A path to publication

Melia Burrell is a junior at Vincent Middle High School

Melia Burrell is a junior at Vincent Middle High School


By Amy Jones

Photos by Emily Klein

Ever since she was in the fifth grade, Melia Burrell has felt compelled to put pen to paper. That compulsion has resulted in 64 unfinished stories and — most importantly — one published novel.

Now a junior at Vincent Middle High School, Melia had her book, “The Chronicles of the Secret Society: The End of the Standoff,” published through the Books-A-Million BAM! Publishing Contest in July of this year.

Melia said she entered the contest, intended for students in grades 9-12, after seeing a flyer about the contest in the hall at school.

“It seemed like a really good opportunity to actually publish something I’d written, and I could not let that opportunity pass me by,” she said.

Melia actually began writing the short novel, which is 124 large-print pages, in the seventh grade. After she decided to enter the contest, she picked the novel back up and finished it in approximately three to four months, she said.

The novel, set in a future America, is about a dystopian society in which a race of genetically engineered humans, known as Specials, is locked in a continuous battle with ordinary humans. The main character, Zaylee Cross, is a Special who finds herself caught up in the fray.

"The Chronicles of Secret Society: The End of the Standoff" was recently published by Books-A-Million

“The Chronicles of Secret Society: The End of the Standoff” was recently published by Books-A-Million

Melia said she intends for the novel to be the first in a series.

“I’m almost halfway through the second book and partially working on the third,” she said. “I don’t know how many books will be in the series overall, but I know where I’m heading with the story.”

Melia didn’t actually win the Publishing Contest — there were three submissions that won, but the contest judges enjoyed Melia’s book so much that they decided to publish it as well.

While the three winning submissions received other prizes, Melia said she was content with her outcome.

“I was only published and given the opportunity to see my life goal accomplished at the age of 16, which is enough of a prize for me,” she said.

Books-A-Million officials contacted Vincent High to let Melia know her novel would be published, and she said she had an unusual reaction to the news.

“(The librarian) pulled me out of class to tell me, which was probably a good thing because I was smiling and laughing hysterically in the hallway for a few minutes,” Melia said. “I didn’t think it was funny. I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to me, but when I get too nervous or excited I just start laughing until I can’t breathe.”

BAM! Publishing is actually a self-publishing company, so Melia was involved with all phases of getting her book ready for print. She and her mother collaborated on the cover, which showcases a multicolored eye.

“My mom drew the outline for it, and I did all of the coloring and shading,” she said. “So it’s one of a kind, I suppose.”

Melia said she began writing because she enjoys the process and seeing reactions to what she writes.

“As I grew up, my stories began being longer than everyone else’s,” she said. “From there, my love for writing blossomed into a passion and a dream to become a true novelist.”

After she finishes high school, Melia plans to attend college and major in English and creative writing. She hopes to continue writing and possibly also work as a whitewater rafting instructor.

Melia said her experience with the BAM! Publishing Contest has only validated her belief that writing is her calling.

“Now that I know that people enjoy reading what I enjoy writing, there is no point in me stopping,” she said. “Someone’s got to feed the bookworms in the world. I’m just happy I’m a part of it.”

Readers can find “The Chronicles of the Secret Society: The End of the Standoff” at the Brookwood Village Books-A-Million or online at Booksamillion.com.

Melia Burrell

Melia Burrell

Calera High

Helena holds Calera scoreless in two-game sweep


Shelby County clinches area title with sweep over Sylacauga

280 Main Story

Spain Park, Oak Mountain split area-opening series

280 Reporter

Thompson uses six-run third to get past Spain Park


No. 4 Montevallo stays perfect in area with wins over Sipsey Valley, American Christian

280 Main Story

Spain Park continues perfect season with wins over No. 3 Hoover, 6A Northridge

280 Reporter

Seniors power Chelsea to 15 unanswered runs on senior night, season sweep of Vincent

280 Main Story

Wilsonville residents express concern over Breakaway Pointe transitional facility

280 Reporter

Vincent finishes perfect run in area play with sweep of B.B. Comer


Montevallo clinches playoff berth in offensive explosion against West Blocton

280 Main Story

Chelsea claims game two against Hewitt-Trussville to split area series

Alabaster Main Story

Thompson rebounds to win doubleheader with Vestavia Hills, take area series

Alabaster Main Story

Thompson hosts Samford and Jacksonville State in college volleyball exhibition

280 Reporter

Pelham overcomes late Briarwood equalizer to win in ninth round of shootout

280 Reporter

Olive launches two homers as Helena breezes past Briarwood


Pelham approves Jack’s restaurant, holds school board interviews, recognizes SafeHouse

280 Main Story

Oak Mountain, girls basketball coach Beth Parmer part ways


Calera accepts TAP grant for Main Street improvements, discusses audit

Alabaster Main Story

God Did It Ministries to host Alabaster Goes Red on May 11


Helena Teen Council opens applications for upcoming year

Alabaster Main Story

Two L’s Creations opens in Alabaster, offers freeze dried twist on old favorites


Medders Family Farm welcomes community to farm after difficult year

Alabaster Main Story

Alabaster Church of God holds annual helicopter Easter egg drop


Bulls finish last regular season home game with 1-1 weekend