Monday, March 21, 2011

Introducing Space Neighbors — My New Picture Book Series!

It is Nonfiction Monday in the KidLitosphere, and I am thrilled to announce that my latest picture book series has officially launched! It's called Space Neighbors, and its 10 nonfiction titles about the solar system were a joy to work on.

The 10 books are Earth, The Sun, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Pluto and Other Dwarf Planets, Saturn, Uranus, and Venus.

This project marked my first time writing for Child's World. The work involved some fast-and-furious research — and even faster/furiouser writing. I signed my contract in July 2010 and by September 2010, all 10 manuscripts had been written, revised, approved, and shipped off to design.

I'm not sure I can even tell you what else went on in my life during the initial writing phase of the project, but let me think on that for a minute. Hmm . . . well . . . oh wait, yes, I do know exactly what else I did: Not a thing. Or, if you like, no other things. Which is, as you know, aka NOTHING.

I was a writing fool. And anyone who talked to me then probably remembers me as a plain-old fool-fool, too. My brain was so focused on the writing that forming intelligible sentences with my mouth was frequently challenging.

In all seriousness, keeping up with the surprising-to-me influx of late-breaking solar system news was a full-time job in itself. I do a ton of nonfiction work, but typically I write about historical figures (dead), landmark events (over) and already-well-understood concepts (long fully processed). The pressure to get it right reminded me of my stint as a reporter back in the early 1990s. With this work, as happened then, my burning desire to provide the most current and the most accurate information possible really made me sweat. And lose sleep. Despite my overall satisfaction with the project — now that the work is but a memory — I can't say that I would ever again consent to working on so many titles in such a short window of time. But I can say that I am quite pleased with how my Space Neighbors babies turned out.

This series is presented in a photo-illustrated format, and each book is just stunning. I've added all 10 covers here, and you can explore the books' innards at the publisher's site. The series page lists the full set — just click on the "Read excerpt" text from any given title's page to scroll through several spreads. It looks to me like a few excerpts actually feature the entire book, so that's a great way to really see what you're getting before you buy.

Space Neighbors titles are currently available individually and in set form from the publisher (*cough, cough* better prices *cough, cough*) and online through Amazon.

Hoping the books make it into eager young readers' hands — and many thousands of libraries — soon!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Good Grammar, Bad Grammar — Both Work for Me

It occurs to me today that I owe my career to the simple process of creating a well-constructed sentence. It has taken me from reporter to proofreader to copyeditor to editor to writer to author. How lucky am I?

The nitty-gritty details of truly working with words aren't of particular interest to most outside the field. But give me a blank page to fill or someone else's manuscript to hone, and I am happy to do what I do best: shape and polish, write and revise — in other words, use the guiding principles of English grammar to craft language that effectively communicates the intended message to its audience.

Yes, there's quite a bit more going on than "just" grammar in any piece of writing or editing. But if you take grammar out of either one, well . . . you can't do that.

I am grateful for my work. And that is reason enough for me to celebrate National Grammar Day.

If all goes well, Good Grammar, Bad Grammar, and I will continue finding satisfying ways to collaborate until one of us expires.

I sincerely hope, of course, that I am the first of our happy trio to go.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

SCBWI WWA's Regional Conference Is Coming Up!

Word on the Interwebs is that very few registration spots remain for SCBWI Western Washington's 20th annual spring conference.

The volunteers running this chapter work so hard to offer exceptional events, and the spring conference has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. I'm not always able to attend, but it is always worth it when I do. I love having the opportunity to take the kidlit industry's pulse, see my writer friends (and make new ones), network with other industry colleagues, and learn a thing or two about writing . . . or marketing . . . or whatever manuscript I'm working on at the time.

This year's conference takes place April 16–17 at the Marriott Redmond Town Center. The guest faculty includes these notables (and so many more):
The registration cap is 400, and as of this morning they had just 12 spots left. So . . .

Sign up, already. And maybe I'll see you there!