Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Tonight, I'm happy to announce the winner of the “An Eyeball in My Garden” Halloween poetry contest.

Criteria was to be or become a follower and to create a poem that mentioned an "Eyeball."

And the winner is:
 A Zombie’s Dilemma
by Russ Moyer

Eyeball, eyeball.
Stoppin’ to say hi all.
Rollin’ down the highway
looking for my mate.

Sigh ball. Hi ball.
I found my master’s eyeball.
It’s hiding ‘neath a rose bush
inside the garden gate.

“Why ball, eyeball
do you hide from I ball?”
The master needs a matching pair
to see his ghoulish date.

Lie all. Fie all.
He stoops to find his eyeball
lying among roses,
hidden underneath.

Sigh all, eyeball
He really ought to try all
ways to keep his eyeball,
for now he’s lost his teeth.

Congratulations, Russ! Your complimentary rhyming picture book critique  from "First Peek Critique" is available at your convenience. 
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Preparing for NaNo Mo

Character Shopping

With NaNoMo fast approaching, those of us who are planning to take the challenge have characters knocking on our brains asking to be included in our stories. While some writers have meticulously outlined their stories anxiously awaiting November first to start, others, known as pansters, go with whatever enters their head when they sit down to type.

Whichever type of writer you are, you still need characters. So where do you get them? 

I’ve been busy critiquing this week and I’ve read about every type of character from a hedgehog to an alien, to an Egyptian princess. 

WARNING: Characters that we make up in our head are usually flat. They’re one dimensional, the way we see them as we write. The trouble with dreaming up characters is that they’re NOT original.

Example. This past spring I was involved in a YA critique group at an SCBWI conference. Seven people made up our group.

Two wrote historical fiction.
One wrote paranormal.
One wrote high fantasy.
One rewrote of a fairy tale in a historical fantasy setting.
And, two wrote contemporary fiction.

I mentioned to the group that as I read their pages I was taken aback at how similar our main characters were, even though our genres were different.

Among our MC’s we had a female pirate, an Irish laundress, an evil Queen, an angel, a high school student, a mysterious girl, and a theater manager. They sound different enough, don’t they?

Well first off, only one was a male.
Six of the seven had red hair.
All of them had a stubborn streak.
And they all welcomed controversy.

And here we thought we all had different stories.

Since then I’ve taken to people watching. I always have a paper or pad with me and whether I’m sitting in the car waiting for my husband to come out of a store, or I’m sitting in a food court waiting for my order to be up, I jot down possibilities, describing them in as much detail as I can discover by watching their actions or hearing their conversations. I strongly suggest using real people as models for your characters.

Sometimes seeing is believing.

Places to find your characters:
  1. In a shopping mall.
  2. In a restaurant
  3. In the movies
  4. In a classroom
  5. On the beach.
  6. On a hike.
  7. In a grocery store.
  8. And lastly, if you live out in the country, where it becomes difficult to get to a mall or a restaurant, check out your mail. Yes, catalog models, retail store coupons, even charity flyers can offer you a picture of a character you might not have thought of on your own.

One thing is for sure. They won’t all have red hair. By the way, an editor at that same conference stated that she is tired of seeing red-headed protagonists. Do you think she read all of our first pages? J

Where do you find your characters?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halloween Poetry Contest

Announcing the "2nd Annual Halloween Poetry Contest" at The Storyteller's Scroll

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. Create an original Halloween poem, suitable for children, on the topic “EYEBALL,” and submit below.

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!!! 

 1st Place - A Full Picture Book Critique
2nd Place - The Monster in My Closet by Eric Klug
3rd place - Chocolate Peanutbutter "Eyeballs"


Visit for more information about “First Peek Critique.” 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Interview with Christy Critchfield - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Read at Your Own Risk is Christy Critchfield's poem. It's the last poem in the book, and so too, she is the last of our "Eyeball" poets to visit The Storyteller's Scroll.

Yeah Gayle! Thanks for this opportunity!

