Have you ever been to Gracier, Iowa? According to Milissa R. Bailey, it is a well-kept community with even better kept secrets. "Lives are peaceful, streets are quiet, but behind the tranquility is many a tale to be told." If you haven't experienced the town, you can do so by reading Bailey's book "Gracier," the first in a series.
The book is now available for purchase, in hard copy and e-book form on Amazon.com, as well as at Whoop-Ti-Doos & La-Ti-Daas and The Main Attraction.
From the start
Bailey said that she has been writing her whole life.
"My earliest memory of writing was when I used my mother's typewriter," she said. "She would set me up at a table in the dining room and I would type."
She said that she remembers her grandmother coming in while she was typing a story.
"I laid the pages next to the typewriter," Bailey recalled. "She came in, picked up a piece of paper and starting reading it. She asked 'What book are you typing this out of? I want to read this book.' I said 'Grandma, I'm not typing out of a book. I'm typing my story.'"
Bailey said writing is something that she is passionate about - something that inspires her.
"I just enjoy writing," she continued. "The story of 'Gracier' has been in my head for over 20 years."
The process began when her oldest son was born. Bailey starting writing the book, waking up at 5 a.m. and writing until he would wake up.
"As we had children and had jobs, it (the book) kind of got put away," she said. "About 10 years ago, I finished writing the book and started the process of getting it published five years ago."
The murder/mystery revolves around the people who live in Gracier, Iowa. Jessica McCabe comes home after the death of her grandfather. Coming home, she soon discovers what she thought was the truth about her life is actually false.
"They always say write about what you know," Bailey said. "I know what it is like to live in the Midwest. I could just imagine these characters in the community."
As she wrote the story of Gracier, Bailey said that it began to develop around Jessica McCabe.
People from Iowa who have read the book that said that if you aren't from Iowa, you'll get a sense of who Iowans are and what it is like living in a small town.
"The response has been 'I can see this' and 'That reminds me of something from my childhood,'" she said. "That has been rewarding for me."
The series, as a whole, is about the community of Gracier. Bailey said that the next book in the series shifts to another group of characters, some which readers will meet in the first book.
"The second book is 80 percent done," Bailey said. "The third book is about 50 percent done. As I was writing the first book, I'd come to like a certain character and think 'I want to write a book about this person.'"
The world of publishing
Bailey said that the process of publishing wasn't easy.
"Publishers want people who have agents. Agents are looking for people who are published," she said.
One after another, she received responses back like, "Love the book. Don't have room for it now."
"Through our research, we found that more and more authors were going at it by themselves," Bailey said. "They had gone through the same struggles."
Christopher Pailini's popular Eragon series is an example of self-publishing that worked.
"Publishing houses used to decide who would get published and who didn't," Bailey continued. "With the development of Amazon and e-books, it has leveled the playing field."
Bailey and her husband, Kent, own OHP Marketing Services - through their work in the advertising marketing field, they realized that their company does about everything a publishing firm does. So they started Boone River Publishing.
"Through that vehicle, we were able to publish the book and find a book printer in Minnesota," she said. "It gave us the opportunity to get the book out there."
She said that developing the publishing company was a process because they wanted to do it right.
Getting the word out
Through the world of social media, interviews and book signings, Bailey looks to spread the word on her novel.
"Since we do marketing for a living, we know it is something you have to tell people, tell people and tell them again," she said.
People can visit her website www.milissarbailey.com, which will connect to her Facebook page and Amazon, where she is selling her book. Hard cover copies are available for $9.95 plus tax, and e-books are for sale for $1.99. From Friday through Sunday, people can get a free version of the e-book on Amazon.
Bailey will also be holding a book signing from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on May 24 at the Kendall Young Library. Books will be available for purchase.
Bailey said that the process has been worthwhile.
"In the acknowledgements of the book, I say that for writers, writing isn't about doing it because you have to. It's because you want to - it's like breathing," she said. "Whenever I write, I feel the best - it energizes me. That is who I am."
She said that it can be a hard, frustrating and long process writing a book.
"But every time I walked through the doors of the Kendall Young Library, I have thought 'Someday, I want my book to be here,'" Bailey said. "Now, it's actually here."