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BLOG BLOG BLOG

WE are transferring my old blog from blogspot to this, my website, so some of it will look old because it is. 

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The day my blog moved

I have gone to a new website, new domain yada yada yada... Therefore, I will continue to blog, but will do so directly on my new website. I will have several blogs there, this one (all previous blogs have transferred), my school visit blog and I will soon venture into video blogging. I hope you will come see me from time to time. I have appreciated all the views here and hope to continue to bring value to my virtual community.  Come see me @

www.justinmatott.com  

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THE SUMMER OF MYSTERY - COMING VERY SOON!

The other day I was a judge in a poetry slam at a Middle School. A great experience, but the icing on the cake for me was when a seventh grade boy approached me afterwards to tell me how much he enjoyed my GP series and couldn't wait for the next book to come out. When I told him the next book was coming within the next month he started gyrating and jumping around like it was Christmas! Man Oh Man did that make my day, week and month. I cannot wait to hear from him after he has read the next book!

SO, I am TOTALLY excited to tell you about my new book coming within the next month! I think you will be too! Each chapter begins with a WANTED poster, featuring the main theme of the chapter, brilliantly rendered by my great friend and awesome illustrator David Schiedt!

Kids at the schools I visit always ask me what my favorite of all the books I have published are. I have to say THIS BOOK is my favorite for many reasons: Mystery, Summer, Buddies and THE MOST WANTED POSTERS are just a few of the reasons for me. I had as much fun writing this book as I think my readers will have reading it!

I finally wrote THE BOOK that I would have wanted to read badly as a boy!

SO. If you haven't read the first three in the series, it's time to catch up!

There is an awesome deal at my website right now - BUY 3 BOOKS - GET A 4th FOR FREE! www.justinmatott.com 

Simply add a note if you want the books signed and or personalized for the reader who will receive them.

With book four coming what could be a better way to go? Not just that, but I will make sure you get a 4th book signed by myself AND David Scheidt, the illustrator!

What a way to start your readers out for the summer. The new book is titled THE SUMMER OF MYSTERY - Book 4 in the GP series.

Here is a sample chapter (click on the image to make it larger). Mr. Lattimore was a villian in book three and he will make another appearance in book four as Gabe and his gang try to unravel the mystery behind him. Many other mysteries need to be solved and they are up to the task.

Under a full moon, around a fire where s'mores are being built Mr. Patchett will divulge many answers to the mysteries you've read about in the past. Revealing the back story to many of the mysteries surrounding the neighborhood, those mysteries that comprise the majority of questions I get from the readers of books 1-3.





















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Some times it's just fun...


Hello my friends,

I have been so busy with book projects that I have completely ignored this blog for over a month. Did anyone notice?

I do have some FANTASTIC things cooking and hope to soon make some announcements.

Both of my sons inherited my creative nature. One makes music, art and joy. The other makes videos, is writing his first book and has been bringing joy to people all over the world over the past few years.  Some times art reflects life in a very serious way and sometimes it is simply a release and fun.

So if you are creative, imaginative and like off the hook style, I have a place for you to visit. I thought I would share an "off the hook, fun, weird and wonderful" blog showcasing art, thought and goofiness that my eldest son dabbles with. I would like to somehow work this kind of art into a book project and the artist happens to live a few miles from me.

Today's blog post:

"warren becomes impatient with ferdinand as he waits for a compliment on his new swim wear."


 Facebook post today about the blog by Jay J Matott (this author's son):



Please check out the link to the blog I have included and follow it: http://radicaltheblog.blogspot.com/

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Yes Virginia, Santa's deer are real!

