Writing a new life chapter

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sally Patton-Hall said she has always loved being visually creative and has always loved to be around children. Recently, she was able to combine those two loves by writing and illustrating a children’s book, “The Cat Who Could Tell Time.”

“I’ve been writing for years, and I kind of keep a lot of what I write stowed away at home,” she said. “I probably first wrote this story about four years ago, but it was only recently that I decided to make it into a book.”

Patton-Hall’s book is 28 pages and features full-page illustrations. The story is about a cat named Midnight, who developed courage to eventually set out on his own. But after leaving his comfort zone, he discovers the world can be a scary place.

Eventually, though, he regains his courage and knows exactly what “time” he wants it to be. Of course, to say what “time” that was would give away the ending of the book.

Patton-Hall said most of the characters in the book are based off real-life experiences and acquaintances.

“There’s a cat that lived next door to us and I just envisioned him as this silly, active cat that would go on all kinds of adventures,” she said. “And the little boy in the book is based off my grandson, Cole, who is my constant inspiration.

“This is a cat who thinks he’s grown up more than he really is. He goes through his regular routine, and then he goes a little further outside the routine, then a little further more, and before he knows it, he’s lost and doesn’t know what to do.

“I think it’s a story that a lot of kids, who are anxious to be ‘grown up,’ can really relate to.”

Patton-Hall will have a book signing and meet and greet at David’s Catfish House on Sun., Sept. 13, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. She said there would also be a “surprise for the kids” at the book signing.

Now that the book is published and on shelves, Patton-Hall said she was surprised at how quickly it came together. She first approached Mirror Publishing of Milwaukee in April, and learned the publisher had interest.

“They wanted me to make it shorter, though, so my husband and I spent a lot of time cutting and editing it down,” she said. “Then, they asked if I had any illustrations. Well, I remember that I spent one night doing nothing but painting a scene, working until 10 a.m. and then using the hair dryer to try and dry it as quickly as I could. I sent it off as soon as I could, and the publisher came back and said it was great and I should draw the entire story.

“I’m happy I got a chance to illustrate the book, but I’m also a little interested to see what a different illustrator might have done. I wonder if their vision would have been the same as mine.”

Patton-Hall said she did not write the book to make money, but simply because it was “exciting to have that feeling of accomplishment.” She has plans to write future books, and maybe even follow-up stories to “The Cat Who Could Tell Time.”

“This really all came about from my love of children,” she said. “I taught Sunday school, and did girl scouts and that sort of thing. When I was living in Montgomery, the neighborhood kids practically lived in our yard.”

The book is at the Andalusia Public Library. It is also available for $10 at Darby’s Village Pharmacy, Walker Business Machines, David’s Catfish House, the Andalusia Regional Hospital gift shop, Christian Book and Gift, and online at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Patton-Hall moved to Andalusia from Montgomery in 1980, and was the administrator at Savannah Terrance for eight years before retiring a year ago. She married Jerry Hall two years ago. She has a daughter and grandson, Angie and Cole of Brewton, and a son, Mike Patton, who lives in Birmingham.