You May Contribute A Verse

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January 3, 2022  

Manifesting with Jerrold Connors

I’m Josh Monken, children’s lit author, father, science communicator, and podcaster, joined by Brenna Jeanneret, children’s lit author, mother, avid climber and outdoorsperson, and podcaster!

This is the podcast You May Contribute a Verse, where we talk to kidlit creators, share their stories, and learn from their journey.

Can we all just get a little break here? Can we switch gears, start fresh, get some wind in our sails, make a little headway? It ain’t easy out here in the trenches, surviving while creating.

Welcome to 2022. 2022 is about manifesting greatness in ourselves and in the world. When will it all end? When we will it to be so through our intentions and actions and good vibes.

We are the versions of ourselves who have done great things and will do them again in the future. Brenna’s and my conversation with author-illustrator Jerrold Connors was so fun to have, and such a positive way to open a new year in an uncertain time.

Jerrold Connors – a creator whose career has touched on multimedia, on games, on animation, on writing, on illustration, and on education – is in a particular stage of his career where he is the main character of his own story, with motivations and intentions and inspiration that he’s following to grow himself, his craft, and his sense of satisfaction with the world.

Good vibes and a good reality check here. Take our chat with Jerrold and enter 2022 with some creative wind in your sails. Create for the sake of creating.

Here is Jerrold Connors’s verse.

December 13, 2021  

Debuts and Layers with Moni Ritchie Hadley

Debuts and layers and parallels, oh my. Today’s conversation is with author Moni Ritchie Hadley, whose debut story (illustrated by Mizuho Fujisawa) is The Star Festival, published by Albert Whitman this year, 2021. The Star Festival is intergenerational, intercultural, loving, layered, and a little cheeky. A story of connection and caring.

Moni is an educator and writer, a self-described half-Japanese military brat who came up balancing Japanese and American cultures, and daydreaming – which I find to be one of the most useful skills for picture book writing.

The best of us comes from a place of personal connection and passion, even if we don’t recognize it at first. We’ll save the details to be revealed during our conversation, but Moni’s experiences with bringing The Star Festival to life remind us to keep our minds, eyes, ears, and heart open so that the world can sometimes steer us in the right direction.

Happenstance is a funny thing. Not only is The Star Festival Moni’s debut picture book, but also Brenna’s and my first recorded author interview after partnering up, which is also a result of happenstance and keeping eyes open for opportunity.

Mentions in this episode include a big shout out to Storyteller Academy, specifically Jim Averbeck's Writing Picture Book Manuscripts course. 

Enjoy both this conversation and the impending end of 2021! Find us on Twitter and the whole episode archive at verse.show, and as always, let us know what you think via a rating, review, or comment!

November 29, 2021  

Introverted Extrovert; An Interview with Matt Forrest Esenwine

I’m Brenna Jeanneret, children’s lit author, mother, rock climber, and outdoors person, and podcaster joined by Josh Monken, children’s lit author, father, science communicator, and podcaster.

Josh and I have embarked on this kidlit journey together this year, having become critique partners early in the year, only to find that our powers combined could make captain planet. Maybe not, but at least our powers combined can make a pretty good podcast. 

Our guest for this conversation was Matt Forrest Esenwine. You can find him on Twitter @mattforrestVW or his website mattforrest.com

If you’re interested in hearing more about how to handle rejection. Jia Jiang’s Ted Talk, What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection was incredibly eye-opening. 

Find us on Twitter and the whole episode archive at verse.show, and as always, let us know what you think via a rating, review, or comment!

Thanks and see ya next time. 

November 15, 2021  

Ohana with Margo Sorenson!

I’m Josh Monken, children’s lit author, father, science communicator, and podcaster, joined by Brenna Jeanneret, children’s lit author, mother, avid climber and outdoorsperson, and podcaster!

This is the podcast You May Contribute a Verse, where we talk to kidlit creators, share their stories, and learn from their journey.

There are many times in the life of being a fan of things that you consume something, and then want nothing more than to pick the brain of the person who created it.

Hot off consuming the picture book Calvin Gets the Last Word, Brenna and I got one of the primary benefits of doing this podcast, which is to get to pick the brain of one of the persons who created it, author Margo Sorenson (in partnership with illustrator Mike Deas).

Margo is a prolific multi-genre author who has had a storied career thus far, and built her resilience and tenacity by choosing to have taught middle schoolers.

Margo’s work is largely tinged with ohana, the Hawai’ian concept of family, seen through works like her picture book Little Calabash and woven into her identity as an author. I love Margo’s Hawai’ian name Leipua’ala, granted to her by a family friend, meaning ‘little gifts for children.’

What you’ll hear in this episode, aside from us deconstructing Calvin Gets the Last Word, is partial silence from me (especially toward the end), both because I had an internet outage during our conversation, but more importantly because I’m super jealous of Brenna and Margo’s newfound relationship as agency siblings, calabash cousins in the Dan Cramer of Page Turner Literary family.

Such a pleasure to share this conversation. Here is Margo Sorenson’s verse.

November 8, 2021  

From Severed Fingers to Kidlit- AMA with Agent Dan Cramer

I’m Brenna Jeanneret, children’s lit author, mother, rock climber, and outdoors person, and podcaster joined by Josh Monken, children’s lit author, father, science communicator, and podcaster.

Josh and I have embarked on this kidlit journey together this year, having become critique partners early in the year, only to find that our powers combined could make captain planet. Maybe not, but at least our powers combined can make a pretty good podcast. 

Our guest for this conversation is agent extraordinaire Dan Cramer of Page Turner Lit. You can find him on Twitter @pageturnerlit or his website pageturnerliteraryagency.com 

Find us on Twitter and the whole episode archive at verse.show and as always, let us know what you think via a rating, review, or comment!

