Columbia author reaches out to teens

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Columbia - posted Mon., Mar. 7, 2011
Contributed
Dan Blanchard's book, 'Feeling Lucky?' is about a teen who is struggling to make his way in the world. Photos contributed. - Contributed Photo

Columbia resident Daniel Blanchard knows kids. With his wife, Jennifer, he is raising four of his own. He is a social studies teacher at New Britain High School, and has coached youth sports teams locally. “I have spent an enormous amount of time with my students and athletes over the years, and they are my inspiration…for ‘Feeling Lucky?’" said Blanchard. ‘Feeling Lucky?’ is a novel  produced recently through Publish America. “The story is about a teen living under some tough circumstances, as many sometimes do,” said Blanchard. The novel’s protagonist believes that he can be successful in life, but his home circumstances, including an abusive and alcoholic father, provide obstacles.

The novel chronicles several hours spent with a mysterious, estranged grandfather, a former World War II fighter pilot, on the teen’s 16th birthday. “Granddaddy” focused his attentions on a successful career, and missed out on his son’s childhood. The teen's father has spent a lot of his time with the bottle. “The kid has kind of seen two models that don’t work,” said Blanchard. “He’s got to try to figure out his own path.” By the end of the novel, “The teen leaves now knowing he can be successful if he just applies the secrets to life that his granddaddy shared with him,” said Blanchard.“This book is modeled after all the teens I have ever met. It is intended to help all teens become leaders, do the right thing, and find their own path to success.”

The novel's title represents Blanchard's notion of luck. “I chose the title specifically because I want to try to change the paradigm of luck,” said Blanchard. “So many kids today think that they don’t need to work, they think they’ll somehow get lucky and things will just come to them. But it doesn’t work that way. When you’re thoroughly prepared, and you get that opportunity, you create your own luck.”

Blanchard’s path to publication is a testament to this theory. He wrote the novel and started showing it to a few of his students. “They seemed to think it was really good. I thought maybe they were just being nice because I was their teacher,” said Blanchard, with a laugh. But when adults had the same reaction, Blanchard started to think about having the book published. “The more I looked around, the more difficult I realized it is to get published,” he said. He kept getting calls from self-publishing companies. “They were all looking for $2,000, or some amount of money, up front,” said Blanchard. “I figured I’d rather give it away for free than do that.”

Then came the call from Publish America. “At first I thought it was another one of those self-publishing companies,” said Blanchard. “But then I realized it was a traditional publishing company.” After an editing process, “They sent me my free copy,” said Blanchard. “What a moment that was, to have the fruits of my labor right there in my hand.”

Blanchard plans to eventually produce a trilogy. The next book, featuring the protagonist as a 17-year old, should be done this summer. “The message I hope to convey,” he said, “is the world is basically yours if you want to grab it.”

Contact Dan Blanchard at dan007blanchard@yahoo.com, or check out his Facebook page. To purchase a copy of his book, go to www.publishamerica.net and enter “Feeling Lucky?” in the search bar.


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