The strange, surreal, and oddly exhilarating feeling of holding one’s own book

I just spent this past weekend in Springfield, MA, at the 2017 NESCBWI conference, chatting with fellow children’s writers and illustrators, learning from others in the business, and even getting to have a spur-of-the-moment dinner with former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt, who happened to be in the area, Friday night.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I finally got back home after three exhaustively long days, and found this in my mailbox!

(click to enlarge)

I knew the poem was going to be published this spring, but had no idea which issue until I heard from a couple of friends they’d seen it last week…so I was thrilled to receive a couple of contributor copies so quickly!

And as happy as I was about that…it didn’t take long for my friends at Highlights to make me even happier

I opened up a second, much larger and heavier, envelope, and discovered THIS inside:

(click to enlarge)

That’s right, my first copy of my first book – from Highlights’ book publishing division, Boyd’s Mills Press!

I had shared the F&Gs (folded & gathered pages) last week, but it was an entirely new experience actually holding the complete book in my hands and flipping through the bound pages.

(click to enlarge)

I am so honored by the work that illustrator Fred Koehler and the book designers at Boyd’s Mills Press have done…and so grateful to my editor, Rebecca Davis, for her support of my manuscript and the entire project!

Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 5, 2017!

Pre-orders are available now by clicking the image of the cover to the right, or if you prefer, you can wait til Sept. 5 and purchase it at your favorite local bookstore!

(Someone pinch me…)

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You still have a few days left to enter my month-long writing challenge, “Poetry…Cubed!” which is based on the premise of the TV show “Chopped!” on The Food Network. 

  • Use the 3 images below as inspiration to write a poem – any form, any genre, any number of lines, rhyming or not. Remember, it doesn’t have to be very good- the mantra around here is to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! This is all about having fun and spurring creativity.
  • The only hitch is that you need to include a reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract.
  • PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030Then email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here on Fri., April 28. Out of all the poems submitted, one lucky writer will be chosen at random to receive a copy of the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015).

Ready? Here are your three images (click on any to enlarge):

                 

(All images courtesy of Katherine Esenwine

There are only a few days left, so send your poem in to Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com by Thur., April 27!

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ALSO: Irene Latham‘s annual Progressive Poem continues! Each day throughout April a different person adds a line until we have a complete, 30-poet poem on April 30!

I’ll be adding mine in a couple of days, but you can follow along now and watch the progress; here’s the schedule:

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

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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!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Poetry Friday: “Flashlight Night” advance peek!

What better month to showcase my debut picture book than National Poetry
Month?? Even though it’s not a book of poetry, it is still a very “poetically-written” sort of book, and I’m so thrilled to have received something we call f&g’s (folded and gathered) in the mail yesterday.

These are like advance review copies, although they are loose pages and not bound. But they are a great way to see the finished product before final production gets underway…and I’m stunned at how beautiful it’s looking!

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Are you ready??

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Be sure to click the image to enlarge…

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…and believe me, you’re going to want to enlarge…!

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Hasn’t illustrator Fred Koehler done an amazing job? I also have to give credit to the book designers at Boyds Mills Press for creating a partial glossy cover – most of the cover is a matte finish, but the flashlight beam is glossy, which really makes the cover stand out. I couldn’t be more proud!

Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 5, 2017!

Pre-orders are available now by clicking the image of the cover to the right, or if you prefer, you can wait til Sept. 5 and purchase it at your favorite local bookstore.

(Good grief, this is all really happening…)

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As for today’s poem, I have two! These are entries in this little month-long writing challenge I call “Poetry…Cubed!” which is based on the premise of the TV show “Chopped!” on The Food Network. 

  • Use the 3 images below as inspiration to write a poem – any form, any genre, any number of lines, rhyming or not. Remember, it doesn’t have to be very good- the mantra around here is to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! This is all about having fun and spurring creativity.
  • The only hitch is that you need to include a reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract.
  • PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030Then email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here on Fri., April 28. Out of all the poems submitted, one lucky writer will be chosen at random to receive a copy of the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015).

