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.

Adam Rogers—Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern

Millions of people saw a dress in a 2015 internet photo as blue, millions more as white. “The way people see color, with their eyes and with their mind, was the biggest news story of the day,” Adam Rogers says. We all process the physics of light and chemistry of pigments differently to create billions of individual palettes, he reports in Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern.

Liz Heinecke: The Kitchen Pantry Scientist—Biology for Kids

Kids can gain insight into neurons & neural networks by making pipe cleaner models. They can swab doorknobs & grow bacteria and fungi on agar plates. In The Kitchen Pantry Scientist: Biology for Kids, Liz Heinecke introduces young readers to 25 biologists & provides step-by-step photo-illustrated guides to home experiments based on each biologist’s work plus facts on the biology behind the fun.

Margie Patlak: More Than Meets the Eye—Exploring Nature and Loss on the Coast of Maine

“When you are growing a family and a career at the same time, you live moment to moment, life fast-forwarding with no-stop action,” Margie Patlak asserts. Illness or death of someone close may upend plans. Immersion in the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world as seasons change can be restorative, Patlak writes in More than Meets the Eye: Exploring Nature and Loss on the Coast of Maine.

Claudia Kalb Spark: How Genius Ignites, from Child Prodigies to Late Bloomers

Picasso’s fractured faces defined the cubist movement. His mismatched eyes, elevated ears, and sideways lips force us to see ourselves and our world anew, Claudia Kalb says. In Spark: How Genius Ignites, from Child Prodigies to Late Bloomers, Kalb profiles 13 high achievers, exploring the nature/nurture debate and role of intelligence, creativity, perseverance, and, yes, luck in their success.

David Williams: Homewaters—A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound

In 2018, an orca mother in Puget Sound triggered news stories worldwide, carrying her 6-foot-long dead newborn on her back 17 days, traveling 1000 miles before letting go. Her loss highlights present-day concerns and efforts to clean and restore an environment where humans and other species have long co-existed, David Williams reports in Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound.

Sheeva Azma: How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing

A science education can provide a competitive edge for aspiring science writers, Sheeva Azma contends. After earning an MS in neuroscience, Azma began exploring job options outside the lab. In How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing, she provides tactics to help students and scientists apply their skills to marketing, ghost and grant writing, producing website content, and consulting.

Chelsea Wald: Pipe Dreams—The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet

Humans produce about 100 lbs. of poop and 140 gallons of pee each year. Two billion people worldwide lack a minimally adequate toilet. Hundreds of millions don’t use a toilet at all, promoting spread of preventable diseases. In Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet, Chelsea Wald explores efforts to make healthy toilets—and necessary infrastructure—accessible to all.

Jeff Weld: Charting a Course for American Education from out on a limb at the executive branch

In 2017, Jeff Weld, then head of STEM Education for Iowa, was tapped to be a senior policy advisor for STEM education at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. His mission: to develop a nationwide STEM education policy within one year. In Charting a Course for American Education from out on a limb at the executive branch, Weld tells how he and colleagues met that goal.

Michelle Nijhuis: Beloved Beasts—Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction

Over the last 500 years, our planet has lost at least 755 animal species and 123 plant species, Michelle Nijhuis reports in Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction. Humans continue to kill species and destroy habitats, while climate change amplifies these threats. Growing worldwide conservation efforts, she says, have averted extinction of many species and aim to save more.