Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dump Trucks and Princesses

“MAMA! STOP!” These were the words spoken by my then one-and-half-year-old son, Wyatt when we were driving home one day. My heart about stopped. I thought I had just run over a squirrel, or ran a stop sign, or did something horrible because the shriek in his voice was so urgent that you would have thought Wyatt was going to die if I didn’t stop. I quickly realized that nothing terribly wrong had happened; we merely drove by a construction site. Nonetheless if we didn’t stop and take a look at all the big machines driving around in the mud, Wyatt was going to start WW III with a world-class temper-tantrum.

I pulled the car over, got Wyatt out of his car seat, and in the rain (it’s always raining in Hood River, OR), we walked over to the fence line to see dirty – rusty – loud machines backing up, “beep, beep, beep, beep.” Going forward. Backing up, “beep, beep, beep, beep.” Leveling dirt. Backing up, “beep, beep, beep, beep…” I rolled my eyes – boring. Surely Wyatt felt the same, but when I looked down at Wyatt: his eyes, his face, his open-mouth-with-drool-coming-out look said it all – he had never seen anything so cool in his life. Dump trucks, skid steer loaders, forklifts, crane trucks – Christmas had come early! The site was a one-year-old gold mine!

Wyatt tugged on my shirt, insistent I sit down so he could curl up in my lamp and watch the amazing spectacle before him. Wyatt didn’t move and this was unheard of. He’s normally bouncing off the walls. If I’d let him, he would have sat still for hours watching these machines.

Visiting the construction site became part of our daily routine and I started getting into it. Wyatt would get his “big machine” fix while he sat in my lap so transfixed and so subdued that you would have thought I’d drugged him, and I would have about 15 minutes to check my email and social/media news sites on my phone – win-win for both of us.

Soon our house was FULL of toy construction equipment: the books we read, the music we listened to (Truck Tunes – check it out, “Forklift Boogie” is my personal favorite), Wyatt’s clothes – everything had a dump truck on it. And I didn’t think twice, I embraced the construction toddler obsession phase with open arms.

That is until one day at the construction site one of the workers came over to talk to us. Wyatt started quivering with excitement – you would have thought this guy was Santa Claus. I was going to have to get him to autograph our copy of Good Night Construction Site. Our conversation went like this:

            “I see you guys here every day,” the big construction worker said.
            “Yes, my son thinks you and your machines are the coolest thing ever.” Wyatt is still in my lap trembling with excitement.
            “Well, tell your son to stay in school so he doesn’t end up like me,” and the big construction worker turned around and walked away.

Wyatt, not really understanding the English language, merely kept watching. I on the other hand sat rather dumb founded. My initial reaction was: that was really harsh, I doubt he’ll sign Wyatt’s picture book. But as I sat there, I started to agree with him. If I could choose my son’s career, a dump truck driver was not in the top ten. Mind you, I believe machine workers have a legitimate career. They are the backbone of our society – they build our roads, our schools, our firehouses… But, its grueling work that probably takes a heavy toll on one’s body. We packed up and drove home.

Since that interaction I’ve often thought about Wyatt’s true obsession with dump trucks. He created this obsession. I did not. Dump trucks were one of the very first things he ever cared about. If his plastic dump truck was comfortable, he would use it as a pillow. And yes, I encouraged it by our daily visits to the construction sites and purchases of dump truck toys galore. But his obsession with big machines was all him. Which got me thinking about what I was obsessed with as a toddler.

I didn’t have to think long: princesses! When I was Wyatt’s age I wanted to be a princess. And believe me, my Mom did NOT embrace this obsession, or encourage, or create it. My Mom was a gym teacher, an original supporter of Title IX, and a proud tomboy. She cried with joy when I didn’t make the cheerleading squad in 6th grade – trust me – she hated everything pink and princessy.

And despite my mother’s beliefs, I claim that my princess obsession (present tense, I still have it) is healthy. As a girl, when I was a pretending to be a Princess, I wasn’t just prancing around in a pretty dress – I was kicking butt and taking names as well! From my top bunk while wearing my rhinestone tiara, I was leading the free world! I was giving speeches that made grown men quake because I was going to take over the world and make it a better place! What were these speeches about? I don’t know – but that rhinestone tiara I wore made me believe my words were powerful and bold and were going to inspire millions to fight with me to save the world and then some. And as a adult, It has inspired me to worship amazing leaders, who whether or not they have a Princess title, are royal: Princess Diana (with grace and poise required by her British Royal Title, hugged children and adults infected with HIV at a time when most wouldn’t be in the same room with an infected human. She got in the mud and helped unarm numerous landmines littered across Angola), Michele Obama (regardless of one’s political beliefs, is an amazing leader who is using her title and power to attack childhood obesity), Sylvia Earle (A true queen of the oceans nicknamed, “Her Deepness,” has used her powers to accomplish numerous environmental achievements) – the list of outstanding royal women is endless.

