Ellabell-based writer Grace Reddick released her first children’s book last month which is already enjoying some mild success.
Reddick is currently promoting her book throughout the area which has included numerous local television appearances and book signings. In years past, Reddick received some notoriety for having her poems printed in numerous publications. This even included a weekly poetry entry for the Bryan County News.
Reddick said her reputation as a local poet led to numerous other forms of work by way of others in the community asking her to pen dedications and memorials for various functions.
Reddick said she’s always had a passion for writing and is very excited about having an actual book in print. "Writing is a form of relaxation to me and it’s my favorite pastime. I love creating things in my head," she said.
She was initially encouraged to go into the field of children’s writing when she entered an essay contest for a children’s story several years back. Reddick said she entered just for fun, but was highly encouraged when she won the contest and was subsequently offered a spot to work under the dean at the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. It was too much, too fast for Reddick who said she was honored but declined.
She subsequently wrote two stories, aimed for a young audience, and sent one to a publisher in New York. Reddick said she got a response back that was similar to the essay judges. The publisher even sent her a contract to be a regular writer for them.
"I was really, really new and didn’t know what I was getting into and decided to do this in an independent manner," said Reddick who set out to find a hand-picked editor and illustrator for her book debut.
After interviewing many, she ended up with an editor out of Florida and an illustrator from SCAD, choosing both because "they seemed to take a personal interest in my book and I just had a great rapport with both."
And so began the journey of Reddick’s first book getting printed. She titled the book "Ashley’s Unforgettable Summer," naming the main character after her daughter. She named the character’s best friend, Rylee, after her granddaughter. Reddick said the characters and their namesakes have much in common which helped her to develop the story.
The story is about Ashley, the child main character, who adopts a chimpanzee during a summer vacation in South Africa, and of the many mischievous adventures the two have when the chimp comes home. "No sooner do they get out of one dilemma, they run into another catastrophe. It’s one big adventure," said Reddick.
Reddick said she started the book before she had grandchildren. When two grandchildren came into her life, she was inspired to finish the book. She said she takes great pride in having her own book to read to them now.
Reddick said she has gotten rave reviews since the book was released last month and sales have been good. She noted that online reviews have been very positive, pointing out compliments about the illustrations and the length of the book. It is 59 pages long, which is longer than many full-color children’s books.
"I want the book to be successful, but I don’t look at book sales to be the only measure of success," said Reddick. "I truly want kids to enjoy my book."
She said her target audience ranges from kids 6-14 and added that she has donated copies to schools on both ends of the county so that kids in the area can enjoy it.
"Ashley’s Unforgettable Summer" can be purchased online with Borders, Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, or through Reddick’s own website www.grace4books.com.