Poetry Friday: Tricube, a first attempt

If you don’t quite understand me, don’t worry – I’m not sure I totally understand myself.

You see, I’m not really a fan of new poetry forms – yet I can’t resist trying them out! Usually I’m unimpressed, but every now and then a form seems to take hold of my attention and forces me to do something.

This is one of those times.

I came across the Tricube form quite by accident – I was searching for poetry online and discovered this deceptively simple (e.g., nerve-wrackingly difficult) form created by author/poet Phillip Larrea. It’s simple in that it is based on the concept of mathematical cubes: there are 3 syllables per line, 3 lines per stanza, and 3 stanzas per poem.

What’s not so simple is being able to fit what you’re trying to say in that tiny space!

In this way, it’s similar to haiku, in that word economy is extremely important – and therein lies the reason I probably like it so much. One needs to pay very close attention to word choice if one wants to fit wordplay, imagery, and emotion into such a compact space.

So I looked around for a suitable subject and came upon this photograph taken by my daughter, Katherine, who is an amateur photographer:

Photo © 2010 Katie Bri Photography, all rights reserved

The rain came.
We welcomed
a green spring

full of hope
and flowers
and found ice;

cold, glassy,
suspending
brittle life.

– © 2021 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

As I said, I’m not a big fan of many newer poetic forms, primarily because they focus so much on syllable counts (cinquains, nonets) or because of ridiculous rules involved (I guarantee you I will never write a diamante, ever). But this, as I previously mentioned, forces one to think long and hard about word choice and placement – and although I like this little poem of mine, I’m still not sure it’s the best version of itself.

But will I tackle a tricube again? Absolutey!

For more poetry, please visit Jama’s Alphabet Soup, where Jama Rattigan is hosting the roundup with a poem from former UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

And by the way…do you know of a library, trail group, or other organization that maintains a StoryWalk™? Beaming Books, publisher of Once Upon Another Time, has a very cool opportunity! To celebrate Earth Day, we’ll give away TEN FREE COPIES of the book along with TEN digital ARCs (Advance Review Copies)! Just send an email to matt (at) mattforrest (dot) com and tell us why you’d like to feature our book on your StoryWalk™. Read the graphic, which has all the details, and get your entries in by 11:59pm EDST, April 21. Winners’ names to be drawn at random and announced April 22 – Earth Day!

Also be sure to check out all the books coming out this month from my 2021 Book Blast partners:

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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!

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: The Return of David Elliott… from 9 years ago!

When I shared the news about my friend David Elliott’s newest book, The Seventh Raven (HMH, 2021), in last Friday’s post, I had no idea I was about to create a month-long Elliottfest…

…but apparently that is precisely what I’ve done.

You see, I had asked David if he’d mind joining me for an interview at the end of April – which he will – but it occurred to me that some, if not most, of my readers would be unaware of the conversation we had waaaaay back in 2013. Since that interview had been posted on the now-defunct Poetry at Play blog, I realized there was no way for anyone to be able to read or even reference that post. I therefore did the only thing that seemed to make sense.

Reposted it here!

So yes, I featured David Elliott’s latest book two weeks ago; I’m re-posting my original interview with him from 9 years ago here today; and at the end of the month, David and I will be back with a brand-new interview about craft and verse novels. (“It’s ALL David, ALL the time…!”)

(Keep in mind, this is the original transcript, so some comments may sound dated – for example, the YA novel he was working on became Bull – but I hope you enjoy!)

Although David Elliot was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, that didn’t prevent him from travelling the world and collecting myriad experiences.  Over the years, he worked as a singer in Mexico, an English teacher in Libya, a cucumber-washer in Greece, and a popsicle-stick-maker in Israel. David also studied classical voice at a conservatory, with dreams of becoming an opera singer. The problem, he says, is that he wasn’t very good.

Fortunately for the world of children’s literature, David became a New York Times bestselling children’s author. His many picture books and chapter books include: And Here’s to You! (Candlewick, 2009), The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle (Walker Books Ltd., 2001), The Evangeline Mudd books (Candlewick), Finn Throws a Fit! (Candlewick, reprint, 2011), Jeremy Cabbage and the Living Museum (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008), and most recently the picture book, In the Wild (Candlewick, 2010).

As of this writing, David has six new picture books under contract, due to be published within the next couple of years, and he is working on a YA novel and a new middle grade book. If you’d like to learn more about David and his books, visit www.davidelliottbooks.com.

First of all, thank you, David, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us!  Did you ever imagine yourself being this busy, back when you were washing cucumbers in Greece, or making popsicle sticks in Israel? And wouldn’t it have been easier to just wash cukes or make popsicle sticks here in the States??

Maybe. But think of all the fantastic food I would have missed out on.

Seriously, though, how did you come to finally discover your true calling and end up back home in the U.S.?

 Oh, dear. Do I have a true calling? But to answer your question, after many years of traveling and working abroad, making popsicle sticks, washing cucumbers (the most Freudian job ever!), teaching in Libya, singing in Mexico, I came back because as transformative as those years were, the truth is they were also very lonely, better suited to a comic novel, maybe, than to a real life. I have a big stack of journals from those years. One day, maybe, I’ll write that novel.

Anyone who uses the word “transmogrification” in the title of a children’s book must have fun while he’s writing!  Does it ‘feel’ like work, and do you ever wonder if you’ll ever end up having a ‘real job’ again?

When the paperback of The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle (Candlewick, 2004) came out, the sales staff wanted to get rid of that word transmogrification and call the book Roscoe Wizzle. I try to be as collaborative as I can when it comes to these things – and they come much more frequently than one might think – but in this case I put my foot down. I didn’t want to dumb down the title because adults were scared that it was “too hard.” 

I felt vindicated a couple of months later during a school visit when an eight-year-old boy came running up to me after my presentation. “Transmogrification!” he said. “Transmogrification! When I hear that word, it just makes me want to read the book.” You know, I’ve heard adults mangle that word over and over again, but never, not once, has a child mispronounced it. Sometimes, I think it might be part of the writer’s job to protect children from what the adults in charge of their lives think about them.

For me, writing is a real job, and hard work, even, or perhaps more accurately, especially the funny stuff and the picture books.

Now, you write in a variety of styles, including poetry, picture books, and chapter books…do you prefer one style over another?  

