Never too young — or old — to write a book - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Never too young — or old — to write a book

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Mike Sakal’s column runs on Fridays. Contact him at (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com, or write to Mike Sakal, East Valley Tribune, 1620 W. Fountainhead Pkwy., Suite 219, Tempe, AZ 85282

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012 6:37 am | Updated: 4:58 pm, Fri Feb 3, 2012.

This one is a prime example of inspiration from both ends of the spectrum - the young and the old.

Or, maybe it could better be put as inspiration from the young and the wise and tenacious, especially when it comes to two first-time authors who reside in the East Valley - 14-year-old Colton Starley (who turns 15 on Tuesday) of Gilbert and 88-year-old Martin Neveroski of Mesa.

Both of them did what was necessary to each achieve their dreams of writing a book and getting it published. They now are embracing the technology and resources that writers and readers are levitating toward when it comes to savoring the written word and marketing books: Publish on Demand, www.thebookpatch.com, The Writers Cramp and Kindle.

Colton, who won the Moonbeam Children's Book Award for Best Young Author of the Year in November, is a freshman at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert. He wrote "Aura," ($12.99, 108 pages, www.thebookpatch.com, based in Tempe and www.publishondemand.com), a historical fiction book about a World War I Airship named Aura of the Royal Air Force flying over the English Channel.

Colton, the son of Barbara and Mark Starley, wrote the book in three weeks when his eighth-grade class at Edu-Prize, a charter school in Gilbert, was learning about World War I.

Neveroski, who lives in east Mesa's Deserama Mobile Home Park, wrote a nostalgic whodunit murder mystery: "Mystery of Ma's Ugly Pickle: When the American Dream turns into a Nightmare," ($17.99, 250 pages, Writers Cramp, in Tempe, Barnes and Noble and $4.99 on Kindle).

The story centers around a fatherless Polish boy named Michael who uncovers and confronts the murderer in a high-profile cold case and later uncovers the bones of the victim in a makeshift grave across the street from his house. Neveroski takes his readers on a suspenseful ride while providing clues as to where the murder happened and who the murderer is, sometimes from the vantage point of a neighborhood tavern, Stash's.

To say that the authors come from different worlds when it came to their writing methods would be an understatement. Neveroski, who is known with his longtime companion, Carla Elliott, for writing and performing songs in various retirement communities as the duo Marty and Carla, began writing his "Mystery" - published in November - in long hand in 2006. Carla ultimately typed it. However, Neveroski suspended his book project in late 2006 during a bout with prostate cancer, in which he underwent 43 radiation treatments.

"I thought that was it," Neveroski said of his bout with cancer. "I didn't know if I had enough time to write a book, but I found out that I did. I just wrote the story as it came to me and included things that happened to me throughout my life. Writing it wasn't easy, but it was nice being lost in a story. I owned the results of what happened with the touch of a pencil and eraser. It was always my dream to write a book, and now I can say that I have."

Colton began writing a chapter at a time during family car rides to his grandparents' house in Utah late 2010. He worked on other chapters while staying in his family's cabin in Payson, without television or video games for distraction.

Colton admits there is a little bit of himself in the book through a character named Sean, a guy who cuts corners on rules and is the sidekick of the book's main character, Alek Sharp. He also did the book's cover art and said he wants to pursue a career in graphic design.

"There aren't very many books about World War I, and there's even fewer books about airships, especially fiction," Colton said. "I'm fascinated with airships and thought it would be cool to write about one."

Colton dedicated the book to Joanna Curtis, his fourth-grade teacher at Edu-Prize, who encouraged him to write the book; he was able to give her a copy at her retirement party last year. Colton also admits he was pushed by his mother, who was quick to say her son was loyal to his goal by writing a chapter a night.

Although the two East Valley authors are new to the literary world, their books are taking off, slowly but surely.

Neveroski said that about 150 copies of his book have been sold since it was released in November - just from he and Carla selling it themselves.

Colton said that about 250 of his books have been sold since its release a year ago. Most recently, he had a successful day when he sold 60 copies of "Aura" in one day while set up at the National World War I traveling exhibit, "Remembering Our History" at Mesa's Falcon Field attended by thousands last month.

Colton said if he would have had more books at that event, he could have sold more

Both said they would like their books to be picked up by a major publisher, and a second book is a pretty good possibility. Colton already is working on a post-apocolyptic science fiction book about people making due with the technology that's left.

The pair have a message for others when it comes to writing a book.

"When I talk to seniors or anyone who has a dream to write a book, I say, ‘I don't care what your age is, it's never too late,'" Neveroski said.

Or in Colton's case, it's never too early.

"Write about something you're interested in," Colton said. "I sat down and just wrote. I was faithful to it. Any time it takes to write a book, it's so worth it. It's nice having it to show to people."

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