Tag: being in the shadow

17 Mar 2022
White Paper 2nd Edn cover

OUT NOW – 2nd Edition of White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning

White Paper 2nd Edn cover
White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning (2nd Edn), is available to download freely from my website.  This version is focused on those planning for TSE 2024, and the annular in 2023.

 

We are now almost two years out from the biggest event in North and Central America for 2024 – the next total solar eclipse. This eclipse will be even bigger than the 2017 eclipse — I know this is very hard to imagine. The path of totality is much wider crossing over higher-population areas, and with FOMO from 2017, it really will be the event of the decade.

This time, over 3,000 communities are located within the path of totality in the US alone. This equates to tens of thousands of people who will be directly involved with eclipse planning over the coming two years.

Planning for something as major as a total eclipse needs to happen across organizations, and with local/state/national coordination. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force is doing a great job at coordinating efforts, and I enjoy being part of this team of highly motivated people who are guiding the way in preparations for 2024.  Our next virtual planning workshop is only a few weeks away and is timed to coincide with the two-year countdown (and you can register here).

Every community within the path of totality will initially struggle to get started with their planning. Usually, they wait for direction from above and then realize over time that only they can figure out the eclipse planning strategy for their own community.

This is exactly where my White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning comes in.

Having been involved in community eclipse planning for a decade, I see this gap time and time again and have made it my mission to support communities to develop their strategic approach to planning for the eclipse. No one will do it for you. **SPOILER ALERT** For maximum benefit, the eclipse should not be seen as a one-off event, but as a focal point for your community development plans.  

The first White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning was released in 2015, with the purpose of helping communities across the path of totality in the US to prepare for the ‘Great American Eclipse’ in 2017.  Since then, I have used the thousands of hours of my free zoom consultations, repeated sessions, in-community visits, post-eclipse sessions with coordinators and Mayors, to effectively capture the key lessons from those coordinating the eclipse planning efforts in their communities. I use an evidence-based approach and do this voluntarily in my own time, so it is a slow process.

And so, after years of work behind the scenes sorting through all this material, the 2nd Edition is now ready for distribution.

This document is more detailed and focused on developing a community-based eclipse strategy for maximum benefit. Like last time, this document is free and can be found at the bottom of this page on my website.  The document is large, so it is best shared via a link to my webpage rather than as an attachment.

This 2nd edition will have multiple versions tailored for each specific eclipse, up to 2030.  An earlier version for the 2023 total eclipse visible from Australia/Timor-Leste was circulated to those involved last year.  The version now available to download from my website is suitable for those planning for the total solar eclipse of 2024 in the US, Mexico and Canada — while also including details of the 2023 annular eclipse.

I am no longer in a position to offer free individual consults to communities. However, I will be offering planning masterclasses for eclipse coordinators, where each month a maximum of six coordinators can come together and we will deep-dive into various topics. I will only be making announcements about these to those communities who complete the form on my website, and the first one will be in May.

Remember – no community volunteers to be within the path of totality;  the Universe chooses YOU!  Use this opportunity wisely.

 

08 Jun 2017

On becoming an author

Dr Kate Russo, Author, Psychologist, Eclipse Chaser, Being in the Shadow
Being an author. @ Kieron Circuit

Today is a very special day.  Being in the Shadow:  Stories of the First-Time Eclipse Experience – my third book – has just been published.  It has been quite the journey, and I wanted to share a little personal back story into how I switched from being an academic to becoming an author.

I will rewind to just before the launch of my first book Total Addiction:  The Life of an Eclipse Chaser.  It is September 2012.  At that time, I was Assistant Course Director of a doctoral training programme in clinical psychology.   I had, by then, completed honors, masters and doctoral research theses – huge academic volumes requiring seven years of work in total between them.  I had also published research articles and contributed to book chapters as a psychologist and academic.  After 14 years or so of clinical work, I was fully immersed in the academic world, and spent many hours per day writing.  Total Addiction was a passion-project – something I did on the side.

Two days before the launch of Total Addiction, I walked through the Botanic Gardens to the Queen’s University main library to meet Julie.  She was sent from Springer – the publisher – to sell books at my Belfast book launch event.  She was waiting for me, sitting on an outdoor bench with a trolley bag full of books – my books.  We connected instantly.  We talked about what I had planned for the launch, and how she would take care of the book sales.  She was asking probing questions about how I was marketing myself as an author.

