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Senior finishes a six year-long project that ends in a published book

Quarantine provides time for writing

Adria Cooper, Features Editor
Originally published April 5th, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Vangie LaufertLaufert autographing her books

Photo Courtesy of Vangie Laufert

Laufert autographing her books

As we reach the one-year marker of quarantine, many students have done amazing things with all of the time spent at home. For example, senior Vangie Laufert wrote and published her first book. 

Titled “Just For You,” the young adult novel follows main character Amy Marshall during her junior year of high school as she experiences the common growing pains associated with being a teenager. “It’s really a story about social anxieties, peer pressure, trying to fit in and mental health and all that fun stuff as a teenager,” Laufert said.

The basic premise of the novel is that a teenage girl with many close friends and a good relationship with her twin brother begins to have some adverse experiences. “She goes through peer pressure and blackmail. She starts to notice changes in her brother,” Laufert said.

Things come to a head when her brother goes missing. The book then follows Amy’s path back to normal as she copes with the changes in her life and attempts to heal as well as help those around her heal.

Although Laufert published “Just For You” in late 2020, the actual process of writing the book began when she was in fifth grade. She had just moved to Seattle from Maryland and spent fifth and sixth grade writing what would be the first draft of “Just For You” on loose leaf paper. 

Laufert says that her move was partly what inspired the novel. “I didn’t feel like I fit in when I first moved to Seattle and I started to distance myself from my class. One morning when I was unpacking my stuff I found this notebook and I looked at the paper and the first line of the book came to me,” Laufert said.

“I built [Amy] a picture perfect life because I wanted that and didn’t have it, but then [the book] just changed as I realized that no one’s life is perfect.”

Although the first draft of “Just For You” was completed years ago, Laufert unfortunately lost the binder that held the story. “I wrote it start to finish; it was obviously not good and it was short but the story was there,” Laufert said.

Flashforward to the fall of 2020. Laufert found herself with time to burn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I had so much free time because of quarantine, so I just wrote it again,” Laufert said. 

She never found the binder but the idea was still with her. “I remembered the story. I changed a lot of it but I remembered the characters and how I wanted the ideas to go together, which was really helpful.”

Once the story was written, the time for editing came. “I went through it with my grandma because she used to be an editor,” Laufert said. “This took a couple of weeks and then ‘Just For You’ was ready to be published.”

“I don’t actually have a publisher. I looked into it and it is very expensive. So, I looked into Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. You can just upload your manuscript into their formatting thing and then you can publish it for free,” Laufert said.

Once the book is published, Amazon takes a certain percentage out of every copy sold. Laufert offers both ebooks and paperbacks. She estimates that she has sold around 70 copies.

One of the first people to read the book, or rather listen as Vangie has also recorded an audio book version, was senior Norah Bunnell. “I loved it, I was super invested in it personally and always looked forward to listening to the next chapter,” Bunnell said. “It was so descriptive; it felt super real at some parts and made me cry a few times.”

While she plans to study nursing in college, Laufert is not going to stop writing. She has 10 different books she is working on now, but is not banking on writing to be her job. 

“Ideally it would be great to continue to publish books and make a lot of money so that I can sustain myself while doing what I like. But, you have to sell millions of copies to make money,” Laufrert said. 

Wherever life takes her, it is clear that Laufert will keep writing whether it be for fun or for a job. She also wants writing to be a part of other people’s lives. 

“I really want people to know that anyone can write,” she said. “If you want to write, just write. You don’t need to publish anything, you don’t need to show people. It’s just a really good outlet.”

“I didn’t expect this book to grab me the way it did. It was super good and I’m really glad I started listening to it. Honestly, I hadn’t read a book before that in at least a year so I didn’t know if I would be able to get into it but by like chapter three I was hooked,” Bunnell said.

So, if you are looking for your next read, consider an up and coming author by reading “Just For You.”

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Senior finishes a six year-long project that ends in a published book