DANVILLE -- She finds inspiration all around her and artistically expresses herself to the world in more ways than one. An accomplished artist, pianist and student at San Ramon Valley High School, 17-year-old Jenny Lake, of Danville, can now add "published writer" to her resume.
Her long, blonde pony tail bounces as she talks with exuberance about her self-published debut book, "I'm a Dreamer" and collection of poetry "Autumn Nights."
She will be at Bay Books in San Ramon at 2 p.m. Sunday for a book signing.
"I've always been kind of shy, and (writing) is my way of speaking to the world," said Jenny, who says she was inspired by poet Robert Frost. Jenny said she has always enjoyed reading his poetry and the way he beautifully describes nature. She crafts interesting descriptions and dialogue among her characters in "I'm a Dreamer," a story she said "is about overcoming obstacles, fighting to reach your goals and doing your best."
That's a journey she made herself when she fractured her spine as a competitive acrobatic gymnast. Having to wear a back brace for six months and the everyday challenges of schoolwork and teenage life tested her endurance, and she turned to writing as an outlet.
"When you write, you can make anything happen," she said. "I always had cool ideas in my head and had a hard time getting them on paper, but I really wanted to."
Using some of her own vivid dreams and her friends' characteristics to fashion characters for her book, Jenny wrote about the dual life of a young girl who, when in a dream state, struggles to serve a ruthless king and meet his demands. And, when awake, she is faced with the challenges of taking care of family and finding true love.
Amid the conflict, her heroine finds "it's OK to be yourself and stand up for what you believe in," Jenny said.
Her characters include Ciara, "a confident, sassy, strong, trustworthy and loyal friend," and the main character, Odile, whom Jenny says is like her: "quiet when you first meet us, but then outgoing and likes adventure."
Then there is Ebba, who "always makes me happy and smile." Jenny's warm smile is contagious, and her eyes light up when she reads her favorite poem, "The Hallucination," that is about "the time you realize you've grown up and not the same as you were as a child," she explained.
It is one of about 52 poems in "Autumn Night," in addition to about 10 poems written by her dad, Robert Lake. Jenny's artwork -- pencil and ink drawings -- are also featured in her book.
She self-published the books with the help of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform in August. The books are available at Bay Books and Amazon.com.
In addition to her writing, Jenny has been taking piano lessons for 10 years and particularly enjoys playing jazz pieces from her favorites, Elvis and Ray Charles. Her theme is instrumental music for the 18 projects she has to produce this year for the Advanced Placement Art class at San Ramon Valley High.
Jenny says she hopes to study science in college and become a teacher. Her artistic ability, she says, will help her come up with fun ways through music and art to teach children about science.
A third book has been put on hold for now as she completes college applications and enjoys reading "Hamlet" in English class and studying marine biology.
The reaction from her friends about her published books is "pretty cool", said Jenny. "No one really knew I could write."
Teen author Jenny Lake will sign copies of her book at 2 p.m. Sunday, at Bay Books, 2415 San Ramon Valley Blvd. in San Ramon. 925-855-1524.