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Homework assignment turns teen into author

Amanda Butcher recently published her first novel, "Lark and the Magic Pencil." A fan of the book "Eragon," she e-mailed its author, Christopher Paolini, for advice. "He e-mailed me back with a lot of tips," Butcher said. "It's pretty exciting." Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW It all began with a creative writing assignment two pages in length -- the front and back of a sheet of paper, handwritten. Then, for Amanda Butcher, it evolved into something more.

"I was just doing a homework assignment and kept going on and on, like a never-ending story," Butcher said. "It started with a writing prompt. When it was finished it filled a 180-page notebook."

That story, "Lark and the Magic Pencil," began at the end of Butcher's seventh grade year and ended this June. It changed and grew as the budding author typed it up, eventually winding up at 201 pages in length. A publisher showed interest and "Lark and the Magic Pencil" was officially released for sale online on Nov. 11.

The chapter book, published by AuthorHouse, is available on the company's Web site ( as well as on Barnes & Noble's Web site (, and

The book is about a girl named Lark Adnama who finds a pencil one day as she is walking to school. The school falls down and Lark is sure that the pencil caused it. She rushes out the door and into a world of fairies. "You will find out that even the smallest and least thought of items in this world, like pencils, may mean everything," according to the book's official Web site,

The book is aimed at readers aged nine and up, Butcher said. Members of the literature circle in her English class are currently reading it.

Butcher and her family have ordered 150 copies of the high school freshman's debut novel, which will be for sale at a special author's night on Jan. 11 at Mountain View Elementary.

"My sister [Cara] asked me to write a sequel, because the ending [of the first book] leaves you hanging," Butcher said. She added that it was much easier to write the sequel because all the characters have already been established. She's already finished the notebook version of the sequel, titled "Xenon's Revenge."

"There's a certain event at the end of the first book that really sets the sequel off," Butcher explained.

The 14-year-old author, in addition to writing, runs indoor track and loves to read. "I like anything that gives me a challenge," she added.

Butcher said that in addition to pursuing her writing career she'd also like to go to college to become an English teacher.

As busy as she is, Butcher is also an avid reader. "I love to read," she said. "That's what got me into writing."

Amanda is the daughter of Robert and Lisa Butcher and a member of the East Longmeadow High School Class of 2011.

"We're really excited about her accomplishment," Lisa said.