I was born. It was 3 days before Christmas. I weighed 1 pound & 8 ounces & fit in the palm of my father's hand. These were the days before miracles, but a saintly nurse fed me with an eyedropper & 3 months later (when I should have just been being born!) I went home.
The next big event in my life was my first library card. Dr. Seuss, Tales Told Under the Green Umbrella, The Secret Garden . . . & soon I was certain I'd read every book in the children's section. So, I headed for the area marked Adults. The librarian never batted an eye as I checked out Nevil Shute's On the Beach & a National Geographic book chock-full of naked natives. I was 6 years old. I learned to love librarians.
I went to first grade in the days of Dick & Jane. There were 6 sets of reading classes snuggled in a little circle around the giant book. Each morning I started out in the first group & spent the entire day in reading. My teacher was a champion. Her job was to teach first graders to read & we would not leave her class until we could. I did learn to read (& learned to love teachers.) But what my teacher did not know was that I could not see; I was legally blind.
I made all A's in grammar school by trotting up to the pencil sharpener so I could memorize the blackboard. I did this several times each day. I had the sharpest pencils in the class. It would be the eighth grade before I got glasses. (By then, even I knew I couldn't see!) But when I told adults I couldn't read a STOP sign at arm's length, they laughed. I went to town myself & got some newfangled contact lenses. When the doctor put them in & I looked out the store window & across the street & saw all I hadn't been seeing all those years, I was astounded! But when I looked back down & discovered, not solid, but calico blouses & plaid skirts & pinstripe ties, & freckles on my arms, I cried.
I always wanted to make my living as a writer. "Impossible!" everyone told me. That's when I knew I'd be successful. As a young mother with children, I self-taught myself writing, photography & many other subjects. (There was only enough money for my husband to go to college.) But it would be 10 years before I would even try to get anything published.
I sent an article to the newspaper, unsolicited. When the newspaper came out the next day, there was my article & several sidebar articles I had written — they took up an entire page topped by an enormous headline & enhanced with art. I was shocked! The check was in the mailbox. The phone rang off the hook with people agreeing, & disagreeing, with what I had written. It was wonderful!
I went on to start my own public relations & corporate communications firm. I had lots of clients & lots of fun & travelled a lot & won many awards. Then one day while I was waiting for a client to decide what color annual report they wanted, I said, "You know, while you try to make up your mind, I think I could write a book." So I got out a little ruler & found the closest town on water & packed up the kids & went there & did just that!
One year later, my first book — The Missing Head Mystery — was finished. I
went to New York to see what to do with it.
"Publish it yourself," everyone insisted. And so I did. I needed a publishing name & Gallopade Publishing Group was born. Since it was just me, I had no idea what the "Group" in our name meant.
This was in the Dark Ages (before Macintosh) & so I was only able to add one book each year. My children — Michael & Michele — helped me. They served as characters & proofreaders (& loved to catch Mom's mistakes.) Michael learned the alphabet by filing account cards. Michele created our first accounting system when she was 14 years old; we still
The public relations faded away & we published full time. We did everything: the research, writing, art, design, paste up, printing & binding, sales & marketing, shipping & billing. It was very, very hard & wonderfully rewarding.
Like every fledgling business, there were rough times, mistakes made. There was also a divorce & a move & teenagers to survive. But ever-faithful were our readers. It seemed they couldn't get enough Carole Marsh mysteries; they read them as fast as I wrote them! Years & books sped by. Soon there were 12 of each.
Librarians suggested books on math & science & sex ed & many other subjects & I wrote them. Teachers said they needed books on their states & I wrote them: history, geography, legend, lore & more. Soon there were 200 books.
Then, computers & a guy named Bob came along & made our lives much easier. We switched to the Macintosh overnight; it would be 2 years before Bob & I would marry. That brought 2 more kids/characters into the family. Like the Five Little Peppers, Gallopade grew.
One day Waldenbooks called & said, "We hear you have a very popular trivia book on North Carolina. We want to order it. By the way, what other states do you have this book for?" We didn't, but as fast as I could think, I reeled off: "Kansas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Rhode Island" . . . & on & on. When I finally took a breath, she said, "Thank you" & hung up. Six weeks later, we got an order for 25,000 books! They were for almost every state — & only one was written!
We couldn't let you down, so I researched & wrote the books. They would be the first in what is now a 40+ book & other product series for each & every U. S. state. It took the family — & half the town! — to fill the order, but we did it & things were never the same.
Soon, there were 2,000 books & it was clear that Gallopade was going to be very big. The World's Largest Publishing Company is what we had in mind. But I still didn't know what the "Group" in our name meant.
Today, we publish fiction & non-fiction for all age & grade levels + adults. Our books are available in a variety of editions including paper, hardcover & on computer disk. We have 6,000 products in print now. Many of these are exclusively about your very own state or country! If we don't have a book you want & need, just ask us — I'll probably write it. (This has happened many times!)
I even finally figured out what the "Group" meant. Today, Gallopade is a gallimaufry of imprints including: Carole Marsh Mysteries; Carole Marsh Books; American Milestones; State Experience books on all 50 states and Canada; The Day That Was Different; Here & Now; Black Jazz Pizzazz, & Razzmatazz; 1000 Readers; A Bio To Grow On; New Traditions; & many more. We create and publish books, reproducible activities, software, games, charts, and many other fun, educational products.
In 1998, we changed our name to Gallopade International to reflect our dramatic new scope and abilities. As we create for the global educational market, we are enjoying making new friends.
We are based in Peachtree City, Georgia. Michele (now Michele Yother), got herself a college degree (honors & all!) & is the president and CEO of our publishing company. Michael is the genius behind all our exciting new
CD-ROM & multimedia products. Bob and I travel to your part of the world to do research, then I "hole up" to write up all those fascinating new facts. Bob does a little of everything — if you get your books & get them right, he probably had a big hand in there somewhere. We also use lots of freelance help, including many teachers, parents, librarians & students.
If you've been with us since the beginning (& many of you have), let me just say in print that I LOVE YOU! If we're new to you, give us a try. We're real people doing our best to help with the problems & the promise of life on planet Earth today. A real person's voice will answer our phone. We ship fast. Every product is fully guaranteed or you get a full refund (& no beefing about it!)
We never know what's next at Gallopade, but we'd love for you to be part of the "Group", our international family of friends, us.
Peachtree City, Georgia
P.S. —Publishers Weekly named us the fastest growing small publisher. In 2002 our State Stuff received the Teachers’ Choice Award from Learning Magazine! The Carole Marsh Mysteries series received the 2004 Teachers’ Choice for the Family Award—the series is also now part of Renaissance Learning’s™ Accelerated Reader® Program. And in 2003, Gallopade received the Excellence in Education Award from the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA)!
P.P.S.—Click on the image below to download a full-sized, autographed picture of me (approx. 2.4 MB)!