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Meet best-selling teen author Michelle Izmaylov

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  • Best-selling author Michelle Izmaylov shares the secret to her success
  • At just 17, she will be publishing her third title -- "Galaxy Watch"
  • Her advice for budding authors: "Write a little bit every single day"
  • An admiring schoolteacher gave her the inspiration to publish
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By Lisa Porterfield
CNN
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(CNN Student News) -- "Writing is hard work. If you want to succeed, don't ever give up!" says 17-year-old author Michelle Izmaylov. Izmaylov, a senior at Alpharetta High School in Alpharetta, Georgia, speaks from experience.

Michelle Izmaylov and her sister Nicole 
show off a small shark they caught in Florida.

Michelle Izmaylov is an accomplished writer of fantasy-fiction books for young adults.

An accomplished writer of fantasy-fiction books for young adults, Izmaylov published her first title when she was just 11. Izmaylov's second book, "Dream Saver" rose to No. 5 on Barnes & Noble's daily Top 10 fantasy fiction best-seller list. Her third novel, "Galaxy Watch," is scheduled to hit book stores in December.

CNN's Lisa Porterfield sat down with Izmaylov to find out how she started writing and the secret to her success.

Porterfield: Michelle, what was your first book, and how did it come about?

Izmaylov: My first book was "The Pocket Watch." The reason I wrote it is kind of an interesting story. My sister Nicole was 6 at the time, and I was reading "Harry Potter." Nicole tried to read it, but she couldn't because of the vocabulary. She got pretty upset. I didn't like seeing her upset all the time, so I decided: "OK, I can't do anything with 'Harry Potter;' but what if I wrote another story for her, something that she will understand?" And that's where "The Pocket Watch" came from.

Porterfield: What inspired you to publish "The Pocket Watch"?

Izmaylov: The inspiration to publish it came from a schoolteacher. We were supposed to write a short story, and I was like, "OK, I'll just bring in my book." The teacher took it home, read it and loved it. She said, "Why don't you try to publish it?" I mean, it was just bizarre; I had never even dreamed of that, and suddenly it was an opportunity. And I said, "OK, I can try."

Porterfield: What steps have you gone through to get your books published?

Izmaylov: This first book was actually self-published, because it was OK, but it wasn't super-great. But I was absolutely amazed when "Pocket Watch" came out. When I held that book in my hands for the first time, I didn't care if it was self-published; I was proud of it, and it inspired me further. ... I said, "Let's do this again on a 14-year-old scale," which was the age I was when I wrote "Dream Saver."

"Dream Saver" came out because of my passion for fantasy. That book I published through a traditional process. As a first-time author, it's almost impossible to get to a traditional publisher, but I won a short-story contest with the publishing company.

Then, I contacted the publishers and said, "Hey, I actually have a book written. Do you want to check it out?" And they said, "OK." And that's how "Dream Saver" got out.

So "Dream Saver" came out, and I was absolutely psyched! I was holding this book, this real book, that was traditionally published, and I start thinking, "OK, it's good, but I can do better."

And so, when I was 15, I sat down and started writing "Galaxy Watch." I've been working on it for two years. It's book one of a trilogy, and it's a science fiction/fantasy story.

Porterfield: What's "Galaxy Watch" about?

Izmaylov: It's basically about my life, the way I would love it to be in a fantasy world.

It's about this girl. She lives an ordinary life ... and everything is going great. And then she goes walking and finds a pocket watch and she thinks, "Wow. This is pretty cool." So, she picks it up and she's looking at it and suddenly she presses a button, completely accidentally, and it teleports her to another planet, another world.

It's basically her adventures as she starts to discover that there are things other than just her happy little life on Earth.

Porterfield: What's the writing process like for you?

Izmaylov: It's a lot about not giving up. I had writer's block every two days. ... It's so difficult because of the way I write. I think of the beginning and I think of the end, and then I have to fill in everything in between. It's a lot of planning and a lot of rewriting. The version of "Galaxy Watch" I just finished, I rewrote five times from scratch.

Porterfield: When you're writing a book, do you think about it all the time?

Izmaylov: Absolutely! When I'm really into the book, it becomes this world for me. In the trilogy, I've been working with these characters for two years. These characters are as real to me as any of my friends or my family.

Porterfield: Does writing come naturally for you, or do you have to work at it?

Izmaylov: Writing is just like everything else: It's the classic 90 percent hard work and 10 percent talent. It's just a lot of hard work. My rule is write a little bit every single day. It doesn't matter what it is -- a homework assignment, a poem or an e-mail -- but you've got to write something every single day.

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