I recently spent a day hiking with my sister and niece. We did one of our favorite hikes, to a high mountain lake above tree line (quite possibly the best way to spend a day). And, thanks to late and epic snow in the high country, the wildflowers are still AMAZING. Usually by late August the flowers have peaked, but we were treated with hillsides blanketed with color. There were easily two dozen different types of flowers, and probably many more. The ones that stole the show, though, were the Indian paintbrush.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by Rube Goldberg machines (if you aren’t familiar with ol’ Rube, click here). As an author I thought that these crazy contraptions would be a great way to teach kids about physics. So when I came across a call for proposals for a book about engineering for the late elementary school crowd, I put together a nonfiction book proposal for a book then titled Engineering Crazy Contraptions. It was accepted! It went under contract. I spent months writing the book (and oh what fun I had!). I met my deadlines. I sent it in. Then…nothing. I started to get a funny feeling. Something wasn’t right. Then the company backed out of the contract.
I was both deflated and angry. But that quickly turned to determination. I believed in the book. So I began to research other publishers that it might be a fit for. In my search, Nomad Press (a publisher I was already writing for) kept popping up. Of course. It was the perfect company – the books they publish are hands-on. They are about science. They ignite kids’ imagination. Except that Nomad normally develops projects in-house. But I had nothing to lose. So I asked my editor about it. She liked it (hooray!). Then she took it to the rest of the Nomad team. And they liked it (hooray again!). But they wanted a lot of edits and additions. There was a short period of time that I wasn’t so sure about those changes, but very quickly I realized how their suggestions were making it an even better book. So now, 2 ½ years after answering that initial call for proposals, my idea arrived on my doorstep in book form. Crazy Contraptions: Build Rube Goldberg Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel will be released on October 8, 2019. Thank you, Nomad Press!
In 2006 I wrote my first picture book. Then I wrote a couple more. Easy, right? Not at all. But I kept trying. Looking back, some of those first manuscripts were full of all the newbie mistakes that I just couldn’t see at the time. However, one of those (first written in 2007) wasn’t all that bad. Not good enough to get picked up by a publisher. But not awful. Over the years I edited and revised that manuscript, based on things I learned at various conferences, workshops, and online seminars. That story, then titled, The Princess and the Pirate, started to get some positive feedback from agents and editors. But alas, no one picked it up. Still, I saw the potential in the concept and kept working at it off and on. Then one day in early 2018, I thought, why not make the pirate a girl and turn the princess into a prince? Viola! That March I participated in the #PitMad Twitter event with a pitch for The Fort, and Courtney Burke of Page Street Publishing “liked” it. After a revise and resubmit, I was offered a contract in June. And now, almost 12 years after the manuscript was first written, I am excited that it’s finally cover reveal time:
I am grateful to be supported by the Page Street team and to have Adelina Lirius as the illustrator. She has taken the story and brought it to life beautifully. Now all I have to do is wait until April 21, 2020 to see it on the bookshelves!
Last month I went to Glacier National Park as part of an epic family road trip. Needless to say, the scenery was stunning. I also discovered a wildflower that was entirely new to me – beargrass. Beargrass is not actually a grass. It is a flower that belongs to the bunchflower family (who knew?) and looks remarkably like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. When we hit tree line, there were fields of them. And while the wide view was both comical and beautiful, the close up view revealed even further marvels.