Friday, December 1, 2017

POETRY FRIDAY: December Poetry and Writing with the Stars

Thanks to Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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November was a banner month for me. I signed with my wonderful co-agents, Marisa Corvisiero and Meg LaTorre-Snyder of Corvisiero Literary Agency, I traveled to Indianapolis to see my boys’ high school marching band compete at Grand Nationals (I am a proud tuba and trombone mom), and I surpassed my goal of 50,000 words in this year’s NaNoWriMo!
Now I am busy preparing for holiday gatherings, church performances, and one of my favorite traditions—the December poetry workshop I do each year with local fifth graders. In our October workshop, we talked about the importance of the poetic tradition, had fun with rhyme scheme, and read lots of wonderful poetry. In just a few weeks, we will continue our discussion and I will introduce some more fun poetic formats.
One of the fun forms we discuss each year is acrostic poetry. This format has been around a looooong time; acrostic poetry was discovered during the archaeological digs at Pompeii! The most common variation of the acrostic poem has a subject spelled out vertically in the left-hand margin, with each letter serving as the beginning of a word or phrase relating to or describing the subject.
Most elementary-aged students are familiar with acrostic poetry and are confident masters of the format. But when I show the kids this acrostic poem by my friend and critique partner Derick Wilder, with both the first AND last letters of each line spelling out the subject, they are shocked and amazed:


When it is time for the kids to write their own poems at the end of our lesson, many choose to tackle this particular challenge. It’s always fun to see what they come up with!
Another kid favorite is the cinquain, which is a five-line poem that spotlights a person, place, or thing. Each line has a prescribed formula and minimal words, and follows this pattern:
Line 1: Title - 1 word (noun)
Line 2: Description - 2 words (adjectives)                                                                  Line 3: Action - 3 words (verbs)                                                                                      Line 4: Feeling - 4 words (phrase)                                                                                  Line 5: Title - 1 word (synonym for the first noun)
Here is a cinquain poem that I share with the kids each year (this one was written by me):
I look forward to sharing more December poetry next week!
IF YOU WRITE PICTURE BOOKS please keep reading! My talented friend and critique partner Tara Luebbe*, who has two picture books coming out this spring (SHARK NATE-O from little bee and I AM FAMOUS from Albert Whitman), is kicking off the second year of her Writing with the Stars mentorship program. Writing with the Stars is a (free) contest that will match 16 aspiring picture book writers/illustrators with 16 published professionals. Mentorships are available for authors and author/illustrators who are unpublished and unagented.
I am super excited to finally be able to share this year’s incredible list of mentors, who are volunteering their time and talents to help aspiring picture book writers. Seriously, people—it is such an OUTSTANDING list!
So, drumroll, please….the 2017 Writing with the Stars mentors are:

Andrea Loney
Alastair Heim
Stacy McAnulty
Lindsay Ward
Melissa Iwai & Denis Markell
Josh Funk
Laura Gehl
Adam Lehrhaupt
Pam Calvert
Jody Jensen Shaffer
Corey Rosen Schwartz
Annie Silvestro
Rachel Ruiz
Lori Degman
Jennifer K. Mann
Brianne Farley

For more information, visit Tara’s website here. You can also follow Tara on Twitter at @t_luebbe. Please feel free to share this with any picture book authors or author/illustrators that you know!

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!

* Yes, I know—I have some rock star critique partners!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Big News!

I am thrilled to announce that I am now represented by Marisa Corvisiero and Meg LaTorre-Snyder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency! Marisa and Meg are enthusiastic about my work and I couldn’t be more pleased to have them in my corner!

I have been busy writing, revising, and submitting this year, attending conferences, and participating in the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge. In October, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2017 Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference, where I met with editors and connected with some online writer friends in person. To say that the last few months have been “busy” would be an understatement—“whirlwind” would be a much more appropriate term! But it has all been good! ☺

Serendipitously, I am surrounded by success at the moment (more posts to come on this topic—my critique partners have been on FIRE lately!), and am having the BEST time writing a young adult novel this month for my inaugural NaNoWriMo attempt. Receiving an offer of representation from Marisa and Meg is truly the icing on the cake, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

When you have a chance, please check out my author page on the Corvisiero Literary Agency website. Enjoy the rest of your week, and Happy Writing!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Celebrating NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

April is one of my favorite months because it is National Poetry Month, an entire month to celebrate POETRY! Since 1996, poets and poetry lovers around the world have participated in this annual celebration, spearheaded by the Academy of American Poets

One of my favorite things about National Poetry Month is the annual Poem in Your Pocket Day, which will be observed on Thursday, April 27 this year. On this day, poetry lovers are encouraged to carry a favorite poem in their pockets and share it with friends and family. I am already thinking about which poem I will choose! Here is one of my contenders, a favorite poem about spring written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

An April Day
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

     When the warm sun, that brings
Seed-time and harvest, has returned again,
'T is sweet to visit the still wood, where springs
    The first flower of the plain.

    I love the season well,
When forest glades are teeming with bright forms,
Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell
    The coming-on of storms.

    From the earth's loosened mould
The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives;
Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold,
    The drooping tree revives.

    The softly-warbled song
Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings
Glance quick in the bright sun, that moves along
    The forest openings.

    When the bright sunset fills
The silver woods with light, the green slope throws
Its shadows in the hollows of the hills,
    And wide the upland glows.

    And when the eve is born,
In the blue lake the sky, o'er-reaching far,
Is hollowed out and the moon dips her horn,
    And twinkles many a star.

