WILLIAMSBURG -- Williamsburg resident Kristin Buck held a book signing for her first book "Bella Goes to Israel" at the Whitley County Public Library on Monday evening.
The book, "Bella Goes to Israel," is a children's book based off of Buck's missionary work in Israel from 2003-2008.
"I thought 'well, I'd like to write a book,' but I couldn't write about myself," said Buck. "So, I ended up writing a book as if my dog, Bella, went to Israel."
Buck did all of the illustrations herself, painting them with watercolors and watercolor pencils.
"All of these illustrations that I painted are from actual photos that I took or are from memory of being there," she said. "It's a whole different world and a whole different culture living there. The people look different and dress different."
In fact, Buck said it was her paintings and motivation from loved ones that eventually persuaded her to write her story.
"Lately I've been painting a lot," she said. "I've been painting a lot of characters, well mostly Bella. Bella is a good model, she's in there in front of me all of the time and she never leaves me. So, I started painting pictures of her. Then my kids and family and friends kept telling me 'you ought to do illustrations or write a book or something.' So finally after about the fifth person told me that, I thought 'okay, okay, maybe I will.' I thought about writing a story about Bella, and the story just kind of came to me."
Buck isn't a writer by trade, but said she sharpened her writing skills while she was away doing missionary work. She would create a newsletter she would send to her supporters, in which she would write stories about her experiences.
"I feel like that's where I really used that skill, writing, the most," she said. "I picked it up again about a year ago and this is what's come from it."
Being a first-time writer, Buck admitted she didn't know anything about publishing a book before she started researching it. She credited her persistence to being the factor in her not giving up.
"I think it was the persistence, I kept trying and looking at it in different ways and finally came up with this way to do it," she said. "I had just bought this new computer, a laptop, and it was very confusing to me. Sometimes I would just sit and look at it and then just give up. I thought 'well, I'll just try it again tomorrow.' It was just a day by day persistence."
All in all, the whole process took Buck less than a year to create her story and publish it. It took her three to four months to write the story and paint all of the pictures. Then it took about four months for her to get "Bella Goes to Egypt" published.
Buck said she hopes to get her story out to as many children as she can because of the message of her story. That message is: doing good deeds isn't enough.
"Everybody thinks that doing good deeds will get them into Heaven and make them into a good person. Even Bella in her book says 'I'm a good dog.' In the story she does a good deed, she helps a camel that's lost find its owner. It's a cute story and all that, but in the end she's reading her Bible in her dog hotel and she finds out that being good is not enough," Buck said. "She gets down on her knees and prays, and asks for the Lord to come into her heart."
Buck has a second book, "Bella Goes to Egypt," being published this week. This book looks at Buck's time traveling around Egypt. She says this book teaches the lesson to trust the Lord. She is even working on her third book titled "Bella and the Bethlehem Star."
"I love it," Buck said on writing her books. "Like I said, it's something I've never done before and just seems like God is opening up a whole new career and life for me."
Buck is originally a native of California, but said she and her husband moved to Williamsburg after her husband's retirement.
"I'm telling you there are the nicest people here in Williamsburg. We have just fallen in love with the community. We found a church, and we are just so happy here," Buck said.
"Bella is a real dog and writing about her has been the most exciting thing I've ever done," Buck continued. "I'm really hoping that I do get a message out to children. I want to reach as many children as I possibly can with my books."