Wednesday, May 25, 2016

5/25/16- Reading List: Books I Read as A Teen and Now I'm an Engineer!

Hello!  My mind is on books this week.  I'm working on editing a picture book for a contest, and I've been reading Amy Poehler's "Yes Please."  I also had an interesting conversation with my husband about how books helped me as child. They helped me emotionally handle difficult situations, as well as they helped me develop a strong self identify.  To some regards, the books I read shaped my intellect and gave me confidence.

All that got me thinking about how if someone asked me what kind of books I would recommend for young women interested in STEM, what would I actually recommend?  So here's my list (it's mostly author and series based).  It's for pre-teens and teens (for Pre-School to 4th grade, I'll make a separate list one day).

1) Agatha Christie novels
2) Nancy Drew series
3) Hardy Boys series
4) R.L. Stine (specifically Fear Street Series)
5) Christopher Pike
6) Mary Higgins Clark (probably for older teens)
7)  Babysitters Club
8) Sweet Valley High
9) The Hunger Game Series
10) The Divergent Series

I know these books having shaped my life (in some way) if I still own a few 

The first five items on the list, might have you scratching your head.  It's simple. They're all books about mysteries (some supernatural mysteries), and what is at the heart of a mystery?  Deducing who done it. By trying to deduce who done it or the twist of these kinds of books, I was taping into my reasoning and problem solving skills, It's also about observation and paying attention to details. I was using that left side/science side of my brain.  So maybe other girls (and boys) might consider going into sciences if they read books where they have to observe and deduce.  That's my thoughts on that subject. :-)

The next two series, Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High, both gave me this sense that friendship, in particular female friendship, is important.  To this day, I don't think I would have made it far with the support of my friends (also family and husband).  Sweet Valley High also tackled some difficult issues, but showed that you aren't always alone (whether through the Wakefields' family bond or the strong friendships in those books).  And a quick note specifically about the Babysitters Club series.

The series kind of instilled a sense of work ethic (probably also my first example of female entrepreneurship haha, but not my first example of a working woman and mother; that first example is set by my own mother). It instilled this work ethic while balancing other aspects of their lives and showed how important supportive friends are for a work/life balance.  It's why I sought employment in babysitting at the young age of 12. :-)

The last two, well, it's pretty simple for me: they have strong female lead characters.  Sure someone people probably see these books as a romance book only, but for me, both Katniss and Tris (name similarity alert! just realized that) had serious career issues to deal with (for lack of a better work) while maintaining a life balance (friends, family, lovers, etc.) and they had to deal with deep emotions (and I think they handled those emotions fairly well).  Haha, I know that is maybe a weird way to look at those series, but I think for young women and men, these ladies are good role models.

So there's my list of books to encourage female adolescents (and males too!) into STEM careers.  At least, those are the books (minus the last two on the list, as I read them as an adult, but still find value in them for young adults) that played a small part in leading me to to my path as engineer.  Sure, maybe I over analyzed how today I think those books influenced me, but I won't negate the fact that they did in some way influence me. What books have possibly been an influence in your life?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5/18/16- The Critic

I kept wanting to talk about the subject of critic (in writing) since I went to my first Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (I'm a member; it was advice shared to me by another children's writer to join SCBWI.  If you recall, I was nervous to attend my first meeting of SCBWI.  I was nervous they would see me as impostor and not welcome me.  Guess what?  Nothing was further from the truth.  The group at that meeting was welcoming, kind, and genuinely excited about the other authors' work.  It was a great first meeting.

That meet also gave me the opportunity to a couple of ladies that I had been emailing.  I had been emailing these ladies about a critic group (they had off/on had critic group in Chandler).  We had a great conversation, and we agreed we'd meet as a small (re: just the 3 of us) critic group.  A couple emails later, we had finalized date, time and location.  And I went to my first critic meeting April 6.

We started the meeting with some small talk and some talk about writing conferences and other industry meetings and news. Then we each shared a story/manuscript that we were working on.  The author got positive feedback and constructive criticism.  For my story, I got some wonderful ideas and suggested on words to use for sounds (my character is an animal and makes different sounds).  It was such a good first meeting that I couldn't wait to go back for the second meeting.

Unfortunately, the second meeting that was scheduled, I was sick and missed it.  It sounded like it went well for the two of them.  And I got the opportunity to make my second meeting/the group's third meeting.  This meeting we talked technical details of storyboard layout (for picture books, which by the way is our group's emphasis), which was fascinating to me as an engineer.  We also talked about how isolating writing can be and how these meetings make you feel less alone (especially when it comes to the rejection of agents and editors; almost every author trying to get published gets rejected).  I also got some wonderful feedback for a second story I'm working on.

In summary, if you are an aspiring author, please join your genre of writing's professional society (if one exists for your genre) and please join critic groups!  Both are such a wealth of information, and critic groups give you that outside edit and perspective before you submit to agents/editors.  It may be scary reaching out to a new group at first, I know I was nervous, but it's been such a pleasant and positive experience, that I highly recommend it!  Happy writing to budding authors and happy day to everyone else (hope you all found this info useful)!   

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

5/11/16- Shattered

I was going to talk about either mother's day and what it's like to be a mom with R.A. or the awesome Personal Branding discussion by Dr. Robyn McKay at she(ology).  But both topics will have to wait.  Right now I'm going through something very personal that has shattered my body, mind, and heart.  I think eventually the pieces will be "glued" back into place (I've been here before and I'm strong willed and a survivor), but the whole won't quite look the same, you know?  Yes, it's a crypt post; it's all I'm willing to put out there right now.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

5/5/16- May the Fourth Be With You!

Yep, I'm a day behind, but Happy May the Fourth Be With You!  *Do eye-rolls now*  It's been another "killer" week for our household.  Jack got really sick- 104 fever followed by a diagnosis of strep, Petechial rash, and ear infection.  He's much better now, which is always a breath of relief for dad and I.  It was also a week filled with engineering work deadlines (I'm behind of course!  But taking off the time to focus on Jack and him getting healthy is always more important to me).  And a week filled with more networking in the PB business and volunteer work for my engineering society. By the way PB is Picture Book (you're learning author speak/writing biz speak as I'm learning it! wee!), and not to be confused with Peanut Butter.  Yum, Peanut Butter.  It's lunch time, I'm going to go eat, and then get back to analyzing system availability tickets.  Next week will hopefully be a longer post.  Just this "killer" week didn't leave much time for writing.  Again, May the Fourth Be With all of you!

Star Wars Jammies!