Poetry Friday: A Goblin Shark pantoum at “Poetry Boost” to kick off National Poetry Month

WOW, WHAT A WEEK!

Things have been super-crazy busy around here lately. First, I discovered that the folks from BookPage included Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books) in their feature about using books to celebrate Earth Day! Saying that Charles Ghigna’s and my book “packs an understated, powerful punch about stewardship,” the writer of the article also includes Micha Archer’s brand-new Wonder Walkers (Nancy Paulsen Books) and our friend Joyce Sidman’s latest, Hello, Earth! Poems to Our Planet (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers).

Speaking of Eerdmans, I discovered two fantastic reviews I had missed for Lee Bennett Hopkins’ posthumous anthology, Night Wishes, which came out last September: one from Publishers Weekly and the other courtesy of The Horn Book! It was such an honor to have been asked to contribute to such a beautiful book.

It was a thrill to read such positive words! Then I had to come back to Earth when I realized last Friday that I was going to need to completely re-build my website from the ground up. >sigh< My web hosting company, Yahoo!, was switching over to a completely new website building program and if I didn’t redesign my site by the end of the month, I’d never be able to update again. Soooo…that suddenly became a priority.

All I can say is…“Whew!”

Somehow, I managed to do it! I learned the new program, rebuilt everything, and got it up and running two days before the deadline.

I’m still tweaking a few things, but if you’d like to check it out and let me know what you think, I’d really appreciate it!

Now, then…today’s poem is extra-special for me because I get to share a poetry video I made for my friend and fellow children’s author, Michelle Schaub. (You may recall I interviewed Michelle here about a year and a half ago, as she was celebrating the release of her poetry collection, Finding Treasure (Charlesbridge, 2019)

In addition to writing books like Dream Big, Little Scientists (Charlesbridge, 2020) and her new Kindness is a Kite String (Cardinal Rule Press, 2021) which just came out YESTERDAY (yay!), Michelle also maintains a wonderfully intereactive blog called Poetry Boost. This year, in celebration of National Poetry Month, Michelle gathered together 30 poetry friends to share videos of each of us reading one of our poems.

I had to think for a little while about which of my poems to share, but it didn’t take me too long to decide on “Goblin Shark,” one of three poems of mine included in the children’s poetry anthology Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children (Writers Loft Press, 2020).

Friends & Anemones is a great big book 70 pages long, filled with poetry and illustrations from nearly 70 New England creators including Peter H. Reynolds, Jane Yolen, Kip Wilson, Josh Funk, and many more. Yesterday, Michelle kicked off the series by spotlighting a poem from another fellow New Englander, my friend Leslie Bulion, who read her poem “Bolas Spider” from her new anthology, Spi-Ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs (Peachtree Publishing, 2021).

And today…I get to share “Goblin Shark!” (And many thanks to Bob Thibeault for his amazing illustration!)

Click here to see my video!

I hope you enjoy it! And I hope you’ll enjoy all the poetry you’ll find at A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee Hahn is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup.

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Many thanks to everyone who entered to win a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME! I gave away one copy a couple of weeks ago, and today I’m giving away another copy to one of the many folks who shared the news about my new book on Twitter. And that person is…drumroll please…

Gennie Gorback!

Congratulations, Gennie – and thank you so much for your support! Email me your info and I’ll be sure to get your copy in the mail, pronto!

And folks, 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 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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, 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!

Poetry Friday: “Friends & Anemones” sneak peek!

We are just one week away from a Book Birthday, folks!

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

Created by the members of The Writer’s Loft in Massachusetts and spearheaded by editors Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly, Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children arrives Friday, Nov. 20 – in all its 70-page glory!

Yes, SEVENTY PAGES, filled with poems and illustrations by more than 60 New England-based authors and illustrators, including Jane Yolen (with whom I share a spread), Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Peter H. Reynolds, Josh Funk, Lynda Mullaly-Hunt, Kip Wilson, Priscilla Alpaugh, and Yours Truly along with many others.

