Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union - part 3

After stressing, stewing, floundering, pondering, designing, writing, shelfing, writing, scrapping, and unscrapping, Houston I have a story!  I spent a day working on one idea, but realized that I needed to do more research to finish it, so I put that project on the shelf and went in a different direction.  I spent another day taking a MG WIP and whittling it down to a PB.  At the end of the day, I decided to scrap the whole project.  By sunrise the following day, I resolved to make it work and it is!  I am immensely satisfied with how it's going given the rocky start.  I've been hyped up trying to keep an eagle eye on the word count with books like Lightship and Wolfsnail in mind.  Yesterday, I found Donna Bowman Bratton's post that made me relax about the number of words in a NF PB.  Although I've been focusing on being concise, chopping it down too far would be an injustice to the topic.

I made this last week.  Guys may need to eat about seven of them, but hey, it was a fast healthy dinner.

I'll be Hungry in an Hour Wrap
Roasted veggies - cut up pieces of pepper, onion, squash, and eggplant drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper, oregano, basil (or whatever spice you like) and a touch of sea salt then roasted at 400 degrees until done (15-20 min)
Spread hummus on wrap, top with roasted veggies and roll em' Danno.

These photographs were taken at Bigelow Hollow State Park.  We snowshoed on frozen Bigelow Hollow Pond, but at one spot it was slushy and ice stuck to the bottom of the snowshoes making them much heavier.   At the park, a blue sheet of paper listed the trails and distances.  It was missing one piece of valuable information--the distance was ONE WAY!  Daylight disappeared fast in that park because the sun went down behind a dense pine ridge.  We turned back on a 2.9 miler because there simply wasn't enough daylight.   The needles on the pine saplings in the top photo were so light and feathery in contrast to the rest of the forest.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Next week I'm going to a meeting about Connecticut Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Education's new designation for schools that meet certain environmental criteria.  Also, if you are interested in signing up your child for an Excursions in Learning class at Manchester Community College, it's best to do it soon.  Currently, I am juggling a number of different things, but my focus is trying to get something ready for that Nonfiction Academy that I signed myself up for.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wow, have things picked up.  I was quite happy to hear back from the NESCBWI about volunteering at the conference this year.  After much thought, I've decided to go for the full three days, but I'll drive up daily with my writing group.  This year they have among many other things, a nonfiction academy where each participant brings either a completed picture book or a full manuscript for middle grades.  The problem here is that I don't have either.  It's impossible for me to try and finish my mid grade manuscript and do a decent job of it in such a short time, so I've decided to turn an existing piece into a picture book since I've already done the research.  While thinking about this, I came up with an intriguing idea for a picture book format.  I have to think about it some more, but it's definitely a unique idea.

When I returned home from my writing group meeting on Tuesday, I was delighted to rip into some mail that turned out to be a contract for an article in Highlights!  In other promising news, a query has also generated interest in a rough draft.

I also participated in a webinar for the CT Climate Change Education and Communication Group (good lord, those folks need a less cumbersome name).  The woman that heads up the group emailed my ChemMatters article about climate science to 98 people in this group.  Yowzy!
     When I stopped at Weir Farm National Historic Site this past weekend, I was delighted to see this table inviting visitors to sketch on the grounds.  I simply could not resist.  Since it was bitter cold and probably about 15 degrees (high temp 21, low temp 9), I sketched with thick ski gloves and a hat on.  The top photograph was a photo taken while I was sitting on a rock.  The bottom photograph was my interpretation of the scene.  I consciously thought about not putting that rock wall in the middle of the sketch and that's exactly where it landed.  Despite nearly freezing to the stone, I really enjoyed myself exploring a new place.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today, it came to my attention that I incorrectly assigned the wrong date to one of my quotes.   Gasp!  The fourth quote down about writing being like building a snowman was actually from a 2/24/09 post (scroll down to find it) not a 3/06/09 post.  That February post originated from a homemade holiday card I sent to an editor (12/08).  IMHO, it was hysterical.  The cover of the card had a snowman in disarray.  Inside I wrote, "like everything else I send you, this is going to need a little adjustment."  I can't believe I still remember that!  Then I wrote this simile in the card, only more eloquently than I did on this website in February.  I know it sounds mundane, but I felt compelled to set the record straight on this and to do it today.

Currently, I'm debating about attending the NESCBWI conference and if so, on what days?  It's a lot closer this year.  I'd better make up my mind soon because it fills up fast.

Regarding my "most edited" article, I'm eagerly looking forward to its publication and I'm quite appreciative of all the time the editor spent working with me on it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union - part 2

Clearly the article I just finished gets the award for "Most Edited."  I'd like to think that's not because it was a disaster, but because the editor saw some glimmer of hope in the thing.  "Light in the Cellar of the Sea," an article about bioluminescence in the deep sea, is scheduled for publication in February of 2012 in ChemMatters.

Lately, I've been polishing a small article, readying it for review by my writing friends.  Line #4 was one of those lines that had to be hammered out a zillion different ways.  I tried to analyze why the line wasn't working.  The action was fluid until it got to that point then it became more like steps.  Finally, after reworking it many times (15-20), I heaved the line altogether.  It still didn't work.  The impact of the last line in the paragraph had diminished.  Finally, I found an excellent solution by lengthening the last line in the paragraph (the new line #4).           

I posted some more photographs from a hike around Breakneck Pond at Bigelow Hollow State Park.  What we both thought was a 4 mile hike ended up taking us 4+ hours.  There were ridge trails on either side of this pond that reduced the sunlight faster when the sun set. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bigelow Hollow State Park - Union - part 1

Since I prefer to write outside, I think this research study on whether bird song has an impact on mood, behavior and creativity is interesting.  It got me thinking.  I have to have a sense of peace when I write.  That peace can come from singing birds, babbling brooks, crashing surf or no noise at all.  Chirping birds won't do it for me if I'm in an environment where I do not feel safe or if I am in a busy place, such as a city.  It will be interesting to read the results of this study.

This past Friday I hiked out of state while circling Breakneck Pond in Bigelow Hollow State Park.  Beaver activity was obvious, but when I scanned the pond, I couldn't find a beaver lodge or a beaver dam.  On the return trip, the trail was pretty water soaked.  In several areas, water rushed across it forming a wide stream that seemed impassable.  It was challenging and slow moving trying to navigate the best way across these spots.  To get by them, I piled stones and logs into the water, teetered on logs, and swung on a mountain laurel branch.  At one wide water logged point, I gingerly stepped across a beaver dam (2nd photo), squishing and crunching on grass covered sticks.  Since I have never stepped on a beaver dam, I had no way of knowing if my feet were going to end up in water that looked pretty deep.  Once I got across the water, I had to push my way through heavy brush.  It was clear that the beavers gnaw trees on one side of the pond and swim across it to construct their piles.  There were a lot of challenges getting around "Breakneck" Pond.