Collaboration Coup

Amazing! (Yes, I know…another exclamation mark. I’m trying to quit…really!) Yesterday I got an unexpected offer from an unanticipated source. And, how fortunate for me.

We live in a rural area of Texas, on 17 acres of land that’s in the middle of a serious drought. Lakes are shrinking; people with lakefront property own docks that are now 75 feet from the water. (I’m delighted that we didn’t buy lakefront!) For the 4th of July, numerous fireworks displays were cancelled and the sale of firecrackers, etc. was banned. The reason behind all of this? Wildfire! We have junipers and cedars and dead wood and cacti and agave and dry grass that will go up like torches.

Enter the Texas Forest Service and their local representative, who came to our property yesterday to do a fire danger assessment. (We passed with very few suggestions, mostly because our home is stone and Hardy board, and we have no foundation plantings.) This woman was a font of information, prevention, and overall helpfulness. After an hour surveying our acreage, she concluded that our biggest problem was not having a straight driveway for easy firetruck access.

While we were taking an iced tea break from the 102 degrees outside, she asked what I did with all my spare time. I told her I write children’s books, and she wanted details. I went on to describe the books as Texas tall tales involving animals and gave her a little synopsis of my published book.

This is one of the few times in my life I can say, without fear of contradiction, that I actually saw someone’s eyes light up with excitement. “Have you considered doing a story about wildfires?” she asked.

“Funny you should ask. My husband and I were just discussing that the other day. Wildfire in the Hill Country and Moochie Mockingbird rescues some trapped animals.”

The Forest Service specialist immediately said, “You’ve got to do that story. Kids need to know that firefighters don’t just sit around in red brick fire stations all day polishing the big red truck. They don’t wait for the Dalmation dog to jump up on the front seat of the fire engine. They don’t just go screaming down the street with the siren blasting.  Kids don’t have a realistic view of what firemen really do and how dangerous fire can be! Please write that story!”

Now I’m excited. She has given me her email and phone numbers and promised me all the information I can consume about wildfire in Texas, what firefighters do, etc. I can’t wait to talk to her!

I also received a “push in the right direction” from a fellow author on LinkedIn. He asked if my books have a strong environmental message. Well, they do NOW! And that theme will mesh nicely with the books in my head that are waiting to be written.

As I said at the beginning, collaboration comes from unexpected sources. And I’m very grateful for it. Believe me, when the books and stories are published, I will give credit where credit is due.

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