November 9, 2012
By Mike Killeen
Writing, Lauren Schoenbauer admits, will always be part of her life.
"It's probably my strongest and most significant hobby. I've kept it up for 12 years," Schoenbauer said.
For most of that time, her writing was limited to journaling, about one book a year done by hand in pen and pencil. "It's kind of a therapy for me," admits Schoenbauer, who doesn't use a computer "out of fear of losing the files."
Now, she can also call herself a professional writer.
On Oct. 30, her children's book, "Leppy and the Magic Pot," was published by Tate Publishing. The 28-page paperback is a based on a children's game played by her family growing up in New Prague, Minn.
Schoenbauer, a first-year nursing major at the College of Saint Benedict, said her journaling helped in the writing of the book.
"I think I've always had a gift for words. Writing has always come easily for me," Schoenbauer said. "Rhyming and poetry, which is how my book is written, is just a gift that I have."
The basis of the story goes back to Schoenbauer's mom, Lynn, who passed the game down from her mother, Sue Mordan. Lauren and her brothers and sisters would place leaves at a bottom of a pot, and that's when the "magic" would happen.
"You'd have to leave the room, because my mom always said, 'Leprechauns are very sneaky and they don't want to be seen,' " Schoenbauer recalled. "So, we'd always leave, and when we came back, Leppy had taken the leaves for his bed and left us candy in return.
"That was the highlight of my childhood," Schoenbauer said, smiling.
Last fall, she decided to tell the story to the world. In the book, the leprechauns are busy making coins, but Leppy's coins turn out lumpy every time. But when his travels take him to a home of a little girl, the two become best friends and have all kinds of adventures. Their favorite adventure includes the Magic Pot.
"When I was much younger, probably 13 or 14 (years old), I thought back on this game, the Magic Pot, that I used to play, and I thought that would be the greatest children's story ever. I just never wrote it," Schoenbauer said. "Finally, last year after my cross country season ended, I thought 'I'm going to college next year, so this is like the perfect time to write it.' "
Schoenbauer, who had been filing away lines for the book over the years, quickly went into writing mode. She finished the manuscript in November 2011, and then searched for a publishing company which would be a good fit for a first-time author like herself. She settled on Tate Publishing, located in Mustang, Okla.
"Once they approved the book, they sent me tips - maybe you could elaborate on this more, or this line doesn't flow very well," Schoenbauer said. "In the next three months, it was just a series of going back and forth between me and the editors to make (the book) perfect.
"When I was working at home, I worked with my grandma (Ann Schoenbauer). My book is written in lyric form, like it's a poem, and my grandma is really good at rhyming. She helped me a lot with that."
She admits the finished product is stronger than her initial manuscript. Her readers seem to agree - of the 15 reviews posted on Amazon.com as of Nov. 6, all were quite positive.
That's good news for Schoenbauer, who had to invest her own money to get the book published.
"I would tell people to take a chance. I had to put down money to do this, and basically the only money I had was from the minimum wage summer job," Schoenbauer said. "My parents were like, 'Just make sure you know what you are doing. This is your money.' I had to, because otherwise, I'm just going to look back and wonder, 'What if?' "
Copies of "Leppy and the Magic Pot" are available by contacting Lauren Schoenbauer.
She's also attempting to arrange several book signings in the Twin Cities area over Thanksgiving break.
"I write, 'Keep the magic alive,' and then I sign my name," Schoenbauer said. "That was actually my dad's idea, to write keep the magic alive. I like it."