Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Love came down at Christmas
Image taken at Walt Disney World by J.Q. Rose
Our Greatest Need

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness and acceptance, so God sent us a Savior.
--Author Unknown

Wishing you all the hope, peace, love, and joy of this Christmas season!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trailblazer: Aida de Acosta, the First Woman Aero-driver in the World

                        Telling Herstories: Fascinating Women History Forgot 
by Carol Simon Levin
© Carol Simon Levin 2013

Aida de Acosta: the New Jersey Girl
who became the "First Woman Aero-driver in the World!"

Aida de Costa Breckinridge can be seen
at the controls of Alberto Santos -Dumont's powered
 "run-about balloon"over the skies of Paris on June 29,1903.
Image from
            One hundred and ten years ago on December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers made their famous first flight -- launching their fragile airplane on a beach in Kitty Hawk and showing that controlled, powered, heavier-than-air flight was possible (at least for 59 seconds!) 
            But did you know that more than five months before the Wright Brother’s flight, a Cuban-American girl from Long Branch, New Jersey became the first woman in the world to pilot a motorized aircraft?
            During the summer of 1903, Miss Aida de Acosta was visiting Paris with some school friends when she saw a most curious contraption -- a personal dirigible being driven by its inventor, a Brazilian by the name of Alberto Santos-Dumont.  Long before the cartoon Jetsons depicted personal aero-cars, Alberto Santos-Dumont traversed city boulevards in his “Runabout IX” a steerable, motorized balloon running errands -- traveling between his cafe, his personal jeweler Louis Cartier, and his hat-shop (putting out frequent fires on the airship was hard on hats!)  Sometimes when he reached a cafe, he would tether the dirigible on a lamppost and ask the waiters to send up a cup of coffee or glass of champagne!
            Aida was fascinated by his aero-ship and asked for lessons. Mr. Santos-Dumont agreed to teach her with the dirigible tethered in the hanger.  Since the machine had only one seat, he shouted out instructions from the ground.  He showed her how to steer the rudder, shift ballast,  drop weights, and use the three speed lever to work the propellers.  After three lessons, he pronounced her ready for a real flight. 
            June 29th, 1903 dawned clear and windless and, with his typical showmanship, Alberto decided the important polo match being held that day at the Bagatelle Polo Grounds would make a perfect destination.  He would ride below the balloon on a girl’s bicycle (so as not to catch  his opera cloak on a middle bar!) and give directions with a handkerchief, signaling left and right, and waving in circles to indicate when she should rev up the motor.  After Aida climbed into the wicker basket and wedged in her full skirt, he tied a rip cord to her wrist telling her that if she flew too high and was frightened, she could let out some of the air and, if she were to faint, the cord would release the air from the gas bag and she would come down to earth.  
            He needn’t have worried. Aida flew the Runabout perfectly across Paris and through the countryside.   Alberto Santos-Dumont actually guided her into a landing  on the polo field, briefly interrupting the game and causing considerable excitement.  She loved the trip, remarking, “I stopped the petrol motor and came down like a feather.  I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”  
            Alberto greeted her, "Mademoiselle, vous êtes la première aero-chauffeuse du monde!" ("Miss, you are the first woman aero-driver in the world!")  After the game, ignoring objections from the crowds and warnings from friends, Aida flew back to Paris. 
            Aida had interrupted an important polo match and the press gathered there were both fascinated and outraged that a woman should be driving this aero-machine.  Her parents were not pleased, to say the least.   They firmly believed that a respectable woman should appear in the newspapers only three times -- when she was born, married and when she died. They threatened to ruin Santos-Dumont if he leaked her name to the press and to disinherit her if she continued flying.  Accordingly, Santos-Dumont in his memoirs described her as “the heroine, a young and very pretty Cuban,  prominent in New York Society.” 
            Aida stopped flying, but never stopped being fascinated by the men who flew.  In the late 1920’s, she became friends with Charles Lindbergh and ended up marrying his lawyer, Charles Breckenridge.  But even he didn’t know about her adventure.   The story only came to light in 1932 when the couple was hosting a dinner party and a young Naval officer started to talk about the possibilities of lighter-than-air flying vehicles. Aida astonished the guests when she remarked, “ I’ve flown dirigibles myself; they are a lot of fun!”   Her story was published in Sportsman Pilot in 1933.

