Last year, Georgia Nagel, otherwise known around Detroit Lakes as The Pet Sitter, was making her usual dog rounds, when a familiar friend sparked her imagination.
Nagel was in the midst of an online, eight-week writing intensive course. She had put off the first assignment, to write the first chapter of a book, busy with her usual pet sitting, when she started pondering on one of her more unusual clients, a goat named Maurice.
"I was thinking about the crazy things he does, like he will get in the UPS truck when they're delivering a package .... They leave the door open, he'll crawl in there," said Nagel, recalling a few times when he had crawled into her vehicle as well. "It's just like why would Maurice crawl into a truck? And then, all of a sudden, the imagination took over."
During the rest of her dog rounds that afternoon, Nagel began brainstorming the plot to a children's book based on Maurice. That night she went home, typed the story up on her computer, and sent it off to her instructor.
"My gal, she's also a publisher, that does this course, she sent it back, and she goes, 'You know, I've never published a children's book. I've been doing this for 15 years. I've published a lot of books. I've thought about it,' and she goes, 'I guess it's time'".
From that point, it all fell into place. Nagel asked a local graphic designer friend of hers, Kris Carr, if she would make the illustrations and, roughly a year later, Maurice the Goat Finds His Real Family launched on Amazon on Feb. 13 and went to number one in six categories on the site.
To continue promoting the book, Nagel will have a book signing at Tamarac Wildlife Refuge Sunday, March 31 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. But the day isn't just a meet-and-greet the author. The book's star and inspiration, Maurice the goat, will be at the event, ready for his 15 minutes of fame.
There is a full day of activities planned around the book signing, including a nature walk, an owl craft, photos with Maurice, and a puppet show. There will also be refreshments.
"The reason why I did Tamarac .... I really, truly believe part of my journey on this life is to get people to connect and understand nature a little bit more," said Nagel.
The event is open to the public and free to attend.
Nagel says she is also hoping to do a few more events, possibly at the new book store in Perham, at the museum in Fergus Falls, and she's hoping to get the book into schools, as well. Nagel says she has had great feedback from people telling her the message within the story has resonated well with kids.
"I didn't even know until I had it written that there was actually a message," said Nagel, explaining that when she reread the book herself some months after writing it, she realized it was pretty symbolic of her own life as well. "I was always kind of a loner. I had friends, but because of the intuition and all that stuff, I was just a little different than everybody else. I ended up taking these different courses...and spiritual courses, and I realized I found my tribe, my family besides my biological family."
Maurice goes through a similar realization in the book. After crawling into a delivery truck to go off an find his real family, other goats who look like him, he comes to realize that his family is all the animals back at the farm he left. Even though the animals there don't look like him, they look out for him.
"It's not the names. It's not the color of your skin. It's just the one, simple thing: love. That's your family," said Nagel , explaining the message she hopes readers get from the book.
To go along with the message in the book, Nagel also made a deck of 24 cards with affirmations for kids, with messages like 'I am loved' and 'I am talented.' The pack can pair with the book and is also sold separately. She feels like those messages are lacking and have been for some time, and she'd like to do her part to infuse them back into society.
"That is something I need in my life," said Nagel, talking about wanting to put a little more lightheartedness back into people's lives, including her own. "It's just like, yeah, I need to have a little more fun."
Nagel says she'd also like to get her publisher to come visit the area and do a seminar on publishing books, if enough people are interested. She says people can feel free to contact her with questions. She's happy to help people start writing, if they feel inspired to do so.
"Don't be afraid to start. If you have something to write about, start writing," she said.