A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt Guests: Linda Ashman and Her Young Friends, Mischa and Phoebe…Plus a Giveaway!

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a seventh-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

April is National Poetry Month! So  . . .

poetry friday button

National Poetry Month brings poetry to the forefront. And if you’re looking for poetry for kids, the Poetry Friday Roundup is a great place to start. Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference is hosting today. Thanks, Tabatha. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

To find out how kidlit bloggers are celebrating poetry this month, head over to Jama’s Alphabet Soup where she’s rounded up links to a world of poetry fun.

Today it’s my pleasure to share a creative collaboration from . . .

Linda Ashman and Her Young Friends, Mischa and Phoebe

**GIVEAWAY! Before you view today’s collaboration I wanted to let you know that Linda has generously offered a signed copy of her new book, Ella WHO? to one lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment by April 30th at midnight CST. A winner will be randomly selected. To win the copy you must have a US address.

And now, today’s episode!

From Linda: For this collaboration, I borrowed my friend Emily Dorn’s daughters, Mischa (8) and Phoebe (6). The poems were extras from two poetry collections I’d written years ago—The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide and Stella, Unleashed: Notes from the Doghouse—that for one reason or another weren’t included in the books. I gave the girls both poems and told them they could each do an illustration or collaborate on a single one. They chose to do their own. I thought they might find Medusa too creepy, but Phoebe embraced the idea of a headful of snakes. And Mischa created a letter that my dog would love to receive every day.

The First Collaboration

Linda’s Poem

Phoebe’s Art

art by Phoebe

The Second Collaboration

Linda’s Poem

Mischa’s Art

art by Mischa

Here are the three collaborators as well as a younger brother 🙂 Phoebe’s on the left. Mischa’s on the right. Their little brother Gabe is on Linda’s lap.

Many thanks to Linda, Phoebe, and Mischa for sharing their talents with us today.

**GIVEAWAY: Don’t forget to leave a comment by April 30th at midnight CST for a chance to win a copy of Linda’s book, Ella WHO?

About the Story: When a baby elephant shows up on moving day, a young girl tries to tell her family. But they’re all so distracted (and, well, clueless), that the elephant slips by unnoticed. A friendship blooms as the two play throughout the day but, alas, the elephant must return home to the animal sanctuary. Fortunately it’s not too far away, and—as the girl discovers—is filled with many more potential playmates.


Meet Linda: Linda Ashman is the author of more than thirty-five picture books and the creator of The Nuts & Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. New titles include Ella WHO?, illustrated by Sara Sanchez (Sterling, April 2017) and William’s Winter Nap, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Disney-Hyperion, October 2017). She lives with her family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Twitter: @lindaashman2

Coming October 10, 2017

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt: Landon and Penny

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just in case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew Landon (a seventh-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on the second Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

April is National Poetry Month! So  . . .

poetry friday button

National Poetry Month brings poetry to the forefront. And if you’re looking for poetry for kids, the Poetry Friday Roundup is a wonderful place to start. Dori at Dori Reads is hosting today.. Thanks, Dori. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

To find out how kidlit bloggers are celebrating poetry this month, head over to Jama’s Alphabet Soup where she’s rounded up links to a world of poetry fun.

Now onto today’s post.

I call my poem a zig-zag poem because the word that falls at the end of a line begins the next line — this creates a zig-zag effect.

My Poem

Landon’s Art

art by Landon (with photo background)

Notice the name of Landon’s airship. Notice the acronym after the S.S. Does it ring a bell?

As our followers know, Landon hides the same object in the majority of his drawings for this series. It is hidden in his art above. It’s really not much of a secret anymore since most readers know what to look for . . . but it’s still really fun to try and find it. The object is very powerful when in an artist’s hand. As a special treat, Landon created a drawing about the object and today I’m sharing a time-lapse video of Landon finishing up the drawing of his trusty pencil sword!

Recently, I got to visit Landon and his family and we took an updated picture of the Great Nephew and the Great Aunt.

Thanks so much for joining us today. I appreciate all of you who read this series. See you next week when I’ll have guest collaborators.


Meet Great Aunt Penny (the one who blogs here): Penny Parker Klostermann is the author of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2015) and the upcoming, A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale(Random House, 2017). She loves all kinds of books, but especially loves very silly picture books that make her laugh. She has been known to hug her favorite picture books and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too.

Penny grew up in Colorado and now lives in Abilene, Texas-the Storybook Capital of Texas!

Other Places to find Penny
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

2017 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem: Day 10

Irene Latham began the Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem in 2012 as a way to celebrate National Poetry Month. Each year begins a new poem with a new line added each day of April as 30 poets pass the poem from blog to blog. Watching the poem progress is something I look forward to every year.

