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Claiming Who I Am by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A collage of 12 colorful children's book coversLyric Power Publishing represents three authors at this time, though my books make up the largest quantity of LPP’s published works. Perhaps the parents and grandparents reading this will consider giving one or two of our wonderful children’s books (that are enjoyed by adults, too) this Christmas. With these books, kids learn that science is fun!~~EAP

I recently traveled to a foreign country (a pretty common event for me).  On the immigration form, countries often ask for your profession. During my life’s work, I put biologist. I was a laboratory researcher. On one trip to Africa, I think that admission got me thoroughly searched. Upon my return, I declared I had purchased some sine wood carvings. Every item and the suitcases themselves were thoroughly searched. They suspected I had brought back some illegal samples of something. Nope, just a few nice carvings done by a local craftsman.

After I took early retirement, I put down “retired” as my profession, even though I was actively writing and trying to build my book business.

The author Elaine A. Powers head shot against a green background
(Made by the author’s proud website staff for her. She is also a wonderful employer.)

So, for the first time, on this last trip, I put down “Author” as my profession. I don’t know why it’s been so hard for me to consider myself a professional writer. I have always loved science, and I recently realized that the enjoyment I get from writing and sharing about science has made my book business into a real business. I really, truly am an author.

Come join me in my adventure. Share your thoughts with me in a comment below and on Facebook here and here and here. Read my books that weave science into poetry and adventure tales, making science fun. Science should be fun! Check out Lyric Power Publishing’s workbooks, which tie into LPP’s books, and are so well made by a teacher’s teacher. We are very proud of them here. They are extensive, multi-subject with a focus–like iguanas! We say, “Why not do math counting iguanas?

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's headFor educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page workbook called My Unit Study on Iguanas designed for students in grades 2-4. It’s filled with fun and educational pages and puzzles, all about the iguana.

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
Biologist and Author Elaine A. Powers includes both scientific facts and the magic of this Southwestern Desert plant in her book, QUEEN OF THE NIGHT: THE NIGHT-BLOOMING CEREUS. Powers says being a musician helped her to weave into poetry the plant parts, the blooming cycle, the plant’s growing conditions, and its pollinators. This wonderful book about a very special plant in the Sonoran Desert is for all ages.

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Marketing Books and Meeting Interesting Folks in Tucson by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Image of Empire Ranch signEven though I would love to have someone else do the marketing of my books, doing it myself allows me to discover interesting sites in the Tucson area.  One such place is the Empire Ranch. I met some of the volunteers at the Western Writers of America conference and they thought my books would be a good fit for their gift shop.

The Empire Ranch is located on the road to Sonoita in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. The mission of the Empire Ranch Foundation is, “Acting in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The purpose of the Foundation is to protect, restore and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage and education center.” The combine two interests of mine, conservation and historical preservation.  Back in New Jersey, I was part of the Union Forge Heritage Association. The ranch was established in the 1860’s. 

The gift shop is looking to expand to include more items about animal and plant conservation. I’m honored to be included. They’ll be selling the Don’t series and Queen of the Night: the Night-blooming Cereus.

*Learn about the Night-blooming Cereus, Peniocereus greggii, the mysterious cacti
that bloom all together only one night per year
*An Amazon #1 Book in Children’s Botany Section
*See the Desert Southwest in a new, fun way
*Scientific facts written in rhyme are easy to remember
*Enjoy spectacular illustrations of Cereus, the Sonoran Desert and its wildlife

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
Biologist and Author Elaine A. Powers includes both scientific facts and the magic of this Southwestern Desert plant in her book, QUEEN OF THE NIGHT: THE NIGHT-BLOOMING CEREUS. Powers says being a musician helped her to weave into poetry the plant parts, the blooming cycle, the plant’s growing conditions, and its pollinators.
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A Writer’s Life By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Black bookshelf holding books on the Cayman Islands
It’s very satisfying to see your books on display in a store. So, don’t ever give up on your writing dreams!

I am often asked why I write books. Mostly, it’s due to the multitude of stories cluttering up my mind. I never thought I would publish any of them and create books, but you never know where life will lead you. I always hope people will enjoy my books, but I do derive a great deal of enjoyment from writing them.

So it is satisfying, and humbling, when I see my books prominently displayed in bookstores and gift shops. I have been very fortunate with the merchants of the Cayman Islands.

Not only it is exciting to see my books displayed for sale, but to see the company they keep! In Books and Books on Grand Cayman, they are hanging out with Pedro and Georgie. I like that they offer books on animals from around the world, but are generous with shelf space for books set in the Cayman Islands.

