JBU Grads Write Best Sellers
By Jessa Parette Eldridge '11
Friday, August 12, 2011
Authors Kevin Mills '95 and Julie Gumm '94 reach Amazon's best seller's list
One of the biggest challenges new parents face is the lack of sleep caused when their new bundle of joy refuses to rest. Kevin Mills ’95 has three children of his own and became frustrated with the stacks of baby books on incorrect parenting. To address this problem, he wrote Baby Codes: 101 Winning Combinations To Help Your Baby Sleep and watched it quickly become an Amazon's #1 Bestseller in the "Parenting" category.
“Parents just don’t have the time or the patience to through yet another nanny's advice book on what they're doing wrong,” Mills said. “Baby Codes is arranged so that each page shares a simple, concise suggestion that will bring them one step closer to their goal: a good night's sleep. For babies and parents.”
In his book, Mills addresses the two most common mistakes parents make: not adhering to a schedule and trying to follow another person's advice.
“What if what they tell you doesn’t sync with what your baby’s needs? You’re out of luck. That’s why Baby Codes lists different combinations that parents can tap into,” Mills said. “It’s organized by the five sense so parents will be able to quickly apply the combinations to see what their baby likes best.”
In February, Mills heard of the nonprofit charity Gifts in Kind, a charity dedicated to helping communities by distributing new corporate product donations. With each donation, Gifts in Kind is able to purchase, store and ship diapers to its nonprofit network free of charge. Mills became interested in working with Gifts in Kind and donates 70 percent of all profit from Baby Codes to the organization.
“When I found out [about Gifts in Kind], I knew I wanted to get involved somehow,” Mills said. “A few phone conversations later and we struck up a partnership, even changing the cover design for the book to let buyers know that they’re not only getting a good night’s sleep, but their purchase directly helps babies in need.”
With 800 hard copies and 8000 electronic copies sold, Baby Codes hit Amazon’s #1 Bestseller’s list in July 2011. Mills graduated John Brown University with a degree in English education and currently lives with his family in Texas.
Adopting Without Debt
The price of adoption often intimidates couples, and many worry that the cost push their family into debt. However, Julie Gumm ’94 and Mark Gumm ’94 managed to adopt two children from Ethiopia, Luke and Beza, without going into debt. Inspired to share their family's story, Julie Gumm wrote, Adopt without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption, which became Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in the category of “Parenting and Adoption” in June 2011.
The Gumms began the process of adoption in 2007 after paying off their mortgage. However, Mark soon left his job, leaving the family with little room in their budget.
“I thought about doing an adoption loan to cover the cost,” Julie said. “But, one night we were listening to Dave Ramsey and he said ‘God will not call you to do something and then ask you to go into debt to do it.’ That was the turning point for us.”
The couple held a large fundraising garage sale and tightened their budget. The couple used a small adoption agency and Julie, a freelance web designer, volunteered to redesign its website. When it came time to buy plane tickets, the Gumms needed three thousand dollars. Their caseworker called saying that the agency was taking off three thousand dollars from the couple’s agency fees because of Julie’s volunteer work.
“A lot of things in life can teach you about God,” Julie said, “but most of those things are tragedies. Adopting a child is not. It is a process that teaches you about God’s control and providence and ends with a lot of joy.”
Adopt without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption covers twenty-fives families who found ways to cover the cost of adoption through t-shirt sales, karaoke contests or getting a second job at Starbucks because of the employee adoption benefits and more.
“There are ways to find money in your own budget and practical application processes that bring families closer to adopting without needing loans,” Julie said.
The Gumms brought their two children home in 2008 and Julie began writing the book in 2010. After publication, Julie appeared on Dave Ramsey’s show and soon saw her book reach Amazon’s #1 Best Seller’s list in June 2011.
Adopt without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption is available on Amazon.com. Kindle and iBook versions are available on adoptwithoutdebt.com.
Jessa Parette Eldridge '11 is the staff editor for University Communications at John Brown University