Valentiny Contest Prize Update!!!

Hi there, everyone!

I hope you all had lovely weekends, and that those of you within range of Snowmageddon all stayed safe and warm!  For I think the first time in history, the storm missed Blueberry Hill – we may have gotten a quarter millimeter of snow, but that might be exaggerating 🙂

I realize that Monday afternoon is an odd time for a blog post, but I have a few minutes, and some very important news to share!  So I’m taking a totally random moment here to say that kidlit folks are the best in the world – absolutely and without equivocation!

valentiny logo

First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest! Guidelines HERE

Scrambling to rummage up some prizes for the unplanned Valentiny Contest, I sent out a few hopeful requests – some to people I knew, some to people I didn’t! – asking if they’d be willing to donate expertise/time/work/awesome books.  Without exception, every single person I asked stepped up and offered a prize!  I’ve got such an abundance, I’m not even sure we’ll need them all for this new contest, which may not receive the number of entries the more established ones do.  So I hope, after you’ve seen what’s on offer, you’ll spread the word to all your kidlit friends because there’s some REALLY great stuff up for grabs 🙂

Check it out!

– A Picture Book Read and Critique from literary agent Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis who is actively building her picture book list!

– Enrollment in literary agent Jodell Sadler‘s Pacing Picture Books 2 WOW picture book writing class in March 2016!

– A spot in an upcoming Ariel Richardson webinar, Rule Breaking In Picture Books: The Chronicle Books Edition offered by Jodell Sadler

– Winner’s choice of free enrollment in ART OF ARC: HOW TO ANALYZE YOUR PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT OR a deep analysis critique from Alayne.

ART OF ARC is a self-study course that will deepen your understanding of picture books written with a classic arc and introduce you to other picture book structures. The course gives you tools to analyze your work prior to investing in professional critiques. It shows you how to avoid common writing errors and how apply writing elements that will enhance your stories to take them to a higher level. It includes 217 pages with ten lessons, seventeen supplements, and eighteen worksheets. Plus bonus materials and resources.

– A Picture Book Critique/Developmental Edit (non-rhyming picture book manuscript) from Beth Stilborn. (Beth does  developmental editing and copy editing through her Flubs2Fixes Editing, Consulting and Writers’ Resources service for writers. http://www.flubs2fixes.com )

– A Picture Book Critique from the fabulous Robin Newman, author of The Case Of The Missing Carrot Cake and the forthcoming, eagerly awaited Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (please don’t miss the fantastic trailer! 🙂 )

– personalized signed copies of The Case Of The Missing Carrot Cake and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep by Robin Newman

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Before Valentines Day by Natasha Wing!  Natasha Wing loves Valentine’s Day because it’s a week after her birthday. Natasha is the bestselling author of The Night Before series (Grosset & Dunlap). To find out more: www.natashawing.com

Night Before V Day

– personalized signed copies of Clara Bowman-Jahn‘s delightful picture books Annie’s Special Day and Edmund Pickle Chin

As well as the previously mentioned

– Enrollment in Julie Hedlund and Emma Walton Hamilton’s Complete Picture Book Submissions System!

– I Heart Picture Books – a 5-pack of Valentine picture books including A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger, Love, Ruby Valentine by Laurie B. Friedman,  Zombie In Love by Kelly DiPucchio, Love, Splat by Rob Scotton, and Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood PLUS 3 Endangered Species Chocolate Bars!

For those of you who are feeling too overwhelmed to count, that is TEN (10!!!) unbelievably awesome prizes!!!  So I hope we get at least 10 entries! 🙂

Please join me in thanking Christa, Jodell, Julie & Emma, Alayne, Beth, Robin, and Natasha for their incredible generosity, and show your appreciation by visiting their sites, buying and recommending their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, writing them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and showing your appreciation to them in any way you can!  I truly can’t thank them all enough!

Monday Munchday…An Exciting Announcement!

Darlings!

So nice of you to drop by on Monday and visit me!  I missed you so over the weekend 🙂

And you won’t be sorry for coming over!

I have SUCH exciting news!!!

Guess what???

I have invented a new recipe!

Yes!  It’s true!

I must give credit where credit is due.  I was inspired by Shelley Kinder in a blog comment on the Halloweensie Winner’s post.  During all the talk about nuts vs. no nuts in dessert, she suggested the benefits of peanut butter chips… and an idea was born!

Lo and behold, my new recipe:

Take the brownie recipe of your choice and add 1/2 (or 1/2 +) cup of peanut butter chips!  YUM!

And this gave rise to ANOTHER idea… add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of toffee chips!

OR add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of crushed peppermint!

OR go the s’mores route and add 1/2 cup mini marshmallows and 1/4-1/2 cup graham cracker cereal!  (Although that might get mushy… I’ll have to experiment…!  Maybe crushed graham cracker at the bottom with the brownie batter mixed with marshmallows added on top…?)

I KNOW!

And you’re welcome, because I know I have just given you a whole new outlook on your holiday baking plans! 🙂

At least, I’ve given MYSELF a whole new outlook on MY holiday baking plans! 🙂

And the added benefit?  An unexpected Monday Something Chocolate Snack:

Please forgive the photos – I’m a baker not a photographer 🙂 – but I promise they taste delicious!!! 🙂

So, thanks for stopping by.  I hope it was worth your time.  And I hope you weren’t expecting anything else…

What?

You were expecting something else?

