By Karen Hall
A Marshall County teenager has three books available for purchase online, and many more on the way.
In addition to writing, Cheyenne Reed, 16, also draws, paints, takes photographs, sews, and cooks.
"I was an easily bored child and a quick learner," Cheyenne said. She got into writing when the family moved to Tennessee "because it was something I could do in class." She started with poetry and short stories, but now she's moved on to full-length novels.
The books available now from lulu.com are "Tenshi," "The Shadow Mark," and "Out of Bounds, Out of Space." Cheyenne has a stack of spiral bound notebooks that contain more of all the stories.
She says there will be three or four more books featuring the main character of "Tenshi," a cat spirit, and perhaps the same number about Galidor, the dark hero of "The Shadow Mark." She said the first book, "Tenshi," took the longest, but now the writing goes quickly and she's "overflowing with ideas."
"It's very out there; very hard to explain," Cheyenne said about her stories, but she admits to getting inspiration from her friends, and from Japanese manga and anime. Cheyenne says she knows how her characters' stories will end, but isn't telling anyone - you'll have to wait for the books to come out.
Once she's writing or drawing, Cheyenne loses track of everything around her.
"She'll write all day," confirmed her mother Robbie.
It wasn't always that way. Until Cheyenne was in junior high she "was a kid who was always running and jumping," Robbie said. She had a black belt in taekwondo, and loved to play soccer. Then a bad fall in taekwondo led to back pain and severe headaches, and physical therapy just caused more pain.
Finally, when she was in 8th grade, Cheyenne was diagnosed with Scheuermann's kyphosis, an abnormal forward curvature of the spine.
"We thought she was slouching, and it was the curvature developing," Robbie said. "It was hard for her."
"My writing got very depressing at that point," agreed Cheyenne. "I was devastated."
"We just have to work with it," Robbie said. Cheyenne's teachers and the school nurse know about the problem, and the nurse has her prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants in case there's a flare up while she's at school. The maximum weight Cheyenne is allowed to carry is 10 pounds, so she has two sets of schoolbooks, one for home and one to keep at school, Cheyenne knows she "has to obey the rules or it's not going to get better," her mother says. There's always a chance the curvature could correct itself.
"Yes," said Cheyenne, "A chance to look forward to."
Meanwhile, she participates as much as she can in the life of Centennial High School in Franklin, where she's a junior. Next year she wants to try out to be the Cougar mascot. Cheyenne has painted murals on the school walls and published a poem about 9/11 in the school newspaper last month. She's taking advanced placement English and studio art classes, as well as honors drafting, and intends to go on for a university degree in art or architecture.
The Reeds moved to a small farm near Chapel Hill in 2004, when Tim retired after 22 years in the Army. Tim and Robbie are both from Middle Tennessee originally. They knew each other as children, and met again in 1990. Robbie got the job teaching marketing and business at Centennial, and after a year of retirement, Tim went back to college, majoring in plant and soil sciences with a minor in education. Cheyenne started at Chapel Hill Elementary, but, she says, "I missed my rainbow," meaning the diversity she was accustomed to at the school she attended in North Carolina.
Since Robbie was already teaching in Franklin, the decision was made for Cheyenne to attend Page Middle School, and then Centennial. Now mother and daughter leave home at 6 a.m. every school day for the 45-minute commute.
"We have our time together," Robbie says, clearly proud of her very talented and imaginative child.