A glass case holding the books of author Elaine A. PowersDown the road at the gift shop of the National Trust of the Cayman Islands, my books are also featured, along with other children’s science-based books. I was able to stock them with the newest CI-themed release, The Lime Lizard Lads and the Ship of Sneakers. This book has proven to be very popular on Grand Cayman and it is challenge to keep them in stock. But my marketing agent, Bonnie Scott, and I accept the challenge!

book cover, with beach and ocean, a pair of sneakers, with curly-tail lizards in them
The Lime Lizards of Cayman Brac, Gene and Bony decide to see where the tourists come from. They set sail on their adventure in a ship of sneakers. Will they ever see the Brac again?

My books may also now be found in all the libraries of the Cayman Islands, through the Friends of the CI Libraries, who purchased the copies. Their support of books about the islands is very commendable and I appreciate their generosity.

At the CI Book Fair held at the Main Library in George Town, teachers and schools were enthusiastic about my books. I hope to work with them in developing lesson plans to enhance their STEM education efforts. Many of the fun and educational workbooks available on LyricPower.net incorporate the characters found in the storybooks.

a blue and turquoise book cover with an image of Cayman Islands passport cover

This passport craft is a fun way for students in grades 1-3 to learn about thirteen animals that live on the island of Cayman Brac in the Caribbean. Once the passport craft is put together, your students begin filling in their passports as they learn about the different animals! Assembly instructions included.

a white and blue book cover with an image of a desert tortoiseForty-seven pages of fun activities about tortoises. Includes a KWL chart, fact sheet and coloring page; label the parts or a tortoise; predators of the tortoise coloring page; color by multiplication and division, color by three-digit addition; reading comprehension, 3rd and 4th grade vocabulary; four vocabulary-in-context pages; dangers to tortoises; ecology short answer; fill-in-the blank reading comprehension; True-or-False; cut-and-paste life-cycle; cause-and-effect worksheet; project sheets for writing a fable; nouns, adjectives, and adverbs; ecology crossword puzzle and word search.

I am still writing science-based books that take place on three of my favorite islands in the world. I look forward to many more visits and whatever adventures come next!

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Maybe I Should’ve Brought the Other Book, Too by Elaine A. Powers, Author

female author sitting at book signing table, books in the background
Me, signing books at Tohono Chul Museum Gift Shop

July 13 was the 2019 Tohono Chul Bloom Night. If you’re not familiar with the night-blooming Cereus, the cactus only blooms at night and they all bloom on the same night, once each year! It’s incredible.

Linda Wolfe of Tohono Chul gave me the idea to write about the night-blooming Cereus, and Lee Mason provided the information about these amazing cacti. I finished writing The Queen of the Night: The Night-blooming Cereus just in time for the big night. I was delighted to be able to sign the books as they were purchased in the greenhouse gift shop.

The staff and visitors were excited about the flowers, but another local created a bit of excitement. A rattlesnake came out to enjoy the evening, as well. Fortunately, everyone got along.

But it make me wonder if maybe I should have had a few copies of my rattlesnake book with me to sign, as well.  Something to think about for next year.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until next year to get your copies. 🙂

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
A favorite in Southern Arizona where the Night-blooming Cereus bloom all together, one night per year

Don’tMakeMeRattleA brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

Everything you ever wanted to know about rattlesnakes, written in rhyme, with beautiful, colorful illustrations.

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Do You See the Differences? Why Details Matter by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I write science-based children’s books and I make the information in the books as accurate as possible.

However, they are picture books, so some creative license is allowed.  After all, I don’t know many lizards who speak English, though I do know one—Curtis Curly-tail,  of course! I’m always impressed by the details my illustrators are able to draw, especially all the scales on the reptiles. They must have an artistic eye, as well as an eye for detail.

I wrote a book about Bahamian boas. Since we didn’t have any live snakes to use as a model, the illustrator, Anderson Atlas, had to use photos. The image below shows what he created. Pretty magnificent, isn’t it?

illustration of a "racer" type snake
A beautiful illustration with the head of a “racer” snake

The book was published and delivered to the scientists in The Bahamas. They loved the book, but one of them pointed out that the head scales were wrong.  The scales were those of racers, another more common snake in the islands. Since they hoped to use the book to educate the students, the head scales needed to be accurate.

illustration of bahamian boa snake
The Bahamian Boa with the widened head and corrected scales

Anderson rose to the challenge, not only redrawing the more detailed head scales, but he also widened the head to better reflect the shape of the boa’s head. The resulting detail is exquisite.

