Parenting: an educational experience like none other

As a writer for children, I am fortunate to be blessed with a non-stop whirlwind of inspiration every day thanks to my two youngest kids.

My two older girls are 23 and 20 and off doing their own thing these days, so taking care of my 6-year-old son and his 2-year-old sister allows me to not only revisit some of the joy, pain, and utter ridiculousness that I enjoyed with the older ones, but to be able to view their development – and mine! – with a fresh perspective.

It’s like watching the video of your wedding and discovering all sorts of things you never realized happened, because you were in the eye of the storm the whole time, and everything was swirling about you. Only when you get a chance to relive it are you able to truly appreciate the event.

That being said, I thought I’d share a few nuggets of wisdom my kids and I have learned over the past few years. Some of these have already spawned poems or picture book ideas; others most likely will, at some point!
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What the kids have learned:

  • If you walk backward without watching where you are going long enough, tragedy is inevitable.
  • A penis is not an appropriate body part when singing the Hokey-Pokey.
  • The punishment for lying is always worse than the punishment for whatever it was you lied about.
  • The cat is not a bean bag, and does not appreciate being part of any game that involves tossing.
  • In addition to creating pretty pictures, magic markers can also be used to paint your nails. And your lips. And pretty much any exposed surface.
  • One must never like the same meal two days in a row. If I loved pizza yesterday, I must despise it today. If we have mac ‘n cheese tonight, I must throw it on the floor tomorrow.

What I have learned:

  • A little girl wearing a Queen Elsa dress with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell on her back is a beautiful thing.
  • Unconsciousness can do wonders.  No matter how loud, rude, impolite, destructive, unruly, or otherwise improper your little hellion was during the day, as soon as he falls asleep…your sweet, angelic Gift from God returns.
  • I may not like loud, banshee-like screaming, but when it’s happy banshee-like screaming…it’s music to my ears.
  • Reading 8 books before bedtime is not as exhausting as reading the same book 8 times in a row. Or is the other way around? Dang, I can’t remember.
  • When your 2-year-old daughter runs through the house shouting, “I laugh in the face of danger!” followed by a psychotic laugh…be prepared for anything.
  • Two-year-olds have only two speeds: asleep and lightning.
  • When feeding a toddler who dumps half her food on the floor, the family dog is an invaluable resource.

Ah, parenting. I have to admit, being a stay-at-home dad has its advantages when it comes to writing! These two are a never-ending source of stress frustration insomnia joy and happiness!

And as I’ve told many folks, I probably wouldn’t be writing for kids right now if it wasn’t for these two young ones. I get to watch them grow, be inspired by them, and then write about it.

What a career!

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Poetry Friday: “Poetry…Cubed!” wraps up!

Poetry Cubed logo

Today’s the day!

Earlier this month, I challenged readers to come up with a poem utilizing imagery from these three pictures:

 IMG_0637 

It’s a little contest I call “Poetry…Cubed!”and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, how good you are – or how good a job you do writing the poem – is less important than your willingness to tackle the challenge. (Remember what I’ve said before: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!)

So now that November is over, I can share all of the poems that have been submitted:
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The Visit
I won’t be alone
Tonight in my small cabin.
I’ll have company.
I’ll light a warm fire
and decorate with branches
for my puppet guest.
People think I’m odd.
But folks are disappointing.
Toys are constant friends.
– Deborah Holt Williams
.
.
A Seasonal Game

Autumn offers sweet solace
as Summer fades away
lulling us into complacency
while Winter lurks on our doorstep
Like syrup coating a bitter pill
it distracts us in early days
with brilliant splashes of color,
maple leaves and bittersweet,
the pulsing heat of a wood stove,
and camaraderie in the stands
where frosty cries fog the frigid air
as fans cheer the flying pigskin
Autumnal beauty hovers,
a neutral zone before
the full blitz of Winter’s winds,
But inexorably Winter slips in
and picks off those vibrant leaves
one by one
In its unrelenting offensive march
it drives forward and blasts us
into our homes to await
the tender shoots of Spring.

– Molly Hogan

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Thanksgiving Day

Applauds
fumbles
Hike
pass
Last second
Five o’clock dinner-plate
Cranberries in a boil
Turkeys blazing in
Grandmas’ oven
Yesterday grandpa
Chops firewood
Tonight we bless
Those we love
Happy Thanksgiving

– Jessica Bigi
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cbhanek cubed poem

– cbhanek

.
Under Wraps
How bitter it feels to be sweet when you’re not
When you lose what you love
And pretend you don’t care
When all’s gone that you’ve sought
The voice in your head says
Keep cool! Soldier on!
Hold still that façade
Soon the pain will be gone
So while you burn at your core
You keep a stiff lip
You’ve learned well how to hide it
That heart that’s too tender
The one that is falling
The one that you’re holding
So fast in your grip
.
– Leslie Lotz-Skimmings

.

