When Christy, a 15-year-old on a school trip to Washington, D.C., witnesses the brutal slaying of a senator's aide, she gets swept up in an adventure where she must not only figure out how to survive, but also decide who she really is and what she wants to be.
The story is told by first-time author Cindy M. Hogan in "Watched" (CreateSpace, $13.99), a book that was one of 250 finalists in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Considering that there were 10,000 entries, "I was pretty excited," says Hogan, who lives in Layton with her husband and two teenage daughters. It means she won the right to have her book printed, and while it was originally available only online, it has been recently picked up by a distributor and will now be in Costco, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.
A launch party for the book will be held at the Barnes & Noble, 1780 Woodland Park Dr., Layton, on Monday from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
"It will be more than an author signing," says Hogan. "It will be a family event that includes author readings, contests and prizes. Ten other local authors will join me for the evening, offering books that appeal to all ages and interests."
The nearly 400-page "Watched" started as a dream, says Hogan, who works as a substitute teacher in the Davis School District. "I woke up one Sunday morning with a particularly vivid scene in my mind, and it pestered me all day. I finally thought I had to write it down."
Then, over the next few weeks, "Christy kept telling me what was happening to her, what she was thinking. So, I kept writing."
Hogan majored in German and secondary education at Brigham Young University and taught German for a number of years at Olympus High School before the family moved to Layton. "I took writing classes, and my teachers entered some of my work in contests. It did well, but I really didn't think about writing a book until Christy came along." Now, she has already finished a sequel and is working on the third volume.
She hopes the book will be a fun adventure for readers, but she also hopes it will help young teens think about who they want to be and let them know they are not alone because they might not be comfortable with who they are.
As a substitute teacher in secondary schools, Hogan interacts with teens all the time. "They all have something about them that they would like to change. For nine out of 10, it relates to physical appearance or what they have or don't have — money, clothes."
But this age, she says, "is when they need to come to terms with their own values and who they want to be on the inside. I know they sometimes feel alone, but they are not alone. Maybe Christy's story can help."
If you go
'Watched' launch party
When: June 6, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Barnes & Noble, 1780 Woodland Park Dr., Layton