February 10, 2024 at 11:03 a.m.
School Social Worker In Gaston County Publishes Children’s Book
The book is a take on the “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” tale
Gaston County Schools social worker Heather Pierczynski is the author of the holiday-themed children’s book “A Creature Was Stirring,” which was released by Harper Collins Publishing in time for the recent Christmas season.
(Photos Courtesy Gaston County Schools)
GASTONIA, N.C. - Gaston County Schools social worker Heather Pierczynski has added published author to her resume. Her holiday-themed children’s book, “A Creature Was Stirring,” went to press in September and was released by Harper Collins Publishing in time for the recent Christmas season.
The book is a take on the “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” tale, and it tells the story of a mouse whose night of stirring almost ruined Christmas. Luckily, Santa stepped in to make everything right.
Heather Pierczynski with her son, Henry, showing off her holiday-themed children’s book, “A Creature Was Stirring.” Aside from writing, Pierczynski serves as a social worker in Gaston County Schools.
“Children can relate to it because it is hard to go to bed on Christmas Eve with all of the festivities, the presents, and Santa Claus. It is understandable why children – and the mouse in the book – are so excited,” explained Pierczynski.
Getting to the point of having a published book has been 15 years in the making for Pierczynski, but her interest in writing goes back to her days as a student in Gaston County Schools. She first discovered a love for writing while in Paula Dixon’s second-grade class at Robinson Elementary. A self-described “writer and storyteller at heart,” Pierczynski also credits Sally Griffin, her creative writing teacher at Forestview High School, for providing the inspiration to set her sights on writing professionally.
“Mrs. Griffin helped me realize my potential. She believed in her students, and she let us explore and make mistakes, which was an important part of learning about how to write,” said Pierczynski, who majored in English at N.C. State University and says her success is due in part to the support of her Gaston County Schools teachers at Robinson, Grier, and Forestview.
According to Pierczynski, the idea for “A Creature Was Stirring” came about while talking to her colleagues at Holbrook Middle School. Instead of having a mouse inside a school, she adapted the idea to make the main character a mouse inside a house at Christmastime. She wrote the manuscript in 2020. Spending more time with family during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing how much her young son enjoyed reading time “reinvigorated my love for writing,” she said.
Writing a book does not happen overnight nor does getting it published. Pierczynski was persistent in her pursuit of a publishing deal, despite getting rejection letters from publishing companies or no response at all.
“It is my dream come true,” said Pierczynski of seeing “A Creature Was Stirring” in published format. “I knew it would be a long shot, but no matter how far-fetched dreams are, you have to go for it. It is never too late.”
With a master’s degree in social work from Winthrop University, Pierczynski spent 12 years working for social services. Now in her fourth year as a school social worker, Pierczynski enjoys supporting students – she’s at Holbrook now, but served the Gaston Early College High School previously and is temporarily covering the social worker duties at Cramerton Middle School.
Pierczynski says that children can be like the stirring mouse; they are naturally curious and full of energy and excitement. She has noticed that in her son, who attends W.A. Bess Elementary. The book concludes with an inscription for her son: “To Henry, may you never stop stirring.”
“I want him to always be enthralled with the world and keep a child-like enthusiasm,” said Pierczynski. “I want all children to keep stirring and enjoy what is out there in life.”
Gaston County author Heather Pierczynski participates in a book signing event to promote her holiday-themed children’s book, “A Creature Was Stirring.”