Saturday, January 31, 2009

I am finding it too difficult to put this project away. I keep hearing voices like when my daughter was little and needed a lift to the top of the stairs, "pick me up." But I didn't sing to my outline, "you got legs, and you know how to use em'." As usual, I'm being very silly. Today I sliced a subheader into three pieces because there was too much there and I came up with some clever titles too. I started reading "101 Things I Botched Up Writing This Outline." It's a great book, but it ended up giving me a lot of work. So I had to fix all of them. And if this isn't the best darn outline I've ever done, then I don't know what is.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

And's a snowshoe day! Out in the woods, I pulled my folded 4 page document out of my pocket and read it as I walked. I just can't leave it alone. Glad I brought the pen. I had the trail to myself, but the sound of snowshoes was thunderous crunching on the frozen snow. That wasn't the only sound. Somewhere behind my left heel there was the sound of ripping - skin ripping. Naturally, I didn't turn around until my heel was killing me. At this point, I had 2.5 miles to go with a 3/4 inch blister (not that I measured). That is one big mamma blister. Anyhow, I decided that this project has to go into a file cabinet because I won't leave it alone and move on to something else and I have to get back to those 2 classes in Feb.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today, a snow day, I was like a maniac. I spent the entire day (7-3:30) reviewing this 4 page document for accuracy and I wasn't about to stop until I was done. And I am there. YES! It's amazing how you can be so certain you got it right until you really look closely.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I noticed on the news today that John Updike had died. I'm glad I saw him once at a local college and that I purchased a book and had him sign it.

I just got done with a webinar. It was kinda cool - powerpoint slides with audio from the editor and attendees all over the U.S. I was surprised at the 25 participants. My stomach was making strange little noises that I hoped no one but me could hear. I was sweating it out in the beginning when the meeting was about to start. What! You have to be an administrator to log on? My husband crowned himself administrator long ago, so I had to go get him real fast. Phew!
This morning at 5 A.M., my alarm clock purred in my face (and you can't turn it off!). That got me thinking about the nonfiction books I used to read my kids when they were small. For the life of me I could not remember much. I do remember reading lots of Tana Hoban books and I loved this book for capturing the grandeur. The nonfiction kids books I've been reading lately are really exceptional in their own way - excellent photography, interesting stories, dramatic action, and beautiful storytelling. Did they exist back then? I would have read more if I could have found more nonfiction that was a nice read.

I have an idea for my current proposal - something a little different. But I need to think about the best way to do it. Hm.

I forgot to mention at my local library yesterday, I noticed nearly an entire shelf of brand new nonfiction! Way to go!

Monday, January 26, 2009

I just received this nice email from my friend Emily who I recently made a birthday basket for that included "Emily's Fortune Cookies."
"I just had the last of the Emily chocolate covered fortune cookies....they were delicious and I liked the fortune aspect very much. When they interview me after you are famous I can use that as an example of what a thoughtful and inventive person you are."
And my response back was that when I fail to succeed at being a science writer after flunking Webinar 101, I can make gift baskets for a living! My memories of college chemistry revolve solely around breaking a flask and having the entire class look in my direction. I'm certain my face looked like I'd just opened a hot oven.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I thought I'd pass along an interesting video of an Andean bear and cub in Peru climbing a sheer vertical cliff. Pretty amazing. The video link came in an email from Chris Morgan of Beartrek. In December I also received a disk, but sorry to say I've been so totally absorbed in a whole array of things that I have not had the time to look over the contents.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This is the week of having to redo things. After "unsubscribing" to a listserv, my inbox has been filling up with mundane emails. So I unsubscribed - again. I've just finished the first 2 paragraphs that I "finished" last week. They didn't do it for me, didn't pack enough power. I kept a lot of the phrases, but rearranged the order. I'm likin' this version even more. Now I'm on to verifying the accuracy. My new approach is to only print off one page at a time so the task is not so daunting.

