OTHER WORK

When I was in eighth grade, I wrote a short story about a black-eyed chickadee that flew into the New York City apartment of a lonely old woman and changed her life. I had written stories before based on characters I had read about in books, but this was the first one that was original. I remember feeling extremely satisfied and incredibly powerful.

I still find writing an empowering experience. It’s been a big part of every job I’ve had, and it’s enabled me to quit some of those jobs to work on my own fulltime. Besides writing books, I’ve edited magazines, developed curriculum units for schools, and written newspaper and magazine articles, TV scripts, textbook chapters, history plays, museum exhibits, and blogs and other Internet content, for adults as well as kids. You’ll find a list of some of those projects at right, with links to full-text examples of my blogs, columns, and history plays.

Here are some highlights of my life at the keyboard:

 

Changing Channels   As a baby boomer, I grew up with TV, so I was thrilled when the folks at the Northern Indiana Center for History in South Bend asked me to be the guest curator for their 2007 exhibit, “Changing Channels: How TV Transformed America.” The exhibit explored the history of all aspects of television, from children’s programming and commercials to entertainment series and the news. With numerous interactive displays, the exhibit was a multimedia experience for visitors to the museum. For me, the opportunity to write the text that appeared alongside the artifacts was a pure pleasure.

 

Game Face   In 2001, I contributed to Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like? by Jane Gottesman (Random House, 2001), the companion book to a museum exhibit of photographs showing girls and women playing sports. I wrote the “Snapshots from Women’s Sports History” portion of the book, as well as a short section called “Groupies,” in which I recall my travels as a tennis fan. Then I developed a curriculum unit for middle school students that used the photographs from the Game Face exhibit as a jumping-off point for lessons on character education. The exhibit’s national sponsor, MassMutual Financial Group, distributed these lavish curriculum units to 5,000 schools and youth groups nationwide, free of charge.

 

Scholastic Children’s Dictionary   How many people can say that they read a dictionary cover-to-cover? Or even better, that they edited a dictionary? In the mid-1990s, I served as Editor in Chief of the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary, and was responsible for every word, pronunciation, and definition. My favorite task was writing the sample sentences, which show how an entry word is used. Those sample sentences were my creative escape from the daily grind of editing definitions. Suzie is handy with a power drill (for the word handy). The shrill blast of the whistle signaled the beginning of the race (for the word shrill). The best sample sentence could be the beginning of its own story.