ANNOUNCEMENT! NEW Children’s Book, Nova June: Inventor

1 Feb

HAPPY WORLD READ ALOUD DAY!

If you’re part of my mailing list or frequent my Facebook page, you know I’ve been teasing this announcement for a couple of weeks.

IT’S FINALLY HERE!

Nova June: Inventor is coming April 2018.

This picture book is for readers aged 3 to 7 years and features leading lady, Nova, age 7, and her pet box turtle, Georgie, in her quest for innovation.

Preview the concept art for Nova June below, and keep an eye out for the cover reveal and summary March 1, 2018.

Nova character pencil 2

Nova concept 1: Prismacolor pencils and Copic Marker; a bolder first sketch, very time-consuming

Nova character watercolor 2

Nova concept 2: Prismacolor watercolor pencils only; lighter end-result (which would be enhanced digitally), but very fast application

Talk to me! I welcome your thoughts on media used.

Please keep in mind that these images are CONCEPTS/media tests and are not the cover design or any particular interior illustration.
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Convention Schedule 2018

17 Feb

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Want a signed copy of Humans In My House or Acephalous? Want to talk writing? Want to adopt a #pocketkitty and join in #Kepler’s fun? Come see me at my upcoming appearances. Check here for updates or join my mailing list!

2018

FEBRUARY

  • February 24, 2018: Multi-Author Book Signing @ Sugar Island, 206 N Topsail Dr, Surf City, NC 28445
    • 12:30pm, free event

MARCH

  • March 10, 2018: Surfside Beach BBQ Festival, Town of Surfside Beach, SC

APRIL

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JULY

Raleigh Supercon

  • July 27-29, 2018: Raleigh SuperCon, Raleigh Convention Center

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International Book Giving Day 2018

14 Feb

What’s better than giving valentines and chocolate? Giving BOOKS!

February 14th is International Book Giving Day. The goal is to get books into the hands of more children and to make them excited about reading. This is a volunteer-led initiative that anyone can participate in.

Some of the ways to participate include:

  • Gift a book to someone you know
  • Leave a book in a waiting room for children to read as they wait
  • Donate to local libraries, hospitals, shelters, and other organizations that can get the books to children who need them. (This includes international organizations!)

To top it off, “Publisher Book Island will donate one book to their hospital programme [sic] for each book sold via their website (14 – 28 February)” (International Book Giving Day 2018), so go buy some books!

Today, I got involved by donating a class set of Acephalous and Humans In My House to my local Boys and Girls Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the books will find a permanent home in the media rooms at their Club (elementary age) and Teen Center (middle and high school age). I’ll be volunteering to lead a book club on the books later on (if they read them before we move back to VA).

Here’s a photo of my visit!

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After delivering books, Amanda Marsico holding #Kepler in front of the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand.

Follow this and other adventures on my Instagrams @KeplerSeesTheWorld (Kepler & kid-friendly book news) and @RedInkEnthusiast (Acephalous & Teen+ book news) and use #bookgivingday in your posts. Don’t forget to follow @BookGivingDay, too.

How to Babysit Your Author: A Guide

12 Feb

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Staying in on a Friday night? Parking it on the couch for the weekend?

If you love an author, you might be stuck in the house with one of these bleary-eyed, curmudgeony, hand-cramped word-herders. Here are some surefire ways (in somewhat chronological order) to babysit your author successfully.

