Would You Read It? Wednesday

I’ve been reading a lot about the importance of pitches lately and it got me thinking:  we can all use a chance to brush up our skills, and we can all use a little input on how we’re doing.

So I thought up a new game!  (Are you surprised?)

It’s called Would You Read It? (I’m using my Game Show Host Voice) and if you guys think it’s fun, we could make it a regular weekly Wednesday feature.  It sounds like fun to me (but then, I love games :))

Here’s how we’ll play:  people can send their one sentence pitch along with the title (if you have one) and the genre/age intended (just so we have a vague idea where you’re aiming) to moi and I will post them on Wednesdays.  There will be a poll so readers can vote yes they would read it, maybe they would read it, or no they wouldn’t.  If you get a lot of yeses – great! you’re on the right track; a lot of maybes, then maybe it’s not quite strong enough. If you get a lot of nos, then you know you need to work on your pitch a little more before striking up a conversation with a famous editor in an elevator somewhere 🙂  And we could make the pitches anonymous if you want to protect your ego privacy 🙂

You can send pitches of WIPs that you’re readying for submission, or you can send pitches of possible ideas to see if you get a good response and it may be a story worth writing.

Here’s a sample game so you can see how we’d play:

Title:  Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin
Age/Genre:  MG
The Pitch:  “Minli, an adventurous girl from a poor village, buys a magical goldfish, and then joins a dragon who cannot fly on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain and freshness to Jade River.”
Would You Read It?  YES MAYBE NO?

Title:  Ribbit Rabbit by Candace Ryan
Age/Genre:  PB
The Pitch:  “Frog and Bunny are the best of friends, even though sometimes they get into fights.”
Would You Read It?  YES MAYBE NO?

Title:  A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Age/Genre:  YA
The Pitch:  “After the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, sixteen-year-old Gemma returns to England, after many years in India, to attend a finishing school where she becomes aware of her magical powers and ability to see into the spirit world.”
Would You Read It?  YES MAYBE NO?

Then in the comments you would write:  #1 Maybe, #2, No, #3 Yes (or whatever.)  Get it?  Sound fun?

Let’s give it a whirl!  Comment with your thoughts on these three, and then start sending pitches for next week!  Also comment if you think the game would be fun and you’d be willing to pitch in (oops, my punster is showing again :)) or if this game sounds worse then getting root canal.

Word Fun Monday

It’s Monday, and while I (as I’ve mentioned before) find that inspiring, many people look at the work week ahead and think oy!

So here’s a little fun to brighten your day 🙂

My family is very game oriented, and especially word-game oriented (in case you haven’t figured that out from my many posts about how much I love games :))  My sister is visiting with her kids, and last night at dinner the following questions were posed:

Only 2 words in the English language contain uu.  What are they?

Only 3 words in the English language begin with dw.  What are they?

What are the 2 longest one-syllable words in English?  (I’ll give you a hint – one is 8 letters and one is 7 and they both begin with s – also, this game refers to root words, so no prefixes, suffixes or verb endings etc.)

Technically I should be offering a prize for the first person to guess all three, but I’m fresh out of prize ideas… unless someone wants one of those nameless dead sea creatures I mentioned on Friday (she said hopefully)?  For the time being, you will have to be satisfied with the fame of being the person connected with this blog who is That Smart!  If you can answer all three I will be impressed and if you think up a reasonable prize for yourself I’ll consider it 🙂

Ready, set, GO!  I can’t wait to see if you can guess the words!


Don’t worry.

I have not been eaten by a bear.


It’s just that we are in the middle of high-school-graduation-8th-grade-play-rehearsals-and-performances-baby-shower-shopping-8th-grade-graduation-ceremony-and-party-planning-and-shopping-wedding-related-hysteria-vacation-planning-along-with-the-general-busy-ness-of-daily-life so I’m finding it a little hard to keep to my schedule… 🙂

I hope you all had the opportunity to read at least some of the entries in Cally Jackson and Rachel Morgan’s tension blogfest.  I thought it was really fun to enter, and to read all the other entries (although this morning, it was practically impossible to vote on a winner!)

It was such fun that I’d like to do a blogfest, too!

But not tension, because that’s been done 🙂

So here’s my question:  what do you think would be a fun blogfest?

300 words about character? Or setting?

One-paragraph plot synopses?

A one-sentence pitch contest?  (Ooh – that sounds like a good one!)

A limerick contest (maybe on a certain topic)?

A segment of dialogue?

Other brilliant suggestions?  (But remember, this is a children’s writer blog, so all ideas should be appropriate for kids, MG, or YA.)