            Aida de Acosta was the only person Alberto Santos-Dumont ever permitted to fly any of his aircraft.   After the flight, Aida returned to New York City.  She married and divorced twice.  Later in life, after losing the sight in one of her eyes to glaucoma,  she founded and became director of the first eye bank in America.
            Alberto never married and kept a picture of Aida on his desk next to a vase of flowers all his life -- but there is no indication that they ever spoke or wrote again.   On November 12, 1906, he made the world’s first public airplane flight (the Wright Brothers had flown in secret, fearing they’d lose their patent designs).  He flew for twenty seconds --  the first pilot to lift off and land a completely self-propelled airplane.  Accordingly, some people consider Santos-Dumont the real “father of flight” since the Wright Brothers’ plane required high winds and a rail system to launch. 
            One final piece of trivia: In 1904, after Alberto complained that he couldn’t pull out his pocket watch to check his flying time while steering, his friend Louis Cartier created the one of the world’s first wristwatches so that the flyer could keep track of his flying time.  Cartier still sells “Santos-Dumont” models to this day.

For more information, see Paul Hoffman’s Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight (2003) pp 212–217 and this article: Eugene Register-Guard Aug. 12, 1953..  For a very entertaining look at Alberto Santos-Dumont and his eccentric ways and flying machines (though lacking any mention of Aida’s flight), check out Victoria’s  Griffith’s picture book biography: The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont (2011).

Carol Simon Levin is a librarian at the Somerset County Library and a member of the New Jersey Storyteller’s Network. She impersonates forgotten women in presentations at libraries, senior centers, and other venues.   For further information, write her at  For more information about early female aviators, go to

Check out more articles by Carol Simon Levin on the Girls Succeed blog:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Truly The Christmas Spirit Wrapped Up in this Little Girl's Heart

One little girl, Claire, has shared the spirit of Christmas through a wonderful gift to her parents (and to us.) Claire's holiday kindergarten program was a special occasion for her and for her parents. Although her parents are deaf, Claire wanted them to enjoy  the performance as much as she does in participating in singing the songs. She surprised her parents by using sign language to interpret the words to the songs the kids sang. Take a look at this lively gal and her joy in performing and sharing this holiday concert with her parents.

Lori Koch posted this marvelous video on You Tube
 so everyone can enjoy the thoughtful gift from her daughter--
experiencing this performance.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Computer Pioneer: Grace Hopper

Happy birthday to Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and  Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.Today on the Google home page, Grace Hopper is remembered on her 107th birthday. What did she do to earn a special doodle on Google?
Image courtesy of thepathtraveler at
Grace worked on the Mark 1 computer at Harvard University, the first computer ever! She was in charge of programming it. At the time noone believed computers would ever be able to communicate with words since they were programmed with numbers only. But Grace changed that by developing a language for computers so they could "speak" English and use numbers. Her program eventually became the COBOL programming business language used today.

She was also the one who coined the phrase "a bug in the system" because while working on the Mark 1, a co-worker discovered a moth within the computer. This "bug" caused one of the circuits to malfunction. Grace took the moth and taped it into her logbook. This page along with her records on the first computer  is on display at the U.S. Naval Surface Weapons Center in Dahlgren, Va.

By the way, this machine does not resemble the computers we see today. Instead, it was almost as long as a semi-truck's trailer, 51 feet, 8 feet tall, and 8 feet wide.

Mark 1 Computer
Learn more about this creative scientist, at the Yale page highlighting Grace Hopper's career. 
Go to to see the Google Doodle honoring Grace Hopper and to pull up lots more information on this amazing woman/sailor.

