Nelson, Sharlene (P.) 1933-

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NELSON, Sharlene (P.) 1933-

PERSONAL: Born August 27, 1933, in Los Angeles, CA; daughter of William O. (a coach and teacher) and Katherine (an office manager; maiden name, Bailey) Patten; married Ted William Nelson (a forester), July 17, 1955; children: Gregg, Janise Nelson Gates. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of California—Berkeley, B.A., 1955. Politics: Republican. Religion: Congregationalist. Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, backpacking with her grandchildren, skiing, writing.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—824 South Marine Hills Way, Federal Way, WA 98003.

CAREER: Freelance writer, 1956—. Pacific Search, staff writer, 1966-72; Oregonian, correspondent, 1973-82. Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, member.

MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, U.S. Lighthouse Society, Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, Oregon Historical Society, Washington State Historical Society, Washington Trail Association, Washington County Historical Society of North Carolina (president, 1969-70), Tacoma Yacht Club, Tacoma Women's Sailing Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Second-place award, children's nonfiction book category, Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, 1972, for Gray Whale.


with husband, ted nelson

(And with Joan LeMieux) Cruising the Columbia and Snake Rivers: Eleven Cruises in the Inland Waterway, Pacific Search Press (Seattle, WA), 1981, revised edition, 1986.

The Umbrella Guide to Washington Lighthouses, Umbrella Books (Friday Harbor, WA), 1990, revised edition, 1998.

The Umbrella Guide to California Lighthouses, Epicenter Press (Seattle, WA), 1993, revised edition, 1999.

The Umbrella Guide to Oregon Lighthouses, Epicenter Press (Seattle, WA), 1994.

Bull Whackers to Whistle Punks: Logging in the Old West, Franklin Watts (Danbury, CT), 1996.

The Umbrella Guide to Exploring the Columbia-Snake River Inland Waterway, Epicenter Press (Seattle, WA), 1997.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 1997.

Olympic National Park, Children's Press (Danbury, CT), 1997.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Mount Rainier National Park, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

William Boeing: Builder of Planes, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Brett Favre, Capstone Books (Mankato, MN), 2001.

The Makah, Franklin Watts (Danbury, CT), 2003.

The Nez Percé, Franklin Watts (Danbury, CT), 2002.

Jedediah S. Smith, Franklin Watts (Danbury, CT), 2004.

Author of booklets about forestry. Author of the children's book Gray Whale.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Nonfiction articles for children.

SIDELIGHTS: Sharlene and Ted Nelson once commented: "Little did we suspect that a college assignment would lead to our working together as coauthors many years later. In 1953 Sharlene was given a course assignment to write a children's story or review 100 children's books. She chose to write a story about Smokey Bear, a then well-known symbol for forest fire prevention. Her fiance, Ted, agreed to do the illustrations. We produced the hand-printed book with watercolor illustrations and had it bound in hardcover. The assignment yielded an 'A.' The story was submitted later to publishers, and Sharlene received her first rejection slip. Now and then, we pull the original from the bookshelf and read it to our grandchildren, who ask, 'Who is Smokey Bear?'

"After our marriage, Ted pursued a career in forestry, and we developed an affinity for the outdoors, an interest in local history, and an enjoyment of research. Sharlene patiently pursued her interest in writing, despite numerous rejection slips.

"In 1977 we moved from the Oregon coast to Long-view, Washington, and began sailing on the nearby Columbia River. Sharlene learned of a publisher who wanted to produce a boaters' guide to the Columbia River, and she volunteered. When Ted heard of the project, he exclaimed, 'That river is 1,200 miles long, and we've only sailed thirty miles of it!' We got busy. The publisher agreed to a book covering only the 465-mile-long inland waterway, a navigable portion of the lower Snake and Columbia Rivers that follows the western end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. After traveling every mile by water, doing interviews and research, our first book, Cruising the Columbia and Snake Rivers: Eleven Cruises in the Inland Waterway, was published in 1981.

"In 1989, then living on Washington's Puget Sound, we had an urge to write another book. Learning of a publisher who was looking for regional guidebooks, we began brainstorming ideas. One morning Ted looked out of the window and across the sound at the flashing light of a lighthouse. 'How about a book about lighthouses?' he asked. We knew little about lighthouses, but we had enjoyed seeing them when sailing. The Umbrella Guide to Washington Lighthouses was published in 1990.

"For Bull Whackers to Whistle Punks: Logging in the Old West, we drew on our experiences living in a remote logging camp in northern California. While the other books used mostly photographs taken by Ted, this book used mostly historic photographs. Ted was able, however, to provide drawings for the chapter art.

"The bull whackers book led to an assignment for books on three national parks and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. We had backpacked the trails of Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks and hiked trails at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. When Mount St. Helens erupted, we were living in Longview, only thirty-five miles away.

"We have an ability to work closely together. Our shared experiences and mutual interests have gotten us through the times when there were writing commitments and only a blank page before us. Sharlene likes the quotation, 'When you want to know a subject, write a book about it.'"



Booklist, August, 1996, p. 1899.

Library Journal, June 1, 1990, p. 158.

School Library Journal, July, 1996, p. 94.