Wednesday Muse – Books Opening Books

A Conversation with My 3 Year Old Son

 ~ or ~

How My Request For A Haiku Turned Into His Request For A Computer

Photo by Ryan McGuire -

Photo by Ryan McGuire –

Me to 3 year old: I have to write about this picture. What would you write if you wrote a poem about this picture?

3 yr old: Um, I don’t know. I want to write my own thing on a computer.

Me: If you say it, I’ll write it down.

3 yr old: Hm. I would write a book opening a book and a book opening a book and a book opening a book. I would write books opening books.

Me: Ok, I got that. But what would you write about the picture?

3 yr old: Books opening books. I would write about the picture books opening books.

Me: Ok. But what about THIS picture?

3 yr old: Books opening books. That picture, books opening books. See? I really am hungry. I would like a sandwich with cheese and mayonnaise and milk. That’s a kid’s meal at Subway. Soon we have to go to Subway. Subway. Subway. Subway. Are we driving in to Grandma’s house?

Me: Yes, but what would you say about this picture with the bird in it?

3 yr old: Um. Books opening books. I would say about that picture books opening books. And stop saying what will you say with this picture and what will you write with this picture and what will you name with this picture and stuff like that. Don’t say any more stuff like that.

Me: Okay. Got it.

3 yr old: (singing) I think I need to write a story, a story, a story, a story about Subway. Mama, so let me write a story on some computer.

Me: You have your computer downstairs.

3 yr old: I don’t mean a play computer. I don’t mean the computer with all the letters.

Me: Alright, yes. That is a play computer.

3 yr old: I meant so I can write a story like I mean like I, I mean, to do what what you are doing. I meant a computer that will do what you are doing. A computer that will do what you are doing. A computer that will do what you are doing. (Repeats ad infinitum.)

Me: Will you stop saying that?

3 yr old: You make me sad. Listen to me. I want a computer that is doing what you are doing. (Points to screen.) Okay? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? (Holds out hand to shake.) Deal? Deal? Deal? (Takes my chin in his hands and turns my face so I must make eye contact.) Deal? Deal? Deal?


Check out creative works in response to this photo by author Vanessa Barger, Melanie McFarlane and Stu Glennie. If you’re interested in joining the Wednesday Muse Blog ring, contact Vanessa.


A Final Step Down the Cemetery Trail

An enthusiastic EEEK! goes out to all you Halloweeny readers out there! There are many prizes to be had on this cemetery trail.

I’m so excited about being part of this tour. While my coauthored novel DREAM BOY has lots of humor, romance and suspense, there’s a good dash of horror in there too! (Yep, a comic horror story. Go figure.)

How does it work? Simple! Check out the ten Halloween-themed posts along the Cemetery Trail, take the quiz, and you could win TEN awesome prizes! Signed copies, a manuscript critique, a Skype author chat and more! All this could be yours, my lovely ghosties!

So, get reading! Here’s my interview with the fine folks at the Halloween Book Trail.

HBT: Do you believe in ghosts?

MC: Both my mother and brother saw a ghost—the same ghost in the same house, about 10 years apart. So I guess I have to believe in ghosts. Either that or call my dead mother a liar.

Maybe it’s a southern thing, but our ghost wasn’t particularly creepy. She’d play tricks sometimes (like turning all the paintings crooked when we went out on Halloween), but mostly she was just there—an invisible someone in the rocking chair, an altered air in the hallway, a kindly presence by my bed at night.

I think she loved children and worried about my sisters and brothers when we were little. Both of the times that she let herself be seen, it was to care for a lonely child.

After my parents brought their first baby home, my mother and father would take turns getting up in the night to bring the crying infant to bed. It was my father’s turn to get the baby, so when my mother, half-asleep, heard little Laura wailing across the room, she didn’t rouse herself. My father didn’t either, and the wails keep coming.

After a few minutes, my mother felt hands on her shoulders, shaking her awake. “Robin?” she mumbled, but when she opened her eyes, she saw not my father, but instead an old, gray-ish lady. Bolting upright, my mother said she went through the lady, who instantly disappeared.

What did you do?” I remember asking her.

Her answer pretty much sums up my family’s laissez-faire attitude toward the supernatural: “I got up and took care of the baby, of course.”

The second sighting came about nine years later, when I was the baby. In my mother’s tellings, there are many complicated explanations for why she, my father, and five of their six children were in a van barrelling toward the nearby city while my three-year-old brother Edgar ended up left at the house alone. I will save you those details and cut right to the moment when, after realizing Edgar was absent and demanding my father turn the van around, she finally arrived home. I’ll finish the story in my mother’s own words:

I imagined every conceivable horror, but when we finally got back and I raced inside, I found Edgar quietly coloring a picture.

‘Are you okay?’ I asked him.

‘Oh, yes,’ he told me, calm as you please.

‘But weren’t you scared?’

‘I was, but the Gray Lady came. She told me you’d come back.’

”What gray lady?’ I asked, looking around the room. ‘There’s no gray lady here.’

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘she went away. She went away when you came back.’

HBT: If you were in a horror film, what number are you to die and how?

MC: I’d love to say I’d be the last one standing, but the truth is that I’d probably die somewhere around the middle.

I’m pretty sure I’d be preceded by the gorgeous young couple indulging in rambunctious sex, the non-believer, and the stoner.

That said, I’d almost certainly be followed by the woman who twists her ankle, the snappy one-liner, and the survivor’s best friend.

How? Nothing so exciting as an ax to the forehead. I’m thinking I’d trip and fall in a well.

HBT: If the zombie apocalypse happened (and it will), what would be your weapon of choice?

MC: As a mega-fan of The Walking Dead, I’ve considered this question a good bit. I think I’d go with a sword. It’s quiet, doesn’t require ammo, and you don’t necessarily have to have good aim to use it.

HBT: If Annabelle from DREAM BOY went trick or treating, what would she dress up as and why?

MC: Annabelle loves music, so she might go for something old-school like David Bowie or Gwen Stefani. Or she might do something with a twist—a zombie Taylor Swift. Maybe a cross between Lorde and Wonder Woman.

Now, one last stop before you take the quiz! Go check out what spooky tales Heather Marie, author of THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME, has to share!


Poetry Hop!

mortimer-final-300x229The ever-insightful Madelyn Rosenberg tagged me for the Mortimer Minute Poetry Hop. Bless her for doing so! And I’m not saying that in the southern bless-her-heart kind of way. It’s been too long since I’ve taken the time to ruminate about poetry.

So, my little bunny friend, come with me as I share three questions (and things that take the place of answers but are actually not) about poetry!

How do you feel about rhyme?

Here are 4 things I think about rhyme:

  1. Rhyme is a powerful drug, and as such, should be used with caution. It’s addictive and can lead to dire consequences. But when administered properly, rhyme can be just the right kind of intoxicating.
  1. Sometimes rhyme guides us to the inevitable word in a poem. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
  2. Rhyme is fun. Fun on the run with a cat named Bun-Bun. Fun in the street with the cars that go beep. Fun everywhere, now that cat’s in my hair and I’m chasing a bear with my aunt’s underwear. (For me, the inevitable word always seems to be “underwear.” You can ask my children; I am telling the absolute truth.)
  1. Rhyme makes its own sense, so I don’t have to.

Read Madelyn’s much smarter answer to the same question here.


Can poetry matter?

This is a question poets apparently love to ask themselves, so I’m asking it here. I probably shouldn’t have, because my real question is “Why do poets keep asking themselves if poetry can matter?” I mean, it’s sort of like bakers asking themselves over and over if muffins matter.

Hell yes, poetry can matter. But not the way open heart surgery can matter or firetrucks can matter or group homes for developmentally challenged people can matter. Even so, sure, poetry matters. It matters to me. At least as much as muffins. Unless I’m hungry and there’s nothing but muffins to eat.


Why should people read poetry to children?

When I did a photo search on Flickr for Creative Commons images of muffins, I learned two things: people like taking photos of muffins and there are many cats named Muffin. Take that, Mortimer. Ohh, I think that's my new idea for PiBoIdMo -- Mortimer and Muffin! At any rate, this photo by Elaine Vigneault. Thanks, Elaine, for sharing. Love your puppy's puppy dog eyes!

When I did a photo search on Flickr for Creative Commons images of muffins, I learned two things: people like taking photos of muffins and there are many cats named Muffin. Take that, Mortimer. Ohh, I think that’s my new idea for PiBoIdMo — Mortimer and Muffin! At any rate, thanks to Elaine Vigneault for sharing this photo.

Because children deserve it. Just by being alive and having spongy brains, children deserve the gift of silly words that will click-clack-rump-pump-wiggle-waggle through their day.

Plus, I’m pretty sure frothy concoctions of playful language (by which I mean poems) make them smarter about how regular old Jane-and-Joe language works.

