Mastering the game: Williamstown author schools students on how to get ahead

Ellen Parry Lewis, known for her published fiction novels, will release first nonfiction piece “Smarty Pants: How to Become a Valedictorian” in April.

Williamstown native Ellen Parry Lewis’ newest novel “Smarty Pants: How to Become a Valedictorian” is scheduled to be released on April 15.

Everything ordinary can be made extraordinary in Ellen Parry Lewis’ mind. As a kid, her pencils transformed to rockets and toys came to life in the creative corners of her imagination. Having published her first piece of writing, “Alicia’s Alarm,” in elementary school, the 29-year-old daydreamer now anticipates the release of her sixth novel, “Smarty Pants: How to Become a Valedictorian” in April.

Parry Lewis starts at the beginning, as she would with anything, and reads her stories for the first time inside her mind, creating a world of characters, dialogue and even a soundtrack until the narratives come to a conclusion. It is then, she said, she begins to take notes on personality traits, physical characteristics, settings and calendar timelines.

“This daydream is not a sit-down for 20 minutes and think about it; it takes months and months,” Parry Lewis said. “When I actually sit down to write, I know exactly what’s going to happen.”

Her first novel “Future Vision” was a daydream she began in middle school, which transferred to the page her freshman year of college at George Washington University while studying at the Elliott School of International Affairs. Reminded of her passion for writing, Parry Lewis transferred to Rowan University her sophomore year to study journalism, and her first paperback story was complete upon graduation.

“I love the places I get to visit in my mind; I get to meet all of these characters and it’s in some ways, to a certain degree, like reading the book for the very first time,” Parry Lewis said. “It’s a fun place to go to.”

Having written primarily young and new adult fiction in the past, her newest book brought her back to her roots in journalism as her first nonfiction piece on the “tips and tricks” of getting ahead in high school. As the Williamstown High School valedictorian in 2006, Parry Lewis shares firsthand experiences, as well as features fellow WHS graduates and top of the class students from around the country to share the “rules” of academics.

“One of the things my mom always asked me was, ‘how are you doing this?’” Parry Lewis said. “I was the valedictorian after every single year, and I remember telling her, ‘school is a game, and whoever can figure out the rules of the game can win it.’ I stick by that.”

The “fun and quirky” read, most beneficial to recent eighth-grade graduates and early high school students, shares tips such as how grade point averages are calculated, and techniques to consider when choosing classes.

The nonfiction novel, set to release on April 15, is a contrast to Parry Lewis’ fiction stories, “Future Vision,” “An Unremarkable Girl,” “Avenging Her Father,” “Risking a Life” and “Blood Moon,” which dive into historical, fantastical and even magical scenarios.

“I always loved imagining stories in everything I’m doing,” Parry Lewis said.

Parry Lewis continues to inspire young writers through free writing workshops for middle school, high school and college students, as well as make visits to local schools and classrooms to share her experiences as a published writer. Those interested in participating in the writing groups, or would like to schedule a school visit, email ellenplewis@gmail.com. Parry Lewis’ books can be found on Amazon, and can be ordered through Barnes & Noble to local locations.

To learn more, visit www.ellenparrylewis.com, or follow her on social media as Ellen Parry Lewis.

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