Ana María Rodríguez

Science, nature, history, and outstanding people

Selected Works

Science, Nature, Intermediate school readers
They live in the most extreme places on earth. How do they survive?
Memoirs and Biographies
An inspirational memoir of the highest ranking woman in the martial art of Kuk Sool Won. (teens and up)
Science, Intermediate school readers
Pinguins puke (their chicks love it!), chameleons have a super tongue, alligators have good "feelings," a master of disguise, and how to catch a rainbow! Five fascinating animal secrets and how scientists uncovered them.
What is the secret of the sleepless whales?Join the scientists and their animal partners in a amazing adventure that will reveal the secrets of these amazing aquatic mammals! Find out... (middle-school and up)
It doesn't look cool and it doesn't feel pleasant, but it rules everything you do. The brain is the most intriguing and still mysterious organ in the body. Follow fellow classmate Mark through a regular day and see how his brain makes it possible for him to learn, feel pain, get stressed, and have fun. (middle school and up)
The fascinating life of the 19th Century British doctor who discovered the first safe vaccine against smallpox, the most deadly disease of his time.

The Iron butterfly blog


March 18, 2018

Tags: Book pipeline, Iron Butterfly

Great news for Iron Butterfly! It is one of three finalists on the 2017 Book Pipeline Competition. Master Harmon and I are very happy about this honor for the book; Iron Butterfly stood out among nearly 2,000 submissions.

A Korean Mermaid

September 11, 2011

Tags: Korean women, Iron Butterfly, Choon Ok Harmon, Japan, Ana Maria Rodriguez

"The True Story of a Mermaid's Daughter."
"They arrived on the mainland dripping wet,seasick,and scared.
They had lost everything they had brought back home to start a new life.They landed in Korea with nothing.They had no money, no clothes, no utensils, no furniture, nothing. Going back home turned out to be much harder than they had anticipated. They traveled back to Koje Do and lived with Mom ’s family for a while.Once again, Mom used her diving expertise to bring money home.There were many other haenyo like Mom trying to make a living from harvesting what the sea provided, but this was not a problem.Sea food was abundant in Koje Do; there was plenty for all the people in the village....Things went well for a while until Dad took a wrong turn with his life. He went back to his old habits.He became demanding and impatient... The situation slowly grew out of hand. Mom felt trapped."
This is a short excerpt of "The Iron Butterfly." Read more on the links on the right.

Dive like a haenyo (sea woman)

August 13, 2011

Tags: memoirs, reviews, iron butterfly, writing, editing, free divers, choon ok harmon, ana maria rodriguez, biographies

I invest heart and soul in all my books. Each book project becomes an ocean in which I completely submerge myself from beginning to end. I take a deep breath and dive into that imaginary body of water (I am Pisces, right?) from the moment I conceive the idea, through the planning stages, the bibliographic research, the interviews, and the photo research. Then I break the surface and take another deep breath. The next dive is for writing,and re-re-re-writing. This time the water gets murky, very cold, and creatures from the deep editing depths emerge and chase me toward deeper, darker waters where I struggle to make sense of the load of materials I collected. Thankfully, the sun rises every day, so I know that if I accept the challenge of the abyss, there is hope I will eventually reach clear, sunny waters with a book on my hands worth showing to my readers. So when reviewer Wrapped in Foil writes that The Iron Butterfly is "Mesmerizing.This memoir is an inspiring testament to the strength of one woman’s spirit that will stick with you long after reading it," I feel that diving like a haenyo (sea woman) was worth it. Thank you, Roberta! Click on the book cover on the left to read Wrapped in Foil's review.

