Behind the scenes with author Leah Jocelyn MacKenzie
Conception of Avery Ann:
A few years ago I wanted to write a book; I just didn’t know what story to share. Family friends have a grandchild named, Avery Ann. My dad loves the name and suggested I write a book titled, The Adventures of Avery Ann.
Around this time, my brother and his family moved to OR and I fell madly in love with my nephew, Vance, who was 8 months old. Even though Vance couldn’t read, he loved looking at picture books. After babysitting him one night I decided to write a story for him.
I thought about The Adventures of Avery Ann for a year before I actually sat down to write the story. Once I started writing about Avery Ann, I couldn’t stop. I was working as a pharmaceutical sales representative at the time and I wrote in the evenings and on weekends, using the pleasure of writing as an escape from a job that was unhealthy for my soul.
Birth of Avery Ann:
It took me a year to write The Adventures of Avery Ann and I went through dozens of drafts. I would write a draft and send the pages to be reviewed by my mom and a few friends. They would get back to me with questions and comments about the story and I would rewrite, rewrite and rewrite.
Once I felt the manuscript was coherent and alive, I submitted my work to thirty plus agents and publishing companies. In return I received thirty plus “not a good fit” letters back. After years of rejections, I was encouraged to self-publish. Realizing this was going to be the only way to reach my dream of getting The Adventures of Avery Ann out to children, I decided to go for it.
After searching for an illustrator for more than a year my good friend, Perrine, mentioned she and her friend were interested in illustrating the story. They pitched me samples of their artwork, based off The Adventures of Avery Ann manuscript, and I knew they were the perfect fit to partner with in bringing Avery Ann into book form. We became the ‘Avery Ann dream team’ working to create the very best book/series we could produce for readers! The illustrations took more than five months to create, with Justin and Perrine putting their heart and soul into the drawings. Our first meeting found the three of us sitting around the dining room table going through the manuscript page by page as I described what I visualized for each picture. Justin as lead illustrator and Perrine as assistant illustrator and creative consultant, drew the images adding their own amazing touch of creativity and imagination. The three of us met once a week to go over the images, enjoy the pictures and suggest finishing touches. Teaming with Justin and Perrine to produce the illustrations for The Adventures of Avery Ann has been the most profound professional experience I have ever shared.
Growth spurts of Avery Ann:
I have six stories to share in The Adventures of Avery Ann series.
Avery Ann is dreaming of her next adventure, into outer space. I have completed the manuscript for the second book in the series titled, The Adventures of Avery Ann: Space Hunter. This adventure finds Avery Ann launching to the moon in search of space rocks for a class project. Hmmm, I wonder what kinds of space creatures she meets?
The third book titled, The Adventures of Avery Ann: Time Traveler is in final draft stage. This fantasy combines Avery Ann’s love of soccer and her desire to relive parts of history to write a school report.
The fourth book is in outline stage.
The fifth book is a concept.
The sixth book is a concept.
Word-of-mouth is an important marketing tool in spreading the news about The Adventures of Avery Ann. We appreciate your help in letting others know about Avery Ann. Thank you!
The Adventures of Avery Ann is currently available to buy as a digital download for e-readers. Click here for info to buy book.