Guest Blog Post: How I Got Published (Big Time) by Lance Akiyama

How does an author get their book published by a big company, as opposed to doing it on their own? Hard work and good fortune figured into how a big-time publisher of how-to books reached out to Lance Akiyama. Together, they’ve put out four books (including a revised version of one) by him about how to make cool stuff from rubber bands, duct tape, and more.

Do you have first-hand experience? I’m gathering a following of fiction lovers who might enjoy my soon-to-be-published books, “Flamenco and the Sitting Cat,” and “Tango and the Sitting Cat.” Other authors have posted on Happiness Between Tails about their book experiences here and here and here and here and here and here.

Read on for Akiyama’s post about how he got published. He notes that non-fiction vs. fiction call for different methods…

Lance Akiyama, author of "Duct Tape Engineer" and more.
Lance Akiyama, author of “Duct Tape Engineer” and more.

My process for getting published was pretty unusual. I had created a series of free project tutorials on Instructables.com, which ranks pretty well if you search Google for ‘engineering projects for kids.’ At some point, my publisher’s editor had a book idea for a series of gadgets that were powered by rubber bands and made from household items. She went searching for someone who could realize that vision, found my work, and offered me the book deal! I don’t think many people have offers to become an author just drop into their inbox, but that’s how it happened.

DIY project books are a bit different than publishing a novel. There’s no outline phase. Instead, there’s a tinkering phase; I had to experiment with about 30-40 project ideas before settling on 20-ish and then spending more time fine-tuning those ideas so they could be easily recreated at home by the reader. The editing phase is more focused on the clarity of the step-by-step instructions rather than the plot or character development. And finally, I had to take hundreds of pictures in my tiny home studio. Well, ‘studio’ is a generous term. Really it was a folding table with a cloth backdrop that was set up in my bedroom. But eventually all the pieces came together, and the publisher’s design team polished up all the content into a great-looking layout!

The next few books followed a similar pattern: my editor had an idea, asked me if I wanted to author the book, and then tinkered & wrote & produced all the materials. But after 4 books plus one revised edition, I think I’m ready to take a break from writing!

Cover of "Duct Tape Engineer" by Lance Akiyama.

About Lance Akiyama: he’s an avid tinkerer, and voted Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. He currently holds a full-time position as a science curriculum developer for Galileo Learning, an innovative summer camp company. His mission is to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and artists with hands-on projects that make kids think, “I can’t believe I made that!” Contact @ MadeForSTEAM.com/contact

Guest Blog Post: On Boy Books and Girl Books by Pernille Ripp

Books allow me to transcend my own experience of the world. In reading, I can assume the skin of people, places, times, and events that I’ll never otherwise inhabit. They make me feel more part of the world and more human.

How has reading shaped you? Blogger/teacher/parent Pernille Ripp why she believes children should be exposed to all kinds of books…

Blogger/teacher/parent Pernille Ripp.
Blogger/teacher/parent Pernille Ripp.

Pernille Ripp

White, Black, Yellow, Lime,  Free Image

I get asked for a lot of book recommendations, I think it comes with the territory when you share the love of books.  And while I love pairing books with potential readers, I have also noticed a pattern that causes me to pause, that should cause all of us to pause.

I get asked for a lot of books featuring male lead characters for male readers.

When I ask why the need for a male lead, I am often told that “they” just don’t think a boy will read a “girl book.”  That a boy will not like a book about feelings.  That a boy only wants books that have action.  That have other boys in it.  That feature characters that look just like them or at the very least think like them.

As if every single boy thinks alike.

When written like this it is easy to see the…

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5. Ever been told…? by da-AL

Ever been told that the ultimate tragedy (and crime) for a girl or a woman is not to be regarded as physically attractive?
Ever been told that the ultimate tragedy (and crime) for a girl and a woman is not to be regarded as physically attractive?

Guest Blog Post: “How Pets Help Raise Kids” in Emily Parker’s exact words

Emily Parker and Gus
Emily Parker and Gus

Blogger Emily Parker describes herself as, “A proud cat parent of two black cats, Gus and Louis (even though Gus only has one eye!). I help cat parents love their cats better by providing helpful articles on my website.”

Click here for her “How Pets Help Raise Kids” infographic.

Have pets helped raise kids you know?

Why Every Girl (and Boy and Adult) Needs a Dog: Love, Boundaries, and More by da-AL

Anyone who thinks my doggies are my substitute children is missing the point. Humans are great. Thank goodness, though, dogs are yet another species with whom we can exchange care, joy, love, and wisdom.

Close up of dog nose and teeth
This picture by Sofia Oratowski of her dog always makes me smile.

This charming photo was taken by a dear 16-year-old friend. It’s of her amazingly sweet-tempered rescue dog. The adoption facility said the dog had problems with other dogs. Several years later, the dog has yet to display an ounce of anti-social behavior.

How I wish I’d learned or at least had begun to learn from dogs when I was as young as my friend is now.

Why? What’s good for my dogs is equally good for me. We teach people how to treat us. The wisdom that comes from training a dog applies as directly to happiness as to any type of relationship.

Training my dogs showed me about boundaries:

  1. What they are.
  2. What I need for a happy home.
  3. What dogs are capable of. What’s reasonable to expect as far as trusting them to learn, remember, and honor my needs.
  4. That boundaries are best communicated clearly and nonjudgmentally. If my requests are misunderstood, I’m must find a better way to convey them.
  5. Patience and consistency are essential.

Keeping them physically and emotionally healthy is great for both of us:

  • Walking them daily means I walk too.
  • Together, we meet our neighbors.
  • I used to think I was too busy to have a dog. Now I see that when I don’t have time for my pets, I’m overextending myself. When I wasn’t eager to come home, I wasn’t investing enough effort in ensuring that my home life, personal life, and social life were reliable havens.
  • Angels exist, and they’re not just the dogs. Strangers, neighbors, and friends often help when my dogs and I most need them. For all of my striving for independence, I need to be reminded that everyone and everything in the world are interdependent.
  • Compatibility: Cesar Milan, a.k.a., The Dog Whisperer, often talks about the importance of selecting pets that match our energy levels. Sometimes two good individuals are simply mismatched. Appreciating our differences shows us the need for bridges.
  • Trust needed time to grow. Some types of trust are harder to rebuild once they’re broken.

Few things can match how, when I leave my home for only a short while, my dogs’ eyes shine with pure joy when I return. Everyone needs love.

Have your pets made you a better human?