Do you use a computer? Do you have a dream to develop new computers or programs? I would love to hear from you. Best wishes on working toward your dream job!

Monday, December 2, 2013

World Record Holders: 63 Awesome Women Sky Dive Into the World Record Books

Talk about Girls Succeeding! These 63 awesome women set a sky diving record for the largest all-female formation free-falling in the skies over Arizona. Diving head first at 165 mph this amazing skydiving team worked together
 to form an unforgettable star in the heavens. 

Lindsay Janis of ABC News reporting.

Can you imagine yourself doing this? 
What do you dream of achieving in your life? You can do it!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Trailblazer: Aviator, Elinor Smith

Fearless Flyer: Elinor Smith's Daring Dive Under the Bridges of New York
by Carol Simon Levin

Elinor Smith
Photo from
     Elinor Smith got her first taste of flying when she was just six years old.  A French pilot was advertising flights above a potato field on Long Island and she begged her father to go up for a ride.  From the first moment in the air, she was hooked.  She started taking flying lessons at age ten, soloed and set a world light plane altitude record at age fifteen, and got her pilot's license at sixteen  -- becoming the youngest licensed pilot, male or female, in the United States.   Her license was signed by Orville Wright.
     But the press and other pilots doubted her abilities.  Newspapers called her the "Flying Flapper." A stunt pilot who had crashed his own plane bet "that kid with freckles who they let fly around every day" couldn't fly under a New York City East River bridge... she replied she'd fly under all four!
     No one had ever done that before -- for good reason.  It was dangerous – gusts of winds could hurl a small plane into  bridge pillars.  It was also illegal – Elinor could lose her newly acquired pilot’s license.  But Elinor carefully inspected the route,  studying the tides,  the construction of the bridges, and calculating speed, distance & weight.  She joked, "I hung by my heels from all those bridges."  She also practiced weaving between sailboats on Long Island Sound.
    On a bright  Sunday Oct. 21, 1928, as she prepared to take off in her father’s Waco 9 airplane, she felt a tap on her cockpit. Charles Lindbergh grinned at her, “Good luck, kid, keep your nose down in the turns.”
     Despite her preparation, she encountered surprises -- wooden blocks dangling below Queensboro bridge deck forced her to fly just above the water's surface.  She glided uneventfully under Williamsburg Bridge, then dipped under the Manhattan Bridge, where she saw a huge crowd of spectators and newsreel reporters  (so the government would have proof  of her illegal flight).
     Finally all that was left was the Brooklyn Bridge – but as she flew under the bridge, she saw that both a tanker and a navy destroyer  were heading right toward her!  Elinor tipped her plane on its side and just managed to squeeze through! 
     Heady with success, Elinor circled the Statue of Liberty before landing in Roosevelt Field to cheers from family and friends. She had succeeded -- but what about her  license?
     Eight days later,  New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker summoned  Elinor to his office. He announced, "You're suspended....” but continued,  “from flying for ten days, retroactive to the day of your flight."   The Department of Commerce also sent her a letter demanding that she stop flying under bridges – but included a note asking for autograph!
     Elinor continued flying and setting speed, altitude, and duration records.  At age nineteen, she was voted the "best female pilot of the year" (besting Amelia Earhart) -- but her own dream of flying solo across the Atlantic was thwarted when the Depression forced her airplane sponsor to pull out. 
     When Elinor was eighty-nine years old, she was invited to fly NASA’s Challenger simulator at the Ames Research Center.  She remarked “It’s a spectacular ride. Everything about it is thrilling, but perhaps the most gratifying is that the entire support crew was made up of females. My instructor, the operator and the assistant were all women.”

