Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Stratford High School junior publishes first book

Writing under the pseudonym O’Merit Kay, a junior at Stratford High School in Houston’s Spring Branch ISD, recently self-published her first e-book and paperback on Amazon. Titled, “Chasten”, it is the first book in a planned-trilogy called “The Nephilim Realm”.

The story centers on a Civil War soldier and an unlikely Viking ally as they navigate the challenges of the afterlife.

Kay began writing the book about two years ago, which was inspired by creative play she and her cousin did when they were younger.

“We created whole worlds using our toy horses as characters,” Kay said. “I didn’t really plan to publish a book when I started writing down the story just for fun.”

Once she had the first book written she shared it with a few people who loved the story. She also sought advice from local authors and publishers to learn about self-publishing. 

“The journey has taught me how to find local publishing mentors, hire a Houston-area illustrator [Tom Rye], and navigate copyright procedures,” Kay said. She is especially grateful to Houston author Susan McCauley for her mentorship. 

Future books in the series will be illustrated by fellow Stratford student Katelyn Valdez. The young author and artist will have the illustrations completed this summer for book two of the series, “For the Shadows”. To be published in November, this book will provide some back story for the characters of “Chasten” and introduce additional characters.

“That’s an awesome accomplishment,” Stratford principal Raymorris Barnes said. “I am happy to help cultivate a nourishing environment for her and other authors on campus.“ 

Kay is thankful for the support of her world history teacher, Deborah Owens. Last school year they discussed the elements of history woven into the story line of the first book.  

“Ms. Owens opened my eyes to ideas for future characters, as well,” Kay said. 

Stratford’s creative writing teacher, Nathaniel Nakadate, gave Kay pointers on who could advise her about self-publishing. For an assignment in the class, she submitted a chapter from her upcoming book for critique.

Kay underscores the importance of literacy (a key priority in Spring Branch ISD) in the overall growth of students academically and professionally. “The ability to read and write expands your vocabulary and exposes you to new ideas,” she said. She recommends reading and writing as ways to break away from day-to-day pressures, “to go into another world for a while.”

Congratulations to “O’Merit Kay” on taking this amazing journey into the worlds of writing, publishing and marketing. We are #SBISDProud of you!