Let's reach across international borderlines for a child!

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Let's reach across international borderlines for a child!

There's a lot of talk on social media these days about borders and walls and keeping people out. I'm not interested in talking about, or more like arguing about whether or not we need to secure our borders, I am interested in talking about reaching across borders, finding common ground and loving our fellow man/woman. 

 

There's a lot of "call to action" type of posts. Protest this and that, but simply posting something on a wall to incite conversation ISN'T ENOUGH! What I'd like to see is values and convictions put INTO ACTION. 

 

As someone who was adopted, I have a heart for children in need of homes. Foster care, adoption, loving children in a tangible way. 

 

SO, I am putting out this call to action: A young family whom I love dearly is laying it down and putting their hearts where their home is! Kyle Bowell has traveled to Haiti with me the past three years as our Engineer in charge and he is a fine man, leader of men and has created structures in Haiti that withstand hurricane force storms and more. His heart got caught in Haiti and will likely return there every year (planning a trip for September to bless a missionary making huge changes in Haiti as we speak). 

 

Kyle and his wonderful wife, Andrea Coté Bowell are busy raising three fine young boys and she has a heart of gold and realized her family needed to grow. To adopt. To adopt from Haiti. SO, they are right now in the process of bringing a child, a little girl, who will come into a family of love and three big brothers to show her the ropes. They are in for a LONG journey. They are in for BIG expenses and sacrifice, but at the end of their journey, a CHILD will find her forever home and family. 

 

OFTEN WHEN I AM GETTING READY TO GO TO HAITI, I WILL HAVE FRIENDS SAY, "I'M NOT SOMEONE WHO WOULD GO, BUT I CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAUSE". IN THIS WORLD IN ORDER TO HELP OTHERS IT COSTS SOMETHING. SO, IF SOMEONE SAID, YOU COULD CHANGE ONE CHILD'S LIFE FOREVER FOR $10 WOULD YOU GIVE IT UP? OF COURSE YOU WOULD. 

Please search your heart and bless this family with any gift. You will be contributing toward something eternal. I have almost 800 friends on my Facebook page. IF 1/2 responded with a $10 gift it would be $4000 toward a child's journey to find love. Please consider it.

Go to their GOFUNDME website and please consider being a part of a wonderful story!

https://www.gofundme.com/haibay

We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone. R.R.

 

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My Garden Visits is out again!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU!

For the past fifteen years I have become known as a children's book author. Few know that my career actually began with three books published for adults; My Garden Visits, A Harvest of Reflections and Independence Days - Still just boys. I am again writing for a mature audience and will look forward to releasing several novels, short story compilations and other works within the year.

For now, this blog we are going back to where it all started.

My Garden Visits (a book for grownups was published by Random House in 1996) is now available again from amazon on either a Kindle or in paperback. It all happened when this book was picked up. I wrote My Garden Visits as a testimony to the amazing power love and motherhood can have on this planet. I wrapped it all in a garden metaphor and soon it would be a book club favorite and I would tour coast to coast back in the days when authors were treated to celebrity limos, first class airfare and even a penthouse in NYC where I was the only person on the floor who wasn't with the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls!

I am excited to see the book rereleased as my goal in 2017 is to finish two books for adults, including the crazy story of how My Garden Visits set me on the path to meet my biological mother and father and to write a new book about the crazy 7 degrees of separation there was between us.

You can read My Garden Visits on a tablet by hitting the photo below. 

My Garden Visits is available at amazon for the Kindle App and also a paperback edition. I am not familiar with the quality of the amazon paperbacks, but I hope it is great! If you would like to get a copy please use this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1520310870

I'd love to hear what you think.

If you are interested in reading My Garden Visits as a book club, I'd love to Skype with your club and even come to hear the discussion if time and travel permits it.

My Garden Visits
By Justin Matott

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WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING WITH OUR TIME?

A dude at the gym today asked me to explain what is on the horizon for a guy who makes up stories for a living. "Do you just wake up in the morning and think... What should I make up today?" I just laughed and thought, "well, yeah, kind of..." He then spent about ten minutes telling me all the things he doesn't like about his job and his boss. Then I thought about how fortunate I am to do what I love for a living! 

So many people I meet do not enjoy what they do for a living. Many feel trapped because it is the means to an end, rather than an end in itself. 

I have been in that position before myself, for WAY too long...

The first jobs I remember liking were both volunteer jobs I did when I was in Middle School. I worked at the Humane Society, where I got to feed, walk and play with puppies, kittens, the occasional snake and ferret awaiting their permanent homes. The other job I did as a volunteer was at a local retirement community where I fed, walked up and down hallways pretending to be out on ranches, prairies and other farm oriented memories and played cards with lonely people, most of whom had lost memory and had returned to their childhoods in many ways. I went home feeling like I had made a difference in the lives of people who just wanted to be remembered or talked to. What I learned doing both of those jobs was that when you do something to make a difference in other people's lives, it makes a difference in your own.

