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“Who Pooped in the Cascades” took a silver medal in the Moonbeam Book Awards!

Moonbeam silver medalUntil ten minutes ago, I had no idea that my most recent Who Pooped in the Park book was being considered for a Moonbeam award. Then I opened my email to find that Who Pooped in the Cascades has won the silver medal in the nonfiction/animals category! According to Independent Publisher, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Isn’t that the goal of everyone involved in creating books for children?

An award like this one means a lot to an author of children’s books. The slogan on the medal says, “celebrating youthful curiosity, discovery, and learning through books and reading.” That is exactly why we write. The Who Pooped series is all about curiosity and discovery — my intent in creating it was to engage reluctant readers and kids with a minimal connection to nature and science. How better to interest them in nature than through a giggle?

When I started writing these books, it was my first foray into mainstream writing. All of my previous books were highly specialized; they weren’t the kind of books you’d find in a general bookstore. I didn’t have very high expectations for that first kids’ book (the Yellowstone edition of Who Pooped in the Park?), and my publisher (Farcountry Press) hadn’t dealt with many children’s books before. Review copies weren’t submitted to publications like Publisher’s Weekly, and it wasn’t promoted to schools or libraries. Who would have thought that this summer we’d sell our 100,000th copy of that first book?

Now, 18 books later, the series is gaining mainstream acceptance. I wrote a few months ago about the Cascades book being a finalist for the High Plains Book Awards, and winning a Moonbeam award makes everything suddenly more tangible.

Thank you to all of you that have read and enjoyed my books. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy them in the future!

Random thoughts at a book signing

It’s Sunday, July 6, 2014. I’m at Old Faithful Inn signing copies of the Yellowstone edition of Who Pooped in the Park? People show up in spurts here. When the Old Faithful geyser is about to erupt, the lobby is almost empty. Right after the eruption, it teems with people. The cell service here is spotty at best (doesn’t work for me at all), so I’m jotting down thoughts in my notebook when I’m not busy. Here’s a sampling of them.

  1. Hmmm. There’s no WiFi here. I think I’ll set up a WiFi hotspot on my cellphone. I did this last year, too. Every time someone turns on their phone/iPad/computer and looks for a WiFi network, they’ll see this:
    Who Pooped WiFi network
  2. That woman was headed right for my table. She made eye contact. She looked at the sign. She looked at the books. And then her friend stopped her and pointed out something else. HEY! What are you doing? That’s a potential sale right there. Don’t distract her!
  3. This is probably the strangest thing I’ll hear today. A couple walked up and the man said, “You might want to file a police report. My wife wants to steal that radiator in the hallway.”
  4. Approximately 34,000 people have walked up to my table and asked me when Old Faithful will erupt next. Here’s a picture of me at my table. Want to guess when the next eruption is? As Bill Engvall might say, “Here’s your sign.”
    Who Pooped Old Faithful sign
  5. If you buy a fountain drink in the deli, they offer free refills all day! That works nicely when you’re sitting in the lobby for 6 hours (today) or 8 hours (tomorrow).
  6. Sometimes, when I say “howdy,” people respond and walk over to the table to see what’s going on. Sometimes they:
    Carefully avoid eye contact,
    Say, “I already bought one,” and keep moving,
    Find a quick distraction (“ooh, shiny!”), or
    Nod and walk faster.
  7. Fashion faux pas of the day: a checkered cowboy shirt with a bright multicolored bowtie.
  8. Closing my day with a smile. A young lady (high school? college? I can’t tell anymore) walked up and looked at my book sign. She then looked at me, said “Who Pooped in the Park?”, threw her hands in the air, did a little curtsy, and in a perfect Valley Girl voice, said “eeeeeverybody!”

Day Two

  1. My first customer of the day bought one book. The second customer bought two. The third customer bought four. The pattern broke there.  I was hoping it would continue. Twenty customers and I could retire. Don’t bother me with logistics.
  2. A woman walked by with her son (Or somebody else’s 12-year-old. I don’t know.) and said, “Who Pooped in the Park? Is his name in it?” I responded, “It could be!”
  3. I have a sign on the table saying “100,000 copies sold” (referring to the Yellowstone edition — the whole series is pushing 400,000 copies now). A family bought a book, and as they were walking away, one of the kids turned to me and said, “Now you can change your sign to say 100,001 copies sold!”
  4. Book signing tip: Don’t make assumptions about who looks like they’ll buy a book. That high school girl could have a little brother. That big burly biker could be a grandfather. Every single person that walks by the table is a potential customer.
  5. I have a bunch of thoughts about something I’ll call the “intimidation zone,” but I’m going to save that for its own post.
  6. This lobby is one of the coolest places in the world to sign books.

TEDx Talk Details. Vague details, but details nonetheless.

When I first wrote about the talk I’m giving at TEDxBozeman, there wasn’t really a lot to say about it. My application had just been accepted. The details weren’t nailed down. The lineup hadn’t been posted. Things were quite preliminary.

TEDxBozeman logo

Today, I know quite a bit more, but I’m not allowed to ruin the surprise. The TEDxBozeman website has bios for all of us, but it still doesn’t list details about our talks. We are, in fact, forbidden to publish our slides or outlines beforehand. But there are a few things I can tell you!

