Friday, July 27, 2018

Pause Politics With Poetry and Songs!

Howdy Campers, & Happy Poetry Friday! (The link to this week's PF host, my poem, and a reminder of our latest book give away are below.) 

Today, we in the TeachingAuthors treehouse begin tackling the topic: If/how the season affects our writing/work plans/schedule.

Hmm. For me, it's not about how the season of summer affects my writing, but how campaign seasons affect it.

photo by April Halprin Wayland 2007
In 2004, Bruce Balan and I co-founded a PAC (political action committee), AIC. Every four years since, we've put aside much of our lives to help make our country kinder and more civilized towards children. After the election, we settle back into our lives to volunteer, to play, to parent, to be a friend, to write and to teach.

That's how it used to be. But after the November 2016 election, AIC members asked us to keep working for our children's futures.

What does this mean for my writing? I still write a poem a day, but now, just 100 days from November 6th,  my books have gone "to the back of the bus." Argh.

But there's good news, too. To combat my fury/fear/foreboding while working for change, I've been reading Alison McGhee's inspiring and poetic blog posts, reading the marvelous book, World Enough & Time: on Creativity and Slowing Down by Christian McEwen (actually listening tothe author narrates it in a soothing voice with an English accent), listening to less news and more music.

Ah, music! As a longtime folk music fan, I've discovered and fallen in love with this anthem to peace by Woody Guthrie, which his son Arlo Guthrie put to music as Woody was dying:

Words by Woody Guthrie, Music by Arlo Guthrie 

My peace my peace is all I’ve got
that I can give to you
My peace is all I ever had
that’s all I ever knew
I give my peace to green and black
to red and white and blue
my peace my peace is all I’ve got
that I can give to you
My peace, my peace is all I’ve got
it's all I've ever known
My peace is worth a thousand times more
than anything I own
I pass my peace around and around
‘cross hands of every hue;
my peace, my peace is all I’ve got
that I can to give to you

I decided to imitate this song for my daily poem. "How hard can it be?" I thought, "It's so dang simple."

So I broke it down to figure out what form Woody used (the letters at the start of each line indicate the rhymes):

A My peace my peace is all I've got
B that I can give to you
C my peace
D xx my peace
A my peace my peace is all I’ve got
B that I can give to you
A My peace, my peace is all I’ve got
F My peace
G xx my peace
A my peace, my peace is all I’ve got
B that I can to give to you

I have a new appreciation of Woody's songs that often sound simple. 

As writer Lillian Ross said: The act of a pro is to make it look easy. Fred Astaire doesn't grunt when he dances to let you know how hard it is. If you're good at it, you leave no fingerprints.'s my imitative poem—still a muddy draft. (originally the last line was in winter, spring and fall  I wrote this note to myself about it: The repeated line does not deserve to be the last line.)

by April Halprin Wayland
This piece, this piece is all I've made
but I must heed its call
this piece has taken all my days
although I know it's small
this piece is gathered from the fields
and from a waterfall
This piece, this piece is all I've made
but I must heed its call
This piece, this piece is all I've made
it's raw, uncivilized
this piece I wrote, then put away
it hadn't crystalized
I'm feeling brave I'll share it now
(if I can read my scrawl)
this piece, this piece is all I've made
but I must heed its call
poem (c)2018 by April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

And so, while fighting the good fight, I am led to listen to, read books by, and try to emulate people who are kind, civilized and articulate.

photo by April Halprin Wayland 2017
And that's how this season has affected my writing.

Thank you for reading this, Campers. And what about you? Do you have looser/different goals in certain seasons, or are you pretty consistent year-round?

And don't forget TeachingAuthors' drawing for a chance to win an autographed copy to HP? WHO'S HE? by Patricia Karwatowicz, which ends August 3rd! Details on Carmela's post.

Thank you, Catherine, for hosting today at Reading To The Core!

posted with hope by April Halprin Wayland with help from Monkey, Eli and everyone who does good work.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Book Giveaway and Student Success Story Interview with Patricia Karwatowicz

Hello, everyone! Today, I'm pleased to bring you a Student Success Story interview with my former student Patricia Karwatowicz in honor of the recent release of her first novel, HP? Who's He? (4RV Tweens and Teens). At the end of this post, you'll find instructions on how to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy!

Before we get to the interview, I hope you won't mind if I share three terrific tidbits of news about my own novel.
Playing by Heart:
All this good news happens to coincide with a special offer I'm running. From now through Labor Day (Sept. 3), I'm giving away a free ebook copy of either of my award-winning novels to any teachers or homeschooling parents interested in previewing the books for possible classroom use. Plus, I'll schedule a FREE 20-minute virtual visit (via Skype or Google Hangouts) with any class that reads either book as a result of this offer. You can see all the details on my website.

Okay, now it's time for the Student Success Story interview with Patricia Karwatowicz.

Before I begin, let me share her bio with you:
     Pat is a former pediatric nurse, twenty-year religious education teacher, wife of fifty years, mother of four grown children, and grandmother of five. She loved helping kids heal physically, and spiritual healing seemed a logical progression. The characters in her faith-based stories show generosity and courage, and her stories open children's eyes to God’s presence in their daily lives. Pat enjoys reading, walking, birding, and talking with kids. Her home is in Naperville, Illinois. You can read more about her and her books at her website.

Pat's middle-grade novel, HP? Who's He? was released by 4RV Publishing a few months ago. Here's the synopsis:

After Grandfather's move to heaven, a family breakup, and a relocation to bone cold Illinois, life doesn’t balance anymore for twelve-year-old California surfer dude HP. Then Grammy Jan sends him a pocket cross and his grandfather's old Bible, which happens to contain a special message to HP from Grandfather. Empowered, HP gears up for Mission Possible to find out who he is and what he stands for, and if he's even on God's radar. 

Congratulations on your new book, Pat! I'm so glad its release inspired me to setup this interview, which I discovered is long overdue. It’s hard to believe, but it will be 20 years this fall since you took my Writing for Children and Teens class and the follow-up Workshop class at the College of DuPage! I believe the classes played a role in your getting your first magazine piece published. Would you tell our readers about that?

Who knew it was that long ago, yikes! Yes, I was all ears listening to your expertise on writing tips and the business of publishing books. Your first magazine story in Pockets inspired me to write my own submission, and in a year, Pockets published my first story “Big Worry” about my grandson moving away.

I'm always pleased when my students find success from taking my advice! Can you share about how the class also led you to expand your knowledge of the field of writing for children? What advice would you give to beginning writers seeking to learn about children’s publishing?

After your class, I read a ton of books on writing. Hubby gave me a birthday present for a week-long trip to Highlights writers camp. I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), which led to my joining a critique group. The group lasted 15 years, and we still cheer each other on. We've had quite a few books published and agents landed. Joining SCBWI is the best advice I can give, along with taking Carmela Martino’s classes!

Thanks, Pat! Your first published books were part of a picture book series. Would you tell our readers a little about those books and how you found your publisher?

I learned the basics of picture book writing by taking classes at SCBWI conferences and studying picture books. Write to Publish, a conference held yearly in Wheaton, IL that features editors, publishers, and agents in the Christian market, launched my picture book A Shiny Red Apple. A Cook Communications agent loved it, but felt it needed to be a series. She asked for two more stories, and in a month, I sent her A Sprig of Parsley and A Child’s Song. Gotta strike while the iron is hot! They published all three.

Your newest book, HP? Who’s He?, is a middle-grade novel. What made you switch to novel writing? Would you share a bit about the novel and what inspired you to write it?

Having developed six faith stories for younger readers, I wanted the challenge of doing this for older kids. As a religion education teacher, I saw a real need for middle-grade students to connect faith to their contemporary world. HP is a likable but flawed kid who needs reason and truth in his life. A Post-it note in an old Bible and a pocket cross begin his adventure of finding God and becoming the best person he can be. When it gets too hard, he sketches, goes birding, and eats lots of peanut butter.

Your novel’s main character, HP, comes up with lots of creative peanut butter recipes, many of which are included in the back of the book along with your original (and very clever) illustrations. Can you tell us where you got the recipes and how they were compiled and illustrated?

I love peanut butter and remember living on it as a picky eater, so some of the recipes are things I ate as a kid. They don't require cooking, so can be made unsupervised. (Except for the killer cupcakes, which are a throw-back to the sixties!) I’ve taken years of watercolor classes so art is my second love. My 85-year-old teacher Ruth Van Sickle Ford gave me the punch line when someone asks how long it takes to paint a picture. She would say, “Two hours and 85 years.” I use that when I’m asked how long it takes to write a novel. As for the drawings, I wanted them to look like twelve-year old HP did them.

HP? Who’s He? is published by 4RV Publishing. Can you tell us a little about 4RV and how you came to publish with them?

This small press was listed in a monthly Children’s Writer newsletter about nine years ago. (Unfortunately, the newsletter is no longer in print.) 4RV took the story because they were open to Christian writing.

Book promotion can be especially challenging when you’re with a small press. Can you tell us some of the things you’re doing to promote HP? Who’s He? and about any events you have planned?

