Book Releases

Amplify! Book Release


It was a warm September evening, with heavy winds being the only sign that summer was coming to a close. As smiling Inkers returned to the Imaginarium with their families, this night felt different than the time they had spent here during summer. Far from the nervous excitement that comes with the first day of camp, the energy in the room was pure celebration. Now, seeing their anthology freshly printed for the first time, every camper radiated the confidence that comes with being a published author. 


Year four of 916 Ink’s “Amplify!” Summer Camps had so many youth authors we needed TWO anthologies to fit them all. At over 300 pages, Book of Legends: The Magic Gherkin and the Blazing Blue Fire features writing from our 3-5 grade students. Our 6-8 graders chose the title Secrets for their book, which was equally impressive 250 pages. This year’s Amplify featured five, week-long sessions held throughout July and August. In 2019 we were able to host a record 150 students – nearly triple the number from the previous year – thanks to continuing support from the California Arts Council’s Youth Arts Action grant and a first time grant from the RCA Community Fund. We were amazed at the demand for this program from the community, and without the support of these organizations would never have been able to expand our programs so extensively.  


While we’ve always invited 3-5 grade students to experience the magic of Amplify, there was another reason this year was special. For two of our week-long sessions, we were able to open up the Imaginarium to 6-8 graders, allowing even more children from the community the opportunity to craft their own stories. Our Wordslingers and dedicated volunteers spent the hot summer weeks with these young authors, helping them build their confidence as writers and perfect the pieces they’ve chosen for their book. Only five short weeks after the last session ended, the publications were back from the printer, and it was time for one of our favorite moments: The book release party.


As the night began, the Imaginarium filled with authors and guests, mingling before the main event. Friends were reuniting, authors were signing copies of their book, and several brave writers were preparing to read a selection for the standing-room-only crowd. When it was time to begin, 916 Ink staff quieted the room, calling up the first young author to read aloud to the audience. When a child steps up to the microphone and begins to speak, the whole room focuses on them. Our paparazzo snaps away as they read, and proud parents film the moment on their phones. The night is all about celebrating these authors, and when they finish their piece the room bursts into applause. You can see the joy in their face as they skip back to their seats, a new self-confidence cemented in their minds with the knowledge that they are writers, published authors, and capable of extraordinary things.

Umm... | A.M. Winn Elementary School

“Umm…” By the Students of A.M. Winn Elementary School

     April 3rd, 2018 -the day had finally arrived for the students of A.M. Winn Elementary School. It was the day of their book release, and as soon as the doors opened the students came rushing in to see a physical copy of their very own book! Justin Self, Director of Development at 916 Ink was taking pictures of the students with his camera and let the students take pictures of each other. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Not a nervous child in sight! The energy in the room was unbelievable, every student was exuding happiness and they were ready to share their stories and poems. Maribella Smith, the program’s Wordslinger, kicked off the evening by announcing the authors as well as the inspirators, Ian Hadley, Executive Director of 916 Ink, and Michelle Brandabur, a local high school student who assisted these students in their writing process.

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  The first brave soul was Devin Jones reading Mega Brain found on page 17. Mega Brain is about a smart child who teaches college courses.Next was Joshua Russell reading, Demon Death the Kid, page 42. Demon Death the Kid is about a monster that has Doritos for hair, drinking sewage water turned him evil and now he’s coming to destroy Earth. Dylan Jones was next on stage, he read his story called, The Werewolf. It is about a crazy cool werewolf who ate a lot, has a big uvula and goes on amazing adventures. Dylan walked off the stage looking proud of himself, suddenly, he did a dab dance move, which caused the audience to erupt into laughter! Maribella stepped in to read Zion Russell’s story titled, The Bummer Summer. The Bummer Summer tells us the story of a blonde, 16-year-old girl who is stalked by a grouchy old man. Zion also walked off the stage dabbing! Victoria Gutierrez read her story, Chapter One: July 3rd, page 64. Victoria’s story is about two bickering sisters who transfer schools and make the school a better and brighter place. Benjamin Rosas Lurz read, Detective Johnathan and the Egg Thief, page 31. As he walked on stage a little girl yelled “That’s my brother!” Detective Johnathan and the Egg Thief is about a dad who gets injured and robbed, so he calls Detective Johnathan to solve the crime. Kaylee "Bella" Crane read her poem called Rains Violet on page 50. Rains Violet is about a girl named Periwinkle, who isolated herself to "play in fields of violets and dance in the rain." Shawn Kraus was up next and read his story titled Hero Family on page 58. Hero Family is the tale of a family of superheroes who fight robots! Jason Gandeza came on to the stage and read his piece called The Magic Joystick, found on page 23. The Magic Joystick takes us on an adventure with two best friends who get stuck in a video game, but each level they get to increases in difficulty. Kailoni Jones St. Hill read The Horrible Evil Red Moon, page 46, which is about a red moon that has demons come out of it. The main character's neighbor gets possessed, and she finds out she's a witch! Maribella read Analiese Dunlap's story called Orange Sherbert, on page 3. It's about her love for the ice cream flavor. Maribella read Johnathan Everett's story called Chapter One, on page 38. It was about a boy named Carter who goes on an insane journey in another dimension where he fights demons with his friends and they have fire and wind powers!

