Meet the woman who’s never had writer’s block
“When we lived in Joliet, we lived near a lot of animals. I started giving them names, and from those names, I started creating children’s stories,” said Hayley Jo McGovern.
McGovern, 47, who now lives in Kankakee, has been writing and creating art as a hobby since she was a child but only recently turned her hobbies into thriving works of literary art.
“I’ve always been a writer, mainly writing poetry, then in 2011, I started writing every day and making up stories.”
One of her first creations was a flying spaghetti monster who finds a friend named Lazy Lou. From those characters, McGovern wrote and illustrated her most successful book, “Lazy Lou and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
“My family and friends started asking about my stories, and then they introduced me to a Facebook page about the Flying Spaghetti Monster — I didn’t know it was already created.”
McGovern then posted her book onto the Facebook page and received an overwhelming response.
The positive feedback prompted her to create her own publishing company, ButterFly Brook Books & Art Inc., and self-publish “Lazy Lou and the Flying Spaghetti Monster” in 2014, which since has sold about 1,000 copies per year.
“This has all just been a total surprise,” McGovern said. “It was just a boring winter day when I came up with the character. I never would’ve expected it to become this.”
Before publishing children’s books, McGovern never had any professional writing experience. She never received formal writing training in college and is self-taught through previous writing-intensive office jobs.
Since moving to Kankakee in 2016 after suffering a house fire in the family’s Joliet home, McGovern has found herself with more free time for writing, drawing, painting and meditating, all of which contribute to her continued dedication to publishing books.
McGovern and her husband, Steve, own a residential management company, which allows her to work remotely everyday from her historic home on Cobb Boulevard.
“I’m really inspired in this house,” McGovern said. “I have a beautiful view, and I love my neighbors. It’s just been a great experience living in this community.”
Though McGovern has found most of her success from her children’s books, she also has published two books on meditation, “Sunrise: A Meditation and Art Experience,” published in 2017; and “American Chakra: An Art & Meditation Experience,” published Nov. 26.
Last month, McGovern published, “Working from home with KIDS: What was I thinking?” a commentary on her experience working while taking care of three growing children, Jessica, Haven and Adam.
As McGovern explains in her most recent release, working from home — with a husband, three children, a few cats and a dove named Ringo — hasn’t always been so easy.
“When my kids were younger, it was challenging because I had to schedule calls and work time around their nap time — but now they’re older, and it’s been so much easier.”
Haven, 11, even is beginning to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
With the help of her mother, Haven wrote and published her first book, “The Jane’s Family’s Bummer Summer,” in July. McGovern is confident in the family’s future in writing.
McGovern is working on her own rendition of the classic three little pigs story, as well as transcribing her grandfather’s handwritten autobiography. She eventually might work on a sequel to “Working from home with KIDS.”
McGovern, who claims she never has had writer’s block, has no shortage of story ideas. So far, she’s published 10 books, including two under her pen name, Brook Jackson.
“I’ve been really in the zone lately,” McGovern said. “Almost everything gives me an idea.
“I just wish I had enough time to write everything.”
McGovern’s books are available to purchase online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AuthorHouse and Blurb.
Though she has found the most success in writing, McGovern mostly considers herself an artist, having taken professional art classes online at Stratford Career Institute.
Though McGovern’s most successful book features a character named Lazy Lou, its author is certainly anything but lazy.