Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kirsten Larson!

Greetings, everyone!

What with the Valentiny Contest and such, we haven’t had a Tuesday Debut for a couple weeks, but I’m thrilled to be back today featuring the birthday of a wonderful book I’ve watched come along pretty much from its inception.  And I can’t wait for you to meet our Tuesday Debut-ess, the lovely and talented Kirsten Larson (who once upon a time participated in Phyllis’s World Tour back in March of 2012 by taking Phyllis to the Mojave Desert to ride on an F-117 Night Hawk! 🙂 )

First, have a look at this terrific book!

WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane
by Kirsten W. Larson
illustrated by Tracy Subisak
Calkins Creek, Feb. 25, 2020
nonfiction for ages 7 to 10.

Version 2

Even as a girl, Emma Lilian Todd saw problems like gusts of wind – they set her mind soaring. When Lilian saw the earliest airplane designs, she knew she could build something better, trying and failing repeatedly until her biggest dream took flight.

 

SUSANNA: And now, please help me welcome Kirsten Larson!  We are so excited to have you join us today, Kirsten!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

KIRSTEN: In 2014, I was exploring an idea I’d jotted down in my writer’s notebook: Rosie the Riveter. I had a stack of books from the library including Andrea Beatty’s Rosie Revere, Engineer, illustrated by David Roberts, which included Lilian Todd in a list of female aviation firsts. I have no idea what made me pick up a fictional picture book (in rhyme) only tangentially related to my original topic, but I’m so glad I did. Reading books of all kinds has always given me ideas and improved my craft.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

KIRSTEN: Well, as you know, I wrote the first draft of this book in your March 2014 Making Picture Book Magic class, and you were one of my first readers! I had started my research that February and worked on this book until August 2014 when I started a new project.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KIRSTEN: A million! Even after those first six months of concerted effort, I revised the book periodically in response to conference critiques or a brainstorm I had for a new way of approaching things. I even wrote it as a middle grade historical fiction (only a chapter). Because I started my career writing school and library books to spec on tight deadlines, I don’t become too attached to my words. And in Making Picture Book Magic you encouraged a flexible approach, making us write multiple first lines and endings, for example. Honestly, revising and tinkering with structure and approach is my favorite part of writing and revision.

 

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
KIRSTEN: Do we ever REALLY know? I think our instincts get better as we go along, but all of us submit work before it’s ready. This book was no different. I sent it to agents when I probably shouldn’t have (including the half-written middle grade opening. Yikes!). But once I’d made it the best I could with the help of many critique partners and professional critiques, and wasn’t making meaningful changes, I felt it could go out to agents. Now that I have an agent, I’m happy to have another sounding board for when work is ready.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KIRSTEN: Early on I decided writing for children was going to be my career, and I wanted an agent. I only sent this book to one publisher via an SCBWI conference submission. In my opinion, it’s important to pick a path: either submit directly to publishers or to agents, not both. One or two submissions to publishers while querying agents may be fine, but if you query too many, you’ve limited an agent’s options. And they won’t take you on as a client.

 

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 🙂 )

KIRSTEN: When my agent took WOOD, WIRE, WINGS out on submission, it racked up the rejections over a period of seven months. I’ll be forever grateful to Carolyn Yoder who saw the potential in Lilian’s story, was willing to work with a developing writer, and asked for a revise and resubmit. I finally had an offer about nine months after we first sent the story out. I truly believe it’s about finding the publishing partner who’s the right fit for a particular book. And Calkins Creek was so worth the wait.

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KIRSTEN: For me, I’ve always found the most magical moment to be when you get an offer (from an agent or a publisher) since contract negotiations can take awhile. Still, when my contract finally arrived, I made my kids pose for a signing photo with me even though they had no idea what was going on. And my husband bought me some really cool paper airplane earrings.

 

 

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

KIRSTEN: If it hasn’t been mentioned already, I would refer folks to author Hannah Holt’s survey of picture book advances. (link: https://hannahholt.com/blog/2017/9/25/writing-picture-books-a-look-at-the-number-part-2) I will say my offer was in line with what one would expect from a small-to-mid-sized publisher, and I am thankful to have an agent negotiating my advance, royalty rates, and other elements of my contract. But compensation is really only one consideration when evaluating an offer. It’s important to know about a publisher’s reach (distribution and marketing), the editor’s vision for the book, and in my case, the fact-checking process. The best offer isn’t always the highest offer. You have to look at the whole package.

 

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

KIRSTEN: My editorial process began before I even sold the book, since my wonderful editor, Carolyn Yoder, bought the book on a revise and resubmit request. The R&R focused on adding historical context. After I sold the book, I revised again, focusing on adding interiority and emotional truth the story. Finally, in an unusual twist, we did another revision after we saw illustrator Tracy Subisak’s dummy. There was so much of the story Tracy was able to tell visually, allowing me to cut portions of the text. Going through these revisions changed my writing process going forward. I have learned to consider what part of the story illustrations can carry, and what I absolutely HAVE to say with words.

 

 

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

KIRSTEN: One thing that surprised me for this particular book was the amount of input I had into the illustration process. I was offered input into who might illustrate and was thrilled when Tracy Subisak came on board. Very early in the process, I was asked to provide art references. These were visual descriptions from my written sources, as well as copies of historic photographs Tracy could use. I had input into the art at every stage, and in some cases, editor Carolyn Yoder and I made suggestions for better historical accuracy. For example, we asked Tracy to revise the shape of the room at the Patent Office to make it more historically accurate. I have such utter respect for illustrators of nonfiction, who must marry such attention to detail with their artistic vision.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?  What was that like?
KIRSTEN: Waiting for reviews was one of the most nerve-racking parts of the process. Because I wrote this book so many years ago, I feel my writing has changed significantly, and I was nervous about how this earlier work would be received. I was so thrilled when the book got a positive review from Kirkus. I felt like the reviewer really “got” the book, including the deeper messages about failure being a natural part of invention and engineering, and perseverance being an essential trait for any creator. Link to full review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kirsten-w-larson/wood-wire-wings/

 

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

KIRSTEN: I got my formal offer Feb. 10, 2017 and received my advance copy just before Christmas 2019 all wrapped up with a shiny red ribbon from my publisher. So that’s just shy of three years.

xmas Kirsten with new book

 

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

KIRSTEN: One of the most fascinating parts of my publishing journey has been learning what a good publisher can do in terms of marketing. While it’s very early in my publishing process, my publisher has sent F&Gs (folded and gathered copies of the book) out to professional reviewers like Kirkus and book influencers, like Alyson Beecher at KidLit Frenzy. As soon as professional reviews were published, the publisher was able to feed review snippets to Amazon, B&N, and Edelweiss, which is used by book buyers. I know Calkins Creek has wonderful distribution through Penguin Random House with a team of sales reps who are knowledgeable about my book and are able to sell the book into bookstores and museum gift shops. And Calkins Creek has a presence at many conferences, where I’m sure my book will make an appearance.

 

 

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

KIRSTEN: I think one of the most powerful things I did (along with 37 of my best book peeps) is create a book-marketing group, the Soaring 20s. I’ve also recently joined @STEAMTeam2020, which is cross promoting STEM/STEAM-focused books for all ages. Sometimes it feels weird to scream and shout about your own book, so working as part of a team to cheer each other on is much more comfortable for me. Aside from boosting each other on social media and creating original blog and social media content to reach potential book readers, my groups are focused on early reviews, reaching out to book influencers, and library purchases.

I think another positive marketing approach for this book was to reach out to like-minded groups who are natural audiences for a book about a female aviation pioneer. I’ve booked some speaking opportunities and pitched articles for their publications. For me, those groups included the Experimental Aircraft Association and Women in Aviation International.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

KIRSTEN: I wrote the first terrible draft of a magazine article for kids in October 2011, and started writing picture books in 2012 through Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge. So, it will be more than eight years of honing my craft, finding an agent, learning book marketing, etc.

 

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

KIRSTEN: I’ve always thought writing is a lot like inventing/engineering. It’s a flash of inspiration followed by years of perspiration and perseverance as you tinker with and tweak your initial idea until it can soar.

 

 

Version 2

Author Kirsten Larson

My website: kirsten-w-larson.com

Twitter/Instgram/Pinterest: @kirstenwlarson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KirstenLarsonWrites/

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series, Kirsten, and for paying it forward to other writers!  Your knowledge and expertise are so helpful to all of us, and we wish you all the very best of success with this and future books!

Readers, if you have questions for Kirsten, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Kirsten’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

The 2020 Valentiny Writing Contest WINNERS!!!

