Friday, December 8, 2023

Illustrating Althea

I'm not much good at drawing, but most of the illustrations in Althea and the Mysteries of Triangles, Circles, and Pi are math work. I can do those. So I've put my own illustrations into the manuscript as placeholders. There will be a professional illustrator, later.

This past week, I was looking for where more illustrations are needed. I decided Althea would draw a map of California while thinking about their summer trips. So I drew it. Their home is in Berkeley, they go to camp in Quincy, and they're planning a trip to San Diego to visit Legoland (because her younger brother Rudy would love that, and their moms met in San Diego).

I had fun drawing the map. First I downloaded a map of California into goodnotes, as the template for my document. Then I outlined it, and then changed the template to make the original fancy map go away. Finally, I got to add the places of interest to Althea.

As one friend on facebook pointed out, it would help to make the line weights different for the outline versus the routes she's imagining. The professional illustrator can either take care of that, or show me how it will work best for the published book.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Althea's Math Mysteries


This blog may not be as active as it used to be, but it's a good way for me to remember some things. My first post about my Althea stories was in September of 2019, so I've been working on the first two books in this series for four years now. I'm hoping we'll be able to publish them in about a year. 

I have a very hopeful timeline that puts publication in October. But we all know that things never go as well as we hope. (And I'm wishing we could do it just a bit faster than that, so they'd come out in time for Math Storytelling Day, September 25, Maria's and my birthday.)

I have pretty complete drafts done of Althea and the Mystery of the Imaginary Numbers and Althea and the Mysteries of Triangles, Circles, and Pi. Soon I'll be asking for folks to read the manuscripts and comment on them. (Email me at if you'd like to be one of our readers.) After that's done, we'll do our usual (Natural Math publishing's usual) crowdfunding campaign. And then there will be illustration, copy editing, proofreading, page layout, and books!

Here's my mock-ups of the covers, and lots of information that goes with the books.

At a few points, I've really wanted to see what these would look like as actual paperback books. made that easy. Two books cost me under $25. I've done that 3 times, while I've polished up the books. What you see in the photo above is me holding the 3rd printed draft copy of Althea and the Mysteries of Triangles, Circles, and Pi.

In other news, I retired on May 20 from my full-time job teaching math at a community college. Teaching online was way too much work, and less satisfaction than teaching in person. I'm still covid-cautious, so I also didn't want to go back to teaching in person. Retirement has been wonderful. I'm working hard on the books, visiting Michigan where I help my dad (who's 90), cleaning up my house a bit, and working on my yard. 

All that was plenty for about the first five months. When I noticed that I sometimes felt like I had nothing to do, I posted in a Beast Academy group on facebook that I was thinking of offering a class. Someone suggested that I apply for a position with AOPS. (Art of Problem Solving is an amazing online resource, providing great math textbooks and classes, and they wrote the fabulous Beast Academy curriculum.) I did that, and I'll start teaching for them soon!

I will definitely be blogging more over the next year, to let anyone still reading my blog know what's up with these books. (If you're out there reading this, I'd love to hear from you.)

Monday, July 31, 2023

Playful Math Blog Carnival #166

This blog carnival has been around for 14 years. Almost every month for 14 years, someone has added a post to this collection. That's quite a long life for an internet phenomenon. (Congratulations, Denise, for keeping this going!) If you'd like to see any of the previous posts in this series, check them out here. For many years, blogs were a big part of my time online. But not so much lately.

When our number (166 now) was in the 20s, 30s, or 40s, I'd make sure to have that many links. Nope, I don't have time to find 166 great links (and you'd get tired just looking through them). But they're out there. I have learned so much from bunny hopping around the web of math bloggers over the years. And even though blogs aren't the popular thing now, most of the old ones are still out there, waiting for you to find them and get excited.


The 166 puzzle: It turns out that 166 is a 'centered triangular number'. If you start with a dot, and then you put a triangle around that, and a bigger one around that, etc, you get up to 166. How many triangles did you use?


I have just run out of envelopes. How should I make myself one? (a puzzle from Fawn Nguyen) What shape of paper will you use?



Online Mathy games

Geometry Puzzles


Find the blue area

This one stumped me (no trig required).



 This one's a lot easier.







What fraction is shaded? Catriona Shearer (@Cshearer41) made this, along with gobs more, mostly pretty challenging, which she posts on twitter. And here's a collection of over 300 of them.


Beyond the Games & Puzzles
Searching for more? Some good hashtags are:  #MTBoS #ITeachMath  #Elemmathchat #MSmathchat
If you've seen some good math pedagogy out in the wilds of the internet, add a comment. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Althea's Math Mysteries

 I've been working for a few years on Althea and the Mystery of the Imaginary Numbers. It's almost ready for the illustrator. But I wanted to dive deeper into the characters, and started working on the second book in the series, Althea and the Mysteries of Pi. I'm about 80 pages in on my first (very rough) draft. It has been a blast writing this, because I pretty much know where I'm headed. (Although sometimes I worry that there's too much math, and not enough character development. And then I back up and think about Althea, Kiara, Sofia, and Aiden some more.)

Today I wanted a good place to put links that the book refers to, so I made a temporary website for all the books. It's a google site (for now). And I made mock-ups for the book covers. It helps me to organize my thoughts, and it is super exciting to see. So even though the books won't be published for another year (or 2?), maybe this will tantalize you. Here's the site for Althea's Math Mysteries.

When this book is pretty much done, I'll start working on the third one, Althea and the Mysteries of Infinity. I have lots of ideas for that one, but they have no structure. I have no idea where I'll start or end. 

When I'm all done, and these 3 books are published, maybe I'll have realized that there are more books in the series. For now, it's looking like just the three.

Math Blog Directory