Ally Lancaster and The Enchanted Fortress

11-year-old Maci Smithers publishes her latest novella

When COVID shut down schools, many students scrambled to find something to occupy their time. Some turned to video games or watching movies, but for one local girl, the extra time was spent finishing and publishing her third book.

Get to know Ally

11-year-old Maci Smithers just finished the fifth grade at Hull Prairie Intermediate in Perrysburg. Her favorite subjects are reading and science, and she loves dogs. “I will always include a dog in the books I write!” she says. In her latest publication, one of the main characters, a dog named Aristar, is inspired by Maci’s own dog Sam. This latest publication is her first novella and is titled Ally Lancaster and The Enchanted Fortress.

The story centers around Ally, a young girl who is not a fan of the school her parents have forced her to attend. As a result, Ally tries to get herself expelled, but things take a turn when she comes face-to-face with a Dueling Dog (a massive black dog with giant wings) named Aristar, whom she soon befriends. Aristar takes her to a new school called Willow Reins where she learns how to duel, but also learns that it is up to her to save the world from the evil Zortavka and the dangers within the Enchanted Fortress.

Maci’s writing process

Maci was inspired by many stories, including the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games books, but the main inspiration was her dad. “I was inspired by his books, and decided that I wanted to make my own,” says Maci. “He told me that if I could do every step of the writing process, then I could publish a book.”

Her dad, Jason Smithers, helped Maci learn the writing process. “People may think that only adults can write books, but my dad helped me learn the writing process, and anyone can do it if they try,” says Maci, who explains that the process for this story started with an idea which was then turned into a storyboard. Once the storyboard was completed, she began the first draft which she finished during quarantine.

Maci’s favorite part of writing is developing the characters and being able to give each of them their own personalities. She claimed that the hardest part, and least fun, was the editing process. “I had to go back and fix a bunch of different mistakes, which were sometimes really hard,” she says. After the grueling editing process, she was finally able to format the book and upload it to be published.

When asked if she would like to continue writing in the future, Maci explains, “I love writing. I would love to be able to write stories as a career.” And it looks like she is on the fast track to making that dream come true. Currently, Maci is working on her next book— a sequel to Ally Lancaster.

ParentProfile, with Maci’s dad, Jason Smithers

What’s your favorite activity to do with your family?

We love the Toledo parks on beautiful days, going to local game rooms like Old School Gaming or staying in together playing video games.

What is your favorite book to read to your kids?

Our youngest loves The Boxcar Children series. Any interactive
books like Press Here by Herve Tullet are always great!

Best memory from when you were a kid?

I miss the Super Cinemas that used to be on Airport Hwy.
As a broke teenager in the 90s, $1 for a movie was
pretty amazing.

What’s your go-to activity when you have

a few minutes to yourself?

I love to keep my mind challenged. I really enjoy collecting
sequential discovery puzzles by designers like Wil Strijbos,
Eric Fuller and Felix Uri and the challenge/surprise
they bring with them.

Describe your life in five words or less.

Working on raising good people.

What is your favorite Toledo hangout?

Toledo has a lot of great local game rooms that I
encourage everyone to support. Toledo Game Room
and Old School Gaming are fantastic and very helpful in
getting the whole family excited about table-top and role-playing.

Describe Toledo in a sentence.

From someone like me who has moved away and
come back, it’s even better the second time around.