Penn Manor senior publishes first novel as writing project 

When Penn Manor senior Kaitlyn Roth graduates next week, it will mark the completion of her high school career – and the publishing of her first novel. 

Kaitlyn has spent the last semester writing and editing the 226-page book,  “Reset,” as an independent study project under the guidance of English teacher Scott Hertzog.

The book follows Mary Elliot, a young girl who dies violently, only to come back to life in a different body four more times from 1900 to 2015. Eventually, she is able to figure out what’s happening and how to stop it.

The book, aimed at young adult and teenage readers, was published earlier this month. It is available for order here.

“Honestly, it’s amazing to have it in print,” Kaitlyn said. “It makes me very happy because I’ve always loved reading, and now I have my own book with my own name on the cover. It’s here, and I’m so happy.” 

Last year, Kaitlyn mentioned to Mr. Hertzog that she was planning to write a novel. Over the summer, she completed about 30 pages. Upon returning to Penn Manor this school year, she began writing in earnest as an independent study project for school credit.

The process involved more than just writing and editing. Kaitlyn had to learn how to create outlines, lay out pages, choose the best fonts and spacing, and other aspects of self-publishing. 

She also researched the conventions of writing, such as how to effectively use dialogue and where on a page to start a new chapter.

“The idea was to take a marking period to create the content, and then edit and publish in the next,” Mr. Hertzog said. “I love the process of helping a student take something from nothing and bring it into the book you see in front of you. It’s just a fantastic process.”

Kaitlyn said the plot of “Reset” is partially based on “time loop” movies in popular culture, such as “Groundhog Day” and “Before I Fall.” 

She took that genre and tweaked it so that the protagonist is reborn – sometimes into a body with a different gender or ethnicity – in different regions and eras in America. 

“I love the story; I love the ingenuity of the way this came out,” Mr. Hertzog said. “It’s a very unique project.”

He and Kaitlyn received editing assistance from fellow Penn Manor English teacher Pam Lindstrom, and one of Kaitlyn’s classmates, Miranda Martin, designed the book’s cover.

Now that “Reset” is out. Kaitlyn is eager to hear what her peers think of the novel.

After graduation, Kaitlyn plans to attend Sarah Lawrence College to major in English and teaching. She’ll continue writing, but Kaitlyn is realistic about the prospect of making it a career.

“It would be one of those careers that would be a dream to do, but it wouldn’t create a lot of financial opportunities,” she said.  

For now, Kaitlyn is happy to be able to share her first novel with the rest of the world.