If you follow the folks at KidLit411, you will likely see the book’s trailer premiere today, if you haven’t already. We also have a virtual book launch planned for Peter Reynold’s book store (see below) – but I thought I’d give you an inside look at a spread featuring one of my three poems:

(click to enlarge)

And no, you’re not seeing things…if you’re trying to orient yourself, this is one of a few spreads that was designed to be held sideways, so the top of the spread is actually the left side of the book, and the bottom is the right side.

There are a number of different poetic forms in this book; my poem, “Unmoored,” is a cherita, “The Lowest Peak” and “Stormy” (the latter of which was written by the spread’s illustrator, Suwin Chan) are both haiku, and “Giant Squid” is rhyming verse made up of double couplets. And as I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m also very proud to have been asked by Heather and Kristen if I would join Kip Wilson in judging all the submitted poems – so it’s gratifying to see the poems we selected in print!

VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH THIS SUNDAY!

Peter H. Reynolds, author of such popular books as The Dot, The Word Collector, and I Am Human, is a member of The Writer’s Loft and operates The Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham, Mass, just outside of Boston. That’s where we’ll be hosting the official virtual book launch for Friends & Anemomes this Sunday, Nov. 15…so I hope you’ll join us for the celebration and a sneak peek inside the book with several of the contributors!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ABOUT “FRIENDS & ANEMONES!”

ENTER TO WIN A FREE COPY HERE!

For more poetry, head on over to Robyn Hood Black’s blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Very excited to be part of this annual event, online this weekend, SAT. & SUN.!

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

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

Poetry Friday: “Friends & Anemones” coming soon!

There’s a new children’s poetry anthology coming your way Nov. 20…

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

Created by the members of The Writer’s Loft in Massachusetts and spearheaded by editors Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly, Friends & Anemones is not your typical children’s poetry anthology.

For one thing, it’s 70 pages long! Yes, you read that correctly – SEVENTY PAGES, and well-worth every penny you spend on it. Moreover, it includes work by nearly 70 New England-based authors and illustrators, including Yours Truly, Jane Yolen (with whom I share a spread), Peter Reynolds, Brian Lies, Josh Funk, Lynda Mullaly-Hunt, Kip Wilson, and many others.

I’m very proud to add that Kip and I are more than just contributors, too; we were asked by Heather and Kristen if we would judge all the submitted poems (and there were a bunch!) to determine which ones were best, which needed some revision, and which might need to be turned away. It was certainly a time-consuming task, but a wholly enjoyable one, as well – and what an incredible result!

I can’t share too much more about the book yet, as we’re planning a book trailer premiere with the folks at KidLit411 next week, a virtual book launch at Peter Reynold’s book store (see below), and a forthcoming blog tour…but here’s a small taste, the opening of one of my poems, “Goblin Shark,” a pantoum:

Who knows what deep-sea tales you hold
of dark and solitary trails
within that dreadful, briny cold    
where no sun shines, nor seaman sails.

In dark and solitary trails
one hundred meters down or more
(where no sun shines, nor seaman sails)…

As I mentioned, Jane Yolen and I share a spread which features this poem and a poem she wrote about a slime eel – and if you don’t know anything about either of these creatures, suffice it to say it’s likely the most disgustingly cool spread in the book! I can’t wait for you to see it!

Peter Reynolds, author of such wonderful books as The Dot, The Word Collector, and I Am Human, is a member of The Writer’s Loft and operates an indie bookstore known as The Blue Bunny in Dedham, Mass, just outside of Boston. That’s where we’ll be hosting the official virtual book launch for Friends & Anemomes on Sunday, Nov. 15…so I hope you’ll join us for the celebration and a sneak peek inside the book!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ABOUT “FRIENDS & ANEMONES!”

