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Tag: science writing

AUGUST HAPPY HOUR

AUGUST HAPPY HOUR

August’s casual happy hour for Austin Texas Science Writers is Tuesday, August 13th. We’ll do a short writing exercise, depending on interest, and play a board game to increase scicomm skills. Please join us in the backroom at Opa!

 

Tuesday, August 13
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Opa Coffee & Wine Bar
2050 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas 78704
(512) 326-8742

Selling Stories: Finding an Audience for Your Writing

Selling Stories: Finding an Audience for Your Writing

Tickets are $40 for non-members. Members receive an automatic additional 25% off discount (when logged in).

 

As the third in a series of three workshops that explore the techniques needed to go from idea to published science writing piece, this workshop will explore the last leg of your communication journey: how to find your audience, then polish and sell your writing piece to a publisher. Selling doesn’t just mean receiving money for your creative piece, it means selling the idea to someone, particularly your audience with effective and learned techniques (helpful even for those that aren’t freelance). During this professional development workshop, we’ll explore topics such as:

  • Selecting which story to tell and how publications go about selecting which story they commission
  • How stories evolve from pre-pitch exploratory interviews, through rounds of edits, to a final polished piece by pulling from real-world examples of successful freelancers’ pitch, edit, and publish process, including take-home examples that help creators optimize the journey. Authors will be available for direct questions and feedback on an idea you may have.
  • Forbes columnist and negotiation coach Tanya Tarr will lead a fun, interactive, but low-stakes practice pitch slam with tips on how to best position yourself and writing in a competitive market. Tanya’s worked with dozens of freelance and staff writers.

 

 

Special guest: Anna Kuchment

Hear about pitching from the perspective of an editor: what you should do and what you definitely SHOULDN’T DO when you reach out to editors. Don’t leave your beloved story idea out to dry. Drawing from personal experience with horror stories (and fairy tale stories) in tow, Anna will dish on what you can do to be the best advocate for your own story and how to navigate the sometimes confusing process (and social etiquette) of meeting an editor, pre-pitching, pitching, signing contracts, re-working, and re-working our pieces with editors. Anna is the Dallas Morning News science writer, Scientific American editor, and author of The Forgotten Cure (Copernicus Books; 2012), about phages. See some of her latest stories on Muck Rack.

 

Lee Klancher is an award-winning writer, photographer, and publisher who has contributed words and images to more than 30 books as well as dozens of national magazines including Men’s JournalDraft, and Motorcyclist. He also spent more than a decade as an editor and editorial director at the world’s largest publisher of transportation books. Lee founded the niche book publishing company, Octane Press, in 2010 which has roughly 50 titles in print but he may be best-known for his award-winning books and calendars covering farm machine technology development, including Red Tractors and Red 4WD Tractors.

 

Teresa Carr is an award-winning journalist with more than two decade’s experience reporting on science, health and consumer issues. She recently launched a monthly column for the digital science magazine Undark and writes for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Consumer ReportsNovaNextSapiens, and The Guardian. Teresa was a 2017-18 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and, prior to that, a senior editor at Consumer Reports. Her cover story for Consumer ReportsToo Many Meds?, was a National Magazine Awards finalist and won a Folio Award for investigative journalism.

 

Tanya Tarr is a  regular Forbes contributor and book author writing about the power of negotiation and equal pay. During the workshop, she’ll run us through positioning you and your writing best when interacting with editors. Fun and interactive pitch activity included.

 

Liz Kruesi is an award-winning science writer and editor, specializing in telling stories about everything astronomical. Her work has appeared in Discover, Quanta Magazine, Smithsonian.com, Popular Science, Astronomy, and others. She has been a freelance writer for four years, following more than seven years as an editor on staff at Astronomy. Liz has authored five books for children about astronomy, and a project with National Geographic Publishing’s Books department will release this summer. In 2013, Liz won the David N. Schramm Award for High-Energy Astrophysics Science Journalism, presented by the American Astronomical Society, for an Astronomy feature story about black holes.

 

Lunch and happy hour provided!

 

The location will be in northeast Austin (if you’ve been to one of our other two workshops, you know it) at Trash Mountain Ranch (formerly GasPedal Ranch) at: 10300 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78754.

If you want to get notifications about this workshop, please sign up for our emails, if you haven’t already.

 

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ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

Save the date: Sunday, 5/5 at 4-5 pm on the third floor of BookPeople (use the back elevators).