Not really. Each has its challenges just as each as its pleasures.  There are so many books out there. That’s great, of course, but it can also be a bit discouraging. And do we really need another vampire book? Another adventure series? Another this or that?  In fact, we probably do. My problem is that I’m not interested in writing them. At the moment, I’m interested in experimenting with new structures, new ways of telling a story.

Books like In the Wild (Candlewick, 2010) and In the Sea (Candlewick, 2012) contain some great examples of children’s poetry that are written in simple language but are quite thoughtful and full of emotion.  Is it difficult to find that balance? And what is your process for determining how you want to present a poetry subject or idea?

First, thanks for the kind words. Each of the three books in the series (two more on the way) presented a different challenge. On the Farm was perhaps the most straightforward. We all know what a farm is and without ever opening the book could guess what animals we might find between the end pages. (I did try to include some of the undomesticated animals that are present on a farm, too: the turtle, bees, a garter snake). In the end, a farm is a kind of container. Additionally, if we hear the word cow, we share a set of emotional responses because, in one way or another, we have all grown up with cows, or at the very least, the idea of cows. 

But when it came to In the Wild, I was stumped. First there is no container. These animals are found all over the world and there are tens of thousands of them. How to choose just 14 or so? (My editor and I settled on the iconic.) Then, I discovered that I knew very little beyond the obvious when it came to the animals. Since it’s the writer’s job to say something new, I spent weeks, reading, looking at pictures, watching YouTube videos of the animals in the book, trying to get not just information about them but a feeling for them, too. 

Then there was the complicating factor that many of the animals in the book are endangered. On one hand, it felt, disrespectful to both the animals represented and to the children reading the poems to ignore this sad truth; on the other, I didn’t want to write a book that said Too bad kids, by the time you are adults, some these animals won’t exist.. I tried to solve the problem with last poem and its page turn. “The Polar Bear.”  By the way, we don’t talk or think enough about page turns in picture books. In the best ones, they carry as much meaning as the text.

After starting In the Sea, I completely understood the expression “a cold fish.”  They’re rather hard to feel warm and fuzzy about. In the end, I decided to think about the various forms in the ocean. Since many fish have the same basic shape, I wanted to give the late Holly Meade, the illustrator, something to work with. I feel incredibly lucky to have been paired with Holly. She brought so much to these books.  Some of you may not know that she left us in April of this year. A sad and terrible loss.

If I can, I’d like to give a plug for On the Wing, coming out fall 2014 with art by a wonderful new illustrator, Becca Stadtlander. As a whole, the poems in the book might be my favorite of the four volumes thus far. But they were very, very difficult. All birds have feathers, beaks and they fly – at least the ones we chose for the book do. What more was there to say? It was very challenging because most of us know very little about individual species of birds, so there was not a lot of common knowledge I could rely on.

The bower bird, for example, a very plain species native to Australia, builds a complicated structure on the ground. He then adorns it with flowers and shells, anything colorful he can find  in order to lure a paramour into what is literally his love nest. Who knew? 

Here’s the poem.

The Bower Bird

No fancy feathers,

to attract a mate,

first  he builds

then decorates

his bower.

How carefully

he constructs

the walls.

(The halls

he fills

with flowers.)

And how anxiously 

he arranges

the bright  tokens

he collects.

O pity then

the bower bird.

Nature’s fussy,

lovesick architect.

Beautiful, David – and so personal the reader can actually empathize with the bird. You know, it’s always an open-ended question to ask someone ‘where’ they get their inspiration; for most of us, it comes from everywhere. So let me ask, how do you deal with the inspiration you get? That is, how do you know if an idea is worth your attention, and what do you do with it?

This is something that plagues me. I’m never at a loss for ideas. But what I’m always afraid of is that I’m not up to executing them in the way they deserve. I’m rather slow on the uptake. I kept the first draft of Roscoe in my drawer for eight years before I really understood what the book wanted to be.

Recently, I’ve been reading and rereading Homer, Ovid, Virgil and along with them, some modern retellings. (David Malouf’s Ransom is one of the best things I’ve read in years. Now, I’m reading his An Imaginary Life. Equally as wonderful.) All this has me thinking about the relationship between the Greek and Roman gods and the mortals who worshipped them. Those gods required a lot: supplication, sacrifice, interpretation, belief.

This seems to me a wonderful metaphor for the relationship between artists and their inspiration. How much are we willing to humble ourselves before it? How much are we willing to sacrifice? How much are willing to listen to the oracular voice? How much are we willing to believe? This last is perhaps the most frightening question.

I so wish I had understood this earlier in my career. These questions will be very much at the forefront of my mind (and heart) as I continue to work on new and longer projects.

“Buffalo,” from In the Wild, © 2010 Candlewick, all rights reserved

Your chapter book, Jeremy Cabbage, is about a young orphan boy – a sort of cross between Oliver Twist and Lemony Snicket’s Beaudelaire siblings – who goes into the world on an adventure. Did you see your globe-trotting self in Jeremy, and how have you used your life experiences in other books?

In a way, all books are autobiographical since it is the life experience, sensibilities, instincts and education of the particular author that make the book.  In my case, it is perhaps not the external circumstances in which Jeremy finds himself, but the emotional content of the book that is closest to how I felt as a child and still sometimes feel as an adult.

Folks like J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen say inspiration is over-rated – that success more often comes via the “BIC” rule (Butt In Chair). In other words, sit down and get to work! What are your thoughts on this approach?

Isn’t it the only approach? One of my favorite quotes about writing comes from the writer, Octavia Butler. (Kindred remains one of the most under-appreciated books in print. Everyone should read it.) Anyway, she put it very succinctly: “Habit is more important than inspiration.” As others have said, we write to find out what we don’t know.

How difficult is it to know what children will like or not like?  Who do you trust for feedback on your writing?

This question is more complicated than first it appears. Not all children like the same things. Then, we have to ask, what do you mean by children? A five-year-old is very different from a ten-year-old who is very, very different from a thirteen-year old. Children are the same in only one way: they are developing. This, to me, is one of the principal differences between writing for an adult audience and writing for children.

This, too, is one of the things that I find so difficult about writing for kids. I’m afraid that sometimes we don’t do the best job of honoring the sacred fact that children are still becoming. It’s a scientific fact. Research now tells us that the brain isn’t fully developed until our early twenties. This makes, or it should make, a difference in how we approach our work, or at least in understanding and respecting our audience..

Yes, there really was a Finn, and YES, he really did throw a fit!

But I sometimes worry that we too often fall prey to a kind of inferiority complex in which we feel we have to compete with adult publishing to be real writers. I wonder if this is why there are so many books for kids where a loved one dies, or is alcoholic or, well, you know what I mean. Why do we have this idea that tragedy is more serious, more valuable than comedy?  To me this seems very puritanical and old-fashioned. Also wrong.

Of course, I know that many young people do experience terrible things in their lives. But many children also experience happiness, — even those in the most wretched circumstances –and that happiness can bolster a young heart. I know this by the way from personal experience. There is so much to say on this topic.

Who are your favourite children’s authors or poets? What have you learned from them?

I love Roald Dahl. I love Robert Louis Stevenson. I love Louise Rennison. I love M.T. Anderson. (He’s a good friend, and though I don’t want to admit it to him, he is completely lovable!) I love Jack Prelutsky (because it’s clear he loves kids.) I love, love love Natalie Babbit. Too many to mention. And what I’ve learned from them is that is that I have a lot more to learn to be the writer I would like to be.

Is there a poem or book you’ve had published that you are particularly proud of?  Is there one secretly wish you could revise?

Good heavens! The answer to the first question is, “all of them.” The answer to the second question is, “all of them.”

What was the worst idea you ever had – for a poem, a book, a career, or anything – and what did you do with it?

Believe me, you don’t have enough time for me to talk about my bad ideas. I still get them. Every day.

We all do, David! By the way, considering all of your life experiences so far, do you think you’ll remain content with writing children’s lit, or do you see yourself branching out into other genres, or even doing something entirely different?

As my wonderful editor at Candlewick once said, “When I find adults as interesting as children, I’ll start working for them.” But I do have adult projects in mind. I’ve published one, The Tiger’s Back,  either a very short novella or a very long story, depending on how you look at it. I also have written some for the theater and plan to do more of that. But I’ll always write for kids.

What advice would you give to aspiring children’s poets and authors? And from your experience, what would you say is the biggest fallacy you’ve learned in trying to get published?

Currently, I teach in the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University in Cambridge. One thing that I find myself repeating to my students is, “Get out of the way.”  By which I mean, the writer must be secondary to the work. Understandably, less experienced writers are anxious, eager to prove to the world and to themselves they have whatn it takes. (If I’m honest, most of us feel this way. In fact, I have to fight that feeling every day.) This can create a bit of a tendency to show-off on the page, to make a wrong decision about a particular word, or sentence structure, or well, almost anything, really from punctuation to plot. 

But almost always, this either bores us (deadly!) or distracts us from what John Gardner calls “the fictional dream.” In other words, we stop thinking about what we’re reading and start thinking about the person who wrote it. (and usually not in the kindest of terms). We end up feeling disappointed or cheated, tricked somehow.  The harsh truth is that no one really cares about you, the writer, I mean. And rightly so. The reader only cares about what is on the page. And rightly so. It’s a hard lesson to learn. But also liberating once you’ve got the hang of it.

Of course, that isn’t to say that we can’t be dazzled by what a writer has accomplished –that’s happening to me right now with David Malouf — but that’s because 1) the writer has complete control of her craft and 2) whatever the writer has done it’s been in service to the story or the poem and not to herself.

About publishing, I don’t know what to say, really. One thing we almost never hear is that you need a little luck. So my advice in this area is 1) learn you craft, and 2) once you’ve learned it stay open so that when that luck comes knocking, you recognize it and let it in. (This isn’t helpful, I know. Sorry.)

Ha, don’t be sorry, that’s absolutely the best advice one could give! By the way, there’s a children’s illustrator from New Zealand named David Elliot.  As far as anyone can tell, you’re not him…right?

I don’t think I am, but one never knows.

Well, thanks again for spending some time with us here at PACYA, David…and all the best for future success!

I hope you enjoyed the interview…and please remember to visit later this month when David and I chat about the craft of writing, specifically verse novels, on April 30 when I host the Poetry Friday roundup! It should be a lot of fun, and enlightening! You’ll find today’s roundup at Tabatha Yeatts’ The Opposite of Indifference, where she is celebrating National Poetry Month!

Also be sure to check out all the books coming out this month from my 2021 Book Blast partners:

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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!

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Celebrating ANOTHER #BookBirthday with Lita Judge

In case you have somehow not heard, my new picture book that I co-authored with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®), ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books) officially arrived this past Tuesday, and the official blog tour contonues to roll on at the following wonderful blogs:

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

That’s right, THREE bloggers are on tap today: Maria Marshall spotlights our book for Perfect Picture Book Friday, Elaine at KidLit411 features an interview with Charles, and Michelle Knott offers her review at Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook! (Most of these bloggers are giving away a free copy of the book, plus I have not one but TWO chances for you to win free copies that I’M giving away – so be sure to read about how to enter at the bottom of this post!)

But enough about me – let’s talk about my friend and fellow New Hampshirite, Lita Judge, whose brand-new book, The Wisdom of Trees (Roaring Brook Press) arrived in the world the exact same day as Once Upon Another Time!

Just about every industry trade, from Kirkus to Publisher’s Weekly to Booklist to School Library Journal, has been effusive in their praise for The Wisdom of Trees – and for good reason.

It’s a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated book that is both an important piece of nonfiction as well as a fine example of literary excellence. Every page is a perfect blend of image and text.

Lita’s soft, lovingly rendered illustrations will draw in young book lovers while her smart and thought-provoking poetry rewards older readers…and sidebars provide context and background information for each spread. Something for everyone – and every reader!

I asked Lita if she had a favorite spread, and her answer was the same as mine: “We Are the Ancient.” I’ll let her explain why she loves it so much:

It’s one of my favorites in the book because I have such fond memories of the research that went into its creation. We travelled to North Wales in 2019 with the specific goal of finding an ancient yew tree named the Llangernyw Yew. The tree was once thought to be between 4000 and 5000 years old but more recent estimates are more like 2500 years old.

