Now featuring Dannie Deeptown and Counting Sheep.
Check out our interview with Dannie Deeptown. He’s the perfect illustrator for COUNTING SHEEP. Danny lives deep in the the British countryside where sheep can be found.
Now featuring Claire Sedovic and Odd Animal ABC's
Check out this interview with Claire Sedovic. She made each piece of artwork speak to you.
And check out our Summer Book Releases:
Three Great Picture Books for you!
Check out this interview with Stephanie Fizer Coleman. Every bird in her illustrations counts!
Check out this interview with Gareth Llewhellin. I love how his illustrations gave this book energy!
Before Gareth, Wendy Leach was On the Scene in her interview about illustrating ice cream.
I love how her illustrations brought this book to life!
Before Wendy, we featured Steve Page in his interview about missing pencils.
Check out his interview. I can’t wait to peek inside the book when it comes out!
And the first interview, with Neil Armstrong's illustrator, Cole Roberts.
Batter up! Here’s that first illustrator interview with Cole Roberts.
This week more schools, especially up north, are back in session. Here’s a geography warm-up for your academic muscles. This is a US map. Find these 4 states -- Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida.
Which state has the longest freshwater shoreline in the United States? Hint – it’s up north!
Minnesota Michigan Ohio Florida
I listed the states from west to east. Minnesota is the farthest west, and Florida is the farthest east.
And the answer is . . . Michigan!
Only Alaska beats Michigan with a shoreline of 6,640 miles, but it’s almost all saltwater.
Sources: Michigan.gov | Date Updated: June 27, 2019
One of the best things about having a book for sale is getting to talk to people. I told them the stories I learned from my research about Neil Armstrong, and they shared theirs. Here are my six favorite stories:
TALE #1 - This is a small photo of the Saturn V rocket. Each of the nozzles in the center is bigger than me. I could stand inside one and not bump my head.
It took many people in many places to build the Saturn V. Since my book launch I’ve met several people who helped build it, and they were proud of being a part of history.
I talked to a lady whose father worked on the Saturn V rocket in Mexico. She remembered having no phone at home, but her dad still managed to get a call from NASA at work. All these years later she still couldn’t believe the technological power of NASA, and she was still proud of her dad’s contribution to Apollo 11.
Tale #2 – This story begins and ends at Neil’s boyhood home. It’s in the picture above. The plaque, below tells you the story of how Stephen and Viola Armstrong moved Neil, June, and Dean back to Wapak when Neil was 13.
Neil graduated from Wapak’s Blume High School three years later. If you enlarge the signs, you can read a summary of his life from the time he left Wapak to the end of his aviation career.
The first picture is the front side of Benton Street where the Armstrongs lived. The last picture is a shot down the alley behind the house. Now for the story from a Benton Street neighbor. It happened when Neil was an adult, probably before his NASA days. He was flying home to visit his parents and wanted to let them know when he got into Dayton.
Neil didn’t do it in the ordinary way, with a phone call! He would fly over the field behind his parents’ house. The plane would thunder past the houses and shake them, at least that’s how I heard the story. Then Neil would fly south to Dayton and drive an hour home to see his parents.
This is the Gardens. It opened in 1999 in the field behind Benton Street, long after Viola and Stephen moved out to my neighborhood in Oakwood Hills. By 1969 their street was renamed Armstrong Drive.
Looking at the Gardens today it’s still mostly field. A corner of the building is in the picture to the left. Grass, and trees lie beside it! I closed my eyes and imagined Neil flying overhead. I could hear the faint thunder of his plane and feel a slight rumble under my feet. I thought of Neil and smiled. He loved airplanes!
PS- If you’d like to look inside, click on this link to meet Karen Tullis the owner. You’ll even get to peek in her office, once Neil’s bedroom.
TALE #3 . . . a very small story. Today this is Home Stretch. They sell t-shirts, but from 1943 till 2000 it was Brown’s Restaurant. In the 60’s it was one of the few places to eat out in Wapak.
I met a former busboy from Brown’s at a book signing. He asked if I’d ever met Neil. I said no so he told me his story. He was clearing tables one night when he noticed a man who looked like Neil. He asked, and it was. That was the sum total of their conversation.
