Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Archive for the tag “writing”

National Poetry Month: Catching up with crime poetry editor Gerald So

NPM-2005-WhiteFresh from making an appearance yesterday at Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo event (Rhyming Picture Book Month), today I’m doing a 180-degree turn and interviewing writer and poet Gerald So, the editor of the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. All month long, Gerald is hosting the “30 Days of the 5-2” blog tour which features poetry, discussions, and other info each day of the week – including this interview!

If you were around last April, you may recall I interviewed Gerald last year as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, so I thought it would be interesting to check in with him a year later and see how things have been progressing. You may not think crime and poetry have much to do with each other…but read a few of the poems that Gerald has published on his site as well as in one of his eBooks, and you just might change your mind!

First…a little bit about him:

Gerald So-Think-160Robert B. Parker’s Spenser stoked So’s interest in crime fiction and poetry in 1993, while So was a student at Hofstra University.  He helped found Hofstra’s literary magazine, Font, earned his M.A. in Creative Writing from Queens College/CUNY, and taught English at Hofstra for six years before turning to writing full time.

A member of the Academy of American Poets, his poems have appeared in Nerve Cowboy, Barbaric Yawp, Defenestration, Yellow Mama, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, and other provocatively-named venues.  So has served as Short Mystery Fiction Society president (2008-’10) and Thrilling Detective fiction editor (2001-’09). After developing the online crime poetry journal, The Lineup, he published an ebook of his own poetry, We Might Have.

His personal blog is My Life Called So.

So Gerald, get us up to speed as to how The 5-2 has been going over the past year: have there been any changes, or any new writers you’ve discovered? And how has the response been to The 5-2 eBook you published last year?

It’s hard for me to consider the whole year at a glance. Now 2/3 through its third year, I build up the site week by week, so most of the writers are new to me. Publishing this often, the site has a chance to change along with the world, the kind of change we don’t realize at the time, but that is clear when we look back.

I’m pleased with the response to the ebooks. It’s important to me that poetry have a place in ebooks along with prose.

What makes a good “crime poem?” What is it that you look for?

I leave myself open to each poet’s take on crime. I look for evidence of crime driving a poet inevitably to write. I don’t see strong poems as similar in any particular way except powerful execution. Weak poems, on the other hand, fail in their execution.

Has the subject matter changed over the past year or so? Do people tend to write more about fictional events, or real life?

Again, I’m less aware of gradual change, but I consciously try to bear witness to life with the site. I like all kinds of poems, but my favorite deal with real life.

What kind of response do you get from folks who are just discovering the 5-2? Are they shocked at the genre of “crime poetry,” or do they appreciate it for what it is?

Some are surprised. Some don’t get it, but that’s true of any creative writing. Every reader interprets and responds to it differently. That’s part of its value.

30Days52-2014-128ltWhat do you think is the most unusual or surprising thing that people discover about crime poetry?

I think people are surprised how well they can, unfortunately, relate to it. Who among us has never been, or felt, wronged?

You told us last year that the genre is growing…how far has it come, and where do you see it heading?

That’s another difficult question to answer from my week-to-week perspective, but I do hope poetry about crime is more accepted each day.

Would you mind sharing one of your poems?

Here’s one first published on the website Lunatic Chameleon in July 2005:

“Four Minutes”

I stopped breathing
for four minutes at
four hours old,
cutting oxygen to my brain
and sapping strength from
half my body:
not so much I’d never walk
or run or write, but enough
so I couldn’t catch the kids
who called me “retard”
and bloody them
until they stopped.

– Gerald So, all rights reserved
published with permission from the author

Wow, talk about packing an emotional punch! Thanks so much for sharing that, Gerald – and for your time. I’m looking forward to seeing what new poems you publish in the coming year! (And for those of you interested, I’m honored that a new poem of mine, “To the Accused,” will be published on the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly two weeks from now, May 5-11. I’ll be sure to share the link once it’s up!)

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2014kidlit_progpoemRemember, Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem continues all month long! A different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and pretty soon we’ll have a complete poem!  Today it heads over to Amy at The Poem Farm, but you can follow along by checking in with each of the following contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

National Poetry Month: How voiceover websites helped me write poetry

NPM-2005-WhiteI’m not usually a big fan of “found poetry.” That is, poetry created by words and lines lifted from other sources – books, magazines, advertisements. I feel like the poet needs to hunt for the message through others’ words, rather than writing the poet’s own message through his/her own words.

However, I’ve learned that the more I attempt to write found poetry, the more I enjoy the hunt!

The other day, I was thinking about what to write for today’s blog post. Since this is National Poetry Month, I knew I wanted to write about poetry (all my posts this month deal with poetry in one form or another) but I wasn’t sure what angle to take. I had been feeling bad about not being able to write as much as I’d like due to my recuperation from ACL surgery – being on crutches, I’m a lot slower at taking care of the kids than I used to be – and I also felt a little guilty for not writing more about voiceover work, as I often do.

Then it occurred to me:  do both!

How to find “found poetry”

I decided I would write a found poem using material I culled from voiceover websites. Now, to those of you who don’t write poetry, that may seem like a rather odd idea. But writers know good material and inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime…and sure enough, it wasn’t long before I realized I might be onto something.

After simply Googling “voiceover,” I started searching through the first couple of pages of results, opening up webpages and copying sections of text I thought could be potentially useful.

I read, I searched, I compiled.

Eventually, I had a list of lines and phrases that seemed to have some common associations, beyond the obvious ‘voiceover’ theme; associations with which all of us as humans might be able to identify.

My definition of good found poetry

I think one of the reasons I don’t often like found poetry is because it only makes sense, or can only be fully appreciated, if the reader knows it’s found poetry. In other words, the lines of a found poem might not be as strong as if they been originally written from the mind of the poet.

With found poetry, the poet is at the mercy of the lines he/she uses – and often I wonder if the found poems I come across would be able to stand on their own merits, had they not been “found.” Maybe this is crazy talk, but in my mind, found poetry should read just as smoothly, as intelligently, and as originally as any other poetry.

Which brings me to my found poem. Is it as smooth, intelligent, or original as something I would have crafted out of thin air? I don’t know – I suppose that’s for you to decide. But I think I was able to capture something beyond a repetition of lines, beyond an amalgam of disparate thoughts, and certainly beyond voiceover.

But like I said….I’ll let you be the judge of that.
.

Voice

Expressing unspoken thoughts
and burning desire,
a voice that is not part of the narrative
pauses for a breath;
the essential commands
and
extreme situations
still seem confusing.
Don’t get discouraged.
Slow down,
evaluate your work,
and take your time
through talent,
steely focus,
and faith
to change the world.

- © 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine


Not that you need to know this, but just as background information, each line of this poem is a different line from the text of one of the websites I visited:  Wikipedia.com, Voice123.com, Apple.com, Voices.com, Merriam-webster.com, IMDB.com, and webaim.com.

Why not try it yourself? Look through a magazine and pull lines from the articles or advertisements. Scan your library and see if the titles of the books lend themselves to a few poetic lines (some folks refer to this as “book spine poetry’).

Poetry is, after all, all around us – and is waiting to be found!

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2014kidlit_progpoemNational Poetry Month is keeping me extra-busy! Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem is continuing full-steam ahead…a different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete poem!

Last week, I added my line and today the poem heads to Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy. You can follow along by checking in with each of the following contributors:

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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RhyPiBoMo banner

I’m very happy to be part of Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo event this month (Rhyming Picture Book Month). All month, she’s encouraging writers to create rhyming picture books and I’ll be guest blogging on April 26, discussing the benefits of collaboration – so please be sure to join me then!

To see all the posts and learn more, click the calendar below for the daily schedule:
RhyPiBoMo calendar - updated

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30Days52-2014-128ltThe day after I guest-blog at Angie’s, I’ll be interviewing writer and poet Gerald So, the editor of the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. I interviewed Gerald last year as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, and I thought it might be nice to check in with him a year later to see how things have been progressing.

You may not think crime and poetry have much to do with each other…but read a few of the poems that Gerald has published on his site as well as in one of his eBooks, and you just might change your mind.

I’m also honored that Gerald has chosen a poem of mine to publish in May, so I’ll be sure to share that link once it is posted!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: “Mistaken Identity” and other Poetry Month happenings

NPM-2005-WhiteNational Poetry Month continues, and there’s so much going on in the Kidlitosphere it’s hard to keep track of it all. Blog posts come and blog posts go, and I try to read as many as I can…but there’s just no way I can get to all of them. One post I’m glad I didn’t miss helped me write today’s poem.

Earlier this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect, former National Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis shared a new poetic form he calls the “homophoem,” a poem designed with homophones in mind. (If you don’t know what a homophone is. it’s two or more words that share the same sound, like ate and eight or carrot and carat) The concept is that the last word in the poem is a homophone which acts as the ‘twist’ of the poem.

Kate Coombs and Charles Waters both wrote some incredible poems for the challenge, which they shared on the blog, and this is my contribution:

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMistaken Identity
(A conversation in two voices)

No bull,
I’m not a cow,
it’s true –
I don’t eat hay,
I have no moo.

