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Story time

Local authors cover romance, food and adventure

The weather has turned and what a better time to sit down with a good book — especially one from a local author.

“Winter’s Delight at Papa’s House”

Lori Lea Carlon, of Gowrie, has recently published what could be considered a 20-year-long project.

Carlon, who has retired from 33 years of teaching, said the idea to write a book came from some professional and personal goal development days while teaching school in Renwick.

“One of my personal goals in one of my meetings was to write a children’s book,” she said.

Librarian at the time, Joyce Keeling, gave her the idea to write something involving snowmobiles.

“Her family was obsessed with snowmobiles, and she said there isn’t very many stories on snowmobiles. I had only ridden a snowmobile once, but that is now it started,” she said.

Carlon said she worked on the book for a time back then, but with a young family, just didn’t find the time.

After a long stint as an art teacher at Clarion-Goldfield schools, Carlon’s retirement allowed for the time to reexamine the book.

Carlon, who is both the illustrator and the author of the book said she re-drew the pictures and re-wrote the story.

“I got the pictures in order of what I liked, I kept flipping thorugh them, did more detail and wrote the story with the pictures,” she said.

“Winter’s Delight at Papa’s House” is based on a little boy, named Chad who is visiting at his Papa’s house. They make plans for a big day of snowmobiling in the fresh snow. As he drifts off to sleep snowmobiling adventures take over his dreams –but was it all a dream? After enjoying a pancake breakfast together the next morning Papa and Chad take off on their adventure only to see a strange set of snowmobile tracks.

Unique to Carlon’s book are surprises within the illustrations. First of all, Carlon chose to not show any of the character’s faces.

“That way anybody can set themselves within the story,” she said.

Those enjoying the book can also use their imagination even further.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Lori Lea Carlon, of Gowrie, autographs a book during a book signing in Clarion last week. Carlon illustrated and authored “Winter’s Delight at Papa’s House.”

“There are a lot of things hidden in the drawings,” she said, adding elementary-aged children and all children at heart will enjoy the book.

Carlon said she finds it surreal that she is a published author.

“I’m still trying to get used to seeing it – that is my name. Those are my pictures,” she said.

“Winter’s Delight at Papa’s House” can be found online through Fulton Books.

“Second Chance Romance”

-Submitted photo Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, author from Yetter, poses with her book “Iowa Agriculture: A History of Farming, Family and Food.

“Second Chance Romance” is a story about a 65-year-old divorced mother and grandmother who relocated from the Midwest to Washington D.C., where she finds a job at a Smithsonian cafe and later as a guide at one of the Smithsonian Museums. She meets a handsome 60-year-old man that she has had a crush on for about five years and their paths continue to cross; many times just sharing a meal and it leads to a new relationship for both of them.

“A series of comedic mishaps and misunderstandings makes their romantic journey seem like a roller coaster ride, so hang on tight and see where this romance is headed. Her apartment? His house? Or somewhere else,” said Ruth Fridolfson, author of the romance novel, “Second Chance Romance.”

Fridolson’s book became available Sept. 2019 – something she said he had always had in the back of her head.

“I love to read and I love romance novels. In the 1980’s, I had some poems published. It was something I never thought I could do, but thought I am going to try this,” she said.

Fridolfson, of Rockwell City, said she had the characters and the plot in mind. She had set out to create an outline.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Ruth Fridolfson, of Rockwell City, poses with her novel “Second Chance Romance.” The book was released in September 2019.

“That didn’t work, so I just started writing,” she said. “It took me six weeks.”

When she was finished writing the book she set out to find a publishing company. Nine months later “Second Chance Romance” was published.

Fridolfson said she ordered 40 books that she handed out to friends and donated to libraries in Rockwell City, Fort Dodge and Gowrie.

“I didn’t make any money on it. I just wanted to do it. Just to prove that I could do it,” she said. “My husband (Lyle Fridolfson) says to be proud for what you did because not everybody can write a book and he said you brought a lot of joy to people that have read it and you have to be proud of yourself for what you did. It was not easy. It was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be.”

Fridolfson not only wrote one book, but three. “Second Chance Romance” is a trilogy. The final two, which follow the same characters, are waiting to be published.

“Second Chance Romance” is available online at Barnes and Nobles.