Neil is known in Wapak, and beyond, as a very private person. He kept a low profile, and that’s exactly what this busboy noticed, and now all these years later he still remembers his small conversation with Neil.
TALE #4 . . . a story about Neil’s dad. This story was told to me by Wapak Mayor Don Wittwer who was part of the team who put the 1969 parade together. I was curious about how they got Bob Hope. He was so famous back then. Don said someone in Wapak knew someone who knew Bob. They made the call, and he came. I guess it’s easy to get Bob Hope when it’s a parade for the first man to set foot onto the moon.
From 1955 - 1962 Neil was a test pilot which was a super dangerous job. Don Wittwer was at a meeting with Neil’s dad Stephen. He noticed Stephen was unusually quiet and tense. Later in the evening Stephen got a phone call. Afterwards he seemed more relaxed, more talkative. Later Don found out Neil had a test flight that day. The call was to say that the flight had gone well. I imagine it wasn’t the first time, or the last that Neil’s parents worried about his safety.
TALE #5 . . . the story of a photograph. I met the photographer who took this picture. I was doing a book signing at Riverside Arts and chatting with him. He asked me to Google ‘Neil Armstrong paper airplane.’ I thought it was an odd request, but it seemed harmless. It was.
This picture came up. It was taken in 1974 by one of Neil’s students at the University of Cincinnati. The man I was talking to was THAT student 40 years ago. He’s still proud of his photo, and of the fact it comes up first on Google.
Here are two links for you . The first is on Pinterest, and it’s just the photo. The second is from the university magazine. It tells you a little about the picture setting and the photographer. He never introduced himself, but he bought a book that I was thrilled to autograph. How often do you meet someone who had Neil as a teacher? Now I’d like to introduce you to Ralph Spitzen, UC graduate, Neil’s student, and Pinterest photographer.
Pinterest Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/d7/c8/c7d7c8ff957cd2bcfa87cffaa79d2d52.jpg
UC Magazine: https://magazine.uc.edu/issues/1011/oncampusyesterday.html
TALE #6 . . . the final story – a salute to Neil from his son and granddaughter. I couldn’t find a picture of Mark or Kali in the parade, but I found this one with the Navy band. Neil spent 3 years as a Navy flier, and it was an important part of his journey to the moon.
I missed the parade, but a Wapak friend told me to google Neil Armstrong’s granddaughter. I did, and I found a video of Kali Armstrong singing the song her dad wrote to honor her grandfather. The link is below.
Under it is another one for First on the Moon. They’re the people who organized a year’s worth of fun for the community. The site has two great videos. The first will give you a taste of what Wapak was like this summer.
The second one is near the bottom. It’s a clip from ‘So You Think You Can Dance.” A hometown boy was on the show, and we all loved listening to their attemps to say our name, Wapakoneta. Enjoy!
Song Link: https://kryptonradio.com/2019/07/17/listen-to-neil-armstrongs-granddaughter-sing-flight-of-fancy/
First on the Moon Link: https://www.firstonthemoon.org
This is not a summary of Elizabeth’s book. I jotted notes as I read. I turned them into a top ten list.The words that are bolded are what Elizabeth said about writing. My reaction is in regular font.
10 - Writing should be a vocation. I never planned to be a writer. I grew into it. For the last ten years of my teaching career, I wrote a newsletter each week for my parents. I got used to writing and editing. I like doing it. It fits me!
9 - Make sure you write for something beyond money. Enjoy your words, your story! I’m lucky I don’t need to write for money. I already had a job and earned a retirement. I’m happy to write just for the pure joy of it. Last night I couldn’t write this newsletter. Tonight it’s easy-peasy, AND it’s fun!
8 – Don’t look to others to find success/failure. I could be sad about getting a late start, but 2007 was the right time for me. Two of my kids were in high school, and the other was in college. Writing was easier with older kids, but I only wrote on weekends. Teaching was enough during the week. It’s so much easier to write now that I’m retired.
7 – Writing doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve learned over time that your best has to be good enough. It’s ALL you have to give! My middle school English teacher found 4 mistakes in February. I was finished, and I’d done my best, but when I looked at her comments, I changed 3 of them. They were easy fixes that made the story better. I didn’t change the last one. It added extra words to the story. Extra words are usually not a good thing.
6 – You have to be persistent. I am! I have been writing since 2007, without a single published book. I didn’t quit, and now I’ve done it! I self-published my first book!