Now, when reading Bahamian Boas, you’ll never be confused as to whether that snake is a boa or a racer.

A children's book cover, brown background, orange and yellow lettering, with images of snakes from the Bahamas
BAHAMIAN BOAS: A TABBY TALE Now Available at Amazon
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Writers are Introverts—But Selling Books is for Extroverts. Oh, the Contradictions! By Elaine A. Powers

 

 

small laptop on desk showing hands typing
Image courtesy of StockSnap from Pixabay

Writing is a solitary activity. Sure there are write-ins where authors gather to write en masse, and the absolutely essential critique groups where writers discuss what they’ve written, how to write, and bounce ideas off each other for story points.  Let’s not forget the valuable writers’ organizations like Sisters in Crime and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators).  All of these group activities are very important but, in reality, writing involves one person and a piece of equipment for recording the words.

How and where the writer writes is as varied as the individual. I like using my laptop but the where varies. I find I need a variety of inspiring locations, even if it is to change from the dining room table to standing at the counter, or sitting at my desk overlooking the desert. Of course, the solitary nature of writing is well known—definitely suited for the introvert.

But what about afterwards?  What about after your words have become a book and you have to . . . market it? This is the terrifying part of the book business. Many authors say they are content with just giving copies of their book to friends and family. That’s sufficient.

I admit to those same thoughts in the beginning. But as I progressed in the world of book writing, I was forced to be more extroverted. I don’t believe I will ever be a true extrovert, but I have learned to enjoy being more extroverted. I have met many amazing people in the world of books because I dared to open up.

Walking into a shop to ask the manager to consider selling your book has to be the most terrifying act ever for an introvert.  Yet, I have consistently found people to be receptive and willing to give an author consideration.

A little girl reads a book
A child reading one of my books.

Most rewarding, however, is when children show interest in the books you’ve written for them. I know there is hope for the future when kids want to read a book instead of being consumed by an electronic device.

Writing and the end result can be the metaphorical key that opens the door to meeting many wonderful and interesting people. It may be uncomfortable at first, but is so rewarding in the end.

Elaine a Powers‘ most recent book is a favorite in Southern Arizona, where The Queen of the Night–the Night-Blooming Cereus blooms only one night per year in June. This rhyming book is available at amazon.com.

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
A favorite in Southern Arizona where the Night-blooming Cereus blooms one night per year. It is available at Tohono Chul because Ms. Powers made contact with them.
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Many Artists for Curtis Curly-Tail by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Even though I’ve created the Curtis Curly-tail stories (inspired by my close encounter with the REAL Curtis Curly-tail), many talented artists have brought Curtis to life visually.  Each of the Curtis Curly-tail series’ books has had a different illustrator and they each put their own individual style to his image.

The first was my dear friend, Art Winstanley.  He didn’t consider himself a reptile person, but his Curtis had a lot of personality.  He was also the one who set Curtis’ unique coloration.  Curly-tails in real-life are a mottled brown, but Curtis is green and always will be.  This helps him stand out from the other characters. Art drew his illustrations on paper using colored pencils.  Sadly, Art died shortly after creating Curtis.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding the waves in a red sneaker
Curtis, the perfect curly-tail lizard of Warderick Wells, decides to see where the tourists come from. He sets sail on his adventure in a ship of sneakers.

 

When I needed an illustrator to carry on the Curtis books, I asked Anderson Atlas to create a style similar to Art’s and he did.  He captured the innocence of Art’s work but brought his own energetic, fun concepts to the pictures.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding on the back of a Hutia, a rodent
Curtis Curly-tail and Horace Hutia become friends after declining hutia are brought to Warderick Wells. But when the hutia damage the cay’s ecosystem, what will the scientists do? What would you do? You pick the ending.

 

In George Town, Great Exuma, I was introduced to one of the famous local artists, Jessica Minns.  I asked her if she would be interested and willing to illustrate the third Curtis Curly-tail book.  Jessica brought a unique Bahamian style to Curtis in the book about poaching.

a children's book cover, blue and white, with several curly-tail lizards on the cover
Captured by poachers, Curtis Curly-tail finds himself on a boat full of native animals being smuggled out of The Bahamas. As he struggles to help the other animals escape, he realizes he may not be able to save himself.