West Virginia

Misty ghosts of
Blue-gray uniforms
Crowing mountains
Berry-leaved branches
Razing towards glory
Somehow not
As gram remember
Though still in
Her mountain beauty
The cools that warmed our stove
Grew snapdragons’ feet
Distrustful it is
Victory – victory
Streets a blaze
Grams remembering
The heroes that battled here and
The beauty of her mountain home
Lights a candle and prays

– Jessica Bigi
.

November Haiku

Autumn dances
in gusts of red, gold stars;
bittersweet flames

– Anonymous


Sweet Revenge

The stove burns brightly.
I’ve tricked them again,
fed bittersweet berries
and now they have lain
aside all their worries,
asleep as I sought.
Dear Hansel and Gretel –
now time for the pot.
Oh no! He’s awakened.
My plan to be slick
is failing, I’m falling
into my own trick.

– © Linda Baie 2015, All Rights Reserved

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November

Autumn, in a bittersweet mood, once more
makes a puppet of me, puts me right here
next to the wood stove, makes me say
“I don’t know if the fire will catch,”
makes me turn and watch as the fire catches,
makes me turn back and clap my hands,
makes me say “Time for tea,” makes me dance
a little let’s-have-tea-by-the-fire two-step
just like last year and the year before.
I’m nothing in November if not predictable,
but it’s out if my hands, firmly in his:
Autumn, the puppeteer who paints the scenery,
pulls all my strings, knows all my lines,
and me, his well-loved marionette, his little toy.

– Julie Larios

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Writing a Cubed Poem

Word jock
Writer’s block
Inspiration glows
Ink flows
Rhyming shoots
Cubed fruits!

– Karen Eastlund
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Barbeque
Intermission
Tackle
Touchdown
Entertainment
Rally
Shout
Wallow
Evaluate
Enounced
Teams

F
O
O
T
B
A
L
L

Hot Coals
Under Feet
Go Team Go

– Jessica Bigi
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Her, in November

Love’s seeds burst open
on the vine
as autumn plays its games;
the fire, ’tis sweet,
but once lit, none
dare try contain the flames.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

poetryfridaybutton-fulll

I love how the same three pictures can stir different thoughts, feelings, and images within different people. Thanks so much to everyone who submitted their work!

Out of all the poems entered, ONE lucky writer was chosen at random to receive his/her choice of:

And the winner is…

Leslie Lotz-Skimmings!

Congratulations, Leslie! Just send me an email letting me know which of these three prizes you would like, and I’ll get it to you! Thanks again to everyone who participated, and for even more poetry, please visit Buffy Silverman’s blog for today’s 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!
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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)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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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: “Poetry…Cubed!” wraps up its 3rd week!

Poetry Cubed logoHard to believe, but we’re at the end of the 3rd week of November already – Thanksgiving will be here next week, and the “Poetry…Cubed!” entries keep coming in!

If you’re unfamiliar with this, let me explain…

This challenge is based on The Food Network show, “Chopped,” where chefs compete against each other to create dishes using specific, surprise ingredients given to them in a special basket.

And since my contest also uses three “ingredients,” I call it “Poetry…Cubed!” Here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images below as inspiration to write a poem.
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not.
  • 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.
  • Ornaments
    (click to enlarge)

    Then email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com before Nov. 30 and I’ll share them all here throughout the month! Out of all the poems entered, ONE lucky writer will be chosen at random to receive his/her choice of:

Your three images (click to enlarge any of them):

 IMG_0637 

Think you can make some poetic deliciousness out of these? I’ll post all the poems and announce the winner on Fri., Dec. 4. Here are some more poems that have come in since last week, including one from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. (and a special thanks to Jessica Bigi, who has now submitted TWO poems for the challenge!)

West Virginia

Misty ghosts of
Blue-gray uniforms
Crowing mountains
Berry-leaved branches
Razing towards glory
Somehow not
As gram remember
Though still in
Her mountain beauty
The cools that warmed our stove
Grew snapdragons’ feet
Distrustful it is
Victory – victory
Streets a blaze
Grams remembering
The heroes that battled here and
The beauty of her mountain home
Lights a candle and prays

– Jessica Bigi
.

Sweet Revenge

The stove burns brightly.
I’ve tricked them again,
fed bittersweet berries
and now they have lain
aside all their worries,
asleep as I sought.
Dear Hansel and Gretel –
now time for the pot.
Oh no! He’s awakened.
My plan to be slick
is failing, I’m falling
into my own trick.

– © Linda Baie 2015, All Rights Reserved

.
November Haiku

Autumn dances
in gusts of red and gold
bittersweet flames

– Anonymous

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Poetry_Friday logoLooking for more poetry? You’re in luck! Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting Poetry Friday today, and has all the links ready and waiting for you!