But what about
your horns and hooves,
and all the grass
you like to chew?

My parents
have two horns –
they do!
They both
have hooves
and eat grass, too!

Are you an ox?
A yak? A ewe?
Please tell me!
Give me just a clue!

Who am I?
Why, I am zebu!

Zebu?
Zebu?!?

 I never gnu.
.

- © 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

But wait, there’s more! Michelle Heindenrich Barnes is celebrating her blog’s FIRST birthday by hosting Poetry Friday today at Today’s Little Ditty, so head on over to get all the links and info – and maybe some cake and ice cream before it’s gone!

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2014kidlit_progpoem Have you been following Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem? As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, a different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete, crowd-sourced poem!

This past Tuesday, I added my line, and today the poem heads to Linda Kulp at Write Time. You can follow along by checking in with each of the contributors, listed below!

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

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#MMPoetry – we have a winner!

MMPoetry2014_logo_full

If you haven’t checked out all the children’s poems that have been produced in just the past couple weeks, you can still log on and see all the incredible poetry that has been created this month.

Just last night, the polls closed on the final matchup between J.J. Close and Samuel “The Lunchbox Doodler” Kent - and congratulations to Samuel for winning the tournament! Click the graphic and you can read both poems!

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RhyPiBoMo banner

I’m very happy to be part of Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo event this month (Rhyming Picture Book Month). All month, she’s encouraging writers to create rhyming picture books (and she’s assembled a team so large and decorated, I have no idea what I’m doing amongst them!) I’ll be guest blogging on April 26, discussing the benefits of collaboration – so please be sure to join me then!

To see all the posts and learn more, click the calendar below for the daily schedule:
RhyPiBoMo calendar - updated

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The day after I guest-blog at Angie’s, I’ll be interviewing writer and poet Gerald So, the editor of the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. (I know – quite a segue going from kidlit to poems about crime!)

30Days52-2014-128ltI interviewed Gerald last year as part of my National Poetry Month celebration, and I thought it might be nice to check in with him a year later to see how things have been progressing. You may not think crime and poetry have much to do with each other…but read a few of the poems that Gerald has published on his site as well as in one of his eBooks, and you just might change your mind.

I’m also honored that Gerald has chosen a poem of mine to publish in May, so I’ll be sure to share that link once it is posted!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

National Poetry Month: The 2014 Progressive Poem!

2014kidlit_progpoemAs a blogger and children’s writer, it’s hard to celebrate National Poetry Month while laid up recuperating from ACL reconstruction. One might think that I have all the time in the world, since I can’t really do anything – but the fact of the matter is, the 4-year-old and 7-month-old take up almost ALL my time.

I’ve only just begun to feel comfortable enough sitting at my desk to be able to work, so running and managing the nuts and bolts of my voiceover business comes before blogging, unfortunately. Hopefully, once I’m off crutches next week and can start walking and exercising and rehabbing, I’ll have more time for the fun stuff.

Today, though, is definitely fun! It’s my turn to take part in Irene Latham’s 2014 Progressive Poem! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, a different poet adds a line to the poem each day, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete poem written by 30 different people. Talk about crowd-sourcing!

Anyway, Pat Weaver, the Writer on a Horse, added her line to the poem yesterday, and today I get to add to this literary wonder. Here’s the poem, so far, with my line added at the end:

Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey

Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.

If I recall correctly, I think this is the first year the poem has rhymed – which makes for a tougher assignment, of course. A writer should want to maintain the integrity of the poem without falling into a singsong kind of rhythm or letting the rhyme take over the mood or emotion of the poem itself. Hopefully I fulfilled my duty. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes – you can follow along, too, by checking in with each of the contributors, listed below!

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

Best wishes to Diane Mayr, who will add her line tomorrow!

NPM-2005-White

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#MMPoetry – we have a winner!

MMPoetry2014_logo_full

If you haven’t checked out all the children’s poems that have been produced in just the past couple weeks, you can still log on and see all the incredible poetry that has been created this month. Just last night, the polls closed on the final matchup between J.J. Close and Samuel “The Lunchbox Doodler” Kent - and congratulations to Samuel for winning the tournament! Click the graphic and you can read both poems!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

National Poetry Month, a “Water Can Be” review, #MMPoetry…and I’m not even here!

Yes, that’s right…I’m not really here. I’m laid up, following my ACL surgery from last Friday. But I hope you’re enjoying it!