Austin Texas Science Writers (ATXSciWri) launched a science + nature writing book club in collaboration with BookPeople, ATXSciRead.  This month, we’ll discuss SAPIENS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND by Yuval Noah. It’s #7 on Amazon Charts this week. Head to BookPeople for 10% off if you mention the club or order online here.

We’ll revisit the classics and explore cutting-edge titles, from neuroscience to natural history, astrophysics to animal behavior. ATXSciRead meets the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm. Upcoming meetings and titles (determined by book club members via ranked choice voting):

 

UPCOMING TITLES

June, 6/2: John McPhee, THE CONTROL OF NATURE

July 7/7:  Kate Moore, RADIUM GIRLS

Email atxsciwri [at] gmail dot com if you have any questions.

 

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

Austin Texas Science Writers (ATXSciWri) launched a science + nature writing book club in collaboration with BookPeople, ATXSciRead.

 

For the month of April, we’ll discuss a classic: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Head to BookPeople for 10% off if you mention the club or it order online through this link. Save the date: Sunday, 4/7 at 4 pm on the third floor of BookPeople (use the back elevators).We’ll revisit the classics and explore cutting-edge titles, from neuroscience to natural history, astrophysics to animal behavior. ATXSciRead meets the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm.

 

Upcoming meetings and titles (determined by book club members via ranked choice voting):

MAY

Sunday, 5/3 at 4pm: Yuval Noah’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Join now and help vote on the titles for June and July. We’re considering a geology title for June. Email atxsciwri [at] gmail dot com if you want to have input.

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

Austin Texas Science Writers (ATXSciWri) launched a science + nature writing book club in collaboration with BookPeople, ATXSciRead.  In theme of the science of writing, we’ll discuss Alice Flaherty’s THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE: THE DRIVE TO WRITE, WRITER’S BLOCK, AND THE CREATIVE BRAIN. Head to BookPeople for 10% off if you mention the club or order online through the link. Save the date: Sunday, 3/3 at 4 pm on the third floor of BookPeople (use the back elevators).

We’ll revisit the classics and explore cutting-edge titles, from neuroscience to natural history, astrophysics to animal behavior. ATXSciRead meets the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm.

Upcoming meetings and titles (determined by book club members via ranked choice voting):


MARCH
Sunday, 3/3 at 4pm: Alice Flaherty’s THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE: THE DRIVE TO WRITE, WRITER’S BLOCK, AND THE CREATIVE BRAIN
First Official Member’s Meeting

First Official Member’s Meeting

  • Thurs., Feb. 7, 2019
  • Location: GasPedal Ranch in NE Austin (10300 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78754)
  • 6–8 pm; official meeting starts at 6:30 pm to better accommodate those coming from across town. We will also consider moving the meeting around town.
  • Bring an old or new science book to exchange!

 

Now that you’ve gotten to know us and the others around Central Texas, let make this official! ATXSciWri’s first official member’s meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 at GasPedal Ranch in northeast Austin. ATXSciWri members and those potentially interested in joining, or just plain curious, are welcome to join. If you’ve been thinking about and just haven’t gotten around to it, please become a member today and help turn Texas into a hub for science literacy. To the many of you that have–thank you.

This meeting will be about planning but it won’t be just a boring administrative meeting. Afterwards, we’ll exchange our most beloved or willing-to-depart-with science nonfiction books, and remind ourselves of our personal and professional goals of this year (New Year’s resolutions don’t end in January!) We’ll also be introducing, welcoming ideas and feedback, as well as opportunities to help lead for this year’s programming, including things like accountability partnering, workshop break-outs, science-brews field trips, K-12 literacy programming, and more. Been looking for something new to add to your resume this year?

If you’re interested in getting involved on the board or within a committee, this is your chance to hear about it before we have official nominations and voting.

General plan
6–6:30 meet and greet;
6:30–7:15 talk about direction and ways to get involved, including at the upcoming March workshop;
Fun activities to follow like book exchange, goal setting, and drinks

We hope to see you there!
ATXSciWri Board
ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

ATXSciRead: Science & Nature Book Club

Austin Texas Science Writers (ATXSciWri) launched a science + nature writing book club in collaboration with BookPeople, ATXSciRead. For the January book club, we’ll read David Quammen’s “The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life”–a book delving into the history of molecular genetics and how it’s revolutionized how we think about the tree of life. If you’re interested in horizontal gene transfer, or how–for example–roughly eight percent of the human genome is a result of viral infection, then come discuss with us!  Head to BookPeople for 10% off if you mention the club or order online through the link. Save the date: Sunday, 1/6 at 4 pm on the third floor of BookPeople (use the back elevators).

