Some authors toil endlessly over their work, but for Ginger Hodge, her first book came more like a bolt of lightning.
"One day when I was driving home it just all came to me," Hodge said. "I wrote it all out in about seven minutes, I couldn't write it down fast enough."
Hodge's first book is called "When Donkeys Fly." Years ago, a former boyfriend said the phrase to her and she thought immediately it would make a great children's book.
"I guess it was just rattling around in my head for a while," Hodge said.
She wrote the story about three years ago, then set out to find someone to illustrate it. She sent a few letters, including a draft of the story, to friends and contacts from her job in film acquisitions with UAV, which used to operate in the township. One of those letters went ot C.B. Markham, a friend from college now living in Atlanta.
"She wrote back, 'I'm illustrating your book, I don't care if you don't use it, but I'm doing it,'" Hodge said.
Hodge liked what she saw, and over the next three years Markham completed about two dozen watercolor illustrations. The book is set to publish in June. Hodge and another friend from her UAV days are publishing the book themselves through a printer in Dallas. They already have it listed with Baker and Taylor, a company that distributes books and videos nationally, mostly to libraries and schools.
"When Donkeys Fly" is the story of a young girl who at every turn is told she can't do something that she wants to do, with the common response of "you can do it when donkeys fly." It is a message to children not to let other people dictate to them what they can and can't do, Hodge said.
It's also a message to parents to nurture rather than squelch their children's dreams.
Hodge is already getting some feedback on the book. Joy Price, the media specialist at Gold Hill Elementary School, has been reading the book to students and asking them to discuss it. Hodge even sat in on some of the classes. A little to her surprise, most of the children who were asked thought the book, even though its main character is a girl, was a story for both boys and girls. In fact, only one student thought it was geared only toward girls.
Hodge and Markham made some changes to the illustrations based on the students' comments.
Her goal is to get it into libraries around the country first so people will be familiar with it when it shows up later in book stores. She has other novel marketing ideas, including hiring a plane to fly a banner with the book's Web site (www.whendonkeys-flybook.com) and a flying donkey over outdoor events this summer.
Sadie, Hodge's golden retriever mix may be the star of her next book. She plans to call it "For the Love of Sadie." It will be the story of a child who wants a dog.