Friday, February 25, 2011

Poetry Friday: Everyone Sang

We have had a beautiful week in the Deep South. The daffodils and the phlox are blooming. My husband and I sat on the deck for breakfast and listened to the birds. I have a mockingbird who does a perfect imitation of the unlock signal on my car. The trees are still bare, but before long they will be bursting with every color of green in the biggest box of crayons you can buy. It's a bit early for 70 degree temperatures, and may bode a hot summer, but today it makes me want to sing.

I hope you enjoy this gorgeous day. Sarah is hosting more Poetry Friday over at Read Write Believe.

Everyone Sang
by Siegfried Sassoon

Everyone suddenly burst out singing:
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on; on; and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away . . . O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing
will never be done.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Been One of THOSE Days

My brain is going in too many directions at once!

I get one thing started and something else that absolutely MUST be done today jumps and and starts screaming, "My turn! My turn!"

I need chocolate!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Celebrating with Ash

Today I'm celebrating the success of my friend and writing partner, Ashley Parsons.

Ash and I have been in a critique group together for four years. It's a classic case of opposites attract. She's young and I'm old, relatively speaking of course. She's an extrovert, no really an extrovert. And I'm an introvert. She's very funny. If we were a comedy routine, I would definitely be the straight man. Somehow in the grand scheme of things, we connected, drawn together by love of story and commitment to excellence in the telling.

Ash recently signed with agent Jodi Reamer at Writer's House. Woohoo! I'm so proud of her and excited about the journey ahead.

You should definitely stop by Ashley's blog, Words of a Feather, and read about her journey to finding an agent. Part one is here. Part two is here. It's classic Ashley, told with humor and glitter cannons booming in the background! And plenty of tips if you're looking for an agent, too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Poetry Friday: Shipwreck

This poem was shared on Sunday by poet Jayne Jaudon Ferrer at Your Daily Poem. I've enjoyed the daily poem. Jayne's accessible choices are a great way to begin a writing day, or any other kind for that matter. "Shipwreck" felt like a perfect way to end this Valentines Day week of blogging about explorers. Luís Vaz de Camões (1524 - 1580) was a Portuguese poet who lived just a few years after the Conquistadors conquered the Incas and the Aztecs.

by Luís Vaz de Camões

Like the weary sailor, the refugee
from wreck and storm, who escapes half-dead,
and then, in terror, shudders with dread
at the very mention of the name of the ‘sea’;
who swears he’ll never sail again, who raves
he’ll stay at home, even on the calmest days,
but then, in time, forgets his fearful ways,
and seeks, again, his fortune above the waves;
I, too, have barely escaped the storms that revolve
around you, my love, traveling far away,
vowing to avoid another catastrophe,
but I can’t, the thought of you breaks my resolve,
and so, I return to where, on that fateful day,
I nearly drowned in your tempestuous sea.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Mary at Great Kid Books.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And the Winners Are...

Thank you for following along on my virtual book tour. It's been fun for me, and I hope you've learned some things along the way.

Today, I hope you'll stop by writer Mary Cronk Farrell's blog. Mary blogs about history and literature. I'm delighted to be visiting with her today. Mary's book, Fire in the Hole, won several awards, including New York Public Library Best Books for the Teenage 2006, Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People 2005. and Bank Street College Best Children’s Books 2005.

Yesterday's Question (the last one): Which explorer fought off a crocodile with her boat paddle?
Mary Kingsley lived a sheltered life caring for her invalid mother. She was in her thirties when both her parents died. She decided to set out for Africa. Not the norm for a single British woman in the 1800s. Mary collected insect specimens for the British Museum, but her interest was in understanding the African people. She hired native guides and traveled to the villages of the Fang (pronounced fong) people who were known to be cannibals. The Fang treated with Mary with kindness, gave her a hut, and allowed her to stay with them. She had a few adventures in Africa. She fought off that pesky crocodile with her canoe paddle. She scratched a hippo behind the ears with her umbrella. And she fell into a lion pit. Only her thick, Victorian skirt saved her from the spikes meant to kill any wild animal that fell into the pit. Mary's greatest contribution to exploration and discovery was her respect for the African people. She did much in her lectures in England to change the attitudes of Europeans.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class

Where do you come up with the ideas for your stories?
Lots of places. Ideas are everywhere. People I see. Magazines I read. Lots of times a book I'm reading will trigger an idea. You just have to pay attention, ask questions, wonder what would happen if.....

