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'Chicken Soup' fame

Oldham County teen pens memoir
in short story collection

Smith takes his teacher’s advice

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(January 2008) – When Adam Smith wrote a story five years ago in seventh grade, he had no idea at the time that it would end up as a published short story. Smith is now excited to see his personal narrative in print on the pages of “Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul: Real Life Stories by Real Teens.”

Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul

Currently a senior at North Oldham High School, Smith wrote what he referred to as a memoir piece for an English class requirement when he was a student at North Oldham Middle School five years ago. “It was about my first dance with a girl in middle school,” said Smith, 17, the son of Chris and Beverly Smith of Prospect.
He recalls that there is a “slight bit of humor in it. It’s a fun little story.”
As a seventh-grader, he had the chance to read “School Dance” on a local radio station. Once a week WFPL radio station would broadcast stories written by community members. The teacher who gave him the assignment, Vickie Wheatley, had also written a story and was chosen to read hers along with her student at that time.
“My teacher encouraged her students to send off their work to be published,” said Smith. Wheatley encouraged Smith to submit his story to Teen Inc. magazine, where it was first published. Chicken Soup publishers collaborated with Teen Inc magazine by choosing stories from back issues for inclusion in their latest book.
Smith’s story was selected from thousands of other potential stories for inclusion in “Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul.” Stories provide insight about the tough issues teens face every day concerning friends, school, work, family obligations and their future.
“School Dance” began as a routine personal memoir assignment for a unit of English classwork. Students chose their own topics, but Wheatley said, “It was a requirement that all my students send at least one piece out to be published.”
Because it is so difficult to become a published author, Wheatley said she thinks Smith has been very fortunate with the success of “School Dance.” “I’m glad he’s getting the recognition he very richly deserves.”

Adam Smith

Photo provided

Adam Smith is
considering his future
as an author with
the recent publication
of his short story.

While he doesn’t see writing as a career is in his future, Smith thought his story was selected because of its merit and “the way it captures my thoughts and feelings.”
The fact that it is about the seemingly simple act of asking a girl to a dance makes it a universal story. “It relates to a lot of other people,” he said.
“He knew how to get across his feelings in very few words and in a humorous way,” said Wheatley. She remembers that it was his voice and style of writing that always gave his work a unique perspective.
Smith got a taste of the publishing world in re-submitting “School Dance” to Chicken Soup publishers. He received a letter of invitation from the publishers, enabling him to skip the usual proposal and query guidelines. But he did have to re-send the story in a certain manuscript format and include an author’s biography of himself. He was paid $250 for his efforts.
His mother was always his proofreader because “she studied a lot of English in college,” he said.
“I had read the story before it was submitted and thought it aptly captured what it is like to be a middle school boy,” said Beverly Smith. “Adam has always been an avid reader and writing has always been encouraged at home.”
His mother was a little surprised when the Chicken Soup publishers chose his work for their book. But she said she is proud of her son. “I believe that Adam could be a published writer again one day, and I will encourage him to write throughout his life.”
As a reader, Smith said a lot of different genres interest him. Many titles read in his Advanced Placement Literature class appeal to him as well as “The Kite Runner,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Bourne Identity” series. He is a self-declared “big Harry Potter fan.”
Smith has not let a little bit of fame go to his head with the recent publication of his work. He is focused on graduating from high school and applying for college at his top choices, which include Xavier University in Cincinnati, Murray State University and Centre College.
Creators Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen first published the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books in 1993. More than 100 million copies have been sold, and 145 titles have been printed in 37 languages.
Health Communications Inc. released the book on Oct. 15, 2007. It sells for $14.95.

Back to January 2008 Articles.

 

 

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