Friday, June 11, 2021

Poem That Changes Everything

Howdy Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (The link to PF is below).

Today I'm sharing a recent post from author/poet Alison McGhee's glorious blog...a poem that will change everything for you. 

I promise.

I subscribe to Alison's blog; each poem she chooses floats into my inbox as Poem of the Week. The gift is not only Alison's choice of poems, but her short intros to each poem, which are as gorgeous as the poems she chooses:

Here's the link to the poem she sent May 29, 2021--do click on it...her brief intros are definitely worth reading. But here's the poem if you can't click:

by Cathy Ross

If the moon came out only once a month
people would appreciate it more. They’d mark it
in their datebooks, take a walk by moonlight, notice
how their bedroom window framed its silver smile.
And if the moon came out just once a year,
it would be a holiday, with tinsel streamers
tied to lampposts, stores closing early
so no one has to work on lunar eve,
travelers rushing to get home by moon-night,
celebrations with champagne and cheese.
Folks would stay awake ’til dawn
to watch it turn transparent and slowly fade away.
And if the moon came out randomly,
the world would be on wide alert, never knowing
when it might appear, spotters scanning empty skies,
weathermen on TV giving odds—“a 10% chance
of moon tonight”—and when it suddenly began to rise,
everyone would cry “the moon is out,” crowds
would fill the streets, jostling and pointing,
night events would be canceled,
moon-closure signs posted on the doors.
And if the moon rose but once a century,
ascending luminous and lush on a long-awaited night,
all humans on the planet would gather
in huddled, whispering groups
to stare in awe, dazzled by its brilliance,
enchanted by its spell. Years later,
they would tell their children, “Yes, I saw it once.
Maybe you will live to see it too.”
But the moon is always with us,
an old familiar face, like the mantel clock,
so no one pays it much attention.
why not go outside and gaze up in wonder,
as if you’d never seen it before,
as if it were a miracle,
as if you had been waiting
all your life.

For more information on Cathy Ross, check out her website.

I imitated this poem, choosing my own subject, playing it out, as Cathy Ross did. Amazing. Try it!

from pixabay

Carol's hosting today at Carol's Corner

Posted with love by April Halprin Wayland

Friday, June 4, 2021

Getting Out of the Mud with an Ekphrastic Poem

Happy Poetry Friday! You'll find my first ever ekphrastic poem below.

I have to admit: I wasn't excited at the prospect of blogging on the topic of "patience, persistence, and perseverance" today. I haven't been doing a very good job practicing any of these traits lately. Part of the reason has to do with distractions related to personal issues. But it's also because of the stage of my current writing project--I recently started submitting it to agents. My strategy is to submit to a select few agents who seem like the best match for my manuscript. Researching those agents is a slow, time-consuming process. Some days, it feels like a full-time job. And it requires a lot of that first "P:" Patience, as I wait to hear back. 

Normally, I'd use this waiting time to occupy myself with other writing projects. But the ones I've tried working on don't seem to be going anywhere. So I'm feeling a lot like this tortoise--stuck in the mud!

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Re-reading JoAnn's post for this series helped pinpoint my problem. JoAnn wrote: "I've found over the years that I feel better when I write at least a little something every day. I miss it when I don't."

I've definitely been missing writing. So I'm trying to again write "a little something" most days, if not every day. Poems are the perfect medium for this, since they can be quite short yet still satisfying.

Just this week, I learned about the Poetry Sisters' May ekphrastic poetry challenge. I don't recall having ever written an ekphrastic poem before. So, even though I'm too late to be part of the challenge, I thought I'd try my hand at writing one for today. My first step was looking up the definition. According to this website: "An ekphrastic poem is based on a work of art. Usually, ekphrastic poems are written about a painting, but they can also be based on a sculpture, an object, or even architecture." 

The Poetry Sisters' challenge was to write about a photograph of a work of art. I decided to write my ekphrastic poem about a photograph, too--one I came across while looking for the above turtle-in-the-mud photo:

Photo by Jozsef Hocza on Unsplash

I came up with this ekphrastic haiku for the photo (and my own plight):

slow going ahead
but it feels good to be free
and moving forward

©2021 Carmela A. Martino. All rights reserved.


Be sure to check out this week's Poetry Friday roundup by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

Happy writing!

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Other Side of the Rainbow--Patience, etc in the Publishing World

In our recent series about the three P's--Patience, Persistence and Perseverance--my fellow TA's have talked about them in the writing process. I'm going to a different area of the writer's world--publication--where the Three P's are every bit as essential to survival.

