Kids inspire new 'e-book'

May 07, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Jennifer L. B. Leese has got the bug.

The Hagerstown resident just can't seem to stop writing.

Her first electronic, animated children's book, "Beetle Bug Adventures," was published online May 1.

"It's very exciting," said Leese, 30. "When I wrote it, I had this inner feeling that it was going to be published and that it would be the first. I was right."

Wordbeams, an electronic publisher, is to publish the book's sequel, "Beetle Bug Adventures: The Cave," and a collection of six short interactive stories titled, "Sounds I Hear," in June, Leese said.

The stories can be downloaded from

"Beetle Bug Adventures" chronicles the adventures of insect boys "Poppy" and "Hue," who wander out of their garden town and into the human realm of Lego castles, carpets and cars.


Writing stories that spark children's imaginations "lets me be a kid again," said Leese, who lives in Hagerstown with her husband, Thom, and their three children, Nicholas, 9, Cameron, 3, and Jordan, 2.

"I actually step into what I'm writing," Leese said.

It's not a big step.

Leese is a full-time childcare mom. The computer at which she writes sits in the midst of a playroom filled with stuffed animals and crates crammed with kids' toys.

The author said her children's laughter and enthusiasm motivates her to keep writing tales that fan their fantasies and make grown-up ideas such as racial diversity more digestible for their young minds.

She was inspired to write "Beetle Bug Adventures" as she watched Nicholas play with a giant beetle that his father found on the way home from work. The author included her son in the story and tapped into his creativity for plot twists.

The Bester Elementary third-grader wanted beetle buddies Poppy and Hue to form a club, and to use an acorn to play ball, said Leese, whose husband and brother illustrated the book.

She's written other stories for her younger children, including a multicultural tale, "Where Jordan Lives."

A member of the Society of Children's Books and Illustrators and Epic Electronically Published Internet Connection, Leese has stoked a passion for writing that started when she was a child.

She manages two online writers' critique groups and has published works in several publications.

The Florida Villager magazine printed the Hagerstown author's article, "20 Ways to Indulge Yourself" in October, and Moonbeams plans to publish her mini-romance novel, "A Sign From Above," in December, Leese said.

The International Library of Poetry will include her poem, "In Asking," in the organization's upcoming compilation, "In-between Days," according to an acceptance letter.

Leese also writes adult erotica under a pseudonym.

"It's not porn at all. It's more like romantic erotica for lovers," she said. "It's in good taste."

The market for online erotica is more lucrative than the children's e-book market - about 75 percent of the $3 to $5 download cost compared to a cut of about 35 percent for children's stories - but Leese said she hopes eventually to stop writing erotica and build a reputation as a good kids' author.

"I don't want to be big. I just want to be known," she said. "But even if I never got published, I still would have to write."

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