 

However, Jessica didn’t have time to repeat her illustrating for me, so I asked an Eleutheran artist to create the picture for the fourth book.

an illustration of a green curly-tail lizard from the Bahamas
Coming Soon! Book four in the Curtis curly-tail series, illustrated by Monica Carroll

 

Monica Carroll has recently completed the illustrations for Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, scheduled to be published in 2019.  Her beautiful pictures are definitely worth the wait.

a curly tail lizard on a bahamian beach with blue sky and ocean, sand and green plants
Curtis Curly-tail Speaks on You Tube

 

The talented Anderson Atlas has also created the animated Curtis Curly-tail. He brought Curtis from the limited two dimensional drawing to a three dimensional, talking lizard, sharing his adventures with viewers. Check out Curtis’s YouTube channel!

Curtis Curly-tail is one adventurous lizard! The book series is here.

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BOOK PRODUCTION: Illustrations, by Elaine A. Powers, Author

People are often pleasantly surprised to meet the author of books they or their children love, and it’s fun for the author, too. One of the questions I’m often asked is if I also do the illustrations.

Heavens, no! I’m not nearly talented enough to create the wonderful pictures in my books. So, how do I find great artists?

If you are planning to publish with a traditional publisher, they select the illustrator—unless you are a combination author/illustrator, as some very talented folks are. Since I am an independent publisher, I choose my illustrators.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding the waves in a red sneaker

I first used a friend who was a graphic artist to bring Curtis Curly-tail to life in Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers. Unfortunately, Art Winstanley was unable to continue as my illustrator, so I looked for someone I hoped could copy Art’s style.

I was fortunate to find Tucson artist, Anderson Atlas. Anderson and I continue to collaborate on many projects. He is a talented artist and video-maker and is responsible for bringing Curtis to life at my You-Tube channel.A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding on the back of a Hutia, a rodent

Then, one of my co-workers asked me if I had any work that I could throw his son’s way. His son, Nick Thorpe, had just graduated with a BFA and was looking for work. I needed book covers for my “Don’t” series about animals of the Sonoran Desert, and he delivered bold, vibrant illustrations that really help sell the stories.

 

A book cover, with a Native American 'feel,' and a painting of a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out-of-Country Illustrators

a book cover of a nature preserve, where seeds are cultivated. Seeds are drawn as cute charactersFor my books based outside the U.S., I use illustrators located where the books are set. This is beneficial in several ways. Local artists bring accuracy and their cultural feel to the artwork. And, people are more likely to purchase a book that has been illustrated by a famous local artist. The Internet is wonderful for finding these talented individuals.

How do I pay the illustrators?  I prefer to pay them for my sole ownership of their work. That way, they get their money and don’t have to wait for the book to make a profit. Some artists request a percentage of the profits once the amount they were paid upfront is reached, but the record keeping for a publisher of my size would be prohibitive. I love to support the creative people in my life and do agree that the artists can show their work owned by me to further their professional development.

Many modern illustrations are digital media. This allows for the easy transfer of images around the world. Changes can be readily made, as well. Need a tree replaced? A minute later, the new one is there on the page. It’s truly wonderful. Art images tend to be large files and can be delivered through services such as Dropbox.

Thanks for reading today at Tails, Tales, Adventures, Oh, My! Questions about illustrations? Contact me at iginspired@gmail.com.

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It Does Take a Village to Make a Book! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Meeting Nora Miller

Colorful Illustration of young girl sitting on a stack of books, with a book open on her lap, reading.I do write my stories, of course, but I don’t create the books by myself.  As the saying goes, it really does take a village. Where did I find Nora Miller, editor extraordinaire and designer of my books? At an editor speed-dating event! I had written, “Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers,” and my friend, Art Winstanley, had brought Curtis to life in the illustrations. I decided to self-publish through Createspace, but I had a problem: How would I get the text onto the pages with illustrations? That was beyond my technical capabilities.

As I was contemplating this situation, I read an article in the newspaper. The local editorial association was hosting an event to allow a limited number of authors to meet with editors who provided a variety of services.  Each author could meet with an editor for five minutes, then move onto the next editor—just like speed dating. If a connection was made, the parties exchanged information for a follow-up meeting.

I thought my need was straightforward and that I would have to choose between several editors. However, when I asked the editors if they could put text onto an illustration, the repeated response was, “No.” I was getting discouraged. Then I got to Nora’s table and her answer was, “Of course.”

This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.  Not only does Nora compile my books, she tweaks the pictures, formats the file for the publishing types and she edits in at least three languages! Oh, and she manages my personal website, www.elaineapowers.com, too. She is truly versatile and indispensable in an industry requiring knowledgeable and thorough partners.

Thanks, Nora!