One thing that Irene shared in preparation is that “our aim this year is a poem for children”. I’m so glad she stressed that. I think it gave just the right amount of direction and focus for the poets. And so far, this poem is my favorite of all Kidlitosphere Progressive Poems.

Here is the poem so far.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,

Linda Baie wrote Line 9 which offered all sorts of possibilities as she passed the poem to me. Today I’m adding Line 10 and will share a little bit of my thought process as I came up with the line. In our poem, I picture a child that is creative, and through creativity has had fantastical experiences. Keeping that in mind, I kept coming back to one of my favorite words in the poem given to us on Day 4 by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. That word is dragonwords. (Imagine me liking a word with dragon in it 🙂 ) When I read dragonwords, my mind went a lot of places. I wanted to keep her word alive in some form because to me it speaks of the child’s experiences which influence her/him going forward. Also, Linda suggested that one thing missing in her eyes might be a friend. I love that. But I wondered if a friend (who may or may not appear in the poem) would be human or be another sort of friend for this special child. Would the child need to speak “dragon” to a dragon or to another being with shared “dragon” experiences? Whatever my come, I had to give a nod to dragonwords whether it plays a part in the child’s ongoing adventure or not.

Here’s the poem so far with my line added.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation

And now I’m passing the poem and the adventure onto Ramona at Pleasures from the Page. Happy poeting, Ramona 😀

Below is a list of participating poets with links to their blogs so that you can follow  the 2017 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. You can find the same list in my right sidebar for easy reference.

April
1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

 

 

 

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt Guests: Carrie Clickard and Her Nephew, Brent

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a seventh-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

April is National Poetry Month! So  . . .

poetry friday button

National Poetry Month brings poetry to the forefront. And if you’re looking for poetry for kids, here is a great place to start. Irene at Live Your Poem is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup. Thanks, Irene. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

To find out how kidlit bloggers are celebrating poetry this month, head over to Jama’s Alphabet Soup where she’s rounded up links to a world of poetry fun.

Now onto today’s post. It’s my pleasure to share a creative collaboration from . . .

Carrie Clickard and Her Nephew, Brent

From Carrie: My nephew Brent and I have been kindred spirits in our reading, gaming and movie tastes since he arrived on this planet nearly 29 years ago.
We fell into passing pictures, poems and stories back and forth, which one of us would then illustrate just for fun. It was a great way to keep in touch after his family moved to California — and we still indulge our joint creativity when we can find the time.  “Dinosaur Planet” sprang out of our mutual fascination with space exploration, dinosaurs and “what if” questions.  What if dinosaurs were sentient and had an entire civilization before humans arrived? What if dinosaurs didn’t die off, they just left the planet?  We wrote the poem in stanza “turns”, me first, followed by Brent. The art can be blamed entirely on me.

The Poem by Carrie and Brent

The Art by Carrie

Art by Carrie

And it seems Brent has always loved dinosaurs. Here he is in a dinosaur “egg.”

And the Brent of now . . .  who might sail the stars and bring the dinosaurs home.

Many thanks to Carrie and Brent for sharing their talents with us today.


Meet Carrie: Carrie L Clickard is a published picture book author with Flashlight Press, Holiday House (Fall 2017) and two forthcoming books with Simon & Schuster in 2017-18. Her poetry and short fiction has also appeared in magazines such as: Spider, Ladybug, Muse, Highlights, High Five, Andromeda Spaceways,  Myriad Lands, Spellbound, Underneath the Juniper Tree, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.
Visit Carrie at her website: www.clclickard.com

Reflection and a Tip From a Critique Ninja

I loved how Stacy McAnulty blogged about her takeaways as a 12×12 Critique Ninja (Read HERE). I’m sure her comments were as helpful to other members of the 12×12 community (and other blog readers) as they were to me. As children’s writers any reflections, tips, advice, etc. help us on our journey. Even if we’ve heard the same tips and advice before it’s amazing how hearing something over and over again helps it to become ingrained in our writing process. So I decided to write a blog post reflecting on my time as a Critique Ninja. But instead of making several observations I’m addressing the revision process. Specifically, the importance of taking your time.

As part of this post, I’m sharing a post I wrote in December of 2014 when I was blogging with EMU’s Debuts. EMU’s Debuts is a blog written by debut authors from Erin Murphy Literary Agency who are excited to be setting off down the path toward publication and blog about a little bit of everything along a writer’s journey. Even if you haven’t gotten a book deal yet, it’s worth your time to follow that blog.

