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Frequently asked questions

Q.    When were you born? (Also popularly known as "How old are you?")

A.    I was born on January 28, 1966. Feel free to do the math. Getting older is really a pretty terrific thing. I encourage everyone to do it!

Q.    Where did you grow up?

A.    I was born in Bellevue, WA. My wife and I now live in the very groovy maritime town of Port Townsend, WA. That's on the Olympic Peninsula. I have always lived in Washington State on the west side of the mountains. It's a wonderful place to be! No matter where I travel, I'm always happy to return home.

Q.    Are you available to perform at my child's birthday party?

A.    Thank you so much for asking. I do not perform for private parties, but I'm honored you thought of me. You might wish to check the classifieds section of Seattle's Child magazine (assuming you're in western Washington) to find children's entertainers in the area who do provide performances for children's parties.

Eric and his sister, Karin

Eric with his big sister, Karin.

Q.    When did you begin writing poetry?

A.    I remember writing poetry in grade school. Does that count? My more serious interest in children's poetry took off while I was teaching. We were using poetry in the classroom and had many wonderful, diverse collections at our fingertips. Judith Viorst, Eileen Spinelli, Robert Frost, A. A. Milne, Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, Valerie Worth, Eve Merriam... Being surrounded by all of that brilliant work made me want to try my hand at writing poetry of my own.

Q.    Do you do the voice for Kermit the Frog? You sound a lot like Kermit.

A.    Thank you! I love Kermit! But no, I don’t do his voice.

Q.    How many poems have you written?

A.    Hundreds, certainly. I don't have an exact count.

Q.    How many books have you written?

A.    Dozens and dozens. But if you want to know how many have been published, well, that's an entirely different answer. Not everything I write is worth publishing. I have many, many manuscripts (stories) sitting in files that have never been accepted for publication and probably never will be. But that's quite okay. The more we write, the better writers we become.

Q.    Do you have any brothers or sisters?

A.    I have an older sister and a younger brother. (Here’s a not-so-secret secret: Even though I claim to have a younger sister in the song "I Love My Shoes," it's not true. Artist license. But the part where I say I love my sister? THAT part is true!)

Q.    Are you married? Do you have any children?

A.    Kim and I have two grown children, a son and a daughter. They are both spectacular people. This is not parent bias speaking. It’s a well-documented and scientific fact. (Oh, and their spouses are pretty spectacular as well!)

Q.    Have you always been an author and songwriter?

A.    I was an elementary classroom teacher for eleven years. I also taught high school and middle school English. I still love being in the schools and working with students.

Q.    Where do you get your ideas for your songs and poems and stories?

A.    I get my ideas the same places you get your ideas. Sometimes they come from something I read or see or hear. Or something I hear incorrectly! That happens a lot. Many of my ideas come to me while I’m visiting schools. Between workshop sessions, I wander the halls and watch the students at lunch or at recess or busy at their schoolwork. I often say finding good ideas is not the difficult part. The difficult part is remembering those ideas (Always carry a notebook!) and then making the time to put those ideas to work.

Q.    Can you help me get published?

A.    The process of landing a publishing contract with a traditional publisher is hard, frustrating, not-quite-soul-crushing work. There’s no getting around that. But there are some things you can do to better your odds of getting your story seen and considered. Join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) for starters. Attend writing sessions. Attend writers’ conferences. Join a critique group. Read. Write. Read some more. Read current books, titles that are similar to what you are writing. Pick up a current edition of The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Learn how to properly format your manuscript and your cover letter. Submit your material to the publishers who seem the absolutely best fit. And as you wait to hear about that manuscript you’ve just submitted, keep writing! And reading. And writing some more.

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