Math and Publishing: A Report of My Phone Call with a Young Student

The email read: “My algebra teacher asked me to contact someone in a profession I’m interested in pursuing to find out where math is used. Is there someone in your organization I could speak to?”

“Yeah, me. I love speaking with young people,” I wrote back. “I’d be glad to be interviewed for your homework assignment.”

Later that day I was on the phone with Madison, an eighth grader from Florida, who loves reading and writing and is in a special accelerated program where her teacher (who I’m certain is a good one) strongly believes education needs to be relevant.

Where is math used in writing and publishing?


Madison reads above her grade level. When she was in third grade she read at the seventh grade level. Now fourteen, she’s currently enjoying The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I suggested she try the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. She has a tenacious policy never to abandon a book once she begins reading it. Half our conversation focused on questions about what I do for a living and half focused on the initial issue of mathematics.

I told her I had gone through college-level calculus in my studies.

“Where do you use math?” she asked.

“In accounting expenses and income and figuring out how to charge for my services… In calculating the tips on my lunch bill when I eat out with clients and colleagues… In trying to apportion the time in my day… In figuring out how many inches the spine of a cover needs to be based on the page count of a book and the thickness of the paper stock the interior is being printed on…”

“Anywhere else?”

“Knowing math has made me appreciate the world. it comes up sometimes when I’m editing or writing a book. For instance, did you know that sine waves from trigonometry can express sound waves? Or that everything in nature can be expressed in fractal patterns? That the human brain find harmony in the geometry of the golden mean ratio, which shows up in music, in swirling seashells, in the proportions of people’s faces, and in Ancient Greek and Roman temples?”

Sometimes I work on books that are about science and include math. Being able to comprehend those books has enriched my thinking.

It was an awesome question that I highly recommend everybody consider. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Madison by phone, and I got the sense that she’d make a terrific editor in due course because, among other things, she said she could tell about people’s personalities from their writing.

Her last question to me was: “How do you think I could best prepare myself for a career in publishing?” A very good question to ask, especially since the world is always changing and our skills need to change along with it. I figure she’s got eight more years to prepare to launch in life. By then the publishing field may not look much like it does now–considering that technological development makes the computer systems and software we use obsolete every two to four years.

What remains when everything else in this industry changes? Ability to discern quality writing. Ability to articulate perception from reading. How human beings connect. After a few moments of consideration, I suggested she get on her high school and college newspapers, keep reading voraciously, and when she liked something a lot and thought it was well done to make a point to read it a second time and try to figure out what about it made it work.

That last suggestion in particular is probably good advice for all writers–of any age.

If you’re reading this, thanks Madison! I hope you have a good summer.

A Musical Christmas Card Featuring the Guitar Stylings of Peter Rubie

From Us to You, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2015!

Meet Rania Habiby Anderson, An Author Advancing the Careers of Women in Developing Nations

Rania Habiby Anderson is on a mission. She’s committed to accelerating the careers of women in emerging economies worldwide–in Africa, in Central and South America, in the Middle East, in Asia. For over four years, she has dedicated much of her time and funds to speaking with and surveying over 250 women in those regions one on one, in small and large groups, in person, by phone, or Skype, and through email correspondence. Her remarkable new book written based on this research and her own expertise is designed to provide women with the kind of frank and resourceful advice they need to succeed.Aptly titled UNDETERRED: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies is due out in early 2015.

With our help and on the basis of their own talents and efforts women everywhere will be able to find jobs, build careers, start businesses, create even more jobs, and fuel global prosperity.

Rania intends to give away as many copies as she possibly can to graduating female college seniors and start a wave of freedom and participation where the gender gap is greatest and career women strongly need support. This is their time in history to take the lead!

The ultimate vision is for the book to be translated into multiple languages, including limited to Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, which can be accomplished if enough people share Rania’s dream.

Crowdfunding Success for Our Sisters in Developing Nations

UNDETERRED is about empowerment. It’s about giving a whole new generation of women in emerging economies the ability to achieve financial self-sufficiency and to make a contribution in the world.

Two Things You Can Do Today

If unleashing the success of women around the world moves you, here are two things you can do TODAY:

1. Back this campaign now! Click here. It launched on October 21 and closes on November 7. The goal is $30,000 and EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR HELPS. Donate to help young women launch their careers or businesses.

2. Help spread the word! Share this project with one person you know who is also passionate about seeing women succeed.

“ENOUGH NEGATIVITY, says Rania. “I’ve grown weary of hearing the media and others talk almost exclusively about the obstacles women in developing and emerging economies face. While much of it is true, the fact of the matter is that there are also MILLIONS of women that we never hear about who are succeeding (see I want to share women’s progress, not their plight!”