True Experts

August 6, 2011

Tags: the iron butterfly, choon ok harmon, daniel radcliffe, ana maria rodriguez, dyspraxia, dyslexia, women memoirs, ACL, knee ligaments, sport's injuries, knee injuries, inspirational story, true experts, martial arts

The day I tore my ACL, an important ligament of the knee, my life took a turn for the worst. I have always been physically active. I played basketball in middle- and high-school and was a member of the swim team. I played tennis and racket ball for fun. My friends and I hiked and went to the beach on weekends. We roller-skated on the quite streets of my best friend's neighborhood wearing metal-wheeled skates strapped to our sneakers. Good old memories! During and after my college time I was a dedicated member of an aerobics club, wearing in-fashion leg warmers and thighs. (I still have some, but, no, I don’t wear them!)
So I was no stranger to injuries. Ankle sprains, pulled muscles, bruises, bumps, and a broken bone on my left foot are part of my repertoire of injuries. All these injuries, however, heal on their own. The body repairs the damage in time, swelling goes down, and pain eventually disappears. Even the bone rebuilds itself cell-by-cell to rejoin the broken parts together.
But a torn ACL belongs in different category. It won't heal on its own rejoining the parts split apart by brute force. And once the swelling went down and the pain disappeared, what remained was an unstable knee that did not fully support my active lifestyle. Ten years before the ACL injury I had added martial arts, Kuk Sool Won (KSW), to my list of activities. I could practice with a torn knee ligament, but had limitations. I would have to be more careful during jumps and knee bends. The injury took a great deal of joy out of my Kuk Sool practice. Would I have surgery to fix it or would I stay with a wobbling knee? (more…)

You have not read anything like this before! The Iron Butterfly is the True Story of a Mermaid's Daughter

July 2, 2011

Tags: iron butterfly, choon ok harmon, ana maria rodriguez, mermaid's daughter, women martial arts memoirs, Korean women, women free divers, dyspraxia, dyslexia, inspirational stories, motivational stories

Very few stories are about women who quietly achieve great things. These women believe their story is not important to others than her and maybe her immediate family and friends. They do not believe that they have achieved outstanding goals. They believe their patience and perseverance was simply blessed with luck. Sometimes, these women are ashamed of what they had to go through in life and do not want others to know. But when an outsider learns about what they have done, how they have done it, and the immense dedication and resolution these women must have within to achieve a better life, then outsiders are in awe and wonder, what would I have done if I had been in her shoes? When the outsider is a writer who wants to share with the world the good things its inhabitants have to offer, then the writer must write these women's stories.
Lucky I was one day when I met one of these outstanding women. She is the martial arts instructor of my sons. She did not want her personal story to become public. She did not want anybody to know about the endless obstacles she had to overcome and her most traumatic personal secrets. Finally, she agreed to place her concerns aside and tell me her story and we have written a book together. She told me her story, and I wrote it. On March 2011 we will celebrate the 6th anniversary of the beginning of our project with the release of her book. We are thrilled!

Her name is Choon-Ok Harmon and she was born in a time and place where a woman's destiny was determined by tradition. She did not want that destiny to be hers. Her dramatic childhood experiences had convinced her the hard way that life had to be better than being hungry, extremely cold, and worrying for her personal safety all the time. She did not know how, but she would find a way to live better when she grew up. And she did. But she did it in a way so unusual, so against tradition that it proves that real life stories are many times better than fiction. She is living proof that 'when there is a will, there is a way.' I have been changed by her story; by the experience of knowing her deeply inside. My problems seem tiny compared to hers. I feel inspired to find a solution to the obstacles life presents along my journey. As she says, "Just do what you have to do!" I have invested a lot of me in this project, and now that the book is almost out, I know the journey will continue ahead. I think this is one of those stories that deserves to be heard, even better, it deserves to be listened to. We have set up a website for the book, ( ) or you can click on my own website link: And we have a lovely book cover! Thank you and I hope to receive your feedback! AMR
PS. Yes, she is a 'mermaid's daughter'. Check the following post to learn more about Choon Ok harmon's mother, the mermaid.

The Mermaid's Daughter

February 17, 2011

Tags: Choon-ok harmon, the iron butterfly, women martial arts memoirs

At the end of my previous post I promised to tell you why The Iron Butterfly’s subtitle is "The True Story of a Mermaid's Daughter." Obviously, her mother was a "mermaid," which in the South Korean island where Choon-Ok was born was another name for "sea woman." Choon-Ok's mother was called a "mermaid" (more…)