The Treasure of Books

I just relied to a post from another writer who truly encompassed the pleasure of books. Check it out!

https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/70145627/519

It’s true how much nicer they are than movies and videos. Reading requires creativity, imagination, and effort! Something lacking for many kids in today’s high-tech, immediate gratification world. We are surrounded by so much information, noise, and too many distractions.  It’s a wonder we’ve come so far!

 

I Hate Video Games!

 

Some kids think I’m fairly odd

And wonder if I’m insane,

Just for the simple fact that I…

Hate playing video games!

 

So what if I don’t waste my hours

Sitting the whole day through

Staring at some stupid screen

Letting my brains all turn to goo!

 

Instead I choose to engage my mind

And my boundless creativity,

Involved in things that require thought

Instead of numbing inactivity.

 

I play pretend, a game of ball,

Or take a book down from a shelf.

I don’t need a mindless electronic box,

To entertain myself!

 

I am much more satisfied to go outside

To laugh and play with my friends.

And unlike video games, WE get to choose

When each game begins and ends!

 

I am completely free to express and dream

And let loose my imagination.

(A mind shuts off, creativity dies

With Nintendo and Play Station!)

 

Wait! I know what you’re thinking…!

 

A kid who hates to play video games

Seems to most like a contradiction.

Yes, I may be different, but I am content,

For my imagination has no restriction.

There are wiser ways to spend my time

Than with some silly, electronic addiction!

 

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What if…?

I often like the  “What if…?” scenario. It allows for a lot of creativity and open-endedness. Instead of sticking to a familiar formula it allows imagination to flow freely without restrictions. (That’s probably why I enjoyed the recent movie, PAN so much!) That coupled with being a second grade teacher has opened up a lot of neat scenarios! What if…?

 

When Lunchboxes Attack!

 

As I sat down at noon today

For my usual midday snack,

I had no reason to believe

That a lunchbox could attack!

Things started out quite normally

Until I reached in for my pear,

That’s when my lunchbox growled at me

With a threatening, “I dare!”

My heart was pounding wildly

and I gazed in utter awe.

Still I reached in once again

for my thermos and my straw.

My lunchbox snapped ferociously,

yet I didn‘t bat an eye.

It snarled and challenged, “Try again

for your ham and cheese on rye!”

So I swiftly snatched my sandwich,

 My apple pie and chips.

The lunchbox became furious

and nipped my fingertips!

Then it lunged most viciously,

bit my thumb and then my pinkie.

I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead

and let it keep the stupid Twinkie!

 

 

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Aspirations

No matter what our talents or interests we all have aspirations. As times change and we grow, our aspirations grow and change as well. Several years ago my aspiration was just to be able to find my niche in the writing world. That happened when I found my place writing humorous poetry for children. After that, I aspired to have some of my work published. With thanks to Outskirts Press that has also happened. I’ve also produced a local stage show which showcased several of my poems to music, been a keynote speaker for an event for the Rochester Area Literacy Council (RALC) and have spoken in a couple of schools. I’ve done more with my writing than I ever thought I would and yet I have only scratched the surface.

With retirement looming on the horizon I’m looking to do more with my work. My goal is to do more author visits to schools and libraries as well as produce another show. (But I’ll be in charge this time. The last time was a bit of a fiasco!)  I’ve already had someone score a few of my poems. Now it’s just a matter of putting it together!

Imagine the poem below sung to the tune of Goober Peas!

 

Surrender the Sweets!

(Sung to the tune of, “Goober Peas.”)

 

I’m a thieving sea dog,

the meanest ever born,

and so you must surrender

your stash of candy corn!

 

I’ll also snatch your Cracker Jack,

and popcorn balls as well,

take away each taffy

and creamy caramel.

 

Sweets, sweets, sweets, sweets,

surrender all your sweets.

You’ll sleep with the fishes

if you don’t give me sweets!

 

I’ll confiscate each crunch bar

and force you to give up

licorice and lollipops

and peanut butter cups.

 

I’ll make off with your Milk Duds,

and bubble gum cigars,

at last I’ll hijack happ’ly

your hoard of Hershey bars.

 

Sweets, sweets, sweets, sweets,

surrender all your sweets.

You’ll sleep with the fishes

if you don’t give me sweets!

 

 

You can keep the apples

and all that healthy junk.

But hand me all the candy

before your house is sunk.

 

It’s sinful and it’s shameful

but I’m a vicious brute.

Tonight’s a night for pirates

so give me all yer loot!

 

Sweets, sweets, sweets, sweets,

surrender all your sweets.

You’ll sleep with the fishes

if you don’t give me sweets!

 

 

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How Much is Too Much?

I love the process of writing my children’s poems. I find myself continually going back and revising, like trying out new phrases and words. Playing around helps me grow and stretch as a writer and allows me to see things in a variety of ways. However, I sometimes wonder how much revising is too much.  I often find myself changing things thinking they sound better but then going back later and changing them back.  Sometimes I’m not sure which way sounds better.  I guess it’s often a matter of taste, but I sometimes want to bounce ideas of others and get their opinions.  Sometimes their preference doesn’t match mine and sometimes it does. I usually trust myself and go with my gut feeling.

I’d welcome other points of view on this topic.

 

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Myth, or Near Myth?

