CHAMPAIGN — For Centennial senior Lauren Burnham, publishing a science-fiction fantasy novel for young adults is the realization of a dream she has had since fifth grade, and has worked on since eighth grade.
The book, "Looks of an Angel," is set on Pluto and Neptune. It features a main character named Aly, who goes through extreme physical changes after she's captured by people from Neptune.
Burnham, who published the book using the name Lauren Elizabeth, will have an author event from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble, 65 N. Market St., C.
The book is available at Barnes and Noble, through Amazon.com and as an ebook for Kindle, Nook and via iTunes.
It features a cliff-hanger ending that will be resolved in the sequel, Burnham said. She's also working on a book that's totally separate from her "Looks of an Angel" story line, she said.
Burnham has also been marketing the book, which helped her realize she had a passion for that, as well. She plans to study marketing next year at Bradley University in Peoria.
She knew once she published the book, she'd have to sell herself along with it.
"Just because the book is sitting on the shelf doesn't mean it's going to sell," she said.
As she markets her book, she's given presentations to high school classes, both at Centennial and in the state of Washington, when she was visiting her sister over winter break. She also did an author event at a Barnes and Noble in Washington.
"I knew when I published it, there was no going back," she said. "I couldn't be that shy girl any more."
Burnham said she was nervous at first that people who read it wouldn't like it, but she realized she wrote it for herself. She said there's a sense of accomplishment in doing "something a lot of people set out to do but never finish."
Burnham self-published "Looks of an Angel" using Dog Ear Publishing, which is in Indianapolis. She said she did extensive research about whether to self-publish or go the traditional route, and ultimately selected the former because she wanted to be involved in the publication process, like selecting the cover.
Burnham told her parents in fifth grade that she wanted to publish a book. She started writing "Looks of an Angel" as an eighth-grader at Franklin Middle School in Champaign. She started working intensively on it again as a sophomore when she took a creative writing class, and finished it in September 2011. The book was published last October, and both last school year and this year, Burnham has taken creative writing as an independent study.
She's working on her other books during that time, and also does marketing for "Looks of an Angel."
Lindsay Green has been Burnham's creative-writing teacher for her independent study since last school year.
She said she was impressed that Burnham had a plan and basically created her own class for the independent study. Green was there for exchanging ideas and editing Burnham's work, she said.
She said Burnham's work reflects the author.
"It's entirely in her voice," Green said, which she sees in the dialogue and style of writing.
Burnham has inspired other students to take independent studies, as well.
"She's started this little culture of novelists at Centennial," Green said.