How many books have you written?
I have 18 published books. I will have 5 new books out in the spring.

What are the titles of some of the other books you have written?
Georgia Habitats, Georgia Geographic Regions, Greece and Our American Heritage, Virginia Geographic Regions, Tomochichi, Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Carter, Sequoyah

Do you work at night?
Sometimes, but I get sleepy the next day if I stay up too late.

Have you written books based on things that have happened to you?
Not yet.

What is you favorite book by another author?
C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia is an all-time favorite. I also like Tales of the Kingdom by David and Karen Mains. King of Shadows by Susan Cooper. Love that Dog by Sharon Creech. Anything by Andrew Clements.

Which of your books do you think is the funniest?
Most of my books aren't very funny. But Readers Theatre for Global Explorers does have some funny scenes.

Did you write books when you were a kid?
I read lots, but I didn't write them.

And now the winners are:

Readers Theatre for Global Explorers - Gail Handler
How High Can We Climb? - Robyn Hood Black
I, Matthew Henry - Irene Latham

Please email me your mailing address and I'll get the books to you.

Thanks again for joining me on the adventure. Never stop exploring. You'll always be surprised at what you find.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Readers Theatre: A Tool for Homeschoolers

Today a friend and author, Cara Putman, is hosting me at her blog, The Law, Books, and Life, to chat about my new book, Readers Theatre for Global Explorers. I appreciate Cara helping to get the word out to the homeschool community. Cara grew up as a homeschooled kid when homeschoolers were misunderstood and oddities--about the same time I was a homeschool mom. We were also considered a bit strange.

Cara graduated from high school at sixteen, college at 20, and completed her law degree when she was 27. She wrote her first novel in 2005 and now has eleven books published with more on
the way.
Stop by Cara's blog and visit. And while you're there check out her books.

Things You Never Say to an Editor--at Least Not Before You Have a Contract

My grandchildren loved it!

That line is one of the standing jokes you hear at writer's conferences. Never tell an editor that your children or your grandchildren or your students or your mother loved your manuscript.

But AFTER it's published, you can crow all you want. And guess what......

My grandchildren loved it!

My grandson took it to his science teacher (notice the subject wasn't social studies, my target audience) and she loved it. The class had just finished their unit on space, so they used the script on John Glenn. The class loved it. Now they are working on costumes and learning lines to turn it into a play they will perform for the PTA. And hopefully the PTA will love it!

Am I a proud grandma or what?

Yesterday's Question: Why do you love Reader's Theater?

I love reader's theater because kids love it, because teachers love it. And I love giving those students and teachers a creative way to explore history.

I'll be in Texas in March to see the newest addition to my son's family. I have seven grands now. While I'm there, I'm looking forward to visiting Mrs. Gill's fourth grade class. In the meantime, they have been following my blog tour. Each day I've posted answers to a few of their questions. They were full to bustin' with questions. I'm trying to answer as many as possible.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class

Have you ever had writer's block?
Yes. I've found that going for a walk or working in the yard usually helps. My ideas sort themselves out while I'm doing other things.

When do you take a break from writing?
I don't like sitting at the computer for more than about an hour or two at a time. So I take short breaks to stretch or snack.

Have you won any awards for your writing?
Not yet. But knowing that you liked my book is like getting an award.

Did all the school work help you become a writer?
Yes. It sure did.

Do you use a dictionary when you write?
I do. I actually have several different kinds. I have a regular dictionary, a rhyming dictionary, a describing dictionary and a reverse dictionary for when you can't quite think of the right word. I have a Children's Writer's Word Book that tells me what words children learn at different grade levels. This is especially helpful when I'm writing for lower grades. I might want to say "The explorer was courageous." That's fine for a fourth grade reader. The word book tells me that "courageous" is a fourth grade word. But if I'm writing for a younger audience,"Bold" is a second grade word that means almost the same thing. So I might change my sentence if my goal is for second grade readers to be able to read the sentence by themselves.

