Writer publishes 2nd book before graduating high school

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Willie Craddick Jr. attends Cedar Shoals High School. He flips burgers at a fast-food joint for extra cash. Oh, and he is a published author with two books to his credit at just the age of 17.

Craddick recently completed and published his teen drama "They Counted Us Out."

"This book is a fiction story about kids in school and how they went through their struggles and ... became successful," Craddick said of his second published work.

The central character is a student name L'Monica, who navigates her way through the teen angst she and her friends experience to come out ahead.

Overcoming obstacles to accomplish set goals is a relateable theme for high school senior.

Craddick's autobiographical first book, "The Life of a Boy With Big Dreams," was released in 2016. He based the book on his own struggles to find success.

"I keep myself motivated. I walk 40 minutes to work and 40 minutes home at least five days a week," Craddick said about his job at a Wendy's restaurant, where he might work the counter one day and make hamburgers the next.

It's a work ethic he carried over into his burgeoning career as a writer.

Craddick's books are published by Creativespace Independent Publishing in Atlanta. However, marketing and selling the books is all on him.

"When I go on tour, I have to contact the newspapers, radios and find places for the signings," he explained.

Following the publication of his first book, Craddick embarked on a national tour that carried him to numerous states including New York and California. He is planning a 10-state tour for his new book.

Last year, he also attended the Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp in Atlanta and the BET Soul Train Awards, where he walked the red carpet.

To further spread the word on his books, he developed an app to give insight to his life. He named it the Willie Official App.

Despite the effort he puts into writing and selling books, Craddick's long-term career goals don't include that a full-time novelist.

Craddick takes college core classes at the Athens Community Career Academy, with an eye toward attending college to major in business while taking a minor in fashion.

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