Friday, December 9, 2011


Now that my book is in, I've been writing up article ideas I've had in the back of my mind. Today's project was supposed to be Alma Spreckels and sugar crystals. Instead I had an idea for saving money with organizing and whipped it out over the last hour. At least it's all writing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Very Rough Draft

Now that my book is in, I'd like to write up some of the great article ideas I had to put off during all that manuscript preparation. Today I sat down to pound out the first one. Boy, it's awful. It's almost embarrassing. But now I have a draft, something I can rethink and revise until I get it right. A bad first draft is the necessary first step towards a brilliant finished product.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I'm also checking over some of the new wording and thinking "Boy, that's awkward." Then I realize it's not the copy editor's writing, it's my own!

copy editing questions

I just got back the copy edited version of my book and am supposed to look over all the changes. The copy editor has made a lot of great catches, but also changed all singular usages of candies that end in s to "an M&M's candy" etc. Can you really not refer to a singular M&M or Skittle? Must do some detective work.

Friday, August 12, 2011

When I write, I like to plug in my headphones and listen to soothing music to help cut out the background noise.  Yesterday, wondering why my ITunes kept opening up to "I Saw Three Ships" (yes, it's Christmas music, but I only have a limited amount of quiet music without lyrics on my computer), I finally realized that the setting was stuck on Repeat One.  I'd been listening one single song for nearly a week and hadn't noticed!  I hope that means I've been concentrating hard on writing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

On Formatting

At various stages in the Candy Experiments drafting process, I think I've gone from Word to Google Docs and back again, with various other stops along the way.  Now that I'm trying to compile experiments into a single Word document, there's all sorts of crazy formatting that's slipped in with the changes.  Hopefully my new Candy template and some shortcut keys will help me straighten it all out, although I have to say that Bullets and Numbering is giving me special trouble today.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's A Book Deal!

When your deal appears in Publisher's Marketplace, you know it's official:

"Loralee Leavitt's CANDY EXPERIMENTS, a collection of simple, hands-on experiments that use store-bought candy to teach kids basic science, to Patty Rice at Andrews McMeel, by Myrsini Stephanides at the Carol Mann Agency (World)."

Look for Candy Experiments on a bookshelf near you next summer, if all goes well.  (Which means I really have to get cracking on this manuscript!)

...And an Award

As if a book deal wasn't good enough, I got an email from Highlights this morning with this news:

"Congratulations! Candy Secrets won the 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing in the following category: Periodicals -- How-To-Feature, K-5"

People are really interested in candy experiments.  Which, since candy experiments are a great way to teach science while pouring candy down the drain, is no surprise.

If you're interested, you can see the full list of awards at the AEP website.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Good news?

Good news is coming...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Boy Mayor gives back once more

I recently put up a post about how much I enjoy writing for magazines--there's a better chance of acceptance, and the process can move a lot faster.  Of course, once you've published the article, it's gone forever.  Right?

Actually, with the right magazine, your work can keep showing up.  Children's magazines often resell articles to educational companies to be used as test passages.  Some magazines, having initially bought all rights to the article, keep the money.  Some magazines, like Highlights, forward payment to the author.  So, apparently, does Boy's Quest.

I first published "The Boy Mayor of Texas" in Boy's Quest in 2005.  (Funny story: since the photo I'd found for the magazine was too expensive, they called me right before publication to warn they'd have to pull the story if I didn't find them the right photo fast.  You ever try finding a free photo of the 12-year-old unofficial mayor of an unofficial Texan town, who has since passed away, and whose parents have moved?  When you have an 11-day-old baby?  Luckily, thanks to a friendly clerk with a phone book at a nearby city hall, I managed to reach the father who kindly forwarded a photo, and have since learned to have my photos on hand when I submit.)  My story was probably read by a few thousand kids, and I thought no more of it.  But since then, the article has been resold four times for test passage use, and the initial payment, which at 5 cents a word seemed laughably low, has quintipled.  I just got another check.

So hooray for magazine writing, and hooray for magazine editors who treat their authors well.  And hooray especially for Brian Zimmerman, the onetime boy mayor of Crabb, Texas, whose story continues to reach children with every test passage sold.  May they all learn, as he did, to reach for their dreams.

Friday, April 15, 2011

On writing for magazines

I know many writers laboring away at the various drafts of their first book who don't want to take time away for short pieces.  More power to them--it probably means they'll finish their projects!  But for me, working for so long on something nobody sees can get really discouraging.  During the five (or however many) years it might take to get a book published, how will I know people love my writing?  Where's the ego boost?

That's why it's always nice to take a break and write something for a magazine.  While the acceptance letters might still be slow to come, at least you have better chances hearing back from an editor who has to publish dozens of pieces a year instead of just five volumes.  And it doesn't always take months to get accepted--I just wrote a piece for the Dollar Stretcher which was accepted in two days.  Mailbox, prepare for paycheck.

Money aside, since writing my way doesn't bring in much, it's good to know that there's an editor out there who thinks you do quality work.  It's even better to know that the idea you're so excited to share is going to reach an audience someday, maybe even someday soon.  Because if I weren't excited about the idea, I would never have bothered to write the article.

For anybody wondering about the new article, I'll give you a sneak preview.  It's how even a timid, self-conscious shopper afraid of bargaining--like me--can sometimes get the price down, just by presenting the right information and waiting for an offer.  To learn more, check the Dollar Stretcher.  Someday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pewter Plate Award

It's the season for surprises.  Yesterday when a FedEx man dropped off an unrequested package, I was astonished to find it contained a pewter plate from Highlights magazine.  Apparently, I have won the Pewter Plate Award for their category "Nonfiction Feature of the Year, Independent Readers" for my "Candy Experiments" article, published in October 2010.

My daughter decreed that I should display the plate where I could look at it.  After I vetoed a precarious perch in my study, she nestled it in my windowsill, where I can reread the text if I crane my neck sideways.

May it provide me with inspiration for many more award-worthy articles!

Friday, March 11, 2011

PPA Award

I was delighted to receive news that my "Alterna-Zoos" article, published in ParentMap last year, helped the magazine win a Gold Award from the PPA (Parenting Publications of America).

According to the judges, "These are clever, compelling and actionable columns that arm parents with options for entertaining their small fry. Written with a strong voice, these columns are a fun and informative read, and they offer critique as well. Great use of humor throughout as well!"

It's always nice to hear that somebody liked your work--especially when it's the judge in a national organization!