Later, to make money, I sold newspapers door to door. I have had my own handyman business, with a high school buddy and then tried it again with my future brother-in-law (I wasn't too handy it turned out). I spent time selling health club memberships in a small mall (talk about a job that seems to annoy everyone you come in contact with). I have sold clothing in numerous stores where the greatest benefit was a good discount on clothing. I have waited on tables, actually all four years I was in college. I have been a busboy. I have been a dishwasher. I have worked for people who were ultra demanding and couldn't understand why I wasn't totally sold out and passionate about what they found to be exhilarating work (dishwashing?). 

After college, I sold Computerized Shipping Systems, Computer Output Microfiche and Telecommunications. While managing Major Accounts for a Fortune 500 Telecommunications company I found myself always telling story after story and being told by my clients that I should do something with my stories and by my client services people to abbreviate my stories and get to the point of the meetings we were attending. All the while I was spending every evening from 8-11 writing in my little den at home and forming several novels until finally I came upon a book that needed my voice to tell the story.

WE ALL HAVE GIFTS! It is important to find how we can merge the passion for our gifting with the ability to make a living doing so if we truly want to find fulfilling work. 

My first true career was in Corporate sales and management, where I used my Business Major with emphasis in Marketing and Management. But what I hadn't used much to that point was my "PhD in English literature" which I acquired merely by the fact that I was raised by two English professors.

As I wrote by lamplight, I wrote with the intention to change my life. To do what I had more passion to do. To tell stories - FOR A LIVING!

On January 1st 1995 I wrote a journal entry that said: In one year, I will have written a book that will change my life. I will find a publisher who will pay me to write. I will write for a living and I will make a good living! With that declaration, all I had to do was the hard work to make it come true. In 1996 I self-published my first book and within three months of my publishing I was picked up by one of the largest publishers in the world. My words had put into motion what my future would be, that was 21 years ago and I am still fulfilling that simple declaration. It isn't always easy. It isn't the best financial living I could have made (I was good at commissioned sales!) When a fourteen year old boy tells me with a hint of tears in his eyes that I can't be done with the GP series because they are his friends, I realize I am in fact doing what I was put on this earth to do!

This year marks my 20th year since my first book was published by Random House/Ballantine Books and I have been blessed to have made writing my second career! Twenty years is a long time in a person's life. I have been fortunate to have spent the past twenty years making a living telling and writing stories!

I am presently knee-deep writing my first true fantasy novel; a time-travel tale. I have plans for many new adventures on the near horizon! 

This week I am talking to two master creators in two areas my writing has not yet taken me: Screenplays and Comic Books! Crossed fingers! Prayers sent! Ready for new journeys and new adventures! I wrote this in my journal today - "I will have one of my books turned into a movie and the great thing is it will be the first book in my six book series. I will find new ways to express my creativity, which will take me on some amazing creative journeys and perhaps that beach house I have been dreaming about for the past decades will someday be a reality."  

I am also awaiting word from an incredible publisher to see if I might be fortunate enough to join her list of incredible talented authors and illustrators!

I'm thinking 2017/2018 are going to be real gamechangers! I hope my gym buddy will write down some very cool things about how he could use his God-given talents to change his life and those who are influenced by his life as a result! Tomorrow when I wake up and think - What should I make up today? I'll say a quick prayer of thanksgiving that I get to do what I love another day and then I'll go to the gym to entertain my buddies with a story or two...

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How a RED DOG once taught me lessons about life, loss and LOVE?

'I HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THE WONDERFUL DISEASE OF PUPPY LOVE!'

I recently filled out paperwork to submit regarding my worthiness to own a puppy. I told a friend about that and her reaction was interesting; "Why would you have to answer questions if you are the one buying the puppy?" she seemed perplexed.  I answered, "Well, a dog's love is agape, loyal and unquestionable. A human, not always that simple. Someone who is responsible and cares about the well being of a helpless little puppy asks questions..." I answered. "I don't mind telling them about myself and how I am a person fit to raise a pup."

Sometimes we, I tend to wax philosophical when it comes to simple things. Simple things like the love for a dog. Simply, yet so incredibly complex is this kind of love. A dog has true agape, non-judgmental love for her human. This is one of those times for me.

I remember as a boy my mother (who happened to be an English Professor) asked me why I wanted to tell stories so much, so often. I answered in an innocent way that if I could tell stories like Wilson Rawls that would make people feel like they were there, in it, a part of the story, not just reading it, even though it was a made up story, that I would really like that.

Every time I finish writing a book, I ask myself a simple question - Will this story transport my reader to the place I want him or her to go like Wilson Rawls did for me? IF not, I rewrite the parts that don't transport.

