The 12th Annual Halloweensie Contest Finalists Are HERE! Vote For Your Favorite!!!

There are witches in the air,
Evil spirits everywhere.
Creepy monsters walking by.
Pumpkin moon up in the sky. . .

Halloween is so spooky, isn’t it?

WHAT???!!!

Are you suggesting it’s not Halloween anymore?

Are you asserting that this is nonsense, and that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it’s snowing where you are, and you’re putting up your holiday decorations and wondering what the twinkle twinkle little bat is going on around here?

Ok.

It’s possible that this post is a teensy bit late in coming.

But better late than never, I always say!

And I hope you agree because, at long last, it’s time for you to see who the 2022 Halloweensie Contest Finalists are and vote for your favorite!

The 12th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

~ FINALISTS! ~

We’ve got an interesting mix this year. There were a LOT of entries about snakes and slugs (not surprising, given the “slither” requirement), quite a few “First Halloween” stories, lots of “costume decision” stories, an unfortunate number that were really mood pieces or lists that, while nicely written, were not stories, a few that didn’t use all the required words, one that didn’t use any!, several (sad face) with proofreading errors that prevented them from being finalists because it didn’t seem right to choose one with mistakes when there were other good stories without mistakes, more spooky/creepy/icky ones than usual, and more for the 9-12 age group than usual, and quite a few with a nice non-fiction-y element. . . In short, so many wonderful stories, as always! You are all so talented! We love the ones we chose, but we also loved a lot of the ones we didn’t or couldn’t choose.

If you didn’t make the finalist list, I don’t want you to feel bad! It doesn’t mean you didn’t write a good story! It’s VERY hard to tell a great story in 100 words. There is a LOT of competition. Out of 240 entries, 226 did not make the finals, so you are in excellent company. And don’t lose heart. A lot of you will be on the Honorable Mention Lists in a few days. The judging is always the part I hate 😊 There are always so many more I want to choose… But a contest is a contest, and so we have to try, to the best of our ability, to select the cream of the crop. I’m sure, despite our best efforts, there may be some we didn’t choose that you think we should have, and some we did choose you think we shouldn’t have. But we really tried to make good choices. We looked for originality and that little extra something that makes a story stand out.

And for those who didn’t make the cut, you still practiced your craft, wrote good stories, met writing requirements, wrote to a deadline, and increased your writing experience. You produced good work that you were brave enough to share in public. And you hopefully have a strong basis to build on that may allow you to expand and polish your story into a magazine piece or a picture book when you’re not constrained by the contest parameters. So bravo, and congratulations to everyone!

The 14 finalists are listed below. We have a mix of stories for younger and older children, some in rhyme and some in prose, some funny, some lovely, some downright creepy – all fabulous!

Please read them all, choose your favorite, and vote for it in the poll below by Tuesday November 29th at 7PM Eastern. (I do have a Tuesday Debut scheduled that day, so this post will drop from the top of my blog page, but I will be sure to include a link to this finalist/voting page so it’s still easy to find!)

Please feel free to share the link to this post on social media – the more readers and voters the better! Every one of these entries deserves to be read by as many people as possible. But I ask that you please not troll for votes! The contest is supposed to be based on merit, not a popularity contest based on who has the most followers or can talk more people into voting for their story. If you are a finalist, please do not say you’re a finalist or mention your entry by name or number. Encourage people to come read and vote, and let them make their own decisions. As judges, we make our selections blind. The names are all removed so we make our choices based solely on the story so we can remain unbiased. In fact, as of this writing, I still don’t know who wrote the stories on this list. You can bet I’m going to go look right after I post!

So read, enjoy, vote! 😊

1. RAINFOREST HALLOWEEN

The weeds were thick. The branches, slick.
But Howard vowed to play a trick
by sneaking up behind Doreen
to frighten her on Halloween.

He’d slither near, unseen, unheard—
a streak of color, faintly blurred—
using stealthy camouflage,
then shock her with a “BOO!” barrage.

He scurried, on his tree-top chore,
high above the valley floor
and spied her on a banyan trunk.
A terrify-your-friend slam dunk!

What a treat! That very night
he gave Doreen a spooky fright.
AHHhhh!

Yes, Howard the chameleon scared sweet Doreen the gecko.

But after Howard hollered “BOO!!!”—he fainted, from the echo.
BOOooo-ooo-ooo!

2. THE FRIGHTFUL FUGITIVE

Beneath a full and pumpkin moon,
I flew to trick-or-treat,
when, from the corner of my eye,
I spied a heap of meat.

I shivered as it stared at me,
wide eyes without a face,
a creature with no place on Earth.
It came from outer space!

With body like a comet’s tail,
legs like a centipede’s,
it slithered through the unkempt field
to jump me from the weeds.

A skeleton creaked up just then,
gave me a bony hug.
“You’ve found my brain and spine!” he said
and took that scary slug.

3. A SHADY HALLOWEEN

It was Halloween, and Sun was fuming.
“Moon has all the fun!” huffed Sun. “I can be spooky. Come play, ghosts, goblins, and ghouls!”
But all Sun got on this bone-chilling holiday…
was festive foliage and boisterous birdsong.
BORING.
“Sun,” whispered Moon, spying the sulky star. “How about a daytime treat?”
Sun beamed as Moon’s shadow masked her rays, until…
all was dark!
Witches flew—
WHOOSH!
Skeletons danced the monster-mash—
RAP TAP!
Black cats pranced on tip-toe—
MEOW!
Ghosts haunted the Halloween Bash—
WooooOOOOOOooooo!
Then…
Sun slithered out.
“BOO!”
Spooky creatures everywhere agreed—
Sun’s scare eclipsed all other Halloweens!

4. SSSSSSCARY!

I didn’t mean to SCARE her,
but I guess that’s what ghosts do.
As ghosts go, I’m not scary.
I simply whisssspered,
“Boo!”
I mean, it’s Halloween night,
so, I SLITHERED up the walk.
I wriggled up the steps and
adjusted my ghost-sock.
My tongue flicked out and rang the bell.
I gave a fangy grin.
My scaly tail held out my bag–
“Let trick or TREAT begin!”
She gasped.
She squealed.
She dropped the bowl.
She fainted dead away.
Who knew a sock with two eyeholes
could scare someone this way?

5. HALLOWEEN NIGHT LIGHT

A candle in a pumpkin sees
the sun set out of sight.
Then tilts its flame near windows cut
to free the candle’s light.

Its glow will guide the ghouls and ghosts—
some scary, others sweet—
by casting beams upon a path
for all to trick-or-treat.

“Stay bright tonight!” The candle chants
behind its pumpkin’s face,
while waxy droplets slither down
and puddle at its base.

It droops. It stoops. But still, it shines
‘til night has come and gone.
Then sighs triumphant threads of smoke
into the light of dawn.

6. TRICK-OR-TREAT, SHOES TO EAT

It’s a Halloween party!

Ruff, ruff. Roo!

No shoes on the carpet means . . . 

Front-door treats for me!

I must have one. Or two. Or ten!

Nobody’s looking. I gotta go fast.

Crawl. Slither. Roll over. 

Dash!

Princess slippers.

Baseball cleats.

Gopher loafers.

Pirate boots.

How to choose?

Sniff. Lift. Wag. 

Drool!

Ruff, ruff. Roo!

Surfer sandals,

Ballet flats. 

Scary sneakers.

Fairy clogs.

I want them ALL!

“Puppy, no!”

Uh-oh. 

I need treats to-go.

Aha! 

Gotcha, kitten heels.

The purrfect pair.

Jump. Gallop. Zigzag.

Scoot!

Under the bed. 

Trick-or-treat, shoes to eat. 

Ruff, ruff. ROO!

7. HALLOWEEN IS MAGIC

“It’s Halloween!” Witch Wanda screeched.
“And I can’t scare up tricks or treats!”

“The cauldron’s cracked.”
“My potion burned.”
“I’m out of bats and three-eyed worms.”

So Wanda flew into the night,
And gathered things to give a fright.

Ten slithery snakes,
Two warty toads,
A shrew that had a runny nose.

“Yippee!” she cried, “What spooky fun!”
“Can’t wait to see those kiddies run!”

But when they spied Witch Wanda’s “treats”,
Excited children filled the streets.

They hugged the snakes.
They cuddled the shrew.

Now Wanda runs a petting zoo.

8. SCARY GOAT SCAM

Billy and Maribelle thought it unfair
that the Halloween treats were not evenly shared.
Bored with their thistle and grass-loaded diet,
“Oh Candy” sighed Billy, “I’m eager to try it.”

They made themselves costumes to scare the town silly,
smeared mud on their beards and tossed hay willy-nilly.
They covered their horns, pinned their beards tightly down
and with eyes glaring brightly they clomped into town.

The villagers fled as their fear slithered out,
scattering treat bags and candy about.
The goats quickly gobbled the treats left behind,
“Not bad” Billie said, “But these bags taste divine!”

