Thursday, September 30, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters


Hi folks:

In honor of the month of October I am planning to post a glossary of monsters that can be used in children's Halloween picture books and poems. Every day I will post two monsters and their definition/description.

Accompanying each post will be a photo of moi, in Halloween poses. Come back each day, just to see who I will be.


  • Ghoul - a monster of folklore associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh, often classified as undead, a.k.a. – zombie
  • Goblin - a mischievous, annoying creature, described as grotesquely evil. Their favorite past time is to annoy your pets. Some soak their hats in blood. These are called REDCAPS and should be avoided at all costs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interview with Craig "Spiderman" Steele - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Glad you "dropped" by, Craig. 

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?

You mean, other than my own, of course (LOL).  It’s a difficult choice because there are so many poems in the book that I really enjoy.  But, to be fair and answer your question, I have to say my favorite poem in the collection is “Haunted” by William Shakespeery.  From a story viewpoint, I always get a creepy little shiver up my spine every time I read it.  I also admire it from a technical viewpoint: I love his rhyme scheme and I especially like his clever and creative rhymes at the end of the second stanza.  (Blog readers, this teaser is supposed to motivate you to buy a copy of the book to read Bill’s poem and see what I’m talking about!!)  A close second favorite is “The Corner” by Mike Sullivan.  I think it’s really spooky the way the narrator in the poem goes from being an observer of the darkness to becoming part of it.

#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?

The short answer: Life.  The long answers:
“Where Nightmares Dwell” grew out of an unfortunate habit I had from my teen years until my late 30’s of sometimes awaking in the middle of the night, startled and with my heart pounding, thinking I could see darker shapes drifting through the darkness in my room.  Some nights I’d be so freaked out by this experience that I’d have to get up and turn on a light just to convince myself the shadow shapes weren’t there.  (Happily, I outgrew this problem after I got married – an unexpected benefit of marriage, I guess.)  I tried to capture this experience in my poem.
“Camp Creepy” is based on my experiences as a Boy Scout at summer camps.  I was always the first one to get homesick.  When everyone else was sitting around the campfire at night enjoying roasted marshmallows, I’d be staring into the dark woods beyond the firelight, listening to twigs snapping and bushes rustling and trying to see what creatures were making the noises.

#3. How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?

I always carefully consider any feedback I get from other poets.  In revising a poem, suggestions by other poets often make a big contribution to the revisions.  I especially like the different perspectives I get from others.  That allows me to see aspects of the story that I didn’t consider, to improve phrasing and rhymes, and to identify passages where I was blind to problems or lack of clarity because I was “too close” to the writing.

#4. How long have you been a rhymer?

 I’ve been writing children’s poetry seriously since about 2003.

#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?

Yes, I do.  I write mainly “traditional” rhyming poetry (with a wide variety of rhyming schemes and stanza constructions) and haiku, but also some free verse, acrostics, concrete poetry, and I have written a few rhyming stories of picture book length.  So far, my published works have been rhymed poems and haiku.

#6.How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?

There are three county libraries close to where I live, and I have friends on the staffs at all three.  I plan to take in a copy of our book to show them and suggest they might like a copy for their shelves and also plan to drop off “tons” of bookmarks with the book’s cover printed on them for patrons to take away for free as a way of advertising the book.   Also, each library has special displays at Halloween and I’m suggesting to them that a special reading of spooky poems (from our book, of course) around that time might really spice up their Halloween observances.

I’m also planning to approach the teachers at my children’s elementary school to see if they’d be interested in a school visit, perhaps near Halloween, for me to share some spooky poems with the kids and talk about writing poetry. 

#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?

I plan to contact the local bookstores in Erie (we have the usual big name chains and several independents).  First, I need to develop some presentation ideas to go along with any book signing (decorations, games, readings, etc.), rather than just offering to have me sit behind a pile of “Eyeballs” waiting for folks to rush up for my signature.  So, a book signing is still a plan-in-progress for now.

Gail, thanks for letting me drop in to your blog.  This is my first “author interview” and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to talk about our book and my poems.

You are very welcomed, Craig. Glad you weren't camera shy. :)

Next up.......
straight from the Pumpkin Patch.....
Jennifer Cole Judd

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with Stella Michel - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Today we welcome the "bewitching" Stella Michel. BEWARE! Her "charming" smile may put a spell on you!

