Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rocket Candy and Rocketing Careers

This weekend I attended the ANWA Conference in Phoenix. Simply put, it was fantastic. So much good information, and so many great opportunities for the writers who attended.

It started off with a workshop given by the dynamic Elana Johnson, a query ninja and former blogger for  She gave us a great tutorial and hands on help with queries and pitches. That girl is a firecracker. AND she has what looks like a killer dystopian YA novel coming out this summer: POSSESSION. I can't wait to get my hands on it. I really liked MATCHED, and Elana's book promises more of the same, but with an "angry-girl" angle. Good times.

Chris Stewart gave the keynote address. The comment I heard most in response to his presentation was, "Isn't he wonderful?" Yep. I'll give that an amen.

This year, the organizers invited two agents (national) and one editor (LDS.) Writers could sign up for a nine minute pitch their work to any of the three. In addition, they and the presenters hung around at the chocolate reception and during the classes and visited with conference attendees.

The other classes were great. I loved the songwriting class by Chava Cannon. Who knew all *that* went into writing a good song? Coool. Plus, a Barnes&Noble exec came and spoke about how YOU TOO can get your novel onto the shelves of your local BN. No, seriously. It's not that tricky.

But it's a different blog post. Later. Maybe tomorrow. I'll also be sharing some of the great info we were given in some of the other workshops.

Probably the most anticipated and dreaded and valuable aspect of the retreat was the PITCH SESSIONS. Covenant Communications editor Kirk Shaw came. What a stand up guy. Seriously. He's a credit to his company. I was just jumping for joy with quite a few of my friends who met with him and got requests for full manuscripts. Good stuff! I could see the doors opening for their writing careers and no doubt, some of those are going to ROCKET.

Speaking of rockets, I have to mention candy. But today, it's not edible. Eep. Not that I didn't eat waaaaay too much candy on this weekend trip, including the breakfast of champions: snack size Twix bars and three handfuls of Hot Tamales. Possibly not the breakfast of champions.

No, today I must mention Rocket Candy! My kids (four of them) have the science fair this week. Do you KNOW how many science projects that is? Naturally, I turned it over to my husband. "You're the scientist, sweetheart." That's kind of how it went.

Anyhow, we dropped eggs and Jell-O from the peak of our roof onto our driveway. We sprouted some pea seeds and bean seeds. We did a comparison between sprouting times of watermelon seeds in a cool room versus those on a heat-mat. (The heat mat seeds sprouted, window seeds didn't.) Gary had to buy a heat mat anyway.

The oldest boy, an aspiring aerospace engineer, built a rocket. His question was what kind of fuel works best for model rockets. He used regular model rocket engines he bought at the store. Then he made a putty-like thing called rocket candy. This consisted of saltpeter (which I had to buy at Safeway. Really.) and Karo syrup. Kind of Pepto pink, it was.

The last fuel was *actual space shuttle fuel.*

No, really.

When I asked Gary jokingly where he planned to get that, he said, "It's okay. I have to get some anyway."


It took a while, but it's now clear to me: YOU CAN GET ANYTHING ONLINE.

Space shuttle fuel can be purchased from Pocatello, Idaho.

Some people's husbands.

The rockets went up. All of them flew. The real space shuttle fuel caught a small area of the stubble in the field on fire. Four or five times. The rocket candy worked pretty well, but boy did it smoke. Just as my genius son predicted, the commercially produced engine flew the highest. Maybe that was a safe guess...But a smart one. I'd hedge my bets against my own ability to make a rocket fuel on my stovetop or in my garage. Smart kid.


  1. Still thinking about it. I had so much fun. Thanks for being my "permanent friend" this weekend. ;)

  2. Very good time. I'm so excited about your novel! Get 'er done! And thanks for being my permanent friend. :)

  3. I'm so glad you had a great time at the conference! It was fabulous to meet you. :)

  4. It was so fun to see you. I wish we lived closer too. I agree on all the points above! Love writers' conferences! Are you going to LDS Storymakers in May?

  5. I'm so glad I was able to see you again since the retreat! You make every conference/get together more enjoyable. And hey, I'm a little impaired when it comes to these blogging/buzzing groups but I want to hear the updates about Buck! I'll be checking in to see. ;)

  6. It was a great conference. I really enjoyed the science fair info esp. the rocket fuel trials.

  7. @Elana-Agreed--it was fab to meet you too.
    @Melinda-I'm skipping Storymakers. Are you going?
    @Siciley-If anything happens to Buck I'll let you know for sure.
    @Susan-Glad you liked the rocket fuel. He didn't win, but he and his dad had a good old time with things that could potentially explode. Guy stuff!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.