9. SAPLING’S HALLOWEEN

Sapling was scared.
October was nearly over,
and still she had no costume.
On October 1st,
Maple proudly primped in his pumpkin colors.
By mid month,
Oak fetchingly flaunted her firefighter red.
Sapling grew green with envy.
“Don’t worry,” Hickory whispered
through his fur-brown mask of foliage.
“Mother Nature will make sure you’re ready for trick or treat.”
Hickory and his brothers were the three bears.
On Halloween Eve, Sapling swayed slightly.
A cool breeze slithered through her leaves.
She held onto hope.
When the sun rose on Halloween,
Sapling’s costume was complete.
Sapling, the young Ginkgo, was Goldilocks.

10. MIDNIGHT SNACK

Slither, Slither.
Tiptoe, CREEEEAK.
shh.
The moon is bright.
It’s time to sneak.

Down the hallway.
Stop to see.
zzzz.
The coast is clear.
I smirk with glee.

‘Twas a night of
costumed fun.
oooOO.
With bags of treats
the night was done.

Now I creep and
Tiptoe light.
grrrr.
A shadow’s there!
I freeze with fright!

Stepping slowly,
Then a whirl!
phew.
It’s just the dog…
“You scared me, girl!”

In the kitchen
hidden high.
mmm.
I reach the snacks
“Success!” I sigh.

Then I heard a
great big SNAP!
AHH.
“I caught you Dad!
You like my trap?”

11. A MARTIAN’S HALLOWEEN

A tiny spaceship landed with a rumble and a roar
So Timothy, a Martian boy decided to explore
Zombies, witches, scary creatures slithered down the street
Traveling from door to door, they shouted “TRICK OR TREAT!”

Suddenly, poor Timothy felt frightened and alone
“This Earthly kind of holiday just isn’t in my zone!”
An alien, dressed up in green, peculiarly appeared
“You’re looking lost. I’ll get you home,” she gladly volunteered.
She found his spaceship just in time. He knew she saved the day.
Then she reached inside her sack. “Have a Milky Way.”

12. PUMPKIN PRIDE

One tiny pumpkin sat on the vine.

“Grow, Pumpkin, grow,” chanted Witch.

When scary bugs slithered close, Ghost shouted “Boo!”

“Grow, Pumpkin, grow,” chanted Ghost.

Mummy watered during four months of sunshine.

“Grow, Pumpkin, grow,” chanted Mummy.

Cool weather came; Pumpkin stopped growing.

“Pumpkin’s perfect!” said Witch, Ghost, and Mummy.

“Let’s bring him to the contest at the Trick-or-Treat Fair!”

Carved pumpkins… Warty pumpkins… Tasty pumpkins…

But no pumpkin beat Pumpkin.

Witch, Ghost, and Mummy beamed with pumpkin pride

Their precious Pumpkin won grand prize —

WORLD’S HEAVIEST PUMPKIN

FUN FACT: The Guinness World Record for heaviest pumpkin is 2,702 pounds.

13. THE SWEETEST TREAT

It’s Halloween! Come one and all!
Slither, scurry, climb and crawl –

gather round the bright full moon.
Children will be coming soon.

As they swarm the darkened streets,
calling out their “Trick or Treats!”

we’ll lurk nearby, our eyes aglow,
making sure our tails don’t show.

Once they’re candy-full and sleepy –
numbed to all that’s scary, creepy –

leap out from our hiding place
and lick the children – just a taste.

The sweetest tasting child will be
the one we eat on Halloween!

14. CANDY NIGHT

Costumes on,

grab your gear,

Candy Night is almost here.

Sun is set,

route is mapped,

we won’t leave one house untapped.

Trick or treat,

check the haul.

Chocolate! Gummies! Eat them all.

Wrapper pile,

empty tote,

taffy slithers down my throat.

Not enough.

We need more!

I know somewhere we can score.

Candy out,

down the road,

now we’ve hit the motherlode.

“Just take one?”

I think not.

Ditch the sign and grab the lot!

Lights come on,

time to run!

If my mom finds out, I’m DONE.

Just a scare,

so we think?…

Doorbell footage has us linked.


PHEW! So there you have it! Good luck choosing just one of those amazing stories!

Please vote for your favorite in the poll below by 7PM Eastern Tuesday November 29!

The Winners and Honorable Mentions will be posted on Wednesday November 30 (because running into December would just be a bridge too far! 🤣)

I can’t wait to see who you all choose as your winners!

Tune in Wednesday!!! 🎃🧙‍♀️👻🎃

Guidelines for the 12th Annual Holiday Writing Contest!

Guess what time it is?

I realize, of course, that I have yet to post the Halloweensie Finalists. They are coming! I promise! Hopefully in a few days. What a perfect storm of downright insanity the last few weeks have been!

BUT

Time waits for no one, so I have to get the Holiday Contest Guidelines up so you have a couple weeks to write your entries!

Which brings me to the fact that someone (besides me) is in BIG Trouble!

This Dastardly Duo is charged with:

  • Identity Theft (Jingle and Dingle were found like icicles, dressed in garbage bags, doing jumping jacks to keep warm!)
  • Knowingly Impersonating an Elf (not very well, I might add!)
  • Breaking and Entering (emphasis on breaking)
  • Burglary (No. There is no turkey left. None. So don’t keep asking!)
  • Breaking and Leaving (not a usual charge but when the dog collar fits…)
  • Fleeing the Scene of a Crime (and in the process…)
  • Assault with a Greasy Weapon (one of the perpetrators whacked an innocent bystander in the thigh with a large turkey haunch which left a significant bruise on her leg and a stubborn grease stain (which may be permanent!) on her favorite holiday skirt)
  • Willful Destruction of Private Property (knocking over a Christmas Tree, smashing ornaments, tangling Christmas lights, and causing a not-that-small fire due to sparks from the mistreated electrical outlet igniting the dry conifer)
  • Necessitating a Bath (seemingly unrelated unless it was some part of the Elf Impersonation gone awry, but they’re GREEN! Seriously! In the manner of the Witch of the West and the Grinch! What is WITH that?!)


In short, they have been Very Bad Dogs!

Why, you ask, am I bringing this Wickedness to your attention?

Well, I’ll tell you!

As we enter the Holiday Season, there is always an emphasis on Holiday Parties, giving gifts, being kind to others, doing good deeds, sweetness and light., but . .

DUHN! DUHN! DUHN!

. . .what about the Bad Guys?

Because you know they’re out there, wreaking havoc whenever, wherever, and however they can! One look at that WANTED poster will tell you that!

It’s an outright example of Mischief and Mayhem! Tomfoolery! Skulduggery!

Exactly the kind of misbehavior you should be keeping in mind when you sit down to write your entry for the . . .

12th Annual Holiday Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about a Holiday Bad Guy – think along the lines of The Abominable Snow Monster (aka The Bumble), Heat Miser/Snow Miser, Burgermeister Meisterburger, the Winter Warlock, The Grinch, Scrooge, etc…, but make up your own – someone you can have some fun with! An elf who laces Mrs. Claus’s cookies with Argu-mint so that everyone who eats them starts fighting! A Candle Kidnapper who holds all the candles for ransom just before Hanukkah! A pair of zebra gangsters who dress up as reindeer, planning to sneak onto Santa’s team and then steal the sleigh and keep all the toys for themselves! A taciturn girl who is found responsible for removing lights and ornaments from all the village displays…but turns out to have brought them to the Nursing Home to cheer the residents. Anything and everything you can think up – the badder the better 😊

  • Your bad guy can be human, animal, or any made-up creature you like.
  • They can wind up punished, or redeemed, or they can escape to attempt their mischief and mayhem another day.
  • They can be the main character or the antagonist, but they should play a significant role in the story.
  • Their badness can be due to extenuating circumstances that make them sympathetic, or they can be just plain naughty! 😊
  • We are aiming for lighthearted and entertaining so we don’t go down too dark a path – these are holiday stories for children, after all! – but you can be serious if you like as long as it’s not too grim!

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 😊 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 😊 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

Post:  Your entry should be posted between 12:01 AM EST Friday December 9th and Sunday December 11th at 11:59 PM EST, and must be posted in the comment section of the Official Contest Post which will go up here on my blog on Friday December 9th. That post will remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut or Perfect Picture Book) for the duration of the contest so everyone will have plenty of time to visit and enjoy.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email me (we’ll go over this part in more detail on the December 9th post! 😊 ) but do not email me any entries before the opening of the contest on December 9th! They will not be accepted or read!

The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 12 finalists.  Due to the nature of life at the moment I am not going to hazard a guess as to when the finalists will be posted – they’ll be up as soon as I can get them up.

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Holiday Bad Guy! – the rules state a Holiday Bad Guy story, so it must be crystal clear that the story, including your holiday bad guy, in some way relates to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  Your bad guy must be central to the story  – not just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else. Have fun creating your bad guy! Make him or her a real character whose wickedness we can enjoy 😊
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important. Please proofread! A typo may be the difference between being considered and being set aside.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes!: The prize list is under construction. . .  But I wanted to get the guidelines up so you guys would have as much time as possible to work on your stories!  Stay tuned for the completed list with all info, links, and images! 😊

⭐️ Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course – Renee LaTulippe Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, 2024) and has poems published in many anthologies including No World Too BigNight WishesSchool People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of USOne Minute Till BedtimePoems Are TeachersThankU: Poems of Gratitude, and A World Full of Poems.

