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Local author selects winner of essay contest
Seven year old Rodrika Plant, far left, a student at Lugoff Elementary School, received a copy of Grandmas Here by Sandra Thomas, also pictured. Plant also received a gift certificate for winning the essay contest hosted by Thomas.



The birth of her first granddaughter Delilah inspired Sandra Thomas, originally of Elgin, to write her first children’s book Grandma’s Here. Thomas said, "I was sitting at home recuperating from a knee surgery so I was able to spend more time with her and seeing her grow and get into stuff filled my heart."

Thomas was compelled to write about Delilah. "I just had to put something down," she said.

Grandma’s Here

was published in April and was Thomas’ first effort at publication. "I had done a little poetry before, just for myself," she said.

"The process [of becoming published] was totally new to me," Thomas said. "It was like someone dropped me off in Germany and said ‘have fun.’ I had no idea where to start." Her first step, she said, was Google-searching "publisher."

"I already had written down my ideas … and the images I had in mind of the book," she said. Thomas narrowed down her search to publishers in Columbia and then found one that would work with her.

Thomas worked with an illustrator provided by the publisher to create the specific images she had in mind. She wanted to depict younger "new grandmothers" like herself in the book and to make sure the little girl in the book represented her granddaughter.

Once her book was published, Thomas donated a copy to "all of the Kershaw county elementary schools and the Kershaw County Library," she said. "I just wanted to give back."

Thomas is hoping to write more books and hopes to stay in the children’s book realm.

"I just want to keep it focused on the little ones," she said. She’s hoping to write about a grandfather/grandson relationship in her next book.

Thomas has guidance for anyone who wants to become a published writer. "Don’t be afraid. It seems scary, it looks scary, but once you take that first step, it tends to fall into place," she said. She also suggests that new writers have in mind how they want their book to appear.

She is also hoping to do some readings of her book at Kershaw County elementary schools and at the Kershaw County Library.

To inspire children to write, Thomas recently held a short essay contest with the theme "The Best Grandparent Ever!" The contest celebrated Grandparents’ Day and Rodrika Plant of Lugoff was chosen as winner.

As winner, Plant received an autographed copy of Grandma’s Here along with a gift certificate to Candyland Bakery and Party Place in Lugoff. All contest participants received a personalized "thank you" from Thomas as well as a certificate of appreciation for their submissions.