Courageous Gilbert the Groundhog

My husband used to say, “You have a story in you.” And I’d reply, “I do? What would I write about?” Back in 2011, I had attended a healing weekend at a retreat center in Wisconsin, working on personal issues. I had released a great deal of muck that weekend and was feeling pretty grounded. That following Saturday night, my husband, a neighbor, and I went to a short film festival here in Elgin, IL. I snuck in one of those huge, long bags of kettle corn popcorn, and we proceeded to eat the entire bag. Boy did my stomach hurt going to bed! I awoke in the middle of the night with this story born in my head. I grabbed my laptop and headed to my son’s bedroom, as he was away at college. I started writing and went back to bed near dawn.

The next morning as I filled my teakettle, I saw this roundish, furryish, animal walking in front of my house. I asked my husband what it was, and he said it was a groundhog. I knew right then that it would be the major character in my story. When I looked at my work schedule, I did not have one client scheduled for that week. That has never happened. I knew it meant write, write, write!

I continued writing for the next two years, working with my first editor, but didn’t know what to do next. My husband had taken a marketing class from marketing guru Seth Godin, and showed me Seth’s blog on self-publishing. I read it and learned about Book Sherpas. I researched a few, asked for references and decided on Gail and Penny at “To Press and Beyond”. They call themselves Book Shepherds. I liked that, as I wanted someone to help me self-publish. They were awesome in helping me fine-tune my story, layout the pages and decide a million and one details. As soon as we had the bones of the story in place, I’d run to Kinkos/Fedx and print it out. I’d staple it together like a book so I could hold it in my hands and just get the feel of my baby. I must have done that a dozen times.

I found my illustrator Sue in the local newspaper. She had illustrated a book for her mother-in-law, and I thought I need to contact her. She sent me a few drawings, and a few more, and eventually we began our collaboration. We’d meet once a month at the local Starbucks, and she’d show me what she had drawn, and I’d ask for higher eyebrows, darker jeans, and other details. I’m sure I drove her crazy, but she never let on. She’d come back the next month with exactly what I had asked for! I love the way the illustrations have turned out. Gilbert and the Old Oak Tree are awesome!

Regina E. McCarthy
Regina E. McCarthy

Regina E. McCarthy is president and owner of Blue Stone Healing Center in the Chicago area. She works with clients at the holistic level, helping them to heal at their deepest level. Regina is passionate about the work she does and feels extremely honored to be part of her clients healing journey. She is married and has three children. Her kids are her heroes because they constantly teach her courage, to be who she is, and not to worry about what others think of her. It takes courage to show your vulnerability.