The first-ever Iowa Book Festival is underway today in the central Iowa town of Adel. The event targets children and adults through a host of reading-related activities, guest story-tellers and a parade of kids’ favorite story characters in costume.
Wanna-be authors can also take part in a host of workshops, like one featuring author Kali Van Baale of Bondurant. She’ll offer tips on how to get published, drawing on her experiences with her first book “The Space Between.”
Van Baale says, “It has been nothing short of an uphill climb to get it in book stores and get the word out to readers, especially being with a very small publisher. It has been a real challenge.” She says Iowans who want to become authors may face similar pitfalls, but she urges them to stick to it if they want to succeed.
VanBaale says: “My biggest piece of advice is not to give up. Getting the word out about your book takes time but if you really believe in your story and you believe in your words in print — you have to do your research, you have to get a crash course in marketing and the book market.” Her book deals with a fatal school shooting from the perspective of the young gunman’s mother.
VanBaale says the process of writing is a cathartic experience for her. She says: “Absolutely. Writing has almost become like breathing. I don’t know how not to write anymore. I don’t think I’d be a very mentally-healthy person if I weren’t writing.” VanBaale is married and a mother of two and divides her days between trying to be a full-time mom and a full-time writer.
VanBaale says, “I am working on a new novel and having a lot of stop-and-start, stop-and-start to promote the one that’s in print right now has been a little daunting and frustrating. The process of writing really should require long gaps of uninterrupted time but I don’t really have a choice, so if I want the one in print to do well I need to get out there and promote it.”
Other authors will read some of their works during the festival, including Iowa’s Poet Laureate Robert Dana, mystery writer Donald Harsted of Elkader and children’s author Connie Hechert of Bettendorf. Other topics will range from small press publishing to writing gardening books to journaling. Events are underway all day in locations throughout Adel. For more information, call Julie Bailey at (515) 993-5472.