Growing up, the local public library was one of my favorite places to visit.
Florence Park Library was part of the Tulsa Public Library System and was about one-half mile from my boyhood home. I spent many summer days there exploring the world through books or attending a summer reading program.
I never knew then that one day I would help write a book, or in Debbie and my’s case, publish two Iowa photography 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 natural fit.
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 took part in a summer learning course about Iowa and the state fair. 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 using real butter.
We ended reaching out to the coordinators of the program and the next year, we were able to sign and donate our books to the teachers and students. It was a lot of fun.
In 2008, we published our second Iowa photography book, “Family Reunion: Midwest Old Threshers.” The book was a collaborative effort with the good folks at OTR in Mount Pleasant. That book has been well received and in recent times, has found a renewed interest among farmers and steam engine enthusiasts.
Debbie has since published two romantic suspense novels, “The Auctioneer,” released in February 2018 and “Moving On,” a second book in the Hope Series, published in July 2020.
The books center around the good folks in the fictional town of Hope, Iowa.
Debbie’s has book three in the series at the editor and has written books four, five and six, which she just wrapped up last week. She’s already hit the ground running with book seven.
The goal is publish three, four and five next year and if book seven is finished, we might get them all out to Debbie’s fans. She also has written a Christmas novella that she hopes to publish next year. It didn’t work out for this year.
The key to having a good book is finding a good editor and proofreader(s). That second set of eyes is money well spent.
Down the road, I hope to publish a photo book on the Mississippi River. I want to travel a portion of the river on a barge and take photos. I also would like to write a book on a family who used steam engines to farm. I’m not quite sure if it will be a fictional family with a historical narrative.
In addition to our writing ventures, Debbie and I have been attending and selling our books and my photos at various craft shows around the state for more than a dozen years.
We’ve had tables at everything from toy shows to larger venues such as the Varied Industry Building at the Iowa State Fair to Carver Hawkeye Arena, which was later moved to the Coralville Marriott Conference Center.
This year, we attended a book fair at the Badger Public Library near Fort Dodge in September; 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 Nov. 12, and most recently on Nov. 19 at the Pleasantville High School Craft Show. We have one more 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 other times, we can’t get a soul to stop at our table. One show we attended a few years back at a school in southeast Iowa featured their famous cinnamon rolls. People came, bought their cinnamon rolls and went home. On the flipside, at the Clarinda Craft Carnival this year, people where buying our books as we were packing up for the day. That is a great craft fair and worth the drive.
Sometimes we sell a lot of books and other times, we don’t even get our table fee back. The greatest joy isn’t always selling a book, but in meeting people and being together doing something we love all while sharing our passion with others. And that sometimes is worth a lot more than what money can buy.
I hope you follow your dreams. Today is your day to get started. I encourage you to take a step toward making your dreams a reality.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.