I was walking my dog when from the corner of my eye
two tiny reindeer I was sure I did spy
then out of my peripheral vision I knew
on the side of that house were another two 





they seemed solid, no moving, I thought they were fakes
then the snow started falling, magical Christmasy flakes



Suddenly the deer sprang from that place
you should have seen the look on my face
 
Then those deer turned towards my dog
and started to hop, one started to jo
they bound through the yard, the biggest one flew
I grabbed my camera, and that's when I knew




Santa was here, in my neighborhood early
he was spying it out, one reindeer seemed surly





he stared at my dog and snorted a bit
my dog started barking, so Rudy's snorting would quit



They had a conversation, they talked for awhile
then my little pooch started to smile
I caught a few words, "can't go", and "need help"
my pooch headed towards home, she barked with a yelp
she was so excited, seems she had a plan
if Santa needed some help, she was his woMAN!  

We returned to our house, and when we went inside
my hound ran up the stairs, came back down with deer pride 
then a loud noise came from my living room
I ran cross the house, I ran with a zoom
I saw my dog ju she pounced and she ran
Practicing, seems my dog had a Santa Claus plan


So when you look up in the sky
this Christmas Eve, 
you just might see something, 
that you won't believe    


Leading that sleigh
will be my good girl
she'll fly round the world
with Santa, she'll hurl!   

 

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watch a hero in action



Hi, this fall has been a really busy one for me and I have neglected this blog.

It took the enclosed video to get me back to blogging.

I am incensed at times by bullies.  The kind of bully who treats animals in a way that is cruel and inhumane makes me want to SCREAM and is the most cowardly of all!  After all, they have total disregard for the feelings of a living being and that is deplorable!

HOW can anyone be so callous?  This story is really about a hero.  A man who walks the walk.  Who helps the helpless.  This is a tough video, but watch the whole thing. The wonderful thing about a story well told is a happy ending.  This one has a wonderful ending.  But there are literally hundreds of thousands of BILLYS out there waiting for a hero to rescue him or her. 

  http://chill.com/Ronda_Bertey/post/b17192342339415e891b2d8a27446151/heartwarming-rescue-video-will-make-you-cry-meet-billy-rescued-from-a-puppy-mill

Please consider an end of year donation to help these animals who have no voice. Seriously, ten dollars feeds a dog or cat that has been abused, think what you could do to bring some light to a little defenseless life. 

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I remember wondering about authors... now, no one needs to!

I have OVER 65,000 blogviews presently on this blog, with 48 "followers", which means a lot of invisible people reading my goofy posts and I say thank you to each of you!

A teacher recently said something to me after an assembly I did in a school which stuck to me.  She said, "It is so nice for the kids... and us... to see a real person behind the books.  I often wonder who children imagine when they think of the people who wrote the books they are reading."  "Hmmm, me too." I thought and wondered if the majority of information they would have about an author would come from the little description on the jacket flaps or if they would search the internet to understand more about the creator of the story they just spent time in.

I recently spent a few hours with Avi http://avi-writer.com/, with 54,800, 000 google hits, that's five times as many as Dr. Seuss, WOW! He is a respected, Newbery winning author and as we chatted, I tried to piece together the books I have read by him with the person he is "in person".  Two different things.  He writes about a wide range of topics and he is a "normal" human being with an incredible way of telling stories.  I would rather have that first hand view of him than an internet POV.

So, I started looking at the "footprints" authors I read and have read leave behind now that so many people get their information off the internet.  Generally speaking you would think the majority of the information we could glean from an author would be in the books he or she has written, but there is SO much to find on the WORLD WIDE WEB, Thank you for that Mr. Al Gore.

I remember really respecting Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows, when I was a kid for creating a story that sucked me and made me feel as thought I had been a part of the book the whole time I was turning pages. There are 612,000 google results when his name is searched, even though he died before the internet was invented, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilson_Rawls, that is if you can believe Wikipedia, which is really one of the most unreliable sites on the internet by the way.   I remember wondering about Dr. Seuss (11,500.000 google results) (http://www.seussville.com/) when I was a kid. SO much imagination! SO many great stories! SO COOL he must be.  I never remember reading anything other than their books.

