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Judson High School alumna Alexandra Villanueva publishes her first book

There is power in the written word - the ability to put lexicons together to express ideas and emotions or draw visualizations that just live in people’s heads.

Then, there’s the achievement of putting words together to create a book, something very few have the joy of saying they’ve done.

But at 20 years old, Judson High School alumnus Alexandra Villanueva was able to gather her thoughts, put them on post-its, then transfer them to paper, eventually leading to publishing her first book, Whispers of Her Heart.

“I always wanted to be a writer,” Alexandra said. “To be honest, I went through many different things. I thought I wanted to be a teacher for a while because I watched my mom do it for so many years. And then, when I went to high school, I found journalism.”

She lived at Salinas Elementary where her mom, Ms. Kristi Ann Villanueva, is a fifth-grade teacher, rolling around the library during professional development days, burying her head in books.

“I always knew she was going to be a writer. I just didn’t know that it would be this quick - in her 20s,” Kristi Ann said.

Having done all her schooling in Judson ISD, when she reached Judson High School, she found the journalism program out of her curiosity for photography. Needless to say, it was the start of a journey she knew deep down she wanted but didn’t know she had just taken the first step toward.

“When I found my spot in high school, the ball started rolling and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be,” Alexandra said. “It taught me how to connect with people, learn things, and share these stories that actually existed in the real world. But when I graduated, I realized I loved imagination and creation. I knew I had done well in journalism and my English classes, so I decided to put them together.”

She began to hustle, working more hours than she should to save money for all the fees she knew were coming. At the same time, she began researching publishers, perfecting her manuscript, and preparing to send it off to be reviewed for publication.

“I wanted to have something that was mine, that I could share with people, that I knew would outlive me,” Alexandra said.

She found a publisher that would not only publish her book but also market her book and get it on Barnes and Nobles’ website, which was the goal. She did it all without telling her mom, dad, family members, or friends.

She wanted to make it a surprise, a way to say, “um, I did something great.” After she was signed her contract, she broke the news.

“Hey, guess what I did,” Alexandra told her boss first.

She could’ve invested the money into any other frivolous thing a 20-year-old would normally do. However, her goal was to always be an author, so she invested in herself.

“It did come out really, really well,” Alexandra said.

The next goal - another book, which she has already started writing. Similar to the first one, it’s beginning to come together in the Notes app on her phone.

“Anything I couldn’t put into the first one because of the deadline, I want to put into the next one,” Alexandra said. “I really thought I was going to write stories and other things like my favorite authors, but poetry is what came easiest to me. It’s all a very vulnerable thing - I never expected I was going to share my poetry. Poetry is the most flexible sort of writing. There are rules, but when you break them, there’s kind of for a point.”

She was welcomed back to the library where she crawled around and buried her head into books to speak to students who were just like her about the importance of reading and writing. There may be another student at Salinas Elementary who buries their head into books, wanting to be a writer too.

Now, they can see someone just like them, who came from where they came from, who has become a published author too.

“It’s more than just teachers being proud of me. It’s my school family being proud of me,” Alexandra said.

You can order Whispers of Her Heart here.

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