Wednesday, December 3, 2008

With many thanks to Sue Ferdon, my new website is up and running and productive.  Through PayPal, I just sent off a copy of  my book, "Nile, Nile, Crocodile" to a public library that requested a copy.  What an easy way to do transactions!

Please visit Sue's blog at Ferdonmusic.blogspot.com
She has so many great ideas and is a font of information and help for us 'technically challenged" individuals.  With Sue's help I have been much more confident in maintaining the website by myself.  Of course, I'm sure I will have questions for her in the future...
I know she will be willing to develop websites and blogs for anyone who is interested.

GREAT NEWS:
Yesterday I was contacted by a publisher who is interested in my next project. They actually were very impressed with "Nile" and complimented the look of my website. (Thank you, Sue).

 I am so very excited about this.  I am on cloud nine!  Imagine how excited I will be if they actually commit to publishing me!!
We will be working on recording the music this week as well as the rough draft of the text.   I am feeling energized and am trying to keep my ideas organized.  It's a little more difficult to stay focused at this time of the year... 
 SO, back to work!  :-)  

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Nile, Nile, Crocodile" to be at Crocodile Pie Bookstore

I will be presenting "Nile, Nile, Crocodile"at Crocodile Pie Bookstore (how appropriate) :-) in Libertyville, Illinois on Thursday, December 18th at 10:30a.m.

We will learn a bit about the Nile crocodile and the Nile River, hear the song and story, and then do a 'crocodile' craft.

If you are not able to attend that day, it would be really worthwhile to come another time. The bookstore is adorable and filled with all kinds of kid friendly 'goodies.'

http://www.crocodilepie.com

Monday, November 17, 2008

SCBWI Conference

The Prairie Writer's Conference was held November 15th at Dominican University in Chicago.  It is part of the SCBWI (aka) Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
  
The day included presentations by several Editors and Agents and included topics such as "The State of the Industry," character and plot development and revision.
 There were reps from some well-known  publishing houses, such as Greenwillow Books (an imprint of HarperCollins), Wendy Lamb Books (an imprint of Random House Children's Books), and Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic.  
 Jennifer Rofe, from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency gave insight as to what a literary agent does and what they expect from a writer.  I especially enjoyed Harold Underdown's view of  the children's book industry...the pessimistic and optimistic thoughts.  It seems that everyone and their dog has a book they want published and there are too few 'slots' in the publishing houses.  On the 'happy place' side, traditionally, when the economy is bad, children's books still can hold their own!  Harold Underdown is a freelance editorial consultant and is the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide of Children's Book Publishing."

I was, however, frustrated that there was virtually nothing for educational writers and very little for writers of non-fiction.  Although, I'm not sure what categories my "Singing Books that Teach" fits into...Educational, Music, History, Social Studies, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction, or all of the above!?  I guess what I'm trying to put out there is for a very specialized market and I need to do more searching to find my niche.

Anyway...

The SCBWI people are very friendly and encouraging and provided a wonderful conference for the almost 200 people who attended.

Even though, my projects didn't quite fit into the 'curriculum' of the day, I made some valuable contacts and met some very nice folks.  So, I strongly urge any of you who are a writing "newbie" to join this group and attend their programs.  It really is worthwhile...if for nothing else, to keep those creative juices flowing!

Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31, 2008

I am excited to report the first meeting of ACT, the Alliance for Creative Thinking.  The meeting took place last week with two Elementary Principals and me.  They are as excited as I am.  We will meet in the next few weeks to discuss forming our Board.  We are looking for interested people who share our vision of providing opportunities for children to discover their creative and innovative thinking skills.  The subject areas are very broad and can include not only the "Arts", but also, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Math.

We will be looking for people to help present 'lessons' in these areas.  If you have suggestions, ideas, or comments please let us know.

If you are interested in participating, please contact me.  My E-mail address is:  MGFurlong@comcast.net

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On Monday, October 6th, I had the opportunity to meet and 'shadow' Heather Terrill Stotts.  Heather is the Creative Facilitator for River Valley High School in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  The main focus of the day was filmmaker, Wendy Schneider, and her documentary about teen self injury called, "Cut".  The film was shown in separate viewings to all 9th grade boys and girls.  After seeing the film, the kids wrote anonymous questions for Wendy.  Along with answering the questions of the kids, Wendy discussed the making of the film.  The staff of the high school had the opportunity to view the film before hand.  There was, also, a viewing for any interested parents that evening.  I think EVERY high school and even middle school should consider offering this amazing documentary to their students, staff, and parents.  It is eye-opening!  For more information, visit Cutthemovie.com.
Along with Heather, I met with the committee who started this innovative program.  The group, called Council For Creativity, or C4C, is comprised of community leaders, business people, and educators.  The funding is all through corporate and private donations and grants.  This is only the second year and already they have done amazing things...photography club, art club, integrated writing projects, field trips to corporations that use creative and innovative thinking techniques, and presentations by several area authors and speakers.  These are just some of the examples of what has been brought to the children (and teachers).
I am hoping to do something similar here with schools that might not have the resources to promote this worthwhile opportunity .   I will be meeting at the end of the month with two school principals to see if I can get them 'on board'.  From there, we will be looking for folks who are interested in helping bring this plan to fruition.  In the meantime, I will be very open to any ideas or suggestions you may have to help get this idea off the ground.

