Thursday, April 18, 2024

15th TA Blogiversary Book and Gift Card Giveaway!

I can hardly believe it, but this Monday, April 22, 2024, [in addition to being Earth Day] will be the 15th anniversary of the founding of our TeachingAuthors blog! To celebrate, we're giving away an autographed copy of a very special book (hint: it was written by one of our TeachingAuthors) PLUS a $15 gift card to You'll find the giveaway details at the end of this post. Also, in honor of Poetry Friday, I am including a poem excerpt from our giveaway book. (Another hint for you!)  

When we founded TeachingAuthors back in 2009, I had no idea we'd still be here so many years later! Today I kick off a series of posts commemorating this milestone. Each of the TeachingAuthors will reflect on how her writing, her outlook, and/or the industry has changed over the last 15 years.

In one of my earliest posts here, I explained how I became a TeachingAuthor. At that time, I was teaching writing classes for adults and children at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL and other local venues. Candlewick had published Rosa, Sola, the middle-grade novel I wrote for my creative thesis for my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College, and I was working on several picture book manuscripts--some I'd started at Vermont College and others I'd drafted later. I'd loved reading picture books to my young son and had hoped to publish my own. By 2009, I had received some encouraging rejections, but I never found a publisher for any of those picture books. 

I believe I've shared here before that I think one of my biggest career mistakes was not writing another middle-grade novel to follow up Rosa, Sola. I'd had several ideas, but none of them quite worked. (And I really wanted to publish a picture book.) Perhaps if I'd sold a second novel to Candlewick, they would have published a paperback edition of Rosa, Sola and it wouldn't have gone out of print when it did. But I was honored to have a middle-grade short story published in a Candlewick anthology that came out in 2010: I Fooled You: Ten Stories of Tricks, Jokes, and Switcheroos, edited by Johanna Hurwitz. That story, "Biz Z, Cammi, and Me," allowed me to prove to myself (and the world) that I can write humorous stories. 😀

My career path has taken other unexpected twists and turns. Back in 2009, I could never have imagined that I would write a historical romance set in 18th-century Milan. Or that, after I finally finished it, I'd end up putting the manuscript in the proverbial drawer when I couldn't find a publisher, despite it winning several awards. But that's what happened with my young-adult historical Playing by Heart, as our long-time blog readers may recall. That book's path eventually had a happy ending, though, when it was published by a small press. I was thrilled to announce the good news here in January of 2017.   

The story of Rosa, Sola had a happy ending too. I eventually got my rights back from Candlewick and self-published the novel in both paperback and ebook format. In fact, we celebrated our 7th TeachingAuthors blogiversary with a reveal of the book's new cover and a giveaway. I'm so pleased that readers continue to find and enjoy the novel.

Now my writing path is circling back to the beginning--the very beginning. I started writing as a young teen, initially writing only poetry. I have returned to those roots the last few years, taking poetry classes and having my poems published in several anthologies. (You can scroll down on the Published Works page of my website to read about my most recent poetry publications.)

I've also returned to picture book writing, both fiction and nonfiction. And just two months ago, I announced that I had signed with agent Anjanette Barr of Dunham Literary to represent those manuscripts. I've never had an agent before--back when I started in children's publishing you didn't need one, and you would, in fact, have been hard-pressed to find an agent who represented books for young readers. That's one of the many ways the industry has changed in the last 15+ years.  

For all the writers reading this, I hope the story of my writing journey isn't disheartening. I confess:  there were many times along the way when I was tempted to quit. But I'm glad I stubbornly kept plodding on. If writing is your calling, I encourage you to be UNSTOPPABLE when it comes to pursuing your goals. 

And that leads into the poem I want to share today, which is an excerpt from the very special picture book you can win as part of our blogiversary giveaway. Here's the poem:

Do you recognize it? In case you don't, here's another clue: the full page from the book: 

This page is from TeachingAuthor Esther Hershenhorn's masterful picture book S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet, illustrated by Zachary Pullen (Sleeping Bear Press). One reason this book is perfect for our 15th blogiversary giveaway is because it was published the year we started this blog, 2009. In early October of that year, we celebrated the book's release with a whole series of posts about its making. We gave away a copy then, too!

A second reason why we want to include S is for Story in our giveaway is because it's all about the writing process. Here's a brief description from the Renaissance Learning Site

"This book utilizes the alphabet to explain and examine the techniques, tools, and strategies of those who wish to live a literary life, covering writing terms and topics such as genre and story elements, with quotes from famous authors."

But the book does so much more! Esther's energy and enthusiasm for writing and writers shines through on every page. Which is why the third reason why we're including this book in our giveaway makes me sad: S is for Story is no longer in print. 😢

Fortunately for us, though, Esther has a copy she's willing to part with that she'll autograph for one lucky winner. If you're not that winner, I encourage you to check the book out from your favorite library so that it continues to circulate.    