Thanks and see ya next time. 

November 1, 2021  

Let‘s Be Weird Together with Brenna Jeanneret

I’m Josh Monken, children’s lit author, father, science communicator, and podcaster, joined by Brenna Jeanneret, children’s lit author, mother, avid climber and outdoorsperson, and podcaster!

This is the podcast You May Contribute a Verse, where we talk to kidlit creators, share their stories, and learn from their journey.

Today is about being weird together. It’s the first recorded conversation between Brenna and me as we get to know each other better and embark on this quest to do a cool lil podcast about picture books.

Every path trodden in this industry is different, and they all represent stories worth telling. Today’s with Brenna not only represents the traditional ‘How I Got My Agent’ story, which is unique and very-2021, but how we got to where we are now.

It’s a story of partnership, putting yourself out there, embracing the weird, and finding ways that work for you. Brenna’s journey has been super productive, not only landing her an agent in Dan Cramer (of Page Turner Lit), but becoming part of our budding Totally Funny Critique Group and eventually us combining our podcasting powers into one.

Each turn of the tale is about keeping eyes and ears open for opportunity, heart open to accept the uncertainty inherent in new paths, and… mouths open to podcast it out?

Find Brenna at her website.

Brenna is represented by Page Turner Literary Agency and Dan Cramer. Find more information about them - and Brenna's agency siblings - at the Page Turner site.

October 18, 2021  

A Light in the Darkness with Fred Koehler and Quinn‘s Monsters

I’m Josh Monken, children’s lit author, father, science communicator, and podcaster, joined by Brenna Jeanneret, children’s lit author, mother, avid climber and outdoorsperson, and podcaster!

Brenna and I have embarked on this kidlit journey together this year, having become critique partners early in the year, only to find that our powers combined could make captain planet. Maybe not, but at least our powers combined can make a pretty good podcast.

OUR guest for this conversation is author-illustrator Fred Koehler, responsible for a whole bunch of books you can find on his Goodreads page, among them Super Jumbo, How to Cheer Up Dad, and Garbage Island – which is getting a sequel in short order! Fred is also the mastermind behind Ready Chapter 1, a resource hub to help creators next-level their work on the path to being professional storytellers. The thing that drew Brenna and I to Fred, however, is an initiative he’s managing through the end of this month called Quinn’s Monsters, in partnership with the Make A Wish Foundation and a slew of super talented kidlit authors and illustrators.

Quinn is a four-year-old in Florida whose wish is to have spooky stories feature her. And monsters! And so Fred’s put out a call to authors, illustrators, and author-illustrator combos to submit 50-100 word stories – with accompanying illustrations – about monsters that interact and go on adventures with Quinn.

Quinn's Monsters, and by proxy Fred Koehler, is excepting submissions for her picture book project through October 25th, 2021 - find all guidelines (and the other amazing contributors to the project) at ilikefred.com/quinn.

Find us on Twitter and the whole episode archive at verse.show, and as always, let us know what you think via a rate, review, or comment!

October 1, 2021  

A challenger appears! #FallWritingFrenzy 2021 entry, titled ‘Updown‘

Updown

193 words

 

I’m at the bottom, on my bottom. 

I was at the top, on my bike. 

Learning to ride is hard. 

Hitting the ground is hard too. 

I fell down, crumpled, red, and wet.

Dad says I’m like a leaf that way. “Just like Fall,” he says, eyebrows up. 

“But in Fall, leaves fall down and never get back up,” I say, eyes turned down. “Just falling in useless piles.”

“Is that so?” Dad stoops down, picks up some soil from the yard. “Leaves fall hard, but work hard too.”

He waits, smile pointing up, then says, “Updown.”

“I know,” I say, not liking that I know.

[Narration] Trees use energy to grow leaves. 

Leaves return to the soil as they fall down. 

Tree roots draw them up again through the soil to make new leaves. To grow. 

To grow, they have to lose something. Getting bigger and stronger through falling.

I breathe deep. “No up without down,” I say. 

Dad reaches down, grabs my hand. “And no going down without getting up.”

I’m off my bottom.

On top of the bike. 

“Updown,” I say, smile turning up. 

Leaves make way for my wheels.

 

fwfhill.jpg

Fall- Credit: Julia Solonina / Unsplash

July 1, 2021  

Reaching Readers and Achieving Agency with Author Katey Howes

Katey Howes (@kateywrites), picture book – and maybe more? – author joins me for a chat today. Katey is author of the lately-published Rissy No Kissies, a picture book about a lovebird who doesn’t love kisses and the lessons her family learns about boundaries, consent, and bodily autonomy.

Katey and I do a lot of discussing in this conversation about how to reach readers, from adjusting language in early reader books to making time for virtual visits to weaving theme into your books.

Find Katey Howes' books on Goodreads!

I really hope you enjoy our chat!

June 16, 2021  

Critiques, Conflict, Change, and Complication with Ryan Van Loan

Today’s conversation launches year three of this podcast project, revisiting time spent last September with Ryan Van Loan, author of the Fall of the Gods series, including The Sin in the Steel, published in July 2020, and The Justice in Revenge, publishing July of this year.

So happy to have the chance to speak with Ryan again. If you haven’t yet listened to the conversation we had last year (it's the episode next to this one!), do so now and get to know his earnest goodwill, his fandom, his discipline, and his immense drive.

Ryan and I cover a lot of ground again, discussing contracts, critique groups, complications, characters, and changes. What happens when you begin to get the thing you seek? As it turns out, Ryan’s watching that play out along with his scrappy protagonists Buc and Eld, though they’re having super different experiences with that achievement.

 

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