I follow The Publicity Hound website and have been implementing some of the tips there. I also read everything I can find on marketing and how to reach out to people. I've found that requests usually take two or three follow-up calls.

Here are some of things I've done or plan to do:
  • My book club featured my book. 
  • I got an interview with the Daily Herald newspaper. 
  • I placed books in The Catholic Shoppe in Westmont, IL
  • Had a “Book Birthday Party” at home for friends with games and fancy deserts. I shared my author journey and read from the book. (Grandmothers are part of my target audience.) 
  • I asked the library to buy the book, but they need people to request it. (Something readers in our fan club can do!) 
  • I had a table at the Chicago Catholic Homeschooling Conference 7/12-13. 
  • My book will be part of a Local Author showcase at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville on Sunday, August 5, 2-4 pm
    I invite all your TeachingAuthors readers to join us!
  • If any of your readers happen to be near Burlington, Iowa, I'll be signing at the Burlington Buy the Book store there on Saturday 9/8, from 12-3 pm (scheduled the same weekend as my nursing class reunion). 
  • Several Iowa newspapers will also be running interviews about me. 
  • My church will offer a signing and I'm working on doing an event with the Knights of Columbus. (The book features honorable knights and the knight’s code.) 
Marketing is as hard as writing the book and finding a publisher! The reward is connecting with kids and readers and writers. It’s fun!

Wow! You've sure been busy, Pat. Well, thanks so much for taking time for this interview. And thanks, also, for offering our readers a chance to win an autographed copy of your new book.

Readers, to enter our drawing for a chance to win an autographed copy of HP? Who's He? (4RV Tweens and Teens), written by Patricia Karwatowicz, use the Rafflecopter widget below. You may enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options.

If you choose option 2, you MUST leave a comment on TODAY'S blog post below or on our TeachingAuthors Facebook page. If you haven't already "liked" our Facebook page, please do so today!
In your comment, tell us what you'd do with the book if you win our giveaway--keep it for yourself or give it to a young reader?

(If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.)

Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.

Note: if you submit your comments via email or Facebook, YOU MUST STILL ENTER THE DRAWING VIA THE WIDGET BELOW. The giveaway ends August 3 and is open to U.S. residents only.

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.

Don't forget Poetry Friday. This week's roundup is hosted by My Juicy Little Universe

Finally, remember to always Write with Joy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 13, 2018

When My Work Pesters Me, I Listen

One of the things I love about historic research is that there is always something more to learn. No matter how much I’ve learned about a topic, there is always something deeper, richer, and more complex to know about it.  

I’ve had that experience this week as I’m working to get the final edits done on my book that is coming out this fall titled Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, published by Holiday House.  This book is full of all sorts of fascinating information and images.  And though I’ve never done it before like this, I’ve written an introduction and <gasp> even placed images in the introduction.  These amazing, powerful images will pack a punch even before the first word of chapter one.  

It was the caption to one of those images that wouldn’t let me rest this week. 

The caption as I wrote it a while back has been through various readers including my editor countless times, copyeditors, and even managing editors as they read the manuscript. The caption was absolutely fine and fabulous.  

The image on the page is a diagram of a slave ship.  The caption mentioned the transatlantic slave trade and identified the name of the ship and when it was built.  It was a good caption.  It was enough information, especially for the introduction! 

But still that caption pestered me.  My work does that to me-and when it does I pay attention.  

I started wondering…a great thing for a nonfiction author.  Are there any specifics I could add to the caption?  Maybe just a few words if I could find some detail about the ship or the human cargo it carried.

Then it got really interesting.  I found that specific ship on the Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database provided by Emory University.   I found out lots of details about this slave ship.  I know who the captain was, who owned the ship, where they picked up the enslaved, where they took them, how many Africans were packed belowdeck, how many were men, women, boys, and girls.  I know the voyage across the Atlantic took 51 wretched days.  I even know how many of them died on the voyage.  

And as if all that wasn’t enough, I discovered that abolitionists in Great Britain used this diagram to show the horrors of the slave trade.  And William Wilberforce, a British politician, used a model of that specific ship when he spoke to Parliament against the slave trade.  

Click here to see the model.

What a fascinating piece of history!

Although there was nothing wrong with the original caption, I knew more about the topic than what it said. And, well I just had to share it. So I emailed my editor suggesting an eleventh hour addition (actually the hour is more like 11:55) for the caption on page 2.   

And my wonderful editor Kelly, agreed with me and found a way to make it work.  

I’m really glad that caption pestered me.  

Carla Killough McClafferty