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 If I use three unpublished poems from the files, it leaves me only seven poems short of the fifty I need for the whole book.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.

What to do today?

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I submitted a proposal for a book that DAN BURR and I want to do. He and I haven’t worked together since I wrote and he illustrated PIRATES (2008) and COWBOYS (2012) for Boyds Mills Press.

PIRATES, especially, received recognition, including Kansas State Reading Circle, NCTE Notable Poetry Book, Nominated for Cybils Award, selected for VOYA’s Nonfiction Honor List, Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List, Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List, and selected to represent the state of Missouri at the National Book Fair in Washington D.C. I would love to get a new book in the works with Dan.

I also sent a proposal for a book with TIM RASINSKI. We’ve already done the work and leased rights to use it in schools in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Now we’re thinking we might see about getting it published instead of marketing it ourselves.

Also submitted a new story I wrote with JANE YOLEN to a publisher neither of us has worked with before. I need to start thinking about something else I might do for that house.

Jane and I haven’t done anything together since RUM PUM PUM (Holiday House, 2019), which I loved doing.

Also checked signals with KATE COSGROVE about a book we’re interested in doing together. THE DIRT BOOK continues to do well and we love working together.

I think today I’ll work a bit more on the idea to do with Kate. I need to move that one along enough that I can submit it somewhere.

Elsewhere, Tim Rasinski, LYNNE KULICH, and I continue to wait for the readers to report in about the proposal we submitted several weeks ago for a new education book.

LAURA ROBB, Tim Rasinski, and I expect to get a pub date anytime now for a book we’re just completing for Teacher Created Materials. I hope to see that one come out late this year.