What skills do you need to become a writer?
You must be willing to experiment with stories and play with words. You must be willing to accept help and constructive criticism, but you must trust yourself, too.

What's your favorite book that you have written?
I think my favorite might be the one that's coming out later this year. It's a book of devotions for eight- to twelve-year-olds. It's called Sing, Shout, Dance: Thirty Days of Praise. I'm looking forward holding that one in my hands.

What made you become an author?
I was a pretty shy kid growing up. Even as an adult, I am slow to voice my opinions about things. Writing is a way for me to express myself, my thoughts, my ideas, to find my own voice.

What age did you start writing?
I started keeping a diary when I was eight. As a teenager, I wrote in a journal regularly. I did that for most of my life. I started writing articles and essays for adults when I was about forty. I started writing stories for children about ten years ago.

Have you ever thought about modernizing a fairytale?
I have thought about it, but I haven't tried it yet.

When do you plan on writing another book?
I'm working on two other books right now. One is a historical fiction chapter book. The other is a nonfiction picture book.

Today's Question (the last one): Which explorer fought off a crocodile with her boat paddle?

Tomorrow I'll announce the winners of the three books I'm giving away. Be sure to stop by and see if you won.

Monday, February 14, 2011

We'll Leave the Lights On For You

Happy Valentine's Day and welcome to my virtual blog tour celebrating the release of my new book, Reader's Theatre for Global Explorers.

Today, I want to walk you through my journey to publishing this book. It was a real adventure. One that you might want to take yourself. But first...

Yesterday's Question: What city sent a messages to an explorer in outer space?

Answer: Perth, Australia. Astronaut John Glenn’s first trip into outer space was in 1962 on the Friendship 7. Citizens of Perth decided to send Glenn a message. Everyone in the city turned on their porch lights. As the capsule approached Australia, Glenn noted to Mission Control that he could see a huge area all lit up. It was the good folks in Perth.

Thirty-six years later, Glenn returned to space in the Space Shuttle Discovery for medical experiments designed to explore the effects of aging on the human body. Technology was much improved, and the Discovery was farther from earth than the Friendship 7 had been. The citizens of Perth weren’t sure their lights would be visible this time, but they turned them on anyway. As he approached Australia, Glenn said, “The coastline is coming into view. I can see the lights. I think it looks even better now than it did all those years ago.” Now that’s a welcome.

Targeting a Publisher

Now, let's talk about the writing process. To see the full list of Readers Theatre books available from Libraries Unlimited, click here for the home page. Choose "Search by Series" in the left hand menu. Move your cursor onto the drop down list, then use your down arrow to scroll down until you see Readers Theatre.

This is where I began my journey. I went to the library and checked out a few of their titles. I looked at them and thought, "I could do that."

Take a look at the list. The first step was to find out what was not there. What was I interested in that I could offer as an addition to that list. I like history, so I sent an e-mail query to Sharon Coatney, the editor. She takes e-mail queries, so this is what I sent:

Dear Sharon,

I read on your website that you are interested in receiving queries for Reader’s Theatre topics. Would you be interested in receiving a proposal about Reader’s Theatre for global explorers, ..., or ...?

Doraine Bennett

I sent three topics, but I can't even remember the other two. Sharon sent an immediate reply back saying, Yes.

So I assumed she meant I could send a proposal for any of my choices. I picked the one I liked best at the time, explorers.

If you're at the website, click on the Contact Us link in the bar across the top of the website. Almost hidden on the page is a heading called "Acquisitions." It says: Manuscript Proposal Guidelines are available here. That was my next step.

I spent about two months writing the proposal, making sure I sent what they asked for. If you would like to see a copy of my proposal, please e-mail me at pdbennett at knology dot net, and I will send you the pdf. You can see how I followed their specific guidelines.

I wrote the proposal. I picked my explorers and wrote a table of contents based on continents. Then I wrote one script. I sent it all to Sharon in hard copy via snail mail in early July. Sharon e-mailed me when she received the proposal to say she would get back to me in a couple of weeks.

