Dec 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!

Dec 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! 

Oct 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: 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!

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!

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!

Jun 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!

Apr 22, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: Celebrating National Poetry Month and Shakespeare's Birthday

Thanks to Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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Happy National Poetry Month! I cannot believe that I have not posted since February! I have been hyper focused on writing and revising in 2016 and have not posted as regularly as I would like to. I am thankful for those of you who stick with me and read when I do post. ☺

I could not let April slip by without recognizing National Poetry Month! Founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month celebrates the importance of poetry in our country. Schools, libraries, book sellers, publishers, poets, and readers all join in the fun with programs and events celebrated each year during the month of April.

Yesterday I spent time with some wonderful 5th graders, talking about different poetic forms and celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day. By the end of the workshops, each student had chosen a poem to carry in his or her pocket and share with family and friends, and everyone was hard at work creating his or her own poem. A favorite again this year were book spine poems (to read more about this poetic format, click here). Next week I will be leading a poetry workshop with some kindergartners—I especially love sharing the magic of poetry with very young learners!

Since tomorrow (April 23) is William Shakespeare’s 452nd birthday, I am sharing one of his poems for my Poetry Friday post today. I hope you enjoy it!

A Fairy Song
by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Over hill, over dale, 
Thorough bush, thorough brier, 
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire! 
I do wander everywhere, 
Swifter than the moon's sphere; 
And I serve the Fairy Queen, 
To dew her orbs upon the green; 
The cowslips tall her pensioners be; 
In their gold coats spots you see; 
Those be rubies, fairy favours; 
In those freckles live their savours; 
I must go seek some dewdrops here, 
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.

Happy National Poetry Month! Have a great weekend, and Happy Writing!

Feb 25, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: Celebrating Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thank you to Liz Steinglass for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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I have been busy writing and revising lately, and it has been way too long since I’ve posted. But I wanted to jump back into Poetry Friday this week to talk about American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was born on February 27, 1807.
Longfellow is the author of many well-loved poems, including one of the first poems I ever memorized as a child:

There Was a Little Girl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Longfellow also wrote another one of my favorite poems, The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride, which I read every year to my third graders when I was a teacher. Although not 100% historically accurate, the narrative of the poem captures the urgency and spirit of this moment in America's collective consciousness. The cadence and atmosphere is spectacular, and it is always such a joy to read aloud. Here is the opening stanza:

The Landlord's Tale. Paul Revere's Ride
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

Listen my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,—
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
To read the rest of this poem, click here

Thanks for stopping by to celebrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birthday tomorrow! Have a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Feb 1, 2016

Reading, Writing, and Revising

So far it’s been very quiet on my blog in 2016, but that's because I've had lots of exciting things going on. I took the plunge and joined the 2106 12 x 12 Challenge, and am *LOVING* it! If you're unfamiliar with 12 x 12, it is a community of picture book writers who motivate and support each other in our goals of writing 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. 12 x 12 was founded by author Julie Hedlund and 2016 is its 5th year. In January I wrote two new picture book drafts and revised another I’ve been working on for a long time. I’ve attended two great webinars and am looking forward to another fabulous one tomorrow. And yesterday I posted the first 250 words of a PB for critique (this made me very nervous!).

In January I also joined a local SCBWI critique group that, although new to me, is established has some incredibly talented writers and illustrators. And I’m also participating in a “Read 1000 Picture Books in 2016” challenge. Here is what my dining room table looks like right now:

So far my favorite picture books have been the 2016 Newbery and Caldecott winners, which I bought last week. The Newbery winner this year is a picture book, which is remarkable since most years the award is presented to a middle grade novel. Last Stop on Market Street was written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. This year's Caldecott winner, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, was illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick. Both winners are AMAZING picture books with heartwarming stories and several "layers"—wonderful reads for both kids and adults. I can’t believe I had not read either book until last week. I will do much better in 2016!

I’d love to hear what your favorite picture books are. Please comment below if you’d like to share. Have a wonderful February, and Happy Writing!