Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Giveaway, Author Interview with Greg Pincus & Poetry Friday!

Howdy, Campers!  
There's lots going on today, including a funny math poem (fractions!) for Poetry Friday--so let's get started!

First of all, thank you, Buffy, for hosting PF!

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to my friend,
Greg Pincus.
Greg's a poet, novelist, screenwriter, volunteer elementary school librarian, and social media consultant. He’s also a blogger, writing about children’s literature and poetry at GottaBook (including his annual Poetry Month feature, 30 Poets/30 Days.) 

Through the wonders of social media, he’s sold poetry, helped himself land a book deal, ended up in the New York Times (!), the Washington Post, School Library Journal (multiple times), and spoken to students all around the U.S.

Greg's poems for children can be playful, deceptively smart, and tender, too.  They are always well-crafted--his rhyme is pitch perfect.

But more important than all of this: Greg Pincus is a compassionate and incredibly giving person, both personally and professionally.  There is never a time Greg posts on our Los Angeles SCBWI listserv that he isn't sharing a link about our industry or practical tips on using social media or something equally helpful.  He's constantly lifting up all of us.  It's never about Greg; it's always about what he can give to you.  
Greg Pincus is on the right, helping an SCBWI member
over a publishing dilemma

Greg is also very funny.  And so is his debut middle grade novel, The Fourteen Fibs of Gregory K (Arthur A. Levine Books) -- which you could win!  See below!
From Publisher's Weekly:
Everyone in Gregory's family adores math—everyone, that is, except Gregory. While his parents and siblings live for the yearly City Math contest, Gregory prefers writing, especially poetry...Gregory is a buoyant narrator whose extreme math phobia and obsessive love of pie (and definitely not pi) give his character an idiosyncratic shine. Hyperbolic details, like his mother's "Weird Wednesday" family dinners, are interspersed with passages from Gregory's extra credit math journal, where his ruminations on the Fibonacci sequence and "Fib poetry" give readers access to deeper reflections on mathematics, metaphor, and the places where they might overlap. Pincus's story explores struggles with friends, family, and learning while remaining exuberant and relatable, a winning equation.

The real Greg actually invented the “Fib” — a form of poetry based on the Fibonacci sequence — read about it at his original Fib post, and in The New York Times and at Poetry Foundation. (Remember I know him!  I've had had actual coffee with him!)

Pretty impressive bio and review, right? So without further delay, let's hear from the author himself! 

So, Greg--how did you officially become a TeachingAuthor?

Inertia! I was spending time as a volunteer elementary school librarian, so I was reading/working with a lot kids already. As I published my poetry and then The 14 Fibs, it was just a natural outgrowth to get into classes and not just talk about poetry and the like but teach it... workshop it... explore it. So, I did!

What's a problem you've seen students having when writing poetry?

I've found that many students simply don't know how to start writing a poem - as though there's some code they haven't been taught or some permission they need. So, besides giving permission to write a lousy draft of a poem, I also work with them on looking around wherever they are and seeing something... anything, really... that's of interest to them. And if that fails to spark an interest, we look internally, too, because there's always a feeling to write about. So far, a bit of gentle guidance has always been enough.

And when did you know you were a writer?

I always loved to write, yet I never really thought about it separate from school work. Until, that is, I was part of a writing competition - the Ready Writing Contest, competing against other kids my age (which was around 12 at the time). Yes, there I was with other kids who liked writing! That was exciting by itself... and then there was the fact that it was a competition which, well, at the time I could be a little competitive.

The funny thing is that I remember the contest being inspiring, but I haven't a clue how I did in it. And that's really as it should be, as writing isn't a competition (though since I can't remember, I'm guessing I didn't win... and lived to tell new tales anyway).

What's on the horizon for you besides pie? (There's a lot of pie eating in Greg's book...)

I'm working on a new novel to join The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. and working on a whole assortment of poems (Fibs included) and picture book manuscripts, too. Plus, I'm trying to get into the classroom as often as possible so I can share my love of poetry with anyone who will listen!

I've gotta ask, did you decide to name your character Gregory?

Great question!  Arthur (his editor, Arthur A. Levine) came up with the title The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. when we first talked about the book in 2006. There was no manuscript at the time. Instead, there was a vague idea about a kid who writes Fibs and tells fibs. A lot of my poems are written from the point of view of a kid who was unnamed... but I used to write those poems as Gregory K. instead of Greg Pincus. We decided the book should about that kid, then Arthur used "Gregory K." as part of the title. I thought it sounded great.

That I happen to be Gregory K, too, is fun and certainly relates to how the name came to be, but it wasn't actually me making the choice! Editors do a lot - including, sometimes, naming the main character for you. Who knew?

  Greg at his book launch
Click here to watch his entire book launch, which he streamed live! 
(I'm sure Greg will agree with me when I say
you can skip the first 40 minutes)

What poem will you share for Poetry Friday, Greg?