You'll find our giveaway details below. After you enter, don't forget to visit Heidi at my juicy little universe for this week's Poetry Friday roundup. 

To enter the drawing to win an autographed copy of S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet PLUS a $15 digital gift card to, use the Rafflecopter widget below. (Note: if the widget doesn't appear, click on the link at the end of this post that says "a Rafflecopter giveaway" to enter.)

You may enter via up to 5 options. The more options you choose, the better your odds!

If you choose option 4, you MUST leave a comment on TODAY’S blog post or on our TeachingAuthors Facebook page. If you haven’t already “liked” our Facebook page, please do so today!

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

Note: if you submit your comments via email or Facebook, YOU MUST STILL ENTER THE DRAWING VIA RAFFLECOPTER BELOW.  The giveaway ends May 18, 2024 and is open to U.S. Residents only.

If you're unfamiliar with using Rafflecopter, here’s info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.  And a second article explains the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 5, 2024



Howdy, Campers ~ Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Poetry Month! (poet Joan Bransfield Graham kindly sent me that article)

Many of you may remember that our beloved 14-year-old dog, Eli died last October.  It hit Kitty hard. She wouldn't sleep in our bedroom. She didn't purr for two weeks.

Although Eli was a large dog, our empty house reminded me of a poem I wrote when my mom's dog died:  


Opening the front door,
there is no small sound of clicking nails
on the wooden floor
no bright eyes
no jumping, dancing dog.             

I have opened a pomegranate
and found no ruby seeds --
only this

published in Cricket Magazine November, 1999

Last week, we felt ready for a new dog. We knew exactly what we wanted: a cat-friendly, submissive dog, about a year old. NOT a puppy. 

we got two out of the three.  

Introducing four month-old Sadie, who fills our lives with laughter and whose puppiness creeps into most of my poems these days--hence, the title of today's post. 


I began writing a poem a day on April 1, 2010 and I've been writing one a day ever since. Today I'm offering you a few dog poems I wrote during Poetry Month 2013. (Keep in mind they're Ruff Drafts.)

You can read them all here:

Here are a four, just for you:

by April Halprin Wayland


Trust me. You don’t want your dog
spinning in circles
wondering who's calling his name.

And do NOT name your child after a month.
Trust me.
I have whiplash for thirty days every spring.

by April Halprin Wayland

I would take you
just you…

Well, you
and the usual zoo:

our tortoise and frog and our noodle-brain dog
and the cat that purrs if I can find her

and Mom’s grand piano, my scarf from Berlin
Dad’s old typewriter, my violin

and you.

by April Halprin Wayland

At this moment,
Tom is either
Mr. Cook, second grade teacher,
or God.

In the dust of the park,
five dogs sit tightly around Tom,
who is standing,
holding a dried chicken chip,
as if it were a gold medallion.

Pick me, pick me, pick me,
they seem to be saying,
like second graders,
waving their bare arms in the air.

If I sit up the straightest,
he will give it to me,
they seem to be saying,
noses held high,
backs straight,
tails up, wagging wildly.

Or perhaps they are worshipping,
praying with all their might
to the tall guy
who holds the answer to everything.


by April Halprin Wayland

Sniff, o, sniff—what glorious fumes
coats the world beyond these rooms?

You with your pens and their feathery plumes—
sit ’round the table in your conference rooms

but I have a calling beyond these doors
to the tang and the stink at the wild waves’ shores

while you’re puzzling over lines of ink,
I’ll be rolling in things that stink!

I’ll catch the tang of a porcupine’s trail,
decoding flavors that tell a tale.

You find words, I’ll follow vapors
I’ll bound through meadows, you plough your papers.

As your new poem begins to speak
I’ll uncover a treasure that reeks!


National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets.

Here are two events for your edification:

April 9, 2024 9am PST…I’m the guest speaker in Poetry Month at Rebecca Gold’s Yogic Writing Circle I’ll speak for 30 minutes with a Q & A at the end. Each session includes a daily writing circle, Tuesday and Thursday co-writing sessions, and monthly guest speakers. Sign up on her website. Rebecca is an amazing teacher; I HIGHLY recommend her newest book, From Your Mat to Your Memoir.

April 13, 2024 11:30am PST…FREE Adult Poetry Writing Workshop. How to Put WOW in Your Poetry (Don't you want to know what WOW stands for?!?) We'll play with words and have time for writing and sharing. Chances are, your writing will never be the same. Join us for the fun at the Hermosa Beach Library 550 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Thank you, Irene, for hosting Poetry Friday this week at Live Your Poem

posted by April Halprin Wayland with a hug she wishes weren't virtual

 A photo from long-ago when Monkey and Eli regularly read poetry to each other

poems (c) 2024 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.