Please let me know what you think would be fun, and what you might consider entering.  (It’s more fun with lots of entries!)

I’ll look forward to your responses!

P.S.  If you’d like to join me in hosting the blogfest (as Cally and Rachel did it together) please let me know that, too 🙂

Chasing Away The January Blues

Yep, in case you were wondering, it’s still January.  It’s still cold.  And it’s snowing… again….  I’m guessing y’all could use a little pick-me-up.  Am I right or am I right or am I right?
So I will give you a quick glimpse of things to come and then you’ll have something to look forward to!
Very soon (we’re going with vague here because, well, I don’t actually know when they’ll be ready) we will be having a guest post with Kathy Welsh, creator of Country Courier Magazine, who may have some opportunities for aspiring writers!
Also, possibly even more exciting (if you can imagine that) a guest post with Cori Doerrfeld, the talented author/illustrator of the new children’s picture book PENNY LOVES PINK.  Her post will include a contest for a free signed copy of PENNY!

Also, a guest post with Karen Orloff, author of the best-selling I WANNA IGUANA and the new I WANNA NEW ROOM!  Her post will include a contest for a free signed copy of I WANNA NEW ROOM!

Also (yes! even more!) an upcoming guest-post with Donna Farrell, children’s illustrator and creator of beautiful websites and blogs for children’s authors, illustrators, and others, which will discuss important design features to keep in mind when creating an internet presence.  Maybe we’ll think up a contest and prize to go with that too!
So now, aren’t you all feeling much better?  Filled with enthusiasm to head out to work in the frigid, snowy darkness?  (Well, maybe not that much better… :))
Here’s a little something to occupy your mind so you don’t think about how January it still is:
What kinds of games/contests do you like to play?  If we were having a game/contest on this blog, for example, say, to give away a copy of a book like PENNY :), what do you think would be fun?
Anyone who posts a comment with ideas will get an extra chance at PENNY or NEW ROOM (please specify your preference) for every useful unique contest idea they contribute.  (First one to list the idea gets the credit for that idea.)  That’s like a contest for contests!  So fire when ready – I’m open to all ideas!  (And Teri, I will count yours from back in December when you listed them in the Contest Contest post!)
Mwaa-ha-ha… I think we showed those January blues who is boss!

Thursday Thrills!

I know.  You can barely contain your excitement for today’s post.  I apologize if I’m responsible for keeping you up all night, tossing and turning, checking the clock every thirty seconds in hopes that it was morning so you could finally tune in and see who won the contest and what the surprise is 🙂

But you can stop champing at the bit.  The big moment has arrived….  Who knew Thursday could be this thrilling?

First, I am pleased to announce the winner of Monday’s Picture Book Game Contest!

(Drum roll please… Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!)

And the winner is…. Jenny!

Congratulations, Jenny, come on down!

Let’s show Jenny her prize.  In addition to the SLHill title of her choice, personally signed in any way she’d like, Jenny wins the admiration of her puzzle-solving peers, and the opportunity to have her name up in pink on this blog!  YAY, JENNY!!!  

(Jenny, please use the “email me” button in the right margin of the blog to let me know which book you’d like, how you want it signed, and what your mailing address is.  Well done!)

I think our other finalists deserve a moment of recognition for their stellar attempts, don’t you?  So we will celebrate them in runner-up orange:  Yay, Megan, Teri, and Diane!  Excellent work!

To everyone else, good try and don’t worry… there will be other opportunities to win soon.  You know perfectly well that I can’t resist making up contests 🙂

Now, for the surprise.  Really, could this day get any better?

The book trailer for April Fool, Phyllis! is at last up and running on YouTube!  Here’s the link:

April Fool, Phyllis! – Children’s Picture Book Trailer

Please turn the sound up so you can hear the catchy tune that goes with it (although I should warn you – if you’re like me, it’s liable to get stuck in your head for weeks :))

Please feel free to click “like” and share the link with every single person you know – I want to go viral 🙂  Wouldn’t that be awesome?  Probably there should be a book trailer award for homemade imovie trailers – like an Academy Award – only instead of the Oscar it could be the Phyllis… 🙂

Enjoy, everyone!  And don’t forget to join me here at 10:30 for The Writer’s Club where this morning’s topic will be… anything you feel like talking about!

Contest Update: Keep Those Entries Coming!

Nothing like a low pressure system bringing rain, ice, sleet, and snow to make everyone feel like they’d rather play a game then work.

