Michelle Izmaylov has joined the staff of FutureWord Publishing as an editor. Publisher Laurie Foston says:
About seven years ago, an eleven-year-old girl was immersed in a children’s favorite—Harry Potter. Her favorite place to read: a leather couch in the living room. It was a reading place she shared with her younger sister, Nicole. Five years old at the time, Nicole loved the idea of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, because her reading skills were undeveloped, it seemed she wouldn’t be able to read the book for years to come.
So, the elder sister got an idea. The sisters shared a love of fantasy and adventure. With their mutual fascination in mind, she sat down at her computer, fingers at the keys, and created a series of short stories that Nicole would be able to read. One tale followed another, but every story plunged the sisters into the adventures of a girl who discovered a magical pocket watch that teleported her to alien planets.
It wasn’t long before the story was complete and gathering dust on a lonely shelf. Perhaps it would have stayed that way forever, but fate in the form of a seventh grade language arts teacher intervened. On day, the students received an assignment: compose a story, type it up, print it out, and bring it to class. Make it two pages. Maybe three, if you’re particularly daring. And the elder sister came up with a brilliant idea.
She would bring the series of short stories to class.
Brushing off her dust collection, she came to class the following day with a fifty-page manuscript in hand. Incredulous but equally impressed, her teacher suggested a ‘novel’ concept: getting published.
“That’s how it all began,” says Michelle Izmaylov, now the teen author of three published novels. After self-publishing her first book, The Pocket Watch, she was fascinated with the world of literature. Her second novel explored her life from a realistic perspective, often using the lives of her friends as inspiration for her characters. Dream Saver follows the quest of teenager Taylor Creekmore as she battles against all odds to save a loved one.
To publish her second book, Michelle decided to find a traditional publisher. So, she went to the Internet to learn more about the publishing business. She wrote and printed dozens of query letters and mailed them out to publishers she hoped would be interested in her story. Two hundred and fifty rejections and many months later, Michelle breathed a sigh of resignation and accepted her fate: failure.
But Nicole was not ready to see her sister give up. She convinced Michelle to press on and never lose hope. Resolved in a new direction, Michelle read about a national short story contest with a new publishing company. Entering upon Nicole’s encouragements, she won first place and asked the publisher to take a look at her novel Dream Saver. The publisher read the book, enjoyed the story, and decided to publish the novel. The novel was a success and sold over 45,000 copies.
But Michelle’s passion for writing was only beginning to flame. “It’d been four years since I wrote my first book, and when I went back to read it, I thought I could do better,” Michelle said. “The story also really fascinated me, and I wanted to go deeper into the adventures of the girl and her pocket watch.”
At age fifteen, she decided to transform her original novel into a trilogy, The Galacteran Legacy. The first book in the new series is Galaxy Watch, which tells the story of ordinary Earth girl Nicole Sky who never dreams that the golden pocket watch she discovers one summer day will change her life forever. Only when Nicole—by no coincidence also the name of Michelle’s sister—finds herself on a hostile alien planet and in the midst of a war does she realize Earth has a deadline.
“My life isn’t all about writing,” she says, and in some ways Michelle is a suburban teenager. She enjoys hanging out with friends and watching a good weekly movie. “I’m also a bit of a tomboy, so you can be sure I’ll sneak a few hours out of every week to play on my PS2,” Michelle says with a laugh. Her life also has a firm root in her family’s Russian culture and traditions, and she appreciates the close bonds she shares with her parents and sister. “We are all very devoted to one another, and I love that connection. I can always count on my family for anything.”
This teen author also loves to find ways to connect with her community. Several years ago, she discovered that Russian immigrants in her community have problems understanding English when visiting physicians. Making use of her Russian language skills, she volunteers as a translator. Now, she regularly visits elementary and middle schools and public libraries to share her experiences as a teen published author.
“It’s an amazing journey every time both for me and the young people I visit,” Michelle said of the writer’s workshops and discussions she hosts. “I hope to be able to inspire the authors of tomorrow to realize you’re never too young to follow your dreams.”
And Michelle is not alone in her love of literature. Her sister, Nicole, is both a nationally recognized poet and a budding author. In fact, she is busy working on her own fantasy novel. “[Nicole] is also helping me out with the second book in the trilogy,” Michelle said. “Without her, there probably wouldn’t even be a series. She’s my editor-in-chief, and I’m really grateful for her help. I couldn’t do it without her.”
What’s next for the teen author? For now, her summer is full of writing. In addition to working the science fiction and young adult novel editor at FutureWord Publishing, she is busy writing the second book in The Galacteran Legacy trilogy, which continues Nicole’s adventures. When asked about the actual process of writing, Michelle says she has no clear structure in mind.
“It’s like the characters are telling me their story,” says Michelle. “More than anything, I’m just a kid with a laptop jotting notes.”