Susan Bruck is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with kangaroos and dactyls at her blog, Soul Blossom Living, so please be sure to stop by and check out all the poetry links!

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

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’ve teamed up with several children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month.

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

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

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

Poetry Friday: Revisiting “Oceanside”

The view from my office. And by “office,” I mean a mile of white sand. And surf. And sun. And cool ocean breezes. And – well, ok, it’s not anything close to being an office. But I’m totally ok with that.

I’ve been enjoying some much-needed ocean vibes this week in York, Maine – our home-away-from home – and got thinking about a special little poem I had written years ago that eventually found a home in Halcyon literary magazine way back in 2014.

I stopped for a minute and thought about that.

2014!

When this poem, titled “Oceanside,” was published (almost exactly 6 years ago), I hadn’t had a poem in a children’s anthology yet, hadn’t been published in Highlights for Children magazine yet, and had no book contracts anywhere on the horizon. Aside from my adult-oriented poetry that had been published over the years, the only children’s poetry I had written and seen published was with Kip Wilson and the gang at the Young Adult Review Network (for which I am extremely grateful).

Part of the reason I couldn’t find a home for “Oceanside” was because it was hard to determine if it was a children’s poem or not. I didn’t really think it was…but then again, it certainly didn’t seem like something that would show up in The Atlantic, either. Thank goodness for Monique Berry and her magazine, Halcyon!

Read “Oceanside” (and the entire Summer 2014 issue) here!

I can’t believe how far my career has come since this was published in 2014: 2 picture books out, 8 more on the way, nearly 30 poems published, and even more good news I can’t publicly announce yet! Just goes to show, if you keep honing your skills – learning, writing, reading, networking – hard work does pay off. And I appreciate you being part of it all!

My friend Linda Mitchell is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, A Word Edgewise – so head on over for all of today’s poetry links and fun!

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

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.

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Looking for a complete list of all the poetry coming out this year for young people? Then visit Sylvia Vardell’s blog! Also, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them!

 

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

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


     

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

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, 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!

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

Poetry Friday: Long Sands Anniversary

Last week, I shared the poem I wrote for my wife as part of my wedding vows 11 years ago. Today, I’m sharing a brand-new poem I wrote with her in mind.

(click to enlarge)

This poem, written as a cherita with an extra stanza, as a way of remembering all the times we’ve walked along the shoreline of Long Sands Beach in York, Maine – our home-away-from-home. Our happy place. Some people buy their wives diamond rings for their anniversary; I write poems. But hey, it’s her own fault – she knew this going in, ha!

For more poetry, please visit Christie at Wondering and Wandering, who’s celebrating trees with classic poems from David McCord and Mary Oliver as well as some originals!

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AVAILABLE NOW!

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


  

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

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

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

 

Poetry Friday: York Beach haiku

(click to enlarge)

My wife captured this photo during the last week of June, while we were staying at a friend’s cottage along York Beach, Maine. We were walking along the shore around 6pm or so, and after a brief rainfall, we noticed the sky attempting to display three separate rainbows. Alas, they were only pieces, but I’ve had this image stuck in my head for some time now, and wanted to find a few words to accompany it. Finally did!

By the way, if you missed my little “tip of the hat” to elementary school teachers, you’ll find a mid-summer poem HERE – along with links to a few of the summer reading lists that include Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017)! Of course, if you’re still hungry for more poetry, you’ll find all of today’s links at Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell is hosting Poetry Friday.

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


  (coming Sept. 25, 2018!)

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Vacation quotation summarization

I’m back!

The family enjoyed a nice, relaxing, and predictably short week in York Beach, Maine and returned the weekend before the 4th of July – which meant spending most of this past week catching up on work (voiceovers to be done), writing (another children’s book manuscript  complete and a new one begun), and prepping for the long weekend (aka, cleaning the house).