Darlings!

Do you know what today is?

Of course you do!

That’s why you’re here!

No one wants to miss National Tortilla Chip Day!

Let’s take a poll!

Which is better: potato chips or tortilla chips?

and

What is your favorite dip? Guacamole? Salsa? Queso? Other?

These are the burning questions that can only be answered by the great minds here in our little community.

Now I come to think of it, there is probably a picture book in this. . . The Search for Perfection. . . or maybe, Who Stole The Dip?

But back to the point, I think we can all agree that for un-dipped flavor, our friends the potato chips have poor plain tortillas beat hands down.  Also, I would argue that ruffled potato chips have more flavor than smooth ones.  But once dip is involved, all bets are off.  Tortilla chips with both guacamole AND salsa may surpass the lowly plain potato chip.  (Although, if you get a good barbecue or sour cream and onion potato chip, the tables turn again!)

MY!  What a knotty problem!  Thank goodness you’re here to weigh in!

Now off you go to your Mondays to enjoy your properly-dipped tortilla chips.

Ta-ta.

See you tomorrow for Tuesday Debut.

Thanks for stopping by.

Buh-bye now.

What?

You DIDN’T come to talk about tortilla chips?

What else could possibly be on your mind on National Tortilla Chip Day?

Ah. . .

. . . I know what it is!

You’ve spent the whole weekend in a fever of anticipation to find out who won

The 5th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2019!

 

So I suppose, if you’re very nice to me and agree with everything I say (for example, that ruffled potato chips are better than smooth ones) and are willing to give me a tiara and elect me Princess of Clove Valley, I will tell you.

But first a few words from our sponsor (me) which I know shocks you (not!) 🙂

As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  (Did I mention there were nearly 150?!)  Really!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!  The other judges and I are blown away anew each time!

But with large entry numbers, all of high quality, come hard choices.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you last week for your vote.

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another, or that the judges couldn’t reach a consensus on.  It is SO HARD! One of our favorite entries – well written and curious – was over the word limit!  Two entries came in after the deadline.  Many other entries were so well written but simply weren’t curious enough, although they were fabulous in other ways!

So my assistant judges and I would like to award recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

 

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (entries we truly wrestled with not including in the finalists!)

Ingrid Boydston for What’s Love?

Theresa Kiser for Little Card’s Purpose

Rebecca Loescher for Crabby’s Heart Speaks

Mia Geiger for Secret Stash

 

 

2. For Great Kid Appeal: (not already mentioned in the finals or other categories)

Laura Howard for Bags Of Love (fun and sweet!)

Kelsey Gross for Moe’s Valentine’s Day Discovery  (good story structure and curiosity, sweet ending)

Sarah Meade for Valenturtle

Mary Warth for Mystery Marks

 

3. For Original POV:

Amy Flynn for Mailbox (POV of a mailbox! – well-written!)

 

4. For Humor:

Genevieve Puttay for Cupid Caper (clever and funny! but we thought maybe some of the humor would escape the 12 and under set)

Katrina Swenson for Cupid’s Love Trials

Jen Bagan for Cupid And Curtis

Andrea MacDonald for Peck! (funny, original inside-the-egg POV)

 

5. For Well-Written, Fun Story With Great Sibling Interaction:

Jilanne Hoffman for Double-Crossed Hearts

Joy Pitcairn for February 14

 

6. For Well-Written Scariest Valentine Ever That Totally Gave Us The Shivers! : 

Sofia Dibble for Ophelia Divine (so original and very Edgar Allan Poe!)

 

7. For We Loved It But Not Curious Enough!:

Aundra Tomlins for Better With Bear

Elizabeth LaGrange Muster for Cupid’s Curious Conundrum (great mash-up of holiday characters!)

MaryAnn Cortez for Yeti Wants A Valentine

Sue Lancaster for Shelly & Saul

Claire Lewis for My Piggy Valentine

Elsie Duffany for The Curious Kitten (well done, Elsie!  Keep up the great work!)

Cindy Williams Schrauben for How To Find Your Valentine

Anne Bromley for A Shelter Dog’s Valentine

Kate Thompson for When Love Gives You Wings

 

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your award badge and prize, which is five dollars in a format that can be emailed for you to put toward something you’d like at a large online store (and I’m being cryptic because when I did this for Halloweensie I got a ton of problematic spam mail because of the way I worded the post, but hopefully you can figure it out.  The store starts with the letter A 🙂 )

 

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2018 VALENTINY CONTEST as voted on by you, our devoted readers!!!

rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat

DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Nicole Loos Miller
for

Seeds Of Love!!!

Congratulations, Nicole, on a beautifully written entry which had us wondering right along with your main character what would grow and what would be done with it, along with a lovely message!

In Second Place

Kelly Conroy
for
Candy Conundrum

Congratulations, Kelly, on a delightfully kid-friendly entry we loved for your MC’s very believable curiosity and subsequent taste-testing of the candy hearts and perfect final question 🙂   You get to pick your prize after Nicole.

In Third Place

Sarah Meade
for

Gibbon’s Valentine’s Surprise

Congratulations, Sarah!  You did a terrific job of writing a fun, well-structured story in 214 words!  We were especially fond of Sloth 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Nicole and Kelly.

In Fourth Place

Nancy Riley
for

Finding A Friend

Congratulations, Nancy, on an engaging story of a curious little rover on a Valentine mission on Mars in perfect rhyme!  You get to pick your prize after Nicole, Kelly, and Sarah!

In Fifth Place

Charlotte Sheer
for

Scraps Of Love

Congratulations, Charlotte, on your heart-warming story. We felt Papa and the neighbors’ curiosity over what on earth Sergio was up to!  How lovely that he was doing something nice for those who had helped him. . .  using reclaimed and recycled items!  You get to pick after Nicole, Kelly, Sarah, and Nancy!

In Sixth Place

Jean James
for

The Stinky Valentine

Congratulations, Jean!  You really had us wondering what kind of awful stinky thing was in that box!  And what a fun twist that a Valentine mix-up had occurred! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Seventh Place…

Marty Bellis
for
Dear Cupid

Congratulations, Marty!  You made us laugh 🙂  You get to pick next 🙂

In Eighth Place…

Sara Ackerman
for
I Snorfle You

Congratulations, Sara!  You did a beautiful job of showing curiosity in an unfamiliar world (we loved that two eyeballs seemed strange and that Zingle marveled over cold bits of the sky falling and that he had to learn that glitter was not a snack! 🙂 ) as well as the beginning of friendship.  You get to pick after Marty 🙂

In Ninth Place…

Chelsea Tornetto
for
Sending Love

Congratulations, Chelsea!  We loved your imaginings of how a Valentine might get from one side of the map to the other!  You get to pick after Sara!

In Tenth Place…

JC Kelly
for
Always.  Every Day.  No Matter What.

Congratulations, JC!  We loved how believably “kid” Johnny was with his curiosity over how far his mom’s love went, and how patient and forgiving his mom! You get to pick after Chelsea!

In Eleventh Place…

Michelle Howell Miller
for
Whose Valentine Could This Be?

Congratulations, Michelle, on a wonderful entry for youngest readers, beautifully done!  You get to pick after JC 🙂

In Twelfth Place…

Chambrae Griffith
for
Beetle’s Valentine

Congratulations, Chambrae, on a lovely, curiosity filled story in well-written rhyme!

 

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  (The sooner the better!)  And for your convenience, the whole prize list is included at the bottom of this post.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause and a gigantic chocolate heart… or lots of little chocolate hearts… or both… really, you can never have too much chocolate 🙂 . (Or perhaps you’d rather have a shower of tortilla chips and some lovely dishes of dip 🙂 )

Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 🙂

 

The Prizes:  Oh, the awesomeness!  With heartfelt thanks to all who donated!

Penny’s Two Cents – an incredible opportunity for any picture book writer!

Sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a published author about your writing journey. Penny Parker Klostermann is offering her two cents. The prize includes six thirty-minute Skype/Google Hangout sessions with Penny. The sessions can be used anytime during 2020. Ask her anything related to writing for children and getting published. Up to two sessions can be used for general comments on a manuscript (not a full critique). Penny doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, (by any means) but she’s happy to share her two cents based on what she’s learned and continues to learn on her journey as an author.

Penny Klostermann

Penny is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) (now available in board book and with matching pajamas! 🙂 ) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

495eb-penny      Cooked-Up Fairy Tale

 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rosie Pova, author of If I Weren’t With You (Spork 2017),  Sarah’s Song (Spork 2017), and the forthcoming Sunday Rain (Lantana Publishing, September 2020)

Rosie Pova                Sarah's Song

If I Weren't With You Sunday Rain

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) from Katey Howes, author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press 2017), MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling Children’s Books 2018), BE A MAKER (Carolrhoda Books, 2019), and the forthcoming RISSY NO KISSIES (Lerner/Carolrhoda Spring 2021)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art Grandmother Thorn  Be A Maker

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Sherry Howard, author of ROCK & ROLL WOODS (Spork 2018)

Sherry Howard (4)Cover Rock and Roll Woods

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lydia Lukidis, author of NO BEARS ALLOWED (Blue Whale Press 2019) and many educational titles.

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

– a spot in Making Picture Book Magic (Interactive or Self Study version – winner’s choice) – an online picture book writing course from Yours Truly.  If you choose the interactive version, month to be mutually agreed on by me and the winner.

MPBM

– Prize Pack #1 – a personalized signed copy of A MORNING WITH GRANDPA (Lee&Low Books 2016) by Sylvia Liu and the 2020 Guide To Literary Agents (which you may exchange for the Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2020 if you prefer)

MorningWithGrandpa_cover 2020 Guide to Literary Agents
Lee&Low New Voices Award 2013

Picture Book Prize Pack – a personalized signed copy of NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE (HarperCollins 2019) by Ashley Franklin and a personalized signed copy of NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman & Co 2019) by Elaine Kiely Kearns

Not Quite Snow White      noah

Picture Book Pack From Chris and Chris: a personalized signed copy of EMILY’S IDEA (Sounds True, March 2020) by Christine Evans and a personalized signed copy of HEY, HEY, HAY! A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them (Holiday House 2018) by Christy Mihaly

Emily's Idea HEY, HEY, HAY! Cover

Historical Women Picture Book Pack: a personalized signed copy of QUEEN OF PHYSICS: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) by Teresa Robeson and a personalized signed copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books 2020) by Vivian Kirkfield

queen of physics cover              Making Their Voices Heard
Asian/Pacific American Award Picture
Book and ALA Notable Picture Book

A SURPRISE PACK! – 2 additional picture books (not signed) donated by Darshana Khiani (who will have her own book, How To Wear A Sari, out in Spring 2021!): What Color Is Night? by Grant Snider and Caspian Finds A Friend by Jacqueline Veissid

What Color Is Night? Caspian Finds A Friend

 

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, buying and recommending their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, writing them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and showing your appreciation to them in any way you can! 😊

The 5th Annual Valentiny Contest -FINALISTS!!!

Every time I run a contest I have a great time reading fabulous entries from writers who have entered my contests before and being dazzled by new writers who are entering for the first time, visiting blogs I’ve been to many times and blogs I’m seeing for the first time, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, and generally being blown away by the collective talent (and peer support) in the kid lit community.

It is SO MUCH FUN!

And everything is as lovely as lovely can be. . .

. . . right up until I have to choose the finalists!

Then, all of a sudden, I find myself saying, “Why? Why do I do this to myself?”

and, “Whose idea was this ANYWAY?!”

and “GAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”

cd521-surprisedbabytiger

Because you are all creative geniuses, and your work is spectacular, but there are only 12 prizes.

So somehow the other judges and I have to winnow somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 entries (sometimes more than twice that) down to 12!

Ouch!

Is it any wonder that we are reduced to a state where only a roomful of puppies and chocolate can give us the will to go on? 🙂

But we have made it through and by sheer stubborn determination present to you

The 5th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2019!

~ FINALISTS!!!~

 

And it turns out, “curiosity” was much harder to incorporate well than I expected it to be!  Some terrifically-written entries missed it altogether, some were more self-examining or kind of wondering than really curious, some had one or two questions included but didn’t give rise to any real curiosity. . .  A curious state of affairs! 🙂

Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say.  (I know you’re shocked as I’m normally so spare with my words :))

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for so many!

Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to go around and read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments.  This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories.  It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed.  I hope you all got as much delight  and entertainment out of the reading as I did!  Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 🙂

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition – about 150 entries of which only 12 made the finals.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using curiosity and success in making us feel the curiosity!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

We really tried to choose stories that did the best job of fulfilling ALL the judging criteria.  There were some truly wonderful stories that didn’t have much to do with Valentines Day even if Valentine’s Day was mentioned in passing – including a couple that literally didn’t mention it at all – or that didn’t seem to really showcase curiosity although they may have used the word “curiosity” – several of which were very creative and well-written, or that were written in rhyme where the meter was off, or that didn’t seem particularly kid-oriented even though they were wonderful stories, or that really had us…until the last line or two when things sadly fell apart (which I know is often due to the tight word count requirement.)  We tried our best to select finalists that checked all the boxes.

So without further ado, I present to you the finalists in the 2020 Fifth Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite in the poll below by Saturday February 22 at 5 PM Eastern time.

To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not tell people you are a finalist.  Please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the curious little kitty whose curiosity nearly landed her in the jaws of the big bad wolf or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  We operate on the honor system.  I thank you in advance for respecting this. Your win will mean more if it’s honestly earned.

So now, here are the 2020 Valentiny Contest Finalists!!! Some poetry, some prose, some for younger readers, some for older (but still kid) readers, all fabulous 🙂

 

1 – Candy Conundrum

I wonder what they taste like.

The Hug Me heart looks good.

My mommy says, “Don’t eat them.”

My tummy says, I should.

I smell True Love and Kiss Me,

then give Be Mine a lick.

I chew up Smile and Soul Mate…Yuck!

I think I might be sick.

I wonder why they make them,

those pretty hearts I ate,

to give to someone that you love

…or someone that you hate.

 

2 – Seeds Of Love

“The world needs more love,” says Grandma.
She sets a flower pot on the table.
We paint it with hearts for Valentine’s Day.
I don’t know about love, but the world has more color at least.

The seed is tiny, but Grandma says not to underestimate it.
What kind of seed is it?
But she won’t tell me.
“Life is better when there is room for wonder,” she whispers.

Poke. Dig. Poke.
The dark dirt sticks under my fingernails.
Scoop. Scoop. Scoop.
Back over my seed. Like a cozy blanket.

See you soon, little seed.

You are my sunshine, I sing.
My watering can is a gentle rainstorm.
Push. Push. Up!
A tiny bit of green starts to show.
You can do it.

Grow.
Secrets, bunched and waiting on a thin green stem.
Grow.
A little taller each day.
Stretch.

At last!
A tiny star surrounded by pink.
Bright and delicate.
Lovely and strong.

“Who should we give it to?’ Grandma asks.
I want to keep it.
“Love is for sharing,” she insists.
We leave it on our neighbors doorstep.

“We did it,” laughs Grandma.
And she’s right.
I can feel it.
There’s more love now.

From just one seed.

 

3 – The Stinky Valentine

The box arrived,
we stood and stared.
It smelled so bad,
that no one dared,
to pick it up
or sniff their nose,
the contents likely decomposed.

The box was wrapped
with bows, and hearts,
a Valentine
that smelled like farts!

It was addressed
to our whole family,
posted from
our favorite Grammy.
But why would Grammy
send a cache
that smelled like
weeks old, rotting trash?

I don’t think that’s
a Valentine’s treat,
it smells like Grandpa’s
stinky feet!

Mom called out
for Volunteers,
but we replied
with loud Bronx cheers!

Mom grabbed the box,
and held her nose,
tore off the hearts,
ribbons, and bows.

We all leaned in,
a tight knit squeeze,
and eyed a block
of blue veined cheese!

“Ewww,” we cried!
Quite displeased,
to find this marbled,
Valentine Cheese!

Then “Knock, Knock, Knock”
tapped like a score,
from the knocker
on our door.

Now who is that?
We went to see,
why,
Mr. Mouse’s Family,
who held a box
adorned with hearts,
that smelled divine,
and not like farts.

“I think this box belongs to you!”
It seems the post
mixed-up the two,
and no offense,
but this box reeks
of sickly, sugary,
doughy treats.”

We all laughed,
relieved to find,
a much more palatable
Valentine!

 

4 – I Snorfle You

Zingle gripped Mama’s warm green hand.

“I snorfle you,” Mama said.

“Snorfle you too.”

Zingle didn’t like this planet.

Spaceships zoomed on the ground. HONK!

Everyone stared at him—with two eyeballs.

And cold bits of sky fell everywhere.Brrrr.

“What’s this? What’s this? What’s this?” Zingle asked.

“Flag. Squirrel. School.” Mama brought him inside. “I snorfle you,” she said before leaving.

Zingle’s eye teared up. But then he looked around. “What’s this? What’s this? What’s this?”

