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Charles City author publishes second children’s book with a little help from his friend

Charles City author publishes second children’s book with a little help from his friend
Charles City author Jacob Gibson holds up two children’s books he has penned with local writer Dixie Phillips. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra
By Kelly Terpstra, kterpstra@charlescitypress.com

As a self-proclaimed author of silly stories, Charles City’s Jacob Gibson is forging a path fueled by his own creative prowess.

But it still doesn’t hurt to have a little help now and then.

Gibson, 33, has found his calling writing about a fantasy land filled with dragons, elephants and dinosaurs.

It’s a side venture he hopes one day can become a full-time endeavor.

In the meantime, he’s just happy to be a published scribe of children’s books with several works still on the way.

“Just for now I’m happy to write children’s books and learn the basics,” said Gibson.

Gibson, who also works at Hy-Vee when he’s not playing video games or reading science fiction novels, once again teamed up with his longtime friend and mentor, Dixie Phillips, to pen his latest creation. The duo collaborated on another short story that always ends with a lesson learned.

“It’s been a blessing to work with Dixie. She’s very talented and has great ideas. It’s a great learning experience,” said Gibson.

Phillips helped Gibson write his first children’s book titled “Dragon Breath” in 2017 and now he has entered the realm of fairy tale fiction once more with his take on the Big Bad Wolf gone good.

“He’s just tired of being bad and he wants to try being a good guy for a change,” said Gibson. “At the same time, there’s this family reunion and his siblings are all just as bad as he used to be. They’re pressuring him into staying the same way, but he doesn’t want to anymore.”

The name of the co-author’s most recent allegorical tale is “Big Bad Reunion, which was printed in August of 2019. Think four little pigs and a gathering of wolves that understand that change can help everyone in the long run.

“It’s probably our silliest story we’ve done. But we try to keep a good message in there about peer pressure and just following your conscience,” said Gibson.

Phillips has known Gibson since he was a young student at the Gospel Lighthouse Academy in Floyd, which she helps run with her husband, the Rev. Paul Phillips.

Paul has been lead pastor at the Gospel Lighthouse Church since 1981 and the couple founded the school seven years later in 1988.

Dixie is an award-winning author of children’s books and musicals. She’s also won a Gospel Music Association Dove Award as a Christian songwriter

“I just wanted to give back and start a mentorship for people that have writing talent. Jacob has always had that. He’s quick-witted. He’s very creative. He just has more of a writing gift than what he realized that he had,” said Dixie. “I could see that. He was a little reticent to pursue it.”

Gibson won a Purple Dragonfly Book Award in 2018. He took first place in the humor category.

Gibson talked about his working partnership with Dixie and how a bond was built to produce stories that have received much positive feedback.

“Sometimes one person has more ideas than the other. Sometimes you just need a new direction,” said Gibson. “There’s been lots of ideas I’ve had that just didn’t work out or we had to tweak them a lot. Then they were much better after that. Dixie’s really helped me kick start some really good ideas.”

Gibson said Phillips has helped him learn how to flesh out stories better and understand the business side of how books get published. Phillips said she sat down with Gibson to figure out what they wanted to accomplish prior to beginning writing.

“You kinda gotta get to feel each other’s heart. You don’t want to have a cold co-write,” Dixie added.

Guardian Angel Publishing, of St. Louis, has published Gibson’s first two books. The books are available online and are printed on demand.

K.C. Snider is the illustrator of Gibson’s two books. She is from Eugene, Oregon, and like Phillips, has won numerous awards for her literary art work.

“I never know what it’s going to look like, but she surprises us in great ways,” Gibson added.

“We never dreamed that we would get her,” said Phillips. “She’s one of the best.”

Gibson is working on sequels to his first two works and he said hopefully there is a trilogy in the future. The name of his next children’s book is “Trumpet and Bugle” and is about elephants. That’s the title of the book for now, Gibson said.

“You never know if they’ll change it,” said Gibson.

Gibson and Phillips have a few other books that they are contracted to write and will be published down the road.

Dixie said “Dragon Breath” has been a hit locally at dentist’s office in the area because of its subject matter.

The book is a silly fairy tale about an insensitive dragon with bad breath who stinks up a kingdom until he can be convinced of the importance of brushing his teeth.

Dixie is happy that Gibson is coming into his own and finding out just how far his creative talent can take him in the writing world.

“My vision for Jacob is to get him to a place where he can have the blank screen in front of him, have the thought, edit it himself, submit it and he has the book,” Dixie said.

Gibson will hold a book reading of “Big Bad Reunion” on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 5:15 p.m. at the Charles City Public Library.

Is crafting up a sci-fi thriller hardback in the cards for Gibson in the distant future?

“I wrote a lot of stories. I didn’t really have much of a direction but I just had a lot of crazy ideas that I was inspired from like TV or video games,” chuckled Gibson. “Maybe someday I’ll still write those stories but they’re still in the back of my head growing. It’d be fun to write some sci-fi young adult books.”

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