The Capital of Annapolis
CROFTON, Md. - Writers draw inspiration from lots of places -- even trips to the supermarket.
Jennifer Ginn's two boys loved stopping by the lobster tank, so she began spinning a tale about the crustaceans. After a couple months, she finished a rhyming story about the lobsters escaping their grocery store confines and heading to sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay.
"My imagination got the best of me," she said. "Visit after visit, it kept going through my head."
"Lobsters on the Loose" was released last month by Schiffer Publishing of Atglen, Pa. The book is illustrated by Eric T. Krackow of Strasburg, Pa., and features cartoon versions of Ginn; sons, Collin, 9, and Christian, 7; and a pack of smiling lobsters.
"It's a wonderful, endearing story that makes you smile," said Pete Schiffer, owner of the publishing company.
"Lobsters" is the first book for Ginn, who is also the Crofton columnist for The Capital of Annapolis. Before staying home with her boys, she worked in public relations and marketing.
"She's such a good writer," said Elaine Allen of Crofton. "(The book) is right up her alley. It went along with her writing style."
Allen, who is in a local writers' group with Ginn, said her friend's prose manages to be both lyrical and succinct.
Another friend, Jennifer Gallizzo of Crofton, finds Ginn inspirational. "We can all take a page out of her book in terms of initiative and taking a risk," Gallizzo said.
Ginn, 42, came up with the story about 3 1/2 years ago. She found the rhyming fairly easily.
"I think in rhyme a lot and alliteration," she said. "I should have been an advertising writer."
Once she finished, Ginn sent off the manuscript to publishers and waited. She got four rejections before hearing from Schiffer, who matched her up with Krackow a year ago.
"It was a really cute story," said the artist, whose two young girls harbor the same fascination for grocery store lobster tanks. "And I can relate to it."
His most difficult task was coming up with a way to draw a lobster that was realistic, without being too detailed or scary. "It was a challenge, but it was a lot of fun," Krackow said.
He also had an inside tip for readers: Although the lobsters in the book aren't named, the head crustacean is a slightly different shade of red than the others and has different colored eyes.
The lobster leader is among the creatures who plead with the boys to help them escape the tank, then leads a procession out of the store, into the water tank of a truck and finally onto the bay.
While Ginn's lobsters are saved from a potential trip to someone's dinner table, she said there's no hidden agenda in the story. She simply expanded upon her sons' fondness for the lobster tank. In fact, she's allergic to shellfish.
"You've got to find your entertainment where you can when you're with children," Ginn said. "It's like a free trip to the aquarium."
Meanwhile, she's busy with a second book, which she already submitted to Schiffer for consideration. Titled "My Father Flies," the rhyming tale is about a dad whose job takes him around the world. The story is based on Ginn's husband, David, who flies a lot for work.
"It's great to know I'll have a little legacy for my kids' bookshelves," she said.
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://www.hometownannapolis.com/
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