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

 I have always been drawn to the humorous; therefore I am a big fan of William Shakesperry’s poems. I love Rise and Shine, and Ghost Fish. I also adore Debra Leith’s Winking Wot Warning and M. Sullivan’s The Giant’s Pocket. Then… I will read a poem such as Laura Wynkoop’s The Highland Train and I think to myself “Man, I wish I could write like that.” But, if I had to choose a fave it would be Shakesperry’s Haunted. I have read it so many times I can recite it from memory. My kids have all assured me that if they had known Greta Lynn, they would have been nice to her… thank goodness!

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

  I am not really sure where the inspiration for Mad Scientist or Read at Your Own Risk came from. I have five really goofy kids, so ideas come easily. As far as Monster in My Bathroom goes… inspiration came easily. This poem pretty much describes me on any given morning!

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

I would say about 90% of the time I take into consideration what my group has to say and make corrections accordingly. Of the other 10% of the time (when I don’t listen to my group)… 90% of that time I will come to regret it. But… then there is that glorious 1% of time, when I completely ignore what the others have to say, and my poem is better for it… HA!

#4. How long have you been a rhymer?

  My first words (just moments after exiting my mothers womb) were… “Dark inside… what a ride!”

Seriously though, I came across this poem recently that I wrote as a child. It appears I have always had a love for rhyme (and a slightly warped sense of humor).

My Body (by Christy age 9)

My nose is sort of overgrown.
My head is kind of shaped like a cone.
My hair is bright green.
My stomach is very lean.
My knees are hairy.
My face is scary.
My feet are stinky.
My hands are inky.
My eyes are blurry,
But don’t you worry –
Cuz I’ll be worse when I’m grown!

#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?
My poetic brain only seems to work in rhyme. I love to play around with different forms and rhyme schemes, but if I attempt to lose the rhyme altogether it just feels weird and wrong somehow! (Besides... if I were a poem, I think I would be sad if I didn't rhyme.)
#6. How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?

I have had a strong show of support from great friends. At last count I had over 80 of my own friends who are fans on Facebook’s Eyeball in My Garden fan page. “Thanks y’all… now if you are really my friends, you will go buy the book!”

Also… this year trick-or-treaters who come to my house will be getting a promotional “eyeball” bookmark. I figure I will probably hand out candy as well so no one tries to eat the bookmark.  

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

I am an introvert, I prefer to keep to myself - so if you try to find me… you may find yourself face to face with my shiny new Shrinking Ray-Gun! (See Mad Scientist)

Actually... it seems that higher powers are attempting to trick me into doing a book reading at my local bookstore soon. If so, I promise to leave the Shrinking Ray-Gun home, but unfortunately I can’t guarantee you won’t leave the event as a toad! (See Read at Your Own Risk)

 Although this concludes our interviews with the fabulous "Eyeball" poets, it doesn't mean it's the end of the "Eyeball" blogs.

The Second Annual Rhyme Time Halloween poetry contest will be starting TOMORROW.

Come on back for details.
You may win a free picture book critique, a "monster" picture book, or CHOCOLATE eyeballs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters

Monstermania - Day 9

vampire - a corpse with large incisors, who rises from slumber at sunset to seek blood. Once bitten, the victim also becomes a vampire. Most noted vampires, Dracula, Lestat, Edward.

sorceress - a woman who studies black magic and casts spells. She communicates with demons and evil spirits to provide desirable outcomes. She uses natural items for her spells. She may or may not be a witch. Sorceresses prefer to work alone to conjure their charms. Sorcerer is the male counterpart.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters

Halloween Monstermania - Day 8

shapeshifter - one who can change shaoe or identity at will; may assume an animal form. The change can be voluntary, caused by magic or being bitten by the  animal form of another shapeshifter (werewolf, werecat etc...)

werewolf/werecat - half human, half wolf or cat. Shapeshifts on full moon nights. Once bitten, the victim also becomes a werewolf. Most noted werewolves: Jacob (Twilight) Sam (Shiver)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interview with WIlliam Shakespeery - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Stopping by to visit us today is William "Bill" Shakespeery, the genius behind the Poets' Garage. Without him there would be no "Eyeball in my Garden," literally!

