Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Great Trip to the Great Lake!

It’s become a tradition in my family to take a short trip during Columbus Day weekend. My daughters have a four day break from school, so it’s the perfect opportunity to escape for a couple of days. We usually head north to Wisconsin, which was the case for this year’s trip. In a mere four hours we reached our destination of Port Washington, which was perfect, since we got a great deal on a room, and it was close to where we wanted to visit.  Other than getting a late start and having to sit in Milwaukee’s Friday evening rush hour traffic for an hour, our drive north went smoothly. We checked into our hotel early that evening and decided to drive a few blocks east to get our first real glimpse of Lake Michigan

We drove around the downtown area, checking for possible dinner destinations, and parked near the marina. Though the evening was cool, with the sun was starting to set, we walked around the pristine park-like paths. My daughters were mesmerized by the fishy smell, boats, people fishing off the docks, and of course, Lake Michigan itself.
Saturday was the day we were planning to explore two state parks to the north, which is what we did, despite the rainy weather. Wisconsin needed the rain as much as Illinois did, so I was glad they received some, but I wished the rain could have waited a few hours! I love Lake Michigan, and all of the Great Lakes.  I never grow tired of seeing the vast blue amazing splendor. I jokingly call the lakes “Midwestern Oceans”, since they seem so endless.

The first park we visited was Kohler – Andrae State Park, located near Sheboygan. If you enjoy camping, this would be a great place to pitch your tent. For those staying for the day, there are plenty of natural areas to explore, including a few miles of lakefront beach and associated sand dunes. While it would have been pleasant to visit the lake on a warm and sunny day, like the last time we visited, the threatening gray skies and white-capped, crashing waves were breathtaking. After spending time on the beach, we trekked inland to explore the sand dune trails and saw more spectacular vistas. Of course, we also saw a variety of trees including various evergreen conifers and stunning multi-hued deciduous trees. 
In retrospect, we should have spent the rest of our time hiking in Kohler-Andrae State Park, but instead, we decided to drive farther north to Point Beach State Park, near Two Rivers. This park contains even more miles of lakefront beach, an original Civilian Conservation Corps building, and an authentic light house. However, as we entered the park, the storm decided to really hit. We spent a short time on the beach and became thoroughly soaked in the process. The girls begged to stay longer, but we’d had enough of the cool, windy, wet afternoon. We ran back to the parking lot and navigated the rest of the park from the cozy confines of the van.

The next day was stunningly bright after the previous day’s stormy weather. Even though we drove the interstate all the way home, the scenery was beautiful, almost as if the fall foliage had become more colorful in the short time that had elapsed from our journey north. Even though we were only gone 48 hours, it was enough time to see some gorgeous scenery, spend some time together as a family, and temporarily forget the stress of our daily lives.  However, one of the best things about the trip was watching my young daughters not only enjoy, but get excited about, experiencing the beautiful scenery, despite the stormy weather. That's an important reason why I write Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk books -- to help children and their families learn about nature and enjoy being outdoors. Maybe my next book will be "Rachel and Sammy Visit the Great Lakes"!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When Nature Calls

Vacations are my favorite summer pastime, starting with the first trip I took as child to taking my own children on our annual summer vacation.  I’m often reminded of vacations past, those fun weeks camping with my parents, brother, and sister. We saw beautiful sites, despite a few bumpy roads along the way, and I want my own daughters to experience many of those places firsthand. Luckily, my daughters enjoy travel just as much as me.

As we traveled through Wisconsin on the way to our final destination in Minnesota for this year’s vacation, I was dazzled by the spectacular views of rolling farmland, forested hills interspersed with marshy wetlands, and even a couple of cranberry bogs. The perfect weather made the scenery even more breathtaking, with its resulting bright, blue skies and puffy, white clouds. We sped along Interstate 94, trying to make time, but I knew that the back road scenery would be even more impressive. With pristine rest stops situated every hour up the road, we stopped to stretch our legs, and at one stop, we even took a brisk hike along a trail lined with white pines and several oak species.

My husband drove while I navigated. In between route changes and rest stops, I typed away on my laptop, making use of some rare downtime to review and edit my latest work in progress, When Nature Calls. I’m really excited about my newest book, the first book in the Nature Station Mystery Series. While writing a cozy mystery is a far cry from the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk educational children’s books I’ve already written, both series focus on nature. When Nature Calls is a fictional book, but hopefully readers will enjoy learning tidbits about nature, while they attempt to solve the murder mystery.

