Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Eileen Meyer Launches A. LINCOLN (and a Giveaway)! ~ by Patricia Toht

Eileen R. Meyer's new book, THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN: POEMS ABOUT OUR 16TH PRESIDENT, begins with a definition:

"superlative - 
1. of the best or highest quality; supreme..."

The word applies to Abraham Lincoln, the beloved American president, in so many ways. But it also applies to author Eileen R. Meyer. She is one of the most dedicated and hardest working authors I know. Her research skills are impeccable. Her poetry is prime. Come discover her sources of inspiration, her methods of research, and her clever ideas for marketing.

PT: I'm so excited that your new book, THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN: POEMS ABOUT OUR 16TH PRESIDENT, was released yesterday, Eileen! What drew you to Abraham Lincoln as the subject of this book?

Eileen: Thank you, Patty! I'm excited, too, that this book is now available to young readers. A number of years ago, I read an adult biography about Abraham Lincoln. (As an Illinois native, I've always admired our state's most famous leader.) While reading the book, it struck me that there were still so many interesting stories about Lincoln that could be shared with children. Most young readers know the basic framework of Lincoln's life, but they're probably not as familiar with other stories about him. That was the first germ of an idea for this picture book.

PT: Your three earlier books were picture books, but THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN is a 48-page, nonfiction, poetry collection. Quite a change! What did you enjoy most about writing it? What were the biggest challenges for you?

Eileen: This book IS quite a change, Patty! I adore writing poetry. I began my writing career by selling poems to magazines, such as Highlights, High Five, Ladybug, and others. Though it is an unusual approach, I wanted to tell true stories within the framework of a poetry collection, highlighting a different story with each poem.
Text by Eileen Meyer
Illustration by Dave Szalay

Why poetry? Poetry provides the reader with an opportunity to slow down, pause, and reflect. Using lyrical language, sound, rhythm, and form, a poem can engage a reader in a very special way. Additionally, most poems are what I would call "bite-sized" - they include plenty of white space on the page - which allows readers to form their own connections.

What did I enjoy most about writing this book? Learning more about Abraham Lincoln! When you undertake a nonfiction project, you know that you'll be spending oodles of time immersed in your subject matter. Reading and spending a lot of time in thought about Abraham Lincoln was a delight!

As for my biggest challenge? With many books about Lincoln in the market, I needed to find a way to tell stories about Lincoln's life that was both fresh and interesting. The "superlative" theme and writing poetry was my "aha!" moment. 

PT: This book required extensive research. How did you go about finding resources? Any tips on organizing your research? And how did you decide which information to include in the book's back matter?

Eileen: I LOVE research projects! Generally, I begin by reading books about my topic. I take lots of notes to ensure there is enough fresh content before I move forward with the project. Truly, I find that the books help steer my path. The books' authors always reference special collections, museums, historical sites, historians, and other topical experts throughout their book text and in the footnotes. That helps direct the next steps of my research.

Eileen at the Lincoln Memorial
Photo by Carol Stalun Photography
Though it takes more time, I'm a big believer in personally visiting important historic sites to conduct research. For this book, I traveled throughout Illinois and also visited Washington, DC. I spent time at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Lincoln Memorial. By visiting many of these important sites, I was able to form a deeper understanding of Abraham Lincoln and his impact on others.

University of Illinois Library,
1891 book compiled by
Secretary of State Seward's son
As for organizing my research, I take a lot of photos when I visit historic sites and I take good notes. I keep my notes in 3-ring binders for easy reference. My photos are kept on my laptop computer; I might also print out some key photographs.

Regarding the back matter, I had a conference call with my editor early on in the project and we outlined those elements. The author's note, timeline, resources (books and websites), quotation sources, and selected bibliography were all key components. I'm especially excited about "The Superlative YOU" page in the back matter. It encourages young readers to consider the ways in which they, too, are superlative.

PT: You and fellow Grogger Julie Phend wrote a terrific post about promotional book swag. How are you using swag for THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN?

Eileen: I think book swag is so much fun! Some folks hire publicists for their marketing. Some plan fancy launch parties. I decided that I wanted to use my marketing budget for some innovative pre-order swag. Folks who pre-ordered copies of my book were able to contact me and receive this swag package:
"Be Superlative - Be Like Abe!" youth-sized silicone wristband
• One-of-a-kind Lincoln cork coaster for your coffee (a great way to start the day with a reminder to "Be Superlative!")
• A snazzy Lincoln pencil
• An author-signed bookplate to place inside the book
• Two bookmarks featuring illustrator Dave Szalay's awesome art
• Activities (only available in this offer) for a young reader 
• A lucky Lincoln penny

Another plus of the swag is that I can continue to use it at promotional events to come. It was fun to create a little excitement leading up to the launch!

PT: Are you able to tell us what's next for you?

Eileen: Thanks for asking, Patty. I'll only say that I've started researching another history topic and I'm in the preliminary stage where I'm reading books. I've also visited a key historic site. My husband is a good sport, and on a recent trip to the National Book Festival in Washington DC (to listen to some fabulous KidLit authors present programs), we took a little side trip. Traveling for research projects is lots of fun!
Eileen at the Library of Congress

PT: Thank you, Eileen, for a post that's "the most"!

Discover more about Eileen: 
Website -
Facebook - eileen.r.meyer children's author
Twitter - @Writer_Meyer
Instagram - eileenmeyerbooks


For a chance to win a copy of
comment below.
For an additional chance, 
share this post on social media
and tag Eileen 
(handles listed above this alert).