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Library to host local teen author's first book signing on Dec. 8

Date: 11/29/2010

Nov. 29, 2010

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Managing Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW --Nanette Kleeberg said she had inkling her daughter, Ashley, had a talent for writing at a very early age.

"She came out of first grade with 21 stories she wrote that year," Nanette said.

It's a passion that apparently has never dimmed for this 16-year-old East Longmeadow High School student.

On Dec. 8 from 7 to 8 p.m., the East Longmeadow Public Library will host a book signing for Kleeberg's first novel, a sci-fi fantasy thriller called "Midnight Diamond."

According to the Kleebergs, Ashley will be reading from her novel, will take questions after the reading and will sign copies of her book during her appearance. She will also have books available for purchase that evening.

"It starts off that it's just going to be a regular story about teens, then [the main character] gets kidnapped and it takes a turn into sci-fi fantasy," Ashley said of the plot of "Midnight Diamond." "It's something the reader wouldn't expect by how the story is introduced."

As the story progresses, she plays with the classic fairy model for some of her characters, giving readers something quite unexpected.

"[When] people think of fairies, they think of [Peter Pan's] Tinker Bell," she said. "I wanted to put a twist on that."

The plot of the novel is filled with twists and turns, much the way the book itself developed.

"I kind-of started in the middle and worked from there," Ashley said. "I came up with a short story [called Midnight Diamond], then decided to give the characters background and personality and then move on from there."

The book took about three years to complete and, according to Ashley, "two or three drafts."

"She wrote it once and edited it twice," Nanette explained. "Her seventh grade English teacher was her editor."

When the book was still in the rough draft stage, Ashley said she approached fellow East Longmeadow teen author Amanda Butcher for advice on the next step.

In 2008, Butcher published her first novel, "Lark and the Magic Pencil."

"She's at the same high school and I'm friendly with her sister. She said 'I'll help you out and get in touch with my agent,'" Ashley said.

With her first book just beginning to get public notice, this prolific writer is already hard at work on two more projects a sequel to "Midnight Diamonds" and a second story that's "in rough draft form now."

An honors student, Ashley said she works as much as she can on her writing, but "sometimes with high school and sports [she plays on a national U16 girls' field hockey team at Smith College] it's really hard. I try to fit in one hour or two [a day]."

"It's always come easily to me," Ashley said of writing. "I like fiction and fantasy. I like pressing the boundaries and getting out of my comfort zone and giving characters their own identity."

"It's tough," she said of the book writing process. "You hope the reader see and knows the characters as well as you do."

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