Poetry Friday: We have a winner! Finding poetic treasures within “Finding Treasure”…

Before we get to all the found poetry that’s been pouring in – and before we announce our winner of a free book! – I have some exciting news to share…

Click the cover to vote!

Thursday afternoon I was astounded to learn that Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) has been shortlisted as a finalist for the New Hampshire Literary Awards – and voting for the Reader’s Choice Awards ends in TWO DAYS, Sat. night Sept. 28, at midnight! So if you’re a NH resident and you feel my little book is worthy, I’d appreciate you clicking THIS LINK and voting. Thank you!

It really is an honor simply to be included on a list with other Granite State authors and poets like Eric Pinder, Jessica Purdy, former NH Poet Laureate Patricia Fargnoli, and fellow BM&K author Sandra Neil Wallace. So please vote for your favorites!

Now, then…

Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Michelle Schaub and her brand-new poetry collection, Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections (Charlesbridge, 2019) – and offered a PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPY to one lucky winner.

And boy, oh boy, a lot of people are hoping to be that lucky winner!

All one needed to do to enter the giveaway was share a found poem based her poem, “Collecting Stars:”

A “found poem” is simply a poem that uses the words from one source – like a magazine, newspaper, book, etc. –  to create a poem. So in this case, readers took the words from Michelle’s poem and re-created them into new poems of their own. I shared several of the poems last Friday, so here are the newest ones:

Around the Yard

flashes in darkness
the dance of starlight
floats free

– Kathy Mazurowski

.

untitled

sparks dance
and beckon
embers glow
sparks float
free
good-bye

– Kathleen L. Armstrong

.

Embers

Specks of light
spark and dance
I watch them float free
when darkness deepens

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

.

untitled

darkness deepens
purple sky
sparks of starlight
way up high

sky festooned with
dancing light
colors pulsing
dazzling sight

– Cheriee Weichel

.

Star Collecting *

They come
When darkness deepens
A reminder to share

My own
Sparks of starlight
With tender care

Absorb, release them
to the night

Heart-carry
into morning’s light.

– Linda Trott Dickman

* (Matt’s note: while not a ‘found poem’ by definition, it still gets an “A” and an entry!)

.
untitled

Come fill a mason jar
Come so

To catch and watch
The darkness glow…

I know it’s hard
It’s free, though…

– © Karen Eastlund, 2019

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and because this has been such a fun exercise, another one from Yours Truly…
.

Captured

Specks of light dance and glow;
beckon,
…..come!

The yard, a jar they fill.

Stars catch us…
and watch.

– © 2019, Matt F. Esenwine

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According to the trusty Random.org website, our completely randomly-selected winner is…

LINDA BAIE!

Congratulations, Linda! Thanks so much for submitting your poem last week, and I’ll be sure to get your book in the mail asap. In the meantime, if anyone is still looking for more poetry (and who isn’t?) Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link has today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour concludes today at Jama’s Alphabet Soup!  ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

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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: Michelle Schaub’s “Finding Treasure” interview & GIVEAWAY!

Michelle Schaub, author of Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market (Charlesbridge, 2017), has a brand-new collection of poems coming out this Tue., Sept. 17 – about collections!

Michelle and I first met way back in Oct. 2013 at a Highlights poetry workshop. We were both in the very-early stages of our careers at that point, so it’s been interesting to see how our experiences have differed up to this point. And now that she has another new book coming out, I thought it was about time I asked her to visit the ol’ Triple-R!

First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Michelle! I have to say, I’m so happy to see you with not one, but TWO poetry collections to your name. Knowing where both of us were six years ago, how would you say your writing – and career – have developed? Are you writing differently, approaching the craft differently?

Thrilled to be here, Matt! And thrilled to follow your writing successes also, especially the recent news about your upcoming book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020). Congratulations! Speaking of “another time,” I can’t believe that Highlights workshop was six years ago! When I headed off to the conference, I was just starting to tinker with a set of poems about farmers’ markets, but I really didn’t know how to put together a poetry collection. In the subsequent year it took me to write and revise Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market, I learned a lot, not only about different poetry forms, but about stringing poems together to create a collection with an arc and flow.

What did you learn about children’s poetry early on – either at the workshop or elsewhere – that you feel has been most helpful?

