THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Spring! Time To Build A Nest by Barbara Renner

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week my friend and children’s book author, Barbara Renner, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Spring! Time To Build A Nest”. Take it away, Barbara…

Spring! Time To Build A Nest by Barbara Renner

As a little girl, I wrote silly mysteries because my favorite books to read were the Nancy Drew series. At the time, I never envisioned myself becoming an author, but my life took many turns that included some form of writing – newsletters, business education articles, website copy, a policy and a procedure manual. After graduating from college, I taught language arts, writing, English 101, to name a few. My life was a whirlwind of activity, especially raising two children and teaching. Then I retired from teaching, and the whirlwind stopped.

Life should have been idyllic. My husband and I bought a summer home in Minnesota to escape the Phoenix, Arizona heat, so I played golf, planted a garden, lunched with neighbors, fished; nothing could be better, right? But something was missing. I wanted to keep being productive in my life, be worthy, contribute to the world. While on the boat fishing with my husband, I was enraptured by the most beautiful creature, a Common Loon floating in front of us.

Now was my chance to write something different, children’s picture books, because I wanted children to read about loons. The teacher in me loves alliteration, so I named my main character Lonnie the Loon, and planned on having Lonnie be curious about his surroundings. I asked the Minnesotans questions, because they adore their state bird, I read books, I researched wildlife sites on the Internet, and learned all about the folklore and life history of the Common Loon. I started out with a hybrid publisher, but then decided to self-publish my four Lonnie the Loon books.

Another fascinating bird in Minnesota is the Trumpeter Swan. When I visited the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Rochert, Minnesota, I learned they were once on the endangered species list. One gentleman told me about a restoration project in the 1980s to reestablish the Trumpeter Swan population in the Midwest. Swan eggs were flown on commercial airlines from Alaska to Minnesota where they were incubated, hatched, and reared. Once again, I felt compelled to share Trumpeter Swans with children through picture books.

My plan was to write four books about a Trumpeter Swan family, beginning in Spring when they build their nests and continuing through the four seasons. I wrote SPRING! TIME TO BUILD A NEST and SUMMER! TIME TO SEARCH FOR FOOD, but stopped with those two because we sold our home in Minnesota and are now full-time residents in Arizona where the interest is more with quails and rattlesnakes. Even though Arizona doesn’t have the weather nor large lakes to provide the right habitat for loons and Trumpeter Swans, I visit schools to read my books. I facilitate a compare and contrast lesson so children can discover the difference between desert and lake wildlife. My books are not all boring facts. I write the stories so they are whimsical and entertaining.

I’ve strayed quite a bit from writing mysteries and newsletters, but my education background has helped me bring life science to students through my picture books. Maybe I’ll write middle grade mysteries someday; probably a series that includes animals.

Here is my book’s blurb:

“Did you know it takes Trumpeter Swans up to 2 weeks to build a nest? That’s after they are shooed away from a beaver lodge and a muskrat den.

Pen is the name for a female swan; Cob is the name for a male swan.

Pen knows she will be laying her eggs soon, so she urges Cob to find the perfect place for their home. Even though they work together, will they have time to build a nest for their new cygnets before it’s too late?”

All my books can be found on my website:

A special discount and a STEM-based lesson plan for SPRING! TIME TO BUILD A NEST can be found at this online bookstore:


Barbara and her husband have lived in Phoenix, Arizona for over 40 years. When not walking her dog Larry, Barbara can be found writing her new Grandparent series, hiking the desert foothills, gardening in her backyard, traveling, and occasionally attempting to play a round of golf.

Want to connect?


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