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Heading to OLA Super Conference

I am out and about this Friday February 2nd for the Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2007. You can catch me twice (you lucky people!) as I will be signing copies of Max Finder Mystery Collected Casebook Vol. 1 at the Owlkids booth from 9:30 am to 10:00 am.

If mornings are not your thing, I will also be pitching MFMCCV1 at the CANSCAIP Mass Book Launch, which runs from 12 pm until 2 pm. Twenty CANSCAIP authors and illustrators will be on hand to give a five minute pitch about the merits of their book. I’m on at 1:05 pm and have absolutely no idea what I’ll say. Should be fun to watch.

So, if you’re a librarian or teacher heading to the conference this weekend, come on up and say hi. I’m pretty harmless. Really.

Frosty running fool

Although I haven’t really written about it, I have been keeping up with my running. I know. No one is more surprised than me. But despite my moaning and wailing before each run, I am getting a lot of satisfaction from getting outside and hitting the pavement. I’ve even achieved the goals I set for myself: building up to 10 and 1s and running a steady 20 minutes straight. Now, my new goal is to build my base up to be able to run 10 km.

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Getting graphic with science

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As a writer, you know you are over the hump of winter when your new spring titles start arriving from the publishers. Fortunately, 2006 was a busy year for me, so there are a few new book arrivals to talk about. The first are my three new Graphic Science titles from Capstone Press. These books take the graphic novel format to the uncharted (for me anyway) waters of non-fiction.

I wrote three of the eight books in the series and it was a lot of fun. Not only because I learned a heck of a lot about the subjects, Electricity, Food Chains and Photosynthesis, but because I was able to play with the way the information was displayed for for the reader. One of the biggest challenges with writing non-fiction books for young readers is making the subject come alive, so that the reader is engaged. The graphic novel format helps overcome that hurdle. The images immediately grab the reader’s attention and (hopefully) getting him or her reading and (if I’ve done my job well) understanding the text. Below is a page example that shows what I mean (and that I need a scanner desperately!)pagesample.jpg

This is a page from the Electricity book and it shows Max Axiom (a scientist with superpowers) explaining how electrons move from atom to atom to create an electrical charge. (Click on the image or here to see a larger image.)

To liven the information up, I had Max shrink down to the size of an atom and get up close to watch the electrons jumping. While all the standard non-fiction information is there, I think it’s the illustrations and the colour that really bring this page alive. And hopefully so will the readers.

The whole series is full of this stuff. Max shrinks, flies, uses x-ray goggles and a bunch of other cool gadgets to literally get inside the scientific subject. It’s a great character concept created by the editors at Capstone and brought to life by many great comic artists. The fantastic artwork in the Electricity book was done by Richard Dominquez and Charles Barnett III.

You’ll see me using the graphic novel format to tell non-fiction stories a lot more in the coming months. In addition to the these three science books, I have the three “Graphic Guide Adventure” books coming out from Orca later this year and next year. Each one of these graphic novels takes this non-fiction element further by actually blending a fiction adventure story with non-fiction facts and guides. More on those when they start hitting the bookshelves.

In the meantime, if you’ve got readers who need to get charged up and engaged by science, head over the the Capstone Press website and check out the rest of the titles is the Graphic Science series.

Progressing with WiPs

Silence around here means one thing: I’m writing!

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic with various WiPs. So much so, that I’m creating a new category just to talk about them: works in progress.

First off, I just submitted to my great agent the first three chapters in what will hopefully be a new book series for me. Won’t say much right now, but I will say that it involves rats, magic and pirates. Yes, those foul cutthroats are still aboard my brain and running wild, so something had to be written down. I’ll take a bit of a piratey break for a few days while I turn my attention to WiP #2.

Which is . . . a fun non-fiction book on democracy for Capstone Press. No title yet (other than the Democracy Book) but I’m expecting feedback on the outline any day now. It’s going to be a fun, gag-filled comic strip look at the history of democracy around the world with a focus on the USA. A subject close to my heart, so I’m having a lot of fun with it.

And finally WiP #3, is book 2 in my graphic novel series for Orca. Book 1 was about wilderness survival and book 2 is all about skateboarding (a subject that was VERY close to my heart when I was 16 and still would be if I wasn’t afraid of breaking my neck.) I’m also waiting for feedback on the first draft of that one, which hopefully will arrive any day now.

So, with three WiPs all awaiting feedback, what does this writer do? Get started on WiP #4, of course! Absolutely no details on that yet, but there will be very soon. I just got to write them down, that’s all.

And we’re off . . .

2007 is here and it is back to work for us all. I am excited for this year because not only am I working on some great new projects, but I also get to finally see some of my past projects come to life.

In 2007, watch out for a new Max Finder Mystery book, a new graphic novel about Blackbeard the pirate and three new science graphic novels explaining the ins and outs of electricity, food chains and photosynthesis. And that’s all happening before the summer hits us.

Saddle up, 2007 is going to be a fun ride!