Here's a poem from The 14 Fibs (which, remember, you can win--see below!):

by Greg Pincus

I bought a quarter pound of eighths.
I bought an ounce of thirds.
I filled a bag with seventeenths that I will feed the birds.

I found a ninth of thirty-eighths.
I grabbed a single half.
The sixths and fifths were one-fourth off, and that caused me to laugh.

As I prepared to pay my bill,
Well, that’s when things got strange.
Although they’re selling fractions there, they cannot figure change.

poem © 2013 Greg Pincus. All rights reserved

Thank you so much for stopping by today, Greg. We look forward to posting your Wednesday Writing Workout right here on January 15th!

To win a copy of The 14 Fibs of Gregory K (the book trailer is below), enter via Rafflecopter. This giveaway ends at the end of the day, December 31. The lucky winner will be notified after the first of the year. Good luck!  And may you all eat pie!

Dear Campers, this is the last post on Teaching Authors until 2014.  Have a wonderful rest-of-December and watch for our posts beginning January 5th--we promise to help kickstart your writing engines in the new year!

There is so much to share with you about Greg and his book I've added some extras below, beginning with the book trailer...

If you're anything like me, you're completely overwhelmed in life and online and should be congratulated for taking the time to read this far.  Still, consider watching this 5:55 minute video on Greg's website about Fibonacci in nature.  SO MUCH FUN and jaw-droppingly amazing (I am as amazed by the girl who created it as by the video itself--how old is she???)

Need more? For a fun and wonderfully in-depth interview of Greg, complete with a video of him reading his poem,  “I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown,” paddle over to Renee LaTulippe's fabulous blog, No Water River

Greg's dog, Mocha...who's looking a little worried...

Where's my pie?

posted with a wave g'bye to 2013 by April Halprin Wayland


Irene Latham said...

Mocha and that "Where's my pie?" is so APRIL! Greg is such a positive force in the poetry world, he deserves lots of pie! I've already read the book and passed it along to one of my favorite readers... and should I win, I will pass along to one of my favorite teachers! Thanks to both for more behind the scenes info here!

Linda B said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I too have the book, although still haven't read it-hopeful over my break! Greg's blog is a constant inspiration, so thanks for the interview, too! If I win, I want to give the book to a math teacher, who writes poetry, too! Have a wonderful Christmas with your family, April!

Ramona said...

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. made it on my TTB (touched this book) list. I checked it out, wanted to read it, but it came due before I had time. I would love to win a copy to share with my 6th grade readers. I've followed Greg's blog, Gotta Book, for several years and always share it with my students.

Buffy Silverman said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview, April and Greg--so glad to know that Greg INVENTED fib poems, and I gotta get this book!

Margaret Simon said...

Here's another Greg Pincus fan! Two of my boy students have read his book already, before I could get the chance. It's a great book for boys who love math or poetry or reading or pie.
Love the fraction poem, Greg, although, I find it totally confusing. Much like math to me.

Violet N. said...

What a wonderful post - about Greg and by Greg. Thanks for sharing Greg and your enthusiasm for him and his book, April.

Violet N.

Anonymous said...

What a great interview! And I love THE FRACTION STORE!
Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.

B Lee Draper said...

Anything that makes Math fun is a winner in my book! I will definitely be looking into including this in my classroom programming for next year. :)

Always Be Dancing said...

I love the writing of math! The word play is exciting and really adds a good twist of humor! Love math and words!

Carl Scott said...

Great little poem, reminds me of Lewis Carroll or maybe Shel Silverstein. I'm going to hang onto that one. Thanks for the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

I've actually passed the page on which this poem appears in "Fibs" :) I won this wonderful book through a Goodreads giveaway, I'm happy to say! I'm up to pg 147 and am thoroughly enjoying it. I keep wondering how Gregory's going to work his way out of the fix he's in. Loving it! :D

AND---I've actually found myself CRAVing pie while reading this book! lol

(P.S. Don't enter me in the giveaway since I already own the book :) )

Linda said...

I teach middle school reading intervention. My classes are mostly made up of boys. This sounds like a great book for them!

Cooking classes Houston said...

wow fantastic interview sir.....the post is simply awesome

Anonymous said...

Yay for living male poets! And fora boy book that doesn't revolve around sports. Congrats Greg and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, thanks for posting.
I met Greg a few years ago at a writing conference in California and I remember him as a very approachable person. He was talking about social media (yes, a few years ago it was still pretty new to many writers) and he was really cool about sharing his experiences and tips with humor.
I wish him and his book the best.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear All!

Thank you for your comments!

We have a winner! Thanks to all who entered the contest and thank you for coming by.

We're all grateful for the time you take to read our posts. Thank you and happy, happy new year, one and all!