La Vida

BELENWhen asked if he’s always been a writer, Curtis Carter just laughs and says, “Oh, no.” 

Born and raised in the Hub City, with the exception of a three-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps and a short time living in Laughlin, Nev., Carter has lived in the city of Belen.  

After leaving the Marines, he attended New Mexico State University for a year and a half, but “my mind just wasn’t in it.” 

Carter then spent 36 years driving buses for Greyhound before retiring in his hometown. 

The idea to write a children’s book came from the desire to create a story for his goddaughter, who he describes as his unofficial adopted daughter, “just to have fun.”  

Awake one night in the wee hours, Carter saw a commercial for Christian Faith Publishing.  

“I said, ‘What the heck,’ and asked them to send me the information,” he said.   

The idea for his first book, “The Fox and The Hen,” published in 2021, was fully formed in his head, and after 45 minutes of dictating to a friend, the tale was set down on digital paper.  

The story follows Tina the hen on her morning walk where she befriends a fox by the name of Rico. When Tina introduces her new friend to the other animals on the farm, they are understandably alarmed. He’s a fox, after all. 

Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo 

Curtis Carter has written two books for children, “The Fox and The Hen,” and “Savannah’s Adventures.” 

“It’s about relationships in a way. People told her he’s a fox, but she doesn’t listen until it almost costs her dearly,” Carter said. 

His second book was published in 2023. “Savannah’s Adventures” is a chapter book that follows the adventures of a young Navajo girl as she befriends and helps various animals and people. 

As a young boy, Carter spent a lot of time on the Navajo reservation when his father delivered alfalfa. 

“I was on the reservation all the time, so I had that life experience,” he said.  

The process of getting the two books published was similar, with the first coming at a cost of $4,000 and the second at $3,500. 

“I put $1,000 down and made payments for the rest,” he said. “You do have to have the finances.” 

“The Fox and The Hen”

Savannah’s Adventures

For the first book, Carter’s nephew, Calen Keesling, created the illustrations, while the publishing company illustrated the second book. 

With two books under his belt, Carter has two more in progress with the hopes of releasing the next one in time for Halloween. Still a handwritten draft in a spiral notebook, his next story follows the infamous chupacabra on a trip around the world to see if anyone believes he is real.  

His journey leads him to other mythical creatures, including Bigfoot, who is rather confused about what the world calls him, especially since his name is Donnie. 

“I would like to see some return on the first two before spending more,” he said. “A friend of mine, who is also a writer, did the research and on average it takes about 10 years before you make any money on it. I hate to be kind of a downer, but you have to do your time.” 

His other work in progress is about a young child who goes looking for the ice cream truck and gets lost. There’s a happy ending, of course. 

With any book, long or short, there is a lot of back and forth, editing, changing and approvals, Carter said. His first book took about 10 months to finalize, while the second was more than a year and a half. 

Savannah’s Adventures

Savannah’s Adventures

“The first one was quicker because my nephew did the art. He only does animals, not people, so the second one, the publisher did the artwork, which was a little slower. You have to approve the artwork, the edits; there’s a lot of back and forth. It can be a drawn-out process,” he said. “My nephew took charge of the second book and did the art editing. He was very picky, and I just stayed out of it.” 

As far as the editing of the text, Carter said he didn’t mind the process at all. 

“I’m never going to say I’m smarter than everybody. I was completely flexible. I want the book to be published, so whatever the suggestion was, I was fine with it. That’s their business,” he said.  

Before he sent the first books off, he gave the stories to his three sisters and brother. 

“They liked them, so I got some second opinions. Everybody said, ‘Yeah, I think these are good.’ If enough people like it, then I think you have something,” Carter said with a chuckle. 

So far, he’s gotten nothing but compliments on his books and encouraged others to give writing a shot. 

“It’s a process. I think quite a few people, and I’m not being facetious or anything, but I think quite a lot of people could write a children’s book or some kind of book,” he said. “I believe everybody’s got a story in them.” 

Carter’s first two books can be purchased online at either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.