Youth Camp: Dickinson teen publishes Christian novelThe annual Oil of Joy Youth Camp is approaching, and teens from the church are looking forward to the camping routine of games, services and sleeping in tents.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
The annual Oil of Joy Youth Camp is approaching, and teens from the church are looking forward to the camping routine of games, services and sleeping in tents.
What they don’t know is this year’s camp is anything but routine. When several teens with troubled pasts attend the church camp, conflicts occur — a four-wheeler accident, a near drowning and a fight. It makes the youth pastor wonder if it’s all worth it.
A youth camp in Wyoming provides the setting for a Christian youth novel written and published by Dickinson High School sophomore Emily Kraenzel.
She ties the camp experiences together with a game of truth or dare, which reveals the issues and matters of the heart of the teens.
The book’s message is, “God will accept anyone if you have an open heart,” Emily said.
She wrote the story as message of spiritual inspiration for teens. She was an eighth grader at Hagen Junior High School when she finished writing it.
Emily is the daughter of Chad and Rhonda Kraenzel. Rhonda teaches kindergarten at Heart River Elementary, while Chad owns Keith’s Signs. She has an older brother, Taylor.
Emily remembers writing short stories as classroom assignments while in the elementary grades.
“I have a really big imagination, and get my inspiration from my own experiences,” she said.
“She used to write stories about princesses and fairy tales,” Rhonda said. “I knew the third graders were expected to write every day, but I didn’t realize Emily had a gift and has taken it further.”
At the age of 14, Emily wanted to write a book. Because of her experiences at a Bible camp near Glendive, Mont., she chose a camp as the setting for her story.
The hardest part of the book was developing the characters, she said.
She introduces teens from the church, who are planning to attend camp, and later adds teens with rougher backgrounds who also decide to attend.
She introduces Brooke and Kennedy, who are best friends, but as the story progresses, end up in a fight that nearly destroys their friendship.
“Brooke made bad choices at camp, and Kennedy reports her in order to save her life,” Emily said.
A member of the Break Forth Bible Church in Dickinson, Emily relies on Biblical principles as the spiritual messages in the novel.
“I’m a good writer, but I know God helped me — it all tied together,” Emily said.
“When she brought the story for me to read, I knew the hand of God was there,” added her mother. “When I started it, I couldn’t put it down.”
Emily recently spoke about writing and publishing a book with students at Berg Elementary and Hope Christian Academy. She talked about having strong leads, and concluding chapters with cliffhangers.
For example, chapter 2 opens with, “No way! I am not going!” Jocelyn screamed at her mom.” Chapter 6 concludes with, “The girls saw a figure enter the tent. Brooke rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn’t imagining this.”
Emily also includes humor in the chapters to lighten the intensity of the experiences.
Emily credits her family and church friends for their support.
“They have mentored me and give me advice and kept my faith strong,” she said.
Emily is working on a second story for teen readers.
“I have a passion for reaching out to girls,” Emily said. “There is so much I can write about — that girls are beautiful, that Jesus loves them no matter what and they don’t have to be defined by the world.”
Emily also makes time for other interests at school and home.
“I like to sing and play guitar — I like to ski and travel to new places,” she said.
Her goals include a career in education or perhaps serving as a youth pastor.
Break Forth Bible Church Youth Pastor Lindsey Grooms described Emily as a sweet girl who loves God and loves people.
Reading the book, she said, “I saw it as an opportunity for her to minister to teen-agers and she was driven enough to finish it… I’m very impressed.”
Emily’s aunt, Laura Kraenzel, read the book at one setting.
“I really liked the way she has of getting the Word in as well, yet making it so real,” she said. “I can relate to what she was saying. I could see myself in certain characters.”
Knowing Emily well, Laura Kraenzel added, “She’s such a light, she’s a leader — I’m so thankful she’s such a great example for my daughter.”
Emily has been invited to be a featured author at the North Dakota State Reading Conference April 19 to 21 in Dickinson. She will give a presentation on April 21 titled “From Pencil to Publisher.”
It took a month or two to find a publisher. They settled on WestBow Press, which publishes Christian fiction books.
A book signing will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, at Faith Expressions.
The book also isavailable through Barnes and Nobel and Amazon.com.