Friday, February 20, 2015

Children's authors have the BEST questions

Authors tend to have lots of questions - often about marketing, advertising, formatting, and other nuts and bolts. And then there are the technical questions: making zombies plausible via virus, escape scenes with people shooting at a swimmer, plane crash survivability...

Then there are the children's author questions.
"I understand that, when boiling down maple sap to make syrup, the fumes cover everything with sticky sap. Has anyone made maple syrup at home, and if so is this true?

If you had a dragon creating the flames to boil down the syrup, what would be the best way to clean off the dragon? given that dragons are immune to fire, would making a big fire around the dragon work, or would it just crystallize the sap into maple sugar?"
For the pedantic, yes, the author was corrected that it only produces a lovely-smelling steam, not sticky vapors. However, the quantity of splashes and spills can produce a dragon who needs cleaning anyway.

If you are interested in kid's books with dragons, fairies, and trolls (and I'm mighty curious about the maple-syrup-making dragon, but it's clearly not fully written yet), see Becca Price's books here:

Dragons & Dreams

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Soft blows

My neighbor gave me the most interesting version of the hairy eyeball today. It could be because I was outside in the uncharming outfit of long-sleeved shirt advertising the Kodiak Crab Fest mountain biking race, a fluffy purple cap, yoga pants, and socks with sandals. Yes, you now have an excuse to drink and get that frazzled housewife image out of your head. You're welcome.

Or it could be because I was holding a rubber mallet, carefully working my way down the length of my car and tapping gently on the ice encasing it. I'd already broken a door free, so I had the car running as I tapped at door handles, pillars, roof racks, and side panels. When it comes to uncasing a car, this isn't my first rodeo. As long as you're very gentle, tapping just enough to fracture the ice, you can get large sheets of ice to break loose and crash painfully down on sock-footed sandals. The more ice broken loose, the faster the car will warm up and deice the glass, the lights, and the general rest of the car you don't want to try thumping with a mallet.

I smiled at my neighbor, trying to be friendly despite the stare. "Always best to get the ice off before it gets really cold and freezes down hard, eh?" The neighbor drew back a little, and proffered an uncertain smile.

When my feet were quite cold enough, I wandered back inside for a cuppa while leaving the car running. The defroster had gotten the windshield clear-ish by that point (the wiper blades were another story). As the tea kettle clicked off, I heard the most interesting WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! from the neighbor's driveway, like someone was wailing away on the inch of ice encasing their minivan. Then their engine started, and idled in the driveway just like mine.

Was I supposed to offer my rubber mallet?

Monday, February 16, 2015

If you can't walk on it, don't drive on it.

Mostly, this applies to ice. Now, many of you in the north are currently driving something equipped with studded tires or really good all-weather treads, and if it's a pickup (and quite a few sedans) there's a bag or three of kitty litter / pea gravel over the rear axle. This enables you to drive normally on truly cold ice and scraped snow. It doesn't help as much as you'd think when it gets right around freezing/melting point.

In the south, "snow" and "ice" never gets very cold - it's always right around that 28-34 F range that even Alaskans dread. Southern ice usually comes with "running water on", but since it's such a rare event, they don't distinguish in the many categories northerners hold. This, along with unfamiliarity, is why they're such terrible drivers on ice and snow: even in Anchorage, I did not look forward to driving on running water on ice, and stayed home if I could.

No matter where you live, if you're going to fall on your butt (hopefully) or shoulder with a wrenching and tearing feeling (hopefully not) when trying to get to the car or through the parking lot, it doesn't matter how well you drive... you still shouldn't be out.

This is like "Nothing good happens after midnight." It's a good rule of thumb that keeps people out of trouble.

If you can't walk on it, don't drive on it.