MARK YOUR CALENDARS: GOODNIGHT, ARK Book Launch Signing

photoThe NEW date for the BOOK LAUNCH BOOK SIGNING (with craft) for GOODNIGHT, ARK is…

Saturday, September 6th at 11am at the Barnes and Noble on Rte 22 in Springfield, New Jersey. The books are already in and on display. Hope to see you there!

GOODNIGHT, ARK: We’re Going on Tour!

IMG_0737It’s official! In celebration of the release of GOODNIGHT, ARK, please join me on my first ever blog tour. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making stops at the following blogs.  Please join me on along the way. Hope to see you on the web. There will be giveaways along the way!

 

8/26 The Stylin’ Librarian

8/28 Picture Book Den

9/3 Pragmatic Mom

9/5  Time out with Becky Kopitzke

9/8 Rosanne L. Kurstedt’s  KALEIDOSCOPE

9/10 Southern Belleview Daily

9/12 Susanna Leonard Hill

9/16 Tara Lazar’s Writing While Raising Kids

9/17 GROG

9/22 Le&ndra’s Blog

9/24 Tina’s Tidbits

GUEST POST: Debut Author Liana Mahoney Reflects on Babies and Books

Today I’m delighted to have children’s author and poet, Liana Mahoney, as my guest.  Liana and I met through the Poet’s Garage. She has a beautiful poetic voice and a keen eye for nature.  She’s joining me today to celebrate the launch of her debut picture book, FOREST GREEN, a rhyming non-fiction circle story, published by North Country Books. Take it away, Liana!

I have three beautiful children. And like every woman who has brought a living being into the world, I have riveting stories about their births. The doctors who delivered them all articulated what I already knew– that each of them was a true miracle. “You’ve defied the odds,” the doctor who delivered my firstborn told me. Regarding my middle child’s birth, the doctor said, “Astounding, really. Just, such a shock…don’t see this kind of thing happen very often with positive results.” I awoke from a nap shortly after delivering my third child in the OR to see my doctor staring silently at me with a look of awe on his face. “So blessed, you are,” I remember him saying. “I am looking at one very, very lucky woman.”

I am happy to say that although each of my three children came into this world under less-than-perfect circumstances, they are perfectly perfect today. (Well…except for the fact that they are now teenagers, but that’s a different story.  Sigh…) Worth the wait, worth the worries, and worthy of the blessed miracles that brought them into this world. I love happy endings, don’t you?

I’m excited to share with you another happy ending–this one much more recent, and far less miraculous than the births of my children, although on some levels, I do feel like I’ve given birth once again against ridiculous odds.

This month–six years after its acceptance (yes…SIX!) –my debut picture book, Forest Green, was finally released. On the afternoon of August 4th, 2014, the UPS man handed me a precious package weighing…umm…well, it was heavy-ish…and gave me a friendly “congratulations” on his way out the door, hurrying off to make other deliveries. I squealed, and smiled as my husband cut the packing tape, beads of sweat shining on his forehead. I lifted a copy from the box and admired it in all its beauty. It was just as I had imagined it: so new…stunningly beautiful. I gently stroked the cover. I sniffed the pages (awww…that new book smell!). I held it close for a while just to be sure it was real. Then the cameras came out, and the ogling began. Calls were made to family members; announcements made on social media. Forest Green had finally made its grand entrance into my world. Like a new mom, I was giddy over its arrival, and rightfully so. The path to publication was not an easy one.

Flashback to 2008: I was waiting to hear back from a small press about the status of my manuscript. I had received letters months before indicating that the manuscript had made it past the first two rounds of consideration, but it had been more than six months since I had received any further communication. I knew from prior experiences that this most likely meant they were going to decline, but nonetheless, I decided it was time to status query.

About two weeks later, an envelope came in the mail, addressed to me. I read the return address, and my heart sank. Another rejection. (They would have called, otherwise.) I added it to the junk mail pile and refused to open it until after dinner. At this point, it had already been a year since I initially submitted my manuscript. I could certainly postpone the sting of disappointment a few more minutes.

