York County authors find voice through storytelling, imagination

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Casie Fowler poses with her book "Five One and a Half" at her New Freedom home Thursday, March 4, 2021. The book is a coming-of-age novel about a girl with special powers. It's her first novel. Bill Kalina photo

Casie Fowler started writing her novel, "Five One and a Half," on a whim one evening.

Like many new authors, the Glen Rock resident found her passion for storytelling pushed her to new boundaries beyond just a hobby.

"It was an unexpected hobby that became my passion and career," Fowler said. 

Fowler is among a small group of new York County authors self-publishing their books. West York native Darrell Berkheimer made the leap to publishing 11 years ago.

Fowler started initially started writing as a hobby — which took off unexpectedly. Berkheimer, meanwhile, got his start in the professional world writing at his college newspaper at Temple University, and later, The York Dispatch in 1964.

Fowler's young adult fiction series telling the coming-of-age story of a young girl with superpowers launched in September. The second installment will debut April 9.

After expanding her hobby into something more concrete, Fowler said, it was important for her to research different publishing avenues.

Although she said she received several offers from publishing companies, Fowler turned them down to self-publish. Her books are available in three York County libraries, several book and coffee shops, and at Stevenson University in Maryland.

The first book in her series has sold more than 1,000 copies since its release, she said.

Casie Fowler's book "Five One and a Half" Thursday, March 4, 2021. The book is a coming-of-age novel about a girl with special powers. It's the New Freedom woman's first novel. Bill Kalina photo

Her primary job — as the owner of BarkCode Consulting and Project Management — provided Fowler with free resources for graphic design and editing.

"Why pay a publisher when I can do all of these things myself?" Fowler said. 

While Fowler said her book release initially had a great reception, she didn't just write the book in order to make sales, she said.

She has an upcoming online event with the national Girl Scouts of America in April to talk with troops about her novel and how to get started as an author.

Fowler will also host a contest with the Girl Scouts in which girls from the troops will write and submit a short story about a new character. The winner of the contest will have their character featured in the next book in Fowler's series.

Part of the hobby that is also rewarding for an author is the simple joy in writing, Fowler said.

Darrell Berkheimer, a West York native, has self-published eight memoirs, essays and instructional books.

That sentiment couldn't be more true for Berkheimer, who has eight self-published memoirs, essays and instructional books.

Berkheimer worked in the news industry for nearly three decades before trucking coast-to-coast for 13 years.

Several of his books, including "More Stories from The Golden Throne" and "Camping, Travel & RV Choices … with a lifetime of tales, trips and tips," detail his expeditions and tales from across the country.

"I wanted to have a legacy; I wanted to leave something behind," Berkheimer said. "I never went into it with the idea that I was going to sell a lot of books or make a lot of money — I wanted to do it as a legacy to leave behind what I have written."

His first book, a compilation of essays and columns from his time in the newsroom, is his favorite of his published works for the variety of topics and content it covers.

More personal books, such as a biography for his brother, "The Loves and Legacies of Ron Berkheimer," he provided to friends and family.

Berkheimer, who now resides in Grass Valley, California, said that while his stories are available on Amazon, he enjoys giving out copies to those who will pass along his stories — like his grandchildren.

That doesn't mean his works haven't been noticed by others. One individual purchased 20 copies of his book "People Skills: What Employers Want Most" for an instructional course, he said.  

Both Fowler and Berkheimer agree that anybody can start writing — and it only requires a bit of time and dedication.

"Dream big, but be willing to take criticism too," Fowler said. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Berkheimer's current residence and length of time spent in the newsroom. It also reflects how Berkheimer got his start with writing.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.