When we found the tree, which was not easy, I sat within it, sketching. It sits in the old churchyard of Saint Digain’s Church, near 300 year old gravestones of long gone slate miners and their wives and children. Like other very old yews, the core of the tree has long decomposed, leaving only the exterior, which is literally so wide in circumference (over 36 feet) that you feel as if you’re sitting within the middle of many trees. It is one ancient tree that has witnessed thousands of years of our history.

I eventually included a different yew in the book, the Ankerwycke Yew, but the spread reminds me of the journey and the process.

Image ©2021 Roaring Brook Press, all rights reserved

Every page, every setting – whether it is quiet and tranquil or full of animal busy-ness – radiates with the tender attention to detail for which Lita is known. Couple the illustrations with her poetic text and it’s no wonder the trades are in love with this book.

And by the way, I confess that “We Are the Ancient” is actually one of two favorite spreads of mine; the other is a poem about the winter dormancy of trees, titled “Shhh…” Not only is it a serenly beautiful image of a forest in winter, but I get to hang the print she sent me in my office!

Thank you so much to Lita and Roaring Brook Press for sending me the book and art print!

This isn’t just a perfect book for poetry lovers or creative nonfiction types, either. This is the kind of book homeschoolers like my wife and I will relish because it can be used in a cross-disciplinary role: poetry, nonfiction, natural history, earth sceince…am I missing any??

I hope you’ll pick up a copy and see for yourself!

And if you’d like to learn more about the process Lita went through in creating this book, be sure to check out her YouTube channel, where she offers some behind-the-scenes footage and commentary about how The Wisdom of Trees came to be.

Looking for more poetry? Our friend from Down Under, Kat Apel, is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Muster (that’s “round-up,” for you non-farming types) with a spotlight on her fun new picture book, The Bird in the Herd, along with a poem inspired by the patience and perseverance it took to bring the book to life!

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? How about TWO?? I have two copies I’ll give away, with two ways to enter: check out my #BookBirthday post and leave a comment, and/or share that same post on Twitter and use the hashtags #giveaway and #2021BookBlast! Two drawings, two ways to win! I’ll announce a blog winner on Friday, March 19 and the Twitter winner at the end of the month. Good luck!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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!

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!

It’s a #BookBirthday! “Once Upon Another Time” is here, with a DUAL-INTERVIEW: Charles Ghigna and Andrés Landazábal!

All images © 2021 Beaming Books, all rights reserved

Ladies and gentlemen…we have publication!!

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books) is officially here, and today the official blog tour – featuring TEN awesome bloggers (well, nine awesome bloggers and me, ha!) – arrives at the ol’ Triple-R! I’m offering a FREE, PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK to give away, too – details later on in this post!

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Jan Godown Annino at Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/ (will begin giveaway on 3/5)
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

Today also happens to be the NEA’s Read Across America Day, and I’m celebrating by sharing the book with 12 different schools across the country! These students get to be the very first kids in the world to read our book – plus, each school will receive a free copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME, courtesy of Beaming Books.

Before we get to my dual-interview with my co-author, Charles Ghigna, and illustrator Andrés Landazábal, I do want to take a moment and thank our author and illustrator friends for their kind words of support on our Amazon page and the back cover. It was extremely generous of them to share their opinons of our work for all the world to see.

We’re also grateful for the American Library Association’s Booklist Online review, which includes the following:

“Beautiful images of long ago come together with lyrical text to transport readers to a past that is almost forgotten but that we would benefit to remember…a necessary addition to picture-book collections.”

Wow…a ‘necessary addition?’ Talk about humbling. Thank you, Booklist!

Now, then, I thought it might be a little different to interview both of my collaborators today; most book interviews are one-on-one, but why do normal? I wanted to allow both Charles and Andrés to share their thoughts about our book.

Charles Ghigna
(photo courtesy Scott Pierce)

Charles (aka, Father Goose®) is known to live in a tree house in Alabama and is the author of more than 100 award-winning books from Random House, Disney, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Charlesbridge, and many other publishers. His poems have appeared in magazines from ‘The New Yorker’ and ‘Harper’s’ to ‘Cricket’ and ‘Highlights for Children.’

Andrés Landazábal

For his part, Andrés is not just an illustrator but also a production designer, art director, and animator from Colombia. His work has appeared in animation films, tv shows, and print companies. Andrés says that reading classic illustrated children’s books at a young age instilled in him a love for drawing and painting…and it shows!

Now, Charles and I met on Facebook many years ago and, like many of us, I really loved his ability to write beautiful imagery in a very simple style – which is not an easy task. The simpler the words or phrases, the harder they are to write, trust me. 

It was, therefore, a thrill to be able to work with such an accomplished gentleman as Mr. Goose!

First of all, thank you both for taking the time to chat – and thank you, Charles, for your initial 4 stanzas that set this whole ball rolling! As someone who was just starting out at that point with no publishing credits, you took a big chance of working with me, and I appreciate that.

A little backstory: you wrote the first 4 stanzas of the book back in 2012 but weren’t sure where to go with them; you posted them on your blog and said if anyone had any ideas, you’d welcome the chance to work together. You were overwhelmed by the number of replies, but I wasn’t surprised at all – you’re Father Goose, fer cryin’ out loud! Who wouldn’t want to write a book with you??

So, what made you decide to ask an unknown writer his opinion of your stanzas, and if he had any ideas for a narrative? Why me?

CG: Not only was I surprised to see so many submissions to my request for a possible co-author, I was also surprised and pleased by the quality of the work. I read some very fine samples from some very fine poets, but yours immediately stood out and caught my attention. Your ideas were intriguing and your writing style was compatible to mine. It was an easy choice. So off we went on our journey into this wonderland of Once Upon Another Time.

Well, I’m certainly grateful you liked the premise! I also recall you saying you were surprised at how well our writing styles meshed…I did try to deliberately tailor my writing to better match yours, but I have to say it wasn’t all that difficult because our styles were more similar than either had realized. Do you think that helped alleviate any concerns you might have had about doing this collaboration?

CG: Yes, your writing style played a big part in my decision to have you join me on this one. I admire many of the other poets’ styles as well, but yours seemed perfect for this story. Readers should also keep in mind that as a narrative picture book, we didn’t have the luxury of writing several distinct poems, each in our own voices on each of their own spreads; every line needed to sound like it was written in the same “voice,” so to speak, to maintain the book’s continuity.