 By nature, I am not patient, persistent or persevering. However, I told myself that if I just kept practicing those virtues, I would some day be a published author. It took twenty years of consistent effort (and an MFA from Vermont College) but I finally sold my first book. Yay! 

May 2000, talking to my editor

Now I had an editor and a publisher. Smooth sailing from here on out, right? Wrong!

When I sold my first book in 2000, I had certain romantic notions of publishing, mainly about editors.  I had read the biography of Max Perkins, the legendary editor of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Wolfe and every other major American writer of the 1920's-40's. In general,I thought editors were Herculean beings like Mr. Perkins. Perkins was not just an editor, he was a "writer wrangler." He carved books from the massive manuscripts Wolfe presented him. He served as a surrogate father to Hemingway, whose gigantic ego masked deep insecurity. He never lost faith in Fitzgerald, no matter how chaotic that writer's life became. Unsurprisingly, I decided that editors were equal parts loving parents and literary magicians.

My editors have all been lovely, creative, intelligent people, who managed to find in my manuscripts insights I never suspected. But gone are the days of signing on with an editor for life (or at least until one of you becomes disenchanted.) With one exception, not one of my acquiring editors was around for the actual publication of the book. Some of my books have had as many as four editors shepherding it through the various stages of publication.

How did this happen? I might've taken it personally, but I realized that editor is a young person's job. There are still a few old school editors who spend their careers with one company they, but VERY few. A "newbie" editor (like mine) work punishing hours, and if they aren't asleep, they are reading. They job hop, from publisher to publisher. Some of them flame out and go into another line of work. One went to rehab. Some become agents. And some of them do things that don't allow for reading twenty hours a day. Like get married, have kids. Things like that.

Why am I going on about editors? Because the constant turnover in editors requires great amounts of the 3 "P's". Patience when your book is "orphaned" by the acquiring editor, and you wait to hear from the new editor, who has been "assigned" your book. Persistence in asking for updates on publication, as your book is pushed back from one year to the next. Perseverance as you ask...and ask...and ask again if an illustrator has been found for your picture book. And patience again as you learn where your book has landed on the illustrator's calendar. 

For example, I was beyond thrilled when the fabulous illustrator E.B. Lewis agreed to do my first picture book. SO thrilled...that I never thought to ask WHEN it would be published. My editor left for another house right after the final copy edits, so I not only didn't know when...I didn't know WHO to ask. A year later, I learned through a conversation with an agent, that Mr. Lewis had projects lined up for years...and that it would be at least five years before my book rose to the top of this schedule. Actually, it was four years... and well worth the wait!

Currently, I am dealing with THE longest wait of my writing life. I banged out a book in 2010. Sold it within 3 weeks. A new record for me! Yay! Did the edits, go paid my partial royalty (the rest to come at publication) all within six months. "I'm getting the hang of this writing thing," I thought. 

And then...nothing. 2011. I write my editor and learn she has gotten married and quit the biz. 2012. 2013. I am reassigned to an editor. 2014. New editor says they have a hot prospect for an illustrator. 2015. Illustrator thinks about the book...and decides it's not for her. 2016. I ask the publisher if they still plan to publish my book. The same in 2017, 2018 and 2019. At the end of 2019, I am on the verge of mailing back my royalty and asking to reclaim the interim editor writes me that I've been assigned to a NEW editor. right out of school who turns out to be younger than my daughter. We get together and talk. All goes well. New editor has some good new ideas. I incorporate them into the manuscript. New Editor has a hot prospect for an illustrator. (Hmm...where have I heard that before?) I turn in the final edits, March 6, 2020. It was a Friday.  The following Friday, the President announced a national emergency due to COVID-19. We all know what happened after that.

A year passes. In February, I hear from my editor again. Like everyone else, editor has been working from home. Good news...the illustrator is starting work on my book. Um...OK. I thought she had ALREADY started. So that means....yep...the publication date, which was supposed to be Fall 2021, is now Fall 2022. In other words, everything that could possibly happen to this book...has happened. I'm just happy that in the past 10 years this manuscript has stayed alive through multiple editors, illustrators...and national emergency. 

Even Max Perkins could not have done more  in a time of  pandemic.

Have a great summer everybody! Go out and chew some clover!

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

Friday, May 21, 2021

Write! Write! Write!

This time around, my fellow TeachingAuthors and I share the myriad 

of ways we keep keepin’ on.

Zeena and Joann underscored the importance of Patience, Persistence 

and Perseverance.

