English student makes debut as author

Courtney Betts

Kendell Penington, sophomore  in English, with her first published book — The Guardians: The Lost Realm.
Kendell Penington, sophomore in English, with her first published book — The Guardians: The Lost Realm.

The life of a college student typically does not include mysterious archways, paranormal races and menacing creatures from another world. However, for Kendell Penington, sophomore in English, her days are spent at Hardback Café, creating complex characters and suspenseful plots for her young adult fiction series.

Penington’s first book, The Guardians (The Lost Realm), captured the eye of a publishing company and became available for digital download via Amazon.com on Aug. 30. After 12 days, the book became available in printed form.

“If I could use one word to describe my book I would use suspenseful,” Penington said. “I’m one of those annoying authors that doesn’t give readers all of the information at the beginning of the book.”

Penington caught the attention of her English professor, Tom Hoffman, last year due to her detailed writing and imagery.

“She paints a mental picture with her words,” Hoffman said. “She is very impressive and humble for the amount of success she has accomplished at an early age. She is the next J.K. Rowling.”

It took seven months throughout her senior year of high school to write the book and four months to complete edits.

“It’s pretty easy to write the beginning, middle and end, but it’s the filler part that is difficult,” Penington said. “To get past writer’s block just keep writing, even if it’s crap, because eventually it will turn into something.”

After Penington completed manuscript, she had to submit her work to publishing companies around the nation.

“It is hard because first you have to query agents to represent you,” Penington said. “Then you have to get a lot of no’s from publishers.”

Penington’s family have been her biggest fans since the beginning, especially her mother, Shylo Seaman.

“When she got several rejections, it was so hard to see the disappointed look in her eyes,” Seaman said. “All my husband and I could do was keep encouraging her to keep submitting it.”

Finally, a family-owned publishing company based in Hawaii approached Penington about her work.

“The CEO of Limitless Publishing started following me on Twitter one day so I checked her out and it led to my book becoming available on Amazon,” Penington said.

After her initial contact with Limitless Publishing, Penington submitted her book for editing.

“I worked with one editor for my first book and a proofreader,” Penington said. “I was able to banter back and forth with my editor about my work and sometimes I would receive compliments such as ‘this was Star Wars-tastic.’”

Although she got her first book published at 19, Penington had a passion for literature at a very early age.

“By third grade, Kendell was reading well above her grade level,” Seaman said. “She absolutely loved books. One of her favorite things on Friday nights was to go to the bookstore for hot chocolate and a new book.”

Seaman encouraged reading by setting a rule that required Kendell to read for 30 minutes before bed every night.

“She always looked forward to bedtime – not to sleep but to read,” Seaman said.

As a child, Kendell wrote some stories but she mostly read until the end of middle school. She became a serious writer at 15 years old.

“We found some notebooks at Barnes and Noble that she preferred to use,” Seaman said. “I think over a two-year period I probably bought about 20 of them. She has a special pen that I bought her and she nicknamed it Parker.”

With these special notebooks and Parker the Pen, Kendell began writing The Guardians.

“Maybe I’m biased, but I really do think she is incredibly talented,” Seaman said. “I honestly have no words to describe how proud I am of her.”

Penington is working on her edits for the second book in The Lost Realm series, The Secret Society, and is in the writing stage of the third installment.

VIEW the Campus Watch story on Kendell Penington.