Now, the philosophical wax... This morning a friend of mine at the gym asked me (after I showed him the picture of my soon-to-be-puppy for probably the hundredth time), "Why do you want a red dog, so bad?" I realized at that point that I always refer to my dream dog, as a RED DOG. I told him, "I always have... since I was a little boy." He gave me that, "Oh, well that's just a little weird look", which frankly this NERD has gotten used to seeing over the years.

Driving home from the gym his question echoed in my mind and I began to travel back in time. A time when I was a boy with a dog I named Frisky. A red dog I loved dearly. I thought of the time he was lying in the shade beneath my spot as I was lying on my stomach in my treehouse reading Where The Red Fern Grows for the second time in a row. My heart ached when he got the hounds and my heart broke when he lost them. But he said it was all worth it. Love is always worth it, right?

I wouldn't understand that kind of heartbreak truly for a few years, when on New Years' Eve my beloved Red Beagle/Husky mix, Frisky, my absolute favorite being on earth, disappeared without a trace into the snowy night and I never saw him again. My heart broke. I wandered the fields surrounding my country neighborhood for months, searching for him, asking people in the adjoining neighborhoods if they had seen him. Begging my dad daily to take me out along the railroad tracks just one more time in his VW Van to look for him, "Just in case somehow he was simply lost and couldn't find his way home". I prayed that my red dog would come home, but he never did. My heart was so full of love for that old dog that I just couldn't imagine how I would go on without him. The innocence of a boy who simply loved with all he had and yet, that made it all even harder. I remember for months my other dog would sit at the front door looking out, as though she expected him to come home any moment. I would lie on the ground and hold her and tell her how much I missed him too. I loved her too, but my red dog was my first love. He was my first dog. 

But how crazy are we that we still fall in love, knowing at some point all things must end.

Because LOVE is WORTH IT!

I still think about Frisky, to this day with many, many fond memories, but often with a giant lump in my throat. Yes, loving him was worth it! Losing him was hard, but HE was still worth it. 

LOVE IS!

And now I am a two months from bringing my new RED DOG into our lives. I know she will teach me much. I will love her much and someday we will say goodbye. But Love will be worth it, it always is. I learned that from another red dog.

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IF you have to name call, then calling me a NERD is actually the COOLEST thing to call me!

I have a new book on the way - I THINK MY DOG MIGHT BE A NERD.

I wrote this book because one large part of bullying is name-calling. BUT, if the name you are called is seen as COOL then who has the POWER? The NERD has the power. The BULLY loses his or her power. There are many examples of NERDS in our society that prove this point that NERDINESS is COOLINESS, but my recent FAVORITE NERD is VON MILLER, #58! 

I am a DENVER BRONCOS NERD, meaning I have an exaggerated interest and love for the Broncos - thus I am NERDY about it! My absolute favorite DUDE on the DENVER DEFENSE is this year's SUPERBOWL MVP - MR. VON MILLER!

That man can play like NO-ONE'S BUSINESS! I believe he is now and possibly during the reign of NFL FOOTBALLING, the BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER out there! So when I was forwarded this awesome article about him and his NERDINESS, my heart skipped a beat! 

KIDS, THIS SPECIFIC SENTENCE IS FOR YOU - 'IF kids call you a nerd at school, understand the company of people you are in. Look at the pictures here and tell me it isn't the coolest thing to be a NERD! I'm ALL-IN - JOIN THE NERD HERD!'

http://www.theplayerstribune.com/von-miller-broncos-super-bowl-mvp-nerd/

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Moots & Jake... the beginning... PART ONE

This image is one that is being designed into Moots & Jake's second fractured fairy tale - The Three Bully Goats Gruff.

This image is one that is being designed into Moots & Jake's second fractured fairy tale - The Three Bully Goats Gruff.

We've all met those people with whom we almost immediately "click". For me, John Woods aka Jake was one of those people. 20 years later I still find by bouncing my ideas of Jake and vice versa, there is almost always a better result.

This is part one of how Moots & Jake came to be a creative partnership:

HOW IT BEGAN - I remember sitting in my office on the top floor of one of the coolest office buildings in the flourishing Greenwood Village office complex just south of Denver, back in the day when I put on a suit and tie every day and had insanely large quotas hanging over my head every day, every night, every week, every month, every year, with the kind of bosses' boss who’s philosophy of management was “Don’t tell me how you did last month, tell me how you’re doing this month!”

I was contemplating how I was going to get the owner (Jake) of a company who was using quota-killing-amounts of telecommunications to switch from a reseller to the great MCI. The issue was always cost with this guy and I couldn't get our lawyers to budge on contract provisions that would allow me to compete at the reseller level.

