Books. Was there anything more wonderful? Barely 6 years-old, clutching my very first library card, a passport to an entire building full of books, I could scarcely breathe. I have had many library cards since then and never gotten over my love of books. I never dreamed I would write one.
As an elementary school child, I wrote “poetry,” doggerel really. In high school, I tried my
hand at short stories. Sentimental stuff. Embarrassing. I don’t even like short stories.
After college, it was a job, marriage and children. Only after the children had become
adults and moved on to their own lives did I rekindle my desire to put things into words. I
learned about a writer’s group and hesitatingly asked if I could take part.
As a counselor in a shelter for battered women, I wrote about social workers, clients and
children. I cranked out hundreds of pages. A novel? My fellow critiquers thought so.
They were just being kind. I made a clean copy, put it in a box and hid it in a closet.
Over the next 20 years, I produced about 20 manuscripts. I printed each novel and
consigned it to the closet. Only once did I get up my nerve to send sample pages to a
publisher. They came back with such dizzying speed I knew my writing wasn’t good
The real publishers wanted blockbusters from known authors, or something by a
“We should start our own publishing company,” somebody said.
“Vanity press,” warned another.
“Not anymore,” a third chimed in.
Small regional publishers were springing up around the country, offering work by local
writers in unique settings, and it was selling.
One of the group knew how to prepare print-ready manuscripts for companies that could
turn them into an actual book, with a cover and pages.
“Nancy, your Leadville book would be perfect. It’s finished, it’s local, it’s historic. People
besides us would love it.”
Gulp. Did I dare? Already in my 70s, I wouldn’t do it any younger.
Thus began a period where every member of our group pored over the manuscript,
stalking typos, inconsistencies, errors. Photos were gathered to recreate1880 Leadville
on the cover. Our publishing company, now named Penstemon Publications, bought a
block of ISBN numbers, as others were eager to see their work touched by the magic of
print. A local published author wrote a blurb for the back cover.
Chin up. “Ship it,” I said, and we did. In less than two weeks, the print copy was in my
hands. I could scarcely breathe as I held it in my hands. I read it from cover to cover
and ordered a hundred copies.
Ten days later, three huge boxes with the word heavy stamped on them arrived at my
house. There they were, as perfect as we could make them. Books. And people wanted
to buy them.
Now, a year later, it just might be time to take another look in that closet