Iowa’s Storyteller focuses on history, food and farming

There’s a saying that people forget; books don’t. This resonates with author Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, of rural Lake City.

“In my 20-plus career as an ag journalist, I’ve come across many remarkable stories that need to be protected in a format that will endure,” said Maulsby, “Iowa’s Storyteller” who has published five illustrated, non-fiction books of Iowa history. “A printed book is a survivor. It preserves stories and photos in a way that a webpage or social media post likely will never be able to safeguard.”

All of Maulsby’s books focus on true stories well told to capture the interest of readers of all ages. Her first book, “Calhoun County”, published in 2015 by Arcadia Publishing, encourages readers to view the history of small-town, rural Iowa through the eyes of those who lived it.

“This book helps people discover the region’s pioneer heritage, the birth of the railroad and prairie towns, and the growth of some of most productive farms in the world,” Maulsby said.

Maulsby has also written “Dallas County”, which is filled with stories and more than 200 photos, in the same format as “Calhoun County”.

“No Iowa county has influenced American history more than Dallas County,” said Maulsby, who lived near Granger and Woodward from 2001 to 2006. “It propelled Harry Truman to an unlikely victory in the 1948 presidential campaign, following a fiery speech he delivered to 100,000 farmers on a sweltering September day at the National Plowing Match near Dexter.”

Just 15 years earlier, a shoot-out near Dexfield Park marked the beginning of the end for infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde and the notorious Barrow Gang. Dallas County has also produced several outstanding athletes, including Major League Baseball pitcher Bob Feller of Van Meter, and Nile Kinnick of Adel, the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner and University of Iowa football legend.

One of Maulsby’s best-selling books is “A Culinary History of Iowa”, a combination story book/cookbook with recipes and vintage photos.

“Iowa’s delectable cuisine is quintessentially Midwestern, grounded in its rich farming heritage and spiced with diverse ethnic influences,” said Maulsby, who has been featured on the Iowa PBS show “Iowa Ingredient.”

The 192-page book delves into Iowa classics from breaded pork tenderloins to Maid-Rites to the culinary phenomenon of cinnamon rolls served with chili.

“A lot of non-Iowans have never heard of serving cinnamon rolls with chili,” Maulsby said. “A friend of mine from Minnesota said, ‘That makes no sense. That’s like eating birthday cake and scrambled eggs together.’ I assured her it’s still a school-lunch favorite in many places across Iowa.”

Maulsby’s love of Iowa food and the people who grow it led to her latest two books, both of which were published in 2020. The 224-page “Iowa Agriculture: A History of Farming, Family and Food” explores how Iowa’s agricultural history influences countless aspects of modern life.

“To truly understand Iowa, you have to understand the culture of agriculture –the stories of the people of the land,” Maulsby said. “These are the greatest stories never told, especially as more generations of families are further removed from living or working on Iowa farms.”

From the birth of the modern tractor to the Iowa State Fair to the 1980s farm crisis and beyond, Maulsby traces how agriculture continues to shape not only Iowa’s farms, but its small towns and cities.

“Anyone who eats will find value in this book,” said Maulsby, who recipes in this book, as well.

Her latest book, “Classic Restaurants of Des Moines,” shares Iowa stories and recipes from Iowa’s capital city. With Italian steakhouses, the Younkers Tea Room and Stella’s Blue Sky Diner, Des Moines’s culinary history is tantalizingly diverse. It’s also filled with colorful characters, from bootlegger/“millionaire bus boy” Babe Bisignano who ran Babe’s restaurant, to future president of the United States Ronald Reagan.

“The savory details shared in this book reveal deeper stories of race relations, women’s rights, Iowa caucus politics, the arts, immigration and assimilation,” Maulsby said. “Don’t be surprised if you experience sudden cravings for cheese frenchees from King’s Food Host, or chocolate ambrosia pie, a’ la Bishop’s Buffet.”

Maulsby is looking forward to the March 2021 publication of her next Iowa history book, Madison County, which details the famous covered bridges, John Wayne and more. She is also finishing her non-fiction book “Iowa’s Lost History on the Titanic,” which tells the stories of people with ties to Iowa and the doomed ocean liner.

Signed copies of Maulsby’s books are available through her online store at www.darcymaulsby.com.

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