Publish books and follow our dreams

When I was growing up, the local public library was one of my favorite places.

The Florence Park Library was part of Tulsa’s public library system and was about a half mile from my childhood home. There I spent many summer days exploring the world through books or participating in a summer reading program.

Little did I know then that one day I would help write a book or, in Debbie’s and my case, publish two Iowa photo books.

Our first Iowa photo book, Iowa’s Tradition: An ABC Photo Album of the Iowa State Fair, was published in July 2006. We met at the State Fair and when we decided to do a book, the State Fair was a perfect match.

We learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of the publishing world. We ended up printing more books than we needed and have since donated at least a thousand books to schools and children’s cancer hospitals in Iowa City and Des Moines.

A few years ago, our State Fair Book was featured in a Des Moines Register article about international students who attended a summer school about Iowa and the State Fair. In that first year, Iowa State Fair butter cow sculptor Sarah Pratt came to the school and taught the students how to make a miniature butter cow out of real butter.

We contacted the program coordinators and the next year we were able to sign our books and donate them to the teachers and students. It was much fun.

In 2008 we published our second Iowa photo book, Family Reunion: Midwest Old Threshers. The book was a collaboration with the good folks at OTR in Mount Pleasant. This book was well received and has recently found renewed interest among farmers and steam engine enthusiasts.

Debbie has since published two suspense romance novels, The Auctioneer, which was released in February 2018, and Moving On, a second book in the Hope series, which was released in July 2020.

The books revolve around the good people of the fictional town of Hope, Iowa.

Debbie is the editor of book three in the series and has written books four, five and six, which she just completed last week. She has already taken off with book seven.

The goal is to release three, four, and five next year, and when book seven is ready we might get them all distributed to Debbie’s fans. She has also written a Christmas novella that she plans to publish next year. It didn’t work out for this year.

The key to a good book is finding a good editor and proofreader(s). The second pair of eyes is money well spent.

In the future I hope to publish a photo book about the Mississippi. I want to cruise part of the river on a barge and take photos. I would also like to write a book about a family who farmed with steam engines. I’m not entirely sure if it will be a fictional family with a historical narrative.

In addition to our writing projects, Debbie and I have been visiting and selling our books and my photos at various craft fairs across the state for more than a dozen years.

We’ve had tables in everything from toy fairs to larger venues like the Varied Industry Building at the Iowa State Fair or the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which later moved to the Coralville Marriott Conference Center.

This year in September we attended a book fair at the Badger Public Library near Fort Dodge; the Clarinda Craft Carnival in the southwest corner of the state in October for a second year; the Pella High School Band Boosters Craft Show on November 12th and most recently at the Pleasantville High School Craft Show on November 19th. We have another show this year at the HLV Boosters Craft Show in Victor, the second weekend in December.

Sometimes craft shows are a great place to sell books, and sometimes we can’t get a soul to stop at our table. A show we attended a few years ago at a school in Southeast Iowa featured their famous cinnamon rolls. People came, bought their cinnamon rolls and went home. On the other hand, at this year’s Clarinda Craft Carnival, people bought our books while we packed up for the day. This is a great craft fair and well worth the drive.

Sometimes we sell a lot of books and sometimes we don’t even get our table fee back. The greatest joy isn’t always selling a book, but meeting people and doing something together that we all love while sharing our passion with others. And that’s sometimes worth a lot more than money can buy.

I hope you follow your dreams. Today is your day to get started. I encourage you to take a step toward realizing your dreams.

Have a great week and always remember that “good things happen” every day and always.