Once the weekend finally arrived, we managed to find time to pick strawberries, can 10 jars of strawberry-rhubarb preserves, make a big batch of strawberry sauce, bake two pies and a fruit tart, catch the fireworks display Sat. night, and spend Sunday with my folks.

Needless to say, fitting a blog post into all this mayhem was a challenge I simply was not ready to accept! I value my family time – and as important as my blog is, there are other things more important.

Anyway, now that I’m back, I can relate to you my Maine experience. We go up to York Beach each summer, and although it’s just over an hour away, it feels like it’s another world; we live, breathe, and eat the beach, and for someone like me who loves the ocean, it’s hard to not want to stay!

York
This is about mid-tide; The Longsands area has a very low grade, so high tide comes up to the dark line in the middle, but low tide extends beyond what you see here.

With kids, it’s always a new experience. I shared our exploits from our trip last year, but this year was completely different: our 5-year-old son is now old enough to climb up to the loft bed, splash in the water without fear, and walk the shoreline without having to hold my hand. For her part, our 22-month-old daughter can sleep in a regular bed, interact with her world more, and vocalize precisely what she wants – an ability at which she excelled superbly and excessively, as you’ll see.

Rather than just list some of the things we did, though, I thought it might be more fun if I recapped our vacation via quotes. So I made an effort to write down things I heard that I thought captured the essence of our vacation. Here are my top 10!

“At first, I thought he was my friend – but he wasn’t, so I smacked him.” We were barely 5 minutes into our sojourn to the Land of Moxie when my son uttered these words from the back seat. He was responding to a question from my wife about a spider he thought was crawling on his leg. Turned out it was actually a tick, which is why he smacked it. Had it been spider, it would have no doubt found a home on his knee and taken a little nap, to his joy. But ticks are no friends of ours, so I pulled over and removed it – and then resumed our trip.

“I want Anna!!!” While all the world is in love with Queen Elsa of Arendelle from Disney’s “Frozen,” our daughter is a fan of Princess Anna. Granted, she’s only 22 months, but she is already one of the movie’s biggest fans and already has somehow managed to learn that insidious “Let it Go” song. Consequently, everywhere she goes, if she sees Anna, she wants Anna – and tells us, loudly. This was a quote that resurfaced throughout our entire 7 days.

“Eva!” Speaking of Disney, I have to wonder if the person who repeatedly called out this name one day along the beach realized the scene they were re-creating (click the link and jump to 1:07 to hear what I mean). I’m sure whoever it was, was looking for a daughter or wife – but their voice sounded remarkably like Wall-E!

“I just saw a bikini top!” Now, here’s where you have to realize not everything you hear means what you think it means. At a place like the beach, one is bound to see bikini tops. When one is married, it’s probably not a good idea to mention said bikini tops. In this case, I was telling my wife about some of the images our son and I had seen in the clouds – and I did, in fact, see a pair of triangle-shaped clouds connected in such a way that they looked exactly like a bikini top, complete with straps. Clouds or not, however, blurting out this particular phrase to one’s wife is not something I’d suggest anyone do.

140
They love each other, for now.

“I want cweam. I want CWEAM!!!” On a short trek into downtown York (15 minutes walking distance), our Royal Highness Her Majesty overheard her mother and I talking about our plans: we’d stop by the park, then they could play at the little beach area, and maybe we’d get some ice cream before heading home for dinner. As soon as she heard the words “ice cream,” she announced her opinion of our plans in her sweetest yet LOUDEST voice possible.

“Is it dead?” This was the question a woman asked me after I waded into the shallow water to examine something floating like a log in the waves. It was dark brown with white blotches and at first I thought it might be a dog, until I realized it was a dead baby seal. Several people had seen it from the shore, but apparently no one had felt compelled to investigate until I came along. My reply to her question? “Well, it’s missing the upper third of its body, so I’m thinking that would be a “yes.” Don’t mess with sharks, folks.

