Elaine Powers, self-published author, is Pima Library's summer writer-in-residence

Science-loving author Elaine Powers is this summer’s writer in residence at the Pima County Public Library.

Powers will be hosting one-on-one meetings with community members as well as three workshops through July 29, which will cover self-publishing, writing about the moon, and writing about science – or any facts – for children.

“Apparently people have been noticing me and my name was offered up as being the writer in residence,” Powers said. “So, I hope I’m worthy. I seem to be doing fairly successfully as a self-published author.”

Powers, a former researcher and biologist and theatre enthusiast, came to Arizona with her mother, serving as her caretaker.

“I couldn’t do theatre anymore,” Powers said. “So I started writing books. And then, a few years later, my company site was bought and they asked for volunteers to take early retirement, and I raised my hand and said, ‘Choose me, choose me.’ So, my first intent was to write murder mysteries.”

Powers’ plan to write murder mysteries changed when she was aboard a research ship.

“I do a lot of iguana conservation and I was on board a research ship,” Powers said. “And I ran across a curly-tailed lizard – then I wrote ‘Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers.”

At this point, Powers has written over 25 children’s books, all with science at the core. And they have all been self-published by her.

“It was during the time when self-publishing was just starting to be acceptable,” Powers said. “So, I found an editor who got the book all put together and published it on what was then Amazon CreateSpace, but it was going to be a one off. I was going to go back to writing murder mysteries.”

After the first “Curtis” book was published, Powers found the young readers who came across it enjoyed it – a lot.

“Unfortunately, the kids enjoyed it so much, they would ask when the next Curtis Curly-tail adventure was coming,” Powers said. “So, I kind of created a niche in writing science-based children’s books – both adventure tales and rhyming picture books. That’s what i’ve been doing. And I insist that the science be real and be accurate. I don’t believe in talking down to kids.”

Powers has found success in her niche. She said her book “Queen of the Night: the Night-Blooming Cereus” ranked first in Amazon’s children’s botany section.

“I was able to get a screenshot of that. I had a number one book on Amazon,” Powers said. “It was very brief but that’s okay.”

She said there is still discrimination directed towards self-published authors “because there are a lot of really poorly edited, not quite finished, self-published books out there.”

“Those of us who are trying to put out quality books have to prove that we’re worthy despite the fact that there are millions of other poor books out there,” Powers said.

Powers said there are pros and cons to self-publishing such as being able to have total control of the product versus having to market a book at a small-scale, one-person operation.

“Being writer in residence has really helped in getting my books into the Pima County Library System, which gives it credibility for other libraries as well,” Powers said. 

“My needs are small. If I can educate a few kids, I’m happy,” she said.

While Powers fill in the role as writer in residence, she is working on six books, which are all in various stages of creation, as well as working on her blog, riding her trail horse Pancho – a Missouri Fox Trotter – and singing with the Tucson Summer Chorus.

Thursdays from now until July 25 from 4:30-6:30 p.m., Powers will be at the Woods Memorial Library, 3455 N. First Ave., for 30-minute one-on-one sessions. She will also be doing them Mondays from now through July 29 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Dr. To register, visit the library’s event website.

Her workshops will include “Writing Science, or any facts, for kids” on Saturday, June 29, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Oro Valley Public Library, and “Take Your Book-Shot at the Moon!” on Saturday, July 20, from 1 – 2 p.m. as part of MegaMania in the PCC Downtown Campus, 1255 N. Stone Ave. Registration is required for the two library events. The MegaMania workshop does not require registration.

“It’s oK to self-publish,” Powers said. “You know, even if you’re in your 70s or 80s, you still have time, especially if you self-publish.”