⭐️ Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat with Sandra Sutter, author of THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL (Spork, March 2019) and STAN’S FRIGHTFUL HALLOWEEN (Spork, September 2020) and the Owner/Publisher/Editor of Gnome Road Publishing)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (author, illustrator, or both) – Julie Rowan-Zoch

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (written/Zoom) OR Ask Me Anything 1 hour session about author websites – Stacy Jensen

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique – Melissa Stoller

⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat AND Signed PB – Janet Johnson

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique and Zoom Chat (especially STEAM) – Sue Heavenrich

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017) as well as the forthcoming SPIDER LADY: Nan Songer and Her Arachnid WWII Army (Astra/Calkins Creek 2025) and another as yet unannounced 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique – Roxanne Troup

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique – Rosanne Kurstedt

⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything with Rebecca Gardyn Levington, author of BRAINSTORM! (Sleeping Bear Press, 2022), WHATEVER COMES TOMORROW (Barefoot Books, Mar 7, 2023), I WILL ALWAYS BE…(HarperCollins, Spring 2024), and AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? (Penguin/Rocky Pond, Spring 2024)

⭐️ AMA Zoom Chat and signed book – Cindy Schrauben

⭐️ Signed copies of LISTEN, COUNT ON US, and the new TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE board book – 1 prize 3 books – Gabrielle Snyder

⭐️ 15 minute AMA with Teresa Robeson

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 birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

So! Butt in chair! Snack and beverage near to hand! Writing implement ready! Mischief-making, Mayhem-creating Thinking Caps on!

One. . .

Two. . .

Three. . .

WRITE!!!!!!!

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Caroline Perry!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Today I’m thrilled to introduce Caroline Perry whose debut picture book is exceptionally timely. THE CORGI AND THE QUEEN, releasing today, was written and in production long before the sad event of September 8, 2022, but with the Queen’s passing this lovely book is an uplifting tribute to her and her beloved dogs.

The Corgi and the Queen
written by Caroline Perry
illustrated by Lydia Corry
Godwin Books/Macmillan
publication date 11/22/22

Even a monarch needs a best friend and Queen Elizabeth II found one in a corgi pup she named Susan. From princesshood to queendom the pair forged an unbreakable bond, with Susan even participating in Elizabeth’s wedding day and joining her on honeymoon with Prince Philip. Over the course of her remarkable seventy-year reign the Queen had more than thirty corgi companions, and almost all were direct descendants of her cherished Susan.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Caroline! Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re really looking forward to hearing about this book! Where did the idea for it come from?

CAROLINE: Everyone knows that the Queen adored corgis, and that she had many corgi companions throughout the course of her life. I’ve been a journalist for many years so I always look for the ‘why’—what was it that made Elizabeth love these dogs so much? What was the defining moment or relationship that formed this incredible attachment? When I started my research it wasn’t long before the ‘aha’ moment struck. The story of the young Princess Elizabeth and Susan was utterly enchanting, and it answered the ‘why’ quite succinctly!

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

CAROLINE: Many months! I really immersed myself in the story, researching Queen Elizabeth’s young life in particular. Susan was by Elizabeth’s side for so many of the defining moments in her life—during World War II, when the princess served in a women’s regiment; when Elizabeth married Prince Philip; when her beloved ‘Papa’, King George VI, died, and when she was crowned Queen at the age of 25. Susan was also there when Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, who is now King Charles III. I really sought out the ‘heart’ of the story, and for me, this was Susan being hidden in one of the carriages Elizabeth and Philip rode in on their wedding day, and Susan joining the newlyweds on honeymoon. From here, the rest of the story flowed very naturally as the ‘heart’ is like the book’s North Star.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CAROLINE: I always thought that the concept of a story ‘finding you’ was a myth but in this case, it grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go. Of course I had several critiques on the manuscript, and I made many edits along the way, but the version in the book is not hugely different from my original draft. This story really let me know how it wanted to be written!

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

CAROLINE: When I knew that it was a story that I would love to read to my children! As it’s a longer picture book, I had also asked for ‘beta reads’ from a librarian, and from some older elementary-aged kids (not friends, who will always tell you that your work is great, even when it isn’t). The feedback I received was, overwhelmingly, “we want this to be a book, so please make sure that it becomes one!” At this point I knew that it was ready to be sent out into the world.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CAROLINE: I submitted the manuscript to a handful of agents. Allison Remcheck at Stimola Literary Studio replied very shortly after she received it, and she asked if we could set up a chat. She was so enthusiastic about the book, and I loved her personality and the way that her vision for the book was exactly aligned with mine. I knew that she would be the perfect partner so even though I had interest from another agent, I was absolutely delighted to accept Allison’s offer of representation!

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

CAROLINE: We got an expression of interest from my editor, Laura Godwin, a day or two after the manuscript had been subbed. This was in December, when publishing pretty much shuts down, so I knew that nothing would happen over the holidays. In early January we were told that the manuscript was going to acquisitions, and on Friday of that same week, the offer came in!

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

CAROLINE: I will never forget “the call” as it happened on what had been an incredibly difficult day. My husband works as a travel agent, and his business was decimated by the pandemic. On this particular day we’d had some really bad news and I was trying very hard to hold it together for my three young kids, who were all being homeschooled at the time. A local playground had just re-opened after many months of closure so I took the children there, hiding my sadness behind oversized sunglasses (and a mask, of course). When my phone rang and I saw my agent’s name on the screen, I think the world stopped spinning on its axis for a moment or two. Allison told me that we had an offer, and this time my tears were happy ones!

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

CAROLINE: It was six months between accepting the offer and signing the contract.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

CAROLINE: Takeout pizza with my kids, and a glass of something fizzy when they went to bed!

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

CAROLINE: I’d spoken to a few published authors before my contract arrived so I knew roughly what to expect from a Big 5 house. My agent is brilliant at negotiating and this is an area where good agents are worth their weight in gold. Book contracts are long, complex and wordy and I was very grateful to have her deal with that side of things!

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

CAROLINE: My editor didn’t request any specific changes. We made some tweaks but there were no significant revisions. Laura had a wonderful vision for the book and she loved the story as it was, which was incredible!

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

CAROLINE: Before Lydia was brought on board I was shown some of her sample sketches. Within seconds of laying eyes on her work I said, ‘yes!’ I absolutely loved her illustration style and I felt so lucky to have an opportunity to work with her. A few months after signing the contract I got to see some of Lydia’s rough sketches, which really blew my mind! I only had a couple of very minor suggestions for changes, which the editor agreed with, but I honestly couldn’t have been happier with the work that I saw. About six months before publication I received a printed ARC in the mail, and seeing mine and Lydia’s book laid out, with the text and stunning color illustrations, was an experience I will never forget.

I don’t think I included a single art note in this manuscript! As it’s a biography, I knew that the illustrator would want to do her own research into the aesthetics of the people and places in the book.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

CAROLINE: I actually stumbled across my Kirk-us review by accident! I was very happy to see that it was positive. And I just found out that I got a lovely Booklist review, too!

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

CAROLINE: My publication date was brought forward twice so I was lucky to get it earlier than I had anticipated! It was only 23 months between offer and ‘on sale’ which is a pretty short timeline in picture book publication.

I don’t actually know how many copies are in the first run printing!

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

CAROLINE: They’ve sent digital ARCs to book bloggers and reviewers, and liaised with various trade publications. They sent out a press release and set up an interview with People.com that was picked up by Vanity Fair and a host of other news websites! 

SUSANNA: Wow! That is amazing! Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

CAROLINE: I’ve really thrown myself into the book promo! Lydia Corry and I worked together to make a book trailer. We shared some very emotional moments in the aftermath of the Queen’s death, when we had to change the trailer text to past tense. I have also printed bookmarks and stickers (designed by the amazing Lydia!) and I learned how to design and print posters, vinyl signs, headers for bags of dog treats, and an array of materials for an event called ‘SoCal Corgi Beach Day’. I hired a booth, set up some really fun photo props, and offered a ‘Wheel of Paw-tune’ spin for people who pre-ordered the book. It was a LOT of work but so much fun, too. I got to cuddle dozens of corgis, and speak to some wonderful people who love the breed as much as the Queen did. I have also designed a website, set up author accounts on Instagram and TikTok, and become something of a whiz on Canva! I’ve organized interviews and podcast chats, and arranged a few book signing events in Los Angeles. I’m really excited about those!

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

CAROLINE: I’ve been writing professionally for the entirety of my adult life—I had my first piece published in a national British newspaper during my second year at college. I submitted an article (via fax!) to an editor and it was published, but with someone else’s byline. When I contacted the editor to gently point out the mistake I was offered an unpaid internship by way of an apology, and I grabbed that opportunity with both hands. I started at the very bottom of the chain, cleaning out filing cabinets, picking up editors’ dry-cleaning and delivering mail to senior journalists. It was very high-stress environment with long hours with no time for mentorship but I always made myself useful, staying later than I needed to, and I let all the editors know that I would be more than happy to cover any event that nobody else wanted to go to. An arts editor finally agreed, and allowed me to review a very obscure play in a tiny theater above a pub in North London. I haven’t stopped writing since!

