AMERICAN FORK -- Other teenage girls are tweeting or writing messages on Facebook. M'Lin Rowley is writing books.
The American Fork High School senior has signed a national book deal to produce 10 books in a series for Shadow Mountain Publishing. The first two books in the series are already in bookstores. The third and fourth are at the publisher, being prepared for distribution. The series is called "Knights of Right," and the first two are "The Falcon Shield" and "The Silver Coat."
Being a published author is taking time to get used to, 17-year-old Rowley said.
"It feels crazy," she said. "It is going to be fun. It is really exciting, though."
She told about the concept of the books.
"They are beginning chapter books for kindergarten through third-grade students," she said. "There are two boys, 10-year-old Ben and 12-year-old Joseph, who meet King Arthur, who has come forward in time. He wants them to become knights. They have to pass the challenges of today. Every time they pass a test they get a new piece of armor." They overcome one modern-day obstacle in each book of the series.
Rowley said she got started writing when she was 10 or 11 years old.
"There was a computer downstairs and I started writing," she said. "I have loved it ever since."
She got a start on her current books when she was preparing to give a Christmas gift to a cousin. "He is about that age [of the books' characters]," she said. "I wrote them for him. He loved them. He did a book report on them before they were even published."
Prior to her first experience with writing on the computer downstairs, she was creating books, said her mother, Deborah Rowley.
"She was always bringing me little books, stapled together," she said. "She told me she would be up late, working on them. I had no idea how late until just now.
"I do remember the first full-length novel she brought me. I was amazed. That told me this was her talent and gift."
M'Lin Rowley may have a genetic link to her talent. Deborah Rowley herself is an author, with "White Shirts," "White Dresses" and "Family Home Evening for Newlyweds" among her credits. Deborah's grandmothers were an author and a poet.
When M'Lin Rowley was ready to submit her manuscript, Deborah Rowley wrote a cover letter to introduce her to the publisher. Recognizing her name and address, the publisher ignored the letter and began reading the submissions. That may have been fortuitous, because he later told Deborah he might not have even read them if he had realized they were written by a teenager.
Although M'Lin Rowley's work was accepted about a year ago, she has told very few people about it until recently.
"I knew my friends would keep asking me when they would come out and I wouldn't have anything to show them," she said.
When television crews came to her English classroom at AFHS to mark the occasion of her books being published, everyone was surprised, Rowley said.
"I never told them about it," she said. "It was crazy. They were all so excited and clapped for me. They were making jokes about stalking me and starting a fan club for me."
Her creative writing and AP language and composition teacher, Larkin Weyand, praised her.
"She is a very nice girl. I was blown away by her success," he said. "It couldn't happen to a nicer girl. She is very respectful and always thanks me at the end of class and is very unassuming. I'm very excited for her and others have been really happy for her. Nobody knew about this. She really kept a close wrap on it. She's very modest and humble about it."
Deborah Rowley agreed and said her daughter doesn't like having attention drawn to her.
"She is very modest, too," she said. "She still feels like she has so much to learn. She supports and encourages friends who are writers."
Despite seeing her books on shelves in stores, she still has a hard time believing it is happening, M'Lin Rowley said. She plans to attend college after graduation, and will probably study English. She had considered several vocations, but for now will most likely pursue creative writing.
"I have written fantasy in chapter books for younger kids," she said. "I usually write fantasy novels for older kids. I will probably do that."
For now, she will work with her current series. "Most of them are pretty much planned out," she said.
In her preparation, she also keeps files of details she has created.
"You have to take lots of notes and make sure you don't forget details," she said. "I keep different information about the characters so I don't make mistakes in future books. It is just like a file on the computer. Every time I add a detail, I put it there, too."
Being a published author has required some changes in her life.
"I have had to talk to a lot more people about my book," she said. "I have had to open up a little more."
Additional changes will be required. She has her classes required for graduation on "A" days at school, and on "B" days she will be putting on assemblies at elementary schools to encourage the students to read and to follow the precepts in "Knights of Right." To prepare for this she had to give a sample presentation to a panel of adults -- dressed in business suits, no less -- prior to getting their approval.