Local author realizes her dream with the publication of a new children’s book

Margaret Cross is pictured with her new book, Dory Dillo.

It took 20 years for Margaret Cross’s dream to come true, but now she can see her name on the cover of the book she wrote.

Dory Dillo, a children’s book about a young armadillo whose favorite place is the chemistry lab, was the first book Cross self-published.

“I always wanted to write a book that a child could read, and I thought they could, reading about animals. Armadillos were perfect characters for me,” she said.

Her early research helped her learn more about nocturnal animals, and the book weaves in armadillo facts for young learners.

About four years ago, Cross decided she wasn’t getting any younger and decided it was time to pick up where she left off. She was surprised that she had already written the first chapter of the book. However, the plot needed to be developed further and an ending was needed.

The COVID pandemic gave her a boost when a writing group was formed in her senior community by fellow East Ridge neighbor and published novelist, Linda Sankpill.

The writing group provided Cross with the support she needed.

“The group was very helpful,” she explained. “But while everyone was writing their version of the great American novel, no one was writing a children’s book.”

The Internet offered self-publishing options, and the company Cross selected provided a free edition. Their suggestions guided Cross through several Dory Dillo rewrites. Software helped her select vocabulary words that would be suitable for children. While an earlier version was intended for seventh graders, Cross simplified the manuscript for a third or fourth grader.

According to Cross, adults also seem to enjoy the book since the plot sets up an adventure and challenges a group of armadillos, raccoons, crows and three big dogs.

Dory Dillo also addresses environmental concerns and redevelopment, which are important and timely issues for all ages.

Cross shared advance copies of the book with his East Ridge neighbors and his church. All money from book sales goes to East Ridge City Hall for community projects.

Before retiring, Cross spent most of his career programming mainframe computers and coding. The book swirled in his brain, but the plot had nothing to do with Cross’s life. While the main character, “Dory Dillo,” is a science nerd, it’s not autobiographical. Cross didn’t like chemistry at school.

“Character names just seemed to pop into her head and ‘Dory Dillo’ just had a nice ringtone,” Cross said.

Her next writing project is a children’s poetry book. She doesn’t know if “Dory Dillo” will have another adventure in the future as a sequel, but she says, “Never say never.

An avid traveler, Cross enjoys trips that provide educational, historical and cultural experiences. His next trip explores Newfoundland.

Copies of Dory Dillo can be purchased at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dory-dillo or online sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart and Target. If you have any questions, email Margaret Cross at [email protected]

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