Growing up in McKeesport, I remember putting on shows for my neighbors in my 4 x 4 backyard. The stage – grass. The curtain – old bedsheets tacked with clothespins on my mother’s clothesline After the crowd – of about 5 neighbors – paid their $.10 and took their seats on the wooden picnic benches, I, along with my sister, Jennifer and best friend, Kristin, would burst through the center of the curtain and bust a move, singing to New Kids on the Block . . .those were days to be remembered.
When I wasn’t dancing or singing, I was orchestrating cheesy haunted houses (that were never really scary) or setting up a backyard carnival with Bingo and Pick a Duck (and yes, everyone was a winner). Entertaining was in my blood. I was always conjuring up something (even one-act plays), ready for the smallest of spectators – me, myself, and my make-believe audiences.
As I grew older, my imagination was involuntary suppressed. I finished high school, then moved on to California University, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. Two years later, I attended graduate school at Gannon University and graduated with a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Though the grass and sheets disappeared over time, I found a new stage and audience: eager and energetic 5th graders. With each reading and grammar lesson and through every moment of our American history I have shared, a new show emerged, and my imagination was sparked back to life.
Nine years ago, I received a phone call from my mom, and she asked if I would like to write a children’s book. Without a doubt, I thought, “Most definitely!” So, with her creative collaboration, along with my recharged imagination, I drafted my very first novel, Shutterview.
Year after year, revision after revision, Shutterview grew, matured and transformed into The Will of Time. The main characters evolved, and additional characters arrived; a new plot developed and honed-in on a common theme – accept change, discover selflessness, and grasp courage to protect those we love.
And then, two years ago, I decided to self-publish; but, needed a cover. Instead of having a graphic artist create an illustration for the book, I asked a few former students of mine if they would be interested in taking part in this project, and the creation of the book cover became an epic journey.
At the start, I decided that the cover would only consist of Will and Madi. Little did I know that the first photo shoot would change the dynamics moving forward and the novel would spawn into a pictanovel. How exciting it was to see the main characters come to life!
During the two-year process, Fink, Benjamin, Jeremiah, Eldon, Jules, Bushy Beard, Cassie, and the Parker brothers were added. Not only did this create plot twists and turns – it enriched and developed and added depth to each and every character – it’s a long story; that’s why you should read it.
Costumes were shipped in from Gettysburg a day before the first photo shoot. Nerve-wracking . . . Yes! Moving forward, all the costumes of the 19th century were created by my mom and myself, throwing in a little Victorian steampunk with chains, gears, and keys, alongside the formal hoops and bonnets and bustles for the skirts. Some costumes were had shipped in from places like Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey, and we reached out to a local small business, Vintage Costume, in Scottdale, PA.
The photo shoots were set up locally in the backwoods of the Mickanin Residence, Larimer Mansion, Braddock’s Trail Park, Round Hill Park, and West Overton Village. Scenes were then reenacted to depict the animosity between each character, especially between Fink the antagonist of the story and Will the protagonist, and his sister Madi, who holds the key: the necklace and the camera. After it was all said and done, and the characters and scenes were in place, it solidified and finalized what the true nature of The Will of Time.
As self-publishing author and The Will of Time being a first-time novel, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as my mom, and I have enjoyed writing (and collaborating) on it. I believe it’s a story that will captivate young readers; that with courage and love, genuine and true selflessness prevails.