Another Monday Morning Spark AND The New Feature!!!

Last week when I put up the Monday Morning Spark it was a total spur-of-the-moment thing.  But it seems quite a few people actually found it fun and/or useful.  So I thought, what the heck?  I’ll put up another one 🙂

google images

Today’s spark works like this:  pick 5 words you like.  You can do this by pointing at random words on the page of a book or in a dictionary, or by choosing words whose meanings you like, or whose sounds please you.  Or take 5 words from the song you’re listening to on the radio in your car or the first five words your daughter ever spoke.   Any 5 words.  Or you can use mine 🙂  Here they are:


Now.  Take those 5 words (mine or your own) and write a story that includes some or all of them.

Take a moment to think about your words and all their possibilities.  Rose, for example, can be a color, or a flower, or a name, or an action – the enchanted bathtub rose into the air!  Gold can also be a color, but in addition it can be treasure or money.  A feather can come from a hawk or a duckling.  Or feather can describe someone’s hair, or the way grass looks, or how someone decorates or furnishes their nest or home.

See?  Possibilities!

Now, expand on your 5.  Rose might make you think of other flowers – tulips or tiger lilies or black-eyed Susan’s; ocean might make you think of seashells or starfish or pirates; whisper might make you think of secrets or slumber parties or the sound of a snake winding through tall grass….  See what you come up with!

So take your 5 and go!  Let us know if you come up with a good idea from them, and if you’re feeling generous, share your five in the comments for someone who is having trouble coming up with words!  (Even if your words seem obvious and unexotic to you, they might spark ideas in someone else :))

Alrighty, then!  Everyone feeling sparkly?  Then it’s time for


Are you excited?

I’m excited!

Okay!  Here it is!  Fun for writers, parents, and teachers!

It’s called, Oh, Susanna! and it’s a version of Dear Abby, except not about relationships (well, not yours – character relationships would be OK :))  An advice column/question forum for those of us in the children’s book world, as it were 🙂

Oh, Susanna! (which you have to say like you’re calling me across a wide field, not like you utterly disapprove of me :)) will be a chance for you to ask me any question you want about writing, reading, teaching writing, being an author etc.  (Primarily focusing on the picture book and early reader age group.)

For example:

Oh, Susanna!
I am half way through writing my picture book about a pirate who commandeers an enchanted bathtub.  He now has a ship and a crew, but I can’t figure out what should happen next.  Can you help?
Love, Lost At Sea


Oh, Susanna!
My two year old son is afraid of the dark.  Can you recommend a picture book or two we could read that might help him feel safer at night?
Thanks, Owns Stock In Nightlights


Oh, Susanna!
Can you suggest an enjoyable writing activity for my kindergarten?  Writing is not my area of expertise, but I want to make it fun for my class!  We are currently studying penguins, if that helps at all…
Love, Wants To Inspire Six-Year-Olds


Oh, Susanna!
I’m giddy with excitement but also extremely nervous!  I’m doing my very first school visit as an author next week.  My picture book is about a chicken who crosses the road.  How will I entertain a roomful of kindergartners?
Please help!  Weak In The Knees

Get the idea?

I will answer, of course, but then, all our lovely and devoted readers can chime in with their ideas, too.  Any question you ask of Oh, Susanna! will (hopefully!) give you all kinds of helpful feedback.  Struggling with your query letter?  Wondering what the average advance is for a first picture book?  Interested in entering contests but don’t know where to find them?  Want to try submitting to a magazine but have never done it?  Wondering whether you’re the only one who sneaks into the bathroom at 2 AM to scribble ideas on toilet paper by the nightlight?  Want to know who makes bookmarks?  Need an opinion on your homemade book trailer?  Wondering if anyone besides you will be able to read your rhyming couplets successfully?  Curious as to whether Snickers or Milky Ways make a better writing snack?  Ask away!  If I should happen not to know the answer, surely one or more of our readers will!  And remember, there are no dumb questions 🙂

Shall we give it the old college try?  Please email your questions to me by using the handy Email Me button in the right sidebar or addressing them to susanna [at] susannahill [dot] com.  Please put Oh Susanna in the subject line.

