POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Just before her 93rd birthday, a resident of a local senior living center has achieved her lifelong goal of becoming a published author.
Mary Alice Baluck, who lives at The Blackburn Home in Poland, independently published her first novel, “Heaven’s Doorway.”
The work of historical fiction takes place in three towns surrounding Lake Erie in the actively changing years of 1880 to 1928. It tells the tied-together stories of three women, each a generation apart, whose lives and relationships are affected by the era’s boom of industry and immigration in their communities.
“I’ve always loved words, and I am fascinated by history and cultures,” said the former middle school English teacher and mother of 6. “My father told stories to us when we were children. It was a game in our family.”
She enjoyed putting her thoughts on paper and has several folders of her manuscripts, including stories about her relatives and friends. “Heaven’s Doorway” had been in one of those folders.
“I started it over 20 years ago,” Baluck said, “and it just sat on the shelf.”
Baluck has been living at The Blackburn Home for the past two and a half years. Her writing took off after a resident’s family member donated a computer to the facility.
According to representatives of The Blackburn Home, The Ruth Beecher Charitable Grant through PNC Bank helped them update their technology and purchase some iPads. Grant money also allowed residents who were interested in learning to use the new devices to have one-to-one sessions with some students who coached them as they practiced.
Baluck credited the support of staff, especially one caregiver, for encouraging her to keep writing.
“If it weren’t for her pushing me, I never would have finished the book!” she said.
Baluck also credited the Keystone Society for the Blind, whose volunteers made special adaptations to the computer so that it was easier for her to use.
Baluck plans to keep working on other stories, including another novel and a personal children’s book, which she said will be completed soon.
“Heaven’s Doorway” is available in printed and Kindle versions from Amazon.com.