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26. The not-writing bits of a writer’s day - Lari Don

I love writing, but I can’t do it for long.

I do it in quick bursts (30 or 40 minutes is usually enough) then I need a break, partly to recover emotionally from the fight or chase or argument I’ve just written, partly to get up from the chair and keyboard to give my body a change of posture, and partly to give my brain time to consider solutions to the questions and problems that particular burst of writing has thrown up.

So on the rare and wonderful days when I have all day to write, I don’t spend all day writing. I do a variety of things to take a break, at least once an hour. And over the years, I’ve discovered things which REALLY don’t work as breaks from writing:

Logging on to my email or twitter or facebook or even lovely blogs like this, because I get involved in conversations then feel rude if I break them off to get back to writing, and anyway it doesn’t give me a break from the screen and keyboard.

Reading a novel, because if the novel is any good, 10 minutes isn’t enough, and I risk getting sucked into that world, forgetting the time, forgetting the book I’m trying to write…

Doing a bit of housework, which usually annoys me more than it relaxes or inspires me, so I do as little housework as possible (this is a life rule, not just a writing day one!)

So this month, I made a new resolution (why make them in January? October can be a new start too) and I’m trying to find other things to give me a quick mental and physical break, then send me back into the story refreshed and possibly even inspired. And so far, these have worked:

Reading poetry, short stories or collections of art and photos. Much less likely to suck me in than a novel, and also a chance to widen my reading. So I’ve started a shelf of books specifically chosen for glancing at for 10 minutes (and yes, that is a book of Joan Lennon’s poetry…)

Stitching or sewing something. I’ve dug out a cushion cover I started to design decades ago, and now I’m working on it in very small sections. Working with wool is so different from working with words, that it seems like the perfect break.

Baking bread or cooking. It’s not housework, but it still makes me feel domestically useful, and kneading bread is particularly satisfying.

Going for a run. This is the best way to clear my head, and to deal with the dangers of a sitting down job. But it only works once a day, and only when I can be bothered! 

Sight reading a few of my daughter’s scales / exercises / pieces on the piano. (Not particularly well, but with a bit of verve!)

I’m sure if did all of these (run, bake, sew, play music, read poetry…) in one day, I’d probably not write any words of my own at all. But having all of those options certainly beats hanging socks between chapters…

Lari Donis the award-winning author of 22 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. 

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27. Top Posts From AJBlogs 10.29.14

Engagement Research: Talk to Them
AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2014-10-28

Finding My Chowder — Part 2
AJBlog: Out There Published 2014-10-29

Farewell to Poet Galway Kinnell
AJBlog: CultureCrash Published 2014-10-29

Bad News: NY Times as Insert for Christie’s Advertising Section (plus: me at NYU)
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2014-10-29

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28. Director of Marketing, Kansas City Ballet

The Director of Marketing is responsible for identifying and activating comprehensive strategies based on the institutional goals established by the organization’s multi-year strategic plan.

He/she is responsible for meeting or exceeding earned revenue goals, institutional press and external relations in coordination with an out-of-house Public Relations/Press and Media agency, supervising customer and box office services, identifying and meeting the marketing needs of the education programs generated by the Kansas City Ballet School as well as its Community Education activities.

Working closely and proactively with other senior staff/department heads, the Director of Marketing participates as part of the senior management team reporting directly to the Executive Director. The Director of Marketing is responsible for Kansas City Ballet’s overall brand continuity, audience development through marketing, public relations and promotional activities and programs.

Duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to:

1. Plan and implement all ticket sales campaigns including season ticket sales, sales of Kansas City Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker (Note: in 2015, a completely new Nutcracker production will be introduced to the community), single ticket sales campaigns and all other productions. Design and direct ticket pricing strategies that will develop long term audience growth, packaging strategies and non-cash sponsorship strategies in coordination with the Development Department.

2. Design, implement and facilitate annual and long term marketing plans for Kansas City Ballet. Support and facilitate development and implementation of Kansas City Ballet School, Development Department and Community Outreach marketing plans as needed.

3. Plan and administer the Ballet’s annual marketing operations budget; support development of Long Range Strategic marketing budgets.

4. Track, report and act on sales trends and data including dynamic pricing policies.

5. Organize and implement audience cultivation relations including
a. Audience development activities
b. Special events
c. Audience satisfaction surveys

6. Supervise KCB’s RFP protocol process including soliciting RFP’s from desirable prospective vendors and media partners; oversee buying process. Develop and direct printed material campaigns for all KCB purposes, including but not limited to brochures, season announcements, postcards and other direct mail, newspaper advertisements, billboards, and electronic and social media.

