Poetry Friday: “Epitaph for a Mayfly,” a new poetry cover reveal, and a BOOK WINNER!

My friend and fellow writer/blogger Michelle H. Barnes has once again been hosting her Ditty of the Month Challenge, where she encourages readers to contribute poems prompted by her various blog guests. This month, she’s featuring J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, whose brand-new book Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs (Charlesbridge) is both hilarious and often surprisingly touching.

Jane and Pat suggested that Michelle’s followers write “epitaph” poems of their own – that is, words that one might expect to see on a tombstone. Michelle just posted mine the other day on her blog, so in case you missed it, here it is:

Click here to purchase a copy of Michelle’s latest anthology, personally signed by a guy named Matt.

Epitaph for a Mayfly

Was born for flight (and reproduction),
set off for a swarm seduction.
Lost his mate; could not locate her.
Sadly, died a few hours later.

– © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Indeed, those short, one-day lifespans are a real bummer.

What’s NOT a bummer? End-of-year lists!

I was thrilled last month when I learned that Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017) had been selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 100 Best Books for Kids of 2017…and now it’s a children’s book NYPL Staff Pick!

I cannot believe that a book of mine is included with books from authors like Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes, Mac Barnett, and others. My thanks to illustrator extraordinaire Fred Koehler, editor Rebecca Davis, and the entire crew at Boyds Mills Press for their hard work and support! This has always been a group effort from the very start, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. The fact that my very first picture book was published by the “Highlights” magazine family will always be special to me.

(Side Note: Remember, each of my books – including the ones I’ve contributed poems to – can be ordered and personally signed via my hometown independent bookstore! Click here to see all the books available. Can’t do that with those online retailers!)

In other poetry news…

We have yet another cover to another poetry anthology!

I’m excited about this book not only because I have a poem included, but because – unlike National Geographic’s previous poetry anthologies – was designed as an “all-ages” book. The first two, The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry (2012) and The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (2015), were geared more for school-age children, while this new book contains poems that will be appreciated by grown-ups as well!

Edited by former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, this book is a veritable Who’s Who of classic and contemporary poets, featuring poems and photos of people and places of the United States of America: the bustling cities, the out-of-the-way towns, the people, the monuments, the substance of what we call Americana.

My poem, for example, is a blank verse sonnet about the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel, and Tower – one of Las Vegas’ famous (and highest) landmarks. And I can’t wait til it comes out!

I also can’t wait to announce our winner of a copy of “School People!” 

If you visited my blog last Friday, you had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about Lee Bennett Hopkins and how he creates his anthologies…and you also had multiple chances to win a copy of his newest book, School People (Wordsong)! This book includes 15 poems about the grown-ups that children meet at school, like the Teacher, the Lunch Lady, the Librarian, the Custodian…and the “Bus Driver,” written by Yours Truly.

And the winner is…

Robert Schechter!

Congratulations, Bob – and thank you for your support of what I’ve been doing these past several years. Thank you also to everyone who commented and shared last Friday’s post…I had more entries than any other contest I’ve done here!

There’s more poetry ahead, folks – for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over to Liz Steinglass‘ little home on the web and check out all the links and fun!

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

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR hits bookshelves April 17!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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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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“Flashlight Night” Book Birthday!

It’s official: Flashlight Night is finally here – on National Talk Like a Pirate Day, no less!

I’ve had lots of adult and children’s poems published in anthologies, journals, and such…but this is my first full-length picture book, and I’m so thrilled and humbled by all the coverage and positive reviews it’s been receiving.

I am doubly pleased that so many folks – reviewers, average readers, and even illustrator Fred Koehler himself – have referred to my text as a “poem.” Because even though it’s a picture book (and I wrote it to be a picture book), I have always considered it poetry.

