Bumblebee Cousins and other characters inspired by Deb Thomalla’s extended family members

Deb Thomalla is shown seated at her kitchen table where she wrote her first book, which was released in March.

Book signing by local author at the Good Book and Gift Shop May 19

What began as an idea for a typed-up booklet for her two eldest grandsons’ birthdays has developed into the publication of Deb Thomalla’s first book.

“The Bumblebee Cousins, Wyatt and Nolan Search for the Truth” was released by Tate Publishing March 20. Thomalla will conduct a book-signing event Saturday, May 19, sponsored by Good Book and Gifts, 120 First Street S.E., Little Falls from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

“Nolan and Wyatt are my first two grandsons, and I thought it would be fun to have a gift for them with their names in it,” said Thomalla. “I pictured just typing up something for their birthdays.”

Thomalla, of Royalton, has always written journals and poems because writing helps her sort out what is happening in her life. Many times as an adult, when Thomalla prayed for guidance on what to do in her life, she received the answer, “write a book.” But she never imagined it would start like this.

“The book started with my grandsons, and then as characters were added they were named for extended family members. General Jessica Damselfly is named for my niece who went to Iraq two times. The carpenter ants are named for two of my brothers-in-law who are carpenters. And the queen bee is named for my mother-in-law,” said Thomalla.

The book is about learning how to ask for and accept help. It’s also about believing that God made each of us for a special purpose, and that life won’t be easy, but we’ll “fly” every step of the way.

“The book has been a gift from God for me,” Thomalla said, “to accept myself the way I am. It’s for the child in each of us who still has hurts that need to be healed.”

“There is plenty of humor that adults can appreciate as they read the book,” she said.

One of Thomalla’s daughters saw a magazine ad for a book publisher and gave it to Thomalla. She took the aptitude test and signed up to take the one-year course, which she finished in two years.

She used the book as the final project for the course and sent it to the professor. “He returned it with minimal corrections and a handwritten note telling me I needed to get it published,” said Thomalla.

“I knew I wanted a Christian publisher and found Tate Publishing in a Google search. I liked everything I saw on their Web site, and then checked Barnes and Noble’s site. There were more than 6,000 titles by Tate,” she said.

“Two and a half weeks after sending the manuscript to Tate, I received a contract with an offer to publish,” said Thomalla, “and I knew this really was a ‘God thing.’”

“Tate receives about 1,000 manuscripts per year and only 10 percent are published, so I’m very blessed that my book was chosen,” she said.

The book was officially released March 20 and a press release sent out to every book store within a 50-mile radius. Thomalla just finished contributing to a 15-second commercial trailer which will be shown on 10-12 television networks.

“My grandsons kept hearing about the book signing and asked me, ‘what book, Grandma?’ So I took the two of them to supper and we came back to the house where they both signed books as I read them the story,” said Thomalla. “There were many giggles as they kept hearing their names.”

The book was released in paperback, a beginning chapter book. Hardcover copies are available only through Thomalla. It is also available as an eBook through Tate Publishing, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

“I’ve already received my first royalty check,” she said, “for $2.86.”

There will be more Bumblebee books. Thomalla has the first four chapters of the next one written already, although the whole storyline is not done yet.

“And I believe the Lord means for me to write a book about my life struggles and how my faith gets me through,” said Thomalla, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia several years ago. “Life is not easy and it’s not meant to be, but if you have the Lord, you can get through anything.”

“All the stuff you think was garbage in your life, God turns into a higher purpose,” said Thomalla.

For more information, contact Good Book and Gifts at (320) 632-8770.