For more information:
The Amazing Aviatrix Elinor Smith (article from the online magazine "Woman Pilot.")
Soar Elinor Soar! by Tami Lewis Brown (inspirational picture book biography, includes interview quotes with Elinor in the back matter.)
Aviatrix by Elinor Smith (her autobiography written in 1981)
Additional sources listed in her wikipedia article:

A bibliography of other pioneering female aviators can be found at:

Telling Herstories: Fascinating Women History Forgot by Carol Simon Levin
© Carol Simon Levin 2014

About Carol Simon Levin:
Carol Simon Levin is a librarian at the Somerset County Library and a member of the New Jersey Storyteller’s Network. She impersonates Elinor Smith and other forgotten women in presentations at libraries, senior centers, and other venues.   For more information, visit and

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving USA!

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
Photo courtesy of Fremont United Methodist Church, Michigan
Come Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;

all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.

God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;

come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

Words by Henry Alford, 1844
Music by George  J. Elvey, 1858

Thursday, November 21, 2013

President Kennedy--Remembering November 22, 1963

"Mom called," my best friend, Marla, told me. We didn't have school that day, so I was visiting her at her house, a huge farm. Her parents were at work. I loved going there with all the animals. She had a huge black horse, Gypsy, and a little pony. We usually rode the pony together and would laugh so hard we'd fall off.

I was eating a snack in the kitchen when Marla returned from the phone call. "Why's she checking up on us? To make sure the house isn't a wreck?" I giggled. We were teen-agers, but responsible girls. I knew her mom would never worry about us. The phone call was unusual.

I noticed Marla's eyes were full of worry. "She said to turn on the TV. The President's been shot."

At that moment my world was turned upside down. President Kennedy had been shot? How was that possible? He had a ton of Secret Service men guarding him. He was popular and had a beautiful family. Who would do such a thing?

We turned on the TV and listened in horror as the events unfolded in front of our eyes. We cried as we watched the horrible pictures showing his limousine race away to the Dallas hospital. Surely this was a scene from a movie. Not reality. Nothing could happen to our president. But, sadly we were wrong. Mr. Kennedy was pronounced dead about 1:30 that afternoon. Marla and I sat in front of the TV in shock.

The whole country was in shock. The events that followed his death were unimaginable. The man who shot him, Lee Harvey Oswald, was captured, then murdered in the police station by Jack Ruby, a saloon owner. 

To this day there are many questions about the events that occurred on November 22, 1963.  

I admired Mrs. Kennedy. Her strength and grace during this life-changing time helped all Americans and citizens of the world face this tragedy and deal with the grief. 

Mr. Kennedy in his short time in office made a difference in the world. He should not be remembered for how he died, but for his contribution to the office of the President of the United States of America and to the betterment of our country.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update on Malala

Image from Glamour Magazine. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

Malala Yousafzai  is the girl from Pakistan who stood up to fierce terrorists, the Taliban, who shot her in the head and neck to silence her. She fought back determined to live and carry her message of education for girls and rights for women to the world. She has rocked the world with her bravery and courage. Because of her bringing awareness to the plight of so many girls in the world who have no rights to education, Glamour magazine recognized her as one of their Women of the Year 2013.

Kudos to Glamour magazine for honoring her and  supporting education for girls worldwide.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remember to Say Thank You to a Veteran Today and Everyday

Veteran's Day today in the USA. God bless veterans! 

My husband served in the US Air Force. What is it about a uniform that makes you fall in love with a guy? 

On Veteran's Day we honor those who gave their lives in service to our country and say a huge thank you to veterans for their service. 

My thoughts and prayers are with those thousands of people devastated by the history making storm in the Philippines.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Photographer Jaime Moore's Not Just a Girl and Giveaway

Trailblazer: Pilot, Amelia Earhart 
Jaime Moore's daughter, Emma, turned five this year. For her birthday, this photographer mother always does a special photo shoot to capture memories and to celebrate this very important day in a child's life. This year, when she and her daughter were brainstorming ideas for the photo theme. Jaime noticed little girls this age dressed up as Disney princesses a lot. (Believe me, I have a four-year-old granddaughter who loves dressing up as a princess too.) 

Jaime appreciates the fantasy world these princesses live in, but she wanted Emma to know about the strong women in the real world, the great role models who could inspire her in real life.