Then, I had an e-mail glitch. Who knows what happened? I was at a Delaney sales conference in August when I received a phone call. Sharon wanted to offer me a contract. She hadn't been able to reach me via e-mail. I hung up the phone and did a happy dance in the hotel lobby. No children's writers around to dance with me. Sales people don't necessarily GET IT.

Sharon gave me until the following July to complete the manuscript. Then the real work began. Yes, it was a lot of work, it meant taking a risk, but I didn't spend all those hours of research and writing BEFORE I had a contract. I got the contract first.

You can do the same thing. Target your publisher and dive into deep water.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class

How did you come up with the idea for Sending a Message into Space?

I wanted to include some modern explorers in my book. After all the land on earth was explored and mapped, people didn't stop wanting to explore. They headed into outer space and underneath the ocean.

How long did it take to write Sending a Message into Space?

It took about two weeks to write this one. That was pretty short compared to some of the scripts. Of course, that's not two solid weeks of writing. I still had to cook dinners and wash clothes and do my sales job, as well.

What is your favorite thing about Sending a Message into Space?

I loved the idea that the people of Perth figured out a way to send a message into outer space. And to do it twice, that was pretty special. The set up for this script is a news program. I had fun playing with the commercials. I was trying to give a sense of how the times changed between Glenn's first trip and his last one. Using prices for grocery items that you would recognize today seemed like a good way to do it.

Today's Question: Why do you love Reader's Theater?

Stop by tomorrow for a full day of questions from students in Mrs. Gill's fourth grade class.

Remember on Wednesday I'll hold the drawing for the free books. Leave me a comment and I'll enter your name.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Poetry Friday--You're Kenning, Right?

Today is day five of my virtual book tour celebrating the release of my new book, Reader's Theater for Global Explorers. But it's also Poetry Friday in Kidslitosphere. Each day of the blog tour, I have asked a question pertaining to one of the explorers in the book. Yesterday's question leads us right into Poetry Friday.

Yesterday's question: Which explorer's story was originally told in poetic form?

The answer is Leif Erickkson. Skalds, court poets of Scandinavian and Icelandic leaders, recorded Nordic history in poems and songs. The Greenlander's Saga is the account of Leif's exploration in Vinland, or present-day Canada.

This was the first script I wrote for the book, the one I sent to my editor with my proposal and table of contents. It was fun coming up with my own kennings (a literary device common in skaldic poetry) and making the interaction between the skald and the narrator humorous.

The skald, or the poet, held a place of honor in Nordic culture. His job was to keep a record of all that happened and to sing the praises of his leader. Instead of naming the thing he meant to talk about, the skald put two other nouns together to describe the object, making a kenning. For example, a farmer is a guardian of the spade. A ship is a whale rider. The skald is the tale-bearer.

The skald might say something like this: You are a true falcon, frost-ruler. Every prince is much worse than you are.

Please stop by Rasco from RIF for more Poetry Friday. Leave me a post with your own kennings, and I'll enter your name in the drawing for three free books. See Day One post for descriptions.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class:

Have you ever written poetry?

I have, and I love writing it. Here's a poem I wrote.

Cancelled Flight

An ocean of travelers

sprawl across islands of baggage

like scurvy-ridden sailors

adrift on a windless sea.

A disembodied voice

announces another numbered flight

that will not reach home.

I close my eyes

and wish I were nine,

lying in the back seat

where I watched

the slow strobe

of lights

flash by,


the gentle

pressure on my side

as the car

turned right

and climbed

the hill



Today's Question: What city sent a messages to an explorer in outer space?

Monday, I'll be talking about how I landed the contract for this book before writing it. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Editor Interview - Sharon Coatney, Libraries Unlimited

Today I am so excited to host an interview with my editor, Sharon Coatney. Sharon is the Senior Acquisitions Editor at Libraries Unlimited, A Division of ABC-CLIO.