5 – If you spend over 10 years at your craft, it equals a PhD. I believe this! Practice makes perfect. It helps you do your best! Each year
over the last 12 years, I’ve grown as a writer. Last year I learned even more from writing and self-publishing Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream.
4 – Don’t spend a fortune on a writing degree. Elizabeth said other writers should be your teachers. For 12 years SCBWI conference speakers, other writers, and children’s books have been my teachers. I listed 16 writing friends on my acknowledgement page. They helped me put my best words into Neil.
3- Other writers are great advisors. A year ago I said I’d stop writing when I was 65 if I wasn’t published. Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder
was 65 when she published her first book? I changed my mind when another writer said what if. What if you’re still having fun? What if you go another month and you publish that first book? I listened and took her advice. Now I don’t have to worry – I’m 60, and I published that first book with 5 years to spare! YAY!
2 - There are magic ideas and ordinary ones. I’ve written other stories that are still sitting in my computer. They were good solid ideas, but Neil was magic! I hit hurdle after hurdle, but something kept me going. In November I quit when I lost my third illustrator. The next day a book club gave me 3 names and pushed me forward again. That’s when I found Cole. This story about Neil was meant to be, and I was meant to publish it. I know, BIG MAGIC!
1 - Writing is Magic! There was something about Neil! I’ve never said goodbye to a story, to a character before. This time I did. I remember the last edit I made on Neil. I felt like crying. I realized I was losing a friend! Writing Magic is the only way I could ever become friends with Neil Armstrong. He died in 2012. I got to know him as a person, as a character, and I’m grateful. I hope you read our story and find your own reading magic!
Follow along as I paint a footprint on the moon. This is what I wanted my painting to look like, like my teacher Melanie Sunderland Fullenkamp.
This is how I started, with a blank canvas. Then I added black and gray. I made my own shade of gray by mixing black and white together.
Next I added in texture with moon rocks in shades of gray, gray-blue, white, and black. I painted in an earth with a white base.
Then I added a blue-gray edge to the moon. I swirled blue and green to color the earth. Finally I started working on the footprint in shades of gray. Then I added light with white, and shadow with black.
I finished off with lettering in silver and gold. It wound up better than I thought, but I was still not happy. Up close I can see the footprint, but not farther back.
This is my final version. I didn’t have paint at home so I used my black sharpie to outline the footprint. It’s not perfect, but it’s better, and I have a unique souvenir to remember this 50th anniversary. That, and my book about Neil and his wind tunnel dream.
Timeline: Blast-off for a Trip to the Moon
7:45AM – The closeout crew sealed the hatch, and they purged and pressurized the cabin to make it safe for launch. That means the cabin was explosion-free.
8:30 AM - The closeout crew left the launch pad.
9:32 AM – Apollo 11 launched.
9:35 AM - The 1st stage engines shut down and dropped into the ocean.
9:41 AM – The 2nd stage rockets cut-off and fell into the ocean.
9:44 AM – Apollo 11 entered the earth’s orbit.
12:22 PM - After circling the earth 1-1/2 times, they fired the 3rd stage engine sending Columbia on its way to the moon.
12:52 PM – Michael Collins separated Apollo from the 3rd stage rocket. He turned Columbia
(command module) around and parked its nose next to the Eagle (lunar module). The discarded rocket was thrown into an orbit around the sun so it wouldn’t run into Eagle or Columbia.
My source for the dates and times is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11. I converted the time to Eastern Standard, hopefully correctly, to make things easier for you. I didn’t see any events for July 17th or 18th. My guess is that the Apollo astronauts kept Columbia ship-shape, talked to NASA Mission Control in Houston, and monitored conditions aboard their spaceship.
July 19th - 1:22 PM Apollo sailed behind the moon, then fired its engine to begin lunar orbit. They circled the moon 30 more times, and they scanned the surface for the Sea of Tranquility.
July 20th - 8:52 AM - Neil and Buzz climbed into the Eagle and prepared to leave Columbia behind.
1:44 PM – Eagle and Columbia separated. Eagle made a spin so Michael could check to make sure the spaceship wasn’t damaged and that its landing gear was correctly positioned. It was!
