Melissa Marsted maintains her love for publishing and running
Park City author and publisher Melissa Marsted’s life changed when she turned 50 in 2015.
She had recently moved to Park City from Santa Barbara, California and was going through a midlife crisis.
“My oldest school had been going to the London School of Economics for a year and my youngest son was just starting school,” Marsted said during an interview with The Park Record. “I was devastated because I was turning 50, so some friends of mine rallied and told me I needed to run my first 50K race.”
Marsted, who is an avid runner, trained and attempted the race, which was held along the Oregon coast.
“That didn’t go so well,” she said with a laugh. “It was really hard.”
Marsted was determined to do a 50K. So when she heard about the Antelope Island Fall Classic 50K later that year, she decided to try again.
During the race, she had an epiphany.
“I pick up pennies I find when I run, and during this race, on the crest of a ridge in the middle of nowhere, I found a quarter,” Marsted said. “For some reason that sparked the idea to write a kids’ book.”
Marsted realized that 2016 was the 100th anniversary of the National Park system.
“So I decided to write a book about the national parks in Utah,” she said.
She reached out to a friend’s daughter, Izzy Greer, an artist who was just out of college.
The two started “Buzzy and Red Rock Canyon” in January of 2016 and it was published in May.
The book follows the adventures of Buzzy, a honeybee who learns about Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, the five national parks in Utah.
As soon as the book published, Marsted and Greer began working on their second book, ‘Casey Cruises California,’ which is about a quail that learns about the nine national parks in California.
When that went to print, Marsted took some time off before writing her third book, “Tiny’s Grand Adventure,” which focuses a black-chinned hummingbird who discovers national parks in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.
“I wrote that book after my fourth 50K in Monument Valley,” she said. “ I was running a long and met a woman named Ruthann Hamrick from New Mexico. I found she was an artist and she became the illustrator of that third book.”
These books can be found locally at Jans Mountain Recreation Experts, The Market, Marmot Park City, Park City Running, Indigo Highway, J.W Allen & Sons Toys and Candy and Samak Smokehouse in Kamas. The books are also available at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City and Everything Utah at the Gateway Center in Salt Lake City, as well as amazon.com and at Marsted’s own publishing company website,
Marsted’s books have caught the attention of Governor Gary Herbert. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development bought copies of “Buzzy and the Red Rock Canyons.”
“I am honored they did that because I am trying to be an advocate for our national parks in a nonpartisan way,” Marsted said. “National parks, to me, aren’t a political issue. I just feel that they are important and hopefully with them buying my books, it will be a start to getting more families – across cultures, religions, political views and socio-economic status – to these places.”
Marsted is currently working on her fourth and fifth book in the national park series.
“Book four will be about Arcadia National Park and I’m working again with illustrator with Ruthanne Hamrick,” Marsted said. “It will feature a chickadee, which is the state bird of Maine. “
Book five will span five national parks – from Lassen Volcanic National Park in California to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon to Glacier National Park in Montana to the Teton National Park in Wyoming to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
“We will travel with a little mammal called a pika, which is like a little rabbit,” Marsted said. “The pika doesn’t hibernate, but is affected by the temperature, so I decided to write a book where kids can learn about climate change through, which is also is something that I’m learning about.”
Along with writing the other two books, Marsted was recently appointed to the Utah Humanities board of directors.
The Utah Humanities is an independent nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Empowering Utahns to Improve Their Communities Through Active Engagement in the Humanities,” according to its mission statement.
“When I first came out with ‘Buzzy and Red Rock Canyons,’ I was on a board member of the Summit County Library, and I had somehow come across Michael McLane, the director of Utah Center for the Book program from the Utah Humanities,” Marsted said. “I was a grant writer for 20 years of my career, so I invited him to our library board because Utah Humanities offer grants.”
In turn, McLane invited Marsted to do a book reading of “Buzzy” at the Grand County Public Library in Moab.
“Then out of the blue, they called me in March and asked if I would be interested to be on their board of directors,” she said.
The appointment is an honor for Marsted.
“It’s felt like my career has been validated. It’s one of the biggest highlights of my career,” she said. “My life purpose is using my courage, creativity, and sense of adventure to write and publish national park books for children. [I want] to advocate for our national park system and public lands while also encouraging individuals, young and old, to explore nature and live a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.”
Another part of Marsted’s life message is to let people know that the universe conspires on people’s favor when they’re open to [opportunities].
“Synchronicity happens with you’re in the flow,” she said. “I feel so thankful that I’ve been able to merge my running, writing and passion for national parks.”
For information about Melissa Marsted and her books, visit http://www.luckypennypublishing,com.
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A Utah Symphony woodwind trio will perform an intimate Deer Valley Music Festival chamber concert Monday at Susan Swartz Studios.