Were you as surprised as I was that the revision process of adding lines, removing lines, changing words, etc. was as easy as it turned out?

CG: Yes, after a few emails back and forth, we both seemed to have entered a zone together with the story. Our direction was clear, our dedication to the story was strong, and our willingness to give and take made it an easy, fun process. I think we inspired each other and raised each other’s game. The writing came so quick and smooth, it seemed as though the story was writing itself. It was! Good stories are like that. The best a writer can do it hang on and follow where the writing wants to take you. It also helps to have a good editor like Naomi Krueger to guide us along and to help fine tune our final drafts.

One of illustrator Andrés Landazábal’s favorite scenes from the book

I have to admit, knowing I was writing a book with the inimitable and highly-esteemed Father Goose was a daunting and intimidating prospect, and looking back at how easily it came together was probably the biggest surprise in the process for me; what surprised you the most?

CG: As mentioned, I enjoyed seeing how we challenged each other to make the writing as rich and memorable as possible, yet letting the story tell itself without calling too much attention to the language, not an easy task for two writers who are so in love with the sounds and nuances of the language itself.

Writing the book was certainly a learning process for me, as I was able to witness in real time your thought process when choosing words and lines and moving a narrative along. We both had very specific reasons for choosing one word over another – and while we disagreed occasionally here or there, we always understood and accepted the integrity of the other’s decision. So was the process of this collaboration different from any others you’ve done?

CG: I’ve only been a part of five collaborations so far, and recently started another new one. Each collaboration is different. Each one presents its own challenges. Our collaboration on Once Upon Another Time went remarkably smooth, partly due to our styles being so compatible.

My very first collaboration was a collection of holiday poems with my wife, Debra Ghigna. That book presented a few more challenges than ours and took a lot longer to write. Our good friends kiddingly said we were going to either have a really good book, or a really good divorce. Ha! I’m happy to report that Debra and I are still happily married. In fact, my second collaboration with her, Barn Storm, became a popular title in the Random House Step-in-Reading series. 

The only other collaboration I’ve had published is Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018) with my friend and critique partner Deborah Bruss, which was a fun, rollicking rhymer written with a critique partner whom I could visit in person anytime I wanted. With you in Alabama and me in New Hampshire, that wasn’t really an option! Do you feel that was an obstacle, or did the lack of face-to-face interaction help you focus on the tasks at hand?

CG: I think the objective distance of writing via email gave us both more breathing room to gather our own thoughts and to take our time to see how what we’ve written fits together as a whole. What we might have missed on the personal level, was more than compensated by simply focusing on the writing.

I’ve told numerous people that Once Upon Another Time is a lesson in stick-to-it-iveness, as it was turned down by more than 25 publishers before getting enthusiastically picked up by editor Naomi Krueger at Beaming Books in 2019. For those keeping score, that’s TEN YEARS from Charles’ first 4 stanzas to the book finally seeing the light of day…whew! Have any of your books ever taken that long?

CG: Whenever I’m asked how long it took me to write a book, I tell them my age. The book I’m working on right now took me 74 years. Whenever I’m asked how long it takes to get a manuscript published, I tell them forever. Some of my books have taken a year or two to find a good home. Some have taken forever.

Ha, I know what you mean. Whenever someone asks me how long it takes to write a book, I tell them the worst answer possible: “as long as it takes!” (They often aren’t amused, ha!)

Andrés, I’d like to turn to you and thank you again for your beautifully impressive work…you did an outstanding job!

AL: I am very glad I could contribute to yours and Charles’ book! It really was fresh and magical to work on it! The manuscript itself was so beautiful; it was “easy” to feel inspired by and being able to come up with nice illustrations, really.

I’ve mentioned earlier, Charles wrote the first few lines in 2012 before I completed the rough draft a couple of years later – and then after revising & polishing it, we went through 25 rejections before our editor, Naomi Krueger, picked it up! So it’s been a long time coming, but well worth it, and I can’t imagine any better illustrations than what you’ve provided…you really gave the book an “updated classic” sort of tone, with scenes that are serene and pastoral while still vibrant and full of life.

AL: I’m a sucker for nature and landscapes! And what a journey the manuscript and you two went through…that is why I think it turned out so magical. And just like you said, everything was “well worth it” for the project!

This will be a nearly-impossible question to ask, Andrés, but what would you say is your favorite spread?

AL: I like very much the spread with the little girl (and the cat) looking through the window at this busy cityscape, which is filled with vehicles and lights and pollution. I like it because somehow, it portrays – in a way – our daily lives since the beginning of the pandemic, which is under lockdowns and what have you, but it also reminded us that it is kind of not fun at all to go back to that normal we are used to, which is the pollution, and the racket. It makes one feel like, “I’d rather stay at home!” What a conundrum! But that is how tough life gets.

Now, from a story point, it was a very fun illustration to make, because of the busy-ness of it, but at the same time the romantic and poetic it gets, which really is what made me feel with every single of the illustrations. But that “feeling” felt the most, especially with this one piece.

Any other spreads that speak to you, or of which you’re particularly proud?

AL: The children at their backyard admiring nature, and underneath there is this laid-out dinosaur bones – I thought that was a terrific story beat! And the other one, one of the landscapes where there is a deer and a mama bear with her cub running in the distance! That was a fun one, too.

The illustrations almost look like watercolors. Was there a reason you chose digital as your media?

AL: The thing is, I wanted so badly to make this book traditional, but “time” wasn’t on my side! So I was very picky when choosing the digital brushes, so the illustrations ended having that “traditional” feeling.

I think it worked in your favor, Andrés, because they are so vibrant and modern, but still with that soft, traditional sort of tone. Well done!

Thank you both for spending a few minutes commiserating about our first collaboration – I hope it’s not our last! I remember Charles telling me once that he was my biggest fan, and that was before I’d even signed any contracts…so I’m glad he’s stuck with me.

Congratulations on a fine-looking book, my friends. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? How about TWO?? I have two copies I’ll give away, with two ways to enter: leave a comment below, and/or share this blog post on Twitter and use the hashtags #giveaway and #2021BookBlast! Two drawings, two ways to win! I’ll announce a blog winner on Friday, March 19, so be sure to enter by 5pm EST on Thursday, March 18, and I’ll announce the Twitter winner at the end of the month. Good luck!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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!

