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 bookshelf in Bryn Nelson's office showing some of the reference books for his book, Flush.

Bryn Nelson—Flush: The Remarkable Science of an Unlikely Treasure

The study of human feces can aid disease detection in individuals and communities, help solve crimes, and inform archeological study, Bryn Nelson reports in Flush: The Remarkable Science of an Unlikely Treasure. Fecal transplants increasingly are used to treat digestive disorders. Poop even is a source of green energy. Nelson calls poop “the world’s most squandered and misplaced natural asset.”

Rectangular photo of a row of books on a wooden bookshelf, with many titles related to the earth, environment, and science. A bookend with an antique globe, and a monochrome vintage photo of a couple are visible adjacent.

Madeline Ostrander—At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth

How do we manage when familiar seasonal changes fade, creeks and lakes dry up, farms and front yards fall arid, ocean temperature rises, and weather becomes hotter, stormier, and more unpredictable? In At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth, Madeline Ostrander recounts efforts by individuals and groups to rout toxic effects of climate change on the places they call home.

Closeup photo of a beaver's face, exposing its colored incisors, as it surfaces on a lake.

Jane Park—Hidden Animal Colors

Beavers have orange teeth, an indicator of the iron content that gives them the strength to cut down trees. An Australian lizard flashes its tongue to deter potential predators: the aptly named blue-tongued skink. Some animals dazzle with bright colors while others that seemingly blend into their environment at times may surprise. Jane Park unmasks the latter in her children’s picture book, Hidden Animal Colors.

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.