While New Richmond resident Matt Armbruster's parents were looking through boxes at things they had saved from their children's school days, they found the original copy of one of Armbruster's sixth-grade writing projects.
"My mom actually held on to the school project that I did in sixth grade in 1986. And when they moved....they downsized, so they started handing things over to me. That is when I rediscovered that project, titled 'Clondike and Mudo,'" Armbruster said. "I always enjoyed writing and, throughout the years, I always thought about publishing something, but I never knew what. Clondike and Mudo seemed like a great story to try and publish."
Armbruster, 43, started his journey to getting "Clondike and Mudo's Adventure," the revised title of his children's book, by scanning the original pages of the book, printing them and then sending the printed copies to four or five publishers. However, after months of waiting, only two of the five publishers responded to Armbruster, and both of those publishers said they were not interested in publishing his book.
"Although all the publishers I sent a copy of the book to said no, I couldn't give up, so I went online. I started to look at self publishing and came across Archway Publishing, which is a division of Simon & Schuster," Armbruster said. "I started to talk about working with them to publish the book in the middle of last year, but it did cost money to do it and funds weren't readily available at the time. So I saved up and in January, I pulled the trigger and started the project with Archway."
Before deciding to publish a children's book, Armbruster worked in the manufacturing industry for over 17 years. He worked his way up to director of supply chain at his last employer before deciding that he wanted to pursue his writing as a career and quit his job. Armbruster's wife, Mary, also quit her corporate job to follow her passion of creating jewelry and other accessories for her Etsy shop online.
"We are taking a little bit of a leap here, because we both left our corporate jobs to start pursuing our passions," Armbruster said. "We've thought about if for a year and a half, and we decided to downsize our house and move into a fifth-wheel to travel the country for a year or two. We want to share what we create with others."
"Clondike and Mudo's Adventure" went live on Archway Publishing's website, Barnes & Noble and Amazon on July 18, and Armbruster has been working tirelessly to promote the book and help it spread as much as possible by word of mouth.
"What I've been doing now that the book is live is put together a social media presence, including starting up a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram page," Armbruster said. "My parents purchased a few copies and started circulating the books to their local libraries at their new home and to the local kids in their neighborhood. And the responses they have gotten have been great. The kids love it."
According to Armbruster, "Clondike and Mudo's Adventure" isn't meant to teach a lesson through the characters experiences and story. It is meant to be purely about imagination and creativity.
"As a kid, we didn't have all the electronic stuff that we have these days. My feeling is that kids have gotten away from imagining or creating something yourself," Armbruster said. "That is what I'm hoping to get out of the book is to inspire some kids to get back to that."
For those not in the know, Clondike and Mudo are a pair of mice who live in a junk yard. Clondike is the leader, while Mudo is the lesser of the two in intelligence. One day, the pair decide they want to travel into space, so they use items around the junkyard to create a spaceship. The duo travels into space and has encounters with aliens and other adventures. The ending of the book left the door open for further adventures for the pair, which is an exciting idea for Armbruster and his family.
"In grade school, we had an ongoing science project where we had albino rats and we fed one rat healthy food and the other junk food. Then we would see how they would develop differently," Armbruster said. "That was kind of my inspiration for the book. The rats were good to play with and that is how I developed the characters of Clondike and Mudo."
Armbruster's original artwork and words from his sixth-grade project were not changed for the publishing of the book, but he plans to work with his wife, and possibly his daughter, on any future projects.
"If this takes off....a sequel to the book is something that my wife and I would love to do together as a combined project. My artistic talents have pretty much faded away, but Mary is very artistic and so is our daughter," Armbruster said. "But I can still write and I still enjoy writing, so I think that would be a great project for us as a family."
The next installment of Clondike and Mudo's adventures is already in the works in Armbruster's head, but he has yet to decide what the pair should do next.
"I have a few ideas for future stories, including one about motocross, since I used to race when I was younger," Armbruster said. "It has always been a passion of mine, so it makes sense as a new story idea for Clondike and Mudo."
Armbruster will be at the Twin Cities Book Festival in October. You can find Armbruster on Facebook by searching "M.C. Armbruster."
"This book would be successful if, first and foremost, for children to enjoy it and grasp it. I hope they take the book to school and show it to their friends, who then get interested in it and want a copy of their own," Armbruster said. "I want to see the book grow enough to where we can also make a business of it and continue to create and share our works with audiences out there. I feel that I'll always stick with being imaginative and being creative, while also being yourself and especially having fun."