Actress, director and producer Meredith Scott Lynn is known for playing a host of characters throughout her career, most recently Anne Milbauer on the NBC sudser Days of Our Lives. While her acting career is a priority, Lynn’s current passion is the website WRiTE BRAiN Books, a dream she turned into a reality to help kids publish their own stories. BookTrib spoke with Meredith Scott Lynn one-on-one to learn more about WRiTE BRAiN and making it possible for every child to have their very own book on his/her bookshelf.
BookTrib: Let’s talk about WRiTE BRAiN and how you came up with the idea for this project.
Meredith Scott Lynn: I’ve been a storyteller from the time I was a small child when I entered storytelling contests in school. My acting career is one of storytelling and then I branched out. I talk about it a lot, the power of your story and telling your story. I’ve been writing in a journal since the fifth grade.
A while back I was visiting my sister in San Francisco when she asked if I could read my 10-month-old niece a story. The only book I could get to, because the bookshelf with all the children books was out of reach from where we were sitting, was a picture book by the artist Eric Carle that had no words in it, just illustrations. Because I couldn’t get up, I just made up this elaborate, fantastical story about these creatures in this forest to keep myself interested because my niece was just eating the corners of the book. Afterward, I thought, “That was a good story. I want to write that kids’ book.” But then I thought, “Who has time to write a kids’ book? But [wouldn’t it be] awesome if kids could write their own books? That could make a kid feel so proud and so excited. So what if you pumped a bunch of steroids into that concept and [had] a young child author their own full book … with their photo and their bio in the book like a children’s book rock star?
I went to the computer to look to see if this already existed and I couldn’t find anything. I went to bookstores, libraries and looked around and still didn’t find anything. Then I scribbled names for what these books could be called. When I came up with WRiTE BRAiN Books it seemed like a clever play on what I see as the lack of development of the right brain in a generation of children who are really highly distracted [by] digital devices.
BT: What’s the basic process for a child to come out with a published book on WRiTE BRAiN?
MSL: Anyone can go to the book builder right now and do it digitally for nothing. They can write their book for free, they can reference the author’s guide on the website, and then save it in their library. They can write 5,000 books if they want and never pay to publish one. When you do publish, the hardcover book is only $24.95, like any book in the store or your soft cover is $18.95. Once you publish, you will get a digital link to your book along with your receipt, so now you can email digitally to anyone, and say “Look at the book my son/daughter just wrote!”
BT: Explain to us how this is working in schools?
MSL: In a classroom it’s an eight-week writing course. It’s a children’s book authoring course offered for grade levels K through 12. In the classroom they go through a process where they collaborate for four weeks to co-author a book for services like the Children’s Hospital or a group shelter. That book has to be uploaded and it goes onto the interactive digital book builder on our website. They type in their content, they upload their photo in the back of the book, press publish and the teacher puts in their code and the books show up at classroom. We’re in 34-35 states now, in schools and after-school programs with our curriculum. We’re just beginning a launch into retail but we have published 30,000 students who have either started or finished or are about to start the program. Soon what will happen is you will be able to come on our website and buy a book for your child written by a 7-year-old.
BT: You are holding a contest right now to choose children who will get some form of a book deal out of this. Tell us more about that!
MSL: We read every book that comes through. It’s open-ended and we will choose the winners. There is no deadline. It’s just a matter of when we announce that we have chosen a winner. We’re going to choose them all the time and it will be a surprise when we do announce them. There are a few authors, young children, who I think wrote ridiculously brilliant children’s books so far and we will give them a regular publishing deal, just like any author would get. We will sell their books so that a 7-year-old can buy a book written by another 7-year-old. This will be a very empowering experience.
Be sure to tune in Friday, January 29 for a #BTLiveChat featuring Meredith Scott Lynn and find out more about this fantastic project and how your child can enter the WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS contest.