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Blackduck school teacher publishes her first book

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It wasn't until about three weeks ago that people began learning of Jennifer Parker's newly published book, 'The Insanity Cookbook: Life through the dreamscape.'

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Other than a few close friends and family members, Parker chose to keep it a secret until her anthology of short stories physically existed.

"I just didn't want to talk about it until I knew it was going to be a reality," Parker said. "I wanted to make sure that it looked professional and like a real book."

Last spring, Parker became disappointed with some of the materials she had been ordering for the Blackduck High School speech team, which she coaches. So she mixed in some of her own work with that of the regular publishers and asked her best speech participants to choose what they liked.

When every single student came back with her work, her mind was made up. So in May, Parker began to sort through all of her work to rewrite and edit it.

"They were all just things that I had been sticking in a drawer so I fixed them up and put them together and found a publisher who was willing to do it," Parker said.

CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon that offers various forms of self-publishing, agreed to work with her.

They provided her with an interior designer for the layout of the inside of her book and she also paid for a minor marketing package so Amazon would review it and write the back cover.

Her brother, Stephen Parker, designed the front cover which goes along with one of the stories within the book. He works as a graphic designer based in the Twin Cities.

Her brother isn't the only family member involved with her book, however.

Parker's son edited her work for her and the book also includes a supplement called 'Scarecrow' from her late brother John Allen Parker, who was 29 when he passed away in 1987.

"This piece of his was a state award-winning piece of poetry," Parker said. "And he never had it published."

Without it being published, the piece can't be used for competition.

"For years, I've had people asking me how they can get a copy of it," Parker said. "So I made up my mind that when I did this, and if I ever did this, that his piece was going in there."

'The Insanity Cookbook' is not only a collection of short stories, but also includes monologues, poems and some unconventional recipes.

Those recipes are used to separate the different sections in the book and originate in dreams that Parker has.

"I dream recipes, which is really really weird," Parker said.

The first recipe in the book calls for butter, bread crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, chicken and finally cat litter.

As Parker writes in her author's note in the beginning of her book, she doesn't actually recommend cooking with cat litter. But it also explains her insomnia and vivid dreams.

The stories in her book have protagonists that range from age 7 all the way to the very elderly, according to Parker.

"Basically, the way I think of it is that it's a collection of real human experiences all the way through a very aged experience."

Now that she has her first book published, Parker has her mind set on the future. She now has four other novels outlined and two of them partially complete.

"One of them I have the first several chapters done and one I've got chapters done that aren't in order," Parker said. "It's inspired me now to see this in print to say 'I can finish those.'"

A book signing and reading will be held for Parker and the Insanity Cookbook: Life through the dreamscape from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Blackduck Community Library.

Another signing at Book World in Bemidji is in the works and according to Parker it will likely be held before Christmas.

The books are available for purchase from Parker, at Book World and at Amazon.com.

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