|The American Revolution:
Experience the Battle for Independence
Nomad Press/ March, 2015
Illustrator: Tom Casteel
Please describe the book.
How did you connect with the publisher and/or editor?
I found Nomad Press in the publishers guide that we get with our SCBWI membership—The Book. After graduating from Hamline, I sent queries and writing clips to lots of write-for-hire and educational publishers. Nomad Press was one of those houses. Months passed and then the editor contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a book on the American Revolution. I have a history degree and have taught the subject to high school students for years so it was a great fit.
soldier in tricorn hat
As the work progressed from inception to copy-edited version, what were the major changes? How did those changes come about?
At first the editor wanted the book to be written for 1-3rd graders. However, I have a passion, some might say obsession, about teaching people the value of historical thinking, and I knew I couldn’t write an overly simple book that told the same old patriotic myths and included a pattern for how to make a tricorn hat. (Don’t get me wrong. I love tricorn hats. I own two tricorn hats.) So I talked to Jodi Baker, Hamline alum and writer/teacher extraordinaire, about when elementary students typically study the American Revolution. Based on Jodi’s feedback, I suggested to my editor that we aim the book at 5th graders. She agreed. After that the book came together very smoothly and systematically. Of course, I had to make every project that appears in the book. My diorama of a redoubt from the battle of Yorktown still sits on my desk. If you don’t know what a redoubt is, you should read my book.
When did you first begin work on it? When did you finish?
I had a sixth month contract to complete a draft of the book. After that I had to make only minor revisions, so all told my writing process took about nine months.
What research was involved before and while writing the book?
|General Washington’s HQ at Valley Forge|
I did tons of research. Because I’ve been teaching American history for years, I already had a solid foundation, but I still read about fifty books and many articles. I trod the Freedom Trail in Boston and ran up and down the redoubts at Yorktown National Park in Virginia. I love research and like to experience history through the soles of my feet.
You have done work-for-hire writing before. What have you learned about the business of writing since your first contract?
Judy Dodge Cummings is a July 2012 graduate of the MFAC program. She lives in southern Wisconsin. To learn more about her writing please visit her website.