This morning when I opened my mail I found this message from a friend in the USA:
Sue, your book just arrived in the mail today. It looks really good!
My book? What book? I rubbed my sleepy eyes for a moment, trying to make sense of the words. Surely my friend hadn’t bought a copy of my children’s novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek. As far as I was aware this book hadn’t yet been released for sale.
Over the past month, we’ve been fine-tuning the formatting of the book. The fourth proof version arrived last Wednesday and finally we are happy with the way it looks. But I hadn’t clicked that final button which sends the book out into the public arena where it can be purchased. Or so I thought.
It turns out my friend does indeed have a copy of my book. My heart skipped a beat when I realised that. Does she have the final version? I hope she didn’t buy one with the wrong blurb on the cover or one with the misaligned image or one with the poor quality printing… No, I am hoping she got the good version.
So I sold one copy of my children’s story The Angels of Abbey Creek without even realising it was available for sale. I guess now there's no reason not to tell everyone about my book. It’s there in the Lulu shop waiting to be ordered. It will soon also be available through Amazon, and we’re hoping to produce an ebook version too.
Will you like it? It depends! Shall I tell you something about it? How did I come to write it?
Several years ago, a friend suggested I try writing a children’s story. “Oh no, I can’t write fiction,” I protested. But the idea stayed with me, and one day I thought it wouldn’t hurt to attempt a little story, an experiment perhaps.
What do children like to read about? Other children? And what did I know about children? Well, I have a few of my own, so I used them for inspiration. It wasn’t long before I had a completed story called Sunday. I faxed it off to Father James Tierney, friend and author of the Bush Boys books, to see what he thought. Now Father and I often share our writings. We like reading each other's stories and swapping ideas and suggestions. It wasn’t long before the phone rang. It was Father: “I liked your story. Write some more!”
Six weeks later I had written the first draft copy of the book. I sent it to a few friends who said nice things about it and made me feel good. Then the manuscript sat on my computer for a long time while I wondered what to do next.
Then one day I decided to ask award-winning Catholic author and editor, Ellen Gable, to edit it for me. Ellen was very encouraging. She suggested a few minor changes to several stories and told me she thought it was worthy of being published. You can imagine my smile when I received her feedback. Ariana M. Krause drew some illustrations. My husband Andy and daughter Imogen formatted the book for me. And now the book has been published.
Here’s the official book description:
In Australia, where Christmas is in summer and dads like to play cricket, is a small town. Not far from this town, along a narrow, winding road, is the village of Abbey Creek. And on the edge of this village, nestled among the shady gum trees, is a sprawling brick house. This is the home of the Angel family: Mum, Dad, Edward, Kate, Joe, Celeste, Lizzie and Annie.
And this is the story of their very adventurous year!
It’s a year full of happy days and magic moments, of camping in the bush and perfect beach holidays, of feast days and birthdays and even a First Holy Communion. The year has exciting days and disastrous moments, with racing bushfires, naughty birds and scurrying mice. And it’s full of surprises. The biggest surprise of all happens on Christmas Day!
The Angels of Abbey Creek contains 22 individual adventurous stories which fit together to tell the tale of one exciting year!
A First Holy Communion? Oh yes! Catholic children know all about First Holy Communion Days. Catholic? Is it a Catholic book?
The Angels of Abbey Creek isn’t a religious book but it does contain all those Catholic details that form part of any Catholic child’s life. I was tempted to leave all those details out. I bet you know why. A more mainstream book would certainly appeal to more people. I might sell more copies. But that isn’t really the point, is it? Sometimes we have to do what we feel is right, rather than what is popular.
And so I have written a Catholic story for Catholic children and I’m glad about that. I hope my young readers enjoy finding out the Angels go to Mass just like they do. Maybe they will smile when they hear about Annie’s misadventures at the Passion Play. Will they say, “We like to earn straws during Advent too!”? No doubt they will all have Godparents who are joined to them forever by invisible bonds.
Of course Catholic children do regular things too like go on perfect beach holidays, prepare for bushfires (regular if you live in Australia!), have accidents, cry over pets, lose teeth, have all kinds of adventures…
I have tried to write with gentle humour. If you share my sense of fun, you might smile when you're reading the stories out aloud. Reading out aloud? Oh yes, I think the stories are perfect for sharing. But a fluent reader should enjoy my book too. I have kept the language fairly simple. We chose the 6-8 age group for the book description, though I think children a little younger and a little older will enjoy it too. I'm old and I enjoyed it. Of course, I'm the author so I suppose that doesn't count!
This afternoon I was thinking about the message I received at the beginning of today.
“I’ve sold one copy of my book,” I said to my daughters. “Does that make me an author?”
“You already were an author, Mum.”
I guess I was. But I’ve never been the author of a children’s book before. That’s very exciting. At least it is for me.
The Angels of Abbey Creek is currently available from Lulu. Please stay tuned for an update about Amazon and an ebook version!