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?
My favorite poem from the collection is Laura’s Highland Train, followed by Mike Sullivan’s Spooky and Angela McMullan’s poem, The Scarecrow. Really, there are too many to list. I also like the way Mummy’s Menu came out, especially since I had the least amount of time to write it.
#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?
Laura’s poem, Witch’s Shopping List served as my inspiration for Mummy’s Menu. Beneath the Stairs was inspired by my childhood fear of our dank, cob-webbed basement and Igor Picks a Pet by watching too many black & white B horror flicks over the years.
#3. How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?
If two or more people point out the something they don’t like, then I’ll look to see how I can change it and improve upon it.
#4. How long have you been a rhymer?
Since I was about 11 years old. My first rhyming poem was one called “Life From a Lion’s Point of View”.
#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?
I try to, although I find myself leaning toward particular forms time and again.
#6.How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?
I’m participating in the group FB page and hoping to post something on our blog, when it’s ready.  I also hope to do a reading at our local library and pass out bookmarks (waiting to hear back from the director). I’ve told my fellow members of the Nassau School Library System about our book and am hoping many of them will purchase the book for their own libraries – in fact I’m counting on it. I’ve contacted a librarian I sort of know who reviews new books for School Library Journal and if our editor sends the book to SLJ’s  editor maybe we’ll get it reviewed. I hope so, since SLJ is a must when it comes to book selection! 
#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?
I hope so! I plan to approach my local Border’s for a reading and book signing and my local public library for a reading.

 Thank you, Stella. Next up..........Craig "Spiderman" Steele

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Interview with Kevin McNamee - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Today we welcome poet, Kevin McNamee. Kevin's got a great sense of humor, as you can tell from his photo.

Who else would represent the "skeleton" crowd? :)

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?

Well, if we’re not talking about any of my own poems, I would have to say that I’m partial to the Winking Wot.  It’s a fun poem and Johann Olander really did an excellent job creating the look for this creature. 

#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?

“Our Neighborhood” comes from my own memories of trick-or-treating.  We would go around knocking on the doors of various oddball neighbors and receive some questionably edible or otherwise bogus treats. To this day, I still shudder at the memories of hard butterscotch candies left over from the Civil War being thrown into my bag along with some loose, fossilized candy corn.
For “The Gargoyle”, my day job frequently takes me into New York City.  There’s no shortage of interesting architecture there including buildings with gargoyles perched on the ledges.  But this poem is written from the gargoyle’s point of view as he looks down at the city.

#3.  How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?

I feel that feedback is an absolutely vital part of the process.  I think that many writers/poets, myself included, have a “blind spot” when it comes to our writing.  We’re too close to our work, so we may not see a problem that may be obvious to someone else. But being that writing is such a subjective thing, there are also times when I need to trust my own instincts as well. 
I have received feedback that has helped my work shine.  There have also been times that I disregarded feedback because it didn’t fit with my vision for the piece.  But the important thing is to consider all feedback objectively.  The end result is that everything in my work is there because of a conscious decision.  It makes my work stronger as a result.

#4.  How long have you been a rhymer?

Actually, I’ve been a rhymer since the 1st grade.  I remember writing a poem about the Easter Bunny that was displayed on a bulletin board outside the class room.  I liked seeing my poem on display, where it could be read by everyone in the school.  It was something I was proud of.  I think maybe that’s what led to me to pursue publication after I became serious about writing.  A book can reach a much wider audience than a bulletin board.  And, I still like to see my work on display.
#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?

Although, I have dabbled with haiku and other non-rhyming formats, rhyming poetry seems to hold my interest the most.  I also write both prose and rhyming picture books.  I have four picture books published so far and three of them rhyme.  So I guess that’s why I lean towards rhyming work, I enjoy it and I’ve had some success at it.

#6. How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?

I’m doing a lot of online promotion right now.  I’ve written about the book on my blog and have been promoting it on Facebook.  I also participate in a Virtual Book Tour group and will be promoting the book for the October tour to generate some interest prior to Halloween.
I also have a background in technology, so I developed an interest in creating online games that are based on my books. I created a game inspired by An Eyeball in My Garden. It doesn’t use any of the book’s graphics, but I think it’s a fun little game just the same.

#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?

I haven’t scheduled any book signings yet, but I am looking at the indie book stores in my area.
I can always be found online at and I’ve launched a website with games and activities based on my books at where you can see some of my online game handiwork including the Eyeball in My Garden game.

I also have a blog at and would probably post author events there first.

People can also find me on Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter, but I must admit that I don’t tweet much.

