Friday, October 12, 2007


Yesterday I got a box in the mail. I’d ordered some books but was surprised at how large this box was. I didn’t expect several books to come in the same box. So I opened it and WOW! That box had only one large book in it.

The Encyclopedia of New York State
Peter Eisenstadt, Editor in Chief
Laura-Eve Moss, Managing Editor

I was in the middle of making dinner at the time so I didn’t remove the cellophane just yet. But I kept dreaming about opening that book – getting excited about all the maps and photographs and unexpected info that would help me plot my new work-in-progress. Finally, after dinner, I removed the cellophane. I opened the book.

What?!” said the right side of my brain. “Where are all the pictures? Why is the print so tiny and so all-over-the-page?”

That’s when my logical side spoke up. “Because it is an encyclopedia, silly!”

“Oh, that’s right.”

I guess I thought I was getting a coffee table book. But I knew the title said encyclopedia...

And frankly, if you're going to write a book about the state of New York it will take a lot of words! Also there is the fact that I love research. I should be able to handle this.

But I’m a right-brained, visual person. I need icons, and graphics and photos to help me sort out the wealth of info that a book or website has to offer.

Children are like that too, of course. My books for young people don’t typically have pictures in them. So I try hard to keep lots of white space on the page and to paint pictures with my words.

Even here in my blog, my goal is to appeal to young people. It just doesn’t seem right to post without some photos. So I included one below – just in case you want to see all the words in my new encyclopedia.


  1. I guess I'm a right-brainer too. That's exactly what I would be looking for--the maps and pictures. When I was doing research on Rochester, NY for my book, I was struggling to find a good street map from the 1850's. Reading about streets and intersections just didn't give me that spacial sense that would allow me to bring it to life for my readers. And a lot has changed in the last 150 years!

    I love the way you describe leaving the white space on your page to paint pictures with your words. That's why you're such a wonderful writer!

    Mary Ann

  2. Mary Ann,

    I know you are busy right now but if you get a chance sometime, to tell me a bit about your book I'd love it. IF you told me in Philly and I've forgotten, please forgive.

    I might need you to be one of my New York state experts!

    Hope you feel whole again soon.

  3. Thanks so much, Joyce. I just sent you an email (sorry it's so long!). I'm no expert on NY, but i've done a lot of research about the Rochester area and the burned over district, which is where the great revival movement really blossomed.

    Good luck with the sequel!