Next week I'm doing a webinar. Believe me, I didn't have clue either. I'm curious to find out what on earth this editor is going to talk about for 1.5 hours? In looking at that definition it mentions the ability to receive information from the participants. Oh no, not the dreaded "around the world" thing. Linda, please tell us about yourself. Dial tone (of course I'm laughing at the thought).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yesterday after fumbling around on the NASW website I thought it would be a good idea to subscribe to the discussion board or so I thought that's what it was. Today after receiving all kinds email that I wasn't interested in reading I realized I had made a BIG mistake. UNSUBSCRIBE!!!

I also received the pamphlet I ordered. It looks more like a book to me. I'm eager to read the contents.


Did you catch these words: "We will restore science to its rightful place."

Monday, January 19, 2009

So much for "thinking" I was done with those first 2 paragraphs. From prior experience, I have come to realize that preparing an article is like selecting the fabric, stuffing it with science and sewing up the sides. With my submissions it seems the editors are always ripping them open and squeezing more science stuffing into the corners. Then we sew them back together to get a very complete piece. So, I'm making a conscious effort to try and stuff this one full the first time. Yeah, right, just like I'm making a conscious effort to cut sugar. Hah.
I've been doing considerable work on those first two paragraphs where the action begins - moving sentences around, replacing words, and rearranging phrases. I start with a vision of the scene in my head and try to make the words exactly match the picture. It's easy to say yep, got it. Then I go back, read it again, and think it's not quite there. After revising it for a while I still have words on paper.......
but I like it, like it, yes, I do
Oh, well, I like it, I like it, I like it

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I don't make New Years resolutions. I think last year's short list of accomplishments was the catalyst for this year's drive - push it, cut computer time, and cut sugar. Some time last fall I was lamenting about what direction to go in. There were two paths - look elsewhere and cut back or work furiously. For now, I'm working furiously.

Ch 1 is on paper now! It's a lump of clay that needs work, but it exists. There is so much I want to read - books for kids, a book for adults, a pamphlet that has not yet arrived, and 3 newsletters.

It's snowing here today. It's really helpful to write about conditions when you are experiencing them first hand. Without much effort, I came up with a nice analogy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Here's the math:

1 hour = 3 lousy sentences (yesterday)
2 hours = 1 page (today)
Total = Moving forward......slowly.

For my latest research, I've been pulling information everywhere I can get it - internet, research papers, books, Youtube videos, and today I added a webcast.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm happy to report that my wolf class has enough kids signed up that I'm getting a teachers assistant. I always wonder what attracts the child/parent to sign up for a particular class. Is it the hands-on activities I listed or are the kids excited about going outside and howling. Yep, you heard right, we will be howling. When my daughter left for college, she left her Sony ICD-B600 digital voice recorder here. I am going to ask her if I can borrow it (let's face it, recording college lectures wasn't a big hit with her). Tracking wolves will be that much more real if I can record the sound of a radio receiver and the sound of an actual wolf howling. Owoooooooooo!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Doesn't that figure. After calling a busy editor to pester him (in a nice way) about sponsoring me by sending an email, I find out today that I am now a member of the National Association of Science Writers! So obviously the email was sent. I looked through the roster of members and was kind of surprised there were only 3 science writers for children that I knew of. I lamented whether this was the right thing to do. After thinking about it for a bit I decided yes, I'm confident I did the right thing for me and for my future goals.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ideas are always evolving. Nails are out for securing wolf tracks to the ground. While in the cellar browsing the glass jars filled with screws and nails, I remembered. When I was a kid, unknowingly, I stepped through the snow onto a board with a nail sticking out of it. I ended up with a puncture wound in the arch of my foot and a tetanus shot too. Walking was painful for a while.

