One of the biggest blessings in helping others to uncover their stories is watching their personal growth and development. Sometimes those blessings are infused with magic.
Kim Luke was my very first book publishing client. I have been privileged to read, edit and format three fantasy fiction novels in the “Circle of Sun” series. Later, I helped publish three books in a children's chapter book series, the Enchanted Farm at Fort Osage. And now Kim is launching a new mystery series, The Violin's Web.
The magic of a Christmas Tree Farm
Since Kim and husband Bob own a Christmas Tree Farm and have seen real-life magic unfold before their eyes every holiday season, this evolving writer will probably never run out of fiction material. But as the new children's series launched, I couldn’t help but notice Kim’s personal philosophy and innate spirituality blossoming in the pages of a chapter book.
I talked to Kim back then about her backstory in the book and how she morphed from a fantasy fiction writer into a children’s author. It all has to do with the magic of Christmas trees and the enchantment she witnesses every time a family comes in to cut their own holiday fir at Fort Osage Farm.
The Lukes have a retail shop in conjunction with the tree farm. It makes a wonderful outlet for her fantasy fiction books, but as she sells them in the shop, she keeps noticing how many children accompany the adult customers. Plus, her grandkids have been asking her to write a children’s book ever since she produced her first adult book.
The magic of an Alaskan Malamute
And then there was Karibou, the Luke’s beloved Alaskan Malamute dog. Before his death, he greeted every carload of tree customers and accepted the children’s affection with patience and a loving spirit. But Karibou had a hidden life that made him, in Kim’s words, “Not like any dog we ever had.”
Karibou was a dog of disappearances and far-flung escapades. Only when his long legs took him to neighbor properties, whose owners reported back to the Lukes, did they know the answer to the frequent question, “Where is my dog?” It seems he was having “this grand journey and we didn’t know about it.”
When Karibou died unexpectedly Kim had already started working on a children’s book set at the tree farm. It was to feature the dog and an assortment of other animals you usually find on a farm. The dog’s death stopped Kim in her writing tracks, but only temporarily. When she realized that the kids who come to the tree farm won’t have a chance to enjoy Karibou’s greetings at their cars, it became even more important to keep his spirit alive through a book.
“People can still fall in love with this dog,” asserts Kim. The King of Nobody introduces a mouse named Ollie as the protagonist and Karibou, a fluffy puppy that grows up to find all kinds of mischief on the farm. He ultimately becomes a hero in the book’s major adventures.
Now the mouse Ollie becomes Kim’s philosophical voice. He has an impossible dream that has little likelihood of success. He’s a lonely little oddball who falls under frequent criticism. But he never gives up on his dream of finding his own castle. Just like Kim never gave up on her dream of writing. Kim’s dream developed at the bedside of her mother as she suffered from ALS.
Ollie’s mother echoes Kim. She instills in him her own philosophy of perseverance, trust, and big dreams.
In the spirit of The Boxcar Family–a new miniature world will unfold
In addition to the underlying wisdom of this children’s book, the charm lies in the miniature world that Kim creates. It begins with an old pair of work boots that Ollie makes his first home. It features running water and a fireplace and a china teacup bathtub. For some reason, this reeled me in. It reminded me of a beloved set of children’s stories, “The Boxcar Family.” Maybe it’s a woman thing. But I was as charmed by Olllie’s little world as I was by the accommodations featured in that boxcar of long ago.
Kim and Bob have the advantage of a perfect venue for marketing this Enchanted Farm at Fort Osage series. They live and work in the actual setting of the books. And Kim has constructed Ollie’s enchanting world in miniature behind plexiglass viewing stations in the loft of the farm’s new retail space.
Visit Kim's Store to purchase The Enchanted Farm at Fort Osage Series