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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Writing new chapters for Sunday mornings

Photo courtesy of Cameron Liotta

Cameron Liotta holds up his new book, “A Poor Man’s Spirit”. 

Timothy had a million reasons to avoid church. As a man experiencing homelessness, he was dirty, bitter and lacking in spirit and faith. But what happens when he finds one reason to attend? Timothy’s story is told in “A Poor Man’s Spirit” by Bryan High School freshman Cameron Evan Liotta. Published in June 2022, the 29-page book conveys a message that reflects Cameron’s faith, family and story.

“‘A Poor Man’s Spirit’ is about a homeless man invited to church by a kind woman,” Cameron said. “He keeps finding reasons not to go. He evades her until one day he finally agrees. They attend church together and are forever changed.”

Seeing another young writer achieve his authorship dream motivated Cameron to open his own chapter in publishing his book.

“My baseball coach and my mother’s former teacher wrote a book with his daughter,” Cameron said.  “It inspired me to write one too. I figured if he can do it, so can I.” 

Liotta’s baseball coach and family friend, Chad Cryer, taught U.S. history at Bryan and A&M Consolidated High Schools. Ana-Lisa Liotta, Class of 2007, was once a student in Cryer’s class. 

“During COVID-19 in 2020, my 11th-grade U.S. history teacher Mr. Chad Cryer wrote a children’s book with his 10-year-old daughter,” Ana-Lisa said. “I bought it to support them and their entrepreneurship. I shared the book with Cameron and we read it to his younger sisters. He said, ‘Wow, I’d like to try my hand at that.’”

From then on, Cameron’s creativity flowed and he wrote a story that reflected his faith-based beliefs. Ana-Lisa says Cameron wrote the entire book within a few months in 2020.

Cameron’s loved ones played a role in bringing “A Poor Man’s Spirit” to life. Cameron’s former  baseball coach Rocky Bilhartz was instrumental in publishing the children’s book.

“Cameron presented his finished book to Mr. Bilhartz and it was published within a couple of months,” Ana-Lisa said.“We had our first hardback in August 2021. All the stars aligned to make the book a reality with an in-house illustrator and a coach as the publisher.”

Cameron’s grandfather, Abelardo Fonseca, illustrated “A Poor Man’s Spirit.” Throughout his artistic life, Fonseca worked in many mediums, including sculpture, oil painting and pencil drawings of his daughter Ana-Lisa and her sister. Fonseca said his favorite medium is family portraits. So when Cameron asked him to illustrate the book, Fonseca didn’t hesitate.

“He said, ‘Give me paper and a pencil and let me start the rough sketches,’” Cameron said. “He did everything with a gray lead pencil and reviewed all his skeleton drawings with a colored pencil.”

Cameron watched his story come to life through Fonseca’s drawings.

“It was an easy choice and he was happy to do it,” Cameron said. “He worked day and night using Crayola-like colored pens and map colored pencils.”

While baseball is a large part of Cameron’s base, the Christian faith has always been Cameron’s real home run.

“I was proud of Cameron for coming up with the concept on his own. Nobody told him to write a Christian children’s book,” Ana-Lisa said. “He could have written about baseball or a boy who plays piano. These are things Cameron enjoys, but he has a Christian heart and wants to spread Jesus’ love.”

In high school, Cameron said he was inspired by something he often encountered: excuses, whether sudden stomach bugs or the standard line, ‘I tried to submit it, but Turnitin didn’t work.’  

“Growing up in the public school system, a tremendous percentage of the people I talked to didn’t even go to church,” Cameron said. “I was confident enough to ask some classmates, ‘Why not?’ and I was given many different responses, so I wrote the book about [battling] their excuses.”

Cameron’s children’s book was published by Green Publishing House on July 1, 2022. Writing a children’s chapter book may seem simple, but there is a science and precision behind the words and flow of these stories. 

Ana-Lisa, a mother who reads to her children every night, knows how to use vocabulary, punctuation and intonation to keep stories exciting or end them with a question.

“I helped organize it a little,” Ana-Lisa said. “As a mother reading this, I would want it to engage the reader and listener.” 

There are a million reasons not to write a book, but only one is needed to become an author. While many writers aspire to publish a book, only some do. Cameron Liotta wrote and published a story he was passionate about. 

“It’s not easy and if it were, everyone would do it and it wouldn’t be special,” Cameron said. “Aspiring to do something special requires more work than most are willing to put in.”

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