About to finish one

Hi everyone,

Today I just might finish the book with TIM RASINSKI and LYNNE KULICH. I’m working on the 10th and last poem for Grade 5. The ten poems each for Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4 are complete. Tim and Lynne still need to make a final review of the body of work to make sure everything fits their needs, so I won’t be done until they do their evaluations, but at least I’m close to the end.

Our deadline for the manuscript is February 1. If I can finish my work this week, Tim and Lynne will have a month and a half to complete the rest of theirs. Hopefully, that’s enough time so they won’t be rushed. A lot has happened during the eleven+ months that I’ve been working on this book. Barring the unforeseen, we should see the book in print sometime in 2023 at roughly the same time as the book I’ve been working on with Tim and LAURA ROBB makes its debut.

Turning to other matters for a few days

Hi everyone,

I’m in 5th grade now! If I use three unpublished poems from the files, it leaves me only seven poems short of the fifty I need for the whole book. I’m thinking of taking a couple of days off to attend to other matters. LYNNE and TIM are working on 2nd grade so until they get into 3rd and 4th grade, I can afford to focus on other work for a while.

It has been weeks, maybe months, since I last worked on a new story. Maybe I’ll try that. I haven’t had any free time for so long that I hardly know what to do with it! (My thanks to Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader, for the picture.)

A new beginning

Hi everyone,

I promised my writing partners on the book for Benchmark — LYNNE KULICH and TIM RASINSKI — that I would start working on my part (50 new poems, 10 each for grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) by September 1. That’s this Thursday! Turns out I’m running ahead of schedule so I plan to get going on Tuesday.

Photo by Nate Papes

There’s always a nervous anticipation when approaching a new book. I’ve signed a contract. I’m obligated to produce the new material by a specified date. My partners, experts in their fields, will depend on me to provide what they need to do their own work. What they will write also takes thought, research, and time. They need appropriate lead time. If I don’t send them 3-5 poems every week from now until we reach the end, the project could fall seriously behind. Our completion due date is February 3.

My first consideration is, where to begin. Lynne and Tim have suggested some possible themes and I’ll add some of my own. Fifty poems is enough for four trade book collections. Do I pick a grade, 3rd for example, and stick with it until I’ve finished ten poems before moving on? Will that help Tim and Lynne more than if I skip around from grade to grade as ideas come to me? I’ll consult with them. I think I know the answer, stick with one grade at a time, but partnerships involved a lot of chatting back and forth to keep everyone involved and all points resolved as we go.

I’ll be busy for the next several months but not too busy to engage in other projects. Some weeks I’ll have a day or so to focus on other ideas. I’ll also take time out now and then for other matters — trips to Portland in September, the condo in October, Kansas City (The Writers Place), Anaheim (NCTE), a week on the California coast in November, plus things and places I don’t know about now. I do love being a writer.

Hi everyone,

Looks like the only point remaining to settle on the Benchmark Education book-to-be with TIM RASINSKI and LYNNE KULICH is to set the completion date. I hope to get that done this week so I can get started on my part soon. First I need to finish revisions on the books with Holiday House and Charlesbridge. The timing looks good.

Key lime pie for dessert last night. What else? This is Florida. Florida only knows how to make one pie. Really. If I were going to run for governor here, my platform would be to bring back chocolate pie.

New contract

Hi everyone,

A few months ago I mentioned that a proposal for a new classroom book was in the works. We’ve now been offered a contract and expect to reach an agreement on it in the coming days. This book will be with TIM RASINSKI, professor of literacy education who holds the Rebecca Tolle and Burton W. Gorman Chair in Educational Leadership and is director of its award winning reading clinic at Kent State University; and LYNNE KULICH, Director of Early Learning, NWEA. For 40 years, NWEA has developed Pre-K–12 assessments and professional learning offerings to help advance all students along their optimal learning paths. They work with educators in more than 9,500 schools, districts, and education agencies in 145 countries.

I’m the lucky poet who gets to compose the thirty poems that Tim and Lynne will use to build on for our collaboration We hope to get started before long.