‘Charlie Goes to Memory Park’
Buy online: www2.xlibris.com
Follow the author on Facebook and Twitter and at authoranneabbott.com
First thing every morning, Anne Abbott Gray opens the newspaper to check her horoscope.
She laughed as she recalled the advice she read one morning earlier this year.
"It said ‘You better get busy. You don’t have much time left,’" said Abbott Gray, a resident of Lanier Village Estates in Gainesville.
At age 92, Abbott Gray figures that if she lives as long as her mother did, she has another eight years to do something lasting with her life.
Prior to her cosmic kick in the pants, she started to think about writing stories. She said she felt like she wasn’t using her time to the best of her abilities.
She always wanted to draw but said she thought maybe illustrating with words was more in line with her artistic abilities.
"I thought a 92-year-old can’t do much but be a handicap," Abbott Gray said.
"And I thought ‘No, that’s wrong. That’s not right.’ So I said, ‘well I’ll pray about it’ and I did. And I started writing,"
Abbott Gray said she started typing on her desktop computer and enjoyed coming up with stories so much she kept at it.
Carolyn Cothran, Abbott Gray’s caregiver and friend, stopped by to visit her regularly as she wrote to offer her help.
"She’s been talking about (writing) and I kept encouraging her, telling her she could do it," Cothran said.
After about three months, she finished writing her first book.
The children’s book is called "Charlie Goes to Memory Park," published by
Xlibris in July. All profits from the sale of the book will go to support the visually impaired and can be purchased on the publisher’s website, www2.xlibris.com.
The book is about a little boy named Charlie who travels with his mother, Beth, while his father is away on business. While exploring Memory Park, the mother and son make some interesting new friends and talk about the different things they see in the park.
Abbott Gray is currently writing a sequel to the book called "Where the River Flows Green." She said she’s taking a little more time writing about Charlie’s next adventure, which will be a mystery.
Part of the reason she’s taking a little longer writing the latest book is because she’s adjusting to her upgraded laptop computer. Anytime a technical difficulty threatens the progress of her writing she just has to call any member of her extensive support system.
Abbott Gray’s granddaughter, Anita Foster, helped type the first manuscript and her children and family offer their assistance where they can.
Abbott Gray said she wouldn’t have been able to do as much as she has without the help of her friends and family.
"I think encouragement means more than people realize," Cothran said.
Her own memories inspired the different features in Memory Park. She wrote about some of her favorite places, like a garden for the blind and a fountain in Savannah, and the Louvre museum in Paris, France.
"I just wrote about different things I’ve seen or done with children," Abbott Gray said.
Cothran said Abbott Gray always talked about writing books so her grandchildren would be able to say they had an author for a grandmother.
The book is written as a dialogue between a mother and son. Charlie asks a lot of questions and makes observations about what they find in the park.
Gray said she tried to make the story educational for children. By following the mother and son’s conversation as they walk through the park, children will pick up facts about seasons, senses, animals and geography.
"There is a lot that you can put into books that’s educational. And I was hoping I could do that in this book," Abbott Gray said.
"Its a good way to teach them without them knowing you’re teaching them. By inserting it into the story it could get them interested."
More than anything else, Abbott Gray said she hopes the book will help bring parents and children together.
She said she hopes parents will choose to sit down with their children and read a book, any book. By reading, visiting a library, taking a walk in the park or just talking with children, parents can help their children stay out of trouble later, she said.
"You’ve got to be close to your children," Abbott Gray said.