As Eagle headed towards the moon, the two astronauts noticed they were passing landmarks 2-3 seconds early. Eagle was moving too fast, and it would land miles west of their target.
Five minutes into the descent and 6000 feet above the moon, about a mile, an alarm went off. It signaled that the computer couldn’t do all its jobs on time so its software postponed a few. Eagle continued downward.
Neil focused again on the landing target – it was covered in boulders. He took partial control of the Eagle. Buzz called out navigation info. At 250 feet Buzz saw a crater in the new landing site. At 100 feet, the fuel supply was dwindling, and they had to land soon. The astronauts had 90 seconds of fuel left before they crashed. Dust was kicking up, and it was hard to see, but Neil used some large rocks to guide him.
A few seconds later a probe hanging from the footpads of the lunar module touched the moon, setting off a light. Neil was supposed to shut down the engine, but he forgot. The NASA engineers were afraid Eagle’s exhaust would cause an explosion. It didn’t! Three seconds later Eagle landed, and Neil shut down the engine. They had only 25 seconds of fuel left.
4:17 PM – A second later, Neil said, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Ground Control said, “Roger, Twan – Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!
Dr. Robert Bryant from NASA sent me the video link below. Neil will take you through the
last 3-1/2 minutes of the moon landing. The screen will split in two. You’ll see what the astronauts saw on their way down. You’ll also see what Google could show us in 2011. https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/documents/moonLanding/https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/documents/moonLanding/
Timeline: Prepping for a Moonwalk
6:47 PM – Buzz radioed NASA for a pre-approved message. He asked listeners to take a moment to think about the landing. Then he asked everyone to give thanks. Buzz did – by taking communion privately.
7:43 PM - Neil and Buzz started getting ready for their moonwalk. On Earth it took 2 hours. On the moon, 3-1/2. Then they depressurized Eagle.
10:39 PM - Eagle’s hatch opened. Neil, in a space suit, struggled to squeeze out the door. Would
you believe the two astronauts had their highest heart rates going in and out of that hatch?
10: 51 PM - Neil climbed down the ladder, but he couldn’t see his feet. Why not? The camera remote control that he wore blocked his view. The shots were grainy, but Neil got them.
10: 56 PM - Neil stepped off the ladder and said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for
mankind.” Neil planned to say ‘a man,’ but either he slurred the words, or the camera did. Recent study says camera static caused the omission.
11:03 PM - Neil collected a soil sample and put it in the pocket of his space suit, in case of
emergency. One of the mission’s key jobs was to figure out what the moon was made of.
11:15 PM - Neil picked up the camera and took a sweeping shot of the moon. Then he put it on a tripod. Buzz climbed down the ladder. His comment, “Magnificent Desolation.”
Then the two astronauts tested the moon’s gravity. It is 1/6 of the Earth’s. Neil said it was easier than their practice sessions on Earth. Two small problems, they felt like they were constantly tipping backwards, and the ground was a little slippery, but the astronauts kept their balance. Loping along was the best way to move, but they had to plan their path 6-7 steps ahead.
Then the astronauts planted the flag in front of the camera. Buzz hoped nothing would go wrong, but the flagpole only went a couple inches into the ground. Buzz was afraid it’d fall over in front of their worldwide audience. He saluted it, and then President Richard Nixon’s voice came on the telephone-radio system. He said it was “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.” He made a short speech, following the advice of astronaut, Frank Borman.
Then the astronauts had another 30 minutes on the moon. They set up an experiment to measure moonquakes. They also took pictures and
gathered soil samples, but time was flying so they stopped labeling them. Neil was moving so fast, and his metabolic rates were so high, that Mission Control sent him a coded message to slow down.
Their body rates remained low so NASA gave the astronauts 15 more minutes. That first moonwalk was limited in time and distance because NASA didn’t know how much water their bodies would need to control their temperature.
Buzz went back inside the Eagle first. They used a pulley to get their 48 pounds of soil on board. Then Neil reminded Buzz to throw down the memorial
bag. It honored the fallen astronauts from Apollo 1 and Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin. It also included a gold olive branch, and goodwill statements from leaders around the world. Then Neil climbed aboard, and they turned on the LM life support. To lighten liftoff, they threw out the life support backpacks, their moonboots, the empty camera, and some other equipment.