And yes I agree with my mother, these obsessions can quickly become unhealthy – buying everything “princess” Disney makes is not good, and buying everything “dump truck” that Amazon sells is also unhealthy. Peggy Orenstein, an amazing writer, does an excellent job documenting how toxic the princess world can be. Please click here to see her blog. And she’s right, so many  “princess” toys are awful. But as mothers, we have the choice not to buy that stuff. We have the choice to guide our daughters’ princess obsessions to real princesses who are amazing. Just like I have the choice to guide my son’s dump truck obsession, by refusing to buy him every dump truck toy he sees.

The point of this post is: toddler obsessions are crazy. I have no idea why my son loves dump trucks, but he does and no matter what I do when we drive by a construction site he is going to scream to stop, and sometimes we stop and sometimes we don’t. And when I was a toddler, regardless of my mom’s persistent desire for me not to be a princess, I wanted to be a princess and rule the world.

A lot of girls want to be princesses, and a lot of boys want to be dump truck drivers, and is that so wrong? I don’t think so. I’m a proud adult that still wants to be a princess so I can use that title to save the world. And as an author, I write about an amazing eleven-year-old princess who, I hope, will inspire other young kids to become world leaders that fight for our dear planet.

So this Halloween I ask you not to roll your eye at every girl dressed as a princess. One of theses little girls you see with a tiara on her head might one day stand in a beautiful suit in front of Congress giving a speech that will for generations be thought of as some of the most powerful words ever spoken. But if you can’t help yourself, and you truly hate the princess obsession, then I ask you to only be fair and also roll your eyes at all the little boys who would be dressed up as a dump truck if their mom’s could figure out how to make such a costume.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Big Smile,

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Burger Tour – Columbia Gorge 2012

I wish it was a book tour, maybe someday. But yes, you read it right: Burger Tour, as in a lump of ground beef, two white flour buns on either side with a lot of ketchup, and if I feel adventurous a wedge of pickle. After all, I am conducting this tour with the Pickle Princess herself – Tonia Farman of the Farman Pickles. Few people realize that Tonia is from a pickle dynasty. She is more famous for her creation of Athletes 4 Cancer, an inspirational non-profit that helps cancer survivors rebuild their lives, but on food tours she’s the Pickle Princess in my mind. Let’s be real, I can’t conduct a food tour without a Princess in tow.

Let me give you a background. The first food tour I ever took part in was with the Pickle Princess herself in La Ventana, Mexico - a tiny tiny town that sits on the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula. Down there when the sky gets dark – I mean really dark – there are no city lights to dull the black nights, these little hot-dog carts roll out of nowhere and set up shop on random corners throughout town. They hang a glaring light bulb that dangles over the hot-dogs and precious toppings. With five gorgeous babes and one Pickle Princess at the wheel of a suburban that would never pass a state inspection as its missing at least one door, a few windows, and probably never had seat belts, I experienced my first food tour – the La Ventana Hot-Dog Tour.

Since neither the Pickle Princess nor I is heading down to La Ventana this year we are brining the Food Tour to the Columbia Gorge and we have chosen to tour the burger joints. If you don’t like meat – stay tune – our next tour will be chocolate deserts!

First stop, McDonalds. Well let me clarify – I just drove by. Their parking lot is not even worthy of the Pickle Princess, and I’m not ruining my palate with make-believe beef. But, I have to at least acknowledge that there is a McDs in the Columbia Gorge.

Second stop Trout Lake, WA Chevron Gas Station:

There is not much in Trout Lake, WA with a population of 848 people, but as you drive into the little town with big Mt Adams towering over there is a Chevron gas station. Attached and just around the back is a little restaurant with no name and a big wooden door with a crack at the bottom that oozes smells of burgers, bacon, and grease. I’m sure the place has a name, but the Pickle Princess and I couldn’t find the sign. Inside there are about four tables and bar with another six stools for seating. The walls are lined with license plates and old pictures of the White Slalom River flooding the town.

