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It's a mystery—youth pens second book

December 18, 2013 - Groveland Twp.- Gracie Harmon is just 12-years-old, but she is already the author of two books.

Her latest, "The Sheppard Twins and the Mystery of the Three Thieves," was self-published Dec. 1, using CreateSpace.com.

"I've always read mysteries and I just really wanted to write one," said Gracie. "It's about twins and their cousins who solve a mystery together."

According to the description on CreateSpace.com, "when twins Maria and Hannah Sheppard discover the robbery that occurred at Frank's Fine Dining, nothing can stop them or their sleuthing cousins, Martin and Caleb, from trying to solve this baffling case."

The characters are teens, but like the author, they are Christians and homeschooled.

Receiving an education at home actually helped Gracie to become a published author.

"I am homeschooled and that makes it easier to write a book because I can do it whenever I want," she said. "I usually get all my school done as fast as I can so I can write. Sometimes I get stuck and the next day I come back and finish."

She began the book this summer, completing it in just months, also inspired to write quickly by her grandmother, who lives in Indiana and to whom she sent chapters by e-mail as she finished writing them.

"She was the only one allowed to read it while I was writing," said Gracie. "She just really encouraged me and said it was great. She asked questions that made me think about what to write next. I feel like the characters come to life for me. I just want to keep writing to find out what happens next. I don't have any plan when I sit down."

Gracie is a fan of the Hardy Boys mysteries, which she has been reading since she was 8. Occasionally, she will read Nancy Drew mysteries, but called Nancy "a frilly girl who never gets in trouble," whereas the Hardy Boys "do exciting things."

Gracie's writing career began when she was 9-years-old after she and her older sister, Anna, and younger sister, Marie, were sent to bed one night.

"I had no intention of sleeping and I started telling them a bedtime story and my sister Anna said I should write it in a book and the next day I got out my netbook and started to write," Gracie said.

That book turned out to be "Joel and Grace," about a pauper who meets a princess and their life together as they move west. Set in 1880, Gracie said the book is the Hardy Boys and "Little House on the Prairie" wrapped together, a three-part story for which she researched information on bears and land claims. Her learning is expanded through her writing and she has also gained knowledge on publishing. "Joel and Grace" was published a year ago.

"I was so excited to hold the first copy of my book, I called everyone I knew and I think all my neighbors heard me," Gracie said. "It's really exciting to know that I did it and I write books and I finish them."

Gracie is already at work on her next book, again featuring the Sheppard Twins, this time solving a mystery at a circus. She hopes to make the Sheppard Twins a series and publish one book per year. She also has plans to use profits from her books, as well as sales from her home-based business, Gracie's Bakery, to attend culinary school one day.

"Although I love writing, I love baking more," she said. "The hardest thing about writing is making sure everything makes sense and there are no loose ends. What I love most about writing is making everything up and I can write whatever I want. One of the things I like best about my books is they have a Christian theme and most books out there don't. My books are for kids 8-14, I tried to appeal to both boys and girls."

"The Sheppard Twins and the Mystery of the Three Thieves," 137 pages, in paperback or in digital format for Kindle, is available at CreateSpace.com or amazon.com.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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