7. Oversee communications activities through communications/public relations coordinator and PR consultant including external and internal communications and systems, public relations efforts and external vendors and consultants.

8. Administer marketing database which includes audience and prospect information, mailing list applications, etc. Kansas City Ballet employs the Tessitura software as a joint venture with the Lyric Opera, Kansas City Symphony and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

9. Oversee KCB’s electronic marketing efforts including supervision of web site design, maintenance and email marketing and keep abreast with all contemporary social media opportunities.
10. Supervise Associate Marketing Director, Marketing Manager, Box Office Manager, Publicist, Telemarketing Manager, Electronic Media Coordinator. Make staffing and hiring decisions within marketing department.


Experience: College degree required. Concentration in Marketing, Business Advertising or Communications preferred with at least five years as a marketing director or associate marketing director preferred. Strong leadership and consensus building skills; marketing management and strategic planning experience; a proven track record in developing and administering a successful marketing program.
Required Skills: The successful candidate will be a highly organized self-starter; someone able to work well with personnel at all levels in the organization as well as with donors, volunteers and other arts professionals. Proficiency with Microsoft Office and Windows 7 based computer applications is essential; familiarity with Tessitura audience and development software is a high value asset.

Special Skills: Background in not-for-profit performing arts or arts marketing is a definite plus; a sophisticated understanding of the challenges and realities of programming a multi-faceted season of dance ranging from the traditional full length narrative story ballets to mixed repertoire to the introduction of new work to audiences and a rational, cost effective clearly stated point of view on how to approach that challenge will give a candidate a significant competitive advantage.

Beginning in 2016-17, a one week season of performances will be added to the annual offerings in order to provide more opportunity for mixed repertory to be presented. The new second company of Kansas City Ballet, KCB II, will soon establish a busy schedule of performances around the community which, when required, will be enhanced by the addition of dancers from our Student Trainee group.

Kansas City Ballet has a deep commitment to programming in the community for schools and in community centers. Our Reach Out and Dance (ROAD) program, originally fashioned after the concepts designed by Jacques D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute, are currently being held for 4th graders in 13 schools throughout the region.
Financial Profile: Kansas City Ballet is in excellent financial health. With a $7 million operating budget, the company has no long term debt, has a cash reserve equaling 18% of its budget, has an endowment in excess of $8 million, and has completely paid for its new home at the Bolender Center.

Compensation will be competitive for this position. Other benefits include:

• Paid vacation
• Health and Disability insurance (employer pays 85% of premium)
• Dental program (Employee paid)
• 403(b) retirement program with employer match
• Flexible Spending Account
• Free dance classes for immediate family (some exclusions)
• Tickets to all Ballet performances as available

Interested qualified candidates are invited to submit resume, salary history, names and contact information for a minimum of three references and a brief, well composed cover letter describing interest, relevant qualifications and experience to Mary Allen, Assistant to the Executive Director, Kansas City Ballet, Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity, 500 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108 Attention: Marketing Director Search. Or, by e-mail (preferred method):

Mary Allen

Kansas City Ballet is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and committed to diversity and inclusion throughout our organization.

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29. Rifle

Design by Rifle



Stunning work from Rifle, a small but nimble design studio based in Madrid.





Design by Rifle

Design by Rifle

Design by Rifle

Design by Rifle



Also worth viewing:

Aron Vellekoop Leon
Ty Wilkins Interview
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30. L.M. ‘Kit’ Carson, 73, Godfather of Texas Indie Filmmakers

kit carson

He produced, directed, and acted; he co-authored, among other projects, Paris, Texas; and “played a key role in launching the careers of fellow Texans Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson.”

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31. Stephen Colbert wades into Gamergate with Anita Sarkeesian

Game over, man, game over.

colbert sarkeesian Stephen Colbert wades into Gamergate with Anita Sarkeesian

1 Comments on Stephen Colbert wades into Gamergate with Anita Sarkeesian, last added: 10/30/2014
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32. Literary Halloween Costumes


Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. I love all the creativity that comes out as everyone gets in the spirit and comes up with a fun costume to wear. Are you still looking for a costume this year? Get inspired by these fun writing and book-inspired ideas. They’re word-tastic!

The Book Fairy: Too cute!

Book Fairy

Book Angel: Get crafty with angel wings made out of book pages.

Book Angel Wings

Book Mistress: Create a dashing book dress.

Book Dresses

Death by Book: Zombie librarian!

Librarian Zombie

Be Punctual: Semi colons, question marks, exclamation points, oh my!


