Poetry Friday: “In the Middle of the Night” blog tour arrives here!

author Laura Purdie Salas

I’ve been waiting for this day to arrive – so we could celebrate the release of my friend Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House (Wordsong, 2019)! It’s a book that has taken her several years to finally realize, so I’m very happy for her.

This collection of 26 poems imagines what the inanimate objects inside a home are doing after the lights go out…and Laura’s imagination went wild, with stuffed animals putting on a talent show, pencils racing down the stairs, and even a leftover bowl of spaghetti lacing itself into someone’s sneakers! And when you combine these crazy scenarios with illustrator Angela Matteson’s playful visuals, you get a book of poetry that even kids who don’t think they like poetry will enjoy!

Alas, I wish I could have had Laura join me for an interview to chat about the book and her process, but unfortunately she’s been so busy this spring (she has THREE books coming out!), she simply didn’t have the time. It’s ok, I understand – we’re all busy. Fortunately, the inanimate objects in her own home came to the rescue and were willing to fill in for her!

So first of all, I’d like to thank all of Laura’s inanimate objects for joining me. Since she’s been out straight doing the blog tour, promoting her books, and trying to squeeze in more writing, I’m grateful that they all stepped up to volunteer to answer my questions.

1) Let me start with you, PEN…how did Laura come up with this idea, and what was your first reaction?

I’m pretty sure the overall idea for the book was a mash-up between a poem she wrote for Bookspeak (Clarion, 2011), “Lights Out at the Bookstore,” plus a poem someone wrote on her blog about chalk and what it did at night. Those made her think about all the objects in our homes and what they do at night.

But, I was definitely instrumental (hehe) in brainstorming for specific poems. I’d be hanging out in her purse while we were out in the world somewhere, and I’d hear a gasp. Then she’d grab me, open up a tiny notebook, and I’d spill her purple guts on the page. She always scribbled quickly, trying to catch the ideas before they disappeared, I guess. I was exhausted! What happened to the ideas after that was between her and her laptop. But that initial rush of imagination and possibility for each poem? I was proud to be part of that.

2) So DESK, you must have played an important role in all this. How long did it take her to complete the book, and was there anything surprising or unusual in the way she put this collection together?

Kitchen Table, stealing the spotlight from poor, abandoned Desk.

Sniffle, sniffle. I don’t want to say anything bad about Laura, because I love her…I really do. But basically, I’m just for show. She has a whole life separate for me, and I rarely get to see her work. Sure, she might leave a folder, closed of course, on me, but she doesn’t really share her writing life with me.

Kitchen Stool told me she spends most of her time in the kitchen, looking out the window and then at the keyboard! And all the while I was waiting for her. But what can I do? As Bonnie Raitt sings, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t.” I just…I just wish the best for Laura and her book, In the Middle of the Night.

I want her to be happy…Sniffle.

3) There, there, DESK. Have a tissue. Ok, now blow…good. 

Now then, KITCHEN STOOL, it sounds like you played a pretty  important role in all of this. How often was Laura using you to actually write the book, and how much time did she spend napping? You can be honest…

I was, of course, the foundation for this book. It wouldn’t exist without me. For months, Laura planted herself on me and stared out the windows into the backyard. I wouldn’t say napping, exactly, but perhaps a little daydreaming occurred. Then I would hear the gentle patter of her fingers on the keyboard.

Kitchen Stool: co-author and paragon of humility.

We spent so many hours and months together as she wrote the draft that Wordsong eventually acquired. (Not to mention the two intense revisions that followed!) Frankly, I should probably be listed as the co-author.

4) My next question is for SLIPPERS. Where did you take Laura, as she contemplated subjects for her poems? From your vantage point, did she forget to include any objects – or were there any items she wished she should include in the book, but didn’t?

I was Laura’s constant companion since we lived in a house with tile floors. Bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, family room, basement—you name it, we traveled there for research! Despite all that, when it came time to write about shoes, who did she feature? Dirty sneakers! And when that poem wasn’t strong enough to keep, she wrote a duet for Flip Flops and Snow Boots instead—she hardly ever wears either one of those! How’s that for a thank you very much?!

Clearly, she should have included me, Slippers. I was also outraged when my best friend, Missing Sock, got cut from the collection. Frankly, Laura didn’t give enough thought to clothing. I mean, Empty Pocket got its own poem, and that ridiculous Baseball Cap. And Necktie! Who cares about neckties? Oh, man. I can’t even think about this anymore. My blood pressure’s going up, up, UP, and slippers are supposed to be cozy and calm, ya know?