In terms of picture book writing, I started in earnest way back in 2014, when my eldest child was four. I was reading so many picture books to him, and I just fell in love with the genre. I was curious to see if I could translate my writing skills to the picture book format so I devoured the contents of my local library’s picture book shelves and wrote, wrote, wrote… I had a couple of ideas which became manuscripts and I sent one out to half a dozen agents. I got a champagne rejection from one of these agents, but the rest were bog-standard form passes. Once the initial stings had subsided I realized that I had made that classic ‘new writer’ mistake: I’d just gone out too soon. I hadn’t found critique partners yet, and the story I’d queried was cute, but it wasn’t new or fresh enough to make it stand out. I took all of this on board and stepped back for a while to deal with some life ‘stuff’, and to have my younger two children! All the while, I continued reading picture books as if it was my job to do so.  I returned to PB writing seriously in 2018, when my youngest kiddo was two. I signed up for Susanna’s (brilliant!) course, joined the 12×12 community, and found some fantastic critique partners. It took me around 18 months to write and develop three manuscripts that I believed were query-ready. If you include my ‘gap’, it’s been an eight year journey. 

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

CAROLINE: Gosh, so many things. I’ve learned that you need rhino hide skin to cope with all the rejections. You need the patience of a dozen saints, as publishing moves very slowly (even more so since the pandemic). And even if you think you’ve written the best manuscript of all time, you need to KEEP WRITING! I also think that all up and coming writers should console themselves with the fact that there is a ‘sliding doors’ element to this business. Talent and great ideas are, of course, paramount, but sometimes it’s also about landing in the right inbox at the exact right time. It’s really hard to know what a particular agent or editor is looking for at any given moment, or to second-guess what they need to fill a hole in their lists. They might just have signed someone who wrote a book with a similar theme yours, or perhaps they’ll pass on your manuscript as they’re allergic to dogs, or don’t like lyrical books, or they’ve got too many titles with animal protagonists? Rejections aren’t always personal, or a judgement of the quality of your work, sometimes it really is just the market at that precise time. Also, I would caution authors against writing to trends, as by the time your manuscript has landed you an agent, and then been considered by an editor, and gone through the (often lengthy) acquisitions process, it’s likely that that trend will have passed, or that the market will be saturated with books written by people who had a head start on that zeitgeisty idea. Write what you know, and write with your 4-8-year-old audience in mind. Will they find your manuscript interesting? Informative? Moving? Hilarious? What is it about your book that will make it stand out on a crowded display, and compel a customer to spend $18.99 (plus sales tax!) on it? It’s a very competitive market, so read hundreds of recent picture books (yes, hundreds, or however many your library has in stock!) Make use of the ‘book request’ feature, most libraries are very accommodating when it comes to acquiring titles that users suggest, and see what has caught editors’ eyes in the past three years or so. ‘Classic’ books are wonderful, but many of them would never be published today. Bear this in mind when you’re reading for research.

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

CAROLINE: It’s been a long journey and I have definitely allowed imposter syndrome and feelings of ‘compare/despair’ to take up residence in my head sometimes. The best way to banish these thoughts is to keep writing, keep improving, and keep going! I have dreamed of seeing my name on the front of a book since I was a new reader myself, and I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to be a published author.

SUSANNA: Well, published you are! And by the looks of it, you’re off to a great start! Thank you so much for sharing your journey to publication with us, Caroline. I know we all learned a lot. And I speak for all of us when I say best of luck with this and future titles!

Author Caroline Perry

Website: www.carolineperryauthor.com
Twitter: caro_perry
Instagram: @carolinelperry
TikTok: @carolinelperry

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

You may purchase Caroline’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)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

Shachi Kaushik – Diwali In My New Home

Carrie Sharkey Asner – Blueberry Blue Bubble (self published)

Gela Kalaitzidis – Ozzie & Prince Zebedee (author/illustrator)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Happy Birthday, Christmas Child! – PLUS A Giveaway!

Wow! We haven’t had a Perfect Picture Book Friday in a while, due to Halloweensie.

(In case you’re wondering, all evidence to the contrary, the Halloweensie judging is well underway and we are close to posting the finalists. With a little luck, I’ll get them up before it’s time to post the guidelines for the Holiday Contest, but the way things have been going in my world lately, it’s anyone’s bet! 😊)

Anyway, anyone who has been posting Perfect Picture Books regularly and has books to add, please feel free to put them on today’s list!

I have a lovely book to share with you today, just in time for you all to run out and purchase one as a holiday (or pre-holiday) gift for any wee folks you know 😊

OR, leave a comment on today’s post between now and Thursday, November 24 (hey! that’s Thanksgiving – easy to remember! 😊) and you could be the lucky winner of a copy of this sweet book! (US residents only)

Title: Happy Birthday, Christmas Child!: A Counting Nativity Book (Board Book)

Written By: Laura Sassi

Illustrated By: Gabi Murphy

Publisher: Paraclete Press, October 2022

Suitable For Ages: 1-4

Themes/Topics: Christmas Story, counting

Opening:
One stable on a busy hill
with only ox and donkey ’til…
Tap, tap. “Hello?” Two heads appear.
“The inn is full. Can we stay here?”
“Yes, of course!” squeak three small mice.
“It’s rustic, but the view is nice.”

Brief Synopsis: This is the Christmas Story, told simply in lovely rhyme, with plenty of things for youngest readers to count.

Links To Resources: Today we have a wonderful activity straight from the creative author herself!

Play a HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD Matching Sticker Game

by Laura Sassi

After enjoying the book, little ones might be ready for this book-themed matching game from the free downloadable “Happy Birthday, Christmas Child” activity kit. The sticker templates for the game are found on page six. NOTE: You might also enjoy the other resources there, including cupcake toppers, coloring pages, number sheets and a complete party plan!


Directions: (photos above and below)

  1. Ahead of time, print up two sets of the 12 circular printable stickers found in activity kit and have twenty-four matching cards pre-cut from colored paper.  
  1. Assemble the cards by adhering the stickers to the cards. (Or, if using regular paper, cut out the “sticker” images and adhere using glue.) Decorate an envelope to store them.
  1. Place the cards face down on the “stable floor” (a blanket or quilt) and have the children gather round.  Take turns flipping over two cards at a time. If they match, keep them. If not turn back over.
  1. After playing, the cards can also be used to retell the story or play a hide-and-seek variation of the matching game, where you hide them around the room and go on a hunt for matching pairs. 

Have fun! 

Why I Like This Book: You have probably guessed (since this is at least the 3rd or 4th… or maybe 5th? book of Laura’s that I’ve reviewed for PPBF 😊) that I am a devoted Laura Sassi fan. This newest book is no exception! It tells the Christmas Story in a way that is accessible and appealing to youngest readers. The story takes us to the stable where Mary and Joseph are welcomed by the animals and eat a simple meal of bread and figs. The baby kicks and moves, reminding everyone that it will soon be born. The joyous angels proclaim the birth and send the shepherds hurrying to greet the newborn babe. Simply told in lovely rhyme, the whole story is presented in a way that is true to the bible’s telling but written for youngest readers to enjoy, with things to count on every page along the way – from 1 stable to 10 tiny toes. 😊

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

Author Laura Sassi
Visit her website!

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of multiple books for young children including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz), which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, Manger (Zonderkidz); Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse (Union Square Publishing), which was a 2021-2022 Iowa Goldfinch Award Nominee; Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz), which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books), Bunny Finds Easter (Zonderkidz), Happy Birthday, Christmas Child (Paraclete Press), her new counting board book, and coming in 2023, from Paraclete Press, My Tender Heart Bible and My Tender Heart Prayer Book.

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific blog 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! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Gela Kalaitzidis!

Hello, my friends!

I realize that we’re still kind of in the middle of Halloweensie, since, due to unforeseen circumstances I have not been able to devote myself to the judging as I should (though I PROMISE I am working on it – do not blame my fellow judges, it is all me holding up the works!) But meanwhile, Tuesday has rolled around and so I have to bump Halloweensie from the top of my blog to make room for today’s wonderful Tuesday Debut. I put links on all the mentions of Halloweensie so you can hop yourself back to it easily if you still want to read entries!

But for the moment, let’s take a little Halloweensie break. I am thrilled to introduce today’s debut-ess, Gela Kalaitzidis, and her gorgeous debut picture book, OZZIE & PRINCE ZEBEDEE!

Title: OZZIE & PRINCE ZEBEDEE
Publishing House: Flamingo Books
Release date: Oct. 11, 2022
Genre: Fiction.
Age Range: 3-7

Ozzie & Prince Zebedee is a tale about the burpy repercussions that arise when you accidentally swallow your best friend in anger and a story of love, forgiveness, and empathy.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Gela! Thank you so much for joining us today. I got one small peek at your art on Instagram one day and was instantly smitten, so I’m delighted to have you here to show your work to everyone! Where did the idea for this book come from? / How long did it take you to write/illustrate this book?

GELA: In one way, I would say it took me 33 years to write this book. When I was around 16 years old, I wrote a similar story. It was about a boy suffering from insomnia and while he was walking around at night, he ran into different creatures. Among them were a dragon and a prince. Many years later I remembered that story and rewrote it. My critique group helped me see that the heart of the story was with the bickering side characters, and slowly the manuscript evolved into what it is today.

(An illustration sample from 1989 and the final spread in 2022)

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?