 Next up....

The "bewitching" Stella Michel.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Bookshelf Muse: 1000 Followers Contest & Mentorship Opportunity!

I'm happy to share this awesome opportunity with my readers. Check it out! You won't be sorry.

The Bookshelf Muse: 1000 Followers Contest & Mentorship Opportunity!

Interview with Laura Wynkoop - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet & Editor

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?
Wow, this is a tough one.  I have so many favorites in the book.  If I had to narrow it down, I'd say it's a tie between Susie Sawyer's "Hixon House" and Jennifer Cole Judd's "Love Song of a Werewolf."
#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?
My poems span a wide variety of spooky subjects, so my inspiration sort of came from all over the place. 
I based "Halloween Night" on my love of decorating for Halloween.  I go all out every year with a graveyard, ghouls and ghosts, bats, spiders, witches, etc., and one night, I imagined what it would be like if all that stuff came to life after dark. 
"Witch's Shopping List" came about because I'm a huge Harry Potter fan.  I wanted to write about a witch, and then I started thinking about all of the interesting things that witches need to craft potions and spells.  I spent several hours reading through articles on spellcraft and found a good mix of ingredients that would make for a fun poem. 
"The Highland Train" actually took me the longest to write.  I knew I wanted to write about a ghost train (my son was in love with trains at the time), and I found some accounts online of a ghost train that people had spotted on the Highland Railway near Glasgow in the 1920s.  I wanted the poem to have an old-fashioned, yet mystical, feel to it, so it took me many months to select the words and phrases I wanted to use. 
I have several other poems in the book besides these, and I wrote them because either a) the subject inspired sensory images that appealed to me, or b) our publisher asked for a specific topic.
#3. How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?
Feedback from other poets makes a huge difference in my revision process.  If I post a poem for critique and several poets point out the same problem areas, then I know I have some work to do.  Conversely, if they tend to agree on a poem's strengths, then I feel pretty confident that I've done something right.  If I receive a wide variety of feedback, then I take my time, thoroughly examine my options, and revise in the way that feels truest to my vision for the poem. 
#4. How long have you been a rhymer?
Many, many moons.  I actually don't even remember when I started writing rhyming poetry; I just know it was sometime in elementary school.  I remember winning my school's PTA Reflections Contest in 6th grade with a rhyming poem I had written. 
#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?
Yes, I write in many poetic forms--rhyming couplets and stanzas, acrostics, free verse, haiku... I've published children's poems in all of those forms, and I'm also on staff at Berry Blue Haiku, an online magazine devoted to haiku for children.  I love exploring different types of poetry--they're all so magical!
#6.How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?
I'm doing author events in my community, as well as spreading the word about our book online.  Jennifer and I manage the Eyeball in My Garden fan page on Facebook, and I've also posted about our book in the various writers' groups and list serves that I belong to.  In addition, several of us are working on building an Eyeball in My Garden blog.  We're in the planning stages right now, but we hope to go live within a few weeks. 
#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?
Yes, I currently have two events scheduled and more to come!  Information can be found on my Author Page on  Also, once we get our blog up and running, all book signings and poetry readings will be posted there.

Thank you so much, Gail!  It's been a pleasure discussing our book with you!


Thanks so much, Laura, for your "eye-opening" answers. 

Next up......

Kevin McNamee

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interview with Mike Sullivan - "An Eyeball in My Garden" poet

At last, the time has come. We join in the Halloween spirit by celebrating the release of  “An Eyeball in My Garden” with the first of a series of interviews with the SPOOKTACULAR poet authors from The Poets’ Garage. First up is Mike Sullivan.

