Local duo teams up to publish book | AspenTimes.com

Local duo teams up to publish book

John Colson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A former Carbondale Elementary School teacher, working with a local ski instructor who is also an illustrator, has published a children’s book that she hopes is the first of many books to come.

Titled “The Mutt and The Monster,” the book is loosely based on the lives of Amy Krakow’s two pet pooches, Sparky and Spooner, as told in the first person by one of the characters.

Krakow, 49, has been in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1978, having moved here from Steamboat Springs. She taught at Carbondale Elementary for 13 years, teaching third- and fourth-graders as well as being part of the English as a Second Language program. She now teaches ESL for adults at Colorado Mountain College.

She had been working on her book for a year and a half when she noticed last year that CMC was giving a class in how to self-publish a children’s book.

As it happened, the first session of the class was scheduled to start on the same day that she spotted it in the CMC catalog, but she squeaked in despite having missed the registration deadline.

And one of the first things that happened was that, during class introductions, she met illustrator Steve Williams.

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Williams, 42, has been in the valley for 20 years or so. Asked to describe himself, he said he is an illustrator, a photographer, an Aspen Highlands patroller and a political cartoonist for a local daily newspaper.

“He’d been wanting to illustrate a children’s book,” Krakow recalled, “and I said, ‘I have one already written.'”

At that point, the two became partners. She continued to refine the text, and he went to work on the watercolor drawings, building on basic ideas that Krakow supplied him with.

“It’s been one of my dreams to illustrate a children’s book,” Williams confirmed, adding that it took him about three months to complete the drawings for roughly half the book.

At that point, he said, Krakow informed him that they had an unexpected window of opportunity to print the book almost immediately, so he rushed to finish the second half of the drawings in about two days.

That experience, he said, taught him that there was no need to labor over the drawings, since the ones he did quickly came out just as well as the ones that took days at a time.

And, he said of the process, “I’ve got the good end of the gig … all I had to do was be the illustrator.” He said Krakow did the lion’s share of the work, from revising the text to match better with his illustrations, to arranging for a printer that would take on such a relatively small job.

“Amy’s the only one who actually got it together and did it,” he said.

Krakow said she shopped around the Internet for a printer and was despairing of finding one. Many of the small-job plants that print children’s books, she said, are located in Europe, and most will not do small runs such as hers – just 1,000 copies to start with.

But she found one, in Marcelina, Mo., and just last week received the shipment.

Krakow said that as of Feb. 15 she had already sold 48 copies in a 24-hour period, at $15 apiece.

She is hoping to sell some to area schools, to inspire students into publishing their own works some day.

“Kids are always writing and ‘publishing’ their own stories at school,” she explained. “And now they can see, ‘hey, you can really do this.'”

In addition, she hopes to sell books through Amazon.com, at the Tattered Cover in Denver, and possibly through stores in Steamboat Springs and Crested Butte.

Part of the proceeds from the sales, she said, will be going to support the Valley Dog Rescue program. And she hopes to publish more adventures of “The Mutt and The Monster” in the future, under the proprietary umbrella of her new corporate identity, Wagging Tales Publishing of Carbondale.