“Sand. Playdough. Hamster.” an Earthlittle replied.

Lucy taught Zingle everything. Zingle got used to Lucy’s second eye.

Then one day, school looked different.

“What’s this?” Zingle asked Lucy. “What’s this? What’s this?”

“Glitter. Heart. Valentine.”

“Why?” Zingle asked.

“It means ‘I love you.’”

“I zuv you?”

“Love.”

Zingle didn’t know what that meant, but he liked making things. And he liked his friend. Zingle would make a valentine for Lucy!

But the scissors wouldn’t listen to him. The glue was too sticky. Glitter was NOTa snack. A classful of double eyeballs stared at him. The valentine was all wrong, the sky was falling again, and Zingle wanted Mama. His eye teared up.

Then Lucy put something in Zingle’s hand. “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Zingle read the crooked heart: I snorfle you.

Zingle hugged Lucy. “Snorfle you, too.”

 

5 – Finding A Friend

She booted up and rolled outside.
“Today’s a special day.
How can I find a Valentine?
There has to be a way.”

“My mission is to make a friend,”
explained the little rover.
“So, NASA I am signing off.
I’ll call you later—over.”

She rumbled up a Martian hill,
antennas on alert.
She caught a sound, but what she found
was only blowing dirt.

Then suddenly, her radar pinged.
What could that be ahead?
She saw a rover stuck in sand.
Its batteries seemed dead.

“Oh, who are you?” she beeped in code.
“I wonder when you landed?
You couldn’t see the sand is deep?
Is that how you got stranded?”

She stretched her robot arm to him
and scanned his power pack.
“Perhaps a jolt of megavolts
will bring your functions back.”

Her stream of power filled his heart.
In minutes he was ready.
She pressed the button labelled START
and then she told him, “Steady.”

His motors revved and servos whirred.
She helped him from the hole.
“I’m Spirit. Thanks, you rescued me
and won my heart and soul!”

“My name is Curiosity.
I tracked down every sign,
to find a friend—I hope it’s you.
Please be my Valentine?”

 

6 – Dear Cupid

Dear Cupid,

Just wondering…

How good is your aim?

How often do you practice?

If you miss, do you try again?

How many arrows do you have, anyway?

Do you take requests? From anybody?

Or, are you like Santa? Do I have to have been good?

(I promise to try harder if you help me out.)

Here’s my list of targets. It’s kind of urgent. Let me explain.

  1. Mr. Crabtree. I sorta trampled his prize tomato plants…totally by accident. (He’s a BIG man. It might take two arrows.)
  2. Dad. Minor dent, garage door. Nothing anyone else would notice But he will.
  3. Mrs. Crinkly. Her trellis is trashed. Ball went haywire. Craziest thing. ( I’d like to stay on her good side. She bakes great cookies. And gives you milk, too. Or did. Not sure now. )
  4. Mom. Her fudge cake. I tested it. Delicious. Apparently not for me.

I’m usually a lovable kid, but today’s been an exceptionally bad day.

Thanks.

Your friend, I hope!
Dennis, as in Grateful (no, NOT the menace guy)

P.S. Can you leave me some arrows? For when you’re on vacation?
Thanks again,
Dennis, as in Hopeful (and slightly Hungry)

PPS. I’ll save you some cake and a cookie, if I can.

 

7 – Sending Love

Today I sent you all my love
Boxed up in bubble wrap.
I wonder how it gets to you
On your side of the map?

Do mailboxes have secret slides
To subway trains below?
That rumble through the tunnels
With their heart-covered cargo?

Do elevators lift my love
To rooftops way up high?
Where helicopters wait
To take it whizzing through the sky?

Do parachutes let my love drift
And land upon a train?
That chugs and chugs its way across
The mountains and the plains?

And when the railroad tracks run out
Does my love take a trip
Across the rolling ocean waves
Aboard a pirate ship?

Do pirates trade my love
For cheesy pizza when they dock?
And does the pizza guy
Drive on his scooter down your block?

And leave my love upon your step
For you to come home to?
I wonder if that’s how my love
Travels from me to you?

No matter how it gets there
In a plane or bus or car,
I’ll keep on sending all my love
From me to where you are!

 

8 – Always. Every Day. No Matter What.

Johnny’s eyes kept POPPING open.
He couldn’t sleep.

“MOOOOOOOM,” he called out.

Mom cracked open the door and whispered,
“What?” into the darkened room.

Johnny had a really important question
that couldn’t wait till morning.

“Will you always love me? No matter what?”
“Always,” said Mom. “No matter what.”

“Not just on Valentine’s Day?”
“Every day,” said Mom.

“Would you love me if I were a naughty puppy?”
“I’d push you out of trouble’s way with my wet nose.”

“What if I were a scared kitten?”
“I’d lick you until you purred.”

“What if I were a wiggly octopus?”
“I’d wrap my tentacles around you and give you a big squeeze.”

“What if I were a goofy giraffe?”
“I’d twist my neck around yours and kiss the tippy top of your head.”

“Would you still love me if I was a hungry little boy who ate all of my Valentine’s candy before bed?”
“Always,” said mom.

“Would you still love me if I ate… all… of…. your…. Valentine’s chocolates too?”
“Well,”…. said mom, “first I’d nuzzle you with my wet nose, then I’d lick you, then I’d squeeze you with my tentacles, then I’d give you a kiss on the tippy top of your head. And, then I’d say: “I love you, and GOODNIGHT!”

 

9 – Whose Valentine Could This Be?

Whose Valentine could this be?

Is it yours, fox, down deep in your den?
Is it yours, rooster,
or yours, hen?

Is it yours, hawk, high up in your tree?
Is it yours, cricket,
or yours, bee?

Is it yours, shark, out there in the bay?
Is it yours, turtle,
or yours, ray?

Is it yours, frog, afloat on the lake?
Is it yours, fish,
Or yours, snake?

Whose Valentine could this be?

Why,
there’s one for each of you,
with love, from me.

 

10 – Gibbon’s Valentine’s Surprise

Meerkat, Marmoset, and Sloth were sharing stories when Gibbon burst in.

“I’m making a Valentine’s surprise, and I need your help!”

They set down their books.

“I wonder what it is…” Meerkat mused.

“Maybe Valentine’s candy?” Marmoset murmured.

“Or… something… elssssssssse,” Sloth whispered.

First Gibbon grabbed paint and brushes.

“I wonder what he’s going to paint…” Meerkat mused.

“Maybe Valentine’s cards?” Marmoset murmured.

“Or… something… elssssssssse,” Sloth whispered.

Next Gibbon gathered wood and his toolbox.

“I wonder what he’s going to make…” Meerkat mused.

“Maybe a valentines mailbox?” Marmoset murmured.

“Or… something… elssssssssse,” Sloth whispered.

“Paint something you love on your pieces of wood,” Gibbon instructed.

“I love stories…” Meerkat mused.

“Me too,” Marmoset murmured.

“Oh….yesssssss,” Sloth whispered.

Everyone planned and painted.

“Perfect! Thanks!” Gibbon gathered everything and gamboled off.

“I wonder where he’s going…” Meerkat mused.

“Maybe the post office?” Marmoset murmured.

“Or… somewhere… elssssssssse,” Sloth whispered.

The three friends waited.

They pulled out paperbacks and read together.

And waited.

On Valentine’s Day Gibbon gathered his friends.

“Surprise!” Gibbon pointed.

“A little library!” Meerkat cried.

The outside:

“Our paintings!” Marmoset cheered.

Inside:

“Bookssssss!” Sloth said with a slow smile.

“Something we all love,” Meerkat mused. “Thank you, Gibbon!”

“Thank you!” said Meerkat.

“Thanksssss,” said Sloth.

Gibbon grinned. “Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!”

 

11 – Beetle’s Valentine

Beetle bakes a Valentine,
Frosting letters spell, ‘Be mine!’
Picks a rose and ties a bow,
Signs, ‘Love, Beetle— X and O.’

Hopes to woo her with affection,
Scuttles off with his confection.
“Where could Caterpillar be?”
Scours milkweed, checks each tree.

Searches under, searches over,
Every leaf and every clover.
Sits beside her favorite flower,
Waits for hour after hour.

“Is she ever coming back?”
Spots a small, brown hanging sack.
“What is this?” Creeps close to see,
“Caterpillar?” Couldn’t be.

Turns to go, snap, “What’s that sound?”
Startled, Beetle whirls around.
Sack bursts open, color flies.
Beetle can’t believe his eyes.