By the way, do you know what’s really weird? I’m writing this on Thursday, the day before my surgery, but I’m acting as if it’s Tuesday and I’ve already had the surgery. My brain is already confused and I’m not even on painkillers! Although, by the time you read this, I might be. Good grief, my head hurts…)

2014kidlit_progpoem

The inimitable Charles Waters kicks off this year’s Progressive Poem! Click the image to see how he’s starting things off!

Anyway, there is a lot going on this month:  I’ll be taking part in Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month) project with a guest blog post on April 22; I’ll be again teaming up with Gerald So at the The 5-2 : Crime Poetry Weekly for a follow-up interview here, before he shares one of my poems at his place in May; and I’m also proud to again take part in Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem, where a different writer adds a line to a poem each day of the month, and by the end of April we’ll have a complete poem!

2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem Contributors (and the dates they’ll be taking part):

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

 

“Water Can Be”

Water Can Be coverTo kick off national Poetry Month, I’m sharing my thoughts on Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, Water Can Be (Millbrook, 2014) which is available TODAY!

Only a fellow writer can truly appreciate the difficulty of simple writing. In terms of writing, especially writing for children, the word ‘simple’ does not mean plain, boring, easy, or any of the other synonyms most people think of. Rather, simple writing is, in a word, uncomplicated. And by being uncomplicated, it can be beautiful, touching, and sincere.

It’s also very hard to do consistently well.

Fortunately, Laura Purdie Salas is up to the task, as she brings us a ‘follow-up’ to her book, A Leaf Can Be (Millbrook, 2012). Not that it’s a sequel of any kind…but Water Can Be just feels like the natural second book in a series of quiet, thought-provoking, and fun-to-read books about nature.

Kids as well as adults will be amused reading lines like, “Water can be a…tadpole catcher / picture catcher / otter feeder / downhill speeder…” and when these are combined with Violeta Dabija’s simple (there’s that word again) yet whimsical illustrations, all these metaphors and concepts come to life in a unique way.

Not every rhyming picture book is poetry. This one is.

Get a taste of what water can be by checking out the trailer:

If you love to read with your kids, if you love poetry, if you love wordplay…you’ll love this book. You can learn more about Laura at her website, and you can learn more about Violeta at hers!

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#MMPoetry continues!

MMPoetry2014_logo_full

If you haven’t checked out all the children’s poems that have been produced in just the past couple weeks, make sure you log on and vote for your favourites - by the time the dust settles, only one authlete will be left standing!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

 

On life, death, and all that stuff in-between

It’s interesting how some things come full-circle.

I attended the funeral for the father of my best friend in college this weekend. As I sat there in the very last church pew, I listened as the priest spoke about all the things this father, grandfather, husband, and friend would never do again: tend to his garden, prune his fruit trees, play with his grandchildren.

A sad occasion, obviously…so I surprised myself when this :15 TV commercial featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World popped into my head:

There really is no better time than now to start beefing up your obituary – and as this concept settled into my brain, I began thinking of all the things I’d like to accomplish before I pass.

Not a “bucket list” of what I want to do, necessarily, but what I want to accomplish. And to me, those are two different things.

How will I be remembered? Will I even be?

There are plenty of things I’d like to do: visit a foreign country, sing in a band, resume playing with my indoor soccer league. Things I’d like to accomplish are a bit more difficult, because they require more time and effort and are harder to define in concrete terms: be a good father and husband, make a positive difference to someone through my poetry, land a national animation voiceover gig my kids would be proud of.

These kinds of accomplishments are not the kinds of things you go out and just do, and check off your list. They require time, patience, and wisdom…and although I have plenty of the first two, that last one I have found to be the most elusive.

I try to be a good father and hubby – spending time with the kids, teaching them, supporting them, supporting and loving their mom. I keep working to make inroads to get my children’s writing published, not just because it’s my vocation and I’d like it to be a career, but because I genuinely feel that someone, somewhere might benefit from it. Perhaps that’s unrealistic, perhaps that’s egotistical…I don’t think it is, but it’s what I feel nonetheless.

Working hard and taking chances

My baby!As for that voiceover gig, I’ll keep plugging away with that, too. I’ve voiced enough commercials, corporate videos, and other random projects…so a national animated voiceover project – while still a longshot – is an attainable goal if I don’t give up.

And I don’t!

If I come across an audition for a project that is not right for me (deep movie-trailer voice guy is one of ‘em!), I skip it. But if I see something that I’m not sure if I’m right for – but could be – I’ll probably go for it and see how it sounds. How else does one grow and develop their skills if one doesn’t take chances?

How does one “beef up the obituary” – or the resume, for that matter – without a little extra perspiration?