The “Flashlight Night” blog tour is underway:

Starting with Jama Kim Rattigan this past Friday and continuing through next Tues., various kidlit blogs have joined together to celebrate the arrival of my little baby. Today, Penny Parker Klostermann is featuring a guest blog by Yours Truly in which I talk about how the book came to be, as well as some of the things I deliberately did which I was afraid might hinder my chances of getting published.

Here is a list of blogs where you can learn more about the book, the inspiration behind it, and the guy who wrote it – and a special TV interview with the illustrator (details below!):

Friday 9/15                  Jama’s Alphabet Soup
Monday 9/18               KitLit Exchange/The Loud Library Lady
Tuesday 9/19               Penny Klostermann Book Blog
Wednesday 9/20        Unleashing Readers
Thursday 9/21             KidLit Frenzy
Friday 9/22                  Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Monday 9/25               Librarian in Cute Shoes
Tuesday 9/26               Nerdy Book Club

Illustrator Fred Koehler makes his KidLit TV debut:

A few weeks ago,the folks at KidLit TV interviewed Fred about his work on Flashlight Night (as well as his amazing talent in general), and today they’re sharing it on their website!

In the video, Fred talks about playing with flashlights in the woods as a child (much as I did!), his 3-week excursion to the U.K. to take photos and sketches of tall ships, architecture, and Durdle Door. (What’s Durdle Door, you ask? Do a quick Google search, and if you’ve read the book, you’ll immediately see the connection!)

Click to enlarge Fred’s version of Durdle Door!

…and the Goodreads Giveaway has begun!

My publisher, Boyds Mills Press, has teamed up with Goodreads to give away TWENTY COPIES of Flashlight Night! The contest started at midnight last night and will wrap up at 11:59pm PT next Tue., Sept. 26. So head on over and enter…and good luck!

Book signings/readings/appearances:

I will be visiting a number of bookstores in the New Hampshire area, and while some dates have been confirmed, others have not. Here’s the list, so far:

Sept. 23, 6:30pm:  Innisfree Bookshop, Meredith, NH
Sept. 30, 4pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH
Oct. 11, 6pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH
Oct. 14, 2pm:  Books-A-Million, Concord, NH
Oct. 27, 6pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH

I’ll be sure to let you know when and where I’ll be as soon as I know where I’ll be!

Oh, and I had the pleasure of stopping by a local radio station this morning and chatting with the hosts about the book. If you’d care to listen to our on-air interview, you can check it out here:

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Thank you so much to all who have enjoyed the book enough to write about it!

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews

“Imaginative…fantastical” – Booklist

“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“Illuminates the power of imagination” – Kellee Moye, Unleashing Readers

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Beautiful words and amazing illustrations” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

Thank you, as always, for your support…if you decide to pick up a copy, I hope you and your kids enjoy it as much as Fred and I – along with editor Rebecca Davis, of course – have enjoyed creating it!

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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: Flashlights and Dinosaurs and Roundups – oh, my!

Where to begin, where to begin, where to begin…it’s such a crazy, busy week, and there’s so much to talk about!

I have big news about my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, Sept. 19, 2017) – actually, THREE different news items – plus, news about my second book, due out this spring.

But first, let me welcome you to the Poetry Friday roundup! This is the place where you can find links to all of the poetry-related posts in the blogosphere. So leave your links in the comments below, and I’ll put them together in this post throughout the day.

“Flashlight Night” News #1:  National Book Launch!

Last night, Carol Gordon Ekster, whose new picture book is You Know What? (Clavis, 2017), and I hosted a dual book launch at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass. What a success!

Clockwise from top: our books; Carol starting things off; some guy who vaguely looks like me having a grand time (Photo credit, Josh Funk)

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Loved the size of the crowd!
Oh, and did I mention there was food? Yes, I should have mentioned that…

 

“Flashlight Night” News #2:  One of the Best Picture Books of 2017!

Last Friday, the folks at The Children’s Book Review announced their list of what they feel are the best children’s books of the year…and Flashlight Night made the cut!

