Mason hiking mom takes big leap with children’s book

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    "A Hiking Fiasco" by Melissa Franchi. Courtesy photo—

  • Mason children's book author Melissa Franchi hikes with her daughter, Ellie. —Melissa Franchi

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/12/2021 2:17:19 PM

For Mason resident Melissa Franchi, the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine last spring was an opportunity to do many things – return to her love of hiking, spend time with her young daughter, and write a children’s book.

Franchi’s book, “A Hiking Fiasco,” was released July 29 with Olympia Publishers, and it was inspired, she said, by hikes she took in the spring of 2020 with her daughter, Ellie, who will be turning two in the fall.

“I had a lot of time, so I was hiking Watatic almost weekly with my daughter,” Franchi said, referring to Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. At the time, she was home from her job teaching English at in Sutton, Massachusetts.

Hiking is something that Franchi was “avid” about before she became a mom, she said. It’s a goal of hers to hike the New Hampshire 48 4,000-footers, she said.

Hiking wasn’t all Franchi was doing with her daughter at the time – she was also reading with her.

“It was a lot of fun to play around with fun children’s books instead of reading dense literature,” she said, referencing some of the books she taught high school students.

When Franchi got the idea to write a book based on her experiences hiking with Ellie, she decided to base the structure of the story on children’s books she was reading with her daughter.

“I put a lot of numbers in the text – when I realized I was revisiting some of the children’s books I haven’t read since I was a child, they seemed to be really catchy and seemed to be something my daughter enjoyed doing,” she said. The book follows a counting structure, encouraging children to count along with the text.

It also includes alliteration, like “slithering snakes,” that Franchi said she found to be effective at grabbing a toddler’s attention.

The plot of the story follows Ellie’s first hike up the mountain when things go awry – the child’s boot falls off and rolls down the mountain.

“And that’s a true experience that happened at Watatic,” Franchi said. “It’s funny when I read it to her now, she’s like, ‘Uh oh’ and says, ‘My boot.’ She gets kind of sad at that part.”

After Franchi finished writing the book, she sent it out to a number of publishing companies, and said that after months of not hearing anything, she did not expect it to get published.

Then she found out last fall that her manuscript had made it through consideration at Olympia Publishing, and she found herself signing a publishing contract in December.

The process moved more swiftly than normal after that, Franchi said, because she decided to go for a hybrid publishing contract in which she fronted some of the cost to publish. Although that means the book will have to sell more copies for her to see a profit, Franchi said it was worth it.

“It was just so enjoyable and fun to do,” she said.

As for whether there will be a sequel, Franchi said that it all depends on how well this book does. If it sells well, she said that she would like to include her second child, her young son, since he wasn’t born when she was writing “A Hiking Fiasco” and thus isn’t involved in the story.

“So I would hope to do another book,” Franchi said.

The book is currently for sale, and Franchi will be promoting her work locally at a story hour with the New Ipswich Library on Tuesday Aug. 17, as well as at a book-signing at Mason’s Old Home Day on Sept. 11.


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