“Once Upon Another Time” cover reveal!!

Today’s the day!

Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020) is my new picture book written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®) – and the talented and inimitable Tara Lazar is hosting the official cover reveal on her blog! Tara’s been busy with Storystorm all January and will be announcing winners this week – so I’m extremely honored that she was willing to share our “baby pictures” (courtesy of illustrator Andrés F. Landazábal) with the world today.

Click HERE to visit Tara’s blog!

(And then be sure to pre-order the book!)

Speaking of the new book, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year. So be watching for news about Once Upon Another Time as well as blog posts and reviews of a whole bunch more – including six in February…

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

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: A picture book cover reveal is coming!

Managed to come up with 32 ideas, and at least 5 or 6 have solid potential! (The rest have liquid potential and at least a couple are gaseous)

I have a short, simple post today:  a reminder that we have a cover reveal coming up THIS MONDAY, Feb. 10., for Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020), my new picture book written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®)!

The book comes out Aug. 18, and author/kidlit blogger extraordinaire Tara Lazar will be hosting the official cover reveal on her blog! Tara’s been busy with Storystorm all January, so now that things are settling down, we get to have a  first-look at this book.

Illustrator Andrés F. Landazábal’s soft, pastoral imagery is both bright and serene, brilliant and calming. In a word, gorgeous – and I’m not just saying that because it’s my book! To whet your appetite, I’m sharing the first few lines of the book. Charles and I are both poets at heart (even though I never call myself a ‘poet’), and we wrote this book as a lyrical look at Nature before humans left their mark, contrasting past with present:
.

Once upon another time
in a land of long ago,
mountains peeked up through the clouds,
bright with fallen snow.

Rivers rushed through canyon walls.

Rainbows rose from waterfalls.

Wonder waited in the hush
of every new sunrise…

.
(text by Charles Ghigna & Matt Forrest Esenwine, © 2020 Beaming Books)
.

I can’t wait for you to see the cover – and we’ll even include one of the spreads, too! So be sure to join me at Tara’s place THIS MONDAY, Feb. 10.

Speaking of the new book, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year. So be watching for news about Once Upon Another Time as well as blog posts and reviews of a whole bunch more – including six in February…

For more poetry, please visit my friend Laura Purdie Salas, who is hosting the complete Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Writing the World for Kids!
.

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

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Madness! Poetry returns PLUS the #2020BookLook

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again; Madness! Poetry – the brainchild of one Ed DeCaria – is the world’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition (and quite possibly the only one), and it all begins in one month!

Ed is in the process of accepting and sorting through applications, but the premise is still the same as always:  64 “authletes,” as we are called, are paired with one another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word.

So 32 words, 32 new poems!

Here’s an example from last year, when I had to come up with a poem using the word “brace” in only 36 hours:

Second Thoughts

This homemade toboggan’s a real dream come true!
A few wooden planks,
…..some twine,
……….some glue,
and here I am racing down Breakyerneck Hill
with goggles and helmet
and sheer force of will.

The one little thing that is worrying me
is that shed near that car
…..near that rock
…..…..near that tree.
I’ve lost all control and my rope is undone –
…..so I’m bracing for impact
……………in three…
…………………………two…
………………………………….one……!

– © 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Once the poems have been submitted, the public votes for their favorites and the winning “authlete” of each poem then moves to the next round. This continues until the field is narrowed down to just 2 writers…one of whom is crowned Madness! Poetry champion and wins the “Thinkier” trophy!

If you’d like to apply, begin by filling out the application and then follow the Madness! Poetry Facebook page so you can stay updated and find out if you made it in!

Don’t forget, we have a cover reveal coming for Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020), my new picture book written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®)!  The book comes out August 18, and author/kidlit blogger Tara Lazar will be hosting the official cover reveal on her blog Feb. 10, as soon as she wraps up this year’s Storystorm!

And speaking of the new book, I’ve teamed up with several children’s authors like fellow authlete Lori Degman (who beat me last year, but I won’t hold a grudge), former fellow Poet’s Garage crit group member Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Michelle Schaub, and many others to promote our upcoming books this year. So be watching for news about this book as well as blog posts and reviews of a whole bunch more – including six in February alone!:

Looking for more poetry? For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, head over to Jone MacCulloch’s blog, Deowriter, for some postcard poetry AND a giveaway!
.

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

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Picture book publishing news AND a Donald Hall tribute

Before we get to today’s poetry offering, I have some big, BIG news to share:

I have another picture book coming out!

(Yes, they spelled my name wrong, but everybody does that)

Not only am I excited that I’ve signed a contract with a publishing company that’s as excited about the book as I am, I’m thrilled that my co-author is non other than Father Goose® himself, Charles Ghigna!

Way back in 2013, Charles shared with me a few stanzas he had written. Were they a poem, or a picture book, or something else? He wasn’t sure what they might be…but he asked for my thoughts and I came up with a concept for a narrative arc and a few stanzas of my own to follow his.

He liked my plan, so I went ahead and completed the first rough draft, then over the course of the next few months we tweaked and edited the manuscript until it was where we wanted it. We had no idea at the time that we would have to send it out to about 25 or so editors before Naomi Krueger at Beaming Books saw my pitch for it on the #PBPitch Twitter event last October.

So be prepared:  you’ll be seeing lots more posts about the development of this book in the months to come. You’ll also be inundated with news about my other upcoming books, as this now brings my total to SEVEN NEW BOOKS due out between 2020-2022!

Consider yourself warned…

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In other news…a big event last night at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord NH!

 

I was honored to be among the 11 poets who read from the new book, Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Pub., 2019), which just came out this past June 23, on the one-year anniversary of Hall’s passing. Editor Cynthia Brackett-Vincent also attended and read her favorite Hall poem, which is also one of mine:

Names of Horses

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield…

(read the rest of the poem HERE)
.

It’s truly an honor to be part of such a book, with such esteemed folks as Jane Yolen, LR Berger, and many others. I hope you’ll pick up a copy! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, please head on over to Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are hosting the festivities!

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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 Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: “Ode to Peanut Butter” for #NationalPeanutButterDay

Not sure how this slipped past me…but a poem I wrote back in 2012 for someone else’s blog somehow never ended up on my own blog!

I was celebrating National Peanut Butter Day yesterday – yes, that is actually a thing – and a poem popped in my head. A poem I’d written years ago and hadn’t even given second thought to until that very moment.

It was first published on Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup blog as part of her celebration of National Peanut Butter Month. (I know what you’re thinking – why does PB get its own month AND its own day? Because it’s PEANUT BUTTER, folks! It’s not like it’s Brussels sprouts, which only has one day, Jan. 31, and no one cares.)

Ah, childhood comes calling when I enjoy my first taste from a freshly-opened jar.

Anyway, in advance of sharing my poem for today’s post, I searched Jama’s blog to re-read her original post. She had requested that her followers send her peanut butter poems, and I was one of the four people she featured that day.

As I read her post, I was surprised by two things: one, that Father Goose (aka Charles Ghigna) and I both have an affinity for Peter Pan peanut butter (which I had forgotten about), and two, that the three other folks Jama featured in this particular post are all extremely talented individuals I feel fortunate to have gotten to know much better in these years since: Charles, David Harrison, and Marilyn Singer.

So here it is! It’s not the fanciest, best poem I’ve ever written…but it was written with the love of peanut butter in my soul, and that counts for something:

Ode to Peanut Butter

I love how you’re creamy,
so smooth and so fine –
even when chunky,
I‘m glad you’re all mine.

I love how you’re salty,
a little bit sweet…
so richly delicious,
a wonderful treat!

I’ll smear you on crackers,
I’ll spread you on bread;
I’ll eat you with breakfast
and right before bed.

There’s only one small thing
I’m not keen about:
da way dat you thtick
to da woof of my mouf.

– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Full disclosure: I’m actually a peanut butter snob. While creamy Peter Pan is definitely my favorite, there are other peanut butters with whom I have cheated, and will readily do so again. JIF has a unique taste because it contains molasses; I prefer crunchy peanut butter in most of my cooking, as it adds a nice texture, especially to cookies; and as a New Englander, I grew up with Teddie on the table more often than Peter Pan, and will never forget those huge plastic tubs of creamy, peanut buttery-goodness…

THREE pounds, people…three luscious, delectable pounds.

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Have a taste for more poetry? Tara Smith at Going to Walden has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup, along with a very timely poem from Linda Pastan about something happening “Somewhere in the World…”

And by the way, I will be spending most of next Friday, February 1, reading to students via Skype as part of #WorldReadAloudDay! If you would be interested in having me join your class for a 20 minute visit, I will read one of my picture books, share some poetry, and talk a little bit about the writing process and how they all came to be! Just email me at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com and I’ll reply as quickly as I can.

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

“School People” Book Birthday!

(Click the cover to order a personally-signed copy from Yours Truly!)

Lee Bennett Hopkins’ new children’s poetry anthology, School People (Wordsong), is now officially in stores everywhere!

Edited by my  Flashlight Night editor Rebecca Davis, this book includes 15 poems about all the grown-ups that children meet at school, like the Teacher, the Lunch Lady, the Librarian, the Custodian  – and of course, the person who transports the kids from home to school and back again, the Bus Driver!

– © 2018 Wordsong, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission (Click to enlarge)

 

School People also includes poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charles Ghigna, J. Patrick Lewis, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Renee LaTulippe, Irene Latham, Robyn Hood Black, and many others including Lee himself.

It’s a beautiful book, so I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy. And please be sure to check out this Friday’s blog, when I interview Lee about the book, his amazing, record-setting history of anthologies, and his induction into the Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame.

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SCHOOL PEOPLE are here…and the DINOSAURS are on their way!

“Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” hits bookshelves April 17!

New dates continue to be added to the Dinosaur Tour! Don’t Ask a Dinosaur co-author Deborah Bruss and I have quite a busy schedule planned, and more dates continue to be added:

  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur National Launch Party!! 
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing

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Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. 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?)

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

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 twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” gets a publication date, and New Hampshire KidLit gets a boost!

It’s official! My next picture book, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books), co-authored with Deb Bruss (Book! Book! Book!, Big Box for Ben), will arrive in stores on April 17! Woo-HOO!

The newly-revised cover! Click to order! Do it! Now!

Illustrator Louie Chin has been working for months on these illustrations, tweaking them here and there til they were juuuust right – and Deb & I couldn’t be more happy with them. Things are getting busy on the calendar, too! We have book launches and readings already lined up, with lots more to come…

  • Sun., Jan. 14, 4pm:  Hopkinton (NH) Town Library, Flashlight Night reading/signing and discussion (Matt)
  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND local book launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!) (Matt & Deb)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND local book launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!) (Matt & Deb)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur National Launch Party!! (Matt & Deb)
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur(Matt & Deb)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NH Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing and discussion (Matt & Deb) 

You read that right – the book doesn’t come out for 4 months, and we’ve already got FIVE Dinosaur events planned with many others in the works. No one can say I’m not motivated.

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KidLit603 has launched!

In other news, a new website has emerged on the kidlit scene! If you’re looking for info about New Hampshire-based children’s authors and illustrators, look no further than KidLit603 – the brainchild of a group of NH writers who thought it was about time our state had a more visible way of showcasing those of us who write for children.

At the website you’ll find news, event info, and author links – and if you know of something happening in the area related to children’s literature, send an email!

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“School People” arrives soon!

And since it is Poetry Friday, I just had to share a little bit of news about School People (Wordsong), the new Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology due out in just a few weeks. There are 15 poems about the people children meet at school…and I’m so honored to have a poem of mine included!

In fact, I’m doubly honored that my poem, “Bus Driver,” is the second poem in the book and immediately follows the opening poem, “School’s Story,” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Written from from the point of view of the school building, Rebecca’s poem exhorts the reader to “Come on in!” and “Enter whispers, whistles, signs, / footsteps, fossils, notebook lines.”

Other poets whose work is included in the book include Charles Ghigna, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Renee LaTulippe, Irene Latham, Robyn Hood Black, J. Patrick Lewis, and many others. It’s a beautiful book, edited by my Flashlight Night editor Rebecca Davis, and I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy.

Care to read a glowing review from Publisher’s Weekly? Of course you do! 

Care to read another positive review from Kirkus? I knew you would!

Care to check out all of today’s Poetry Friday links? Then head over to Jan Godown Annino’s Bookseedstudio for the complete roundup, where she is celebrating poetry and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. 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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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 twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Hard to believe it’s been two years!

After I shared the cover of my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, Sept. 2017) last week, I had a realization: it’s been a mere two years since my debut as a published children’s writer!

I have to thank Lee Bennett Hopkins first and foremost, as it was he who first asked me to be a contributor to his anthology, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet (Abrams, 2015). When I said “Yes!” I had no idea I’d be side-by-side with folks like Charles Ghigna, David L. Harrison, X.J. Kennedy, Jane Yolen, and Jane’s daughter, Heidi Stemple, with whom I share this spread:

(Reprinted with permission; all rights reserved. Click to enlarge)

And while Lullaby was released in March 2015, it wasn’t the only anthology I got to be a part of that month. I also had the pleasure of contributing this poem, in honor of National Cereal Day, to Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong’s Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015):

Picky Eater

I love my Fruit Loops,
love my Trix,
love Cheerios
and even Kix.
I really like
my Apple Jacks –
but please don’t give me
Sugar Smacks,
or stars or squares or flakes
you’ve found –
I only eat, you see,
what’s round.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

And as if that weren’t enough, I was fortunate to be able to contribute three poems to Carol-Ann Hoyte’s Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food & Agriculture Poems, which also came out that same March! Here’s one of them:

Fair is Fair
(a lesson in Fair Trade)

Mother’s coffee,
Father’s tea,
Sister’s cocoa…
all might be
a farmer’s only
chance to give
his family
a chance to live.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Five debuts in one month…not too shabby! Of course, it’s still a long, slow process in building one’s career, but since then, I’ve been in anthologies, journals, and Highlights for Kids magazine and at this very moment, I will have 24 children’s poems published – or under contract to be published – through 2018.

Plus, I have my two forthcoming picture books! So I truly feel grateful that I’ve been able to get this far; I know folks who’ve been slaving away at their computers and typewriters for 20+ years and have yet to get to this point, so I never take any of it for granted. I just keep trying to plug away at it, writing when I can, learning what I can, and hopefully build myself a little children’s author career.

Who knows what will happen – but thank you for being part of this ride with me! If you haven’t already, I’d love for you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook so we can keep in touch more easily (the links are below). And be sure to head over to Reading to the Core, where Catherine is hosting Poetry Friday today and celebrating poets and poetry with Kwame Alexander’s new book!

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

Poetry Friday: Look at what’s in paperback!

Look at what my 6-year-old just brought home!

ng-nature-paperback

Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago, when my son brought home a stack of Scholastic order forms…and they were selling the paperback version of The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Kids, 2015)!

What may be old hat for some writers was an absolute thrill for me – seeing a book I contributed to there, in my son’s catalog! I had to buy a copy, which just arrived a couple of days ago. Here is my poem, along with the one I share the page with, from Charles “Father Goose®” Ghigna (click to enlarge):

© 2015 National Geographic Society, Charles Ghigna, and Matt Forrest Esenwine; all rights reserved.
The original hardcover is still available everywhere, of course, so be sure to pick up a copy if you haven’t yet! Also be sure to stop by Carol Varsalona’s Beyond LiteracyLink, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!
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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid 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 twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The importance of avoiding luck

I have a confession: I hate the game of Monopoly.

Actually, I don’t hate the game itself – I just hate playing it. I used to like it, when I was a kid: all the property I got to amass, the colorful cards I got to collect, the buildings I could put up.

And truth be told, all that money-changing was pretty good math practice.

But here’s the problem: I rarely won. And it’s not that I’m a sore loser or anything. It’s just that no matter what I did or how I tried to play the game, a single roll of the dice would inevitably upend my entire game – and I became frustrated.

As an adult, I now realize that for all its real-life street references and corporate wheeling-dealing…Monopoly is ultimately a game of chance.

And when it comes to relying on luck, I suck.

Talent can be learned, skill can be developed

If it’s an endeavor that requires skill – whether it’s Trivial Pursuit, soccer, or writing – I have no problems. I can learn, I can develop, I can compete…and hopefully succeed a few times. Even card games like poker or rummy, which are based on the luck of the draw, require at least some skill in determining how to play each hand.

I’m ok with that.

My problem is having to rely on pure luck to help me win. If I have to do that, I lose, every time.

Let’s see if we can find a common theme, shall we?

1) When I first began doing voiceover work, I learned about the industry through attending workshops, corresponding via LinkedIn groups, and connecting with others already ID-10084724 (Mic)in the business. I paid attention to how I was delivering lines and would redo them if I felt they weren’t exactly right. I set up a website and began marketing myself.

I would audition and audition and audition, and continually try to get better and better. After a few years of doing small gigs, I eventually got to the point where I was providing voice work for places like HBO Comedy, Muzak, and Symantec.

2) When I decided to make a concerted effort to go beyond my adult poetry and become a published children’s writer, I looked around for information on how to make that happen.  A friend suggested joining an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators) writer’s group, which I did. I also went to SCBWI conferences, took tons of workshops, and went out of my way to meet as many established (and developing) writers and poets as I could, via Facebook and Twitter.

I wrote, wrote, and wrote…and strove to get better. Eventually, I connected with folks like Lin Oliver from SCBWI, poetry anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, editor Rebecca Davis of Boyd’s Mills Press, and Charles “Father Goose” Ghigna, who all encouraged me in their own ways. Between this year and next, I’ll have 9 poems in 7 boyds logodifferent publications (books/magazines), and my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press), has a planned Fall 2017 release date.

3) As you may recall me mentioning a few times here, I tore my ACL (among other things) in my right knee a little over a year and a half ago. I had been playing soccer, and took a wrong turn and completely ripped the knee ligaments apart. Following my reconstruction surgery in March 2014, I spent the next 12 months doing rehabilitation – stretching, flexing, bending, turning – with plans of getting back on the field.

It wasn’t until earlier this summer I was able to play again (just some friendly rec games to start out), but I still took it easy, making sure I knew how my knee was going to handle the stress. Each week I played I could feel the knee and leg getting better, and now the last two games I’ve played I’ve had more confidence in running and cutting, better ball control, and have even scored 2 goals in 2 games.

You don’t need to be a genius…

…to understand the thread running through these three scenarios.

None of them had anything to do with luck!

I got the HBO Comedy gig because the producers liked my audition the best out of all the others.

I’m back on the soccer field because I spent over a year exercising and prepping.

And I signed my book deal with Boyd’s Mills Press because a) the editor thought my manuscript was well-written, b) I had developed a relationship with that editor over the previous three years, and c) I had initially met that editor courtesy of an introduction by Mr. Hopkins, whom I had met a year earlier and who became a mutual friend and confidante.

Luck…has been nowhere to be found in any of this.

No good without the bad

I read the audition script exactly the way the producers wanted it to be read. I took the time to rehabilitate my knee over the course of a year-plus. I made the effort to learn about the children’s literature world, and tenaciously kept writing and submitting manuscripts.

I don’t see where luck had any role whatsoever. Sure, one could say I’m lucky I didn’t tear my other knee, or that I’m lucky I came across Mr. Hopkins or Ms. Davis. But that’s not really true.

ID-10056952 (soccer ball)If I’m going to assume I was blessed with good luck, I need to recognize the existence of bad luck, as well. If my latest picture book manuscript doesn’t get picked up, is that bad luck? If I fail an audition, is that bad luck? If I succumb to some other injury of the soccer field, is that bad luck?

Of course not. These things happen. Manuscripts get rejected, auditions get passed over, and wives beat their husbands senseless if they injure themselves one more time.

Oops – sorry, that last one is just my personal situation.

Seriously, though – if we are going to recognize that good luck and bad luck have roles in our lives, what’s the point of trying to make things better? We’ll never know how much good luck or bad luck we’ll have, we’ll never know when one of them is going to strike, we’ll never know if what we succeeded at or failed at was our own fault or just “dumb luck.”

Most of us, I’m sure, will say we owe whatever success we have to hard work, determination, and perseverance – and of course, a certain amount of skill. As our third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, once said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Personally, I find that the harder I work, the better I become and the more opportunities come my way, period.

Now who’s up for a little Apples to Apples?

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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 twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!