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A duo was next! Johnathan Everett and Jason Gandeza had a story called The Magical Boys, page 27, about kids with powers who save the world. Magil Bowens couldn’t attend but wanted their story read. Maribella read their story called The King, page 55. The King is about a greedy king who gets caught in a war with Vikings. Jaylen Saldivar also couldn’t attend, so Maribella read their story titled The Arrow Eye, page 34. The Arrow Eye takes place in a world that’s immersed in a war called The Cabin War, and the journey of a boy named Daniel who is trying to survive the war. The last story was titled A Pig, written by Cassandra Ramirez, on page 6, and it tells us the story of a lonely pig who finds another pig who become very close. Every single student author had amazing reactions from the audience, bursts of laughter, and roaring applause!


That concluded the stories of the student authors, and Nikki Cordoza, Director of Programming for 916 Ink, closed the night by giving posters signed by the student authors to Maribella and two of A.M. Winn’s staff members, Unique and Nisha. “Umm…” is a book filled with some of the most creative stories. Congratulations A.M. Winn Elementary School and thank you for sharing these stories with us!

A special thank you to our funders, The Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, The City of Sacramento, The County of Sacramento, Sacramento 365, the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commissions’ Cultural Art Awards Program, and the City of Rancho Cordova Community Enhancement Fund! With your support this night full of creativity was made possible.

Stones in the Road | Luther Burbank High School

Luther Burbank Highschool and 916 Ink presents, Stones in the Road, a poetry anthology written by students of different backgrounds, with different issues and personal thoughts that they want heard. Stones in the Road is composed of 90 pieces, some anonymous, some with author names exposed, and some as class poems. Each student poured their heart and soul into their writing, which was made evident on March 20th when the student authors, their English teacher Tom McElheney, and 916 Ink partnered with CLARA and the Capital Stage Company to bring the students’ poetry to life.  


                These students worked for weeks on end with 916 Ink and CLARA to write their poems and then learn how to make them come alive on stage. After rehearsing their pieces, the day finally came. Students nervously arrived to the Capital Stage Company with their enthusiastic parents. Everyone enjoyed snacks, chatted, and rehearsed before entering the theater. The crowd entered slowly, family and friends buzzing like bees with excitement, small children fussing in their seats, and let’s not forget the proud parents with their phones glued to their hands ready to take the perfect picture of their child. 916 Ink Wordslinger Maria Gavia set the scene by giving recognition to those who participated and made the evening possible, CLARA, Capital Stage Company, Tom McElheney, and last but certainly not least, the student authors themselves. Emili Danz, Education Outreach Director at CLARA, gave insight on how they chose to work with 916 Ink, and how they had the student authors work with an acting teacher to give their poetry an awe-inspiring live element. Gail Dartiz, Teaching Artist at CLARA, worked diligently with these students to have them feel every word they said. All the hard work they put into their performances really did payoff.

                While the announcements went on, the students sank into their seats, cheering with gratitude, but nervous knowing their time was coming. The first group stepped to the stage. “Take a deep breath” yelled Gail, sensing their nerves beginnning to get the best of them. And then they started to speak, delivering a powerful piece with voices in sync, and feet stomping with energy and precision. Their performance ended to thunderous applause, loud enough to be heard outside on the street. A weight lifted noticeably off their shoulders as they walked off the stage. One of the groups burst into laughter during their poem about love and heart break, however they got a second chance at redemption, and when they performed again, the group brought the house down! Group after group, each student gained confidence. Lena Vue, student at Luther Burbank revealed “I felt nervous, I forgot some of my gestures but I was pleased with my overall performance.” Most of the groups read anonymous poems but now it was time for the brave poets who wanted to share their own original work. Although he was unable to attend the event, student Ryder Brown wanted his poetry piece to be read so teacher Tom McElheney heroically jumped on stage to deliver Ryder’s poem titled, Another Side, found on page 86. Another Side is about having an alternate personality online, and that personality making him feel powerful. Mr. McElheney’s interpretation of Ryder’s poem was astounding, we hope it would have made Ryder proud! The next was a poem titled, My Mind found on page 39 by Bluefire3572. My Mind is about the darkness that fills our minds and having an overwhelming feeling of not being enough. Bluefire3572 was bursting with emotion and energy that could be felt throughout the entire theater. The Things You Do, by Kenya Wimberly was the third and final individual poem. The Things You Do deals with young love and feeling like one day it may end. Parents and students alike related to the words being spoken. Kenya Wimberly’s raw emotions made a deep connection with the audience. Complete silence transformed into applause as loud as thunder in a split second for each and every performer.

                Ian Hadley, Executive Director of 916 Ink, closed the event by praising the student authors, “This is the power of confidence, this is the power of collaboration!” And by awarding Emili Danz, Gail Dartiz, and Tom McElheney with posters autographed by the newly published young authors themselves. All students gathered on the stage to take a photo, when one young man shouted, “Where’s our paparazzi?” The book release of Stones in the Road was a truly inspiring and beautiful experience filled with equally beautiful words and self-expression. Congratulations to the newly published authors of Luther Burbank Highschool!


Tremendous Thanks to everyone who made this impact on our young authors possible:

Building Healthy Communities: First and foremost we would like to thank the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, who’s funding made the writing workshops possible. Learn more at

CLARA: Opened in April 2016 and colloquially known as CLARA, the E Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts provides studios and performance spaces to professionals and community-based art groups to create, collaborate, develop stability, and grow. Learn more at

Capital Stage Company: Capital Stage presents innovative plays while educating members of the community through classes and workshops called CapStage Academy. CapStage Academy creates the resources needed to present performing arts opportunities to aspiring artists in Sacramento. They do this by giving local and visiting theatre professionals a platform through which to share their skills with the Sacramento community. Learn more at

Please join us in appreciating the wonderful contributions of this diverse group of partners who made the program possible!