JSC librarian publishes her first novel


Curiosity Quills

Lisa Kent

Johnson State College’s Lisa Kent, a librarian at the Willey Library and Learning Center, has turned her love of writing into a full-length novel, due out later this year.

The book, “Peace Cottage,” is the story of Lucy Cook, a middle-aged woman who loses her husband and decides to pack up her life and move to the coast of Maine with her two girls. There, she moves into a cottage with a mystery hidden within it.

The novel focuses on Cook as she is drawn to, and begins to unravel, this mystery, while learning how to live without her husband.

The Maine seacoast was a prominent motivation for Kent’s work.

“I am very attached to the ocean. I grew up in Vermont, landlocked, and I lived on a farm, so during the summers the idea of vacation did not exist and I did not get to see the ocean until I was 20. When I saw it, I had to spend time there,” she said.

Kent has been visiting the ocean once every summer for years now, but it was only a few years ago that Kent and her family started going with a couple of their friends, one of whom gave Kent a journal.

This journal would later become the first draft of “Peace Cottage.” Kent says she had the story, more or less complete, in her head before she began the novel. The journal, coupled with the ocean, let Kent get her ideas on paper, completing the draft in one week.

“The nice thing about the ocean is it slows down life if you have children. So I actually had time to myself,” she said.

After that week, Kent put the novel away to finish working on her master’s degree, which took her the rest of the year to finish. Once she had more time, Kent found the journal again and typed up an electronic copy of the novel.

“[I] sent it to my sisters and anybody I thought would like it and not critique it because I was very thin-skinned,” Kent said.

Her novel got a very positive response, and one of Kent’s friends told her to get it published. The idea of publication was a huge undertaking that Kent found overwhelming at first. However, her friend soon broke it down into several small steps to help Kent along the way.

The first assignment included contacting two of her friend’s acquaintances, one a published author, the other a member of the Curiosity Quills publishing company. The publisher soon began a regular correspondence with Kent, and sent her a contract soon after.

“I had a publisher without really much effort, I didn’t [have to] go through all the rejections and everything…I was lucky,” she said.

Since Curiosity Quills typically publishes paranormal romances and science fiction thrillers, genres that “Peace Cottage” does not fall into, Kent was worried how they were going to market her at first.

“They are actually marketing me as a new genre for them,” she said. “I am their first in contemporary fiction. I am very pleased. They have given me a nice media release to use and they’re helping me set up book signings.”

While the first draft of “Peace Cottage” took a week to write, the editing process was significantly longer. Kent spent four months working with the publisher to expand and edit her novel.

“By the end, I was good at just hearing someone say, ‘You know what? This really sucks. You have to change it,’” she said. “They made it into a much, much better book than when it started out.”

Kent’s contract with Curiosity Quills gives the company the right to three more books from Kent, who has already pitched a second story to them, “Vinehart Farm.” The draft of this story is almost complete.

“I have always considered myself a writer, and actually being able to hold [the book] is going to be the best experience,” she said. “I have no idea how it will be received. Ultimately, I hope it’s received well, but if it isn’t, it’s still been a very good experience and I still believe in the story.”