NOWADAYS authors (self included) are remarking, blogging, LIKING, tweeting every little thought that crosses his or her mind.  The mystery is no more.  It is both good and bad I suppose.  The inner workings of an author's mind, the way he or she comes up with creative stuff that delights can now be viewed daily.  I follow some authors on twitter and know their snacking habits, pet peeves, imaginations gone awry, debacles of relationships, political persuasions, you name it it is out there!  The one thing to remember though, is, if it is not in an author's book with his or her name on it, it might be suspect.  There are twitter tweeters who pretend to be the likes of J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman and other celebrity authors and they are tweeting things that are supposedly written by the authentic person.

As I think of the footprints I leave on the World Wide Web, I think there is entirely too much information out there and much of it at my own doing! I must count not one, not two, but three Facebook pages that I contribute to, one "personal" and one "fan page" and one book club: (https://www.facebook.com/justin.matott & https://www.facebook.com/MatottBooks or the Facebook Virtual Book club I host, https://www.facebook.com/groups/190852800976831/   A twitter account https://twitter.com/justinmatott.  A website: www.justinmatott.com. This blog: http://justinmatott-snickers.blogspot.com/.  Another blog for schools http://justinmatottatyourskul.blogspot.com/.  Much on amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=justin+matott many entries and review on http://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=justin+matott, A blog amalgamater called Storylane http://www.storylane.com/justinmatott, but NO PINTEREST.  Come on, a guys got to draw the line somewhere... wait, my assistant has a Pinterest account that she has put up information about my books on.




I am an internet rookie as compared to these other mentioned illustrious authors and they really had very little to do with it.  A simple google of my name shows 15, 400 entries, 364 image results (the vast majority having nothing to do with me), 3 videos (one of which has nothing to do with me), and a map that actually takes you to Matoto, Guinea, . 

One thing to keep in mind is the internet's reliability, or actually the lack thereof.  Don't believe everything you read or see on the internet and don't assume it really comes from the author you follow or admire, unless it is on his or her personal blog and or website.

The proof of this are the pictures included on this blog post.  Each of them come up when you put my name in google and select images.  I promise you, I had nothing to do with any of them.  I don't know why the colorful queen is associated to me.  I don't where the gold dome palace is.  I used to read Winnie the Pooh books to my boys and on occasion called one of them Eeyore when he was being grumpy and I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA who the shirtless guy is. 

So there you have it.  There is a ton of information available about authors on the internet, but the very best information FROM them is contained in their books.

My conclusion; read the books, enjoy the books, sometimes a little mystery is a good thing!

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GP Series Book #4 is coming soon!



Hello READERS on my RADAR.  I have been SUPER busy lately and with little time to write blog posts or even play Gems With Friends on my iPhone, don't go there, it is too addictive!

However, I have had so many interactions with my readers both young and less young and want to keep connecting.  I have something SUPER big impending and cannot wait to announce it (No, not body doubling for Robert Downey Jr in the next Ironman, I WISH!)


I thought I would get some opinions, particularly from those who have read any of the GP Series books 1-3, Go Ask Mom, The World According To Gabe or The Gabriel Book of World Records (all on my website for viewing www.justinmatott.com).




All three books have illustrations sprinkled throughout and book 4 is designed with one at the beginning of each chapter.  These four images are examples of how the illustration will look.
 My specific question is, do you like the format of illustration?



The title of the book is Gabriel Peters and The Summer of Mystery or simply The Summer of Mystery (which title do you like more)?

Please chime in here or on Twitter or Facebook or email justin@justinmatott.com.  My READERS' opinions matter to me, A LOT!





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That Was Then... This Is Now

I was privileged to visit the delightfully treed, copiously gardened, wonderfully architectured, hidden away gem called CA (Colorado Academy) for two days this week to meet, greet and teach kiddoes from itty bitty Pre-K's (My gosh tiny human beings are cute!) up to fifth graders.

The first day was full of assemblies, storytelling and workshops and the second day was full of creative writing workshops with excited, involved, engaged and FUN students!