  1. Say goodbye to the corner seat of the couch.
  2. Turn on the coffee maker; put on the kettle. It’s only a matter of time. Whether your author wants coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, the hot water will be in demand.
  3. Hand over the remote. Watch some mindless, guilty-pleasure TV. Don’t feel guilty.
  4. Those little bitty decorative throw blankets? You can do better. Pull the comforter off the bed and throw it over the couch.We want our feet and our shoulders covered.
  5. Place cat in lap.
  6. Intersperse a few good puns throughout conversation. Hint: The best puns are the ones that make your author comment on how bad they are.
  7. Make a cheese plate, except with chocolate instead of cheese. Actually, the plate isn’t even necessary. Just hand over a stack of chocolate bars. Your author will know what to do with them.
  8. No nap-shaming. If you don’t want to sleep while your author does, read their draft. If it’s not ready to read, mute your phone/computer/video games, and don’t load/unload the dishwasher. Please.
  9. Wake your author only if you’re dying or dinner’s ready.
  10. Breakfast for dinner.
  11. Offer a neck and shoulder rub or a hand massage. Typing is easy, but it’s still strenuous work.
  12. Even if they already have plenty, surprise your author with a new journal, date book, note pad, or pen. Post-its are also a practical option. Your author might not have time to journal every day, but random thoughts worthy of a post-it crop up constantly, and they make great bookmarks.
  13. After reading and writing for work, authors often don’t make time to do it for enjoyment. Give your author a few hours of uninterrupted read-for-pleasure time to work on that To-Be-Read pile. It’s getting dangerously tall.
  14. Your author’s eyes might be too tired to read for fun. Give them a cold rag or gel mask to relax. Save the cucumbers for some hummus.
  15. Make hummus.
  16. Listen to your author’s anxiety-riddled plot-hole repair plan. Don’t just nod and smile. Give real feedback by telling your author the things that will actually help the story, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Your author would rather screw up in front of you and then put in more work than publish something iffy under the impression that it’s great.
  17. Remind your author that it’s fine they aren’t writing right that second. Rest is essential work, too.
  18. Did I mention cats? More cats. Also, refill hot beverage of choice. Your author has run out by now.
  19. Stay up late with your author, even though they napped and you didn’t. Remember to nap with them next time.
  20. Run a bath.

These are just a few ways to babysit your author. This list is not exhaustive, nor does it cover the preferences of every author. That means your author might be easier, or harder, to please. If the latter, I apologize on behalf of my temperamental, wordy kind and wish you good luck.

Who Is Nova June? Nova’s Top Role Models in Science

7 Feb

Nova is always learning something. She knows progress means paying attention to the scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and trail-blazers who came before her and that learning from their mistakes and successes is the way to improve. Here are 10 of Nova’s top role models, in order of birth.

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  • Sophia Brahe (1559-1643)
    • Danish genealogist, horticulturist, and astronomer, known for her 900-page genealogy of 90 Dutch noble families, and for assisting her brother, Tycho Brahe (who insisted on educating her when her brilliant scientific mind began to show around age 10), in his astronomy, which included the world’s most accurate astronomical observations pre-telescope.
  • Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
    • Mathematician and writer widely considered the first computer programmer for her creation and publication of an algorithm that would allow wider applications of a computing machine beyond calculation only.
  • Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
    • First American woman to work as a professional astronomer, discoverer of a telescopic comet (too small to see with the naked eye) later named “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”
  • Ida Hyde (1857-1945)
    • American physiologist known for her invention of the microelectrode, an intracellular instrument used to monitor physiological parameters in marine animals. She also advocated for childhood health screenings in public schools to help combat tuberculosis and spinal meningitis among other infectious diseases. Because of the sexism and discrimination she faced in the scientific community, she, along with other female scientists and professors, founded the Naples Table Association to help fund and support women in scientific careers.
  • Marie Curie (1867-1934)
    • Physicist and chemist, first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person and woman to win a Nobel Prize twice. Her research in radioactivity led her to create mobile x-ray units, and the vehicles and generators needed to run them, for use during in-the-field medical care for soldiers of World War 1. This is just one of her many accomplishments.
  • Bessie Coleman (1882-1926)
    • First woman of African descent AND first woman of Native American descent to hold a pilot’s license. She went to France to attend flight school because no one in America would teach her because of her race and gender. When she returned to the U.S. with her international pilot’s license, she became a successful air show pilot.
  • Grace Hopper (1906-1992)
    • Computer Scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral who invented one of the first compiling tools and influenced programming languages still used today. She received the National Medal of Technology in 1991 and was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Freedom in 2016.
  • Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)
    • Chinese-American experimental physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project developing the process to separate Uranium into Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. For this and other work, she won the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978.
  • Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)
    • Chemist who discovered and published findings on the double helix shape of human DNA. These findings were not widely recognized until after her death, although she was recognized for her work with viruses and coal during her lifetime.
  • Mae Jemison (1956-)
    • Astronaut, engineer, and physician, and the first African-American woman to travel to space.

