In a way, Emily Rose Ross blames McDonald’s.
Or maybe she has McDonald’s to thank for the fact that at age 13, she’s a professional author. Her 218-page sci-fi fantasy book, “Blue’s Prophecy,” will officially be released on May 15 by TitleTown Publishing, based in Green Bay, Wis.
Back in fourth grade, Emily was “regularly dragged” to McDonald’s by her dad, Richard, for “homework time.” Emily would get her assignments done quickly, but her big brother had more schoolwork. Emily, often called Emmie, had to busy herself.
She did so by drawing pictures of dogs, then making up stories to go with them.
“I had this pit in me that I had to do a bigger story,” says Emily, now a seventh-grader at Dickerson Middle School in east Cobb. “Not a doom pit, but a good pit.
“It all started when I created Blue” — a determined Siberian husky.
Emily didn’t exactly plot things out. “The book didn’t go with me, I went with the book, I went with the flow.”
She invented many other dogs. A kind and “resourceful” bloodhound named Copper; a “skilled,” purple-eyed dingo named Ash; a shy mixed breed named Unknown and her pal Splat, an Australian shepherd.
Thankfully, the book includes a quick guide to 23 dogs who figure into the novel Emily first titled “Dog.”
If you read “Blue’s Prophecy,” the first in Emily’s Canis Chronicles trilogy that TitleTown plans, you’ll need that handy rundown to keep the dogs straight. (For example, this reader sometimes confused Copper with Clover, a Saint Bernard who travels from a loving home in Germany to join an army of rebel dogs based in Jasper, Ga.)
Wait — rebel dogs? Yep. “Blue’s Prophecy” is about dogs technologically altered by evil human scientists to become “the new weapon of the 21st century.” The plan backfires when certain dogs realize the scope of their abilities and plan a rebellion to take back their dignity.
Robo, a half-robot Great Dane, is the powerful pooch to fear, with “extraordinary intellectual and leadership skills,” Copper explains to Blue. (Yes, these hounds talk.)
Robo has figured out how to give other dogs more strength, speed and smarts. From all over the world, “huge battalions” of dogs, many that have been mistreated, are moving into position for a major attack. There are also good guys: dogs that are part of the resistance in the Secret Association of Dogs (SAD).
Besides McDonald’s, in the early stages Emily also worked on her book at Sope Creek Elementary. Back then, art teacher Daphne Hopkins let her work on it during recess, while fourth-grade teacher Hannah Hoy “cut a deal” with Emily that allowed her to work on the novel if she was caught up with schoolwork.
Emily’s fourth-grade draft was 17,000 words. The book went through a dozen drafts, expanding to 55,000 words, says Emily’s mom, Diane Lore, a senior communications consultant and a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution features editor.
Once Lore realized that Emily was “fierce” about completing a novel, she cut a deal.
“Do you remember what I promised you?” Lore asks Emily.
“A box of books,” Emily responds.
Lore offered to serve as editor to shape up the manuscript in order to self-publish — get a box of books to share with family and friends.
When a fellow journalist and friend heard of that plan, she suggested Lore “think bigger,” and offered to send Emily’s book to a publisher. A month or two after the book was submitted, TitleTown called.
In the interest of full transparency, “with Diane Lore” appears under Emily’s name on the book’s cover. During the editing and rewrite stages, mom and daughter made regular visits to a nearby hotel, where they would book a room, eat junk food and work on the book until 4 a.m.
Lore got her daughter to create a wall-sized chart to keep track of her dogs, locations, chapters, plot points and many various drafts throughout the editing process.
View Emily’s reaction to seeing her book in print:
Publisher Tracy Ertl was so smitten by “Blue’s Prophecy” that she took it on as TitleTown’s first-ever children’s book. (The publisher specializes in true crime and high-profile survivor stories.) Ertl says there are preliminary discussions underway in the area of film and TV rights for “Blue’s Prophecy.”
“Emmie is a major writing discovery and the youngest author we’ve ever signed,” says Ertl, who loves that “Blue’s Prophecy” will appeal to boys and girls alike. “A youngster able to independently write for other kids is rare. Emmie’s understanding of character development and plot vision makes her a prodigy. I believe her name will be in lights.”
Lore’s concern on this three-book journey is “to protect Emmie and her love of writing. We want to make sure she continues because she wants to and loves it, not because she has to.” After all, this isn’t Emily’s only pursuit; she’s also a skilled archer and plays the double bass in her school’s orchestra.
If you meet Emily and she knows you’ve read her book, she’s apt to ask: “Which is your favorite dog?” That’s a toughie, because there are many memorable mutts and such in “Blue’s Prophecy.”
So which of this young author’s canine creations is her own favorite?
“I can’t choose between my children,” she says.
Aspects of herself found their way into some of her dogs’ personalities, she notes. Robo relates to her anger “because I’m a regular teenager who has some anger with society.” Raven, a Great Dane that foretells the future, relates to Emily’s patience, “because I don’t have a lot of it.”
Maybe not, but she’s a kid who had enough patience to bring a complex book to fruition. Now that’s something to bark about.
“Blue’s Prophecy” by Emily Rose Ross, TitleTown Publishing, ages 9-14, $7.99
The book will be released May 15, and books will be available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
The author is scheduled to appear at the AJC Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day weekend. She is also to appear and sign books at BookExpo 2017 in New York City, May 31-June 2. It’s the nation’s largest event for the publishing industry and booksellers. For author event updates: BluesProphecyBook.com.