The Front Page


“The Metamorphosis of Professor Snow” is Published in the “Bay to Ocean Journal 2022”

I’m happy to announce that my short story, “The Metamorphosis of Professor Snow,” has been published in The Bay to Ocean Journal, 2022. The Journal is the product of many talented authors and editors, all of whom are associated with The Eastern Shore Writers Association (ESWA). To find out more about this great organization, see The Journal is available through Amazon. (January, 2023)


“Mom and Dementia and Me” Available at the Pascal Senior Center

The Pascal Senior Center, located at 125 Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie, has copies of Mom and Dementia and Me. Stop by and pick up one before supplies run out! And thank you to Pascal for making these copies available. (January, 2023)


“Mom and Dementia and Me” Book Review in “OutLook by the Bay”

The Maryland-based magazine, OutLook by the Bay, contains a wonderful review of my book, “Mom and Dementia and Me,” in its 2022 holiday edition. Educator Cynthia Barry writes, “If you read just one book about caring for a loved one with dementia, you will find this one an excellent guide . . . If you are walking this journey, Leona Illig has walked it before you. Her warmhearted, straightforward, and encouraging book is essential reading.” To read the complete review, turn to page 45 after clicking on the magazine’s URL,

Thanks to Cynthia Barry, and everyone at OutLook by the Bay! Check it out! (January 2023)


Congratulations to Nature Photographer David Illig for Photo in The New York Times “Spelling Bee,” October 7, 2022

Congratulations to David! Sam Ezersky, the editor of “The Spelling Bee” in The New York Times, selected one of David’s bee photographs for the October 7, 2022, edition of his puzzle. To see the puzzle, just go to and select “games” and “spelling bee.” Have fun! 


And More Congratulations to David Illig for Having a Photo of the Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Wasp Included in a Scientific Paper (November, 2022):

In David’s own words: “15 Minutes of Fame. Some earn it by heroic deeds. I got mine by photographing a tiny ball of mud. My photo of a Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Wasp with a ball of mud in her mandibles appeared in a scientific paper that was presented last evening. To anyone who thinks this is trivial, I would argue that understanding the World is not at all a trivial thing. The original is at”

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Lifelong Learning for Seniors: Cynthia Barry’s “Grand School” and the “Out of Eden Walk”

Cynthia Barry has been conducting courses for seniors through Anne Arundel Community College’s Department of Lifelong Learning for years. Many of the courses focus on Shakespeare’s plays, the American theatre, and the literature of wisdom and wit. They are seminar-style courses rooted in her graduate studies at St. John’s College, Annapolis, where conversation centers on classic works and enduring questions. Most of Cynthia’s courses are taught at Anne Arundel County’s senior centers.

For a long  time, Cynthia wanted to build a course based on Paul Salopek’s “Out of Eden Walk.”  In 2013, Mr. Salopek embarked on a multiyear walk around the world, from Ethiopia to South America, writing about his observations on the human condition.

The “Out of Eden Walk,” since its inception, has partnered with major educational organizations, including The National Geographic. Educational resources have reached tens of thousands of students and teachers from grade school to grad school in the United States and in more than 50 countries. Cynthia has now adapted this material for her “Grand School” courses for senior citizens. The first course, “Writers on Walking: Exploring Restlessness,” was held in the spring of 2022, and the second course will be taught this fall. The “Out of Eden Walk” has spun off many additional projects, including “HomeStories,” an interactive map-based storytelling program.

To learn more about Cynthia’s efforts to produce great courses for seniors, and to find out more about Paul Salopek’s journey around the world, see her recently published article in The National Geographic magazine at To contact Cynthia with comments or questions, please email her at

Cynthia—thank you for all of your hard work! (August, 2022)

“Mom and Dementia and Me” Discussion at O’Malley Senior Center, July 21

Many thanks to the O’Malley Senior Center in Odenton for hosting a discussion on dementia, with particular emphasis on Lewy body dementia. The discussion was based on my book, Mom and Dementia and Me, which chronicles my experiences as a first-time caregiver. I’d also like to thank everyone who attended. It was a great crowd!