Tell us a little about yourself, Sharon.
I was a teacher and a school librarian for 30 years in Kansas. I have been active in the American Library Association for many years, serving as the President of the school division, American Association of School Librarians and as a Councilor at Large of the ALA for 8 years. I like to read, travel and visit my two grandchildren. We live with our dog, Wonder Dog, and a strange black cat, Electra, in a beautiful wooded area of eastern Kansas in a rural setting near Lawrence, home of the KU Jayhawks!

How did you become an editor?
I started as an English teacher in a rural K-12 school. My children went to school there and I was going to have them in my class. My husband suggested I get a library degree so I wouldn't teach my own children. So I did. My first job was part time at the same school, so I ended up teaching my kids anyway. Later I commuted to a larger school in the city. It was a sort of model library that had won awards. The senior librarian there insisted that we become part of the American Library Association. I became very active in the association and its government and met a lot of people. As changes took place in my school, I began looking for other things to do. Through networking with the folks at ALA, I took a job as a consultant for Libraries Unlimited. About ten years ago, I retired from teaching and went to work for them full time. It evolved through time and networking, but I was always an editor in the sense that I was an English teacher.

Describe a typical work day.

I work at home. I have an office upstairs that looks out over our land. I can see the pond in the back yard. It's a nice place to work. I usually work from 9 am to 5 pm, but it's a flexible schedule if I need to go out for something. I do travel a lot. Last year I went to 11 conferences. They are library and teacher conferences, so they are usually in the spring and the fall.

Do you spend most of the day reading manuscripts?

Yes, I read manuscripts and proposals. My job as acquisitions editor is to find manuscripts for the company, so I do a lot of e-mailing and phone conversations with people. Our editorial team meets once a week to discuss any books we're considering. And of course I read all the manuscripts that I'm working with. Last year I put 40 books into production.

What makes a proposal stand out?

We are primarily a library publisher. We do have a small Teacher Idea Press, but even those books must be something that a librarian in a school would use or want to have in her media center for teachers. The Readers Theatre books are in this category. So I'm looking for that focus in any proposal I read. I've learned after doing this for many years that if a proposal isn't very clear, there's no point in going forward. There will be so much developmental editing, it isn't worth it.

Do you write, as well as edit?

I do. I have a book coming out this spring called, The Many Faces of Library Leadership. It's a collected volume of essays by people in the field, and I wrote a chapter for the book. There's a series of books called the MAC, Information Detective series. I've written the educator's guides for those. I wrote a column for five years in Library Magazine. Now I write a column on leadership in a magazine our company owns, called School Library Monthly. And I do have a picture book I've been trying to get published for many years. It's a family story I wrote for my kids years ago when I was teaching, and it was very successful in the classroom. But you know how that goes. It's hard to get picture books published.

What kind of proposal would you like to see come across your desk?

I'm looking for library information right now. Anything on eBooks and how to use them, or eReaders, the kind of policies libraries should use for these new tools. I'm looking for anything on the common core standards and incorporating them into school library use. Whatever is new in education and library land.

What should writers know before submitting a proposal to you?

New writers don't always know they should not submit a proposal to more than one publisher at a time. I'm not talking about query letter, but a formal proposal.

Thank you for joining me today, Sharon.

Here is Sharon's contact information if you would like to send a query or a proposal.
Sharon Coatney
Sr. Acquisitions Editor Libraries Unlimited
A Division of ABC-CLIO

Free Download: If you would like to see my proposal for Readers Theatre for Global Explorers, e-mail me at I'll send you a pdf of the proposal, and you can compare it to the submission guidelines on the website at Libraries Unlimited.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class:

What is one thing you don't like about being an author?
Endings are the hardest thing for me to write. I don't like it when I can't find the end!

How long have you been writing stories?
I've been writing stories for children for about ten years.

Which book was the most difficult to write?
The one I'm working on at the moment!

Yesterday's Question: Who was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe?

Answer: Jeanne Baret. Jeanne’s journey began in 1766 on the French ship Etoile. Jeanne appears in Readers Theatre for Global Explorers as a monologue. She lived in a small French village all her life where she cooked, cleaned and took care of the garden, but she wanted to see the world. After her parents died, she found a job as a housekeeper for Dr. Philibert Commerson. When the doctor announced that he was had been invited to be part of the first French expedition around the world, Jeanne determined to find a way to go, too. She disguised herself as a man, like her namesake Joan of Arc, and hired onto the ship as a servant. They were half way around the world before anyone discovered she was a woman.

