For Deary resident Joleen Michellie, writing has been a lifetime hobby. Kathleen Herroitt, Michellie’s mother, said Michellie’s first work was a play in the fourth grade.
Michellie and her friends, unprompted by adults, even got together to make a small production of the play. Michellie would dabble in writing screenplays and short stories throughout high school.
Michellie was in Moscow on Tuesday for the debut reading for her soon-to-be self-published children’s book, “The Case of the Missing Tooth Fairy.” Parents and friends of Michellie sat in the first few rows of Moscow’s Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre for the reading, which was livestreamed on YouTube to about 80 viewers. A copy of the livestream is available on the Mirror Up Imagery YouTube channel.
“My grandma really inspired me,” Michellie said. “She always had a book in her hands and would always buy me books.”
Herroitt said Michellie’s grandmother, Betty Ann Herroitt, was a romance writer and while she was never published, that did not deter her from continuing. Michellie said the family had recently found some of the unpublished books and the letters back from publishers she had received.
“It was a really cool find — to know it’s in the family,” Michellie said.
Herriott also would be a published author, but took a different route. She wrote a book for the California State Resource Agency Conservation Corps in 1986. She now helps with editing for Michellie when needed.
“I saw my mom read and write, Joleen saw me read and write and now she’s doing it,” Herriott said.
Michellie wrote her first children’s book, “A Long Winter,” in 2007, though it would not be fully illustrated or published until 2014. At the time of writing the book, Michellie was a single mother of two children. The family moved from California to Idaho in 2012 and Michellie found more time to dedicate to her books.
Michellie, who also wrote a children’s book series, “My Time,” and another book, “T’was The Night of First Christmas,” before her move to Idaho.
“I remember a time when people asked me why I was wasting my time drawing all these pictures,” Michellie said. “I said. ‘Well, watch me.’ ”
The choice to self-publish her books came from what Michellie said was a feeling of wanting to remain in control of how it looked. She had seen how illustrations could vary between books and didn’t want to stray from the vision of the book she had.
She took on the challenge of drawing, redrawing, tracing, painting and outlining each illustration in “A Long Winter.” It would take months of work from Michellie who would work on it in her spare time.
With her second book, Michellie would be able to hire an illustrator to complete the drawings which had consumed much of the first book’s production. She would also start a publishing company, JoBooks. The company offers a publishing assistance program and can help authors with editing, cover design, formatting and printing.
Michellie is preparing for the publication of “The Case of the Missing Tooth Fairy,” which she said will be out this month. It will be Michellie’s first chapter book. All of her books are available at Amazon.
Though writing and publishing books are still a hobby for Michellie, she said she has sold more than 50 copies of her first book at a mix of craft and holiday fairs, one-day events and online.
“The most exciting thing is when strangers buy your book,” Michellie said.