Pat McCarthy is the author of a dozen nonfiction books for children and young adults. She has published numerous stories, articles, puzzles and quizzes in magazines for children and adults. She teaches for the Institute of Children's Literature. She has also written encyclopedia articles and school curriculum. Pat is a retired elementary school teacher who subs to remain in touch with kids. Her hobbies are photography, travel, birding and scrapbooking.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Few Shots from the Air FOrce Museum

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Pink Plane - My Favorite Color!

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Wind Tunnel

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Adam with his New Camera at the Air Force Museum

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Finally Over My Pneumonia and Working on Pioneer Book

Wow, it's been a long time. I was actually sick the whole month of December. This is the first time I can ever remember not sending Christmas cards, writing my annual Christmas letter and decorating my Christmas tree. I bought a tree, but it set in the family room for weeks without getting decorated. I finally put it in the yard for the birds to enjoy. At first I had a cold, then I was treated for bronchitis, but the Zithromax that usually takes care of it didn't do a thing. I finally went to the ER the Sunday before Christmas. They did X-rays and a blood test and decided it was pneumonia. When the doctor came back into my little cubicle, I was trying to figure out how to take a picture of myself with my cell phone! We scrapbookers will do anything to document our daily life so we can scrap it! She offered to take the picture. I said, "I didn't even get one of those little bracelets this time for my scrapbook." She said, "Just a minute." Soon she was back with one! She gave me four prescriptions, and they worked so well that I was feeling fairly well on Christmas, two days later.

I'm finding, though, that it takes awhile to get your strength back after pneumonia. For about three weeks, I was getting up and three hours later, lying down for a two-hour nap. This happened a couple of times a day. Guess I needed the sleep.

I signed the contract for the Pioneer book with Chicago Review Press and got the first half of my advance. By the time it came, I owed it all for Christmas and unexpected bills.

I wanted to get Adam an SLR digital camera like mine for Christmas, so looked for used ones. Found a reconditioned one on B&H, where I order most of my camera stuff. It was only $389 with an 18-55 lens. I bought it with part of my advance money and decided to keep it and give Adam mine. (I figured this one was more gently used than mine!) This one has a silver body, so we can tell them apart easily. I'll still share my 100-300 lens with him.

A group of us from the Photo Club met for breakfast on Jan. 13, then went to the Air Force Museum in Dayton to shoot. I'd never shot there, and Adam had never even been there. Actually, the last time I was there was when Adam's dad, Tim, was about 11 or 12 and I took him! It's changed a lot. We need to go back because we missed the rockets which are way back in the back. We did go to one of the I-Max shows, which was about Mars. Pretty cool!
It was Adam's first time using a tripod. His dad found the one I got him years ago. The exposures we took were anywhere from 20-50 seconds, so a tripod was absolutely essential. A few are posted above.

I've been subbing and working on the book. I need to have two chapters done before February 15, because I want to go to Florida for two weeks. I plan to finish the first chapter by the first of February. It's taking a lot of research, because it will cover the different westward movements, the most frequently-used trails, the different types of transportation used and the actual experience of the trip west.

There will also be activities in each chapter for kids to do. Lots of sidebars will profile different pioneers and also include excerpts from some diaries, journals and letters written either on the trail or afterwards. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the full text of many of these diaries, journals and letters is available online. It's great to be able to get primary material without moving from my computer!

Monday afternoon, Suzanne Lieurance had me on her Book Bites for Kids radio show. She interviews a different children's author every afternoon. We had a good time talking for half an hour and I hope some of the listeners learned something about writing nonfiction for kids.

Last night I attended a gathering for writers from the Cincinnati area. I'm stretching it a little, being about 80 miles north of there, but heck, I was invited and it was a chance to schmooze with other children's writers. I went with Tonya Larson, another member of my children's writers' critique group. We enjoyed meeting and talking to all the other authors. I talked to Mary Kay Carson, who also does books for Chicago Review Press. Her husband gave me some ideas and tips for taking photos for the book. He took a large number of the ones in her Underground Railroad for Kids book. I hadn't thought of the Pioneer Village at Cesar's Creek or Cades Cove in the Smokies. I expect to be in the Smokies with the Photo Club in April, so that's a good idea. And I already have many photos from that area. Plus we have a log house right in our own Darke County Park district behind the nature center.

I got home about midnight last night and it was about 2:00 by the time I was in bed and asleep. Of course, they called me at 6:15 to sub! I was able to go back to sleep till 7:30, but then I got up and taught fourth grade all day. Had a good day and took a nap after school!

Now I'm going to bed (well after midnight) in case I get called again in the morning!


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