Over the past several years I have published a total of 13 books. As 2015 comes to a close, I’d like to recap my publishing efforts with a summary of this aspect of my life.
My Father’s Love
· A book of the poems written by my father, Vernon Russell, during WWII while on a ship in the South Pacific. Published as a tribute to him (he passed away in 2006 just a few days short of my parents’ 60th anniversary). All the copies went to family and friends.
· 3/2009, 70 pages, total printing of 18 copies
· A book of all the poems that I have written. While the earliest one dates to my elementary school days, the vast majority were written during a creative streak while I was in college (hence the name).
· 3/2009, 136 pages, total printing of 18 copies
Special Poems for Special People
· A book of poems that had been written by my mother-in-law, Mary Ellen VanDeCar. Most were written to/about other people in her life. I did this as a surprise to her while she was in a nursing home the final year of her life (she passed away in February 2010). She was very surprised to receive it and was the “star” of the nursing home for several months – after all, how many people in nursing homes have a book published!
· 5/2009, 210 pages, total printing of 112 copies
· The true war stories of a friend from church, Robert Kauffman, who served as a private during WWII. This was God-directed – I was showing some men my father’s book at a breakfast meeting when I distinctly heard God saying to me, “Go see Bob.” After breakfast I drove to his house and told him that God had sent me to ask about publishing his stories. Bob’s wife had passed away a few months earlier and, as he had devoted the prior couple of years to taking care of her, he wasn’t sure what to do next. This reinvigorated him. Over the next few years he gave innumerable speeches to various civic organizations and churches, appeared on TV, and spoke at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
· 9/2009, 208 pages, total printing of 1163 copies
· Another book of poetry, these were written by Ardella Bray, another friend from church, who had written most of them as tributes to people in her life at milestone events.
· 6/2010, 100 pages, total printing of 103 copies
Thoughts to Ponder
· A friend from work, Lela Hartranft, had been writing short devotionals as inserts for her church bulletins for a number of years and wanted to turn them into a book of 366 devotionals (one for every day of the year). Part of the challenge was that these had been written in several different word processors over the years and they all had to be converted to a common format. This is the largest book I have done, but it was a joy to work on.
· 8/2010, 408 pages, total printing of 155 copies
Sir Marrok and The Complete Sir Marrok
· When our daughter and son-in-law had their first child they gave him the middle name of Marrok, after Sir Marrok of the Knights of the Round Table. A fictional book had been written about Sir Marrok in 1902, but it was long out of print (and out of copyright) and the only copies were ones that had been scanned from library collections. As a tribute to my grandson, I converted a scanned copy to a fresh document and republished it. As I had been reading it, there was a spot in the book where the original author, Allen French, had alluded to two stories that he had not included. I decided to challenge myself and wrote the “missing” chapters, in the same style as the original author and fitting in with his timeline. I then published a second version a few months later.
· Sir Marrok, 7/2010, 128 pages, total printing of 27 copies
· The Complete Sir Marrok, 11/2010, total printing of 24 copies
Passing it On: Lessons Learned in Life
· Another long-time friend, Richard Gehman, had been a missionary in Kenya, Africa for many years. He decided to write his life story and asked my help in publishing it. He has also written several other books about missions, but this was a more personal effort.
· 7/2011, 260 pages, total printing of 158 copies
Calvinism in Light of the General Tenor of the Scriptures
· I seem to be attracted to older friends with church connections. Roy Hertzog is a retired pastor and wanted to publish the results of many years of research that he had done on a theological topic. A very different genre from most of my other publishing efforts, but I learn from everything that I publish as I read them very thoroughly as I edit them.
· 5/2015, 142 pages, total printing of 85 copies
· After doing books for many others, I decided to publish my own life story. I had also been frustrated as I kept running into things that I wish I had asked my parents and grandparents before they passed on. So I tried to answer those same questions about myself so that my children and grandchildren would have the answers when they began asking these types of questions. This was a fun writing exercise as I mostly just sat at the computer and wrote in a “stream of consciousness” style to capture all that I could remember about my life.
· 11/2015, 186 pages, total printing of 30 copies
He Gave Me A Song
· I was approached by a lady I know who had been helping an older friend, Sammie Trumbore, with the editing of a book of her life story. Sammie had grown up in the depression in Texas and had a vivid memory of all that had happened to her, but every chapter was written as if someone in her life at the time was writing about her. A joy for me to help with this. It also turned out that my wife and I knew Sammie from a few decades before when her daughter was a part of a Sunday School class at our church.
· 3/2015, 240 pages, total printing of 203 copies
Journeys with God
· Marilyn Harris is the cousin of Roy Hertzog (above). She is a retired home health care nurse and has edited one of the “bibles” of this field, “Handbook of Home Health Care Administration,” now in its sixth edition. But this was a more personal book of devotions and short stories from her life so was not necessarily appropriate for the professional editing and distribution that her other book used. A great lady to get to know and another fun effort for me as I got to read through all that she had written.
· 11/2015, 132 pages, total printing of 205 copies
When I retired in 2007 at the age of 58-1/2, I never envisioned having a hobby of book publishing. But here I am, nearly 9 years later, with a portfolio of 13 books. I also have a few others “in the works” that may or may not come to fruition in the coming year or so (a follow-on to “Journeys with God”, a book about my high school principal, Mr. D’Agostino, being written by his daughter, and another I’m not at liberty to share yet).
I don’t make much money with this hobby. Most of the copies I provide at cost to the writer and they can give them away or sell as they desire. My only income is from the copies that are sold via amazon.com and that has amounted to only a little over $1000 during the past 7 years. But this is a hobby, so the goal is to not spend too much money, not to turn a profit.
My real joy is seeing the happiness on the faces of those who have written these books – Bob, Ardella, Lela, Sammie, Marilyn, Roy, etc. There is something about holding in your hands a physical copy of something that you may have spent many years writing. I’m glad for the small part that I am able to play in this.