I can’t wait for this book to be finalized and released, but I know I must be patient, as I finish self-editing it before sending it to a professional editor. Layout will follow, and I’m anxious to see the book cover, which will feature two of my own photos. I already have ideas for my second book, A Natural Selection, and can’t wait to start writing it.

Nature’s beauty inspires me to write and photograph, and nature is the main theme of all my books. Everything is connected in the natural world, and there are many natural cycles. The same is true with my life. One thing is relates to another, and what goes around comes around. I believe that life is a journey, and travel plays a large role in my life. I love to see new places and experience new cultures. Reading, writing and publishing books is also a journey, and it’s hard for me to imagine my life without the ability do these things, since they help enlarge my mind and world. I like to think that my appreciation for nature and writing began on those early family summer vacations and hope that my daughters will gain something from our trips as well.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Giveaway Starts May 13th

In celebration of Children's Book Week, which runs from May 13th to May 19th, I am hosting a book giveaway. Beginning on May 13th, click on the link below to enter for a chance to win a set of Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk books. Just "like" Rachel and Sammy on Facebook, follow @JCPowelson on Twitter, Tweet about Rachel and Sammy books, or leave a comment on this blog post to enter. Thanks for entering, and good luck!

Click Here to Enter the giveaway.

The Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Book Giveaway is in conjunction with the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews. Please visit all the other giveaways at:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Children’s Author Publishes Fourth Book in the Educational Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Series

Jannifer Powelson has recently published the fourth book in the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Series. These books contain colorful photos, realistic illustrations, and entertaining characters that combine to teach children about nature.
In Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve, Rachel, Sammy, and their classmates help children discover that everyone wins when they conserve the earth’s natural resources. Readers will learn all about planting trees and native plants, soil, water, and energy conservation, wildlife habitats, recycling, and more! This book joins the other three in the series that were recently republished by the Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, an independent publisher co-founded by Powelson.

Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve will make its debut at a book signing on Saturday, April 20th at Amber Jar Antiques Co. in Altona from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Rachel and Sammy books are also available at several local shops and through online retailers, such as

Meet Rachel and Sammy for the first time in Rachel and Sammy Visit the Prairie, the first book in author Jannifer Powelson’s Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk series. This book is an exceptional tool for teaching children to identify 20 common prairie plants. 

Rachel and Sammy Visit the Forest is the second in the series. The beautifully illustrated book will help children learn to identify 15 common spring woodland wildflowers and is a great guide to take along on a nature hike!

Rachel and Sammy Learn About Trees is the third book in the series. Rachel and Sammy, along with their classmates, their teacher, Mrs. Doe, and Doc Opossum, take a field trip to the forest, where they discover all kinds of interesting tree facts. This book will help children learn about tree identification, parts of trees, importance of trees, photosynthesis, and much more!

About the Author:
Jannifer Powelson, originally from Altona, currently lives in Princeton, Illinois and has been writing children’s books since 2003. The author conducted research on raccoons to write her master’s thesis and now works as a resource conservationist at the Stark County Soil and Water Conservation District. Her daughters and her love of nature, photography, writing, and education were the inspirations for the Rachel and Sammy books. Ms. Powelson is busy working with her partner at Progressive Rising Phoenix Press to publish a wide variety of children’s books.

For more information, please visit the author’s website at: and the publisher’s website at: 


Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, an independent publisher founded by authors, recognizes that the industry has changed.  We are non-traditional publisher, but we believe that authors have a choice in all aspects regarding production and marketing of their work.  Our philosophy is based on the belief that authors working and marketing together are far more effective than working on their own.  Our mission is to succeed through innovative cross-promotion, creative marketing, and original content. We publish young adult novels, early/middle readers, children’s picture books, and specialty books.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Take Time to Enjoy the Turkeys!

Oftentimes life gets hectic, and the past couple of weeks were busier than usual. One daughter had the stomach flu for several days and another daughter had a cold, and we were ready for Spring Break, when morning and bedtime routines wouldn't be so rushed. It was the last day of school before break, and my daughter with the cold woke up with a leg ache too. Though she's prone to achy legs, she's never had a leg ache first thing in the morning, so this news was unexpected and unwelcome. I plugged in the heating pad, gave her some medicine, and hoped that she'd soon feel better.

