Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Mentos Experiment

Spent the afternoon with my kids conducting research into the various methods of making Sprite bubble. Mentos came out on top, testing better than Nerds, Skittles, Runts, Tootsie Roll, mints, Laffy Taffy, regular taffy, or Smarties. The biggest problem with making the Mentos soda fountain is the delivery--getting all the candy into the pop bottle before the erupting soda blocks the mouth of the bottle. Turns out somebody has actually invented a gadget for this very purpose, a Mentos loading tube, selling for $4.98 (http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/product/2072?gclid=CPjW34z4v5wCFQ6jagod23qhnA.)

I'll stick to paper funnels for now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Photographs

When I sold my first nonfiction article to a magazine, I didn't realize that I was responsible for finding the supporting artwork as well. When they offered to accept if if I located photographs, I found some available for sale and assumed I had done my job. But when the magazine was preparing for publication, the editor realized they couldn't afford any of the photographs I had found for them, or was able to find in newspapers. I had only a few days to locate a cheap photo before they pulled the article. It wasn't an easy task, either--I had to find a photograph of a boy who had been the unofficial mayor of an unofficial Texan town (i.e. not on the map), whose family had since moved, and who had since died. Furthermore, I'd just had a baby. After hours online and on the phone I managed to connect with somebody who was able to find the family in a phone book, and they were kind enough to send a picture so that my article could be printed. That was the hardest $29 I've ever earned!

Now, when I'm working on a project I research (or take) photos BEFORE I submit the article. It's more professional, and a lot less stressful.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Writing Groups

It took me years to find a really good writing group, and now it seems as if it takes years to set up a writing group meeting. But I stick with it. I love my group, and it has helped me improve my writing tremendously. I've learned so much! (Probably no coincidence that a Scholastic editor at an SCBWI manuscript critique asked if if I was in a critique group--I wasn't at the time, and it showed.)

For anybody looking to join or start a group: find people who aren't afraid to tell you what needs improvement. Find people who will listen courteously to what you say (as you will listen courteously to them. Find people who will support you in your writing, instead of tearing you down, and rejoice at your good news. Above all, find people you like to be with!