Writing

New Class: Getting Into Graphic Nonfiction

Graphic for Getting Into Graphic Nonfiction Webinar

Calling all writers!

Graphic nonfiction is a growing market with new publishing imprints and book series springing up all the time. This webinar will introduce both seasoned nonfiction writers and nonfiction novices to the exciting world of graphic nonfiction for all ages.

I hope you can join me for this 90-minute webinar through The Writing Barn. It’s only $25, and recordings are available. Learn more and sign up here.

research, Writing

Taming the rabbit hole of research: Keeping a research journal

A spread from my research journal for WOOD, WIRE WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane

As nonfiction authors, we often talk about “falling down the rabbit hole of research” to describe how engrossing and time consuming the research process can be.

For me research is less a rabbit hole and more a labyrinth. It’s easy to lose the road I’m on as I chase tangents that splinter off from the main trail.

One thing that makes the research process easier for me is keeping a research journal. Here’s how I use mine to tame the research tangents.

First, when I’m trying to locate specific articles, I keep track of databases I’ve searched. Is that article I needed in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America database? On Newspapers.com? At Fultonhistory.com? Where have I already checked? Where do I still need to look? Sometimes I make a simple “to do list” and check things off.

I use this same technique when it comes to contacting experts. Have I contacted that expert yet? When I do, I check off their name, note the date I reached out to them and how (via email, for example).

Sometimes I keep records of what search terms I’ve used in databases. When I studied Lilian Todd for WOOD, WIRE, WINGS, I quickly realized Lilian Todd’s name was often misspelled, and she was frequently referred to as “Miss Todd” or even “E. L. Todd” in the news. Knowing this, I ran searches multiple times using different search combinations, and keeping track of what terms I’d tried.

As I read secondary and primary sources, I also jot down new items I need to look into, whether it’s Lilian Todd’s patents (requiring a separate search in the U.S. Patent Office database) or the Junior Aero Club Show at Madison Square Garden (necessitating another dive into the newspaper archives). Making note of a new research topic allows me to put a pin in it, so I can finish reading the chapter or article without getting distracted. Then I can get started on my new tangent.

What hints do you have for wrangling your research? What tips have you found helpful?

Books

You’re Invited to the A TRUE WONDER Book Launch 10/5

It’s party time!

A TRUE WONDER will be out in the world in just six weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited. Illustrator Katy Wu and I will be doing a virtual event through Once Upon A Time Bookstore on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. Pacific/ 8 Eastern. This event is completely free, and I hope you’ll join in the fun.

Please preregister through Once Upon a Time, and they’ll send you the Zoom link. 

BONUS: If you preorder a copy of the book anywhere books are sold, let me know, and I’ll enter you to win the A TRUE WONDER tee shirt. (Drawing will take place 9/29/21. US entries only with apologies to my international friends.)

Once Upon A Time EXCLUSIVE: Order here, and get a free 6×9 art postcard designed by illustrator Katy Wu. And I’ll autograph your copy.