By Mario Ziino Published Nov 21, 2003 at 5:22 AM

{image1} Good things do happen to those who apply themselves. Call it the American dream.

For a Brookfield high school sophomore, who was determined to write a book and get it published, the best lesson in life, he quickly learned, was that hard work pays off.

In September, Dan Crowley saw the fruits of his labor become reality when his book, "505 Unbelievably Stupid Web Pages" was printed by independent publisher Sourcebooks, Inc., of Naperville, Ill. The icing on the cake came when it became an instant hit across the nation in just the first month.

"I'm pretty excited about it," the 17-year-old said. "My friends were more surprised when I told them that my book was being published."

Dan's dream began almost two years ago. An avid reader, he and his father, Michael, often visited the local library. On one particular venture, Dan's immediate future got brighter when he casually picked up a book entitled, "Damn, Why Didn't I Write That," by Marc McCutcheon.

McCutcheon contends that if someone is interested in writing, the likelihood of being published is greater if it's a non-fiction book. His writings include a check list of things to do. He also emphasizes that a writer should have a broad interest and perhaps a sense of humor. Accomplish that, and the writer could learn the trade and begin making a respectable income much faster than most people think possible.

Dan apparently fit the criteria. Putting his inquisitive mind to work, he set off in search of his personal holy grail.

His hobby was surfing the Internet. On occasion, he'd stumbled upon what he termed "stupid sites." He'd chuckle, and then record them for future reference. But even Dan couldn't imagine what he'd uncover when he visited some of the bizarre Web pages.

For example, he found a page with highly classified information on how penguins were planning to take over the world. Penguins? A video introduction to the site pointed out that penguins had been linked to nuclear bombs, crop circles and the Hindenburg explosion. The page also warned, quite properly, "This site is extremely silly." Duly noted.

"It's very interesting," Crowley said of his new passion. "There are a lot of weird sites out there."

Oh, you mean like the Leonard Nimoy Web page that claims that the former Star Trek star should eat more salsa? The site states how great Leonard Nimoy would be if he consumed more of this delicious condiment.

Or perhaps, the Star Wars gangsta rap site? Here visitors are told not to be Vadar haters. With the rap verses playing in the background, one could take a trip through a portion of the Star Wars story.

There's a site where President George W. Bush dances to disco. Visitors can even alter the dance floor and lighting, not to mention, the hip gyrations of the most powerful man in the free world.

Dan's archive grew from there. And, as it grew, he began adding personal hilarious comments to each site he'd log.

"I've always wanted to do something like that," he said. "I thought, wouldn't this be a great idea for a book?

So, he was off to the library, again. This time, Dan found a handbook which helped him track down different publishers He located publishers who would accept unsolicited submissions. He wrote letters. He sent samples.

Nothing for months. Then the phone rang.

My wife got the call," his father, Michael, said. "It was Sourcebooks asking for Dan. My wife told them that he wasn't home at the time. The publisher then asked for a work number. My wife responded that Dan was at school. The publisher then asked which college he attended."

Weren't they surprised to learn Dan was a high school student?

"It floored them," Michael affirmed. "But they were still interested and offered him a book contract."

The contract required that Dan present a completed book manuscript by January 2003. So each night he sat down and worked on his publication. He even got a quick lesson in the art of revision - a publishing nightmare.

But to young Dan's credit, he stayed the course.

"We're very proud of him," his father added.

Who wouldn't be?

According to, the 304-page paperback, which sells for $9.95, was rated as the second best seller and the number one new release for the month on the Internet site.

The book is also available at Barnes & Nobles, Borders and Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops.