With Hopeful Heart! – The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Update February 19 – Sorry folks!  We need more time to make our decisions between all these amazing entries!  I will get the finalists up just as soon as I can!!!

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Hang onto your chocolate everyone!  It’s time for . . .

The Third Annual Pretty Much World Famous
Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2018

Valen-tiny because the stories are not very long and are written for little people 🙂

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is hopeful!  Your someone can hope for something good or something bad.  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone hopeful (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Wednesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link on the form below.  There will be no Would You Read It or PPBF this week, so the post and the list of links will stay up for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you!  susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com ) Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments!  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 19th (or possibly Tuesday February 20th if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced by Friday February 23rd. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

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

The Prizes:  Oh, boy, do we have some GREAT prizes!  I feel certain you are all highly motivated to compete for these!!!

– a PB manuscript read and critique from Nikki Garcia, assistant editor at Little, Brown!

Nikki-Garcia

Nikki Garcia

– a PB manuscript read and phone call critique with Nicole Otto, assistant editor at MacMillan Children’s Publishing!

Nicole Otto

Nicole Otto

– a PB manuscript critique from the superb multi-published award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani

Iza 2014          Old MacDonald
Iza Trapani was born in Poland and moved to the US at age seven.  Her relatives gave her a large Mother Goose Treasury, and she began learning English through those rhymes.  Little did she know that someday her dream would come true and she would become a children’s book author and illustrator.
    Iza’s best selling nursery rhyme extensions, including The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly and Row, Row Row Your Boat are widely used in schools and libraries across the U.S. and abroad. Old MacDonald Had a…Zoo?  is Iza’s latest release. She is currently at work on her 27th picture book, as well as a childhood memoir.
You can learn more about Iza and her books at:

http://izatrapani.com/blog
Facebook
Twitter

– a PB manuscript critique (ms not to exceed 800 words please) along with a follow-up phone call if the author is interested from the lovely and talented Katey Howes, author of Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press 2017) and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling Children’s Books 2018)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art

– a PB manuscript critique from the fantastic Lynne Marie, author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018) and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending) . Her stories, poems, folk tales and crafts have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She was a first-round panelis for 2016 Cybils Awards and again, in 2017. In addition, she’s an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard’s Children’s Book Insider and a book reviewer. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and Anakin, their little Schipperke, as well as several resident water birds. She has offers both critiques and mentorships for writers. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com

Lynne          HH100th

– a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming please) from the wonderful and amazing Melissa Stoller, author of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island (Spork 2017)

Melissa Stoller               Return To Coney Island

– a signed copy of Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke The Color Barrier In Golf (Albert Whitman 2018) from fabulous author Nancy Churnin accompanied by a terrific Teacher’s Guide (created by Marcie Colleen)

Nancy Churnin               Charlie Takes His Shot

– a signed copy of Twinderella from Corey Rosen Schwartz AND a signed copy of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island from Melissa Stoller

Twinderella          Return To Coney Island

– a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’s brand new book Making A Living Writing Books For Kids

Making A Living

– a copy of the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (it’s only February – still very useful!)

Children's Writer's & Illustrators 2018

I can’t thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

Now.

I’m afraid the time has come for my sample (because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself 🙂 )

Brace yourselves for mediocrity 🙂  (I recommend a large quantity of chocolate to get you through – perhaps a dump truck load or so?) and prepare for the return of Boris and Irma (who appeared in the inaugural Valentiny 🙂 )

A Hopeful Kind Of Valentine
(214 words on the nose!)

Three days before Valentine’s, Irma made her list.

“I will make 32 valentines!” she announced. “How many are you making, Boris?”

“Zero,” said Boris.

“Spoilsport,” said Irma. “I hope Norman’s not a spoilsport.”

Irma cut construction paper.

“Are you making pink hearts or red hearts,” she asked.

“Neither,” said Boris.

“Party pooper,” said Irma. “I hope Norman’s not a party pooper.”

The day before Valentine’s, Irma decorated. Confetti hearts and glitter flew everywhere.

Boris ignored her.

But then she said, “I hope Norman will be my Valentine.” She sounded so wishful that Boris looked at her thoughtfully. He had doubts about Norman.

Boris made a list.

On Valentine’s Day, Irma clutched her valentines. “I hope Norman will give me a valentine,” she told Boris on the school bus.

Boris worried.

Tears rolled silently down Irma’s cheeks all the way home. She went right to her room.

Boris went right to work.

At dinner, Irma sat with her eyes downcast and said nothing.

Although Valentine’s was stupid, Boris didn’t want Irma to be sad.  If only his plan would work.

He set the pink-frosted, heart-shaped chocolate cake he had made in front of Irma.

“It’s not Norman, but Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.

“It’s perfect,” said Irma, hugging him.

“Yuck,” said Boris, but he smiled.

❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂  After that horror show you can post yours with certainty that yours is better! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m SO looking forward to them!  I hope there will be LOTS – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 5 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!  Also, have I mentioned the number of people who have gotten agents or sold manuscripts to editors based on the writing contest entries over the years?  There are quite a few!  One of these days I’ll figure out how many and do a blog post 🙂

So!

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

Eager Readers – click on the links in the list to visit the blogs and read the stories.  And be sure to read the 76 fabulous entries posted in the comment section below!!!

Happy Valentines Week, Everyone! ❤

Scroll through the comments to find these wonderful stories!

  1. Victoria’s Valentine – Susan
  2. Victor’s Valentine’s Day Surprise – Sharmaine
  3. You – Jennifer B
  4. the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever – Erin
  5. The Lost Dog Dilemma – Chris
  6. Thank You – Katelyn
  7. Positively Paulina – Nancy
  8. A Day In The Life Of Cupid – Marty
  9. Rose And Tulip – M.S.
  10. The Valentine Monster Crash – Megan
  11. Valenswine – Susan
  12. Top Secret Valentine – Marie
  13. Tiny the Pony Wants to be Special – Kaye
  14. Grandma’s Cookies – Deborah
  15. This Will Be The Year – Sara
  16. Who Sent This Valentine? – Marie
  17. Hope In A Jar – Anne
  18. A Fur-Ever Valentine – Beth
  19. A Card With A Heart – Laura
  20. Upside Down Valentine’s Day – Ryan
  21. Not Alone – Amy
  22. Valentine’s Day Strike – Chambrae
  23. I Love Ewe – Kirsten
  24. A Valentine’s Day Adventure – Sarah H
  25. Adeline’s Hope – Carmen
  26. Snowy Owl Valentine Delivery – Kathleen
  27. A Valentine Snowman – Rebecca
  28. The Heart Art Contest – Marie
  29. The Right Valentine – Lauren
  30. The Red Envelope – Karen
  31. First Grade Love – Darcee
  32. Mama’s Purple Heart – Anne B
  33. Valentine’s Day With The Deli Family – Sandra
  34. Valentine-Making Time – Robin
  35. Unexpected Valentine – Brian
  36. The Valentine Tree – Jenny B
  37. Valentine Treat – Judy V
  38. A Purrfect Valentine – Mia
  39. Eliza’s Broken Heart – Anne S
  40. Porcupine’s Gift – Jim
  41. Hope’s Valentine – Nancy R
  42. Yellow And Blue Valentines – Marty
  43. Tootsie The Wonder Dog’s Valentiny Poem – Kathy
  44. Sakie’s Flock – Gayle
  45. Teddy’s Valentine’s Day – Deb
  46. Dear Daughter – Sandra S
  47. Mum’s The Word – Judy S
  48. Hope Floats – Jen B
  49. Charlotte’s New School – M.R.
  50. The Valentine Genie – Anne S
  51. Triple The Love – Brandi
  52. Emily’s Big Idea – Beth
  53. Red – Mary
  54. The Valentine Hat – Gwen
  55. Winston Wins! – Corine
  56. Bamboo Panda’s Special Surprise – Liz
  57. Oh No! Where Did It Go? – Mona
  58. Sweet Love – Christine
  59. You Rock! – Karla
  60. Picture Perfect – Tiffany
  61. Bunny Hugs – Nina
  62. Timberdoodle Valentine – Leigh Anne
  63. Valentine For Mom – Susie
  64. The Muddy Valentine – Karen
  65. Chocolaty Delight – Gina
  66. Valentine Handyman – Meg
  67. Daisy Power – Patricia
  68. Cupid’s Graduation Wish – Lucretia
  69. Huggle And Snug – Stephanie V
  70. My Valentine – Kurt
  71. Cupid’s Candy Craving—Marvin’s Valentine’s Surprise – Lucretia 
  72. A Pirate Valentine – Ingrid
  73. Lily’s Leg – Stephanie K
  74. If I Gave A Witch A Valentine – Amber
  75. Bunnies’ Heart-Shaped Hopes – Jen R
  76. Grumble’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever – Katrina

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Here Comes Valentine Cat

Hurray!  It’s Friday!

That means Perfect Picture Books AND…

…that the Valentiny Writing Contest opens tomorrow!!!

I know we all have tons to do (er… it’s possible some of us may not have even given a moment’s thought to their sample entry yet! 🙂 ), so let’s get right to today’s pick!  I’m sure it’s been done before, but I love it so I’m doing it too 🙂

Valentine Cat

Title: Here Comes Valentine Cat

Written By: Deborah Underwood

Illustrated By: Claudia Rueda

Dial Books for Young Readers, December 2015, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-6

Themes/Topics: holidays (Valentines Day), misunderstanding, friendship, humor

Opening: “Hey, Cat!
Any Valentine’s Day plans?”

Brief Synopsis: Cat does NOT like Valentine’s Day. It’s much too mushy, and no way is he making anyone a valentine—especially not his new neighbor, Dog who clearly has no understanding of how to behave!  But maybe it’s Cat who is misunderstanding Dog’s intent!

Links To Resources: make Valentines! 🙂  Use colored construction paper, stickers, glitter and glue, markers and paint, fancy doilies too!  Anything goes!  Write a Valentine poem!  Try starting with “Roses are red, violets are blue” if you need a nudge 🙂

Why I Like This Book:  I love all of Deborah Underwood’s Cat books – they are so funny!  I love Cat’s grumpy personality and sly humor.  And I love Claudia Rueda’s art – especially her skill with facial expression.  This is a story kids will relate to well.  Many kids feel as Cat does that Valentine’s Day is way too mushy 🙂  And haven’t we all been in situations where we misunderstood the actions of others, or had our own behaviors misunderstood?  Cat resolves the problem in this story… but he doesn’t go mushy!  He gets the last word as always 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

See you tomorrow for the Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Would You Read It Wednesday #274 – Wendy’s First Taste Of Summer (PB)

So a couple days ago we had Super Bowl LII, and in a couple days the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will start!  What is with that whole Roman Numeral thing in sports?  Are they trying to be intellectual?  Or is it nod to gladiators and arenas and such to make it more exciting?  Who knows.  It’s probably mostly so our elementary school teachers can say that yes, of course we will use this knowledge in real life! 🙂

(Your chance to make your elementary school teachers do the dance of joy – identify what LII and XXIII represent in the comments 🙂 )

 

You will note that our own winter writing Olympics (in the form of the III Valentiny Writing Contest 🙂 )  will start the same day as the actual Olympics (well, the sports part anyway… I think opening ceremonies are Friday.)  I hope you’re all training hard so you’ll be ready to participate in top form! 🙂

Part of our training regimen should absolutely be Something Chocolate!  I’m thinking Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies!  How can we go wrong?  Health food AND a Valentine twist!  Sounds like the breakfast of champions to me! 🙂

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies 800 2536

Recipe HERE at Closet Cooking Cooking In A Closet-Sized Kitchen

Help yourself to seconds – serious training requires fuel! – then wipe the chocolate off your fingers (and keyboard 🙂 ) and let’s get cracking on our Wednesday mission!

Onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Jennifer.  Jennifer Prevost is a part time nurse, full time mom of three (four if you count the dog), wife, avid reader, blogger and picture book writer of the pre-published variety. She’s dreamed of seeing her words in print for as long as she can remember (and feels blessed to have made it this far.) You can find her at her blog, Magnolias & Manuscripts (http://magnoliasandmanuscripts.wordpress.com/blog) where she’s capturing her writing journey and asking questions to authors far more successful than she. If she’s not there, she’s probably somewhere jotting down ideas, playing with her kids or chasing the big goofy dog, always with a cup of coffee in hand. (Check out @jennifergprevost on Instagram and Facebook…maybe one of these days, she’ll figure out Twitter)

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Wendy’s First Taste Of Summer

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)

The Pitch:  Try as they might, Wendy’s parents can’t get her to break her picky-eater ways. But then she makes a bet with the owner of Millie’s Famous Melons and the results are as delicious as the first days of summer!

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

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

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

Jennifer is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the Valentiny Contest!  I hope you guys are too!  We have some seriously great prizes up for grabs!  One of them could be yours!  And I can’t wait to read your fabulous stories in celebration of the chocolate lovers holiday 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Happy Groundhog Day!

Woohoo!

It’s Groundhog Day!

And you know what that means!!! 🙂

Punxsutawney Phyllis herself will be up and at ’em as soon as it’s light to make her prediction about whether we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring!  (Fingers, toes, eyes, paws, etc. crossed for the latter! 🙂 )

As it happens, however, Phyllis and I are off to an all-day school visit the second she’s made her prediction, so you’ll have to wait to find out what she says!  And we are not here to participate actively in PPBF…

…so at the risk of tooting our own horn, Phyllis and I would like to direct you to Beth Stilborn’s Perfect Picture Book blog post on Punxsutawney Phyllis for today’s Perfect Picture Book.

punxsutawney_phyllis_cover-b

We hope you will read Beth’s post and then enjoy our book with all your friends and relations, human and groundhog!

Also, Phyllis being Phyllis, she would love fan mail in the comments, so feel free to write to her 🙂

I’m skipping most of the PPBF categories because they’re on Beth’s post, just making sure everyone sees the accompanying resources!

Links To Resources: coloring pages and activities (scroll down to Punxsutawney Phyllis to make your selection); classroom guides (scroll down to Punxsutawney Phyllis to make your selection); Groundhog Day Cupcakes

Why I Like This Book: I think I’m probably too biased to answer that question 🙂  See what Beth has to say 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as Phyllis and I do 🙂

Before we go, Groundhog Day Cupcakes, anyone???!!!

Groundhog Day Cupcakes

Recipe HERE at Bakerella

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

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

Happy Groundhog Day, enjoy the cupcakes, and have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #273 – The Troublesome And Unpleasant Adventures Of Murphy The Reluctant Potato (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor X 3!!!

Boy, do we have an action-packed day today, folks!

I’m not going to waste one single second telling you what the dogs found in the woods or what creative concoction I baked or what the scuttlebutt down at the post office was.  Nosireebob!  We’re going to get right down to it today!

First (your favorite and mine!) we have a thrilling triple episode of Straight From The Editor!

For September:  You will recall Katie’s pitch:
Katie – Pirate For Hire (PB ages 4-8)
Patch loves being a pirate. The beards! The singing! The treasure! There’s only one problem…he gets seasick. When his shipmates begin poking fun at him, Patch looks for a new gig and a new crew who understand him, but where to work? Patch fumbles as a barber, flounders and a singer, and fails as a jeweler before finding a place perfect for a pirate.

And here are Erin’s comments:
This is cute. Though it might garner more interest if you went slightly more active and specific—even the end. Something more along the lines of: Patch loves being a pirate. “Yohoho! The shiny gold coins! The beards! There’s only one problem…he gets seasick. When his shipmates poke fun of him, Patch looks for a new gig. But where to work? What to do? He fumbles as a barber, flounders as a singer, and can’t tell a diamond from a pearl—before finding the perfect place for a pirate –((and I would say what it is)).

For October:  Laura’s pitch:
Laura – Gustavo’s Big Idea (PB ages 4-9)
Aliana’s little brother Gustavo wants to be in charge for the day. Knowing she’s really the boss, Aliana agrees to play along. Now Gustavo needs to come up with a BIG idea to impress his sister! As they head out to explore the woods near their Rocky Mountain home, Gustavo searches for inspiration, finding his idea in the clouds. The power of observation combined with imagination show both siblings new ways to take pride in their discoveries. Easy-to-follow hands on science project for home or school included.

And here are Erin’s thoughts:
I love the concept of this pitch, but I wish you gave an example because I have no idea what the big idea is and how that correlates to being in charge. You need to make that connection for the reader, especially when you mention a science project included. An editor will be confused—is this a picture book about little brother finally being in charge or a book of scientific observation?

Essentially, you just need to provide some more information.

And last but not least, for November: Candace’s pitch:
Candace – Cock-A-Doodle WHAT? (PB ages 2-4)
Clarence Rooster is pacing around the barnyard. He is the smallest rooster at the farm and tomorrow morning will be his first turn at waking up Farmer Judy. What if he’s not loud enough and she sleeps right through his crowing? He decides to hold a practice session behind the barn. Clarence invites his friends to come listen. Each one has a bit of advice for him. Now, he must figure out whose idea is the best.

And Erin’s advice:
This is very cute. Everybody likes an underdog 🙂  However, it would liven it up a tad if you added more specifics. Draws the reader in. So, if you say something like, Cow says stand still to maximize loudness.. Goat says kick your feet when you crow. OR if different Roosters are giving him the advice, then include their different opinions—two maybe—just to add some color.

As always, I find Erin’s thoughts very insightful, interesting, and helpful, and I hope her words help all of you to strengthen your pitches!

Gosh!  All that awesome pitching advice has left me a mite peckish!  How about you?  I think we should refuel with Something Chocolate before we go on to today’s pitch.  As you can see, I’m on a Valentine-themed roll the last couple weeks – very fitting for this time of year 🙂  This looks easy and delicious!

Valentines Day Marbled Graham Cracker Toffee

Graham-Cracker-Toffee

Recipe (including helpful video!) HERE at The Country Cook

I personally am not a fan of sprinkles on anything – they interfere with texture to my way of thinking.  So I’ll probably make my toffee with colored sugar instead.  But you guys feel free to sprinkle to your heart’s content 🙂  (Or use “jimmies” if that’s what you call them in your neck of the woods!)

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Tim who writes under a pseudonym (Francis S. Poesy) and says, “Francis S. Poesy was born on Slipshod Island off the northwest coast of Ireland in 1961. He attended the St. Blathmac Monastary School which was well known for producing many great Slipshod writers, until the island was reclaimed by the sea in 1969.

Francis is also entirely a figment of Tim Canny’s imagination, which many have characterized as “over-active”. Tim currently writes under the pseudonym Francis S. Poesy as he always thought an author should have a much more interesting back story than growing up in the Mid-west and writing technical manuals for a living. Tim is an unpublished writer and is currently working on a presentable version of his second children’s book manuscript. His website is http://www.mulberryandbliss.com.”

Find him on the web at
www.mulberryandbliss.com

Here is his pitch:

Working Title:  The Troublesome And Unpleasant Adventures Of Murphy The Reluctant Potato

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

The Pitch:  Murphy isn’t like all those other potatoes. He doesn’t dream of becoming delicious French fries; of making beautiful art that gets displayed on the fridge; or of winning ribbons as a science fair project. No, Murphy is very happy kicking back in Farmer McCubbin’s cozy little garden. He has no plans for going on any “potato adventures” thank you very much. But that all changes the day a shovel turns his world upside down and getting back to the garden turns into the biggest potato adventure of all.

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

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

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

Tim is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to Friday, which as you may know is Groundhog Day – a big favorite around here! 🙂  Phyllis is all set to get her furry brown self outside at the crack of dawn to let us know if spring will come early!  Fingers crossed…!!! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

BIC, Writers! It’s Time For The 2018 Valentiny Contest Guildelines!!!

I know!

It’s Saturday!

You’re lazing in bed with the comics before getting up to make pancakes with the littles!

What on earth am I doing infringing on your weekend time?!

Well, I’ll tell you 🙂

Two years ago, a bunch of folks asked for a contest to cheer them out of the winter doldrums!

The result?

The First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!

(Valentiny because, like the Halloweensie Contest, it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂 )

We had so much fun that we went ahead with the 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  And that was so much fun that it seems like a good idea to continue the tradition!  I mean, winter doldrums are winter doldrums and must be conquered 🙂

So here we are!  The reason I’m interrupting your Saturday!

Announcing . . .

The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2018

 

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is hopeful!  Your someone can hope for something good or something bad.  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone hopeful (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Saturday February 10th and Wednesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my February 10th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments! And please do not submit emailed entries until the contest begins on Feb. 10!)  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 19th (or possibly Tuesday February 20th if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced by Friday February 23rd. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

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

The Prizes:  Oh, boy, do we have some GREAT prizes!  Get ready!

So far prizes will include:

– a PB manuscript read and critique from Nikki Garcia, assistant editor at Little, Brown!

Nikki-Garcia

Nikki Garcia

– a PB manuscript read and phone call critique with Nicole Otto, assistant editor at MacMillan Children’s Publishing!