Caterpillar, fluttering high,
Now a lovely Butterfly!
“Is that Valentine for me?”
Beetle blushes, “Yes siree!”

 

12 – Scraps Of Love

Jumping out of bed, Sergio announced, “Yay! Recycle day!”

Papa’s bushy brows wrinkled his forehead. “You’re up early for a Saturday! Taking out the green buckets?”

“Yup, but I have to beat the collection truck to everyone’s driveways!”

Sergio slipped a clipboard under his arm, grabbed a pen, and went into the garage. He carried the last bin of moving day packing paper to the curb.

“What do you think that boy’s up to?” Papa asked Curious, their cat, who watched from the windowsill.

Balancing a battered cardboard box on top of his creaking wagon, Sergio stopped at each house on the street.

“#6 Fitzpatrick”, Sergio wrote. “Good stuff!” he exclaimed, dropping a tennis magazine, ticket stubs, and birthday card into the box.

Hearing his enthusiastic outbursts, neighbors peeked outside. They phoned each other, wondering, “What’s he looking for? They seemed all set when we helped them move in!”

At home, Sergio stashed his trash treasures in a closet so Curious couldn’t shred them.

Sergio spent hours shaping cardboard scraps into hearts. Each became the canvas for a paper collage created from each family’s own junk.

On Valentine’s Day, Sergio delivered the personalized artworks to all the neighbors with a note that said, “Thanks for opening your hearts to my family. Your friend, Sergio.”

 

 

 

Wow!  Those were impressive, weren’t they?  Good luck picking! 🙂

Please vote for your favorite in the poll below by Saturday February 22 at 5PM Eastern time.

 

Tune in Monday February 24 to see THE WINNERS!!!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!

 

I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to lounge on my chaise and call upon Jacques, my personal masseuse, to give me a one hour foot massage. . . SNORT! As if!  I can’t even say that with a straight face 🙂

Ahem.  Let’s try again.

I’m going to go start plowing through the work that built up during all that reading and agonizing and negotiating over Valentiny stories!

Less indulgent, perhaps, but a lot more believable (and true) 🙂

Have a thrilling Thursday, everyone!

What’s In Your Heart? – The 5th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

 

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Hang onto your conversation hearts everyone!  It’s time for . . .

The 5th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2019!

~ for children’s writers~

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone feels curious!  Your someone can feel curious themselves or make someone else feel curious.  The curiosity may be about a person, place, thing, quality, idea, event, or about whether something will happen or something is true or real, or anything else under the sun you can think up!  Think beyond the obvious!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone curious (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no regularly scheduled posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It or PPBF) for the duration of the contest, so this post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy. If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section below (please be sure to include your byline so that if your posting handle is writesbynightlight1 or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!)  If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post your entry for you. But please no attachments!  Just copy and paste your story including byline into the email.  Also, please only post your entry once – either in the comment section of my blog or on the link list or by emailing me and asking me to post it.  Multiple postings of the same entry get confusing. 🙂
P.S.  Although I try to stay glued to my computer 24/7 I am sometimes forced to leave my desk.  If you haven’t commented on my blog before, your comment won’t show up until I approve it.  It may take a little while if I’m away from my desk.  Likewise, if you send me an entry to post, I promise I will do it as soon as I can!

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Wednesday February 19th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Friday February 21st or Saturday February 22nd depending on judging and voting time needed. (And there will be no Tuesday Debut, WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using curiosity and success in making us feel the curiosity!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh, so many wonderful things to choose from that will be of great help to you in your writing career!!!

Penny’s Two Cents – an incredible opportunity for any picture book writer!

Sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a published author about your writing journey. Penny Parker Klostermann is offering her two cents. The prize includes six thirty-minute Skype/Google Hangout sessions with Penny. The sessions can be used anytime during 2020. Ask her anything related to writing for children and getting published. Up to two sessions can be used for general comments on a manuscript (not a full critique). Penny doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, (by any means) but she’s happy to share her two cents based on what she’s learned and continues to learn on her journey as an author.

Penny Klostermann

Penny is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) (now available in board book and with matching pajamas! 🙂 ) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

495eb-penny      Cooked-Up Fairy Tale

 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rosie Pova, author of If I Weren’t With You (Spork 2017),  Sarah’s Song (Spork 2017), and the forthcoming Sunday Rain (Lantana Publishing, September 2020)

Rosie Pova                Sarah's Song

If I Weren't With You Sunday Rain

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) from Katey Howes, author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press 2017), MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling Children’s Books 2018), BE A MAKER (Carolrhoda Books, 2019), and the forthcoming RISSY NO KISSIES (Lerner/Carolrhoda Spring 2021)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art Grandmother Thorn  Be A Maker

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Sherry Howard, author of ROCK & ROLL WOODS (Spork 2018)

Sherry Howard (4)Cover Rock and Roll Woods

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lydia Lukidis, author of NO BEARS ALLOWED (Blue Whale Press 2019) and many educational titles.

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

– a spot in Making Picture Book Magic (Interactive or Self Study version – winner’s choice) – an online picture book writing course from Yours Truly.  If you choose the interactive version, month to be mutually agreed on by me and the winner.

MPBM

– Prize Pack #1 – a personalized signed copy of A MORNING WITH GRANDPA (Lee&Low Books 2016) by Sylvia Liu and the 2020 Guide To Literary Agents (which you may exchange for the Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2020 if you prefer)

MorningWithGrandpa_cover 2020 Guide to Literary Agents
Lee&Low New Voices Award 2013

Picture Book Prize Pack – a personalized signed copy of NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE (HarperCollins 2019) by Ashley Franklin and a personalized signed copy of NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman & Co 2019) by Elaine Kiely Kearns

Not Quite Snow White      noah

Picture Book Pack From Chris and Chris: a personalized signed copy of EMILY’S IDEA (Sounds True, March 2020) by Christine Evans and a personalized signed copy of HEY, HEY, HAY! A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them (Holiday House 2018) by Christy Mihaly

Emily's Idea HEY, HEY, HAY! Cover

Historical Women Picture Book Pack: a personalized signed copy of QUEEN OF PHYSICS: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) by Teresa Robeson and a personalized signed copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books 2020) by Vivian Kirkfield

queen of physics cover              Making Their Voices Heard
Asian/Pacific American Award Picture
Book and ALA Notable Picture Book

A SURPRISE PACK! – 2 additional picture books (not signed) donated by Darshana Khiani (who will have her own book, How To Wear A Sari, out in Spring 2021!): What Color Is Night? by Grant Snider and Caspian Finds A Friend by Jacqueline Veissid

What Color Is Night? Caspian Finds A Friend

 

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

 

And now, lovelies, it is time for my traditional sample entry, since I feel I shouldn’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do. . . 🙂

Steel yourself!

A Valentiny Mystery (184 words)

Mama’s working busily
Making something I can’t see.
“What’s that?” I ask her quizzically.
“Try to guess,” she answers me.
“It’s a little mystery.
I’ll give you clues.  Think carefully,
And figure out what it could be!
It’s something red.”

What could it be?

“Ribbon? Wagon? Redwood tree?”

Ooh! I love a mystery!

“It’s something sweet and sugary.
And something red.”

What could it be?

“Candy apple? Raspberry?”

Hmm… it’s still a mystery!

“It’s something heart-shaped perfectly,
And something sweet and sugary.
And something red.”

What could it be?

“A candy heart? A strawberry?”

Hmmm… it’s still a mystery!

“It’s something super sparkly.
And something heart-shaped perfectly.
It’s something sweet and sugary.
And something red.”

What could it be?

“A sparkle-sprinkled chocolate cherry?”

Golly! What a mystery!

By now, it smells deliciously!
I know it’s super sparkly. . .
I know it’s heart-shaped perfectly. . .
I know it’s sweet and sugary. . .
It’s something red. . .

What could it be?

“I’ve got it!” I say gleefully.
“I figured out the mystery!
It’s my Valentiny cookie!”
Made by Mama just for me!

I warned you. . . 🙂

Never let it be said that I’m not willing to embarrass myself for you! 🙂

And now you all hopefully feel filled with confidence in your own entries because certainly they are all FAR better than that!

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m SO looking forward to them!  I hope there will be LOTS – the more the merrier!  And you still have until midnight Friday to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

So!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the list below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)  Please allow a few minutes and possibly refresh your browser before deciding that your link hasn’t posted and adding it a second time or emailing it to me.

Eager Readers – click on the links in the list to visit the blogs and read the stories.  And be sure to read the 90 fabulous entries posted in the comment section below!!!

Happy Valentines Week, Everyone! 💕

Scroll through the comments to find these wonderful stories! Titles are direct links.