Imagine that, an owner of a company concerned with the cost of one of his largest line items. What was wrong with Jake? I had access to sky boxes, every baseball, basketball and football game our professional Denver squads played. 

Wasn’t my dashing personality, ongoing stories, unlimited expense account and sense of humor enough?

After all, I had already taken him to some of Denver’s finest restaurants and used all of my charms to win him over and still, he remained concerned about money????

Shocked at how reluctant he was to spend more $ with me for his services, I pursued. I relented.

MCI always did everything on a very large scale. I was winning refrigerators, tropical vacations, stereo systems and other prizes that my wife and I picked from glossy catalogs designed to make sales people sell. And there was no better way to motivate a person like me.

One weekend, in the midst of a HUGE nationwide sales contest with big prizes and bragging rights at stake it was obvious to all of my bosses that Jake’s company was a large target to win because of the way they used telecommunications. I was feeling the pressure to pressure. The prizes I could win included a two-week all expenses paid European trip, Cruises and BIG shopping sprees at many retailers. I won a Kawasaki Jet Ski at the Masters event held at the Ritz in an exotic Florida locale. That was after being part of a group of about 200 at a quota club that MCI closed Universal Studios for an evening for. I literally got to ride the Back to the Future ride twenty times in a row. THOSE WERE THE DAYS! Pre-dot.com, pre economic bust!

What an overbearing boss feels like!

What an overbearing boss feels like!

As the contest was really heating up, I got a phone call at home too early on a Saturday morning from my Vice President. He said, and I quote, I am not making this up, “You have to figure out how to get John Woods to move his services to us! I could win a helicopter!!”

I scratched my head at how him winning a helicopter affected my life as I sat there in a World Wide Wrestling match with my two little boys in their jammies. He went on to say, “You know Drew (my direct boss) is up to win a Mercedes and you could push his numbers over the top.”

Not making that up. Truly could win helicopters back in the day!

Not making that up. Truly could win helicopters back in the day!

I scratched my head at how Drew winning a Mercedes affected my life.

Drew was my boss and I liked him. Because Drew didn’t call me at home on a Saturday morning to plead for his Mercedes, Drew had class. He played with his children on Saturday mornings because he valued family time and the weekend. My VP, NOT SO MUCH!

I hung up and over the course of the weekend made a plan to somehow win Jake over.

I called Jake. I pleaded with Jake! I begged Jake! Jake dug his heels in, but asked me to send him a proposal.

I did so.

Within a short amount of time Jake sent his questions and comments, but surrounding his narrative he had drawn a comic book panel of commentary about my sales techniques (It involved a smarmy Camaro and what I believe was supposed to be a "Lady of the evening." I got a good laugh out of it. However what really struck me was the pure, raw talent he put into his drawing. It was a direct jab at me, but one done with so much cleverness it made me laugh. He had drawn cartoony characters and I realized he had done it within just a few minutes.

Sitting on my desk at home was a manuscript I was working on for a children’s picture book I envisioned someone that talented drawing pictures for. I had titled my manuscript – Ol’ Lady Grizelda. It was that Monday morning when I looked at the characters John had drawn my internal priorities shifted. Suddenly my fervent desire to be published became my focus. I called John and asked him to go to lunch. This time it was with the express intent to talk to him about drawing pictures for a children's picture book, not to try to get him to switch telecommunications vendors.

LONG STORY SHORT – John never did a dollar of business with me in my Telecommunications career (too cheap), but our artistic relationship had begun. Suddenly when we started talking about storytelling I realized he and I had a lot in common and I started dreaming about having someone so talented interpret my words on pages within a book.

OH AND ONE OTHER BIT OF GREAT NEWS – My boss did win that Mercedes, however our VP didn’t win his helicopter (oh shoot).

To be continued…

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Moots and Jake is a compilation of two nicknames for the creative team of John Woods and Justin Matott (me). Nicknames we have carried for oh so many years and now combined to become our "brand". Since 1998 we have been a creative team and have brought out books to the world including Ol' Lady Grizelda, There's A Fly On My Toast!, Chocolate Covered Frog Legs, The Sky is Falling and Gabriel Peters and The Bait Shop Gang. 

We have several projects being formed presently and are SO excited to bring more, creative work to the world.

Over the years people have asked me the question of "Do you find and illustrator to illustrate your manuscript or let an editor do that?" There are as many possibilities for an answer to this as there are books, publishers and creative people out there. All I can tell you about the Moots and Jake team is that we get each other, creatively, spiritually, emotionally, and "friendshiply". 

We are truly a team. We both have a certain viewfinder we see the world through, but many times our view is very, very similar. Not satisfied with simply creating something funny or witty or topical, we both look for a way to find a double meaning. The search for meaning. The search for relevance, all within the pages of a "children's book."

My next post will be how this team formed. What we plan to do next and we hope you will stay tuned. We really do have some cool stuff coming! 