Ready? Here are your three images (click on any to enlarge):

                 

(All images courtesy of Katherine Esenwine

The first poem I’m sharing today is by Linda Baie:

Discovery

Sit. Look long into that bloom.
Place its picture show in your mind,
the first love story.

– © 2017 Linda Baie, all rights reserved

I told Linda the term “picture show” is very evocative, in terms of connecting the photos, and I thought she did a great job with such sparse text.  The second poem is by a writer who wished to remain anonymous – so I was happy to honor his wishes, as long as I could share his poem:

Iris

lens focused,
you opened to
picture-perfect
color, clarity
of vision;
one world
within a single
delicate frame

– © 2017, anonymous

I love how the word “iris” ties all three pictures together (a flower, an eye, and a drive-in movie screen – which needs a camera’s iris to create a motion picture)…that never even occurred to me when I selected these photos.

You’ve still got two weeks left, so send your poem in to Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com before Thur., April 27!

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ALSO: Irene Latham‘s annual Progressive Poem continues! Each day throughout April a different person add a line – until we have a complete, 30-poet poem on April 30!

I won’t be adding my 2 cents worth until later in the month, but it’s fun to follow along and watch the progress; here’s the schedule:

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

poetryfridaybutton-fulllIf you’re still looking for more poetry, Doraine Bennett is hosting Poetry Friday today at Dori Reads, so head on over for the complete poetic roundup!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

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

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

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

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

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

Picky Eater

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

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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

Fair is Fair
(a lesson in Fair Trade)

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

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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

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

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

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Flashlight Night” cover reveal!!

Flashlight…opens up the night.

Leads you past old post and rail
along a long-forgotten trail
into woods no others dare,
for fear of what is waiting there…

So begins Flashlight Night, my debut picture book illustrated by the incredibly talented Fred Koehler and published by Boyd’s Mills Press. Today is an exciting day for me…I not only get to reveal the cover, but I also get to share the RELEASE DATE!

Flashlight Night is an unusual bedtime story about three children who discover unexpected adventure with just a flashlight and their imagination. And while most folks may not think of a picture book as being typical “Poetry Friday” material, I wrote this manuscript very ‘poetically,’ so to speak.

I began writing it as a poem on my way home from a gathering of local SCBWI members in the summer of 2012 – not really knowing where it was going or what it would become – and by the time I got to my computer, I had most of the first and 2nd stanzas completed. The next day, I worked on it some more, still trying to flesh out the middle…and by the end of the week the first draft was completed!

I will always remember getting that phone call from my editor at Boyd’s Mills Press, Rebecca Davis, the following January, telling me she and the editorial staff loved it and wanted to buy it. And I’m so grateful for Rebecca’s guidance and support!

So without any further ado…I present to you, “Flashlight Night”:

(click to enlarge!)

Fred Koehler did an amazing job with the illustrations, creating a second, underlying narrative to my text…and was so taken with the story when it was first presented to him, decided this would be his first-ever picture book illustrated using traditional media (pencil, pen and ink).

So Fred drew everything freehand, inked it in, then scanned the pictures into his computer for colorization. And he even took a 2-week trip to the UK last year to study architecture and historical artifacts to prepare for the project. (I told him I apparently did this all wrong – I should never have written the story first. I need to take a vacation, THEN write a story, so I can write it off my taxes!)

Flashlight Night hits bookstores Sept 5, but is available to pre-order on Amazon already! Of course, if you would prefer to wait until it arrives at your local bookstore, that’s great, too!

And remember, since it’s Friday, there’s all kinds of cool poetry out there in the blogosphere…be sure to stop by Life on the Deckle Edge, where Robyn Hood Black is hosting Poetry Friday!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Look at what’s in paperback!

