Welcome

Visiting with some of the awesome students at Taipei American School.

Visiting with some of the awesome students at Taipei American School.

Happy 2015 Everyone! I hope the holidays have been enjoyable, and filled you with optimism and determination for the coming year. I’m actually hitting the new year feeling extremely positive, thanks to a lot of great recent news including, but not limited to a wonderful fall speaking season. Not only did I have the good fortunate to speak at wonderful conferences of Keystone State Reading , the Montana State Reading Council, and Literacy For All, I got to visit with amazing students in Kansas, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Taiwan. Yes, you heard me —TAIWAN! It was my first time ever visiting this overlooked gem of Asia, and I gotta tell you, I was super impressed. Not only were the students and staff of the Taipei American School excited about reading and writing, I discovered that Taiwan is full of some of the friendliest people on earth. After working there for a week, my family joined me, and here are some things we learned:

  • “Ni-hao” means “Hello” in Mandarin.

    XiaoLongBao, "soup dumplings"—one of the best foods on the planet!

    XiaoLongBao, “soup dumplings”—one of the best foods on the planet!

  • Taiwanese are simply nuts about bicycling!
  • Taiwan is one of the best places to see butterflies on the planet!
  • Taiwan has an outstanding transportation system. We took subways, trains, and high-speed bullet trains all over the island!
  • XiaoLongBao, “soup dumplings”, are one of the most heavenly foods you can imagine. In fact, when I die, I want “XiaoLongBao” engraved on my tombstone!

 

While in Taiwan, my son Braden and I of course added to our birding Life List, with some birds I’d never seen before including wagtails, redstarts, and bulbuls. We also got to visit one of the world’s natural wonders, Taroko Gorge, and ascend to the top of the world’s 5th- or 6th-highest building, Taipei 101.

Taiwan's famed Taipei 101--designed to look like bamboo!

Taiwan’s famed Taipei 101–designed to look like bamboo!

But you’re probably wondering about book news, too, and I have a lot to be thankful for in that department, too…

My newest release, Fire Birds, was picked up by the Junior Library Guild book club and is receiving outstanding reviews. Really, I am so proud of this book, and you are going to love it.  To learn  about how I wrote this book, click on the Research tab. Fire Birds is a January, 2015 release, but should be available now from most outlets, including Bucking Horse Books distributor Mountain Press. To order, call (800)234-5308 or (406)728-1900.

Fire Birds--available now!

Fire Birds–available now!

I’ll hold off on other book news for now, but the coming year will see at least two new novels, and perhaps some other surprises. As usual, I’ll have a busy spring traveling to conferences and schools, and researching new books. I’d love to come your way wherever you are. If you’re interested in a school or conference visit, simply shoot me an email at collard@bigsky.net. Until then, I’ll leave you with a couple of Taiwanese birds photographed by my son, Braden. Enjoy, and keep on reading and writing!

Sneed

Brown Shrike waiting to impale an insect on a stick!

Brown Shrike waiting to impale an insect on a stick!

 

Taiwan Scimitar Babbler--cool, huh?

Taiwan Scimitar Babbler–cool, huh?