Poem in Your Pocket Day

April is National Poetry Month, and today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. To celebrate, I gave out poems today at the YMCA on behalf of the Portage County Literacy Council (I’m a volunteer tutor). The poems were chosen by librarians at UWSP and cleverly put together by students. I also printed out some children’s poems by Kenn Nesbitt.

poem in your pocket

When I heard about the opportunity to give out poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day, I thought, Yes! That is something I want to do! I volunteered and got all the stuff. This morning, I thought, Oh no! I have to talk to strangers. I have to put myself out there. As a shy introvert, this is very uncomfortable for me.

As people walked into the Y, they saw me and saw that I was offering something. They avoided eye contact with me. They tried to hurry past.

I said, “Can I offer you a poem?”

They stopped and looked at me funny. “A what?”

“A poem,” I said, holding out a small scroll of paper tied with a colorful ribbon. “It is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Would you like a poem?”

Their eyes shined with surprise and delight. “Yes!”

Delight. People were delighted to get a poem. It was fun! I’m glad I volunteered to share poetry today. If you would like to share a poem with a loved one, an acquaintance or a stranger today, the following links will give you some poems to choose from.

Kenn Nesbitt’s Poetry4kids.com

The Writer’s Almanac, offering a poem a day.

I’ll end this blog by sharing one of my own poems. You are welcome to print and read and share this poem with others. You are not welcome to sell or do anything with my poem to make money. I haven’t made any money off this poem, so it would be really unfair if you did.

Boys Pee on the Floor
by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

I am a wife
I am a mother of boys
I should not have been surprised
I have a father
I have two brothers

My husband taught my first sonNo matter how you wiggle and dance
the last drops always lands in your pants.”
            (or on the floor.)

I listened
I laughed
I taught my boys to pee standing up
(because boys pee standing up)

My first son was five
when I discovered:
At night
           or first pee of the day
he stands to pee (as he was taught)
but he does not turn on the bathroom light.

Second son was only two
too tall for a stool
too short without
So, a stool
He's just learning, so we
out pours the stream over the toilet bowl
          the right of the upright seat
          against the wall

Married ten years I
brush my teeth
while my husband peesOops,” says he, “split stream.”
I turn and see he
I see him 
see me
see him
He cleans the pee

I wonder
Would he clean the pee if I didn't see?
If you are female and read this,
you may wonder too
If you are male,
you know
           boys pee on the floor

Buy a book; help an African village

imageI am donating all the money I make from sales of Syncopation in the month of April to A Ray of Hope Mission Project. This is an interdenominational project that supports the village of Aworowa in Ghana. Money will be used for social projects including expanding the availability of clean water, support to the Aworowa Clinic, teacher training, school computers, uniforms and playground equipment, supplies for four schools, support for the Wenchi Hospital, medical equipment, small business support, job training and more.

So, please help me help the people of Aworowa. My church has a close working relationship with the Methodist church in Aworowa. The money I raise will be spent by the people of Aworowa.

Syncopation is available as an e-book for $4.99 from SmashwordsBarnes and Noble , Kobo, iBook (via your iProduct’s Apple store). My cut of the price of the book is different at each retailer, but I will donate all that I earn.

I grabbed the can (pictured above) from my church, St. Paul’s United Methodist, this morning. My family’s goal is to fill it with $100.

Thanks for your support!

Author Interview: Michelle Cox

michelle cox

Today I’m welcoming Michelle Cox to my series of author interviews. Michelle is the author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard mystery novels. The first in the series, A Girl Like You, has just released.

Elizabeth: Welcome, Michelle.

Michelle: Thanks for having me, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth: Can you tell us about your novel?

michelle cox book coverMichelle: A Girl Like You is the first in a historical mystery series set in 1930’s Chicago. It’s about a young, impoverished woman, Henrietta Von Harmon, who works as a 26 girl at the local bar to support her mother and siblings until she is persuaded by a friend to take up taxi dancing. Soon after she starts working there, the floor matron is murdered, and Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene to investigate. Drawn to her apparent innocence and beauty, he persuades her to go undercover for him in a burlesque house to search for the killer.

Elizabeth: What drew you to this time and place?