Whatever you do in life, you’re not going to get any better or go any further if you don’t push yourself. Even if there are a hundred other voice actors competing for the gig, what have you got to lose? Even if your manuscript has received 50 rejection slips from agents and editors, the next one you send to might be the one who loves it! Whether I succeed or fail depends entirely on whether or not I give up, and believe me…I’ve failed so much that success just has to be around the corner!

(At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

TMIMITW took a chance!

Well, actually it wasn’t The Most Interesting Man in the World who took a chance – it was Jonathan Goldsmith, the Jewish, Bronx-raised actor who portrays him.

As I mentioned early in this post, things have a way of coming full-circle sometimes, and this is one of them. As I searched for the commercial online, thinking about those 15 seconds of wisdom the Dos Equis’ copywriters had shared about beefing up one’s obituary, I stumbled upon a recent blog post about how Goldsmith was cast as the company’s Latino pitchman.

If you don’t think you have a chance of scoring a big sale, nailing a big gig, or even winning a lottery…think about the odds that Goldsmith faced as a new York City Jew auditioning against 499 Latinos!

That’s right – out of 500 actors, he was chosen. And if the casting director had picked anyone else, The Most Interesting Man in the World would not be the man we know today.

It pays to take chances. And you only have NOW to take them. Tomorrow might not get here.

Better get busy.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

 

 

#MMPoetry is back for 2014! (UPDATE)

The following was posted this past Tue., but voting is now underway! You can find the poll HERE! The poll for this particular match-up between me and Buffy closes shortly after 9:30pm EDST, so please click the link and vote for your favourite!

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…and so am I!

MMPoetry2014_logo_full

Click the logo to vote!

I just wanted to send a quick post about this year’s MMPoetry2014 competition, of which I am again a part. Each year, Ed DeCaria at Think Kid, Think! hosts a bracketed poetry competition similar to that famous March college basketball tournament which is full of Madness, but which we can’t speak of by name due to potential infringement of a registered trademark.

OK, so anyway…I submitted my First Round poem last night (along with 32 other ‘authletes,’ as we’re called) and voting is set to begin sometime after 9am Central Daylight Time (US). Voting for the other 32 authletes (there’s a total of 64 of of us) will follow. Each of us is given a word (mine is “appendage”), and then we have 36 hours to craft a children’s poem using that word.

I’ll be sure to post the link to the voting page I’m sharing with the esteemed Buffy Silverman, my fellow Poet’s Garage member who has written poems for Ladybug, Spider, Cricket, Highlights for Children, and Know magazinesThe number of magazines I’ve had children’s poems published in: uhh…zero.

This might be a quick competition.

Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun, so be sure to check back here or follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get updates and links – and get ready to vote for your favourites!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine blogger logoA couple of weeks ago, Heidi Mordhorst nominated this blog for a Sunshine Blogger Award. I immediately thanked her…then went to her blog to find out what that meant! According to Heidi, the folks she nominated “are people whose blogs, whose work, and whose simple existence bring sunshine to my juicy little universe.” (In case you’re wondering, My Juicy Little Universe is the name of her blog)

Following the Rules

Far be it for me to break tradition here. This is what she said I needed to do:

• Acknowledge the nominating bloggers
• Share 11 random facts about yourself
• Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger creates for you
• List 11 bloggers
• Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the  bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger  who nominated you.)

chili!

Good stuff!

Well, I’ve thanked Heidi for nominating me, so I can check the first one off the list. Now then…eleven random facts? Listing eleven facts are easy enough, but these need to be random. Let’s see how random I can get:

1) If I wasn’t a voiceover talent and writer, I’d either be teaching English or cooking professionally.
2) I wrote my first Elizabethan sonnet in 9th grade; it wasn’t very good, but it scanned!
3) I make a vegan chili that’s so flippin’ good, even carnivores have been fooled.
4) My favourite author is Isaac Asimov.
5) I fell in love with voice acting at a very young age, after my father let me listen to some old-time radio shows. (I talk more about this HERE)
6) I share the same birthday (June 24) as rockers Jeff Beck and Mick Fleetwood. Not really anything significant about that - but it IS a random fact.
7) Even though I used to work in radio and hosted several morning shows, I hate noise in the morning! Please keep it quiet for a few hours while I wake up…
8) Def Leppard’s drummer, Rick Allen, once gave me his cellphone number. (I should call and see if it still works)
9) I gave my 5-year-old daughter, Katie, a metal plate that had been removed from my left arm, following surgery. Why? She wanted it!
10) I had never eaten avocado or tofu until I met my wife, Jen, 7 years ago.
11) 
My favourite band is Crowded House, yet the only time I’ve ever seen them live was two years ago in Boston (thanks to my wife!). In fact, anything that Neil Finn or his brother, Tim, have done – from Split Enz to their various collaborations – is ok by me.

Eleven questions, eleven answers

I now need to answer the 11 questions Heidi asked on her blog post, when she nominated this blog for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Keep in mind, I have not read any of the questions until this very moment- so the answers I’m giving here are my immediate responses. Something tells me this is going to be fun:

1) What’s the first poem you remember knowing?  (You get to define “knowing”.)
The first poem I recall reading and trying to memorize was from a book whose title I don’t recall, unfortunately! (I’ve tried tracking down the book, to no avail) The poem was about how much fun it would be if we could eat clouds, it was from a small, paperback collection of poetry, and most of the pen & ink illustrations were accented in blue and pink. If you have ANY idea what book this is, please let me know!

2) What’s the first poem you remember writing? (You get to define “writing”.)
When I was 6 or 7 I think, I “wrote” some horribly rhyming lines about a goat swallowing a boat down his throat – and asked my uncle, a musician, if he could write the music for it. (Sorry, Uncle Ron, I still feel bad for that) Now, I considered it a song rather than a poem - but looking back on it, it wasn’t much of either, so I guess it’ll have to do.

3) Can you summarize your typical composition process in three easy steps? Okay, then, do it!
(Technically, this is 4 steps!)
Step 1: Come up with an idea.
Step 2: Write it down.
Step 3: Send it out to a bunch of editors and agents who don’t like it.
Step 4: Repeat .

4) What classic or famous poem have you used as a model, on purpose?  Share if you care to.
Wow, what a great question I don’t think I can answer! I’ve used numerous poems to write parodies over the years (like this one), but as far as serious poems, I don’t think I have ever done this. I’ve borrowed styles and forms and themes and such – but I’m not sure I’ve ever used a particular poem as a model.

5) With whom would you like to write a collection of poems?  (Living candidates only, please.)
Charles Ghigna. While I love Douglas Florian’s wit, David L. Harrison’s insight, and Steven Withrow’s lyricism, Charles has a knack for taking little observances and making them big and beautiful while maintaining a simple language and style. A close runner-up would be David Elliott, who has a great sense of humour and an ability to distill his observations into their most important facets. (That’s not too high-brow a comment, is it?)

6) What’s the weirdest place or moment you’ve ever found yourself composing?
You know, I don’t think I ever pay attention to that sort of thing. I write about varied subjects, and my focus, as far as I can tell, is usually on that particular subject. Whatever else is going on around me is secondary – which I suppose is probably not always a good thing!

7) What’s the weirdest place or moment you’ve ever been in, period?
A few years ago, a female friend and I went to a birthday party for a friend of hers…at a gay bar. Now, it wasn’t the fact that I was one of only two straight guys in the building – neither of us had any problem with that. But watching a scantily-clad “shot-boy” dancing on a table and having my butt grabbed on more than one occasion was definitely an experience I’ll never forget!

8) Say you have an unexpected couple of hours to yourself at home.  What do you do?  Include details of food, drink, tools, rules, etc.
First, I’ll try to get a load of dishes and laundry going – those things ain’t gonna wash themselves. Then I’ll pour some Moxie, maybe grad some Doritos, and head upstairs to my studio to do some writing. Taking care of two young kids, I don’t have the time I used to – so I fit writing in whenever I can.

9)  Say you suddenly find yourself in my kindergarten classroom with an opportunity to relive the 5-year-old you.  What do you enjoy most?
Probably playing on the playground, kicking balls, and riding the see-saw. If it was raining, I’d be happy colouring and drawing inside. The 5-year-old me never went to kindergarten, so formal academics weren’t a part of my life!

10) Say Dr. Who shows up in his Tardis and invites you on a three-hour tour.  Where do you go?  Whom do you visit?  Do you bring anything back?
Where I go: I’d like to zip around the world and visit some of the places I doubt I’ll ever see: Scotland, Paris, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Machu Pichu.
Whom I visit: I’d like to get Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, and Vishnu together and see if we can come to an understanding.
What I bring back: Leela. I’ve had a thing for her ever since middle school, and I’m now old enough to be able to do something about it.

11) When’s your birthday?
Oh, that’s easy! Like I said above, it’s June 24.