If you’d like to know more about Jeanne’s remarkable journey, read How High Can We Climb: The Story of Women Explorers by Jeannine Atkins. It's one of the free books I'll be giving away in the drawing.

Today's Question: Which explorer's story was originally told in poetic form?

It's a perfect question for tomorrow's Poetry Friday in the Kidslitosphere. Leave a post and I'll enter you name for the drawing for the three books I'll be giving away.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Virtual Book Tour: Global Explorers--Reader's Theater

Welcome to day three of my virtual book tour. I'm celebrating the release of my new book, Readers Theatre for Global Explorers.

I'm visiting a my good friend, writer and poet, Irene Latham today at her blog, Live. Love. Explore! to talk about using reader's theater to teach history. I love Irene's blog title. What more perfect place can there be to talk about a book on explorers? While you're there check out Irene's newest book of poetry, The Color of Lost Rooms explores the ways we experience and survive loss. Her first novel, Leaving Gee's Bend, was nominated for the ALSC Notable Children's Book List and the Cybil Awards. Her next book will be out in 2011 from Roaring Brook Press. Don't Feed the Boy is about a lonely 11-year old boy, born to a Zoo Director mom and elephant keeper dad who barely notice him amid all the other more exotic species. He finds a new friend in the Bird Girl, and with her help, struggles to escape the confines of zoo life. It sounds like a book you don't want to miss.

Yesterday's Question: How do you spell Reader's Theater?

If you posted an answer, any answer at all, you were probably right. There seems to be no standard. In researching books on reader's theater, I have found every possible version of the term.

Readers, Reader's, or Readers'
Theatre or Theater
or any combination therof!

It definitely makes searching a challenge. If any of you library folks out there know a way to
search for multiple variations, I'd love to know what you know.

My publisher, Libraries Unlimited, spells their series Readers Theatre. However, even the designers don't always spell it right. The first cover image I saw had the title spelled Reader's Theater. And incidentally, this is the cover you'll see at It's correct American grammar. But the book, when I held it in my hands, has the official spelling of the Libraries Unlimited set brand. I'm so glad, too. I love spelling it "theatre."

If you're not familiar with reader's theater (correct grammar here), I invite you to take a look at some of the reader's theater gurus. Check out Literacy Connections where their Readers' Theater page offers guides for implementing readers' theater and links to books and online scripts.

Aaron Shepard is a funny guy. You'll enjoy his humorous tips at Reader's Theater Editions. Aaron offers free downloadable scripts that he has authored.

Stop at the Teaching Heart for more scripts and information than you can possibly get through in a day.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class
When did you start working on Readers Theatre for Global Explorers? How long does it take a book to get published and in stores?

I started working on this book in March of 2009. I wrote a proposal and sent it to the publisher to ask if they would be interested in a book about explorers. In August of 2009, they agreed to publish the book. They gave me a deadline of June 2010 to have the book finished. In August of 2010 they sent me a copy of the manuscript to make sure there were no mistakes. I read through it, made some corrections and sent it back. About three weeks later, they sent the
manuscript to me again for final edits. I read through it again, found a few more mistakes and sent it back again. The book was finally published in December 2010. I received my five copies two days before Christmas. By January 2011 it was available in stores. So from the idea to the finished product took almost two years.

Today's Question: Who was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe?

Leave me a comment and I'll enter your name in the drawing for on of the books below. Tomorrow I'll be interviewing my lovely editor at Libraries Unlimited, Sharon Coatney. I'll hope to see you then.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Virtual Book Tour: Global Explorers--Circumnavigation

Welcome back to my virtual blog tour. Yesterday I began the tour to celebrate the release of my new book, Readers Theatre for Global Explorers. I will be sharing some of my journey, offering free downloads, and holding a drawing for three books.