Hubby insisted I opened it after dinner. (I wanted to throw it out!) So I forced myself to read the bad news while he read over my shoulder. Moments later, we were both laughing hysterically, occasionally catching our breath to re-read key phrases out loud:  “manuscript mangled so badly”…”car traveling at an estimated eighty miles an hour”…”freak accident”…”your manuscript directly in the path”…”under serious consideration…”

The stranger-than-fiction summary goes like this: a drunk driver had crashed through the brick wall of the building in which my manuscript had been kept on a table in the office of the publisher’s CEO for what was to be the final round of decision-making on its acquisition. The car went through the office and their showroom before stopping at another brick wall on the opposite side. (No one was hurt…thank goodness this happened after hours…another blessing and happy ending, if you disregard the driver’s jail time!) The CEO’s office, and my manuscript, was destroyed.

Hubby: “You mean to tell me…”

Me: “Pfffttttt!!!!!”

Hubby:  “…you wait all these years for good news…

Me: “Bahhhhh!!!!!”

Hubby:  “…and just when you get thiiiiissss close…”

Me: “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!”

Hubby: (insert sound of a racing car here…)  “…your book manuscript gets…”

Both:  “…RUN OVER!!!!!”  (insert loud, out-of-breath, doubled-over belly laughter here)

Isn’t this a great story?

It doesn’t end here, though. I re-sent the manuscript and waited, once again, for more news. About two months later, it came. THE phone call. (!!!!!) 2010, the anticipated publication date. (Remember how bad the economy was at this time?) A year later, the date was pushed back to mid-2011. When that date came and went (some trouble with the original illustrator), it was pushed back again to late 2012.  And you’ve probably already predicted that that date eventually got pushed back as well. Spring 2014. (Delay at the printer’s…) And finally, on to the happy ending in the summer of 2014.

It’s true. I am “one lucky woman.” In spite of the odds and the seemingly unnatural forces that worked against it, Forest Green is finally here, and its arrival has made me feel like a proud mama all over again. This was a labor of love with a twisted, tortured path to its realization, but it was no miracle. My three true miracles are listed on its dedication page.

opening the boxLIANA MAHONEY is a nationally certified teacher from upstate New York who writes children’s poetry, educational materials, and non-fiction. She has numerous poetry credits, including the SCBWI Bulletin, various children’s magazines, online publications, and a poem in the award-winning sports-themed anthology AND THE CROWD GOES WILD. Liana’s poems also appear in various curricular materials with School Specialty, superteacherworksheets.com, and the Core Knowledge Foundation. She believes that a walk in the woods is  one of the best cures for writer’s block, second only to teaching kindergarteners. FOREST GREEN, a rhyming non-fiction circle story, published by North Country Books, is her first picture book. To find out more visit her website.

Cookies, cookies, cookies! (Inspired by GOODNIGHT, ARK)

photoMy nine year old has really embraced this whole book launch thing and joyfully declared this week that she wants to be a baker when she grows up.

IMG_3149And judging by these GOODNIGHT, ARK inspired animal cookies, I think she might very well do just that.  Though I would like to take credit, this project really is 100% hers.  All I did was mix the cookie dough, because stirring that is very hard, and I was in charge of the oven.  She researched how to make the frosting. She looked through GOODNIGHT, ARK and selected the animals she wanted to create. She rolled out the dough and cut the cookies. And she embellished each and everyone with superb artistic pizzazz.

In all, I think she’s spent close to 10 hours (not all at once) working on these cookies. And she’s not finished yet! She announced this morning that elephant shaped cookies are next in the production line.

And who will eat all these cookies? She plans to wrap them two by two in cellophane bags tied with colorful ribbon and hand them out to friends and neighbors. For now, though, they are going straight to the freezer until after GOODNIGHT, ARK officially releases on the 26th!IMG_3148IMG_3147

GOODNIGHT, ARK: Reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and More…

photoPlease grab a cup of tea and join me in a little celebratory clinking of the cups as we take a peek at some of the incoming reviews for GOODNIGHT, ARK.  Here are some excerpts.  For the full reviews, click the links provided.

“A fresh addition to the crowded shelf of Noah’s ark books.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A breezy text kept afloat by the buoyant illustrations – —if only Mrs. Noah had been invited along for the ride as well.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Beautifully illustrated and filled with fun rhymes.” – By The Book (a blogger review)

“This is one book you will read over and over, for many years.” – It Takes A Book (a blogger review)

 

OLDIE BUT GOODIE: Tea Parties – Letting Ideas Overflow

NOTE:  The release of GOODNIGHT, ARK has been pushed back to the end of the month due to a delay in the shipment process. The new on-sale date will be August 26th. In the meantime, I’ve completely exhausted myself getting ready and so now I find time to BREATHE!  I plan to have a quiet, replenishing week ahead, catching up on reading, playing around with a few words, dabbling in the garden.  I’m taking a little blog break for the week, as well, and hope you enjoy this post from two summers ago.  And, yes, my daughter still loves tea parties!