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: #PoetryOutLoud this week, a #BookBirthday next week!

This week has been, to say the least, insane – one of the busiest weeks I can remember, honestly. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’re homeschooling our kids this year (thank you, Covid), so time is at a premium to begin with…but with a book coming out next Tue., March 2, all my spare time has been spent prepping and organizing for the big day!

First of all, there’s the ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME Blog Tour, featuring TEN awesome bloggers spotlighting the book, sharing their reviews, and interviewing my co-author, Charles Ghigna and me. And what’s REALLY cool? Most are offering a free copy of the book to give away – so be sure to check out as many of them as you can and increase your odds!

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
2/26:      Michelle Knott: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Jan Godown Annino at Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/ (will begin giveaway on 3/5)
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/10:      Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:      Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:        Andrew Hackett https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

Not only are Charles, illustrator Andres Landazabal, and I indebted to these fine folks for their support and kind words, we are also greatly appreciative of the American Library Association’s Booklist Online for their tremendously positive review, calling our book “a neccessary addition to picture book collections”– as well as all our fellow authors and illustrators who’ve shared their opinions of our book on both our Amazon page and the back cover:

I’m grateful to teachers, too! Specifically, the twelve schools across the country who’ve invited me to read the book to their students the day it comes out – which also happens to be the NEA’s Read Across America Day. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a picture book birthday than by reading to kids all day long!

The folks at New Hampshire radio station 105.5 JYY have also been extremely supportive, by inviting me to chat with my former radio partner, Nazzy, for a half-hour live podcast two days ago. We talked about all things involving writing, publishing, and the necessity of being willing to take a leap of faith:

Are you getting the feeling I’ve been just a little bit out straight?

Well, that’s just part of the story…because I am also once again one of the judges for our state’s Poetry Out Loud semi-finals! Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that encourages the memorization and performance of poetry by our country’s high schools students.

I’ve been involved for nearly 5 years now, and it’s always amazing to watch these young people bringing life to the words of classic and contemporary poetry. This year, due to Covid, I’ll be judging performances virtually, as each student has recorded their performance and submitted it for review; it’s not exactly the live atmosphere we’ve been used to, but at least we’re able to do it!

For their performances, students are allowed to choose the poems they recite from a list of poems provided by the national Poetry Out Loud organization, so for today’s Poetry Friday post, I thought I’d share one of my favorites that one of our state’s students will be performing this year:

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over to Karen Edmisten’s blog, where she and Billy Collins contemplate their existence over a bowl of Cheerios!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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!

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!

Happy #BookBirthday, Elliot!

He’s a little froggy who’s been waiting to jump out of the pond!

All images @ 2021 Rainstorm Publishing / Kidsbooks Publishing, LLC, all rights reserved

Elliot the Heart-Shaped Frog (Rainstorm Publishing) has finally arrived and is in stores everywhere!

A color/shape primer disguised in a Goldilocks-like tale, Elliot features a little green hero who used to be a tadpole, but now no longer needs to live underwater – so he leaves his pond in search of a perfect new home! Anna Kubaszewska did a fantastic job of creating bright, bold illustrations that include lots of little details to keep little ones’ attentions. They’ll love counting all the bugs, butterflies, and other pond dwellers!

(click to enlarge)

Did you know that there are two other authors I have to thank for helping Elliot see the light of day?

A little backstory to Elliot: the story first came about after I had posted a photo on Facebook of a tiny spring peeper who had decided he wanted to hang out on our front door one April evening, way back in 2014.

Look closely at that bottom pane!

I was intrigued not only by his apparent disdain for a normal home in the pond, but also by the shape of his body. (and his nonchalance of being stared at by everyone in the house)

A number of folks commented on the photo, but one commenter in particular was my friend and Once Upon Another Time co-author, Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®), who suggested I write a book about “the heart-shaped frog.”

So I did!

Now, keep in mind, this was 2014…SIX years ago! I began subbing it, but since it was a board book written by a guy with no agent, my options for finding a publishing home were limited. Eventually, though, after 8 rejections, the folks at Rainstorm Publishing contacted me to let me know they loved the story and wanted to purchase it!

See? Heart-shaped!

Oh, by the way…the second author to whom I’m grateful? My friend and neighbor, David Elliott, who is also my little green buddy’s namesake – although I dropped one of David’s “t”s because I felt it looked cleaner for a board book title. (no offense, David!)

We met about 10 years or so ago, and when it came time to give my main character a name, David’s last name popped into my head and I just loved the sound of it as a first name.

And as I mentioned this past Friday, the book contains two “firsts” for me: it’s a board book, which I’ve never published before, and it’s also the first and only book I’ve ever had published in prose. Eleven books to my name, either out or under contract – and they all rhyme, except for Elliot!

If you’re interested in picking up a copy, I encourage you to order through our independent bookstore here in town, MainStreet BookEnds. Not only will you be helping out a small, local business, but you can request that the book (or nearly ANY of my books) be personally-signed! Books are wonderful gifts in their own right – but a book signed by an author or illustrator directly to the recipient is a truly unique gift that will be treasured.

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Coming March 2, 2021!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’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!

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: Poetry & picture books – an interview with Linda Brennan

First of all, let me say thank you to everyone who has sent me warm wishes and thoughts regarding the passing of my mom two weeks ago. Last Friday, I posted the poem I wrote for her and dad, and have had numerous folks asking if they could share it – and by all means, please feel free to do so! It’s a wonderful way to keep her spirit alive, connecting others with what I have to imagine is a universal theme.

And although it has been a sad, melancholy time, it turned quite jubilant two days ago when I saw this had been officially announced in Publisher’s Weekly:

You read that correctly – it’s scheduled for THIS FALL, which is lightning-fast in this business. Illustrations are already underway, and I can’t wait to tell you more as we get closer to launch date!

So between the highs and lows that 2021 has kicked off with, today I wanted to share a post from someone else’s blog! I recently enjoyed the privelege of being interviewed by Rhode Island author Linda Crotta Brennan, for her blog, Lupine Seeds, and am so happy to be able to share that interview with you here!

It was great fun sharing my thoughts on writing poetry, publishing poetry, and understanding poetry – and how I’ve managed to transfer my love and knowledge of the genre to picture books. She also asked me about my collaborations, like Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018), co-authored with Deborah Bruss, and my upcoming book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, March, 2021), which were a lot of fun to write. I do hope you’ll check it out!