The content of my 2014 post still holds true for me and that’s why I wanted to share it on my own blog as I finish up my time as a Critique Ninja for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge. For those not familiar with the 12×12 Challenge: 12×12 is a year-long writing challenge where members aim to write 12 complete picture book drafts, one per month, for each 12 months of the year.

As one of many benefits of the challenge, members can post their manuscript in a Forum to get feedback. Members give each other feedback but can also receive feedback from a Critique Ninja like me. Critique Ninjas browse the forum, choose manuscripts, and make “big picture” comments for the author to consider.

Notice I said “for the author to consider. As I finish up my time as a Critique Ninja I wanted to focus on that word . . . consider in terms of revision. Why? Because when I first began writing and receiving critiques, I didn’t consider comments from the critiquer to the degree that I should have. I rushed in and addressed specific comments without considering all aspects of my story. How would my revision strengthen my story overall and not just that particular part/line. I’ve learned to slow way down and consider carefully.

During my time as a Critique Ninja I noticed some really quick revising. In fact I saw some stories posted two times in the same day with the second one titled “revised” or “revision.” I wondered if it was done too hastily. Not “hastily” because the writers don’t care deeply about their manuscripts. More like “hastily” because they care so much and it’s so exciting to improve a story.

NOTE: It’s very important to me that you know that I’m not writing this post to reprimand or criticize anyone who posted a quick revision in the forum. NOT AT ALL. Because just a few sentences ago, I told you that I’ve done the same thing — a quick revision. And I’ve done it many times. My purpose in writing this post is to challenge you to read my words below from 2014 and do your best to carefully consider critique comments as you move forward on your journey as a writer. Take your time with a revision. If someone suggests a really great change for your meter in a rhyming story you must consider their suggestion in terms of your entire story…not just one line. If someone suggests something for your character, setting, etc., you must consider their suggestion/s in terms of your entire story…not just the character, setting, etc.

We know that EVERY word counts. And when we say that, it doesn’t mean “word count.” It means we have to consider EVERY word in terms of our story. Each word counts toward making our story the best it can be.

Now as a reminder of all aspects/elements of our story that we need to consider as we make revisions, here is my 2014 post from EMU’s Debuts.

Writing in Reverse

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about the fact that my car was totaled in a June hailstorm. That unfortunate event necessitated a new car. My old car had a backup camera, but this car has a BACKUP CAMERA! It’s amazing. It has this beeping-warning system that lets me know if someone is passing behind me or if I’m getting close to backing into something. The other day I was backing out of my garage, looking at the view in the backup camera, when the phrase Writing in Reverse just popped into my head. You may have noticed from my posts here that I love analogies. So when I thought about Writing in Reverse, I knew I had to use this for a post.

Before Writing in Reverse, I have to get my my story down. So I just drive/write a first draft. Yes, I do need to have a destination in mind­—a character, the semblance of a plot or structure, events to drive my story forward, etc. I need to keep the Rules of the Road/Genre in mind as I write. I need to be aware of traffic/the audience I’m writing for, and I need to watch my speed limit/word count. OK, sometimes I do go a few MPH/WPM (words per manuscript) over knowing I can probably get by with it for a draft, but I don’t want my speed/word count to get completely out of control. So, pretty much, I just drive/write on. The first draft is a hugely important part of writing. If I never do this part, I’ll never get anywhere. My ideas will be stuck at home and never see the light of day. Never get out into the world. And once the first draft is finished, I do feel like I’ve been somewhere. But I know this same journey will become very familiar . . .

. . . because now comes Writing in Reverse/revision.

Screenshot 2014-12-20 19.58.47

It’s time to take the same drive using my backup camera. It will be much slower. I will cut my speed limit to a crawl. Each twist and turn will require my complete attention. I will be more cautious and more aware of any obstacles that will hinder my story. I will listen to my internal beeps/alarms noting when something is amiss. I will listen to my critique group who will make me aware of my blind spots. This journey will take much longer than my first draft, but it has to be taken to get to that “sweet spot” for submission. I know this. It’s tough. But it must be done. And it’s worth it.

Recently my second deal was announced. A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE sold to Maria Modugno at Random House Children’s who also bought THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT. It will be illustrated by Ben Mantle who also illustrated my dragon story. Talk about Writing in Reverse! I had 102 “Saved As” files of A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE. Not all were complete rewrites, but all had tweaks. Some major, some minor. That’s a lotta Writing in Reverse. But it served me well. When I emailed Tricia (love my agent) that 102nd file, she deemed it “ready to go”. In two days, we heard back from Maria. She wanted my story 🙂

So make sure you use a BACKUP CAMERA! A really good one. Take that slow, Writing-in-Reverse journey where you pay attention to every detail and find that “sweet spot” before submitting. It will be worth it!

writing in reverse final

Last note to 12×12 writers: So as you make revisions in your manuscript make sure to consider all aspects/elements of a great picture book with each change you make. By doing this, you will be presenting your best work to critiquers — whether it be a Critique Ninja or a 12×12 member kind enough to comment on your work.