And be sure to send your poems to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com before Nov. 30, to be eligible to win!

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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)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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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: “Poetry…Cubed!” Round 2 continues:

Poetry Cubed logo

Are you busy working on your “Poetry…Cubed!” poems? I hope so!

Last Friday, I challenged readers to come up with a poem utilizing imagery from these three pictures:

 IMG_0637 

I’ve already received a few, including the following…

Thanksgiving Day

Applauds
fumbles
Hike
pass
Last second
Five o’clock dinner-plate
Cranberries in a boil
Turkeys blazing in
Grandmas’ oven
Yesterday grandpa
Chops firewood
Tonight we bless
Those we love
Happy Thanksgiving

– Jessica Bigi

cbhanek cubed poem

– cbhanek

.
Under Wraps
How bitter it feels to be sweet when you’re not
When you lose what you love
And pretend you don’t care
When all’s gone that you’ve sought
The voice in your head says
Keep cool! Soldier on!
Hold still that façade
Soon the pain will be gone
So while you burn at your core
You keep a stiff lip
You’ve learned well how to hide it
That heart that’s too tender
The one that is falling
The one that you’re holding
So fast in your grip
– Leslie Lotz-Skimmings

poetryfridaybutton-fulllInteresting how the same pictures can stir different thoughts, feelings, and images within different people – which is why I’m eager to see what YOU come up with! Email me your poem at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com, and I’ll enter you in the contest. And remember, it’s not a matter of how good or bad it is; the important thing is that you write!

If you missed it, this past Monday’s post featured a found poem to help celebrate writer/blogger Irene Latham’s 10th blogiversary! To check out all the “WILD” poetry, log onto her blog, Live Your Poem. And for even more poetry, please visit Bridget Magee at Wee Words for Wee Ones for today’s 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!
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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)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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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: “Poetry…Cubed”, Round 2!

Poetry Cubed logoHard to believe, but National Poetry Month was half a year ago, when I introduced a little writing contest I called “Poetry…Cubed.”  So, 6 months later, I think it’s time to bring it back and have some more fun!

First, a recap, in case you don’t know how this works: On The Food Network show, “Chopped,” chefs compete against each other by trying to create the best dishes they can using specific ingredients given to them in a special basket. They have no idea what’s in those baskets until they open them on the spot.

For the first round, they might have to create appetizers using, for example, pig knuckles, lima beans, and cocoa. The dishes are critiqued by a panel of judges, the chef with the least appealing dish gets ‘chopped,’ and the three remaining chefs then move on to the entree round, which might consist of geoduck, durian, and Good ‘n Plenty.

The final two move on to desserts, and the last chef standing wins.

For the contest I’m presenting here, I’ve taken the basic premise of the TV show and removed the anxiety…I call it “Poetry…Cubed!” Here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed!”) below as inspiration to write a poem.
  • The poem can be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not.
  • 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.
  • Ornaments
    (click to enlarge)

    Then email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com before Nov. 30 and I’ll share them all here throughout the month! Out of all the poems entered, ONE lucky writer will be chosen at random to receive his/her choice of:

I’ll post all the poems and announce the winner on Fri., Dec. 4!

Keep in mind, I can only format poems to a small degree – so if possible, try to refrain from lots of unusual breaks and text placement. I’ll do my best to format your poem per your wishes, but WordPress will only allow me to do so much; blogging platforms aren’t known for being particularly poetry-friendly!

Ready? Here are your three images:

 IMG_0637 

Think you can make something delicious out of these ingredients? Feel free to click any of the images to enlarge them, and remember: your poems can use concrete references or abstract references; they’re poems, after all, so be creative!

To get things started, here’s a simple stanza I came up with:

Her, in November

Love’s seeds burst open
on the vine
as autumn plays its games;
the fire, ’tis sweet,
but once lit, none
dare try contain the flames.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI only spent 15-20 minutes on that, so I’m sure you can come up with something better! I look forward to seeing it! Keep in mind, your poem doesn’t have to be the best, it just has to have a reference to each of the three photos – the winner will be chosen at random.

And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, please visit Katya at Write. Sketch, Repeat.!

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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)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Rejection: all part of the business

I received two rejections for two different picture book manuscripts last week. And just yesterday, I received a third! Three in two weeks, a new record!

Has that ever happened to you? If so, what did you do?

Me, I deleted the messages and sent the manuscripts off to other publishers!

Oh, and I started working on a brand-new manuscript, which has been taking up a significant portion of my free time, which is why I wasn’t able to post anything last Tuesday.

Accept it and move on!