Sexy Typewriter: Need I say more.


Cover It: Be your favorite book.

Booc Cover

Or Go As Yourself: Be an author or a famous novelist.


Happy haunting everyone!

In the Literary Halloween Spirit? Check out these fun posts from hauntings past:

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33. How to Choose the Right Age Category for Your KidLit Work-in-Progress

2014 was a busy year—I released my first middle grade book, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, and my third young adult, FERAL. Both books actually started out in younger age categories: the first draft of THE JUNCTION was a picture book, and the first draft of FERAL was an MG. Having been through the process of changing manuscripts’ age categories, I’ve learned a few tricks for better understanding, at an early drafting stage, which category is right for a juvenile WIP:

1. Don’t forget your overarching concept. My MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, is about a young girl who becomes a folk artist; with her grandfather’s help, they turn their home into a folk art environment.  My initial idea was to write a picture book—the illustrations, I imagined, would grow increasingly wilder as the property became covered in sculptures and whirligigs.  Consistently, though, early editorial response was that the concept of folk art was just too advanced for the picture book readership—teaching me not to get so caught up in ideas external to the text that I lose sight of the main concept that the book is built around.

GIVEAWAY: Holly is excited to give away a free copy of either one of her two most recent novels to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).


Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 4.04.41 PM   Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 4.04.21 PM   Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 4.00.33 PM

Column by Holly Schindler, author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, released in 2014, was called by Kirkus Reviews as “…a heartwarming and uplifting story…[that] shines…with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.” Find Holly online with her blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook.


2. Listen to your character’s voice. Auggie, the protagonist of JUNCTION, speaks in frequent simile and metaphor—her poetic worldview is the reason she’s able to become an artist using found items or “junk.”  (Metaphors compare two dissimilar objects—which is much like the process of Auggie seeing a potential flower in a broken toaster or wind chimes in a rusted old car.)  Many of the same poetic phrases from the original picture book are included in the final MG version—a sure sign that the book should have been MG all along.

(Is it best to query all your target agents at once? — or just a few to start?) 

3. Try your hand at description. FERAL was originally drafted as an MG mystery.  During the revision process, the description began to take on a much darker tone—so much so, I began to suspect the book needed to be a YA.

I know now that rather than working all the way through a draft, focusing primarily on plot development, it’s best to take some time to write several passages of solid description.  What kind of details do you find yourself gravitating toward?  Would you call your passages gritty or sweet?  Simple or complicated?  This will give you a better idea of whether your book is trending younger (MG) or older (YA).

4. Examine your character’s life experiences. We aren’t the same people at seventeen that we are at thirteen.  In fact, when I got the inkling that FERAL needed to be a YA, I realized that my original protagonist would no longer work.  I had to brainstorm a new, older main character.  When I explored this new protagonist’s backstory, I discovered that she’d endured a brutal beating.  That was when I knew that my theme (or overarching concept) would actually be recovering from violence—and the genre would be psychological thriller.  All of this only confirmed my suspicion that the book needed to be YA.

(When can you refer to yourself as “a writer”? The answer is NOW, and here’s why.)

Your own main character can help you early on, as well—long before the revision process.  Brainstorm your character’s likes and dislikes, his or her attitudes.  Of importance here is not only the attitudes themselves, but the reason(s) why your character has these views or beliefs.  What experiences has this character had?  And, of equal importance in juvenile lit, what has your character not yet done?  This will give you a glimpse into how old your protagonist is (and, as a result, what age category your book should be).

I still believe in the power of successive rewrites; going over a book multiple times allows an author to include subplots and to tie together themes, making a book richer and stronger.  But bumping a draft up (or down) to a new age category can result in a complete overhaul—it’s far better to nail the age category right from the start.

GIVEAWAY: Holly is excited to give away a free copy of either one of her two most recent novels to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).



2015-CWIM-smallWriting books/novels for kids & teens? There are hundreds
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34. What American Orchestras Are Playing This Season: Crunching The Numbers


“[We] gathered data on the 2014-15 seasons that have been programmed by 21 major American orchestras … [and] created a database.” Here are some early stats on how much music by female composers and American composers are being performed and which composers (living and dead) the orchestras are playing most.

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35. Giveaway and Review of An Unseemly Wife by E. B. Moore

Giving up the only life she knew, leaving all her possessions for a new life she was ​not ​excited about, following her husband's wishes and keeping​ silent.  That is what Ruth's life was like as she followed the rules of her Fold​.

