• Susan Hefley

I am an author!

One of my favorite parts about being a librarian is connecting a book with its reader, or creating a reader by finding them THAT just right book (or e-book, audio book, etc. I think reading is reading and it comes in many forms). However there are times that I can't connect my readers with THAT book. Sometimes I do not have the book they want, often it is checked out by others, but in rare cases it simply does not exist. This was the case when I was a new librarian in my first job at a rural school in Pennsylvania and teachers were looking for books to use about September 11th. We had A-MAZ-ING teachers, and one of these teachers came to me with a specific need and want for her young students. She had read all the books we had (and I tried to get everything that existed) and none of them were just right........ I said I would go back and look again but it nagged at me. I looked, the book she wanted......it just did not exist. So I wrote it.

I wrote that book, but I am NO artist. It would be a shame to even try. So I put it into Power Point (yes Power Point) and shared it with my teachers hoping it might help. They loved it. They were so enthusiastic and made me believe in myself. I self-published it through Lulu so it looked like a book. I got a copy of Children's Writers & Illustrator's Market (along with other books on publishing), did my research, attended a SCBWI conference, sent my manuscript out and got a collection of rejection letters. Life got busy and I let this dream go. I believed in my book, but I never had the ambition to be an AUTHOR. However, this book has nagged at me as I have continued to share my un-illustrated book with more and more teachers who have that same need for this book and several years ago I connected with an amazing AUTHOR (Patrice McLaurin) who was actually doing a Skype visit for my 3rd grade students, but offered me the priceless advice as an author to seek out an illustrator on my own. So I did. I "interviewed" many and found my perfect illustrator through my sister. Rachel Stotler agreed to bring my book to life.

Originally I gave her free rein and said I really did not have a vision. Turns out I did, I just needed a little help communicating it. We went through several drafts and went back and forth trying to determine what the book should LOOK like, but she did it. She managed to take my words and breathe life into them. Now, in time for the 20th anniversary of September 11th, we finally can share that book. The book that the teacher asked for all those years ago. She has since retired, but I made sure she got a copy. I do not know if I will ever write another book, but for right now I want to share this one with you.

Heroes: September 11, 2001 is a simple account of that day. Explaining to the youngest about this day in a poetic and meaningful tone, that says this happened, but we are going to be alright. It honors those that serve and protect our country and is a proper tribute to the heroes of this remarkable tragedy. It is a story of hope.

Buy a paperback copy here or hardback here.

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