(reprinted with permission; click to enlarge)

5) Hmmm…indeed. Well, here, enjoy a little warm chamomile. WRISTWATCH, did she pay much attention to you, or did she pretty much work at her own pace?

Wow. Calm down, Slippers. What’s your problem? Laura gave me plenty of attention. She writes for 25 minutes, then takes a 5 minute break, so she’s always got her eye on me. She also writes fast, so a lot of times, we would have a race. Laura would say, “I bet I can get a rough draft of this poem done before your little hand reaches the 5.” I’d answer, “You’re on!” Boom! She’d start clacking away. We had a blast!

6) That does sound like fun! And how much use did Laura get out of you, CARPET? A lot of pacing, perhaps?

No pacing, but I did help with research. While she was looking for topics and thinking about what they’d do at night, Laura actually did some crawling around on me. She’d peer under the bed and peek behind the dresser, all from down low. She said she wanted to see the rooms like a kid would see them. I thought it was a little unusual, but it was delightful to have some company! I’m hoping she comes back to visit soon.

(reprinted with permission; click to enlarge)

7) My final question is for you, EYEGLASSES. What did you experience during this project, and what do you see for new projects in Laura’s future?

Illustrator Angela Matteson, who also illustrated Wordsong’s ‘Grumbles from the Town: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist” by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Let me tell you, sonny, I have never pointed in so many directions. Every nook and cranny in the house…Laura poked me that direction. Some things I will never unsee, like the enormous dust bunnies under the dresser. Enough to give an old man nightmares! Other times, Laura and I just gazed out to the backyard. And then eons were spent staring at her screen.

When Laura got the news that Rebecca Davis at Wordsong was acquiring the manuscript, I remember she jumped up and down and practically bounced me right off her face. And when she saw Angela Matteson’s final art…well, let’s just say I’m glad I’m waterproof.

Right now, Laura and I are seeing lots of young whippersnappers as we visit bookstores and schools and share her three new books: In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House; Snowman-Cold=Puddle: Spring Equations (Charlesbridge, 2019); and Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons (Millbrooks Press, 2019). It’s a truly heartwarming sight.

WHOA, it looks like Laura just got here – thanks for making it to the ol’ Triple-R, my friend!

Thanks, Matt, for sharing my book on your blog! I’m honored. And thank you for understanding that I don’t have much time. I’m so glad some of my writing friends were able to answer your questions!

Congratulations again to Laura, and best wishes with all the new books!

If you’d like to win a copy of In the Middle of the Night, just leave a comment below to enter the drawing! One winner will be chosen at random Thurs. night, March 28 and announced the following day, on Poetry Friday. (And if you’d like to read a poem that DIDN’T make it into the book, check out Laura’s blog HERE)

ONE MORE THING:  Madness! Poetry continues even though I can’t…yes, I got knocked out of the second round with a nail-biter of a competition between author Lori Grusman. It was so tight, that at one point I was leading 50.% to 49.9%. That’s right, one-tenth of a percent! And then she’d take the lead, then I’d take the lead, then she’d…well, it was like that the entire round. So congratulations to my formidable opponent!

For the third round, Lori has been given the word “automaton.” (And personally, I’m kind of glad I DIDN’T make it to the third round, because I was planning on continuing my sledding story – and I’m not sure how I would have ever fit “automaton” into it!) So log on and check out all the match-ups, then vote for your favorite!

Speaking of Poetry Friday, Heidi Mordhorst is hosting today’s festivities at My Juicy Little Universe with a spotlight on climate change and the Youth Climate Strike, so head on over for the complete roundup!

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Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Madness! Poetry – Round Two voting underway!

I don’t usually post on Sunday (OK, I NEVER post on Sunday), but I wanted to let you know that Round Two voting for Madness! Poetry is now underway!

Each participant is paired with another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word. Once the poems have all been submitted, the public gets to vote for their favorites – and the winning writer of each poem then moves on.

In Round One, I was given the word “bracing.” For Round Two, my competitor, fellow children’s author Lori Degman, and I needed to write a poem using the word “oblivion.” Through some quirk of fate, we both wrote poems using the exact same rhythmic structure and rhyme scheme – although both are quite different as far as subject matter. All the Round Two match-ups are now officially posted as of this morning, so please check them out and vote for your favorites!

