“Down by the Praise Pond” shares local author’s faith in first children’s book – Salisbury Post
ROCKWELL – The idea of becoming Sherry Kepley’s first book came to her one day, and she couldn’t help but think about it. She thought of a firefly that was afraid of the dark
“It was Phoebe the firefly,” Kepley said. “I wrote it down and thought, ‘If this keeps popping up in my head, it must mean something.’ “
His ideas developed from there. She came up with the idea of the Pond of Praise. The quaint little pond surrounded by trees, rocks and logs would serve as a place of prayer and reflection for the critter cast in his book.
Kepley enjoys being outdoors and kayaking. The experience of being on the water was one of the reasons the idea of the pond stuck in his mind.
“It’s peaceful, it’s calm, it’s just beautiful,” she said.
She wrote a story about Phoebe and the Pond, and one of Kepley’s friends told her that she should keep getting it published. Kepley had written devotions for the Clemmons-based Ministry Incentive Café in the past, and learned that the ministry has a publishing house, EC Press.
She applied, sent a manuscript to the Ministry for review, and they were immediately interested in publishing Kepley’s work. She only submitted Phoebe’s story, but she had ideas for other creatures that would make it to Praise Pond and the book turned into a Seven-Creature Affair.
The anthropomorphic protagonists all walk towards the pond and talk to God about their problems.
“They spend time at the Praise Pond and talk to God about how they are feeling and what they are struggling with, which is what I want the kids to get out of the book,” Kepley said.
Webster is a bossy otter who struggles to keep friends. Lucybelle is a proud butterfly who doesn’t understand why her vanity scares people away.
Ace is a crane who is afraid to reach his dreams and Larue is a shy turtle who fights against insecurity.
Some animals have problems that go beyond fears and social issues. Put away the duck has lost someone he loves. Kepley said the Ranger story didn’t describe who he lost because she wanted his story to be told to any child who lost someone.
TJ the bull frog lives with a disability. The character was inspired by Kepley’s son Tanner James, who died as an infant from liver disease. Kepley said if Tanner had survived he would have been different from most children.
Kepley said TJ wonders why he’s not the same as other kids, but she doesn’t want a kid to think there’s something wrong with them because they’re different.
“God created you with a purpose in mind and made you as you are for a reason,” Kepley said. “He has a plan for you.
There are other pieces of Kepley in the characters and they all have a special place in his heart. Her father died when she was 15. Like Larue, she is shy and eccentric. She had to work to get out over her shell.
Faith is central to Kepley’s story. Being saved was a life changing experience. “Down by the Praise Pond” tells the children that there is no problem too big or too small for them to tell God about.
She said people don’t need to struggle alone and it’s okay for people not to have perfect lives that look like everyone else’s.
Kepley is a radiology technician at the local ambulatory imaging center at Novant Health. She is married and has a son in college. She didn’t expect to be an author.
The book is a collaborative effort. Beyond the editing, the book is illustrated. Lisa Albinus, the artist who brings the creatures in the illustrations to life, prayed with Kepley ahead of their talks about how she envisioned the characters.
Albinus created the imprint through ministry and helps bring his posts to life every step of the way. She said Kepley is a gifted storyteller, the best author she has worked with, a gem and someone with unprecedented faith.
“When I grow up I want to be Sherry,” Albinus said.
As soon as she read Kepley’s submission, her imagination started to run with possibilities.
She started by trying to understand the details. She studied animal images for looks such as the red pattern on Ace’s head and black accents on the tips of his wings.
Then she sketches and meets the character through images. He’s gangly. When he was young his proportions were all different and the reader sees Ace mature, become his as he was meant to be.
Getting published is an exciting experience, but Kepley said it pales in comparison to being able to share his faith.
“I want children and adults to learn that they are loved, they are never alone,” Kepley said. “I think so many people struggle, kids struggle, parents struggle, and they don’t have to go through things on their own.”
“Down by the Praise Pond” will be released in July. The book will be available for $ 15 through Amazon and copies can also be requested through [email protected]