Well in that case…

…maybe I should tell you…

…that it’s time for…

The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
WA-HOOO!!!! 🙂

The Contest:  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice].”  For example, “Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque,” or “Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm,” or “Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us,” or “Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar”….   You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂  But “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop” is completely acceptable too – whatever works for you 🙂  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest :))  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful :)), but no more than 350!)  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 on your blog between 12:01 AM EST Monday December 7 and Friday December 11 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 7 and remain up through Sunday December 13 (no WYRI or PPBF during that week.)  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 7th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you! But please don’t send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story into the email.)
The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on either Monday December 14 or Tuesday December 15 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 17 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 18.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.
The Prizes!:  Ok, so I’m still working on the prize list and will have to update, but here are some of the prizes that will be offered, and I think we’re going to have some additional awesomeness to add! (items in color are links for more info!):

A Picture Book Manuscript read and critique (winner’s choice of in-person, on the phone, or via email) by Claire Dorsett, Editorial Assistant, Roaring Brook Press!!!
   A bibliophile and outdoor enthusiast, Claire spent her childhood summers road-tripping across the United States, reading constantly on the long car rides between parks and museums. Her love of literature led her to pursue a BA in English from Cornell University, where she was involved with campus publications The Daily Sun and Rainy Day literary magazine. Claire then completed the six-week intensive Columbia Publishing Course before finding a home at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, assisting VP and Publisher Simon Boughton. She has worked on a range of projects during her time at Roaring Brook, including Lane Smith’s middle-grade debut Return to Augie Hobble, Steve Sheinkin’s National Book Award finalist Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, and picture books The SkunkThere is a Tribe of Kids, and Ned The Knitting Pirate
– a brand new Picture Book Webinar Bundle including one webinar on Concept Books and the other on Rhyme, Verse and Lyricism in Picture Books, generously donated by Emma Walton Hamilton, author, editor, writing coach, and teacher of the fabulous Just Write For Kids courses.
– a 2016 membership to Children’s Book Insider, including their Children’s Writing Knowledge Base, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes
 – A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author/illustrator Iza Trapani, author of JINGLE BELLS, OLD KING COLE, ITSY BITSY SPIDER, and many, many more!
 – A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the fabulous Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!
 – Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 – 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 – a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing What’s The Story Cards (hitherto un-introduced to the world!)

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!

And now!  Sharpen those pencils!  Top off those coffee mugs!  Get those derrieres in your chairs!  And start writing those prize-winning entries!!!

I can’t wait for the festivities to begin! 🙂

The 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest WINNERS!!!

Happy Friday, Everyone!

I know none of you has gotten a minute of rest or a wink of sleep for days, what with the torturous anticipation of finding out who the winners of the contest are!

No doubt you have paced a hole in your carpet!

But fear not!  The day has arrived!

Are you ready to see who won?

The 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous
Illustration Contest for Children’s Illustrators!
Great!

Me, too!

I just have one quick thing to say, which is that EVERYONE who entered this contest should be very proud of themselves.  You all showed up, put in the work, produced GORGEOUS illustrations, followed guidelines, and worked to a deadline – all very important skills to practice when illustrating and/or writing is your profession 🙂  Even if you didn’t make the finals, be assured that your illustrations were greatly enjoyed by many upon many!  Seriously!  I am not making this up.  The contest post with all your links had around 3000 views, which means lots of people were visiting you, even if they didn’t all comment!  So we are giving you a round of thunderous applause – clapclapclapclapclap!!!!! – and you should pat yourselves on the back and have an extra slice of chocolate cake – you did good! 🙂

So now, without further ado, by popular vote, the Winner of the 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest and the opportunity to take Mark Mitchell’s fantastic Make Your Marks And Splashes online illustration course

DDDDDRRRRRUUUUUMMMMM  RRRRROOOOOLLLLLLLLLL  PLEASE!!!!…

Anna Totten!!!

Congratulations, Anna!!!

2nd Place, and winner of the Wacon Intuos Pen and Touch Small Tablet is…

Dow Phumiruk

3rd Place, and winner of the $50 gift certificate to Blick Art Materials is…

Cheryl Pilgrim

Congratulations, Cheryl!!!

4th Place* is…

Michelle Todd

Congratulations, Michelle!!!

5th Place* is…

The Write Laura

Congratulations, Laura!!!

6th Place* is…

Micha Klann

Congratulations, Micha!!!

*4th-6th Places may have their choice of any one of the following:

     – Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

  – a Canson sketch pad and a small set of Derwent or Faber Castell colored pencils

and of course you ALL get the bragging rights to having won or placed in a Pretty Much World Famous Contest! 🙂

Winners, please email me so we can talk details 🙂

Thank you again to all the illustrators who participated in this contest and treated us all to such beautiful artwork; to our wonderful judges, Iza Trapani and Lisa Thiesing, without whom we could not have done this!; and to all the readers and viewers who visited, commented, and voted to celebrate these talented artists!  It is all of you who make these contests fun and worthwhile!

Have a spectacular 4th of July Weekend, Everyone!!!

The 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest For Children’s Illustrators!!!

WOO HOO!  The day has finally arrived!  It’s time for . . .

The 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous
Illustration Contest for Children’s Illustrators!

The ContestDraw/Paint/Create a children’s picture book illustration (no text required – art only) the topic for which shall be

discovery


Above all things, these illustrations are meant to evoke story, so it is crucial that they present at least one character, a setting, and ideally hint at/suggest some kind of plot or conflict idea.


Illustrations should be 8×10, horizontal or vertical, any medium, posted in jpg at least 72 px.  Illustrators may enter more than one entry if they’re feeling ambitious 🙂
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between right now this very second and Friday June 26 at 9 PM EDT (contest deadline!)  Please add your post-specific link to the link list below which will remain up all week so that people will be able to come visit and enjoy your amazing artwork.  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, you will be able to copy and paste your entry into the comments below.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, you may email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)

Judging:  entries will be judged by multi-talented, award-winning author/illustrators Iza Trapani, author and illustrator of over 20 gorgeous picture books, and Lisa Thiesing, author and illustrator of 40 beautiful and fun picture books and early readers!   Judging criteria to include:


 – does the illustration evoke a sense of story,
 – is the picture readable to a young audience,
 – how well does it show the character(s) and
 – is/are the character(s) appealing (character development),
 – originality,
 – skill.


They will narrow down the entrants to 6 finalists (or possibly a couple more or less depending on the number of entries :)) which will be posted here on Monday June 29 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 5PM EST on Thursday July 2 and the winner will be announced on Friday July 3… along with something for the writers in our audience, so stay tuned! 🙂


The Prizes!:  There will definitely be a 1st prize.  Whether we give prizes for 1st only, 1st-3rd, or 1st-6th will depend on how many entries we get.  We need at least 12 entries to place through 3rd, and at least 20 to place through 6th.

We’ve got some great prizes lined up including a chance to take Mark Mitchell’s fantastic Make Your Marks And Splashes Online Children’s Book Illustration Class (a $249 value, but really priceless!)  This class is packed with video lessons on the topics of drawing, painting, and children’s book illustration and video interviews with children’s illustrators. It also includes three months of online group critique sessions (2 sessions per month, at this point) with Mark and guest instructors, so the winner could also get the equivalent of a portfolio critique if she/he participated in all six of the sessions.  You can read all about it here: http://howtobeachildrensbookillustrator.com/NewCoursehome2/

http://howtobeachildrensbookillustrator.com/NewCoursehome2/

Additional prizes will include:

 – a Wacon Intuos Pen and Touch Small Tablet (see details HERE)

 – a $50 gift certificate to Dick Blick Art Materials (which is online)

 – choices of the following books:
      – Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

  – a Canson sketch pad and a small set of Derwent or Faber Castell colored pencils

and of course the bragging rights to having won or placed in a Pretty Much World Famous Contest! 🙂

So ready, set, GO! artists!  We can’t wait to see what you’ve created!  We’re ready to be inspired! 🙂

Remember, add your post-specific blog link to the link list below or email your illustration to me for posting here!

Below are 9 entires (so far) in the post, and the link list is down below them.

Entry from Tina Marantette:

illustration copyright Tina Marantette 2015

Entry #1 from Kristeen Mathews: discovery on the farm

illustration copyright Kristeen Mathews 2015

Entry #2 from Kristeen Mathews: discovery in a book

illustration copyright Kristeen Mathews 2015

Entry #3 from Kristeen Mathews: magic discovery

illustration copyright Kristeen Mathews 2015

Entry from Julie Abery

illustration copyright Julie Abery 2015

Entry from Michelle Todd

illustration copyright Michelle Todd 2015

Entry from Abigail Hicks

illustration copyright Abigail Hicks 2015

Entry from Beth Gallagher

illustration copyright Beth Gallagher 2015

Entry from Meredith Pinkstone

illustration copyright Meredith Pinkstone 2015

Entry from Dyann Joyce

illustration copyright Dyann Joyce 2015

Entry #1 from Susan Klein

illustration copyright Susan Klein 2015

Entry #2 from Susan Klein

illustration copyright Susan Klein 2015

Entry #3 from Susan Klein

illustration copyright Susan Klein 2015


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The 2014 Halloweensie Contest Finalists – VOTE For Your Favorite!!!

Holy Jack-O-Lanterns, Batman!

Look at me!  A mere shadow of my former self!

A pumpkin who has fallen off her creaky broomstick!

Wrung out and harrowed after an entire weekend of trying to decide how to rank the incredible entries y’all submitted for Halloweensie 2014.  What a job!!!

It’s a miracle I’m even here to tell the tale!

Thank goodness for the sustaining chocolate provided (via Face Book) by Joanna and Kathy 🙂  Thank you both, from the bottom of my chocolate-loving heart!  (And no, they did not receive “special consideration” for their entries as a result – they are both just lovely people who didn’t want me or my assistant judges to keel over :))

And speaking of the assistant judges, I had to call in a fourth!  I’m not kidding!

Because here’s the deal: we had the biggest turn out we’ve ever had in terms of number of entries – 132! – and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic.  Really, it is readily apparent that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time.  This means there are fewer standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of pretty good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!

Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say.  (I know you’re shocked :))

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

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

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 100 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:
1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness did not make the cut.
2.  Halloweeniness – the rules stated a Halloween story, so entries that failed to mention anything Halloween-y did not make the cut even if they were well-written.
3. Quality of story – the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn’t make the cut.  We looked for a true story arc.
4. Quality of Writing: we took note of spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  In addition, for the rhymers, we looked at rhyme and meter (for which we are sticklers!)  We also looked at overall writing quality and use of language.
5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

This time around, 5 entries sadly had to be cut because of rule problems: one was 3 words over the word limit (I counted 6 times, by hand and with Microsoft Word’s word count tool, because it was otherwise a strong entry! but 131 other people managed to stay at 100 or under so I had to be strict!); two used “broom” but not “broomstick“; and 2 did not use “creak” in any form.  (And yes, I checked the word count on all 132 entries and made sure the required words were present.)

After that, the going really got tough.  Some of the stronger stories were written in rhyme where the meter didn’t work as well as it needed to.  Some of the most beautiful rhyming entries with great use of language were more mood pieces than stories.  So we had to make some very hard calls.

Without further ado, I present to you the 2014 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  A baker’s dozen – 13 for Halloween! 🙂  A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute.  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite.  To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the pumpkin ballerina or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

#1 Halloween SMS (Short Messaging Scariness)

Halloween SMS

#2 Creaky Cackle

Ever since Winnie Witch crashed into a creek, her cackle was creaky. 
Ah ha ha…hack…cough, cough…
Hallowe’en hijinks were hindered.
Broomstick in hand, she wobbled into the witch doctor’s office.
“Whoa,” said the doctor as she peered into Winnie’s mouth. “It looks like you’ve got a frog in your throat.”
“Chew this pumpkin lozenge,” the doctor decreed.
“Yuck,” Winnie gagged. Splutter, cough, cough…
Out bounded a bullfrog.
“Ba–ruump,” protested the frog and hopped off.
Ahhh ha ha ha ha…Winnie Witch whooped.
“Stay out of creeks,” the doctor yelled as Winnie Witch bounded off on her broomstick.

#3 Full Moon Rising

Full moon rising in the sky,
Owls are hooting, bats fly by.
Mummies moaning in the night,
Goblins groaning give you fright.
Milo walking down the path,
Up the steps, he hurries fast.
Floorboards creaking,
Milo’s sneaking,
Across the moonlit porch.
Past the pumpkin,
Past the cat,
Past the broomstick,
Past the rat.
To the door where spiders lay,
Waiting for their cowering prey.
Milo hears a frightening sound.
He doesn’t even turn around.
Glowing eyes behind him stare.
Ring the doorbell, if you dare!
Door creaks open.
Better not run.
Trick or Treat!
Now, let’s have some fun!

#4 Home Alone Halloween
I came home from school very excited. Halloween, my favorite day of the year.

I almost trip over the sixteen pumpkins on the porch.
With a creak, I swing the door open while calling out, “Mom?”  No answer.
The aroma of bat stew fills the house.
She’s not in the dungeon, or napping in her coffin. She must be here somewhere.
I look throughout the house, running from room to room.
Suddenly it hits me.
I fling open the broom closet. Empty. Even her broomstick is gone.
“Of course,” I said, hitting my forehead and smiling. “She is working tonight!”

#5 Sulky Spider’s Spooky Webs

Sulky Spider planned a scheme 
For making trick or treaters scream.
Spider silk began to spin
A Jack ‘o Web with wicked grin.
“Pretty pumpkin,” cowgirls said. 
“Pretty?” Sulky hung her head.
“A webby ghost will do the trick!”
She spun a spooky ghoul up quick.
Pirates shouted, “Ghosts are neat!” 
She gobbled up her web. “Defeat.”
   
Spinnerets began to twitch.
“A warty-broomstick-riding-witch!”
A princess cooed, “That witch is sweet.”
She stomped all eight offended feet.
“I need a buggy snack,” she frowned.  
Sticky thread went round and round.
She didn’t hear the stairway creak.
“A spiderweb!” they hollered, “Eek!”


#6 This Year’s Halloween Mascot

“Me!”
“No, me!”
Witch School should have been brimming with excitement. But everyone was sick of hearing Broomstick and Pumpkin argue over who should be Halloween mascot.
“No one flies higher,” said Broomstick.
“No Jack-O-Lantern shines brighter,” said Pumpkin.
Black cats cowered, paws over ears. Cauldrons bubbled their disapproval.
C-r-e-e-e-e-a-k– the courtyard door opened to an assembly of witches.
“The time has come,” Head Mistress said. “The night awaits my decision.”
“This year’s mascot shines the brightest…” (Pumpkin’s head swelled.)
“…and flies the highest.” (Broomstick’s spirits soared.)
“Our Halloween mascot is…”
“… the Moon,” who silently took a bow.


#7 Halloween Chase

The pumpkins were glowing, but I still couldn’t see
There was someone or something coming for me
I glanced over my shoulder when I heard the stair creak
My heart leapt from my chest and my legs became weak
I gasped when I saw her, all ghoulish and green
She was staring right at me, eyes angry and mean
Her broomstick was poised to crash down on my head
I wished I could fly, but my feet felt like lead
My fists began swinging, I was ready to fight
My sister took off her mask and just laughed with delight!


#8 Halloween Hide-and-Go-Seek
It’s Halloween! It’s dark, it’s spooky, it’s perfect for a game of Halloween Hide-and-Go-Seek!
Blurp! Bloop! Blub!
Are you in the cauldron?
No, just some toadstool stew.
Rustle! Swish! Swoosh!
Are you in the closet?
No, just an old broomstick.
Creak! Crack! Bang!
Are you behind the curtains?
No, it’s just the wind blowing the windows open and closed.
Scritch! Scratch! Raow!
Are you behind the chair?
No, just the cat settling down.
Giggle, Giggle
Are you upstairs?
Sssshhhhhhh!
Are you in the bedroom?
Hmmmmm.
Boo!
There are my little pumpkins!
You’ve had your trick, now how about your treat?

#9 The Shadow

Once upon a pumpkin moon
a rocker creaked,
the wind sighed, Soon….A Shadow stole across the lawn
and stopped upon the stair.
Ghosts and goblins roamed the streets.
They rang each bell
for tricks or treats.
As they approached they didn’t see
the Shadow waiting there.
Through the dark the children stepped,
not knowing where
the Shadow crept.
They stumbled over Shadow and
their screeches pierced the air.
Broomstick tail puffed wide with fright,
poor Shadow fled
into the night.
On Halloween a small black cat
should NOT sit on the stair!

#10 Halloween In A Box

“Skeleton!! It’s here!” Witch cackled. “Halloween in a Box! I ordered it on the Making Potions and Brew Magic website. ‘Fun Guaranteed!’”
Witch looked inside. “Pumpkin centerpiece? Broomstick garland?? Party plates??? That’s it????” She flopped onto the floor and wailed, “My party is ruined!”
Skeleton picked up the box. “I’ll be back.”
Skeleton returned with the box. “Open it.”
Witch lifted the flaps. Out jumped Black Cat, Ghost, Monster from Under-the-Bed, Zombie, his mother Mummy, and Hairy Spider.
“Now THAT’S a Halloween in a Box!” Witch screeched.
“Fun Guaranteed!” Skeleton said, dancing a creaky jig.
#11 Devious Dads And Halloween
Devious Dads and Halloween
Pumpkin creations
Under the stars,
Mama carves goblins,
Papa carves cars.
Kids from our condo,
Itching for treats,
Navigate hallways
            Bound for the streets.
            Roger plays Batdude.
            Orville’s a ghost.
            Omar rocks Elvis,
            Milly is toast.
            Sam’s owl is skittish,
            Tim acts the clown.
            Ike rides a broomstick,
            Cruising our town.
            Kids in cool costumes
Creep through the night,
Rack up the candy,
Eat just a bite.
After, in jammies,
Kids hide the rest,
Eager to keep
Dads far from the best!
#12 Snack-O’-Lantern
“Nibbles,” sighed Chester Cat. “You’re supposed to carve a pumpkin.”
“They’re too big,” the guinea pig replied. “So I am carving a Halloween-o Jalapeño. Scary, huh? Does it make you want to run away?”
“No,” Chester sniffed. “That wouldn’t make anyone run away.”
They heard the creak of floorboards and the clatter of the broomstick Buster used for fetch.
“I bet it’ll make Buster run.”
“No way.”
“Let’s see,” Nibbles challenged. Then he shouted. “BUSTER! SNAAACK!”
Buster galloped in. He gobbled the jalapeño.
His eyes sprang open.
Yelping, he dashed to his water dish.
“Told you he’d run,” Nibbles giggled.
#13 Snip, Snap, Crack
In a deep dark corner, an old lady sits.
She cackles, and snarls, and frantically knits.
Click clack go her needles.
Snip snap go her bones,
As she rocks and she creaks
and her kitty cat moans.
She conjures up spiders, and pumpkins, and ghosts
All spun from her yarn –
“I’m so wicked!” she boasts.
Don’t dare approach her,
She’s all trick and no treat.
What are you doing??
Come hither, my sweet.
Get away from that broomstick! Skedaddle! Shoo!
You’re tiptoeing closer??
Snip
Snap
Crack
BOO!


Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 5PM EST Wednesday November 5.

Tune in Thursday November 6 to see THE WINNERS!!!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!
I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!
Tune in Thursday… same bat time, same bat station 🙂

(And we will have a regularly scheduled Would You Read It on Wednesday too!)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap.

Okay.

Not really.

I’m SO not a napper.

But I might eat some leftover Halloween candy 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

The First Ever Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest Finalists! – Come Vote!!

O   H     M Y     G   O  O   D  N   E S   S !!!
O   H     M  Y     G    O    N     E  S S

(Sorry!  I can’t help jumping up and down!)

Do you know what time it is???

It’s time to announce the finalists for

The First Ever PrettyMuchWorldFamous Illustration Contest!!!

But first I have to say that I was thrilled with what a great turn out we got for a first-ever contest!  I was hoping we’d get 10, and really hoping we’d get 20, so how completely wonderful that we got 35 entries!!!

And they were all so beautiful and creative and well done!
There were 8 fabulous stories for the illustrators to choose from – stories that won the March Madness Writing Contest last month.  Happily, every single story inspired at least 2 illustrators, so all the stories were represented.  The entries broke down as follows:
1. The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff by Wendy Greenley – 6 illustrations
2. Goldilockup by Mike Allegra – 5 illustrations
3. Goldibawks And The Three Pairs by Dawn Young – 2 illustrations
4. The Sweetie Witch by Pen Avey – 4 illustrations
5. The Princess And The Stinky Cheese by Lauri Meyers – 9 illustrations
6. Mongoose’s Holi Party by Darshana Khiani – 2 illustrations
7. The “Princess” And The Pete by Jennifer Caritas – 3 illustrations
8. The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster by Elliah Terry – 4 illustrations
So a very nice spread!
And now, a few words from our illustrious judges, award-winning author/illustrators Iza Trapani and Lisa Thiesing:
Iza said, “Thank you everyone for the wonderful entries!  Lisa and I enjoyed them and regret that we could only pick 6 finalists. You all did a great job.  Keep up the good work!”

Lisa said, “We were so impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm and how much effort you all put in!”

I say, many thanks to our wonderful judges for donating their time and expertise to pore over all these entries, carefully weighing the merits of each until they could reach a consensus as to which ones should qualify for the finals.  Many thanks as well to all the very talented illustrators who took the time and care to produce such beautiful book covers for these original stories!  We have enjoyed your work so much, and it’s been different and fun to experience a competition for illustration instead of writing!

Please consider each of the following finalists carefully and vote for the one you think you’d be most likely to pluck off a bookshelf 🙂  Remember that the contest rules specifically asked for art only.  Some artists chose to include the title/author/illustrator anyway, but covers which do not show title/author/illustrator should not be penalized in your judgment.

Although there’s no real way to keep these anonymous, I will show the pictures only, no artist names for now (they will all be shown when I announce the winners on Monday May 5.)  I encourage you to share this post with your tribe – the more views these talented illustrators get the better – but I ask that you please not try to influence the vote by saying “Vote for #3!” or whatever.  Let’s let these gorgeous book covers speak for themselves.  It’s not supposed to be a contest about who has the most FB friends or whatnot.  Thank you all for playing fair.  Because many of the finalists are for the same stories, I have identified them with little notes in parentheses to help you remember which is which on the voting poll.

And now, without further ado, I am pleased to present the finalists!  Each cover is accompanied by a few words from the judges 🙂

#1.  Cover for The “Princess” And The Pete

Cover image for The “Princess” And The Pete


Judges comments:  This is a cool image and the illustrator has left plenty of space for a great type design.

# 2.  Cover image for Goldilockup (green border)

Cover image for Goldilockup

Judges comments:  The girl is sweet and nicely drawn.  The details and design elements were carefully thought out.




#3  Cover image for Goldilockup (black border)
Cover image for Goldilockup

Judges comments:  This illustration is very well done. It is a humorous, strong, eye-catching image.  It would be very appealing to a lot of young readers.



 #4.  Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster (black background)

Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster
Judges comments:  The character is funny, quirky, interesting and we wonder what he’s thinking. We would want to read this book. The whole design is great.


#5.  Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster (3 beds)
Cover image for The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster

Judges comments: The bunny is cute, with an especially nice face. The picture makes us curious about the story. 



#6.  Cover image for Goldilockup (bears pointing thru bars)

Judges comments:  We thought this cover was a good drawing with a nice composition and colors. We could see it standing out on the Barnes & Noble book wall.

Ready, set, VOTE!

Please vote for your favorite by Sunday May 4 at 5PM EDT!
Boy oh boy is it going to be hard to wait until Monday to find out how these finalists finish up!
Have a great weekend, everyone! 🙂

Time For Some Fun!!!

So, here we are.

It’s still January.

It’s dark.

It’s really, really, really COLD.

And Spring seems like an impossible dream.

We could wallow in the doldrums…

…but I say, LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!!! 🙂

(Yep.  You know what that means.  Time for another Hare Brained Scheme! :))

As some of you may realize, GROUNDHOG DAY is nearly upon us.  (And in case you DON’T realize, someone at my house who gets VERY excited about it is here to remind you!)

This whole thing is her idea.  She was worried you might not even REMEMBER Groundhog Day (quel horreur!), what with all the hiding out indoors under piles of blankets due to that pesky polar vortex, and that would be UNTHINKABLE!

Therefore, in celebration…

ARE YOU READY…?

..we are going to have Phyllis’s Fun Fashion Show!!!

It will be easy and fun and everyone can join in, and there will be prizes!!!

Here’s what to do:

Think up something you think Phyllis would look dazzling in.  An evening gown?  A loin cloth?  An Eskimo parka and mukluks?  A polka-dot bikini?  A sari?  A sundress?  A kimono?  A burlap sack?  Jeans and a t-shirt?  A pineapple?  A Broncos sweatshirt?  Or a Seahawks sweatshirt?  Whatever you like!  Let your inner fashion goddess/god run wild! 🙂

Then dress her up!