Today I'm visiting with Gail Handler at Write for the Soul & Visualeyes. Gail was an elementary school for 30 years. Now, she teaches through her writing. I hope you'll stop by Gail's blog. While you're there, read some of the posts about her journey with losing her sight and the tremendous challenges and adaptations she makes to continue living well. Her story is inspiring.

Each day on the blog tour I will be posting a question to pique your curiosity or to hear your opinion. So let's answer yesterday's question.

Yesterday’s question: Who was REALLY the first person to circumnavigate the globe?

Answer: Magellan got the credit, but the poor man died about half way around. Juan Elcano, a Spanish pilot, WAS navigating the final surviving ship that limped into port nearly three years after they started. But personally, I think credit should go to Antonio Pigafetta. You’ve got to love that name, and I did have some fun playing with it. Pigafetta wasn’t even a sailor, just an adventurer who signed on with Magellan’s crew “to see the very great and awful things of the ocean.” He kept a journal that preserved the awful tale of mutiny, betrayal, and treachery.

Magellan was Portuguese, sailing for the Spanish crown. He left port with five fully-loaded ships and crews and four Spanish captains. It was not a good situation from the start, and it only got worse. Before they were even half way around the world, Magellan had one captain executed for mutiny, one(already dead) drawn and quartered, and one left on an island of cannibals. The final captain left Magellan to fend for himself against a storm of angry islanders, but then he (the captain) died of scurvy. Elcano was the only one left who could pilot the ship, but if not for poor Pigafetta, we wouldn't know the story.

Author questions from Mrs. Gill's class:

My grandson's fourth grade class is following along on the blog tour. They have sent me questions for the author. I will feature the class on the blog tour next week, but I wanted to begin answering their questions.

Is it hard being a writer? Is it fun being a writer? It is hard work. Writing is very much like any other job. It takes time and practice to learn the craft and become good at it. Think about a carpenter building a house. Most people can swing a hammer and slap a few boards together, but for a good solid house, you want a carpenter who has learned exactly how far apart the studs go and practiced joining the roof to the walls. The more you do it, the better you become at it. Writing is like that, too. Even though it's hard work, yes, writing is a lot of fun.

Today's question: How do you spell Readers Theatre?

Tomorrow, we'll be visiting a writer friend and poet, Irene Latham, to talk about the benefits of using reader's theater to teach history.

Be sure to leave a post and I'll put your name in the hat for a drawing at the end of the tour. See Day One for a description of the books I'll be giving away.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Virtual Book Tour: Global Explorers, Day 1

Welcome! Today we begin my virtual book tour celebrating the release of my new book, Readers Theatre for Global Explorers. I'm so glad to have you join me. I will be sharing some of my journey, offering free downloads, and holding a drawing for three books.

Today Nancy I. Sanders hosts an interview with me at her blog. I am thrilled to have Nancy as my first stop on the tour. She's the main reason this book exists. I stumbled upon her blog a couple of years ago and was impressed by her generous wisdom, the practicality of her advice, and her simple, but effective style of sharing. Click on the link to read the interview at Blogzone. (A tip I learned from Nancy: If you click on her link by pressing a "right click" on your mouse, you can choose the option of opening her link in a new tab or window. That way you can browse through her site but keep this window open so you can come back here to post a comment to win a chance at a free book.)

Every March, Nancy's Book in a Month Club walks readers through the process of writing a book--in a month. Okay, so you may not get the whole book written in a month, but you certainly come away with the process. Two years ago, her March posts were on targeting a publisher. I followed along and Readers Theatre for Global Explorers was the result. You can read more at Nancy's blog. I hope you'll take time to explore the rest of her blog while you're there.

Each day, I will post a question about one of the explorers covered in the book. Post a comment, an answer to the question or anything else you would like to post, and I will enter your name for a chance in the drawing at the end of the tour. I will be giving away a free copy of these books:

How High Can We Climb? is a book about women explorers by Jeannine Atkins, a wonderful writer and teacher of poetry. Click on her name to read Jeannine's daily posts on the art of poetry. They are delightful.

I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer is written by Carole Boston Weatherford in first-person, eight-line poems. Eric Velasquez captures the heart of Henson and the rugged landscape. It's a beautiful book.

