14-year-old Fort Valley teen has novel published after winning contest
Many aspiring writers spend their lives planning to write a novel and never get it done, much less published, but Keenon Solomon has managed that at age 14.
His book, “The Relic of Power,” is not self-published either. He has an actual publishing contract, which he won in a writing contest. The book can be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or from his mom, who proudly carries around a box of them.
He wrote the 89-page book last year, when he was 13, in response to a contest by Mynd Matters Publishing, an Atlanta-based company founded by Fort Valley native Renita Bryant. She opened the contest to Peach County students ages 7 to 13.
“I thought it would be a way to get young people excited about the idea of writing,” she said. “Why not have someone 7 or 13 years old and be a published writer and know what they can achieve?”
She had 15 entries and Keenon’s was selected by an independent panel of judges. He won a $6,000 publishing contract, which includes the cost of developing, printing and marketing the book, and creating a website for it, relicofpower.com.
Keenon talked about his experience recently at his grandparent’s house, shortly before he appeared before the school board to be recognized for his accomplishment. He is in the eighth grade at Fort Valley Middle School.
“When I first saw the cover, I was just overwhelmed, for all this to happen,” Keenon said.
He is a fan of adventure stories, especially the Indiana Jones movies. His book centers around a famed artifact collector who is paired, against his will, with a female partner to retrieve a powerful relic from a jungle. The cover depicts the pair parachuting out of a helicopter into the jungle.
After he wrote the first draft, which was only 11 pages, his laptop broke and he spent the rest of his summer in the county library finishing the book. It was published in December. He has sold over 200 copies, which is more than he was expecting.
He dedicated the book to his mother, Melody Fleming.
The book is in the library at his school, and an Accelerated Reader test has been made to go along with it, so students who read it can take the test and earn AR points.
The school’s principal, Damika Glover, said the book is getting checked out a lot. She has read it herself.
“I give it five stars,” she said. “He is very creative. He had a great plot and used everything we taught him in school as far as plot diagram, climax and resolution.”
Keenon does a lot more than write. He also was a starting offensive lineman on the football team this past season, he plays in the band and he is active in 4-H. He recently met former president Jimmy Carter through his participation in 4-H.
Ultimately, Keenon said he hopes to become a screen writer. He is already planning a sequel to his first novel.
“I have a lot of ideas,” he said.