Monday, November 30, 2009

Michigander Monday: Buffy Silverman

It's a joy to welcome to Michigander Monday Buffy Silverman, who I'm lucky enough to have in my critique group. Buffy is a great writer with an extensive and impressive array of publications. It's wonderful to have her here today!

Debbie: Buffy, tell us a little about yourself.

Buffy: I have been, at various times: a park naturalist; a teacher for several nature centers and a college biology teacher; a mom (job title still held, but currently a long-distance position;) and a writer. I first donned my writer's cap in the early 1980s, while take a class in graduate school entitled Environmental Writing. With more beginner's luck than I realized at the time, a manuscript that I wrote for the class was accepted in Ranger Rick. Over the next few years I wrote educational materials and articles for adult nature magazines.

It was not until my kids were toddlers and demanding that I read one picture book after another, that I thought of writing for children again, certain that fame and fortune would find me as a picture book writer. And while I did receive compliments and encouragement from editors (again, more beginner's luck than I realized at the time) I didn't make a picture book sale. Not all of us can strike gold with a pout-pout fish, so I turned to children's magazines, and found acceptance writing nature/non-fiction articles.

Now I write nonfiction books for educational publishers--it is nice to know, after years of collecting rejections, that these assigned books will see the light of day. But I still write the occasional picture book or easy-reader and send it out to the cruel world. Lately I've been writing poems, and have a collection that I'm hoping will find a home.

Debbie: Buffy, you have an impressive list of magazine articles and books! Please tell us a little about your latest books.

Buffy: Last week a box of books landed on my doorstep, containing my author copies of Can An Old Dog Learn New Tricks And Other Questions About Animals, a title in Lerner Publication's new "Is That A Fact" series. The book investigates the science (or lack of science) behind common animal sayings (e.g. "The Early Bird Catches the Worm.") This one was a lot of fun to research and write, and the talented folks at Lerner did a great job making the book visually appealing. Look for it in March, 2010.

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Buffy: I'm currently finishing up two books on food chains for Heinemann-Raintree, and I'm also starting a new poetry project.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Buffy: I'm appearing at our dining room table in time for dinner tonight.

Debbie: Ha! I'm making a similar appearance myself today. Buffy, how about your favorite place in Michigan?

Buffy: I'm sure it would be easier to choose favorite places in Michigan if I had grown up here (most of my time is spent in my basement office, and that is comfortable, but not one of my favorite places.) We spent many summer weekends at a cottage near Lake Michigan when my two kids were younger. Taking sunset walks and collecting beach glass and smooth rocks was a favorite past time. I also loved hiking at the Silver Lake dunes. My son would park with his camera to photograph the dune buggies racing up and down the mountains of sand (I'm sure he wished that he had been born into a family that was inclined to race vehicles instead of hike;) my daughter and husband would leap down the dunes to Silver Lake and struggle back up; and and I would hike along the top, collecting sand-smoothed driftwood.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Buffy: Again, an easier question to answer if I got out more. Maybe the Crane Fest at Baker Sanctuary (okay, I've only been once, but it was a wonderful outing.)

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Buffy: I assume you're referring to people other than my husband and two kids, who are not native Michiganders? (and there's your answer to your last question!) Hmmm...there are so many terrific children's book authors in Michigan, that I hesitate to name a few favorites because I know I'll kick myself later for forgetting someone wonderful. Most of these authors are listed at, so send your readers there. Okay, I've danced around that question long enough to call it answered.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Buffy: You can hike and camp on two islands in Lake Michigan--North and South Manitou. There's a stand of giant white cedars (virgin trees=never cut) on South Manitou, and ship wrecks off the coast of both. Other than a case of flip-flopping stomach on the ride to North Manitou, both of these were fun excursions for our family.

Debbie: Finally, some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Buffy: See above!

Debbie: Buffy, thank you for being here today! I admire your writing, and am so happy to share a critique group with you. I hope all the readers of this blog will head over to your web site and get to know your books and magazine articles.


Ann Finkelstein said...

Great interview. Thanks Debbie and Buffy.

Unknown said...

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Please call me 248-714-9695
I would love to get you to join!