Poetry Friday: An Octo-poem for Agnes!

If you don’t know Agnes, allow me to introduce you…

Agnes, you see, is a giant Pacific octopus who corresponds with other deep-sea critters using postcards (imaginative concept, yes?). Her story, Love, Agnes (Millbrook Press, 2018), is told by Irene Latham (Dear Wandering Wildebeest, Can I Touch Your Hair?) and is available everywhere!

So to celebrate, Irene is featuring octopus poems at her blog all month long. Some are touching, some introspective, others full of imagery and emotion.

And then there’s mine.

Ha! For more poetry, head over to my friend Laura Purdie Salas’ Writing the World for Kids, where she’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with one of my favorite poems from J. Patrick Lewis’ new anthology, The Poetry of US (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2018).

And if you didn’t hear about the big event I got to take part in this past weekend, I encourage you to check out Flashlight Night‘s flashlight night!

Going to be in the Concord, NH area tomorrow?

Please consider stopping by Books-A-Million on Fort Eddy Road for their special educator day, Sat., Oct. 13! I’ll be there from 1-3pm along with fellow New Hampshire authors Deborah Bruss, Marty Kelley, and Amy Makechnie, signing books and chatting about education, writing/illustrating, and school author visits!

By the way…there are only THREE DAYS LEFT to get your nominations in for the 2018 Cybils Awards! If there are some particularly awesome books you’ve read this past year, then help get them the recognition they deserve – click the logo and select the categories you need. (Those of us who write for a living appreciate it!)

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


  

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?)

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

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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!

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

A flashlight night for “Flashlight Night!”

I have to apologize to my fellow Poetry Friday-family members…I read almost no one’s posts over the weekend because I was just so busy. And when I say “busy,” let me explain…

Here in our town we were celebrating our annual Fall Foliage Festival, which is a huge event. We may have barely 3000 residents, but downtown swells to thousands and thousands more each year on Columbus Day Weekend. Amusement rides, artists and craftspeople, oxen pulls, tons of delicious food, pancake breakfasts, and a road race are all part of the festivities, as well as a book signing I attended at the local indie bookstore Sunday afternoon, after I finished walking in the parade with my daughter. (We also helped our church celebrate its 200th birthday AND found time to go to a bonfire Sat. night…whew!) But the Friday afternoon event that kicked it all off this year was:

A story walk, featuring Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017)!

Yours Truly w/Eagle Scout Alex Swanson (photo courtesy Kathy Carson, InterTown Record)

When Eagle Scout Alex Swanson decided to earn a badge for community service, he thought creating a story walk along the newly-opened rail trail in town was a good idea. So he contacted the local rail trail organization and our local library to see what could be done…and pretty soon, the project was off and running!

One of the attendees checks out the cover at the beginning of the story walk

This past Friday, Alex, rail trail reps, and library volunteers put the finishing touches on 21 podiums featuring chronological spreads of my picture book, positioned from the library lawn down the street to the rail trail, which then continue into the woods along the rail, ending just 20 feet away from one of the state’s few remaining wooden covered bridges.

Yes, this is New Hampshire at its finest!

I was so honored that they used Flashlight Night as the inaugural picture book; granted, I live in town, but they could have still chosen any book they wanted, yet they chose mine.

I was also stunned (as were the organizers) by how many folks showed up for the grand opening of the story walk at 5pm on Friday. We had advertised it around the area, yet had no idea what kind of crowd we should expect; we hoped for at least a few families.

As it turned out, over 50 individuals – kids, parents, grandparents, neighbors – attended the grand opening, and none of us could have been happier!

(l-r:) Rail Trail representative Tim Blagden, Pillsbury Free Library children’s librarian Sue Matott, Alex Swanson, and some bald dude who wandered into the frame.

After each of us said a few words, I led the group down the path to each station. I would read the appropriate passage from the book, then allow members of the group time to look over each spread.

Kraken v. Grizzly!

Some folks had never heard of a story walk, so we wanted everyone to understand what Alex and the rest of us were doing, and to enjoy it as much as possible.

