Poetry Challenge #62-Please Pass The PieCaken!


Thanksgiving! Say the word and visions of food—crispy golden roasted turkey, cranberry, stuffing, creamy gravy and pie, glorious pie, dance though our heads. ERRRRK, but that’s what traditionalist’s feasts include.

A favorite new picture book, brought to my attention as many interesting new titles are, by Ronna at one of my favorite book blogspots Good Reads With Ronna, not only has me rethinking those traditional foods, it’s inspired this 7-Minute Poetry Prompt.

Poetry Challenge #62

Please Pass the PieCaken!

One layer of pumpkin, one spice cake, one pecan pie, frosted together with buttercream and topped with apple pie filling. Yum!

One layer of pumpkin, one spice cake, one pecan pie, frosted together with buttercream and topped with apple pie filling. Yum!

Take a moment to imagine your favorite Thanksgiving Feast. What foods are on your table? If you’re like me, that feast is going to include mashed sweet potatoes topped with melted marshmallows and PIE! Several kinds of pie. Maybe even this four-layer PieCaken my sis-in-law Valarie sent specially created for those of us who can’t decide which kind of pie to choose.

However . . .

The characters in Ethan Long’s new picture book FANGSGIVING are definitely not traditional. The “Garlic mashed potatoes get eyeballs and earwax added, the turkey gets burned to a crisp and the pumpkin pie gets maggot meatballs thrown in.”

Now it’s your turn:

In the spirit of FANGSGIVING, imagine you are some other creature. An animal for instance, or an alien . . . or maybe even a monster! What would your favorite Thanksgiving Feast be then?

For the title, fill in the blank with whatever creature you are:

________________ Thanksgiving Feast

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Take a moment to imagine fantastical foods your creature would love.

Start Writing!

Whip those words into a Thanksgiving feast of a poem!

Happy Thanksgiving!


*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge at least 940 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole dang poem. Scroll down and click on the comments!

Join the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge. . . If YOU dare. Click on the Fishbowl link and sign up to receive email notifications from Kelly's blog (aka The Fishbowl)!


Shot Myself in the Foot with a Bullet Journal

You and I have often talked about how to maintain goals we set. And those we don’t keep…

Click on the journal for a peek at so many images of Bullet Journal pages...

Click on the journal for a peek at so many images of Bullet Journal pages...

 This month—beginning Monday, Feb. 1stI pledged to begin an intensive picture book study, committing to at least 5 hours a day studying/reading/writing picture books. I’ve “pledged” before, but life…especially “important” family and work commitments keep getting in the way. Sound familiar?

This study commitment will require fortitude and organization. A writer friend of mine, Cindy Faughnan, recently set herself up with a Bullet Journal. A tuck it into your purse or pocket paper-pen-ink-no-battery-required journal. In support, she sent me a link to a basic How-To Bullet Journal U-tube video. Here's the link: The Analog System in the Digital Age.

After viewing, I bought my journal—bright pink—selected “the” pen, and following the step-by-step instructions, began setting up my journal. But I had a few questions…  

Turns out this Bullet Journal video is not a one-off; it’s part of a cult-er…craze…er website. There's a library! A Blog! A Store!!!! And slews of videos featuring other bullet journal aficionados showing & explaining their particular journaling styles. Too many . . . 

My excitement over this simple little system turned to angst.

  • Was I numbering correctly?
  • Bulleting, dashing, circling, arrowing appropriately?
  • Were my squares large enough?
  • Too large?
  • Should I color code it? Is that twee? Or just one pen? If one, which?
  • Should I write my goals on the front cover or first page?
  • Should my Future Log go across or down?
  • Should I copy a calendar and tape it in. Or create my own.
  • How many pages would I need for my monthly/daily task lists?...
  • How many other pages—books, movies, words, ideas, goals, writing project, house projects…what am I forgetting?
  • What if I mess it up?!!

                         I can not have an ugly Bullet Journal…

 After ripping out and starting over a few times,  I quit. I had to. My Bullet Journal was on the verge of being pageless.

BTW: This study includes returning to writing Morning Pages ala Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way.  Here's a link to a video explaining Cameron's Morning Pages.

 Feb. 3. was a dark day. I woke worrying about how I was going to continue my planned picture book intensive study if I couldn’t even manage a Bullet Journal?  