Children’s author David Harrison, who was the guest teacher at the Highlights poetry workshop, was a superb mentor.  He taught me that less is more with children’s poetry. I came to David with these long, detailed poems about farmers’ markets. Brandishing his pen, David deftly slashed unnecessary descriptions but spared strong verbs and specific nouns. He taught me how to make my poems work in tandem with illustrations.

Now about this new book. It’s a poetry collection about collections! How did you come up with the idea, and how did you go about putting the poems and book together?

The idea first arose when I was participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm a few years ago.  In this challenge, writers come up with one new picture book idea a day for the entire month of January. Toward the end of the month, running low on ideas, I started looking around my office for any brainstorm sparks. My eyes landed on a row of seashells on my bookshelf. I’d saved them from my grandmother’s shell collection. Hmm, seashells. Collections. What else do people collect? Coins. Keys. Baseball cards. Could I write poems about those things? Would kids even be interested in collection poems?

Then I remembered that my town’s library has collection display windows in the children’s department. When my own children were younger, they signed up to showcase their own prized objects in those windows. The waiting list was two years! Those display windows are still filled each month, and the waiting list is still long. I started noticing that other libraries have collection displays also. This led me to believe that I’d have an audience for poems about the time-honored hobby of collecting.

Michelle also “collects a variety of styles and forms in her collection, as witnessed by this spread, one of my favorites!

I guess every idea has to come from somewhere! So once you knew the subject, how did you figure out how to connect the poems?

When I started writing the poems, I knew I needed something to hold the collection together and entice readers to turn the page. So, I came up with a narrative arc. A child is given a school assignment to bring in something she collects for show and tell. The only problem: she doesn’t collect anything!  The child searches for the perfect collection by consulting family, friends, and neighbors, who share their collections through poems. By the end of the book, the child has discovered the perfect collection. It isn’t “pebbles, shells, or twigs… or quirky whirlygigs,” but it is something that brings her joy. Can you guess? Read the final poem in Finding Treasure to see if you’re right!

People always ask me this question, and it’s impossible to answer…so I’ll ask you! (ha!) Do you have a favorite poem or spread in the book?

That is a tough question! Carmen Saldaña did such an amazing job with the illustrations in Finding Treasure that I’m in love with each spread. However, I think my favorite might be the one for the poem, “Collecting Stars.” In this poem, after searching for a collection all day, the child heads outside to try and collect fireflies. I love how Carmen captured the cozy glow of the fireflies against the starry sky.

That IS a beautiful spread – reminds me of my own yard! Now, I recall you mentioning to me that when doing final revisions for Fresh-Picked Poetry (also from Charlesbridge), a poem about heirloom tomatoes didn’t make the cut. Anything get axed for this book?

There is one poem that didn’t make the cut for Finding Treasure. It was called “Curious Collections,” about strange things people collect. While I was researching ideas for the book, I came across some pretty bizarre collections, like toenail clippings and dust bunnies, which I included in this poem. I thought the illustration for the poem could show the protagonist searching on the internet for collection ideas. Ultimately, my editor at Charlesbridge, Karen Boss, and I decided that we wanted to focus more on collections that were positive and unique, but not strange. So “Curious Collections” was replaced with “The ‘Gist of Collecting,” which is about items that scientists collect in the name of research.

By the way, I’m constantly being asked how to get into children’s publishing…and other than the standard, “practice the craft, learn the market, develop contacts” answer I usually give (which is a pretty concise, honest answer), do you have any words of wisdom you’ve gleaned from the past several years?

Since you started this interview by mentioning Highlights Workshops, I’ll end on that note. I think attending a Highlights Workshop is a phenomenal way to hone your craft and connect with other writers. After all, that’s how we met!

Well, thank you again for visiting, Michelle, I really appreciate it! Oh, and I was very humbled and honored to see you had dedicated the book “To Matt, my treasure.” I opened up the book and saw that and nearly started crying.

Ha, Ha. Yes, the book is dedicated to Matt Schaub. My husband. (Not the football player.) But you are a treasure, too, Matt!

Oh, ok! Well, thank you, anyway – I’ll try not to take it too hard. But I do appreciate you stopping by, and wish you the best! (And if you like Michelle’s book, I have a signed copy to give away…)

What have I been collecting? Well, lately…these.

