Former Stephenville resident Jackie Melvin is preparing to release her first children's book, Bartholomew Bear Gets His Badge. The book, the first in a trilogy, is set to be released on May 13.

But Melvin, who now lives in Lubbock with her husband Rick and kids, Nate, Austin and Lexi, will be in Stephenville for a book signing at 4 Kids Only from 1-6 p.m. on Monday, March 31.

"I'm really excited and looking forward to seeing some of our old friends," Melvin said. "This book has been a long time coming and I am thrilled that it's been published."

A long time coming is right.

Melvin penned the first manuscript more than 23 years ago, when her oldest son was just a baby and the family was living in Phoenix, AZ.

Over the years, Melvin tried a few times to get the trilogy published, but had no luck.

"I just went on with life," she said. "I was busy raising kids, working and volunteering, but it was always in the back of my mind."

When the couple's youngest child, Lexi, was getting ready to graduate from Stephenville High School in 2013, Melvin pulled out the old manuscript, made a few changes and tried again, this time emailing it to Tate Publishing.

The next day, she got a call from a representative saying they were interested.

"I thought it was a hoax," she laughed. "I couldn't believe I heard from them the next day."

It was no hoax and soon a contract was signed, the illustration was approved and the trilogy was on its way to getting published.

Bartholomew Bear Gets His Badge is about a polar bear who dreams of one day becoming a Police Bear. A factory accidents puts Bartholomew in a special category of bears, the ones headed straight for the discount bins. The story follows Bartholomew as he overcomes personal challenges in order to be considered for the Police Bear Training Academy.

The next two books, Bartholomew Bear at the Police Academy and Bartholomew Bear is on the Case, will be released in the coming months.