Local Author Spotlight // Melissa Marsted

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Melissa Marsted, the author and creative leader behind Lucky Penny Publications (which now includes three imprints: Lucky Penny Press, Silver Dollar Press and Wildlife Adventures for Young Readers), has written a total of 4 books, with 3 more books on the way to publication. Marsted was first inspired to write by her 2nd grade teacher, at the young age of 7. From then on she avidly brought journals on family camping vacations to take notes and typed up her version of the trip afterwards. Even with the passing of time, Marsted still writes daily. “Whether it be for an upcoming book or for personal enjoyment,” Marsted says, “she simply loves to write.“

Marsted grew up in Canton, Connecticut, and to this day her parents still live in the same childhood home she grew up in! Marsted attended college at Harvard, where she received a degree in Classical Greek. Originally, Marsted thought she would be teaching ancient languages, but ended up moving to New York City after graduation with two friends on a whim, with no career plan in mind. One of her first jobs while in New York City was writing grants for non-profits. She worked fund-raising, development and grant writing for various non-profits from 1988 to 2008.

After living in New York City, Marsted decided to move to Santa Barbara, California. She was there from 1991 to 2013. In 2008, her house was burned in the Santa Barbara Tea Fire. It was a devastating tragedy for the entire community. Marsted never let that set her back because 3 years later, in 2011, she built a website for Lucky Penny Press and a year later filed an LLC for it. In 2013, Marsted moved to Park City, Utah. While in Utah, Marsted has had the chance to explore the national parks and the surrounding states for inspiration for her books. 

Marsted wrote her first children's book in 2002. Her inspiration was sparked when her oldest son was turning eight. She gave him a hot air balloon lego set and remembers being curious about the origins of hot air balloons. To her surprise, two French brothers invented the hot air balloon and took their first flight in 1783 in Versailles with a duck, rooster and sheep. That was where the idea for her first book came into being. Inspired by this back story, Marsted wrote The King’s Balloon

As time passed and Marsted’s two boys were off to college, she was “with a quiet house” and her creativity was coming back while in Park City. She was encouraged by her friends to try an ultra marathon, so having always been an athlete she decided to register for a 50k in Oregon in October, then another 50k at Antelope Island in November. Marsted said the longer runs were the times she could let her mind wander and enjoy the scenery. 

Something unique Marsted does during each of her runs is pick up coins. Marsted said, “I have picked up coins on my runs for years and have found them in the most peculiar places.” During her 50k run at Antelope Island, she picked up a quarter. Pennies and quarters have always been meaningful to Marsted during her runs. Pennies have taught her to trust and quarters usually have a national park on one side, which is where Marsted believes the initial vision for her national park books came into fruition. 

Marsted is still living in Park City, where she is enjoying the outdoors and mountain weather. She is excited about the upcoming books that she is currently working on. She “believes in raising the bar when using vocabulary for children,” and sees her books as an engaging way for children to learn about nature, animals and our national parks.

Marsted’s current list of books available on the Lucky Penny Publications website and Amazon:

Books in the Wildlife Adventure for Young Readers Series:

Buzzy and the Red Rock Canyons: Utah’s National Parks

Casey Cruises California: California’s Nine National Parks 

Tiny's Grand Adventure (Nevada, AZ, NM and Texas)

The Secret Life of Phil (South Dakota)

Coming this summer:

The Tale of Five Pikas

Sadie's Search for Truth and Beauty in the Desert Southwest

Other children's books:

Emily and the Shackleford Horses

Monty's First Winter (available at The Montage)

Pablito and the Speckled Bear

The King's Balloon

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