Who I’m nominating

The following list of fellow bloggers is by no means a complete list of all the folks I am proud to call friends, peers, and mentors; it is, however, a good sampling of the types of folks with whom I like to hang around. They are, in no particular order:

Renee LaTulippe at No Water River
Steven Withrow at Poetry At Play and Crackles of Speech
Joy Acey at Poetry for Kids Joy
Josh Funk at Papa J. Funk
Laura Shovan at Author Amok
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
Paul Czajak at Ramblings of a Writer
Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids
David L. Harrison at his blog
Jama Kim Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at the Poem Farm

And finally, questions for my nominees:

I think it took me longer to come up with these questions than it did answering Heidi’s. Here are the questions I am asking of the 11 bloggers whom I’ve nominated.

1) How would you describe/define your particular writing niche? In other words, what makes you so special?
2) If you had to suddenly change careers, what would you do?
3) I had to answer this, so now I’d like to hear from you: Can you describe your writing process in 3 simple steps?
4) If you were given $1000 with the instructions that it all had to be given away, how would you do it?
5) What story, book, or poem do you recall being the first thing you ever read that really made an impression?
6) You’re going to appear on a reality show – real or imagined. What’s it called?
7) Who would you love to collaborate with, and why?
8) What is one of your favourite things that you’ve written?
9) What type of writing project scares you to death, and when do you plan to start working on it?
10) You’ve been sentenced to death; what will be your final meal?
11) And with whom would you share it?

And with that, I shall take my leave and get back to work. I hope some of my blogger friends will take this challenge because I’d love to read some of their answers! And if you haven’t visited their blogs before, check them out and see what you think…you just might learn something new!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

One busy night

I’m a day late. Sorry.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I had blog posts written a week or more in advance. But with a right knee still recuperating from a torn ACL, stay-at-home dad duties for a 4-year-old and 6-month-old, AND my voiceover business…getting a blog post done can sometimes be challenging.

I had planned on writing the post Mon. night, in advance of Tue. publication. Thing is, priorities take – well, priority. And I had a bunch of ‘em…

Business before pleasure

AC pic

A small section of the interior of American Cottage Rugs’ showroom

Once the kids were in bed, I had to get hopping. First up: radio commercial production. A good client of mine, American Cottage Rugs, needed four :30 commercials edited down from four :60s we had produced last fall. While there was no new voicework involved in these new spots, there was a BUNCH of editing, which takes time to do correctly. I figured if I could get them edited, I could fine-tune and mix them down on Tue., which is what I did.

I also needed to get a voiceover audition submitted before the end of the night, so I took care of that, as well.

And wouldn’t ya know – more auditions came in while I was working, so I had to sift through them to see if there was anything appropriate for me. Having completed my studio work for the evening, I set to work on my other pursuit.

Those manuscripts aren’t going to write themselves

As you may know, I write children’s literature. For the past week or so, I’ve been working on a rhyming picture book manuscript that I really want to see completed. Sometimes it feels like I’m flying through it - and then I get stonewalled by a rhyme or plot issue and the process draaaaags. Keep in mind, I’m used to writing poetry, so anything longer than 16 or 32 lines is a tremendous challenge for a brain like mine. I needed to work on this, because I need to get the first draft done to see if what I’ve written is worth polishing.

But…

I also had to help a fellow writer and friend edit another picture book manuscript that we co-wrote over the past year, so that came first. I think it’s gone through 17 drafts at this point (I’ve lost count, honestly) but I’m pretty sure we’ve finally nailed it. I will admit I’m afraid to check the Google Drive for fear she’s made another tweak. We seem to do that to each other. A LOT.

Speaking of poetry…

A poem of mine has been accepted for publication at the online journal, The 5-2 : Crime Poetry Weekly. In addition to the text of the poem, the editor, Gerald So, likes to include readings of each poem he publishes, so I wanted to record my audio and email it to him in time.

So guess what I did before I went to bed?

DSCF2068 (Mic - Katie)Interestingly, the fact that I was so tired at that point helped my recording. I wanted the reading of the poem to exude a tired, run-down kind of emotion to it, and that’s precisely what I got!

Funny how if you put yourself in the position of where your character is, you can often nail the read. I once had to voice the part of an aerobics attendee who was out of breath, so I jumped up & down in the studio for a few minutes; when I opened the mic, my read was spot-on.

But wait, there’s more!

Did I mention our 6-month-old woke up at least three times while I was doing all of this? She normally sleeps through the night, but the poor little thing is teething like crazy and has a hard time staying comfortable. Her first tooth came in a week ago, and there’s at least one more trying to push its way up; needless to say, she’s not pleased with that. Life is pretty rough when you’re a baby.

I couldn’t wait to fall into bed around midnight. Until, that is, I remembered I still needed to do my second set of “prehab” exercises in advance of my ACL surgery later this month. Half an hour later, I was finally sleeping. As I think about it, I don’t know if I even completed the exercises – but at least I was on the bed when unconsciousness hit me.

