WARNER ROBINS — Lake Joy Primary special education paraprofessional Kristy Kemp, 62, is fulfilling a lifelong dream.
She recently wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “The Adventures of Princess Joy and the Chocolate Milk,” published by Blue Marble Publishing Co. in Macon.
Tuesday night, Kemp held a book signing at Lake Joy Primary’s PTO Holiday Expo and Craft Fair. Alongside holiday wreaths, soaps and crocheted hats was Kemp, a smiling redhead with black-rimmed glasses, with her family near a table that held copies of her book, a display of one of the book’s illustrations and a tea tray with minature chocolate chip cookies.
In the book, which took her three years to complete, Kemp incorporates elements of her own life into the story.
Inspired by her oldest granddaughter’s love of chocolate milk, the story also includes a cow named after Kemp’s mother, Ofelia, a character named Mrs. Ramirez who makes tortillas in homage to her Mexican heritage and a duchess with red hair.
“My goal is to leave a legacy for my grandchildren,” Kemp said.
“That’s how you write. You bring things that you’re familiar with.”
Kemp said her granddaughter, a second-grader at Lake Joy Primary, has been enthusiastic about the book’s release.
“She’s really excited,” said Kemp, a Macon resident. “She can’t wait to share it with everyone. She wants to be famous.”
The book, which sells for $22.95, will make a minimal profit, since it costs $22 to publish each copy, Kemp said. However, she is concerned about sharing her story more than anything else.
Lake Joy Primary and Elementary will have copies of the book in their libraries, and Kemp hopes to see copies in all of Houston County’s libraries.
“I just (want) to get the story out there, to inspire children to give and to write,” Kemp said.
“This was a great milestone, and I’m glad she was able to do it at this school,” said Lake Joy Primary Principal April Strevig.
Kemp suffered a heart attack three years ago and has had two stents placed in her main coronary artery since then. She said the event also helped push her to write the book.
“I’m going to get this done,” she said. “Life is short.”
Kemp credits her positive attitude as one of the factors aiding her recovery. Her daughter wrote a letter to “Oprah” about Kemp’s ordeal, resulting in Kemp being included in a segment hosted by Dr. Oz on the talk show hosted by Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.
“I wasn’t going to sit home and think my heart was going to stop,” she said. “ I’m not a quitter, I’m a doer.”
To call writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.