Welcome to Love of Place. Most of my work celebrates our connection to the natural world.

Most recently, my Knocking on Heaven's Door is the winner in the category of science fiction in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards and in the category of fiction in the 2016 Arizona Authors Association Awards. A number of reviewers have been enthusiastic, including the website Geeks of Doom, which makes me smile. Not many people know me as a geek of doom! But I am happy to embrace the complexity of my personality.

I'm also so pleased that Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World has been awarded the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, as well as the 2014 WILLA Award for Creative Nonfiction from Women Writing the West.

My historical fantasy Teresa of the New World won the 2015 Arizona Authors Association Award for best Children's Literature and was a finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Children's Literature, the WILLA Award for Children's Literature, and the May Sarton Award for Children's Literature.

These are nice landmarks in a writer's life. I would be writing regardless--but, still, whew. It's good to have some encouragement.

Feel free to contact me at http://www.sharmanaptrussell.com or through my author Facebook page, Sharman Apt Russell.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

From a short essay in Terrain.org's Letter to America series:

In the new landscape of America, with the ground shifting under our feet, we will each choose the issues more important to us. They are not competitive. I believe deeply that all these social concerns are one concern. I believe we cannot—we must not—pit national problems against international problems or tax reform against climate change or immigration policy against sexism or education against hunger. We cannot divide up the world like that or let ourselves be divided.

Because I have only so much time and resources in my personal life, I have decided to begin with one issue which I can burrow down into. One issue that I will research and know and examine thoughtfully and deeply and make my own. For many reasons, I am choosing the issue of our foreign aid to the world’s two billion poorest. I will be watching closely what happens in the area of USAID, and I will advocate for programs that do good rather than harm. I will advocate for an understanding of all our connections to the world. An understanding of our larger self-interest, as well as our moral imperative.

I will be standing right next to people who have chosen other issues equally central to what needs to be done today. I see us all standing together now, shoulder to shoulder, not competing with each other but raising one voice, one song with many harmonies. Or, to use another metaphor—in Malawi, there is a saying: Mutu umodzi susenza denga. One head cannot hold up a roof. In the building of a home, the last step is for a group of villagers to lift up together the thatched roof onto the walls of burnt-mud bricks. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The powerful rising up of protests and marches worldwide made me go back to some photos of the women and children I met in Malawi in October. We are all here together, thrown into this amazing existence. We stand together against those who would divide and diminish us.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thoughts from walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain and from my essay in the collection Inspired Journeys (Wisconsin University Press, 2016) on traveling: "We were walking, after all, through yellow gorse and purple heather. We were following a scallop shell through eucalyptus, oak, fern, vineyards of delicate curling green. We stood in buildings nearly animate with age and use. The breath-taking beauty of the world. Beauty beating at us from all sides. Beauty and culture and history and privilege and conquest and suffering and loss. Beating at us. And the monkey mind running back and forth. The monkey mind jerking at its chain: the sacred music and the monkey-grinder music. Arguing with your husband, irritable with your friends, doubtful of your worth. Tired of yourself. And worried about those hips, too. The frailty of flesh, the loosening of fleshy parts.

Wasn’t this like every day of my life? “Isn’t every day a spiritual quest?” I asked the friend I was walking with. And every day open to transcendence? How that golden light illumines a field of grass? How the furred hills lie down gentle as sleeping animals, and the rain brushes your face in a moment of requited love? The ritual greeting: buen camino. Could these weeks of walking be anything less?"

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Very pleased that my Knocking on Heaven's Door is the winner in the science fiction category of the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards, as well as being the winner in the category of fiction in the Arizona Authors Association Book Awards. Knocking on Heaven's Door is a thought experiment about panpsychism--the idea that matter is permeated with consciousness (mind or, perhaps, spirit). It's an idea I keep thinking about.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The men and women from the village of Chisangano, Malawi come out to greet Peter and me and the staff from Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities. We also have a wonderful video of me dancing with them. Those of you who know me well know how much I love to dance! But the documentary guy I hired to accompany me everywhere (okay, Peter, my husband, to whom I gave my little Nikon camera) didn’t turn off the video (I don’t really know how to do that either) and so that video is twelve minutes long, with ten minutes in total darkness, filming the inside of his pocket. These small-holder farmers also showed us their fields and talked about how they were getting increased yields with new practices of intercropping and burying the remains of some crops like cow peas into the soil. They are withstanding the current food emergency because they have adopted new agricultural practices and are providing their children and themselves a more diverse diet. We stopped to sing many times this day.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

What We Talk About When We Talk About Weather

You say, “It’s hot!” and mean “Is it hotter than it was last year?” You say it’s hotter than it was last year and mean “I take too many plane trips. I let the water run when I brush my teeth.” You say there was hardly any snow pack this winter and mean “The children of my grandchildren will be refugees selling seed cakes from a stall by the road.”

You say “spring” and mean “I hope there are bees left in the world.” You say “summer” and mean a certain science fiction movie. You say “fall” and mean something is falling from your fingers and you are letting it slip to the floor and you don’t know how to stop that and you don’t even know what “it” is. There’s nothing you can feel in your hand.

You say “Beautiful day” and mean “This moment is all we have.” You say “wind” and mean the old god. You say “weather” and mean grace.

You remember when talking about the weather used to be code for nothing important to talk about.

But the person you are talking to is too young to remember that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We need good views. I suppose I mean this politically and socially—as well as just the usual drop-dead gorgeous landscape of the Southwest I love very much, those red rocks and blue skies and drifting white cumulus clouds. I suppose I mean interior views, too. We need to look inside and see the beauty and complexity that we also see outside in the world of mountains and plants and animals and microbes. Because we are that world, too. We are not separate. We need good views, and we have plenty of them, and we need, sometimes, to just stop and stare.