Since Michelle’s book is about ‘collecting’ things, I thought it might be fun to ‘collect’ some poems from her “Collecting Stars” poem, above! If you want to enter the contest, just leave a found poem here in the comments, or email me your poem at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com. In case you don’t know, a “found poem” is simply a poem one writes by taking the words from one source and rearranging them into something new. So your poem doesn’t need to be long – or even any good! – it just needs to include only words from Michelle’s poem, above.

You only have 2 weeks to enter, as I’ll announce the winner by a random drawing on Fri. morning, Sept. 27 when I share all the poems here on the blog. The winner receives a PERSONALLY-signed copy of Michelle’s book! How cool is that?? Good luck, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing your poems!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour continues this month:

This Writing Life – Sept. 16
The Grog – Sept. 18
Picture Book Buzz – Sept. 20
Jama’s Alphabet Soup – Sept. 27

ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

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It’s Poetry Friday! Looking for more poetic posts? Then be sure to stop by Laura Purdie Salas’ blog, Writing the World for Kids, where she hosting today’s roundup with a celebration of the release of HER new poetry collection!

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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: 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!

Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, text

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)
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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: Happy #BookBirthday to a new anthology!

It arrives in just a few days! I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge) is the newest children’s poetry anthology from Lee Bennett Hopkins, and I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of another one of his books. The book is all about pretending – from firefighters and video game creators to knights and mermaids – and is a perfect book to share with kids who are wondering what to do with themselves over summer vacation!

So to celebrate the book, which hits stores next Tue., July 2, I thought I’d ask Lee and illustrator Chris Hsu to join me for a brief chat about the book – and pretending! So let’s have some fun with this…

First, who did young Lee Hopkins and Chris Hsu pretend to be when they were little boys?

Lee Bennett Hopkins

LEE:  I suppose I always pretended to be someone who would be something rather than a young boy living in the projects in Newark, New Jersey, trapped within the confines of a poor dysfunctional family. The pretending always seemed to be toward the arts. I lost myself in movies, mainly musicals, found theatre at age of thirteen and soaked in as much as I could. I began reading plays, one after another.
CHRIS:  Probably Mario! The original Nintendo had just come out and it was natural to want to jump around, off of, and over things like he did in the game.

How did ‘pretending’ and playtime help influence/develop the person you are today?

LEE:  Obviously, and I had not thought about this before, music, theatre are all rich in language and poetry. It had to have had an influence on my life. I think as grown-ups, we miss out on the opportunity to step ‘outside of ourselves,’ so to speak, and pretend to be someone else – other than at Halloween.
CHRIS:  I believe it develops and stretches the imagination, which in turn translates into creativity and abstract thinking as an adult.

If you could be someone else, who would you be?

2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame, L-R: Don Felder, Billy Dean, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Jim Stafford .

LEE:  I like myself. I always have. This is not to be pretentious, but I have led a wondrous life. I have always been independent, knowing what I want and how to get it. Were I to be someone else? Perhaps a playwright such as Tennessee Williams, a poet like Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman or Langston Hughes — men who wrote about the gut of life. Among the greatest thrills was being inducted into the 2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame – on the roster with the 1989 recipient, Tennessee Williams! Of course, I’d love to be Barbra Streisand, one of the greatest talents in the world.
CHRIS:  I’d want to be an explorer in the age of exploration, maybe landing on an island no one had ever set foot on, with the role of documenting the wildlife and land to bring back home. What an adventure that would be!

Indeed, Lee, your life has been one amazing accomplishment after another! Let’s talk about the book now…was there any particular character you wish could have been included, but wasn’t? Why?

LEE:  The characters I chose for I Am Someone Else were well thought out. In the section on story book characters, for example, rather than a giant, I thought of a giant’s wife who is ‘in a total quandary /each time (she tries) to do the laundry!” People who help others, like the firefighter who risks his/her life every day. The makers – those creative beings who make our lives richer, a dancing child whose “Music makes my body move!” or the poet “to show / what a poem / what a poet / can do. / To show you — YOU!”
CHRIS: At the beginning, the kids file into a classroom, so the assumption is there’s a teacher present.  Ultimately, though, I chose not to illustrate any adult and keep the focus on the kids, much like how in the old Muppet Babies cartoon it was always told through the eyes of the Muppets, and the one adult present (Nanny) was there but remained anonymous if ever seen at all.  I felt this made the kids seem more independent.

Self-Aggrandizement Warning: my spread!

Were you surprised by anything during the process of making the book – perspectives of the writers, perhaps, or an unforeseen problem, or revelation?