NEXT FRIDAY: Join me as we celebrate the release of my friend Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, In the Middle of the Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2019)! (You could even win a free copy!)

Whew, that’s a lot of poetry news! For even more, head over to Reading to the Core, where Catherine is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup with an “Ode to Ellen Harding Baker” for International Women’s Day.

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A friend, a poem, and “An Assortment of Animals”

Way, way back in 2010, I believe it was, I attended my first SCBWI writer’s critique group meeting in Bedford, NH, where a bunch of fellow children’s writers gathered each month to share their work and get feedback. I was one of the few who wrote primarily in rhyme and the only one who wrote poetry on a regular basis, so it was interesting to see all the other genres that were presented each month.

It was there that I met many wonderful, talented folks who helped me, encouraged me, and critiqued me (well, my writing, anyway)…and one of those folks has gone on to have her own poem published in a brand-new anthology!

Elaine D’Alessandro has a poem in the new book An Assortment of Animals (The Writer’s Loft, 2019), and I’m so happy for her! I asked her a few questions about it:

  1. How did the concept for the book come about? An Assortment of Animals : A Children’s Poetry Anthology, published by The Writer’s Loft Press in Sherborn ,Massachusetts, spotlights the imagination and creative works of accomplished writers Jane Yolen, Brian Lies, Josh Funk, and many other talented and gifted writers and illustrators. Kristen Wixted, the editor, pitched the idea for a poetry anthology about animals  at one of The Writer’s Loft’s Board of Directors’ meetings. Heather Kelly, the President of the Loft, loved the idea and agreed to co-edit the literary project with Kristen.
    .
    With the assistance of Sally Hinkley, another board member, the search for writers and illustrators became a reality. From barracudas to flamingos, pangolins to grizzly bears, anteaters to wolverines, and the list goes on and on, our anthology celebrates the joys of poetry and the love of animals for children. The Writer’s Loft is a non-profit writing community dedicated to supporting, encouraging, and  assisting writers and illustrators on their creative journey.
    .
  2. How did you come to be involved with it? As a member of The Writer’s Loft, I had received information about their newest anthology contest seeking poetry about animals. Having taught kindergarten and first grade for many years, and as a grandmother of five, I knew first-hand how much kids loved poetry and animals.
    .
    And I wanted to try to be a part of their newest venture.  I had entered their first anthology contest a few years ago when they sought stories centering around events happening for the first time. I entered a story about my grandson losing his first tooth. And I was delighted The Wiggly Tooth became one of the stories in their Firsts anthology.
    .
  3. What made you decide to write about wolverines, of all animals? I wanted to write about an animal that I knew nothing about. So I perused one of the Wild, Wild World of Animals encyclopedias and came across the wolverine. And I wanted to learn more about it. It is a scary little creature with a big impact.  After a few revisions in different forms of poetry, I decided to write an acrostic poem. They are challenging to create as you attempt to match the animal’s features with the letters of its name, but well worth the try.
    .
  4. Have you written much poetry before this? I wrote a lot of acrostic poetry with my students. I also gave acrostic poetry as gifts to teachers and family members, using their name and identifying their attributes. I find it fun to write.
    .
  5. Did this project give you inspiration for any new projects? I am always working on a new story. And getting published is certainly an inspiration to keep on writing!
© 2019 The Writer’s Loft & Elaine D’Alessandro, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. (click to enlarge)

Congrats again to Elaine and all the contributors! The anthology is available through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Indiebound and can also be purchased in many independent bookstores in The Writer’s Loft area. Check out their website for more information.

Don’t forget, Madness! Poetry continues through the month of March! I am one of 64 “authletes” competing in the world’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition…and somehow, I have moved on to Round Two for the first time ever with the word “bracing.”

Each participant is paired with another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word. Once the poems have all been submitted, the public gets to vote for their favorites – and the winning writer of each poem then moves on.

My Round Two competitor, fellow children’s author Lori Degman, and I now get to try to write poems using the word “oblivion” (our poems needs to be written and submitted by this Sunday morning) so my weekend schedule is now officially blocked out! Log on to register, and get ready to vote Sunday morning!

NEXT FRIDAY: Join me as we celebrate the release of my friend Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, In the Middle of the Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2019)! (You could even win a free copy!)

Whew, that’s a lot of poetry news! For even more, head over to Reading to the Core, where Catherine is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup with an “Ode to Ellen Harding Baker” for International Women’s Day.

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Madness! Poetry returns for 2019!

It’s that time of year again! While college basketball teams whittle down their brackets, 64 writers from across the country are taking part in their own competition: Madness! Poetry!

I am proud to once again be one of the “authletes” competing in the world’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition (and quite possibly the world’s only bracketed children’s poetry competition)! Each of us is paired with another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word.

But it doesn’t stop there!

Once the poems have been submitted, the public (families, students, teachers) gets to vote for their favorites – and the winning “authlete” of each poem then moves to the next round. This continues until the field is narrowed down to just 2 writers…one of whom is crowned champion, and receives fame, glory, 10 million dollars, and the coveted “Thinkier” trophy!

Well, they get the trophy, at least.

The word that my opponent, Judy Valko, and I were given for this year’s first round was “bracing.” How did we do? You tell US! Voting begins at 10am EST TODAY – so please head over and check out all the poems and vote for your favorites. I’ve been doing this since its inception in 2012 and have never moved beyond the first round…but I’m feeling like this could be my year…so I’m “bracing” for success…!

Last year’s poem, “Catch,” which required the use of the word “pelt.” (click to enlarge)

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One more thing! If you’re unfamiliar with Poetry Out Loud, I do hope you’ll take some time to learn more about the program; it’s a great opportunity for students to not only learn about some of the world’s best poets, but to gain the benefits associated with memorization and comprehension.  As I have done for the past couple of years, I’ll be one of the performance judges for the New Hampshire State Semi-Finals taking place tonight at New England College in Henniker, NH…and I can’t wait to see high school students reciting poems such s Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night,” Dickinson’s “How many times these low feet staggered,” and one of my favorites, Alice Cary’s “To Solitude.”

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: More #PopsiclePoetry!

Before we get to today’s poetry, I need to congratulate someone! Earlier this month, I featured a review of the new picture book What if…? Then We (Boyds Mills Press, 2019) along with an unusual sort of interview with author Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrator Fred Koehler. I also offered a free copy to anyone who left a comment! And by a random draw of the cards, the winner is…

Catherine Flynn!

Congratulations, Catherine – your copy is on its way, and thank you for stopping by!

Now, for the poetry: a few months ago, I shared some examples of my #PopsiclePoetry prompts – two or three random words written on a Popsicle stick, which I use to create a poem, usually within about 15 minutes. These are prompts, warm-up exercises for the brain, if you will, so the lines I write are not finely-tuned pieces of poetic prowess; rather, they are simply the result of a few laps on the ol’ cerebral treadmill.

But every now and then, the words come together in such a way that the poem feels more polished, more thoughtful, more “real” than I’d thought it would be, and it connects with many of the folks who read it. This is one of those.

I had asked my wife,who gives me most of these prompts, to jot down something for me to use, and she apparently decided to use her “One Word” for this year: Be Still. (Yes, technically that’s two words, but she’s never been a fan of math) So I thought about what it meant to “be still”…and this is what I came up with:

I admit it took me much longer than the 10-15 minute limit I try to impose upon myself, because I liked the concept I had come up with and had to keep battling with the thesaurus to craft the internal consonance I wanted; all those S’s, P’s, and B’s were important to the musicality of the lines, and they had to not only feel good on the tongue, but they had to sound unforced to the ears and make sense to the brain.

Hopefully I succeeded in at least one or two of those areas! I was overwhelmed by the positive response the poem received on my Facebook and Instagram pages, so I thought I’d share it here, in case you’d missed it.

By the way, I’m once again fortunate to be participating in the annual Madness! Poetry competition! If you don’t know what it is, check out the link HERE. It all begins this Sunday night at 5pm, EST…which means my competitor is going to have the upper hand, as I’ll be heading to my indoor soccer league game and not getting home until almost 9:30pm!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, please visit my friend Linda Baie at Teacher Dance, where she is celebrating spring with a poem of anagrams!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Goodbye, Paul Janeczko

PBJ at PDS (1).jpgThis past Wednesday, the world of children’s literature lost a wonderful poet, teacher, cheerleader, ambassador…friend.

Paul B. Janeczko, author and anthologist of nearly 40 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, passed away due to a terrible illness, and those of us who knew him are shocked and saddened. He wrote, he visited students in school, he traveled cross-country to educate educators on writing and teaching poetry – and shared his love of the poetic word with everyone with whom he came in contact.

A genuinely nice fellow, he also went out of his way to encourage newcomers like me to the field of children’s poetry. About 6 or 7 years ago, when I was first starting to learn my way around the business, Paul noticed a Facebook post I’d written about a poetry collection getting rejected. Out of the blue, he messaged me and asked if I’d share a few of my poems with him because he’d love to take a look at them.

Of course, I was thrilled that he wanted to see what I was writing, so I sent him 3 or 4 poems; a few days later he wrote back and told me how pleasantly surprised he was at what I had sent him! He said that often newcomers to children’s poetry feel they need to try to be the next Silverstein or Seuss, but that my writing was quite strong, unique, and I had a good sense about what I was doing. That email made my month!

And even though I regret never having the pleasure of being in a Paul Janeczko anthology, I’ll treasure our friendship, his “happy birthday” emails, and our mutual affinity for the Boston Red Sox. (Oh, and his insistence that I keep my beard. He was quite disappointed last April, when I shaved it off!)

  

There have been many folks sharing poems they’ve written for Paul, but I just wanted to share one of my favorite PBJ poems here. I love it not only because I have several daughters and the poem is very touching simply because of its subject matter, but because Paul had such a delicate, loving, way of describing this little girl:

How to Hug Your Three-Year-Old Daughter
(for Emma)

Be prepared
to be quick.

The hug may come
when you expect it least:
you’re carrying a cup of hot coffee
…..answering her call sleepy eyed
……….lifting bread from the oven.

The hug may come
around your knees…

(you can read the poem in its entirety here)

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Disappointing that Paul never had a chance to hold his final ‘baby’ in his arms before he passed…but I’m sure there will be plenty of children (and us grown-ups!) who will treasure it for years.

Thank you, Paul, for all you’ve given us. As poet/performer/novelist Allan Wolf said in his tribute poem for Paul, “Now stands a legacy / where a poet used to be.”

You can read Publisher’s Weekly’s obituary detailing his life here.

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to visit Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge. Oh, and if you did not get a chance to check out my interview this past Tue. with Fred Koehler and Rebecca Kai Dotlich about their new collaboration (and enter the free giveaway!) I hope you’ll do so HERE !

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

“What if…? Then We…” Blog Tour arrives! (with a GIVEAWAY!)

I’ve known children’s author/poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich for a number of years and have been a big fan of her writing for even longer; conversely, I’d never even heard of author/illustrator Fred Koehler until he signed on to illustrate my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), and we’ve since become internet friends and supporters of each others’ work. (One day, I plan to visit Florida and say hi in person!)

You can therefore probably understand why I’m so happy to be able to share in the celebration of the release of What If…Then We (Boyds Mills Press, 2019), the new picture book from the Dynamic Duo!

This imaginative book is a companion to their One Day, The End (Boyds Mills Press, 2015), a Boston Globe Horn Book honor book that presented a different premise, in text, on each spread – and then expanded the details of each story via Fred’s illustrations. In their new book, the pair wonder what might happen if they ran into various situations…and their solutions are simultaneously sweet and bold:

What if…every crayon in the world melted? What if…all the words in the universe disappeared? What if…we began to cry?

What if…the clocks stopped ticktocking?

It is in this spirit that I thought I’d ask our two friends, Rebecca and Fred, a few questions!

1) What if…you had not written / illustrated “One Day…The End?”
Rebecca:  Then I would have written something else.
Fred:  Then I probably wouldn’t have gone on to illustrate four other picture books and two novels for Boyds Mills! No illustrator will ever admit that a book was easy. To take an author’s manuscript and visually interpret it in a way that elevates the text to a new level is… Mind-bending. A feat of mental Olympics. A puzzle within a puzzle. But honestly, that wasn’t the case with ONE DAY, THE END. It was um, well, kind of easy.

I fell in love with ODTE for the same reason I later fell in love with FLASHLIGHT NIGHT. I read it, scratched my head, and asked out loud “How on earth am I gonna illustrate this???” If it hadn’t been a challenge, I wouldn’t have been intrigued enough to come up with an original concept. I loved it because it required a deeper level of ingenuity than suggested by a simple text.

