PANAMA CITY — The author of "Ms. Magdalene's Halloween" said her latest project was a step outside her comfort zone.
Yvette Doolittle Herr ("The Lucky Two") wrote the slim volume for children as well as adults, with spooky events that she hopes will open readers' eyes to the concept of a larger purpose at work in the world.
"It's a Halloween story that's not too scary — but it is a little spooky," Herr said. "It's been in my head for about 10 years. ... Scary things happen, but (the ending includes) an angel. You don't usually have angels in a Halloween story."
Herr spent three weeks sitting in the public library and writing the slim volume by longhand. She then transcribed it onto a computer and spent weeks editing and rewriting it. She said that when she didn't know exactly what to write down, she kept reminding herself what former News Herald editor Frank Pericola told her when she worked for the newspaper: "Just write. Just type."
This is the second book for the author, who has lived in Panama City since 1978. She said her writing is influenced by living and working near the Gulf of Mexico, as well as her love of cats. (There's even a ghost cat in this tale.) Herr graduated from high school in Rochester, N.Y., and she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida, and a Master of Science Degree in Psychology from Florida State University.
"Ms. Magdalene's Halloween" is now available through Amazon.com ($9.95 in print and $7.95 in ebook format), and locally at Carousel Supermarket, 19400 Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach. For more information, visit Herr's page at Facebook.com/TheLuckyTwo.
The focal character, Hollie, is a sixth grader whose family recently moved in a house across the street from a cemetery. Herr was inspired to write the story because of memories of a house she lived in as a child.
"Parts of the story did happen, and others are sort of figments of the imagination," she said. "There's a bigger thing in control of what's going on. We can play a part in that. ... My intent was for fourth-graders and older, to help them believe in something bigger than them."
Herr will sign books at Gypsy Beach Treasured Kreations, 1107 Beck Ave., during the Spirit of St. Andrews Bar Haunt from 5-9 p.m. Oct. 27. She will also be at the St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers Market that same day, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., as she is most Saturdays. In addition, she will have a signing at the Panama City Publishing Co. Museum and Visitors Center from 1-3 p.m. Nov. 24, as part of local events tied to National Novel Writing Month.