We went there on a random Wednesday night and the place was packed! Well, packed for Trout Lake – there was about ten people in there, the Pickle Princess and I rounded the count up to 12. Seating was slim pickings and with everyone staring at us we wedged ourselves into a little corner table. I’m undecided if the stares were friendly. Since I was with the Royal Pickle Princess they could have just been staring at her in awe that she was gracing their presence, but I’m thinking they were just a little shocked to see two girls with pony tails dressed in cute jeans and colorful tops invading their little-one-restaurant town. Nonetheless, people quickly returned their attention back to the burgers and the waiter brought us some menus with a nice smile on her face.

It’s important to note that there are different categories of burgers: gourmet, classic, and grease. And on this occasion we were most definitely exploring the grease category. Prior to even ordering you could feel the film of grease soaking into your skin – YUM!

I had the vision of asking where the meat was from, but the Pickle Princess made a good point, do we want to know? Alas, we never asked the questions. Instead, armed with numerous napkins we dug into the greasiest, juiciest burgers ever. I seriously went through ten napkins and washed it down with a huge chocolate milkshake! And yes, a pickle came on the side and I nibbled on it in between bites.

Without further ado our results are as follows:

Tonia – the Royal Pickle Princess’s Results:

Atmosphere: Priceless! Okay, scale of 1-10, I give it a 7.
Service: 4 - We were not exactly "welcomed" warmly; got the drinks after the burgers.
Burger (grease category): 8 - Temperature good, patty covered almost the entire bun, bacon was crispy & quality, cheese was a good cheddar, great bun, good green leaf lettuce and tomato was quality, just a little too much juice -- or was it grease-- dripping from it?
Fries: 3 - Too chewy and a bit thin for my liking for how chewy they were.
Extras: Chocolate Milkshake gets a 10!!

Sarah’s Results:

Atmosphere: 9 – I loved it! I’m a total sucker for the country store feel where there is barely enough room to turn around.
Service: 4 – I’m with the Pickle Princess on this one. To their credit, however, the place was packed and we got there 40 minutes before they closed.
Burgers (grease category): 9 – I wasn’t over exaggerating, I went through at least ten napkins. Grease was dripping from my fingers, covering my lips, and coating my taste buds! It will be interesting to see if any other burger in the Columbia Gorge can beat these guys in the grease category. And I agree with the Pickle Princess – good leaf of green lettuce.
Fries: 2 – I didn’t finish them and if I don’t finish my plate of fries you know they are not good because I always finish my fries. They were the skinny kind and just didn’t have that salty, crisp goodness.
Extras:  10 - Chocolate Milkshake was AMAZING! The best one I’ve ever had – seriously – AMAZING! Pickle was very good too: crisp and crunchy with just the right amount of dill. (You might be wondering why the Pickle Princess didn’t rate the pickle – it’s too much of a conflict of interest for her. Being from a pickle dynasty, she understandably cannot be an impartial judge of a pickle.)

Stay tune for Burger Food Tour number 3! Location is top secret but it has been decided! 

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society recently requested their facebook followers to share a great kid’s wilderness book. Which got me thinking about what book inspired me to get out into the wilderness. I really had to think. I had read so many great books, but I really wanted to share the one that inspired me the most.

The first book that came to my mind was C.S. Lewis’s Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Narnia might not be a real wilderness, but it was real to me. I climbed through the wardrobe with Lucy. I felt the fur coats turn into pine trees. I saw the bright green grass fighting its way through the snow. From then on, every forest seemed like Narnia and drove my desire to go deeper into the forest to find beaver dams where perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Beaver lived or possibly catch a glimpse of the White Witch riding by in a sleigh. Although, CS Lewis’s adventures in Narnia were incredible it wasn’t my favorite. I kept thinking…what was my favorite book that had me running outside… And then it came to me.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett first published in 1911 – my all time favorite book that truly sent me exploring.

