HACKENSACK, NJ - For many people, quarantining at home gave them a chance to tick a few items off their bucket lists, like perfecting cooking skills, signing up for an online course or finally cleaning out that overstuffed closet.
Lauren Zisa wound up finishing something she started long ago - writing a children's book.
No stranger to the world of publishing, Zisa, who runs her own public relations firm and formerly served as editor of a newspaper, released “The Traveling Letter A: A Case of the A&A Detective Agency,” which has already received nearly two dozen five-star ratings on Amazon.com.
The 25-page book follows Alex and Abby of the A&A Detective Agency who are called to action after objects starting with the letter “A” begin vanishing all over Liter-A-City. The young detectives are left to solve who stole “A” in order to save the city.
The Ramsey wife and mother of two's debut is being praised by readers for its clever approach towards helping children learn the alphabet and how to read.
“It has become a new favorite around the house,” one reviewer wrote. “We hope there will be more books about the other letters!”
Another parent wrote that their only suggestion “would be to make it a book for afternoon reading as opposed to bedtime reading,” because their kids were having too much fun trying to guess the missing letters and figure out whodunit.
Children's Book Roundup also gave it a thumbs up, calling the story "full of bold color and characters" and "chock-full of personality and story intrigue."
“I loved doing the book,” Zisa said. “It is all creative and fun – totally different from the other jobs I have. I love that it was based on our family, but that was only the beginning. The rest is just creative.”
At age 23, she started running “The County Seat,” a local newspaper she founded with her family. The newspaper began originally serving Hackensack, but later expanded to South Hackensack, Maywood, Rochelle Park, Teterboro, Paramus and Teaneck.
After 11 years, Zisa took a step back from journalism and launched All County Media, a marketing and public relations firm that works with government agencies, political campaigns and private businesses.
Zisa also serves as executive director of the Hackensack Regional Chamber of Commerce, a position that allows her to help other small businesses get off the ground and give back to the community.
Plans are already underway for another book about A&A Detective Agency, she said.
“When I wrote the first one, my son was three and now he’s 10, and my daughter was one and now she’s eight,” Zisa said. “My daughter wasn’t in the first book, so she and our dog are introduced in the next one.”
She also offered a teaser for book two.
"The vowel villain is back! He escaped!"
"The Traveling Letter A: A Case of the A&A Detective Agency" is available on Amazon.com.