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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Excuses, exclusives...

Here's the reason I haven't been doing much blogging. (Go ahead and click that link if you want to skip to the good stuff.)

A couple months ago, I was basically done with my work for Spring 2010. I was blissfully contracting away for Spring 2011, in fact. But then we decided to do something a little crazy: throw a rush book in the mix. We wanted a book about the H1N1 pandemic, in our usual Stone Arch style: something different, something interesting, something cool and fresh.

Thus, Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter, was born.

Finn Reeder thought it was just a dumb assignment when a sub told his English class that they had to start keeping a journal. Little did he know that his journal would turn into the record of a major flu pandemic.

Somehow, he survives infection. As their class size dwindles, Finn and his friend Amy face down the school bully, draw comics, catch the principal ordering pizza, and even manage to study once in a while. And when finally, Finn is the lone student remaining in school, he manages to win—and lose—the most intense game of solo dodge ball ever.

By the time the month is over, he’s made it through the epidemic, gotten vaccinated, and might even have found himself a girlfriend if he plays his cards right.

I quickly contracted an author, drew up a concept and outline, and we were off. The author, Eric Stevens, wrote the book in about two weeks. Kay Fraser, one of our uber-talented art directors, took the concept and ran with it, creating an awesome cover in the blink of an eye. Once the manuscript was edited, Kay and I worked together to mock up the illustration suggestions, and she spent a couple of weekends holed up in her cubicle, illustrating the entire book in full color. Just as some comparison, it usually takes us between 6 months and a year to complete a book, from concept to finished copies. In this case, it's about six weeks. We really wanted to respond to the pandemic and get this book out there ASAP.

Coolest of all, you can download this book for free, in PDF form, for a limited time from our website. You can also sign up for a special 10 percent discount off the hardcover book. The download will be free online until January 1, when the printed book is available for purchase.

I'm really proud of the team effort that created this book. It takes a lot of people to make one book, especially in such a short period of time. Here's a list, but I'm sure I'm forgetting someone: our president, Joan Berge; Michael Dahl, our editorial director; Heather Kindseth, our creative director; Shannon Zigmund, our marketing manager; Krista Monyhan, head of our planning department; proofreaders Ali Deering (product planning intern), Sean Tulien (associate editor), and Donnie Lemke (senior editor); web marketing manager Michaela DeLong; production specialist Michelle Biedschied; production manager Blake Hoena; technology project manager Jeff Ruley. And Kay and me.

I hope you love it as much as we do. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

More soon,

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