This sounds like fun to me – I always want to know stuff from other authors! – so I’m really hoping you guys will like the idea too!

I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

(And if I don’t, then I guess I’ll know what you think of this idea! :))

Have a marvelous Monday!

87 thoughts on “Another Monday Morning Spark AND The New Feature!!!

  1. Leigh Covington says:

    I love the “spark” idea as well as “Oh, Susanna!” How wonderful! You are seriously brilliant! Constantly coming up with wonderful new ideas to help us all out. I LOVE IT! Thanks so much!

  2. Beth Stilborn says:

    Oh Susanna! sounds like a fabulous idea. You're so creative! (I don't know why, but notifications of your new posts don't come to me until after 9 p.m., so I'm always late to the party.)

  3. Alana Garrigues says:

    Love the Oh Susanna idea, which sings out loud in my head as I read the post. I very much look forward to the Q and A sessions to come!

    And I'm still gunning to do last week's Monday Morning spark, which I adored. I'm hoping that Wednesday morning while my kids are safe and sound at preschool after the long holiday weekend I will be able to pull out a pen and paper and steaming latte and write it out. I'll be sure to post what becomes of it. 🙂

  4. Renee LaTulippe says:

    Well, now you've opened up a can of worms, haven't you? You already know from my numerous emails that I LOVE to ask questions and pick people's brains, so I'll be sending something…Now, what should I ask first? (How about – are you in for my poetry thing or not??? Though don't know where you'll find the time!) 😉

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'm so glad you like the idea, Beth! And I don't know why that happens either! I get a lot of people's posts way behind like that even though I say to let me know immediately. Clar told me to schedule my posts earlier (which means getting them written… :)) but obviously that's not it because yesterday's post went up at 12:04 AM EST – so one would think you should have gotten it sooner…. It's a mystery! If you happen to figure it out, please let me know!

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh Susanna is going to have her work cut out for her! The few questions that have come in so far are excellent and a little trickier than she was expecting! 🙂 Glad you like the idea. I'm still chuckling over your TP post! 🙂

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thank you so mcuh for your enthusiasm, Alana! I'm so glad you like the idea of Oh Susanna (please send questions! :)) and I hope hte Monday Morning spark inspires a great story whatever time you get to sit down and write it! Looking forward to hearing what comes of it! 🙂

  8. Robyn Campbell says:

    Oh my goodness! This sounds so awesome. *questions flood her mind* You are so made of awesome sauce with your giving back. Squeezing you. Tight!

    Doing the spark in the privacy of my office. 🙂 Great idea, btw.

    Oh no! Now that tune is stuck in my head. Really.

  9. Robyn Campbell says:

    Oh my goodness! This sounds so awesome. *questions flood her mind* You are so made of awesome sauce with your giving back. Squeezing you. Tight!

    Doing the spark in the privacy of my office. 🙂 Great idea, btw.

    Oh no! Now that tune is stuck in my head. Really.

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    You are so funny, Robyn 🙂 And thank you! I love the idea of being made of awesome sauce! I hope it's like caramel 🙂 Good luck with your sparks. And Oh Susanna rarely gets stuck in my head quite the way “There's A Hole In My Bucket” does. Oops! Now I've gone and done it!

  11. Cathy Mealey says:

    That's my problem too! But when I am here I find such fun links and I wind up clicking away on my 'work' time, trying to justify it as 'research' LOL

  12. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Research is very important too 🙂

    Cathy Mealey (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    That's my problem too! But when I am here I find such fun links and I wind up clicking away on my 'work' time, trying to justify it as 'research' LOL

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  13. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Yes, you are very creative…and helpful…and ingenious. We all knew that…and now we know it some more. 🙂
    Lovely idea!

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