Nicole Otto

Nicole Otto

 

– a PB manuscript critique from the superb multi-published award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani

Iza 2014          Old MacDonald
Iza Trapani was born in Poland and moved to the US at age seven.  Her relatives gave her a large Mother Goose Treasury, and she began learning English through those rhymes.  Little did she know that someday her dream would come true and she would become a children’s book author and illustrator.
    Iza’s best selling nursery rhyme extensions, including The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly and Row, Row Row Your Boat are widely used in schools and libraries across the U.S. and abroad. Old MacDonald Had a…Zoo?  is Iza’s latest release. She is currently at work on her 27th picture book, as well as a childhood memoir.
You can learn more about Iza and her books at:

http://izatrapani.com/blog
Facebook
Twitter

– a PB manuscript critique (ms not to exceed 800 words please) along with a follow-up phone call if the author is interested from the lovely and talented Katey Howes, author of Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press 2017) and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling Children’s Books 2018)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art

– a PB manuscript critique from the fantastic Lynne Marie, author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018) and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending) . Her stories, poems, folk tales and crafts have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She was a first-round panelis for 2016 Cybils Awards and again, in 2017. In addition, she’s an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard’s Children’s Book Insider and a book reviewer. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and Anakin, their little Schipperke, as well as several resident water birds. She has offers both critiques and mentorships for writers. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com

Lynne          HH100th

– a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming please) from the wonderful and amazing Melissa Stoller, author of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island (Spork 2017)

Melissa Stoller               Return To Coney Island

– a signed copy of Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke The Color Barrier In Golf (Albert Whitman 2018) from fabulous author Nancy Churnin accompanied by a terrific Teacher’s Guide (created by Marcie Colleen)

Nancy Churnin               Charlie Takes His Shot

– a signed copy of Twinderella from Corey Rosen Schwartz AND a signed copy of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island from Melissa Stoller

Twinderella          Return To Coney Island

– a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’s brand new book Making A Living Writing Books For Kids

Making A Living

– a copy of the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (it’s only February – still very useful!)

Children's Writer's & Illustrators 2018

… and as usual I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  so feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  Or if you have clout with anyone who could offer a good prize please contact me at once! 🙂

I can’t thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

Now then!  Aren’t you feeling inspired to write the best Valentiny Story you can so you can win one of these awesome prizes?  And aren’t you glad now that I interrupted you on Saturday when you can send the kids to Grandma’s for a couple hours and write write write?! 🙂

Set the scene:

Nice hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Check!

Plate of delicious Valentiny sugar cookies?  Check!

Computer or paper and writing implement?  Check!

Butt in chair?  I certainly hope so!

Ready, set, WRITE!

I so look forward to reading your stories in a couple weeks!!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bagel In Love

Woohoo!  It’s PPBF!  Come join the fun and share your books!

Speaking of sharing books, have you ever heard of Bookroo?

I hadn’t, but it’s a really cool kids book club subscription where the books arrive wrapped up like presents to make them even more fun.  They were kind enough to feature WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES in their January Board Book Boxes, and to interview me on their blog, and I know they’d appreciate some visitors.  They use recycled and recyclable packaging and help kids who don’t have access to enough books through Reach Out And Read – very cool.  So if you have a sec, hop over and check them out – especially if you have a little person in your life who might enjoy belonging to the book club!

My PPBF pick for the week is tons of fun 🙂  I love bagels.  Also donuts and cupcakes.  This book has them all!  And they dance!  What’s not to love? 🙂

Bagel In Love

Title: Bagel In Love

Written By:  Natasha Wing

Illustrated By: Helen Dardik

Sterling Children’s Books, January 2018, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: language fun (puns and word play), perseverance, dancing

Opening: “Bagel loved to dance.  It made him happier than a birthday cake!  He never felt plain when he was spinning and swirling, tapping and twirling.  But he didn’t have a partner, so he couldn’t enter the dance contest.

Brief Synopsis: (From the jacket): “Bagel loved to dance. It made him happier than a birthday cake! And more than anything, he wants a partner who will spin and swirl, tap and twirl with him in the Cherry Jubilee dance contest. But Pretzel sniffs that he doesn’t cut the mustard, Croissant thinks his moves are stale, and Doughnut’s eyes just glaze over. Can a cute cupcake save the day for our would-be Fred Éclair? Witty and pun-filled, this picture book really takes the cake.”

