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DL man sees book published

Once he found serenity, writer Tim Kessler has published his first children's book, "When God Made the Dakotas."

Kessler, Detroit Lakes, is holding a book signing at Driftwood Books in Detroit Lakes on Saturday, Feb. 18, from noon to 2 p.m.

Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, "When God Made the Dakotas" is a "a creation story set in Native American myth format."

He writes, "My promise is that I will never let this land become so full of people and their doings that it will drown out the sound of my voice. Here in the broad vastness of the prairies, you will always be able to hear me, whispering to your heart and bringing you peace."

Kessler said growing up in North Dakota, and working as a ranger in both Dakotas, he wanted to convey his love for the land. He wants readers to see the beauty of the land, rather than the "empty and desolate landscape."

"It's also about disappointment," he said. "We think we know what's best and we get our hearts broken. When we back off, (we get what's best)."

Kessler said he grew up on legend stories, so it seemed natural to write one himself. Although, that's not quite how it began.

Kessler was born in Minot, N.D. He attended several colleges and spent time in the Army and Guard. He retired from the Happy Hooligans in 1999.

He is married with two stepchildren and five grandchildren.

"Before I took a creative writing course my senior year in high school, I never had any thoughts of being a writer."

He said the writing class basically began as an easy course for him, but took a turn when his short story was chosen best in the class.

More than 10 years ago, Kessler was accompanying his wife, Mary, to a mathematics convention, and on the plane ride home, he began to write. Although he liked what was flowing, in spring 1995, Kessler started a new position with the Air Guard and writing went by the wayside.

Before he left the Guard, he went on a 14-day trip through North Dakota, trying to hit every town to spread the word about the Guard. He got the opportunity to see the beautiful landscape of his native area.

He remembered the story he had begun on that airplane, but it was lost by this time. Kessler's Fargo house had been ruined in the flood of 1997, and they had moved a couple times since. They eventually settled in Detroit Lakes, and he sat down and wrote from memory.

When Kessler and his wife traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, he joined a writer's workshop. The first thing the leader said to him was "why are you not published?"

That was all the incentive he needed. Kessler sent out manuscript after manuscript and received rejection after rejection. Until one year later when Eerdmans picked up his book.

The company took his manuscript and seemed to disappear for a period of time. Kessler said he didn't hear anything for quite some time and began to wonder. What was happening was Eerdmans was finding an illustrator to bring Kessler's words to life.

Canadian illustrator Paul Morin has won Canada's highest award for illustration, the Governor General's Award. (View some of his illustrations at

Morin's vibrant colors and illustrations definitely add to the attraction of the book. And Kessler knew it when he first saw the proof.

He was living in Rapid City when he received the proof. He said he was so excited, he ran down to the local library to show someone the finished product.

"It feels like fathering a child and then leaving for 20 years. They come back to town and it's a great kid you had nothing to do with," he explained of the publishing process.

Kessler dedicates "When God Made the Dakotas" to the North Fourth Street Writer's Group, a small group of people he has formed a writer's group with.

"Being one of the founding members of the North Fourth Street Writer's Group was a change in my attitude about writing. I learned discipline and I learned to trust myself as a writer."

Since publishing, Kessler is traveling around to different sold-out book signings.

"I didn't set out to write a children's book. I was just writing about the Dakotas," he said.

Kessler plans to write more books in the future, but with traveling and promoting his book, he's putting that on hold for now.

"I'm never at a loss for words. It's the discipline of sitting down to write."