Dede Stockton is astonished that the bedtime story she invented at the request of her children has been turned into a book.
After all, those children are now adults, and the fantasy adventure has been tumbling around in her head for more than a decade.
“I was hesitant. I didn’t want to be disappointed,” Stockton said. “If I wrote it, I wanted to make sure it got published.”
The long wait that led to the decision to write the story in its entirety was followed by a short wait. She sent “Sammi Jo and the BEST Day Ever!” to a few publishing houses, and it was accepted within two days by Tate Publishing. The news “totally, totally shocked” her.
The story of Sammi Jo, a young girl who befriends a sea serpent, is the first installment in what Stockton hopes will be a series. Stockton’s kids, tired of their mom reading out of a book, insisted that she a story. The out-of-the-blue manifestation surprised even Stockton, and the bedtime tale was retold with more gusto and more detail until the kids grew up.
Stockton, who moved to Centennial four years ago, is poised to finish the sequel by the time “Sammi Jo” hits shelves — both physical and virtual — on May 27. In the meantime, Stockton is pursuing young readers at book signings around Douglas and Arapahoe counties and selling the book on the Tate Publishing website.
As a lifelong reader who escaped into books while her military family moved around the world, Stockton has always dreamed of becoming an author. Assuming sales of “Sammi Jo” are good enough to command a second book, Stockton, 56, plans to dedicate herself to the craft while maintaining her day job as a virtual assistant.
In spite of the limited release thus far, Stockton has already gained a handful of devoted fans, including an 8-year-old boy who stopped by her booth at a recent Ponderosa High School craft fair. He read a few chapters and insisted that his mom buy the book, whose target audience is children ages 4-8. Stockton is in talks with a few school librarians who want to schedule her for an author visit this fall.
“The most important thing is to get my name out there,” she said.
The book will be available on Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website, as well as Ten percent of all sales will go to the Fisher House, a nonprofit that provides housing for families visiting injured military personnel.