Oh, and as a nice little added touch, the rail trail crew offered flashlights to each family, so they could see the book spreads in the darkness of the shade. (After all, by 5:30pm, the sun is starting to say so long)

By the way, Alex is still attempting to cover his costs of putting this together, so if you’re interested in helping him out by donating a few bucks to the cause, I’m sure he’d appreciate it. In fact, he has a GoFundMe page available for donations.

It was surreal, I’ll tell you that. I know of several “flashlight night” events around the country, but when an author gets to be a part of one in this way, it’s quite humbling. And by the way, if you’d like to either create a story walk or host a flashlight night in your area, please don’t hesitate to email me at the address at the above-right, and I can get you in touch with the folks who organized this!

My book will be available for viewing for about 3 months or so, and then another book will take its place. Here’s to many more flashlight nights…with many other stories!

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


  

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Celebrating National Poetry Day with…”A Poem”

Did you know that Thursday, October 4 was National Poetry Day? Well, it was!

In the U.K.

You see, the United States celebrates National Poetry Month each April, while the United Kingdom celebrates poetry now; it began as an initiative by the Forward Arts Foundation to encourage an appreciation of the literary form and to celebrate all its various forms.

So to celebrate, I thought I’d dust off a poem I wrote 7 years ago, in 2011. I shared it here two years later (in April, ironically), but it has gone through multiple tweaks and changes since. It still needs at least one more tweak – but I’ll deal with that some other day:

Photo courtesy of Katherine Esenwine, ©2018 Katie Bri Photography (Click to enlarge )

Many thanks to my daughter, Katherine, for providing another one of her beautiful photographs to accompany my poem! Need more poetry to celebrate? Then please head over to The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting Poetry Friday with a German poem about a Chinese tree. (I’ve got you wondering now, don’t I??)

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


  

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Poetry of US” book birthday!

In stores now…

Yes, it’s finally here! The latest in National Geographic’s series of coffee-table poetry anthologies edited by the inimitable J. Patrick Lewis, former U.S. Children’s Poetry Laureate. I’m incredibly proud to have a poem of mine included in this book, along with 200+ others written by incredibly talented, insightful, witty folks.

When Pat first started putting the book together, he asked me if I would write a poem about Las Vegas nightlife. I replied that I’d love to – because if there’s anything a country boy from New Hampshire like me knows all about, it’s Las Vegas nightlife. Ha!

Sue, the children’s librarian at our local library, holds up her copy – which arrived before MY copy!

So Pat, always the accommodating fellow, asked if I’d prefer a different topic, to which I said, emphatically, NO; I relished the opportunity to write a poem on a subject about which I knew nothing! Seriously, when I think of Las Vegas I think of gambling, showgirls, and cheap steaks…and that’s pretty much it. So I jumped into research mode, reading about the city, learning the demographics, using Google Maps to go for a “virtual drive” around the city, etc.

After much deliberation, I decided on a blank verse sonnet, to try to capture the sense of form and structure of the city – and also leave a tip of the hat to a much more famous poem in the ending line. This is what I came up…

– © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine and National Geographic Children’s Books, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)

If you’d like to learn more about the Stratosphere Hotel and see the crazy amusement rides (like the Sky Jump) they have at the top of one of the tallest free-standing observation towers in the country, click HERE. For more poetry, head on over to Deowriter, where Jone MacCulloch is hosting Poetry Friday by spotlighting a poem from another poetry anthology, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong’s Great Morning (Pomelo Books, 2018).

Congratulations to the winners of a personally-signed copy of Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017)! 

Last week, we celebrated the first-year birthday of my debut picture book, and many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway by commenting or sharing the post via social media. Chosen at random, the winners are: Michelle Kogan, Erin Mauger, and a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. (Ah, yes, there’s one in every crowd, ha!)

Thank you again so much, for all your support! And if you’d like to order a personally-signed copy of Flashlight or any of my books, just scroll down a wee bit…

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


  

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

“Yes, my daughter has started kindergarten, and NO, I’m not completely happy about it.”

That right there is the basic response I want to give everyone who says, “Oh, your 5-year-old is in school now? That must be great!”

