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Were They Scribbling in My Books? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizardsThe Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world really is. Leaving home is easy, but can the lads make it back?

In a previous blog, I wrote about the writer’s life and how satisfying it is to see your books on display in stores. I’d like to add to that a story of something very special that happened to me regarding one of my books set on Cayman Brac, The Dragon of Nani Cave. The story takes place on the island as the two lead characters, curly-tail lizards called the Lime Lizard Lads, have an adventure searching for ‘the dragon.’  I always enjoy books set in real locations and I love it when the author gets it right. The illustrations in Dragon were drawn from photos I had taken on my visits.

Children's books in a glass display caseThe merchants on Cayman Brac have been very gracious in putting my books out for sale, including a gift shop at the Brac Airport. I was chatting with owner at the counter where my books were on display, when two couples came up, looking for souvenirs for their grandchildren and children. They ended up buying my books, which, of course, I personalized for them. We chatted for a while and then we settled in to wait for our flight to be called.

I noticed each of them was reading one of my books. I glanced over, hoping they were enjoying the books, but I didn’t want to openly stare. Then they were writing on the illustrations on the books! What was going on?

One of them exclaimed, “That’s exactly what the lighthouse looked like!” They all agreed with her conclusion as they passed the book around. It turned out that they were adding their memories to the illustrations.  What wonderful gifts for their family members! I was so honored to be part of their trip to the Brac.

So, go ahead and write about your travels in my books! I’ll be delighted.

For educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers workbooks jam-packed with fun activity sheets,  designed for students in grades K-5.  The following workbook coordinates with the above children’s book, The Dragon of Nani Cave.

a green and white book cover with the image of a book called The Dragon of Nani Cave

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Today is National Hermit Day and We’re Including Hermit Crabs! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

All illustration of Old Soldier, a hermit crab on Cayman Brac
Old Soldier sends the lads on a special journey

I swear, when I first read this, I read it as National Hermit Crab Day. I guess that’s because I love hermit crabs–such fascinating members of the crustacean family!

A hermit is defined as someone living in seclusion, and don’t we all wish at one time or another that we could get away from it all? So, in honor of National Hermit Day, and the hermit in all of us, we’re celebrating the hermit crab, my favorite crab and hermit.

Hermit crabs can live on land or in the sea. If you’re not familiar with them, they are amazing crabs that resemble cartoon characters. How so? They are able to move their bodies from one shell to another. Because crabs are very tasty and many other animals like to eat them, they need a hard shell to house their soft, delicate bodies.

But, as the hermits grow, they need bigger and bigger shells. Sometimes, the demand for the proper-sized shell leads to battles between the hermits. The accumulation of litter means we now see crabs using plastic bottles and baby heads instead of crab shells.

I feature a hermit crab in the Lime Lizard Lads story, The Dragon of Nani Cave, which is set in Cayman Brac, where the land hermit crabs are called Soldier Crabs. I think it’s because they march to sea en masse for mating season.

In my story, Old Soldier sends the lads, Gene and Bony, curly-tailed lizards, on their mission to find the dragon of Nani Cave. They do find the dragon and many other interesting animals and plants along the way. It’s an adventure tale, in which the reader learns all about this special Caribbean island!

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizardsThe Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world really is. Leaving home is easy, but can the lads make it back?

Lyric Power Publishing offers comprehensive and fun workbooks and activity sheets to supplement your child’s education. The one below is based on the Dragon tale. It’s a great way to keep the fun going, while reinforcing reading skills.

a green and white book cover with the image of a book called The Dragon of Nani Cave

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Keeping it Real When Writing “Setting” by Elaine A. Powers, Author

a brown horse, saddled, by fence in desertHeather, an excellent mare
While taking a horseback ride in the Tonto National Forest recently, my thoughts turned to storytelling and the importance of accuracy in portraying a location.
In all the Western-themed movies and TV shows I’ve watched over the years, not once did I see a trail like the one I was just on. The scene of the man riding over the edge of the mountain in The Man from Snowy River comes the closest. You always see the cowboys on horses riding nice, flat trails, instead of the reality of mountain riding: piles of loose stones altered with each monsoon rain; steep, smooth, sand-covered boulders where the hooves slide; sharp, jagged upthrusts around which the horses must carefully place each foot as they head straight up and down the mountainsides. I watched the horse in front of me fight for every step. It was a hard walk even without a person on his back. Fortunately, my mare was very solid and I did my part, keeping the reins loose so she could concentrate on where she stepped.
Southern Arizona desert mountainsLoose stones, sand-covered boulders, sharp, jagged upthrusts
I couldn’t help but wonder if this is the tourist-level trail, what did the advanced trail look like? Sorry for lack of photos of the real-life trail, but I was busy holding on. However, the views were spectacular.
People like reading about places they know. I recently read a mystery set in Tucson that included a scene up by my house. Great fun. Yes, the author got her description correct.
colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizardsSo, when I write about a real place, I work hard to get the descriptions right. For instance, when I wrote my book, The Dragon of Nani Cave, set on Cayman Brac,  I confirmed that the route the Lime Lizard Lads took around the island was accurate. I wanted to be certain the book was believable, so that the children reading it would enjoy recognizing island locations and take seriously the science information included.