One more thing,  if you have never been to Taliesen, Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, it is SO worth the trip.  The town of Spring Green is really cute...lots of nice shops and quaint restaurants.  I will definitely have to go back for some shopping!  :-)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Listen to "Nile"

Click the "play" button below for a sneak peek!


video

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Teacher's Corner

Share a post- Let me know what the kids say about this beloved creature.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Children's Music Network

Last weekend I attended the Children's Music Network conference.  It was my first time attending so wasn't sure what to expect.  I must say, I was pleasantly surprised!  It was very well organized and attended...people from all over the U.S., and the workshops I attended were very informative and worthwhile.
The first workshop I chose was with Debbie Block.  She is the wife of Children's Musician and keynote speaker, Bill Harley, and gave insight and tips for booking gigs in schools, libraries, and other venues.
The next workshop I chose to attend was with Children's Musician, Stuart Stotts.  He is an amazing guy.  He is very knowledgeable about  integrating the arts into the classroom, state standards, etc.  If anyone is looking for a workshop for their school district, this is the guy.  He lives near Madison, Wisconsin and his website is Stuartstotts.com.  I purchased two of his kid's CDs and they are great!
Stuart's wife, Heather, is the Creative Arts Facilitator for a school district in SW Wisconsin.  She is graciously allowing me to 'shadow' her next month as she goes about her day being the creative wizard that she is!  I can't wait!  I will, of course, post my experiences here after our meeting.
Lastly, Bill Harley was the keynote speaker.  I have known Bill's music for years. (I still have some of his ALBUMS).  If he weren't a musician, he could very easily be a stand up comedian and/or have his own sitcom!  Yes, he is that good.  If you don't have any of his CDs in your collection, you need to remedy that.  I don't know Bill's website, but I'm sure if you google him you will find his info.
Perhaps one of the most fun things for me that day was when I was walking in I literally bumped into my friend, Diana Laffey.  I've haven't seen this wonderful gal and fabulous musician/singer in seven years...almost since we recorded a CD together with Kathy O'Hara.  The CD is called "Old Shoes" and I have to admit (with a bit of prejudice) that there are some very nice things on the recording, some songs are funny, some are pretty, powerhouse trios and mostly original material.
Come to think of it, I will put a few cuts on my website...
The next CMN conference will be in November 2009 in North Carolina.  I am hoping to be there!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This has nothing to do with books or crocodiles, BUT did you see the Cubs' Zambrano in his 'no-hitter' game???  Then the next day, Ted Lilly came oh, so close to doing the same!!! Wow!  I think the Cubbies have gotten 'back in the saddle'!

Go Cubs Go!

MGF

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good Morning!

It's not even 9:30 a.m. and I've already mailed four "Nile" books.  Yes, it is a good morning!)  :-)
Has anyone heard of "The Children's Music Network"?  I have been hearing really good things about this group and decided to join.  They are hosting a convention at Illinois State Beach Park in Zion, Illinois.  I believe the dates are September 19 & 20.  I plan to attend...

Another wonderful resource for Arts Education is the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education or I.A.A.E.  I had the amazing opportunity to present a workshop for this group last month and was very impressed with their dedication and organization.  I will describe my workshop at another posting.  Many of the members and attendees are in the visual and theatrical areas.  They could really use more 'music' people. (hint, hint, to all of you music folk). 

I am off to help decorate for an outdoor wedding.  Hope the rain holds off...
That's all for now,
Mary GF

Monday, August 18, 2008

My favorite Croc!

No..it's not my handbag, my shoes or my belt, it is this delightful book about a crocodile. No doubt it will become one of your favorites too! How cool, it comes with the most beautiful illustrations and engaging CD. Your little one will ask to read and play this story over and over again. Mary knows what it takes to lure you into her pond of fun. Her many years of teaching, writing, singing and laughing have captivated audiences of all ages. Parents, teachers and children will smile with Nile Nile Crocodile. I can see why this author is a favorite. Love it!
by Marigale (parent)