Another New Page to Come
April has been a busy month for me, which is why the time between posts has increased from six to eight days. In the first half of April, both She Persisted: Temple Grandin and Moonwalking launched, in conjunction with Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month and National Poetry Month.
I am in awe of my Moonwalking co-author, Zetta Elliott, who has posted a poem a day on Twitter for National Poetry Month, including several from our middle grade novel. I haven’t posted much besides updates on reviews, notices of events, and commentary on Russia’s war of conquest and extermination against Ukraine.
Now that May is almost here, I’m turning my attention to my next release, Film Makers: 15 Groundbreaking Women Directors, out from Chicago Review Press on August 16. It’s also a co-authored production, this time with the multi-talented Tanisia “Tee” Moore. Film Makers is her debut kids’ book. She has also published adult romance under a pseudonym and has several forthcoming books for early readers. They are the picture book biographies My Ancestors’ Wildest Dream (Scholastic, 2023) and Black Girl Magic (Scholastic, 2024) and the Micah Hudson chapter book series from Reycraft, starting in 2023.
Film Makers has already garnered a lovely blurb from Susanna Reich, the author of multiple biographies for young readers of notable figures in the arts — José: Born to Dance, Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles, and Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice. The quote for the cover is, “Packed with fascinating film history, this informative book will inspire the next generation of women filmmakers. Look out, Hollywood!” In a day or so, I’ll also have the new page for Film Makers on my website, with the same quote. Thank you, Susanna!
Working on She Persisted: Temple Grandin and Film Makers around the same time reminded me how much I’ve enjoyed writing nonfiction, and the early response to these two books tells me how much my nonfiction is needed. Even before its release, Film Makers sported a coveted #1 Amazon orange banner in the Teen & Young Adult TV & Radio category. Before one pooh-poohs this seemingly small category, keep in mind that teens not only consume a lot of popular media; in contrast to earlier generations, they are also avid creators in these categories through Instagram, TikTok, and podcasts. My friend and critique partner who works with teen girl filmmakers through the Queens Museum tells me the classes are full and programs are expanding. My chapter book biography of Temple Grandin was spotted in the #7 place on an Amazon list of children’s bestsellers last week.
I am currently at work on another nonfiction project and having fun with it, even though I threw out my entire first draft and keeping only the first sentence as I start over. From the outside, picture book biographies and other nonfiction look easy, but they are not. As I started writing during National Poetry Month, I wanted to write the story in the form of a poem, but I’m coming to see that I need to create the storyboard first, with an image of the action on each page, and write the text later. I’m sure that my initial poetic approach will contribute to a more lyrical text later on, but this particular story has a lot of action that I need to prioritize first.
I also spent the past couple of weeks working on other projects that I cannot announce yet, but I will say that I’m getting back into translation. My translator friends have been wondering when I’ll show up again, and here I am! Earlier this week, I attended an online panel with esteemed children’s book translators Daniel Hahn, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Lawrence Schimel, and Helen Wang, and at the end of May, I’ll be on a picture book translators’ panel at the virtual conference of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, sponsored by the Singapore Book Council.
While I have four books out in 2022, I went seven years without a single release. Promoting books can be time-consuming, but a steady stream of new releases requires taking the time to write them. I often have to remind myself that “frontlist sells backlist” and working on the next project is the best way of all to keep new books in the public eye.
Update 5/12/22: The new page is here!