“I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I wrote some stories after I graduated from high school, but I never really pursued it,” said Dalton, a speech and language pathologist at Vintage Elementary School in Oakley. “But when I turned 40, I thought, ‘What am I waiting for? This book isn’t going to write itself,’ so I started writing and I couldn’t stop.”
“The Adventurers – The Mystery of the Magical Crystal,” a chapter book for the fourth-grade reading level, was published this month, and Dalton has a novel for adults and a few picture books in the works as well. She’s also working on the second story for The Adventurers, which she hopes to develop into a series.
The Adventurers are a group of young ants who live in an orphanage and are sent on a quest to save the ant kingdom with the guidance of a magical crystal. The Adventurers, which consists of leader Angie, charismatic Casey, shy Henry and girly-girl Bertha, are just like human kids. They go to school, they like to play, and they have their unique style and personality. It requires a stretch of the imagination to picture ants wearing skinny jeans and baseball caps, but Dalton’s intention is for readers to open their minds to this special world and invite these characters into their hearts.
“These ants are really little, but they can still do enormous things, and I want kids to know that they can accomplish big things if they put their mind to it,” Dalton said.
Dalton, a Brentwood resident who has been with the Oakley school district for 12 years, received abundant help from friends, family and students while writing the book. Nephew Donovan McEntee, who drew all the illustrations in the book, originated the look of the story’s characters. Dalton let colleagues read portions of the book and asked for feedback, but she valued the opinions of her students the most. Originally, she wanted to name the book “Angie Ant and the Heart-shaped Crystal,” but one of the boys quickly pointed out that no boy would pick up a book about a heart-shaped crystal – even a magical one.
Once the book was done, she shopped it around to various publishing houses, but she got the same response: try self-publishing first, make a name for yourself, create a fan base and then check back later. So Dalton partnered with self-publishing company Author House, and now her book is available for purchase online through the Barnes & Noble website.
She’s already sold a few copies to friends and family, but the book will make its official debut next week at the Vintage Elementary Book Fair at Barnes & Noble, 5709 Lone Tree Way in Antioch. Dalton will be signing copies of her book on Thursday, Nov. 3 during the fair, which runs from 3 to 9 p.m. If Barnes & Noble customers mention Vintage Elementary during checkout during the book fair, a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to the school library so that Librarian Lillian Fortney can purchase new books.
“We’re so excited that Nicola will be signing her book at the fair,” Fortney said. “The book fair is a fundraiser but it’s also an event to encourage kids to come out and look at books, and inspire an interest in reading. I think students will be really excited to know that one of their teachers has written a book, so we’re hoping for a good turnout.”
For those who can’t make it to the book fair, an online book fair will be hosted at www.bn.com/bookfair from Nov. 3 to 8. Just enter book fair code 10568392 and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Vintage library.
As for Dalton, she hasn’t quite wrapped her mind around the idea of hosting her very own book signing, but she’s excited nonetheless. “It’s all very surreal. I’ve wanted this for a long time and now I have my first book. I’ll be very humbled if people come out and buy it, but most importantly, I want kids to like it. I wrote it for them.”