In the meantime, please check out our books (a library pun) or even get some from this website and since Moots and Woods now have a standing weekly date to create, we will make sure any book you order comes with signatures, a signature doodle and our thanks.

Also, if you want to see the brilliance behind the Jake part of this team, please see John Woods website: http://johnwoodsstudio.com

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A dad has a write (sic) to brag...

My mom used to use this mantra with me, "Go out into the world and be a plus, never a minus... really it's just simple math."

From the standpoint of a guy who always struggled with math, this math I could understand. 

The best way I think my life has been a plus is by co-raising my two sons with their wonderful momma. 

This morning I have been sipping my favorite dark roast brew and reading my younger son Ethan's first manuscript for a book. I am so proud of not only his story, told in 'JOURNEY', but in his ability to tell his story in a compelling, interesting, well-written way (more on how this develops soon). All while listening to music my older son has recorded. What a treat to be entertained by these fine young men. 

SO, today my older son launched a Kickstarter campaign to make his music available. Here is a link: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/88031367694044877/ via my Pinterest account, which I hope we can follow each other mutually on. 

OR please visit his Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/157343579/jay-j-matotts-new-ep?ref=nav_search

Check out that beauty, my son's wife and their cute little dude below... won't it be great for him to listen to his daddy's jammin'?

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Influencing youth = WORLD IMPACT! Follow THE AC PROJECT

I have been writing for kids of all ages for a long time now. Full time since 1998.

I have tried to impact through humor, storytelling and anti-bullying in schools and within the pages of my books.

The world is full of bad news. Just yesterday we got another gut punch because of a mentally ill maniac wreaking havoc on society. BUT, there is more good than bad out there and the young people in this project and in this long note are reasons to believe in the future!

My Mom's mantra to me was that life is simple math. If you go out and be a plus in the world and not a minus, it will all add up. My mom did that as an educator and a wonderful human being. I have tried to live my life so she would have been proud of me. Now, think about this -Add God and His plan for a life and that plan & plus gets multiplied in ways beyond impact and imagination!

This is a bit of a deviation from what I usually do with this blog, but it has everything to do with impact. My son and three of his friends travelled around the world impacting the world for Jesus and have made a wonderful documentary chronicling their journey. 

They didn't stop there though, since they have been back, they have each continued to do not "good works" but "God works". 

They just won a very coveted prize for their documentary and the reason I am posting this here is to spread the word and to say one thing to parents - IF I had it to do over again, raising my sons that is, I would have made sure they went on some kind of a mission trip when still in middle or high school. There is something about getting out of your bubble and seeing the way the world is past your daily life that impacts you in a terrific way. BOTH of my sons did this in college and have never been the same. 

This is what has happened to the young men since coming back from the year in all of these countries. All four of the young men came back to continue ministry and awesome pluses for our world. Ethan is a Missions Pastor at JFC Global Missions and has traveled around the globe with his AWESOME wife Stefani to bring God's love to His people. Doug is a young adult pastor at Red Rocks Church and has led a team back to Haiti with his lovely and also AWESOME wife Samantha (yes he married the girl)! Ryan is working with missions and teaching at Seacoast Grace Church and one of the coolest young men I know. Matthew is working for Project 1.27 to get kids placed in forever homes and recently got engaged to the wonderful and AWESOME Jess. Brandon who worked with the guys from home and produced this awesome film through his company STEEL ROCK FILMS is an amazing young man and a soon to be father with his lovely and very talented wife Jamie Lied (who if you have any reason to have a photographer, I totally recommend her and her assistant Brandon) and they have just announced a new addition to their family coming in 2016.

IF you want some inspiration this weekend, come by the Lone tree Jubilee Fellowship campus for The Compassion Experience (see more on the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/JFC-Global-Missions-1401526083446807/timeline/

PLEASE follow them on Facebook and go to vimeo to WATCH THE ENTIRE The AC Project: To the Ends of the Earth DOCUMENTARY! THEN CONTACT THEM TO COME TO YOUR YOUTH GROUP, CHURCH, CLUB OR ANY OTHER ORGANIZATION YOU WANT TO IMPACT. I have seen these men in action and I promise you if you want impact on your youth, you will be glad you did! http://www.theacprojectfilm.com/#home-buy

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Saying goodbye is hard even if they are black and white characters on a page!

Gabe has been working on his future comic book series -The Sea Monkey Who Ate My Brother and has a pen pal who draws to help bring it alive!

Gabe has been working on his future comic book series -The Sea Monkey Who Ate My Brother and has a pen pal who draws to help bring it alive!

