Site Visits

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Village Books - Fairhaven/Bellingham (WA)

Village Books in Fairhaven/Bellingham (WA)
I earned my Master's degree from Western Washington University. However, I did so by studying at the Seattle branch, and only traveled to Bellingham for graduation. And that was 21 years ago. So I hadn't been back to this part of the state in a long, long time. I discovered that I had been missing out!

The Readings Gallery at Village Books
Village Books is a large three-story independent book store, now in its 35th year of operation and it's impressive. Books galore, people galore, and it's also connected to a cafe on its top floor, a bigger
cafe/restaurant on the bottom floor (Colophon Cafe), and a paper/art store (Paper Dreams). And now I hear talk they are expanding to a second store in Lynden later in 2015. The stage was set (literally) for a big visit.

Alas, the best laid plans... only a handful of people showed up. Here you can see what it COULD have looked like, had the house been packed. It's a lovely place for an author visit - intimate, formal enough, but still informal at the same time. It would have been dynamite with 30-40 people there. But as it was, I tip my cap to those who came, including my former student Sara and her two boys, and I gave them the best I had.

Jean Hamilton's first attempt at a Fibonacci Spiral quilt.
How great is this??
I think overall, Fibonacci was very well received. The common theme seemed to be searching for meaningful math books for grandchildren, and I think I hit the sweet spot there. One woman is the mother of a math professor at the University of Utah and was thrilled to be able to buy a book for her grandchildren that would teach them mathematics. Another woman, a quilter, told me she was going to go home and make a Fibonacci spiral quilt. I asked her to send

me a photo when she finished, thinking it would be at least several weeks, possibly months. She sent me this picture TODAY! She apologized, saying it was her first attempt and future ones would look better. But wow - isn't this awesome?

Part of the trail that connects Fairhaven to
downtown Bellingham. This may be my
favorite spot in all of Bellingham!
Oh, one other little glitch...they only had a handful of books. I think there were 4 or 5 books available for purchase. And this woman bought three of them. So despite the small crowd, several left without books in hand. They ordered copies, and will receive them in a few days, but it's sad not to be able to have the book signed by the author. I made an executive decision, then, to sign bookmarks and give one to every person there. At its worst, it's great advertising, and at its best, it's something tangible, signed by me, the author, that those without signed books can have.

The stone bridge over Whatcom Falls where I enjoyed
my picnic dinner. Beautiful!
My visit to Bellingham was wonderful. I could have explored so many more spots, but really enjoyed several, as you can see below, including the South Bay Trail that arches out over the water as you leave Fairhaven (and end up walking 5 miles round trip after finding myself in downtown Bellingham at the abrupt end of the trail!).

Whatcom Falls

Another highlight was Whatcom Falls Park, which is a series of trails through a beautiful forest with the Whatcom Creek bubbling and babbling its way over falls and down into the bay. I love exploring places I don't know and this trip afforded me that luxury.

You may not be hearing much from me in the coming month. I'm taking some time off to travel and gather my plans for the fall, when I hope to be hitting the school trail in earnest. For now, enjoy the pics, and remember, you can always "Count on Fibonacci!"

Monday, July 20, 2015

Chelan Public Library Summer Reading Program

Some of the crew from my visit to
Chelan Public Library
Further proof that learning doesn't have to stop when school lets out. Last week, about 35 learners and several parents and grandparents came to the Chelan (WA) Public Library for their weekly Summer Reading Program. Jennifer Oatey has them charged up about reading, and in a community where poverty and dis-advantage is common, the learning that takes place through programs like these is incredibly valuable to those kids who want to move ahead in the coming year of school.

I wasn't exactly sure what or whom to expect for this visit. I've done school visits but this is different, as it's by no means required. In fact, on the day I spoke, it was about 95 degrees outside, beautiful sunshine (like just about every other summer day in Chelan), and the lake was warm and inviting. And  yet, come they did.

Ok sure, maybe some came for the raffle drawing that takes place at the end of each week's events. They huddled around the prize table long before I got on stage, debating the merits of each prize. But ultimately they came for the books. And on this day, Fibonacci Zoo, was THE book.

Jennifer has done a great job of procuring and then featuring my book in the library, inviting patrons to check it out, both figuratively and literally. I noticed the audience was a bit on the young side, more like ages 3-7 than the older kids I spoke to earlier in the year.

As I am experimenting with different components of my presentation, I had been told to expect ages through maybe 5th or 6th grade. So I added a part about the writing process, about the two-year project that culminated in the publishing of this book. I think I lost some momentum there, but I do see potential for that part of the story with a slightly older audience.

See, my goal, as a speaker, is to be able to tailor my talk to any audience, from the smallest children to the more...ahem...'veteran' readers. So I have to be able to throw in (or out) a variety of stories and messages. So I lived and learned. The kids were so excited to meet each animal in succession, especially so when they figured out that they come alphabetically. And I loved watching the faces of the parents light up when they connected the Fibonacci Sequence (the actual numbers) in their minds.

Was it my best presentation, in the end? Probably not. But I'm learning that you can't throw a no-hitter every time out. As long as I can pitch my team (Team Fibonacci?) to a win, we'll call it good.

Big thanks to Jennifer at Chelan Library for setting this up for me. And now it's time to branch out from my little community. Next Monday, July 27, I will be in Bellingham, WA, at the famous Village Books, at 4:00pm for an author presentation. Another new experience, another chance to try different combinations out, depending on the audience. I may not know what that audience is until I show up, but sometimes, that's half the fun!

See you there!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Always something new...

So today, out of the blue, I get a package in the mail. It's from Adams Media, my publisher for my two Everything Kids Science Experiments books. Typically, the only time I hear from them is when sales totals are reported, so this was a bit unexpected.

I open the package to find four copies of  these... The Everything Kids Science Experiments Korean!
The Everything Kids Science Experiments Book...
translated and re-designed for Korea!

It seems my book has a new life, and it's going to be in Korea. Thanks to an observant former student (Scoop Boxly), I have learned that the 'awards' at the top of the page mean, generally, 1) it's a great seller, 2) it's popular in other countries (like...the US...where it was written and published...but perhaps the Koreans who will buy this don't know that), and 3) it's filled with good science.

I did some sleuthing myself and figured out that the main title (highlighted in yellow) says 'Science Experiments'. Can't find my name on it, but the original cover is there, which is cool.
Not the clearest picture of the inside, but then again, I can't read a word anyway.

So apparently this is a thing and yes, it just happened. My first book has been translated into Korean. That now makes the third language I've been published in (Spanish language version of Fibonacci Zoo), and a very odd, exciting day for me. I'm not really sure what to do with all the copies I have, but if I ever meet a Korean child who doesn't yet speak English, I'm ready!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Seattle Times - July 7

Shout out to the Seattle Times for announcing my book in its Local Books section! I'd like to think that my book stands out from the others and might just catch someone's eye.