MOUNT PLEASANT — For many aspiring writers, the dream of being published is a goal that they place in their distant future. But for Wendy Connelly, the dream came true while she was a college student at the University of Kansas.
Connelly, now a third-grade teacher at Christ Our King/Stella Maris School in Mount Pleasant, hosted a book signing at the school in December for her recently published children’s book “Fiona the Firefly.”
Connelly said that the idea for the book just “hit” her while she was a junior in college several years ago. The story tells of “Fiona, a little bug with a big problem. She didn’t think she was very important or special. Then one day she made up her mind to stop worrying about how little she was and to start helping the other bugs. She discovered that the more she helped others the brighter she got until she became a bright and beautiful firefly.”
“I wanted to get the message across that your worth doesn’t lie in talents but in being a child of God,” Connelly said. “Grades, money, toys — these things aren’t the most important things in the long run.”
She said that the rejections that she got for her book along the way were discouraging, but that she finally got a call from a publishing company who saw its potential.
“I sent the manuscript and a couple of sample illustrations to 10 publishing companies,” she said. “I got nine rejection letters and a phone call.”
The phone call came from Ambassador Books Inc., a Catholic publishing company in Worcester, Mass.
After nearly five months of perfecting the illustrations of the sprightly firefly and her friends, the book was one step closer to being printed.
“From the day I received the first phone call to the day my books arrived was almost exactly a year,” said Connelly.
She said that she was “thrilled to see the book in its completed form.”
“It’s a feeling I can’t explain. I just couldn’t wait to share it with my family and my class,” she said.
And her class is very proud of their teacher who moonlights as an author.
“I was really excited for (Mrs. Connelly),” said Alex Righi, one of her students. “The book makes you feel good about yourself even if you are bad at sports or something.”
And, Abbey Grady, his classmate, agreed.
“The book has a good message in it,” she said. “Other kids’ books are just telling a story without a message. I love the pictures, too.”
Connelly said that although she feels great about seeing her book in print, she looks forward to seeing many more with her name on them.
“I am working on a book series for middle-school-aged children now,” she said.
Connelly’s book is available in Christian bookstores, in the Christ Our King inspiration gift shop, or online at www.ambassadorbooks.com.
Connelly and her husband Mark, also an aspiring writer, live in Charleston.