Summer project becomes published novel by 2 Linwood teens

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Authors Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz enjoy a visit from their former Belhaven Middle School teachers; from left is Amy Ojserkis of Linwood, Susanne Manzini of Northfield, Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz of Linwood and Debbie Levine of Longport.  Authors Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz enjoy a visit from their former Belhaven Middle School teachers; from left is Amy Ojserkis of Linwood, Susanne Manzini of Northfield, Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz of Linwood and Debbie Levine of Longport.

LINWOOD—Two published authors graced the dais at the Linwood Library Sunday afternoon, there to talk about their newly published book and to sign copies. These accomplished writers just happen to be best friends and high school seniors.

Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz, both 18 and from Linwood have just self-published the book “Extium,” a fast-paced dystopian novel in the same vein as the mega hits; “Divergent” and “Hunger Games.”

The young writers got their start on the road to their novel simply because they were looking to do something fun over the summer at the conclusion of their freshman year. Rha is now a senior at Mainland Regional High School and Gewirtz will soon graduate from Holy Spirit.
Fast forward and what began as a lark is a serious novel that is turning literary heads. Rha explained to the crowd gathered at the library that after much research they decided to go the self-publishing route to getting their book on the shelves. “We decided to self-publish because we wanted to have control of how the finished book would look,” said Rha. “We also wanted it to be published before we left for college.” 

The duo explained that traditional publishing requires the author to have an agent and if you choose to self-publish you do not need an agent.
They chose CreateSpace because it allowed them to have input on the finished product and also because they are connected to Amazon and the book would be for sale quickly.

But they are now attending literary conferences and hope to republish the book with a traditional publishing house in the future.
Questions came from the audience; “Will you write a sequel?” Both girls laughed, saying they are getting that same question from everyone who reads the book, and the answer is yes, they are planning on a follow-up. The plan is to use Google Docs which will allow them to work on the book together despite being hundreds of miles apart in September. Gewirtz will attend The College of New Jersey and Rha is headed to University of North Carolina.

One gentleman in the audience suggested Rha and Gewirtz see if Jennifer Lawrence (star of “Hunger Games”) will be available to star in a film version of “Extium.” 

Several of the girls’ former teachers made it a point to be at the Sunday author session and book signing.

Seventh grade language arts teacher at Belhaven School, Susanne Manzini of Northfield was there and said, “I am thrilled to see these brave, intelligent, artistic young women carving their niche in the world. What a remarkable accomplishment to publish a novel at any age, let alone at 18. I am so proud of Katie and Emery, but I have to say I am not surprised. They always shined just a little brighter than all the students around them. As their former writing teacher, I feel honored to know the girls remember my class as a first step in their journey as young writers. It means the world to me,” said Manzini.

Belhaven Media Specialist, Amy Ojserkis said, “There were two things that really stood out for me, made all the more impressive given Katie and Emery's age. The first is how they were able to navigate the business end of the publishing process; choosing and working with an editor, book packager and graphic artist.  They really took ownership of their work, from written word to bound copy. Secondly, I love that ‘Extium’ is a collaborative work, and that Katie and Emery are part of a larger writing collaborative, the International Women's Writing Guild.  Keep writing Team Extium,’ your Linwood fans want more!”

Debbie Levine, Belhaven Middle School eighth grade language arts teacher, called Rha and Gewirtz work ethic impeccable. “Their desires soar above other students due to their focus and goals they set for themselves. These two girls happen to be extremely creative and detailed oriented; they both always were. They were the type of students when you were teaching, you could look into their eyes or follow their expressions and you knew they were taking what you were saying to another level and 'thinking beyond'.” Levine added, “Both students come from families who are also educationally driven and quite supportive with their endeavors. They are quite humble...a quality we do not often discover in talented young people. Both girls always possessed kindness which in my opinion matches their eclectic intelligence. We, as educators, are so very proud of their accomplishments.”

While the Rha and Gewirtz are very bright ladies they are also just having fun and were happy to enjoy a few giggles with friends and their former teachers after the session was over.

“Extium” is available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Extium-Emery-Gewirtz/dp/0615921841

Julianna Evinski, 11, of Linwood had a copy of “Extium” signed by authors Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz at the Linwood Library Sunday, May 4. Julianna Evinski, 11, of Linwood had a copy of “Extium” signed by authors Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz at the Linwood Library Sunday, May 4.

Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz speak at the Linwood Library Sunday, May 4 about their experience as writers and the publishing process. Katie Rha and Emery Gewirtz speak at the Linwood Library Sunday, May 4 about their experience as writers and the publishing process.

 


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