1:11 AM - They closed the hatch, pressurized the LM, and tried to sleep. After 7 hours of rest, at about 8AM, Mission Control in Houston woke the astronauts to get ready to return home. It took
about 2-1/2 hours to get ready. Somewhere in my account or Wikipedia’s, my time is off. It should have been about 10:30 AM.
Also, sometime during that 7 hours, Buzz accidentally bumped and damaged a circuit breaker to the main engine, the one that’d lift them off the moon. Everyone was terrified, but sticking a felt-tip pen in the circuit saved the day.
1:54 PM - The Eagle lifted off, the silver ascent stage only. They left the red descent stage on the
moon. As they left, Buzz caught sight of it being whipped around by their exhaust – then – the flag toppled over.
Next up: the return home.
BTW – this is a famous picture from that 1st moon landing. It is the only picture where you can send both astronauts. Neil took the picture of Buzz in the spacesuit , and Neil is reflected in Buzz’s helmet.
Timeline: Time to return home to Earth
July 20th – 21st - When Eagle left, Michael Collins was alone making solo orbits around the moon. He wasn’t lonely, even though he was out of radio contact every time he passed the far side of the moon. Michael was busy with housekeeping jobs that would get everyone home.
His first was to find Eagle. Michael knew it was about 4 miles off target, but he never found it. He also did maintenance jobs, like dumping extra water the fuel cells made and preparing the cabin for Eagle’s return.
On his third orbit around the Moon, Mission Control warned Michael about the coolant temperature. If it got too cold, parts of Columbia would freeze. They wanted him to switch to manual control and implement procedure 17, but Michael switched to manual and back to automatic again.
Michael did chores and kept an eye on the temperature. By the end of the next orbit, the problem resolved itself. While Neil and Buzz moon-walked, Michael relaxed.
Then he slept. He needed to be ready to rendezvous with Eagle, but he was ready to fly down to get them, just in case.
July 21st - 5:24 PM Eagle and Columbia met each other, and by 5:35 they reconnected. No problems!
7:41 PM Eagle’s silver ascent stage, was jettisoned off to orbit the moon. Eventually its orbit decayed, and it fell to earth. No sorry, to the moon!
July 23rd – the astronauts made one last TV broadcast. Michael thanked the people who built and tested the Saturn 5 rocket. It was an incredibly complicated piece of machinery, and it worked as expected.
Buzz commented that there were more than 3 men on their spaceship. Government and industry helped it fly. Then he read from Psalms to acknowledge God’s role. “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained; What is man that Thou art mindful of him?”
Neil thanked the American people and government for believing that man could go to the moon. He thanked those who put their hearts, and their talents into the
Saturn rocket. He finished with, “To all the people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11.”
The astronauts were due to splash down on the 24th, but there were a couple problems to solve first. A bearing at the Guam tracking station failed. It would have stopped communication for the last part of the trip. It couldn’t be repaired in time so station
director Charles Force had his 10-year-old son Greg reach inside the housing and pack it full of grease. It worked! Neil sent Greg a thank you.
The next problem, Air Force Captain Hank Brandli had access to top secret spy satellites. They showed a storm front headed to the recovery area. It would make it hard to see Columbia, and winds would shred its parachutes. Two Navy commanders believed him. They put
their careers at risk and convinced NASA to move the recovery area 215 nautical miles to the northeast.
Changing the recovery area also changed Columbia’s flight plan and the sequence of its computer program. The Navy had the Hornet in position.
July 24th – Before dawn the Hornet launched 4 helicopters and 3 tracer planes.
12:44 PM – The helicopters spotted Columbia’s parachutes.
12: 52 PM - Columbia splashed down 1440 nautical miles east of Wake Island. It landed upside down. Navy divers attached flotation collars and a sea anchor. It took 10 minutes to right the capsule. Rafts were launched to get the astronauts.
The divers gave the astronauts biological isolation garments. They rubbed the astronauts down with a bleach solution. After the astronauts and divers were aboard the helicopters, the raft was sunk, on purpose. NASA was worried about moon
germs. They even wiped Columbia down with a disinfectant.
1:53 PM - The helicopter took the astronauts to the Hornet’s hangar bay where they walked into the Mobile Quarantine Facility. That’s where they finished the 21 days of quarantine that began when Eagle and Columbia reconnected in space.