Everyone has a different way of dealing with rejections, for manuscripts, voicework, or otherwise. Some folks – usually those new to writing – take a rejection notice to heart and anguish over it, deciding right then and there that it was foolish to ever consider sending something out and they swear they’ll never do that again.

Those poor souls never get published because they quit.

On the other hand, some folks save every rejection letter they’ve ever received, and joke about plastering their living rooms or bedrooms with them once they hit it big. These folks may also never get published – but at least they’ve got the right attitude. You can’t get a deal if you’re not in the game.

Still others, like Yours Truly, discard rejection letters as soon as they show up.

Early on in my career I had considered holding onto them as a sort of badge of honour…but I quickly decided I didn’t want any kind of negative energy around! Occasionally, I’ll get a very positive rejection – an editor or agent who can’t use what I sent them, but are encouraging nonetheless – and those I’ll hang onto for reference.

But if it’s a form rejection, sorry, not interested, doesn’t fit, not quite what we’re looking for, blah blah…it’s in the circular file!

Oh, and another rejection, of sorts

My baby!I also learned from one of my voiceover clients that one of their clients (for whom I voice monthly radio commercials) wants to go in a different direction – i.e., wants to use a voice other than mine.

Again, this goes with the territory. It’s not that they didn’t like my voice, didn’t like me, didn’t like the quality of work I was doing….they just wanted something different. So I don’t wring my hands over it; I simply continue on, doing what I’ve been doing.

The term, “You win some, you lose some” was created specifically for writers and actors.

Full disclosure: I have no idea if that preceding statement is true, but it seems to make sense, so I’m sticking with it.

Honestly, I’ve been rejected by women for reasons a lot worse than “I’d like to try something different.” (Although, now that I think about it, I actually have been rejected by a number of women for that very reason…but I digress…)

But that’s the reason most of us in these businesses get rejected: the people we’re dealing with simply want something different. Not necessarily something better – although that certainly could be the case – just something differentAnd all a person in my position can do is say, “Ok, best wishes!” and then move on.

In my case, I’m moving on by wrapping up a new children’s poetry collection, starting a new picture book manuscript, and jotting down ideas for three other books I haven’t gotten to yet. I’ve also been in touch with a potential new voiceover client, so we’ll see what happens there!

What is your attitude about rejection?

How do you deal with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. We all feel differently about it and deal with it in very personal ways, so perhaps your nugget of wisdom might help someone who is struggling.

I look forward to reading your opinions! Right now, though, I have another cover letter I need to write…

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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)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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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: Constancy…and some inconsistency

Welcome to the newly waxed, buffed, and polished Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAfter 256 posts, 29,560 views and 3,953 comments over the past 3 years, I felt a little remodeling of “Triple-R” was in order. Hard to believe, but it was exactly 3 years ago in 2012 that I began this blog – something I’d wanted to do for quite awhile – and today it has grown from one follower (Jen, my wife!) to 383 followers!

Now granted, that may not seem like a huge number of people compared to some of the tremendous blogs out there, but I’m happy to see it getting close to the 500 mark…and when it does, I plan on having a little celebration! So if you know anyone who might appreciate this blog, please let them know about it.

I have a number of cool things planned for upcoming posts, including an interview with poet/author Rebecca Kai Dottlich, another edition of Poetry Cubed, and big news about my forthcoming debut picture book, Flashlight Night (2017, Boyd’s Mills Press), so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of it!

So the blog has gone through a transformation – it’s clean, contemporary, and more professional-looking. There’s the inconsistency for you. As for the constancy…well, as you may know, I share the following poem every August around this time because my wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend, and it was part of my wedding vows.
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Matt&Jen - WeddingIt was actually my very first poetry post on this blog, and only my second post ever, following my introduction. This is a traditional Elizabethan sonnet and no, it doesn’t read as a contemporary poem; it was deliberately written in a sort of old-fashioned, classic sort of style. Looking back on it, there are things I would have changed, edited, or revised – but I was under a deadline – the wedding date wasn’t going to change!

Unlike my other poems, “Constancy” will never be put through revisions.  These were the words I spoke to my wife on August 10, 2008 as part of my vows, and are as unalterable as my love and gratitude for her.

Constancy
For Jennifer

How many have, before me, tried in vain
To capture beauty, constancy, and love
Through fluent phrase, in happiness and pain,
And simile of summer, star, or dove?
Their words so eloquent, imagery lush –
In perfect imperfection testify,
For seasons change, the steadfast heavens rush
To swirl about themselves, and doves will die.
How best to show the one whom I adore
The fullness of my amorosity?
I fail to find a finer metaphor
Than that true love which you have shown to me.
The poets fail! Their thoughts do not dismiss;
‘Tis better they compare their love to this.

© 2008, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Tabatha is hosting Poetry Friday today at The Opposite of Indifference, so be sure to visit her blog for all of today’s links!

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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!