The Excitement of Publishing a BIG Book
746 pages track the lives of 3 pioneer families: Titus Billings, Isaac Morley, and Edward Tuttle all the way from Kirtland to Manti!
First peek — as it came out of the packaging! This is just a proof. They print one copy for author inspection. But hey, it is a REAL BOOK. I am so excited!!!! Yes, it’s only the proof, but . . . what a sweetheart. My husband, Robert L. Mitchell, is proofing it for me. He won’t put the book down!
WHAT is Forever Stalwart? This book is the TRUE and documented account of three pioneer families: Titus Billings, Isaac Morley and Edward Tuttle, whose lives intertwined as they lived early LDS Church history all the way from Kirtland to Manti!WHY Forever Stalwart? My father, Evan A. Billings assigned me to write “a worthy history” of our ancestor, Titus Billings, who is mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants (63:39). He and mother, Elda Mae Lewis Billings, reclaimed a piece of grandpa’s stewardship property in Independence, Missouri and built a beautiful home upon it where they enjoyed discovering rare tidbits about the past. These they wanted to share. Would you believe? My father assigned me to write this account about Grandpa Titus over three decades ago. That’s before computers! Talk about taking a l-o-n-g journey, but it has been a good one. I spent hours in glass-walled Special Collection rooms copying journals with a pencil– no pens allowed. The Lord, it seems, requires us to “pay the price” and then He allows the miracles. So many Tender Mercies have laced this endeavor and the treasures I found in libraries, letters, and courthouses are now available ONLINE!Dad was serious about two specifications: he wanted the book accurate and he wanted it interesting. Its Bibliography alone is eighteen pages and reference sheets fill an entire filling cabinet drawer. Chapters are short to accommodate the seven main characters. At the end of each chapter is documentation of facts discussed and identification of anything added. Readers can jump over these if they want it to read like a novel. Others seem to appreciate the detailed references.I searched everywhere to find the artist who painted this treasure of the four missionaries (Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson) who first carried the gospel to Ohio. (It was published for the LDS Church and no credits were shown.) What joy when the original artist Brother Robert T. Barrett gave his permission to include the painting in “the book.” He authorized me to download it and while doing so I discovered another, less known treasure entitled “Early Missionaries.”I fell in love with this painting! To me it depicts Elder Titus Billings and young Elder Luman Shurtliff when they left Nauvoo for a mission to New England. With an interior of 746 pages it is impossible to print colored pictures inside the book. I was delighted to use this painting in full color on the cover! THANK YOU, Brother Robert T. Barrett. It’s no wonder we WON First Place for the Best Non-Fiction Book Cover in the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Awards! My amazingly talented artist and art instructor uncle, Max E. Bunnell, created the pioneer boots for our Stalwart Stories logo. (I have to admit the idea for boots came from my darling sister, Mary Billings Jones.) What a blessing to know a gifted artist who could and would create them for this project. Don’t you just love them? Yes, it is a big blessing that computers came on-board when they did, to allow completion of this project. I am, however, more than I can say grateful to my daughter-in-law, Lisa Ann Konold Mitchell, who spent countless hours formatting text, aligning graphics, and teaching me how to navigate in a program far above my skill set. Many thanks to Jacob and Rebecca Siebach who believed even a grandma could learn to use such advanced software when they gifted it to me for Christmas because my program was incapable of handling so much text. And yes, Becki saved me with her Photo Shop expertise as the cover was finalized. Oh, I could go on and on because I am thankful to everyone who has waited and encouraged and inspired me . . . especially our kind Heavenly Father who answers prayers and makes all things possible. I pray that this effort is acceptable to Him and to those who have helped from “the other side.”