Monthly Archives: April 2014

Access: Devine Carama

Devine Carama is our special guest for this edition of Access. It’s live and interactive radio co-hosted by Conshus and yours truly, Chase March.

Press play and enjoy!

And here is a brief run-down of our conversation.

(4:35) Introductions
(5:26) 1st project / 1st rhyme / The Come Up
(6:56) Taking Rap seriously
(7:48) Mixtapes vs Albums
(10:35) ‘Thank You’ random fact
(12:35) Gap between 1st & 2nd mixtapes
(13:55) Paying Dues
(15:08) Getting out of the basement
(17:50) Influences
(19:00) Canibus’ rise & fall
(22:30) OMG
(23:00) HIP HOP in Lexington, KY
(25:55) ‘Dead Man Walking’ random fact
(28:30) Lack of more well known KY artists
(31:15) Leaving a legacy
(34:00) Working with Jackee Harry
(37:26) Poetry in Motion Youth Program
(41:45) ‘No Child Left Behind’ album & charity
(45:25) ‘Voices from the Grave’ random fact
(46:40) Thanksgiving plans & Black Friday war stories
(50:45) Hip Hop on the radio
(54:17) Thanksgiving day discography giveaway
(55:47) Writing process
(56:50) Contacts
(57:25) Meaning behind name
(59:30) Why the Rapsody dedication

Arthur and the Dragon – Integrated Drama Unit

I absolutely love this drama unit. I have taught it several times and it is always a hit.

Arthur and the Dragon Picture Book

It is based around the picture book Arthur and the Dragon by Pauline Cartwright.

There is a 23 page Teacher Guide that is an incredible resource. It was developed by The Toronto District School Board back in 1999. This picture book was released in 1991. It used to be readily available at my public library but it has since been discarded. I found a copy of the book on eBay and hopefully you can too.

For some reason, page 22 is left out of the Teacher’s Guide. That page consisted of a secret message for the students to decode. This is the message . . .

16-12-5-1-19-5   16-18-15-20-5-3-20    20-8-9-19     5-7-7.

19-1-22-5   13-25    19-23-5-5-20     2-1-2-15.

This unit is very detailed. It gives you the chance to discover the story through investigation, drama games, dance and movement, writing, discussion,  and even social studies.

It works best with Kindergarten up to Grade 3 students but you can easily modify it by choosing only the activities you think will work with your class. There are 26 activities in total and this book is absolute gold. I think you will find it as invaluable as I have.

Download the Teacher Guide for free. Remember to print off the above secret code message and put it where page 22 should have been.

Download a copy of the picture book for free (If you can find a copy, go buy it though. I did)

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Great teaching resources and inspiration every week!

Some Books are Better on the Screen

Ellen Book

Seriously . . . I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. All I knew was that I enjoyed watching Ellen on television and thought I’d give it a try.

The book was a lot like her stand-up routine. You could hear her voice coming through the page as she went off on all sorts of strange tangents.

You don’t learn much about her in the course of the book. It isn’t a memoir. It’s basically an extension of her television show. It’s a comedy routine in book form.

Of course, I think I prefer her television show over this book. It’s one time where I can say the screen version is better than the print one.

Daniel Clowes TPB

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

I’d heard of this book and the movie but never really paid much attention to it. It was one of those things that I’d planned to get around to and just never did . . . until now.

As I read this graphic novel, it reminded me a lot of the television series “Girls.” The characters talk and act in ways that are natural. As such, the story almost seems unscripted. It’s like a slice of real life.

It’s presented minimalistically as well. The art is black and white with tinges of blue thrown in. I’m sure that reflects the melancholy of the lives of these young women as they navigate their way in the world.


I wasn’t overly impressed with this book. I wonder if the movie was better. It came out in 2001 and starred Scarlett Johansson.

Maybe, it’s just like the first book I mentioned in this post. Perhaps both of them are better on the screen, who knows? I do know that I love Johansson’s portrayal of Black Widow in the superhero movies! So maybe, it’s worth watching this one too.

My 2014 Reading Log – updated weekly with each new title I read.

My Heart is Yours (Mixtape Download)

My Heart is Yours

I have found the love of my life, my soul mate, my everything.

Her name is Stacy and she amazes me every day. I love her so much and made this mix to celebrate our first month together.

You can Download the Album Version or stream it with the player below.

Enjoy the tunes and help us celebrate this special day!

