Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Very late last night I was reading some recent posts on INK trying to jog my brain and pry loose an idea for my scheduled blog. Then it hit me! It was so easy to notice that not only do INK’s writers work incredibly hard to unearth the material in their books, but they are incredibly lucky too. This job is fun.

One of the reasons that I was writing this piece so late in the game is a case in point. At 7:00 last night, INK bloggers Dorothy Hinshaw Patent out in Missoula Montana, Vicki Cobb up in White Plains NY, and yours truly from Fairfax Station VA were having some fun by doing a live Computerside Chat via SetFocus. Entitled “Wild Women at Work,” the idea was to let viewers from multiple computers all over creation tune in to see us talk about the most exciting parts of our job; we wanted to discuss a sampling of the adventures we’ve had while ferreting out juicy facts for our books.

Vicki was the moderator, and Dorothy and I were the “wild women” who get to travel all over the planet digging up just the right fodder for our true tales. Between the two of us, we’ve done such things as sail the seas through the Bermuda Triangle, photograph wild elephants and lions from mere inches away, seek out polar bears with snowshoes for feet and hummingbirds wearing white bedroom slippers, and gain a coveted entry to the famous Lascaux Caves in France. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What a deal! (Besides, these are business trips too, which are sometimes tax deductible.)

Dorothy and I also talked a lot about mining original source material, and I see from Steve Sheinkin’s blog about detective work that we must share the same brain. Ever since 1997, I’ve been calling myself a detective too - or even a spy who snoops around looking for clues. Well, clues run rampant in original source material, and the colorful language and stories we’ve found are to die for. Of course in my case, this is a very safe kind of sleuthing, since all the people I’ve been spying on are stone cold dead in the market and have been for hundreds of years.

The fun continues. I get to do all the artwork in my books, and who wouldn’t love to do that at some point in their life? Then there’s Alex Siy. Check out her first INK blog from last Thursday to see what her life is about. Or read about the excitement in Karen Romano Young’s barn on Memorial Day.

This type of fun in the real world has led directly to some of the most amazing nonfiction books kids could ever wish for. So here’s hoping that the adventures these authors undertook on behalf of writing their true tales will spill over into the lives of a few kids who read our books. Maybe they will become the writers of the future. Or the artists. Or the scientists. Or the thinkers and dreamers and inventors and adventurers. Anyway, you get the picture.


Vicki Cobb said...

Great post Roz. Glad you could keep going after our Computerside Chat. I went to bed. Most people would love our adventures and might be envious of our opportunities to have first-hand experiemces but the reason we get to do all this is because of the hard-won skills we have all sweated bullets over acquiring that add value to the work so that others also can learn.

Steve Sheinkin said...

I love telling kids about the time I asked my wife, half in jest, if she wanted to go on a two-week driving, hiking, paddling trip along the route of Benedict Arnold's 1775 march to Quebec - and she went for it!

Rosalyn Schanzer said...

Good for your wife, Steve, and good for you too. I'd do that in a hot minute.