So do it, people. Read a kid a poem. The world will be a better place for it. And then give a kid a muffin. And give puppy a muffin as well. And then give a kid a puppy. Then give a sea urchin a haircut.  The world will be better for all that too.


So now it’s my turn to tag someone. Hillary Ferguson is an excellent poet, fiction writer, and blogger. I look forward to seeing what she asks, and answers too, of course!

The Next Big Thing ~ Dream Boy edition

0a1a0cd0bc03f1156cd82087d26130a0_biggerThanks to Rin Chupeco, whose fascinating young adult novel The Girl From the Well comes out next fall, for tagging me in THE NEXT BIG THING blog hop. Here’s how it works: last week, Rin answered questions about her upcoming book; this week, I answer those same questions; next, I send those same questions to other writers with projects in the works to answer in their own sweet time.

So, without further ado, welcome to The Next Big Thing, Dream Boy edition!

What is the working title of your next book?

Dream Boy

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I can thank the genesis of Dream Boy to three things:

      1. insomnia
      2. Ginger Rogers
      3. a really long communion line

Let me break it down.

I was up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday night (INSOMNIA) watching a 1940s-ish farce about a woman (GINGER ROGERS) who keeps ditching guys at the altar because they don’t live up to the ideal man she dreamed about as a girl. The next day, as I sat in my customary back pew in church, waiting for my turn to walk up the aisle (A REALLY LONG COMMUNION LINE), I started thinking about the nature of dreams.

A lot of times a hero or heroine in a story will dream about someone they later meet in real life but, I wondered, what if the dream-vision isn’t a premonition about a person who already exists? What if instead the dream actually creates someone—or at least brings the dream here, so it exists in our physical world?

Seemed like a fun question and one that could take a while to answer—which is of course the ideal spring-board for a novel! I contacted my pal Madelyn Rosenberg the next day and asked if she’d like to co-write Dream Boy.

What is the genre of your book?

Contemporary fantasy—lots of comedy, a throb of horror, a dash of romance!

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in the movie rendition?

Such a hard question! Kind of like potato chips: you can’t choose just one. But here’s a start…(Click on names for a link to photos.)

For Annbelle (our heroine!), I might cast someone with the easy likability of Elle Fanning. Plus, that girl can act! For Martin (the boy of Annabelle’s dreams), I’d go with younger versions of Max Irons or Alex Pettyfer. Will (Annabelle’s best friend) might be someone like Liam James or Jacob Kogan or even Kevin Zegers when he was 10 years younger. Talon (Annabelle’s other best friend) has a good dose of spunk. Maybe a younger Aubrey Plaza or Anna Kendrick or an older Quvenzhané Wallis. Serena (Annabelle’s other other best friend) could be played by Abigail Breslin or Christian Serratos.

There are a ton of other characters that play an important role in Dream Boy, but the only other one I want to weigh in on is that the high school fooball coach needs to be played by Will Ferrell. Because of course all movies without Will Ferrell suck.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Girl dreams boy… girl meets boy… girl, boy, and friends save universe.

Who is publishing your book?

The fine folks at Sourcebooks. (Shout out to the wonderful Aubrey Poole, editor extraordinaire!)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

For-frigging-ever!!! I honestly have no clue. I’m pretty sure I have conceived and given birth to one or more children between the start and the end.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Good googly! Is there any way to answer this question without sounding like a big head? “If you liked Harry Potter, you won’t be able to put down Dream Boy!” Um, yeah. Let’s go with that!

Really it’s easier to think of movies for this one. It’s kind of like the narrator from Easy A has a mind-blowing reverse Inception-like experience… in high school.

inception gif photo: inception party inception-GIF-inception-2010-14288153-272-124.gif

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

(See above: Ginger Rogers.)

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

As much as it is about the aftermath of dreams, Dream Boy is about everyday teenhood and the struggle of growing up in a small town with big-city aspirations. It’s about the necessity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the desire to figure out how you fit into the puzzle of your own life.

Now, all there is left to do is leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the NEXT BIG THING. So, here we go.

I am also tagging:
c1d5e63019f8ddf2ca7749845e945c7d_biggerWhitney Miller, whose novel The Violet Hour, will touch down March 2014

b8881cf126e47737806f71c86bc3af61_biggerJessica Arnold, author of The Looking Glass, forthcoming 2014

Jeninst-jennyphotony Bitner, author of the work-in-progress Mothership

Can’t wait to hear what they have to say!