In early 2020 (yes, immediately preceding the pandemic), I retired from my career as a biotechnology patent attorney. I thoroughly enjoyed my practice and the people I worked with. But with the arrival of my grandchildren, I found that I just wanted to play with them and share my love of nature. We were separated for a while, and I like many people that year, I focused my energies on my back yard. My encounters with local wildlife and those of a close friend led to the first two books in my Tales from Gramma's Garden series. An idea for the third book is kicking around in my brain and should materialize later this year. My hope is that these books will inspire children to preserve wildlife habitats and maintain ecological equilibrium. I'm pleased to hear from my customers that the books have stimulated curiosity and spirited discussion about pollination, lichen, the use of spider silk, family, and many other topics.
Now I'm having fun designing games and fabric inspired by the books.
How did I get the idea for Sammy’s Quest?
The river by our house began to subside as summer approached, leaving behind a small sandy beach in a patch of sunlight. It had been a long time since I had been able to lounge on the beach because of local restrictions due to the pandemic. With great excitement, I lugged the lawn chair down the hill to the river and settled in to soak up some sun. Glancing up, I saw a Lorquin’s Admiral butterfly basking in the sun on the tip of a willow branch. Time and time again the Admiral butterfly would chase away a much larger Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. As I watched the territorial dance, my imagination took over and the story began to emerge.
In short, Sammy's Quest is a whimsical children's picture book about a cheerful butterfly trying to find his mate's designated meeting place. His search begins far away, where he must resolve a conflict with a territorial butterfly before he can even find the right path.
To learn more about the book, visit my bookstore. Hardcover and paperback versions of Sammy's Quest are also available from many independent and large bookstores, including Amazon. An E-book version is available from Amazon.
How did I get the idea for Baby Hummer Grows Up?
Many of us became hyper-focused on our back yards during the pandemic (myself included), and undertook more gardening projects than we might have done under normal circumstances. One day, I received a call from my friend, horrified that her zealous pruning had very nearly chopped away a hummingbird nest. From then on she kept a close eye on the egg's development, providing me with regular updates. There were many tense moments, mainly weather related. In anticipation of a particularly windy night, my friend built a wind break for the nest area. The baby was progressing well and was expected to fledge soon. But sadly, one day the baby and the nest were gone. Suspecting a crow that had been hanging around, my friend was beside herself with grief for the little bird. In fact, very few baby hummingbirds survive to adulthood because of the many threats to their well-being. Fortunately, as an author, one has the power to change the outcome of a story. My friend's fierce protective spirit is captured in Mama, whose vigilance and guidance help her babies navigate through the challenges and dangers they face growing up. But of course this story has a happy ending!
In short, Baby Hummer Grows Up is a memoir of a hummingbird's chickhood and his mother's love. With a comfortable balance of humor and suspense, Brother describes the challenges and dangers he faced during his development from egg to adult.
To learn more about the book, visit my online bookstore. Hardcover and paperback versions of Baby Hummer Grows Up are also available from many independent and large bookstores, including Amazon. An E-book version is available from Amazon.
Why make an activity book?
I've always loved puzzles. In fact, learning how to create puzzles was an entertaining puzzle in itself! Plus, creating the coloring pages was nearly as meditative as coloring itself would be. I found myself working on this project when I needed a break from writing and illustrating Baby Hummer Grows Up. Rather than just have arbitrary coloring pages, I decided to just duplicate the entire story, text and all, with simplified drawings. The 8 1/2 x 11 format provided plenty of room to display each sentence on a separate line. Single sentences may be more inviting for the early reader than dense paragraphs. Or, they can skip the reading altogether and just enjoy coloring the characters and scenes. Dot-to-dot and spot-the-difference puzzles were one of my favorites as a kid, and word and number games made learning fun!
In this 65 page coloring book, the entire Sammy's Quest story is reproduced in coloring book form. Also included are word search, dot to dot, numbers, hidden pictures, and spot the difference puzzles featuring words or characters from the story.
How did I get the idea for the Go Flit card game?
My older granddaughters had so much fun playing with the postcard flyers I had prepared for one of my book signing events. The eldest liked quizzing me on each of the characters on the flyer, and the two-year old enjoyed flipping through them, turning them over and over. So, I began designing flash cards and collector cards. In the process, I began thinking of games and liked the play on words - Go Flit sounding similar to Go Fish, and the Admiral of Sammy's Quest repeatedly telling Sammy to go flit (go away). The rules of the Go Flit game are similar to Go Fish, so it's a fun and easy game for a young child.
Go Flit is a delightful card game for kids age 3 or older that is based on Sammy's Quest. It's a fun way for children to learn matching, numbers, animals, and organized play.
Were it not for my husband's unwavering support and encouragement throughout the entire process, the original story idea may never have matured into an actual published book. His comments were invaluable, as were his opinions, patiently provided in response to a ceaseless barrage of interruptions.
Likewise, my dearest friend provided several excellent comments that enhanced the telling of the story, and she bolstered my confidence with exclamations of delight as each illustrated page came into being.
In addition, I'm very grateful to my son and harshest critic, whose comments greatly improved the clarity, cadence, emotion and flow of the story.
Thanks also to all my other reviewers for their helpful comments and positive feedback.