Why I Wrote “Geronimo the Frog”
When my daughter Elisha was a little girl, I created “Geronimo the Frog” as a bedtime story. She and her friends loved the story so much that I decided I should write it down, but I never seemed to get around to it. Years later, while on a business trip to Las Vegas, I was yanked out of a deep sleep at 1:00 AM with this message burning in my mind: “STOP PROCRASTINATING! WRITE THE GERONIMO STORY NOW!” Unable to sleep, I started writing. Finally, around four o’clock in the morning, the first draft of Geronimo the Frog was completed and I was “allowed” to get back to sleep.
Later that day, as I waited to board my plane back home, I sat in the Las Vegas airport contemplating the potentially arduous task of determining native American names for the Florida swamp animals who populated my story. At that time, I didn’t even remember the name of Florida’s Native American tribe (Seminole Indians). What followed was a fine example of life’s strange and wonderful synchronicities.
Ten minutes later, I boarded my plane and was seated next to a striking older lady who was wearing a large quantity of exquisite Indian jewelry. When I noticed that she was carrying a book on Indian sign language, I struck up a conversation. She related that she was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian and that she was the author of the book that she was carrying.
I told her about the strange events of the night before and described the story line of Geronimo the Frog. When I asked her if she had any suggestions for how I might find the Native American names for the characters in my book, she related that she had spent the prior week on the Seminole Indian reservation in Florida and could provide me with two Native American contacts on that reservation. She also said that it was obvious to her that our meeting was more than coincidental and that my story and our meeting must have been due to a higher inspiration and purpose. I later contacted her Seminole friends who graciously provided me with the animal names for my story. They also suggested that it might be more appropriate to name my main character after the Seminole Indian hero, Osceola (Geronimo was an Apache, who was imprisoned for a time in Florida after he was finally captured by American soldiers, before being held in Oklahoma for the remainder of his life). I chose to stick with Geronimo the Frog, since in my opinion that title has a better ring to it than my alternate title, The Brave Frog Osceola, but I did include a mention of Osceola on the second page of Geronimo.