Friday, June 29, 2012

WIFYR 2012

Last week, Cyn and I taught workshops at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference in Sandy, Utah. Organized by award-winning author Carol Lynch Williams, the conference is now in its thirteenth year and brings together published authors, agents, editors, and eager-to-learn beginning and advanced writers and illustrators.

Faculty members for the morning workshops included Cynthia, Carol, A.E. Cannon, Ann Dee Ellis, Mette Ivie Harrision, Matt Kirby, Trudy Harris, Julie Olson, and Tim Wynne-Jones.  We also all did afternoon presentations on aspects of craft.  In addition, Trent Reedy delivered the keynote.  The King's English book store conducted the book sale.  Editors Ruth Katcher and Alexandra Penfold and agent John Cusick also critiqued, spoke, and did in-class Q&A's.

Carol Lynch Williams at King's English Book Store
I had the pleasure of teaching an absolutely terrific and awesome-to-work-with group of twelve students in the Advanced Writing Workshop.  We read and critiqued thirty pages of manuscripts and synopses for each student, and did writing exercises in support of the particular manuscripts (based in part on the prompts Cyn and I used for Writefest back in '04 and '05).  
The grounds of the facility

My assistant, Tiff, in full dino regalia, with Neil, Chris, and Beth seated.
Most of the class and me.

In the last picture, clockwise from top left: Bruce, Herb, Me, Laura, Neil, Tiff, Liz, Jonene, Tessa, Chris, and Beth.  Not pictured: Noelle and Mike.

Thanks, everyone, for all the hospitality and hard work, especially Carol and the assistants!  Particularly, Tiff, who was also juggling her full-time job with the BLM fire service! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Museum of Ancient Life

In addition to the superb Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City is home to the Museum of Ancient Life, a private facility that includes a very nice (and extensive) collection of local dinosaurs.

Arms outstretched between the forelegs of a Brachiosaurus.

Confronting Utahraptor


A nice display of Othnelia adults and juveniles.

The neck of Supersaurus extends out of its hall and into the one next door

A sauropod leg and me
Eoraptor on display

Everything's better with T.rex

Me and Bambiraptor

Protoceratops sculpture

Big giant turtle, Archelon

The terror bird Diatryma

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Natural History Museum of Utah

Last weekend, after we finished up WIFYR (which I will post about in greater detail later), Cyn and I took a day to check out the brand-new Rio Tinto facility for the Natural History Museum of Utah.  Overlooking downtown Salt Lake City, the place is gorgeous.
View from deck of museum showing wildfire
Naturally enough, the displays are primarily of Utah dinosaurs and paleo-critters, with emphasis on the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry (Jurassic), the Cedar Mountain Formation (Cretaceous), and the Kaiparowits Formation (Cretaceous).

I particularly enjoyed the life-sized Cretaceous diorama featuring a troodontid scavenging a ceratopsian skull, and the wall of some 14 or so ceratopsian heads, showing the family tree, as it were.

Also notable is the display of a pack of juvenile Allosaurus attacking a Barosaraus.

In addition, the museum has a sizeable display of Cenozoic creatures, including the dire wolf and the Columbian mammoth, as well as a display of hominid evolution. 

It was kind of neat seeing some of the creatures that feature in CHRONAL ENGINE, including T.rex, Ornithomimus, oviraptorids, Deinosuchus, and Parasaurolophus.

Here are some of the mounted skeletons:

Deinosuchus, with tyrannosaurs in background

Stalked by Deinosuchus

Juvenile Allosaurus

Globe showing North America during Late Cretaceous
Wall of ceratopsians

Troodontid and ceratopsian

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Writers and Illustrators and Dinosaurs: Shelley Ann Jackson [Updated]

Shelley Ann Jackson is the co-author-illustrator (with her husband Jeff Crosby) of LITTLE LIONS, BULL BAITERS, AND HUNTING HOUNDS: A HISTORY OF DOG BREEDS (Tundra Books 2008) and HARNESS HORSES, BUCKING BRONCOS, AND PIT PONIES: A HISTORY OF HORSE BREEDS (Tundra Books 2011), and co-illustrator of UPON SECRECY (Boyds Mills Press 2009).

Shelley is a graduate of the MFA illustration program of the School of Visual Arts in New York City.  In addition to writing and illustrating, she teaches art classes at Austin Museum of Art - Laguna Gloria and at Dougherty Arts Center, both in Austin.

Below, she poses with rescues a pair of waifs, her daughter Harper and her niece Hadley, in front of from a T.rex at the Denver Museum of Natural History.

Book Goings On

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Austin SCBWI monthly meeting at BookPeople.  The title of my talk was "The Impossible and the Improbable and Willing Suspension of Disbelief in Science Fiction and Fantasy."  The talk generally covered, among other things, the fact that reality is not realistic, and the discussion ranged from survival cannibalism to the Titanic to time travel in CHRONAL ENGINE.  A version of the speech will appear in this fall's Hunger Mountain.  If you're not already reading it, you should :-).

After a brief interlude, we celebrated the launch of IT JES' HAPPENED: WHEN BILL TRAYLOR STARTED TO DRAW (Lee and Low, 2012) with author Don Tate.  He provided the background of the book and how he and illustrator R. Gregory Christie interpreted the events in the life of the folk artist.

All in all, a fun way to spend a Saturday!  Thanks, everyone for coming, and happy reading!   

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Space and Dinosaurs and a Couple things In-between

Congratulations to the Houston Museum of Natural Science on the opening of their new  Hall of Paleontology

According to their web site, they have 60 new mounts, including 30 dinosaurs; a "prehistoric safari;" and a "prehistoric aquarium," as well as an entire nest full of Quetzalcoatlus

Cyn and I are planning to check it out this summer. 

Congratulations also to SpaceX, on the successful completion of the Dragon mission to the International Space Station!  Hopefully, we'll see a manned launch soon!

Congrats also to my (former) editor, Daniel Nayeri, who is now the Digital Editorial Director of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  (He edited CHRONAL ENGINE and will be missed.  But check out his latest novel in the Another... series, ANOTHER JEKYLL, ANOTHER HYDE, which just released).
Finally, in honor of the naming of the new elements Livermorium and Flerovium, go watch this great animation of Tom Lehrer's "The Elements." 

Which reminds me of my favorite patent on a chemical element, U.S. Patent No. 3,161,462, to Seaborg, for Element 96:

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