I never imagined how busy the beginning of 2013 would turn out to be – but life has a way of surprising us. (So why am I surprised that it’s the end of March already?) Lately, the hectic rush has been full of writerly excitement: A stint as guest blogger at MiddleWeb, a rich resource of goodies and thought-provoking ideas for middle school educators; some great book news; a couple of conferences, and a long-deferred author visit coming up.All that and – egads! – many visits to a hand therapist to see what we can do about this gnawing numbness and terrible tingling I’ve been having in my hands…Hence the image that leads this blog post. Let this be a lesson to all writers -and knitters- out there: Watch your posture. Take breaks. And don’t put off getting thee to a doctor when things start to go awry.
Guest Blogging Stint
How come it is so much easier to blog for someone else’s site? Anne Jolly usually writes the Imagineering blog for MiddleWeb. When she asked me to write about the importance of a type of engineering lesson that the Engaging Youth through Engineering program calls “Launchers”, I eagerly agreed. See the post and find out all about how Engaging Youth through Engineering – with which I am involved through my work with Blue Heron STEM Education - helps to launch middle schoolers into the exciting world of engineering in teams that really work. While you are at it, drop a comment at the site.
A Black Hole is NOT a Hole will soon be released as an audiobook, thanks to Random House Audio. Can’t wait to hear it!
Speaking of hearing things, it was exciting earlier this year to hear that the book was named a 2013 ALA Notable. See the whole list here. Congratulations to my fellow writing group member Brian Lies, who illustrated another book on the list, More. If you haven’t seen it, be sure to check it out. Working with I.C. Springman’s spare text about a creature who collects perhaps a bit too much, Brian has created a real treasure here. Watch for how the little details help tell the bigger story.
A Couple of Conferences
Who knew dating could be so fun? On March 2, I participated in an Author Speed Dating event with participants from the Massachusetts School Librarians Association. Other attending authors were Melissa Stewart, John Lechner, Leslea Newman, and Laura Harrington. What an honor to be in the same room with them! Organized by Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Center for the Book, this lively event involved each author in a series of 10-minute small-group interviews.
At the start of each segment, an author would sit at a table of MSLA participants, briefly say a few words to kick things off, and then answer any questions that came from the group. What a great adventure. Not one prone to nervousness in public engagements, I found myself incredibly keyed up, but the librarians were gracious, warm, and welcoming. (Just like my librarian at Dunn’s Corners Elementary School in Westerly, RI, in the early 70′s. Although I cannot remember her name, I remember the warmth and gentleness with which she always greeted me, and can still picture her standing near the poetry selections, helping me make my choice for the week.)
I was too keyed up, in fact, to think to take pictures, but photographer Richard Curran has graciously shared some of his. You can find some photos from the entire conference at the conference pictures web page. The dating scene begins about three quarters of the way down the first page.
I am not the best at networking, but guess who I bumped into at the end of the week? Sharon Shaloo and Leslea Newman – this time at the Hynes Convention Center, which was home to 11,000 writers attending the annual conference and book fair of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Overwhelming? You bet. Inspirational? Sure thing. But now I’m ready to mellow out a bit.
Time for Some Fun
Recently, after a cancellation due to inclement weather several storms ago, Hillside Elementary in Needham, MA, hosted me as part of its Literacy Night. A library full of kids, their parents, and their principal engaged in some hands-on fun with me. Thanks very much to everyone who made this event possible. In addition to facilitating activities to better understand black holes and answering questions from the students, I was thrilled to read the verse from Big Bang! The Tongue-Tickling Tale of a Speck that Became Spectacular and read Leonardo’s ABC. Reading them like this, I realized that each of my books end in a question. I like that.
The students were amazing. They really seem to know the world of writing (and publishing books) – and still got excited when recalling Mark Peter Hughes‘ visit last year! I was glad to share the story of how Mark generously supported me when I was feeling discouraged about how slowly i was progressing on the project that became A Black Hole is NOT a Hole. Several years ago, I bumped into him at a certain coffee shop, when a van in the parking lot, wrapped in the logo of his fictitious Lemonade Mouth band, clued me in to his presence. Although he had escaped to the shop to write bit, he put his writing aside for a hello and a chat that helped set me back on track. (Thanks, again, Mark!) If you have not read Mark’s books, you are missing some excellent storytelling.
Breeze into Spring
You know it’s springtime in Massachusetts when you get 20 inches of snow on a Saturday and it’s 50 degrees F on Monday! This is also a sign that a busy conference and educational consulting season is just around the corner. I’ll be at the NSTA Conference in San Antonio, and the NSTA STEM Expo in Saint Louis, sometimes manning the Engaging Youth through Engineering booth. At the end of the week, I’ll particpate in a St. Louis County Library Children’s Book Week event on Saturday, May 18; more on that to come in future posts. And then it’ll be on to New Paltz, NY in June, where my beloved editor Alyssa Mito Pusey and I will co-present about the editor-author relationship at the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference. If you are attending any of these events, please stop by and say hello. Meantime, I’ll try to bring my camera and update this post with new insights and musings from the world of writing and STEM.