President Nixon was already aboard the Hornet, ready to welcome the astronauts back. He thanked them, “As a result of what you’ve done, the world has never been closer.”
After the president left, Hornet used a crane to lift the 5-ton Columbia space capsule aboard. Then they moved it down beside the astronauts’ quarantine unit.
The Hornet sailed onto Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where the astronauts and their quarantine unit were loaded aboard a cargo plane and flown to Houston.
July 28th - 6AM The astronauts arrived at Houston’s Lunar Receiving Laboratory for their final days of quarantine.
July 30th – Columbia was flown to the Lunar Receiving Lab in Houston after it finished its checkup on Ford Island and Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii.
August 10th - The Interagency Committee met in Atlanta and lifted the quarantine on the 3 astronauts, their physician, engineer and on Columbia itself.
Timeline: Time to Celebrate!
August 13 – This is the ticker-tape parade in New York for Neil, Buzz, and Michael. There was another one in Chicago that day. About six million people attended the two parades.
That night President Nixon held a state dinner in Los Angeles to celebrate Apollo 11. Members of Congress were there, 44 governors, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Vice President, and ambassadors from 83 nations. It must have been dazzling to the astronauts who’d just come out of quarantine.
President Nixon and Vice President Agnew presented each astronaut with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s the picture to the left.
September 6 – Neil came home to Wapak for a parade. I was there! I was 10. I don’t remember the heat, or Neil. Sorry! I remember Bob Hope came, Tricia Nixon Cox (the president’s daughter), the Purdue marching band, and best of all, Purdue’s Golden Girl (she twirled a baton). So did I!
Neil did a speech for kids at the football field, but I don’t think we went. It’s sad – I’m 60, and I see the opportunities I missed. I can’t go back in time and watch, BUT I can write about it for you. Here’s the link for the Wapak parade: https://www.cnbctv18.com/photos/buzz/hometown-of-neil-armstrong-ready-to-celebrate-50th-anniversary-of-moon-landing-3955881-13.htm
September 16 – The astronauts went to Congress. They presented a flag to the House of Representatives, and one to the Senate. Both had been on the Moon.
That was the beginning of a 38-day world tour that took the astronauts to 22 foreign countries. Leaders from many of those countries met the astronauts. Many honored them with medals. Some of Neil’s are in the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. You can see them in the museum’s display case.
September 29th to November 5th – That’s how long the world tour lasted. I can’t imagine the sacrifice the astronauts and their families made. Sometime in July, pre-launch, they gave up their private lives to travel to the moon. They didn’t get them back till early November. That’s a huge price to pay! Maybe that’s why all 3 astronauts left NASA pretty quickly after the tour was over.
In 1970 Michael retired from NASA. He took a job at the Department of State as an Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.
In 1971 Buzz left to become Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.
In 1971 Neil resigned from NASA and accepted a teaching position at the University of Cincinnati. The reason . . . their aerospace engineering department.
This month was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing. The astronauts all moved onto other jobs. Neil died on August 25, 2012. If you see someone wink at the moon in Wapak, you know they’re doing it to honor Neil. He’s still a big deal!
Michael and Buzz are still alive. I saw them on the news with President Trump and Melania honoring this big anniversary. I loved Buzz’s comment. He said something like, it’s a shame we haven’t been back to the moon. I agree.
Here’s to the next space adventure! Have you heard of Artemis? She’s Apollo’s twin sister and the name of NASA’s future missions, first back to the moon and onto Mars.
Late 2019 -- First commercial deliveries/landers to the moon
And that’s how I want to end my posts about the 50th anniversary, with hope for the future. The kids who will be building Orion or riding aboard Artemis missions to the moon, and then onto Mars, they sat in America’s classrooms over the last 10 years. Maybe one of them was a student of mine. I hope so!
This is the crew of Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. Fifty years ago tonight they were somewhere close to Cape Canaveral in Florida, waiting for launch time. I wonder if they were able to go to sleep. I would have been awake all night.
Back in 1969 I was 10. I had no problem sleeping even though Wapakoneta, Ohio was a-twitter with the world watching us. My parents lived a block away from Neil’s parents. It was a huge deal!
This is the run up to the launch date. On May 20 , 1969 the Saturn V rocket started its trip to the moon using that 3.5 -mile crawler-way. The rocket weighed 6000 tons. That’s about the weight of 6000 cars.