And feel free to accessorize!  Hats, handbags, scarves, jewelry, shoes/boots, spurs, parrots, hair ribbons, walking stick, gloves, pony, canoe…maybe a football in honor of the fact that this year Groundhog Day and Super Bowl Sunday are one and the same! 🙂

High-Tech Option:  You can do it by photoshop or MS Paint if you’re handy like that.  (Feel free to help yourself to the Phyllis heads or Phyllis figure below so at least that part is done for you, or use the Phyllis action figure HERE.)

Mid-Tech Option:  You can use Face In Hole.com or similar

Low-Tech Option:  You can print out one of the Phyllis heads or the whole Phyllis figure supplied below and draw, paint, sew, or make paper clothes to stick on.  Or cut something out of a magazine.  Or make her an outfit out of feathers 🙂  Or raisins 🙂  Or whatever 🙂 (Or again, use the Phyllis action figure HERE.)

(And if the ones I post below don’t work properly, just email me and I’ll send you the files!)

Then post a photo (or your photo shop version) of your dressed up Phyllis on your blog along with your prediction: 6 more weeks of winter, or early spring???  (Or email it to me and I’ll post it here if you don’t have a blog but would like to join the fun.)

The outfit does not have to match your prediction.  After all, if Phyllis decides there will be 6 more weeks of winter, she might hightail it for sunny Cancun in a polka-dot bikini 🙂

(If you would like to also help Phyllis in her quest to stay in print, she would be most appreciative of a link to her page at your local indie, Amazon, B&N, or wherever you feel like.)

Anyhoo, post your Phyllis Fashionista on your blog (or email it to me for posting here) anytime between now and Saturday February 1 at 5 PM EST and add your post-specific link to the link list below so we can all come see how gorgeous she looks!  Feel free to post more than one if you’re having fun 🙂

On Sunday February 2 – GROUNDHOG DAY! – I will post all the photos here in a special post – the complete fashion show! – and we’ll let everyone vote for winners 🙂

Doesn’t that sound like fun???  I totally can’t wait to see what we all come up with!!! 🙂  I think we’re going to be taking the cat walk to hitherto unprecedented levels.  Look out, Gisele, Tyra, Heidi!  You’ve got nothing on Phyllis!  Short, stout, furry, and dressed to the nines, you’re about to see how a groundhog struts her stuff 🙂

Here are the heads and figure for your convenience: (with many thanks to my daughter who did this on photoshop since I am clueless!)

you can color this one in if you like…

or there’s this one that’s already colored…

you can cover what she’s wearing here with whatever you choose for her 🙂

And prizes.  Hmm… prizes…

If we get 12 or fewer entries, 1 prize shall be awarded and it shall be the winner’s choice of a signed hard cover copy of Punxsutawney Phyllis (if by some chance you don’t already have one :)) or an unsigned (but still free!) hard cover copy of Gretchen Groundhog It’s Your Day, or your choice of two of the following because they’re all only available in paperback: Go To Sleep, Groundhog by Judy Cox, Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller or Mr. Groundhog Wants The Day Off by Pat Vojta or Ten Grouchy Groundhogs by Kathryn Heling, any of which shall be purchased from Merritt Bookstore.  If you should happen to want something besides Groundhog Day picture books (which Phyllis is unable to fathom, but no accounting for taste :)) you may alternatively select any book of your choice up to a price of $17.95 to be shipped to you from Merritt.

If we get more than 12 entries, we will award 1st – 3rd and all winners can pick from the choices listed above.

Golly!  I’m excited!

Phyllis is jumping up and down!

We are having so much fun we’ve forgotten the dark and the cold and the still faraway whisper of spring!

So come join us!!!

Have a marvelous (and warm!) Monday everyone! 🙂

And whenever you have a Phyllis Fashionista, add your post-specific link to the list below!

And LOOK!  Here’s our first one from Linda who says EARLY SPRING!!!

by Linda Boyden

And here is our next one!

Olympic Phyllis by Katie Hill

And another!!

Spring Phyllis by Grace age 8!

And two from Sue!

Phyllis makes a prediction (after looking at the world’s upside) by Sue Heavenrich

Phyllis modeling her 6 more weeks of Ski Season togs by Sue Heavenrich
Sunday Best Phyllis by Heather Greene

The 2013 Halloweensie Contest Finalists! – Vote For Your Favorite!

Holy Halloweensie!

You guys sure know how to give a judge a run for her money!

Gone are the days of the first Halloweensie Contest when we got 7 or 8 entries!

My assistant judges (yes, I called in reinforcements!) and I agonized over winnowing this amazing field of entries down to a manageable number for you to vote on.

And I have a few comments.  (Don’t I always :))

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  It was far and away the most well-subscribed contest we’ve ever had.  79 entries at the final count (because yes, I counted wrong on Friday :)) and the quality of the entries across the board was fantastic.  There were no easy cuts.  (Except, sadly, for one that went over the word count to 114 and had to be disqualified.)

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

Third – SURPRISE! – as a result of the quality and quantity of entries, I have decided to give prizes through 6th place instead of only through 3rd.  I have also decided that you might need a little extra time to vote and that the post that announces the winners should be exclusively devoted to that celebration.  So the post with the winners will go up on THURSDAY November 7 (not with WYRI on Wednesday as I originally planned.)

Before I list the finalists, I want to say once again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many fabulous entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  There were so many good ones that in the end some got cut on the basis of a word or phrase that we felt was a little off, or a concept we weren’t quite sure a child would get.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 100 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now, without further ado, here are your finalists.  There is a mix of poetry and prose, stories for youngest readers and stories for older kids, funny, cute, and spooky – quite a spread!  We really tried to keep it to 10… but we couldn’t… though we came close 🙂

Remember that the judging criteria were:

1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness did not make the cut.
2. Quality of story – the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn’t make the cut.
3.  Halloweeniness – the rules stated a Halloween story, so entries that failed to mention anything Halloween-y did not make the cut even if they were well-written.
4. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

Finalists will be listed by title and without author for now in case that helps you be more objective 🙂

#1 Are You Scared Yet?

