J M Naszady
I am a native Californian, born in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. After beginning my undergraduate education at the University of California Santa Barbara campus, I decided that biology wasn't exactly what I had in mind, although going to school at the beach was pretty cool.
I transferred to UC Berkeley, where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry with an emphasis in Wildlife Management. Then I had a series of adventures during which I cruised timber, searched for rare plants, trapped and banded Scrub jays, and rode a dirt bike while doing a songbird survey. I encountered such hazards as poison oak, ground hornets, and lightning. But there is nothing like the awe of standing in a pine forest with the pungent odor prickling your nose and the sun warming your face, watching a Pileated woodpecker crawl into its nest cavity, or catching a glimpse of a mountain lion crossing the road (from the safety of a moving vehicle).
Then I headed for Arizona to work for the U. S. Forest Service, because it sounded like a good idea. I met my husband, and after spending a couple of years in Colorado working for the National Park Service, we settled in Northern California and raised three children.
The next series of adventures included diapers, Sesame Street, trips to the beach, teaching Kindergarten, camping in a tent, and sharing a house with teenagers. The hazards included fevers, temper tantrums, and general mayhem. But there is nothing like the joy of holding your newborn infant for the first time, watching your child play a musical instrument, hit a home run, perform on a stage, or wear a cap and gown to accept a diploma.
My next adventure turned out to be teaching Middle School. I never saw that coming, but it was surprisingly fun and occasionally traumatic. The hazards included frustrated students, frustrated parents, and lots of paper-grading. But there is nothing like the thrill of facing thirty expectant faces, all wondering what's next, or witnessing a young person achieve what they didn't think was possible.
After decades of writing stories and shoving them in a drawer, a novel magically appeared. Motivation for this most recent adventure was provided by National Novel Writing Month, sponsored by the Office of Letters and Light in Berkeley, California. The hazards of writing include eyestrain, sore muscles, writer's block, and wondering if I was spending all my time on something no one would read. But there is nothing like the satisfaction of creating characters that you care about, and seeing your hard work completed.
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by J M Naszady
Willy is an orphan, a loner, and kind of a nerd. But Willy's loyal friends drag the thirteen-year-old into their lives. During a family crisis, Willy uses magical thinking: "Everything will be different at the end of the summer." At a new school, Willy meets Kai and learns to play the ukulele, discovering a world of music. But the teenagers are separated. Will they ever see each other again?
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