In the interview, I offer a few suggestions for poetry books you might consider reading, if you want to learn more about writing or reading poetry, particularly children’s poetry. So I thought I’d share one of the poems Laura Purdie Salas published a few years ago in her book, Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry (Capstone, 2015), the perfect book for teens who are just starting to get their feet wet writing poetry:

Abandonment (haiku)

sparrow sweetly sings
melancholy melody;
her mate, on the ground.

© 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Laura had wanted a poem that showcased alliteration, assonance, and consonance – so I gave her as short a poem as I could, ha! Today, Margaret Simon is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Reflections on the Teche, with some nestling poems (found poems created from within another poem) she crafted from Richard Blanco’s One Today.

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Coming January 26, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Children will love to follow along on a Goldilocks-like journey as Elliot searches for the perfect place to rest in this new board book! 

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’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!

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: “What the Snow Clouds Know”

This post was first published exactly 5 years ago today, on Dec. 18, 2015. I was wondering what to share today, but Mother Nature decided to supply me with my answer, in the form of 22 inches of snow! Yep, the first significant snowfall of the season was overwhelming, to say the least. Moreover, we got less than many of our friends in the area: 25-28 inches was the norm for our town, and a friend 20 minutes up the road in New London (the late Tomie dePaola’s hoemtown) received 41 inches! So I felt that dusting off this little baby was the best approach to take – especially considering I spent the majority of today snowblowing, shovelling, and roof-raking. Whew, I’m beat!

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I originally wrote this poem early this year as a challenge from poet Joyce Sidman on writer/blogger Michelle H. Barnes’ blog. Since we’re only a week away from Christmas with still no snow in the forecast, I thought I’d share it today!

What The Snow Clouds Know

What’s born above will soon be gone
to comfort what it falls upon.
Beauty blooms before the dawn.
This the snow clouds know.

Limbs are weak; snow is strong.
Days are short; nights are long.
Coyote sings a lonesome song;
this the snow clouds know.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

poetryfridaybutton-fulll

While the white stuff has dusted our town, Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday today with a different kind of dust – stardust! Visit her blog for all of today’s poetry links and fun…and if you’re looking for a unique holiday gift, nearly all the books listed below can be personally-signed, by ordering from my local indie bookstore! Scroll down for all the details.

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

Coming January 26, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Children will love to follow along on a Goldilocks-like journey as Elliot searches for the perfect place to rest in this new board book! 

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’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!

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: Using friends’ children’s poetry books in the (home school) classroom

If I told you what a tough year it’s been for us…you’d probably have an even tougher story.

Things have been tough all over, as they say.

Our kitchen table – err, classroom

Here, our two kids started off the school year doing remote schooling, but between computer glitches, hard-to-find links, and an inordinate amount of unhealthy screen time (3 hours for school doesn’t allow for any TV or game time), it was just not working out.

So my wife and I decided to bite the bullet and go full-blown home school. Fortunately for us, here in New Hampshire, there are absolutely no requirements for people who home school their kids; as long as students know what they need to know at the end of the year, in order to move on to the next grade, what we do between now and then is completely up to us.

So we purchased two Saxon Math programs, two ELA courses, and an American history course, and figured we could fill in the rest. What was most important was that we had the “big” courses in hand, structured and focused, so nothing would slip through the cracks.

What has been fun, has been supplementing all this with poetry!

© 2019 Disney-Hyperion, all rights reserved

How lucky am I to have so many friends’ poetry collections?? Whether it’s Marilyn Singer’s Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? (Disney-Hyperion, 2019), Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Forest Has a Song (Clarion Books, 2013), or Leslie Bulion’s Hey There, Stink Bug! (Charlesbridge, 2008), we had plenty of subjects from which to choose. I created question-and-answer pages for each book (hand-written, as my printer was down) covering everything from science to reading comprehension – and the poems within these books served as the catalyst.

Joyce Sidman’s Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014) is next on the list, but there are myriad other poetry books out there from other friends, too – including collections by David Harrison, Jane Yolen, and Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, the dynamic duo behind Pomelo Books.

And of course, there’s this book:

(Sorry, just had to sneak in an extra plug!)

If you happen to be home schooling – or just looking to add a new angle to your students’ academics – consider poetry! These days, there’s a poetry book about darned near every subject you can imagine. Poems, by their very nature, describe their subjects in ways textbooks and web page entries cannot; they distill their subjects, elevate their subjects, and offer unusual, creative perspectives. There are poems about nature, science, math, relationships, music – pick a subject, and there’s likely a book of poetry about it somewhere.

(Many of the books I’ve contributed to, listed below, include “Construction People” and “School People” (Wordsong, 2020 & 2018), “Poems Are Teachers” (Heinemann, 2017), and the National Geographic anthologies)

And considering today is Poetry Friday, you have the opportunity to check out a wide range of poems in the kidlitosphere by visiting A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee is hosting the poetry roundup with a spotlight on Irene Latham’s next book, D-39: A Robodog’s Journey (Charlesbridge, 2021)!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

Coming January 26, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Children will love to follow along on a Goldilocks-like journey as Elliot searches for the perfect place to rest in this new board book! 

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’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!

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: “Friends & Anemones” #BookBirthday!

It’s finally here, in all its 70-page glory!!

All images © 2020 The Writers Loft Press, all rights reserved; cover design by Jodie Apeseche

Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children, created by members of The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, Massachusetts, is officially available for sale!

Filled with poems and illustrations by more than 60 New England-based authors and illustrators, including Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Peter H. Reynolds, Josh Funk, Lynda Mullaly-Hunt, Kip Wilson, Suwin Chan, and Yours Truly, the book has been a true labor of love to create, and I’m very happy to not only share another one of my poems here, but to welcome editors Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly here to the ol’ Triple-R to celebrate.

Matt:  First of all, thanks for joining me today! It’s so exciting to be celebrating a book birthday together. This is the third anthology published by The Writers Loft but the first one I’ve been involved with, so I was wondering…once you decided on oceans as a theme, what were your next steps? Was the process any different for this book than the others?

Heather:  Thanks Matt, for having us!

