Typically, I write about others in my Central Coast Blog, but today I need to crow a bit about myself and my collaborators in a new book recently released by Bear State Books. While booking the schedule for our media launch next week, May 1-2, in Bakersfield, I told John Pilios, News Director for KGET-TV(NBC), where I used to work and Mike Allen, KERNTALK Radio, where I used to always listen, I wasn’t sure if COLONEL BAKER’S FIELD, our book, was my swan song or the beginning of a another new career relationship in Bakersfield. Adding author to my wonderful life is such an honor and a dream come true since I was in the 4th grade. And to work with Sandra Mittelsteadt, Chris Brewer, and my daughter, Jody Salamacha-Hollier on this project has been exciting, challenging, glorious, frustrating, and we’re bonded now forevermore. Here’s how it all came about…
Sandy taught at East Bakersfield High and started the Career Academies in the Kern High School District system. She can tell you so much more about herself. She left temporarily to spread the academy concepts to other national school districts. She used to divide her time between Washington, DC and Bakersfield. I taught at Bakersfield High School and retired to have my children, Jeremy and Jody and then went into the media business at KMPC-Radio, then Ralph Edwards’ talk radio, KNTB, and then interned at KBAK-TV, landed a job with Ray Watson at KGET-TV and with the help of my good friend Sheryl Barbich (Vision Bakersfield 2020 and more), I went corporate with Castle & Cooke, then independent with Salamacha PR Strategies with Future Bakersfield and Mesa Marin Raceway my biggest clients. Love jobs all…but when my husband, Bob, wanted to retire to Morro Bay, I had to go.
Sandy and I were introduced by Morgan Clayton. He knew we were soul-sisters waiting to work together. She asked me to help her with Morgan’s Leaders in Life Conference since she was traveling to DC. I always try to work with Jody when she is available because of her graphic artistry, computer talents, photography and supportive organization skills compliment my craziness. She helped out with Leaders in Life and Sandy loved working with her as well. Then while I was enjoying my life and career at Mesa Marin Raceway, Sandy had funding that perfectly matched the Mesa Marin Raceway High School Racing Program. We couldn’t have done it without her support.
Down the road while Sandy continued to be successful with two books as an education consultant in DC, our friend Andrea set up a lunch for us at at Mexicali. Sandy was an author and I had a column in the San Luis Obispo Tribune. She suggested we write a book together…so we did! Colonel Baker’s story had been told in “coffee table” history books but his entire story…barring one or a couple elements he was still researching…was waiting for publication by his great-great grandson Chris Brewer. According to Sandy, it was God’s plan to have a collaboration by all four of us to complete the biography of Bakersfield’s namesake, Colonel Thomas Baker. Chris Brewer graciously shared his research to help us document the history and authenticate where we have enhanced the scenes with fictional dialogue. He also offered us his entire library of original art and photography for Jody to place and/or illustrate and in some cases restore pieces of his collection for the book.
COLONEL BAKER’S FIELD once started as a creative nonfiction children’s story targeted for middle grade, but ultimately evolved into the biography of Colonel Baker and the story of a lifetime of research by Chris Brewer. The goal was to tell their story in period historical scenes. Chris allowed us the license to create dialogue we could not document, but checked it all against the facts and based on the historical research he had discovered through the years. Yes, we wanted it historical…but we wanted to tell the story that we knew was interesting and inspiring.
Colonel Baker lived by a code…a dreamer who worked hard and never dreamed harder than he worked to make things happen for his family and his community.
It’s been a wonderful project and the book is out after three years in the making. I just got word from Sandy that Russo’s Books in Castle & Cooke’s Marketplace will carry the books and sell at $24.95. We will have a book signing at the story from 1-3pm Saturday, June 1. But next week we officially launch it in Bakersfield. May 1-2 we start with meetings with our fellow Rotarians and “testimonial” partners. Wednesday evening at 7pm we will present at the Bakersfield City Council meeting to Mayor Harvey Hall. Mayor Hall provided one of the commentaries about why Colonel Baker was important to Bakersfield. We wanted to invite more to participate, but only had so many pages we could include in the book. We selected individuals that complimented the many careers Colonel Thomas Baker had….legislator, lawyer, real estate broker, educator, entrepreneur, and promoter of Bakersfield. Mayor Hall graciously offered his comment.
Thursday, May 2 we start off with the Scott Cox Show at 8am on KERNTALK Radio, then more meetings, my former Downtown Rotary Club which is offsite at the Petroleum Club and then at 2:o0 is a presentation at the Cal State’s 60+ Club where KGET-TV will provide coverage and Russo’s Books will have books available to sell…and we’ll even autograph. And I’m so honored that after a career of friendship, journalist/columnist Camille Gavin of The Bakersfield Californian will tell our story on Sunday, May 5.
We can’t wait to see everyone in Bakersfield including our testimonial partners, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Mayor Hall, Holly Culhane, Blanca Cavasos, Morgan Clayton, Ken Carter, and George Martin. Life and career begins again…one step at a time….another step…this is a big one for me! Could it be fulfillment?