 

If you’d like to learn more about these and others who’ve done great things, follow the links above or visit A Mighty Girl (my personal favorite source for inspiration), the Association for Women in Science, or read this article by Jan Sloan about the founding of the Naples Table Association published by University of Chicago Press.

Who Is Nova June? 10 Things She’d Want You to Know

5 Feb

Nova character watercolor 2 - Copy

Nova June is a curious and determined innovator and the main character of Amanda Marsico’s newest book, Nova June: Inventor, for readers aged 3 to 7 years.

Available for pre-order in March, and publishing April 7, 2018

10 Things About the Leading Lady

  • Nova’s inventions don’t always work, but she never stops trying.
  • Her pet box turtle, Georgie, is a great secret-keeper and helps to keep her projects under wraps until the big reveal.
  • Sometimes the neighborhood kids don’t want to test Nova’s inventions, but most of the time they’re excited to see what she made.
  • Nova likes to collect posters of her favorite people and role models. She hangs them over her desk so she can see them while she’s creating.
  • Silver is her favorite color because the robots in her favorite books and shows are made of metal.
  • Like many kids, Nova loves to play hide-and-seek, and she wants to invent an invisibility shirt so she can sneak back to home base before the seeker finds her.
  • She wants to see space and the bottom of the ocean and the inside of a volcano.
  • Nova knows she’ll have to do some great inventing to get to some of those places.
  • When she’s not in her room hard at work on a project, she’s at the library reading about the inventors that came before her.
  • She realizes it’s important to give her brain a break, too, so Nova likes to climb the trees in her back yard and skate with her neighborhood friends.

 

Check back for the next installment of “10 Things…” where Nova shares her top 10 role models in science!

Pro-tip: Subject vs. Object Pronouns

2 Feb

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Did your older relatives or teachers ever correct you saying, “It’s him and I,” or “don’t say me,” when you were trying to tell a story?

I think it’s a typical experience of childhood. There’s this idea that saying, “and I” is more proper, or sounds fancy, and that “me” is wrong. I couldn’t begin to tell you why this stigma, for lack of better word, started, but I have good news. Grandma was wrong! At least part of the time.

There is no rule that says “him and me/me and him” is ALWAYS incorrect. It depends on the sentence.

“I” is a subject pronoun. You use it to refer to a sentence subject that’s completing an action. “He and I went to the mall.”

“Me” is an object pronoun. You use it to refer to the recipient of the action in a sentence. “He threw the ball to me and my sister.”

So, take this example:

“After school let out, my sister and ___________ had soccer practice.”

How do you know which pronoun is appropriate? “Me” or “I”…

If you are confident in your ability to identify subject versus object, the answer is clear. If you need more help, I have a trick.

To determine which pronoun fills in the blank, read the sentence one person at a time using each of your options for the blank, “me” and “I.” The sentence should be a complete and grammatically sound sentence even when the second party is taken out of the scenario.

“After school let out, my sister had soccer practice.” Ok, that’s fine.

“After school let out, ___me___ had soccer practice.” Eh. No one talks like that. Do you hear how awkward it sounds?

“After school let out, ____I____ had soccer practice.” Bingo.

“After school let out, ____my sister and I____ had soccer practice.” “My sister and I” are the subjects of the sentence, so it fits the grammatical rule about the pronoun “I,” meaning “my sister and I” COMPLETE THE ACTION. In addition, it passes the  fill-in-the-blank test.