Here are a few of my “models” for the first Lime Lizard Lads story.
soldier crab cayman islands

Old Soldier (Crab) sends the Lime Lizard Lads on their adventure to find the Dragon of Nani Cave

Sister Isle Rock Iguana Cayman IslandsThe “Dragon,” in my story, a Sister Isle Rock Iguana. (She looks very much like a dragon to the tiny curly-tail lizards)

So, remember, when writing your stories, do your research and get the facts of the setting right. Your readers will appreciate it, and you will hear about it if you don’t!

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The Call of the Ocean May Not Be Denied by Elaine A. Poweres, Author

ocean off of Cayman BarcI live in Arizona, a landlocked state. I, like many other Arizonans, feel the need to visit an ocean now and then. Many Tucsonan’s head south to Rocky Point. I usually go a bit farther. The photo above is of ocean off the coast of Cayman Brac. This brings peace to my being.

The need to visit the ocean has been captured by a variety of poets. The one that most often comes to mind is Sea Fever by John Masefield. I find the second stanza the most appropriate to me.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

Watching the ocean always stimulates my creativity and I often wish I could spend more time there. As Helen Keller wrote: “I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought.”

So I’m sharing this image with you so that you, too, might have cool, quieting thoughts.

However, in order to write the books inspired by the water, I have to go indoors. The salt in the island air is not good for a laptop. When I need a recharge of my muse, I’ll pull this photo out and hear that “clear call that may not be denied.”

I’ve written a couple of adventure tales about Curly-tail lizards called the Lime Lizards Lads. Their stories are set on Cayman Brac. You can enjoy a bit of this special place by going along on their adventures.

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizardsThe Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world really is. Leaving home is easy, but can the lads make it back?

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?

 

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Today is Math Storytelling Day! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline.

Math was not my favorite, nor my best, topic, but I did like the math used to solve real-world problems. I enjoyed using geometry to determine how tall a tree is. Discovering the unknown variables in algebra fascinated me; it was like a secret code that had to be deciphered. I eventually came to understand how to use statistics and calculus in measuring aspects of ecosystems and in animal behavior. It turned out that I did like math–if it applied to my interests in science!

When master educator Marilyn Buehrer designed the Lyric Power Publishing workbooks and activity sheets based on my children’s storybooks, I was thrilled that she included some of my favorite animals in her math problems. I particularly like the one where she has the students measure the iguanas to determine average and median sizes in the workbook My Unit Study on Iguanas. I could use that in my citizen scientist work out in the field with the rock iguanas of Cayman Brac!

If you’re curious at all about the Sister Isle Rock Iguanas on Cayman Brac, check out my poignant book, Silent Rocks, pictured above. The population of Cyclura nubila caymanensis on Cayman Brac is in serious decline and these vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. Their reduction is the result of human activity on their habitat, and the threats can only be eliminated by human action. I am hopeful the people of Cayman Brac will turn this sad situation around.

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizards

In The Dragon of Nani Cave, the Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. (The dragon is a Rock Iguana, but when you’re a small lizard, an iguana is a dragon!) Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world beyond their beach really is. Leaving home is easy, but what if they do find the dragon? And how will the lads make it back?

a green and white book cover with the image of a book called The Dragon of Nani CaveFor educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page coordinating workbook designed for grades 3-6. Fourteen pages are taken directly from The Dragon of Nani Cave, with 14 pages of corresponding questions. Teachers and parents read the book aloud to students, then hand out the reading and question pages. Students reread pages from the book and answer the questions for each page; they also color in the black and white pictures on every page.

illustration of head of cyclura nubila iguanaIf you have any interest in the identification booklets that LPP has published on how to tell the differences between the invasive green iguanas and the native rock iguanas, please contact Elaine Powers at iginspired@gmail.com.

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I Saw Green Anoles in Florida! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

When I am traveling in Florida, I enjoy searching for lizards. For the past several decades, I have only seen the Cuban brown anoles, Anolis sagrei, in the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, the brown anoles are not natives, but were introduced and have become invasive. They occupy the same place or niche in the environment as the related green anoles, but are more aggressive.


A green anole I saw on a recent trip to Florida.

On a trip in July, however, I was pleased to see green anoles, Anolis carolinensis, in two separate locations. Maybe the natives are starting to make a comeback. I hope so–they are a brilliant green color with bright red dewlaps.

I have included anoles in my adventure tales, such as The Dragon of Nani Cave. This is an illustration from the book, in which the green anole has his colorful dewlap extended.

And then there are the Lime Lizard Lads, Curly-tail lizards from Cayman Brac. colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizardsThe Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the
bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon  that lives there. It doesn’t
take Gene and Bony long to realize how big and dangerous the world is.
Leaving home was easy, but do the lads make it back?

 

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Stop and Meet the Lizards Part 3 by Elaine A. Powers, Author

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.

brown anole lizard on white frog statue on wood chipsI 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!

two brown anole lizards on the ground, rocks, leavesBoth 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.

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.

 

The Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world really is. Leaving home is easy, but can the lads make it back?