Recently we had a number of authors with Story City connections stop by the library. Some of them had books to sell, others made donations. It reminded me that I should talk about them, even though I don’t have time to talk with them all. Currently there are thousands of people self-publishing books, and others hunting for publishers. It has become increasingly difficult to discover new authors with great stories to tell.
During Scandinavian Days, we had a brief chance to talk with Marj Charlier who has authored a number of books (some with a pen name of Marjorie Pinkerton Miller) and she donated some to the library. While she was here we talked about her background, which of course included her growing up in Story City, but also about the journey into publishing. Not only has she authored books, but she has started her own publishing company, partly due to the rapidly changing market that is impacting good writers across our country.
Attending Iowa State University with a major in journalism, she began her writing career at the Story City Herald — and progressed all the way to the Wall Street Journal before embarking in a different career path in corporate America. She then began not only writing her own novels, but established a publishing company “The Sunacumen Press.” As a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she began understanding the publishing world in a little different light, and shared some thoughts with me.
I’m hoping we have a chance for her to come back to Story City sometime in the next year to enlighten us all with a workshop, but in the meantime, we hope our Story City readers will take the time to read some of her books and some of the other authors who have local connections that are on our shelves. I wanted to showcase a few of those, in addition to Marj’s generous contribution to the library.
S.J. Duke: One of our youngest authors has just released her newest book, “Flutterwheel.” We have two other books on our shelves she has written: “Seasons of the Heart” and “the Skunk River Tales.”
Karl Schaper: The father of a Story City resident, Mr. Schaper was persuaded to write of his personal experiences while growing up in Germany during WWII. As a young man, he was required to join the Hitler Youth. Writing of his experiences for the first time, his two books “Three Towers of Home” are based on his personal story.
Michelle Schlicher: Michelle is the granddaughter of one of our Story City residents, and has three books on our shelves “The Blue Jay,” “Gracies Song” and “Come This Way.” After reading “The Blue Jay” on my recent vacation, it reminded me of how a good, heartwarming story gets lost in the hype that goes to the Bestsellers.
So back to Marj. Our discussion was a bit about that; unless an author is already on the “Bestsellers’ List,” or written by a celebrity, finding a publisher today is nearly impossible. We have suspected that for some time. Good writers and stories are being lost in this shuffle for lack of marketing and name recognition, so she is trying to do something about it with her publishing company.
We have many more locally written authors on our shelves, and we admit that they are not all the most polished, not all well edited, but there are hidden treasures here. We encourage our patrons to check some of these “not so polished,” but written with heart stories. And you will find some gems. I wish I could mention them all, but these four people were on my mind. And hopefully in the year ahead, I can feature more of those diamonds in the rough and polished gems on these pages.