We’ll revisit the classics and explore cutting-edge titles, from neuroscience to natural history, astrophysics to animal behavior. ATXSciRead meets the first Sunday of every month at 4 pm.

Upcoming meetings and titles (determined by book club members via ranked choice voting):

JANUARY

Sunday, 1/6 at 4pm: David Quammen’s THE TANGLED TREE

FEBRUARY

Sunday, 2/3 at 4pm: Christopher Ryan’s SEX AT DAWN: HOW WE MATE, WHY WE STRAY, AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR MODERN RELATIONSHIPS

MARCH

Sunday, 3/3 at 4pm: Alice Flaherty’s THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE: THE DRIVE TO WRITE, WRITER’S BLOCK, AND THE CREATIVE BRAIN

Telling Stories: Using Narrative Techniques in Science Writing

Telling Stories: Using Narrative Techniques in Science Writing

Austin Texas Science Writers’ upcoming workshop focuses on the craft of narrative science writing, a form of creative nonfiction. In this all-day event, we will discuss what makes a good piece of writing, how to build a narrative arc, and how to craft a story to engage readers, beyond cut-and-dried facts. The workshop will open with a plenary speaker: seasoned journalist Kate Winkler Dawson whopreviously published “Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City” and just finished a book on the history of forensic sciencewill share the coveted knowledge of how to bring narrative writing techniques to complex topics, gleaning from her extensive portfolio of illustrative writing.

Break-out sessions will explore differences and narrative techniques that can be employed in different styles of science writing, including breaking news stories, longform essays, and narrative features.

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Can You Predict a Classic Read?

Can You Predict a Classic Read?

Written by BookPeople discussion facilitator of ATXSciRead, Christine Havens

 

The world of fiction has its canon, those books agreed upon by old white men sitting in closed rooms, though PBS’ The Great American Read recently and publicly gave more voice to “everyday” readers, thus opening up the list of novels considered classics. Each fiction genre has its own canon, too. But what about the non-fiction realm, specifically the genre of science? Which books are the standards, the classics, the ones that a person studying science would be shame-faced to admit he, she, or they haven’t read?

That’s a question that has come up in the first two ATXSciRead book group gatherings. Our first meeting, in October, was a discussion of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring; we read Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t (2012) for November’s gathering. While the group readily agreed that Carson’s book is a classic because of her impassioned, eloquent writing and her topic, the consensus was that Silver’s book might not become part of the canon of science writing. Both books have been groundbreaking, or at least, Silver’s work has been groundbreaking, however, members felt that The Signal and The Noise lacked a certain resonance that marks a classic.

That doesn’t mean the group didn’t enjoy the book. Each person related more strongly to certain sections than others. Not all could relate to Silver’s discussion about baseball stats, but did find his discussion of hurricane prediction relevant, though he misses some things about climate change. Election prediction and just the ideas of prediction, statistics, and the human desire to look for patterns formed a large part of our conversation. Silver’s challenge to readers about whether they were hedgehogs or foxes garnered laughter as we each considered our responses.

While not every book that the group reads must be a classic, or have the potential of becoming one, the question makes for thoughtful conversation, especially since a few folks are also science writers who look to the books being read as examples for themselves. And even for those who are not hoping to become accomplished authors in the genre, the question sparks thoughts of future generations of readers. It’s not easy to predict a classic, or is it?

For example, our December read is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach, who is herself becoming a classic, or at least a standard, of science writing. Roach’s books and articles are easily accessible for the layperson, on subjects that often involve the quirks surrounding our physical bodies and our humanity. Her style is light, humorous, informative, and relevant. They’re always on the Indie Next and NYT bestseller lists. Will her works stand the test of time?

Join us on December 2, at 4:00 pm, on BookPeople’s third floor for what’s sure to be a lively discussion about that question, as well as ones about your “ick factor,” your favorite smell, and more. Here is an article Roach wrote for Smithsonian magazine about the science behind hot peppers: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/the-gut-wrenching-science-behind-the-worlds-hottest-peppers-73108111/.

Gulp, and the other upcoming titles will be available to purchase at BookPeople for a 10% discount.

ATX Sci Read is the brainchild of Austin Texas Science Writers, a local non-profit devoted to science communication. You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for updates about our upcoming book-club reads.

In January, we’ll discuss the The Tangled Tree by David Quammen.