December 30, 2022 at 10:53 a.m.
“Writing a book was completely accidental and I didn’t even know I could do it,” he said. “Until I read some of the stuff that was coming out and thought, ‘Well, that’s terrible.’”
Rehm has spent the last 12 years in North Branch after moving with his wife Mary from Racine, WI. He was a long time salesman in the architectural and industrial coatings field. He also managed paint stores, and that’s where he stumbled upon his creative gene. “As the Internet became more prevalent and popular, customers of mine began to open up web pages, and at the time, they weren’t very good,” Rehm said. “I would volunteer to help them with web pages for a beer or two and it was around that time that I realized sales was just starting to wear thin on me.”
He spoke with Mary about wanting to give writing for a living a shot, and she not only supported it, but pushed him in that direction.
“None of this happens without her support. She’s been the driving force that made it all happen,” Rehm explained. “When I was stuck, she’s been great. I might be working at Menards without her and her support.”
It started small for Rehm. He began writing a book from the seed of an idea that his brother-in-law gave him, and then also started working for a weekly newspaper writing some sports and various human interest stories.
The book idea, though, hit a little bit of a dead end for Rehm.
“Initially, my first story was meant to be all about deer hunting, which was just a mistake. It was all well and good, but I wrote a book catered to an audience that just doesn’t read much. Guys will read, but most of the people who buy books and are readers are women. So, I expanded the idea and the book, and it turned into Let Flowers Be Flowers,” he said.
Rehm’s book morphed from just a hunting story to a tale of “...an estranged family preparing for the annual Wisconsin gun deer hunt (that) carries on completely unaware of how their lives were about to change forever. Motivated by greed and jealousy, eldest brother Mason Owens hatches a nefarious plan. He nearly thought of everything except the intrusion of an unknown hunter. When the dust settles, an historic scene sends shockwaves across the country and provides fuel for campfire stories for generations to come,” according to the book description.
It took Rehm years to finish the book (from 2010-2015), but that eventually turned out to be the easy part.
He spent three years looking for an agent, only to be told that agents were mostly looking for underrepresented authors. Rehm, as a white male, wasn’t high on that list.
And then the pandemic hit, and that put everything on hold as well. Rehm took the lead on home schooling the four kids while they were away from the schools, and he had an idea to fill the rest of his time. He started a blog and did a weekly story that became essentially four novellas called, The Adventures of Philippine Maximine, PI.
At that point, Let Flowers Be Flowers was already written, so he decided to go with a private investigator theme that was in the same universe as the book and introduced his blog readers to some of the characters in his feature novel. When the pandemic went a bit longer than most expected, the blog grew into a story. “I didn’t expect Philippine Maximine to be published,” Rehm said. “I meant it for the Internet. If I expected it to published, I would’ve tried hard,” he joked.
Once Rehm decided to march forward with the publishing of Let Flowers Be Flowers, he and Mary and the older kids decided they would do all the production themselves instead of resuming search for an agent. “We opened up Rudbeckia Productions LLC and we did all of the editing, covers, marketing and production,” he said.
Mary helped, as did the couple’s oldest son, Adam. He was an honor student and all conference basketball player at North Branch High School in 2021-22 but he chipped in and helped when he could.
The creation of the production company then led to the couple opening up a book shop in Center City called Twinflower Books — which the couple’s second eldest son, Bryce, takes a particular interest in. Everything was falling in place to publish the book finally in August of 2022. “I was apprehensive and nervous,” Rehm said. “We have so much invested that I sure hope people like it. It takes a lot of guts to hit send, but at some point you have to feel good enough and hang your underwear on the line for people to see.”
The book has been well received, and Rehm said he wrote it thinking of the books that grip him. “I needed a story that can keep moving. I hate it as a reader when I’m bored. I need action, something that keeps me moving otherwise I’m not going to turn the page.”
Rehm said Let Flowers Be Flowers has essentially three different climactic points, so there’s plenty of action in the book, but he also knows not everyone is going to love it. He explained, “When I saw the first negative review, I got kind of mad, but then I realized it was a really good thing because I didn’t write it for everyone. It’s generic crap when it’s for everyone. There will be people who love this and who hate this.”
Rehm is hoping to publish a sequel in 2023, and said he’s already 10 chapters into it. “I have another great idea and I’m definitely going to keep this going,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it.