Monday, April 27, 2015

That Way-Out Wacky World of Book Signings contributed by Diversion Press author Sean McHugh


by Diversion Press author, Sean McHugh

Every aspiring author dreams of the day he's sitting at a table in a nice high-end bookstore surrounded by stacks of his freshly-published work while eager fans wait eagerly for his autograph. 

I'm grateful to say that this dream has come true several times for my co-author and myself since the publication of our first book, “Broomsticks.”  However, it's the quirkier side of book signings we remember the most...especially when we need a good laugh. So, I have conjured up a list of 5 things newer authors can look forward to as their first signing approaches.

1.                  EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED:

Most bookstores book children's book signings on the weekend during the day when younger shoppers are more likely to be around, but scheduling is up to the bookstore, not the author. We were booked at one very nice store on a Tuesday night during the school year just two hours before the store was to close. Not only were there no children there, but there were no customers!  I'm exaggerating. We did count four adult customers during the two hours. Still, Katie gave her reading as if there were a packed house and we sat smiling at our table for the duration. The store also very kindly provided us with free coffee!

2.                  WEATHER PERMITTING:

Whether your signing is outdoor or indoor, weather is a major factor. Katie and I once had an outdoor signing on a bitterly cold and windy day. It was so windy, our entire display, books and all went flying higher than the magical characters in our stories. On the flipside, I had a signing on a hideously hot day in July in a church parking lot with no coverage from the sun.

3.                  KIDS ASK THE DARNDEST THINGS:

Kids are great! I especially love doing school visits!  Always try to book your school visits on a Friday during the last hour of the school day!  The kids love you for it. They're in good moods because they know they're almost out for the weekend and they know they won't be quizzed on your book.  Teachers are great too!  They are so organized and usually have the money for the book sales collected before you even arrive!  But be prepared for some really wild questions.  I don't mean the usual questions about the characters in your book.  I mean questions like , “Can you imitate a goat?” and “How much do you weigh?”

4.                  PURCHASE FIRE INSURANCE:

One venue actually accused us of starting a fire.  We didn't.


We were booked at a reading event that had several other storytellers. One person cancelled so they told Katie(They didn't ask her. They told her) that she'd be in another room reading some other book to a group of toddlers while I read our “Broomsticks” to the older kids on the other side of the building.  Needless to say, we weren't too thrilled about this but being the trooper that she is, Katie obliged. That is until she realized the book they gave her to read was about a dinosaur that ate witches! Needless to say, this was not an appropriate story for the author of a book about witches.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, they set me up to do my reading next to an automated Halloween display with extremely loud sound effects...clapping thunder, cackling, and moaning winds. That's a tough act to follow, especially if you don't have a microphone. 

As I said, expect the unexpected, but please don't let these few events turn you off of book signings. For the most part, book signings run smoothly and are very rewarding financially and personally.   We've had kids come up to us dressed like the characters in our books. One library actually had a Broomsticks day with Broomsticks cookies and Broomsticks coloring pages! It's such a rewarding feeling to meet people who have been touched by your stories and your characters. It truly is a dream come true!  The setting never mattered.  We've had signings everywhere from church festivals to yogurt places. Whether we were at our favorite bookstore where they rolled out the red carpet for us treating us like L.Frank Baum and J.K. Rowling or  having a signing at a garage sale. There's one thing that all these places had in common.  They all were delighted to have us and invited us to come back when our next book comes out.  (Yes, even the place that accused us of causing a fire). 

And you know what? 

We will. We will come back!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Poetry by Pamela Laskin


of lonely beach,
I walk with the sky

Not certain
but the turn
and piping plovers
hundreds of them
still as stone
gaze at the awakening day.
What are they waiting for?

just  to greet the sun
listen to the waves
smell the sunrise,

as if
this is all
that really matters.

Pamela L. Laskin is a lecturer in the English Department, where she directs the Poetry Outreach Center. Poetry collections include: REMEMBERING FIREFLIES and SECRETS OF SHEETS (Plain View Press); THE BONSAI CURATOR and VAN GOGH’S EAR; (Cervena Barva Press), DARING DAUGHTERS/DEFIANT DREAMS (A Gathering of Tribes) and THE PLAGIARIST (Dos Madres Press). Several children’s books have been published, too, VISITATION RITES (Diversion Press) and HOMER THE LITTLE STRAY CAT (Red Balloon Press)  the most recent.

Visitation Rites

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Announcing the CCNY Poetry Festival

43rd Annual CCNY Poetry Festival Scheduled for May 8th

                            Featuring Tracy K. Smith

Pulitzer-Prize winning poet winning author Tracy K. Smith will be the featured guest poet for the 43rd annual City College Poetry Festival. The all-day, all-verse event runs 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, May 8th, and this year-for the first time-will be housed in the NAC building, The Aronow Theater, on the first floor. Dubbed “the Woodstock of the Spoken Word,” the festival has become New York’s longest-running poetry celebration.

"The City College Poetry Festival is the democratic voice of poetry in New York City public schools,” said Pamela Laskin, a lecturer in the City College English department and director of the CCNY Poetry Outreach Center, which produces the festival. “Its assumption is there are many poets, and they all have terrific stories to tell. This would make Walt Whitman proud."

Upwards of 150 students from as many as 50 schools are expected to recite their poems at this year’s festival. The festival is “something the children always look forward to,” said Norma Dunkley, a teacher at P.S. 368 in Brooklyn, who has been attending the festival for over 10 years.  “It’s a blessing, something that is real to them, and it’s an entire year of poetry for the children, leading up to this celebration.  The teachers and the administrators love it, too.”

