Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). The author is currently (2019) working on two poetry collections. MY MAINE: Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection (2019).Stevens’s children’s book, THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO! was first published in 1997 by Windswept House Publishing, Mt. Desert, ME; a second edition was self-published by the author in 2012. AMAZING MATILDA, Stevens’s second children’s book, self-published in 2012 won a 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Honorable Mention for Excellence in Children’s Literature – Ages 6 and older category) and also placed #9 on The 2013 Gittle List for Self-published Children’s Picture Books. Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture based in Caribou, Maine. In 2013, the author published her first book for the YA/Adult audience: PURE TRASH, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England in a family whose poverty and alcoholism mark him as a target for bullying by young and old alike. This short story is a prequel to Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP (KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017). Stevens is currently working on two poetry collections. MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection/JUNE 2019).From The Author:“I love to walk and enjoy nature’s beauty, whether at home or on the go. I’m passionate about the beauty in the world around me and enjoy jotting down notes and composing short poems. The coast is one of my favorite places to relax. I’m a nature collector: everything from seashells to birds’ nests. When I was teaching, these treasures filled my classroom and provided inspiration for reading, writing and research. It was hands-on fun and excitement and I enjoyed every moment spent learning with, from and about my students. One thing I learned is that many children don’t have an adult to read to them or listen to them read and talk about those books. Many of my blog and facebook posts will focus on how we can improve childhood literacy by reading to the children in our families and communities. My own childhood was filled with books and adults who shared and encouraged a love of reading. I’ve written some poetry and several short stories. I plan to write some adult fiction, including a coming of age story, and write reviews on some of my favorite books. I’ll be sharing some of your stories, poems and tips on reading and writing, too. Let’s have fun learning, living, sharing and loving language together.” Bette A. Stevens9/24/12 LINDA LOEGEL INTERVIEW excerpts:Q: What prompted you to write “AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale”?Bette: As a prolific reader, and with some creative writing experiences in my new ‘teacher toolbox,’ I was hooked right from the start. Meld that love of literature with a desire to inspire students to be all they can be and you’ve got a brand new children’s book writer: me, the author of AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale, my second children’s book. The teacher me wanted to integrate a story with core curriculum elements. A Monarch would be the perfect main character: as an indicator species and with Monarch habitat (milkweed) rapidly disappearing, it would be a great way for children to learn life science and environmental science concepts, all while enjoying an inspiring story. Monarch research was my first step. I thought the fit would be perfect because the challenges to be met in the natural world parallel the challenges to be met in the lives of the children. And so, I started to write and rewrite and rewrite… All of the tweaking was on the literary side of the story. I wanted it to be used to teach (model) the use of repetition, alliteration, metaphor and simile in writing stories. It was lots of fun and the first year I placed Matilda’s story in a storybook format in a binder (no illustrations yet). I read it aloud and my fourth graders wanted to read it during their free time and make their own illustrations. We were raising silkworms in the classroom at the time. I continued to read the story aloud to my students (4th, 5th and 6th graders) over the years. During that time, I continued to make revisions and used those models as a teaching tool as well. As a retired teacher, I’ve had time this year to create the illustrations (pencil sketches and watercolor). My background in desktop publishing gave me the incentive to check the internet to find out about self-publishing. Voila! After more than a decade: AMAZING MATILDA, is now written, illustrated and published.Q: What is your advice to would be writers?Bette: NEVER GIVE UP: You can do anything you really want to do if you try long enough and hard enough, especially with help and encouragement from your friends. (The theme of AMAZING MATILDA) The internet is such a great resource for connecting with other writers, readers, marketers, publishers. Join groups that fit into your niche. Then, connect with other writers and find out what they’re doing. Read them, follow them, leave comments and ask questions. There is a wonderful world of encouragers on the Web.