New OMalley

The O’Malley Flea Market is On! April 20—April 22

Don’t forget to stop by the Giant Flea Market at the O’Malley Senior Center in Odenton, Wednesday, April 20, through Friday, April 22, 8:45 am to 2 pm each day. All sorts of goods will be for sale, including my three books: The Elephant and the Bird Feeder; Thumper: Life on the Farm; and my latest, Mom and Dementia and Me. Stop by and check it out! (April, 2022)

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer for “Midwest  Book Review” writes about “Mom and Dementia and Me”: 

Mom and Dementia and Me: A Caregiver’s Journey offers an especially poignant story with facets not seen in many competing books about either dementia or caregiving. It addresses denial, evidence, coping with different stages of dementia as it progresses and changes, and life ‘after the crowd goes home.’

“These considerations juxtapose both personal revelations and practical tips for navigating the complicated world of dementia, providing readers with a blueprint of what to expect and what to do as it tells of Leona Upton Illig’s experiences caring for her mother during the throes of evolving Lewy body dementia.

“Many dementia memoirs cover its devastating effects, providing the same focuses that will be familiar to those experienced in reading the literature. Mom and Dementia and Me explores a daughter-turned-caretaker’s perspective as she navigates the special caregiving challenges of this condition, documenting a journey that presents knowledge the author wished she’d received earlier.

“Unexpectedly, it also contains humor. One doesn’t expect humor from such a serious subject, but Illig’s mother enjoyed laughter, and her intentional (and unintentional) humor, as well as her family’s ability to support and maintain it against all odds, is yet another facet that makes Mom and Dementia and Me special.

“From the necessity of obtaining legal documents to support Illig’s efforts to care for her mother as her mental condition declined to a daughter’s early (impossible) promise to her mother that they would never place her in assisted living or force her to leave her home (a promise that became increasingly difficult to keep as her mother’s dementia evolved), Illig explores all the decision-making, options, challenges, and changes that dementia brings to sufferers and the entire family.

“The advice given along the way is the information Illig would have benefited from, had she the opportunity to receive it earlier. Readers of Mom and Dementia and Me now have a chance to learn from her experience to better understand the kinds of decisions dementia brings to caregivers and families.

“This is why Mom and Dementia and Me should be in any library strong in stories of illness, health, mental health, and family interactions. It’s much more than another story of dementia. It provides a road map for caregivers struggling to find answers and understand what kinds of options face them, both now and in the future.

“Few dementia surveys on the market offer such specific insights into these choices, making Mom and Dementia and Me a winner.” (April, 2022)


 Mom and Dementia and Me is published by Secant Publishing. It is available in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon; it is also available by contacting Secant Publishing directly ( and in many other venues (ask your local bookstore for a copy). (April, 2022)

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“Thumper” Now Available at Kinder Farm Park

I’m pleased to announce that you can now buy copies of Thumper, Life on the Farm, at the Farmhouse at Kinder Farm Park in Anne Arundel County. Kinder Farm Park, in addition to being a wonderful park for families, also strives to preserve the history of farm families in our area. Thumper is proud to be a part of that effort. And while you’re there, check out the histories of some of the farm families in the county, to include the Uptons (there’s a photo book of the Upton farm for you to look at and enjoy). After being closed for 15 months because of COVID, the Farmhouse reopened to the public in June. There are lots of public activities scheduled for September. For more information and the latest schedule, please see their website, (September, 2021)



New Editions Now Available!

The second editions of The Elephant and the Bird Feeder and Thumper: Life on the Farm are now available on Amazon, in both print and e-book formats, from Three Villages Media. The first editions were published by 1st Ride Publishing.

The Elephant tells the story of three youngsters in northeast Thailand—an elephant, a parrot, and a boy—who learn to live together and face the future with confidence. Children’s Literature reviewed it and called it “a story of compassion and friendship.” It has been used in school programs in Green Gables Elementary School (Lakewood, Colorado, 2016) and in the Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students After School Program (2016). 

Thumper tells the tale of a revolution and a way of life that is disappearing. Growing up on a small tobacco farm in Maryland in the 1960s, a boy faces challenges from his family and society. In the midst of this turmoil, a dog named Thumper barges into his life: an animal with the face of a hound, the legs of a dachshund, and a tail that can’t stop wagging.

