In 2011, Melissa Marsted launched Lucky Penny Press, a publishing company that specializes in e-books for children between the ages of three and ten. For the first few years, Marsted focused on publishing the work of other authors. “I guess I had writers block,” she said.
That changed after Marsted moved to Park City, Utah in 2012. After losing her house to a wildfire in California, Marsted said she fell in love with Utah and its national parks. “I’ve only been here four years, but I’m completely mesmerized by the state,” she said.
An avid runner, Marsted took advantage of Utah’s scenery, and while racing in a 50k on Antelope Island, she was struck by an idea.
“I decided I wanted to write a book on the national parks in Utah,” she said.
Over the next few months, Marsted spent her free time visiting all of the area’s national parks.
“I’ve just been on the road to visit them,” she said. “It’s been amazing.”
Because Utah is the Beehive State, Marsted decided that a bee would be the ideal main character. Through collaboration with illustrator Izzy Greer, Marsted came up with “Buzzy and the Red Rock Canyons: Utah’s National Parks.”
The whimsically illustrated book follows Buzzy the bee on her trip through each of Utah’s national parks. Along the way, she meets other animals, learns about some of the area’s unique geology, and stresses the idea of being a good steward to the land.
“It’s all about getting kids out in nature,” Marsted said. “Our motto is ‘nurturing the creative spirit’.”
Marsted said some of her best ideas come when she’s out in nature.
“Every time I want to solve a problem or think of something new, I go out for a run or a hike,” she said. “That’s when I do my best thinking.”
She has already written the second book in the series, which will follow a California quail through California’s nine national parks. She said a third book, which will focus on hummingbird migration through several western states, is under contract.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, Marsted will be at the Grand County Public Library, 257 E. Center St., sharing some of her favorite excerpts from “Buzzy” as part of the first annual Moab Festival of Science. That event will take place at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a fun craft for children.
“Buzzy and the Red Rock Canyons” can be purchased locally at Tumbleweed, Back of Beyond Books and the Museum of Moab. It is also available to be checked out from the Grand County Public Library.
ByBy Laura Haley