“Curious George isn’t a monkey.” My son said this so matter-of-factly, I couldn’t help but be proud of him. We were at York’s Wild Kingdom, a zoo located right in downtown York, and were visiting some of the monkey cages when he told me his revelation. Monkeys, you see, have tails; apes do not. He and I both learned this fact courtesy of the folks at VeggieTales, and thanks to Bob & Larry, we’ll never forget it:
.

“I want duck! I want duck! I want duck!” Once again, our daughter exhorting us to help her attain her goals. In this case, it was a seagull she saw along the shore – but telling her it was not a duck did not seem to matter. As far as she was concerned, it was a duck, and she wanted it.

“Is it 6:00 yet?” I can’t recall if it was me or my wife who said this, because we had been living at the cabin for four days already and had yet to get a good night’s sleep – not because of the accommodations, but because the 5-year-old would be in our room, jumping on us, every morning at 6am. On second thought, that’s not entirely true; one morning, it was almost 5:30. Oy…

“That was pretty awesome!” As we were walking along the main road that leads from our cabin to York Center, our son held up a wet, slimy little stone to a woman passing by. It surprised all of us – her, probably most of all – but we quickly learned what it was: his very first baby tooth! We had known his two front bottom teeth were loose, but didn’t realize how loose. We told him we were very proud of him for wiggling it around long enough to pop it out – and that must have given him the impetus to pop the other one out an hour and a half later! That evening at dinner, he sprung this quote on us…and we had to agree. It was pretty awesome.

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

My Life as a Lazy Bum (or, How I Went a Week Without Working and Still Survived)

Tork beach 1
York Beach, Maine…our cottage was a 30-second walk from here.

As you may know, I went on vacation with my wife and two youngest kids last week. I was looking forward to it, as I’d never gone anywhere for an entire week of vacation before, and I knew I’d be leaving work behind. I knew I would not even LOOK at a computer, much less perform work-related duties o one. I brought my cellphone, but with limited internet access, that was only good for keeping in touch with family if necessary.

We weren’t going to be online, I wouldn’t be submitting any auditions for voiceover gigs, I wouldn’t be keeping up with my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts…everything was on auto-pilot.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even get around to doing the kind of “work” I thought I would be doing…writing!

York
Low tide at Longsands…so called because all the sand is wet and hard-packed – and easy to walk on!

Everything took a back seat to FAMILY

We drove about an hour and a half over to York, Maine to stay in a cute little summer cottage owned by some friends of ours. With a 30-second walk to the beach, you can imagine where we spent much of our time.

I love the ocean, so the fact that we were on the shore and in the water each day was a joy unto itself. That my 4-year-old son was thrilled to be there made it that much more enjoyable. Whether he was digging in the sand, splashing in the water, searching the shoreline for seashells after high tide, or simply running around like a lunatic, he was having the time of his life.

His 10-month-old sister, meanwhile, was content eating the sand, which we were constantly having to shovel out of her mouth. It may have been disgusting, but she seemed to enjoy it.

Then there were the walks downtown. It only took about 20 minutes to get to the center of town, so we walked there nearly every day, as well. One day we stopped by the playground area then had some ice cream. Another day we walked over to York’s Wild Animal Kingdom. Next day we went shopping and I tried a dark-chocolate-covered frozen key lime pie slice on a stick (That was almost the highlight of the week).

York - house 1
Our little home-away-from-home.

We ate breakfast on the deck each morning and I cooked dinner on the grill almost every night.

And between the walking and the swimming and the playing and the grilling and the eating…I never had time to write.

But I didn’t mind. I was too happy!

Plenty of inspiration

I had brought my moleskin notebook – the one my wife gave me several years ago – to jot down notes and lines and other ideas…but it didn’t even make it into my hand.

We were having so much fun, I realized that any effort to break away from what the family was doing was a detriment. Now, some writer friends may say that spending a week along the ocean without putting pen to paper just once is a sacrilege…but I think differently.