They looked over all the fabulous women in history and chose five remarkable role models. (After all she was turning five!) They put together clothing and jewelry of the times and Emma posed just like these women did in their photographs. The resulting photos are stunning. The photos of  women's activist Susan B. Anthony, designer Coco Chanel, pilot Amelia Earhart, deaf/blind author and lecturer Helen Keller, and animal activist Jane Goodall came to life with Emma posing as these women and dressed in the clothing and jewelry of the day.

Jaime said, ".so let’s set aside the Barbie Dolls and the Disney Princesses for just a moment, and let’s show our girls the REAL women they can be."

Jaime entitled the photos, Not Just a Girl. You can check out her post and the photos on Jaime Moore's blog 

Who are the strong women you admire? Who would you choose to dress like and pose as that woman did in her photo?

Leave a comment below or email me at jqrose02 at gmail dot com and I will send you a free e-book, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women. This book introduces you to real, contemporary women and the paths they took to become successful in their dream careers. It is an inspiring and empowering book for girls.
Offer is good through November 11, 2013.

Download a sample at:
Smashwords Link

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!

Wishing you a Safe and Happy Halloween!

Below is an excerpt from one of my favorite poems for Halloween, Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. To read the entire poem, go to  Riley's Children's Poetry Site. Read this poem written in the 19th century by this beloved American poet out loud and enjoy!

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an'
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'for she knowed
what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trailblazer: Bridge Builder Emily Warren Roebling by Carol Simon Levin

 Thank you to Carol Simon Levin for sharing this article about Emily Warren Roebling.

Bridge Builder in Petticoats: Emily Warren Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge

On December 12, 1881, people in New York City would have witnessed a strange sight.  High above the East River, men in business suits were walking cautiously along a narrow path of wooden boards laid across the steel frame of a huge bridge.  Strangest of all, the line was led by a woman, her long skirt billowing as she showed them details of the construction.  When they reached the New York side, everyone toasted her with champagne.  It was the first official crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In 1881, women could not vote in most state and federal elections.  Their minds and bodies were considered weak and fragile. Very few colleges accepted female students and, though poor women worked, it was unthinkable for respectable middle and upper-class women to do so.  They most certainly would not be helping to supervise the greatest construction project of the age.   

But Emily Warren Roebling was doing just that.  

After her husband Washington Roebling, the Chief Engineer of the bridge, became an invalid from injuries received on the project, Emily became his eyes and ears, feet and hands and voice.  She started out carrying his orders back and forth to the site. When he became unable to read or write, she read aloud all written material to him and wrote his responses. Since Washington could not talk to anyone but Emily without becoming exhausted, he began discussing all the details of the bridge with her, expecting that she would explain these to the assistant engineers.  As a result, although she never went to an engineering university, Emily gradually learned quite a lot about bridge engineering. 

For nearly eleven years, the bridge company kept her work a secret. (They worried that the public would lose confidence in the safety of the project if they knew a woman was involved.)  Her role was finally revealed on May 24, 1883 at the opening ceremonies when Congressman Abram S. Hewitt honored her work in a speech. 
Later that day, The Brooklyn Eagle publicly praised Emily in its article on the opening of the bridge:
Great emergencies are the opportunities of great minds.  Mrs. Emily Roebling met this difficulty as nobody else could.  She addressed her remarkable intelligence to the acquisition of the higher mathematics...  She mastered this most bewildering of sciences, applied it to the bridge, was in rapport with her husband, and dazzled and astounded the engineers by her complete and intelligent conception of their chief’s theories and plans…Day after day, when she could be spared from the sickroom, in cold and in wet, the devoted wife exchanged the duties of chief nurse for those of chief engineer of the bridge, explaining knotty points, examining results for herself, and thus she established the most perfect means of communication between the structure and its author.  How well she discharged this self-imposed duty the grand and beautiful causeway best tells.

