Mar. 31—CHATSWORTH — Lane Smith has reached the summit of a peak he set out to conquer six years ago: the North Murray High School junior had his first book published.
"I definitely dreamed about it, definitely had aspirations, but I didn't know how good I'd be at making those aspirations come true," Smith, 16, said during a book signing at North Murray High School. "I've never had an issue with confidence, but you get to thinking, 'Is this really good enough?'"
In the first month "League of Titans: A New Era," was out, "it's taken off, better than expected, (so) it is that good," he said with a chuckle. "I'm feeling pretty accomplished."
Smith began writing at age 10, inventing stories for existing superheroes, like The Flash, as "I was a comic book nerd," he said. He soon created original characters, and he was never short of ideas, but "I'd never finish any of them."
In eighth grade, "I swore to myself (I'd)" finish the story that became "League of Titans: A New Era," and he did, the summer after 10th grade, although "I re-did it like 500 gazillion times," he said. "I called up a publisher I'd seen an ad for on TV, but that wasn't very smart, (as they) were really expensive."
However, "once the manuscript was out there, six different companies offered to publish the book," and he chose Life Rich Publishing, an imprint of Reader's Digest, he said. Smith's book, which features a protagonist, Jaycen, with superhero speed who must unite with a secret society of individuals with special abilities to stop a nefarious killer, can be ordered online at https://www.liferichpublishing.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/821044-league-of-titans.
"I read it all the way through, and it far exceeded expectations," said Smith's grandfather, Gary Bailey. The ending "left me hanging, but he says he has a sequel coming."
It is "a massive cliffhanger ending, but I plan to do another book," Smith said. "I've been working on it, and it's almost done."
He dedicated "League of Titans: A New Era" to his fifth-grade teacher, Kay Gibson, who encouraged his writing, and even gave him a notebook in which to jot down ideas.
"I told him to fill it with stories, and he did," said Gibson, who was Smith's teacher at Woodlawn Elementary School. "I'm just so proud of him, and honored and humbled."
Gibson noticed Smith "loved reading and writing," and a spiral notebook was his constant companion, so he could write down his thoughts, she said. He could do that while still paying attention in class, because he "has that kind of mind (to) multitask."
"He's always had this in him," Gibson added. "I think he's a wonderful inspiration to all our Murray County students of what you can do with your life."
Smith is "such a nice kid, and a leader in our school," said Maria Bradley, North Murray High's principal. "He shines a light in a lot of different ways."
Hosting a book signing for a student "is a first for us, and it's awesome," Bradley added. Smith is "a standout (student), and I can't wait to read it."
"We've never had a book signing at (this high school), so this is pretty cool for us," said Keith Robinette, assistant principal/athletic director. "This is a unique day for us, and it's probably just the beginning (for Smith)."
"He's an outstanding young man from a good family," Robinette said. Smith makes "North Murray High School proud."
"I think if you read (the book) you'll be very impressed," said Smith's mother, Sarah. "He's talked about this book for a long time, (and) I'm very proud."
Smith has filled the book with enough plot twists to keep himself entertained, even though he's the author, he said. "I've read it (several times), and I'm like 'Oh, what's going to happen next?'"
Smith's talents extend to songwriting and singing, Robinette said, adding, "I didn't know how talented he really was."
He performed a concert a couple of months ago in the school cafeteria that "our students loved," and Smith "looks like (country music star) Clint Black every day (with his) signature" cowboy attire, including an omnipresent hat, and his uniqueness is an asset to the school, Bradley said. "Keep being you, (Lane)."
Smith is certainly "unique," but his focus is part of why he's been successful, said his mother. "All he wants to do is write and play music."
Being a writer and/or a singer-songwriter "is something I've wanted for a long time," Smith said. Either career, "I would love to have."