Links To Resources: 5 Fun Dance Games For Kids; Easy, Healthy Breakfast and Lunch Bagel Ideas for Kids; Word Play For Kids

Why I Like This Book: How can you not love a dancing bagel? 🙂  Bagel is so sincere in his desire to dance in the contest, and he tries so hard to find a partner.  Even though one after another leaves him disappointed, he keeps trying.  You’ve got to admire his perseverance and dedication to his mission!  In the end, his determination pays off in even better ways than he could have imagined.  Although some of the word play may be lost on younger readers, there’s lots of it and it’s fun and can provide a platform for discussion of puns.  The art is bright and engaging.  An enjoyable read!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂  Go trip the light fantastic!  And then have some bagels for Sunday breakfast 🙂  AND (this is important!) tune in tomorrow (Saturday!) for a special post you writers will NOT want to miss!!!  I’m serious! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #272 – Training Your Human (PB)

I know you all woke up this morning ready to celebrate because. . .

dun dun dun…

it’s Neil Diamond’s birthday!

Neil is a very famous singer/songwriter known for such meaningful lyrics as “and no one heard at all, not even the chair.”

I don’t know about you, but at my house getting the chairs to listen is something I struggle with on a daily basis.  It is uphill work, let me tell you!

Neil was also in The Jazz Singer, a movie that my BFF Caroline and I saw (more than once) in 1980 which is described as “a critical flop”… but somehow we knew every word to every song 🙂  In fact, if pressed, we might still be able to sing a lot of them.  Please don’t tell anyone.

Anyway, feel free to share your favorite Neil song in the comments today 🙂

Today is also my brother-in-law’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Dan!  Luckily he doesn’t seem to have any trouble getting his chairs to pay attention 🙂

Now, because it’s the third week of January and I’m extremely tired of winter already and in these parts it’s going to drag on for months yet, I think we need an extremely cheering Something Chocolate to get us through the day.  How do you feel about French Silk Brownies?  They just sound good, don’t they?

Also they look good!

And I think if we get to work on that recipe, boy will they taste good!

Smooth and creamy and chocolatey and delicious… I feel more fortified to face winter already 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Kari who is an employee by day, mommy, wife, and storytelling superhero by night. She has a master’s degree in business administration, as there was no degree available for pizza connoisseur. She lives in California with her husband, two tiny humans, and three ridiculous cats.

Visit her at her Blog

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Training Your Human

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

The Pitch:  Brownie and his human pup Jax are the best of friends, but training is proving to be Ruuuff. Does this dog have what it takes to train his pup, or will his first lesson end in disaster?

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

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

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

Kari is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to finding a few minutes to re-watch The Jazz Singer, which I have not seen since I was 15, and which Caroline promises me (based on the fact that she re-watched it recently) is really awful 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Brobarians

It’s Friday!

And you know what that means. . .

Perfect Picture Books!

I don’t know about where you live, but where I live the weather has been most uncooperative!  Long spells of frigid temperatures topped off with snow and ice.  It’s too cold to stay outside for more than about 14 seconds, and even if you dare go out, you have to wade through snow or pick your way carefully over ice.  (Don’t get me wrong – I like winter activities as much as the next person – but getting groceries has turned into an Olympic sport! 🙂 )

The result?

Cabin fever and barbarian behavior!

So I have the Perfect Picture Book for today 🙂

Brobarians

Title: Brobarians

Written & Illustrated By: Lindsay Ward

Two Lions, March 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: siblings, sibling rivalry, conflict resolution, humor

Opening: “In the beginning,
a great warrior laid claim to the land.
Feared by all, his reign was steadfast.

But soon another arrived
and his influence spread quickly.
This fierce rival challenged the great warrior.

Two seekers of high adventure,
Their strength and courage became that of legend.

This is the tale of the mighty Brobarians. . .

Brief Synopsis: Otto and Iggy, two warriors once at peace, end up at odds when they blame each other for spilling the cookies and then Iggy commandeers Otto’s army guys and Otto strikes back by taking Iggy’s bottle 🙂  How can the problem be resolved with two such fierce contenders at war?

