Here's a bit more about Beasely: at sixteen, he was one of the oldest wolves in captivity. He was taken to the sanctuary in 1999 by the California/Oregon Border Patrol after they had confiscated him from his owner, who had no license or permit for the wolf. Beasely was blind; both eyes had been gouged out by his owner. Beasely was able to live out his life at Howling Acres safely and in peace. There is no better example of the need for sanctuaries than this wolf.
I will be heading back to Howling Acres later this week. If you have any questions about wolves, feel free to e-mail me at and I will try to get them answered.

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A Pause 
Sad news from Howling Acres: two of their wolves recently died. Shy, a seven-year-old Arctic Timber wolf was found one morning dead in her pen. Her mate, Beasely, lay next to her, his head resting on her body. The next day, he passed too. The vet said that Shy's death was caused by a bleeding heart. And Beasely? No doubt a broken heart. The more I learn about these animals the more fascinated I become. They are very special beings that have been much maligned. I am glad to be working on this project now, and I'll be headed back to the sanctuary soon.

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Wolf Fever! 
The wolf book idea has been swirling around me, despite all the other things I've been doing: working, sailing, sleeping. I think it's a good basic topic that could be developed into something really good. So, I've been reading about wolves and thinking of questions that I want answered. I recently made another trip to Howling Acres to tape record an interview with the owners. It's a interesting story about a couple who are devoting their lives to helping abused, injured, and abandoned wolves. After the interview I got to spend some time with the wolves, up close and personal. What a thrill!
Since I got back home, I've been reading about wolves as well as going over my notes and the tape I made. Soon, I'll brainstorm everything I would like included in a book about wolves. After that, I'll carefully consider the list, select the most important things, then put them in an order that makes sense. Next comes more research, additional interviews, and lots of reading. Finally, it's time to write. I find the more planning and organizing I do, the easier the writing is.

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Okay, so now I have about a month off from my job as a language arts specialist. I'm going to use this time to work on my writing projects. And, to sail! Summer in the northwest is spectacular, and the winds are ripe. As far as the writing goes, I will be working on the White House book as well as the wolf sanctuary book. I'll be heading back down to Howling Acres in Williams, Oregon to interview the founder of the organization. I want to know how she came to create the organization. I want to know the stories of the wolves there. I also want to find out what it takes to operate such a facility. What do the wolves eat? How much? Have they ever bitten any of the workers? Do they fight among themselves? As you can see, I'm filled with questions. I'll be taking my tape recorder to make sure to get all the answers straight. Then I'll listen to the tapes and take notes. Can't wait to get started!

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Answers to Questions 
Earlier this year I had the good fortune of working with Mrs. Trujillo's class at Dorena, a unique rural school south of Cottage Grove, Oregon. We talked about writing, and how to help each other make our writing better. I left a copy of my Mesa Verde book, and Mrs. Trujillo read it to the class. The students responded with comments and questions. I really appreciated the kind comments about the style, format, and the content of the book. The questions were good, too, and here are some answers to questions posed by the Dorena (and other) students about this book:
This book took about a year to write. This included visiting the place, researching, writing, and lots of rewriting.
The illustrations are a combination of drawings and photographs, both color as well as black and white. The publisher of the book was responsible for the visual part of the book. I think they did a very good job. This is not always the case, and I unfortunately have no control over how my books look.
The entrance to the cliff dwelling known as Balcony House is a narrow tunnel. We are not sure why it was designed this way, but it was likely to help the people defend themselves.
The people of Mesa Verde lived from 32-34 years, a short life by today's standards. Both men and women were small. Men were 5'4" to 5'5". Women were 5'0" to 5'1".
All the people left Mesa Verde around the year 1300. No one knows why. Was it to find food? Was it to escape attacking groups? I hope some of you will become scientists, find out the answer, and share it with the world!

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Ideas, ideas, ideas! 
The trouble with traveling is that you get new ideas for projects. Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to southern Oregon and visiting a wolf sanctuary called Howling Acres. It's a place where they care for abused and misplaced wolves. Every wolf there has a story, and they are fascinating. As is the story of the folks who have devoted their lives to helping these wonderful creature. So, of course, I'm thinking about doing a book on the subject. I have contacted the founders and they are supportive of the idea. Does this mean I drop my White House idea to pursue this? Not at this point; I just do a little of each. Summer break is coming so I will have more time to devote to my writing projects. Stay tuned...

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Talkin' Writin' 
The next best thing to writing is talking about writing. I got a chance to do so recently in Tangent, Oregon. It was the spring meeting of the Mid-Valley Reading Council, during which they honor student writing. How refreshing to see words celebrated in a public forum! How surprising to see that all winners of their annual writing contest were boys!! Not that boys can't write, mind you, but there is a demonstrated gender achievement gap, with girls generally outperforming boys. So, way to go guys for your writing, way to go teachers for providing an authentic forum for writing, and way to go Mid-Valley Reading Council for promoting literacy!

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Immersed in the White House 
Lately I've been immersing myself in books about The White House. The reason: I'm in the planning stage of creating a book about this, the most famous home in America. Yes, there has been much written on the topic, but I'm going to take a different approach. I already have a format figured out for the book. Now, I have to find material to place in that format. So, what I'm currently doing is reading, reading, reading. When I come across something that will fit in my format, I write the info on an index card, making sure to include the name and page of the book the information came from. I've got more than 100 cards with info on them at this point. In a few weeks, I'll be done with this part. The next step will be to organize the cards, then decide what I want to include. That's when the writing will begin, at last!

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A shiny, sunny spring morning in Eugene, Oregon, perfect for the launch of my Real Writing Blog. While reluctant to do this (it seems a bit self-indulgent), I think it could be helpful to those who want a glimpse at the inner world of a writer. My plan is to make weekly entries about current projects, ideas, and plans. Feel free to ask questions and make comments. I'll do my best to respond.
Welcome aboard!

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