Poetry Friday: Practicing the Sedoka

I was doing research on haiku and other forms of Japanese poetry recently when I came upon the sedoka – a very, very early poetic form. Although the sedoka is rarely seen these days, it’s been around since Japan was still using Chinese characters in their written language! I had played around with the form a few years ago,but had forgotten about it until now – so I’m grateful for this ‘accidental’ inspiration.

Rather than getting into a long explanation of what a sedoka is, I invite you to visit THIS LINK to learn more. Simply put, a sedoka is made up of two tercets (3-line stanzas) which ‘converse’ with each other; that is, the first sets up a scene and the second responds to it by connecting the reader to an emotion. In this way, a sedoka is sort of a cross between a haiku and senryu – although both of those forms are much, much more recent creations than the sedoka.

The form intrigued me, not only because of this blending of nature with human emotion, but because it allows the writer a bit more room to work than a haiku or senryu. (The sedoka has a syllable count of 5-7-7, which is similar to these, but because Japanese “syllables” are not the same as those in the English language, one need not adhere strictly to this rule)

So after some thought, some scribbling, and more than a revision or two, I present my first sedoka:

(click to enlarge)

Probably not the best sedoka ever written – certainly not on par with Kakinomoto Hitomaro, the Master of the sedoka – but I’m happy with it as a first try!

Looking for more poetry? My friend Amy at The Poem Farm is hosting Poetry Friday today! And if you’ve not yet entered my drawing for a free copy of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018), be sure to check out this past Tuesday’s post! I’m celebrating Dinosaur‘s one-year birthday with a look at the most common questions we get from kids and teachers, so I hope you’ll leave a comment to be entered!

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The 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem continues! Each day during April (National Poetry Month), a different writer/ blogger adds a new line to the poem until it concludes April 30. You can follow along at the sites listed below.

2019 Progressive Poem schedule:

April

1 Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
2 Kat @Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @DeoWriter
5 Linda @TeacherDance
6 Tara @Going to Walden
7 Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
8 Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write

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

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!

“Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” turns one year old! (w/GIVEAWAY!)

It’s hard for me to believe, but my second picture book, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018), turns one year old today!

From our national book launch at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA! (Cake courtesy of my step-daughter, Jess Corsetti)

Yes, it’s been 365 days since my co-author Deborah Bruss and I unleashed these wild and silly creatures on the world, and we’re so happy, we’re celebrating by offering YOU a gift! (More on that later.)

Deb, illustrator Louie Chin, and I all thought that it might be fun to share with you some of the questions we receive when doing school visits and book signings. We shared our most common questions with each other…then answered them all! So here we go:

What’s your favorite Dinosaur?
LOUIE:  My favorite dinosaur is the T-Rex! I even spent some time at KidLitTV in New York City and KidLit TVshared my process for drawing a T-Rex just like the one in the book – so if you’ve got kids who want to learn, I hope they’ll check out the ReadySetDraw! video.
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DEB:  Deinocheirus used to be my favorite (anyone with a talent like balancing a spoon on your nose has to be awesome!) but I have a new favorite now:  Zuul! Never heard of him? It’s a newly-discovered species! With a cool name, a shovel for a mouth, and a wrecking-ball tail, I can’t resist! (Besides, it’s easy to pronounce)

MATT:  I have two favorites; one is in the book, the other isn’t. I love Therezinosaurus because he’s so unusual – with the longest claws of any dinosaur (up to 3 feet!), a giant pelvis designed for prolonged sitting (you can’t make this up), a bird-like beak, his skeleton has been described as being “assembled by a drunken sailor who got quite confused.” My other favorite is Quetzalcoatlus, one of the largest flying creatures of all time. Approximately the same size as a small Cessna aircraft and named after the Aztec serpent god, Quetzalcoatlus is just too cool for words!

(click to enlarge)
How long does it take to write/illustrate a picture book or poem?
DEB:  I’ve never had a poem published, so that I don’t know. If I could write a poem worthy of being published, it would probably take me 50 years. For a picture book, anywhere from 6 months to many years. The original idea for Don’t Ask A Dinosaur sprouted in 1997, except the animals were current day creatures such as porcupine, moose and elephant.

MATT:  I always respond by saying, “as long as it takes” – which is honestly NOT a cop-out answer! Dinosaur went through 20 revisions before we started sending the manuscript out to potential publishers, yet a board book I have coming out next year was written in one evening, revised a few times, and was accepted. You just can’t ever tell!