Excuse me, but why is it so great?

We don’t get as many of these opportunities as we should.

Of course, I’m proud of her being excited about school and I’m happy she’s enjoying it as much as she is. But more often than not, the insinuation in comments such as this post’s title is that parents are glad to get the kids out of the house. This is particularly evident when summer vacation comes to an end and people everywhere start talking about how they can’t wait for their children to be back in school.

Why is everyone in such a rush to not be around their kids?

You spend countless years, dollars, and headaches raising these little humans (some folks spend years just trying to conceive)…and now you’re counting down the hours until they’re out of the house?

When I left full-time employment in radio back in July 2012, my son was only 2 1/2 and my daughter hadn’t even been conceived. So right away, the kids and I have spent all kinds of time together: running errands around town, going to library story time, playing at the park, etc.

Unlike my son, my daughter never experienced a daycare whatsoever; the closest she came was when she began preschool last year, and that was only 3 hours a day, two days per week. From the moment she woke up until the moment she went to sleep, she was a part of my everyday existence. Except for the rare occasion – a weekend conference here or there or a 2-hour book signing now and then – she was by my side, constantly.

This is why being alone in the house was not something I was eagerly anticipating. Disclaimer: I would be lying if I said there were not any aspects of the new arrangement that were enticing. I could write, research publishers, market myself, and get more voiceover work done all in the same day – and not have to wait until the kids were in bed before I started. Yes, this promise of a new work schedule was captivating, to say the least.

I could go for one more day of this.

And so far, things have been working out well, even though I still haven’t quite nailed down a regular routine; I’ve sent out more manuscripts, I have a couple of editors interested in a couple of different manuscripts, I’ve been able to do more marketing, and I’m fleshing out some ideas for new stories. The writer’s life is good, right now!

But still, all this comes with a price: the loss of time with my 5-year-old.

I realize this is life. She’s getting taller, smarter, and more mature every day – and will continue to spend more and more time away from home until she eventually is no longer here at all. The same goes for my 8-year-old son. I figure we only have about 10 years before he’s graduating college and heading off to film school to produce the next Jurassic dinosaur movie. (yes, that’s his plan!)

I see no need to rejoice in the speed of life. As futile as it may be, I’d much rather do what I can to slow it down. Our kids will learn soon enough how hectic, crazy, and unforgiving the world can be.

Let them enjoy the solace of home a little longer.

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THREE DAYS LEFT
for the “Flashlight Night”
GIVEAWAY!

I have THREE personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017) I’m giving away! If you’d like to enter to win, check out last week’s post celebrating the book’s FIRST YEAR birthday…with three opportunities to win, why wouldn’t you want to enter??

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The life of a picture book: celebrating ONE YEAR for “Flashlight Night”! (Plus GIVEAWAY!)

I make a living using my imagination.

Whether it’s a poem, a picture book, or even a blog post, I love to stretch my mind and see what kinds of unusual, surprising, and creative stories and images I can come up with.

But I have to admit…it is very, very hard for me wrap my head around the fact that my debut picture book is ONE YEAR OLD today!

Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press) was officially published on Sept. 19, 2017 – and I could never have imagined the response it would receive nationally. I knew I liked it, of course; I knew illustrator Fred Koehler had done a phenomenal job on his end, and I knew our editor, Rebecca Davis, had performed an amazing juggling act between the two of us – balancing my story with the story Fred was telling via his illustrations.

I also had no idea, once I completed the final draft, that it would even get picked up by a publisher; nor could I possibly fathom how long it would take to produce, once the contract was signed. It might be the book’s one-year birthday, but the idea for the book is four years old now! So to give you a little perspective on the life of a picture book, I thought I’d present a timeline of the life of Flashlight Night:

  • August, 2014: Staring at my car’s headlights while driving home late at night from an SCBWI Meet-Up in Westford, MA, the words, “Flashlight opens up the night” pop into my head. As I toss this phrase around in my head I eventually come up with the opening and closing of…something. A poem? A book? Nothing??
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  • Sept. 9, 2014: After a couple of weeks of writing and revising, I complete the final draft of Flashlight. (That’s right, no “Night.” It looked a little different then…
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  • Oct. 7, 2014: With a hope and a prayer (and crossed fingers) I send the manuscript off to Rebecca Davis, the editor at Boyds Mills Press. Rebecca had seen some of my previous poetry but had not purchased anything up to this point. Before I email the manuscript to her, I change the title to Flashlight Night, so that there is no confusion with another book, Flashlight (Chronicle), which had just been published the week before I wrote my own flashlight book! How’s THAT for timing, huh?
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  • Dec. 2014: The Flashlight Night manuscript is awarded the New England SCBWI’s Peg Davol Scholarship for unpublished authors and receives a critique from an established, published author.
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  • Jan. 16, 2015: Five days after my critique, I receive a call from Rebecca, telling me she and her editorial board all love the manuscript. I am elated – not just because I had finally sold a full-length book manuscript, but because, had I followed the critiquer’s suggestions, the book would not be the book it is today. Indeed, it might not have even gotten published!
    .
    This is why critiques can be helpful, but only if an author takes the advice that makes sense to him/her. If you have read Flashlight Night, compare my notes with the book itself, and note how far it deviates from all the recommendations I was given:
  • May 18, 2015: I sign the contract for Flashlight Night!
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  • June, 2015: After seeing his concept
    Image © 2015 Fred Koehler, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission (click to enlarge)

    for the book’s sub-narrative, which includes the flashlight beam illuminating the children’s adventure, Rebecca signs Fred Koehler to illustrate our book. She shares with me Fred’s initial sketch of what he’d like to do with the book, and we agree it’s ingenious. (By the way, Rebecca and I have already gone through four text revisions at this point – and more are on the way!)
    .

  • Spring, 2016:
    (click to enlarge)

    Fred takes a 2-week trip to the United Kingdom to sketch and photograph the countryside, the shipyard, the ocean, and museum artifacts in preparation. Much of what he sees – including the trail into the woods, the clipper ship, and the rocky arch where the Kraken hides – ends up in the book. I tell Fred that I should have taken the trip first, THEN written the book – what a sweet tax-write off!
    .

  • July-Dec. 2016: Dummies of the book continue to be put together and taken apart, revised and edited. By early Dec., we realize that my original ending,“all is still within, without,” is simply not going to work with Fred’s illustrations, so I change the line to “adventure lingers, stirs about.” (It’s called “collaboration,” folks!) By Dec. 14, we have what we believe is the final dummy version of the entire book, text and illustrations.
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  • March 2017: And now we have a cover! The colors are a little bolder than they will eventually be, but it looks great:

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  • March 6, 2017: I am asked to fill out a questionnaire with social media contacts, bookstore info, and other folks I know who might be able to help in the promotional effort. (Wow, I thought. Things are gettin’ real…)
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  • April 12, 2017: F&G’s arrive.
    (click to enlarge)

    Short for “folded and gathered,” F&G’s are printed up following approval of a book’s final proofs. They look exactly the way the book will look once it’s bound, yet allow publishers’ marketing and sales teams to mail the books to buyers and trade journals without the heavy cover…shipping costs can get pretty hefty, as you can imagine!
    .

  • April-May 2017: Promotions get underway: full-page display ads in industry catalogs, inclusion in the Boyds Mills Press’ catalog…things are DEFINITELY getting real now. It feels like there is a new surprise everyday!
       
  • May 26, 2017: We receive our first review, and it’s a whopper. Kirkus calls Flashlight Night a “rousing read” and awards it a coveted Starred Review. As blown away as I am at this news…I am now eager to learn what others think of it!
  • May 26, 2017: Flashlight Night flashlights arrive, to be distributed to librarians and book buyers across the country! Yes, May 26 was a good day.
    .
  • June 2, 2017: Representatives of Boyds Mills Press attend Book Expo America, where just about every book publisher is showing off their upcoming catalog. I nearly fall over when I see the banner:
  • June 26, 2017: Two days after my birthday, my author copies arrive. It was the best non-birthday birthday gift ever, in the history of ever.
    .
  • July-August 2017: The industry reviews start coming in! One after another, they sing the praises of our little book:  Publisher’s Weekly states that my text and Fred’s illustrations “don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play;” The Horn Book calls Flashlight Night “an old-fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure; and Booklist describes it as “imaginative,” “surprising,” and “fantastical.”
    .
  • Sept. 1, 2017: The School Library Journal reviews the book, calling the verse “incantatory.” The reviewer’s final verdict is glowing: “A simple idea that’s engagingly executed and would be an excellent, atmospheric read for sleepovers or backyard campouts. A good choice for most collections.” I’m particularly proud that the text is referred to as a poem…which is how it first came to be and the genre that got me into children’s writing in the first place.
    .
  • Sept. 7, 2017: The National Book Launch takes place at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA – just
    Photo courtesy of Josh Funk (click to enlarge)

    outside of Boston. Although the book doesn’t officially come out until Sept. 19, this date had been arranged earlier in the year, when we thought the book was going to be released earlier. It is a dual book launch with my friend and fellow author Carol Gordon Ekster, who was also celebrating the release of her new book. The event is well-attended, we sell lots of books, and I breathe a sigh of relief! It is the fist of many signings, and I can’t wait to continue the book tour throughout southern NH and northeastern MA.
    .

  • Sept. 19, 2017: Flashlight Night makes it debut in the world!! (And on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, no less – how more perfect could that be?!?) A huge blog tour helps support the promotional effort with interviews, giveaways, and lots of great press – including an appearance by Fred Koehler on KidLitTV. (Book signings, readings, and school visits, oh my!) More than THREE YEARS after I first started tossing words around in my head to create my story, anyone and everyone who wants to have a copy, can buy one anywhere. It still feels surreal.
     
      
    .
  • Sept. 22, 2017: Three days after its release – yes, a mere THREE DAYS after its release, Flashlight Night shows up on Amazon’s “Best Books for Kids” list:

    (and “Flashlight Night” is ON SALE right now!)
  • Sept. 26, 2017: Unbeknownst to the publisher, we receive a tremendously positive review from Shelf-Awareness, in which the reviewer compares our book – favorably! – to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Talk about compliments that can humble a person.
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  • Sept. 27, 2017: More publicity! This ad
    (click to enlarge)

    was for an email blast for the online book retailer Mackin. With so many positive reviews, our publisher wanted as many potential customers as possible to see them.
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  • Oct. 7, 2017: Illustrator Fred Koehler informs me that The Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, FL is installing an exhibit featuring his original artwork for Flashlight Night. Each piece is to be framed and mounted on the wall, along with my text, in such as way as to allow a viewer to follow the story page-by-page:

    Photo courtesy Fred Koehler
  • Nov. 2017: I discover that Flashlight Night is one of Amazon’s best-selling children’s books about libraries and reading…and my head swells a wee bit more.
    .
  • Dec., 2017: Another review and another (major) list! The review is by the School Library Connection, which also favorably compares the book to Wild Things, praising its “poetic rhyme” and “creative illustrations.” The list is the New York Public Library’s “Best Books for Kids 2017,” which also includes titles like Dan Santat’s incredible After the Fall (Roaring Brook Press) and the Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning Things to Do (Chronicle Books) by my friend Elaine Magliaro. Shortly thereafter, Flashlight Night shows up as a NY Public Library Staff Pick, as well!
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  • Jan. 2018: Boyds Mills Press learns that the Kansas chapter of the NEA has selected Flashlight Night to be included in its 2018 Reading Circle Catalog, an honor I do not take lightly. We also continue discovering positive reviews from random kidlit, parenting, and educational bloggers, and I make a point to leave a comment on each one of them, thanking them for their support.
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  • March 20, 2018: One of the aforementioned bloggers, author Jen Betton, uses Flashlight Night as mentor text for discussing the interplay of text and illustration. The fact that anyone would use something I wrote to teach others how to write is an indescribable honor.
    .
  • March 23, 2018: I deposit my very first royalty check!
    That’s right…makin’ bank, baby!

