A broken home can leave the mind splintered and cracked; open to fear. And monsters. And boy, did I know monsters! After living in a wildly dysfunctional family, I had more ghosts than I could count. It’s a wonder I grew up to be so normal. Running from bed to bed, always searching for someone to save me. Dodging monsters at every turn. That’s normal, right?
It all started when I was eight years old. I was hiding in my grandmother’s garden, playing hide-and-seek with the kids on the block, and my sister Lori. She wasn’t always the nicest sister, and when she ended the game early without telling me, I found myself hiding in that garden alone. Or so I thought. Until I noticed someone standing in the shadows. Something. And that thing wanted me dead. I ran that day, and have been running ever since. When my mother remarried, and we moved out of my grandmother’s house, I thought that I could leave that monster behind. But I only found new monsters in its place: An absent mother. A controlling stepfather. Abusive siblings. Monsters that were just as dangerous as the one in the garden. And perhaps, more real.
My only escape would be to cut ties with my family. And my haunted past. But the more I ran, the more insistent my demons became. Mysterious things began to happen. Reality began to slip. And I was thrust into darkness. With no one to believe me, and nowhere left to turn, I had to find my way back to that garden. Back to where it all began. And face my fears once and for all. Or, die trying.
Samantha Rogers was a child of the '80s. She grew up eating TV dinners and playing hide-and-seek on the block until the streetlights came on. But one day, while hiding in her grandmother's garden, something happened. Something that will change her life forever. Monsters began to stir. Shadows took form. And every dream became a waking nightmare. Haunted by that one moment, Samantha journeys into a world of darkness. And uncertainty. Will Samantha ever find her way back out into the light? Or will she be stuck in that garden forever?
My book is really coming along! I'm at 180 pages and it's almost where I want it to be. Sometime this week, I will send it out to a proofreader. And then it goes to an agent. Wish me luck!
I'm hard at work on my new project! I put my Little Ant children's books aside for a while, so I can focus on writing a novel for adults. I plan to take a different route with this book and publish traditionally.
And the first draft of my novel is complete! It's a psychological thriller. Woohoo! Now...we edit!
Welcome to the world of the little ant. This exciting collection of books offers fun adventures and new discoveries for children ages 3-8. Little Ant picture books use bright colors, bold images and easy-to-read rhyming words to tell the stories kids love to hear! I hope you enjoy them!
Ilene Dudek is an award-winning author and illustrator from Nutley, NJ. In 2017, she began writing her Little Ant children's series. Since then, she has completed six books in the series. All six books have been featured in the 2020-2021 preschool art program at Lovlee Art Studios in Bloomfield, NJ. Her new book Little Ant & the Epic Battle received the 2020 Royal Dragonfly Book Award—earning honorable mention in the Picture Books 6 & Older category. It was also recognized by the state of Illinois as a valuable COVID-19 resource for families with young children. It sits alongside recommendations from the CDC and UNICEF as a resource for understanding the pandemic. Ilene has participated in over 50 local author events, including a book signing at Barnes & Noble, and has been featured on "Spotlight New Jersey" — News 12 New Jersey and in Jersey's Best magazine. Ilene was also the guest speaker at a 2020 Nutley Rotary luncheon and on the 16W with Norman podcast. In the future, Ilene hopes to expand her horizons and write a fiction novel for adults.
Nutley writer helps kids make an anthill out of COVID in award-winning new book
by Amy Byrnes | For Jersey's Best Magazine
Thur., Mar. 4, 2021
The magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic over the last year could make anyone feel small. Between the global scope, the narrowing of our lives and needing to wear face masks every time we leave our house — it’s enough to make even the toughest adult want to crawl into a hole and hide.
So, imagine what it’s like to live through all of this as a little kid.
Nutley resident Ilene Dudek did. The mother of two and author of the “Little Ant Stories” picture book series has shrunk the coronavirus down to ant-sized proportions to help children make sense of the pandemic in her sixth and latest installment.