Idiot Genius Nabs 5th Award

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We’re proud to announce another book award for Richard Due’s Idiot Genius series—this time from Writer’s Digest (for middle grade & young adult). This is the 5th time Idiot Genius has been recognized this year. We’re so proud we typeset a new first page!

Newton’s Apple! Franklin’s Fire! Einstein’s Hair!—the Many Exclamations of Idiot Genius

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In Idiot Genius you’ll run into a number of odd expressions. Some are specific to particular neighborhoods (or burgs, as the locals in Grandeur call them). In the Clockwerk burg, for example, it’s common to hear gears and spindles! Sadly, outside the Clockwerk burg, you might come across name-calling that’s downright mean, like wobblepot! or Oily Cog! (There’s nothing more offensive to a Clockwerk than being called a Cog.)

Willa Snap arrives in Grandeur with a few exclamations of her own, like totally bean!—something she and her mother enjoy saying when they spot something amazing. And Nut Yippee! which Willa yells like others might yell Geronimo! Nut Yippee was a real peanut candy introduced in the 1930s by the Squirrel Brand Company. Willa adopted the saying from an engraved slab of granite in Squirrel Brand Park, across the street from her old house in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In no time, Willa starts picking up Grandeurisms so quickly it’s hard to tell which ones are from her new friends and which ones she’s making up on the spot. Luckily, it isn’t hard to figure out where these sayings came from. But just in case . . .

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Newton’s apple!

This is the kind of thing someone might say after making a big discovery that’s been sitting right out in the open. It comes from Sir Isaac Newton, the 17th-century English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and theologian, who often told a story about how seeing an apple fall from a tree inspired him to formulate his theory of gravitation.

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Franklin’s fire!

A person might say this after seeing something unexplainable, and possibly dangerous. It comes from Benjamin Franklin, 18th-century Founding Father, printer, inventor, and diplomat. After retiring from the printing business, Franklin began experimenting extensively with electricity, which he called electrical fire.

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Tesla’s coil!

This one comes from Nikola Tesla, the 19th-century Serbian-American inventor, who, before inventing the alternating current (which powers most of the world), invented the Tesla coil, an electrical resonant transformer circuit. (Yeah, what he said.) Someone might shout Tesla’s coil! after seeing or learning something fantastic and unexpected.

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Einstein’s hair!

This one doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Just check out the hair! Einstein was the German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity. E=mc²!

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Feynman’s bongos!

A person might yell this one during a heart-pounding, completely unexpected, moment. It comes from the bongo-playing American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, who, in 1959, gave a talk titled There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, in which he laid the foundation for nanotechnology.

These are just a few of the exclamations you might hear in Grandeur. You can find more in Willa Snap’s first illegal memoir: Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy.

Flying Devils and the Marine Screw Propeller

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First, it’s worth mentioning that most inventors and innovators who are credited with being the “first” to invent something are almost always not the first: they just got the credit for it.

Remember the Black Fez Axiom:
“History is always older.”

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Telling the difference between science and what looks like magic has never been easy.

Take the Age of Sail, for example. Even though air is invisible, it was easy for people to understand what made ships move through water. All they had to see were the sails filling with air.

The same was true for the first steam-powered ships, which used giant paddle-wheels to propel themselves through the water.

But all that changed in 1836, after Swiss inventor John Ericsson proposed towing a barge carrying members of the Royal Admiralty around the Thames River using twin marine screw propellers powered by a steam engine.

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The people watching the event from the shore were not only amazed, but highly confused. Where were the sails? Where were the paddle wheels? Certainly some black magic must be at work! Spectators, and even some able seamen, posited “flying devils.”

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A John Ericsson propeller. circa 1840s

Ericsson’s first propeller ship was a steam-powered tugboat, the Francis B. Ogden. It was 40 feet long, 8 feet wide at the beam, drew 3 to 5 feet of water, and was capable of towing a barge at 7 mph—which is exactly what Ericsson did. But afterwards, the Lords of the Admiralty he’d invited for the ride were completely unimpressed—they even told him they didn’t care for his design!

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John Ericsson

Ericsson took his second ship, the Robert F. Stockton, a much larger oceangoing vessel, to America, in hopes of getting a better reception. Which he did.

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Early steamships still relied on sails for long voyages.

 

Further readings:

Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor & the Merrimac by Avi

Monitor: The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History, by James Tertius Dekay

A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine, by Robert H. Thurston, A.M., C.E., 1907. (free download)

Bonus fun: Click HERE

Willa Snap’s first illegal memoir: Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy.

IF YOU DONT READ THIS YOU’RE JUST A plain IDIOT!

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Click on review to read on Amazon

Um, another day . . . another 5-star review for Willa Snap?! (4.9-star avg) Really? Totally bean!

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I wasn’t sure how this book would be received. I’m feeling really humbled by these incredible reviews and book awards. [now I have to go cry for a bit]

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Click the revew to see it on Amazon.

Another 5-star review for Willa Snap (4.9-star avg)

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Book Signing: Baltimore Book Festival

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 I’ll be signing copies of Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy on the 29th (Saturday), from 3pm – 7pm at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Say: “Oh, Snap!” and I’ll take 20% off the price! (You’ll find me under the Maryland Writers Association’s tent.)

The Baltimore Book Festival features hundreds of appearances by local, celebrity and nationally known authors, book signings, more than 100 exhibitors and booksellers, nonstop readings on multiple stages, cooking demos by top chefs, poetry readings, workshops, panel discussions, storytellers and hands-on projects for kids, live music, and a thoughtfully curated food, craft beer, and wine program.

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Oh, Snap! Willa Snap has been shortlisted for the Internatinal Rubery Book Award

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Idiot Genius: Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy

There is plenty to like about this novel. It is full of fun, and clearly the product of a quirky, inventive mind, ideal for children’s writing. Willa is a smart, likeable child with no prejudices. She, her genius mother and practical father (no problem with gender stereotypes here) are kidnapped and taken to a world where they experience bizarre encounters with a variety of unlikely entities. The narrative is often very witty and the absurdity of the story is what carries it along. The pace is fast and the plot farcical in places which is what children will like about it. This would appeal to the 10-12 age range, although a certain amount of intelligence is assumed, otherwise too many of the jokes would be missed.

—International Rubery Book Award

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Willa Snaps and the Clockwerk Dresses

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It started innocently enough, just a few lines of text.

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Then this happened!

Clockwerk Dress series