`Chadwick' author gives peek under shell

March 17, 2004

Priscilla Cummings always knew she wanted to be a writer.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I liked writing stories and reading books," said the well-known author of the Maryland-based Chadwick the Crab book series.

Cummings, a former reporter who has written 15 books, was speaking to a crowd of about 300 people Thursday at Running Brook Elementary School's Family Reading Night.

Her first Chadwick book, published in 1986, features a happy crab who hopes to become a star at the Baltimore Aquarium. Cummings followed the popular book with Chadwick and the Garplegrungen, Chadwick's Wedding and Chadwick Forever.

At Running Brook, Cummings talked about the ups and downs of trying to publish her first Chadwick book.

"The story was turned down and rejected 16 times," she said, adding that most rejections came from New York publishers. Someone suggested she try a regional publisher, and Tidewater Publishing Co. in Centreville picked up the book.

But before it went to press, Cummings said, she had her work cut out for her.

Holding the manuscript in her hands, she told the audience that her editor at Tidewater sent it back to her with 88 Post-it notes filled with questions. "I had to answer all of those questions," Cummings said.

Next up was finding an illustrator for the book. Her friend, Alan R. Cohen, successfully filled that role.

When Chadwick's Wedding was published, Cummings said, she was flooded with letters from readers asking when Chadwick and his wife, Esmeralda, would have a family. Cummings said she hesitated because writing the sequel would mean coming up with an untold number of names for the offspring. But she soon found she had help; a young reader sent her more than 1,000 suggestions for names.

After her presentation, Cummings answered questions from the audience.

Antony Evans, a second-grader, asked Cummings how long she has liked books. "It's something I've enjoyed for as long as I can remember," Cummings replied.

Antony's sister, first-grader Dalaiah Evans, wanted to know how Cummings came up with her characters' names.

"I live near the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, and I get ideas from there," Cummings said.

When it was over, second-grader D'Angelo Jackson praised Cummings' presentation.

"It was great," he said.

-- Tawanda W. Johnson

Six-week yoga class to be offered in April, May

The Wilde Lake Community Association is sponsoring continuing yoga classes with Kat Kelly-Chung for youth and adults, ages 16 and older, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, through April 1 at the Running Brook Neighborhood Center.

The next session will be held from April 15 through May 20 at Bryant Woods Neighborhood Center.

The classes are appropriate for all levels of experience.

The cost is $90 for six weeks; $17 a class to drop in. A 10 percent discount is available for Columbia lien-payers, but classes are not pro-rated.

Information: 410-730-3987.

Jewelry-making class for seniors to start Tuesday

Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks will sponsor a Fused Glass Jewelry class, for seniors ages 55 and older, from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday and March 30 at Winter Growth's Ruth Keeton House, 5466 Ruth Keeton Way, in Harper's Choice village.

The jewelry is made of colored glass that is fused in a kiln.

The cost is $15, including materials. Registration is required.

Information: 410-313-7279.

Military

Graduates: Army Pfc. Joseph E. Burlas IV, son of Joseph E. and Erika R. Burlas of west Columbia, has graduated from the automated logistical specialist advanced individual training course at Fort Lee, Petersburg, Va. He is a 2003 graduate of Wilde Lake High School.

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