Actually, now that I think of it, it’s possible the weather doesn’t have that much to do with it…

But anyway, check it out!  We have 4 finalists so far – 4 people who are so familiar with children’s picture books that they were able to solve the entire list.  Not to mention, a couple others who are doing pretty well.  I’m impressed!  (And in case you are wondering why you haven’t seen their lists, I have deliberately not posted their responses yet, lest you be overcome by an irresistible temptation to peek :))  Congratulations to Megan, Jenny, Teri, and Diane!  Who else is going to join them in the pantheon of contenders for a free book?  You still have 15 plus hours to get your entry in…

(And I must add, bonus points to Jenny who responded with a challenge of her own – clearly a puzzle junkie after my own heart!)

Get those entries in, folks.  Let’s give Megan, Jenny, Teri, and Diane a run for their money!  If you’re just tuning in, you will find all the information you need in Monday’s post – Blue Monday? Bah! Humbug! Play The Write Contest! – just scroll down 🙂

The winner will be announced TOMORROW!  I suggest a reduced intake of caffeine and chocolate today lest you find yourself uncontrollably excited.  Cake should be OK though… wheat (whole grain), eggs (protein), milk (calcium)… it’s practically health food 🙂

Ouch! A Hard Day for Punxsutawney Phyllis!

So, how’s everyone doing on yesterday’s contest?  Still hard at work, I hope?

I’ve received 2 attempts so far.  One person got 5 titles, but only 2 complete with author.  The other person got 14 completely correct – well done! (but in order to help you resist temptation, I have not published her post yet :))

Let’s give them some competition!  Remember, there’s a prize up for grabs.  If you win you can give it to a child, donate it to a classroom or library, or keep it for yourself 🙂  And I’ll give you another hint:  one of the answers is a COMPLETE giveaway.  If you don’t get that one, REALLY!

For anyone who didn’t see yesterday’s post, please scroll down and join the fun!  A contest is only a contest if people enter 🙂

Now, I have something truly horrifying to share with you…

(You think I’m kidding, but just wait until you see!)

Only a few days ago, when I was discussing the writer’s club, I mentioned my disappointment that Phyllis didn’t have a stuffedty in her honor.  Well, it turns out I was wrong.  She has one, but not created by me, or Holiday House, or Jeff Ebbeler.  That would have been awesome and cute.

Apparently the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce has decided to embrace the idea that Punxsutawney Phil has a wife named Punxsutawney Phyllis (I ask you!) and, for the first time ever, has created a plush toy in her honor.  You have to see it to truly feel my pain.  Prepare yourself (seriously!) and click the link below:

Punxsutawney Phyllis doll

Poor Phyllis.  Her name has been besmirched.  Really, I think the only solution is for me (or Holiday House or Jeff) to make a real Phyllis stuffedty.  She should be cute and furry, with her little green overalls with the yellow flower.

Problem is, I have no idea how to go about that.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Phyllis’s honor is at stake.  She needs to be redeemed or she’s going to have a hard time holding her head up in public!

If anyone is interested, there is also an article about the wife.  Please feel free to read it… and then write to the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce and tell them they’ve got it all wrong!  Phyllis is Phil’s great niece, she’s really cute, she already has a book about her, and she deserves a plush toy that will do her proud!  (And the Chamber of Commerce could get a lot more sales and good publicity out of a children’s book and cute toy… just sayin’!)

Shame on Punxsutawney!  But they still have time to get it right… 🙂

Now, thinking caps on everyone, and back to the contest.  There’s a prize to be won!

Blue Monday? Bah! Humbug! Play the Write Contest!

When I was in school, back in the 1900s, I liked English (surprise, surprise!)

Math, not so much.  I mean, seriously, what are you supposed to do with this?

Well, since you asked, that is the formula for calculating the most depressing day of the year, whereby Sky Travel hoped to book a lot of vacations.

Taking into account the weather, debt, time since the holidays, failure of New Year’s resolutions, motivational level, the need to take action, and the fact that it’s Monday, the formula doesn’t actually work and is completely meaningless in mathematical terms.  And yet it still allows us to know that today, January 17, 2011, is the Most Depressing Day of this Year.  See how useful math is(n’t)?

Even though it’s totally bogus, it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Now that people know which day they’re supposed to be most depressed, they follow along like sheep.

But here’s what I think.  Bah!  Humbug!  I don’t want you to be depressed!  It’s a beautiful day (even though it’s zero!) and I have something to cheer you up!  A game!  With a prize!