The event

Tickets are sold out. If you haven’t purchased a ticket yet, you’re out of luck. You can, however, still be a virtual attendee. All of TEDxBozeman will be streamed live on Livestream next Friday, March 21, 2014. The event link is The theme is “Pioneer Spirit.” The schedule is approximate, as this is a live event, and nothing ever goes as planned, so I can’t tell you the length or start time of any given talk. Here’s what do know:

TEDxBozeman begins at 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday, March 21. If you’re connecting to the stream online, do it early.

My talk will begin at approximately 2:50. If you wish to watch, I recommend connecting at least ten minutes before that, just to be safe.

My TEDx talk

The title of my talk is, “Does Closed Captioning Still Serve Deaf People?” In the talk, I will briefly explore the history and development of closed captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and look at where it’s heading. For more details, you’ll have to tune in and listen!

TEDx Cover Slide

My cover slide might look something like this.
But then again, it might not!

If you don’t have a ticket to the event and you’re unable to connect to the live stream, fear not! You’ll be able to find my talk, along with the others from TEDxBozeman, on at some point. When it’s there, I’ll make sure and post the details here.

I will drop one teaser about the content. The FCC made a new ruling about captioning quality last month. It necessitated a number of changes to my talk.


Well, this is a bit embarrassing. I am speaking about accessibility, and my talk will not be closed captioned live. I just couldn’t get things worked out. I promise you, however, that I will do everything in my power to make sure that when it hits and YouTube, there will be captions on it!


Closed Captioning HandbookOne of my favorite independent bookstores, Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, will be selling books at the event, and each presenter was allowed to choose one book: our own if we’ve written one, or someone else’s if it inspired us. I chose The Closed Captioning Handbook (duh), but fate — and my publisher — seem to have worked against me.

When The Closed Captioning Handbook became a textbook, the price shot up. The publisher, Focal Press, has made the book available through the mainstream distributors that bookstores buy from, but it is nonreturnable. This basically means that no bookstore other than a campus bookstore or specialty broadcast industry bookstore would ever stock it. Understandably, Country Bookshelf doesn’t want the possibility of ending up stuck with a stack of unsold $75.00 textbooks after the event.

Never one to give up an opportunity, I came up with an alternative. If we can’t have my primary closed captioning book for sale at the event, we’ll use one of my other books. And so, my friends, even though I’ll be talking about closed captioning, the Gary Robson book at TEDxBozeman will be the Yellowstone National Park edition of Who Pooped in the Park?, because poop books are always appropriate, right?

If you do wish to buy a copy of The Closed Captioning Handbook, Country Bookshelf can order one for you. If you don’t live near Bozeman and won’t be attending the event, you can order one from my store, Red Lodge Books & Tea. If you buy a Who Pooped book at the event, catch me afterward and I’ll be happy to sign it.

Upcoming Appearances 2014

This spring and summer is lining up to have a wildly eclectic set of public appearances for me! So far, I have things scheduled all across my areas of expertise: book signings, a TED talk about captioning, and a tea blogger’s panel at World Tea Expo.

Upcoming Appearances Header


TEDxBozeman logo

Join me at TEDxBozeman on Friday, March 21 for a day of celebrating Pioneer Spirit with an amazing lineup of speakers. My talk is entitled “Does Closed Captioning Still Serve Deaf People?” I’ll be exploring the history and roots of closed captioning and look at the progress it has made, the pitfalls it has encountered, and where it might be going. As of this writing, tickets are still available, but they’ve sold out pretty quickly the last few years, so if you want to be at the talks in Bozeman, Montana, you’ll want to snag those tickets quickly. It will, of course, be streamed as well, and the talks will be available as individual videos on the TED website.

I wrote a while ago on this blog about my talk and included links to some of my favorite TED talks. I’ll add a link here when I post more details about the talk.

Tea Bloggers Roundtable @ World Tea Expo

Tea Bloggers Roundtable

If you have any interest in tea, head for Long Beach on Friday, May 30. I will be joining a group of other tea bloggers for a panel discussion about the world of tea. There is more detail on my other blog, Tea With Gary.

Book Signings in Yellowstone

Who Pooped? Yellowstone

I will be signing “Who Pooped in the Park?” books at Yellowstone Stage (the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park) Sunday July 6 from 1:00 to 6:00 and Monday July 7 from 11:00 to 6:00.

A new book, and a state-by-state look at the series

NOTE: The information in this post is obsolete, but it’s all been brought up to date in a new post from 2017.

My 23rd book — 18th in the Who Pooped? series — is now officially out. In the beginning, each book in the series was for a specific national park, and most of those national parks were tucked securely in a single state (Yellowstone does span three states, however). As the series progressed, the books covered more ecosystems than specific parks, and sometimes those covered multiple states. That got me thinking: what states does this series cover?

Who Pooped Map 2013

So far, the series covers 18 states in 18 books — a coincidence, since some books cover multiple states and some states have multiple books. The number of national parks, national conservation areas, national monuments, national recreation areas, and national forests is significantly larger than that. I haven’t compiled that list lately. A project for another day!









New Mexico



South Dakota







So, given that my publisher is most interested in covering well-traveled areas, what do you think should come next? The next one is pretty well decided, although we’re not announcing it until a contract is signed. What should the 20th book be? I’d love to hear some feedback?

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