LEE:  A wondrous revelation came when I was beginning the idea. I was discussing it with my dear friend, Lois Lowry, at a luncheon at her summer condo in Naples, and I batted around some ideas. Lois jumped at the chance to write “Big Problems,” a poem about a giant’s wife. Being one of the most distinguished writers of our times, even winning two Newbery Awards, did not mean she might come through writing a poem for young children. What the heck. Let her try. She did. She DID! Now she is on a roll with future poems to appear in my collections.

I also try very hard to bring new voices to a collection. Janet Clare Fagal has been ‘after me’ for eons. It was time for the tryout. Her “A Mermaid’s Tale” is charming. She worked draft after draft after draft until the poem was complete. It was Karen Boss, the editor, who decided the mermaid would be a young African American boy. This happened before Julian is a Mermaid (Candlewick, 2018), a wonderful book by Jessica Love,  appeared. And why not? If a young boy wants to pretend to be a mermaid, why shouldn’t a man like me not want to pretend to be Barbra Streisand?

CHRIS:  Even though the book is a string of separate poems with different tones and no story arc, Karen (Boss, editor), Martha (Sikkema, art director), and I thought to give it some sort of visual continuity so it didn’t just feel like a chain of non-related poems. We did that by casting a group of six kids, and then putting them in a common location – the classroom – where they could then take turns “acting” out the poems.  And by using six kids to act out fifteen poems, you get to see each kid starring in two or three scenarios each; and I felt that showing each kid exploring multiple roles was important to the concept of using one’s imagination.

Chris Hsu

The classroom setting also provided a continuous time frame that this all takes place, which is within the a single school day.  The unexpected roadblock of creating a mini story, however, was that once the last poem ended the whole book just ended very abruptly with no sense of a “the end.”  So to solve that, we added a final page that mirrored the first page of the book that gave a feeling of coming full circle.

Wow, it never occurred to me that the same kids were trying out multiple roles – what a great idea! So what do you two hope readers (grown-ups as well as kids) will take away from this book?

LEE: We are living in unexpectedly, confusing, almost insane times. We have to – need to – pretend. We can do this via poetry. We can wish to be someone else – for awhile – and make believe, masquerade. We need to get away from reality now and then, yet we must all realize, in the long run, there is nothing better than being yourself. Maybe, perhaps, pretend can lead to reality. Anything is possible with perseverance, stamina, dreams.
CHRIS:  My goal is to make books that both kids and adults can take something from. For kids who experience the book, I hope they leave with the idea that as long as they can imagine it they can act it out – even using props they likely have sitting around already and even if it’s a role not stereotypically suited for them. And it’s not limited to just one role; they can act out as many roles or characters and emotions they can think of.

For adults or parents who read the book, I hope they take away the reminder that kids’ minds are constantly in play, and that play develops into growth. As adults, we can always do our part to encourage that exploration of their imagination – whether it be engaging with them while they’re in “character,” making suggestions, or even helping them collect costumes and props.

I’m so thrilled to be a part of this book with you…I’m gad we were able to chat! By the way, what projects do you have coming up soon?

LEE:  I Remember: Poems of Pride and Prejudice (Lee & Low), will be released September 10th, a book that has been in production for four years. Fifteen of America’s top poets of varied ethnicity reveal heartfelt memories of childhood. Each poet defines what poetry means to them; each artist comments on their craft. An added bonus is an album of photographs of poets and illustrators as child and adult. Sixteen full-color paintings were created to match ethnicity of the poets, including cover art by Sean Qualls.

A favorite book of mine, Manger (Eerdmans), will be released in August in a high-quality paperbound edition, illustrated by Helen Cann. Starred in Kirkus as a book “worth savoring during the Christmas season.”
CHRIS:  The new season of ‘Archer’ just premiered a few weeks ago!  I’m a background artist on the show so check it out, it’s a funny season this year inspired by ’70s and ’80s space sci-fi movies.  Other than that, I’m always on the lookout for my next book gig, and I hope it’s a good one!

Chris, you’re an artist for ‘Archer’?? Very cool! I’ll definitely have to pay more attention to the scenery! Thank you both again for your time, and congratulations on this wonderful book we’re part of.

LEE:  Thank you, Matt, for your most interesting questions!
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TWO NEW BOOKS!

Coming soon, July 2, 2019: …………………Just released June 23, 2019:

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, please visit my friend Buffy Silverman’s blog, where you can find the complete roundup!

