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Shiloh students invited to lunch with budding authors

SNELLVILLE - When Michael Fletcher was younger, he had an "overactive imagination."

Now the Shiloh High School junior says he wants to use his creativity to write books.

He's hit some roadblocks in finishing his novels, but Fletcher said meeting two published authors on Wednesday has inspired him to keep writing.

About 20 Shiloh High students were invited to have lunch with Berta Platas of Lawrenceville and Michelle Roper of Flowery Branch, who wrote The Faire Folk Trilogy under the pen name Gillian Summers.

Students who read "The Tree Shepherd's Daughter," "Into the Wildewood" or "The Secret of the Dread Forest" and wrote a five-sentence review were invited to the luncheon, which took place during the American Library Association's Teen Read Week.

"Leisure reading, especially when they get to this age group, takes a back seat, and I think that's a huge mistake," said Kate Hoppenrath, a media specialist at Shiloh High.

Reading can help feed students' imaginations, she said.

Roper said she thinks reading can help form communities, especially when people get excited about a book or series and want to talk about it.

"I think (reading) is a key to so many different realms of life," she said.

Reading can also help people become better conversationalists, Platas said.

During the luncheon, the authors talked about how they write, how they collaborate and how they keep track of all their story ideas. In addition to penning The Faire Folk Trilogy, they have each published books under their own names.

Platas and Roper started writing together after they met in a critique group.

Roper told the students that authors must use critiques to learn. Hearing comments such as, "Oh, your work is wonderful," does not help writers grow.

"That's what your mom's for," Platas said.

At the same time, writers don't want to hear that their "baby is ugly," Platas said. Authors should ask people critiquing their work to give specific feedback on areas they think aren't working.

Shiloh senior K'iara Porche' said it took her a couple of chapters to get into the book she read, "Into the Wildewood," which is the second novel in the series.

"But it kind of caught me," she said. "Now I want to read the other two."

Platas and Roper are now working on a follow-up trilogy, and the fourth book in the series, "Shadows of the Redwood," will come out in June.