I've been struggling with a nonfiction biography about astronomer Nancy Grace Roman this year. Researching has been easy. I've even managed to have a telephone interview and a live interview with my subject, which is saying something considering she just turned 91 years old this past May.
I am lucky to get another interview with a non-fiction writer, Brandon Marie Miller, from the Southwest Ohio Chapter of SCBWI I attend, who has a newly released book for those interested in American history. When I first joined the group, Brandy was especially helpful to me by critiquing a few chapters of a YA historical fiction book I am revising. I think she felt pity on me when she learned I was getting through only three pages a month with a critique group I attended. Recently, she has been providing advice on writing book proposals and query letters as I struggle through that process.
I met Mary Kay Carson in the Southwest Ohio chapter of SCBWI where we are members. The group meets monthly to discuss writing topics, host guest speakers, critique each other's work, and help each other out in general by providing support and answering questions. Mary Kay is a great resource within the group as a non-fiction science writer, especially to me, who is trying to get my own science non-fiction books published. I read her latest book, Inside Biosphere 2: Earth Science Under Glass, last year while serving on the Sibert committee.
I found this essay I wrote several years ago and was reminded of some fairly basic writing techniques that probably wouldn't hurt for all of us to see again, and that certainly includes me. So, here it is...the importance of showing vs. telling in our writing.
Noah Lukeman (The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile) argues that a writer has more problems to worry about than the plot when writing a manuscript (p. 19). The story needs to be properly executed before a plot will be considered by an editor. He says there are several common mistakes made by beginning writers, such as style, viewpoint, narration, tone and characterization, and that writers should spend more time correcting these mistakes than worrying about the plot. But another critical aspect in writing that should not be overlooked is “showing versus telling”.
The macaron, not to be confused with the macaroon, is a meringue-based confection with a sweet filling sandwiched between two cookies.
On my birthday I received from my sister-in-law all the necessary supplies to create beautiful macaron cookies, including a cookbook with dozens of different recipes to test my skills. I had never made them before, though I'd seen the pretty pastel colored cookies in fancy bakeries. They seemed too exotic and delicate to make myself. I didn't want to go it alone, so I invited my baking buddy-in-crime, Donna, over to join me in the inaugural baking of the "macaron parisien". We decided to try the dark chocolate variety first, as it was described as being the easiest. Well, it's all a matter of perspective, I suppose.
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch
Little, Brown and Company
Told through alternating chapters by Caitlin from the United States and Martin from Zimbabwe, this memoir will impress readers with the strong dedication from two teens to maintain a friendship by mail that many would have given up on. The inspirational writing will have many searching for their own pen pal. The photographs of the pair show their obvious differences and it was a pleasure to return to them again and again as the suspenseful story progressed. The book is organized into four parts (Hallo!, Clues, Generosity, A Future) following the deepening friendship of Caitlyn and Martin. The cover design resembles an airmail envelope reminding us this takes place before e-mail is common. The epilogue at the end updates readers on where the pair are now. This is a unique story and a cultural lesson full of love and caring that will appeal to tweens and teens.
Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
This book has not only an Ohio connection, but a Dayton, Ohio connection, which is one reason I appreciated it so much. Kid here have heard of Paul Laurence Dunbar, are taught about this fellow high schooler of Orville and Wilbur Wright, can visit his home just west of downtown, and can probably even recite some of his poetry. (Most adult readers will be familiar with his line from Sympathy, "I know what the caged bird feels, alas!")
The voice of this book is distinct, reminiscent of a grandmother sharing Dunbar's story. There wouldn’t be a story without the inclusion of some of the poems written by Dunbar, and since his poems couldn’t tell his entire story either, this is a wonderful combination of both.
I am rounding out my Soups & Stews recipes with a variation on the classic tomato soup. By adding a few simple ingredients, this becomes an Italian take on the original. Also, this easy tomato based soup can be converted to a vegetarian version by simply replacing the chicken broth with a vegetable broth. For vegan, try substituting rice pasta shells.
Since returning from not-s0-chilly Boston in January, I've had just a couple of things to finish up before feeling like I've actually finished up with the Sibert Committee. My house was still cluttered with hundreds of books that needed to be dealt with, for one thing. And I had a request from the Cincinnati chapter of SCBWI to talk at one of their meetings about the award.
When I asked my baking buddy Donna over to make pizzelle, our intention was not to make cookies for Valentine's Day. It was mostly to experiment with the new Pizzelle Maker I had wanted for years and finally ended up purchasing for myself since, you know, my Christmas Wish List failed to come through for me. I bought a CucinaPro Piccolo Pizzelle Baker which makes (4) 3-1/4" pizzelle at a time.
I am a writer of Children's and Young Adult books. I received my MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and am an active member of SCBWI. I also have my MLS in Library Science with an emphasis on children and happily worked as a Children's Librarian for nearly 20 years. One of my favorite activities was reading books aloud to kids, especially to school-aged kids. Like the kids, I enjoy having stories read to me, so I listen to many of my books on audio and serve on audio judging committees.
Another favorite activity is creating fun snacks for library programs, friends, and family. I do that a lot and continually search for more ideas.
I have a cat named Gypsy, who originally belonged to my brother and sister-in-law, and a dog named Ping, which just means he's a combination of a Poodle and a King Charles Spaniel. He is also the cutest dog in the world. We recently adopted another cat named Bosley from the shelter who has quickly made himself at home. I am married and live in Dayton, Ohio. This is me with my husband Rod.
You can find more detailed information about me by clicking the link below: