McClain book signing sees large turnout

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

It felt like a reunion of sorts last Saturday afternoon as the Greenville-Butler County Public Library’s community room quickly filled up with faces from both near and far.

Rheta McClain’s family, friends, classmates, co-workers, fellow church members, former students and other well wishers had turned out to support and celebrate one of their very own.

The Georgiana High School graduate and local educator  shared her latest accomplishment, the publication of her first children’s book, I Am Small, during a reception and book signing.

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McClain, who says she has enjoyed writing since her elementary school days (“I always dreamed of becoming a published author one day”) explained that her new book actually started out several years ago as a story to share with some young students in a Head Start classroom that she had been asked to visit.

“Now, I had plenty of books in my own classroom I could have read to them, but I just couldn’t find one that I liked . . . so I ended up writing my own story,” McClain recalled.

“Later, the teacher asked me where I had found that book. And I said, ‘I wrote it myself!’”

Years passed, and then in early 2017, she decided to dust off that manuscript and give it a re-write. She also added photos of young family members and friends to illustrate her inspirational story of how little people can “make big things happen in this big world.”

And then the really arduous part of the process came—publication.

“I started the process to get my story published, and let me tell you, that is hard to do—especially when you are doing it in secret. I encountered some roadblocks along the way,” McClain admitted.

Eventually, she found out about CreateSpace, a self-publishing arm of Amazon, using the service to make her literary dream a reality.

“And now I have two more books in the works through CreateSpace—Sweet Dreams and Different But the Same.”

McClain read her story aloud to those in attendance, then invited everyone to enjoy the refreshments provided as she prepared to sign copies of her book.

Retired BOE employee Kathy Atchison, who brought her two granddaughters Adalyn and Lexi to the reception, was one of those standing in line to get McClain’s signature on two copies of her book.

“As Rheta mentioned, we do go back a long way . . . my two granddaughters’ Aunt Jennifer went to kindergarten with Rheta and later we worked together . . . I feel like she is part mine and I am so proud of her,” Atchison said. “She has a wonderful family—and she’s worked very hard to get where she is today.”

McClain, who admits she was a strong-willed child, offered praise for the constant lifelong support of her kith and kin.

“We kids were so horrible we needed two moms and two dads to keep us in line  . . . and you did good . . . I don’t know how you could have done any better,” she said.

“It’s so true, what the Bible says about training up a child in right way . . . they will return.”

Due to delivery delays caused by winter weather, McClain ran short of copies of I Am Small on Saturday, but assured those in attendance she would soon have more copies in hand to share.

The author, clearly delighted by the large crowd, was visibly moved as she acknowledged and thanked those in attendance at Saturday’s event.

“I said I wasn’t going to cry . . . I want to thank every single person in this room. At some point, you were all part of this journey,” McClain said.