High school author learns to lose fear, dream big at Disney Dreamers Academy
PARKER – Finding the courage to pursue a passion is the first step to making dreams come true. Legend High School junior Nicole Steiner recently learned that it is possible to transform dreams into reality when she attended the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy in Orlando, FL.
One of only 100 applicants who were chosen to participate in the program, Steiner is an emerging writer, who counts author C.S. Lewis among her influences. During the three-day event, held in March at the Walt Disney World Resort, she participated in activities that provided education and inspiration, and learned how to set goals that will bring her dreams to life. Steiner was also mentored by top authors who have continued to work with her, opening doors of opportunity within the world of publishing.
“She has spiral notebooks filled with novels,” said her mother, Darci Steiner. “As a parent, having gone [with Nicole] to the Academy, I realized she really has a talent. I have to get on it!”
In third grade, Steiner was told to keep a journal as part of a class assignment, and wrote so much that her teacher remarked, “Nicole, don’t write so much. I don’t have time to read it!”
When her fifth-grade teacher encouraged her to write and share her stories with the class, the passion for putting her creativity, and herself, on paper began. And the awards soon followed, according to Steiner.
“My necessity for story writing emerged in fifth grade. As an avid reader I spent much of my time working with my creative energies, but the conversion into my own stories with a 30-page story felt natural. After that I was sold.”
Steiner spent mornings and nights scribbling in notebooks. Now, with a typing speed that exceeds 70 words per minute, she creates stories electronically to complement the more than ten handwritten notebooks containing fantasy and imagination.
”I must write in order to entertain and challenge myself, to spread messages and lessons about life and its challenges, and so that I can live some things twice. Be it reliving just to experience a feeling or situation again, or reliving so that I can make another decision in the real world, I truly do live through the lives of my characters. No story is entirely fictional to me when piece of myself is left within every story, every character, each twist in their lives,” reveals Steiner.
Her first novel, “Those of Our Past,” is a series about a virtuous, noble alpha wolf as a central character and who serves as a guide in various battles and situations, similar to the character, Aslan in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Her current work in progress is “Lab Rats” and centers around the subject of animal testing. Eventually, the animals used for testing become extinct and poor people are used in their place. She is targeting this work to become her first published novel.
“It’s about people who make very wrong assumptions about the worth of others,” explains Steiner. “I get a lot of my inspiration from movies and church – seeing what people value.”
Her greatest takeaway from the Disney Dreamers Academy was neither the writing she did, nor the song she wrote and performed as the theme for the project. It was a change of mindset.
“I learned to take away fear – if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. I also learned that I need to be around like-minded people to motivate me, because people do become successful when they commit.”
Steiner’s next challenge is choosing a college. She has narrowed down her choices to Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Colorado College and possibly, Oxford University, where C.S. Lewis taught, wrote and dwelled.
In the meantime, the mentors provided to Steiner through the Disney Dreamers Academy have opened doors that Steiner could have only recently imagined in her stories. Sonia Jackson Myles, who founded The Sister Accord, an empowerment group for girls and women, is helping her prepare to enter the literary world.
Rushion McDonald, the Executive Producer of the Steve Harvey Show and Steve Harvey’s business partner, has also helped support her in navigating the world of publishing. The project offers are coming in through emails, phone calls and even social media.
Steiner is looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.
“When I write, I am in my element. I am completed. Writing is one of the few things in my life that doesn't define what I am, but defines who I am.”
Follow this link to learn more about the Disney Dreamers Academy on their Facebook page.