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

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!

On Dream-Chasing and Mistake-Making: Nuggets of Wisdom from #NESCBWI19

Image may contain: text

Well, another New England SCBWI Regional Conference has wrapped up, and once again, I’ve brought home impressive amounts of inspiration, enlightenment, and sleep deprivation. Remember when you used to pull all-nighters in college, and now you look back on those days wondering how you ever managed? That’s almost what a conference weekend is like; up at 7am, in bed at 1am, repeat.

In the past, I’ve shared the importance of casting wide nets, what it means to “swallow your heart,” and paying attention to the cost of scallops. This year’s conference was no less inspiring! So here, in no particular order, are a few of the highlights:

  1. Losing one of one’s senses heightens the others. We’ve all heard this, but author Patricia MacLaughlin shared her personal struggle with macular degeneration, which has caused her eyesight to deteriorate to the point where she is now nearly blind. In her estimation, blindness has made her a better writer because, in her words, “I see my childhood better now.
  2. “Value the process, not the product.” – Jane Yolen
  3. Characters are defined by their mistakes. Or, more specifically, says
    Yours Truly with Sudipta. I’m the one on the left.

    author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, they are defined by the kinds of mistakes they make. Just like us humans, we make foolish mistakes, rash decisions, and well-thought out plans that go awry. It’s important to think about this when developing your own characters.

  4. “Sometimes we chase the dream and sometimes the dream chases us.” Keynote speaker Ekua Holmes
  5. First drafts are supposed to be terrible. And often are! Saturday morning’s keynote speaker was novelist Lynda Mullaly Hunt, who spoke about honesty in one’s writing and how it doesn’t always come easy – and sometimes drastic measures are necessary to set things aright. She said that she had just completed the final version of her new novel, Shouting at the Rain when she realized she didn’t like it. What did she do? She deleted the entire manuscript, a mere two weeks before it was due! She said she needed to rewrite the entire thing, which she did – because although the deleted version was fine, “who wants a ‘fine’ book?” she said. The new, completely revamped version was what ended up getting published.
  6. “We are not made by our mistakes. We are made by what we do about them” – Lynda Mullaly Hunt (There are those darned mistakes again!)
  7. Seeing my books scroll along on the big screen never gets old. Next year: FOUR books on the ol’ PowerPoint!
  8. Strong picture book manuscripts have specific qualities that editors look for. This goes without saying, of course, but agent Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency shared a few of the things she looks for in a picture book manuscript: unique voice, fresh story/approach, solid theme, strong marketability, and emotional resonance. I’m definitely keeping these things in mind as I move forward with my projects!
  9. From L: Alex Hinrichs, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, me, Miranda Levin

    “Childhood is the pattern from which the man and woman is built.” – Ekua Holmes

  10. Discussing the virtues of rhyming text with an editor is an enlightening experience. I had the opportunity to discuss rhyme with Ripple Grove Press editor Rob Broder, who goes to great lengths on the company’s website to dissuade people from writing bad rhyming text. He sees so much bad rhyme, he tends to stay away from all rhyme completely, and of course, I – as someone who writes primarily in rhyme and sees tons of bad rhymes – couldn’t fault him.
  11. “The things we are ashamed of make for very good writing” – Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  12. There were no Muffins of Deception this year. I know not everyone places as much weight on something like this as I do, but it was a nice change of pace, nonetheless. You see, every year during the continental breakfasts, there are always a few dark muffins waiting patiently for some poor, unsuspecting soul to grab them, thinking they are chocolate; it is only once that individual sits down at their table in the ballroom and takes a bite that they realize these are not delicious chocolate but are, in fact, evil bran. This year, we experienced the freedom that comes from not worrying about such a horrible surprise.
  13. “Making books is a joyful thing. Even the hard parts. Even then.” —Jane Yolen

If I was to share every little piece of wisdom gleaned from this year’s conference, it would take me a week to get this blog post put together, so I’ll wrap it up with my friend Jane’s quote. Making books is, indeed, joyful – the hard parts, and all the parts.

Thank you for following my journey, and get ready for some big announcements in the months ahead!

From L: Poppy Parfomak, me, Colleen Murphy, Maria Marshall, Vivian Kirkfield
From Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s keynote address.

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

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: 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.

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

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: 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!

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

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!

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

“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?)

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

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