Valencia County needn’t go far for its children’s books.
There are authors right here in the county producing quality books. How cool is that?
Multi-talented Los Chavez author Debbi Gutierrez has even created a book trailer on YouTube for her book, “Horse’s Horrible Halloween.”
It starts out with the eerie sound of a wolf howling, creating a spooky Halloween atmosphere, but then she adds a dose of humor with a song of the horse’s lament about his horrible Halloween.
It ends with a soulful horse whinny, followed by another wolf howl. To view it, go to YouTube and search the title of the book.
Gutierrez is self-published through the publishing website, Create Space, owned by Amazon.
“You create the book and put it in some kind of template and upload it to them,” Gutierrez said. “And then you send them in the cover, like a jpeg. It all has to be real high resolution, real good quality, and then they send you proofs.”
Once the books are ready, they are automatically put on Amazon’s website for sale.
“So people all over the world can buy them,” she said.
She has also purchased copies to sign and sell herself.
She has four recently released children’s books, “The Pinecone Problem,” “Why Baby Sister Woke Up From Her Nap,” and “Horse’s Horrible Halloween,” for early readers, and a chapter book, “Cactus Factory,” illustrated by local Tomé artist Emilie Bezzeg, for children a little bit older, around 8 to 12 years old.
“Chapter books actually have chapters,” Gutierrez said. “It has six chapters, and then each of the chapters has an illustration just on the first page. It’s not illustrated all the way through like the picture books are.”
She uses InDesign in the Adobe Creative Suite software to produce her books and put them in PDF form to upload to Create Space.
“A lot of people do it in (Microsoft) Word,” she said. “There are a lot of different ways you can do it as long as you can convert it into a PDF format.
Her brother, Gary P. Sutherland, a freelance illustrator, did most of the colorful and descriptive pictures for Gutierrez’s books.
“He is just so phenomenal, I just love what he does,” she said.
Sutherland worked for Hughes Aviation rendering military hardware illustrations for 16 years, but then decided to work on his own.
“He does a lot of portraits, and just had a couple of commissions this Christmas for people’s dogs,” Gutierrez said. “But he does a lot of other types of artwork as well.”
Gutierrez started writing stories when her children, Andrew and Alyssa, were small, and she has had her stories published in several children’s magazines including Highlights, Wee Wisdom and Jack and Jill.
“I’ve written stories ever since I was little,” she said. “At 5 years old, I was writing poetry and stories. My dad was a college professor of education, and he really encouraged me. So, I have boxes and boxes of everything he saved for me.”
In 1997, she created a website for children called Kids Korner Network. There are free coloring pages, puzzles, games, riddles, poems, stories and little cartoons Gutierrez created.
Gutierrez is the treasurer and webmaster for the New Mexico State Poetry Society and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
“Shirley Blackwell is the president (of N.M. State Poetry Society), and this is her book,” Gutierrez said as she presented, “Already There,” Blackwell’s book of poems. “She used to write a column for the News-Bulletin about poetry. We’re going to host the National Federation of State Poetry Societies in 2013, and we’re pretty excited about that because it’s never happened in New Mexico before. ”
Gutierrez recently participated in Author’s Day, an event organized by the Valencia County Historical Society held at the Los Lunas Transportation Center. She had been invited to be one of 12 authors by former News-Bulletin editor Sandy Battin. It was the first book-signing Gutierrez had ever attended, and she really enjoyed it, she said.
A fellow poetry society member bought “Horse’s Horrible Halloween” for her granddaughter.
“The girl’s mother came up to me at Author’s Day, and said, ‘Oh, she just reads it over and over, as soon as she gets done with it, she just turns to the beginning and starts reading it again,’” Gutierrez said. “That’s just music to an author’s ears.”
Promoting her books is now the utmost responsibility in Gutierrez’s mind, and she hopes to do more book signing at bookstores, libraries and schools, which should be quite entertaining with her musical performances.
Although she is legally blind, she is able to write and edit her books with the help of a large print on her computer screen, and a Closed Circuit TV.
Along with her talent as an author, singer and guitarist, she is also a songwriter.
Her first CD, titled “Anywhere But Where I Am,” is a series of train songs with titles such as, “Heart of New Mexico” and “BNSF.”
She recorded them with the help of a friend, Dennis Fulfer, who was a part of a group called, I Create, a nonprofit organization in Mountainair.
The organization was formed to help musicians obtain instruments, offer music lessons and other community activities, she said.
Later, she downloaded her songs and CD cover, which the art was created by her brother, onto Create Space to produce the CD.
“I wrote about people who ride on trains, people who drive trains — all about trains,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve written about 120 songs, but I haven’t recorded them.”
The CD is available at Amazon and she plans to approach the Harvey House Museum in Belen in hopes they will also carry them, she said.
You can watch her perform with Tomé musician Gerard Bezzeg on his public access show at 6 p.m. Wednesdays called, “Hello In There,” cable channel 27.
“I’ve been on there six or seven times already playing with him,” Gutierrez said. “He plays the guitar, the mandolin and the harmonica. He does a lot of Spanish songs, rancheras and official New Mexico songs.”
Her father, the late Carl Miller, was a college professor at Fresno State University, then at the University of California at Davis. He bought his daughter her first guitar when she was 10 years old.
“I started taking lessons at 12, and then I just taught myself, mostly,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez has an associates degree in history and anthropology, a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology, and has nearly finished her doctorate in social psychology, except for her dissertation.
New books in the works include a chapter book, “Dandy’s Dragon,” that is just about ready to be published, and a young adult fantasy novel she has halfway completed.
In the summer months, Gutierrez hosts house concerts and poetry readings she calls “hootenannnies.”
To schedule a book signing, call Gutierrez at 864-3256. Books signed by the author can be purchased at www.printsbymail.com and the CD is available through Amazon.
-- Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.