This children’s book tells the story of how the small village in Oak Creek Canyon was named for Lisa’s great-grandmother, Sedona Schnebly. Twenty-one original oil paintings bring the tale to gorgeous life. Artist Trevor Swanson revisited where the pioneer Schneblys homesteaded, built road and washed clothes, creating accurate visions of landscape and life. “I wanted Trevor to do the artwork because his skies are incredible and his animals have expression – I knew he would make each page come alive,” says Lisa. The book won “Best Book of the Year” from the Arizona Publishing Association.
Excerpt: "I love coming down to the creek and riding up Schnebly Hill Road. I pretend I'm Sedona on horseback, taking my husband his lunch. I love looking up at the ravens in the sky, and wondering if their great-great-grandparents knew my great-great-grandparents. If you come to the town called Sedona, maybe we can pretend to be pioneers together."
This was Lisa’s first foray into the world of books after doing newspaper columns for 15 years. “At first I was intimidated by the idea, but when I broke it down into 1,000-word blocks, it was a series of columns,” she says, “and it made me see my birthplace in a whole new light.” From the opening description of a summer monsoon moving over the Catalina mountains to the final reflection on who comes to Tucson and who chooses to stay, Lisa captures the unique character of the Old Pueblo as it moves into the future without losing its roots.
Excerpt: "To experience Tucson, you must witness one of its monsoons. The overture for this symphony of storm is a breeze, rustling and snapping branches as its intensity grows. Now become a ruthless wind, it evicts rattling tumbleweeds and dusty underbrush from the desert. The temperature can drop 15 degrees in 15 minutes, although if you watch the thermometer on the fence, you miss the advancing army of dramatic clouds. The wind just gives the bugle call heralding the arrival everyone's been waiting for. Over the mountains, or just sweeping across the open sky, the troops come as one: thick heavy thunderclouds, charcoal grey and ready with their relentless arsenal of rain."
More than 200 historical photos accompany this conversational history of the town of Sedona, part of the “Images of America” series. Lisa drew on family stories as well as documents and oral histories preserved by the Sedona Historical Society. Everything from the first vineyard in Oak Creek Canyon to what some critics called Elvis Presley’s weakest movie are included, as well as an overarching view of Sedona’s pioneers, tourism industry and arts movement. Her favorite part of writing this was seeing photographs of her great-grandmother’s life she didn’t know existed, including one of the early grave of Sedona’s daughter Pearl.
Excerpt: "Her friend Ruth Jordan recalled that the night before Sedona died, a huge thunderstorm drove everyone inside, and they were surprised to hear a knock at the door between booming echoes of thunder. There stood T.C., looking soaked and tired. He said Sedona had heard that Helen’s father was ailing, and nothing would do but that she write him a get-well card for T.C. to deliver. Sedona died that night, November 13, 1951. Although she tended her gardens until the end, and loved taking flowers to church, adjusting each bloom, she had told T.C. she didn’t want flowers for her funeral. “They were here on earth,” said her daughter Margaret. 'She said she wanted a bell, because that would peal through the heavens.' A staunch member of the Wayside Chapel, Sedona inspired a collection for a bell that her son Hank went to purchase, while Ellsworth found a carpenter. By Christmas, Sedona’s bell was installed. 'Dad loved to ring that for her,' said Margaret. 'And he always rang it on Mother’s Day.' "
Written with co-author and fellow Arizona aficionado Fred DuVal, this book explores who lives in different parts of the state, and why. DuVal proposed the idea after working in the White House introduced him to communitarianism, the science of what defines a sense of belonging to a place. Travelling back roads to small communities, the two authors collected stories: early miners, the first residents of Lake Havasu, people keeping Route 66 alive for tourists, descendents of Mormon pioneers, and the future civic leaders of the Valley. What surprised them most was finding out the communities they had thought the most appealing also faced the greatest challenges.
Excerpt: "So this book is a collection of facets, not a three-dimensional model of the entire jewel. What we’ve done is dip into various currents of the state’s population, and then discuss and compare and commiserate about the community we’ve visited. We’ve driven up corkscrew hills to look out over small downtowns, navigated rutted cemetery paths to get a sense of citizens gone before, and learned, at every turn, more about places we thought we already knew rather well. Then we wrote, taking turns based on our strengths and backgrounds. After each draft, the first writer waited nervously while the other reviewed the pages, and sighed with relief each time the feedback was, “You said what I thought.” All of this was done knowing it cannot be completely captured, but wanting so much to contribute to the body of work that hints at, points to, tries to explain, Arizona."
Of her books so far, this one goes deepest in Lisa’s heart, because it includes not only stories of Arizona, but also her own reactions and reflections. Essays for each week of the year share a lifetime’s work in journalism, from the title essay about a Navajo entrepreneur who used to use a teepee as advertising, to memories of a beloved custodian who delighted in Bible verses and tales of Woofsie, Texas. A poignant story of a purchase at a prison store, tales of a giant chicken, floods and fire make this book a feast of words. Lisa’s reflections on the woman who gave birth alone at Lee’s Ferry, Ed Abbeys’ reactions to pilgrims, and Percival Lowell’s legacy are memorable and bring aspects of the state to vibrant life.
Excerpt: "It's too bad Emma Lee didn't sense a comforting destiny brushing her skirts when she served breakfast to John Wesley Powell's team, or know that her bravery would be documented when she faced a group of unfriendly Paiutes by bringing her children and bedding down the camp and sleeping there as a show of trust. Her daily courage came in carrying water to the last little tree after the rest withered because it wasn't in her to quit; putting out breakfast for children without worrying out loud whether their father was returning, or even alive; washing and nursing and teaching and singing in an alien place because this is where the husband pronounced home."