“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark-pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”
Ah, it’s wonderful to be putting words onto the page again. Were you wondering where I had gone to? I’ve been busy doing other non-writing activities for the past few months, but I’m back to what I really want to be doing, writing creatively, and attempting to create new books.
Where I’ve Been..
For the Tucson Festival of Books, I was in my “Grab an Adventure by the Tale” booth on March 4 & 5. I was joined by my fellow author and illustrator Brad Peterson, aka Anderson Atlas, as we sold our educational and entertaining books. I love speaking with kids who like science, especially when parents encourage them to read. Teachers seem particularly interested in the information contained in my books and homeschoolers frequently sign up for my newsletters and take my contact information. Both Brad and I sold books, appropriate for ages from kindergarten to young adult. We’ll be there in March 2024, so come visit us. It wasn’t the biggest festival attendance, but 130,000 visitors are very good, keeping TFoB the third-largest festival in the US.
Two weeks later, I was a co-chair for Left Coast Crime 2023: Trouble in Tucson. We’d been working on the conference for over 2 years, but I am pleased to say, it went very smoothly due to the volunteers of the Tucson Sisters in Crime. I didn’t understand why I had to stay at the El Conquistador Resort since I only lived 5 minutes away, but once the conference started, I understood. I enjoyed the experience very much but was glad when it was over. I’ll discuss some behind-the-scenes items in additional blogs.
One of my friends, Jeanette Mathias, strongly encouraged me to be a speaker at OLLI-UA, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arizona. OLLI is known for its 30+ years of Lifelong Learning. Their philosophy is “Feed your curious mind & passion for knowledge in-person or online. Stay connected & meet new friends in a community that shares your love of learning. Come explore hundreds of intellectually stimulating courses, field trips, and social activities – all at an incredible value.” I decided 3 lectures would give me sufficient time to talk about reptiles. My talks included live animals as well, of course. The people who attended seemed genuinely interested in reptiles and enjoyed the opportunity to meet and learn about my reptilian family members. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any snakes, only lizards, and chelonians.
During this time, I was experiencing teaching grade school students weekly as an after-school instructor for the Marana Unified School District. I have no training in classroom instruction. I was used to doing one-off lectures, and not coming up with activities for first to fourth-graders. Fortunately, I had several real teachers to help me corral the 30+ kids in the Animal Friends class. I explored various activities in the fall semester and felt I had prepared some nice lesson plans for the second semester. I hope to continue this program in the fall. If you’d like to see some of the sheets I prepared for this wide range of ages and abilities in one class, I am glad to share what I came up with. These activities would be appropriate for entertaining kids during the summer or after school.
I finished up my non-writing period on April 29 by being the speaker at the Friends of the Pima County Public Library Annual Members Meeting & Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. In half an hour, I shared my experiences volunteering in iguana conservation and how that led to my writing career. From the response, I think I did pretty well. They were a wonderful audience and the work they do to support the Pima County library system is crucial. I was honored to receive a lifetime membership to the Friends.
Now, I am once again at my laptop and all is right with the world. Thank you for reading!