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?






(Editor’s Note…If you’re like me, adjusting to a new, COVID-19 world is a bit stressful. Everywhere you look…radio, TV, newspapers, and even the internet…are stories of the latest stats from around the world. Hospitalizations. Unemployment. Social distancing. How do we keep our sanity in the middle of all the craziness? 


For the next several weeks, many of my writerly friends will be virtually dropping by to inspire, uplift, and make us laugh as we look for reminders that even the scariest of times do not last forever. I hope you enjoy this FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS series. If you want to know more about me, Donna L Martin, or my books, check out my Story Catcher Publishing website at




by Barbara Renner


Arizona has two seasons, Spring and Summer, and most people think it’s nothing but rock lawns and brown dirt. But when the calendar marks the beginning of Spring, the desert bursts with color of flowering wildflowers and cacti. Sometimes along with the blowing pollen comes allergies, and this year 2020, the COVID pandemic, which has forced the desert rats and rest of the world to hide inside their homes under a strict quarantine.

As a nature lover, I can get pretty restless cooped up in the house all day. Luckily, I can still go on my long walks and enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors the desert offers this time of year. Walking makes me happy, and I can step in stride to my favorite Pandora tunes through my ear buds. On my walks, the blooming wildflowers look like carpets of yellow and orange, and the bougainvillea bushes climb the block walls with candy apple red. Even the Palo Verde trees, which means green stick, grow a bushy head of yellow blossoms this time of year. Recently, I picked some wildflowers to put in a vase by my window. They only lasted a few days. Like me apparently, they also need to be outside in the fresh air.

Another benefit to living in the desert is being able to open the windows during our lovely 70-degree Spring weather. Being a bird lover, I enjoy listening to the birds as they announce dawn. Birds sing to attract potential mates and defend their territories. Some people believe that birds who sing loudly first thing in the morning are proclaiming that they are strong and healthy enough to have survived the night. It sounds like a good philosophy for us to follow, especially during this pandemic.

Sometimes I make up words to the birds’ chirpings, “pretty me, pretty me” or “tweedle dee, tweedle dee.” It’s the small things that keep me occupied. As a matter of fact, The Cornell Lab of Bird Academy is offering a course on how to identify birds only by their songs using mnemonics like “drink your tea” or “sweet, sweet, sweet, isn’t it sweet.” With all this extra time on your hands, perhaps you will want to make up phrases to the bird songs too – or maybe not.

What am I doing to keep a positive outlook during this strange time of depressing news, mask wearing, and toilet paper hoarding? I go for walks in the mornings, marvel at nature’s bounty, breathe fresh air, and soak up the Vitamin D the sun provides. I sit outside in my wicker rocking chair in the early evenings realizing that after every rain, the sun will continue to shine and the flowers will still bloom. I marvel that the birds go about their business without a care in the world, singing their songs and nesting so their species will survive. Tweedle dee.






Spring! Time to Build a Nest, A Story about Trumpeter Swans

When Pen and Cob realize it’s time to find a place to build their nest, they are shooed away by a beaver and a muskrat.






Barbara and her husband have lived in Phoenix, Arizona for over 40 years, but travel to Minnesota in the summer to escape the desert heat and fish. After retiring from teaching, Barbara pursued a career writing children’s picture books about wildlife. Even though her stories are fiction, they contain interesting facts about the main characters as well as QR Codes so readers can hear actual animal sounds and calls. Not only does Barbara love nature and wildlife, she adores all breeds of dogs. Larry is a Yellow Labrador mix who came to live with the Renner family almost 7 years ago. Barbara is currently creating a book, Larry’s Words of Wisdom, that includes his cutest photos and most profound words of wisdom. A portion of sales will go to the facility where Larry was rescued. Information about Barbara and her books about Lonnie the Loon, Quincy the Quail, and Trumpeter Swans can be found on her website: She is also a member of SCBWI. Keep in touch with Barbara on her social media sites: