BLACKFOOT — As she sat at a table at St. Bernard Catholic Church's parish hall on Saturday, Gerry Mathias signed and sold a few copies of her newly published children's book, "Cookies for Frankie."
"This has been a three-year process," Mathias said of publication of her book. She said she decided to publish it after entering it in an Idaho Writer's League contest and earning second place.
"I decided maybe this was worth it," she said. She noted it is the true story of how a set of cookie cutters which have been in her family for nearly a century came to be made.
"I want to get the stories out there," she said of her decision to self-publish after her efforts to find an agent willing to work with her didn't pan out. She said she plans to self-publish a novel and a book of poetry sometime in the future.
"This is a family story," she said. "And, I have a lot of family. They'll buy most of them."
She said her great-grandfather and his brother couldn't find the kind of cookie cutters they remembered from Germany. So, she said, they made 100 out of their tin dinnerware.
Those cookie cutters remain treasured items in her family, she said, noting that another relative has them.
Mathias' books sell for $15 or for $17 by mail. She plans to eventually have a website on which they will be available. To buy them before then, call her at 684-4200.
Mathias is originally from Oklahoma. She spent two years at the University of Oklahoma before marrying and moving to Idaho with her husband, Jim.
After raising their family of four children, she completed her bachelor's and master's degrees from Idaho State University. She was the home-bound teacher for Blackfoot School District for seven years, then spent the last seven years teaching English at ISU.
"I've been a closet writer most of my life," she said. "I started publishing in the last seven or eight years. Some of the her first published works appeared in Idaho magazine over the past four years.
Among her other hobbies:
"I like to go fishing with my husband," she said. "And we don't spend near enough time at our cabin in Island Park."
She also works with Jim on conservation projects.
She is also involved in activities at her church. She was part of the soup dinner and bake sale at St. Bernard's last weekend.
"It was a cooperative effort between our Hispanic members and the Anglos," she said. "The money raised will go to the general fund because we have a lot of big projects to pay for."
One of the biggest, she said, will be re-paving the church parking lot.