GELA: This book has been through hundreds of revisions. I’ve taken the manuscripts to endless amounts of writing classes, retreats, critique groups, and conferences. I also paid for a six-month mentorship with Giuseppe Castellano through the Illustration Department. I believe it was money well spent having a professional Art Director guiding me through my first picture book. When I finally sold the dummy to Flamingo Books (Penguin Random House) there were almost no changes. My editor (Margaret Anastas) had a few brilliant ideas for some text changes and my art director (Kate Renner) added one spread, but that was about it.

text and illustration copyright Gela Kalaitzidis 2022, Flamingo Books

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

GELA: My agent Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency found my art portfolio at the SCBWI summer conference 2019. A week after the conference she contacted me and asked to represent me as an illustrator. It took me a while to show my dummy to her, I wanted it to be perfect before sharing it. Nowadays I submit more unfinished work and we brainstorm together around the manuscript and illustrations.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?

GELA: Deborah Warren sent the dummy to maybe eight/nine publishers before I got the final YES! I don’t recall ever giving up hope on the book. A lot of the rejections were very thoughtful and inspiring. I was already working on other projects so Ozzie & Zeb’s submission process almost felt like their own journey, not mine. That’s why I was so surprised when Flamingo Books and Margaret Anastas finally gave me an offer.

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and signing your contract? And how did you celebrate signing?

GELA: I got the offer in October 2020 and signed the contract on March 2021. If I remember right, I think there was a bottle of something bubbly shared with my husband to celebrate. It was a big party for the whole family!

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

GELA: I had worked so hard on the creation of the book so I had never really given a future contract a thought. I’m very glad that I’m represented by such an experienced and talented agent as Deborah Warren. I know that she fought for the best deal a debut author could expect. The original delivery date happened to coincide with an important family event so I asked Deborah to renegotiate the deadline. She also did some changes in the contract to royalties, foreign world rights, etc. I was included in all the negotiations but had very little input. I was just happy to get my book out in the world.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

GELA: My agent and editor shared the Kirkus review slightly before it was published and I was beyond happy. Getting positive feedback from the picture book industry felt like a major accomplishment.


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


GELA: I got the offer in October 2020 and held the first copy in my hand exactly two years later. The print run was announced at 50,000 copies. Since it’s my first book I have nothing to compare these numbers with. It sounds like a lot of Ozzies and Zebedees to me.

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book? / Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.


GELA: The marketing and promotion were a complete mystery to me. I never had a meeting with a publicity team so I created my own little animated book teaser, I made a batch of small online banners that I used through different platforms. I also posted behind-the-scenes photos and tried to be seen and heard online as much as I could in the months leading up to the book’s birthday. I had the most fun with two cut-outs of Ozzie and Prince Zebedee that I kept with me on my summer vacation. I posted small social media updates with my main characters “on tour”, it was very well received. But the biggest marketing efforts probably happened on PRH’s side I just never really knew what they were doing. Somehow, my book reached the Barnes & Noble best picture book of the 2022 list. That was huge!

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up-and-coming artists?)


GELA: I’m pretty sure that Ozzie & Prince Zebedee would never have reached the bookshelves if it wasn’t for my amazing critique group. I believe sharing your work with friends and family who can give you honest and supportive advice is one of the most valuable things in this career. Another lesson has been to focus on what I can do, and not to stress about the things that are out of my control.

Author/Illustrator Gela Kalaitzidis

www.gelakalaitzidis.com
IG & Twitter Handles: @gelakalaitzidis

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for spending some time with us today and sharing your journey to publication, Gela! Such a wonderful opportunity for everyone to learn! Here’s wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Gela’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)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

Shachi Kaushik – Diwali In My New Home

Carrie Sharkey Asner – Blueberry Blue Bubble (self published)

The 12th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!

Hi Everyone. Posting of finalists is delayed. I’m not exactly sure when they’ll be up, but it will be as soon as possible. Likely another week.

Eye of newt and dragon fang! It’s time for . . .

The 12th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

THE CONTEST: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in word count) using the words slither, treat, and scare.

  • Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words. Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • You may use the words in any form i.e. slithery (yes, it’s a word, we looked it up 😊), treated, scary, etc, etc, whathaveyou 😊
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!

POST: your story in the comment section of the Official Contest Post (that’s this one!)( between Right NOW this very second! and 11:59PM Eastern Monday October 31st (So you have 3 full days to post – today, tomorrow, and Monday.)

  • For those of you who would also like to post on your blogs, please feel free to do so! You are welcome to include the link to your blog with your entry in the comment section of the Official Contest Post so that people can come visit your blog, but all entries must be posted in the comment section of THIS Post between right now and Monday October 31st at 11:59PM Eastern.
  • If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title, byline (that means who the story is by – you! – so for example, By Jane Doe) and word count at the top NO ATTACHMENTS! and please do not submit any entries before the official opening of the contest at 12:01 AM Saturday October 29th. They will not be accepted.
  • I know how hard you all work on your entries, and how anxious you are to get them posted, but please try to be a little patient if your entry doesn’t show up immediately. Many comments have to be manually approved, and it sometimes takes me a little while to post entries that come in by email. I promise I will get to everything as soon as I can. I try never to leave my desk during contests, but sometimes it’s unavoidable 😊

THE JUDGING: over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will read and re-read and narrow down the entries to a finalist field of about 12 which will be posted here for you to vote on I hope by Saturday November 5th (though if the judging takes longer than expected it might be a little later – we will do our best! But fair warning I have two school visits that week and a long drive Friday.) The winners will be announced Tuesday November 8th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 😊)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Halloweeniness – the rules state a Halloween story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Halloween, not just some random spooky night.
  • 3. Use of all 3 required words and whether you came it at 100 words or less.
  • 4. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 5. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  • 6. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines, they won’t even read your submission.

THE PRIZES: So amazing! What wonderful, generous people we have in our kidlit community! Just wait til you see what you can win!

⭐️ Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course – Renee LaTulippe Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, 2024) and has poems published in many anthologies including No World Too BigNight WishesSchool People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of USOne Minute Till BedtimePoems Are TeachersThankU: Poems of Gratitude, and A World Full of Poems.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Rosie Pova author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork, April 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork, September 2017), SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing, March 2021), THE SCHOOL OF FAILURE: A STORY ABOUT SUCCESS (Yehoo Press, May 2022), and for Middle Grade readers, HAILEY QUEEN PRANKING MAKES PERFECT: THE ALIEN ENCOUNTER (Spork, April 2017) Rosie does a lot of school visits and presentations, should that happen to be of interest for your Ask Me Anything.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming preferred) with Andrea Denish, author of EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE (Astra Young Readers, March 2020), and THE WAY WE SAY HELLO forthcoming from Starry Forest Books February 7, 2023

⭐️ Picture Book Critique (non-rhyming) with Becky Scharnhorst, author of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Flamingo Books, July 2021) and THIS FIELD TRIP STINKS! (Flamingo Books, August 2022)

⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.

Writer, librarian, bookseller, blogger Kathy Halsey

⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat (anything relating to writing/publishing) with Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017) as well as the forthcoming SPIDER LADY: Nan Songer and Her Arachnid WWII Army (Astra/Calkins Creek 2025) and another as yet unannounced 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.

Developmental Editor, Lou Piccolo

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique PLUS Zoom Chat with Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) with Kelly Conroy whose poems have been published in 5 anthologies (10.10, wee words for wee ones, October 2021; BETTER THAN STARBUCKS, January 2022; THINGS WE EAT, Pomelo Books, March 2022; THINGS WE FEEL, Pomelo Books, July 2022; WHAT IS A FRIEND, Pomelo Books, October 2022) and also the author of a rhyming board book due out in 2025.

⭐️ 30 Minute Picture Book Zoom Critique Session with Lynne Marie

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!)

⭐️ 20 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI (Versify, June 2021), I’M AN AMERICAN (Viking Books for Young Readers, May 2023), and THE BOYS OF KOH PANYEE (coming Fall 2023)

⭐️ Rate Your Story Speed Pass from Lynne Marie

And maybe I’ll have some extra picture books to add in here and there to sweeten the pie. . . 😊

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 birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, recommending their books for school and library purchases, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Happy Writing! Happy Reading! And Happy Halloween!

For those of you having trouble commenting, I apologize for the fact that my site is apparently very temperamental! I can suggest the following: if you’re trying to post comments from a phone or tablet, try a computer – sometimes it works better than way. Chrome seems to work better with this site than some of the other browsers, although one dedicated individual, determined to be able to comment, has reported that she finally managed with Microsoft Edge. Thank you for trying – it’s so important for all of you to get to hear from each other!

Now, let the Halloweensie begin!