Kristen: The big difference this time was that we suspected we would have many more submissions than we did for An Assortment of Animals, so we decided to find judges to help us make the calls on which poems were the strongest. And that’s how we were lucky enough to find you and Kip Wilson to help us out! Also, we had a lot more people this time. So the communication was more complicated. More moving parts. Also we had an intern last fall, Penelope McDonald, and she was a great help in keeping us organized!

Matt: You both have stated elsewhere that you’ve learned from previous anthologies the necessity of soft deadlines – especially with regards to the coronavirus upending everyone’s schedules! (Kristen even mentions this in her Editor’s Note in the book) So now that you’re old pros at this (ha!), was there anything that surprised you?

Kristen: I was surprised at the artists’ reaction to the lockdown and the pandemic in general, in that some of them used the time to draw and paint and be creative, and all the quiet time at home made them ultra-productive. And others found it paralyzing and couldn’t work at all.

Heather: I learn something new each time I work in collaboration. I think it’s why I love it so much. My role is different from Kristen’s in that she has the dream for these anthologies and their outcomes in her mind. I just shut my eyes, say yes, and have faith that Kristen’s dream will turn out amazing. And you know what? IT ALWAYS DOES.

I focus on helping everyone on the project learn at each step–learn about drafting, revising, working with editors and art directors, meeting deadlines, building online presences, marketing, doing author/illustrator events, and creating multiple revenue paths. I believe in Kristen and her dreams without question. Even though I can’t see exactly where we’re going, I know it will be somewhere much better than I’ve ever been before. I’m always deliciously surprised and amazed at the outcome. So THANK YOU KRISTEN, for bringing me on this journey! 

My “Goblin Shark” pantoum, side-by-side with Jane Yolen’s “The Slime Eel,” © 2020 The Writers Loft Press. (click to enlarge)

Matt: I have to say, I really enjoyed judging all the poems with Kip! Writers submitted the poems to you folks, and then Kip and I judged them as to whether they were ready for inclusion or needed some revision. But how did you determine which illustrators were paired with which poems, and what problems did you encounter, if any?

Kristen: I find this part really fun. We were lucky enough to set up a meeting with the artists just before the pandemic took over the United States–I think it was late February. We printed out all the poems (without poets’ names) and put them on a big board, organized loosely by subject. And we let the artists just read the poems and choose what moved them.

Most of them found a few poems they liked, and some even started sketching that day how they would combine multiple poems on a page. Many of them seemed interested in sort of scary or fierce ocean creatures so we recruited more poets (Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, in fact!) to write more of those.

Matt:  What was the most rewarding aspect of creating this book? Any surprises along the way?

Heather: I always find the most rewarding part of creating books like this to be the ability to say YES to illustrators and authors who are hearing NO most of the time. And to see how when we work in collaboration, the end product is far and beyond more spectacular than it would ever have been if we were working alone.

My favorite part by far is when the artwork starts coming in. Even the rough sketches. There is MAGIC that happens when words are illustrated. I am forever indebted to the illustrators for this! And, boy, did Jodie Apeseche blow me away with this cover!

Matt: I do want to make sure readers are aware that there is a charitable aspect of this book. What is the Rozalia Project, and how did they come to be the beneficiaries of this project?

Kristen: To do my own part in decreasing ocean trash and single-use plastic in general, I started researching companies that use sustainable packaging. I bought shampoo that is a bar of soap and laundry detergent that comes in little dried-up soap sheets, and beeswax wraps.

One of the beeswax wrap companies is a part of 1% for the Planet, and had links to environmental non-profits on their website. And Rozalia Project was one of them! So I clicked it, saw that it is a New England ocean clean up and education group, and that they do free events for kids all over the New England coast, and I thought…perfect.

Heather: At this point, we decided to gift the first month’s profits to the Rozalia Project. And then when we met Ashley Sullivan, the Executive Director at the Rozalia Project, and were thrilled. Hearing first-hand about all the education and clean-up they do along the coast of New England, we knew it was a perfect match. And the thought of being able to meet up and help out when they sail down to Boston on the American Promise clinched our happiness over the partnership!

Please check them out at https://rozaliaproject.org/about and email us a picture of your own promise to the ocean using the coloring page at the end of Friends & Anemones!

Matt:  The Writers Loft really is an incredible group, in part because of its diversity of talent, from best-selling authors & illustrators to pre-published folks working up the ranks. Can you tell readers a little bit about how it was first created, and any upcoming events/plans?

Kristen: I’m going to let Heather answer most of this, but I’ll just say, for me it was serendipity. Back in late 2012 I decided I needed some kind of writing community because I was so lonely as a writer. So I started blogging, and I met a few people but they were mostly thousands of miles away. Then one day, one blogger got us all together in person in Cambridge. That night I met Heather and Anna Stanizewski–and a few weeks later Heather started the Writers’ Loft. Which was exactly what I needed!      

The Writers Loft, Sherborn, MA

Heather: When I first started the Writers’ Loft in 2013, I didn’t know what it would be, I just knew it needed to BE. The road to publication can be a lonely one, fraught with rejection and disappointment. But I thought, maybe it doesn’t have to be! Maybe we write better, illustrate better, learn better, and understand better when we do it together. And that tenant holds true–in much bigger ways than I ever imagined. We all find the shortest path between where we are now and where we want to go when we share knowledge, resources, and support.

At the Writers’ Loft, we help all kinds of writers and author/illustrators achieve success through critique groups, classes, workshops, meetings with agents/editors, self-publishing support, and publications like this anthology. When the pandemic hit, we moved all our supports and programs online and built on the 500+ local Lofters to embrace serious authors and illustrators from around the world! Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit. We create better books when we do it together! Join us: www.thewritersloft.org

Matt: Well, congratulations again, and thanks so much for asking me to be a part of this incredible book!

Heather: Matt, thank you so much for hosting us, and thank you for being a judge and for your support along the way for this project – we are richer because of your involvement!

Purchase “Friends & Anemones” at Peter H. Reynolds’ The Blue Bunny!

Check out the BOOK TRAILER for FRIENDS & ANEMONES!

Want to see a little bit more of Friends & Anemones? Need more poetry, in general? Then head over to Teacher Dance, where Linda Baie is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with her review of our book!

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

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

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

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

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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

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!

Click any of the following covers to order!

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, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’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!

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!