Ideas for the fourth book in the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk series spent months spinning around in my head. One day on my drive to work, I looked out the window at one of the many farms on my back road commute. I've done field work on this farm several times for work and enjoy the view of the farm's creek, well preserved red barn, rolling crop ground and pasture, and mixture of oak and hickory trees. As I glanced at the field, all the ideas in my head came together into a solid outline, along with the title of the book, "Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve". From past experience, I know that if I wait for the right idea to hit me, the piece is easier to write, the first draft, anyway. Still, I was amazed at how everything fell into place at once!
Soon after the ideas came together, I began writing the rough draft. Writing went smoothly, and I was getting close to having the text refined into coherent sentences that explained conservation methods. I worked to fine tune the rough draft into the final version and recently submitted it for editing. I started taking pictures for this book almost a year ago. On another recent drive to work, I went by the same field, and I noticed that a new conservation practice had been installed; several water and sediment control basins were constructed to help reduce gully erosion on the crop field. The dams are well constructed, and I thought that including a picture of them in the soil conservation section of "Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve" would be perfect. After a long, hot, and dry summer, the rains have finally started to fall, and the weather has prevented me from getting the final pictures I need. More importantly, this much needed rain is starting to cause soil erosion on areas containing bare soil, and the basins were already working to hold soil in place.
Driving to work last week, I was near the same farm, when I looked to the west and saw dark clouds looming. I also noticed a double rainbow and pulled over to take pictures. As you can tell, this farm draws my attention and inspires me with many ideas, but this time, the rainbow I saw near the farm was a symbol of optimism. My life has been very busy and stressful the past few weeks, as I try to balance my day job, book work, home and family life, and working with my partners to form and grow the Rising Phoenix Press. Seeing the beautiful rainbow against the dark, stormy clouds made me realise that with continued hard work, all will be well and that good luck will prevail!