  1. Shelly & Saul – Sue Lancaster
  2. Bags Of Love – Laura Howard
  3. Some Bunny Loves You – Laura Howard
  4. I Don’t Need A Valentine – Deb Buschman
  5. Sending Love – Chelsea Tornetto
  6. My Sunny Valentine – Glenda Roberson
  7. What Makes Your Heart Beat? – Beth Brody
  8. The Perfect Valentine’s Playdate – Deb Sullivan
  9. The Heart – Nina Nolan
  10. Love And My Teddy – Tracy Curran
  11. Crazy, Foolish Love – Tracy Curran
  12. The Chocolate Beast – Megan Walvoord
  13. How To Fix A Broken Heart – Paul Roncone
  14. Little Card’s Purpose – Theresa Kiser
  15. Valentine Story 2020 – Shariffa Keshavjee
  16. A Robot’s Valentine’s Day – Susan Summers
  17. Mystery Valentine – Lindsey Hobson
  18. The Hunter Games – Anne Lipton
  19. Cupid’s Love Trials – Katrina Swenson
  20. Will You Be Mine? – Ryan Roberts
  21. I Snorfle You – Sara Ackerman
  22. Signed Sealed Delivered – Delia Black
  23. A Shelter Dog’s Valentine – Anne Bromley
  24. The Curious Concoction – Stacey Miller
  25. Crabby’s Heart Speaks – Rebecca Loescher
  26. Valentine Clue – Alicia Fadgen
  27. Cupid’s Confusion – Alicia Fadgen
  28. Cupid’s World – Alicia Fadgen
  29. The Perfect Valentine – Maryna Doughty
  30. Jigna’s Valentine – Gabrielle Cardwell
  31. Moe’s Valentine’s Day Discovery – Kelsey Gross
  32. The Rose Thief – Margaret Aitken
  33. The Egg – Rebecca Woodall
  34. How Do You Write A Poem? – Belen Medina Cabot
  35. Missing Hearts – Bru Benson
  36. An Antique Valentine – Abbi Lee
  37. My Piggy Valentine – Claire Lewis
  38. Romeo And Jellyette – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  39. The Lost Valentine – Ellie Langford
  40. Mia Flying Heart Girl – Lily Erlic
  41. Squirrel’s Surprise – Darci Nielson
  42. Sylvia’s Special Valentine – Vanessa Cicarelli
  43. This Arrow Is Narrow – Linda Staszak
  44. Valentine’s Day Is Gross – Ranessa Doucet
  45. The Art Of The Heart – Wikki Krawczyk
  46. Valentine Equation – Claire Bobrow
  47. Cupid’s Diary – Ketan Ram
  48. Valentine Broccoli? – Susan Drew
  49. The Upside-Down Heart – Mary Munson
  50. Who Could It Be From? – Ashley Congdon
  51. The Curious Case Of The Valentine Gift – Heather Kauffman
  52. My Heart’s Wish – Melissa Stiveson
  53. The Unquestionable Valentine– Deborah Boerema
  54. Whose Valentine Could This Be? – Michelle Howell Miller
  55. Mailbox – Amy Flynn
  56. I Miss You – Jarmila Kurucova
  57. What Is That? – Jyoti Gopal
  58. Katerina The Caterpillar Solves A Conundrum – Dina Towbin
  59. Beetle’s Valentine – Chambrae Griffith
  60. Scales Of Love – Caroline Perry
  61. Cupid And Curtis – Jen Bagan
  62. What If…? – Susie Sawyer
  63. A Valentine Surprise – Corine Timmer
  64. Where Is Love? – Emmie R Werner
  65. Will She Or Won’t She? – Elizabeth Volkmann
  66. Mystery Marks – Mary Warth
  67. Roosters And Roses – Paul Kurtz
  68. Computer Bugs – Paul Kurtz
  69. Boys – Yecchh! – Donna Kurtz
  70. Eight Legs Of Love – Donna Kurtz
  71. Secret Stash – Mia Geiger
  72. The Curious Kitten – Elsie Duffany
  73. What’s Love? – Ingrid Boydston
  74. An Unexpected Valentine – Michelle S. Kennedy
  75. How To Find Your Valentine – Cindy Williams Schrauben
  76. Peck! – Andrea MacDonald
  77. The Mailbox Mouse – Roo Parkin
  78. Pandora’s Peek-Not Pact – Jenny Buchet
  79. Dear Cupid – Marty Bellis
  80. Curious Kip – Kirsten Pendreigh
  81. Bernard And Robin: One Adventure, Two Friends – Susan Twiggs
  82. Scraps Of Love – Charlotte Sheer
  83. When Love Gives You Wings – Kate Thompson
  84. What If . . . A Valentine’s Story – Kelly Pope Adamson
  85. Cookie Memories – Judy Sobanski
  86. Wanted – Jill Lambert
  87. Always. Every day. No matter what. – JC Kelly
  88. Ophelia Divine – Sofia Dibble
  89. Bee My Perfect Valentine – Kelly Pope Adamson
  90. Joy Finds Love – Olivia Rehfield

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Sometimes When I’m Sad

Hurray!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

(And just a little reminder that PPBF will be on hold for the next couple weeks while we run the Valentiny Contest, but we will return to our regularly scheduled programming as quickly as possible! 🙂 )

Since Valentiny is coming up and it’s a writing contest all about emotion, I’m sharing a Perfect Picture Book about emotion today.  Not such a happy emotion, I’m afraid, but often times it’s the not-so-happy emotions we need a little help with.

Sometimes When I'm Sad

Title: Sometimes When I’m Sad

Written By: Deborah Serani, Psy.D.

Illustrated By: Kyra Teis

Free Spirit Publishing, April 28 2020, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: emotions and feelings (sadness)

5C470A54-2C0E-4BF5-A748-727382349027_1_201_a

text copyright Deborah Serani 2020, illustration copyright Kyra Teis 2020 Free Spirit Publishing

Opening: “Sometimes when I’m sad, I cry.
Sometimes I hide.
Sometimes I even throw my toys.”

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: “A sensitive and supportive story to help young children recognize and cope with sadness.”

Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource with it’s helpful suggestions for coping with sadness, and the book’s back matter includes Helping Children Through Sadness: A Guide For Caring Adults, How To Spot Sadness In Children Of Differing Ages, Ways To Reduce Sadness In Children, When To Seek Professional Help, and Resources For More Information And Support.  Kids can also try out the coping devices mentioned in the book – drawing, hugging something soft, talking to someone who loves them, etc.

C93D741C-154B-428B-B603-81579274E238_1_201_a

text copyright Deborah Serani 2020, illustration copyright Kyra Teis 2020 Free Spirit Publishing

Why I Like This Book: This isn’t exactly a story, but it’s a nice way to explain to children how to recognize and cope with feelings of sadness.  The simple sentences and accompanying illustrations make the ideas easy to understand.  We all feel sad sometimes.  It can be hard to articulate and hard to manage.  This book helps children recognize that they are not alone in feeling sadness and there are many constructive ways to work through it and keep it manageable, even when it threatens to overwhelm.  A helpful book for kids and the grownups who care for them.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #349 – Spotlight (PB)

Hi there, everyone!

Before we get to Would You Read It today, I have a tidbit of helpful information!

I know we’re barely into February, but March isn’t that far off.  For those of you who wonder how to find mentor texts and how best to make use of them, Carrie Charlie Brown and Kirsti Call are once again running ReFoReMo (Reading For Research Month.)

 

Far be it from me to tell you what to do, but . . . hustle on over there and sign up!  You’ll be glad you did.  It’s going to be amazing!

I actually wrote a guest post for ReFoReMo in 2015 which you can see HERE if you’re interested.

And speaking of helpful tidbits, if you need a little inspiration why not have a go at the 5th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest?  It opens February 12 – a week from tomorrow – so you’ve still got plenty of time to write!

Wow!  All that talk of craft improvement for our writerly selves has put me in the mood for Something Chocolate!  (Chocolate fuels creativity, you know.  And I’m not just saying that.  I have done extensive research on this and have empirical evidence to back it up!)