“I’m ready, ” said the little black cat.

“Let’s hear it,” said the big black cat.

“Booooooo,” said Little Cat.

Big Cat curled up. “Not spooky enough.”

“Ah ha ha ha,” she cackled, wrinkling her nose.

Big Cat yawned. “Not creepy enough.”

Little Cat bared her teeth. “Mwah ha ha,” she said.

“I’m still not scared,” said Big Cat, closing his eyes.

Little Cat took a deep breath and growled from her belly, getting louder until her body vibrated.

“Rawr!” she bellowed, and Big Cat jumped straight into the air.

“Not bad,” Big Cat said.


Little Cat smiled. I’m ready.

#2 Treat Or Trick

Headstone Hill’s a spooky place.
Wanda Witch lives there.
It’s said she steals small children.
Little ones beware!
Dared to go on Halloween,
Rip approached her house.
He tiptoed past the black cat.
Quiet as a mouse.
Wanda pulled the creaky door,
Stretching a sly smile.
“My, a sweet young child is here!”
EWWW, they’re all so vile!
Shaking, Rip held out his bag,
Waiting for some stuff.
Wanda gave a sugared snake.
“This was not so tough!
I don’t need to be afraid.
You gave me a sweet.”
Then she yanked Rip in, cackling,
“BEAST, come get your treat!”

#3 Miss Sadie

A bumbling witch named Miss Sadie
yearned to be wicked and mean.
When she tried to be spooky,
she came off quite kooky,
the clumsiest witch ever seen.
“Perhaps what I need to be scary
is something eerie and dark!”
So she found a black cat,
and a tall pointy hat,
and hid in a tree in the park.
“Trick or treaters, beware,” cackled Sadie,
“I’m here to give you a fright!”
Sadie laughed with such glee,
she fell out of the tree,
and “boo hoo-ed” on Halloween night.

#4 Drusella, The Black Spooky Cat

Drusella, the Black Spooky  Cat waited all year for this day…HALLOWEEN!
KNOCK KNOCK
 “BOO!” she screamed.
“Cute nose!” the goblin said.
“I’m SCARY not CUTE!” Drusella cried.
KNOCK KNOCK
“BOOO!” Drusella yelled.
“Beautiful eyes!” the dragon said.
“I’m SCARY not BEAUTIFUL!” Drusella hollered.
KNOCK KNOCK
“BOOOO!” Drusella screamed.
 “Pretty nails!” the Witch said.
“I’m SCARY not PRETTY”
KNOCK KNOCK
“BOOOO!” Drusella shouted.
 “Perfect ears,” the Witch cackled.
“I’m SCARY not PERFECT!”

“I give up!” Drusella sighed, “Next year I’m gonna be a Princess!”

#5 Black Cat, Black Cat

Black Cat, Black Cat

where are you going

this Halloweensie night,

a foul wind blowing?

Off to join the witchesfor their spooky spree.

Every Hallows Eve – a creepy jamboree.

Black Cat, Black Cat

who’s that on the broom

sat twixt the witch and you,

spewing words of doom?

That’s my bud, Ghoul One,

he plans his hex all year.

Ghouls Two, Three & Four

join in to up the fear.

Black Cat, Black Cat

what’s that in the pot,

cackling & bubbling,

oozing smoking hot?

Tis my Haloweensie meal –

tuna bake with spice.

Me and the neighbor kits

we like it with fried lice.

#6 The Dare

Joseph walked out in the dark of night.
The thought of his quest gave him a fright.
Shouldn’t have taken that dare.
The street was damp and empty as well.
The cold breeze blew up in a big swell.
Shouldn’t have taken that dare.
The air filled with a spooky thick mist.
Joseph jumped back when a black-cat hissed.
Shouldn’t have taken that dare.
The full moon shone in a bloody red.
The cemetery gate was ahead.
Why did I take this dare?
Tombstones and graves abruptly appear.
A dead voice cackled in Joseph’s ear.
“Shouldn’t have taken that dare.”

#7 Foe Or Friend?

October chill.
Argyle night.
Spooky shadows.
Black Cat’s delight.
Panther-like.
Freeze in a crouch.
Whiskers twitch.
Ready to pounce.
Leaves crunch.
Beginning to doubt.
About to bolt…
A cackle rings out.
A pointed hat.
A wide, black brim.
Gnarled hands.
A sharp, warty chin.
A hiss. An arch.
Fur stands on end.
A reach. A pat.
A new-found friend?
“It’s only me.”
A whisper is heard.
“Do you like my costume?”
Black Cat just purred.

#8 One Ghostly Halloween

Halloween was Billy’s favorite holiday. “I’m gonna scare someone good!”
But Billy was a ghost in the spookiest ghost town west of Texas. And ghosts don’t scare easy. She tested costumes:
black cat,
“Ain’t you adorable,” said Sheriff.
A witch with a mean cackle,
“Ooooh…spooky,” said the cowboys guffawing.
A tarantula, a headless cowboy, a were-coyote. But nope, nada, not even a whimper.
Billy frowned. A ghost who couldn’t scare wasn’t worth a penny – especially on Halloween.
She thought and thought until…
“AIYEEE! Float for your lives!” cried the town-ghosts.
“Trick or treat!” said Billy, the ghost hunter.

#9 Witch And Ghost

Witch and Ghost walk hand in hand.
They pass Black Cat, sleek and grand.
A tree branch rattles.  Cold winds blow.
But Witch and Ghost have far to go.
Their shoes clip clop on long, dark roads.
Their backs are bent with heavy loads.
Witch climbs the steps.  She pulls the gate.
Ghost slips through.  They can’t be late.
They hear a cackle!  A spooky shriek!
A dark door opens with a creak.
Witch grips her broomstick.  In Ghost glides.
What frightful sights await inside?

