Although Erin Mackey was a good writer in high school, she had no aspirations to be an author. The possibility only arose after the arrival of her first niece, Emily Wilson.
"I started with picture books when Emily was born," Mackey shared in a recent interview. After writing four of those, I moved on to the chapter books."
Her efforts have produced the recently published "Laurel Hill: New Beginnings," the first in a series of chapter books geared toward readers age 8-12. That age range encompasses the age range of the characters in the book who form friendships and memories.
In the story, sixth rader Maggie finds herself in a new school in small town Laurel Hill. She is accepted and welcomed into a group of young friends and the entire group face all sorts of adventures.
Mackey, who grew up in New Jersey, relocated to Jefferson County for her senior year of high school. Farmingdale, N.J., she shared, was a very small town, similar to Laurel Hill in her book.
"It had a blinker light, no library, one grocery store," she shared.
Mackey's mother, Sue Cybulski, said that she was sure she bought the first copy of the book.
"I see things in the book that are similar to our lives," Cybulski shared. She and husband, Jim, live outside of Shepherdstown. Their other daughter, Jill Wilson, also resides in Shepherdstown with husband, Brian and children, Emily, Kate, Morgan and Gabe. Mackey's book is dedicated to her nieces and nephews, from whom she took names for characters in the Laurel Hill series.
"All of them are in there," she laughed.
Her characters, she said, developed as she wrote the first book which took about a year to write. During that time, Mackey worked full time as well.
"When I'm in the mood to write, I can do it for hours," Mackey said. "It's the same way I am with crafts and other things," she said. "I just get into it."
Although the book was written, it was some time before Mackey reached the point of publication.
"Initially I submitted it to six publishers and I got six rejections," she shared. She went on to say that they were not really negative, they were just rejections. After leaving the project alone for a couple of years, she said she looked at the possibility of getting an agent to help get her work published, but that those were all in the areas of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
While she had heard about self-publishing, she shared that stories she had heard were not good ones. She finally sought out and found some good advice on moving in that direction, and after reaching the personal goal of paying off her debts, she took the plunge toward getting her work out to the public.
"I chose Inspiring Guideposts because I knew they were a reliable Christian company," she said.
She shared that the process was an easy one, moving very quickly. Inspiring Voices has helped with marketing ideas and offered assistance with the entire process from start to finish.
The volume is available on Amazon.com as well as Barnesand Nobel.com.
Mackey has planned a launch party for Dec. 14 at the Old Charles Town Library and plans to schedule books signings at various locations.
She shared that she is already well into the second volume of Laurel Hill which will focus on summer camp shared by the friends in the story. The next several volumes, in fact, will focus around seasonal themes, she shared.
The current book is already receiving praise from those who have purchased it.
Jerfferson Countian Tiffany Niebauer shared, "I have really enjoyed reading Laurel Hill with my children because it's is a great Christian based book for children that deals with real life experiences at that age, solving mysteries. It teaches children to trust and fully rely on God through ups and downs they all go through at that age. We are all looking forward to reading the rest of the Laurel Hill series as soon as the are available," she said.
More information about the book and the author can be found at www.erimmackeyauthor.com.
Mackey has plans to also publish the picture books she has authored as well.
Her goal right now, she explained, is to sell 1,000 copies of Laurel Hill before next December. This, she said, will help her be picked up by a publisher, which is an ultimate goal.