Emily did not rest on her accomplishments. After the bridge, she helped design the family mansion in Trenton, studied law, attended the coronation of the Tsar of Russia and even took tea with Queen Victoria.  At the time of her death, she was called “one of the most distinguished women in the country” and “the most famous woman in New Jersey” – yet today most people don’t even know her name!
If you walk across the bridge, be sure look  at the bronze plaque on the East Tower.  It states:

The Builders of the Bridge
Dedicated to the Memory of
Emily Warren Roebling
whose faith and courage helped her stricken husband
Col. Washington A. Roebling, C.E.
complete the construction of this bridge
from the plans of his father
John A. Roebling, C.E.
who gave his life to the bridge

Carol Simon Levin is a librarian at the Somerset County Library and a member of the New Jersey Storyteller’s Network. She impersonates Emily and other forgotten women in presentations available for libraries, senior centers, historical societies and other venues.   Programs are accompanied by a "lantern slide show" (PowerPoint) with photographs and lithographs.  They can be tailored for adult or youth audiences. For further information, write her at cslevin59 (at) gmail (dot) com.  For more information about Emily Roebling, check out

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Update on Malala, the Girl from Pakistan

Photo from

ABC News Diane Sawyer devoted an entire hour to the story of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who defied the Extremist Taliban. She was the girl who spoke up and brought awareness to the plight of 15 million girls in Pakistan who could not get an education. The Taliban did not want girls to go to school, so they thought they would get rid of Malala and stop girls from getting an education. Instead, by shooting Malala while she was riding on the bus to school, they have created even more girls who are fighting to receive an education and to make the world a better place for all of us.

Sawyer reported the miracles that occurred to keep Malala alive after the shooting and to bring her back from the dead. Her recovery was slow and painful, but she is doing well and is spreading the word about education for girls worldwide.

Malala was a candidate to receive the Nobel prize for being a spokesperson for education and peace, but she was not chosen. Below is a link to a video at abcNews with reactions from school girls in Pakistan. I'm sure girls everywhere would feel the same as they do.


“Never doubt that 
a small group of 
thoughtful, committed citizens 
can change the 
world. Indeed, it is 
the only thing that 
ever has.”
 -Margaret Mead

People for Peace
I am not sharing Malala's story to encourage girls to risk their lives, but I am sharing it to make girls who are fortunate to have the opportunity to gain an education to actually appreciate what we have. Perhaps they too will be inspired by Malala's actions to make the world a safer place filled with peace for everyone.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Trailblazer: Banker Janet Yellen

A new day is dawning.

President Obama nominated Janet Yellen to be the head of the Federal Reserve, our nation's central bank. A woman has never held this post in the USA and a woman has never been the head of any nation's central bank in the world!

Ms. Yellen is presently the #2 person at the Federal Reserve behind the retiring chairman, Ben Bernanke. His tenure will end January 31, 2014 and Yellen will assume her duties as the Chairman if approved for the position. Keep your fingers crossed she will break down this barrier for women.

You rock, Janet Yellen!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trailblazer Katie Hnida, First Woman to Score in NCAA Division One Football Game

Katie Hnida

Football fever is in the air this time of year in the USA. Whether i'ts your school, university, or professional team, football is THE topic of conversation. 

Today I am introducing you to a trailblazer in college football athletics, Katie Hnida. She is the first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A game, college football's highest level.. She was the placekicker for the University of New Mexico Lobos and booted the football over the uprights on August 30, 2003.

Interview with Katie when she joined 
the Ft. Wayne Firehawks professional arena football team.

Congratulations, Katie!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Story Behind the Story: The Rainbow Ghost Bus by Sue Perkins

Let's give a big Girls Succeed welcome to our guest author today, Sue Perkins! 

She is sharing her story behind the story of The Rainbow Ghost Bus. Let me tell you a little bit about this multi-genre author.

Sue Perkins grew up in Devon, England and emigrated to New Zealand with her family.
Sue and her husband live on a three acre property at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. Her interests include writing, reading, genealogy and aqua aerobics.
Her first romance novel was released in May 2007, quickly followed by a fantasy trilogy, more romance books, young adult and middle grade novels. 