01. Arctic Monkeys – Baby I’m Yours
02. Heiruspecs – Heartsprings
03. Ghostface ft. She and Him – Save Me Dear
04. Penny and the Quarters – You & Me
05. Smoking Popes – Need You Around
06. Smoother – New Friend’s Theme Song
07. Avril Lavinge / Leona Lewis – I Will Be
08. Lonestar – Amazed
09. Lee Brice – Love Like Crazy
10. Pharrell Williams – Happy
11. Organized Rhyme – Happy Song
12. OK Go – Here We Go Again
13. Veruca Salt – Volcano Girls
14. Atmosphere – She’s Enough
15. Talib Kweli – Get By
16. Nas – The World is Yours
17. FYC – She Drives Me Crazy
18. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
19. Michael Jackson / Will.I.Am – The Girl is Mine
20. Linda Rondstadt – All My Life
21. Jack Johnson – Better Together
22. Treble Charger – Red
23. Tim McGraw – It’s Your Love

Building Your Author Platform in Your Pajamas

Authorpreneur in Pajamas

Authorpreneur in Pajamas: Building Your Author’s Platform Without Leaving Your Home by Geraldine Solon

An author cannot simply write a book and then rest on his or her laurels. We live in a digital age, and as such, are expected to be online and have a visible presence. Building a platform is absolutely essential. We need to promote our work and hustle to create a buzz for it and all of our other work.

Geraldine Solon has some tips that every author should follow. As I read this book, I found that I have already been doing a lot of these things. Many of her ideas and tips are just common sense.

That being said, here are a few that you might not have thought about before. I will be trying to implement these ones in the future, that’s for sure.

on the cover of your book . . . 

“Investing in a cover artist should be a priority . . .  We live in a visual world, and if your cover doesn’t stand out from the rest, what incentive will you provide readers to take a second look”

on pricing . . . 

“you can schedule a price change every so often. I usually schedule mine every three months to keep the momentum going. I keep the promo for two days and them bring them back to the original price. I have discovered that this tactic works and provides more exposure to my novels.”

on the importance of having a website . . . 

Your website should have a welcome page, bio, and a photo.

I don’t really have a welcome page or a photo on my site. I use a logo that is identifiable and I use it across all of my online platforms. I think that is just as good. That being said, I think I will add a photo and an “About Me” page on my site. I know that people like to see these things too.

add a reader’s guide . . . 

“Some authors have a reading guide in the back of their book. A reading guide with questions about each chapter can be used as a form of discussion for the members of a book club.”

I have been able to use some of these reader guides in the classroom. I really appreciate the one that is at the end of my all time favourite book, Heartbeat. 

on scheduling tweets . . .

I know there are programs that allow you to do that. I never have scheduled a tweet but I do try to sign on to Twitter several times a day. It might be worth scheduling tweets every three hours though. It seems to work for Solon.

make it free (for a limited time) . . . 

Making your ebook available for free for a short period of time is a great way to gain exposure and earn new fans.

“Since this strategy has worked for me, I have committed myself to doing this every three months.”

My List of 2014 Reads – updated continually all year long!

Great Drama and Dance Strategies

Drama and Dance StrategiesHere are some great activities you can use in your Drama and Dance lessons (if you can find this amazing resource) I was asked to take it down from the site.

The Treasure Chest: Story, Drama and Dance / Movement in the Classroom – A Collection of Integrated Lesson Maps.

The lesson maps are based around picture books, many of those books are now out-of-print and hard to find but these strategies can work in a variety of different situations.

Treasure Chest Strategies

The strategies in this guide are applicable in many teaching situations. Teachers should feel free to choose the strategy or combination of strategies that will work best with their students. Time, space constraints, purpose, design, and the students’ ability will affect the use of these strategies.

Many of the drama strategies have been developed by Jonothan Neelands and can be found in his book, Structuring Drama Work. 

The movement strategies have been developed from work that Glenys McQueen Fuentes has included in teacher workshops across Ontario.

Ruby Sparks – I fell in love with her too!

Ruby Sparks Movie

I love the public library. I end up reading books and watching movies that I normally wouldn’t have come across.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed this one out.  The back of the DVD said that it was about a writer  who falls in love with one of his characters. The character then materializes in his life.


Zoe Kazan was absolutely perfect as Ruby Sparks. And I fell in love with her just as much as her author / creator did.

The story was magical, touching, romantic, and at times awkward. I was so captivated by it that I sat through as all the credits rolled. I immediately watched all of the bonus features as well.

