PEGGY SIAS LANTZ

Author, Editor, and Florida Master Naturalist

email

About me

My early writing career was mostly doing newsletters for any organizations I was a member of. Then I graduated to editing a couple of magazines, and then books for one of the organizations.

And I wrote, too. I wrote little stories for my young children and sent them to magazines and publishers, and received lots of rejection slips.

But I’m a jack of all trades. I’m interested in lots of things, and as I learned something about each of them, I would write articles about them, and send them to magazines. Most of them found a place in a publication.

When I was three, I rode a pony in a little ring, and right then and there I wanted a horse of my own. Near the end of my first year out of college and on the job, I bought a horse. I had horses for the next 60 years and learned a bit about them and wrote for horseman newspapers and magazines. I also put together a collection of those articles for my granddaughter, who had a pony, titled The Young Horseman’s Notebook.

I liked artsy-craftsy things, so I tried a lot of them -- drawing, painting, sculpture, even woodcarving -- and one year at summer camp, I tooled a leather belt and pursued that hobby. Soon I became a pretty good leathercrafter and made money at it and wrote articles about it.

When I was about eight, I started piano lessons, becoming accomplished enough to earn a scholarship to college. There I found I liked directing music ensembles. After college I taught public school music and later became a choir and choral director. I also wrote articles for magazines about music, and one of them, "Handbook for Reluctant Choir Directors”, was made into a booklet that was published for fifteen years.

I love sports, animals, and the outdoors. When I was young I ran everywhere I went, climbed trees, swam, played softball, and learned about birds and wild animals. After marriage as children came along, we raised chickens and other animals, camped out, and backpacked. I wrote articles about the outdoors, and became the editor of publications for the Florida Native Plant Society and the Florida Audubon Society’s magazine.

Since childhood, I wanted to have my name on the cover of a book. One time, as program chair of a writers’ group, I wrote an editor of a Florida publishing house asking her to give a presentation to our group. At the end of the letter, I said something like: “By the way, would your publishing house be interested in my co-author and me putting together a book of the articles we’ve been writing for The Florida Naturalist magazine I edit?” I included a couple of chapters and the table of contents. The answer was “No, I can’t give your group a talk, but I’m interested in your book.” A year later The Young Naturalist’s Guide to Florida came out. I was in my fifties before I had my name on my first book, sharing that honor with my co-author. It is now in its second edition.

The second book, The Florida Water Story, with the same publisher, also shared authorship.

Then I wanted to become a Florida Master Naturalist to have some credentials for what I already knew. I took the classes and became an instructor.

My maternal grandmother died when I was a senior in high school, but she wrote her autobiography when she was 65. My mother found her yellow typed pages when she and my dad retired to Lake Lucy, where my dad's parents had lived. I made a typewritten book of her story and photocopied a few copies for family members. Many years later Early Settlers in Ontario, Canada was published by Woodsmere Press.

When my husband and I visited my parents at Lake Lucy, I listened to stories that my dad told me of growing up at Lake Lucy, and my mother had kept the composition I wrote in college about Lake Lucy. I wrote up my dad's stories and added my piece, and again, I photocopied it and stapled it into a little book for family. Then others began writing their memories of living or visiting relatives at Lake Lucy. After several editions, Woodsmere Press published Lake Lucy Tales.

Another book was originally a small booklet put together from articles published in The Palmetto, the newsletter/ magazine I edited for The Florida Native Plant Society, again sharing authorship. It was called Florida's Incredible Wild Edibles. It is now in a second edition, published by Pineapple Press.

That booklet came to the attention of the University Press of Florida, which wanted a whole book on the subject with photos and drawings and a cookbook. My co-author of that material had died, so I became the sole author of Florida’s Edible Wild Plants. When it was published, I was eighty-one years old.

I’ve always been interested in history, too, as well as Florida nature, so the idea for Adventure Tales from Florida’s Past was born. It is published by an independent press.

I’m a Florida native, but lived in Massachusetts for about ten years during my public school years, and in Minnesota for eight years when my husband’s job took the family there. All the rest of my life, except for vacations, has been spent right here where I belong.

My husband and I had four children. We were married for 61 years before I became widowed. I live in the lake community that my grandfather settled in 1914, where my father grew up, and where grandchildren have been visiting their grandparents since 1931.

My avocations have added delight to my life, and as it nears its close, I hope my books will add a bit of delight to yours. Perhaps you’ll return to my website from time to time to see what I have written in my blog space.

My best wishes to all my readers.

© 2021 Peggy Sias Lantz - All Rights Reserved