Saturday, February 25, 2012

I spent the week working hard revising a nonfiction picture book.  It gave me a new appreciation for nonfiction PB writers and illustrators.  It was a puzzle shaving the readability level, explaining the science, pondering illustrator possibilities, showing action, and turning words into art.  In my case at least, dropping the readability level increased the word count.  I was joyous to jack down the Flesch-Kincaid number from 5.7 to a more manageable 3.7.  Cutting sentence length worked well to a point.  I went too far and made it choppy.  To compensate for this, the number of words rose by about 500.  There was one part that dragged.  Initially (last post) I thought an illustration would fix this, but after more thought, I came up with a better solution.  I broke up the science like a pizza and evenly distributed pieces throughout the manuscript. 

My deadline to submit this for the conference is March 10th.  It's in great shape!

It's been a green winter, so when it snowed yesterday, I got the camera out.   That snow covered debris and stacked wood came from fallen trees from the freak October blizzard in 2011.    

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yesterday, I got together with my writing friends.  One thing that was brought up was the Flesch-Kincaid readability level of my manuscript.  After struggling to reduce this number, I emailed my friends:
"I've decided I don't like Flesch and his buddy Kincaid is no fun either."
In the email, I called them names like Flesh Kinky and Flesch eating bacteria Kincaid.  Then I made up my own formula which was sure to please only me.  In my formula, I subtracted 300 from the result, that way I was assured of being in the ballpark. :-D 

Thus my focus today has been on making this manuscript more readable for the little guys and girls.   I'm having more success making sentences smaller than finding simpler words.  I guess I'm used to middle grade writing.  

My entire writing crew is volunteering at the NESCBWI conference this spring, so that should be fun.

This was the feedback I received on my last Toastmaster's speech about a hiking adventure at Bigelow Hollow Park.  In early January, I blogged about it.  There were no other speakers, so if I didn't get that best speech ribbon, it would have been really bad.  There was a record crowd when I gave the speech.  I've come a long way with this organization.  My heart no longer beats like a banshee when it's my turn to talk. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

One day this past week I holed up in an upstairs bedroom and shut the door.  Aside from the cat pushing her way in then jumping on my lap a few times, it was a place of solitude and little disruption.  I was away from the lure of the computer and other tasks, so I got lots done.  It was a great idea, but only when the room is unoccupied.

The picture book I've been busting stones on revising and revising is done and has been shipped off for evaluation.  This project that spent the night in the scrap bin, has come a long way.  In my mind, I hit the bulls-eye of creating exactly what I wanted to create.  That gives me quite a bit of satisfaction.  I looked at that project with three sets of eyes:  reader, editor, and illustrator.  I wanted to make sure it didn't drag anywhere, that a young kid stayed with it.  There had to be enough science.  Was there enough material for a variety of engaging pictures?  I found one spot that I thought might be dull as far as illustration goes, but I have come up with an exciting way to portray those facts.  Thus I'm now recording design notes for this project. 

Since I'm working on five things right now, I thought it was a good idea to create a small Project Status notebook to keep track of where I am with all of these because I'm constantly moving from project to project for a variety of reasons--edits to be made, ILL books coming due, requirements for conferences.....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

This morning, I was eager and excited to teach a science class to a great group of K-2 kids.  I had a lot of setting up to do, so I got there about 1 hour early.  At the end of class one parent walked in and asked if the kids had fun.  I said, "I did!"  The kids learned a lot and everything went perfectly which made me quite happy.  One of the hands-on activities they seemed to really enjoy was painting food chain place mats (the only photo I took).  Andrew, my teacher's assistant, was a huge help.  THANK YOU Andrew! 

Friday morning I was at Central CT State University sitting with about 50 other people from various   organizations discussing the beginnings of CT Green Ribbon Schools.