Try another.

“At the bank, the teller gave ____________ and my cousin some candy.”

“At the bank, the teller gave ___me___ some candy.”

You wouldn’t say, “At the bank, the teller gave ____I____ some candy.”

So, “At the bank, the teller gave ___me and my cousin___ some candy.”

Here, “me and my cousin” RECEIVE THE ACTION. It’s not about WHAT they got–candy–but about the receiving in general. They were on the RECEIVING END of the teller’s giving.

Another note about this trick: If you can replace the people in the sentence with “us,” it’s a “me” sentence. If you can replace the people in the sentence with “we,” it’s an “I” sentence.

I hope that gave you a quick way to check your usage when in doubt. It’s rare that any trick for using English grammar has a 100% correct rate. English is full of exceptions. I’m happy to say, though, that this trick ALWAYS works.

Now you can correct Grandma. (I’m just teasing. Be nice to Grandma.)

 

tl:dr: In a sentence with multiple people and “me” or multiple people and “I,” read the sentence without the other parties and test how it sounds saying “me” versus “I.” Do the people involved COMPLETE THE ACTION (use “I”) or do the people involved RECEIVE THE ACTION (use “me”).

Still struggling? Leave questions in the comments! I always reply.

 

 

Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation: Trip to The Center for Birds of Prey, Awendaw, South Carolina

29 Jan

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Based on my children’s books, Humans In My House, you might think I’m only into cats. And while I am a crazy cat lady–I have five–I am also fascinated by and deeply concerned for wildlife. This is why Humans In My House and the Animals Beyond It (series book 3 coming Winter 2018) focuses on zoology and wildlife conservation.

As habitats dwindle and humans leave continually larger footprints on the lands they touch, wildlife around the world loses what they need to survive. Here, in South Carolina, we are fortunate to have many wildlife refuges, areas of land set aside for nature to run its course. With those refuges and conservation areas come teams of people who dedicate their careers to making sure these lands remain untouched and that the animals who live there are supported by the environment.

For those animals, on and off of refuges, who have run-ins with predators, humans both well-meaning and not, and dangerous environmental factors like (marine) debris and deforestation, we have organizations like The Center for Birds of Prey to research wildlife, doctor the sick, and educate the public.

I had the pleasure of visiting this weekend. We arrived just in time for the demonstration of various birds of prey, including the Eurasian Eagle Owl shown below.

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Eurasian Eagle Owl, female, 3 years old, born in captivity and imprinted to her human handlers in order to reduce stress during handling and demonstrations.

We also witnessed the in-flight hunting practices of the Kite–who was very hard to get a picture of because he loved to fly and rarely landed–and a hybrid breed of Falcon (below) used exclusively in Falconry.

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Hybrid breed of Falcon used in falconry. This bird spent the first part of his life hunting with his owner and came to the center when his owner took a job there. The hood he wears discourages what they called, “unauthorized flights,” during demonstrations and helps reduce stress. For a bird who hunts during flight at 200mph, mimicking nighttime darkness is the best way to dissuade him from those activities during a demo.

After the demonstration, we walked the property and visited the birds of prey living at the center. Some were born in captivity from breeding programs and parents who were rehabilitated there, and others are rescues in the process of healing for release or who are unable to return to the wild.

The owls, in particular, were fun to see because it is their breeding season, which meant they were very vocal and active even in the daytime. (Not to mention, owls are my favorite birds of prey.)

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An owl whose name I’ve forgotten. But doesn’t he look so content?

Owl in owl, (sorry for the pun) I had a fantastic time at The Center for Birds of Prey and would recommend it to any animal-lover who is able to stop in. Check out their website for hours, admission, and special events like Photography Day and Owl Nights, or to participate in their citizen scientist program “Kite Sight” to aid in their research about South Carolina’s native Swallow-Tailed Kite population.

For more information on what you can do to help if you find an injured bird, here are some links from The Center for Birds of Prey and Audubon.

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