Monday, June 24, 2013

21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference - the wildlife

Red-tailed hawk
First of all, I didn't go to this conference looking for wildlife, it just happened.  I burned the candle at both ends while I was in New Paltz.  Late one night, we went on a field trip to check out the racy signs in the ladies' room, but that's not the wildlife I'm talking about.
Suny, New Paltz

Sunday morning, I got up too early and I knew that getting back to sleep wasn't going to happen, so I strolled by the ponds outside the Student Union where the conference was held.  In a matter of minutes, I got lost in the sound of songbirds.

While I was taking a photograph of the ducklings, a muskrat popped its head out of the water.  I sat on a rock watching it until it disappeared.  Then I walked a short ways and stopped.  Across the pond, a red-tailed hawk swooped down low, landing on a weeping willow limb.  It eyed those ducklings like they were dinner rolls.  I SO enjoyed that walk in solitude and found it hard to pry myself away, but I'm glad I did because it turned out to be another great day for nonfiction.

Monday, June 17, 2013

21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference

Faculty from Charlesbridge, Cobblestone, Lerner, Pearson, Time Home Entertainment, National Geographic and Highlights
    This past weekend I attended the first ever 21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference.  I had a great time! It was at Suny in New Paltz New York, an appropriate setting for writers who frequent university libraries.   I listened to lectures on pitching, the Common Core, making the most of book fairs/conferences (how fitting) and school visits.  All of them will be helpful as I move forward in this writing journey of mine.

     The conference was Chautauqua-style, where editors were accessible.  The biggest surprise were the "mystery editors" that lurked anonymously among the tables.  Boy, was I ever floored to find out I was sitting next to an editor at Harper!
Chalk petroglyphs (this was the only chalk art I found)
       The conference was an excellent place for meeting other nonfiction writers.  One of the nicest things is that although our resumes differed, I never felt inadequate or unwelcome in the rather large crowd of published authors.  In fact, a prolific author of 180 books came up to me and noted that we were Facebook friends.
One of the entertaining signs in the ladies room of the dorm
      There was quite a mix of people in attendance.  Aside from writers and editors, there was a rep from an assessment company, book packagers, a Publisher's Weekly rep, educators, folks from the Highlights Foundation and Highlights magazine and those "mystery editors."  It was a conference that represented the needs of nonfiction writers and the various markets they write for.  Perfect for me!
      By Saturday afternoon, I was yearning for some solitude.  I longed to take a walk around the little ponds near the Student Union where the conference was held.  I resisted the temptation because I didn't want to waste a moment.  On Sunday morning, I got my chance.  I took an early morning walk and was absolutely delighted with the wildlife I found.  I will post those rather amazing photos next time.
      The thought of hurrying home to salvage Father's Day was on my mind as I pushed it to meet two more editors (we're having a Father's Day, observed).  It was a little intimidating knowing they were sizing me up as I spoke.  I have replayed those conversations, over and over, picking them apart like owl pellets.  Why didn't I say that?  Why DID I say that (open mouth, insert shoe)?   I learned I need to polish my approach and not be in haste.
The world's largest vending machine is the size of a bus depot!
     I put a lot of thought into whether I wanted to plunk down a good chunk of change and commit to this.  I'm glad I went.  Although I have nothing but good things to say about the regional conference (NESCBWI), I feel more at home in the throngs of other people with the same passion for research.  After the evaluation forms are read and reviewed, I expect that next year's conference will be even better.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hubbard Park, Meriden

View from the castle at East Peak - Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park
Sometimes I get so immersed in writing that everything else fades into the background.  I snap at writing when my efforts aren't rewarded.

How could you do this to me?
Writing answers (see "asylum" under labels).  "It's not me, it's YOU."
What striking shelf fungus!
The sting fades when a new story comes prancing along.  It sweeps me away with fascination or it cries to get on paper.

Last night I read that a lot of people sign up for MOOCs, but only a small percentage finish them.  Stopping is easy because when you invest nothing, you have nothing to lose.  Despite the odds, I'm still plugging away at the Climate Literacy MOOC.  I'm almost halfway through it.  What I'm learning is that we the people of this planet ALL need to do our part to cut emissions of carbon and it is imperative that we move on this now.

The discussion forums are wonderful resources.  There are some on the boards that think that climate change is from natural causes.  After conversing with them and posting a bucket load of facts on that board, I've come to the conclusion that some people like to argue for argument's sake, not because they have a valid point that can be backed up with fact.
Standing on East Peak, wishing we were on West Peak 
Sunday we had every intention of hiking up to less crowded West Peak in Hubbard Park.  Surprise, surprise.  At the end of the steep trail we found ourselves at the Castle Craig Tower on East Peak (976').  I climbed the tower and took the vista shots.  We were looking for the blue trail off the white, but we didn't realize that we needed to hike a small piece of the red trail to get there.  

This is a GREAT map that I wish I had taken with us.  Next time.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

MOOC and Enchanted Rock

Add caption
I'm taking my first MOOC, or massive open online course.  The free 10-week course, Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations, is excellent.  Recently, I received an email with these words, "Based on the community survey results, there are participants from 139 different countries, ranging in age from 16 to 60, with all levels of experience with climate science and policy issues."  Unfortunately, reading and taking notes on video lectures is taking more time than I anticipated, but I'm learning so much about a topic that I considered myself quite knowledgeable about.  The discussion forums are loaded with information, links, and banter about all aspects of climate change science from all parts of the world.  The class makes me more determined than ever to get the facts out about this critical issue.

If you click on the photo, you can see two tiny people at the top.
I've updated the "climate change" portion of this website to include information about the scientific consensus of climate scientists (97.1% of ALL climate research papers that take a position on the cause of climate change point to anthropogenic causes).  I've also added links that connect the tobacco movement to the counter climate change movement (i.e the smoking is NOT bad for your health movement).

On a lark, while we were in Texas, we decided to hike at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.  The park ranger said it takes most people 40 minutes to get to the top of the pink granite dome.  We took that as a challenge.  Walt thought we hiked up in 20 minutes, but without a watch, we don't know for certain.  We baked in the hot Texas sun, so it was a welcome relief to find a cave up there.