I’m so excited about this, not only because I wrote it, but because it was such a beautiful example of teamwork – between me, illustrator Fred Koehler (who came up with the concept of reality being in darkness and fantasy being illuminated by the flashlight), and my editor, Rebecca Davis, who steered the project from start to finish.

And just in case you missed that link, here it is again, so you can read the complete list – which includes books from friends and fellow writers like David Elliott, Josh, Funk, Patricia Toht, and many others.

“Flashlight Night” News #3:  On sale at Amazon!

I always like to books locally, whenever possible, because doing so helps support the businesses closest to us. But if you really want to pick up a copy and are having a  tough time with your finances, I am please to tell you that Amazon has it for almost five dollars less than the standard price: just $12.11!

Second book news: COVER REVEAL!

In the midst of all this Flashlight news, I learned something about Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, March 2018), the book I co-authored with author & critique partner Deb Bruss…we have a release date and a cover!

(click to enlarge)

 

Wait til you see what’s inside! Illustrator Louis Chin is having fun depicting 14 different dinosaur species and the utter havoc they wreak while getting ready for a birthday party.

With big, bold colors, crazy situations, and a 2-page glossary at the end detailing the unique attributes of each dinosaur, this book is completely unlike Flashlight – so I’m eager to see what people think of it! It’s already for pre-order, so CLICK HERE for details.

Local release party this weekend!

Just a reminder: if you’re in the area, please stop by MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH this Sunday for the local release party, starting at 2pm. More info can be found HERE.

So thank you for stopping by today! Leave your Poetry Friday links in the comments, and I’ll round them up…

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“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Imaginative…fantastical” – ALA Booklist

“An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“Beautiful words and amazing illustrations” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 19, 2017! Pre-orders are available now through Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Books-a-Million, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 19 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

Thank you for your support!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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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: Celebrating my 401st post with a Kirkus STAR!

This past Tuesday, I told you I had learned my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press), was going to receive a starred review from Kirkus…well, today, I can share the entire review with you!

I had no idea when their review was going to be published – and as it turned out, it was published later the same day! I am so honored, humbled, and thrilled that Kirkus loves the “delectable language” of the text and the “ingenious metamorphoses” created by illustrator Fred Koehler.

You can read the entire review HERE!

As someone who primarily writes children’s poetry, I am especially excited about this because I wrote the manuscript as a poem first, and as a manuscript second. I used poetic devices like alliteration and internal rhyme, I specifically left out many of the details of the story in order to allow ones imagination to take over, and – as Kirkus points out – the subject of the story is not a child or animal.

It’s the flashlight!

I had more than a few critiques question if I realized the main character was an inanimate object – and I said yes, I knew. I did that deliberately, as a matter of fact. Of course, straying from the standard rules of picture book writing, I had no idea if what I wrote was going to ‘click’ with anyone; leave it to the brilliant Rebecca Davis, my extremely supportive editor at Boyd’s Mills Press, to fall in love with it in early 2015 and make an offer to purchase it.

Flashlight Night hits bookshelves Sept. 5, 2017, and pre-orders are available now through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 5 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

Boyd’s Mills Press’ exhibit today at Book Expo America. If you look closely, you can almost see the cover of my book.

Two separate book launches are also already planned! If you happen to be in the Boston area Thur. night, Sept. 7, I hope you’ll join us for the book launch party at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA. If you are in New Hampshire, I invite you to the book launch party the following Sun., Sept. 10, at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH starting at 2pm. More details about both of these events will be forthcoming as we get closer to the date.

The Poetry Friday roundup can be found at Buffy Silverman’s Blog, so be sure to check out all of today’s poetry links. Oh, and I’m looking forward to discovering this blog’s 500th follower – we’re at 485 right now – so please tell your friends about my little home on the web! (And there might be a PRIZE involved, hint, hint!)

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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!

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!
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: “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)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!