling mom, she enjoyed passing a love for writing to her own children and ten years of co-op students.

Read more about Lynn.


  1. Lynn Dean says:

    I heard this week from 11-yr-old Evan Jones, another Texas homeschooler, who turned his interest in private space flight into a book “by a kid, for kids.” Evan created the outline, did the research, wrote the text, and provided the illustrations. That’s a lot of work! His mom says sometimes he considered quitting before his book was published, but Evan persevered because “it really is a great book that so many kids could enjoy and learn from” and “most of all, he could encourage other kids that they can do anything they set their minds to.”

    Available at (, Evan used Lulu ( produce his book.

    Congratulations to Evan Jones!

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