It seems like everyone is talking Girl Scout Cookies at the moment so let’s make cake out of them!  How about some Samoa Sheet Cake for breakfast?!  (Is there a “drool” emoji? 🙂 )

Samoa Sheet Cake

Screen Shot 2020-02-04 at 2.42.04 PM

Recipe (including helpful video) HERE at Food.com

 

How delicious does THAT look?!  I may have to make some later!  Strictly in the interest of fueling my creativity, you understand . . . 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Augusta who says, “Greetings!
My name is Augusta McMurray. I am a preschool teacher, mother, wife, sister, and a daughter, who loves to dance, paint, read, and explore the world. I live, in my opinion, on one of the most beautiful islands in the world – Orcas Island – in Washington State. I love reading children’s literature, as much as I love dreaming up stories for children.”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Spotlight

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8))

The Pitch: Hank feels out of place in his theatrical family. Everyone has a talent
to showcase on stage, but him; his dad is an acrobat, his mom a ballerina, and his sister a magician. Hank longs to to shine in the spotlight too. Will Hank be able to save the day and get his chance to discover his talent under the spotlight when an unfortunate accident renders his family unable to perform on opening night?

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Augusta improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in March, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Augusta is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to taking Phyllis on a library visit this weekend!  She is milking the Groundhog Day time of year for all it’s worth, packing her calendar so she can show off share her knowledge with children!

punxsutawney_phyllis_featured

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Lindsey Hobson!

Welcome to another exciting edition of Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Now that everybody’s favorite groundhog (not that anyone around here is biased… 🙂 )

Punxsutawney Phyllis!!!skipping phyllis

has announced to the world that we can expect an early spring, what better Tuesday Debut could we share today than one about a flower-loving dragon?  So spring-y!  🙂 Please join me in welcoming Tuesday Debut-ess, Lindsey Hobson, as she shares her publishing journey!

Blossom’s Wish
Written by Lindsey Hobson
Illustrated by Katarina Stevanovic
Published January 2020
Fiction, ages: 3-8

cover-image 

Blossom is a flower-loving dragon living in a town full of people, who gives her flowers away in hopes of making a friend. When she catches a cold, her world is turned upside down.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Lindsey!  Thank you so much for joining us today to share your journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

LINDSEY: My daughter went through a phase where she required an original story before bed. This is a version of her favorite story that I would tell her. I’m so glad that I will have a physical copy of this story to share with her, and her children one day.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

LINDSEY: Writing the story didn’t take me very long, as I already had it in my head. I just sat down and typed it all out in one evening.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

LINDSEY: I revised it several times based on critiques I received from a critique group, then hired an editor for developmental editing. I realized that, by listening and revising from several different critiques, I had strayed too far from my original story. I scrapped the draft I was on, went back to the original, and started over with the same editor. She loved the original story better than the revision we had been working on and had some great ideas to get it to where it is today.

 

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for publication?

LINDSEY: After working with the editor on the development and line editing, I asked for some more critiques from an online group and was happy with the responses I received. I felt like it was ready.

writing buddies

Lindsey’s writing buddies 🙂

 

SUSANNA: At what point did you decide to self-publish rather than submit to traditional publishers? Did you try traditional first? Or did you have specific reasons for wanting to self-publish?

LINDSEY: I decided to self-publish this book because it is so near to my heart. I wanted to have control over the content of the story, and how the illustrations looked. This is for my daughter, and I wanted to keep it that way. I did not try to submit this one to traditional publishers for that reason.

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

LINDSEY: I am a member of several Facebook groups, and I spoke to several illustrators that I found in those groups. I also joined Instagram to look for illustrators, and perused freelance websites. I ultimately found someone on Fiverr, and although I have heard negative things about that website, I really think you can find quality people that are looking to build their portfolios.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you and the illustrator have a contract of any kind?

LINDSEY: We did not have a contract, just the specifics set forth in the gig (or package) that I purchased as far as having commercial rights, etc.

 

 

SUSANNA: Are you able to give a ballpark figure of any kind (or a specific one if you’re so inclined) about the cost of the illustrator?

LINDSEY: I had a budget, and I searched until I found someone that could work within that budget. I was able to keep it under $1000 for illustration and design.

 

 

SUSANNA: What was the illustration process like since you were directing it? Any particular challenges? Anything you particularly enjoyed?

LINDSEY: In working with my budget, we planned out where full page illustrations would be vs. spot illustrations. She wrote down an idea for each page before we started. Once she started, she sketched the page out then sent it to me, I would approve it or ask for slight revisions, then she would paint (she works in watercolor). Because of the time difference between where we live, I would often wake up with a new message from her in the morning. It was like Christmas every day!

page 2

 

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

LINDSEY: After the illustrator was finished, I asked her if she knew anyone who could do the formatting. She recommended someone who I hired to format the book and added the text. She also did the cover. It worked out well because if we hit a snag, she could talk directly to the illustrator.

 

 

SUSANNA: How did you select a printing service?

LINDSEY: I researched what others were doing in the Facebook groups I am in and ultimately decided to use Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon because of the ease of getting my book online and their print-on-demand service.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you do a print run so you’d have inventory, or is your book print-on-demand? (And where is your book available – online bookstores? brick and mortar bookstores?)

LINDSEY: I did not have it in my budget to do a print run, so I decided to use print-on-demand. I am also talking to a local bookstore about stocking my book in their children’s section.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long was the process from writing through publication of your book?

LINDSEY: Four months from start to finish.

 

 

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

LINDSEY: I have made an author page on Facebook, and joined Twitter and Instagram to connect with the KidLit community. I have posted updates throughout the illustrating and design phases to get people interested in my project. Because my book is about a dragon that grows flowers, I have contacted local greenhouses to see if they would like to do a meet-the-author event.

 

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

LINDSEY: There are so many helpful people in the KidLit community. I would highly recommend joining groups on Facebook, subscribing to other writers’ blogs, and reading articles. I have also found it extremely helpful to ask questions of the people who have been doing this for a while, and rewarding to be able to help answer questions for people just starting out as well.

colorheadshot

Author Lindsey Hobson

Social media:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lindseybhobson
Twiter: www.twitter.com/lindseybhobson
Instagram: www.instagram.com/lindseybhobson

 

SUSANNA: Lindsey, thank you again for joining us today and for sharing all your helpful insights into the world of writing and self publishing.  I can only imagine how many writers you are helping!  We all wish you the very best of success with this and future books!

Readers, if you have questions for Lindsey, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Lindsey’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Amazon

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

 

 

 

The Twelve Days Of Valentines…

Let’s talk for a moment about deadlines and time pressure.

Woohoo!  Fun, right???!!! 🙂

Some people feel these are negative things, but I propose we look at them as an opportunity for extraordinary productivity!

(This opportunity for extraordinary productivity arises because I missed my deadline of posting this on Thursday, but we won’t talk about that 🙂 )

So if we’re being completely above board here, it’s not exactly the 12 days of Valentines.

It’s more like we have 12 days until Valentines.

Or, to be more precise, 12 days until the

The 5th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2019!

So my gift to you is a nice little 12 day window to get your contest entry written! 🙂

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone feels curious!  Your someone can feel curious themselves or make someone else feel curious.  The curiosity may be about a person, place, thing, quality, idea, event, or about whether something will happen or something is true or real, or anything else under the sun you can think up!  Think beyond the obvious!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone curious (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Wednesday February 12th and Friday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my February 12th post.  There will be no regularly scheduled posts that week (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It or PPBF), so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please copy and paste your entry with byline into the body of the email – no attachments! And please do not submit emailed entries until the contest begins on Feb. 12!)  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Wednesday February 19th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Friday February 21st or Saturday February 22nd depending on judging and voting time needed. (And there will be no Tuesday Debut, WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using curiosity and success in making us feel the curiosity!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

The Prizes:  I’m still working on prizes, but I wanted to get the contest guidelines up so you’d have time to write.  If anyone has anything fabulous to offer, drop me an email 🙂  But meanwhile, start writing and watch this space for prizes which I will add as I get them organized!

Penny’s Two Cents – an incredible opportunity for any picture book writer!

Sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a published author about your writing journey. Penny Parker Klostermann is offering her two cents. The prize includes six thirty-minute Skype/Google Hangout sessions with Penny. The sessions can be used anytime during 2020. Ask her anything related to writing for children and getting published. Up to two sessions can be used for general comments on a manuscript (not a full critique). Penny doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, (by any means) but she’s happy to share her two cents based on what she’s learned and continues to learn on her journey as an author.

Penny Klostermann

Penny is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) (now available in board book and with matching pajamas! 🙂 ) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

 

495eb-penny      Cooked-Up Fairy Tale

 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rosie Pova, author of If I Weren’t With You (Spork 2017),  Sarah’s Song (Spork 2017), and the forthcoming Sunday Rain (Lantana Publishing, September 2020)

Rosie Pova                Sarah's Song

If I Weren't With You Sunday Rain

 

– Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) from Katey Howes, author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press 2017), MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling Children’s Books 2018), BE A MAKER (Carolrhoda Books, 2019), and the forthcoming RISSY NO KISSIES (Lerner/Carolrhoda Spring 2021)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art Grandmother Thorn  Be A Maker

 

– Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

– Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Sherry Howard, author of ROCK & ROLL WOODS (Spork 2018)

Sherry Howard (4)Cover Rock and Roll Woods

– Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lydia Lukidis, author of NO BEARS ALLOWED (Blue Whale Press 2019) and many educational titles.