The 239 entries listed below are linked to where they appear in the comments so you can click on the titles and get right to them! (Assuming WordPress cooperates . . . fingers crossed!) Anyone who feels kind can start at the bottom of the list so those entries get some comments too! 🎃 😊

  1. Apparition Preparation For A Scary Halloween – Royal Baysinger
  2. Attack Of The Zornaks – Royal Baysinger
  3. Down In the Halloween Cave – Royal Baysinger
  4. Sisters – Sara Kruger
  5. Halloween Nightmare – Helen Lai
  6. The Follower – Marla Yablon
  7. A Frightfully Fun Time – Susan E. Schipper
  8. The Halloween Dream Team – Jenna Elyse Johnson
  9. Skeleton Sam Settles The Score – Jennifer Cowan
  10. Slug Slime – Vashti Verbowski
  11. Ghost Recipes – Julia Pierre Hammond
  12. Rainforest Halloween – Heather Kinser
  13. On Snail-O-Ween – Heather Kinser
  14. The Frightful Fugitive – Anne Lipton
  15. Little Witchy – Elizabeth Myer zu Heringdorf
  16. Get Your Glow On – Corine Timmer
  17. Sally The Slug Has A Sweet Tooth – Eleanor Ann Peterson
  18. In The Middle Of A Snack – Bridget Magee
  19. Coming Around – Emily Durant
  20. Piper’s Pickle – Colleen Murphy
  21. Safe From Scares – Sarah Meade
  22. Claudia Maude Clickerticker’s Costume Shop – Sarah Meade
  23. What Do Witches Eat? – Kelly Clasen
  24. Ghouldilocks And The Three Shares – Claire Blumenfeld
  25. Closer – Reed Hilton-Eddy
  26. SSSSSScary – Jen Subra
  27. A Shady Halloween – Jennifer Lowe
  28. Help! – Elizabeth James
  29. Arabella’s Halloween Treat – Colleen Fogarty
  30. Trick Or Treat? – Corine Timmer
  31. The Coolest Halloween Costume – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  32. Green Goulash Stew – Claudine Pullen
  33. The House With The Good Candy – Vanessa Konoval
  34. The House Creatures’ Halloween – Lauri Meyers
  35. When Good Luck Struck – Molly Ippolito
  36. The Haunted House Halloween Challenge – Marty Bellis
  37. Demon On The Line – Laura Polasek
  38. The Spooky Halloween Parade – Janet Krauthamer
  39. Mrs. Cleary’s Cats – Susan Eyerman
  40. A Halloween Twist – Cheryl Simon
  41. Wilhelmina The Witch – Ashlee MacCallum
  42. Halloween Hater – Blaire Moore
  43. The Halloween Bake-Off – Rose Cappelli
  44. Trick-Or-Treat, Shoes To Eat – Ashley Sierra
  45. Tricks Before Treats – Danielle S. Hammelef
  46. Happy Halloween – Stephanie R. Mena
  47. A Batty Halloween – Melissa Chupp
  48. Who Whispers In The Dark? – Erika Romero
  49. Interview With The Vampire – Helen Lai
  50. Slug Life – Kim Wagner Nolan
  51. Sapling’s Halloween – Lori Sheroan
  52. Nothing Scared Alicia Bones – Christine Evans
  53. The Mask – Su Ko
  54. DON’T FLUSH YOUR GOLDFISH DOWN THE TOILET OR HE WILL COME BACK TO GET YOU ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT – Sue Ko
  55. Going As Myself – Marianna Sacra
  56. Halloween Snack – Debra Daugherty
  57. Halloween-ing – Lori Himmel
  58. Something Wriggling This Way Comes – Amy Chini
  59. Edgar Allen Crow – Kathleen Jacobs
  60. Queen Slug’s Halloween – Kelsey E. Gross
  61. Pull Of The Moon – Darla Christie
  62. There’s One In Every Class – Linda Staszak
  63. Snollooween – Katie McEnaney
  64. A (little) STEM Halloween – Jilanne Hoffman
  65. Trick For Treat – Linda Starszak
  66. Mattie, The Scaredy Tabby Cat – Janet Parkinson Bryce
  67. Nothing Scares Me – Karen Condit
  68. ‘Twas Halloween Night – Sharon Coffey
  69. A Hotdog Halloween Hullabaloo – Sharon Coffey
  70. Their Trick, My Treat – Carol Van Gorp
  71. Interview With The Vampire – Helen Lai
  72. Halloween Night Light – Daniella Kaufman
  73. Do Goblins Gobble? – Sally Yorke-Viney
  74. Witchy-licious Stew – Charlotte Dixon
  75. The Ghouliest Ghouls – Marta Cutler
  76. The Scariest Bear – Marta Cutler
  77. Halloween Is Different This Year – S.S. Lee
  78. The Rattlesloth – Russell Wolff
  79. The Eyes Have It – Marta Cutler
  80. A Scare Affair – Lori C. Evans
  81. Halloween Haul – Stephanie Maksymiw
  82. Halloween Is Magic – Kristen Littlefield
  83. Command Performance – Jamie Donahoe
  84. Zombie In The House – Isabel Rodriguez
  85. A Wise Disguise – Jill Purtee
  86. Truck-Or-Treat – Mia Geiger
  87. The Halloween Dare – Marty Findley
  88. Witch’s Brew – Marty Findley
  89. A Halloween Tail – Katie Lee Reinert
  90. Creepy People – Sharon McCarthy
  91. Happy Halloween – Elaine D’Alessandro
  92. Scared Sssssilly – Julie Lerczak
  93. A Spooky House – Gail Hartman
  94. A Halloween Smile – Tonnye Fletcher
  95. A Scary Dare – Mona Pease
  96. Stop Your Bellyaching Soup, A Jump Rope Song – Debbie Meneses
  97. A Spell Of Transformation – Meagan T. Gentry
  98. First Flight – Paul Kurtz
  99. I Scare You, You Scare Me – Paul Kurtz
  100. Spiders vs. Snakes – Linda Schueler
  101. Pot Of The Witch – Reed Ambrose
  102. Snake In The Grass – Judy Sobanski
  103. Beware Or Be Scared – Norah Colvin
  104. Bat’s First Halloween – no author listed
  105. Children Of The Bog – Melissa Miles
  106. In Through My Window – Eric Sondergeld
  107. A Squishy Scare – Stephanie Henson
  108. The Last House – Janet Smart
  109. Jack-O-Lantern – Darcee A. Freier
  110. Beak-A-Boo! – Jill Lambert
  111. Jackie Saves Halloween – Brittany Richman
  112. The Treat – S. E. Cottrill
  113. Little Vampire’s First Halloween – Sharon Dalgleish
  114. Franny Fruit Bat’s Friendly Halloween – Amy LaMae Brewer
  115. Chicken’s First Halloween – Emma Hay
  116. Moldy Mayhem – Sue Lancaster
  117. Sea Monster – Patricia Nozell
  118. A Halloween Lullaby – Brigid Finucane
  119. Tricky Treats – Lisa Lowe Stauffer
  120. KA-RUNCH! – Donna Kurtz
  121. Scary-Fairy – Donna Kurtz
  122. Halloween Hop – Carole Gerber
  123. Halloween Treat – Krista Legge
  124. Sara’s Hairy Halloween – Jesse Anna Bornemann
  125. Scary Goat Scam – Elenore Byrne
  126. Goulentine – Michelle S. Kennedy
  127. My Teacher Is A Creature – Mary Ann Cortez
  128. The Haunted House – Karen Morgan
  129. Trick or Treat: A Forest Halloween – Sarah Marhevsky
  130. Shadows Come Crawling – Marlee Fuller-Morris
  131. Slithering Snake – Deborah Hunt
  132. Jack-oh-no! – Pollu Mendoza
  133. Jack’s Lament – Steve Jankousky
  134. Sense The Way – Sarah Hetu
  135. A Costume For Sandy The Snake – Susan R. Waide
  136. Slither and Hiss: Trick or Treat? – Cathrene Youngquist
  137. Pumpkin Jack – Jennifer Weingardt
  138. The Peanut Butter Cup Song – Hannah Roy LaGrone
  139. Gregory’s First Halloween – Morgan Lau
  140. Scary Treats – Ken Major
  141. Super Scary Sausages – Chris James
  142. Midnight Snack – Deborah Foster
  143. How To Trick-or-Treat If You’re A Snake – Abigail Mumford
  144. Scarecrows Of Halloween – Helen Ishmurzin
  145. Sneaky Snake – Jan Suhr
  146. Who’s There? – Dawn Renee Young
  147. Space Rangers And Skeletons – Cynthia Mackey
  148. A Halloween For Willard – Krista Harrington
  149. On Halloween Night – Amanda Flinn
  150. Early Worm’s Halloween Birthday Wish – Curtis King
  151. Sweetie The Parrot – Barbara DiMarco
  152. The Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest – Laura Straut
  153. Boo – Jean Martin
  154. Pete The Smallest Pumpkin – Tiffany Hanson
  155. Candy Corn’s Revenge – Tiffany Hanson
  156. A Martian’s Halloween – Angela Calabrese
  157. Candy Monster – Patricia MacMillan
  158. Igor’s First Halloween – Danna Zeiger
  159. You Can’t Scare Me – Danna Zeiger
  160. Pumpkin, Skeleton, Wolverine – Brenna Jeanneret
  161. Tricky Treats – Ashley Sutphen Delaney
  162. Little Sister Saves The Night – Laurie Kaiser
  163. The Sweetest Treat – Christina Shawn
  164. All Hallows’ Eve – Sasha Sirisena-Green
  165. Pumpkin Cat’s Turn – Bru Benson
  166. Frankenslug – Ryann Jones
  167. The Costume – Nina Nolan
  168. The Best Halloween Ever – Dianne Borowski
  169. Tricked – Geraldine V. Oades-Sese
  170. Trista’s Treat Or Trick? – Krissy Massey
  171. The Scariest Costume Of All – Abby N. Wooldridge
  172. Halloween is the BEST, but. . . – Andi Chitty
  173. It’s A Tricky Afterlife – Katie Schwartz
  174. Spider’s Halloween – Cassy Clarcq
  175. Slimon’s Halloween – Imelda Taylor
  176. The Zombie Flop – Liz Kehrli
  177. Melanie Monster – Lindsey LeBlanc
  178. Switch Witch Swap – Julie Fruitticher Schroeder
  179. S-S-Selma – Nancy Forbis-Stokes
  180. A Halloween Adventure – Gregory E. Bray
  181. Enter If You Dare – Trista Herring Baughman
  182. Snake’s Sweet Treats – Nadia Ali
  183. Costume Crisis – Keatley Eastman
  184. Tricked By The Treats – Elizabeth Muster
  185. Halloween Friend – Thelia Hutchinson
  186. My Dreadfully Dangerous Walk – Susan Twiggs
  187. Slither, Treat, Scare: A Halloween Story – Lynn Greenway
  188. I’m Not That Scared – Allison Gray
  189. The Halloween Prize – Mary Rudzinski
  190. Portia Pumpkin Proclaims – Judy Caldwell Hughes
  191. Pookie The Pomeranian’s Halloween Wish – Stephanie Jackson
  192. Boo The Ghost Gets Beaten – Stephanie Jackson
  193. Costume Drama – David Cobb
  194. Slither Spook – Jessica Milo
  195. Samira’s Potion – Jessica Milo
  196. Sabrina Squirrel Does Not Scare Easily – Liz Gill
  197. Snake’s Stealthy Solution – Kira Barrett
  198. What Did You See? – Kathleen Mazurowski
  199. Father Knows Best – Janice Kay
  200. The Costume – Amy Duchene
  201. Trick Or Treat – Laura Seely-Pollack
  202. Many Happy Resquirms – Diana Webb
  203. Theodore Turkey’s Halloween Hunt – Mary-Catherine Amadu
  204. Ghost Finds His Groove – Cindy Greene
  205. Weird Halloween Treats – Una Belle Townsend
  206. The Jabberwocks Of Halloween – Jenny Bowman
  207. Sooner And Sooner Every Year! – Stephanie Henson
  208. A Slimy Halloween: Halloweenie Competition – Erin Buhr
  209. Candy Night – Anne Weaver
  210. Growing Candy Apples – Hannah Roy LaGrone
  211. Sister’s First Halloween Night – Linda Hofke
  212. Calling All Campers to the Camp Spooky Halloween Campfire – Jamie Rodarte
  213. A Pumpkin Named Rattlesnake Pete – Pat Finnegan
  214. Pumpkin Pride – Pat Finnegan
  215. Gardenia Ghost – Katie Walsh
  216. I Am Always a Cat – Amanda Littlefield
  217. Scaredy Snake – Kathy Hill Crable
  218. Classroom Costume Conundrum – Cynthia Reeg
  219. A Beckoning Spell – Les Degnan
  220. Halloween Eve – Tarsia Rhyne
  221. Which Witch Will Win? – Lucretia Schafroth
  222. The Spider Web House – CJ Penko
  223. The Monster of Barlow’s Bakery – Jill Burns
  224. A Candy Break For Mongoose And Snake – Katie Schwartz
  225. Kid Cobra’s Halloween – Denise Seidman
  226. Costume Not Required – JC Kelly
  227. Lucinda Blackletter – Karen Pickrell
  228. Candi Corn – Liz Kehrli
  229. Glass Lizard Halloween – Maria Marshall
  230. Scaredy Cat And The Haunted Hunt – Samantha Cora Christian Haas
  231. Graduation Night – Naz Alibhai
  232. New Friends – Sarah Hawklyn
  233. Sam Wasn’t Afraid – T. May LeGrys
  234. Black Cats Get A Bad Rap – Colleen Dougherty
  235. Dad’s First Trick or Treat – Annette Bethers
  236. Skeletons Need Teddy Bears Too – Sharon Jackson
  237. Sam And Dusty Trick Or Treat – Julianna Helt
  238. Lost – Brenda Covert
  239. The Snakertons – Emily Holewczynski

