For West Hall Middle School eighth-grader Charlotte Walton, publishing a book runs in the family.
Walton, who produced a children’s book now available on Amazon for $10, wrote the story partly to inspire her father.
"I did it in one night, actually," she said with a laugh. "My dad was thinking about writing more and had never-ending talks with me about his ideas, so I wanted to show him he can finish them if he wants to. I didn’t expect him to publish it."
Her father, Wave Walton, created the Walton Publishing Group when he completed Air Force service in Iraq a few years ago.
"He always told me stories when I was little, and I made him promise he would write them down so other kids could hear them," she said. "When he returned from Iraq, he thought about what he could do and be happy with it."
He wrote several children’s books, including Charlotte’s inspiration — "Tootsie the Nibble Hunter."
"The book is based on our dog, who always goes around looking for treats," she said. "In the book, she gets away with getting tons of stuff because she’s cute."
So, Charlotte wondered, why shouldn’t Tootsie travel through time looking for treats? This is what the playful Chihuahua does in her book called "Tootsie 10,000 B.C." Tootsie meets Orson, the time-traveling saber-toothed Chihuahua, and the two look for food together.
"As my dad talked about writing, I realized he’s not the only person who can write well, so why not?" she said. Charlotte wrote the story when she was 11 and at 14 is now able to carry around hard copies of her book.
"It takes a lot of time and work, especially reviewing all the artwork," she said. Her father found illustrator Alexander Lee on Craigslist, and it took time to send pages back and forth. "The illustrator had so many ideas, so it took a while to narrow it down."
Charlotte excels in writing in her middle school classes and has entered several writing competitions. Jennifer Elrod, her seventh and eighth grade language arts teacher, encouraged her to bring copies of the book to school and asked for an autographed copy.
"She had been telling me about it, so I always asked her how it was coming along," Elrod said.
"She signed it for my son, who is 2 years old. She’s so special and thoughtful, and I wish I had 28 other students like her."
Charlotte has considered writing another children’s book, but she has other ideas for helping children in her future. She volunteers with her grandmother for Good Samaritan and plans to attend college to practice family law.
"I don’t like arguments between family, and when I go to Good Samaritan, I see that these children don’t have as much," she said. "I want to make their lives easier."