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JoAnn's Blog


              Gravitational Pull

              A constellation of daffodils
              brightens our dining room table,
              stems aligned in a spiral ascending
              to petal stars.

              We cluster around,
              planets in orbit,
              drawn to the light.

              JoAnn Early Macken

Happy National Poetry Month! Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Live Your Poem. Enjoy!

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Pre-Poetry Month Poem

trampled soccer field—
scilla defends muddy turf
along slim sidelines

I'll be posting new poems here for National Poetry Month from time to time throughout April. I saw these early spring flowers and couldn't wait to start!

Be sure to check out all the Poetry Friday posts! Today's Roundup is at The Poem Farm.

You can see all the 2017 Roundups here.

On April 28, I'll host the Poetry Friday Roundup on the Teaching Authors blog. Stop in and visit!

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SCBWI-Wisconsin 2016 Fall Conference Links

I'm speaking on Sunday afternoon at the 2016 SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Instead of creating a handout, I'm posting the links from my talk, "Three Routes to Publishing and a Few Side Trips."

Trade Books

2016 SCBWI Market Surveys:
- Publishers of Books for Young Readers
- International Market Survey
- Edited By
- Small Press Market Survey
- Religious Press Market Survey
The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children
(SCBWI members only; log in first.)

Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (CWIM), Writer’s Digest Books

Who's Moving Where? News and Staff Changes at Children's Book Publishers by Harold Underdown (The Purple Crayon)

Educational Books

SCBWI Educational Press Market Survey
The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children
(SCBWI members only; log in first.)

Evelyn B. Christensen’s Education Market Resources:
Tips for Writing for the Education Market
Educational Markets for Children's Writers

Self-Published Books

“Self-Publish or Not?”
by Harold Underdown (The Purple Crayon)

Self-Publishing Company Web Sites:
CreateSpace (Amazon)
Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing
Fast Pencil
Barnes & Noble's Pub-It! (NOOK Press)
Lightning Source (now Ingram’s)

“Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book” by Jane Friedman

“Self-Publishing Preview: 2016” by Jennifer McCartney, Publishers Weekly

“Self-Publishing: Best Practices” by Deborah Halverson and Randal Morrison
The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children
(SCBWI members only; log in first.)


SCBWI Magazine Market Guide
The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children
(SCBWI members only; log in first.)

“Writing for Children's Magazines” by Evelyn B. Christensen

Test Passages

Scroll down to “Freelance and Item Writing Positions”

Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE)

Educational Testing Service (ETS):
AP, CLEP, GRE, NAEP, PSAT, SAT, and more


Good luck!

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Orchid Spray

              Star-shaped, dawn-colored,
              freckle-faced flowers
              perch on their branch
              like a flock of finches
              peering over each other's shoulders.

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Today's Little Ditty. Enjoy!

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Open the Door!

In a few weeks, I'll be heading to a part of the country I've never visited before to take part in Western Washington University's Poetry Camp. I'm excited about the trip and the people I'll meet there--fellow poet/presenters whose poems are included in the Poetry Friday Anthology series compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong and the audience of teachers, librarians, and writers.

This summer has been loaded with distractions, so on a recent trip to the library, I grabbed an armload of poetry books to study so I could focus on poetry again. I started with Ted Kooser, whose work feels so comfortable, comforting, and at the same time eye-opening. I read his sweet Valentines and then his brilliant Delights and Shadows. That one made me want to write a bit, so I contributed a quick draft to Laura Purdie Salas's 15 Words or Less Poems yesterday. I felt a little bit like a poet again.

Today, I started my morning with Mary Oliver's Owls and Other Fantasies. Here's what jumped out at me:

         ...Listen, everyone has a chance.
         Is it spring, is it morning?

         Are there trees near you,
         and does your own soul need comforting?
         Quick, then--open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
         may already be drifting away.

         --from "Such Singing in the Wild Branches"


         ...Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

         even in the leafless winter,
         even in the ashy city.
         I am thinking now of grief, and getting past it;

         I feel my boots
         trying to leave the ground,
         I feel my heart
         pumping hard. I want

         to think again of dangerous and noble things.
         I want to be light and frolicsome.
         I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
         as though I had wings.

         --from "Starlings in Winter"

I'm always looking for something when I read; often, I don't know what. I found something today in the poems quoted here and also in "Yes! No!"

         "To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work."

Always a good thing to remember, I think, both for writing and for life.

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Poem Farm. Enjoy!

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Happy National Poetry Month!

our new puppy Rosy

It's April again--hooray! Last year, I wrote a haiku a day; you can read all thirty poems in the April 2015 Archive. This year, with deadlines and school visits claiming my attention, I decided to focus on reading more poetry. I've posted an old favorite dog poem on the Teaching Authors blog for National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Enjoy!
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Lake Michigan, Winter

                                            Bundle up. Be bold.
                                            Walk through winter's biting teeth.
                                            Your reward: this view.

Click to enlarge the photo. You'll see why this park is my favorite walking destination, even in winter.
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Peace on Earth


                                    silence falls from clouds
                                    hush floats past frosty windows
                                    quiet builds soft drifts

I love how snow muffles sound and makes everything still, at least for a while. Wishing everyone a moment of joyful stillness. Happy holidays!

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at
Live Your Poem with Irene Latham. Enjoy!

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Echoing e. e. cummings

I've loved the playful, joyful poetry of e.e. cummings since as far back as I can remember—high school? College? I know that my collections of his work are all worn and tattered. So when I read that the Poetry Sisters challenged themselves to write poems in his style, I decided to try it, too. They each chose a particular poem to echo; I just wrote. Here's mine:

earlier than
(coffee, frontporch, spiderwebs shimmering)
dog stares at passersby
     (what is she thinking?)
i fill my
with chirps, tweets, & twitters
     harmony reigns
only thing
     m i s s i n g
          is You

The Poetry Sisters are Liz Garton Scanlon, Laura Purdie Salas, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Sara Lewis Holmes, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman, Andromeda Jazmon Sibley, and Tanita S. Davis.

You can hear them all reading their poems
here. Enjoy!

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Baby Says "Moo!" Book Giveaway!

Today's the big day! Baby Says "Moo!" (Disney-Hyperion Books) is now a padded board book, so let's have a giveaway! To enter, leave a comment here by midnight on Wednesday, June 10. The Random Number Generator will choose a winner. Good luck!
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