Each of these abilities could be my middle name. 😊

Indeed, upon the sale of my first picture book, I proudly declared 

myself The Susan Lucci of Children’s Books.

My “Rx for Moving Forward (Upright and Satisfied)" is but one 

of my many posts meant to keep writers writing.

Except for the reference to The Oprah Show, all references and 

resources remains true today.

I’m all about Writer Resources – for my students, my writers, myself 

and our Readers. Today I share three, to keep you – and/or your 

students -  keepin’ on.  

Remember: the name of the game is WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Young Writers will certainly delight in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s 

collection of poems - appropriately titled Write! Write! Write! 

(Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane, 2020), though truly writers of all 

ages will also find the fare delicious.  The twenty-two poems take 

“the new writer just learning how” through the ins and outs and ups 

and downs of any writer’s life and process.  Think: ideas (growing 

like peaches), patience, revision, edits and more. The writer’s 

first discovered “WOW!’ in time translates to POWER, and isn’t that 

grand? Ryan O’Rourke’s illustrations capture the wonder of it all.

“WRITE. RIGHT. RITE.”– a “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” video 

series, gifts Young Writers with a whole lot of fun-filled ways 

to engage with Jason Reynolds, the 2020-2021 National Ambassador 

of Young People’s Literature. The series aims to teach 

“authentic” - not “correct” or “exact” – expression.  In each 

video, the award-winning author and singular storyteller first 

tells a story in his own inimitable style, then offers a prompt 

to keep writers writing, always making sure to brainstorm 

“get-you-going” questions.  Imagine a new writing device. Create 

a bobble head. Take an imaginary road trip. Write the first line 

of a story. Thirty in all, ending with Create an award for 


And, every writer needs to sit down with a cup o’ Something, then 

click here to watch and listen to Jason grab the mic himself and 

present the 2021 Zena Sutherland Lecture. Lots of WOW! and lots 

of POWER! as Jason shares an unforgettable story about his father, 

brilliantly linking its greater meaning to how we need to keep all 

children readingreadingreading, and thus writingwritingwriting. 

FYI: Maurice Sendak presented the very first Zena Sutherland 

Lecture in 1981.  In the video, The Horn Book editor Roger Sutton 

shares more about this most distinguished, life-changing professor 

and review editor in whose name these lectures are given. The Fall 

issue of The Horn Book will reprint Jason’s Lecture.

Finally, Christie at Wondering and Wandering hosts a special and 

surprise Poetry Friday today, celebrating Mary Lee Hahn and her 

37 years of teaching – and growing – writers and poets. You can 

participate by contributing a poem to honor Mary Lee at 

#PoemsforMaryLee and #MarvelousMaryLee.

The last lines of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Anything Can Grow” 

from Write! Write! Write! seem more than appropriate for Mary Lee.

     “I can turn day into night,

      I can do this when I write

      with my hand in black on white.

      Anything can grow.”

Mary Lee Hahn.  Yet one more Writer Resource to keep us keepin’ on!

Happy Resourcing!

Esther Hershenhorn


Friday, May 14, 2021

Three Ps in Spring and in Writing

Happy Poetry Friday! I'm back with another guest post in our series about patience, persistence, and perseverance. Zeena started the series with a look at how these traits apply to children. Now that spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin, I’m spending as much time as I can outside. Today’s post is an amalgamation of observations from walking and gardening, along with some thoughts about writing.

When I think of persistence, I remember my mother saying, "Try, try again."

chomping and building
beavers establish their world
tree by tree by tree

Writers build worlds and revise manuscripts one page at a time. Those pages add up! I've found over the years that I feel better when I write at least a little something every day. I  miss it when I don't.

I think of perseverance as persistence against an obstacle. Tenacity is required. Success includes a sense of triumph.

stuck in a tough spot
between maybe and no way
maple branches out

Finishing a polished draft requires perseverance. For me, teamwork is often involved. The obstacles to publishing are more easily overcome with trusted writing companions at my side, providing support and feedback.

Patience might be required while waiting for sprouts—or new ideas to appear.

plant a seed and wait
water but don't look too soon
magic is sprouting

Over the years, I've learned that the best way to wait is to keep myself occupied with another project. In my last post, I mentioned that Grow evolved over many years. Each time I put it aside or waited for feedback, I tried to find or start another manuscript to work on. 

The best techniques are the ones that work for you. Good luck!

Irene Latham has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Live Your Poem. Enjoy!