Since my students and I have been studying ancient Greek culture and mythology it has become a source of inspiration. With my own special twist, of course!

 

Cerberus

A pet would be an awful fuss

if you owned a dog like Cerberus.

Your mom might scream and fall down dead

if she saw a dog which had 3 heads!

When it hungered or had a thirst

which of its heads would you serve first?

And when the beast was given lunch

would it eat three times as much?

When time came for you to scoop,

would there be three times the poop?

Consider this and use your head…

settle for a cat instead!

 

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So Many Themes!

Inspiration for my children’s poems is all around me! As mentioned in a previous post, I find inspiration from many sources. My inspirations have also led to a variety of themes I return to over and over again.  For example, most everyone’s favorite…FOOD!  I’ve also done many monster themed poems as well.  Lately my infatuation has been with writing poems with an ancient Greek theme. (We’ve been studying it in my second grade class. But one of my favorite theme? Pirates!

Here’s my buddy, Owen, performing one of my poems.

 

For more videos please visit my youtube page! Click here!

 

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The Creative Process

For me, there’s nothing quite like being a writer, especially when there’s an idea formulating in my head and it starts taking shape on the computer screen in front of me. I’m sure that’s true of anyone involved in any type of a creative process-taking what exists in an ‘nebulous’ realm and bringing into physical reality. From there the idea is nurtured and I watch as it grows and develops into something of which I can be proud. I’m avoiding comparing it to having a child since I know many women out there would be out there telling me I really have no clue!  (And besides that, with a piece of writing we can always choose delete or send to recycling bin to get rid of anything we don’t like!)
It has taken me years to get to this point. I’ve dabbled in other forms of writing but feel ‘at home’ and comfortable in my niche of writing poetry for children. It fits my preferred audience as well as my sense of humor!
If anyone of my readers has a brief story of how they got their start I’d enjoy hearing about it!

 

Surrender the Sweets!

I’m a thieving sea dog, the meanest ever born,

and so you must surrender your stash of candy corn!

I’ll also snatch your Cracker Jack, the popcorn balls as well,

take away each taffy and creamy caramel.

 

I’ll confiscate each crunch bar and force you to give up

your licorice, your lollipops and peanut butter cups.

I’ll make off with your Milk Duds and bubble gum cigars,

at last I’ll hijack happ’ly your hoard of Hershey bars.

 

You can keep the apples and all that healthy junk.

But hand me all the candy before your house is sunk.

It’s selfish and it’s shameful but I’m a vicious brute.

 Tonight’s a night for pirates, so give me all yer loot!

 

luke1_edited-2

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http://wschoffpoetry.weebly.com/

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Inspiration!

Inspiration to me as a writer has come from many sources. First and foremost have been other authors. My favorites are Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein, although there are several others worthy of mention like Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenn Nesbitt and Bruce Lansky. I’ve been reading their poems for years to my classes and have always loved their way with humor and words. I’ve always had a similar sense of humor and have always had a way with puns. It has fit quite neatly in with my writing style.

   A second source of inspiration has been my students and other children with whom I have worked. Every once in a while a child will say or do something that resonates and I think, “That would make a great poem!”  When visiting a 4th grade class a few years ago one of the students came up to me and told me about story characters he created called ‘Schnums’. He described them in detail and showed me pictures he had drawn. He then asked if I would create a poem about his characters. I took his suggestion and let it ‘simmer’ for a while in my imagination. After a couple of months I wrote a story poem called ‘The Schnums’.  It appears in my third book, If Life Were a Hollywood Movie. I even had the boy, Liam, provide the illustrations for it.

Here’s the first  stanza.

 

The Schnums

Bounding through the treetops

on their tiny little bums,

Live little sphere-shaped  creatures

no bigger than your thumb.

They have funny bulbous noses,

and are as yellow as the sun,

Their yodels echo through the woods,

these creatures called the Schnums!

 

 

 

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In the beginning…

I’ve not been writing for a long time. However, I have aspired to write for years. I’ve dabbled in short stories and plays but never really found my niche. That is until one day about 5 years ago when I was driving to work. My class of second graders was to begin a unit on writing poetry and I thought I should really have an example of something I’ve done. So on the way to work I crafted a short poem about Bigfoot. The kids really liked it and I realized how much I enjoyed creating it.
Here is the original.
BIGFOOT!
Have you ever heard of Bigfoot
who roams the forests green?
Who darts between shadows and trees
seldom to be seen?
Have you heard of this amazing creature
Of whom mountain people tell?
Who’s hairy and over 8 feet tall
and has a horrid smell?
 I tell you if I saw this beast
 the experience would not be fun.
  I’d scream and cry and yell, “MOMMY!”
  and the other way I’d run!
                                                               William Schoff

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(The newer version appears in my book, Something Strange.)
Yeah, okay. Only so-so. But after that I continued writing more. After a few months and sharing some with my teaching colleagues I was encouraged to try and get some of them published. Not always being that confident I hesitated and procrastinated until finally I decided to go one better and self publish.  That culminated in my first book, I’m Not Feeling Like Myself Today.  I’m very glad I overcame my self doubt. It gave me the self-confidence and the encouragement to continue and publish 3 additional books, about one per year.

 

 

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http://wschoffpoetry.weebly.com/

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