Links To Resources: video of how to make your own cardboard sword; video of how to make your own cardboard shield; recipe for Viking Bread

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 6.45.22 PM

text and illustration copyright Lindsay Ward 2017

Why I Like This Book: The book is written like a knightly quest tale of old (or maybe it has more of a Viking flavor 🙂 )  All is well in the kingdom until the brothers start fighting over their belongings.  Anyone who has spent time around siblings will appreciate the story!  When the clash between the two reaches an unbearable level, who should step in to referee but Mamabarian! 🙂  The two brothers, sent off in shame, end up friends again when they’re both sentenced to the “dungeon of seclusion” (the bathtub) – partners in crime 🙂  A fun, entertaining story that all Brobarians and Mamabarians will get a kick out of 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Ski, sled, skate, and come in and get warm with a cozy fire, a mug of hot chocolate, and a stack of picture books!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #271 – Stoyanovich In Paris (MG) PLUS A Plethora of Pitch Winners!

 

Good Wednesday, Everyone!

It’s snowing at my house.

The dogs are asleep on the couch, the birds are busy at the feeder, and the llama horde and I are practicing hairdos on each other and making up picture book stories.  Although all of theirs are about llamas… 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 6.59.43 PM

illustration copyright Daniel Wiseman 2018

 

 

How do we look? 🙂

If you’re having a snow day at your house and need something fun to do, you can read WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT and then set up your own styling salon with hairbrush and comb, pony tail holders, ribbons and barrettes, hair gel, etc and go to town 🙂  (Though I’d recommend hiding the scissors!)  You can also do hairstyling in the bathtub with bubbles – TOTALLY fun! 🙂

If you don’t have anyone to practice hairdos with it’s okay, because we’ve got all kinds of fun happening here!

First, we have THREE awesome pitch pick winners!!!

The winner of the September Pitch Pick is Katie with Pirate For Hire, the winner of October is Laura with Gustavo’s Big Idea, and the winner of November is Candace with Cock-A-Doodle WHAT?  Woohoo!  Congratulations to all of you for your great pitches!  They are all on their way to editor Erin Molta for her comments and thoughts!

Congratulations also to all the other writers who worked hard to put together pitches for great stories, bravely shared them here, and revised and improved their pitches based on your helpful feedback.  They are all winners because, thanks to you, they all have stronger pitches than they started with, which will hopefully earn them an agent or editor read at some point!

Now then, since we are having a snow day, it’s a perfect time to create delicious things in the kitchen, so for today’s Something Chocolate, we’re going to roll up our sleeves.  I think the old “10,000 hours to mastery” applies to sweets as well… the more times you make something, the better it gets 🙂  Valentines Day is approaching, so no time like the present to practice up on making Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Valentine Hearts!  This allows for plenty of advance taste-testing to be sure you’ve got it just exactly right before sharing with your better half… or your kids and their classmates… or possibly not sharing 🙂

YUM!  We did good, don’t you think?

But I agree… we’d better make more just to be sure… 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Erik.  Erik is a middle-aged dad who never completely grew up, but somehow managed to raise a human being anyway. He is currently hard at work procrastinating on submitting his first manuscript and writing the second.

Follow him on Twitter @duttonerik

Here is his pitch:

Working Title: Stoyanovich In Paris

Age/Genre: MG Historical Fantasy

The Pitch:  Nikolai Stoyanovich Krisayev is the last of a long line of Russian rat nobility, living in exile in 1880’s Paris. When he rescues a visiting mouse princess from armed kidnappers, he is thrust into the midst of a silent war being waged secretly in the streets and sewers of the city.

With only his wits, his father’s sword, and the aid of a shadowy figure who may or may not be on their side, he will have to fight to save both the princess and the city he loves.

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

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

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

Erik is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to writing something fun today!  What should it be about?  The llama horde is pushing for another llama story,

IMG_5151

but I’m thinking about snowmen…

SNOW LLAMAS!

No.

Or maybe, atronauts…

SPACE LLAMAS!

No!

Or the Olympics are coming… maybe an exciting sports story…

SKI JUMP LLAMAS!

LUGE LLAMAS!

LLAMAS ON ICE!

No! NO! NOOO!!!

Sigh.

See what I’m dealing with here?

Here’s hoping Phyllis keeps napping or there’s going to be a knock-down-drag-out over whether today’s story is about llamas or groundhogs! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