April is Community College Month and Lorain County Community College is celebrating by sharing stories of students and graduates. Learn more at www.lorainccc.edu/ccmonth.
By Steve Sefchik
Zackery McConnon followed the inspiration he received in a dream about what he wanted the cover of his first Sci-Fi medieval action-thriller book to look like.
“Some ideas about a fantastic nightmare came to me in my dreams about the book cover,” McConnon said. “It included a castle, knight’s helmet and an ethereal kind of mist.”
So, he sketched out what he saw in his dreams and gave to them to the publisher’s graphic designers. Thus, was born the cover to “Nogard and the Kingdom of the Crimson Stone.”
McConnon, 22, of Sheffield Lake, is a graduate of Lorain County Community College where he earned an associate degree after being home-schooled through high school. He continued on at LCCC’s University Partnership and earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Ashland University in May of 2020.
“Right about the time I started at LCCC is when I started having dreams about writing,” he said.
Those dreams combined with the encouragement he received from LCCC English instructors Jewon Woo and Jennifer Willoh solidified in his mind that he could actually take on the challenge of writing a book.
Once he accepted that challenge in his mind, McConnon knew what he would write about – Sci-Fi, medieval culture with knights and broadswords and a good dose of technology all wrapped together for a fantastical tale.
“I accumulated all that I incorporated into ‘Nogard and the Kingdom of the Crimson Stone’ from years of telling stories to my younger siblings,” McConnon said.
As he learned about the process of writing at LCCC that’s when he realized that all of the stories he had been telling his siblings should be written down. “The stories were all in pieces across a span of many years and it took me time to organize them into a story that I actually wanted to share with the world,” McConnon said.
And he was again aided by his dreams.
“Some of the characters in the book are different compared to the early stories I would tell,” he said. “I would dream about different characters and then integrate them into the plot of the book.”
As the second oldest of the 14 children of Sonya and Daniel he also had some very earthly-bound help from family members including his parents and younger brother Joe.
“First of all, without my mother I wouldn’t be where I am today. She home-schooled all of us and she had a big influence on my writing skills,” McConnon said.
His father, who McConnon said is a really good artist even though that’s not his profession, refined the map of Quantrandan – the land in story – and his brother Joe read it in advance. “He’s a big reader and a Sci-Fi action thriller fan. As a high school student, he’s also in the right age group,” McConnon said.
Currently “Nogard and the Kingdom of the Crimson Stone” is available digitally on Google Play and in hard cover on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and eBay. And there is more to come.
“I have so many ideas that I couldn’t fit into this book and that’s when I realized that I have a trilogy here,” he said.
Initially McConnon wasn’t sure he wanted to go to college, but he and his sister Kylee both started on their journey to an associate degree together at LCCC and that helped ease the transition from being home-schooled to attending college.
“Going to LCCC got me out of my comfort zone and I found help that showed me how to reach my goals,” McConnon said.
He got that ‘help’ and a boost of confidence when he was accepted into the Students Accelerating In Learning (SAIL) program in 2015. LCCC’s SAIL program was launched to remove barriers to student success and help students earn their associate degree within three years.
“I was kind of lost when I first started here. We didn’t have the internet at home so simple things like double clicking on a link to get it to open sometimes caused me a lot of stress,” he said.
With the help and guidance of his SAIL advisor Whitney Hougland and SAIL coordinator Matt Mercardo, McConnon said he was able to persevere and be successful in college.
For more information about LCCC or the University Partnership, visit www.lorainccc.edu.