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?
 “Haunted” is currently at the top of my list. The writing and the illustration for it weave the scariest piece in the whole collection, I think. I don’t know if many people know this but William wrote it while on chamomile tea.
#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?
 The simple answer: things that scare me. Another answer: therapy. A third answer: oh that chamomile! (Okay, I actually don’t drink tea. I find it disgusting. Especially chamomile. It’s like old Japanese soup.)
If you’re still reading, trying to find the true answer…
Spooky! Since the theme of our book was “spooky” I wanted to personify it. Make it an actual person or creature, who just by his presence terrifies you. In the end, I pictured a chase scene starting on the “darkest street” that would run madly back to the house and inside, where guess who waits?
Sinking Ship! I wrote this as an acrostic with “SPOOKY,” more cheesy attempts to find my way into the anthology. In the original version the main character was a rat. Half of the six lines got tossed out and with some great suggestions from Garage critters, the MC was changed to a ghost. (Thanks, Laura!) And the acrostic was dropped, too.
The Corner! Have you ever woken from a nightmare and in that split second of being conscious again there’s a dark in your room that goes beyond the nighttime? I imagined that as a more permanent fixture in my room.
The Giant’s Pocket! I wrote this in a hurry when more poems were requested for the anthology. I had time to get only one critique on it, I believe. Susie Sawyer delivered. Bless her! For this I just thought of being trapped and the helplessness this creates. That feeling can be enduring, whether you escape or not.
#3. How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?
As you can see above, it makes all the difference in the world. Just for yucks, here’s the first version of Sinking Ship, since it’s the shortest.
Scary was the water as it rose above me head.
Poor sleepin’ cat  ‘n crew ne’er made it out of bed.
Out a port I shot meself before the ship went down.
Oh there’s not another death that equals bein’ drowned!
Killed by Mother Ocean, fillin’ the belly till it’s fat,
Y’know it’s times like these, I’m glad I am a rat.

This one probably went through the wringer three or four times. The ghost, as I mentioned, was Laura’s idea. I think she may have given me the Spanish Coast, too. I could have disregarded all the suggestions on it, but this is roughly what I would have ended up with. Whereas once people started asking questions and telling me what they liked and didn’t like, I really got a picture of what worked and what didn’t.
The same happened on Giant’s Pocket to some extent. Susie took a sword out and chopped away at some of the wording. The middle section really. It used to read “I’ve forgotten about hunger…” and followed that pattern for that section. When she suggested I switch it to “I don’t remember” it was like a light bulb went off. I suddenly knew “I feel I’m in the pocket” for an opening would be stronger if it was a fact, not a feeling. So, “I’m stuck inside the pocket…” became the first line. That urgency helped shape and fix the rest of the poem for me 
#4. How long have you been a rhymer?
I’ve been writing poetry since Shel Silverstein invaded my head in second or third grade. I wrote a whole notebook of poetry copying his style (and many of his ideas!).
#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?
 Not at this moment. I believe there are a few rhyming picture books in my files somewhere, but other than that I haven’t experimented greatly with other forms of poetry. A theater group I was in used to perform improvised limericks for children but, alas, none of them ever made it to print. I try to write in a bunch of different genres – MG novels, short stories for adults, picture book and magazine stories for children. These keep me busy enough.
#6. How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?
The local community college, John Tyler Community College, is having a Halloween celebration with a run and family events, including storytelling. I will be one of the featured storytellers.
Two local elementary schools are interested in storytelling and I’m in the process of booking those.
I am working with Barnes & Noble here in Richmond to arrange a reading and signing.
I have sent emails and, hopefully, copies of the book to newspapers and a magazine I once worked for, as well as to Richmond publications, libraries, and people in line at Starbucks. (Okay, I don’t actually drink coffee either. I was heavily reimbursed for mentioning Starbucks. Got a bonus for just saying it again!)
I am also heavily involved in launching the Eyeball Blog where people can read lots more about “An Eyeball in My Garden”.
#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?
Whoops! One of the goals of The Eyeball Blog is to establish a calendar for our writers. I plan on listing my own events on that page, as well as listing them on my own website:
Thanks for listening, Gail! You’re the best.

Thanks, Mike. What great insight to the "spookalicious" poems in your first book. Next up....

Laura Wynkoop

Friday, September 10, 2010


The creative creatures behind the “Eyeball
                                             a chance for you to get all “Eyeball” crazy.

Yes. Starting next week I will have exclusive interviews with the poets who created
“An Eyeball in My Garden.”

Learn what inspired them to be so spookalicious.

Discover each poets “favorite” spooky poem.

and vie for a chance to win a complete rhyming picture book critique from

“First Peek Critique”

You will get a chance to create an EYEBALL poem of your own to celebrate
“An Eyeball in My Garden.” Winner will be announced on Halloween.  

So get that icky eyeball rollin’…..
See the putrid possibilities of persnickety poems.
View a vampire’s voracious verse.
Glimpse inside a goofy ghost’s ghazal
Look for Jack O’Lantern’s loquacious limericks.

