Thursday, August 05, 2010

Surviving and Thriving—My summer of Nuclear Plants, Florida Gators and Guinea Pig Rats!

It seemed somewhat fitting that an interview I did for the University of Florida’s Florida Alumni Magazine was titled A New Chapter.

My son Jordan graduated this year. Now both of my children will be students at NC State University, and so begins a new phase of life for me. In between the pity parties I threw this summer because my children grew up too fast (my opinion--not theirs) I immersed myself writing, marketing, and conducting focus groups.

So here’s some of what has kept me busy:

Yep, I’m a Florida Gator (BSJ 81) and the editors of my alma mater commissioned freelance journalist Terry Godbey (BSJ 83) to write an article about me for UF’s Florida Alumni Magazine.  The photo was taken by UNC photographer Jim Sears at the local library in Holly Springs, NC.  Reghan, Olivia, and Deven Robtoy are pictured along with me and Tickles Tabitha.

My first job after college was doing public relations at a nuclear power plant that was under construction in South Texas called the South Texas Project.  One of my first assignments was to create an elementary school program on how nuclear power plants worked. 

It was a great first assignment because I knew zip about nuclear power plants, and before I could explain how they worked to other people I needed to understand it myself. 

I admit I didn't always find nuclear power the most interesting subject and thought there had to be a more creative and entertaining way to explain it to children. So several years ago I decided I would do a children's book about nuclear power plants. 

While the book is months away from publication it has kept me busy this summer--conducting focus groups, contacting industry experts,critiquing the illustrations and working on a marketing plant.

Here I am explaining How A Nuclear Plant Really Works (©Nutcracker Publishing) to a group of science camp students visiting Progress Energy's Harris Nuclear Plant in New Hill, NC.  They participated in one of Nutcracker Publishing's focus groups, or as I like to call them, Guinea Pig Parties!

We plan to produce character puppets to be used along with the book's school presentation.  For now, since the illustrations are still incomplete I recruited my daughter Tabitha, and her friend, James Upright to create simple puppets to help act out the book's storyline. It was a hit.  Students loved the puppet show.

At first glance, it might appear odd that I would want to tackle a children's book about nuclear power plants. After all, it's not a subject that evokes the warm fuzzies.  But neither did my children's book about cancer.  It's difficult for today's elementary students to believe but when I first published Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy there was no way I would of ever been invited to an elementary classroom to talk about cancer awareness.

I wouldn't say I like it, but I've gotten used to and am comfortable going against the odds, which  makes articles like the one by Florida Magazine  feel oh so sweet.
This summer, I relived what it took to establish Nutcracker Publishing Company and publish  Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy when I was asked to write a chapter for an e-book by the  publisher of Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine on how I went from being a survivor to a thriver. The nausea, the rejection, the humiliation!

The book is scheduled to be released October 2010, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.