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Woodbury woman releases first children's book

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Woodbury resident Maureen Bartone recently released her first-ever children's book "Life in the Gumball Machine," which tells the story of three friends who get sucked up into a gumball machine where they encounter a colorful and magical world.2 / 2

During the day Woodbury resident Maureen Bartone can be found sitting behind a desk working as a legal administrative assistant. At home Bartone also sits behind a desk - not working, but creating.

"Writing is inspirational," Bartone said. "I love creating something that is tangible that people can benefit from."

Bartone recently released her first book, a children's story called "Life in the Gumball Machine."

In the Gumball Machine

The book is about three friends, Daisy, Patrick, and Michael, who find an abandoned gumball machine hidden in an old shed. After they are magically transported up and into the gumball machine, they encounter a world of color and gumball people who take the children on the ride of a lifetime.

"Life in the Gumball Machine," which is available only in e-book format on, has actually been in the works for the past 15 years, Bartone said.

Her book started out simply as a creative writing assignment her then-fourth-grade daughter had received in class.

"I thought 'what a great idea, that's just the cutest little story,' - I just thought there was really something there," Bartone said. "I thought we should make this into a bigger story."

Bartone said she felt the story needed to be expanded because it had such a great message of acceptance.

"The message is this idea of getting kids to understand that they should treat each other kindly," she said. "All of these colorful gumball people made me think of all the different races out there so the children get to learn what it feels like to be the different one - the minority basically."

Bartone and her daughter quickly went to work expanding upon the initial idea of children getting sucked into a gumball machine.

"We had such great mother-daughter quality time sitting at the computer," she said. "We laughed and laughed coming up with ideas on how to make it grow and expand."

Eventually the story grew from a one page story to a nearly 60-page book.

Not much else happened with "Life in the Gumball Machine" for several years until Bartone brought out the book to enter into a few writing contests.

After rewriting, and expanding, Bartone eventually decided that she wanted to try and get the now 122-page book published.

After a number of rejection letters, Bartone said she decided to try her hand and self e-publishing.

Bartone eventually found an illustrator and finally she had her book.

Bartone said she decided to publish the book strictly in e-book format because not only is it much more cost effective, but it's where the book world is heading.

"It's the wave of the future," she said.

To date, "Life in the Gumball Machine" has received a total of 12 downloads.

Continuing to write

Even though "Life in the Gumball Machine" was kind of a fluke for Bartone, she said it has sparked an interest in her to keep going.

"It is the beginning of something," she said.

Currently, Bartone is already working on a sequel to "Life in the Gumball Machine" as well as another children's book, "Don't Bully the Bully," and a novel with a "mobster slash romance slash revenge" plot.

"I have a lot of islands of stories that need to be put together into a whole," she said.

Bartone said with all of her books, specifically the children's books, she wants to include some sort of underlying message or meaning.

For instance, with "Don't Bully the Bully" she wants to address the topic of bullying and why bullies act the way they do.

"I want to teach something," she said. "I want to have some inspiration, have something good come out of it and have it be worthy."

Bartone said she isn't sure where her writing career will take her, but she definitely has her wishes.

"I would love to be a best seller, but I'm realistic," she said. "But, I would love to be a full time writer."

In the meantime, Bartone said she is going to revel in the fact that she actually published a book.

"I don't know what's going to come of it, but I'm really proud of myself," she said. "It's my mark on the world and that excites me and motivates me to want to do more."

Maureen Bartone's book "Life in the Gumball Machine" can be downloaded for the Amazon Kindle at The download cost is $2.99. Bartone's book is also available for smartphones and tablets that can enable the "Kindle App."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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