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

I have a number of favs, but if I must be nailed down to one, tonight it would be The Goblin Parade, written by Jennifer Cole Judd.  The image of goblins marching down the block is horrifically fabulous.

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

Before writing for this anthology began, I sought out to read spooky poetry. My inspiration often comes by seeing what others have done.  One book in particular was written by Jack Prelutsky titled, Nightmares.

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

Peer feedback is critical to my writing and absolutely plays a role in my decision making process.  I am only able see a poem from my biased point of view.  But feedback allows me to see the work through another’s eyes.   The feedback I have received not only directs me to things I may have overlooked, but has also pushed me to dig deeper—to ultimately make each poem more compelling.

#4. How long have you been a rhymer?

Inspired by the late Shel Silverstein, I wrote my first children’s poem in 1996, and have been writing ever since.   I can’t seem to get enough of it.

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

I typically write rhyming, narrative poetry.  It’s my favorite form to read and what I have the most fun in creating.  I really should branch out more.

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

By word of mouth, passing out bookmarks (when I get a hold of them), my website, Facebook, and readings at local stores when it’s closer to Halloween…if I’m feeling brave enough.

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

No signing dates have been inked as of yet, but info will be posted on the 'An Eyeball in my Garden' Facebook fan page in the future.

And last, but not least, the next poet to visit The Storyteller's Scroll will be Christy Critchfield

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters


genie - a giant magic spirit believed to take human form and serve the person who calls it. In certain cultures a genie is believed to control the weather. Their food preferences are fingers, noses and ears. Some are cruel. Some are good.

wraith – the ghost of a dead person. Sometimes is believed to be a vision of a person still alive as a premonition of that person’s death.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Interview with Susie Sawyer - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Today, it's Susie Sawyer's turn to stop by. Always cheery, she makes a "sunny" cowgirl.

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?  
Oh, don't make me pick!!  There is such a wide variety of amazing work in this collection, it really would be difficult to choose one favorite.  Some I love for their creepiness, some for their giggle factor, and some are wonderfully complete stories, woven into perfect rhyme and meter.  That's the beauty of this collection - there's something for everybody.

#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?
For my poem "Bedtime Story," I recalled the movie "The Others."  I loved the unexpected twist at the end and tried to recreate that.  For "Hixon House," I really wanted to feature a haunted house.  As I brainstormed ideas, I was intrigued by the idea of a house that was "alive", and took it from there, describing it with human features and longing for company.  Our illustrator, Johan Olander, captured it exactly as I saw it in my mind!  "Swamp Witch" actually started out as a "Swamp Thing," but I thought the collection needed another female character.  I envisioned the environment - slimy, swampy, slippery things - and what kind of creature would live there, and she quickly took shape.  Overall, I just spent some time recalling the things that creeped me out as a child and drew inspiration from that.

#3. How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?
I'm fortunate to work with amazingly talented, successful poets, so I take their advice very seriously.  The vast majority of the time, I'm delighted and excited about the editing suggestions the other poets make, and I'm thankful to be able to use their ideas to improve my work.  Every once in a while my critique buddies will suggest changing something that I really love.  That can be a real challenge because our words can be hard to let go, especially when we've slaved for hours over finding just the right word choice.  When that happens, it helps to set the piece aside for a while and then go back and reconsider the suggestions for change.  In the end, we need to be true to ourselves and keep the story/poem our own.  After all, our goal is to be published, and if the final result doesn't feel like our own, maybe we haven't really achieved our goal.

#4. How long have you been a rhymer?
I started writing for publication in 2003.  I was immediately drawn to the rhythm and cadence of rhyming poetry.  I've experimented with free verse, but I don't trust my ear without the "mathematical" aspects of perfect rhythm and rhyme.  I guess I like following the rules.  

