since you asked

Just a few quick posts this morning, then I have to get some work done before we leave for the airport. Funny, it's a very short flight, but still a long day of traveling and waiting.

A few people have asked about what's keeping me so busy these days. I'm writing a book on Ancient Civilizations for a kids encyclopedia series. The series is written for 9-12-year-olds, and I've got 3500 BC to 500 AD.

It takes in almost the whole world (Oceania [modern-day Australia and New Zealand] got dropped for space), highlighting 6 civilizations in each geographic region. Some of them I knew something about, like the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Maya and Celts. Others - such as the Ancient Japanese, Chinese, Korean or the people who lived in what is now India and Pakistan - are completely new to me.

The book is not "great moments in history," but rather "how people lived". It's about domestic life, as well as the innovations each civilization brought to the world, as opposed to rulers and battles. (Except for people who mainly ruled and battled.)

My central challenge is that I have very, very little space for each civilization - a very tight word limit. How to convey the life of Ancient Egypt in just a few pages - and those pages include lots of photos, maps and illustrations, not a lot of text. Yet it's expected to have substance, to not be a skimming overview, to be lively and entertaining and educational, as all good children's books should be.

I love history and antiquity, and I love writing for this age group, so I'm really enjoying the work. On the other hand, the books are being rammed through a ridiculous deadline, and I really could use more time.* There's still a chance my editor will get me an additional two or three weeks, but I have to proceed as if she can't.

I'd love to also write the book before and after mine, chronologically. Before are Neolithic peoples, the people who built Stonehenge and Newgrange, for example; after are the Aztecs and Incans, among other favorites of mine. But all the books are being written simultaneously, so some other harried soul is writing those.

*or to be a full-time writer!

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