As I look back, 2015 was a productive writing year, with many exciting challenges and opportunities. Here are a few of the book highlights:
- Publication of four new books through Capstone: The 1918 Flu Pandemic, The Challenger Explosion, Bold Riders: The Story of the Pony Express, and To the Last Man: The Battle of the Alamo. Six more Capstone titles are in various stages of production for publication in 2016!
- Acceptance of a counting book, One Leaf, Two Leaves: Count with Me, for publication by Nancy Paulsen Books in fall 2017. Paulsen’s Penguin imprint publishes award-winning books by distinguished authors such as Jacqueline Woodson, Tomie dePaola, and Rachel Isadora. Needless to say, I am delighted to be in such company, and I eagerly await the publication of my book, which is being illustrated by up-and-coming artist Clive McFarland of Northern Ireland. Watch for further details as they become available.
- Publication in September of The Sound in the Basement, a picture book about a young boy who overcomes his fear of going into the basement alone. The story is based on my own childhood experiences, and I worked on it off and on for nearly 15 years. I had a specific vision for how I wanted this book to look, so I decided to self-publish it through my brand-new imprint, First State Press. To turn that vision into reality, I teamed with artist Eric Hamilton, a long-time friend through the Association of Educational Publishers. Eric’s artwork lends just the right mix of fear and humor to the text, and we are both delighted with the finished product. To learn more or to order copies, visit www.FirstStatePress.com.
But the year encompassed more than just books. As always, I was also involved in a variety of other writing and editing projects. These included:
- Communications work with Read to Them, the nonprofit family literacy organization that runs the One District, One Book program. I have known Read to Them’s founder, Gary Anderson, for nearly 15 years, and I am delighted to support his efforts to spread the love of reading among families and school districts throughout the United States and beyond.
- Editing work with Delaware ShoutOut, a communications firm run by Newark resident Brooke Miles. I enjoy the work, and I learn something from each piece I edit.
- An article for ASCD’s Education Update newsletter on using primary sources in education. I really enjoyed the research and interviews involved in this piece.
- Working with graphic designer and longtime friend Mark Deshon to create a website for First State Press.
I also had the opportunity to do some fun school visits and speaking engagements:
- Keynote speaker at the Young Authors’ Day conference at Keystone College in northern Pennsylvania in November, along with a school visit to Mountain View Elementary School in Kingsley, Pennsylvania. I already have several school visits lined up for 2016, and I look forward to scheduling more. I really enjoy sharing my love of writing with students.
- Presentations at the International Literacy Association conference and the Parents As Teachers (PAT) conference with Diane Givens of PAT on using children’s books and children’s poetry to help children cope with traumatic life experiences.
- Presentations at the State of Maryland IRA conference (on nonfiction) and the Keystone State Reading Association (on poetry).
Looking ahead, 2016 will bring publication of several more Capstone titles and the publication of another First State Press book, Beach Fun: Poems of Surf and Sand. For this picture book, I have partnered with award-winning photographer and longtime friend Lisa Goodman. We anticipate a spring release. Watch for more details to come.
As always, I am certain that many other exciting projects will arise, and I will post updates as more details become available. I look forward to an exciting writing year!