In the wee hours before morning I laid in bed driving myself crazy thinking about this Bullet Journal and all the other to-dos on my list, when It dawned on me how instead of mentally agonizing, I could agonize on the page and thus at least accomplish something…my Morning Pages!

Trouble was, I couldn't find any paper on which to write my Morning Pages. The last notebook I'd used to write Morning Pages was full. And I couldn’t find another one…anywhere. Was I destined to fail at this, too??

I’ve often thought these Morning Pages should be called Mourning Pages, M-O-U-R-N-ING...you’re saying farewell to life as you knew it.
— Julia Cameron on how morning pages should we whinny, petty, grumpy...

Then something one of the gals in one of those “Let Me Show You MY Bullet Journal” videos popped into my head. She’d been sharing how she had refashioned her weekly task list from the previous year and then, after all that work, said: “I’m going to try it. If I don’t like it, I’ll do something else next month…”

  Hallauah!!! (Que the Choir!)

 This is MY Journal. There was no rule saying it could “only” be a Bullet Journal... Or that it had “last” for a year... Or more than a month…Or be pretty...  

There was only one rule: If it’s going to work, it has to work for me.

I flipped half-way back and begin my morning pages there.  Done.

. . . Minor problem. The page number? (Every Bullet Journal has an index to each section.)

Click on the pic to see more

Click on the pic to see more

Very handy, but . . . Should I count all the pages so I could number the page about half-way back, I’d designated Morning Pages 1? Or write my darn Morning Pages?

 I made the tough decision: I stuck a post-it sticky on the first Morning Page—so I could find the spot again, took a breath and especially pleased to know that everything I needed to begin my days—my new Bullet Journal, pen, stick-notes & designated Morning Pages pages all in one tidy book—I began to write…

 If you’ve stuck with me through this entire post, I have no doubt you’re thinking—boring… tedious...if this is the worst of her worries… What a waste… a waste of time…hers and mine.

It’s tedious for me, too. That’s my whole point.

 Agonizing, doubt, questioning, beating myself up, aka “worry” is, in the words of Ben Franklin “Interest paid on trouble before it is due.” 

 But, “worry” is what I do.  If I'm going to play, I have to payfirst. That's how I roll. I have to circle before I can begin anew.  I have to get to that place where I am willing to allow myself to tear out a few pages, let go, make mistakes. Only then can I find my way in. This time, it was creating new routine. Next time, it will be something else…

 Trust in the Process. (I’m writing that in my Bullet Journal.)

...On a new page, that I'll number, and add to the index, so I can turn to it easily P.R.N. 


You know the song from Guys and Dolls, the one Sister Sarah sings after she loses the bet against Sky Masterson and pays up by going with him to Havana? Cue the music: Ask me how to I feel . . . Well, Sir, all I can say is if I were a gate I'd be swing-ing!/And if I were a watch I'd start/ popping my springs!/Or if I were a bell I'd go ding dong, ding dong ding! 

Add to that, If I were a fish I’d be flip-ping! Because that’s how I’ve been feeling since I heard the big news—Like that swing-ing gate, that spring-popping watch, that ding-dong-ing bell, that fish!  Some of you may know why. For those who don’t, cue the trumpet!

My little book, NOT NORMAN, A GOLDFISH STORY, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick Press), is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record book for 2015!!!

What’s that mean? Only that, on October 22, 2015 children and adults will read Not Norman together, aloud, it what can become—for the Record—the world’s largest shared reading experience! You, too, I hope.

In case you don’t know, Jumpstart is a non-profit early education organization with a mission of helping every child in America enters school prepared to succeed. Their motto is:

How does it work?Jumpstart recruits and trains college students and community volunteers to work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Through a proven curriculum, these children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.”

Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, began in 2006, to raise awareness of the achievement gap and Jumpstart's work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods—and to raise funds to support programs. Candlewick Press, Jumpstart’s partner in the 2015 campaign, in addition to other contributions, will donate some 13,000 copies of the Jumpstart special edition (available in Spanish & English) to ensure that anyone who wants to participate, can!

Thrilled as I was when Jumpstart announced Not Norman as the 2015 Read for the Record book, the magnitude of this honor didn’t really register until I did some digging into the history of past campaigns. Since 2006, when more than 150 thousand children & adults read The Little Engine that Could on the same day, thus earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records*, funds raised, number of books given to children—for many their first book—and number of children & adult participating has burgeoned. The record high to date is almost 4.3 million, set in 2012, when children & adults reading the same book on the same day! Totally freaks me out to think my little fishy story is on the list with such time-honored classics, all for a single purpose: Helping children read & succeed!

For the record: Yes, learning to read the words in a picture book is the goal. But we all know it’s the picture on the cover that compels children to pick up a book, and the illustrations inside that keep them turning—and returning—to those pages. Let’s hear it for Noah Z. Jones!

I first met Noah Z. Jones at a school event  6 years  after Not Norman was published.

I first met Noah Z. Jones at a school event 6 years after Not Norman was published.

Believe it or not, Not Norman is Noah’s first picture book! And, bucking traditional illustration techniques, Noah utilized his animation background and tech-know-how while he was at it; the art for Not Norman by computer!

Way back then, 2002-3, computer generated illustrations in picture books were unheard of. In fact, some reviewers scoffed. The rest of us, especially kids & I, loved it! One look at that cover, at that boy’s face peeking through the fishbowl with Norman as his nose, and I just have to laugh-every time!

You know, the 3rd thing I did, after learning Not Norman, a Goldfish Story, had been named Jumpstart's Read for the Record book for 2015? I went on a crazed Internet search. I looked up everything I could about Jumpstart, all about past Read for the Record Campaigns, and of course, the other 9 Read for the Record books.  You can bet my mind was ding-dong, flippin! Here's the list:

JUMPSTART Read for the Record books:

2006: The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper (more than 150,000 children & adults read the story on the same day, earning that 1st  spot in The Guinness Book of World Records.)

2007: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (258,000 children & adults participated)

2008: Corduroy written by Don Freeman (688,000 participated)

2009: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (2,019,752 participated)

2010: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (2,057,513 participated)

2011 Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (2,185,155 participated)

2012: Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman & Jacky Davis (4, 2,385,305 participated)

2013 Otis by Loren Long (2,462,860 children & adults participated)

2014 Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells (2,383,645 children & adults participated)

Add to that:

Not Norman, A Goldfish Story, by Kelly Bennett & Noah Z. Jones (How many children & adults participate on October 22, 2015 is up to us . . . )

What’s especially exciting is that this is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record and Not Norman’s 10th birthday! I sure hope you’ll join me in helping to make this 10th campaign a record breaker. Here’s How:

Mark Your Calendars: READ FOR THE RECORD DAY is October 22, 2015

Pledge to Read: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/register-read

Get Involved: Donate! Join the Team! Be a Sponsor! http://jstart.org/get-involved/get-involved1

Buy the Jumpstart Special Edition of Not Norman: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/jumpstart-shop  (English & Spanish available):

Play Around: Check out the free resources on the Jumpstart Toolkit: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/toolkit

Spread the Word: Please share the Jumpstart Read for the Record link on social media word-of-mouth, too! http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-for-the-record

Who's Reading for the Record? Playlist:

Wanna keep in touch? Click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive email notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.

One Candle, My Ferris Wheel, a Potato

Marvelous the way memory works. I think of mine like a Ferris Wheel*. When the music starts, the squeaky wheel spins for a while, slows to a stop, the door on the little cage closest to the ground swings open to let someone--or some memory--out, the door closes, the wheel starts spinning, that cage swings up out of reach, another cage swings to a stop.

I know what's in the cages on either side. I can almost reach them . . . almost

As for those cages way up at the top? If I squint hard, I can see them. But danged if I know what's in them . . . 

A book review of Eve Bunting's One Candle, on Lori Norman's writer blog: StoryQuill conjured a cage that must have been so far up on my Ferris Wheel it was lost in the clouds. It's out of season. Random, totally. But, that's how my wheel rolls: 

The door swung open to a long ago Christmas Eve when in a panic, I pulled off the highway to call Ronnie because I'd forgotten the menorah.

I'd called from a gas station pay phone because we didn't' have cell phone back then. Rosie (as we called Lexi back then) and Max (ever Max) were especially excited because that year Hanukkah and Christmas Eve were on the same day, so we NEEDED a menorah!

