Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meet Nonfiction Author Mary Nickum

I’m thrilled to present to you author Mary Nickum on my blog today. Mary is a retired librarian who is now an editor and freelance writer. She holds numerous degrees, and her primary focus these days is on science for the public. She has chosen to extend her science for the public writing to children. She is currently working on three nonfiction books for children.

Welcome, Mary, to my blog today. Your latest release is “Mom’s Story: A Child Learns About MS.” This is a story about your family. What led you to write this story for children? I wonder because often writers write for adult audiences on similar subjects, but I’m not aware of a book being done for children like this.

Mary: I found books for the very young and for teenagers, but nothing on MS for this mid-level age group.

Katie: Even though this is a sort of autobiographical story, what kind of research did you have to do to write the book?

Mary: I researched MS books for children. I researched multiple sclerosis to find the latest information and available resources. I wanted to include a resource list that would benefit the entire family.

Katie: This book is written for children aged 8-11. Why did you choose to target this age?

Mary: I chose this age group because it seemed to be overlooked when it came to information about MS.

Katie: What can a child who reads your book come away with?

Mary: A child will find out what MS is, what the parent or adult is dealing with, and that there are answers to most questions about MS.

Katie: What about adults who read your book?

Mary: Adults, too, can find empowerment with information.

Katie: What special challenges have you as an author and editor encountered because of your MS?

Mary: My greatest challenge from MS is fatigue. It takes a daily toll on what I am able to accomplish.

Katie: Was it emotional for you to write this book? If so, why. If not, why you think it wasn’t.

Mary: I don’t think it was particularly emotional. I do find tremendous satisfaction in having been able to present this information in a form understandable to children and adults.

Katie: Do you plan to write more nonfiction? If so, what is in the works? If not, why not.

Mary: I have five picture books awaiting publishers’ decisions and three more in the works.

Katie: You are a traditionally published author. How did you find your publishing house? How long did it take you to get a contract with Chalet Publishers?

Mary: After submitting and being rejected by three publishing houses, I received a call from the publisher, Chalet Publishers, after she read about my writing on Facebook. I submitted the manuscript and it was accepted three months later.

Katie: What kind of marketing have you done for your book? What works the best? The least?

Mary: The MS Society has been extremely helpful in scheduling talks and signings at their meetings. In addition, I’ve had book reviews, internet radio shows an virtual book tours. The MS Society meetings have been most successful because, after all, this book is in a niche market, so to speak.

Katie: Please give us three pieces of advice for someone who is interested in writing nonfiction.

Mary: 1) Know your topic, 2) Write what you know, 3) Be persistent.

Katie: Thanks for being my guest on my blog today, Mary. Mary can be reached at Visit her website: www.marynickumcom. Her book is available at bookstores and online. Ten percent of the net proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


Unknown said...

Thanks for filling the gap for kids who need to know about and understand MS. I wish you much success!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great interview, Katie and Mary. You're waiting on news for 5 books? Gads, I thought I was in for a long haul waiting for my editor to call. Bravo to you for your persistence. Hope you hear soon and that it's all good news.

Liana said...

A very very interesting interview!
Great book, looks like the one I would like to read.
Thanks for sharing,

Anonymous said...

Great interview Katie & Mary! There's lots of good inspiration here.
Deb :-)

mjnickum said...

Thanks, all. Well, Joylene, actually I'm waiting on 3 different publishers. I've had 2 picture books in to one publisher over a year. Hopefully, I'll hear soon!

dana e donovan said...

I think it's wonderful that your aim is to communicate such important information to an age group that too often is left out of conversations about MS, especially when it concerns the very ones they love. Kudos to you, Mary!

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

I lived this interview! Great questions and I admire you Mary for doing all this with MS. I had a friend who had MS with a teenaged daughter. My friend's condition put her in a wheel chair and yet she would stand in her small kitchen and prepare dinner. She believed in eating whole grains and organic food at a time when that wasn't popular. She believed this kept her disease from progressing. Her daughter seemed too mature for her age, but she and her mother were very close.

I know that I would have appreciated your book Mary at that time:)

mjnickum said...

Thanks, I fully appreciate your story. Standing to cook is now pretty much a thing of the past. I miss being able to cook (I love to cook) and I miss being able to walk distances. I used to walk >4 mi/ I'm lucky to walk a few hundred feet. But I can still write and read. Those are precious activities to me now. Thanks to all of you for your support.