Tara Kranz
"There are Dinosaurs in the Fields", a collection of essays and stories on small town life in North Dakota. (Submitted photo)

Julie Neidlinger of Hampden, ND. (Submitted photo)

"Seasons of Life: Winter Trees" (2016) by Julie Neidlinger (Submitted photo)

"Belle Mehus Auditorium" (2009) by Julie Neidlinger (Submitted photo)

"Cowboy Up" (~1999) by Julie Neidlinger (Submitted photo)

"Nicaraguan Girl" (2006) by Julie Neidlinger (Submitted photo)

Imagination is an essential for those in a small, rural North Dakota town. This has been especially true for Julie Neidlinger of Hampden, N.D. Neidlinger grew up on her parents' farm and was involved with a wide variety of activities. Now an adult living in Bismarck, she still never hesitates to take on a new challenge.

Neidlinger has truly done it all: she has been an author, artist, farmer, chef, teacher, pilot, reporter and so much more! Despite all of her jobs and hobbies, Neidlinger enjoys working for herself most of all. She has a degree in art and has run her own business, Lone Prairie Art Works, for 17 years. "Even though I've worked as a reporter, graphic designer and all these other things, [my business] was always going on in the background... I've never stopped doing stuff on the side."

Neidlinger's most recent accomplishment is her new book, There are Dinosaurs in the Field. It contains many different essays and stories dealing with her life growing up on a farm. Neidlinger hesitates to call it a memoir, although all the stories are true. The purpose of the book is to depict the residents of a small town in a realistic way. "These are the people I know because I am those people. So I thought I would tell these funny little stories." Her main focus was to try to humanize people who aren't always portrayed positively in media. "[When I write], the people I have in mind are [my] mom, dad, brothers, sisters and my best friend; I think that keeps me honest because they aren't going to expect me to write to cater to their whim," Neidlinger said.

Perhaps the first step toward Neidlinger's book was the creation of her blog in 2002. "My blog didn't have a specific topic; it was just sort of a cornucopia of random ideas," Neidlinger explained. In the past few years, she has removed most of her writing from the internet, but much of her 2,000-odd blog posts have been included in her book.

Neidlinger has struggled with the vast amount of negativity online. "People really become kind of ugly online, which is one of the reasons I've taken a lot of my stuff down." When she began her blog, she describes how things were different and more supportive.

Fans of her blog regularly stated that she should put her ideas into a book. As a practice run, she started the process by publishing a six-issue magazine. "I wanted to force myself to get something in writing, edit it up as best I could and get it to print," said Neidlinger. Some of the content in these magazines ended up inside her book. When she decided to officially pursue her own book, her goal was to collect her best writing. "If you're a writer, you kind of want this one moment where you have a book that is just your stuff."

Since There are Dinosaurs in the Field is self-published, Neidlinger was involved in every aspect of creating the book, including marketing. She admits to not being sure anyone would be interested in the book, but that didn't stop her from spending years developing it. "There's no reason not to do something. You have the time, you have the material... you have the knowledge, you have the software. Why wouldn't you? It's not going to cost you anything... If only mom buys one, I'm fine. I did it."

You can visit Neidlinger's website at www.loneprairie.net/ to purchase There are Dinosaurs in the Field or to view her artwork. The book can also be purchased at Barnes and Noble.

Tara Kranz is an English teacher turned stay-at-home mom from Bismarck. She is an aspiring freelance writer who enjoys blogging, crafting, getting involved at church, movie nights with her husband and whatever will make her son smile.