    .
    Well, ok…it wasn’t QUITE this much. But I was thrilled – not just because I had made some money, but because of what it meant…
    .
    You see, many picture books don’t even make back the advance a publisher pays the author. To explain, an advance is against royalties; it’s like getting an advance on your paycheck. The publisher pays you up-front, then once you have sold enough copies to cover the advance, you begin receiving royalties. So the fact that we not only made back the advance, but made it back and then some within 5 months was astonishing. Keep in mind, compared to highly-successful, well-established authors like Jane Yolen and Mo Willems, I’m a relative unknown – so the book’s success is significant. I was so grateful to editor Rebecca Davis and Boyds Mills Press for taking a chance on Flashlight Night.
    .

  • Summer 2018: Our little book starts popping up on Summer Reading Lists! You can learn more at my blog post HERE.
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  • What’s next: The book continues to be discovered by parents, children, librarians, and teachers. I am always delighted when I see a new review or hear about the book showing up on a reading list. While I continue to do book signings for Flashlight Night, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and the poetry anthologies I’ve been a part of (see below for all the covers), I also love visiting schools to talk about the writing process, poetry, and how writing & illustrating go hand-in-hand when creating picture books.
    .
    We tell our kids to read and write for 12+ years in school, yet rarely do we tell them they can actually do it for a living…that they could be an author when they grow up. Well, I’m here to tell them they CAN! So if you are interested in having me visit your school, please email me at matt (at) mattforrest (dot) com and we can chat! (You can get more info HERE)

Thank you for following this blog and for supporting Flashlight Night. I never knew how many people would see it, read it, love it…and its success has made an immense impact on my life. I’m genuinely grateful to every single person who has read it, purchased it, shared it, or somehow promoted it. From teachers and librarians, to parents and bloggers, to book sellers and reviewers – there are just too many people to thank individually for their support.

So please know that you are a part of this timeline I’ve shared – at every point along the way. And this goes beyond Flashlight and Dinosaur and all the other books yet to come. None of what I do can been accomplished without the help and encouragement of folks like you. And I hope you’ll remain a part of this author’s journey on which I embarked 8 years ago.

Because I have a feeling we’re only getting started!

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“Hang on there just a second, Matt –
where’s this GIVEAWAY you told us about??

Ah, yes – the giveaway! I have THREE personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night I’m going to give away, in three different ways:

  1. Leave a comment below and let me know you’d like to be entered in the drawing! I’ll pick one name at random on Thursday, Sept. 27 and announce the winner on my Poetry Friday blog post the next day.
    .
  2. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter! Just be sure to tag me, so I know…and I’ll pick another name at random on Thursday, Sept. 27.
    .
  3. Leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Now, before you start talking trash and calling me out for fishing for compliments, let me state this clearly: if you don’t like Flashlight Night…leave a review, anyway! I am by no means offended by negative criticism. Not everyone likes every book. While most reviews have been positive, there are some readers who have been completely underwhelmed by our effort. And that’s ok; we can still get along. (Why you would want to leave a negative review in the hopes of getting a free copy is beyond me, but to each his own.) Out of all the reviews posted from today through Sept. 27, 6pm EDST, I’ll pick one name at random – and will leave a comment on your review, so you’ll know you won. So be sure to check your review on Friday, Sept. 28!

Oh, and if you’d like to have TWO MORE CHANCES to score free stuff, Laura Sassi is featuring an interview with Fred Koehler and Yours Truly on her blog today – she’s giving away a free signed copy of Flashlight Night AND a package of cool swag from the fine folks at KidLitTV!

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

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Last Autumn”

This poem was first shared on Oct. 25, 2013 – about a week or so after I returned home from my very first Highlights Foundation workshop. If you have never attended one, I highly encourage you to do so; they are as inspiring as they are educational.

I’m re-posting this poem today not only because we are approaching fall (the first day of autumn is one week from today!), but because I just learned this week that I will be attending my SECOND workshop next month – with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. I’m so excited to see them, my Flashlight Night editor Rebecca Davis, and so many others who will be attending!

This poem was one of many inspired by my time there in Honesdale, PA. I hope you like it….

IMG_9185
photo courtesy of Pat Cooley

“Last Autumn”

Do you remember
when we almost got lost
down by the creek
near that old stone wall?
It all started with an apple.

One of us (I don’t recall)
had twisted the season’s last McIntosh
from a withered branch.  Sharing
small bites, we ate
all the way around
save for a dark blemish where something wild
and hungry
had gnawed its flesh.

Tossing the core deep into woods
we ran across the field
for no reason
other than to run
and laughed
for no reason
other than to laugh.

When we finally reached the creek
(were you first, or me?)
remember how we spent our time
dodging briars
walking the rocks
and making sure neither fell onto the slick
smooth stones beneath
the glassy current?
Table Rock, we called it, flat and mossy
under a beech tree rose
up to meet yellowing leaves
wind chimes
dancing
to a silent song.

I helped you onto the stone
or perhaps you helped me
and we sat there
talking of fish
and books
and apples
while the call of a lone wood thrush
made melody with the water.
For a time, we simply listened
because our ears wanted to
watched
because our eyes needed to
and before we knew, color had disappeared
from leaves,
the warm October breeze had cooled,
and Venus was peeking out
from behind pale sunglow.

Not sure how we had gotten there
but knowing enough to follow the creek
I helped you
or you helped me
down from the rock
and we wandered back
retracing steps
under trees, over stones
only this time
as friends
confidantes

conspirators.

And it all started with an apple.

Do you remember?

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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For all of today’s Poetry Friday happenings, please visit The Poem Farm, where my friend Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting the roundup. I also hope you’ll check out my review of the local state fair, where I work each Labor Day Weekend…between death-defying motorcycles and poop-emoji plush hats, it’s always a learning experience!

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

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Pet camels, poop hats, and the high cost of potatoes: What I learned at the state fair, Vol. VII

hsflogo-lgAnother Labor Day Weekend is behind us, and another enlightening weekend, it was! Each year, I work at the local state fair as the PA announcer – and it’s always a lot of fun. One minute I’m heading to the Durgin Arena to double-check the time of the cattle pull; the next, I’m chowing down on a loaded baked potato.

(Alas, that last tradition might have come to an end…read on!)

As has been tradition here at the ol’ Triple R, I always share some of the things I’ve learned from the fair because it’s as much a learning experience as it is a work experience. At past fairs I’ve learned the most despised candies in the universe; the best time to “smell” the fair; and the benefits of chainmail socks.

This year was as eye-opening as ever…

  1. Farewell, old friend.

    All good things come to an end. And yes, I’m talking about my potato. In the past, I would order a giant baked potato loaded with chili, cheese, bacon, broccoli, sour cream, chives, jalapenos, and salsa. (I tell them to hold the butter, since it’s pretty much superfluous) It usually cost me around $12 for everything, but it was worth it. This year, however, the price of the potatoes went up to $9 for just 2 toppings – so I was looking at a near-$15 price tag, which I just couldn’t rationalize. Good news: The loaded BBQ fries were only $10! Sold.

  2. (click to enlarge. Or eat, to enlarge yourself)

    Speaking of food…my donut can eat your donut. This thing was the size of a small child’s head; and because I couldn’t decide on a glazed or a chocolate-frosted…I opted for both. If you ask, they’ll take a glazed and smear frosting on top.  Oh, yes! You only live once, as they say. (Then again, we only die once, too, and this donut may unfortunately encourage the process.)

  3. You don’t need to spend 2 hours putting on makeup to go to a fair. When it comes to people-watching, it’s hard to beat a fair. There are people from all walks of life here, mingling with each other. I’d pass by locals with their jeans and John Deere caps, followed by dolled-up ladies who look like they had just stepped off the catwalk, followed by young urbanites with their babies. In fact, I saw a group of 3 or 4 fellows who looked like they were straight outta Compton, gangsta-style…and they were talking about where the goat barn was. Just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge, folks.
  4. (click to enlarge)

    No matter how early we are into the weekend, it’s still a joy to be able to scratch events off my list. Don’t get me wrong – I love the fair and love what I do. But it’s not a cake walk – it’s work, and every time I have the opportunity to shave off a little piece of my list, I relish the opportunity.

  5. Poop is now a fashion accessory. How far have we sunk as a society that poop-emoji plush hats have become popular? Or am I just too old to find the amusement in it? I was going to take a photo of the fellow who was wearing said hat – but I just couldn’t bear to be seen doing so.
  6. If a Ferris Wheel seat is turned backwards, it’s a show of respect for a loved one who has passed. Who knew??
  7. You can have a camel as a pet in New Hampshire. I had a chance to talk with a friend of mine who works for Charmingfare Farm in Candia, NH, one of the fair’s biggest supporters, and she told me camels are now a non-regulated species. I didn’t doubt her, but I had to check – and sure enough, camels are a non-controlled species, just like hamsters, canaries, and ostriches. (Yes, that’s true, too!) Think it’s time to surprise the wife with a new pet.
  8. (click to enlarge)

    I want to be a RoboCar when I grow up. This fellow named “John” (of course) and his pal, “Big Red,” meandered through the fairgrounds, greeting folks and mesmerizing children – especially when they knelt down on the ground and actually ROLLED AWAY. Yep, a living, motorized human Transformer; if this children’s writer thing doesn’t work out, you’ll know where to find me.
    .

  9. Riding a motorcycle inside a giant metal sphere can be hazardous to your health. OK, well, I already knew this – but watching the Flying Pages Thrill Show reinforced this little nugget of wisdom.
  10. People can still be kind to one another. Considering the current climate in this over-stimulated and hyper-isolated culture we’re living in, this was a nice revelation. I saw one gentleman watch a credit card fall to the ground, and offered it to its owner, who was unaware; later that day,  a wallet was brought to the lost & found with all the credit cards and money still inside; and as a parent and young child walked past a vendor we all heard a loud sneeze from somewhere inside – and the little boy (who couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4) shouted “Bless You!” I even had a hornet land on my temple – and then fly away, without so much as a light sting. We may be finally turning a corner.
    .
  11. Artists – and all creatives – should get paid what they are worth. #Truth

    (click to enlarge)

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

Flashlight Night” celebrates its FIRST BIRTHDAY in a little more than one week! Stay tuned for a special celebration post, where you could win a personally-signed copy!

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

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Ocean cherita

(click to enlarge)

You caught me – I’m having fun with the cherita form again!

I enjoyed writing last week’s end-of-summer cherita so much, I just had to do it again. And I was fortunate to finally put words to a photo I’d taken a month ago while my wife & I were spending our anniversary in York Beach, Maine. The photo has been stuck in my head ever since I snapped it, so I’m glad I was able to provide it some poetic justice. I also wanted to include a lot of internal rhyme, and I think I managed to do so without being too heavy-handed.

And since it’s Poetry Friday, I encourage you to check out all the links at my friend Carol Varsalona’s blog, Beyond Literacy Link, where she’s hosting today’s roundup with a sneak-peek at her forthcoming “The Art of Summering” gallery!

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

Flashlight Night” celebrates its FIRST BIRTHDAY in just two weeks! Stay tuned for a special celebration post, where you could win a personally-signed copy!

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

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A back-to-school cherita

(click to enlarge)

My wife snapped the photo above this past Wednesday, a few hours after the kids had come home from their second day of the new school year. Since it has been unseasonably hot these past few days – and since the schools have no air conditioning (here in New Hampshire, we don’t need it) – we thought they might enjoy a quick trip to a local lake to cool off and relax.

My thanks to fellow New Hampshirite Diane Mayr, who has been writing so many cheritas of late that I finally decided I needed to write my first one! A cherita, to define it, is a poetic form in the tradition of haiku and tanka, but is different in that it need not be as lyrical and emotionally-surprising, and is written to tell a story. It consists of 3 stanzas made up of 1, 2, and 3 lines, respectively.

Of course, there’s more poetry to be found! Robyn Hood Black is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, so head on over for all the poetry links and info!

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

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!