One police department employee who helps 911 callers throughout Mentor has a new way of aiding others — through her children's books.
When Mentor Police dispatcher Amie Longstaff isn't responding to the unpredictable nature of her day job, she is coming up with the next twist in her "Junie Balloonie" series. The first release, "Junie Balloonie & the Perfect Cheer," came out earlier this month.
"I always loved writing, and I have a love for children's books," Longstaff said. "My children wanted bed time stories, so sometimes I came up with good ones. Then, I started volunteering at the school library and I adored (reading to children). I did it with silly voices.
"I'm that silly mom."
But "Junie Balloonie & the Perfect Cheer" isn't all that silly. Titled after her daughter's nickname, the book is about Junie's first year as a cheerleader and her inability to master the cartwheel.
"She's frustrated by not being able to do cartwheels, but she overcomes her fear," Longstaff said. "The character looks like (her daughter, Taylor Corey-June) and the story is based on events and things she goes through in life as she grows up."
Longstaff began writing the book about five years ago on mornings when her children were in school. It was partly a diversion from the harsh realities of her job, but also a way further develop the stories that constantly popped into her head.
"Everybody needs to be able to find their own release," she said. I'm a runner, but I can't do that all the time.
"This is my passion. This is what I needed."
Discouraged by the response from literary agents, Longstaff published the book herself, researching everything from formatting to illustration and e-commerce. The books are available on her website, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
"With a lot of time and patience, I was able to do it, so anybody can," she said of self-publishing. "It's up to me now to market myself."
Check out Amie's blog, 1 Tasty Life. It features more on her books, interviews and tales from Cleveland Marathon and other races.