Fortunately, Boyds Mills liked the idea I presented and it went through only a few revisions to the original concept. So I owe a lot to that book, as well as author Rebecca Kai Dotlich and editor Rebecca Davis.

2) What if…you got lost far, far, far away and couldn’t find your way home?
Rebecca:  I would panic for a nanosecond, then I would “look for the helpers.”
Fred:  Then I imagine I’d just keep walking in what I thought was the right direction and hope someone found me. I got off at the wrong stop from the school bus when I was 10 or 11. It was the first day of summer camp and a different bus route. Instead of telling the bus driver I thought he’d skipped my neighborhood, I just got off with the next group of kids and started walking the way I thought was right. My mom eventually found me a solid mile from home, going the wrong way.

I don’t think I’ve changed much.

3) What if…you were not an author / illustrator?
Rebecca:  Then I would be feeling a tad empty, although then I might be a songwriter.
Fred:  Then I’d be a lot less happy. I’d have far fewer friends. My career wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. This list could go on and on.

4) What if…your careers were switched?
Rebecca:  Then we would still be creative, and I would love being an artist!
Fred:  Then I’d write loads and loads of ideas that the industry calls “illustrator bait.” It’s those craftily worded concepts that present a wide open canvas for a clever artist. (Illustrators are helpless to say ‘no’ to ideas like that.) FLASHLIGHT NIGHT and ONE DAY, THE END are both great examples. So are books like DRAWN TOGETHER (Disney-Hyperion, 2018) and THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT (Philomel Books, 2013).

5) What if…you could create any book you wanted – no matter how unconventional, unpopular, or non-commercial it might be – and know that it would get published?
Rebecca:  Then I would get to work and write it. And also, it might involve magic!
Fred:  Then I’d be right where I am today, without the ‘knowing it’s going to get published’ part. I’m glad many of my ideas get turned down, because I come up with loads and loads of them. If they all got published, I’d have a hundred mediocre books on the shelf. Because of rejection, only the best stuff makes it through. (And I consciously try to avoid what’s popular. What I want most of all is to make honest art and help readers see themselves reflected in the heart of each story.)

6) What if…Boyds Mills Press wants a third book with this concept?
Rebecca:  Then we would not hesitate, because, as they say, the 3rd time’s a charm.
Fred:  Then we’d celebrate. Also, three is an odd number and every artist knows that odd numbers of things are visually more appealing than evens.

Thank you, Rebecca and Fred, and congratulations again! (And yes, Fred – we writers are also well aware of the classic “Rule of 3’s!”) I’ve always been a big proponent of the question “What if…” as a way of jump-starting creativity – I even wrote a blog post about it FIVE YEARS AGO – so seeing this concept in print makes me happy.

If you’d like a chance to win a free copy of What If…? Then We…”, just leave a comment below to enter! I’ll announce one name at random on Poetry Friday, March 1 – so you have until the end of this month, Feb. 28, to enter. Good luck!

What if…your cat photobombed your photo of the book?

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Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Happy Valentine’s Day 2019!

Since yesterday was the Big Day, I thought I’d share a little light verse I wrote for my Valentine:

For more poetry, please be sure to visit Jone MacCulloch (aka, Ms. Mac!) at Check it Out, where you’ll find today’s complete Poetry Friday Roundup along with this year’s CYBILS Poetry Award winner!

And be sure to visit me here this coming Tue., as we celebrate the release of What If…Then We (Boyds Mills Press, 2019), the new picture book from Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Flashlight Night illustrator Fred Koehler! It was just released this week, and I’m so happy to be part of the blog tour…so stop by for an ‘different’ sort of interview, and a chance to win a copy of the book!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

A unique opportunity for a unique gift…

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you probably already know what I’m talking about in this video…but I recorded this recently for all the folks with who’ve I’ve just started connecting. (Details are below…)

I also want to give a quick shout-out to the folks at Parents Magazine, who shared a brief story of mine about how my son helped us proofread Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018). You can check it out in the latest issue:

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Winter haiku

Last night was an icy one; roads, houses, and treetops awoke this morning with a crystal coating an eighth of an inch thick. Consequently, when I came upon this photo online, I knew I had a subject…

(click to enlarge)

For more poetry, head on over to Writing the World for Kids, where Laura Purdie Salas is hosting Poetry Friday today!

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually 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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!