Shockingly, the two leads in the film were a real-life couple. The film was directed by a couple as well. And the actress who played title character wrote the screenplay.

I don’t want to say anything else about this film. You should go into it knowing as little as I did. I think it will blow you away too.

This movie is absolutely perfect, and you know I don’t say that very often.

WIHH4: Rapsody Spotlight

WIHH4 RapsodyWe are continuing our coverage of Women in Hip-Hip 4, DOPEfm’s annual radio special to celebrate International Women’s Day.

This is the last segment of the show and is a spotlight on one of the biggest talents in hip-hop music and culture.

LoDo, who was on Our Roundtable Panel, had the chance to interview Rapsody. I have taken highlights from that interview and interlaced them with some of her amazing songs.

This is WIHH 4 – Rapsody Spotlight and features these songs . . .

80s and 90s Babies
Special Way
Jedi Code ft. Phonte and Jay Electronica
The Women’s Work
Pace Myself
Never Fail

Download the podcast for free or stream it with the player below.

A Great Writing Guide: The Creative Compass


The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada.

I took quite a few notes as I read this book. Here are some of the passages that really spoke to me.

On the importance of giving ourselves time to think . . .

“Dream. Set your mind loose to roam when you’re stuck in traffic, for instance, or in the shower, cooking, or eating lunch at your desk. Let waves of ideas and images break over you. Every now and then, you’ll connect with a sticky idea, the tightly coiled germ of a personally meaningful story poised to expand dramatically.”

On improvising . . .

“I’m not the kind of writer who can put a sheet of paper into a typewriter and improvise . . . . only by experimenting can you determine how familiar you need to be with your story before you’re truly prepared to draft.”

I am the opposite. I love to work with a blank page and discover my story as I write. Improvising is pretty much the way I work.

Every writer works differently . . .

“The questions we pose throughout the book have no right answers, only those that work for you.”

and  . . .

“Your ultimate goal should be to identify your current capabilities, along with the routines that enable them, and to surpass them both, continuously expanding those situations in which you can dream. . . Ask yourself: What do I do regularly now that once seemed impossible? What made it possible?”

I love that passage. Writing a book can seem like a huge task. It can seem impossible. But we do impossible things every day, things that our younger selves would never have been able to do.

So, if in the process of writing, you start to feel like you aren’t good enough, and that you want to quit . . .

Just remember this . . .

“We choose to stop writing, or not to begin, because we don’t believe our words are good enough, which must mean we’re not good enough. And never will be good enough. Ever.”

Of course, that simply isn’t true.

I marked up quite a few more passages in this book. It’s a great read for beginning and tried authors alike. I especially like the advice they give about getting open and honest feedback from peers.

They suggest including a questionnaire for your readers that will help you revise and polish the manuscript. This way, you will get some useful information and opinions that you can work with.

So, when you send your manuscript for someone to read, make sure to include . . .

“a printed questionnaire for readers, intended to accompany your manuscript like a cover letter. . . Instruct your readers to peruse these questions before they start reading your manuscript and to return them afterward.

  1. After you’ve read the full manuscript, please step away for a few days. Now, presuming you’ve done so: What do you recall of the story’s events? Please summarize in writing all that you can recall of the major events of the story—including its beginning and ending—without consulting the manuscript.
  2. On returning to the manuscript, imagine that you’d come across it, not knowing who wrote it. Out of idle curiosity, you flipped it open and read the first line—would it make you want to read on of you had no other reason to do so? Does reading the first paragraph make you more likely to want to continue? Why or why not?
  3. At which points in the text, if any, did you have to stop and go back to reread?
  4. What did the story make you feel and at what point? With which character did you sympathize? Whom did you want to succeed? Who did you dislike? Why?
  5. At what points, if any, did you have trouble believing what happened? what do you think made you doubt?
  6. Did the story world (or setting) feel like a real place to you? If yes, do you recall any particular description or details that made it so? If not, where in the text did you find a clear sense of place lacking?
  7. Did any specific words or phrases detract from the story, either because you couldn’t understand them or because they pulled you out of the text and slowed you down? Please mark any such sections in the manuscript.
  8. I welcome any general impressions or feedback that you have. The above questions were to guide your feedback, not to restrict it. Please add anything suggestions or comments that you have about this story below. Thank you for everything!

I really enjoyed this read. I even found inspiration in it to use in my teaching of instrumental music. It’s amazing to see where inspiration can come from.

My 2014 Reading Log – will continue to be updated every time I read a new book this year.