With the last name of Goldman, everyone but the few acquainted with the prominent "Catholic Goldmans" of Tulsa, assumed we were Jewish, and I, a non-practicing anything, with two half-Jewish as possible--considering the Jewish half was not their mother's half--children was committed to upholding all traditions. Fortunately, my dear friend and writing partner, Ronnie, a full-blood Jewess and, as it happens the first women in Oklahoma to have a Bat Mitzvah.

 In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

 In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

"You can use a potato!" Ronnie told me. She went on to explain how during the Holocaust, because Jews were not allowed to keep traditions, were, in truth, imprisoned or killed if any religious accouterments were discovered in their possession, they improvised: thus the Dreidel game, a secret way to study the Torah; the common potato, a secret menorah.

We stopped at a grocery story before we stopped for the night. And that night and for the following seven nights, light our potato menorah, said prayers, and opened gifts. 

This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

In One Candle, Eve Bunting shares another grandmother's potato menorah story. Hers wasn't a Piggly-Wiggly supermarket russet, hers was stolen from a Buchenwald prison kitchen. Here's a snippet of the review:

With a little stolen butter and a thread from Rose’s skirt placed in a hollow she’d carved out of the potato, and with a stolen match, they made a candle in their barracks on the first night of Hanukkah. ‘It lifted us to the stars,’Grandma says.
— http://storyquill.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/one-candle-a-review/

Up up up to the stars . . . And on the way, nudged my Ferris Wheel. The power of words: it takes so few to coax down a distant cage. 

*Wait! Before the music plays and the wheel spins again: Be sure to check out Dani Sneed's book, THE MAN WHO INVENTED THE FERRIS WHEEL. about George Ferris and his World's Fair Wonder! You and every kid you know will be glad you did.



Thanks for reading!

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Play it Again, Pal! or 2:48 Minutes More

Settle your little ones in front of the monitor, click on an Author Read-Aloud video (below), and let them watch and listen while you enjoy some lazy time. Okay, you can view, too--if you promise to act  OUR age!

#11 Confessions of Vampire Baby--Top 10s and More

 "Ours is not to wonder why. Ours is but to bite. Or try . . . " --Tootie aka Vampire Baby

Day #11 of Vampire Baby Confessions featured a visit to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer Blog spot for "Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett--Top 10 and Giveaway." Click over to discover my favorites--movies, snacks, picture book authors, and more!


Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett
Official Blog Tour

  • October 26th Saturday
    -       Review & Spotlight Two-Tall-Tales
    -       Music Playlist & Spotlight Best Books
  • October 27th Sunday
    -       Review & Spotlight Racing to Read
    -       This or That & Spotlight Sassy Book Lovers
  • October 28th Monday
    -       Review & Spotlight Mary’s Cup of Tea
    -       Favorite Things & Spotlight A Dream Within a Dream
  • October 29th Tuesday
    -       Guest Post & Spotlight Paranormal Book Club
    -       Review & Spotlight Word to Dreams
  • October 30th Wednesday
    -       Tens List & Spotlight Bookworm Bridgette’s World
    -       Spotlight Book Suburbia
  • October 31st Thursday
    -        Jean Book Nerd

The "I Vant My Vampire Baby" Book Trailer Contest--is NOW!!! 

Here's how: View the Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett book trailer on Youtube. Leave a comment. You're entered to win you're very own authographed copy of the book. It's that easy! 

Here are the Contest Details!  




Vampire Baby cover-final

Vampire Baby cover-final

Finally...5 years and 12 revisions and I-don't-even-want-to-try-to-count how many Vampire movies, books, blogs after that fabulous title popped into my head Vampire Baby has arrived! Thanks to all of you who laughed when I said the title.) Paul Meisel's art makes it! Available from Candlewick Press and booksellers everywhere!

Here's the blurb:

It happens overnight: "little sister Tootie goes from cuddly, ga-ga-goo-goo, I-want-my-ba-ba baby to...vampire baby." Now she’s sinking her pointy fangs into everything -- furniture, toys, and especially her big brother ("Youch, Tootie! No bite!"). Mom insists that it’s just a phase, but Tootie’s brother knows better. Just look at her hairline! Or the fact that all her favorite foods are bloodred! With perfect comic timing, Kelly Bennett and Paul Meisel give a fresh slant to the new-baby story, proving that even monstrous little arrivals have a funny way of staking their siblings’ affections.

When Tootie gets her first teeth, it’s clear to her big brother that she’s no ordinary baby. But how to convince Mom and Dad?