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Local author pens book for younger readers

Local area author Lorraine Johnson has a book out for the younger reader. Johnson said the idea for Baxter and the Blue Bunny came from observing his pet pooch.

Local area author Lorraine Johnson has a book out for the younger reader.

Johnson said the idea for Baxter and the Blue Bunny came from observing his pet pooch.

“Retiring a couple years ago, I felt it was the right time and place to sit down and start writing,” she said. “It wasn't even a question of who was going to be my first choice for my first children's book.  The love that Baxter had for his favourite toy, his blue bunny was remarkable as they were virtually inseparable.

“We had Baxter for 10 years and he passed away, leaving a void that I felt I needed to talk about. Therapy, I believe to honour the memory of a four-legged furry friend that had become my shadow.”

Johnson, who was raised on a farm a few miles from Stockholm, and now resides in Yorkton after 13 years in Esterhazy, said writing has always been something she has wanted to pursue.

“I have always been interested in writing, ever since I was a young girl,” she said. “I remember composing poetry and entering contests as a teenager.

“After graduating high school, I started taking a journalism course by correspondence but the work force would call and the course would get put by the wayside.”

But retirement provided more time, and Baxter the inspiration, so Johnson went to work.

“I wanted to share my story and bring smiles to little ones especially,” she said, adding she took inspiration from one of the most notable authors of children’s books.  “Love You Forever by Robert Munsch has always struck a chord with me. It is one of my favourites and I have often thought to myself if I could only write like that and touch the hearts of so many, I would consider that a success. To hear of an author, and associate with such a hallmark composition, is truly something to aspire to.”

Interestingly the biggest hurdle was simply to commit to the project. From there the book flowed quite naturally for Johnson.

“Once I decided to put pen to paper, it came very easily,” she said. “Within a few days of sitting down and actually focusing on writing, I had many adventures of Baxter coming to light and it seemed quite natural to be creating a manuscript. I am convinced there is a time and a place for everything.”

But in the case of an illustrated children’s book, writing is only part of a process that naturally made a new author impatient at times.

“They say good things come to those who wait,” said Johnson. “So, I would say time was the biggest challenge. I had written something that still had to be edited, illustrated and undergo layout and design before it was printed. 

“It wasn't an overnight project, I soon learned.  Self-publishing can be a daunting task.”

But now complete Johnson is happy with the end result, one brought about through much collaboration and much support. 

“I am more than satisfied by the way that everything has come together,” she said. “My husband Brad, sons Graham (Ashley) and Garrett have encouraged and stood by me every step of the way. 

“The certainty that I had was even stronger because of family support.  It has been overwhelming how well my book has been received in the last couple weeks. I am proud to say that everyone who helped see it through to print I would join again in an instant.”

In that regard Johnson was quick to mention Marilyn Lachambre, who she termed her mentor. 

“She is also the author and illustrator of her very own book- "Angel Blessings".  I would like to thank her for her endless advice since I met her a year and a half ago,” said Johnson.

Heather Nickel: Johnson’s publisher at YNWP (Your Nickel's Worth Publishing), also garnered a big thank you.  

“She was everything I hoped for,” said Johnson, adding Nickel was “very knowledgeable and professional, with a pleasant disposition that made her very approachable.”

And of course the book’s illustrator Wendi Nordell was a key to the project.

“From the first time we spoke, I knew that she was the one to bring my words to life,” said Johnson. “Within two-weeks we had the artwork done.  Sixteen beautiful images to grace my book. She is truly a talented artist and wouldn't hesitate to do another book with her.”

And now it is a case of getting the book out to readers.

“The book is intended for 3-5 year olds,” said Johnson. 

“So, whether it be a parent or grandparent, young and old could relate to having a four legged furry friend that completes our families. Especially, grandparents seem to be drawn to the book wanting to read it to their grandchildren. I am happy to say that I am beginning to visit daycares and elementary schools to read my book and answer any questions the children have.”

And more ideas are percolating as well.

“I feel there could very easily be a series to Baxter and the Blue Bunny,” said Johnson, adding there are other ideas too. “I am also particularly interested in writing a spiritual and inspirational book regarding my finding of dimes.  

“But, for now, I am focused on enjoying my first publication and promoting it.”

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