It all started with a fly buzzing around her classroom while she was student teaching at a rural school.
That’s where Betsy Petersen got the inspiration to write her first published book, “The Christmas Fly.”
“I was student teaching 22 years ago, and I was out at Theoni School, which is a rural school (that is now closed) out east of town. It was around Christmas time, and I was doing an observation and there was a fly flying around, and the kids were chasing it. Then I told them, ‘Oh, you don’t want to do that, it’s a Christmas fly and Christmas flies are good luck,’" Petersen said when recalling the story of her book. “Then all of a sudden, it clicked and I thought, ‘That’s a story.’ On my way home, I had it all in my head and wrote it down."
The 14-page children’s book Petersen wrote tells the story of a family of flies with one fly, Petey, who decides to hide from his family in the Christmas decorations.
“He saves a little boy from danger, so they really like having the Christmas Fly,” Petersen said “I don’t want to give away the ending, but he does save a little boy from danger. Everyone seems to love it. They think it's a cute little story.”
Petersen, who now is a keyboarding teacher at Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center, said the story sat on a shelf for a few years, and then one of her daughter’s friends illustrated it.
The book then sat until April, when her husband, Drew, reminded her of it and suggested getting it published.
“I just never thought I could do it before that because I checked into self-publishing places, and the prices were just outrageous,” Petersen said. “With our new business (Graph Ink), we were able to do it.”
The book came in in August, on her 60th birthday, and she sold the first copy the very next day, Petersen said, adding that there has been quite a bit of support for her book. Co-workers, friends, family and even some of her high school classmates have purchased the book. She has even had some book signings in town, as well as some in other cities in Kansas, and has had booths at various events in Garden City.
During a math and literacy night at CSIC, Petersen set up a booth to sell her book.
“They (students) got to see that an ordinary teacher can write a book,” Petersen said. “The funny thing is, I taught math and science for 17 years, so people would go, ‘You wrote a book?’ I thought you were a math teacher?’ It just amazes me that they say that."
Petersen said she has more books written that she hopes to publish soon.
“I just kind of sit in my class and go, ‘Oh,’ and just start writing. They’re just going to be small children’s books like it (her first book), but with an insect,” Petersen said. “This one is a fly, the next one is a cricket, and then I have one with a dragonfly.”
Petersen's 10-year old granddaughter, Jordan Humphreys, is very artistic and creative, Petersen said, and has expressed interest in illustrating the next book.
“She will illustrate my second book,” Petersen said, adding that she hopes to have the next one out by the summer of 2018.
She also dedicated the book to her grandchildren.
“That’s the most exciting is seeing how excited they were for it,” Petersen said, when asked about the most rewarding part of publishing her first book. “And the support and the compliments I get.”
Drew Petersen said he is proud of his wife.
“I think this is just the first of I think many books that she will publish because she’s kind of got the fever now,” he said. “I can see this being something she does, especially after retirement. I think there will be quite a bit more books coming out.”
Betsy is selling the books for $10 each. More information about her book can be found at the www.thechristmasfly.com. She is selling the book on her own, and it can be purchased by contacting her at (620) 272-7939, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Josh Harbour at email@example.com.