And, an autographed copy of my new book, Readers Theatre for Global Explorers.

Question of the day: Who was REALLY the first person to circumnavigate the globe?

I'll see you here tomorrow for Day Two of the tour. We'll be visiting a fellow writer to talk about how I began writing for the educational market.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Ant Explorer

Welcome to Poetry Friday! I'm delighted to be the host for this week's roundup. I've enjoyed reading your posts for so long, I'm happy to welcome you here today.

If you've stopped by my blog on Poetry Friday before, you may know that I have often posted poems about explorers over the last year. I was working on a book of reader's theater scripts about explorers, so poems on the subject were a natural extension for Poetry Friday. The book has been released and the publicity part is now in progress. I'll be hosting a blog tour here next week if you have time to stop by and chat.

So today I have another explorer poem to offer you.

C. Michael James Dennis (1876-1938) was an Australian poet and journalist. European exploration of Australia began in the late 1700s. By the turn of the twentieth century most of the continent's geographical features had been discovered and mapped. Dennis must have heard stories of journeys into the outback. Maybe he even interviewed some of the later explorers to hear about their adventures. No water for days on end. Heat so intense a man's hair stopped growing. Hunger so severe they ate their camels' feet or a faithful horse. Blindness from the glaring sun.

Ernest Giles, an Aussie explorer, once said, "Exploration of one thousand miles in Australia is equal to ten thousand miles in any other part of the earth's surface, always excepting Arctic and Antarctic travels." Venturing into the outback was no small matter.

But the truth is that all journeys, no matter how long or how far away have their challenges.

And size is relative.

In this poem, Dennis' sense of humor is evident. Enjoy!

The Ant Explorer
by C. Micheal James Dennis

Once a little sugar ant made up his mind to roam-
To fare away far away, far away from home.
He had eaten all his breakfast, and he had his ma's consent
To see what he should chance to see and here's the way he went
Up and down a fern frond, round and round a stone,
Down a gloomy gully where he loathed to be alone,
Up a mighty mountain range, seven inches high,
Through the fearful forest grass that nearly hid the sky,
Out along a bracken bridge, bending in the moss,
Till he reached a dreadful desert that was feet and feet across.
'Twas a dry, deserted desert, and a trackless land to tread,
He wished that he was home again and tucked-up tight in bed.
His little legs were wobbly, his strength was nearly spent,
And so he turned around again and here's the way he went-
Back away from desert lands feet and feet across,
Back along the bracken bridge bending in the moss,
Through the fearful forest grass shutting out the sky,
Up a mighty mountain range seven inches high,
Down a gloomy gully, where he loathed to be alone,
Up and down a fern frond and round and round a stone.
A dreary ant, a weary ant, resolved no more to roam,
He staggered up the garden path and popped back home.

Whatever your journey, whether it's a new poem or a book or something much more daunting, may you always find your way back home.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Post-Dated Posts

I'm working on my virtual blog tour that will begin next week to celebrate my new book, Readers Theatre for Global Explorers.

I spent Sunday afternoon writing and post-dating my posts. Did you know you can do that? I'm sure all you experienced blogger knew, but for those of you who haven't tried it, here's what I learned.

On Blogger, there's a blue button in the bottom left corner of the screen called Post Options. If you click it, you have the option of writing your post, compete with pictures and links, and automatically posting to your blog on the day and time you designate. Just be sure that once you put the correct posting date in the box, you click somewhere else on the page for it to save itself. Also, make sure to choose your preference of AM or PM.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Do You Plan a Blog Tour?

Planning a blog tour can be a bit daunting. First I decided on my target audience. Last week I e-mailed some folks to ask if they wanted to participate. When I had responses, I started filling in dates on the calendar.

I spent Saturday answering interview questions that bloggers had sent to me. I sent each one a .jpg file of my book cover. I also sent each person a different author photo to use with their interview. I learned this from my good cyber-friend, Nancy I. Sanders, who was instrumental in my writing this book.

I'm excited about the upcoming book tour. I hope you'll join me as I talk about the book and the writing process and the explorers.