Category Archives: Nonfiction

At oh-so-long last

Earlier today I finally hit “Send” on that final Forensics ms.

I am now officially caught up with work, except that I have to review the copyedited and factchecked files of my Stephen King YA bio by Monday. Which should be more than enough time. And I have to get started on the two books that aren’t (yet) overdue. And just this morning I agreed to write three more books for YA science series by next August: two on genetics and one on plants. But work is better than no work, so, yay.

Now to turn my attention to some fun stuff for a few days. But first, The Lost Room on DVD and, if that fails to grip, a nap.

To the land of ice and snow

Turned in long-overdue ms. of bio of Stephen King not 90 minutes ago. Last 8 days = major write-athon with far too little sleep. Now unable to think or write in complete sentences. Hope I managed it in the ms.

Packing now, and watering yard, and writing note for cat-care person, etc. We leave for Iceland tomorrow at 11 a.m. Last I heard, temps in Portland are supposed to hit triple digits for at least the first 3 days of next week, and generally very high otherwise. Forecast for Reykjavik for same time period: 61 and showers. Yay!

Pix and details on the other side. May all here have an excellent week.


Sometimes my job is really fun.

I’m working in overdrive tonight to finish the fourth and last ms. in my YA series on human evolution. The last chapter in the book is about “The Peopling of the World.” In it I discuss the extremely contentious topic of when humans first arrived in the Americas.

I’m including a short sidebar about a remarkable piece of evidence found within the last few years right here in Oregon: human coprolites–that is, dried-up turds–that have been radiocarbon-dated to 14,300 years ago. They are pre-Clovis. They are, in fact, the oldest datable, tangible human remains (as opposed to indirect signs of human presence) yet found in the Americas.

The title of the sidebar is “Evidence Left Behind.”

Read or Die

The past few weeks have been full of work.

I’ve been doing all the follow-up stuff (writing captions, reviewing page layouts, etc.) for the books I wrote from November through February. And then I’ve been writing the first book in my four-book series on human evolution; the series is now aimed at high-school age readers and called Origins. While writing, I realized with chagrin that I had been packing information that could be spread out over the entire series into volume one (which is “Earliest Ancestors to Australopithecines”). I took a few days away from writing to do a more detailed plan of the entire series–deciding, for example, in which volume I will put the various sidebars, including one I just wrote called “So You Want to Be a Fossil?” I also put together a Glossary that I can use in all four volumes. That should help me avoid unnecessary repetition.

But it hasn’t all been work. Oh, no. A well-meaning friend gave me a free month of Netflix. Actually, she’s my publisher, so she’ll have no one to blame but herself when I’m even later than usual on my current deadlines. It’s not so much the movies. I mean, it’s convenient to have movies come to your house and all, but what’s really fun–and a time suck–is watching the instant stuff on my laptop. Just yesterday I watched an anime I first saw a couple of years ago and have wanted to see again: “Read or Die” (the OVA, not the TV series, which I have not watched–but now I probably will). It’s no Miyazaki, but there are some things in it that I like a lot. And what a title.

One brief shining moment

At 6:38 yesterday evening I hit the Send button and sent in the ms. of the last of my overdue books from 2007. It was a book about Conifers for middle-school kids. Now, I’m not sure that 7th-graders are all that interested in Conifers–I could be wrong, and I hope I am–but my publisher asked me to write the book and, at long last, I finally did so. The moment I turned it in, I entered a rare and miraculous state of being: I was caught up with work! I almost levitated.

But, by a curious coincidence, yesterday’s date was also the due date for the first piece of 2008 work: book one in my series on human evolution, which of course I did not turn in yesterday. It lies still before me, only party written. My state of caught-up-ness, therefore, was of such brief duration that perhaps it did not exist at all, at least in our space-time continuum.

Now I forge ahead on the work for this year. Not to mention all the messy afterbirth of the books I’ve finished in recent months: captioning illustrations, reviewing copyedits and layouts, quelling the din of hectoring fact-checkers. But I welcome such activities, because they allow me to tick things off the to-do list without actually having to produce pages.