By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Sharpen your pencils. If you’re one of the many people who love the wonders of Indiana’s state parks, and you’re perhaps a budding or accomplished author, it’s a moment to shine.
Local authors Stacy Savage and Kathy Gerstorff are seeking submissions of poems and short stories for publication in a new book they plan to publish this fall. Proceeds from the book, to be titled “Naturally Yours: Poems and short stories about Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs,” will be donated to give school children more access to state parks.
“My husband and I visited seven state parks last summer and with every visit, it made me want to do a book about the parks even more,” said Savage. “I wanted to capture the parks in all their glory, not just through my eyes, but through the eyes of those who appreciate the tranquility and wonder of the parks as much as I do.”
This will be Savage’s sixth book celebrating nature. All but one of them were published to benefit charities that help wildlife and nature. The Anderson native grew up going camping with her family at different Indiana state parks.
“My childhood was so much fun because of those experiences at the parks,” said Savage, 38. “The parks gave me so much and the book is one way of giving back to the parks. Now, more children will be able to experience the excitement and joy that a state park can bring, as I did in my childhood.”
One of Savage’s previous publications was “Poetic Nature in the Hoosierland,” an anthology of poems about nature by Indiana poets, with Angie Manuel. Manuel was an interpretive naturalist at Mounds State Park at the time. Proceeds from the book went to Mounds State Park.
Gerstorff, who in April won the poetry contest Savage and Mounds State Park sponsored, has a similar longstanding love of the parks.
“I formed a love affair with Mounds State Park. It kind of felt like home,” said Gerstorff, 50, whose homebase is Montpelier. “I just kind of formed a bond with that place,” said Gerstorff.
That bond began to form when Gerstorff was just 14 years old. After getting out of an abusive home, she lived with her aunt and uncle who took her camping at Mounds, creating some happy memories and ultimately inspiring Gerstorff’s winning poem “Mounds of Love.”
“It just kind of reflects how I feel about Mounds being a great place. You can go there and connect with nature,” said Gerstorff. She also authored two books of poetry and short stories to benefit child abuse prevention and awareness.
Savage and Gerstorff are now collaborating on and underwriting the new project, and they’ll be reviewing and selecting the submissions for the book.
“It will be a book that represents all there is to do at the parks and how much [people] would benefit from the parks,” said Savage.
Proceeds from the book will go to the Discovering the Outdoors Fund in the Indiana Natural Resources foundation. The fund was established to provide grants to school groups for field trips to state parks and reservoirs.
“It’s giving our youth an opportunity to experience the beauty and splendor of our state parks and reservoirs – an opportunity that might be missed without the help of the Discovering the Outdoors Fund,” said Savage.
Writers may submit up to three poems or short stories, with a 32-line limit per poem or 3,000-word limit per story. Each entry must be about one of Indiana’s 24 state parks or eight reservoirs. Check out www.stateparks.IN.gov for a list. Deadline for submissions is July 31, via mail.
Expected publication for the book is this fall. Authors of items selected for publication will not receive any compensation since all proceeds will be donated to the Discovering the Outdoors Fund.