Seasons Greetings!

Pilgrim Pepper and SaltIt’s such a packed and hectic time of year I’m finding it hard to keep up with everything on the schedule. But that’s when my editorial instincts go into overdrive and I start making lists and checking them twice.

There’s a downside to being busy (see below), but I’m trying to take a creative approach to the mounting piles of mail and similar facts of everyday existence.

At the same time I’m on the verge of becoming overwhelmed, I’m feeling thankful—for a thriving home and family and all the blessings surrounding the release of my first published book in September.

Promoting the book and keeping abreast of daily life and my responsibilities as the managing editor of an academic quarterly led immediately to a long and growing list of resolutions about how I will approach matters when the second book in the series appears next March.

If it seems like I’m mixing up the holidays, well, I guess I am. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride this fall, but (to mix metaphors) I cast my net wide and with hopefulness in order to learn the ropes.

Did I get rope burn? On occasion—but every opportunity has been a chance to begin learning how the marketing and promotion side of a published book works, and as a new author, I’ve had to get out there in ways that, as a shy person, have been challenging for me.

I’m a bit proud of my sometimes awkward and goofy self for going for it. And it has always been a pleasure to meet and work with the children I’ve visited with, as well as the many kind people—especially the parents, grandparents, and teachers—who have been drawn to the book and the topics it covers.

That’s heartening, and a reminder that when I write and speak from my heart, my shy, sometimes awkward and goofy self is on the right path.

the downside to being busy

And now, it’s time to wash some dishes!

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Scarecrow Joe Makes Rhyming Friends at the North County Branch of the Hunterdon County Library

Tweens Program at the HCLI love the bulletin board the Hunterdon County Library children’s librarians made up for the Tweenz poetry workshop I did on Tuesday evening at the North County Branch in beautiful Clinton, New Jersey!

Using the colorful, textured scarecrows the multi-talented Susan Swan created for the illustrations of my concept picture book, Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes as inspiration, I gave kids grades 1 to 5 some of the poetry tools to write a rhyming couplet.

We focused on rhyme and rhythm (meter) as the workshop participants used a selection of autumn-themed one- and two-syllable words to fashion end rhymes for their couplets.  They did a great job!

The kids were responding to the following poem I wrote for the workshop, “The Lonely Scarecrow.” In writing the poem, I tried to imagine what Scarecrow Joe, who is lonely, longs for, and decided the answer was quite simple: a friend.

The Lonely Scarecrow by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky

Workshop participants used their rhyming words to tell Joe what they might do to have fun if they were to spend time together. She had a little trouble figuring out where the line break belonged, but one young girl even ended up rhyming her own name with a three-syllable word. Impressive!

After we had penned, read aloud, and discussed all the couplets, I asked the kids to complete the activity sheet below, one of five I created to accompany readings of Pick a Circle:

Pick a Circle, Gather Squares--Lonely Scarecrow

At the workshop’s close I raffled off a signed copy of the book and donated another signed copy to the library for their stacks.

I am pleased to share that Miss Jean, the librarian, invited me back to do future Tweenz programs to accompany the appearance of Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A Summer Crop of Counting (Spring 2014) and and Sap, Tap, Maple Syrup! Collecting Winter Colors (Fall 2014), when they appear next year. I also be doing several Hunterdon Country Library Teen Café poetry workshops in the spring as well.

Thanks, Miss Jean, for the wonderful opportunity to share my book and some writing tricks I’ve learned during my poetry journey. Looking forward to returning next year to do more workshopping with the younger patrons of the Hunterdon County Library!

Read on!

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Whew! It’s Been So Busy…

Red Mill Harvest Festival Fan 2I’ve hardly had time to post, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few photos from my author signing at the Red Mill Harvest Festival in Clinton, New Jersey, this past Sunday. It was a windy day, but the locale and the company was truly lovely. A number of the children attending the festival stopped by to do my scavenger hunt, but the girls below enjoyed it so much they came back to do it again!

Red Mill Harvest Festival SuperFans 3
I’ll be back in Clinton this evening to teach a group of tweenz how to write rhyming couplets, and will be back tomorrow to post a few more photos and update my calendar of events!

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Here are a few photos from the Tuesday morning Storytime at the Ledgewood, NJ, Barnes & Noble earlier this week:

B&N Storytime 5, Ledgewood, NJ 11-5-13

Thank you to Patty for inviting me back to read Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes, and especially to Michelle, who conducted the hour-long session of stories, songs, and activities.

B&N Storytime 4, Ledgewood, NJ 11-5-13It was exciting to share the book with this lively gathering, participate in the singing—who doesn’t love a hearty round of “The Wheels on the Bus”?— and to see children and parents alike enjoy coloring in the packet of activity sheets I’ve prepared for Pick a Circle events.

B&N Storytime 2 close up, Ledgewood, NJ 11-5-13I learned a new song, was cheered by meeting all the smiling faces, and even signed a few books. And what an unexpected delight it was to pen a dedication to a young child named Audyn, after one of my favorite poets, W.H. Auden!

It was a good, good morning that started off like this…

B&N Storytime 9, Ledgewood, NJ 11-5-13

…and finished with my dad, patiently waiting to go to Panera with my mom and son for lunch!

B&N Storytime 8, Ledgewood, NJ 11-5-13

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Let’s Celebrate Picture Book Month!

Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November. Whether you’re a librarian or an educator or a writer or an illustrator or a parent or a picture book lover, why not consider joining the festivities? There’s so much to celebrate! 

Visit the Picture Book Month website for more information about ways to celebrate, share, and read today’s post: Why Picture Books Are Important by Tomie dePaola. Here’s my favorite line:

I propose that Picture Books can be great art

and great art makes for a great people and a great society.

After all, reading begins with a picture book!


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