Her aim is to write a full length epic fantasy novel. The outline is complete, and Sue hopes to finish the first draft by mid 2014.

Connect with Sue at her author website and Sue's blog 
# # # #
The Story Behind the Story of the Rainbow Ghost Bus by Sue Perkins

In 2011 I visited my family in England and my fascination with the old buildings returned, especially those in London. A glimmer of an idea for a Middle Grade book came to mind. The old bus depots were huge to me when I was a child, so my story combines childhood memories with the my genre of fantasy and developed into The Rainbow Ghost Bus.
MG Fantasy: Jack and his sister travel on the ghost bus through lands of rainbows,
leprechauns and dryads to solve the mystery surrounding the bus company owners. 
The name of the young hero came from my niece's son as he asked for an adventure book. As I'd written the book partly at his request, it seemed only natural to give the young hero Jack's name.

I love writing books for Middle Grade children. Boys or girls, I try to make them attractive to both. They are usually fantas books with a touch of magic and mystery in each. I try to keep things moving reasonably fast as I remember as a child I'd be engrossed in a book only to find a long explanation interrupted the flow. This would really annoy me and I often skipped parts of the book due to the interruptions.

Here is a little sample of The Rainbow Ghost Bus. Enjoy.

Back of the Book
Jack and his family renovate and move into an old Victorian bus depot, but soon the ghost of the Number 13 bus comes to visit. Jack and his sister get caught up in the search for the parts of The Rainbow Bus Company logo and hopefully solve the mystery of the disappearance of the owners, which happened many years before.

The driver's seat was not part of the inside of the bus. The poor man would have to sit outside in all weathers as he drove his passengers through the busy streets. This was a double decker bus, with an upstairs open to the air. The stairs wound up the back of the bus, again on the outside. Jack and Kate peered in the window along the side and saw wooden seats lined up with the backs toward them.
"Do you think it's safe, Kate? Look it's got the number thirteen on the front. Do you think it's the route number?"
Before she could answer a beam of yellow light curved down from the metal clad window above them. The nearer it got to the ground, the wider it became. It took a few curves on the way down and stopped at the front of the bus.
"Hey, that looks like a road." Jack peered intently at the yellow strip.
The bus revved its engine, moved forward a few feet to the base of the road, and then stopped again.
"I think we're being asked to go for a ride." Jack jumped on the rear platform. His sister reached out to grab him but he evaded her hands. Kate followed as he slipped inside the downstairs section, safely out of her reach.
Jack bounced up and down on one of the wooden seats. He saw Kate open her mouth to tell him off in her usual bossy way, but the bus jerked into motion throwing her off balance and she fell into the seat facing Jack.
"It is a road." Jack peered out the window and Kate joined him.
The bus trudged slowly up the slope.
"Come on, it's not going fast, we can still get off." Kate stood and turned to face the platform and Jack reluctantly joined her. He blinked in surprise. Only a yellow mist showed behind the bus. Jack grinned and sat down again.
Behind the driver's area a window allowed them to see forward. Between this window and the one looking out over the engine, a blackboard was attached to the inside wall. Chalky white words swirled across the dark surface.
The last bus of the Rainbow Bus Company ran on Friday 13th June 1913. The reason for the company's collapse is shrouded in mystery.
"Wow, Kate. Perhaps we can solve the mystery."
"Hold on. We have no idea where we're going, or how we're going to get home. What do you think Mum and Dad will say?" Kate peered out the window of the bus, but the yellow mist covered everything.
"Perhaps the bus wants us to solve the mystery. When it stops we'll be in a strange place and have to find clues." Jack grinned at his sister, glad she couldn't force him to return home.
The bus slowly crawled up the yellow road to the top and as the incline leveled out, the yellow fog thinned.
"Look. An archway." Jack pointed to the end of the road.
"It's not an arch." Kate joined him. "It's the frame around one section of the round window. We must have shrunk as we came up the yellow road."


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