The secret garden Mary finds is a fenced wilderness in her own backyard, but she also meets a boy named Dickon who is as pure as the greatest wilderness:
‘Would you make friends with me?’ Mary said to the robin, just as if she were speaking to a person. ‘Would you?’…[she] spoke in a tone so soft and eager and coaxing that Ben Weatherstaff was as surprised as she had been when she heard him whistle. 
‘Why,’ he cried out… ‘Tha’ said it almost like Dickon talks to his wild things on th’ moor.’ 
‘Do you know Dickon?’ Mary asked, turning around rather in a hurry. 
‘Everybody knows him. Dickon’s wanderin’ about everywhere. Th’ very blackberries an’ heather-bells knows him. I warrant th’ foxes shows him where their cubs lies an’ th’ skylarks doesn’t hide their nests from him.”
For me it was Burnett’s12-year-old Dickon that inspired me to run outside and try to talk to a bird or plunge into a deep lake with my eyes wide open so I could blow bubbles with a fish. As I got older it was still 12-year-old Dickon that inspired me to kayak the Grand Canyon and explore the woods of Grand Teton National Park. And today, it is still 12-year-old Dickon that has shown my heart that we can see the spirit of a tree, hear a river breathe, and fall in love with the soul of a mountain. Dickon only exist on paper, but his spirit – the wilderness he represents – inspired me to cherish each moment I get in the wild and to forever fight to protect it.

Thank you Wilderness Society for making me think of what book inspired me to get outside the most. It was a fun trip down memory lane. You should try it! And if you have the time, please share with me here or on facebook what book inspired you to play outside cause I want to read it!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We celebrated Wyatt's third birthday this weekend tailgate style.
Lot's of dirt, bikes, and cupcakes!

I'm a mother of a three-year-old - CRAZY!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Is America Capable of Achieving the Impossible Again?

Neil Armstrong - a true hero - achieved the impossible. He walked on the moon.

America achieved the impossible when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Is America capable of achieving the impossible again? Are we as individuals capable of achieving the impossible again? I hope so, and I dream that the next giant step for mankind is a world fueled by the sun and wind. I hope and dream that America puts the same energy it put into landing on the moon toward a complete commitment to clean energy. Imagine an America where we achieved the impossible again - not just an independence from foreign oil, but from all oil, coal, and gas.
The next giant step for mankind - a world fueled by the sun and wind.
To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Join me for one last summer read!
The Ancient Realm is
on Kindle from August 24th -28th
click HERE to download a FREE copy.
Agnes Island, where it all started:) 

Please note that you can still read Kindle books even if you don't have a Kindle: There is also a program called Kindle for PC that will allow you to download it from the Kindle store and read it on your PC, a program called Kindle for Android that will allow you to download it from the Kindle store and read it on your Android device, and a program called Kindle for Mac (available from Amazon and Apple's App Store) that will allow you to download it from the Kindle store and read it on your Mac computer, iPad, or iPhone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Instead of blogging on Sunday I went surfing at the Oregon coast... sorry, but it was really fun:)

Wyatt thought about trying to surf:)  

Finnegan spent most of the time sleeping in the ergo:)

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I absolutely LOVE Nancy Tillman's work. I believe her books will be enjoyed for generations. Although they are pictures books, her words are ageless and her messages are beautiful. Here is one of my favorite passages:
From your very first day, you were chosen to glow in a very big way! With your crown made of glittering, high-flying things, you've got wind in your pockets, your wishes have wings. You can run like you mean, let the wind blow...There's no telling how high you can go! Whatever it is you choose to do, no one can do it exactly like you. Ride on the big slide! And if you fall down, remember your glorious, marvelous crown. It won't flicker or fade. It won't dim. It won't leave. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS BELIEVE. The Crown on Your Head, Nancy Tillman, Feiwel and Friends
Have a great week everyone! Big Smile, Sarah

Sunday, May 20, 2012

1 Girl to 3 Boys - The Story of My Life

My number is a ratio - 1 girl to 3 boys. 

I grew up with my older brother and two older boy cousins on the banks of Lake George in upstate NY. Most days I could be seen standing alone on the dock watching the boys way off in the distance paddling away in the canoe - the boys having successfully ditched me.

I learned how to sleep with one eye open and one eye closed, so when the boys snuck out early in the mornings to play “King of The Dock” (a particularly brutal game with no rules, except one, last man dry on the dock won) I would not miss it!

On the rare occasion when I successfully retired for the night bruised and battered from climbing rocks, jumping cliffs, swimming long distances, and running as fast as I could to keep up, I never laughed so hard or had so much fun than I did with Corby, Kevin, and Scott. Instead of proper bridesmaids at my wedding, I named them my three bridesmaids. My brother, maid of honor, stood next to me and held my bouquet.

On May 10th, 2012 history repeated itself. I gave birth to my second son, Finnegan Leith Bahn and again became a family of 1 girl to 3 boys!

Scott, the oldest of the four of us from the first generation, called it - he said there was no way I was having a girl! I was born to live with all boys my whole life.

My repeat of life with boys truly hit home, when my husband was sitting at the table with our first son Wyatt, holding 3-day-old Finnegan in his arms and said to me, “Don’t mind us Mama, the boys are hanging out.” I dropped everything I was doing and came running, “I can hang too,” I glared.

The irony of it – between Scott, Kevin, and Corby they have almost all daughters! Kevin has one girl and one boy, with I am sure, another girl on the way. HA - Good Luck with those absolutely gorgeous bomber girls! 

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Winners and Losers

Having recently watched the Olympic Trials for my old sport, white water slalom I started thinking about the days when I raced and trained. I dug up my old training journal and found one of my favorite quotes:
The message seems to be that life is made of winners and losers. If you are not #1 or top five you have failed. 
There doesn't seen to be any reward for simply succeeding at the level of doing one's best. Success is how you collect your minutes. You spend millions of minutes to reach one triumph, one moment. Then you spend maybe a thousand minutes enjoying it. If you are unhappy through those millions of minutes, what good are the thousand minutes of triumphs?
I doesn't equate. Author Unknown
Enjoy the journey:)

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Corbett, OR Grade School Visit

Today I visited with all the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at the Corbett, OR Grade School. I was so honored to be asked to visit their school. My heart absolutely MELTED when I saw so many kids holding my book. I was truly touched when one boy told me he loved King Torin and thought I should write 51 books about him! Another boy told me that he thought Torin should be nicer to Agnes because  it seemed like Torin liked Agnes... Very insightful kid!

I've spent so long writing The Ancient Realm and there were so many moments when I wondered why I am doing this... no one is ever going to read this book, much less like it. But those 30 minutes I spent with the Corbett, OR Grade School, made all the hard work I put into this book 100% worth it. Thank you Corbett, OR Grade School for making my dream come true by reading my book, telling me you loved it, and groaning when I told you I hadn't completed book 2 yet.

Below is the speech I gave (please excuse poor grammar - the best part about giving a speech is the written form doesn't have to be grammatically correct;):

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of going to the Olympics. In 5th grade we had a career day and everyone dressed up as what they wanted to be in the future. I dressed up as an Olympic athlete.   
Starting in my freshman year in high school, I spent over ten years training in the sport of Whitewater Slalom Kayaking for a chance to compete in the Olympic Games. For most of my career I stayed ranked 2 in the US with multiple top ten finishes in the World.
I really really wish that I could sit up here and tell you how amazing it was to make the Olympic Team.  I wish I could tell you how unbelievable it was to walk into a huge stadium with all the best athletes in the world.  I wish I had a shinny Olympic Gold Medal that I could show you.  
But, I never won a gold medal and I never made the Olympic Team.  In Whitewater Slalom only one female athlete per country gets to race in the Olympics.  In 2000 I placed second at Olympic Trials – one spot away from the team.  Four years later in 2004 I placed second again at the Olympic Trials and again missed the Olympic Team by one spot.   
I retired from racing in 2004 having never fulfilled my childhood dream of making the Olympic Team. Every four years I am a little sad watching the summer Olympics on TV knowing I will never get to compete in such a special event.  BUT, I am living PROOF that it is far better to have dared, to have tried, to have gone after my dream and to have failed than to have never tried at all. At the end of the day I realized I that even though I was heart broken I didn’t make the Olympic Team, I was still incredibly happy and very thankful for the opportunity to train for ten years, travel around the world and racing against the best people in my sport.  
I’m currently trying to pursue a new dream – the dream of becoming a successful author. As you heard earlier, I recently published a The Ancient Realm an action and adventure book written for your age. But it is still yet to be determined if I am a good writer, it’s yet to be determined if The Ancient Realm will become a successful book – I only published it four months ago.   
It’s funny because this dream of trying to become a successful author is almost more of an impossible dream than of my first dream of trying to make the Olympic Team. 
When I was your age I was reading and writing on a 1st grade level and the teachers didn’t know why. Finally right before I entered my 6th grade year I was tested for learning disabilities and the results came back that I was dyslexic.  
I spent the rest of my middle and high school years working my tail off trying to catch up. And I did catch up – I went on to college to graduate amongst the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA. 
But even though I had done well in college, I’m still scared of reading and writing – dyslexics to do not think of words as their friends. But I love dreaming up stories, I love imagining characters, and I love the mission of my book – the mission to show readers how incredibly precious the Natural World is.  And I’m here today having a great time trying to become a successful author.
I might fail again – just like I didn’t make the Olympic Team – I might never become a successful author. But I know from experience, from my past failures, that happiness isn’t defined by our end results – its defined by all the time we spend trying to achieve our dreams, our goals 
If the day comes when I have realized I will never become a successful author I will be a little sad, but I will be far happier having tried than having not tried and spent years wondering “What if – What if I could have become a successful author."   
If there is one thing I hope you take home from listening to me today it’s this:None of us should ever leave our dreams on a shelf for fear of failure.  We should all GO for them – no matter how impossible they seem.  None of us have any idea of what we are capable of until we try. And I promise – life really is about the journey not the destination – not the final result.  SO go for it and see what your capable of! 
To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day!