Friday, May 7, 2021

Persistence, Patience, and Perseverance in a Child-Centric World

Persistence, patience, and perseverance are all lofty goals that many have for our children.  Virtues that we extol.  Virtues of which we moralize to our youth. Virtues that we hope we will impose upon them. Virtues that we hope we will inspire them to aspire to. Sometimes we even write books that encourage children to learn to be persistent, demonstrate patience, and grow to persevere. 


Even in my own debut picture book, Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story, my protagonist impatiently can’t wait to grow up.  The implied message is, “all in good time.”  While the little caterpillar does finally grow up, it ironically does not get to do what  it spends the entire story longing to do once it’s grown.


I have mixed feeling about these three words that pack such a punch.


I often live in two worlds. Sometimes separately.  Sometimes simultaneously.  I can immerse myself in the adult-centric world just as easily as I can, the kid-centric world.  I love when contradictions live side by side and am a great fan of irony.

In the adult-centric world that tries to train its youth to grow to be the best people they can be, persistence is the capability to keep at something until you get it.  Patience is the ability to suspend your expectations and allow time to pass before you get what you want or have your needs met.  In essence, it’s the acceptance of a restructure of time. Perseverance is the drive to keep at something until you’ve achieved or experienced the desired goal.



I realize that these definitions are limited.  I am not trying to preach or moralize.  I do love to flip the perception just to experience what it might be like on the other side. .  

In a child-centric world, these three words hold the same definitions but look so different. Persistence is the child who won’t stop asking for that cookie no matter how many times the adult says, “no.”  Patience is the child who can watch a snail make its way across the grass for hours when the parent is dying to leave the park. Perseverance is the child intent on learning to cross on the play structure bars. Their insistence on mastery seems obsessive to the adult watching, as the child’s hands go from blistered to bloody.

It’s humorous that adults hold these virtues in such high esteem but find them so annoying when children actually display them.  I wonder if children find it humorous that adults are so serious about things kids do quite naturally.


By Zeena M. Pliska

Illustrations from
Hello, Litttle One:  A Monarch Butterfly Story
Written by Zeena M. Pliska and illustrated by Fiona Halliday
Published by Page Street Kids

To learn more about me click here

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Howdy, Campers ~ Happy Poetry Friday AND Last Day of Poetry MonthMy poem and the link to today's PF host are below.

In honor of TeachingAuthors' 12th year on earth (is the internet technically earth?), we are each choosing one post from the past 12 years (just one?!?!) to share.  Esther shares a poem I wrote (!) and a photo of us surprising Carmela at TeachingAuthors' birthday celebration, Mary Ann shares JoAnn's 2011 inspiring review of Paul Janeczko's Seeing the Blue Between, Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, and Carmela shares Esther's 2011 post about a specific kind of haiku which Esther called Thankus, while adding her own thanku and a #HaikuFromTwo.

The truth is, I love the writing of every TA, but I knew from the start that I would be rifling through Mary Ann's posts. I love her storytelling, I love her show-us-her-scars honesty. Her authenticity, forces me (maybe inspires me is better) to be more honest, too.

So today, enjoy Mary Ann's 2010 post about Charles Schulz' s PEANUTS gang...aka her muses.

from Apollo Magazine; no copyright infringement is intended 

I wrote about my own muse in 2013:

inspired by a poem with the same title by William Stafford
by April Halprin Wayland


I was lounging against the back of a napping kangaroo

when this little boy with a large crayon drew near.

Said his name was Harold.


I sat up to study the scruffy kid—

a baby, really, in p.j.s that must have been

as suffocating as meat in a sausage skin.


His wide eyes disarmed me,

as if he were that butterfly in the antidepressant commercial,

flying around a garden party and leaving everyone feeling better.


Harold stepped around the kangaroo to draw a big house

with a wide porch

and shutters on every window.


There were a boatload of windows.

He added two rocking chairs and three hanging baskets of geraniums.

When he framed the front doorway, we went in.


The floors were oak; the house felt comfortable, like a favorite old sofa.

He drew stairs; we walked up to four bedrooms

and a greenhouse room with walls of glass.


"I'll be living up here," he said, pulling down steps from the ceiling.

He climbed into the attic and peeked out.

"I'll hand you down stuff I find here," he said.


I supposed I'd be responsible for feeding him. 

I wondered if he ate real grilled cheese sandwiches

or if I had to draw them with his crayon.


The kangaroo

was still sleeping in the front yard,

which was probably for the best.

From Wikipedia; no copyright infringement is intended


Before I say g'bye, I have Poetry Month news! 

My next 3-hour, one day Writing Poetry for Children class through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program will be on July 17, 2021. Registration is now open, but hurry, enrollment is limited to 25 students.

