WCSD student McCaid Paul publishes first novel

McCaid Paul with his first novel, “The Forgotten Headline”. photo by Joel Paul

Submitted by

Keitha Bledsoe

McCaid Paul, a 14 year-old eighth grader at Walton Middle School in DeFuniak Springs, has just published his first novel, “The Forgotten Headline” (The Summersville Series) (Volume 1), currently available in paperback, hardcover, or ebook through Amazon.com.

This current novel, a thriller, is the first of a series of five which will take his main character, Mick Smith, and his best friend Billie, through some hair-raising experiences and unexpected discoveries.

McCaid stated in an interview “My Dad used to inspire me by writing short stories, and I had lots of really good training and encouragement in my language arts classes in reading and writing.” He began journaling in first grade, and developed a love of writing all through elementary and middle school. He indicated that he enjoys mystery novels, and was strongly influenced by the writings of Agatha Christie, famous author of mystery novels, and Key Watt, a local author from Point Clear, Ala.who writes novels for young people. McCaid said that Watt’s novels for youth are “honestly some of the best I’ve ever read.”

The writing and publishing process for McCaid has truly been an adventure, and with the help of his supportive parents, the encouragement of his teachers at West DeFuniak Elementary School and Walton Middle School, and many others in the writing/publishing business, his journey has finally taken all the right turns.

McCaid attended a workshop sponsored by the DeFuniak Springs Public Library where he had the opportunity to meet and learn from Whitney Evans (pen name S. Usher Evans) from Pensacola, Fla. Evans is a self-published author who formerly worked with BBC, Discovery Channel, and IT at the Pentagon.

McCaid indicated that she gave him direction on everything from getting an editor and formatter, to marketing.

He said she has become his mentor and “go to” person in this process. McCaid and his family decided that self-publishing was the best way to have full control over the content of his work. McCaid gave an example of Andy Weir, who wrote and self-published his first novel, “The Martian,” which was produced as a movie in 2015 starring Matt Damon. He ended up using two self-publishing companies, CreateSpace.com and IngramSpark.com, who he indicated were very helpful.

With some very specific ideas in mind as to how he wanted the book to look on the outside, McCaid selected a company called Damonza, a group of retired writers for the New York Times who got together to create a company to help writers be published.

One very important phase in any book publishing process is the Beta Readers. These are individuals who review written work, generally fiction to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, plot development, and/or its setting, without changing the content. McCaid indicated that he would spend most weekdays doing homework, and most weekends and break times working on his writing. Often he will get an idea from his current experiences, and immediately jot it down on the notes app on his cell phone. He spends what free time has has enjoying nature, traveling, and hiking. He actually got the idea for the start of the first novel from a squirrel hunting trip with his Dad.

When asked if he had advice for young writers, McCaid said, “Hang in there, and don’t give up. Know that it takes a long time. Do your research. Believe in yourself.”

McCaid said he is not quite sure what he might want to do with his future, but he knows one thing…it will involve writing.

McCaid stated that he could not have done any of this without the help of his wonderful parents. His father, Joel Paul, works with the Tri-County Community Council, and his mother, Darlene Paul, is the Principal at West DeFuniak Elementary School in DeFuniak Springs. Mrs. Paul shared that when he received his copy of the book, he could barely contain himself. He opened the book and began to read it, even though he already knew every word since he wrote it. McCaid responded, “I know, but it’s just different. Every word comes alive.”

The Walton County School District are excited for McCaid and his family.

To learn more about McCaid and his writing go to his website www.mccaidpaulbooks.com, and on Twitter @MccaidP.