Finally, her ache started to decrease, and I helped her finish getting ready for school but got myself behind in the process. I hurriedly dropped the girls off at school and ran home to eat a quick breakfast before dashing out the door myself, for a program at my older daughter's school. However, our dog decided that she didn't want to stay in our house, where we were having some work done, and the air hammer was disturbing her.  Patches bolted out the back door without a leash, hopped into my car, and would not budge. I carried her to the backdoor and tried to ignore the resulting dog hair and smell clinging to me.

Despite all that, the presentation for my daughter's class went well, though I arrived a few minutes late. I was finally on my way to work and driving along a county road known for its hills and wildlife. I usually look for deer on this road, but on that crazy day, a large, wild turkey scooted across the road in front of my car. Luckily, the awkward looking turkey was amazingly fast on its feet and made it to safety across without any problems.  I started to laugh at the morning's events and relaxed a little. Seeing the wild turkey was a rare treat, despite the surprise of it flitting in front of my moving car.

During this already busy week, another major thing happened; Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve was released!  Even though this is the fourth book in the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Series, it's still very exciting to have a new book published. This book contains beautiful and realistic illustrations, colorful photographs, and cute animal characters.  Rachel, Sammy, and their classmates will teach children about native plants, trees, recycling, wildlife habitats, energy, soil, and water conservation, and much more! Hopefully after reading this book, readers will appreciate the everyday wonders of nature, such as a glimpse of a turkey trotting across the road, while traveling on one of life's journeys.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Nancy Drew Strikes Again!

Growing up, I was an avid reader, one of those stereotypical, “nose in a book” girls!  I spent much time outdoors on the farm, working and playing, but also loved reading in my room. I started to enjoy creative writing in third grade. Friday afternoons were traditionally when our teachers assigned stories to write. Oh how I treasured those times designated for writing!

As I began reading more grown up books, I received Nancy Drew books as gifts. These were timeless classics when I read them and are even more so today. Recently, I checked out a Nancy Drew book for my fourth grade daughter. She was hooked after the first chapter of “The Secret of the Old Clock”! She’s been devouring these books ever since and told me that one night she woke up at 2:00 a.m. and wanted to read. Though we don’t look or act alike, we share a passion for reading and writing. Alexandra is a bookworm, just like me, and she’s written dozens of lovely stories. While home from school recovering from the flu, she wrote a single spaced, five page mystery. She spent two days working on it and was excited when she finished. As I read her story, I overlooked punctuation errors and realized how much her writing had improved in just a few months. I told her that I loved her story, and she asked me if I would edit it for her. She later asked if I would publish it for her. Even though I was so proud of her and thrilled that her interest had reached that point, I told her that her story wasn’t quite ready to be published and that she should continue to polish it.

One day, I would love my daughter’s books to be published through Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, and I would be her biggest fan. Until then, we continue to accept submissions from other authors. Please visit the Submissions Guidelines tab at for information on submitting your work. We look forward to working with a wide range of authors and their corresponding books. You never know who might end up being the next Carolyn Keene; it could be you!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wildlife Wonders

     On Friday, I was rushing to get to work, earlier than my usual start time. We were hosting a seminar for land improvement contractors and serving breakfast. As I sped along a frosty and hilly blacktop, I was looking out for deer - trying to avoid them and the ensuing visit to the local body shop. It wasn't long before a flash of fur ran across the road in front of me. The animal was moving so fast, that I didn't even need to hit the brakes. This common Illinois mammal wasn't a deer, but a coyote. These native carnivores belong to the dog family and enjoy feasting on smaller mammals and even tasted a couple of my coworker's chickens earlier in the week.

     In my mad dash to get to on time, I frequently view birds and mammals. Lately I've enjoyed seeing bald eagles soaring above and perched in trees along the Hennepin Canal.  Many of the animals I see as an adult, I rarely or never saw as a child, even though we lived on a farm and had plenty of countryside for wildlife to roam. Whether I see a pesky coyote that may be bothersome to farmers raising livestock, or a majestic bald eagle, I am glad to have the opportunity to view these animals and even happier that my daughters can see them too.  On the way home from visiting our family this weekend, we spotted at least ten deer grazing n one field. My daughters were amazed. In my youth, it was unusual to see just one deer at a time.

     As children spend more and more time learning and entertaining themselves with electronic devices, getting kids outdoors is even more important. Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk books are intended to be read and used outdoors to teach readers about nature.  I am very excited that my fourth book in the series, Rachel and Sammy Learn to Conserve, is almost complete and will be released in the next few weeks. This book is a little different from the previous books, but it still contains realistic illustrations, colorful photographs, and a fun and educational storyline that will help children learn different ways to conserve natural resources. Please stay tuned for details!