Perfect Picture Book Friday – I Want To Be In A Scary Story

Happy last Perfect Picture Book Friday before Halloween, everyone!

I apologize for the late post – family situation hopefully now under control!

Before I share my Perfect Picture Book for today, I just want to mention (apologies in advance for shouting out my own book) that I am honored that Beth Stillborn has very kindly showcased ALPHABEDTIME for her PPBF today, and there’s a little Mystery Interview to go along with it, which I may or may not have had something to do with 😊 I hope you’ll hop over and visit her because she did this specially!

Now, that that dreadful commercial interruption is over 😊, I have a delightful story to share with you today – deliciously scary for Halloween! 😊🎃🧙‍♀️👻 If you have a sensitive or easily frightened little one, have a look at the illustrations below so you can judge if it’s a good choice for your little pumpkin.

Title: I Want To Be In A Scary Story

Written By: Sean Taylor

Illustrated By: Jean Jullien

Publisher: Candlewick, July 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: humor, scary vs. funny, interactive story (between main character and narrator)

text copyright Sean Taylor 2017, illustration copyright Jean Jullien 2017, Candlewick

Opening: “Hello, Little Monster.
What do you want to do today?
Can I be in a story?”

text copyright Sean Taylor 2017, illustration copyright Jean Jullien 2017, Candlewick

Brief Synopsis: Little Monster wants to be the star of an utterly terrifying scary story. But scary stories . . . well, they can be very scary — especially for their characters! Especially if they involve dark forests and creepy witches and spooky houses . . . Oh boy! Maybe a funny story would be better after all!

text copyright Sean Taylor 2017, illustration copyright Jean Jullien 2017, Candlewick

Links To Resources: how about a “scary” game of hide ‘n’ seek? Hide, and when the seeker gets close, pop out and say, “BOO!”; make up a scary story of your own and tell it to your family or friends in a spooky voice; talk about what makes something scary – different things scare different people – and whether you like to be scared (some people do!) or not (some people don’t!)

text copyright Sean Taylor 2017, illustration copyright Jean Jullien 2017, Candlewick

Why I Like This Book: This book is just the right amount of scary for young readers who like a little scare. Little Monster is adorable (definitely not scary 😊), and like all youngsters, sometimes what he thinks he wants turns out not to be exactly what he wants. He asks the author to put him in a scary story. The author cautions him that perhaps a funny story would be better, but Little Monster is sure! He wants a SCARY story! So the author puts him in a dark and terrifying forest. And, um, that’s a little too scary! As the story continues, the author keeps complying with Little Monster’s wishes and the story gradually becomes less and less scary until it ends up funny, a complete turn-around of what Little Monster originally asked for. But he also turns the tables on the author, which is where much of the humor comes from. The story is a little scary (maybe not for kids who are easily frightened, and maybe not the best choice for bedtime 😊 depending on your child) but it is also a story that explores setting boundaries and feeling safe within them – Little Monster is always in control and can change the rules so he knows he’s never really in danger, and it is a story after all! For writers, this is a fun title to examine. It is written completely in dialogue, and is interactive in that it is a conversation between the author and the main character.

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 blog 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! 😊

It’s ALPHABLOGTIME!

Get out your party hats, everyone!

We’re having a birthday party!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, ALPHABEDTIME!
Happy Birthday to you!!! 🎉🎁🧁🎈⭐️

Of COURSE we will have cake!!!

And of COURSE it will be chocolate, even for a welcome baby cake because really, what other kind is there? 😊

Since today is the Alphababies’ birthday, Betsy and I are kicking off our ALPHABLOGTIME Tour because we want to celebrate with you and make sure you get plenty of chances to take our book baby home with you!

Today we will be featured on Simply 7 with Jena Benton, and also on Critter Lit with Lindsay Ward! (Both with Giveaways!)

Absolutely Bounce over and Celebrate, Dance, Eat cake, and Feel Free to enter the Giveaways!

Also learn all kinds of interesting stuff about how this book came to be.

For those who would like to follow along, here is the graphic to look for:

The link will take you to a list of all kinds of news, in-person events, blog stops, and giveaway opportunities, plus we’ll have some fun crafts and activities for you to share with your little ones.

We hope to see you and chat with you along the way!

Thank you all so much for helping us welcome our new little book! 😊😊😊

October 16 – Writing and Illustrating – Kathy Temean (plus Giveaway)

October 25 – Simply 7 with Jena Benton (plus Giveaway)

October 25 – Critter Lit with Lindsay Ward (plus Giveaway)

October 27 – YABC Author/Illustrator Chat (plus Giveaway)

October 28 – KidLit411 Giveaway (please scroll down)

October 28 – Perfect Picture Book Friday and Mystery Interview with Beth Stillborn

October 29 – Will Write For Cookies Interview with Vivian Kirkfield (plus Giveaway)

November 1 – Review and Interview with Maria Marshall (plus Giveaway)

November 5 – Alphabet Cookies with Julie Abery (plus Giveaway)

November 7 – Review and Activities – Laura Sassi (plus Giveaway)

November 8 – Interview with Laura Roettiger (plus Giveaway)

November 8 – Picture Book Look Podcast

November 8 – Stefanie Hohl Blogpost and Giveaway

November 13 Lauri Fortino Author/Illustrator Chat and Fun Craft! (plus Giveaway)

Making Those All Important Book Reviews A Little Easier

I know.