So my Mon. night, as you can see, was a bit…full. I managed to get some of my blog post prepped, but didn’t write it until now. I’m very happy with my responsibilities – dad, hubby, voice talent, children’s writer, poet, blogger – but cramming all of those responsibilities into a 4-hour time frame can wear a person out.

Now, then…time to get working on that picture book.

Did I just hear the baby?

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

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Careers, hobbies, and knowing the difference

My baby!I know several people who record voiceovers from home. They don’t consider themselves professional voice actors and don’t have professional soundproof studios. They’re not bad at what they do, but will doubtful end up voicing the trailer for the next Transformers movie. They record local radio commercials here and there, perhaps a phone greeting now and then, and that’s it.

And they’re happy with that. To them, it’s not a career; it’s a hobby, a past-time, a side gig.

That’s fine.

Others I know love writing children’s stories. They write and write and write, but don’t spend much time revising, editing, or learning how to write.  They might send a manuscript out to a publisher once or twice; when the rejection note comes back, they don’t send anything else out for the rest of the year.

And they’re happy with that. To them, it’s a hobby, a diversion, a creative outlet.

That’s ok, too!

But what happens when you start treating your voice acting, writing, or other career as if it’s a leisurely pursuit?

Chances are, it won’t stay a career.

A lesson in health & beauty products

arbonne-logoMy wife recently became an independent consultant for Arbonne Skin and Body Care. As a health care professional, she tries to eat well, live sustainably, and be as healthy as possible. Since Arbonne products are all-natural, botanically-based, vegan, and gluten-free, she fell in love with them. In addition to skin care, hair care, bath & body, and cosmetic products, they also offer nutritional supplements and protein shakes (which I have to admit, are surprisingly good).

Consequently, when the woman she was buying them from suggested she sell them, too, my wife decided to take the plunge and go into business for herself.

The reason I mention all of this is because of the training the Arbonne folks give their consultants. They have conference calls, Skype sessions, and all kinds of one-on-one discussions. And in one of the very first training conference calls my wife participated in, the speaker shared this little nugget of wisdom:

“Don’t expect to make money if you treat this as a hobby.”

Now, she wasn’t trying to turn anyone away from selling the products. If someone wanted to simply sell some products on the side, maybe try some samples, and get a percentage off their orders, that was fine. She just didn’t want them to be disillusioned.

They wouldn’t be making the money that a career offers.

Rather, the speaker suggested, treat your position as an Arbonne representative seriously: get your business cards made up and pass them out proudly, talk to local businesses and other groups who might be interested in the product, and approach your conversations about Arbonne with the same attitude you would if you were working for someone who wasn’t you!

Because when you are your own boss, as many of us have learned, it’s easy to cut yourself slack and not work as hard as you should. You can make up excuses for why you didn’t have time to do this or that. You can find all sorts of reasons why it was OK to do something you shouldn’t have – or not do something you needed to.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

photo courtesy Roman Milert, Dreamstime

Businesses grow; hobbies don’t

Last year, I shared a post about things worth doing, worth trying, and not worth your effort - in other words, knowing what you like, what you’re good at, and what you’d rather not do, and embracing that knowledge. Likewise, if you’re going to take up a hobby, do it for the enjoyment of it! Learn it, practice it, and have fun.

If you’re going to begin a career, then learning, practicing, and having fun are also important steps…but so is taking it seriously.

For example, I’m a voiceover professional; I audition every chance I get, I provide clients with quality service, and market myself to the best of my ability. I also write children’s literature, and although I have yet to get that elusive book deal, I do have a poem being included in an upcoming children’s anthology. I am constantly sending manuscripts and cover letters out, going to workshops and conferences, and trying to improve my writing.

I have a lot of fun, but I take what I do seriously.

A business grows; as you develop skills, contacts, and clients, you strive to get better, meet more people, and work with more clients. A hobby, on the other hand, exists for your enjoyment and nothing else. Sure, you hear about people who had a hobby that they built into a business – but the only reason that happened is because they started treating the hobby like a business.

They got serious.

Are you serious?

Are you auditioning for everything you’re qualified for? Are you making an effort to learn how to write better? No matter what your pursuit, are you putting everything into it?

If not, then what you’re doing is a hobby…and if that’s all you want it to be, that’s fine. We all need hobbies, and to each his own.

But if it’s not supposed to be a hobby, then ask yourself what you can do differently. What you can do more efficiently. What you can do better.

After all, if you don’t take your career seriously, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

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