Michelle: I’ve always loved the war years, and originally I wanted to set the story in the 1940’s, but the real woman that the fictional Henrietta is based on had a job at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, and I really wanted to use that detail, so I set the story a decade earlier. As for the place, I love Chicago. I’ve been here since 1986 when I came for college and have never looked back. It’s a very cool, unique city.

Elizabeth: How much historical fact is woven into your stories?

Michelle: The character of Henrietta is based on a real woman’s story I heard while working in a nursing home. I’ve written an article in which I outlined what parts of the story are real, and oddly, the more outlandish parts are the truth! Obviously, though, her story didn’t really involve a murder nor an aloof, handsome detective! The streets and the neighborhoods are all real, as are some of the places mentioned, such as the Aragon Ballroom and the Green Mill, but other places are made up.

Elizabeth: What does your research process look like?

Michelle: Honestly, a lot of Googling. Unlike a lot of other historical fiction writers, I don’t really get caught up in researching all the details. I’d much rather write the story. Anything that requires a bit of research gets written as “XXXX’s” in the narrative, and then I go back later and fill it in.

Elizabeth: What is your writing process?

Michelle: I have to write first thing in the morning, so as soon as the kids are off to school and my husband to work, which is 6:50 am, I sit down and start writing. No exceptions. I write even on vacations and sometimes even on holidays! When I first started, I would write just an hour a day, then two, then four. Now I set aside seven hours, but a lot of that these days is taken up with promo work.

Elizabeth: In what sort of situation will we next find Henrietta?

Michelle: Great question! Book 2 and 3 of this series are already written. In fact, I’m due to turn in the manuscript for Book 2 (working title, But Was He Honest?) for edits any day now. I don’t want to give anything away, but Book 2 picks up just where Book 1 ends. We find out what happens next in Henrietta and the Inspector’s relationship and what trouble they find themselves in now. Also, the reader has to figure out who the “he” is in the title who wasn’t exactly honest. Is it the Inspector? Or someone else? Or both?

Elizabeth: You are also the author of “How to Get Your Book Published in 7000 Easy Steps–A Practical Guide” which appears on your blog. Can you tell us about that?

Michelle: Thanks for asking about my blog! It’s the thing that gives me the most dread each week to write, but once it’s done, I find it amusing. I hope others do, too. I started it because I wanted to write about the publishing process in a funny way, from the newbie’s perspective. Everyone thinks that getting a book published is the end-all, the pinnacle! But then you find out that your work is just beginning, that you’re not at the pinnacle, you’re just at the base of yet another mountain. There’s something tragically funny there. But I try to throw in some real tips, too.

Elizabeth: What have you read recently that you feel passionate about?

Michelle: To be honest, I haven’t read a ton of contemporary fiction. I’ve spent most of my teens and adult life reading the classic canon, so questions like this always make me nervous. Since I’ve ventured out of my hole, I find Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series and Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series extremely well-done. Excellent writing and very funny. I also think Barbara Stark-Nemon’s Even in Darkness was incredibly well-written, in my humble opinion. I absolutely loved it. It goes beyond entertainment into the realm of serious literary art.

Elizabeth: Can you tell us more about yourself?

Michelle: I’m married to a Brit and have three children, all of whom present their own challenges, especially the Brit. We live in the Chicago suburbs with a very needy dog. I used to love baking, gardening and board games before the book took over my life.

We’ve now reached the time in our interview for the let’s-get-to-know-the-author-better, nearly-pointless, sort-of-silly, rapid-fire questions:

Elizabeth: Coffee or tea?

Michelle: Coffee

Elizabeth: Ocean or mountain?

Michelle: Mountain

Elizabeth: Hiking or shopping?

Michelle: Hiking

Elizabeth: Violin or piano?

Michelle: Piano

Elizabeth: Mystery or fantasy?

Michelle: Mystery

Elizabeth: Darcy or Heathcliff?

Michelle: DARCY!

Elizabeth: Love scene or death scene?

Michelle: Love scene!

To learn more about Michelle, her mystery series, and her tips for newbie writers, visit her blog at http://michellecoxauthor.com

You can also friend her on Facebook, https://wwwfacebook.com/michellecoxwrites

Follow her on twitter: @michellecox33

And buy her books on amazon: http://amzn.to/1RELGYi

Thanks to Michelle for joining us today.