We follow Ruth and her family as they get ready to leave their secure community for the unknown in Idaho and follow them on their difficult, two-thousand-mile trek.  A trip that was supposed to give them a better life.

The writing in AN UNSEEMLY WIFE is beautiful, and Ms. Moore smoothly and masterfully moves from one time period to the other revealing what Ruth's life was before marrying Aaron and what it was like now.  As the journey west continued, Ruth realized that her life with Aaron would never be the same.  She had no family close by, and the people they met were not like her Fold at home.

AN UNSEEMLY WIFE is actually an account of the author's great grandmother.  I enjoyed this book because I do like historical fiction, but definitely wouldn't want to be living in the 1800's as a woman.

AN UNSEEMLY WIFE did drag a bit, though, but it was quite educational to see the difficulties of traveling in and living in a covered wagon along with the hardships of everyday life. You will feel the family's pain as sad things happen, and all the characters definitely grow on you.  The children were so innocent and good.  Ruth was obedient and a very good mother.  Aaron was a good husband, but not one that I would want. He was kind but too strict.

If you are interested in the early days of settling America, you will enjoy this book.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.


Enter the giveaway here from October 30 to November 6.  USA ONLY

Good Luck

0 Comments on Giveaway and Review of An Unseemly Wife by E. B. Moore as of 10/30/2014 1:39:00 AM
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36. Chicanonautica: The Evolution of La Catrina

It’s the end of October, and it’s happening on a weekend: Halloween and Los Días De Los Muertos, that I modestly proposed be made into a three-day fiesta in my novel Smoking Mirror Blues

And we see her, popping up on the interwebs, and coming to your barrio soon -- La Catrina, the skull-faced lady with the fancy hat.

She first showed up in a zinc etching by José Guadalupe Posada somewhere around 1910, 1913-ish -- ¡LA REVOLUÇIÓN! Posada intended her as a caricature of the rich, catrina, in spanish meaning well-dressed, rich, fop, dandy.

The etching, and image, without the benefit of an internet or social media, struck a cord with Mexican culture, and became a popular icon.

Diego Rivera modernized her between 1947 and 1948, providing her with dress and feathered serpent boa in his mural Sueno de un Tarde Dominical en La Alameda Central -- originally in the Hotel del Prado on Alameda Park, but moved after the building was damaged in the earthquake of 1985 and torn down. It’s now in the Museo Mural Diego Rivera, Mexico City, Tenochtitlán, La Capital Azteca. Rivera also made her an avatar of Aztec Mother Godess Coatlicue, adding another layer to her idenity.

Since then, she’s evolved. Today’s Catrina wears the sugar skull face make up, and is glamorous -- taking us back to the 18th century Scots meaning, enchantment, magic, and the fact that the word is an alteration of grammar, which in the Middle Ages refered to occult parctices associated with learning -- and sexy in ways not yet franchised by Hollywood and the fashion industry. It’s a different, subversive concept of beauty, similar to that of the Goths, whose style is being toned down and absorbed by nerd culture, that is in danger of becoming another corporate marketing strategy.

I keep hoping the nerds will see beyond the suburban bubble that they are kept in, get inspired, go wild, and scare the crap out of those who are trying to control them. Encounters with La Catrina can help with this, because no one can control La Catrina. She’s a goddess -- like her sister Santa Muerte -- the return of an ancient, elemental thing that cannot be tamed.

Have a weird and wonderful Dead Daze!

Ernest Hogan’s Dead Daze novel, Smoking Mirror Blues is still available in the original trade paperback edition, and as ebooks through Kindle and Smashwords. A new Kindle version of his first novel Cortez on Jupiter has just become available. 

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37. Mindfulness, Shmindfulness – Zoning Out Is Good For You (Within Reason)

Mindfulness Shmindfulness

“One of the biggest misconceptions people have about mindfulness is that you can train yourself to stay in this mindful state all of the time. … Even if you spent 20 years in a Tibetan monastery, you would not be able to stay in a mindful state. We are not, evolutionarily, designed to stay in this blissful, present-moment awareness state.”

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38. A Very Sad Letter to ENDGAME by Nils Johnson-Shelton & James Frey

Review by Becca ENDGAMEby Nils Johnson-Shelton and James Frey Series: Endgame (Book 1)Hardcover: 480 pagesPublisher: HarperCollins (October 7, 2014)Language: English Goodreads | Amazon Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality…until

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39. “Dance Is An Intellectual Art Form”: Wayne McGregor On Choreography, Creativity, And Cognition


“We have this idea, partly because of the past, of choreographers just coming and dancers just doing as if they’re not thinking. We know that dance is as much a cognitive act as it is a physical act. That’s why I’ve been very interested in physical thinking. If it’s a cognitive act, how is it that you can inspire people to be more creative cognitively?”

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40. Happy Halloween – Illustration and Poems

dia de muertos2014-KathyT

Illustration by Ana Ochoa: Featured on Illustrator Saturday 1/11/14


by Eileen Spinelli

No howling cats.
No “Boos!” No bats.
No creaking chairs.
No cobwebbed stairs.
No goblin stew.
No ghostly brew
this year for you.

My Hallowish is new:

a day of fun,
a pumpkin pie,
a bed of leaves
on which to lie,
a moon that’s spooning
orange light…
sweet autumn dreams
to last the night.


Eileen Spinelli is a well-published author. She has written seventy-two books that are still in print.

When she is not writing poems, stories and books for children you might find her . . .pouring tea. . . trying on hats. . . picking herbs. ‘. . painting in her dream journal. . . browsing in thrift shops. . . dancing barefoot. . . waiting for the mailman. . . star-watching with my husband . . . curled up with a novel. . . taking a nap on the back porch. Zzzzzzzz…..

The Witches of Fairy Top Hill

by Vivian Kirkfield

On Halloween eve up on Fairy Top Hill,

a trio of witches, Pam, Tamsin and Lil,

were practicing magic and chanting out loud,

“Bat-candy, bat-candy…rain down from that cloud!”

“Kaput and Kabob!” Pam invoked with a shout,

The sky quickly filled with a hover of trout.

“Kibosh! and Pish-posh!” Tamsin yelled with finesse.

A chorus of frogs joined the fish-slippy mess.

Then bold Lil spoke up, “This is Trick-or-Treat night,

and children get candy and Turkish delight.”

Costumed as young children…with treat bags to fill,

the trio went guising, Pam, Tamsin and Lil.

vivian kirklandPicture240Writer for children – reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Former kindergarten teacher turned parent-teacher workshop leader turned author, Vivian believes that communication, consistency and compassion are key ingredients in any successful relationship. Plus a sense of adventure – she’s already ticked off skydiving, banana-boat riding and parasailing from her bucket list…what will be next?

To find out more about her mission to help young children become lovers of books and reading, please visit her website, Picture Books Help Kids Soar.


by Carol H. Jones

That crazy October!

It’s really not sober.

It’s so dizzy with yellow and orange and red.

Like a quilt full of color pulled over your head.

And the store that was featuring back to school gear

Is where witches and goblins and ghosts first appear.

They give you the willies!

They scare you half silly!

But of course, we all know that there’s nothing to fear.

That’s what really is fun about this time of year.

caroljones260cropprfCarol is a former elementary school teacher, a grandmother, and an SCBWI member. She’s been writing picture books (none published yet) in both prose and poetry for over five years. Some of my titles are The Three Little Pigs Sing Again, Olaf The Troll And The Billygoat Ambush, My Fly Is In A Jar And The Jar Is In The Car, The Brainkeeper Team, Benny Can Do Anything, Edgar and Gretta: Big City Here We Come, Quit Your Bickering, The Scary Veggie Lady, Octopus Wishes, Princess Pippa, Fox Guards The Henhouse, and Oh, No! Peas!


by Jane Resides

I made a tall black witch’s hat

Then snuck the kitchen broom

My wand was brother’s hockey stick

I pilfered from his room

I leaped onto the jaggy broom

And sailed right off my bed

This witching isn’t going well.

Just see my bandaged head!


Which witch should I become this year,

the good one or the bad?

Good witches wear gold crowns and gowns,

But bad ones I must add,

Although they’re wart-nosed, dressed in black,

They have a lot more fun.

They cackle, snarl, and frighten kids

Kids shriek! They scream. They run.

A crystal ball is what I need

I think that would be dandy.

I’d gaze into that ball to see

Which witch would get more candy.

Jane Resides, a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, writes poetry, picture books, and historical fiction.

She has published stories, articles, and poetry in Highlights, Once Upon a Time, Penn & Ink, and When I can’t Get to Sleep, a West Chester Library poetry book.

Her husband and grandson are beekeepers, and her article “Emme Loves Bees” was published in Highlights.


That Magical October Sky

by Wendy Greenley

Momma Mouse saw harvest moon.

Little Mouse saw pie.

Momma Mouse said, “Come in soon!”

Little Mouse said, “Why?”

“It’s time for bed,” Momma warned.

“Back soon!” said Little Mouse,

Running toward the broomstick

He’d left beside the house.

The broomstick creaked and sputtered.

Little Mouse took flight,

Headed for a pumpkin treat

Before he said goodnight.

Past the trees,

Through the stars,

Little Mouse rose high,

Aiming for the scrumptious shining pumpkin in the sky.

The voyage was untested.

The landing pad untried.

Dropping to the orange orb,

Little Mouse was pie-d.

wendygreenleybio photocropped




A childhood prankster who finds it hard to change her ways, Wendy Greenley is an aspiring children’s book author, writing for picture book and middle grade audiences.




Illustrated by Laura-Susan Thomas

Scary Things Come Out at Night

by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

Scary things come out at night

Ghosts that boo! and bats that bite;

Warlocks cloaked in purple capes;

Satyrs wearing wreaths of grapes.

Sometimes you might spy a witch

Or a hunchback with a twitch

Don’t be frightened by this scene –

After all, it’s Halloween!

kellyfinemanFall 2014Kelly Ramsdell Fineman is a children’s author and award-winning poet. Her picture book, At the Boardwalk, came out from tiger tales books in 2012. Her children’s poems appear in National Geographic’s Book of Nature Poetry, ed. by J. Patrick Lewis (coming in 2015), Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, ed. by Jill Corcoran (2012), National Geographic’s Book of Animal Poetry, ed. by J. Patrick Lewis (2012), Write Your Own Poetry by Laura Purdie Salas (2008), and in Highlights for Children magazine, as well as other places.

You can visit her at her eponymous website, www.kellyfineman.com, or her blog, Writing & Ruminating, at http://kellyrfineman.livejournal.com



by Carol Murray

Jack-o-Lantern’s laughing,

up and down the hall.

Jack-o-Lantern’s leering,

hanging on the wall.

Spooks and spiders lurking,

Black cats can be seen.

Ghosts are flying through the sky.


It’s Halloween.



Boo! On the wicked witch.

Her hat and cape are black as pitch.

It seems like she mad a little glitch.

And dropped her broomstick in a ditch.

So now I know what I will do.

I’m doing more than saying, “Boo!”

I’ll grab that broom this very day

and sweep the monsters all away.

carolreadingCarol is a published poet and author of several books for children. She has been a teacher for over thirty years with students, aged three years (Wee Wigglers) to ninety-three (Elderhostel). She taught English and Speech at Hutchinson Community College for twenty-five years and has also taught Creative Writing, Poetry, Interpersonal Communications, and Children’s Literature.

Her picture book titled, The Cricket in the Thicket being Illustrated by Melissa Sweet and published by Holt will hit bookshelves in Spring of 2016.

A Demon’s Treat

by Carol MacAllister

Fresh newt’s eyes and frog legs flinch

while boiling in the brew,

Spells are cast on howling winds,

There darts a trick or two.


Trouble lurks at every turn,

unknowing victims race

from moaning dead, banshee cries,

monster’s snarling chase.


Autumn’s rustling branches drone

at demons overhead

on ancient brooms, phantom steeds,

Rousing up the dead.


Strange, how innocence is lured

to wander through dark streets,

Each year, a few just disappear,

Snatched! – a demon’s treat.

carolmCarol MacAllister holds an MFA in creative writing with a concentration in poetry and fiction. She has been widely published in poetry for years on both a children  and an adult level. Her poems have won many awards and have been presented in public venues. Her book RIPASSO is a privately published collection of poetry by others and includes Robert Pinsky, and other poet laureates, as well as her own work. She judges the annual Federation of State Poetry Societies competition, as well as others.

The Green Witch’s Brew

by Pia Garneau

Organic, non-toxic


All natural, sustainable


The Green Witch is brewing a nourishing stew

with wholesome ingredients for her little Sue.

Six silver eyes of humanely-farmed newts

Fangs from a bat ground with seasonal roots

Fine golden locks from a gluten-free child

A pesticide-free rodent grown in the wild

A bunch of greens (fresh triple-washed frogs)

Two coiled tails from hormone-free hogs

The old door creaks.  L’il Sue walks in.

“Come mix with the broomstick,” Witch said with a grin.

“Mom, what’s that smell?” Sue said with dread,

wishing she smelled pumpkin pie instead.

Pia Garneau Photo


When she’s not brewing a green stew, you can find Pia Garneau brewing picture book stories instead.  She seasons her stories and cooks them just right in hopes that a publisher or agent will gobble it up and ask for more. 

You can also find her chauffeuring her two gluten-filled boys around, who are good sources of inspiration…and protein.

For kidlit tweets, follow her on Twitter:@piagarneau.



by Donna Weidner

‘Tis All Hallows’ Eve and in true scary fashion,
The wind is a’ howlin’ with fury and passion.
The moon’s begun waning, but still lights the way,
For our loved ones who’re now on the ‘other side’ of the bay.

Up from the floorboards, through ceilings and walls,
They knock on the windows and shriek down the halls.
There’s laughing, and singing, and regular howls.
If we didn’t know better, it might clench our bowels.

‘Tis their annual visit. They come once a year—
The thirty-first of October, when it’s easiest to appear.
Two Anns and one Otto, three Roses and Abe,
Aunt Zelda and Tina and Vito, a.k.a. Dave.
The Willys and Johnnys, the Franzes, Gwinnells,
With Weidners and Omi, they assure us all’s well.

More souls arrive. We party into the night
With swooping and swaying, a paranormal sight.
Till just before dawn, when the ruckus calms down,
Not only at home, but all over town.

The candles, still burning, flicker twice then stretch high,
When Mom clears her throat, then begins with a sigh,
“For all gathered here, this eve’s been a treat—
“Though for you, our dear loved ones, perhaps ’tis bitter-sweet.
“So let me assure you, we are always nearby,
“Just put out your hand and close your eyes.
“Feel our breath in the wind, hear our words in a song,
“The trick is to know us—have faith — you are strong.
“We whisper in dreams, in a butterfly’s flutter,
“In brooks we may babble, or sigh — sometimes, mutter.
“We send you our love through the smile of another—
“Friends, neighbors, strangers—even someone else’s mother.”

Then as fast as they came, they disappear in a second,
Leaving us alone—or not—what do you reckon?



Donna is a Writer, Reiki Master, Wisdom Keeper, all around adventuress and everyone’s cheerleader. I also love anything that deals with archery, armor, and swashbuckling. I can especially appreciate a good sword.






The Unusual Stew

by Robert Zammarchi

witch with pot_robert zammarchi_

Illustrated by Robert Zammarchi

Oh no, its that witchy poo
spotted with gooey goo
and her unusual cat

On Halloween fright night
she turns on her night light
and bakes an unusual batch

Her evil, disgusting,
highly mistrusting
usual potful of stench

She feeds it to children
who travel so pilgrimed
to see this unusual wench

She sprinkles in hob-nobs
and boils it with gob-gobs
and all her unusual rinds

And all of the children
will come by the millions
to sample her usual grinds

She tosses in bones
of goblins and moans
“I love my unusual stew!”

“But this year needs something
to make it more frightening
beyond all the usual goo.

“She looks all about,
but there’s none to find out
that is past all her usual stuff

“Something unusual,
highly excusable,
natty and dratty and rough.”

“Something so rotten,
it won’t be forgotten
beyond just the usual mourn.”

“Something so ugly,
unusually fugly,
it shouldn’t have even been born.”

She looked all around
and what this witch found
was unusual even for her

She flinched for a bit
with her wickedly wit,
then she heard that unusual purr

Goodbye my dear kitty
You never were pretty!
I’ll miss your unusual eyes

rob zammarchi_halloween costume 2014She picked up her cat
and went, “plop in the vat”
Her unusual stew did a rise

But when word got out
that the cat was in doubt,
unusual things did occur

The children no longer
came far by to wander
inside her unusual door

It wasn’t the witch
after all, that the kids
came to see with unusual fervor

It was the old cat
on his natty, old mat
they found to their usual favor

Now witchy-poo groaned,
she mourned and bemoaned
this unusual turn of events.

Then she walked in her dread
to her usual bed
and never was heard from again.

Robert Zammarchi is an award-winning freelance illustrator who has worked for a wide range of clients over the past 20 years in various mediums. At this point in my career, however I am most interested in pursueing the whimsical world of the children’s illustration field, where my heart truly lies.

Robert Zammarchi’s Childrens’ Illustration Website http://www.robzammarchi.com 

Thank you to everyone for your poems and illustrations. It really is a great gift to help us celebrate HALLOWEEN!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Poems Tagged: Carol H. Jones, Carol MacAllister, Carol Murray, Donna Weidner, Eileen Spinelli Poem, Halloween Poems, Jane Resides, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman, Pia Garneau, Robert Zammarchi, Vivian Kirkfield, Wendy Greenley

1 Comments on Happy Halloween – Illustration and Poems, last added: 10/30/2014
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41. Firebird, by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers -- follow your dreams and soar (ages 6-10)

We want to teach our children to follow their dreams, to reach for the stars -- but we also want them to realize that it takes hard work, practice and perseverance to get there. Firebird is a beautiful, stirring new picture book by ballerina Misty Copeland that shares both of these messages, and more.
Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird
by Misty Copeland
illustrated by Christopher Myers
G.P. Putnam's / Penguin, 2014
Your local library
ages 6-10
*best new book*
As you begin reading this picture book with children, you'll need to take on two voices, for Copeland creates a conversation between a young girl who dreams of dancing and herself as a professional ballerina. The girl looks up to Copeland, saying, "the space between you and me is longer than forever" -- how could I ever become as beautiful and graceful as you?
"you are the sky and clouds and air"
Firebird, by Misty Copeland & Christopher Myers
The real magic begins when Copeland turns to the young girl, reassuring her that she was once just as small, just as shy, that "you're just where I started." Through this poetic conversation, Copeland conveys that this young girl can become a professional dancer if she puts in the hours of work, sweat and practice.
"I was a dancer just like you
a dreaming shooting star of a girl
with work and worlds ahead"
Share this picture book with older students, perhaps 3rd and 4th graders, who can understand Copeland's poetic language and the interplay between the two characters. Encourage them to read this story more than once--it is one that really grew in my heart each time I read it.

Deepen their appreciation for Copeland's message by encouraging them to learn more about her as a professional dancer. Read her afterword, a note to the reader about why she wanted to write this story.
"My hopes are that people will feel empowered to be whatever they want to be... No matter what that dream is, you have the power to make it come true with hard work and dedication, despite what you look like or struggle with."
Students would find this ABC News interview very interesting:

Christopher Myers' artwork brings strength and grace to this story with dramatic lines and colors. The idea for this book was actually Chris's, as Misty told Jules Danielson in a recent Kirkus article. His mixed media collages contrast the bold colors of ballet with the young girl's grey concrete world, but they also juxtapose angular lines with the dancers' dynamic graceful movement.

I can't wait to hear what my students say about this. I think this is a book that they, too, will return to time and time again. The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Penguin Random House. Illustrations are copyright ©2014 Christopher Myers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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42. Moscow taxi

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43. Connected: Phillip Johnson’s Sustainable Garden Designs

The ‘do something you love so you’ll never work a day in your life’ edict is both trite and too often touted. But in the case of Phillip Johnson, it’s probably the one time the saying should be applied: the award-winning landscape designer slash horticulturalist seems to truly have found his perfect-fit career. In the […]

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44. Halloween Costume Writing Prompt

Dear STACKS readers,

We want to know . . .

What are you going to be for Halloween???

Warriors book costume

Leave a Comment and tell us your Halloween costume this year!

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45. 5 BookBuzzr AuthorPage Widgets to Inspire You in October 2014


1. Luana Ehrlich – One Night in Tehran: A Titus Ray Thriller

Luana's author page


2. Alisa Griffis – Conundrum Kids (Volume 1)

Alisa's author page


3. Claudette Alexander – Sunrise from an Icy Heart: A Memoir

Claudette's author page


4. Mohit Misra – Ponder Awhile

Mohit's author page


5. Tysha Hill – Young-Minded Hustler

Tysha's author page



Naveen is the Customer Support Executive and Social Media Manager at BookBuzzr. When he is not working or playing gta, he is working on finishing his graduation. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Email.


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46. Don't Shoot!

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47. The Johnny Rotten Of Soviet Dissidents


That’s how Edward Limonov described himself. He was “at once a rebel and a totalitarian, a salacious writer of semifictionalized memoirs who, after years in the West” – as a drugged-out thug in New York and a celebrated author in France – “stood with the Serbs in the Bosnian war and then returned to Russia to become an ultranationalist political agitator.”

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48. Illustration Friday: Puppet

A little trick, a little treat.  Boo!  Happy Halloween!

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49. Franco Zeffirelli Threatens To Sue La Scala For Selling His Super-Deluxe Production Of “Aida”


The 91-year-old director is furious that the Milan opera house packed off his gold-covered extravaganza, which opened La Scala’s 2006-07 season, to the opera in Astana, Kazakhstan. (Never mind that Zeffirelli is getting a share of the proceeds, or that La Scala can borrow it back for free whenever it wants.)

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50. Autumn Gold

Back to the drawing board for an artist means catching up on advances in digital imaging, even if one would rather stay fixed on brush and paint. So many things are possible now that once looked like magic, or at least  the sole proprietorship of boffins and computer geeks. So I am back to school, in a way, online and learning new things that first confound and then delight.
In addition to my illustration work I teach classes in watercolour painting. The picture above is from one of my recent lessons.

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