    Inverted in the tide
Stand the gray rocks, and trembling shadows throw,
And the fair trees look over, side by side,
    And see themselves below.

    Sweet April! many a thought
Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed;
Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought,
    Life's golden fruit is shed.

Click here here for more information about this year’s National Poetry Month festivities. Happy Spring, and Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: Holiday Math Poetry and a NEW CONTEST for PB Writers!

Thank you to Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference 
for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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With a little over a week to go before Christmas, life has been a crazy whirl of holiday programs, concerts, parties, and shopping (the wrapping will commence soon☺). School will be OUT in just a few days, so in honor of the upcoming break from all things scholarly, I am sharing a few math poems that I wrote. I’ve posted about math poetry previously (click here for more on this fun poetic format), and these holiday-themed poems were particularly fun to write!




Since many Poetry Friday participants are also children’s writers, I also want to share a wonderful new contest with you all. My friend and critique buddy Tara Luebbe has launched Writing with the Stars this week, a (free) contest that will match 16 aspiring picture book writers/illustrators with 16 published professionals. Mentorships are available for authors, illustrators, AND author/illustrators, and here is the AMAZINGLY TALENTED list of participating mentors:

Camille Andros
Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Megan Bryant
Pam Calvert
Marcie Colleen
Paul Czajak
Katie Duffield
Beth Ferry
Laura Gehl
Melissa Iwai
Stacy McAnulty
Peter McCleery
Penny Parker Klostermann
Lori Richmond
DJ Steinberg
Andrea Zuill

(I am seriously in awe of this list!!)

These talented picture book professionals are volunteering their time and will each choose one very lucky person to work with for a three month period. For more about Writing with the Stars, visit Tara’s website here and checkout the Twitter buzz at #PB WWTS. Applications will be accepted January 13-16 and I will post an interview with Tara the first week in January. In the meantime, follow Tara on Twitter @t_luebbe and read this fabulous interview with Tara by Johnell Dewitt!

Enjoy these crazy December days, have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: Celebrating Haiku with Bob Raczka’s SANTA CLAUSES

Thanks to Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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A few years ago I read about Bob Raczka’s book SANTA CLAUSES on another writer’s Poetry Friday post and had to buy a copy for myself. I was definitely not disappointed—this delightful book gives young readers a peek into the hectic life of Santa and Mrs. Claus as they prepare for Christmas. Beginning on December 1, each day is chronicled with a haiku, and the separate poems combine to tell a bigger story that ends on Christmas day. It is a wonderful concept and I look forward to sharing the book with young poets this holiday season!


The idea of telling a bigger story through multiple haiku poems is intriguing to me. Haiku is one of my favorite types of poetry because it presents so many opportunities for the creative mind to play. Its simplicity can be deceiving—some of the most profound poetry I have come across has been written in haiku.

For Poetry Friday this week I have written my own December haiku, just for fun:



Have a wonderful weekend, and happy writing! 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Great Writing Resources and Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "Autumn Fires"

Thanks to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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Fall is here at last! Cooler weather has finally arrived, and I am so glad—it was a long, hot summer here in South Carolina!

To help celebrate my favorite season, I thought I would share a few writers' resources that I have found helpful over the last few months.

First off is my friend Johnell Dewitt’s new website: www.johnelldewitt.com. Of particular interest to writers are her interviews with literary agents Rick Richter and Rubin Pfeffer, and her posts about storyboarding and proofreading. These were all helpful to me, and I look forward to reading more from Johnell in the future. I can tell already that this site will be one I visit often!

Another writing friend introduced me to ALL THE WONDERS this summer. This site has it all—book reviews, podcasts, crafts, and more. Author and children's librarian Matthew Winner’s podcasts are especially helpful and insightful! www.allthewonders.com

And although this one requires a paid subscription, I want to encourage any aspiring picture book writers to consider joining Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge in 2017. My blog has been super quiet this year, but this is because I have been so immersed in writing and revising picture book manuscripts. I have found a fabulous critique group through 12 x 12, participated in helpful webinars, and been creatively challenged (this is an understatement). This investment in my writing career has definitely been worth it! www.12x12challenge.com

I will share more links soon, but wanted to highlight these today!

For my Poetry Friday post this week I decided to share one of my favorite poems about fall, “Autumn Fires” by Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson. The smell of autumn is definitely in the air around here!

Autumn Fires

by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers. 

Sing a song of seasons! 
Something bright in all! 
Flowers in the summer, 
Fires in the fall!

 Have a wonderful fall weekend, and Happy Writing!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson

Thanks to Jone at Check it Out for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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Life has been on fast forward since I last posted—the many activities of May swooped down and pecked up the minutes, and the days flew by. School is out now and my boys and I are settling in for a nice, long, slow summer.

For my jump back into Poetry Friday this week, I decided to share one of my favorite summer poems. Swinging was one of my favorite things to do as a child, and The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson captures every bit of the free-flying feeling that I remember so well.

The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!



Unfortunately, I won’t be doing much swinging this summer; last weekend on the first night of a long-planned camping trip to the D.C. area, I stepped in a hole and ended up in the ER. My husband and boys refused to go into the city without me, so we came home the next day. Now I am relegated to a nice, comfy chair for the next several weeks, and am looking forward to having more focused writing time than I've had in a long time (yes, I am desperately searching for the silver lining here!).

Wishing you all a happy (and safe) summer!