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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 12, 2012

Melinda Mackesey explores the Adirondacks in a book written for families

ALTAMONT — Local educator Melinda Mackesey is promoting her newly-published book that shares her love of the Adirondack region with young readers and their families.

Mackesey finished Adirondack Exploration for Kids and Families: History, Discovery, and Fun 18 months ago. Her publisher, The History Press, made the book available just after Thanksgiving last November.

“It’s been quite an adventure. The marketing aspect — I never gave a thought,” she said.

Her book is stocked in Adirondack shops like the Blue Mountain Museum in Blue Mountain Lake (Hamilton Co.) and The Wild Center in Tupper Lake (Franklin Co.). Mackesey signed copies in Lake Placid over Christmas.

Locally, her book can be found at the Little Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza, and in shops at the Albany airport and the Albany-Rensselaer train station. Adirondack Exploration for Kids and Families is also listed at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com.

Mackesey finished her education degree at The College of Saint Rose in 2007. A portion of her book that describes tourism in the Adirondacks was published in The Enterprise last summer. Readers responded to her, she said, and shared their own memories of the region.

Mackesey approached two large publishers who declined her manuscript. Hudson Valley Community College professor Joseph Cardillo suggested that she look in local stores for books of the same genre and contact those publishers, Mackesey said.

She followed his advice and received offers from two publishers. The History Press contacted her first, she said.

“This was their first children’s book they’ve ever published,” Mackesey said.

According to an online description, The History Press has found a niche published the work of local history buffs who often have years of research already done. The company runs orders of 1,000 books at a time and places them in local bookshops and community tourism locations.

Mackesey’s book includes facts, charts, and historical pictures of the region. Puzzles and suggested activities introduce older children to New York State history. Mackesey also includes memories from her many trips to the region.

“I grew up out in Fulton County…at the hills of the Adirondacks, on a dairy farm,” she told The Enterprise. She remembers water skiing and frequent camping excursions. Relatives’ camps, 4-H camps, and hikes to fire towers inspired her work, she said.

“A lot of it is the old childhood brought into the book,” she said.

One of the family activities described in her book is the construction of a camping lean-to — a structure common in the Northeast and in the Adirondacks.

“It’s something I did in my backyard when I was a kid,” Mackesey said. Asked if she spent the night in a backyard lean-to as a child, she said, “Until 1 a.m. Then, we headed into the house.” 

Mackesey remembered bringing bologna sandwiches along on their trips north.

“There was no McDonalds on every corner,” she said. “There was no Subway.”

Mackesey, 47, still camps in the Adirondacks with her husband, Tim, and her daughter, Shannon. The family has lived in Altamont for 16 years. Now, they head to Moffit Beach in Speculator (Hamilton Co.).

“If anybody wants to consider writing a book,” she said, “it’s in anybody’s abilities.” What is essential to would-be writers, she said, is this: “A subject you truly love and you can put your whole heart into it.”

— By Jo E. Prout

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