I’ve been asked more than once how I came to write a book on the rural rodeo town of Woodlake, CA by a publishing company in SC since I grew up in Indianapolis, IN, then Portland, OR. So here’s the story. You might get spotted to write the same way I did.

Bennets retire from Woodlake Hardware

On October 31, 2015 Morris and Leroy Bennett (center) and Virginia Taylor (not pictured) retired from Woodlake Hardware.



















I was, minding my own WordPress and Blogger blogs, writing stories about my life, local history, trying to Twitter, connecting to LinkedIn, finding friends on Facebook, and deleting hundreds of email offers to make me a better blogger, writer and social media queen. It was offer overload. I’m not sure why I didn’t delete Ginny’s Wednesday, May 28, 2014 email asking me if I wanted to write a book about Woodlake.

My name is Ginny and I am the California acquisitions editor for Arcadia Publishing. We publish local or regional pictorial history books as part of our Images of America series. I’m interested in starting a similar project about Woodlake and came across your blog while researching potential authors. You’ve got a great style and voice and your experience and knowledge of the area would make you an excellent candidate to author the book. Is this something you might be interested in?

Most people would say, “Yeah sure,” and be done with it. I fell for it almost as hard as I did for my first my spammer compliment on WP. She sent some attachments about the company, so I wrote her back.

Hi Ginny,

That would be so fun! Let me look this over, and I’d love to talk to you!

And my friends say I’m shallow!!! hahaha

She called me the next day, and I remember talking to her for quite a while. She had read a post I wrote about Woodlake Hardware. Just as I had, she fell for Morris Bennett, 92 and still working daily in his store, where he had worked since graduation in 1940. (Pictured above he and his son and daughter retired yesterday.) Ginny gave me a six-day deadline to complete a 10 page proposal including a book outline with 10-20 sample pictures and captions. Only she forgot to send me the proposal form! On Monday, June 2 she wrote,

Hi Marsha!

I just realized I had not gotten the proposal to you last week as promised! It is attached to this email. The most important sections are the Author Information, Book Information, and Schedule – everything else can come later (including sample images/captions). Please let me know if you have any questions! I look forward to speaking to you soon!

The due date was still Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Among other things the proposal application asked about my background, community involvement, businesses that might carry the book, and dates that might affect the release of the book. Woah! Intensive! I guessed a lot! So I sent her one picture I had scanned from a neighbor, and wrote a caption for it. I wrote a 200 word summary of what I thought I might write, and spent the rest of the day completing the form.

Gary Davis and his grandfather Images of America Woodlake p. 92

Gary Davis and his grandfather Images of America Woodlake p. 92

I made my June 4th deadline. On June 12, 2014 I received this reply along with 450 more words and two attachments of instructions.

Hi Marsha,

I hope you are doing well! I am pleased to inform you that your proposal,Woodlake, has been approved. I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with you in adding Woodlake to our Images of America series!

I had my first opportunity to publish history, starting with four scanned pictures on my way to collecting over 200 more to fill the book.

I sent my final draft in with all the pictures on Monday, December 8, 2014.

Just like the military the process was hurry up and wait. In January people wondered when the book would come out. I told them the publisher had said it would come out in June. June came and went and I had no word from the publisher. The pressure at home rose. Where was it? I began to wonder if the publisher changed their mind.

In August people started asking me if I had the book, because they had seen it on Amazon. I still hadn’t heard from the publisher. I checked on Amazon, and there it was. A few days later Lauri Polly brought me the copy she received in the mail from the publishing company because she was a local business. I received my first copies of the book about a week later August 17th.

Diana Pearcy, from the Woodlake High School Foundation, asked me if it was worth the effort. It’s life changing when you watch people at a dinner thumbing through the book and finding pictures of themselves and their families in a printed book that’s out there for the world to see. They don’t know me, but suddenly they want my autograph in their book.

That was one of my dreams – to be a published book author. What are your dreams?