Below is a list of (I think pretty) well-known picture books and their authors.  The trick is, all you get is initials.  For example:  CW by EBW (which would, of course, be Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – yes, I realize that’s not a picture book, I’m just giving you an example – I don’t want to give away the farm!)

Get it?

So figure them all out and list them in the comments (and no cheating! – we’re on the honor system here!  Keep your eyes on your own paper because other people might be wrong, and if you copy you will not have the satisfaction of a job well done and you will feel guilty should you win!)

If you get them all, you will be eligible to win a free signed copy of whichever of my books you want (although if you choose April Fool, Phyllis you’ll have to wait a bit because I don’t have any yet :))  This is assuming anyone plays and that at least one person gets all the answers.

Since I realize not everyone reads all blogs every day, you have until midnight Wednesday January 19 to get your answers in.  You may ask for an extension if need be.  Since I am in charge, and exceptionally nice, I might consider it. And I’ll give you one hint:  these are all traditional picture books – not novelty books or early readers –  and they are all personal favorites (and that was actually two hints!)

So, you’re not depressed anymore, are you?  You’re energized, motivated, and gung-ho to beat everyone else to the finish line!

Good luck everyone!  Ready, set, GO!

1.  CG by HAR
2.  BAJFF by RH
3.  L,L,C by BW
4.  WTWTA by MS
5.  OBAG by PR
6.  M by LB
7.  FNATPP by JO’C
8.  MWFD by RM
9.  PP by SLH
10.  MMAHSS by VLB
11.  HTDD by GZ
12.  AATT,H,NG,VBD by JV
13.  TPE by CVA
14.  TVHC by EC
15.  TRF by MP
16.  TSOF by ML
17.  LPPP by KH

(P.S.  It’s nearly 10:30 – time for The Writer’s Club – so grab your coffee and come on over and say what’s on your mind this morning!  I’m thinking about PLOT – and how hard it is!)

Contest Contest

My poor little contest from last Wednesday is suffering an inferiority complex.

Here’s how a contest works, my friends.  You have to ENTER!

Thus far (and today being the original deadline), only 2 brave souls have ventured entries – not enough for a contest.  And so my little contest feels sad and unloved 😦 and is threatening to sulk and possibly gnaw the furniture.

I find myself wondering, do you, my faithful readers, not like contests? or was the prize not motivating enough? or was it the wrong kind of contest?

Please share your thoughts!  I want the contests to be fun!

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I have a bit of a competitive streak.  I myself cannot resist contests, games, or challenges of most kinds (although if anyone challenged me to join a Polar Bear Club – you know, the kind where you cut a hole in the ice on New Year’s Day and take a swim? – I would turn that down no problem!)

Because I like contests, I am announcing a NEW CONTEST – a contest contest if you will:  submit ideas for contests you think would be fun and prizes you think would be motivating.  Whoever wins, we’ll use your ideas and I will credit you by adding your name to the contest title (e.g. Mary’s Famous Character Contest)!

Meanwhile, I will extend the deadline of the original contest (see post from December 8) through Sunday Dec. 19.  If I wait any longer than that, the winner won’t get their prize in time for the holidays.  Please brighten my sad little contest’s day by submitting at least a few more entries.  You can think of it as your daily contribution of holiday cheer!

Looking forward to your ideas!

Now, Here’s A Challenge!

Hi Folks!  I had a totally different idea in mind for today’s post when I stumbled across a game!

I cannot resist games!  So, I’m passing the fun along to you!

The game was started by Michelle McLean:
In 100 words or less, write a story using the words ride, post, soulless, local, dehydrator, girdle. Your story may take on any form you wish. The only two rules are 1. you can’t simply list the 6 words; you must actually craft them into something creative, and 2. you must use ALL six of them.

Wow!  Some challenge, right?  Here’s my attempt:

It was 3 AM when Betty’s car conked out.
“Darn this cold!” she groused.
She posted a note on the windshield for Sheriff Goodbody, then she pulled her hat low, wrapped her scarf an extra time around, hitched up her girdle, and started walking.
Clunk!  Cough!  Hank Bowman’s beat-up pick-up emerged from the darkness and grumbled to a stop beside Betty.
“Need a ride?” he asked.
“Much obliged!” said Betty.  “The local bakery can’t be without holiday cookies on Christmas Eve!”

The truck was hot as a dehydrator, playing soulless music on the radio.  Betty switched to carols and smiled.  (100 on the nose!)

You can add to the fun by seeing what other people wrote.  Check out Shannon, Cole, and Abby!

Then make it even more fun – write your own and post it in the comments.  I can’t wait to see what people come up with!

Ready, set, GO!