Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit to submit your report.

Publication of NASW members' reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Photo of Deep Space Station 36, a gigantic antenna dish situated against rolling Australian hills and clear sky with clouds.

Sheeva Azma—Amplifying Science Communication with Public Relations

More frequent use of podcasts, social media, and other public relations tactics could help science writers gain sources and clients and broaden their audience, Sheeva Azma asserts in Amplifying Science Communication with Public Relations. Scientists can benefit from using PR tactics, too, she says, to improve public understanding of science and foster collaborations to advance research.

A flock of sandhill cranes descend and land among other cranes in a marsh. Photo by Lee Eastman U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Rebecca E. Hirsch—Sensational Senses: Amazing Ways Animals Perceive the World

Rattlesnakes use heat sensors to locate warm-blooded prey. African elephants have powerful odor detectors that enable them to find foods they like in a maze. Electric eels stun their quarry with high-voltage blasts. Some animals owe their survival to senses humans lack, Rebecca E. Hirsch reports in Sensational Senses: Amazing Ways Animals Perceive the World, her book for readers in Grades 3-8.

Photo of a beroid ctenophore feeding orifice wide open against a dark sea.

Sneed B. Collard III—Little Killers: The Ferocious Lives of Puny Predators

Ladybird beetles, aka ladybugs, with their bright colors and polka dots, may be “the world’s cutest killers,” Sneed B. Collard III writes in his amply illustrated Little Killers: The Ferocious Lives of Puny Predators. These and other tiny predators, some microscopic in size, use poisons, teeth, hooks, and other weapons to hunt, says new NASW member Collard, author of 85+ children’s science books.

Photo of a colorful sunrise over the horizon of a calm ocean offshore of Melbourne, Florida. The morning light is barely peeking, blending into the night.

Lisa L. Lewis —The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, and How Parents and Schools Can Help Them Thrive

Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night, but few get it. Schools start too early, Lisa L. Lewis says in The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, and How Parents and Schools Can Help Them Thrive. Biological clocks push teens to stay up ‘til 11 pm. A practical remedy: start schools later. Lewis helped prompt a Calif. law mandating 8:00 am middle & 8:30 am high school start times.

Sara Mednick—The Power of the Downstate: Recharge Your Life Using Your Body's Own Restorative Systems

Daily exposure to sunlight and darkness fosters cyclic activity and rest, yet many of us live out of sync with inner clocks. Pandemic-related social isolation, work stress, family duties, and more harm health and well-being, Sara Mednick says. She explains how and why and offers tips for regaining balance in The Power of the Downstate: Recharge Your Life Using Your Body's Own Restorative Systems.

Numbers in text

Christoph Drösser—Absolutely Record-Breaking: Your Life in Numbers

Numbers tell the story of our lives, from our one and only first kiss, to the 183 pairs of jeans we buy over a lifetime. We can control some numbers, Christoph Drösser asserts in Absolutely Record-Breaking: Your Life in Numbers. “We can work on producing less waste or CO2,” he says, “and eat more fruit or less meat.” His book for young readers currently is available only in German.

Open book floating in stacks

Florence Williams—Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey

When Florence Williams’ husband left her after 25 years of marriage, she felt bereft, lost 20 lbs., and had trouble sleeping. “People who have suffered lost love face an elevated risk of serious medical woes, including sudden heart attacks,” she reports. In Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey, Williams explores heartbreak’s impact on mind and body and tactics that helped her recover.

BIrd's nest on library shelf

Rebecca E. Hirsch—Where Have All the Birds Gone? Nature in Crisis

Birds don’t see glass; some crash into skyscrapers and die. Free-ranging cats find birds easy prey. Pesticides harm insects essential to birds’ diets. In Where Have All the Birds Gone: Nature in Crisis, Rebecca Hirsch describes bird-friendly building and lighting tactics adopted by some cities, wetlands restoration, endangered species laws, and other efforts to save dwindling bird populations.

Children's library

Liz Heinecke—The Kitchen Pantry Scientist: Physics for Kids

Balancing two intertwined forks on a toothpick resting on the edge of a glass helps kids understand Isaac Newton’s concept of gravity. Homemade slime helps illustrate Lise Meitner’s recognition of nuclear fission. In The Kitchen Pantry Scientist: Physics for Kids, Liz Heinecke introduces young readers to 25 physicists & provides photo-illustrated guides to home experiments based on their work.