#10 The Scary Spell

“Harrison!” cackled Leona. “Time to get scary for the witches’ ball.”
Harrison flicked his pointy ears. Oh no. Leona’s wand broke after the wart-away spell.
She waved it over him. “Abracadarey, big and scary!”
What? Now he was a boring, black cow.
“Mooo!” said Harrison, wishing he still had claws.
Leona waved again. “Abracaglarey, mean and hairy!”
Stamping tiny goat hooves, Harrison growled. “Naaa!”
Leona tried one more time. “Abracadat, spooky black cat!”
Sparks flew. Harrison’s fur crackled. He bared his teeth.
“You’re scarier than me!” Leona said. “You’d better stay home.”
Perfect. He could have a monstrous cat nap.

#11 On Halloween

On Halloween,

The moon was full,

And the night was still.

Raccoon and Badger crept up the lonely path.

A cackle echoed from the trees,

And Raccoon froze. “A witch?”

“A bird,” said Badger.

A dark streak dashed across their path,

And Raccoon jumped. “A monster?”

Badger shook his head. “A black cat.”

Up ahead, glowing eyes flickered,

And Raccoon trembled. “A goblin?”

“A Jack O’ Lantern.”

They approached a spooky old house.

The door slowly opened.

Creeeaaak

Raccoon stuttered. “A g…g…ghost?”

Badger laughed. “My Grandma!”

And Raccoon giggled.

Raccoon and Badger raced to the door.

“Trick or Treat!”

#12 Hallowontsie

Halloween colors are orange and black,
but Spooky Black Cat was tired of that.
“Why can’t I be pink? Or salmon? Or bronze?”
she said as she stepped in the beauty salon.
Before you could cackle, that cat was festooned
with sparkly fur that left all in a swoon.
“You’re not going to scare anyone, pretty as that!”
“That’s what I want,” said the former Black Cat.
“Halloween is for goblins, monsters and ghosts,
but also for princesses, which I like most.”
She found an angel that night with wings of foam
who petted her till she purred all the way home.
So ready?  Get set… VOTE!  And PLEASE!  We will need all the votes we can get even though I know the choice is very, very hard!  Please cast your vote by Wednesday November 6 at 5 PM EST.
Thank you all again!  For writing, reading, commenting, and voting, and generally participating to make this such a fun contest!

I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!  And I have some more surprises planned for Thrusday’s Special Halloweensie Contest Winners post, so stay tuned!!!  (And don’t forget WYRI on Wednesday :))

Happy Columbus Day! AND Announcing The 3rd Annual Halloweensie Contest!!!

Happy Columbus Day, Everyone!

You know what Columbus Day means, don’t you?  It’s time for a little (twisted) history:

Four score and seven years ago… plus a couple hundred… Columbus set sail from Peppermint Bay on the Good Ship Lollypop,

searching desperately for a recipe for a perfect pie crust that would be light and flaky and never tough.  Instead, he found a brave new world.  “Woe is me!” he wailed.  “What use is a new land if I cannot bake a decent pie?”  Pocahontas led him through the wilderness to the Culinary Institute of America but he was expelled when after 6 months his pie crust still had the consistency of truck tires.  “Who cares?” he shouted maniacally as he was led away in footie pajamas.  “You guys might make better pie crust, but I’ve got my own holiday!  So nanny-nanny-poo-poo!”  And he was right, because lo and behold these many years later we are thankful and celebrate ole Chris because we don’t have work or school on his holiday, and anyone can just buy a pie crust any old time from the frozen food section of the grocery store.

And if that is not the version you’re familiar with, well, lets just say there’s a reason it’s called hiSTORY!

Either way, the fact that we don’t have work or school means that we are here… ready… and waiting with baited breath (which, what does that mean really?  That your breath smells like bait?  Because that would be icky… but I digress…)  We are here, and ready for the announcement of…..

The 3rd Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
That’s right!  It’s time!

courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words spooky, black cat, and cackle.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words (you can count black cat as one word) and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 40 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 28th and Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my October 28th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, 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.

The Judge: my lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) top choices which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 4th.  The winner will be announced with Would You Read It on Wednesday November 6th.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.

The Prize:  yeah… I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  Feel free to chime in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  But prizes will include (in some way, shape, or form) a hardcover copy of Charlotte Gunnufson’s picture book Halloween Hustle and an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman’s new Nuts And Bolts Guide to writing picture books.  Plus whatever else I dream up in the meantime 🙂

So that’s it!  Have a marvelous Monday, everyone, and use that Columbus Day holiday free time to get started thinking about your Halloweensie Contest entry!

Have fun! 🙂

NYS Sheep And Wool Festival Contest/Giveaway for Can’t Sleep Without Sheep

[To all my regular devoted readers, this post is a special one for the NYS Sheep And Wool Festival and you may read it or skip it as you wish :)]

Come Join The Fun At The 2013 New York State Sheep And Wool Festival!!!
October brings fresh apples, autumn leaves, and the NYS Sheep And Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY!
Come join me on Saturday October 19 from 11-3, with a special story time at 12:15 when I’ll read Can’t Sleep Without Sheep!
While you’re waiting for the Sheep & Wool Festival to get here, you can do something fun!
In Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, Ava has a hard time falling asleep so she counts sheep.  But she has to count them so many times that they get tired and quit!  Ava has to find something else to count instead!
illustration copyright Mike Wohnoutka 2009
For a chance to win a free, signed copy of Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, you can do one of two fun things!
1.  On a piece of paper, write down what animal Ava could count instead of sheep and why it would be a good choice for falling asleep.
OR
2. Draw a picture of an animal Ava could count!  (You can draw on your own piece of paper or use this free downloadable page)
Bring your entry with you to the Merritt Bookstore booth in Building B on Saturday October 19 by 1 PM (but come at 12:15 if you want to hear the story!)  Please make sure your name is on your entry.  After the story, we will randomly choose one winner to receive a free, signed copy of the book.  You must be present to win.
My friend, Iza Trapani, will also be at the festival reading her delightful book, Baa Baa Black Sheep!  Please visit her site for a chance to win a book from her, and be sure to come see her at the festival on Saturday between 9 and 12:30 or on Sunday from 10-5!
If you’re excited to share you entry ideas or drawings, you are welcome to post them in the comment section below.  You can also take a picture of your drawing and email it to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I will be glad to add it to this post so visitors can enjoy your artwork!
Have fun writing and drawing!  I look forward to seeing you at the festival!