One month from today my fifth book in the GP (Gabriel Peters) series will be out. I am quite excited about it for numerous reasons. Over the course of the summer I have done two Farmer's Markets per week and have had dozens of eager readers asking me each week "When is the next Gabriel book going to be out?" Some of those very kids (and a few dads) first met me there under my tent and told me they "didn't like reading at all" and have come back to tell me "I love this series and want more." THIS IS MOST GRATIFYING!

Gabriel Peters and The Bait Shop Gang was my favorite one in the series, so far, to write. The Man In The Woods has been stomping through the minds of my audiences during my school visit assemblies and he will finally come out to meet his public in Gabriel Peters and The Bait Shop Gang.

I am presently writing the sixth and final book in the GP series. It was been a wild ride to create and continue characters each of whom grow one year older with each book. The illustrations above are sketches, not finals, to show the activity within the chapters.

The image below is from a previous book, wherein they were on their way to an ULTIMATE DARE-OFF at the Haunted Schoolhouse. BOOK SIX will have the ULTIMATE ULTIMATE DARE-OFF, including a GROSSERIE STORE CHALLENGE.

IF you are a reader of this series, please chime in regarding what you would like to see the characters do in the final book. I am having SO much fun writing the final book, but there is a part of me that is really sad to say goodbye to Gabe and Company. 

So within the next months I will be doing a final epilogue to cap the series off and I will miss these goofy characters. Fortunately I have my outlines ready for a new FANTASY series I am also presently writing. Five new main characters are being sketched out on the blank pieces of paper, each evolving into three dimensional, active time-traveling Gargoyles.

Stay tuned for more news and please comment if you have ideas that Gabe and Company should encounter before I am finished with this series. THANK YOU FOR BEING ON THIS JOURNEY WITH ME!

Gabe and The Bait Shop Gang are heading to an ULTIMATE DARE-OFF in the HAUNTED SCHOOLHOUSE!

Gabe and The Bait Shop Gang are heading to an ULTIMATE DARE-OFF in the HAUNTED SCHOOLHOUSE!

Looks like Gabe's penpal took him seriously...

Looks like Gabe's penpal took him seriously...

T-Bone is training Gabe for the Middle School track team!

T-Bone is training Gabe for the Middle School track team!

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Gabriel Peters and The Bait Shop Gang is coming SOOOOOOOON!

Have you caught up on the GP series? To date this series has proven to my most popular children's work. Ages 8-14 is the most common reader. I talk to parents every week that tell me they love the series because they don't have to worry about their kids reading inappropriate material. This is most commonly a comment from a mom who has a precocious third or fourth grader and I have had great comments from Middle Schoolers especially on The Gabriel Book of World Records.

SO, I have an offer to my readers here on the blog. If you order the first four books in the series the fifth book will be sent to you for free when it comes out. Estimated date of arrival is November 5, in time for holiday gift giving. Also, if you already own any of the GB series, please feel free to substitute for any other chapter book or poetry book here on my website. The deal is basically four books, get one free.

The first 100 copies of Gabriel Peters and The Bait Shop Gang will be first editions, signed by both me and the illustrator, John Woods.

I can't wait to get the reviews from my readers who have been demanding THE MAN IN THE WOODS, since they are getting the story within this book!

 

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The book process of a NERD in progress

On July 8 I posted a blog about the inspiration of this upcoming book - I Think My Dog Might Be A Nerd. (please scroll down to see). Since then I have been hard at work rewriting, refining, rethinking aspects of the book. The companion book I Think My Cat Might Be A Geek is the same. 

I had an opportunity to visit a middle school and talk about my process on this book and my intention to take away the sting of a common name calling word. They really responded well, especially when I told them to come be in my Nerd Herd. The coolest acting kids in the library suddenly wanted to belong with a group of people identifying themselves as Nerds. I simply explained a dictionary terminology of the word - A Nerd is someone who has a fascination and expertise on a subject of interest to him or her. The actual dictionary states - an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocialhobby or pursuit. I went on to explain that it is only nonsocial until you find a social group who has the same passion and pursue it!

There's just something about dogs and personification that makes talking about an issue like verbal bullying and nerdism relevant and easy to talk about for a middle schooler. 

John Woods and I have been meeting and discussing and planning and sketching and working through the book and some other NERD products to support it. It is really fun to collaborate with my good friend John and his talent is unmatched. As we started working through it we both realized the Nerd Dog aka Ber-Nerd or Grrr-Nerd needed to be a bit looser. I posted on Instagram and Facebook two images to see what people preferred and the new dog is far far ahead of the original. If you'd like to be a part of these little forums, please go to my Facebook page The Justin Matott Library (https://www.facebook.com/MatottBooks) or my Instagram account, nickname hashtagjustinmatott.

The Nerd dog is soon to be sporting such things as a blue-tooth attachment to his sunglasses, bow ties and other things to make him NERDY and DASHING!  

And just wait until you meet the star of The companion book -  I THINK MY CAT MIGHT BE A GEEK!

Nerd Dog Version One

Nerd Dog Version One

Nerd Dog Version Two

Nerd Dog Version Two

Ber-Nerd in action!

Ber-Nerd in action!

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HOW DO I GET PUBLISHED?

It seems almost every day I get an email with an appeal to help aspiring authors get published.

It seems almost everyone has a story they are carrying around with them and some of us write them down and aspire to have others enjoy them. 

In this day of social media and connection with people that wasn't possible just a few short years ago, there is a thing called TWITTER. So, this is the advice I give to those asking:

If I were starting out right now, I would go to twitter, search agents, publishers, children's books, other specific items relating to your work and then follow people who come up in the feed. Often agents tweet about what they are looking to represent as do some publishers etc. That way when you query you have a specific, instant connection rather than just another author sending out queries to a mass amount of agents.

Be specific with important clues they give you about themselves. Their interests, their specific taste in literature and track record plays a big role in this game and if you let them know you follow them and know specifics about them, it eases the resistance. In addition, do your homework. The best agents have websites where they list their sales, their favorites and other information that will indicate if you are compatible or not. My two cents.

It's funny how we can write books, but we are afraid to write that careful-as-word-free-as-possible query letter. IF you know something about the someone you are courting, it makes all the difference. 

I got a FB message recently that said: "I think you might be a children's book author or illustrator?" I knew the next message if I responded would be an appeal for help. My question, not trying to be snarky or mean spirited, but, if you don't even know if I am a writer and furthermore have then obviously never read any of my books, why would you think I could be of help?  

Now this is all from a guy who is between agents right now and taking his own advice... starting TODAY! 

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Picture THIS! Talking to yourself might just make you a COOL NERD or GEEK!

I was running with my ancient Italian Greyhound Tootsie (God rest her sweet soul) around the Elementary School park near my house one fine warm late Spring afternoon. Our timing was such that we were running this quarter mile loop just as school was getting out. Standing on a hill overlooking the school as we approached were three moms who looked like they were dressed to go out on a fancy date, complete with bling rather than just in a carpool lineup, At each of their sides sat true beauties of the dog world; two Golden Retrievers and a Yellow Labrador, each in his or her (I didn't check for gender) prime and the two retrievers golden locks were blowing in the light breeze, revealing fancy blinded collars and causing them to look as if they were ready for the runway. Between the six of them, there was a fancy party going on.

Here came me in my schlubby sweats and a ratty t-shirt (however at a respectable enough pace to have darkened my gray t-shirt with "neck sweat" and my dog with her "might have been worn out two seasons ago" sweater fitting a bit too loosely. As we rounded the corner you could almost hear the  'out of the car' carpool mom's eyes rolling at the site of our disheveled selves. Then the oddest thing of all happened. All three of the beautiful golden colored dogs looked at Tootsie with what appeared to be a mix of pity and curiosity. A harrumph and we were dismissed, not cool enough...

We kept running, perhaps at an even quicker pace in our retreat. I often get inspiration for my writing when I run and I had no idea that that day was one of them! I also often talk aloud to myself and to Tootsie when we run and have been known to even kneel in the middle of a run and dictate into my voice app on my phone so I don't lose a potentially great inspiration, now I talk into my iWatch which is so nerdy it's cool, right???

As we rounded the next corner I said out loud, "I KNOW THAT THIS MAY SOUND ABSURD... BUT I THINK MY DOG MIGHT BE A NERD..."  

Sometimes a title comes before the story This time both the title and the first stanza for my upcoming collaboration with the awesome illustrator John Woods came to me on a run. 

Once I fleshed out the story and rewrote it about seventy-three times, I watched my two cats Maple and Ember wrestling in my office. They both ended up with little pieces of paper stuck to their noses and I said aloud, "I KNOW THAT THIS MAY SOUND UNIQUE, BUT I THINK MY CAT MIGHT BE A GEEK!" 

So, ladies and gentlemen, I have concluded that running is a good way to get great ideas AND talking to oneself is useful, EVEN if you talk back. 

NOW, if I could just get a publisher to pick these two books up we'd be all set! 

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Gabe 5 is coming SOON!

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Gabe 5 is coming SOON!

Hello to all of you series readers. I am excited about the new Gabe book.

The title is Gabe and the Bait Shop Gang - Stories From A Summer Camp Bunk.

Summer Camp was a special place in my childhood and I was one of those kids who totally embraced it and enjoyed every minute of it. Many of my friends, especially my brother, were homesick and didn't want to be there. I was the opposite. I liked my family a lot, but I missed my dogs the most. 