I love the energy children bring to writing! It is SO much fun to work with their ideas of WHO, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and WHAT and to mold it into a fun picture book stories while they buzz about the room coming up with VERBS that will activate the sentences and story!  There is nothing more refreshing that seeing something appear out of a child's imagination and then to see it bloom and flourish into a story someone might actually want to read in a book!  Magical this job of mine!

FIVE years ago I visited CA for the first time and wished I could go back to school.

It was a beautiful Autumn day and we all decided to do some pictures.  I took a picture with the little children pictured and was presented with a great photograph to remember the day by.  

As I was going through my bulging school files over the summer I came across this picture and thought it would be fun for the folks at CA to see the kids as they were "back in the day" and my host, the AWESOME Allison Peters (librarian), set out to find them to take another picture.  Only one was not at the school any longer.  
 

SO, that was then... 






This is NOW! 


I would say for the first time in a photograph in a long time, I am the least changed of all.  That is a nice thing when the days, weeks, months and years seem to slip by.

Perhaps I'll catch up with them again in five years when they are in their last year at CA.  Now that will be some picture, huh?

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WONDER


I have spent the past ten years visiting schools and often talking about bullying, hazing and character issues and how it relates to some of my own childhood experiences, those of my son and the content of my GP series of books.  I am often asked by teachers for books that would be great read-alouds and I am very careful to recommend books that will bring forth great discussion, compassion and empathy for those different from onself.  As with the main character of WONDER, I can NEVER understand how people can be so cruel as to make and already difficult situation more difficult.   

Wonder is a book told from multiple perspectives about a ten year old boy who is dealing with the perfect storm of genetic facial issues who enters into the scary world of public school for the first time in fifth grade. Having been cocooned for his whole life in the nest of loving parents, an understanding and for the most part empathetic older sister and a loving dog, Daisy, he must now go out into the CRUEL world and find out if he can make it against the odds.  

You will find yourself championing August "Augie" as he encounters wonderful people (Summer, one of my favorite characters) and will weed through betrayal and outright bullies (my least favorite characters).

I don't want to spoil the story in any way, but I will tell you half way through I said aloud, "I sure hope this DEBUT WRITER knows how to end this well.  I don't want to invest in this book both time wise and emotionally to be let down.  I assure you, there is NO let down.

I predict this DEBUT WRITER has penned a Newbery. 

I have had readers come to my book signings and thank me for including them in my books.  Primarily those with speech impediments, I can only imagine how this lovely little girl felt when she knew she was represented with such aplomb, dignity and character.  BRAVO Ms. Palacio, BRAVO!

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Before I was a writer, I was a reader and the VERY BEST thing for me as a boy was MAD MAGAZINE. I was fortunate to have a mom who had one rule about room cleaning and that was "If your door is shut, I don't care how you keep it!" That meant Mom never ventured in to throw away my Hot Rod Cards or Mad Magazines, which are now stored safely in my basement. In 1974 I had the Mad Magazine (pictured here) which began my quest; To see the movie it parodied. Being a Catholic boy, there was something very, very dangerous and delicious about pondering the evil potential within the story. I was SO scared of it, it was like a single lamp in the backyard that draws and destroys the moth who continually bangs against it. I HAD TO SEE IT! But Mom said "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" For you younger readers, please bear in mind that at this time our black and white television showed four channels and a test pattern of an Indian in a head dress. The point I was trying to make was that this was a much more innocent time, when there were NO slasher movies on tv, just the black and white Creature Features with The Werewolf, Dracula and The Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman. I have always loved scary stories and for some reason because October is the month of Halloween, I always watch scary movies during the month and read a book that is in the Horror genre.




So last night, after the lights were out in my house and everyone was in bed except me, I sneaked into my office and watched THE SCARIEST movie I have ever seen. It pulled me back to the year 1975, the year I was born. Ahem... okay, not exactly, but a year that would lodge itself in my memories because of ONE fateful night, and ONE fateful movie and ONE fateful error in judgment. It all came flooding back to me last night in such a real way that I literally know what it feels like to have the hair stand on end on the back of your neck.



