The Magic Leaf

Mary's picture book photo If it’s true the best things in life come to those who wait, then there are probably few prouder first-time authors than Mary Feliciani.

As a 21-year-old university student Feliciani began writing the The Magic Leaf, a children’s tale about boys and friendship, set in her hometown of Roseto Valfortore (region of Apulia). Upon finishing her final draft, she sent out the manuscript to a few publishers, all of whom flatly rejected her story.

So instead she shelved her literary aspirations and focused on her career and family, while her manuscript sat collecting dust. Fast forward a few decades and Felicianni started to wonder if her dream might still become a reality.

“As you approach 40, you tend to re-evaluate your life. There were so many things I wanted to do that I hadn’t done. I thought to myself, ‘what’s stopping me? I don’t need anyone’s permission,’” she recalled recently from her home in Mississauga.

So with renewed vigour, the Toronto elementary school teacher started researching the world of self-publishing while on her summer holidays. And calculating all the printing, illustrating and design costs, Felicianni was ever more determined than ever to make her own story a happy one.

It took another eight months to find a printing press and an artist that would fit her budget. But perserverance would pay off and earlier this year she finally had 500 copies of The Magic Leaf to call her own.

“The hardest part is waiting for the right people to come along. Luckily I’m a very patient person.”

However publishing a book is a different ball game than selling it, and initially Felicianni had to rely on word-of-mouth advertising to get people to check out her work. And at first glance, it looked like her own personal tale might not turn out to be a financially successful one.

But before long she received an order from Mississauga’s public library system, requesting a copy for each of its 18 branches. She’s since been able to persuade several GTA area retailers to stock her book and just recently heard of interest from the buyer for Toronto’s libraries (and with over a 100 branches, such an order would force her into considering another print run).

And although she hasn’t attained the status or immense riches of a J.K. Rowlings, you get the sense the real thrill for her isn’t making another big sale, but being able to share her children’s story with kids everywhere. She’s already sold copies to parents as far away as Australia.

And just as importantly, the experience has already got her thinking about penning a sequel.

Mary Feliciani’s The Magic Leaf is available at Coles at Square One, Erin Mills Town Centre, Cloverdale Mall and Chapters in Vaughan Mills Malls and Bloor West Village. Her upcoming book signings are at Coles Vaughan Mills-Saturday, Dec.9 (1-3 p.m.) Coles Erin Mills Town Centre-Sunday, Dec. 10 (1-3 p.m.) Coles Square One-Saturday, Dec. 16 (1-3 p.m.) and to reach the author, contact her at [email protected]