The crawler pulled the rocket along at a speed of a mile an hour. That’s pretty fast if you imagine it pulling that stack of 6,000 cars. A Saturn V rocket was HEAVY!
Look below! That’s NASA Mission Control in Houston back in 1969. That’s what NASA engineers looked like, but not their kids, or me. We looked more like the Brady Bunch. That picture’s copyrighted so I’ll share the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brady_Bunch.
I also found the perfect song for 1969. It was the Age of Aquarius! Warning – music videos didn’t launch until 1981, but the song is still great. Enjoy!
The picture to the right was taken 48 years later. I was visiting NASA, and I took pictures of the things I remembered, things I thought you might be interested in. I hadn’t used any of them, till now. I hadn’t started writing NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM, but I had a blog to write.
Below is the link that started this post. ABC News was doing a feature about the 50th anniversary, and part of it featured the restoration of mission control. The only thing missing are those NASA engineers and their crew cuts. Enjoy!
This pair of pictures gives you an idea of the size of the Saturn Rocket and two pieces of the Apollo Space Module. Take a look at that first big black ring near the top of the Saturn Rocket. Everything above it is the Apollo Module that went into space.
Below it are three sets of rockets, three sets of fuel tanks. The bottom two fell into the ocean after their fuel was used up. This link might help you picture these pieces. https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/saturn-v-rocket/
The top rocket and its fuel tank took Neil, Buzz, and Michael into space. Resource link: https://www.seeker.com/what-happened-to-all-the-saturn-v-rocket-stages-1768231080.html
Look below that black ring again. There are four pieces stacked on top of it. All four pieces went into space. The one on top is the Command Module. The picture beside it was taken in Houston. That module looks like it’s been to space and back. Here’s a link to help you imagine the pieces of the Apollo Capsule: https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/apollo-spacecraft/
This is another photo from Houston. Do you see the Command Module at the top? That’s where the astronauts spent their time until they returned home again.
The Service Module is below it. It powered the life support systems for the crew. It made electricity to power Apollo. It also held the main rocket engine. It moved Apollo in and out of either the earth’s orbit or the moon’s. Thrusters made smaller adjustments.
Here are two trivia questions for you: Which astronaut got to be the 2nd man to walk on the moon? Which one stayed aboard the command module? Was it Neil, Buzz, or Michael? The answer – Buzz walked on the moon, and Michael kept the Command Modul in orbit so they could all go home.
Here’s question three: Did Michael ever make it to the moon? The answer – No, he didn’t. He retired from NASA a year later in 1970.
This is a model of the Lunar Module. It sat underneath the Service Module (from the picture above) in that huge Saturn V Rocket. The Lunar Module had two pieces. The ascent stage is the silver part on top, and the descent stage is the red part on the bottom.
Neil and Buzz used the red part first to power down to the moon. When they landed, they crawled out, did a little exploring, and then they left the descent module behind. It’s still there, 50 years later, sitting in that same spot on the moon.
The ascent module, the silver part, flew them back up to the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was the only piece of that huge Saturn V rocket that returned to Earth again.
Would you believe that the astronauts took pictures of each other after they separated in space? The first picture is of the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was named Columbia, and Michael Collins was all alone inside.
The picture beside it is the Lunar Module, and it’s heading for the moon. It was named the Eagle, and Neil and Buzz were inside. These are the pictures they took of each other back on July 20th, 1969.
This is my last classroom. It was June of 2015. School was almost out for the summer. It was almost out forever.
This is me in that classroom back in 2015. Find the flag, and you’ll find me in the doorway. Looking back, I had no idea what was ahead. I was still a teacher. I believed I would always be a teacher. But, I knew my last teaching license would expire in June of 2019. In four short years.
June of 2019 has come and gone. I didn’t renew my license – I let it go. It was time. I will never again be a teacher. I will never have a class or a classroom again. It makes me a little sad . . .
But – I don’t want to! I don’t want to belong to a class or a classroom any more. Why? I’m having too much fun becoming the new me. Over the last 3 years, I have slowly been changing, like a caterpillar in a cocoon.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how I’ve changed, how I’ve evolved, and where I’m heading.