First; the MORAL OF THE STORY - MOM IS ALWAYS RIGHT! The way to live a better, saner, fuller life - LISTEN TO MOM!
In 1975 I was a boy emerging into the decade of impending teenagedom. My parents were fairly, to be honest, really liberal and a bit lax in their parenting skills. Both were college professors and somehow the space they gave their students translated to the way they parented.

However, I must say it was an easier time. We ran in packs and no one messes with a pack of kids, especially in a then country neighborhood! No one was worried about a kid barely in
his double digits staying out 'till two in the morning on a hot, summer night because everyone slept in their backyards (kids anyway)in the summer. There were a few rules of course: NO LAKE OR POND after dark (unless there were at least five of you together). No crossing the highway after dark! Stay off the railroad track after dark. SOMEHOW everything cool happened after dark and I wasn't supposed to have any of the fun.
I was sitting up in my tree house with a couple of my pals and down below us there were some teenagers
(they didn't know we were up there.) They were smoking cigarettes and talking in loud whispers about how terrifying the movie they had seen the night before was. Blow by blow they talked about The Exorcist, which to that point I only knew about through the view of Mad Magazine. They talked about the scenes everyone who ever saw that movie has been unable to erase from their minds.

When the three teens jumped in their hot rod Mustang with a "Let's go see it again!" Me and my two buddies made a pact.
We were going to go see it. We made a plan which would require us to break SO many rules. We knew our Moms would NEVER let us see the movie and that we would be grounded FOREVER if we walked down the highway at night, so we made an alternate plan, which would end up breaking even more rules.

The next night we would each tell our moms that we were sleeping in the other's backyard tent (FIRST BROKEN RULE, LYING). Then right before dark, since The Exorcist was the second feature and we didn't want to be spotted in daylight, we would head down the railroad track (SECOND BROKEN RULE, RAILROAD TRACK AND DARK)which would take us the three miles to the outdoor Drive-In Theater past a lake and a pond (THIRD BROKEN RULE, AFTER DARK BODY OF WATER) and then we would have to cross the highway (FOURTH BROKEN RULE, CROSSING THE HIGHWAY AT NIGHT) to sneak into the drive-in theater (FIFTH BROKEN RULE, STEALING BY NOT PAYING TO GET IN) Where we'd stand out in the middle of the gravel lot, next to the speakers and watch the forbidden movie (SIXTH BROKEN RULE, DIRECTLY IGNORING A SPECIFIC RULE MOM SET DOWN) We'd all been there before with our respective parents, but this time we were hoofin' it!

At the last minute one of my buddies chickened out and so it was only going to be the two of us. Me and a kid we called PeePot
because of his propensity to wait too long to go to the bathroom and then frequently wet his pants (not exactly a guy you wanted spending the night in your tent). Both of us wanted desperately to beg off the dare, but neither wanted to lose face. So we stuffed our pockets with candy for the movie and headed out.

It took us forever to walk down that dark railroad track. The only time there was light to keep us from tripping on almost every railroad tie was the time the train came, sending us both hurdling down the incline, getting a bit scratched up from our overreaction. It seemed with every step it got darker as we ventured further out into the middle of nowhere.


Where was the moon? All I remember is with every passing half mile the terror began to grow to the point where neither of us spoke, because we couldn't. We both had FICM, fear-induced-cotton-mouth and we weren't even there yet. Just when I thought I would panic I realized we were where we needed to turn up a gravel road running directly into the old outdoor movie theater.

Even though not technically a highway, several cars came over hills catching us like 'deer in the headlights' and we would hear voices yelling at us to "GET OUT OF THE ROAD, STUPID!" and stuff like that. We began to jog and I swear I could hear something sloshing when Pee-Pot was running next to me. We both breathed a huge sigh of relief as we secreted our way across the highway and then slipped under the fence, finding our way to an empty spot where the speakers hung on the post. We stood far enough away from cars that no one should notice two kids standing at the DRIVE-in.