The freedom I felt in the Colorado mountains, the horseback riding, the gun range where we shot 22 rifles, the archery, the lake to swim and one of the most delicious things, the nighttime storytelling. A camp counselor decided to terrify us with a story about a mythical man in the woods. I walked away from the campfire feeling like I could have told it better. My friends were so scared, while I worked feverishly on the plot line to make it actually terrifying instead of just kind of. At long last, I have brought the man out of the woods and he is here to stay (more on that later).

This book series has been an interesting journey to say the least. I started it with an illustrator who bowed out when the third book needed to be illustrated. Then an illustrator I had worked with on another picture book took the series on and completed the first four (republished the first two with his art and design) and then too bowed out.

NOW book five and six will be completed by the very talented John Woods Jr., who had illustrated many of my books, including picture books, poetry books, a fractured fairy tale and soon to be announced some graphic novel and other new styled books that we are cooking up.

John and I began our journey together in 1997 and enjoyed working together immensely. We had a hiatus for various personal and professional reasons, but we are BACK to show the world our combined talents and we certainly have some great ideas a'comic'!  Stay tuned, I think we are going to be a DYNAMIC DUO!

Presently the fifth book in the series is complete with edited text and really, really cool illustrations.

It is in the "design shop" and will be shipping at the end of this summer. I am SO excited for my readers to go on these adventures I can hardly stand it.

THIS was my favorite book to write in the series and I think it is patchily because THE MAN IN THE WOODS is FINALLY making his appearance. Many of my school student audience have been asking for it for some time and the time is NOW!

I am now at work on the final book in the series and truly enjoying it. However, when I am done with the last paragraph in the epilogue I know it is going to be hard to say goodbye to my characters and stories. Fortunately, though the series will end with book 6, there will be more. So much more. But I will leave that for another day. 

Please stay tuned for the announcement of the fifth book! It is going to be worth the wait! 

 

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Want to publish your book? Here is some quick advice.

 

 

HERE ARE THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS IN THE MOST RECENT EMAIL INQUIRY:

A good way to test a story line is to determine who your target audience is and read it to them. Often elementary schools will welcome a budding artist into classrooms to get feedback. 

Go to a bookstore and envision where your book would be shelved and look through your competition.

A standard picture book is 32 pages, including one for copyright, one for title page, so in essence truly 30 pages of "story".

Self publishing is only good if you are a hustler and can get out and sell your own book.

Absolutely spend the money on an editor and a good designer so your book looks like it came from a big New York publishing house.

Traditional publishing is generally done by getting an agent.

Getting an agent who sells can be tricky. Follow agents who sell in your proposed genre on twitter and see what they are tweeting for. Many times they let on to what they want to represent.

Go to writing conferences where those agents are presenting and reserve a spot to pitch. Face to face is often the best.

Crowd funding can be tricky. If you have a large online social media presence people can find out that way. It can seem spammy if you constantly tell your friends to donate. 

I tried a Kickstarter to NO success at all.

I know people who have had great success.

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Coaching Character Compassion and Caring Could Cancel Bullying!

THIS MOM'S LETTER IS SHORT AND WORTH THE READ! As someone who has worked in anti-bullying forums for the past decade plus, what I love most about this is it is a parent who is Coaching Character, Compassion and Caring in a way that makes total sense. When our hearts ache for others we must act. The bully is only 1/3 of the equation. The Bullied must take back his or her power and disable the bully, but almost the most important component is the Bystanders. The Bystanders standing together will unplug a bully. Simply saying, "Don't talk to her that way!" or "She's our friend..." might completely change the whole scenario. When was the last time you saw a bully pick on someone more powerful? It generally doesn't happen. There is strength in numbers and the truth is, THE BULLY needs friends more than anyone else in the school! It's just that for some reason he or she is crippled emotionally and doesn't know how to cultivate friendship. When you feel vulnerable, you push, usually away. When you push someone around it is a show of some idea of power, but it is possibly the most disabling thing a bully does - to him or herself, because it cuts him or her from the herd. NO ONE likes bullying, even a bully. Chances are the bully is experiencing some of it himself. IF every child went to school with a message from Mom or Dad like this, things could change. Until parents SHOW not TELL the difference there will be bullying. PLEASE Change, Challenge and Cherish your child so we will really see change in our world! http://momastery.com/blog/2012/08/23/the-talk/

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THIS is what it is all about!

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THIS is what it is all about!

Sometimes you get totally blessed by interacting with someone who is directly affected by your art. I met this young man during a school visit this past week. He rattled off some twenty questions and specifics about my book Go Ask Mom, Stories from The Upper Bunk, which is the first book in a six book series. I loved hearing what he had latched onto as his favorite parts and passages. Then his Momma got him the entire series and I truly hope he enjoys them all as much as he did the first one. If the look on his face is any indication (his anticipation) I once again have an affirmation that I am doing what I was put on earth to do. THANK YOU PARKER for reminding me of my purpose in a young person's life! 

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