Sunday, November 24, 2013

A colorful wall:  yellow sulphur, rusty iron, silver manganese.
It's miserable when I struggle for words.  When the clock is tick...tick...ticking...thoughts of I stink at this echo through my head.  Once I find the right words or the way into a story, it's a glorious feeling, a feeling of freedom.  It's like being cooped up inside, then opening the door to the bright sunshine of a spectacular day.

This formation reminded me of  brain coral.
There is a big difference between knowing what you want to say, but now how to say it and not knowing what you want to say.  Generally, when I start something small, I know what the first paragraph is going to be about.  It's only a simple matter of getting it down.  Cough. Cough.  If I'm having trouble, the thing that works best for me is to hop on the treadmill and walk slowly (I put a board over the treadmill arms--voila, desk).  I did this the other day and in five minutes and thirty-four seconds, I had a first paragraph!

A brachiopod fossil?
I've been laboring over how to approach a picture book about a challenging subject.  Neither walk, nor run, nor treadmill was of any use putting down that first line.  Ideas bounced back and forth in my head.  I'd get going in one direction only to find out it wasn't the right way.  Nothing worked.  The process was laborious, like lifting and scanning rocks, one at a time, hoping to find a precious fossil.  Last night, around 3 am, the right way came to me and indeed it was a glorious moment!
An underground river
The last tour on a Monday in November was a great time to visit Howe Caverns.  Aside from the tour guide, we were the only ones in the huge cavern where white-nose syndrome was first discovered.  There were no bats in this part of the cave.  It was an incredibly neat place to visit.  Our guide used a long pole, gondola-style, to propel us down an underground river.  In the quiet semi-darkness, water trickled as we imagined what it must have been like to be the first to explore this place.  A number of different fossils were found in the cave, but I'm not so certain that the brachiopod (above) was one of them.  I question everything.  
Glistening silver manganese

A view of the water-carved ceiling


Saturday, November 16, 2013


AASL in full swing
On Friday, the Connecticut Convention Center was bustling with librarians.  The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Conference was in full swing and my writing friend and I were not about to miss it.  We browsed through books in rows and rows of booths, scooping up publishers' catalogs and advance reader copies.  We passed vendors marketing laminators, plagiarism software, book repair tape and research databases.  We listened to Junior Library Guild employees explain how they select books.

ARCS, publisher catalogs, magazine samples, a magnifying glass and whoopee cushions!!!
As the day progressed we split up, exploring different genres, speaking with publishing representatives and reconnecting to share a laugh.  I spoke with authors I admire:  Pam Turner, Steve Sheinkin, Leslie Bulion, Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  At the Penguin booth, I picked up Hope's Gift, illustrated by Don Tate, who I met at Chautauqua.  The day flew by so fast that lunch became free candy and mints.  I drove home content; it was a day well spent.
Penguin's booth.