It’s Sunday!

What the heck am I doing in your inbox?

We’re all supposed to be eating pancakes in the shape of alphabet letters, still in our pajamas, doing nothing even remotely work-related to interfere with our family morning!

I agree completely. I’m right there with you! I’m even wearing my zebra slippers.

But I’ve been thinking about something (because I have book due out in two days – 2!!!) that I thought might have crossed your minds too (because a lot of you have books out, or will at some point, or you’ve been asked to write reviews), and this was an open day for a blog post 😊

I think it’s fair to say we are all readers. As readers, we have probably all looked to online reviews to help us make decisions on which books should get our hard-earned money. (Also which vacuum is most effective on dog hair, but that is another matter 😊) I do read the reviews, and know I have been swayed one way or the other by what I read. I depend on reviews to help me choose which books I’m going to buy. And even before I read the review, I’m much more likely to click on something that has 11,972 reviews than something that has 8. The sheer volume of reviews tells me people are passionate enough about that product (for better or worse) for them to spend their valuable time writing a review.

As writers, we have a tremendous amount of ourselves invested in getting our books in front of our young readers. We worked hard on our books, they mean a lot to us, and we want young readers to find them, read them, and love them. From where we stand, those reviews are even more important. In the vastness of the infinite bookshelf, how do we get our book seen when it’s only one of more than eight million?

We need reviews.

But they are surprisingly hard to get.

Here’s why.

Think about what’s involved in writing a review.

First, someone needs a copy of our book.

Second, someone has to take time to read our book.

Third, it has to have enough of an emotional or experiential impact to make them want to share (hopefully good things) with other people about our book.

Fourth, they have to go to Amazon (or B&N, or Goodreads, or any other book review site) and figure out how to post a review. On Amazon, just as an example, you have to scroll pretty far down the page to even find the tiny letters that say “Write A Customer Review.”

If they have an account, and they’re signed in, they are in a position to be able to start their review. If they don’t have an account, they have to get one. This will stop a lot of folks in their tracks.

Now. The review.

Is the name on the review their own? Will everyone know that it is them who have posted this opinion? This stops a lot of people too. They’d prefer their review be anonymous.

Next, they have to rate the title on a scale of one to five stars. But what is the basis for this rating system? Is it their own personal reaction to this one book in isolation? Or are they rating it relative to every other book they’ve read in their vast reading experience? Or is it a more global rating system where they have to somehow correctly place their rating in some grand scheme of all ratings done by everyone everywhere? How can they decide if it’s worthy or 3 stars, or 4, or 5? Sheesh! This is going to require some serious thought and evaluation! A lot of people bail out here.

If they pass the hurdle of rating the book, it gets really tricky. They are asked for a headline – a short, attention-grabbing synopsis that highlights what stood out most about the book. This is very hard for a lot of people. I don’t mind telling you, it’s very hard for me! Summarizing can be difficult. Summarizing and also being a little clever so people will want to read the review that follows is even more difficult!

Finally, if they pass the signing in, the issue of their name on the review, the rating, and the headline, now they are faced with the hardest thing of all: an empty white box that they somehow have to fill with meaningful words. Without any prompts, or any help. It’s like getting a writing assignment in school all over again. Lots of people run away at this point. 😊

So, when you think about it, if you ask someone to write a review of your book – even if it’s a picture book that only takes 2 minutes to read – you are asking A LOT! A lot of time, decision-making, summarizing, writing, and again, TIME!

But.

We still desperately need those reviews!

It sounds impossible. Insurmountable! How will we ever write reviews, or get other people to write them for our books?

We need HELP! Dr. Henry’s Emergency Lessons for People! (Sorry, I’m old. I used to watch The Electric Company on PBS 😊)

So how can we make it easier for people?

I think we can narrow the parameters a bit and give some helpful tips.

If you’re going to ask someone to write a review for you:

  • Provide links to your book on common review sites to make it easy for reviewers to find. (This is something I do on every Tuesday Debut post.)
  • Suggest they post reviews on sites they already have accounts on (so they don’t have to make a new account before they even get started.)
  • Let them know the review needn’t be long. A sentence or two is great. Easier for them to write, more likely for busy shoppers to read.
  • For those intimidating headlines, try checking the jacket copy or back cover of the book – there are often little snippets that make good headers. Or go with something like: Playful and Fun, or, Sweet and Reassuring, or My 5 Year Old Wants To Read This Every Night!, or, A Favorite With My Preschool Students
  • Give them some prompts to help them write:
    • – what did you like best? (or least? – we don’t want to sway anyone – reviews must be honest!)
    • – what was something that really stood out to you? or to your child?
    • – what was your gut reaction to the book?
    • – did the book create an emotional response for you?
    • – what kind of experience did reading the book give you?
    • – what was your favorite (or least favorite) moment in the book? what was your child’s?
    • – did your child enjoy it? (have they asked to hear it again?)
    • – did you find it enjoyable to read aloud? (or not – and why?)
    • – what did you think of the art? did it go well with the story?
    • – did the book prompt any kind of discussion/conversation with your child?
    • – what age is the child you read it to and was it a good book for this age?
  • Once the review is written, encourage them to copy and paste it to other review sites – they only have to do the work of writing once to be able to share it on multiple forums!

There is no need for them to give a summary of the whole book (unless they want to or that is easiest for them) because most publishers provide that and potential readers can look at the book jacket or the jacket copy online.

What people really want to know is, in the opinion of people who have actually bought the book and read it with their kids,

  • who is this book most appropriate for (in terms of age and interest, (e.g. this book is a winner for 3 year olds who love trains),
  • will their child like it (e.g. my 5 year old chooses this book every night),
  • will they like it enough to read it often (e.g. this book is fun to read aloud),
  • and is it worth their money (all four of my children have loved this book and I frequently give it as a gift).

It can also be very helpful to provide a couple examples that can help reviewers know what kinds of things are helpful and give them something to model.

In the final analysis, even a very short review that expresses an opinion, emotion or fact is helpful – best book I’ve read with my 2 and 4 year old this year!, or, the pictures in this book are so great! My kids love looking for all the hidden details and are delighted when they find something new! – are wonderful. Short, informational, clearly showing the book was a good purchase. No MFA in writing literature required 😊 The most important thing is to have reviews!

So. If someone has asked YOU to review their book and you don’t know where to start, hopefully this will be helpful to you!

And if you have a book coming out and are asking people to review it, hopefully this will be helpful to you AND them! Feel free to give them the link to this post and tell them to skip to the second half with the tips if you like. That way you don’t have to write it all over again! 😊

Now that I’ve got that off my mind and hopefully given you a little food for thought, back to your Sunday already in progress, morning pancakes and family fun time! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Applesauce Day

Hooray for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I have a wonderful family fall book to share, but first, one quick note:

Perfect Picture Books are meant to be reviewed on people’s blogs and include all the relevant information (title, author, illustrator, publisher, themes, age range of intended audience, review, etc), most importantly, links to resources or ideas of how the book can be expanded on at home or in the classroom, so the links provided must go to people’s blogs. You cannot put an Amazon link to a book title. You cannot put a Goodreads link to a book title. I had to remove about 50 titles that had no reviews by the person listing it and no resources provided. This list is meant to be a resource for parents, teachers, and writers to find great books. The reviews and resources are critical. Thank you all for understanding and following the guidelines!

Now! It’s Applesauce Day! 😊

Title: Applesauce Day

Written By: Lisa J. Amstutz

Illustrated By: Talitha Shipman

Publisher: Albert Whitman (August 2017), fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: autumn, apples, family tradition

Opening: “I spy the big pot on the counter right away.
“Hooray!” I say. “It’s Applesauce Day!”
Hannah cheers.
Ezra bangs his spoon.”

text copyright Lisa J. Amstutz 2017, illustration copyright Talitha Shipman 2017, Albert Whitman

Brief Synopsis: Each fall, Maria’s family has Applesauce Day. All together, they go pick apples. Then they bring them to Grandma’s house and all together they make applesauce in the big pot that has been in their family for generations.

text copyright Lisa J. Amstutz 2017, illustration copyright Talitha Shipman 2017, Albert Whitman

Links To Resources: Make applesauce! It’s easy, fun, healthy, and delicious! HERE is a RECIPE

text copyright Lisa J. Amstutz 2017, illustration copyright Talitha Shipman 2017, Albert Whitman

Why I Like This Book: The text is simple and straightforward, and tells the story of a family doing something they do every year – going apple picking and then heading to Grandma’s house to make applesauce. At first, the child telling the story doesn’t see what’s so special about the pot. It looks like a regular pot to her. But as the family washes and slices the apples, her mother tells her about making applesauce with grandma in that pot, and grandma tells about making applesauce with her mother in that pot. And suddenly, the old pot seems very special because it draws them all together. By the end of the story, when they are driving home, the girl imagines that maybe someday she will have a child and make applesauce in the same pot that she, and her mother, and her grandmother, and her great-grandmother all used. It’s a lovely story of family and tradition, and also about the joy of picking apples and making applesauce in the fall.

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 blog 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! There was a problem with the form earlier. I hope it’s fixed!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Maybe go pick some apples and make applesauce! 😊