Although I had planned on writing, had wanted to write, and even could have found the time if I really tried…the experience allowed me to soak up more than enough inspiration – possibly inspiration I might have missed if I had been writing.

Ideas, ideas, ideas

York - Nubble lighthouse 1
The Nubble Lighthouse (aka, the Cape Neddick Lightstation)

At some point, I’ll get writing about the trip. Perhaps I’ll craft a poem about my little dude’s kite that he loved watching soar high, high in the air. I might also write about his experience watching a butterfly hatch from a cocoon at York’s Wild Kingdom.

Maybe I’ll write about seashells we found, or the dogs we saw running along the shoreline early in the morning and late in the evening.

I already have some ideas I’ve been fleshing out in my head about lighthouses, crashing waves, and s’mores.

So just because I didn’t submit any auditions doesn’t mean I’ll never get another voiceover gig again. And just because I didn’t do any writing doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty to write about. I’m looking forward to seeing what I come up with in the weeks ahead!

I just might even write a poem about the seagull that pooped on my wife’s head while we were walking downtown. Memories like that can last a lifetime.

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

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

 

 

 

 

Book review: “S is for Sea Glass”

I write poetry in a variety of styles and forms – some rhyming, some free verse. Some structured, some not quite so.

You can therefore imagine how refreshing it was for me to see a children’s poetry collection that offered this same sort of variety – not the cut-and-paste sing-song of simple rhyming verse, nor the page-after-page of non-rhyming, uneven line-length free verse (which can sometimes get heavy for children’s poetry). In the case of Richard Michelson’s S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press, 2014), we’re talking about a smart, well-structured book that carries one theme – poems about the beach – but presents that theme in 26 different ways.

Sea Glass cover

Because a trip to the beach or ocean carries with it so many different moods, sights, and feelings for a child, this book makes good use of poetic forms to highlight those differences. One minute the reader is contemplating the ebb and flow of tides, and the next he or she is chuckling over the author’s query of what, precisely, a mosquito is good for.
…..

H is for Horizon

Where does the sea stop and the sky begin?
Where does the sun rise when the dawn slips in?
Where does the ship sail when its sails disappear?
Is it under the ocean? Is it up in the air?

If I travel the world or stay here on this beach,
The horizon will always be just beyond reach.
But its real as my dreams and it’s always nearby –
That magical line where the sea meets the sky.

– Richard Michelson, reprinted with permission, all rights reserved

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Doris Ettlinger’s illustrations perfectly match the poems, as they are neither trite nor bold nor ornate…but are simultaneously happy and calm, fun and reflective, cool and warm. The fact that it’s an alphabet book is almost superfluous.

Which, I suppose, is a good thing, as I feel many of the poems – most, in fact, read above the level of a child who would need to learn the alphabet. As a collection of poetry, as a book about the beach, as a book that reflects the wonders, mysteries, and joy of being ocean side…S is for Sea Glass is beautiful. The fact that it’s an alphabet book seems unnecessary.

Here’s another one of my favourites:
…..

R is for Rain

Nobody’s  at the beach today. ‘Most everyone’s complaining.
…..The sky is dark. The clouds are thick. And I, the Rain, am raining.

…..…...Folks let waves splash them head to toe. Do you hear any whining?
……….……….No!
…..…..…..They think it’s fun to get wet when their friend, the sun, is shining.

…..…..…..…..I cool the breeze. And fill the seas. Who’s not a rainbow lover?
…..…..…..…..…..So why, when I come out to play, do they all run for cover?

– Richard Michelson, reprinted with permission, all rights reserved


Like I said, smart, beautiful, relatable  poetry. And it’s poetry that makes children think as much as smile. Hopefully, the next time they go to the beach, some of the images will be fresh in their heads. I know many of the images are fresh in my head – but then again, I’ve been spending all week here by the ocean.

And I think it’s time I did some more refreshing. I hear the surf calling my name…

York beach

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

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