I found the word ‘author’ jarring – I didn’t feel like an author.   I must have frozen, as Julie had stopped talking, cocked her head to one side, and said very matter-of-factly:  “Dude, why is this so difficult.  Of course you are an author.”

After our meeting, I went home and googled the definition of an author, to see whether I was indeed one. (In case you are wondering:  a writer of a book, article, or document).  Technically, I was already an author and had been one for many years. Yet I had never called myself one, nor had I considered I was one.  Even though I was about to launch my first book, I was not convinced that I was worthy of the title of author.

It took a few months before I was more comfortable with the role.  By then, I had engaged in enough ‘author behaviors’ to feel like I could call myself an author.   I had been doing book launch activities, had regular discussions with my publisher, was signing my books, giving author talks, and had even run author workshops.   But it was all on the side of my main academic job.  I was not an author when I was engaged in my academic work.

After publishing Total Addiction, I wanted to take things even further.  I wanted to bridge the gap between psychology and astronomy, and translate that for a general audience in a more engaging way.  I wanted to use personal stories to share the power of the total eclipse with others.  I wanted to be an author who wrote about eclipses; rather than a researcher who studied them.   This is where the idea for Being in the Shadow was born.

I used the 2012 total eclipse in my home region as an opportunity gather research for this next project.   Following the eclipse, everyone wanted to share their stories, and I wanted to give people a place for their stories to be told.  I put  Being in the Shadow on hold, and I diverted my focus to publish my second book Totality:  The Total Eclipse of 2012 in Far North Queensland.  This was more of a souvenir book written from a community perspective.  It was my way of giving back to the community, to ensure that there was a lasting record for everyone who had experienced the total eclipse.  Again, I worked during the day while writing this project in the evenings.  I wasn’t an author – I was simply writing another passion project on the side.  The problem was that I associated being an author with the things that happen after publication, rather than the writing itself.

But after the publication of Totality in late 2013, my life fell apart.  I became seriously ill.  I had already started to look forward to all the author things – a launch party, promoting my talk, speaking events, author workshops.  Yet I was physically not well enough to do anything, and  I could no longer even function.  There was nothing to mark launch day, just collapsing in an exhausted heap.  My proposed launch party had to be cancelled.  My new book just sat there, in boxes.  To this day, Totality is a little like a ghost book to me – I wasn’t an author writing it; and I could do the author things after publication.

Anyone who has ever experienced changes in neurological functioning will know the fear of not being able to return to your former self.  For a while, I thought I was never going to be able to return to a working life at all.    It has actually taken me a good few years to get properly back on my feet again.  Whereas in the past I could complete multiple projects while also working full time, I had to slowly build up focusing only on one thing at a time.  And that one thing was eclipses.  It was my passion for sharing the eclipse experience that really got me through some dark days.  Now that I’m cognitively back up to speed (physically there is still some issues), I’ve been able to again work on multiple projects.  Instead of writing on the side, writing became my main focus.  I had finally learned that to write is to be an author.  Writing about eclipses was no longer something I did on the side – I wanted it to become my main focus.

In the year it has taken me to write Being in the Shadow, I have been able to embrace the fact that I am an author.

I love the process of writing, and now I love calling myself an author.  I have joined writer groups, have run more author workshops, and engage in what I consider to be author behavior.  And now I have just published my third book.  Today.  It is a great achievement for me, on so many levels.  Today, I am an author.  I feel proud that I have been able to write a book that is written for a general audience – and is not academic in nature.  Narrative non-fiction is a new style of writing for me, and I have a lot to learn. Having my psychology background, and using a phenomenological approach, are the reasons why this book is so unique.  I can go deep into people’s experiences, and help to share their stories.   It is through personal stories that we truly understand.

This time, I am going to make sure that I enjoy the achievement of publishing my third book.  There will be a launch party – not today, but soon.  There will be events, and author activities.  There will be book promotions, and signings.  All the things I was not ready to do with book one; and not able to do after publishing book two.   Today, I am an author who writes about eclipses.