Montez Self-Publishes as a Nonagenarian
C.S. Lewis, a man probably much wiser than the rest of us, once said “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Our client and good friend, Montez Roller Smith, has proved Mr. Lewis to be correct time and again over the past four years. Still publishing books well into her nineties, new books by Montez have become a regularity at Steuben Press.
I first got a call from Montez Roller Smith in the spring of 2011. After living and raising her family in Oklahoma, she had recently moved to spend her later years in beautiful Larkspur, Colorado. Looking for someone to help her print a series of children’s books that she had illustrated, Montez began making calls to local printers and eventually came to us by way of referral from another shop. Excited to get out of the office for a while, I offered to visit her at her home and check out her work. Boy, I had no idea what I was in for.
As it says on the back cover blurb of all her books, Montez is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. That sentence is a succinct, tidy description of who she is, but doesn’t do justice to the life she’s lived. Dedicated to her family for her entire life, everything has been for her children and descendants. One of the things that has always been her own is her illustrations. Montez is a prolific artist, and over her many years she has produced an astounding amount of artwork and stories. To hear her tell it, this is what has “kept her sane.”
On that fateful day in 2011 I arrived at her home to look at the Right to Dream Books – a series of six children’s stories that she had held on to and was now ready to share with the world in fulfillment of her life-long publishing dreams. In those days Steuben Press was a much smaller shop than it is now, and happily we were able to prove ourselves worthy of printing her books for her. And I do say PRINT, as Montez at 90 decided she was going to be a true self-publisher. Steuben Press was just along for the ride.
Over the past four years we have worked on all the books on Montez’s Amazon page, and then some! Some are re-workings of titles she’s published previously, most are only available now for the first time, and all are tremendous. This month we started on the 23rd different title she’s printed with Steuben Press. Each time we start a new book she tells me we need to keep up because there are still more to go.
Despite the distance to her house in Larkspur and the growth of our company, I still make the drive to see her as often as I can. There’s new business with her of course – she’ll never let us print one for free – but more than that I get to sit with a wonderful woman who shares her lifelong dreams with me. I get to look through her artwork, pick the stories she wants to print next, and be reminded why we’re in this wonderful industry of self-publishing.