NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— Persistence has paid off for Elaine Gartner.
After being rejected by 40 different literary agents and at least five publishers, the North Salem resident’s nine years of efforts have proved worthwhile.
Her children’s book, The Far Corners, has won a silver medal in the 2016 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in the Best First Book-Chapter Book category.
“I didn’t expect it for sure,” said Gartner. “When I started writing this book nine years ago, it was a labor of love. I had an illustrator and I wanted to get my story out into the world. I used to live near Woodstock and would go hiking. There was a beautiful trail, this grove of soft pine trees that just sort of spoke to me. I built my story around that grove of pine trees.”
So began her lengthy journey where she recalled living in her studio apartment “writing the book that she wanted to read.” Gartner attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, where she studied filmmaking and literature and said she started writing short stories in her 20s. Her love for writing began when she lived abroad in Greece as a young adult teaching English. At the time, she was having a difficult time learning Greek and connecting with natives there.
“I escaped in the books that I picked up from the local English bookstore,” said Gartner. “Believe it or not, I would devour chick lit books—authors like Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes—and once I had read all the books that the store had to offer, I decided that I would write my own chick lit short story about my true-life experiences in order to entertain myself.” She said the exercise was one of the best things that came out of her time spent abroad. In addition, she wrote about three different short stories documenting the unusual jobs she held in Greece.
When she returned to the United States, Gartner said she developed even more short stories about her previous jobs, something she’s hoping to publish sometime next year.
In addition to living abroad, Gartner’s journey led her to become a certified reflexologist and a student of Chinese face reading before she finally put her award-winning children’s story, The Far Corners, down on paper.
“I put together a rough draft of the story, and one of my friends knew a children’s book editor. I worked with her to polish it up. But then I gave up on it for awhile. I had kids. And I realized I should probably self-publish my book,” Gartner said.
She eventually decided to publish her manuscript through self-publishing firm CreateSpace, which made the Sarah Lawrence graduate’s dream a reality. The fanciful Beatrix-Potteresque illustrations were created by artist Kes Samuelson.
“Being able to print on demand was the way to go. I was able to work with them on the cover and I am very happy with the finished product,” she explained. Shortly after that, she submitted her book for consideration in the 2016 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was the winner in the best First Book-Chapter Book category.
The book’s main character is Willoughby the Squirrel who lives in Elderbrook Forest along with other forest creatures who have lived there for 500 years without any human interference. When humans arrive in the forest, as predicted by prophecy, Willoughby embarks on an epic journey to track down his long-lost father and in so doing, fulfills his destiny.
While raising young kids, Gartner is undertaking a grassroots effort to get the word out about the book.
“I’m slowly building up the courage to reach out to local mom-and -pop stores in the area and local libraries in addition to bookstores in the Ridgefield, Katonah, Cold Spring and Beacon area. I just need to find the time to do it.”
Gartner says she loves to read, but doesn’t have much time, since she’s a mom to two young children. She says she’s currently fixated on the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and may consider reading some more historical fiction next. She said she has always been drawn to spiritual accouts, and is toying with the idea of writing a book about how angels view humans and how and why they help us. “It’s always fascinated me,” she said.
To find out more, visit Elainegartner.com. The Far Corners can also be ordered on Amazon.com.