Whether they’re first-timers or experienced, if they shared a personal story or created fiction with roots in real life, four Twin Towns Area residents share a common bond. They’re all published authors.
Robert Tully Chambers’ latest is “Kimberly,” where a woman’s U.S. Navy career takes her from the SEALs to anti-terrorism missions with Homeland Security. Laurie Stiller is the author of “Talk to Jesus,” which shows youth that they can pray at any time.
Phillip Meyer wrote “Unafraid: Leon’s Son,” the story of King Leo and his efforts to protect the planet Athnan. Trey Woods, 6, is the youngest of the quartet. He wrote the largely autobiographical “Where Are My Glasses?”
The area authors shared their stories of inspiration, motivation and recognition with Daily News.
“I am discovering that I tend to write about strong women,” Chambers said. “My family is lousy with strong women, going back to the 19th century. My mother had a four-year business degree in the 1930s. I’ve got daughters that you don’t want to mess with. I’ve been around strong women all my life.”
Kimberly, motivated by a traumatic event when she was in junior high, advances from the U.S. Naval Academy to surface warfare to her goal, the SEALs. The book was largely written before Chambers’ “Hidden Wounds,” but took its final shape after edits including repurposing a few chapters into a few pages of backstory.
Being an author is a process, Chambers said, but a fulfilling one. R.R. Bowker, which provides International Standard Book Numbers, surveys authors. Chambers was asked about his favorite and least favorite parts of writing.
“The favorite is the writing itself,” he said. “The least favorite is the editing and marketing. ‘How long did it take you to write?’ Well, that totally depends. A first draft of a story that’s been around my head might be written in a matter of a few days. But then it’s about getting it into a published format.”
“Talk to Jesus,” Stiller’s second book, follows in the footsteps of “Why Jesus Loves Me.”
“It’s to show kids that you can pray to Jesus at any time, not just in bed at night or at church,” Stiller said. “Did you fall down and got hurt? ‘Talk to Jesus.’ Did your best friend move away? ‘Talk to Jesus.’ Prayers can be said anytime, at any place and about anything.”
“Talk to Jesus” has been promoted through word of mouth, Stiller said. If she had to mail a copy, she’d write “postage paid by Jesus.”
In April, Stiller and her husband drove around Wahpeton, delivering copies of the book in mailboxes. The experience was fun, even if she couldn’t see people. Hearing back from readers is even better.
“The front of my fridge is covered with pieces of paper, of scribbled ‘thank you’s from kids,” Stiller said. “Parents have sent me pictures of kids reading the book or trying to read the book. That, to me, is worth it.”
Receiving thank you messages from children is the main reason why Stiller likes sending her books to families.
“It is so touching to look at a scribbled page. It’s priceless,” she said.
“Unafraid: Leon’s Son” is a different kind of book. While it’s a fantasy with traditional roots, there is also a modern twist.
“I never really wanted to write something that’s too out there. I wanted a setting that’s as close to Earth as possible,” Meyer, 22, said.
The book includes interior illustrations from Meyer’s brother, Andrew. It started as a king-in-training’s story Phillip Meyer wrote by hand at age 15. He kept a journal while taking a family vacation. After a break, Meyer finished “Unafraid” a few years later, while he was quarantined at home.
“I pull a lot of influence from my own life and the lives of different people I know, plus from a lot of different books I’ve read,” Meyer said. “I’ve got six more books I’ve written and I’ve waiting to get those published. Right now, I’m taking a break.”
“Unafraid: Leon’s Son” was written to appeal to everyone, Meyer said.
“It’s going to especially appeal to people who don’t have a lot of hope right now. It’s really a book about family and forgiveness. That’s a theme I wanted to push. I wanted something that’d be really fun to read with a meaning,” he said.
Trey Woods, 6, is the son of David and Heather Woods, Wahpeton. A student at St. John’s School, he won first place for kindergarteners in Prairie Public Broadcasting’s PBS Kids Writers Contest with “Where Are My Glasses?”
“The story is about me losing my glasses and my mom asking me where they are,” Woods said. “Then I search for them in a lot of places, like in my room, by the soccer net, by my bed and in places like that until I find them.”
Woods, who started wearing glasses last fall, said it was easy to list out the places to look because he often loses his glasses. He and his mother agree that the project was fun because of how much he likes to write and draw.
“He won a certificate, some books and a $50 gift card,” Heather Woods said. “The winners will have a digital file of their book on Prairie Public’s website and he will also be reading his story on ‘Main Street,’ a program on Prairie Public Radio.”
The PBS Kids Writers Contest is designed to promote the advancement of youth literacy through hands-on, active learning. A total of 108 North Dakota youth participated.
“Kimberly” is available through Amazon and at locations including Breckenridge Drug and Expressions Floral and Gift. “Talk to Jesus” is available by contacting Stiller on Facebook. “Unafraid: Leon’s Son” is available through marketplaces including Amazon. “Where Are My Glasses?” can be read at prairiepublic.org/writerscontest.
These four stories join the countless books available locally in stores and libraries. As the Library of Congress used to say, “They’ll be happy to help you read more about it.”