To enter “The Great Eyeball” Poetry Contest:

  1. Become a follower of The Storyteller’s Scroll.
  2. submit a comment below about “spooky poems,” preferably one from the book.
  3. create an original Halloween poem, suitable for children, on the topic “EYEBALL,” and submit below.
  4. Post about “An Eyeball in My Garden” and “The Great Eyeball Poetry Contest” on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Sample EYEBALL poem:

There’s an eyeball in my garden.
It lies beneath a bean.
I don’t know how it views the world
or what it’s ever seen.
It doesn’t have an eyelid.
It doesn’t blink or cry.
It rolls around just searching
for its empty, hollow eye.

“An Eyeball in My Garden.” is awesome! Buy it... right now by clicking HERE!!! 

Visit for more information about “First Peek Critique.” 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Big Picture........Writing Picture Books

I recently wrote this article for a friend's blog. But it's worth posting it again.

Gayle :)


What qualifies me to write a picture book? What qualifies you?

If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a million times. “I can write a picture book. It’s easy.” People hear about my success with “Rock Star Santa” and say I can do that too. I say, “Try it. It’s not as easy as it looks.

The “Big Picture” in picture books is in the author’s head. It’s our job to put that picture into words:

…without talking down to the child.
…keeping adults interested in the story.
…using a unified tone and style.
…without moralizing.
…and keeping a consistent point of view.

Here are a few helping hints.

  1. Jump right into the story.
  2. First line should set the mood.
  3. Second line should introduce the main character if he/she/it was not introduced in line 1.
  4. Problem or conflict should be in line three, if not included in lines 1 or 2.
a. without a conflict, there is no story.

For all those who still think this is easy, have you got that so far? Okay. Now we need the story to unfold.

  1. Is it organized?
    1. don’t jump from the zoo to a pirate ship to bedtime.

  1. Did you limit the description?
    1. no “silver beams of moonlight shined down upon the green fairy as she flitted through the tall grasses that waved goodbye to the sun in the evening breeze.”
    2. instead > The fairy flew home at night.” Let the illustrator set the scene. In a picture book, it’s 50% their story.

  1. Do you have an effective ending?
    1. are all loose ends tied up?
    2. is the reader satisfied?
    3. does the ending relate back to the beginning? (full circle concept)

  1. Can your story be broken down into 29 pages? Don’t count the end papers and title page as story pages.

  1. Did you vary the length of your sentences? For young picture books they should be no longer than 8 words. For older picture books, no longer than 12.

  1. Does your story center around a child’s interest?

  1. Can children relate to the characters?
a. characters need to be well-rounded, with quirks and personality traits that bring them to life. Create characters that children can relate to, wonder about, and come back to again and again.
  1. And what about your language? Is it lyrical? That means play with sounds. It does NOT mean you must rhyme.

  1. Speaking of rhyme, a fellow rhymer, who was a professional singer in her previous life (before becoming a children’s author) offered me this advice years ago.

“If a person can’t sing on key, they can’t rhyme.” Makes sense doesn’t it? I’ve shared that with other children’s writers at conferences and some of them disagree. But think about it… if you can’t keep the beat or find the meter while you’re singing, how can you hear the scansion when you’re writing rhyme?  Now, I’m sure there are some exceptions to the rule. There always are, but my advice is:

If you can’t sing it,
don’t try to wing it.
So I propose,
you write in prose.

  1. Choose effective verbs and nouns.

  1. Limit adjectives and adverbs.


Okay, am I qualified to write picture books? Rock Star Santa thinks I am. Are you? Follow this advice and maybe we’ll see your name on a picture book in the library or bookstore. Oh, and I’d join SCBWI and go to conferences. You’ll meet wonderful picture book authors and learn more about writing. Good luck!

Gayle C. Krause
Rock Star Santa
Scholastic, Inc.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Photo Fridays- Cliff House Writers

Cliff House Writer's Retreat

Cliff House Writers Celebrate a Contract
Fellow Children's Authors

A Hat Contest to Match our Current WIPS


Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Writer's Voyage

A Writer’s Voyage                                           
by Gayle C. Krause

I float upon a sea of words
in my manuscript,
docking at book islands
with pages torn and ripped
from overuse by authors
seeking references or guides
in writing “the great novel”
through thick thesaurus tides.

But on the sea’s horizon
beneath the setting sun
is my inspiration.
My work will soon be done.
A publisher will buy it
and bind it in a book
for new, upcoming authors
to stop by and take a look.

Energized to Write for the New Year

 So happy to be attending the SCBWI National Conference this week. My peer critiques went well two nights ago, and energized me to see the p...