#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children? 
I enjoy working with different forms and rhyme schemes.  Sometimes the rhythm of a poem can directly relate to and complement the subject matter.  For "Swamp Witch," for example, I found the form fit the mood.  It's interesting to see how my own mood can dictate the form of poetry I choose to write at any given time.  It's very much like music, I suppose - sometimes you feel like listening to a ballad, and sometimes you want rock & roll.

#6.How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?
I have prominently displayed our book at my website (, and I am working with the other contributors to create a blog to feature and promote the book.  It's going to be jam-packed with all kinds of features, activities and fun content for "An Eyeball in My Garden" fans.    We have created a snazzy bookmark to help promote the book, so I'll be passing those out whenever and wherever possible, AND the book has a Facebook page, so please seek us out!
#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?
I plan to set up readings and book signings locally.  I live in northern Wisconsin, and will be working on appearances at local libraries, schools and book stores in the area.  It's so exciting to share the book with children in person.  The enthusiasm at school and library  readings is always such fun!  With Halloween just around the corner, this is the perfect time to share some spooky shivers and giggles.

Thank you so much, Gail, for this chance to share my passion for writing for children and to talk about "An Eyeball in My Garden:  And Other Spine-Tingling Poems." 

Next week...........William Shakespeery

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters


Day 6 of Halloween Monsters

Boogeyman - an imaginary creature who loves to hide under beds, in closets and under stairs. He's known most for blubbering frightening noises on a dark winter night, scaring children in their beds.

Boogilty - Boogilty Boo!

Skeleton - the bones of a human or animal that make clickity-clack noises as they move through graveyards on Halloween night.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters


Day 5 of Halloween Monsters

Manticore – a man-eater monster with a face, which resembles a human, the body of a lion, the tail of a dragon or scorpion, which has poisonous spines that shoot poisonous spines to either paralyze or kill its victims. It may be horned, winged, or both. Its melodious call mesmerizes its victims.

Gargoyles – Extremely agile nocturnal creatures that can leap far distances. Most are comfortable at extreme heights. Believed to have originated from the typical dragon with batlike wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interview with Edna Cabcabin Moran - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Today, I welcome Edna Cabcabin Moran. As both poet and illustrator, Edna is the "purr-fect" choice for today's interview.

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?
Tough to say because I have a lot of favorites. Just off the top of my head~"Igor Picks A Pet" is done in a great voice and "The Hixon House" is good ol' eerie!
#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?
I wrote and submitted a grand total of two poems (having just joined the Poets' Garage) and fortunately one poem made the cut! =) I gather that 'Zombie Kid Blues' stemmed from my sophisticated taste in comics and appreciation for fine cultural icons like Mad Magazine, the Addams Family, The Simpson's Halloween and, of course, the movie "Sean of the Dead."
#3. How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?
The feedback enables me see my writing through 'different sets of lenses' which is helpful to my process.
#4. How long have you been a rhymer?
Off and on since I was a child. At age 8 or 9, I went through a phase of making up a ton of poems and reciting them with a fervor to my "lucky" dad.
 #5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?
Yes, I enjoy trying my hand at new forms however I'm most comfortable with free verse and some forms of rhyme.
#6. How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?
I'm helping to create a group blog for the book: which launches Friday, October 1st.
#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?
I'm looking into doing something fun at an independent bookseller in my city, as well as, at the local library. I'll be sure to post that info on the group blog.
 Thanks so much for stopping by, Edna. Wish you and the other "Eyeball" poets much success.

Next poet to shine is Susie "Sunflower" Sawyer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters


Day 4 of Halloween Monsters

Witch -  a woman who can control the forces of nature for good or evil. Good witches are called "white witches." Halloween or "black witches" are considered evil. Witches possess a strong intuition, possibly bordering on psychic abilities.

Warlock - a male witch or wizard with magical powers. In some mythologies warlocks are wise men with a power to ward off evil.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Halloween Monstermania - A Glossary of Monsters


Day 3 of Halloween Monsters

Phookas – Mischievous and roguish furry tricksters who shape shift to trick humans.

Will-o-the Wisps – luminous phantom lights from deep in the forest or black swamps which cause humans to seek their light and become lost.

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...