Check them out today! (April, 2020)



“The Luck of the Draw” is Now Available on “Fiction on the Web”

My short story, “The Luck of the Draw,” is now available in the February 24 edition of “Fiction on the Web,” edited by Mr. Charlie Fish. You can find it at The story is about two teenagers who find more trouble than they bargained for as they try to win the top prize at a dog show. Thank you, Mr. Fish! (February, 2020)

Congratulations to David on Another Great Photo

One of David’s photos was recently selected by Flickr for inclusion in its special “in explore” and “Photos for the Creation of Beauty Around the World” groups. The photo, of our niece, Nicole, and our dog, Clara, can be found at; or, you can view it in David’s photo stream at Check it out! (January, 2020)

Thanks to MWA and the Donald Maass Literary Agency

Many thanks to the Maryland Writers’ Association for hosting a workshop presented by Mr. Donald Maass of the Donald Maass Literary Agency on October 12. The seminar, on “The Emotional Craft of Fiction,” was both inspirational and informative. Thank you to both organizations! (October, 2019)

Winner of the Maryland DNR 2019 Photo Contest——David Illig

Congratulations to husband David Illig, who won the Maryland Department of Natural Resources 2019 Photo Contest! His photo, a close-up shot of an eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, won First Prize in the summer category as well as the Grand Prize. To see his photo, and those of all the other winners, just go to the Maryland DNR website,, and in the center of the first page click on the photo, “2019 Photo Contest Winners” (the photos rotate). Congratulations, David!

Thank You to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific

I’m proud to announce that the Astronomical Society of the Pacific chose one of my articles for inclusion in their anthology, Volume 516: Celebrating the 2017 Great American Eclipse: Lessons Learned from the Path of Totality. My story, part humor, part serious astronomy/photography, centers on the adventures of my husband, David; our friend, Gerry; and me as we journeyed from Maryland to Tennessee to observe and photograph the solar eclipse. Volume 516 includes over fifty first-hand accounts of what it was like to view and photograph the solar eclipse. The articles are written from every point of view, from the novice sky-gazer to the experienced astrophotographer. You can buy your copy, hardback or e-book, or download my article, from the ASP’s website at  Just click on “New Publications,” and then on Volume 516. Help support science education! (June, 2019)

Thank you, MWA!

Many thanks to the Maryland Writers Association for selecting one of my short stories as a winning entry in their 30th anniversary writers contest. The story has been included in an anthology, called 30 Ways to Love Maryland, which is available on Amazon. The annual MWA Conference has just concluded, and, as usual, it was a great experience. Many thanks to Eileen McIntire, our President (pictured below), and her team who worked so hard to make the conference a success. Thanks also to James Rada, Jr., writer and local historian, and Janis Wilson, writer and lecturer on the mystery and thriller genres, for their great presentations. Thank you, MWA! (March, 2019)

Thank You to Children’s Literature, LLC

Thank you, Children’s Literature, LLC! After nine years and over 500 book reviews, I am stepping down as a book critic for the company to focus on my own writing. I’d like to especially thank Marilyn, who gave me this job opportunity, and to Emily, who continued the company’s traditions and great work ethic. I learned so much about children’s books, past and present; it was an education and a pleasure working with everyone. Best of luck to Children’s Literature as it embarks on new adventures in the future! (November, 2018)


Current Book Projects:


Two teenagers from very different families find more trouble than they bargained for as they try to win the top prize at a dog show and wind up confronting social pressures and priorities. Based on my short story, “Luck of the Draw,” published by Fiction on  the Web.

Emails from Dogs

First, there was a dog. Then there were many dogs—all shapes, sizes, colors, and breeds. But they all had the same mission: to cheer up their young friend Rory, whose mother had died. There was a problem, however. The dogs lived in Maryland. Rory lived in New Jersey. How were they going to talk to each other? For photographs of the actual dogs who star in this two-book series, see the Emails from Dogs section.

Charmed City: Tales of Baltimore and Beyond

Baltimore—a city or a state of mind? In this collection of short fiction, diverse characters with their roots in Baltimore find themselves in strange and sometimes dangerous situations. From the Middle East to Asia, and from the 1800s to the distant future, the protagonists must use their intelligence, determination, and wit to survive some truly out-of-this world experiences. But why should anyone be surprised? Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!


Americans in post-war Laos must choose sides in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Ready for publication!