This is me in the Fall of 2015. I was no longer teaching, but I came back to my old school as a writer. I wasn’t published, but I’d been writing for 8 years. I had something to tell kids about writing, about editing, about failing, and persisting.
In the spring of 2016 I started subbing. It brought in a little money, and it got me back in my comfort zone with teachers and kids. That year I subbed 2-3 days a week.
In the fall of 2016 I decided to volunteer at the Armstrong Museum. I was on my way to becoming a docent, but I stopped. I realized, even retired I had to prioritize my time. I couldn’t do everything. I backed away from becoming a docent, but I still volunteered at the museum. I continued to sub, but only one day a week. I pulled everything back to focus on my writing, to finally write a manuscript that could be published.
I still don’t have a book traditionally published, but now I understand how much goes into it. A manuscript has to be practically perfect to find an agent or a publisher. They invest a tremendous amount of time and money to produce a book. They have to get a return on their investment. I know . . . I just self-published Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream. I put in the money and the time, and I’m hoping I can earn my investment back.
I couldn’t have traditionally published it. It takes 2-3 years for that. I started writing in June of 2018. Going traditionally would have meant summer 2020 or 2021. That would have been too late for the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. Neil’s book birthday was May 17, 2019, giving me 2 months to spare!
So this is me in June 2019, author and publisher! It’s also me, a short term sub! I just applied for my substitute license. It’s going to be back dated to June so that whoever, whatever I become, a small part of me will ALWAYS be a teacher. I don’t think I could ever turn away from it, and frankly I don’t want to. Being a teacher helps me to see the world the way kids do, and it helps me write the stories they need and want.
So here’s to the next frontier . . . to Rinda Beach as substitute teacher, writer, author, and publisher! I wonder where I’ll be in five years when I renew that substitute teacher license again.
Have you ever seen thumbnails? Not the ones on your hands, the ones for a book. A thumbnail is a sketch, a plan for the illustrations, and they WILL change.
Here are the first illustrations Cole sent. They’re in red. I thought they’d be in black. Cole sent them as an email PDF. I opened them and told Cole what I thought,
PDF’s don’t work on Weebly so I printed them out, first in the original red, then in black. I took photos so I could share them with you.
Take a look – did you notice the first two are clearer than the rest? The reason? Cole wanted a firm idea on how to start the book. With the others, a quick sketch was all he needed.
Chapter 1: Neil’s throwing a model airplane out the 2nd floor window. It’s what he did when he wanted to get rid of a few model airplanes.
Chapter 2: No characters! Cole suggested using a notebook with sketches of the materials Neil used for his wind tunnel.
Chapter 3: The drawings are sketchier so I checked in with Cole on what I was seeing. In this one Neil was imagining how he’d put the tunnel together
Chapter 4: Cole drew the inside of the wind tunnel. It’s the only illustration I questioned. As a teacher, I thought kids would see this as a fun geometric shape, instead of as a model airplane hanging inside the wind tunnel.
Chapter 5: Neil finally showed Mom his finished wind tunnel. Unfortunately it blew Mom’s robe loose and smash-crashed the model airplane through the window.
Chapter 6: Neil told Mom about his scholarship to Purdue AND getting to fly Navy fighter jets. Mom was so shocked that she dropped a jam jar on her foot.
Stay tuned! Cole worked through 5 more sets of illustrations before the illustrations were done.
It’s been a week of interviews! Monday Cole’s came out, and today I woke to find this one up for me. I talked to Brooke Van Sickle way back in late April, and she sent the questions then, but I had to put everything on hold till I reached a permission agreement with Purdue. I finally finished off the interview a week or two ago, and today Brooke emailed to say it’s live.
If you’d like to learn about the ins and outs of self-publishing, click on the link below!
Meet my illustrator, Cole Roberts. He’s the first illustrator to be interviewed for our Blog. Congratulations, Cole!
This is where Cole makes magic, where he made a young Neil Armstrong come to life.
Neil and I would like to say thank you, Cole! We also hope you’ll check out Cole's interview.
Please check out our book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you’ve already read it and liked it, please consider sharing an honest review on either site. We're up to 10 . . . YAY! Did you know the more reviews a book has, the more searchable/find-able it is? My next goal . . . 15.
Here's my book link WITH a free coloring sheet for you. I hope you'll check it out!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!