I'm thrilled that three of my poems are on the Poetry Foundation site

I'm happy to be among nine poets who are on a fascinating education website in England called TWINKL (no E at the end). The poets are: Jaclyn Desforges, Miriam Sagan, Liz Garton Scanlon, Irina Moga, Lauren Camp, D. S. Martin, Allan Wolf, Charles Ghigna and me.

And I'm honored to have been included in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' video of 13 poets, each reading a poem. (Note: the video lasts 17:30 minutes; my poem is at the 11 minute mark).

The poets are: Nikki Grimes, Lesléa Newman, Joseph Bruchac, Jane Yolen, Tami Charles, Lin Oliver, Hope Anita Smith, Sonya Sones, Carole Boston Weatherford, April Halprin Wayland, Margarita Engle, Ellen Hopkins, and Linda Sue Park.


Who is your  muse? Please tell us in the comments--we want to know...we really do!

Thank you, Matt, for hosting Poetry Friday

this last day of Poetry Month, 2021 

on Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme !

posted by April Halprin Wayland, with the help of Eli, Kitty, and Monkey, who were sure THEY were my muses before I broke the news...

Friday, April 23, 2021

12 Years! A Thanku and Another #HaikuFromTwo

Happy Poetry Friday! This post includes a Thanku and a #HaikuFromTwo.

As Esther shared in her post kicking off our current series, this month we're celebrating our TWELFTH Blogiversary! I can hardly believe it's been that long. This blogging journey has been filled with wonderful surprises and blessings. One of those surprises was the TeachingAuthors' virtual meeting Esther shared a photo of in her post. I thought that meeting was to learn some great new Zoom teaching tips from the amazing April Halprin Wayland. Instead, it was a party to celebrate our blog and my efforts to keep it running all these years. My fellow TeachingAuthors showered me with thanks that day. But I am just as grateful for all of them and what they've contributed to this blog over these dozen years. And I'm grateful to you, our readers, for traveling along with us. 

Esther didn't mention in her post the lovely gift my fellow TeachingAuthors sent me that day, as if the surprise meeting wasn't enough:

I smile every time I see these lovely plants (which are still blooming).   

This month, each of us are sharing a favorite post written by one of our fellow TeachingAuthors. My heart is so filled with gratitude for our blogiversary milestone that if felt appropriate to remind you all of Esther's terrific post introducing us to the Thanku: a haiku expressing gratitude. Esther inspired us to feature thankus often over these twelve years. You'll find many of those posts here. I'd like to add one more to that collection:

For my fellow TeachingAuthors and All Our Readers:
       My heart overflows
       like a basket of flowers,
       still growing. Thank you.

©2021 Carmela A. Martino. All rights reserved.

Speaking of haiku, this week I wrote another #HaikuFromTwo. I shared last month about Amanda Davis's #HaikuFromTwo challenge: you randomly pick two words from a book you're reading and create a haiku using them. After Beverly Cleary's recent death, I thought it would be fitting to read one of her books. Unlike most writers I know, I never read any of Cleary's work until I was an adult, and that book was Ramona Quimby, Age 8. A few weeks ago, I finally read the first Ramona book: Beezus and Ramona.  Today's #HaikuFromTwo includes two random words from that book: drawing (page 45) and pretend (page 159):

Be sure to check out this week's Poetry Friday roundup by Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core.

Happy writing!

PS: Congratulations to Linda M, winner of our giveaway of JoAnn Early Macken's new book, Grow!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

A Blogiversary Blast from the Past: Encouraging Words

 Happy Blogiversary!

Hard to believe that we Teaching Authors have been together a dozen years!  I've known Carmela, and former members Jean Marie and JoAnn since our Vermont College days, but I've made so many new writing friends as others joined the blog. I especially can't imagine life with out our original and "still present" members Esther and April.

To celebrate, we are looking back at our favorite posts by fellow TA's. Difficult to select just one post to "remember' here. However, as I continue to struggle to "find the writing me" again, JoAnn's post of August 5, 2011 jumped out and said "Pick me! Pick me!" Encouraging Words reviewed Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets by Paul B. Janezcko. I am always looking for author interviews, secretly hoping that one of them will have the answer to writer's block. Based on JoAnn's recommendation, I bought Seeing the Blue Between. The subtitle says it all; lots of good advice and inspiration. (However, no one has a magic formula to banish writer's block.)

Speaking of "seeing the blue," this is the current writing view from my writing porch, Ocean Isle Beach, NC. If that sort of blue doesn't inspire, I don't know what will!

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman