Now it’s head down for several months

Hi everyone,

My thanks to Evan Robb for hosting Laura Robb and me yesterday evening as we talked about our new book, GUIDED PRACTICE FOR READING GROWTH. Here’s the link. .
And here’s the link to my reading aloud from AFTER DARK, which is currently available on the Drury University website:

Yesterday we (Tim Rasinski, Mary Jo Fresch, and I) agreed to terms with Scholastic Teacher Resources to write two books in time for publication early in 2022. For my part it means an enormous amount of work with deadlines of June 1 for the first manuscript and July 1 for the second. If I didn’t have anything else to do, this would be close to impossible so let’s say I’m delighted and concerned.

I’m afraid I’ll need to sharply curtail my blog posts for a while. On average I spend an hour each morning to post something new and believe me I’m going to need those twenty hours a month for a while. I may need to post once or twice a week, or maybe just when something new happens, until I see how the new work is going to progress. I hope you’ll understand and bear with me.

Couple of things

Hi everyone,
One is that Jane Yolen is celebrating her 400th published book and is being celebrated by fans everywhere. Here’s the link to one of the articles coming out.
Way to go, Jane. Did someone say you’re thinking 500 is in your future? I just hope I sell one more!

The other item is that I was asked this year to participate in Drury University’s “Match Madness” fund raiser by making a 10 minute video reading from AFTER DARK. It is now posted sometime. If you have young ones in the family or classroom, I hope you’ll check out the site at

Guess I’ll get a haircut today

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I visited by phone with Judy Thompson, Executive Vice President of Development and Campaign Director at Drury University. Judy has been a friend from all the way back to our days as Drury students. She was Sandy’s pledge daughter in Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Coming up shortly is a major fund raiser Drury is calling Match Madness so Judy and her team are hard at work planning ways to engage alums and others who might contribute toward the campaign. The request for my help was to film me reading one of my books. Since I’m currently too far away to go to the Drury recording studios, I agreed to make a video and send it to them. I’ll try to make it today because timely is critical.

I desperately need a haircut so today when the shops open, I’ll get myself more presentable. For the video I could read my most recent book of poems, AFTER DARK, which came out last year. But I want to think about this. As Drury’s poet laureate, maybe I should pick a selection from several sources to read. Something I’ll need to decide over the next few hours. Straightening my work space? Hey, it will still be there tomorrow, right? My friend and fellow writer Bill Anderson says one of the best parts of being a writer is that almost everyday some new surprise comes up to keep the game interesting. This, I think, is a good example.

Planning for April and cleaning my workspace

Hi everyone,

Yesterday morning (virtually of course) I read RUM PUM PUM to all the 1st grade classes at Rountree Elementary School in Springfield. They were good kids and asked intelligent questions.

I managed to edit my 2,400 word article down to slightly under 2,000 words. I hope to send it off to the editor by week’s end.

Plans for celebrating National Poetry Week continue to take shape. On April 6 I’ll do a virtual school visit to one or more schools in Columbia, Missouri as part of the Unbound Book Festival.

A virtual poetry reading hosted by Pagination Bookshop is now set for April 13 at 6:00 p.m. CST. The four readers will be Marcus Cafagna and Sara Burge (poets and professors from Missouri State University) Karen Craigo (journalist, editor and general manager of The Marshfield Mail, and current Missouri State Poet Laureate), and me.

Marcus and I will be presenting on KSMU in Springfield, time and date to be arranged. Springfield News-Leader is exploring story possibilities.

A program for Springfield-Greene County’s summer reading program is finished. It will be a 2-part event that won’t take place until June 2 and 3 at 10:00 a.m. I’m happy about progress so far.

As for today, I have a virtual doctor’s appointment, a phone chat with a colleague at Drury University to explore an idea that might involve me. Otherwise I hope to do some seriously needed decluttering around my work space.

I want to talk about my books for teachers, #9

Hi everyone,

In 2010, I approached Chris Craig, then the Director of the School of Education and Child Development at Drury University, and proposed that I, as Drury’s poet laureate, write a book about writing for elementary/middle school students. He loved the idea. We met with Todd Parnell, then president of the university, and Todd endorsed the notion too. Lauren (Laurie) Edmondson, then an education professor (later to succeed Craig as dean of the school of Education and Child Development), agreed to be my writing partner. We were off and running.

Over the two years that followed, the book took shape and substance. Laurie and I divided the contents into five chapters: how to get started, writing poetry, writing fiction, writing nonfiction, and how to revise. I wrote four tips for each chapter and Laurie provided lessons and suggestions for classroom teachers. In Drury’s sound studio I made 5-minute videos for each of the twenty tips and the DVDs became part of what was growing into a kit. Laurie wrote a student journal and we reached an agreement with my trade publishers to provide samples of books used in some of the student activities.

We sent the book, titled LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON, to a number of teachers and professors around the country and received strong encouragement. A grad student at the University of Missouri at Columbia wrote her master’s thesis on the project and found it be a valuable addition to the market’s offerings on the teaching of writing. A marketing class (at Drury) weighed in with the finding that today’s kids might be bored by a guy they don’t know, standing in front of a camera talking to them, rather than an animated cartoon complete with noise and excitement and entertainment. By then the DVDs were already done. We heard the marketing concern but proceeded to look for a publisher anyway.

We were turned down by three publishers, all of whom expressed concerns about how they would market such an expensive package, but the fourth publisher agreed to take us on. It was a small operation, Phoenix Learning Resources (under the Stourbridge Distributors umbrella) in Pennsylvania. A contract was signed, the cost of the kit was set at $499, and we got under way in 2013.

By 2015 it was over. LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON had come and gone. We should have listened to Drury’s marketing class although, to be honest, at no time did we ever have a budget to produce a product like they had described.

Time has passed and a few weeks ago I approached Laurie with the idea that sometime in 2021 we should brush off the ashes of our collaboration, forget about recordings, and focus on making a good book that can be priced like any other book. She likes the notion, too, so we’ll see what, if anything, eventually happens to my old brainstorm. It has been a ride.