Your mission today - get outside! If it’s already dark, take your parents' hand and ask them to show you the stars. Enjoy the earth today and appreciate its beauty.

John Muir, father of the National Parks and founder of the Sierra Club wrote:
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” My First Summer in the Sierra, John Muir (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1911) 
Today on Earth Day look around and think about what John Muir wrote in 1911. The land that we step on, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the sun we feel on our skin – everything we see is connected. 

Happy Earth Day!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


This posting is so incredibly special to me. This innocent story touched my heart and made me think that maybe our “blue marble” has a chance.

Hayden is four. She made this journal for her mother during her free time. It says, “Earth We Should Be Nice to Our Planet.”  When Hayden gave it to her mother she said, “I made this for you so you could write down all the bad things people do to the earth so you can stop them.”

Hayden is already brilliant at four. Our Earth and future need more Haydens. 

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Start of a Sea Turtle's Life

No words can explain this amazing feat. Nature at one of its most inspiring moments.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Website Updates in Process

I apologize for not posting on April 1st! I am in the process of updating my website with new top 5s and outstanding reviews from leading environmental organizations like the one below from the outstanding Wyss Foundation:

Sarah Leith Bahn’s The Ancient Realm takes the reader on a magical adventure while addressing real environmental concerns. Much as the Brothers Grimm wrote fairy tales to teach children about the darker facets of human nature, Bahn uses this imaginative story to educate young readers about environmental threats—and the importance of fighting against them. 
The story begins in Nova Scotia, where 11 year-old Agnes Fordyce discovers that her strange new babysitter is a member of the Ancient Realm, a magical monarchy established to protect nature. Agnes accepts a position as its Bering Sea Princess, but quickly learns that being a princess is not all about castles and special powers.  Like the creatures of Narnia under the reign of the White Witch, the members of the Ancient Realm live in fear of King Ector, a terrifying figure with icicles for teeth, who seeks to take nature’s power for himself at any cost. Agnes agrees to face King Ector and stop his plan to destroy the world’s seas, rivers, forests, and oceans. Agnes’ resourcefulness and courage grow throughout her quest, which takes her from Denali to the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean.  Forced to acknowledge the destructive power of both nature and humankind, she grows to accept the Empress of Nature’s explanation: “we could never fully appreciate the goodness of this world if we didn’t have the example of darkness beside it.” Agnes returns to her normal world with this knowledge, more confident and mature than when she left it.  
Though it's ostensibly for children, The Ancient Realm’s message about nature will resonate with all who appreciate it: “love it, respect it, and don’t ever abuse it, and in turn, if you are ever in a time of great need, it will take care of you.” Wyss Foundation, a charitable foundation dedicated to land conservation in the intermountain west

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kirkus Review

I just received my first Kirkus Review- the world's toughest book critics. For those of you that don’t know – a Kirkus Review is one of the most important reviews an author receives. It can truly make or break your career.

I had just dropped my son off at pre-school and was taking this rare free moment to get a cup of coffee in downtown Hood River before I headed back home to delve into writing book 2 when I opened my email and saw that Kirkus Review had sent me my review.

I couldn’t decide if I even wanted to open the email. All my insecurities as a writer flooded my mind. The fact that when I entered fifth grade I was reading on a 1st grade level – the fact that even now I struggle with words every day – the fact that I was nuts as a dyslexic to even think I could write a book.

My coffee arrived, I took a long sip, and opened the email. My eyes started flooding with tears even before I started reading the first word. I was so scared they would rip my story to shreds. But as I started reading, I started breathing. They LIKED it! The review isn’t completely glowing but I am THRILLED with it for two reasons: (1) they gave me hope that I have potential to make The Ancient Realm a great series, and (2) they gave me outstanding feedback on just how to do that. I’m not sure many authors use reviews as learning tools, but why not? If we are strong enough to accept constructive criticism, we have enormous amount of potential to make things better. One of my coaches, Maylon Hanold told me once, “The idea is that you can always make good be better and make better become your best and your best can get even better.”

Most authors edit their reviews to only reflect the positives, but I am honored to share both the good and the bad with all of you:
Kirkus Review:
Nature acts as a secret source of magic and mayhem for the young protagonist in Bahn’s debut novel. At the start of the book, 11-year-old Agnes Adelaide Fordyce leads a rather average, uneventful life. Having lost her mother at an early age, she lives with her father and twin older brothers in a remote fishing village in Nova Scotia. The amount of masculine influence in her life causes her to develop a tomboyish personality, but in spite of her active lifestyle and severe dislike of dresses, she still finds tales of princesses and castles appealing. Not only does this make her more relatable to a broader spectrum of young readers – from the prissiest of girls to the most adventurous of boys – it also puts her in the perfect state of mind when she encounters Octavia, a babysitter who is more than meets the eye. Octavia invites her to become Princess of the Bering Sea, one of the Guardians of the Ancient Realm responsible for protecting the natural world. As Agnes soon finds out, though, the greatest threat to the Earth comes from power-mad kings within the Ancient Realm itself. She finds this out remarkably soon, in fact. Within 24 hours, she becomes a princess, meets numerous new allies and enemies, faces life-threatening danger and must do all she can to prevent the collapse of the natural world. The narrative and structure of the book reflect this fast pacing. While Agnes has little problem accepting everything as it comes, readers who prefer easing into magical and mysterious realms may have difficulty adjusting. The greatest trouble lies in getting a grasp on several of the novel’s secondary characters, as some of the more complex aspects of their personalities get lost in the rush. Not that any of the characters are without potential, though. All of them – and the entire story, for that matter – are intriguing enough to sweep readers away through the end.
            Bahn presents a straightforward fantasy story plenty capable of engaging young readers, especially those with limited attention spans.
Please click here to see the review published on Kirkus's website!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Goodness: Conservation

On October 4, 1907 Theodore Roosevelt said:
The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.
Theodore Roosevelt knew in 1907 what many experts tell us now and unfortunately many people choose to ignore: natural resources are finite - there is not enough of them for everyone and there will only be less for all of us with each passing breath we take. Conservation and renewable energy is our only hope. This is not a political statement - its the mere truth.

Yesterday marked the horrific anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska. Please click here for Sierra Club's article on this sad sad sad day.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Young Middle Grade Readers, YES!

A fifth grade teacher in New Haven, CT wrote this about The Ancient Realm:
I am reading it to my class right now. We're only 2 chapters in, but when we finished reading today they begged to hear more! I read it right away and loved it! There is so much interest in fantasy right now with the Lightning Thief and Hunger Games series, but these books are just too difficult and complex for my students. I was so excited reading your book because I think it's perfect for a fifth grade read aloud.
I hear this time and time again from teachers and librarians. The current middle grade fiction trend is to publish big hard backs that adults might also might like, which often leads to dark, complicated, and difficult books. And although I do love Percy Jackson and Katniss Everdeen, these books would have been pretty challenging for me as a 5th grader. I would have ate them up in 8th, but not 4th. Publishers don't want to publish books for just 4th and 5th graders - young middle grade fiction readers. In my opinion that is a big mistake because these readers have exceptional minds and are ready to eat up great adventures. I am thrilled that my book, The Ancient Realm is helping fill the gap in the Young Middle Grade Fiction titles!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Goodness: “We have the Power to Imagine Better,” JK Rowling

In 2008 JK Rowling delivered the commencement address to Harvard’s graduating class. The whole speech is incredible. Her opinion on the benefits of failure is something I agree with and have tried to encompass in The Ancient Realm. But the passage I have chosen to share here is not about failure or her other key topic, imagination. This passage is about all of our real powers to imagine and commit to making this world better.
Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden. 
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.  Harvard 2008 Commencement Address: The Fringe benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination, JK Rowling

Please click here for a video and text of JK Rowling’s whole speech. Regardless of whether you are a fan of Harry Potter, you will value the words of this speech.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Goodness: it's a small world

Together with his brother Richard, Robert B. Sherman wrote, “it’s a small world” - possibly my favorite song. I’ve only been to Disney World once when I was very little. I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember begging to ride “it’s a small world” again and again. Robert Sherman wrote some of the greatest songs of my childhood including, “a spoonful of sugar” – a Marry Poppins classic that still brings a smile to my face. Mr. Sherman passed away on March 5th. I thought it was fitting to post his song that he hoped would inspire peace and brotherhood amongst children across the world.   

it's a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we're aware 
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small, small world 
There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small small world
RIP Robert B. Sherman. You will be missed but your music will live on forever.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Lorax

Dr. Seuss’s birthday was on March 2. It’s only fitting today’s post features one of his most remarkable books, The Lorax:

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the tress have no tongues… I’m the Lorax who speaks for the trees which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. But I’m also in charge of the Brown Bar-ba-loots who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loot suits and happily lived, eating Truffula Fruits. NOW … thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there’s not enough Truffula Fruit to go ‘round. And my poor Bar-ba-loots are all getting the crummies because they have gas, and no food in their tummies!”

The Guardians of Nature in The Ancient Realm speak for the Forests, the seas, the oceans, the rivers… You too have a voice – Nature gave you one of the greatest powers on Earth: the ability to speak, and with your words you can make a difference. The only question is what will you speak for?

“Catch!” calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
“It’s a Truffula Seed.
It’s the last one of all!
You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax and all his friends
may come back.” By Dr. Seuss, Random House, 1971
To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Monthly Goodness: Saying Thank you

Over the last five days over 7,500 people downloaded The Ancient Realm!
The Ancient Realm was ranked #1 in Children's Nature for ALL five days!
The Ancient Realm was ranked #1 in Children's Action and Action almost ALL five days (it never dropped out of the top 5)!

This is a HUGE feat for my little book. I want to dedicate this blog posting to all my family, friends and the Hood River Library that helped spread the word about The Ancient Realm. I might not have a big publishing firm that is backing me, but I've got a ton of supporters that have gone out of their way to spread the word. I could not have reached this incredible number of downloads without ALL of my supporters. Below I've included an outstanding book report written by Kayla - I am truly honored that Kayla choose The Ancient Realm for her book report! And I am very impressed by what she wrote.

Thank you again to all of my readers - I am truly honored to have The Ancient Realm on your shelf or in your e-reader.

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

#1 Children's Action and Adventure Book on Kindle!

The Ancient Realm is ranked #1 today in Children's Action and Adventure! My little book is featured next to the Hunger Games! Crazy! I am so honored and thankful to have so many readers reading my book - thank you all so much. Check it out, # 1 Action and Adventure

The Ancient Realm will be free on Kindle till February 28th!


To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WhippleHill's Skype Interview: Dyslexia and Writing

I was honored to do an interview with WhippleHill Communications  about my years at Proctor Academy and being a dyslexic writer. Please click here to see it!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Goodness: THE MUSTN'TS

You cannot go wrong with Shel Silverstein, especially this one:


Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me –
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Harper and Row 1974 

When I set out to write The Ancient Realm there were so many “MUSTN’TS” in my mind:
Dyslexics “DON’T” write…
So when I went to college, I studied Accounting—a major that requires a minimum amount of writing.

It’s next to “IMPOSSIBLE” to become a successful author…
So I gave up my dreams of wanting to write a book and went to work at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

You “WON’T” get published in this market…
So I let my book that I poured my heart and soul into sit on my desk and collect dust for five years.

I am guilty of listening to, and much worse, believing in the “MUSTN’TS.”

So many times we blame society for creating the “MUSTN’TS,” or even our parents, teachers, or peers. But more times than not, we have created the “MUSTN’TS” in our own heads. The “MUSTN’TS” are our own fears that act as roadblocks on our pursuit of our true passions.

When I decided to publish The Ancient Realm I made the choice to shove the “MUSTN’TS” out of mind. It is still yet to be determined if I am any good at writing. I am not a successful author yet. And to get published, I had to do everything myself. But for one of the first times in my life, I didn’t listen to the “MUSTN’TS” and instead created the “ANYTHING” is possible if you believe it is—a much happier mindset.

I still get scared that I’ve made a fool of myself – that The Ancient Realm will never become a successful book – that I have wasted years of my life pursing a dream I have no chance of ever succeeding at. But being scared is a far better feeling than being frustrated every time I saw The Ancient Realm collecting dust on my desk.

Do me a favor, listen to the ANYTHINGS and together with me we can work our butts off at trying to succeed. 

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle