Poetry Friday: Excitement for two upcoming poetry anthologies!

What a National Poetry Month it’s turning out to be! This week, I’ve received news about not one, but TWO anthologies I’ll be involved with, which are coming out within a week and a half of each other this summer…

First:  Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Pub., 2019) is an adult poetry anthology that is one of the most important books in my adult literary career. Thirty-five New England poets share poems inspired by the late Donald Hall, former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire and of the United States. The fact that I live at the base of Mt. Kearsarge, a mountain  synonymous with Hall and his work, is humbling and makes being in this book extra special.

My poem, “Stone-Kicking,” begins:

Stone-Kicking

I kick my dreams
like stones in the road,
watching them bounce
happily ahead
while I lag
behind, dawdling.
Dirt road, still
damp from yesterday’s storm,
smells of pine and mud…

Sorry, you’ll just have to wait to see the rest of it! Except for Love is scheduled for release on June 23, the one-year anniversary of Hall’s death, but pre-orders are available HERE.

Second: I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending (Charlesbridge, 2019) is the newest Lee Bennett Hopkins children’s anthology, and my contributor copies just arrived in the mail! It’s a fun book, filled with poems about children pretending to be doctors, wizards, inventors, and all sorts of wonderfully imaginative people. (My poem, “The One,” is about a boy pretending to be a firefighter – but there’s a twist!) I’m proud, as always, to be part of one of Lee’s books – but also proud to be included with fellow writer-friends like Michelle H. Barnes, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and many others. I Am Someone Else will be in stores officially July 2, but you can pre-order now!

More news about these books will be forthcoming, but I wanted to let you know they are on the way – and I can’t wait!

Today is Poetry Friday, so be sure to head on over to Karen Edmisten’s blog, where she is hosting the festivities, and you can check out all the links along with a touching, thoughtful poem by John Ashbery.

(Speaking of National Poetry Month, my friend Tabatha Yeatts has some creative printables for teachers and other educators out there, who might be wondering how to celebrate the month. Follow THIS LINK and THIS LINK to see what’s available, and have fun with your classes!)

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The 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is in full swing! I started this collaborative poem this past Monday (no fooling!) and now a different writer/ blogger adds a new line each day until it concludes on 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

Madness!Poetry is over, and congratulations to this year’s champion, Lori Degman! Lori & I battled fiercely in Round 2, and she was able to move on through each consecutive round and eventually defeat my former Poet’s Garage member, William Peery, to take home the trophy.

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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?)

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

Poetry Friday: Spring mountain haiku (Happy Spring!)

(click to enlarge)

REMINDER:  You have less than one week to enter my drawing for a FREE copy of Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House (Wordsong, 2019)! This children’s poetry collection imagines what the inanimate objects inside a home are doing after the lights go out…and between neckties and hair combs and cap-less markers, the house is a much busier place than one might expect. So check out my blog post featuring Laura (well, actually, it’s an interview with Laura’s inanimate objects!), and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

Madness! Poetry continues! I got knocked out of the second round in my battle with Lori Grusman – but she is still soldiering on! So log on and check out all the match-ups, then vote for your favorite!

Rebecca Herzog is hosting Poetry Friday today at Sloth Reads while simultaneously celebrating national Goof Off Day! How in the world is she going to juggle both of these duties? You’ll have to pop on over and find out!

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

 

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

author Laura Purdie Salas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want her to be happy…Sniffle.

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

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

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

Kitchen Stool: co-author and paragon of humility.

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

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

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

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

(reprinted with permission; click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

(reprinted with permission; click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONE MORE THING:  Madness! Poetry continues even though I can’t…yes, I got knocked out of the second round with a nail-biter of a competition between author Lori Grusman. It was so tight, that at one point I was leading 50.1% to 49.9%. That’s right, one-tenth of a percent! And then she’d take the lead, then I’d take the lead, then she’d…well, it was like that the entire round. So congratulations to my formidable opponent!

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

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

What if…the clocks stopped ticktocking?

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t think I’ve changed much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

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!

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!

Poetry Friday: Found Poetry from The Word Garden

I told you I was going to share the little stone-poem I put together at the Highlights Foundation poetry workshop I attended a couple weeks ago…and today I’m keeping my word.

Now, first of all, if you have not had a chance to read my ‘review’ of the workshop that I posted on Tuesday, I hope you will take some time to read it. Not only will you better understand what the Highlights workshops are like and why I highly recommend them, but you will hopefully better understand how this poem came about.

As I mentioned in that post, there are hundreds of smooth stones in a small garden near the main building known as The Barn, and each stone has a different word carved on it. These stones are available for visitors to play with and create short phrases and “micro poems” (click to enlarge):

 

Aside from the fact that this is a really cool idea in and of itself, what makes it even more special is that each of these stones is a river rock taken from the creek that runs through the property…the very creek you see displayed in my blog’s header, above.

So while I was there with the other workshop attendees, I saw a few stones that caught my attention and began scouting around for others that I might be able to use. I would think of an idea, not find a stone with the word I needed, but then would find another stone with a word I hadn’t thought of, and then would need to figure out how to get those word stones to work with each other.

After 10 or 15 minutes, I had come up with something I liked:

As you can see, even when crafting poems with rocks, enjambment plays a crucial role in my process. In my mind, emphasis and pacing are just as important as the words themselves. (click to enlarge)

So there you go! Nothing too elaborate or earth-shaking, just a little wordplay to conjure up some imagery and exercise that imagination. If you’re looking for more substantive poetry, I encourage you to visit Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, where you’ll find a virtual pre-election rally underway – along with today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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BOOK SIGNING THIS SUNDAY!

I’ll be spending some time with my DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR co-author, Deborah Bruss, this Sunday afternoon in Warner, NH to celebrate the Book Birthday of her new book, GOOD MORNING, SNOWPLOW! We’ll both be there starting at 2pm signing books including DINOSAUR, FLASHLIGHT NIGHT, SCHOOL PEOPLE, and the new National Geographic book, THE POETRY OF US.

And to make the event even cooler, the town’s road agent will be on hand to chat with kids about snowplows…AND he’ll bring one of the town’s snowplows with him so the kids can climb inside! (Cool, right???)

Hope you’ll join us, if you’re in the area! Details here!

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

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!

Inspiration, observation, and the joy of grown-up marshmallows: a look back at a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop

Two weeks ago, I spent 5 days living, breathing, and eating children’s poetry (and writing it, too, for that matter) at the Highlights Foundation’s “The Craft and Heart of Children’s Poetry” workshop in the tiny little town of Milanville, PA. I had previously attended a similar workshop with David L. Harrison back in 2013, and had been wanting to attend another ever since.

It took me five years to return, but the wait was well worth it!

Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Yours Truly, and Rebbeca Davis. (click to enlarge)

The workshop’s faculty were the highly-esteemed Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard, who discussed poetic devices like form, voice, and rhythm and offered critiques of our writing samples. They also used several writing prompts to encourage attendees to practice writing, thinking, and observing. (You can learn more about one of those writing prompts – and my response – HERE)

In addition to Rebecca and Georgia, we were joined by Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong editor Rebecca Davis, who was my editor for Flashlight Night. Rebecca spoke to our group about poetry publishing and even offered some critiques. Also on hand was poet/author Carole Boston Weatherford, who offered insight into writing poetry in different voices, and Lee Bennett Hopkins, who chatted via Skype about his poetry anthologies and the state of children’s poetry in today’s market.

A few other highlights:

(har, har – get it? Highlights?? Ok, I’ll stop.) 

My residence for 5 days. Couldn’t ask for anything coszier!

Everything is included in your tuition: the workshop, room, meals, snacks…everything. You might stay in one of the cabins, like I did, or they may put you up in the Lodge nearby. All of the workshops and meals are held inside The Barn, a large facility recently built when the old farmhouse next door, the former residence of Highlights for Children magazine’s creators Garry and Caroline Myers, became too small to handle all of the folks attending the plethora of workshops.

Heck, there were almost 20 of us there, and they have workshops running throughout the year!

 

Just a handful of some of the cabins. (photo courtesy of Jone MacCulloch)
Want to attend a session? Head to The Barn. Joining your friends for a meal? Head to The Barn. Need a computer or printer? Head to The Barn. Wake up at 2am and decide you’re in the mood for some ice cream, Doritos, and a cold beer? Yep…head to The Barn! They’ve got you covered.

The Word Garden: You may have visited a rock garden before, but you’ve never been to this kind of rock garden…where stones are waiting in piles for you to dream up poetry with them!

 

Thoughtful…creative…perhaps a tad unbalanced. These are a few of the “poems” we discovered when we arrived – but with hundreds of rocks available, we wasted no time creating our own. (I’ll share mine in an upcoming Poetry Friday post) And if you’d like to learn more about how you can support The Word Garden, click HERE.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Heard. (Click to enlarge)

The Haiku Poet-tree: One of our exercises was to write a haiku on a small slip of paper. We then proceeded outside the Barn to read them and then hang each on the nearby tree, where we could peruse them throughout the week. (Or until the rain decided we had read enough)

S’Mores Night: Ah yes, it just wouldn’t be an October Foundation workshop without a campfire and s’mores. We gathered around a small outdoor fireplace adjacent to the Barn and roasted marshmallows – and I shared my “secret” for grown-up marshmallows: after you place yours on the roasting stick, dip it in a high-alcohol liqueur like Grand Marnier or a spiced rum for 10-15 seconds, then hold it over the flames. It will immediately flare up as the alcohol burns off, and you’re left with the essence of the liqueur on your marshmallow. You’re welcome!

You can’t tell the family members from the employees: I get the impression that everyone who works for Highlights approaches their job as if they are part of a large family – which, in actually, they are…kind of. Many of the grandkids and great-grandkids of the original founders continue their family’s legacy by working there, but even the non-familial employees behave as though they have as much at stake in their job as the owners. Friendly, professional, helpful; honestly, there are giant corporate function facilities that could learn a lot about customer service by watching the Highlights cook and waitstaff serve a meal.

A Visit to ‘Highlights’: This was definitely a highlight of the workshop (har, har – there I go again, “highlight!” I crack myself up.) One afternoon, we drove 20 minutes south of The Barn to Honesdale, PA, to visit with the folks who publish ‘Highlights for Children’ and its related publications, as well as book imprints Boyds Mills Press, Wordsong, and Calkins Creek.

How surreal is it to see one’s book on a bookcase that includes titles by Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes, David Harrison, and J. Patrick Lewis, among others? Pretty darned, I’ll tell you that.

I had not been to the office since my previous workshop in 2013, so I had never before met in-person with people like Allison Kane, who has purchased poems of mine for the magazine, or Cherie Matthews, assistant editor for Boyds Mills Press, with whom I’ve corresponded for nearly 3 years via email.

I was deeply honored when one of my fellow attendees, Kerry Cramer, asked if he could get a photo of the two of us. I was so happy he liked my book so much, I didn’t know what else to say but, “sure!” Thanks for your support, Kerry!

One of the coolest things you’ll spy in the building is a genuine dinosaur skull that once belonged to T-Rex’s bigger cousin, Giganotosaurus. For some reason, I neglected to snap a picture of this incredible artifact…but trust me, it’s there. (And really, if you visit the office, it would be very difficult for you to miss it)

We were afforded the opportunity to meet with many of the folks who put the magazines together, and learned a little bit about ‘Highlights’ humble beginnings – from its inception in 1946 to its book imprints to its newest innovations, like teething-proof covers for ‘Hello,’ their newest magazine for the very youngest readers. One thing I learned from the tour is that the editors of ‘Highlights’ magazines respond to EVERY SINGLE letter or email they receive from children. How many are we talking? This many…

(click to enlarge)

And just before we left to head back to the Barn, I had to get one last pic:

Cheryl Matthews, who has done as much for ‘Flashlight Night”‘s success as anyone, took time for a quick photo op with one of her fans.

I have to tell you, the Highlights Foundation workshops are unlike any workshops you’ve ever been to. There is the educational component, of course; but what sets these workshops apart from all others is everything that goes along with the education: time allowed for relaxing, meandering, napping, writing, contemplating, snacking.

Learn more about the Foundation, their workshops (which range from poetry to novel writing to non-fiction to illustration and everything in-between), and what they do, please visit their website. The workshops are worth every penny, and they even offer scholarships to those who qualify! And if you have any questions about my experiences there, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or email me!

Our poetry crew, each holding a stone we chose from the Word Garden. (photo courtesy of the Highlights Foundation; click to enlarge)

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BOOK SIGNING!

I’m looking forward to spending some time with my DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR co-author, Deborah Bruss, this Sunday afternoon in Warner, NH to celebrate the Book Birthday of her new book, GOOD MORNING, SNOWPLOW! We’ll both be there signing our books, including DINOSAUR, FLASHLIGHT NIGHT, SCHOOL PEOPLE, and the new National Geographic book, THE POETRY OF US.

Hope you’ll join us, if you’re in the area! Details here!

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

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


  

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: An Octo-poem for Agnes!

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

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

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

And then there’s mine.

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

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

Going to be in the Concord, NH area tomorrow?

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

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

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

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!