Duo collaborates on deep-meaning book
Inspired by his daughter's experiences, Baldwin City's Jim Borgeson wrote a short outline that involved his famous horse, Toby, which became a novel thanks to his friend, Maureen Waters.
"I had written this three page outline, and she turned that into a 220-page novel," Borgeson said.
Waters wrote the novel "Spirit Keeper" for Borgeson about a young girl who overcomes a tragedy.
"It's a good story about overcoming your problems and being patient with your life, Waters said. "It's based on an outline that Jim (Borgeson) wrote about an experience he had with his daughter."
Waters explains the basic premise for the novel.
"It's about a young girl, Katie, who has been in a car accident that has killed her parents and left her in a wheelchair," Waters said. "She is sent to a dairy farm in Kansas to live with her grandfather."
Waters also explained how the horse based on the real Toby, helps Katie Cateson in her struggles and eventually helps her become a champion barrel racer.
Borgeson said although his daughter's childhood experiences show through in small ways throughout the story, her main contribution to the story came later in her life.
"The main character in the novel is kind of based on my daughter Sondra (Borgeson)," Borgeson said. "That's who the book is dedicated to. A divorce is what destroyed her family, so there are lots of hidden meanings in this story."
These hidden meanings make the book a bit deeper for interested readers.
"You can take this book and read it quickly as an easy-read novel, or you can read it and try to get all of the hidden meanings," Borgeson said.
Borgeson and Waters have been trying hard to get the word out about the book to the public. At the annual Maple Leaf Festival, Borgeson's daughter and Waters signed books.
Borgeson has also contacted long-time friend Brad Moore, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions president, about making the book into a movie.
"I have had a meeting with Brad and he is going to read the novel and consider it for making a movie," Borgeson said. "We don't know the time frame for that, but at least we got our foot in the door. That would be tremendous if that happens."
"Spirit Keeper" will also be receiving some national publicity in February. The assistant editor of the Paint Horse Journal contacted Borgeson and told him they will be promoting the book in their monthly issue.
"So we are getting some national publicity for free, too," Borgeson said.
Also in February, Borgeson and the real Toby will be heading to Wichita for the ninth-annual Equifest, which is a three-day exposition for horse owners and horse lovers.
Instead of sitting in a small booth, Borgeson said animal food producer Purina is going to assist in selling the books.
"They are going to pay for Toby's booth space down there, plus they are going to provide the space in their big commercial booth to sell these books," Borgeson said of Purina. "We thought we were going to be in a corner, but now we are in the center of the arena."
Borgeson said the book also offers many strange coincidences.
"One of the really interesting things was that Maureen had written in the novel that Toby was first broke by a half-breed Indian," Borgeson said. "She had no idea, but a half-breed Indian did break Toby to start with. She has this half-breed Indian's name as being Leaping Frog."
"I saw this trainer, who is Jeff Smith, at Zarco's gas station," Borgeson said. "I told him he was in the novel we were writing, except in the novel he is called Leaping Frog. He said when he was a kid playing little league football, his coach used to call him Leaping Frog."
Another coincidence regarding the book was the way Waters decided to become the author.
Waters held a filing job at Baker University and had to work with a short filing cabinet. This job caused some pain in her back, so she went to see Borgeson, a chiropractor, for help.
"Maureen showed up in my office and I had not seen Maureen for probably 15 years," Borgeson said. "She had hurt her back, so she came into me for treatment. And for some reason I was telling her about this idea to write a novel. I remember thinking she came into me for back trouble, so quit thinking about the horse and concentrate on her back."
"When I turned around, Maureen had her hand up in the air," Borgeson said. "I asked her what she was doing. She said 'I am the one to write your book.' She said she had come to my office with the idea to write a book about a horse. She said since this must be from God, I will write it for free. Now try to convince me that's a coincidence."
The idea for the book came from Mark Moore, Overland Park, a friend of Borgeson. Moore first gave Borgeson the idea of using Toby to raise money for needy people.
Borgeson began using Toby's stud fees to give $100 Wal-Mart gift cards to people in need of money. He hoped to raise $10,000, but has now given away more than $63,000.
About five years ago, Moore gave Borgeson another idea to raise more money.
"When we ran out of money from Toby's stud fees, Mark told me to write a book to further Toby's earnings," Borgeson said. "So then I sat down and wrote an outline."
After writing the outline for his book, Borgeson expressed his concern for finding an author.
"On a Sunday night at one of our monthly meetings with the agents, I said we just need a professional writer to write the novel for free," Borgeson said. "Well, of course, everybody laughed."
Then Waters began writing the book based on Borgeson's outline. She would bring in a few pages at a time that Borgeson and some friends would read and critique.
"I was getting immediate feedback that I was heading in the right direction," Waters said. "It was magical how all of the dominoes fell in the right place."
After reading the book, Borgeson loved it.
"The book is a tremendous tool," Borgeson said. "It's a very good book, but with all the hidden meanings, there is also some inspiration in it."
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