Monday, August 15, 2022

Three Lessons For Writers ~ by Nancy Castaldo

Writers never stop learning, and with every book we write comes more lessons. The lessons learned from my latest book, The Wolves And Moose Of Isle Royale, began decades ago. 

Every college student knows how anxiety-ridden it can be to plan your course schedule. What if you don’t get into your most-wanted class? What if your classes conflict with each other? What if you’ve been excited about taking a class and find it not offered? The last predicament happened to me. The Ecology class I had been eagerly anticipating was not offered in my senior year. How could this be? Ecology was what I hoped to pursue after graduation. How could I leave college without it? 

Lesson one – Be persistent

Fortunately, I didn’t have to. I pleaded my case to my advisor, the chair of the science department, and my small, women’s college went into action. They hired an adjunct professor to teach the class. There were four of us who loved every minute of it.  Why am I telling you all of this? Well, that class had a profound impact on my career and directly led me to write The Wolves And Moose Of Isle Royale decades later. That professor introduced me to the wolf and moose predator/prey study on Isle Royale and researcher, Rolf Peterson. 

Lesson two - Be ready for opportunities.

Sometimes writing stories begins long before our fingers touch the keyboard. Sometimes they lay dormant just waiting to rise to the surface as this one did for me. But while this story was waiting to be told, I followed the ongoing research on Isle Royale, and when new developments took place, I was ready to dive into this book project. 

Lesson three - It takes a team for each story to be told. Build a great one!

That said, my writer friends in the region kept me apprised of local news stories that I didn’t see on national media. They became valuable team members for my book. 

When I reached Isle Royale and was able to interview Dr. Peterson, the story came full circle decades after it all began. 

Would I have written it if I wasn’t able to take that ecology class? Would I have been able to access a local point of view if not for friends in the field? I don’t know. What I do know is that sometimes lessons line up to provide us with what we need to tell our stories. I can’t wait to share this one with my readers. 

Nancy Castaldo , a founding STEM Tuesday team member, has written books about our planet for over 20 years including The Story of Seeds, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2022 titles are When the World Runs Dry (Jr Library Guild Selection), The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale (Scientists in the Field) and Buildings That Breathe. Visit her at or follow at @NCastaldoAuthor.

You can read my reviews of some of Nancy's previous books here: When the World Runs DryBack from the BrinkBeastly Brains; and Sniffer Dogs.

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