Interesting that both classes that I'm teaching reminded me of childhood incidents. In preparation for the jellyfish class, I searched for fluorescent items in the fishing section of an fishing/hunting store. I passed fishing lures with shiny fake fish hanging from them. As a kid, after a swim, I climbed on the dock. Dangling from my knee was a lure like that. Thankfully, there happened to be a doctor nearby. He removed the hook the only way he could - forward breaking the skin again, snipping the hook, then backing out. Oh that hurt! The end result was another tetanus shot. When I hear some say catching fish and releasing them doesn't hurt them, well, I have a VERY different opinion. Been there. Rather then risk leaving one nail on the ground, I'll likely use a metal weight secured underneath with packing tape.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Yesterday, I made tracks - literally. My upcoming class about wolves and a study in Banff National Park is on Valentines Day. I really want the kids to understand what it's like to be a scientist tracking wolves so I'm hoping the weather cooperates and we can go outside. It just won't be the same tracking wolves through the hallways of a college. Anyhow, I started making plaster casts from a well-traveled bucket of casting compound (it went on a trip to AK). Although I had fun, I soon realized that I needed many more tracks and these were going to be heavy and fragile. Wind and wet surfaces were also potential scenarios. I went online to find an actual size print of a wolf using Google images. I printed it and saw how tiny it was. Was this a troll wolf? It was 1/2 actual size so I enlarged it. I ended up with laminated wolf tracks with a hole punched in them to secure them to the ground with a nail.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Two nights ago, I was at the local library scooping up some books so I could examine the layout. The librarian asked if there was anything in particular I was looking for. I told her I was looking for science books written as a story, books that had won awards. She had her pen handy and was taking all this down. I gave her one topic that I was particularly interested in. New budgets come out in January and the head librarian had money to spend.

The shelves were stacked with all kinds of nonfiction, but much of it was not something you could read. I thought it would be really helpful if libraries distinguished the nonfiction story books from the reference books that are merely collections of facts. All Y/A books have a bold "Y/A" on the spine, why don't they put a big "S" (story), "CN" (creative nonfiction) or "NS" (nonfiction story) on the spine of a nonfiction book that can be read aloud? This way parents and teachers could easily find these books.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yesterday, I was at the office supply store making copies of clips and some other writing stuff. Here's the math:
17 pages x 4 copies of each page = 1 tree
Being intent on keeping the pages organized and making sure I copied each one, I was totally oblivious to what could have been a hugely embarrassing moment. We are not talking poppy seeds in the teeth mind you. Maybe I shouldn't even admit this, but my pants had a rip in the back of them that was horrendous - an 8 inch window into my private world and it wasn't even on the seam. I can assure you there weren't like that when I put them on. Thankfully, my coat was long enough to hide the disaster. My daughter was practically on the floor with laughter when I told her I was heading to the grocery store. "Like that?" "Yeah." "YOU'RE GOING LIKE THAT!" She must have laughed for 10 minutes. Anyhow, if my embarrassing story brightens up just one day it was worth blogging about.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I was surprised today while browsing the SCBWI Bulletin online. I came across my name announcing the July 2008 publication of "What good is the Big Bad Wolf?" in Highlights. But I thought the writer submitted their own announcements. I didn't tell them. Just because everyone else is doin' it, doesn't necessarily mean I think it's good for me. I guess for me, it seems like bragging, so I don't bother. Is this a test to see if I read the thing? OK, fess up, who did it?

After all these years, I am still learning - and doing things wrong. I know, it's hard to believe, but I'm afraid it's true. Today I was working on a short biography. I am embarrassed to say that I was pretty clueless. In fact, I looked at all my old stuff and found that I did a better job at a bio back in 2006 (but it was still pretty lousy). I am SO glad I looked up how to write these babies. Anyhow, I added a "how to write a short bio" link to my writers links in case I have a bout of ugh ugh ......what was it called?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I opted out of a New Years Eve party due to fresh snow and a strong desire to finish the book I was reading. Curled up by the Xmas tree, with a booklight and a glass of red wine I read quite a bit and was quite content to end the year at 10PM. Today I finished the book. It led me to several research papers and like an internet machine, those led me to others. The book hinted at more animosities between scientists and made me realize I needed to tweak the outline a little more. It was time well spent. Next up, I will be finalizing and testing some residual ideas for the two K-3 classes I'm teaching in February at Manchester Community College and with luck I'll have some time to keep moving forward on this.