Albuquerque astronomer will be part of library's author fair this weekend
Misty Carty one of 15 writers who will be featured
FARMINGTON — As the holder of a doctorate in astronomy, it only makes sense that Dr. Misty Carty is a bit of a stickler for details.
So it's hardly surprising that when she decided to dive into the world of writing nonfiction children's books on her area of expertise, Carty quickly realized she probably wouldn't be a good fit for most publishers.
Carty — who will be one of 15 authors appearing at Saturday's Read Four Corners Author Fair at the Farmington Public Library, 2101 Farmington Ave. — had examined other children's nonfiction books and found them lacking when it came to accuracy.
"That's part of why I published (the books) myself," she said Tuesday from her home in Albuquerque, explaining that a little research on her part revealed that publishers likely would demand that such books feature lots of illustrations.
Carty knew a publisher likely would retain the right to choose that illustrator, and Carty simply didn't trust someone she hadn't personally vetted to do the job right.
"I wanted it to be something real," she said of her first book, "Where Is the Moon?" "I had found illustrations in other books of things that are missing or were depicted inaccurately."
Carty simply couldn't abide that kind of sloppiness. So instead of collaborating with an illustrator, Carty has chosen to design her books with photographs she has taken herself. In the case of her first book, she went to painstaking lengths to get the images she wanted, photographing the moon at the same time every morning and every evening for two weeks.
"I think of the idea I want to show in the book, and then do it photographically," she said.
Carty's commitment to realism over flights of fancy doesn't mean her books aren't meant to trigger the imagination of young readers. She's also a member of A Little Science LLC — an organization that creates science content for children in the form of kits, multimedia, presentations and books — and goes around the state speaking at STEM-based events.
Her approach is always the same, she said.
"My message would be science is for everyone," she said. "It's awesome, and it's an upcoming field."
Carty developed an appreciation for writing later in life. She recalled being advised to continue studying math while she was in high school, but she didn't receive the same encouragement when it came to writing. Because of that, it would take years before she would become serious about it.
"It was in grad school that I learned I did like writing," she said, explaining that years of writing grant proposals helped her hone her skills.
Eventually, she came to see that there was a niche in the publishing world that she believed she could help fill. She also has written "Why Are There Seasons?" and "Where Did the Sun Go?"
"I saw there was a need for children's science books written by experts," she said.
One of her goals is to expose children at an early age to the language of science so that they are better equipped to grasp the material they are presented with in school.
"Science is a language, and if you haven't grown up with that language, it is such a barrier," she said. "That's why I want to start earlier at teaching kids that language."
Carty will be sharing her experiences of breaking into the publishing world along with several other authors who have been invited to participate in Saturday's fair. That list includes Kevin T. Boekhoff ("I Forgot that I Remembered"), Kathleen Browning ("Icarus Dreams"), Margaret Cheasebro ("The Healing Tree," "Healing with Trees"), Karen Cogan ("Made for Each Other"), Rhonda Gibson ("Baby on Her Doorstep"), Alan La Selle ("Tod"), Alana Lee ("Starlight Legend"), M.A. McDonald ("Fate's Command"), Gloria O'Shields ("Quinn's Quest"), Lee Pierce ("Rough Justice," "Bounty Hunter's Moon," "The Treasure of Peta Nacona," "Border Lands," "Armstrong's War"), Brit Ward ("Piggy"), Jackie Wheeler ("THINK HOMESCHOOL: live & learn your way"), Angel Wolfe ("Holiday of the Heart") and Jack Yerby ("The Secret of the Haunted House").
Their books range in subject matter from fantasy and romance to drama and nonfiction. Some are geared toward children, some toward young adults and some toward adults.
As part of the day's activities, Traci HalesVass, a San Juan College professor emerita and published author, will lead a flash fiction workshop at 10 a.m. The maximum number of registrations for that class already has been received.
The fair begins at 1 p.m. Saturday with a short presentation by Marty Gerber, editor of Terra Nova Books in Santa Fe, on the realities of publishing. Admission is free. Visit infoway.org or call 505-599-1270.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610.