And then it happened, the credits rolled and suddenly we were in ancient Iraq at an archeological dig. "WHAT GIVES? THIS IS LIKE A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MO
VIE?" I complained loudly, but secretly a bit relieved that this wasn't going to be quite as terrifying as I had thought.

Soon enough young Regan's head was spinning like a top and floating around her room with the scariest face I had ever seen. She was using phrases I didn't understand and language that would earn me a bar of Lava in the kisser if I ever repeated any of them (mom wasn't too liberal about that one.) By the end of the movie I wasn't sure if Pee-Pot was the only one who would have that nickname from that night on. I WAS T E R R I F I E D! Pee-Pot's eyes were so wide I thought he would
never blink again. I was sure the whole place was going to go up in smoke for showing such a movie.

I have never been that scared in my life and we had three miles of dark road ahead of me and by now it was well after midnight. We somehow hadn't counted on the three mile trek back in the now terrifying, "possessed" night darkness when we made the decision to go see the scariest movie ever made.

EVERY twig that snapped or coyote that howled convinced me with every step that I was becoming possessed like poor Regan. Pee-Pot completely lost the ability to speak and even though it was too dark to see his face, I was sure he was crying most of the way home.

I had never noticed how comforting the streetlight across the road from my house was at night, but seeing it as we crested the hill was like a beacon leading me home. Neither Pee-Pot nor I said a word, we both just knew there was NO sleeping in our tents that short night (by now it was around three in the morning).

I sneaked up the metal ladder that was below my window, against the house and pulled the screen off and squeezed my way in. I slipped down into my bed and pushed myself deep down under a cover in my bed, even though it was a hot summer night, I needed to be cocooned. Suddenly my bed felt like it was moving and I was sure I was about to begin floating.

I lay there wide awake, unable to close my eyes as they darted to and fro wondering when my dresser was going to scoot across the floor and pin me against the wall. I was totally terrified until the sun came up. It was the first night in my life I had stayed up ALL night. Though it was comforting to see the sun come up on the darkest night of my life, somehow I knew night would be sneaking up on me again too soon.

The worst part of my disobedience was that I couldn't tell anyone that I was so scared or why. I had to suffer night terrors for about a month before the raw, scary emotional response to seeing something I was WAY too young to see with not parental comfort began to subside.

I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life that night about listening to people who know a bit more about things than I do. I also decided that for the meantime, the parodies of adult movies in Mad Magazine were more my style and didn't feel compelled to go see something that I couldn't handle. If Mom said "NO!", then that was an answer. I would listen to more.

I confessed to the activities of that dark and scary night when I was in high school when enough time had passed and we could all "laugh about it". Mom told me Pee Pot had ratted me out back then because he was so scared he had slept with his parents for about six months. When I asked her why she hadn't confronted me about it back then, she said something like, "Are you kidding me? You were the most compliant, helpful, obedient kid for the next month that I'd ever seen and I could see you were punishing yourself enough. I didn't have the heart to do more." 


I said it before and I will say it again: The MORAL OF THE STORY - MOM IS ALWAYS RIGHT! The way to live a better, saner, fuller life - LISTEN TO MOM!

I had all but forgotten this horrific chapter in my early life until I once again watched The Exorcist all these years later and it all came back to me. I literally remember exactly how I felt the first time I dipped my toe into terrifying story telling. Though I am mature enough now to handle the terror and have a clear understand that it is simply a story of God winning, it is not like the cotton candy of my youth, which the last time I was at an amusement park made me wonder how I at one time in my life considered it one of my top five favorite foods. No, The Exorcist has remained horrifying and good storytelling to this day. I asked the question of my friends on facebook, What is the scariest movie you have ever seen and 40%+ named this movie.