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

ng-nature-paperback

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

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

© 2015 National Geographic Society, Charles Ghigna, and Matt Forrest Esenwine; all rights reserved.
The original hardcover is still available everywhere, of course, so be sure to pick up a copy if you haven’t yet! Also be sure to stop by Carol Varsalona’s Beyond LiteracyLink, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!
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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “OMTB” Blog Tour AND a father-daughter collaboration!

omtb-blog-tour-graphicBy now, you’ve probably heard about Kenn Nesbitt’s new children’s poetry anthology, One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown for Young Readers). It has received numerous positive reviews like THIS ONE and THIS ONE and THIS ONE and was also selected by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best children’s books of 2016!

I’m very proud to be one of more than 130 poets included in the book, and today, many of the contributors are taking part in a blog tour! (That’s why, in case you’re wondering, I’m sharing my Poetry Friday post a day early!)

But this blog tour is a little different; rather than sharing the poem(s) we have included in the book, we are sharing poems that were submitted, but not selected! You see, when Kenn asked us to send him our poems, we had no idea which ones he’d chooses and which ones he’d pass on…so it seemed like a waste not to give those poems that didn’t make the cut their own opportunity to shine.

Back on Nov. 4, I shared one of my poems that didn’t make it – and today I have another. This one is a lullaby of sorts that I wrote back in the mid-’90’s, before I was even making an effort to become published, but which I have sung for each of my 4 kids, right before bed. The rhyming isn’t perfect, but they all love it – so to me, it’s perfect the way it is.

Little Lullaby

Time to go to sleep,
time to go to sleep.
No more time to play,
no more time to eat.

Time to let your dreams
carry you away,
so rest your weary eyes –
tomorrow’s another day.

– © 1994, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

If you’d like to check out all the other poems from all the other folks taking part in this blog tour, head on over to Jackie Hosking’s blog and you’ll find several poems and all the links to the other blog posts.

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As for Friday itself, that is the day I get to share a new poem with the readers of Penny Parker Klostermann’s blog, as part of her ongoing series, “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” – an opportunity for two family members to collaborate on a picture and an accompanying poem.

I’ve already had the pleasure of writing poems based on drawings by my two youngest children, and now I get to share a poem I wrote based on something by one of their two older sisters!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI hope you’ll take a trip over to Penny’s blog to see it…and be sure to also visit Bridget Magee’s Wee Words for Wee Ones for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: a poem you’ll never read in “One Minute Till Bedtime”

One Minute coverKenn Nesbitt’s new children’s poetry anthology, One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown for Young Readers), is officially out, and I am so excited to be part of such a beautiful, well-received book! (I’ll be signing copies at Books-A-Million in Concord, New Hampshire, tomorrow from 1-3pm, so please stop by if you’re in the area!)

Now, I’ve already told you about the book in previous posts, but today I wanted to share a poem that’s NOT in the book…huh??

You see, when Kenn asked me to contribute a 60-second(ish)-long poem for the book, I had a couple of options: I could write a brand-new poem or two – or send in a couple of poems I had already written but never published. So I did both!

The poem that was selected for inclusion, “A Visit to the Forest,” I had written a few years ago, but never knew what to do with…so I was very happy to learn it was going to find a home within the pages of One Minute Till Bedtime.

However, I also wrote a poem about books and bedtime specifically for the book – which was not selected. So…what to do? I figured I’d share it here, so that you can at least read it while we’re all celebrating the release of the book that it never made it into! Hope you like it…

One More Book

One more book
……….is all I want.
Can you read me one more book?

It won’t take long,
……….I promise.
Please?
I’ll find a short one…
……….let me look!

I don’t want
……….a glass of water.
I don’t need
……….to try to pee.

I won’t be loud
……….or clown around
if you’ll read one more book to me.

I know I need to go to sleep.
I know you’re tired.

……….I am, too.

But one more book is all I’m asking.
Is that something we can do?

You’ve only read
……….nine books so far
and see how little time it took?

So can you read –
please, oh please –

can you read me

……….one
………………..more
…………………………book?
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© 2016, Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

For more poetry, please head on over to Laura Purdie Salas’ blog, Writing the World for Kids, where she is hosting today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!