Good luck and happy considering and revising!

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt Guests: Laura Chamberlain Gehl With a Son and a Daughter

poetry friday button

Thanks to Amy at The Poem Farm for hosting Poetry Friday. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a seventh-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Today it’s my pleasure to share a creative collaboration from . . .

Laura Gehl, Her 8-year Old Son, and 6-year Old Daughter

From Laura: My youngest two kids were very excited to collaborate with me on this project!

I wrote this poem because my daughter had a lot of trouble learning to swim, with plenty of crying and refusing to get in the water.

In their artwork (my son drew, my daughter colored), the mermaid you see is the mother mermaid.  I thought it was wonderful that my daughter insisted the “Mommy mermaid” should be smiling with “welcoming arms” even though in my poem the mother is a bit annoyed with a grim face.  The mother mermaid is on a blue background to show that she is in the water, encouraging the reluctant little mermaid to join her.

Laura’s Poem

Art Drawn by 8-year Old Son and Colored by 6-year Old Daughter

Art by Laura’s Son and Daughter

The Gehl Family on Kangaroo Island in Australia

Many thanks to Laura, her son, and her daughter for sharing their talents with us today.


Meet Laura: Laura Gehl’s picture books include One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, and the Peep and Egg series, illustrated by Joyce Wan.  Her next two books, both releasing in October 2017, are Peep and Egg: I’m Not Taking a Bath and Koala Challah, illustrated by Maria Mola. Laura is also excited about other upcoming books, including My Pillow Keeps Moving, illustrated by Christopher Weyant, and I Got a Chicken for My Birthday, illustrated by Sarah Horne.  Visit Laura online at www.lauragehl.com.


Meet the Artists: These two adorable artists also love to read and write. At the moment, they both plan to be writers when they grow up (although astronaut is another option–or possibly teacher, because teachers get lots of gifts from their students, including cookies). Check back in 15 years for a career update.

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt Guests: Betsy Devany and Her Grandson, Landon

poetry friday button

Thanks to Catherine at Reading to the Core for hosting Poetry Friday. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a seventh-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Today it’s my pleasure to share a creative collaboration from . . .

Betsy Devany and her Grandson, Landon (5 years old)

Before you hear from Betsy I wanted to say that this collaboration touched my heart like none before. It’s sweet and sad and happy all rolled into one which I believe are some of the emotions we feel as we move through grief when we lose someone so very close.

From Betsy: My grandson Landon has been train-obsessed since his Pop Pop introduced him to the world of model trains. Landon wasn’t even one at the time. So when Landon and I talked about this project, it didn’t surprise me when he drew a train, inspiring a poem with lots of fun train sounds.
That wasn’t what Landon wanted.
“I drew this train for Pop Pop and I want the poem to be for Pop Pop, too.”
Landon, who is five, is still grieving Pop Pop. (My husband died on June 1, 2016, five months after being diagnosed with ALS.)
Wanting to write the poem on his own, Landon wasn’t sure where to begin. “Who did you draw the picture for?” I asked. “I drew the train for Pop Pop,” he said. So he started there, asking for my help along the way.
Through this collaborative process I was reminded how art can heal us. It’s how we find our voices after we’ve lost our way. And sometimes art helps a young child express their grief and discover the world is still a safe place. And that there will always be trains and memories of Pop Pop. 

Poem
by Landon and Betsy (last stanza is Betsy’s)

Landon’s Art

Art by Landon

Landon at work on another drawing.

Landon and Pop Pop.Landon giving Pop Pop an Eskimo kiss.The collaborators: Betsy and Landon.

Many thanks to Betsy and Landon for sharing their talents with us today.


Meet Betsy: Betsy writes for all ages of children, and is the author of Lucy’s Lovey, illustrated by Christopher Denise, and published by Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books. When not writing, she explores the natural world with her camera, entertains her three grandkids, and is honing her Legos and model train skills. She also works part-time at an old-fashioned toy store where she delights in hand-selling children’s books. She has a blog series (#WhosYourLovey) where guests share their childhood lovey stories. Betsy lives near Mystic, CT with her rescue dog, Buddy and her rescue cat, Terrapin. You can connect with Betsy online:
Twitter
Website
Facebook