By K. Richard Douglas
Invariably, around New Year’s Day every year, a TV reporter will ask a random person on the street about their goals or resolutions for the year. Occasionally, the answer will include a response about a dream of writing a book. That dream of many people can be found in personal blogs, literary forums and on social media.
The dream of applying one’s creative skills and abilities to the pages of a book, along with the potential for a modicum of fame, has been a goal for many. Whether fiction or non-fiction, writing a book is often a way to increase social capital. For some, it’s a way to achieve some degree of immortality.
It is not only an endeavor that benefits the author, but the resulting product can provide benefits to the readers. That fact is particularly true when the book is aimed at the youth market and provides educational benefits.
One recent example of this idea is a book called: “Meet the STEAM TEAM: Coloring & Activity Book.”
The book’s author is Douglas Redwine, operations manager of healthcare technology management at Texas Health Resources.
Amazon describes the book as: “The STEAM TEAM is a group of ordinary teenagers who discover the superpower of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math and use it in magical ways to solve problems and create fun adventure.”
The website goes on to say: “‘Meet the STEAM TEAM’ is loaded with action-packed mazes, word searches, things to draw, pages to color and more.”
What prompted an HTM professional to delve into the world of children’s activity books?
“I’ve had the idea of writing a book for many years and always knew I would one day,” Redwine says.
“I’ve made several attempts in the past, but just never completed the task. Once the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it limited my opportunities to work with my students in the after-school program, but gave me more free time to think, and I took advantage by returning to the idea of creating books,” he adds.
Redwine is referring to a media arts class for the Fort Worth After School Program at Dunbar High School that was part of the focus of a 2017 TechNation article.
The focus of the after-school class is STEM education. That has been a passion of Redwine’s and he clearly believes in its importance in preparing kids for the future.
“My original idea for writing books was to produce books in the self-help/motivation genre, but one day I was struck with the idea that I should work in my area of expertise; science, technology, engineering and math and arts activities for kids. Once I came to the conclusion to create books for kids the idea of the STEAM TEAM suddenly came to me about a week later during a morning drive to work,” he says.
Redwine says that before arriving to work that day, he had the names of the characters and knew he was now ready to begin researching and learning how to publish books.
The science, technology, engineering and math advocate didn’t jump into the author role head-first; he initially did some research.
“As a result of my many years working with students and creating theme-based lessons, I knew exactly what the content of The STEAM TEAM books should be, but I had to spend a lot of time researching about publishing, illustrations, copyright rules and the resources available to create things for the manuscript that I could not do myself. Udemy and YouTube has been my friend in the research department,” Redwine says.
Illustration and Publication
Children’s books are usually a combination of words and illustrations so a children’s book author needs to find a qualified artist to bring the story to life.
“When it was time to have my books illustrated, I called on one of my former students; Arius Ball. I’ve known Arius since he was in grade school and I took early notice that he was an extremely talented artist,” Redwine says.
Redwine tells a funny story about when Ball was in junior high. Redwine used to always ask him to see what he was working on and jokingly tell him he was going to write a comic strip and have him do the illustrations.
“Long story short, or fast forward, he went on to Texas A&M and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in visualization. At a ceremony for recent college graduates at Greater Saint Stephen First Church, I approached him about my idea of The STEAM TEAM by saying, “Remember when I used to say we would do a comic strip? Well; and the rest is history,” Redwine jokes.
Writing a book is half the battle. An author has two choices; to self-publish or to go through a literary agent and a publishing house. When a publishing house is involved, they handle most of the marketing of the book. When an author self-publishes, this task is mostly left to the author.
“To get the word out about my books I will utilize all of the traditional chains for marketing and distribution, such as website, social media, book ads, podcast interviews, magazine reviews, book clubs, and public events for book sellers and vendors. I’ve learned that in order to market books successfully, you have to constantly network, plan, strategically promote the product and make every effort to connect with the intended audience,” Redwine says.
His vocation as an HTM professional involves science, technology, engineering and math as well.
“In my role as the operations manager of healthcare technology management (HTM), I oversee the daily operations of the biomedical engineering departments of seven wholly owned and joint venture hospitals in my region. In summary of my day to day, I am responsible for the biomed department contractual and operations budget management, risk management, operations management and personnel management,” he says.
“Outside of corporate work and my passion for teaching youth, I am a member and on the executive board of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) DFW Professionals Chapter, a board member of Book Angels Nonprofit, I enjoy running with the ZFT Run Club and enjoy spending quality time with my partner, Keelia, my family and friends,” Redwine adds.
He says that he wants young readers to have fun while learning and hopes the book will spark their imagination.
“Under The STEAM TEAM moniker, I will be publishing kid’s journals, early learning, science, technology, engineering and math careers, at home projects and The STEAM TEAM adventure series. I’m super excited about the upcoming projects and believe they will inspire kids to dream, explore and create,” Redwine says.
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