LOUIE:  It takes a long time to illustrate a picture book. From the first sketches to the finished artwork, it can take almost half a year!

How did you decide which dinosaurs to include?
Some of Louie’s early sketches!

DEB:  When I exchanged contemporary animals for dinosaurs, I picked ones that were fairly common and had strange attributes. Matt, the dinosaur buff, dug around for the weirdest ones, some of which were recent discoveries.

MATT:  We wanted a good mix of dinos – some well-known favorites, some brand-new species – but they all needed exceptional, distinguishing characteristics. There were several dinosaurs and early reptiles we initially included that didn’t make the final cut, like Anchicertops, Spinosaurus, Microraptor, Archelon, and a few others.

Was it hard working together? Were there any problems?
LOUIE:  Working together was easy!
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DEB:  I also found it easy to work with someone – that someone being Matt – because feedback was fairly quick and to the point. The only problem was when Matt’s enthusiasm for the latest and coolest dinosaur bubbled over late at night and he had to wait until morning for my opinion. At least, I imagine that’s what happened.

MATT:  Actually, I think the only “problem” (if you can call it that) was that by the 17th or 18 revision, we both started over-thinking things and began adding in lines or rhymes that we’d previously taken out – ha! Once a writer gets to that point, you know it’s time to give it a rest.

How involved were you with the illustrations?
DEB:  I think our situation was fairly unusual. The editor sought our opinion on illustrative styles.
MATT:  We did have a bit of a say as to how things were going, but Louie pretty much did his own thing, and we were very happy with it!
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LOUIE:  There wasn’t a lot of communication directly. Most of it was relayed through the editor.
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No, Lioplurodon is not really a dinosaur, by definition – but he was just too fun to leave out! (click to enlarge)
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Why are there are no flying dinosaurs in the book?
DEB:  Good question! Matt, what do you have to say?

MATT: Technically, the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs (including my buddy, Quetzalcoatlus) were not true dinosaurs. Neither was Lioplurodon, either – but somehow he managed to stay. I’m guessing it’s because he was making cake, and everyone loves cake.

What’s the most memorable question you’ve been asked?
LOUIE:  I can’t recall a question that stood out, but it’s a lot of fun hearing all the dinosaur facts and stories from the children.
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DEB:  After reading to a bunch of four-year-olds, I asked, “Does anyone have a question for me?”
Child #1: “I have a crystal.”  
Child #2: “I do, too!”  
Child #3: “Me, too.”

MATT:  When I’m speaking at schools, I usually mention that being a kid is way more fun than being a grown-up because people ask kids questions like, “what’s your favorite dinosaur?” but no one ever asks ME that – it’s like they don’t even care! A student will invariably shout out, “Well, what’s YOUR favorite dinosaur??” To which I respond my thanking him/her and announcing Quetzalcoatlus. (and you know what? There’s always at least one student who goes, “YESSS!!”)

Now that the book is out, do you have any questions about it? 
DEB:  I want to know, how do all those dinosaurs fit inside a house?
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MATT:  I’m wondering if those dinosaurs that were outside, like Ankylosaurus and Argentinosaurus, ever got any cake.
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LOUIE: I’d like to know what other wild things other dinosaurs not in the book would do, if they were invited to a birthday!
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READY TO WIN A FREE COPY??

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Just leave a comment below, and you’ll be entered to win! I’ll announce the winner on Poetry Friday, April 26, so you’ve got a week and a half to tell your friends and ask them to enter, too. Good luck…and thank you for your support!

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

The 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem continues! Each day during April (National Poetry Month), a different writer/ blogger adds a new line to the poem until it concludes April 30. You can follow along at the sites listed below.

2019 Progressive Poem schedule:

April

1 Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
2 Kat @Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @DeoWriter
5 Linda @TeacherDance
6 Tara @Going to Walden
7 Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
8 Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write

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

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?

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

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!

The No-Resolution New Year

(This post was originally published in Jan. 2013 – a mere 5 months after I first began this blog. Since it has been 5 years since it had seen the light of day, I felt today might be an appropriate time to dust it off and share it again!)

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(The original title for this post was, “The No-Resolution New Year, or How the Portable People Meter Can Help You Not to Stress Over Your Resolutions.”  But that was a bit wordy.  Read along and it’ll all start to make sense.  Perhaps.)

For two weeks now, I’ve been reading and hearing about everyone’s new year’s resolutions.  Most folks want to lose weight.  Exercise more.  Eat healthy.

Some have very ambitious, specific resolutions, such as resolving to publish a book or to make a specific more amount of money each month.  Others are a bit more ambiguous, like trying to be a better person – which is nice, but what does that mean?  Are you only moderately tolerable now? Specifics, people!

Anyway, I appreciate why folks make new year’s resolutions…but if you ask me for mine, I’ll tell you I have none.  And it’s not because I don’t think I can’t make improvements in my life, or don’t see the value in setting goals.

I simply don’t see the point in setting a date to start on those goals.

Why wait?

A few years ago, I was talking to some friends about wanting to leave my place of employment and strike out on my own to work for myself as a voiceover artist.  It was autumn, and I recall explaining to them that there were a number of things I would need to do in order to make that change possible.  I would need to build up contacts and clients.  I would need to make sure my finances would be able to handle the initial reduction in pay.  Most importantly, I would need to have the physical tools available to work from home, such as a new computer and editing software, a better quality microphone, and sound dampening equipment to prevent ambient noise and echo in my recordings.

One of my friends suggested it would be a good new year’s resolution to work toward that goal.  I agreed – although I saw no need to wait until the new year to begin setting the plan in motion.  So I began auditioning more, prospecting for clients, and connecting with more people through social media.  I also started buying some new equipment.

I knew my finances were not going to allow me to leave work that following year, but at least I had begun moving forward.

Eventually, I got more gigs, built up a clientele, and this past summer was finally financially able to leave my position as production director for a 5-station radio group and work for myself.  A month later, I began this blog – another item on my to-do list.

And you know what?  The 2010 new year, 2011 new  year, and 2012 new year had nothing to do with any of it.  It was done through sheer determination, and determination is available 365 days a year.

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Image courtesy of Music Row

The Portable People Meter

The Portable People Meter (or PPM) is a small device developed by the company Arbitron to measure how often a person listens to different radio stations.  You may have heard of Nielsen ratings for TV?  Well, Arbitron is the radio equivalent of Nielsen, and ratings are very important because they show how many people are listening to different stations, how often they listen, what times they listen, and that sort of thing.  Radio and television stations then use this information to assist them in selling advertising and setting their rates. (UPDATE: 9 months after I published this post, Nielsen acquired Arbitron, so they are one company now.)

The way it works is, a random person is equipped with a PPM and it automatically keeps track of which stations he/she listens to throughout each day over several weeks.  (Back in the day, people were asked to keep written diaries, which can be fallible – so the PPM was a huge breakthrough in radio station monitoring)

Ratings are broken down into ‘Average Quarter-Hours,’ which simply means a minimum of 5 minutes for every 15-minute block, if you divide your clock at :00, :15, :30, and :45 minute increments.  For example, if a listener tuned in at 6:00am and tuned out at 6:07am, that would count as one quarter-hour, because he/she had listened for at least 5 minutes.  If that listener tuned in at 6:10am and tuned out at 6:20am, it would count for TWO quarter-hours (5 minutes in each quarter-hour block).  However, if he/she tuned in at 6:11am and tuned out at 6:19am, that radio station would receive NO quarter-hours, because the 5-minute minimum per quarter-hour had not been met.

“Your point, Matt??  Get to the point!”

Ok, ok.  You see, the PPM blew away a rock-solid radio programming axiom that nearly everyone in radio obeyed.

Before the PPM, radio stations believed that each hour’s first quarter-hour (from :00 – :15) was the most-listened to of all the quarter-hours.  This is because the hand-written radio diaries often had the first quarter-hour listed.  So if that’s what people are writing down, it must be the way it is, right?

Wrong.

With the advent of the PPM, the number-crunchers at Arbitron realized that each quarter-hour was more or less equally listened-to.  People were tuning in to radio stations not at the top of each hour…but whenever they darned well felt like it.

Shocker, I know.

Thing is, it was a shocker to a lot of radio stations, who for decades had deliberately played their hottest songs, or some other type of important, exciting, must-tune-in elements, at the top of each hour.  Turned out that that listeners were writing down the top of the hour on their hand-written diaries not because they were tuning in at the top of the hour, but because it was easier to write”11am” instead of 10:54am (which, you’ll notice, is an all-important quarter-hour!).

No time like the present

I’m explaining all of this to show that it’s irrelevant when to begin improving your life.  The important thing is that you have a vision for that improvement.  And if you don’t have the determination, that’s ok – take some time to find it!  It doesn’t matter if it’s the top of the hour or the beginning of the year – a radio station needs to have good programming every minute of the hour, and you make changes to your life every day of the year.

My wife and I met in September 2007, were engaged that following Christmas, and were married in August 2008, one month before we’d known each other for a year.  While some might say we rushed into things, I say we seized an opportunity.  We knew how we felt about each other, we knew our feelings would not change…so we figured, why wait?  One never knows what might happen tomorrow.  Carpe diem, and all of that!

Whether it’s the top of the hour or the beginning of the year…it’s just a spot on a clock or calendar.  You can make those resolutions whenever you feel like it:  losing weight, making more money, being more tolerable.

And if you do make a resolution that fails or for some reason doesn’t come to fruition…

Today is as good a day as any to start again.

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

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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

More treasures from the attic

A couple of years ago, I discovered all sorts of ancient artifacts in my parents’ attic, dating back to my childhood years. These relics included things like my very first typewriter, my 1st-grade lunchbox, and journals I kept for my high school English classes.

Well, as it turned out, my folks did NOT sell the house as they were initially thinking they would – so I was back there today, sorting through the more than 40+ years of stuff they’ve accumulated. And what did I find this time?

Picture books from the ’50s and ’60s, which I don’t ever recall seeing before…which makes me wonder why they were in the attic in the first place! Many of these were published by Golden Press (home of Little Golden Books), Whitman Publishing (which is still around, although they no longer publish children’s books), and Platt & Munk, which is no longer in business. (If the name Platt & Munk sounds familiar, it’s probably because they published several of Tasha Tudor’s books)

I do remember loving The Drum Book and Little Red Riding Hood:

  

Little Red Riding Hood was particularly engaging, because it had moving character illustrations beneath cellophane pages; as you opened the spread, the characters would move, so the reader could make them move back-and-forth by opening and closing the spread. This was one of many of these types of books published by Child Guidance Books, and although there is no publication date on the book, my best guess is mid-’60s to early ’70s.

And then there were the classics…

I pray that Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever (Golden Books, 1963) never goes out of print…it was as fascinating for me as it has been for my kids, even though they never got to read one of the originals, like this one, which is unfortunately falling apart. Who doesn’t love watching Lowly Worm riding around in his apple car, or Gold Bug in his pencil car?

By the way, I hope you’ll join me this Friday here at the ol’ Triple-R for our annual Holiday Poetry Party! This is a virtual event that began at children’s poet David Harrison’s home on the web several years ago with me, David, and Joy Acey, and has since moved over here.

It’s an informal gathering, so feel free to show up in your sweats and jammies if you’re so inclined – and if you’d care to bring a bite to eat or beverage, please let us know!

I also plan to share the poem I received from Margaret Simon as part of Tabatha Yeatts‘ annual Winter Poetry Swap. Tabatha randomly gave Margaret my name, so Margaret had to write a poem for me and sent it with a small gift. There’s a cool story behind why Margaret wrote what she did, so I’ll share that here. And I hope to share the poem I wrote soon, once I know the person I sent it to has received it.

Oh, yes – and as a first-round judge of the annual CYBILS Awards‘ Poetry category, I’m racing against time to read as many of the 60 or so nominated books as possible, and narrow the list down to a shortlist of SEVEN! There are five I’m pretty sure are going to stay on my list…but that could change once I finish all my reading. The final list that all the judges decide upon will then be forwarded to the second-round panelists, who determine the winner early next year.

I hope you’ll stop by Friday for our party! I’ll be looking forward to learning your favorite children’s books from the past year, so start thinking about which ones caught your attention and stood out from the pack!

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

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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, 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!

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

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.

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

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??

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

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!

Learn to draw a T-Rex w/ “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” illustrator Louie Chin!

Want to learn how to draw a T-Rex? Then I have just the thing for you!

Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018) illustrator Louie Chin recently visited the studios of KidLitTV in New York City, where he showed viewers his step-by-step process of drawing dinosaurs, specifically the T-Rex from our picture book. Louie breaks down the method simply, so the 5-minute video is great for both adults AND kids. Whether it’s you who wants to learn – or your child! – you’ll both enjoy watching the dinosaur come to life on the page.

My thanks to Julie Gribble and Tracey Cox at KidLitTV for featuring Louie. If you spend some time searching around their website, you’ll find all sorts of other cool videos, too…like THIS ONE with Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017) illustrator Fred Koehler chatting about his process for creating the amazing illustrations in that book.

Well, today is the first day back to school for my kids, and I’m sure if yours haven’t started yet they will be soon…so enjoy your week!

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

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!