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

 

An assortment of picture books which have yet to be organized into prize packs 🙂

– a personalized signed copy of A MORNING WITH GRANDPA (Lee&Low Books 2016) by Sylvia Liu

 

MorningWithGrandpa_cover

Lee&Low New Voices Award 2013

– a personalized signed copy of NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE (HarperCollins 2019) by Ashley Franklin

Not Quite Snow White

– a personalized signed copy of EMILY’S IDEA (Sounds True, March 2020) by Christine Evans

Emily's Idea

– a personalized signed copy of QUEEN OF PHYSICS: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) by Teresa Robeson

queen of physics cover

Asian/Pacific American Award Picture Book and ALA Notable Picture Book

– a personalized signed copy of NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman & Co 2019) by Elaine Kiely Kearns

noah

2 additional picture books (not signed) yet to be identified! 🙂

So you’ve got approximately 12 days to write your entry!  Butt in chair! Chocolate snacks and coffee/tea on your desk!  Brain in gear!  Ready, set, WRITE!  You can do it!!!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Round Up Of Groundhogs!

It’s the Perfect Picture Book Friday before Groundhog Day (which, as you know, we are very partial to around here 🙂 ) so Phyllis insisted I thought, for fun, that we feature her book I’d share a roundup of Groundhog Day titles – three that have already been reviewed for PPBF and one new one! 🙂

Some of my (and Phyllis’s 🙂 ) favorite Groundhog Day titles:

Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, Holiday House 2005 (yes, ok, we are biased 🙂 ) – reviewed for Perfect Picture Books by Beth Stilborn

punxsutawney_phyllis_cover-b

Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller, illustrated by Kathi Ember, Albert Whitman & Co – reviewed for Perfect Picture Books by Jennifer Rumberger

Substitute Groundhog

Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Christopher Denise, Disney-Hyperion, December 2017  – reviewed for Perfect Picture Books HERE

groudhugday

And one that hasn’t been on PPBF yet (as far as I know) that is an older title but was well-loved in my house! 🙂

Gretchen Groundhog It’s Your Day

Greta Groundhog

Title: Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day!

Written By: Abby Levine

Illustrated By: Nancy Cote

Albert Whitman & Co, November 1998, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5 and up

Themes/Topics: holidays (Groundhog Day), emotions (feeling shy), overcoming a fear

Opening: “It was a dark and snowy night.  Gretchen Groundhog sat in her burrow, worrying.  In a few days it would be February 2, when the world would be watching the little town of Piccadilly.
On that day, for the first time, Gretchen would step from her burrow to stand before TV cameras, newspaper reporters, tourists, all the townsfolk, and a brass band.  Everyone would be waiting as Gretchen looked for her shadow.

Brief Synopsis: Gretchen must carry on the family tradition of stepping out on the morning of February 2 to search for her shadow, but she is too shy to “Go Out” and face the crowd of people.  After much worrying, she musters up courage when she learns that throughout history groundhogs have been afraid to “Go Out” the first time.

Links To Resources: Groundhog Day Crafts and Activities; make your own Groundhog Day prediction: 6 more weeks of winter or early spring???!!! 🙂

Why I Like This Book: Any youngster who has ever felt apprehensive at the idea of being in the spotlight will relate to shy Gretchen.  Lots of children feel shy at the idea of meeting other kids for the first time, or of entering a new classroom, or of standing at the front of the class for a spelling bee or to give a report, so they will easily understand how Gretchen feels at the idea of having to face crowds of people, TV cameras and newspaper reporters.  Gretchen’s courage is bolstered when the town historian’s daughter arrives with a box of notes written by Gretchen’s ancestors (Goody Groundhog, who sailed on the Mayflower; George Groundhog, who fought at Valley Forge; and Gloria Groundhog, movie star 🙂 ), all confessing their fear of “Going Out.”  Gretchen writes a few words of her own for the history box and then finds she can face her fear.  A fun story accompanied by warm, appealing art that lots of kids will enjoy for Groundhog Day!

I hope you enjoy all of these titles as much as Phyllis and I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Happy Groundhog Day!!! (and here’s hoping we get an early spring 🙂 )

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #348 – Iggy Crane: The Case of the Missing Bolt (CB) PLUS Straight From The Editor for September And October!!!

Hello Everyone!

It’s Would You Read It Wednesday once again – hooray!

And today we’re lucky enough to have  Straight From The Editor for September and October as well, thanks to our esteemed and generous editor, Erin Molta!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

The winner of the September Pitch Pick was Kim  with her pitch for P.I. Goat: The Case of the Missing Bone (PB ages 4-8)

You will recall Kim’s pitch:

P.I. Goat has just opened his private investigator office when Puddles, a puppy, hires him to find Paw-Paw’s bone. Elderly Paw-Paw thinks Goat is a pig, but Goat has a worse problem: he faints when startled! A cast of wacky animals helps Goat discover the surprising truth behind the Case of the Missing Bone and that being a P.I. is not for the faint of heart—KLUNK!

Erin says:

I think this is super cute. I would just trim it a bit as below. No need to specify that Puddles is a puppy, since you say cast of wacky animals and that they’re looking for a bone.

Puddles hires Goat, a P.I, to find Paw-Paw’s bone. Elderly Paw-Paw thinks Goat is a pig, but Goat has a worse problem: he faints when startled! A cast of wacky animals helps Goat discover the surprising truth behind the Case of the Missing Bone and Goat realizes that being a P.I. is not for the faint of heart—KLUNK!

 

The winner of the October Pitch Pick was Sri with her pitch for Mighty Little Nikita (PB/ER ages 4-8)

You will recall Sri’s pitch:

Nikita’s friends call her “Little Nikita” because she is really small but Nikita does not like it a wee bit. When a huge dragonfly enters the class, it scares the jelly out of everyone, except Little Nikita. Nikita shows everyone just how brave she can be even when facing a scary insect, thus earning a new nickname that she is absolutely proud of.

Erin says:

This is nice but I think it would work better if it were more specific and active and for the pitch you should tell the editor the nickname. See what I’ve suggested below.

Nikita’s friends call her “Little Nikita” and she does not like it a wee bit. When a huge dragonfly enters the class, it scares the jelly out of everyone, except Little Nikita. Nikita faces down that big scary insect, thus earning a new nickname ((which is what?)).

As always, I find Erin’s thoughts very enlightening!  I hope you all do too!  Thank you, Erin, for helping us all become better pitchers! 🙂

And now, I believe, is the perfect moment for Something Chocolate! (Because is any moment not perfect for Something Chocolate???!!! 🙂 )

Hmmm….. what should we have?  I could go for a little Chocolate Trifle (or a lot), how about you?  (Trifle always makes me think of the episode of Friends where Rachel makes the trifle with a layer of beef sautéed with peas and onions 🙂 Luckily this trifle is all chocolate!)

Chocolate Trifle

 

YUM!  Rich, creamy and delicious!  The perfect start to any morning! 🙂 (And yes, okay it’s basically glorified pudding 🙂  Call it pudding with ambition… pudding with an attitude… pudding with delusions of grandeur! 🙂 )

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Rena. Rena Traxel is a writer-librarian and STEAM enthusiast. She writes contemporary young adult novels, chapter book mysteries, and Canadian tinged picture books.  She can be found online www.renatraxel.com or on Instagram @writer_librarian

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Iggy Crane: The Case of the Missing Bolt

Age/Genre: Chapter Book mystery (ages 7-9)

The Pitch: A mystery is brewing in Monster Hollow. Young Iggy Crane must find Franko Stein’s missing bolt in time to save their science fair project.  Can Iggy follow in her great uncles sleuthing footsteps, or she is nothing but a fraud!  Nancy Drew: Clues Crew meets Sleepy Hollow.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Rena improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in March, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Rena is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to writing a story today which features pudding!  What kind of pudding?  Chocolate, of course!  But where should the pudding be?  Who should make it, buy it, or eat it?  Spill it, trade it, or sell it at a corner Pudding Stand (who needs lemonade?!)  Make Way For Pudding?  The Little Pudding That Could?  The Pudding Man?  Okay… needs a little work 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