One doesn’t normally think of a funeral as a place to get inspired, but for Leah Peterson that is exactly what happened.
It was at a funeral not too long ago that Leah heard the message, “don’t wait to pursue your dreams, because you never know how much time you have.” She took that advice to heart and decided to finally pursue her dream of writing a book.
Leah says she actually penned the children’s story, An Apple for Dapple, a couple of years ago. Creative writing is something she has always enjoyed, and she got the inspiration for her story from her own daughter, Maggie Bell.
“When she (Maggie) was about 2-years-old she used to love to go out and pick up apples. She would take a bite out of one, then throw the rest over the fence to our little pony, Dapple, who loved apples too,” recalls Leah.
Initially the story was just for Maggie, but having heard the message about going for your dreams, Leah called on the encouragement she received in her earlier years from her teachers and family and decided to submit her story for publication. She began submitting the story in June of this year, and by the end of July had landed a deal with Mirror Publishing in Wisconsin.
“I was at a conference with my husband, Matt, when I got the e-mail from Mirror saying they were interested in my story,” says Leah. “I read the message expecting it to be another rejection, and all I could say was, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I was so excited!”
The publishing company asked her to send them just the text of the story. Then Leah had to go through an actual interview process with the company. Two weeks later she received a letter from Mirror saying they would like to work with her.
The next step was finding an illustrator to bring Dapple and Maggie’s story to life. Mirror Publishing helped coordinate that with some illustrators they had worked with in the past, but the final decision on who to use was Leah’s. She chose an artist from Canada.
Leah then went around the ranch and started taking pictures.
“I knew the story didn’t have to be 100 percent real life, but I wanted it to be inspired by life on the ranch,” she explained.
She sent those photos to the illustrator who drew them and sent the pictures back to Leah for final approval. Because the illustrator had a lot of experience with children’s books, Leah says she gave him quite a bit of freedom with his renditions. And she was very pleased with the results.
“There was one part of the story where I asked him to make Dapple look sad. I wasn’t sure how he would be able to do that, but he did.”
Once the illustrations were selected, the company went to work editing and putting the story together.
“This publishing company only works on one story at a time, so they give each one the full attention of their staff,” Leah explains. “That was really nice.”
After a few editing processes, the book was completed in September. The suggested age range for An Apple for Dapple is 3-9 years.
“This story is for anybody who loves horses and ponies, or life in the country. The message of the story is about friendship between people and animals.
“It’s important to me to help preserve our heritage - this is a real horse and a real place. I helped preserve a piece of that.”
Leah is now busy scheduling book signings and working on promoting her new book. She will be hosting a book signing at the Broken Bow Library Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 4-6 p.m. Kids are invited to enter a coloring contest at the library for a chance to win a copy of the book.
The book is also available for purchase at Holcomb Pharmacy, and on-line by visiting Leah at www.facebook . com/dapplesadventures.com. This page will also provide information on upcoming events, such as book signings, as well as news about Dapple.
“It was a really fun experience, and I credit my parents, teachers and everyone else who helped encourage me,” says Leah.
She pauses, and softly adds, “And I am very pleased I got it done in time for my grandma (MaryBell Cooksley) to see it.”