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Sandra Weber (1961-) - Sidelights

esther mountain book author

Upstate New York-born author Sandra Weber is the author of several books that share the author's love of the outdoors, among them Mount Marcy: The High Peak of New York and The Finest Square Mile: Mount Jo and Heart Lake. In addition to her books profiling the Adirondack mountain region, Weber has also published several books geared for a student readership. The Internet and The Personal Computer both draw on the author's training in mathematics and computer science.

Mount Marcy provides readers with an understanding of the eastern U.S. mountain and its history. "If Mount Marcy's summit is a place you may never reach, this book will take you there, and you will return with an appreciation for those who do climb. After reading this book you will have forever formed a greater connection with the mountain and the High Peaks region," commented Doug Fitzgeraldin the New York State Conservationist.

In The Finest Square Mile Weber once again provides readers with a glimpse into the fascinating history of the northeast region. Interweaving people and events into the story, she provides readers with a satisfying lesson. "The author is a fine writer, with a crisp, narrative style and colorful descriptions. Her extensive research is clearly documented in unobtrusive footnotes, revealing broad scholarship," commented Edith Pilcher in a review for the New York State Conservationist.

Weber told Something about the Author: "People often ask, 'What made you want to be an author?' I usually give the appropriate answer: 'I enjoy writing.' I guess I am afraid to reveal the true answer: 'Cloth diapers.'

"After the birth of my second daughter, I spent hours at the clothesline hanging and folding diapers and dreaming about the Adirondack Mountains. Before we had children, my husband and I spent every free weekend hiking, canoeing, skiing and snowshoeing in the beautiful wilderness up north. I hoped that someday we could share our Adirondack adventures with Emily and Marcy.

"At ages one and two, the girls were too young for hiking or skiing, but I thought it was time to introduce them to the mountains in some way. I had plenty of In her 2004 nonfiction title Sandra Weber focuses on the human side of Web technology, and the changes it has caused in the way people throughout the world work, learn, communicate, and spend their free time. (Cover illustration by Keith Trago.) time for thinking and an occasional free hand. What if I wrote children's stories about the Adirondacks? I could teach them about the mountains and nature and animals. I could tell stories about girls who were strong and free and courageous.

"I soon discovered a folktale about a farm girl named Esther and knew that I had found my story. In 1839, the young farm girl Esther McComb dreamed about climbing to the top of Whiteface Mountain. Reminders that 'girls should be spinning and baking' and that 'the woods are full of danger' did not sway her. Esther set off to climb Whiteface, became lost, and spent a stormy night in the woods, but discovered a new mountain and new happiness. The mountain was named Esther Mountain and is still the only Adirondack high peak named for a woman.

"At a writing workshop, I scribbled my first draft of the story and was encouraged by the instructor to pursue the book. However, she suggested that I check some of the historical details.

"The next month I traveled to the Adirondack Museum and began what I thought would be a few hours of historical research. The research lasted two years and took me, my husband, and my daughters to libraries, museums, cemeteries, and courthouses. The four of us traveled throughout upstate New York discovering bits and pieces of information about Esther. We walked the wooded trails around Esther Mountain and explored stone bridges, quarries, kilns and cellar holes.

"Finally, I completed my middle-grade historical fiction and sent out several query letters. All the publishers responded with rejections. No one wanted my Esther story.

"I felt that someone must be interested; I had uncovered some fascinating details about Esther's life. I had collected stacks of information about the mountain—its formation, settlers, logging history, and stewards. Was there another market beyond the children's market? Would adults be interested in an account of the mountain? I queried a regional publisher and proposed a natural and social history book for adults. Within weeks, I had a $100 advance and a signed contract.

"Before the book was completed, I collaborated with folk singer Peggy (Eyres) Lynn to write the song 'Esther,' which was later recorded on CD. Although the song is about Esther's struggle up the mountain, the last verse is my mantra about writing: 'If you dare to set out on a mountain,/ And find you've somehow gone astray,/ Though you miss your final destination,/ Look at what you've learned along the way.

"I never intended to write a history book but there it was. And a folksong, too. And, more. An artist created an etching of Esther for the book cover. A women's group designed and sold Esther T-shirts. A group of sixty people climbed to the summit of Esther Mountain for a celebration of poetry, song, and inspiration.

"I still keep working on the Esther children's story. Maybe someday it will be printed. The story deserves it. It has given me so much. It made me take a step. It made me climb a mountain. It made me an author.

"Sometimes I lament that I have not reached my destination; I did not give my daughters their Esther book. Then, I realize that I gave them something more meaningful. I reached my true destination. I shared the Adirondacks with them. Together we discovered fir waves and log troughs and stagecoaches. We learned about Esther and about each other.

"During the succeeding ten years, I authored six books. The latest release, Breaking Trail, co-authored with Peggy Lynn, profiles the lives of twenty-five remarkable Adirondack women. In addition, I am awaiting the release of my first children's picture book, Two In the Wilderness, which describes the bond that developed between my daughter Marcy and me as we hiked through the Adirondacks.

"What I have learned along the way is to be patient—to let my writing go astray—and to follow my passion. As my friend Peggy says, 'Get that fire burning in your belly.'"

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

New York State Conservationist, December, 1998, Edith Pilcher, review of The Finest Square Mile: Mount Jo and Heart Lake, p. 30; June, 2002, Doug Fitzgerald, review of Mount Marcy: The High Peak of New York, p. 28.

School Library Journal, March, 2003, Diane S. Marton, review of Iraq, p. 257; June, 2004, Elizabeth Stumpf, review of The Printing Press, p. 163.

ONLINE

Sandra Weber Web site, http://www.sandraweber.com (January 16, 2005).

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