LAKEWOOD, IL – 19 Jul, 2017 –
Name: Russell King
Hometown: Lakewood, Illinois
Latest Book: “Have You Seen My Daddy’s 18 Wheeler?”
Publisher: Self-published through CreateSpace. Indigo River Publishing, from Pensacola, Florida, contacted me to work with them, but that turned out to be a self-publishing deal. I think they would have provided a lot more and effective marketing and publicity which would help, but I could not afford the payment they wanted me to make. Even so, I really liked and appreciated the fact that they think there is some interest in the book.
Release Date: June, 2017
Where can we find it? Amazon.com “Have You Seen My Daddy’s 18 Wheeler?” or they may be purchased at firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s it about? It is a children’s interactive travel book about 18 wheelers. There is a small story about what Daddy does as a truck driver with full color pictures of things he hauls (fruits and vegetables, trains, combines, and horses), things he sees (truck stop signs look like totem poles), and where he rests and refuels (truck stops). Then there are full color pictures of 18 wheel tractors that represent over 118,000 tractors that can be spotted on American interstate highways. Points are assigned to each truck, inverse to the number of trucks each firm has, so children can search for and spot them as they travel. So, for instance, Swift Transportation, with over 16,000 tractors (thus easy to spot), gets 7 points; but Churchill Transportation, with 130 tractors (thus more difficult to spot), gets 909 points; Garry Mercer Trucking with 35 tractors gets 3,376 points; and Green Acres Transport, with 1 tractor (and almost impossible to spot) gets 23,369 points.
The children, and bored adult passengers, too, in my mind, search for, spot, and keep track of the number of points. After several hours, and many, many miles, a “winner” can be identified. It will compliment and/or replace the “ABC” game or the “License Plate” game that we all played as children and passengers.
Where did the idea come from? I am a retired civil engineer and provided inspection services for construction of interstate highways and bridges. I often spent hours per day, just feet away from these behemoths as they rumbled past on their continual journey from point to point. I wondered how many passed within those few feet as I watched to make sure the pavement was properly constructed or documented the bridge construction. Then, on my family vacations, I wondered how many we passed between Chicago and Hilton Head, or Yellowstone, or Albuquerque.
So, one day about five years ago, I went to my local rest stop and started taking photographs, contacted the owners for permission, and assembled them into a book. I have photographed more than 500 trucking firms at truck stops, rest stops, or just along the highway all over the country to get a thorough sample of trucking firms. The tractors all have sleepers because they are long haul and furnish the driver with his “home away from home” and the trailers are all vans, either dry or refrigerated. The 18 wheelers that do not fit these criteria may be used in separate books in the future.
The story about what daddy does came as I continued to talk to the drivers. I was amazed when one of my first interviewees said he was hauling a load of toilet paper from Green Bay (Kimberly Clark) to a warehouse in New Orleans. But he told me “Hey, the paper must get from the plant to the consumer some way.” and I had to admit he was right. Since then, I’ve talked to drivers hauling raw cookie dough from some place in Saskatchewan to a baker in Florida, potatoes from Oregon to a McDonald’s French fry factory in Philadelphia, clothes for Macy’s from warehouse to warehouse, and lots of other things. Everything is hauled at some point in an 18 wheeler.
What genre is your book, and why were you drawn to it? The book is for boys and girls between about 6 to about 12. I think bored adult passengers would get some use too. We’ve used it a number of times on family vacations (just my wife and I, now) and reduce the boredom for many miles and hours.
Everything in American moves at some point in its life on an 18 wheeler. Everything !!! Think about it. That is why I was drawn to it – how many drivers and how much equipment does this movement add to the total American economy?
Who is the intended audience? The book is for boys and girls between about 6 to about 12. I think bored adult passengers would get some use too.
Why is this story important to you? Everything in American moves at some point in its life on an 18 wheeler. Everything !!! Think about it. That is why I was drawn to it – how many drivers and how much equipment does this movement add to the total American economy?
In addition, my work as a civil engineer meant that the weight, turning movement, and stopping and starting of 18 wheelers must be accounted for in both the design and construction.
How long did it take you to write? What was your process? I started on a cold, winter, but sunny day in 2012. I’ve been working on it ever since.
I take the picture, arrange it into the book, and contact the owner. Each 18 wheeler has a DOT number assigned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which is prominently displayed on the tractor. FMCSA supplies a telephone number for that firm, which I call, explain what I am doing, get a name and contact information, and send a request for approval. I then include the approved firm in the book.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? What was the hardest part? I love photography and have won several contests with pictures I’ve taken. This almost inexhaustible supply of 18 wheelers provides a continual excuse to take pictures. I find 18 wheelers interesting to look at, with very creative logos, paint jobs, lights, and special features. Don’t forget, the tractor is driven almost 100,000 miles per year so must be replaced every few years and each year the new tractors have different features and look different than the years before.
There is nothing hard about it.
How are you publishing this book and why (traditional/indie/self-publishing)? CreateSpace is a self-publishing arm of Amazon.com. I think they are marvelous for this type of product. I can get as many copies as I want for minimal cost, they do an adequate job of actually printing the books, their publishing services are moderately priced and only required if I so choose, and Amazon.com provides an adequate platform to reach costumers.
The drawback is that many book stores will not work with CreateSpace products. Amazon.com is so very competitive and the book selling market is so very bad that small book stores just cannot stay in business. I really feel sorry for the sellers I am working with because of these double whammies.
I also think the printing quality is only adequate, almost like my little printer. I would expect a publisher to create higher quality pictures in the book.
What is your education/background? I grew up on a farm in Urbana, went to the “big city” – Cedar Rapids, and completed my education at ISU. I am a retired civil engineer with a BS in Aerospace Engineer (“Yes, as a matter of fact, it is rocket science.”) I meandered into civil engineering after getting no job offers from college, became a registered professional engineer in 1977, and never regretted it for over 40 years. I worked for several engineering firms, mostly in Chicago, worked on several interesting projects, and gradually climbed the corporate ladder until I went into business for myself in 1990. I then worked on many, many small projects in McHenry, Lake, Kane, and Cook Counties over the next 16 years (sewer and water extensions, subdivisions, site plans for both single family homes and small commercial buildings, road construction, and storm water issues).
As part of my final employment years I inspected interstate highway and bridge construction. Part of my job was taking pictures for documentation purposes. I used those pictures to create “Russell Builds a Bridge” and “Russell Widens a Road”. They are detailed pictures with brief descriptions about how civil engineers are involved in these very normal, but important, construction projects. I use them for a presentation to high school and college students that are considering a major in Civil Engineering.
I was a Rotarian for 25 years in Crystal Lake. I am very proud to say that I managed 25 to 30 high school exchange students both out- and in-bound to and from many countries. We are still “Mom and Dad” to a girl from France (now in Amsterdam), a girl (now wife and mother to three delightful children) in Jakarta, a girl from Brazil (although we don’t know where she is because she continues to be foot-loose, spent about 5 years in Russia, and is continually on the move), and a boy who became a civil engineer in Brazil. Now that I think about it, and am writing this, there are several more that I really connected with.
As a Rotarian, our club sponsored a new septic system in rural Guatemala. My younger daughter was an exchange student to Mexico and was fluent in Spanish, our club wanted someone to see exactly what our money was used for, I was an experienced septic system designer and was interested from an entirely different reason, so her and I spent several days in Guatemala. What an experience. I tell people we would not send our pets to the buildings used to educate those kids – no running water or toilet facilities. The parents furnished a bucket of water for communal drinking (and it was a mess) and there were several outhouses. My daughter and I were introduced to the parents (kind of like a “PTA” meeting) and I was asked to make a few comments. I was exceedingly proud of my daughter who was able to translate my little talk to the parents and administrators (I don’t know a word of Spanish).
How/why did you decide to write a book? Can you tell – I love to write. I am not much of a talker, but I feel very comfortable explaining myself through the written word. My 18 Wheeler book was fun and I really think it should be interesting to boys and girls.
I wrote a family biography, told from my mother’s point of view, titled “What Did He Tell Her?” My younger brother passed away a few years ago and (there were three boys in my family) our children wanted to know what makes each of us tick and what our parents were like. It is almost 40,000 words with pictures about her life and then how I remember mine in that household. It was not a pretty family life and I am not proud of it, but it was my life. I kind of use “Angela’s Ashes” as an example or maybe the new JD Vance book “Hillbilly Elegy”.
Who are your favorite authors? My favorite book seems to be “Shogun” by James Clavell, and I like all of his books in that series.
I really enjoy all of John Grisham’s books, I enjoy many of the Jack Ryan books from Tom Clancy, the Lucas Davenport books by John Sanford, and the Jack Reacher books by Lee Childs.
I read “Lord of The Rings” three times, “Les Miserables” twice (although in fairness I was not able to struggle through the second attempt), the books by the Shaara’s were very good, “The Emigrant” series by Wilhelm Moberg, some of the stuff by Michael Crichton and James Michener is great.
Do you want more? I have read a lot ever since I was old enough and was traveling on a school bus from a farm in Iowa.
Pick one: Danielle Steel or John Grisham? John Grisham (Need I say more?)
Pick one: Stephen King or Nicholas Sparks? I can’t say. I’m not a big King fan but I’ve never read Sparks.
Pick one: E-books or hard/paperbacks? Definitely hard/paperbacks.
Have you written anything else? I’ve explained above — “Russell Builds a Bridge”, “Russell Widens a Road”, and “What Did He Tell Her?”
In fairness, I must confess the 18 wheeler is a compilation of “Have You Seen My 18 Wheeler?” That book presents only 19 trucks in each, it has entries for the children to complete about where they were and who they were with, and is much simpler. There is no story, although I have included an interview with a driver and articles written by drivers about their experiences. Robert Langellier wrote an article titled “The Long Haul: One Year of Solitude on America’s Highways” which I incorporated into one of them.
What’s next for you? I’m retired, I have an adequate income, I’m in good health, and have a wonderful wife who enjoys many of the same things as me. We travel, I continue to work on my books, I play golf, and we babysit our granddaughter.
My greatest wish, now that I’ve created “What Did He Tell Her?”, is a small incident that I learned about my mother. Her family emigrated in 1923 from Czechoslovakia to New York City. In 1933 (+/-), at the heart of the depression, my grandfather decided to take the family to Russia to take advantage of Mr. Stalin’s request to improve Mother Russia. While there, my 15 year old mother met and took a picture with another teenage American girl named Norma. I have that picture. Grandfather moved the family back to NYC in mid-1935 but Norma’s father gave up his passport to the Russians, could not leave, and was caught up in the purges of the next few years. He was killed. Norma and her brother had to remain in Russia where Norma was sent to a Gulag for about 8 years, lived her life in Russia until 1991 when she emigrated to Boston. I searched for, and located, Norma’s nephew teaching school in Moscow and we began communicating. To me there is a story, novel, whatever, about the lives of these two girls/women to be told. I wish I was creative enough to tell that story.
I really enjoy presenting to the students about what a civil engineer does and plan to continue doing that.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Blog: Have You Seen My Daddy’s 18 Wheeler?
Contact by e-mail: email@example.com
Submitted by: Russell King
Company Name: Have You Seen My Daddy’s 18 Wheeler?
Contact Person: Russell King, Author
Country: United States