What a wonderful day–a day of encouragement. We all need encouragement, whether it be for something small or something big. As a writer, I’m constantly in need of encouragement. It’s one thing to put words on a page–that is easy. But I need encouragement to share my work with the world. I’ve gotten encouragement to write stories, to get them published, to market them to shops, and to speak in public about them.
My writing career started because the other passengers on a boat encouraged me to publish the story. So,Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers was published. But the real encouragement came from the first children who read it when they asked me, “When is the next Curtis story coming out?” I hadn’t planned another Curtis, but their sweet encouragement led to the stream of books, 26 to date, that have flowed from me. I will be forever grateful.
I am also encouraged when children who had the book read to them, incorporate the science into their daily lives and even share it with others around them. Like my friend’s young grandson who corrects adults who call a tortoise a turtle. “Don’t call him a turble!” he exclaims.
And I’m encouraged when an adult tells me after she’s read a book to the young person in her life, “I didn’t know that, either. I learned something new yesterday.”
We all have a story to share. I encourage you to share a story with a special little someone today.
In this blog post, I’d like to chat about scientific names versus obvious common names and tell you about a new one I’ve just learned.
The scientific community has organized our plants and animals with Latin names. An easy one is the green iguana, Iguana iguana. Most living things also have common names. I find it easier to remember common names than scientific names, but sometimes people use different common names for the same thing.
For instance, the tree I know as the Gumbo Limbo in Florida is the Gammalamee in the Bahamas and the Red Birch in the Cayman Islands. I used these different terms in my book Grow Home, Little Seeds, which is a wonderfully illustrated story of a graduating bundle of mixed seeds at the Leon Levy Preserve. The story is about seed-friends who vow to stay together and form their own forest, but their natures lead them in different directions, for they each must find what they need to survive, to germinate and to put down roots. You’ll meet the Gumbo Limbo/Gammalamee/Red Birch tree and many others as these Bahamian natives each seek their own place to call home. The characters are named for their common names, but their scientific names are listed, with details about each tree, in a glossary in the back of the book. The illustrations are a joy. Both children and adults alike enjoy thtale of friendship and finding a place to call home.
My very first children’s book character is a commonly named Curly-tail lizard called Curtis. He is based on lizards found on the Caribbean islands, where I met him. And yes, they do curl their tails up and over their backs. Of course, they aren’t the only lizards who curl their tails, but they’re the ones that got that name first.
I just love the appropriate common names of plants and animals and I recently came across another. I was in the Corkscrew Swamp and saw this intriguing fruit. It was noon on a hot July day and I was rather hungry.
It was an apple! Was it my favorite apple, a yellow delicious, in the swamp?
No, it was on a plant called . . . you might be able to guess from my mention of descriptive common names . . . the Pond Apple (Annona glabra). This is a native tree and it has a second common name, the Alligator Apple, because alligators often eat the fruit. The leaves also add to the naming because they smell like green apples.
Amazingly, this tree cannot grow in dry soil, but thrives in both fresh and brackish water. The fruit disperses by floating, releasing its 100 or more 1-cm long seeds. The pulp is eaten by people as well; the flavor is similar not to apples, but to honeydew melons! However, the Pond Apple is not as popular with humans as its relative, Soursop.
I was delighted to learn the descriptive common names of this interesting plant. They’re obvious enough that I should be able to remember them. Because the tree was in a protected environment, I didn’t get to taste it. Maybe someday I’ll get to eat an appropriately named Pond Apple. I look forward to that day.
Many people go to exotic locations, like the Bahamas, to enjoy the beach and various water-related activities. I go for inspiration and time to write. Of course, not all locations are conducive for intensive writing. Some don’t have a desk. Or the sun glare is too bright to read the screen. Then there’s the issue of having electricity accessible to keep your laptop charged. However, sometimes, the situation comes together to make for a really special place to write.
Now if I could just keep my mind on the task at hand and ignore all the stories that are inspired by the location from taking over my writing time! Don’t worry, I made notes. (Ahhh, retirement. So many books to write, so little time.)
Yes, that’s the ocean beyond the pool.
I’ve been told that some writers go into a room with minimum distractions or an office with limited windows to do their work.
I just can’t imagine . . .
Elaine A. Powers is inspired by life and nature. It was a little fellow, well, bigger than her big toe, who climbed onto Elaine’s shoe on a Bahamian beach and hung out for a couple of hours, curling and uncurling his tail. After he left, Elaine went back to her room and the entire story, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, came to her in one sitting. Talk about your destiny calling! She weaves science into fun adventure stories or rhyming stanzas that kids and adults alike simply love. As we say here at Lyric Power Publishing, “Science is Fun!”
Here’s the REAL Curtis who inspired the Curtis Cuirly-tail series of books. Heck, he even has his own YouTube channel now!
In my previous posts, I mentioned the wonderful lizards I met in the Bahamas National Trust’s parks on Eleuthera and Grand Bahama. I continued my lizard encounters in Fort Myers, FL., as well.
I was fortunate to meet this individual, an anole. He or she was perched upon a decorative rock sculpture outside the front door. You’ll notice, of course, that the sculpture is a frog, another favorite animal of mine. Carefully, I crouched down to get a close-up of the lizard with my cell phone, not wanting to scare him/her off. I was so focused on this lizard, that I missed seeing the second one!
Both lizards were worthy of admiring. Have you ever found yourself looking so closely at something that you miss important details or information? I learned I needed to stop back and look at the whole scene, not just one small area, like a frog sculpture with a lizard on it.
That’s true in life, isn’t it?
New lizard stories are percolating in the mind of Lyric Power Publishing’s author, Elaine A. Powers. In the meantime, check out her entertaining and educational lizard adventure series: the perfect Curtis Curly-tail and the adventurous Lime Lizard Lads.
CURTIS CURLY-TAIL COMES ALIVE ON YOU TUBE!
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