Some of the children who participated in the festival’s early years are now teachers who bring their classes. “In 1975, I introduced a third grade student to the audience of 400 cheering students, teachers, friends and family: In 1996, this same individual returned to the festival at City and introduced the readers from her fourth grade class,” recalls Barry Wallenstein, CCNY professor emeritus and former festival director.

“Over the past four decades, this event has become a place of reunion and affirmation for City College alumni, returning teachers, student-poets and friends of the College. I hope it and the important activities of the Poetry Outreach Center continue long beyond 2012.”

In addition to the readings by students, each year the festival invites one or more prominent poet to read his or her work. Among those to have appeared are: Paul Simon, Allen Ginsberg, Gwendolyn Brooks, Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine, Billy Collins, Major Jackson, Kimiko Hahn, Cornelius Eady, Patricia Smith, Richard Tillinghast, Tom Sleigh and most recently, Elana Bell and Aracelis Girmay. 

The event commences with readings by elementary school students, followed by poets from junior high schools. Beginning around 12 noon, the winners of the festival's citywide high school poetry contest will recite their poems, with the top three winners receiving the Knopf Publishers Prize, which awards cash prizes.

Reading by Tracy K. Smith will follow. The festival concludes with college students, alumni, faculty and published poets from around the country reading their works between 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to the Knopf Publishers Prize, the festival presents a special award for the best poem in a language other than English.  Reflecting the diversity of New York City and of CCNY, poems have been submitted to the festival in almost 20 different languages over its history.

About the Poet

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, and was selected as a NYT Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an ESSENCE Literary Award. The Body’s Question was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a whiting Award in 2005. In 2015, her memoir Ordinary Light will be released by Knopf.

Festival Sponsors
         Axe-Houghton Foundation;
         Knopf Publishers;
         Peter Russell;
         Poetry Society of America;
         Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation;
         Poets & Writers, Inc.;
         David and Harianne Wallenstein;
         Weissman Family Foundation;
         Office of CCNY President Lisa S. Coico;
         Dean Eric Weitz and the Division of the Humanities and the Arts;
         Provost Maurizio Trevisan;
         Grove School of Engineering, Gilda Barabino, dean;
         CCNY School of Education: Andrew Ratner, Shira Epstein and Elizabeth Rorschach;
         CCNY English Department, Renata Miller, chair;
         CCNY Office of Government and Community Affairs, Karen Witherspoon, vice president;
         City College Fund, Elena Sturman, executive director;
         Alumni Association of The City College of New York, Don Jordan, executive vice president.

*South Wind Foundation, newest donor
*The Mad Rose Foundation: upcoming donor, 2015
*Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc., upcoming donor, 2015

For more information about the 43rd CCNY Spring Poetry Festival, please contact Pamela L. Laskin at (212) 650-6356, or visit the Poetry Outreach Center online.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Baby Food at the Lansing Baby Fair

Adrianne Hunter presented her book An Easy Guide to Making Baby Food at the Lansing Baby Fair this weekend.

If you missed her it is still not too late to pick up a copy of her book An Easy Guide to Making Baby Food:  From One Mom to the Next

Click on the title for the link

and be sure to keep up with Adrianne at her blog

Third Poetry Anthology Accepting Submissions

Diversion Press is now accepting poetry

Diversion Press Call for Poetry

Diversion Press is gathering poems for the third poetry anthology.  

This is a general audience poetry book and we hope that the poems have a wide readership.  We are accepting poems from young poets, older poets, amateur poets, and professional poets.  Please keep your poems geared for this audience.   We prefer shorter poems (that fit on one page), although we may publish longer poems.  We will NOT publish poetry that seems offensive (overly violent, sexual, or anything that puts children in a bad light).

For examples of the types of poems that we publish, please see our other two anthologies:  Meanderings:  A Collection of Poetic Verse and People Poetry.

Submission Format: Poems must be emailed with Poetry Anthology in the subject line.  A cover letter should be in the body of the email and the poems can be pasted or attached in a Word document.  Poems should be typed exactly as you would like them to appear.  

Guidelines:  We would like a three sentence biography of each poet.  You can send up to five poems at one time.  Poems must be original, owned by the poet, and not previously published.  We will notify you of acceptance or rejection by email.  A release form must accompany all poems accepted.  

Rights:  We retain only the rights to publish the poems in this anthology and any version of this anthology (ebook, paperback, hardcover, and potentially on our website) or used to publicize this work.  We do not retain the rights to publish your poetry in any other named anthology or work without a second release from you.  Poets are free to publish their poems in any other work after they are published in this work.

Please note that attachments will not be opened if the body of the email does not address the attachments.  You will be notified of acceptance or rejection in three to four weeks after submitting.  

You do not have to purchase a copy of the work to be included in this work. Poets will be accepted and the work will be finalized prior to copies being available for sale.  Contributors will not receive a free copy of the work nor any financial compensation, however, all published poets will have an opportunity to purchase the finished work at a reduced price.

*We are reading poems now and hope to have the book completed very soon so if you plan to submit poems you should send them soon.  We plan to close submissions in the next couple of weeks.  If you have previously had a poem accepted you will receive an update on publication soon. If you have any questions please email us.  
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

April is National Poetry Month

Join us in celebrating National Poetry Month!

Diversion Press has two poetry anthologies and a third in production.

People Poetry

By People, For People, and Sometimes About People

From Diversion Press

Click the cover for the link


A Collection of Poetic Verse

From Diversion Press

Click on the title for the link

For More on National Poetry Month see the website:

To order poetry books from Diversion Press or to submit poetry please email us at