My daughter loves tea parties. She throws one at most play dates and even has her own tea set. I’ve learned from experience, however, that it’s best to serve tea either outside on a quilt or, if inside, within the confines of a large steep-sided tray. Why, you wonder? Well, when my darling daughter and her dear little friends pour their tea, it inevitably overflows, cascading over cups, filling saucers, soaking napkins, spoons, even cookies and fruit.

I don’t like messes, but I squelch my urge to intervene because I know they love these tea parties just as much as I loved them when I was a girl. Okay, I confess, I substitute water for tea because it’s not sticky and it won’t stain, but I let them pour to their little hearts’ content.

Like tea, poems and stories sometimes pour out of me as well. This outpouring usually occurs at the most inconvenient times -when I’m cooking, or in the middle of the night. But when it does, I grab the nearest paper and pen so I can catch every word and phrase. I don’t worry about getting words down perfectly or using complete sentences. I just write down the idea that’s pouring out as fast as I can. I erase nothing!

It hasn’t always been this way, however. When I first started writing for children, my critical inner voice often interfered. Indeed, it has taken years of conscious self-training not to let my inner editor hijack early-stage writing projects. Letting go of the inner editor during these bursts of creativity is well worth it because it’s much easier to revise and flip and develop a story when you start with a full cup – or tray- of tea.

What about you? Are you sometimes a teapot of creativity, or do ideas come to you in other ways? And what do you do to squelch that inner editor?

GOING ON A PATTERN HUNT: An Extension Activity for GOODNIGHT, ARK

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Teachers and Parents:  This is the first in a series I will be posting especially for you.

Going on a PATTERN Hunt

An Extension Activity for Pre-Readers (and Emergent-Readers too!)

Seeing and recognizing patterns are important skills for pre-readers. They lay the ground work for understanding words and stories. With that in mind, here are some fun pattern-related activities you and your child might enjoy after reading “Goodnight, Ark”.

Picture Patterns: Each page of “Goodnight, Ark” is full colors and patterns. Colors alternate.  Shapes are repeated (ex: round apples, crescent-shaped bananas, rectangular netting). Stripes and dots abound.  Look carefully, and you’ll even find swirls. As you explore Jane’s wonderful illustrations, see how many visual patterns you and your child can find. Afterwards, grab crayons and paper and make your own patterns.  Or go on a pattern hunt around your house looking for fun visual patterns in curtains, plants, tiles etc.

Text Patterns: The text, too, is patterned visually. Pre-readers might enjoy examining the lay out of words. With your child, notice how the text is clumped into verses. Count how many lines are in each verse (four) and note that this is a repeating pattern throughout the story.

Sound Patterns: When you read the story aloud you’ll note that the sounds of the words form their own patterns as well. With your child, listen for sound patterns. Each verse contains rhyming words at the end of the 2nd and 4th lines (ex: dash/crash, slide/glide). There are also words that repeat one right after the other (ex: rain/rain, pop/pop ping/ping).  Another pattern young listeners might notice are the repeating beginning sounds in within some lines (ex: zip/zing, squee/squee/squawk!). After exploring these various sound patterns, you and your child might enjoy making a game of creating your own sound patterns using rhyme, repetition, and alliteration.

NOTE: This activity was first featured on the terrific preschool blog, Our Out-of-Sync Life.  If you head over there before 6:00 am July 31st, 2014 you can enter a giveaway to win a copy of “Goodnight, Ark”.

BOOK TRAILER: Goodnight, Ark

GOODNIGHT, ARK is available for pre-order now at your favorite on-line or brick-and-mortar bookstore.  The official release date is August 5th, 2014… that’s in 11 days and counting!  There was a “book trailer reveal” this week over at the delightful preschool mommy blog: Our Out-of-Sync Life.  Head on over there, if you’d like, for a book giveaway (no entries after 6:00 am CST July 31st).