Website Change

This will be the last blog on this website. Due to some compatibility issues, I have had to change sites. My new website is located at and looks very similar to this one. If you have bookmarked anything with “wordpress” in the URL, then you won’t see anything once I shut this site down. I will continue to blog on the other site, and I will do it much more often. Sorry for the change but I want a nice user-friendly site that does everthing I need it to do. Have a terrific day!


Starting a Fire with Green Wood

Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park

Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park

The title really describes how Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park became a book. In 2006, my first book, Ricky Climbs Pikes Peak, was published. My illustrator and I had started working on this project in 2001. After 16 rejection letters, Mother’s House Publishing, a local publisher, was interested in the book and other Ricky books I had described. My illustrator had a “day job” and was trying to get his own business, an animation studio, up and running.
He continued to contribute illustrations to Ricky Rock Climbs in Garden of the Gods and Ricky Rafts the Royal Gorge. Unfortunately, at the completion of the rafting book, my illustrator announced that he was going to devote all of his spare time to his own business. I had already started writing Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park. Without an illustrator, this project came to a crashing stop.
My illustrator then recommended a relative of his to take over the job. She needed to learn how to use to graphics program on the computer to keep the same style. Months went by and I hadn’t received or heard anything. I finally contacted her and she did not know how to use the program but was interested in using a different style.
Because of the “touristy nature” of my books, they need to be completed and ready to sell in April. Tourist season is Memorial Day through Labor Day. Most of these places buy in April to be ready. It was now December and I had an unfinished text and no illustrations.
You never know what connections you make with people in your life. I am a high school math teacher (starting my 17th year next month). A former student of mine happened to be graduating in May with a degree in graphic design. I gave her some files from the previous books and described a cover for her to do. At this point I was desperate to find an illustrator. But how desperate? Would I lower my standards just to get a book out? How would I react if the cover wasn’t good enough? Once again I started stressing out and still couldn’t write with the uncertainties. A few days later, she stopped by with some covers. Not only did she create the cover I described, she did it four ways to see which one I liked best.
I am happy to say that Stacie did a wonderful job. I hired her on the spot! The problem was, it was January and she was headed back to college to finish her final semester. How could I demand illustrations while she had professors demanding projects for grades? She had to graduate. At least I knew that I wouldn’t be a “3-book Wonder”, I just had to be patient. Stacie would send new illustrations in the email for feedback. The long distance communication was difficult but it gave me the motivation to finish writing the book.
She returned to Colorado in May and we set a deadline of Memorial Day to have all illustrations done. We did in fact have all the text and all the illustrations done by that weekend. But my luck wouldn’t change. We met with my publisher and gave her all the files. Now I had to be patient again (something I am not very good at) and wait for the proof copy. The proof copy is a printing of the book, but it is not bound together. This is so I can check the text one more time for errors, make sure each illustration is matched with the correct text, and give any last minute changes. Unfortunately, things would not go smoothly.
The files that Stacie created for the illustrations were not cooperating with the program my publisher used to create the book. After a few phone calls and some creativity, my publisher was able to put the pictures in to the file with the text of the book. But the dark cloud remained overhead. The printer used to print the book was having issues. It was now mid-June and no book was ready.
The last week in June I received a phone call that the proof copy was ready! I immediately went to pick it up. I met with Stacie and another author in my writer’s group the next morning to go through it page by page. I made the changes to the text and had Stacie make a few changes to the illustrations for consistency and turned the proof copy back. A few days later I received an updated proof copy. I called to give one more change and then it was ready; or so I thought.
To print a book, a large piece of paper is used and four pages, front and back, are printed on each piece of paper. The new file was not cooperating. Once again I would have to wait. The printer technician finally met with my publisher and they worked out the problem. My publisher was then able to print the inside of all the books I ordered! But… the cover was not printing correctly and that caused binding issues. Once again I wait. And now my first book signing of the summer approached and misinformation in the paper caused even more problems.
July 19, 2009 I was at the Garden of the Gods visitor center to sign my first two books, the only ones they carried at the time. But the article in the paper that morning said I would be signing my newest title, Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park. Many people showed up for the new title that I did not have. I invited these people to the next signing which would be the debut of the newest book. July 28, 2009 at Pikes Perk in the Erindale Center. Would the book be ready in time?
I left for a camping trip on Wednesday July 22, 2009 and wouldn’t return until Sunday July 26, 2009, two days before the big signing. I tried not to think about it and enjoyed some relaxing time in the mountains. My publisher isn’t open on Sundays, this should be a day off anyways, so I’d have to wait another day before knowing the status of my books. I am fortunate enough to have only had three migraine headaches in my life. Well number four hit hard Sunday night. I guess I was stressing a little more than usual. Being a “control freak” is not helpful when I have to rely on so many other people.
Monday July 27, 2009, the day before the debut of book 4, I made a phone call to check the status. Finally I received some good news. All my paperbacks were ready but they were still working on the hardcovers.
I picked up the paperback books I ordered and hopefully the hardcovers will be ready by 6:00 tomorrow night for the big debut.
If you are in Colorado Springs July 28, 2009, stop by Pikes Perk @ the Erindale Center (on Academy Blvd., just north of Vickers) from 6:00-8:00 PM for refreshments, coffee, and all four Ricky Adventure Book titles.

Why choose “Starting a Fire with Green Wood” as the title for this blog? If you have ever tried it, I think it is a perfect fit to the situation.

Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park

Coming soon to a book store near you!

I just left the changes to the proof copy with my publisher. The changes will be made, a book will be created, and then if all is okay, many more books will be printed and available for sale. This has been the most stressful book of the four I have written. It was difficult hearing that my original illustrator had decided to stop illustrating children’s books and head in to the world of animation.

With the search for a new artist, I found that artists have their specialties just like authors have their genres. Once I found Stacie, who has done a wonderful job, I got the motivation back that I needed and finished writing the book. But I was way past the deadline for buyers to get ready for tourist season. The buyers make their decisions in April to be ready for Memorial Day, the traditional start of tourist season.

This delay was only worsened by format issues with the illustrations and the software my publisher uses. And when the solution was found, my publisher ended up getting sick and fought a fever for a week. It is times like this that I realize how much of a control freak I am. Having to wait and not being able to do anything about it drives me nuts. So to take my mind off of it, I outlined Ricky’s Colorado Christmas and Ricky Snowshoes in Mueller State Park.

Next week, after I get back from a relaxing camping trip in Mueller State Park, I will make plans for introducing book 4 to the world! Okay, maybe just to those in Colorado Springs. My publisher has been talking to the owner of Pikes Perk in the Eridale Center (on Academy Blvd. just north of Vickers) about doing a book signing there. So sometime in July, I’ll have all four books available, including the debut of Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park. Until then, have a great summer!

Summer 2009

Busy, busy, busy, is probably the best way to describe the start of this summer. I have turned in the text and illustrations to my publisher. On Friday I will receive the proof copy of Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park. Next week it will go to press!!!
I just started teaching a three-week summer school program. I have written outlines for Ricky’s Colorado Christmas and Ricky Snowshoes in Mueller State Park. My wife an I are currently reserving sites in Mueller State Park for a few camping trips. I will be taking a bike ride from Pamler Lake to Colorado Springs down the Santa Fe Trail (yep, that book will follow the Snowshoeing book). I also plan to fly-fish for the very first time (and that will also be a Ricky book). Plus I plan on climbing a few fourteeners with friends.
As you can see I have big plans, but not much time. I go back to work the week of August 10. But don’t worry, I’ll keep posting the blogs! Have a great summer!

Where has Jeff been?

Who has a blog site and doesn’t blog? I guess I have to admit that would be me, or the old me. I have spent too much time with my “day job” and editing book 4 instead of keeping up with this site. My new goal is to keep this site updated at least once a month. So what has been going on recently in the writing world for me?

Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park is almost complete. Most of the pictures are done. In the final edits of the text, I am trying to remove parts that don’t really help the story. I am also making sure that more of Ricky’s view is seen, and less of my view. It has to be fun or kids won’t enjoy it. Plus it has to describe Rocky Mountain National Park. In my books, the setting is almost another main character for me.

I also need to keep my “Fans of Ricky: Ricky Adventure Books” group on Facebook up to date as well.

But don’t worry, summer starts in June (even though I will be teaching summer school for three weeks) and I plan on scheduling time to write. If I don’t plan time to write, it just won’t happen (Thanks, Norm).

Ricky on Facebook?

Ricky has joined the millions of groups on Facebook. I have created a group called “Fans of Ricky: Ricky Adventure Books” to post recent information and to start a discussion board.

I haven’t posted in a while due to my illustrator moving on to the animation business. After much searching, I have found a new illustrator and “Ricky Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park” has been worked on. I am on the finishing touches of the text and a few illustrations have been started. I should have the cover complete soon.

I will create a blog for how book three came to be, sometime in the near future. However, my time now is spent teaching and completing book 4.

The Birth of Book Two, Ricky Rock Climbs in Garden of the Gods

It is amazing, but writing Ricky Rock Climbs in Garden of the Gods was both easier to write and harder as well. Having a publisher makes writer less stressful. It took five years for Ricky Climbs Pikes Peak to become a book, but most of the time was spent finding a publisher. The employees of Mother’s House Publishing have been the greatest. Getting to know them during the making of the first book helped me to know what they were looking for in future Ricky books. With this direction, I knew what book 2 had to look like. That is where the hardest part came in. I tried to write the book like the finished product of book 1. After a while I got so frustrated that I stopped writing. After a few days of not writing, I realized that Ricky Climbs Pikes Peak had gone through close to 40 revisions. It wasn’t perfect on the first draft. Seems to make sense, but it took a step back for me to realize this. Back to the laptop! Once I decided to just get all my thoughts typed out, Ricky Rock Climbs in Garden of the Gods finally became a rough draft. With the help of my writers group, TOPS (Teachers Out to Publish Something), and many visits to Garden of the Gods, the text of book 2 was finished. It went through close to 30 revisions to get it finished.

However, I do not draw my own illustrations. When book 2 was close to completion, my illustrator was in the middle of a major project at his job. By the time the illustrations were done, we were in the middle of the summer. The summer of 2007, Colorado Springs was hitting record numbers of tourists. I count on local tourists! My books are mainly available in gift shops around Colorado. Most of the local gift shops do their purchasing in April to get ready for the summer. Ricky Rock Climbs in Garden of the Gods was finally ready August 2007, four months too late in my thoughts. I sent an email out to my Ricky Fan Club and got some repeat buyers but sales were low because of the timing. But summer 2008, sales picked up, along with the release of Ricky Rafts the Royal Gorge. More on that in a future blog.

Here’s a little treat for you. We did something special with Ricky Rock Climbs in Garden of the Gods.  In every illustration you can find a little bird. Enjoy!




Author Jeff Keller

Official web site of Ricky Adventure Books and author Jeff Keller. Come discover their adventures in colorful Colorado. ________________________________ Email Author Jeff Keller at ________________________________ To purchase books go to:

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