Progress on my Ancient Greek Book

My children’s book on ancient Greece has been getting some great feedback. Dr. Anna Judson (British School at Athens, Greece) and Dr. Susan Lupack (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) both approved of my Back Matter. Dr. Adele Scafuro (Professor of Classics, Director of Graduate Studies at Brown University) and all the other academics I have talked to are very enthusiastic about this book and getting this story into publication. The wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable people at the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) at the University of Texas at Austin have also been enthusiastic about the book and very helpful digging up original sources.

The author who I consider the top children’s non-fiction biographer, Laurie Wallmark, reviewed the manuscript and called it “Fascinating!” She really enjoyed the Back Matter exercises. Lori Alexander, another accomplished KidLit author, also approved of the book. I have also reviewed the manuscript with two editors at some big publishers during writing workshops, and they were also enthusiastic. One called the book highly-marketable.

So the research has been done, and the manuscript has been written & critiqued. The academics love it and so do the established authors. I am now submitting the manuscript to agents and publishers….here from New Zealand! Submission is the hard part; agents and editors are so swamped with submissions that it is hard to get their attention. If I can just get a single agent or editor to actually read the manuscript, I think that they will find it an engaging and educational book for youngsters. Keeping my fingers crossed.

This is an archeological detective story and focuses on key person who helped solve one of the biggest intellectual puzzles of the 20th century, but she has been all but forgotten today. Although the KidLit world is full of copycats, no one has written about this woman in the genre.

Here were some frescos found on the island of Crete along with the above inscription:

Note: Technically this was from before the Classic Greek Period. It is Mycenaean or some would argue for Minoan.

Writing about Antarctica: Visiting the USAP CDC in New Zealand

I am in New Zealand, near Christchurch, for the winter and just finished a manuscript of a children’s book about an unusual program for students in Antarctica. It is a pretty wild and exciting program that I think would be of great interest to youngsters (and educational). This will be a STEM Picture Book.

New Zealand is the jumping off point for most Antarctic expeditions, and I have made some great connections with the large polar exploration community here in Christchurch. I am very excited about this book and will start the editing and critiquing of it soon. Once I finish the editing cycles, I will submit it to some publishers.

Today we got a special tour of United States Antarctic Program’s (USAP) Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) by the director, Haggis Gray.

CDC is where the program members get briefed on polar survival and outfitted with cold weather clothes. This is a super important aspect of polar exploration, and we are very grateful to be allowed to visit this facility. Haggis was awesome!

While we may think of clothing as fashion statements up here, down there it is a matter of life and death; the CDC is a very important part of polar exploration.

Here I am at the being fitted with Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear and ready to visit the Antarctic!

Of course in reality, I would need many more layers and end up like the Michelin Man. This is just the outer layer; it was heavy and thick! Note the gloves.

Here is a layout of all the clothes that expedition members get to put on over their personal gear:

Perkins School for the Blind

On the 15th of November, Amy and I will be doing a presentation on the audio production of In the Wake of the Willows for the Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library (library for the Perkins School for the Blind). We are honored to have this opportunity to share our work. This program will give the students and alumni of the School a chance to go behind the scenes of the production of an audiobook and listen to some entertaining clips from the auditions and the snippets from the book.

A Retreat in the Woods of Maine

My latest article is in Northern Woodlands magazine. It is about a fly fishing retreat for men with cancer that I attended (as a reporter) last year. This is one of the most important articles I have ever written and has raised the visibility of this free resource for men thus afflicted. I was very gratified to hear that my article has increased the number of men applying for this retreat:

Informational Fiction?

Supposedly “Informational Fiction” presents facts and information within a fictional story. Would In the Wake of the Willows qualify? I think so since the natural history and locations are all accurate, if whimsical, and possibly displaced in time; that pesky Carolina wren and the persnickety mockingbird were rare in Rickie’s day, but their behavior is correct.

BTW, there is a sequel in the works to In the Wake of the Willows. It has been tentatively named The Following Sea. It will feature adventures on the Elizabeth Islands, smuggling, shipwrecks, secret codes, ruthless croquet, and even some ontology by Mr. Rat and his daughter. It would also appear that Toady has reverted to his bad old ways as we assumed he would,…or is he being framed by someone who wants to discredit him?

Adventures in Sound

Print and Audio Production In the Wake of Willows

Join us on July 27th at the 6:30 at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery for a program on the production of the print and, especially, the audio version of our book. Listen to wiseacre mockingbirds, blowhard toads, impish chipmunks, Cockney otters, snarky literary agents, conspiratorial weasels, badgers with a brogue, and sweet singing water rats tell their story in this entertaining and amusing audio/visual presentation.

In 2020 we began a quest to find a narrator for the characters in the audio version of In the Wake of the Willows. Follow our search for the perfect voice for our little friends along The River. Join us and listen to audition tapes from some talented student actresses from a very special theater arts department. Get to hear the winner of the auditions, Madeleine Barker, a young lady of a thousand voices, and listen to amusing clips from her recordings.

Discount coupons for purchasing the book at Partner’s Village Store will be available at the event.

Madeleine Barker in her homemade recording studio

The Firefly Square Dance

Here is an audio version of the Lightning Jitterbug done by the fabulous Madeleine Barker with the latest sound improvement by Joel Thibideau.

If you want to hear more clips from the marvelous Maddy Barker, we will be doing a presentation of her work on the book at the Dartmouth Library on Thursday night and again the following Thursday at the Westport library. Details in the previous blog post here:

Adventures in Sound: The Making of the Audio Book

Join us on Thursday, June 16, at the North Dartmouth library or June 23 at the Westport library, for an entertaining and amusing back stage look at the process of creating the audio version of In the Wake of the Willows. Listen to various actresses and the eventual winner doing auditions for the book plus some unpublished clips from the snarky Advanced Praise.