I can hardly believe it’s been six years since I met Sara at a blogger conference in Vegas. Once six women crammed themselves into a compact rental car, we were destined to be friends. We quickly dubbed ourselves the “Clown Car Collective,” and decided to support each other in our endeavors. Sara and I both vowed to get our books published. We did. Perhaps it “takes a village.” Sometimes a “Clown Car Collective” does the trick. (Well, to be honest, as the years passed, we did lose some of that Collective energy, and then you-know, COVID took the wind out of most of our sails.
Here’s something I didn’t know about Sara: She’s an auctioneer. She doesn’t even seem like a fast-talker to me. I’m trying, right now to envision her with a gavel in hand, sing-songing so fast she’s harder to understand than Lil Baby: “One dollar bid, now two, now two, will ya give me two? Two dollar bid, now three, now three, will ya give me three?”
Oh I wish I had Sara’s 100 Things to do in Iowa Before You Die when I traveled through Iowa a couple of summers ago. Still, I had a good time checking off the places I’d seen as I went through her book.
I really love the way Sara organized 100 Things to do in Iowa Before You Die. It’s obvious how much Sara loves her home state. So many people refer to states like Iowa as fly-over states. It’s amazing how much they have to offer.
Skip toward the back of 100 Things to do in Iowa Before You Die to plan an itinerary based on season or your interest. Do you like festivals? Sara has a plan for you. Are you an outdoorsy sort? She’s got you covered there, too. Whether you’re taking kids, or want to take a wine tour with a special someone, 100 Things to do in Iowa Before You Die, can guide you along the way.
I had a slew of questions to ask Sara about her journey to become a published author.
Have you written other books? I co-authored Midwest Road Trip Adventures with several other writers from the Midwest Travel Network, I wrote the Iowa Chapter. (It’s being re-released as we speak).
What made you decide to write this book? I’ve always loved exploring my home state of Iowa and I knew that it was time for the world to know why it’s such a great place to visit and call home.
How did you get started? I have always loved to write. I started writing on a “Mom” blog in 2008, All In An Iowa Mom’s Day, which morphed into Travel With Sara. Travel became such a large part of my life in 2013, that I knew the online travel space was where I belonged.
What’s your writing process like? I am a visual person. When I visit a place, I take way more pictures than necessary, because I never know when I will need “that” photo. Many of these photos are what I refer to when I write a story. I visit, take photos, interview local people, and begin to write. The people that I meet play a large part in my writing, as those are often the stories that I write about.
How long did it take you? It was in July of 2021 that I knew it was time for me to write this book, and nobody had written it. I reached out to the publisher and I knew that I needed the book in my hand. The manuscript was due at the end of October and both of my parents became very ill with Covid-19 in September of 2021, which is when I had penciled in time to write the book. As a travel writer, I’m gone a lot and this was a time frame I had planned on being home to write the book. I was introduced to writer’s block. After my father passed away on October 9th, 2021, I had to figure out how to write the book.
Sara dedicated her book to her father.
I had been traveling Iowa for years. I had the content, photos, and experiences, all I needed to do was follow the publisher’s guidelines and it was done. I did get it completed on time and the “timing” was right!
What’s your biggest challenge? Having books to sell to bookstores and businesses. Due to the current paper shortage in the Fall of 2022, there are currently no 100 Things To Do In Iowa Before You Die at the warehouse. I am encouraging businesses to leave their contact information with my publisher so they can be notified as soon as the books arrive. The book is doing and has done very well, combined with a paper shortage has made for a challenging October of 2022.
I’m sending people to Amazon, as they have the books. The copies I have, I need for upcoming presentations, which will be depleted this week. I have not been selling them on my website because I have not been home long enough to ship them out. And my publisher has 4 copies in house, so that’s not a good option. I’m thrilled the book has done so well, but sooo frustrating!
https://www.amazon.com/100-Things-Iowa-Before-You/dp/1681063506 <——They have copies!
I got my book on my Kindle. That completely avoids the paper shortage. Besides, when I travel, I love to read on my Kindle. So much lighter than the pile of books I always seem to need.
What was the most fun about writing this book? I love hearing the stories of Iowa travel experiences from others. When I am speaking at a book event, I encourage people to share their Iowa stories because I do not know everything about Iowa and always want to learn more. It was fun to relive so many places that I have visited and it made me want to plan a return visit asap!
Why a travel book? I love to travel and through Travel With Sara I have grown to LOVE to share travel stories. I’m a travel enthusiast and love to travel. Travel is the easiest way to learn new skills, meet new people, and experience something you have always dreamed about.
Burning questions: What’s the ideal way for someone to use your book? The size is fantastic, as it fits in a rather small bag. Carry it with you when you are out exploring Iowa. I encourage people to highlight places in the book that interest them, as they skim the book. Then the challenge- see how many of the 100 places you can go see and do. Tip: There are more than 100 things in the book!
What do you hope to get out of publishing your book? I want people to come and experience Iowa, as my home state is much more than a fly-over country.
What else do you want the readers to know about you, Iowa, your book, or writing? I want to hear from my readers, as others have suggestions of places to visit that I do not know about and probably should! There are many other people that could have written this book, but I knew the timing was right for me. I am so grateful that Reedy Press said YES and the book is and continues to do so well.
Do you remember your first day of school? Yes, my new friend, Denise was asked by the bus driver where she lived and she responded with, “I don’t know.” Welcome to Kindergarten!
What were you like in high school? I LOVED to write and I found my husband of 35 years. Yes, we were high school sweethearts.
Here’s some places where you can find out more about Sara:
Oh my! Will Sara be writing about my home state, Michigan, next?