NMU student prepares to self publish third book


Photo courtesy of Sydney McNeill.

Katarina Rothhorn

Sydney Lyn McNeill was only 5 years old when she wrote her first depiction of the fantasy lands and creatures living in her head. She created her first character, a beautiful princess named LaRue, who appeared in nearly every one of her stories.

“I’ve always been writing…in the first chapter, she’s running away on a horse and I was a weird horse girl when I was little so I definitely wanted to be this person,” McNeill said. “I kept on dreaming about this person so basically a LaRue was the main part of that dream I kept on writing about.”

Even though McNeill was an avid writer as a child, she never imagined she would grow up to be an author. It wasn’t until high school that she dropped the idea of becoming a veterinarian and considered turning her childhood stories into a reality.

McNeill started writing “The Tales of LaRue” during her freshman year of high school and it slowly began to take over all of her waking moments.

“Any possible time I could write was dedicated to the book,” McNeill said. “I’d write before cheer practice and say ‘Hey cheer coach, I’ve gotta take a second to write something down.’ I definitely got in trouble a couple of times for writing when I wasn’t supposed to.”

McNeill rewrote the entire story multiple times on different documents until she caught all of her mistakes and was happy with the final product. She commissioned an artist she found through Instagram to create a cover and finally saw it in book form in May 2018.

“Seeing it in my hands was literally the best thing ever,” McNeill said. “I published it right when I graduated high school so, in order to get my diploma, I had to sign my copy of the book that my principal had bought, so that was pretty exciting.”

McNeill decided to self publish her book on Amazon under the pen name Sydney Lyn, a combination of her first and middle name.

“If I ever have to sign anything for my book, it’s horrible to sign McNeill,” she said. “But I also thought it would be practical if I got married and I wouldn’t want to change my last name or have the weird confusion of like ‘Oh McNeill to this last name? Is that the same person?’”

After her success in publishing “The Tales of LaRue”, McNeill knew she wanted to pursue her love of writing in college. 

Now a junior majoring in English writing with a minor in anthropology, McNeill has continued to find inspiration for her books in the people surrounding her at NMU.

“A lot of my poems are just things that I see every day in life,” she said. “It’s actually a lot of my friends, my family, my significant other, so it’s a little bit of just everything I see every day.”

Her first book of poems, “Three’s a Crowd, So Let’s Add One More”, was published in April 2019, and in the next few months, she’s planning on publishing her second poetry book, “Meraki”, named after the modern Greek word often used to describe what happens when you leave a piece of yourself in your work. 

“A lot of [Meraki] is just me pouring my heart out to someone,” McNeill said. “It’s a lot of love poetry and that’s usually what I write – a lot of love poetry on people or learning to love myself, all different kinds of love.”

On top of studying to eventually achieve her goals of becoming an English professor and trying to publish “Meraki”, McNeill is also in the final stages of editing “The Queen’s Rebirth”, the sequel to her first novel. McNeill knows she will continue writing throughout her life as she captures the inspiration for her work everywhere she goes. 

“Whenever I get inspiration I just write it down. I could be anywhere. I could be in the shower,” she said. “I have special shower crayons just in case I get an idea. I carry a notebook anywhere with me so my ideas kind of come sporadically.”

Tales of LaRue Amazon link

Three’s a Crowd, So Let’s Add One More Amazon link