Betty’s Book Tour in Iowa

Betty’s Book Tour in Iowa

As many of you know I live in California and I had my first book tour promoting The Home for the Friendless in Iowa from June 8 to 16. The memoir stories are set against the backdrop of the Depression and WW2 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where I was raised. My literary publicist, Stephanie Barko ( ) in Austin, Texas set all of the events up many months before they happened. Scheduling these personal appearances in my home state was only one small part of our book activities because Stephanie and I worked together for ten months promoting The Home for the Friendless with a “virtual book tour” that took place on the Internet. I never left my computer chair while traveling all over the country. My wardrobe was pajamas and my face and hair were in complete disarray most of the time. .

That was a virtual tour — this tour was different because my brother and I had to dress nice. He was my driver. We stayed in three different hotels in Iowa and drove over 900 miles. Gas was cheaper there.

Here was our schedule.

June 8, flew to Omaha, Nebraska, met my brother, Bob, and just started driving.

June 9, Iowa Public Radio Interview with Charity Nebbe in Iowa City – excellent interviewer

June 11, History Center book talk and signing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Great stories told by all

June 12, Tanager Place reunion former residents of The Home for the Friendless, same town

12 former residents of the institution attended the first annual reunion and now they want to meet every year.

June 13, Peal Family reunion in Tucker Park, Hiawatha, Iowa – met cousins I didn’t know I had.

June 13, Public Library book signing, Ames, Iowa – several writers in this audience

June 14, Prairie Lights Book Store, Iowa City – audience of summer writing workshop members.

June 15, St. Matthews Church, book signing , Cedar Rapids, Iowa, members were mostly seniors

June 16, Convent, retired nuns Mt. Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, Iowa – like no nuns I’ve met!

June 17, Left for California; from the air I saw miles of farms under waters of the flooded Missouri River. Terrible sight.


Bob and I reviewed our lives while driving from one town to another, laughed a lot and put miles behind us.

Charity Nebbe, a wonderful interviewer, asked many questions about our childhood. Even interviewed my brother, Bob.

The History Center program was a good mix of 24 people who shared stories about growing up in Iowa.

Tanager Place, the modern day rescue organization for children in jeopardy, hosted a reunion for former residents of the original Home for the Friendless. Twelve “kids” aged 50 – 85, attended. All of our records from 1902 to 1978 are at Tanager Place. It’s like a college campus with nine acres of land with classrooms and cottages. In the picture below I am in the front row between the red and blue blouses and my brother, Bob, is right behind me in the back row, third from the right.

The Peal Family reunion, June : the above photo represents cousins from three of the six uncles in the Peal Family. Bob and I are on the left end of the picture, and next to me is Bonnie whose dad was Uncle Jiggs on page 34 of The Home for the Friendless. The next six cousins in the above photo were in the story, Outhouse Adventure on page 110. This photo, taken on June 13, 2011, was a reminder of our frequent family gatherings as kids in one of the many parks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, our hometown. But this time, none of our aunts or uncles were there. The only one still living was too frail to attend, and my cousins, brother and I were the new generation of  OLD people. First-cousins-once- removed were in abundance and we had to get acquainted all over again. Picnic food was plentiful and I could NOT get enough of the sauerkraut salad; YUM.

Ames, Iowa is one of the locations of Stephens Press, my publisher, and we had a lovely gathering of interested citizens in the public library there.

Prairie Lights Book Store is well known and I was at first intimidated about appearing there. The audience was made up of men and women from all over the United States who were attending the famous summer writers’ workshops hosted by the University of Iowa. By the way, the university was the first to ever  have a degree in creative writing. Famous authors graduated from there and are also on the faculty for the summer workshops. Those people attending were down to earth and not one bit too sophisticated for me. What a relief that was.

St. Matthews Church was a responsive crowd of men and women, our contemporaries (77 – 81) who knew exactly every location that was mentioned in the book. They, like my brother and me, are living history. I wonder if they realize it?

Mt. Mercy Convent and the retired nuns were such a surprise. I expected formal older women in long black gowns with black veils over their heads and hands folded in a permanent pose of prayer. But they don’t look like that anymore. These lively ladies looked like anyone you might meet in the grocery store. They were such fun and laughed at all the right places. What a great way to end our book tour.

My brother and I missed the presence of our younger sister, Patty, who we lost to cancer in March, 2010. But she was with us in memory during this whole trip.

Frequently asked question: Betty, do you plan to write another book?

My answer: Nope. I’m way too busy writing and illustrating my blog stories that I change every three weeks. See them for yourself at

PS I’ll write a blog story later about going to Las Vegas to record the audio book for The Home for the Friendless. This time I’ll be reading from a teleprompter instead of a paper manuscript. I love reading for recording. It feels like one long open mike night.

Be Sociable, Share!
Bookmark and Share
  • Eve Visconti

    Wonderful, Betty! Just perfect. It carries me back. We have so many common experiences. St. Matthews was just around the corner from our house, too. Keep the memories coming. Bravo!

  • http://yourblog Steve Brockway

    Hey Betty
    Steve again, as you see I just read your tour blog. I’m beginning to think another summer trip to Iowa may be in my future. Ha Ha.
    Amazon had 5 (oops make that 4) copies of your book. Look forward to the read.