The Belton Journal


Nearly five years ago, Jordan Petter hung up the coach’s whistle and stepped away from teaching blended English at Belton High School and transitioned to become Lake Belton High School’s Digital Information Specialist and established the LBHS library.

It was a labor of love that Petter transformed into reality. When the school officially opened in August 2020, students walked into a library full of great reading opportunities.

A great number of changes occurred in Petter’s life since. She lost her mom, longtime Belton ISD coach and educator Denise Petter, to brain cancer in July 2021. She was extremely close with her grandparents, Franky and JoAnn Cagle. Franky passed away in September 2022 and Jo Ann passed away in December 2023.

She has become a mother to two daughters and continues to serve at the DIS at Lake Belton.

Petter has added a new title of published author.

In her fascinating book “Adventures with Mimi: Evalee Goes Fishing” Petter’s daughter Evalee has a fishing adventure with her mother, the late, great Denise Petter.

The book printed on Feb. 28 (ISBN-10 177944502 and ISBN-13 978-1779440501), and hit bookstores and Amazon on Thursday, March 21.

“I honestly didn’t have anything in mind until after mom died,” Petter said. “Mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer in April 2021. Her behavior started taking a turn for the worse, and she started losing her memory. Eventually, she became non-verbal. When I told her about the baby, her eyes lit up. At that moment, I knew I needed to do something to bridge the gap between Evalee, someone who she would never get to meet, and mom, who is so special to me and who would be as special to my mom as a granddaughter.  I needed to bridge those lives together in some capacity.”

Fishing is a hobby that is near and dear to the Petters. The happy days of the Petter family were spent in the woods and by the water. It served a catalyst for Petter’s first book.

“So, my brother and I, having grown up in an outdoors environment, spent a good deal of time in the woods or down at the coast,” Petter said, “We have a cabin at the coast too. We went fishing and had all sorts of experiences that we endured as children and then later in our adulthood. I did put into my thought process moving forward with these books or with Everly goes fishing and so this first one yet. I wanted to do fishing first. I love the sport of fishing and so did mom. One of her greatest places to be was at the coast. We don’t do a lot of freshwater fishing, so it was mainly saltwater. So, writing in the freshwater format was a little different for me. But it was still the same concept of jerking and making sure the hook is set. She would show us how to set the hook real in the fish but then she expected you to do it for yourself. Mom did not mind showing you but was also a “figure it out for yourself” type of person. She was very supportive, but also detail oriented.”

Being a former English teacher, Petter did not serve as her own editor. She leaned on an author who knows a thing or two about children’s books: Sharon Jennings, who is the author of the “Franklin” children’s book series.

“Before I submitted the copy, I went back over it three different times. Sharon did a phenomenal job editing,” Petter said. “There were details that I did not think about, and she helped reword them to sound more supportive and not critiquing. It’s her viewpoint on the child as the protagonist in the book. That helped whenever I wrote the book. Yes, Mimi is a big part of the book, but Evalee is the main character.”

Being open-minded about the editing process helped Petter’s success in the project.

“I had to tell myself that I am not perfect and that I have my flaws,” Petter said. “This is my first children’s book, and I am not an expert in the field. Tweaks needed to be made, and I wanted to make sure all the lessons that I learned as a kid, such as perseverance, and patience, were in the book. If I can get feedback on how to make the book better in the process, I took it. Sharon is the expert, not me.”

The illustration process captured what Mimi and Evalee looked like in Petter’s mind’s eye. Petter found a gem in illustrator Lidia Fernández Abril.

“I found her on a website where thousands of illustrators upload their portfolios,” Petter. “I found Lidia and I felt like her illustrations matched exactly what Mom and Evalee to be, down to Mom’s fishing vest. I also made sure that she was proficient in outdoors scenes, with the main premise of the scenes set outdoors. We went back and forth a few times. From the storyboards to the coloring edits, she was great to work with. She even had color sheets made for when I do school visits.”

From the days curating the Lake Belton High School library all the way to writing a children’s book, Petter’s days of Digital Information Specialist continue. Her days of motherhood with Evalee and Dalynn are just beginning, as are her days as an author.

A special book signing will be held at The Blackbird Books & Spirits in Belton on April 13.

“I plan on at least three to four more books,” Petter said. “The themes will vary from camping to cattle, it will be fun.”