Author Interview: Carol Covin


Author Interview: Carol Covin

Carol in front of window

Photo Credit: Chip Deyerle

My good friend and Grandmother Diaries contributor Carol Covin has been busy at work writing another book. You might remember her from –


I will let Carol tell you all about her new book:

What is the title or working title of your current book?

Can You Bend a Pencil? 10-Minute Science Activities for Grandchildren

Please provide us with a brief synopsis of your book.

Using materials you have around your house, Can You Bend a Pencil? illustrates common scientific concepts, like gravity, density, refraction, surface tension and capillary action. The activities are designed to reveal the concept and delight children. Each activity is followed with examples of how the concept is used in real life. It is designed for grandparents and grandchildren to share in this discovery. Sample activities include preventing someone from standing up with a fingertip, keeping someone from retrieving a dollar bill from the top of their foot, blowing out a candle with a funnel and recreating Galileo’s Tower of Pisa experiment with a golf ball, a tennis ball and a cookie sheet.

What genre does your current book fall under?


Do you always write for the same genre?

I have only written non-fiction, but my seven published books so far include computer job guides and advice on the relationship between grandmothers and mothers and, now, science for children.

Who or what motivates or inspires you to write?

I usually have some topic that engages me that I think no one else has written about the way I want to read about it. When the frustration builds up enough, I finally sit down and write it myself.

Tell us about your writing background.

For 30 years, I was a software engineer, but decided no one was writing about what software engineers really want to know before they interview with a company, so I started interviewing top computer executives to put together a book, first regional, then national. When the computer industry crashed after Y2K, I had just quit my computer job to devote full-time to writing and publishing a series of these books.

Eventually, I turned to writing about grandmothers and their daughters or daughters-in-law when I discovered how sensitive this relationship is, and, as a result, how little they are willing to say to each other so they won’t hurt each other’s feelings and how much they want to say.

How long does it typically take you to write a first draft?

My first seven books each took a year, largely because of the interviews required for the research. Now, I am writing weekly blog posts that I am collecting into the next book. The first draft took a few weeks to assemble the posts into book form. It will take about three months to polish it so that it is ready for an editor, by normalizing the headers, content of sections and layout, during which time I will have child testers perform each of the activities, many of which have already been tested by my grandchildren.

Do you employ an editor to assist you in your writing process?

For the first six of my seven books I did use an editor, a fantastic technical writer in her own right. The seventh I edited myself and initially published it in pdf form only, then in a plastic comb binding, which allowed me to continue to edit it until, after three years, I submitted it to CreateSpace for a print-on-demand paperback version. This time I am using children as testers to help refine my writing and then will probably use an editor to polish.

Are you self-published or represented by an agency?

My first six books were published by a small publisher who taught me the business. I self-published the seventh book and plan to do the same with the current book.

Do you have future projects we can look forward to?

The 10-minute science book focuses my attention now. It will be followed by a 10-minute math book, for which I am now writing weekly blog posts. Look for activities that illustrate pi with a banana, fractals with mountains, and the Fibonacci spiral with pinecones.

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow writers?

Write when you have something so pressing to say that you can’t not write about it, then don’t let anything keep you from writing it down, then sharing it with the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share with your potential readers?

As to the process of writing, I have two tips. One, give yourself a routine where you write regularly. It will help get your brain in the mode to write. Two, if you ever get stuck, just write down single words that you know belong in the project. Keep writing down single words or phrases until you have a list of 20. Rearrange those words into a natural order. That will give you an outline. That should get you unstuck.

Tell us how we can connect with you in the world of social.


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Comments (11 )

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  1. Susan Cooper says:

    I love what she’s done with her books and how she’s learned how to promote them. We could learn much from her. 🙂

    • carolcovin says:

      Thank you so much, Susan. I am always in awe of artists.

  2. patweber says:

    Carol are you a writing machine?! This is an inspiring story of those of us aspiring to write books. Or heck, just even be an authority blogger. I love the tip you gave to get unstuck. I usually employ a variety of tips and have never heard this one so it's one for the files!

    Cheryl, thanks for sharing your interview with Carol!

    • carolcovin says:

      Pat, I did learn that to write daily posts, I had to have a schedule. Now, I write a week's worth in a day, because it is actually more efficient to get into a writing mood and keep writing.

  3. It will be onteresting to see all the kids science experiments in one place. Will this be a create space project or solely an ebook?

    • carolcovin says:

      Thanks, Jon. People I have been telling about the science activities get stoked at how simple, yet profound these experiments are. I plan for it to be both an ebook and a CreateSpace print-on-demand, so people have choices.

  4. Carol, you are living proof that creativity has nothing to do with age!

    You are so right about writing when you have something pressing to say. When you do your writing just flows and you suddenly realise half the day has gone.

  5. Dan Meyers says:

    I really like your two tips of staying on a routine and writing down words when sentences just aren't working. I've had a few of those "words" turn into full posts and really determine the direction of my blog!

  6. carolcovin says:

    Thanks, Dan. You make another point. You don't always know where you're going to end up when you start. Today's post, for instance, started with a question from my granddaughter – "Why do you read the newspaper?" and ended with the Constitution.

  7. JeriWB says:

    I always find Carol's posts on engaging grandchildren with math activities really interesting from an educational standpoint due to my teaching background. All the while I am also thinking about the six years worth of language arts materials that I developed when I was in the classroom. To say the least, Carol has inspired me to start trying to formulate how I can put some of that material into an eBook.