In Which Phyllis Bestows Prizes For Her Birthday Bonanza Winners!

Although it is neither George Washington’s nor Abraham Lincoln’s birthday today, we are nonetheless celebrating President’s Day.

I’m sure this makes sense to someone.

Possibly the person who thought up the plan to celebrate the birthdays of two presidents on a day that was no one’s birthday.

We don’t care though, because around here we’re just always glad of an excuse for a day off from school and/or work, and also of an excuse for cake!

Because I think George and Abe would like us to have some cake in their honor, don’t you?  Phyllis picked this one, very Abe and George!

[okay, so my internet is being very persnickety and won’t upload a photo tonight, so imagine, if you will, a luscious lemon layer cake with blueberry lavender buttercream icing in a vivid shade of purple that would definitely be right up George and Abe’s alley – and if you follow the link below you can see it!  Phyllis and I are thinking Spring!]

Lemon Layer Cake with Blueberry Lavender Buttercream http://thewholesomepursuit.com/2014/04/23/lemon-layer-cake-with-blueberry-lavender-buttercream/

Go ahead!  Dig in!

It is not Phyllis’s birthday either, although she is hoping that when she becomes President her birthday, which is also not on this day, will be included with George’s and Abe’s.  Phyllis feels that a little marmot in the White House would be a good thing, and I can’t disagree 🙂

So even though it is no one’s birthday today, we are having cake and celebrating the selection of the prize winners from Phyllis’s Birthday Bonanza!

Are you ready?

Let me start by saying that it was not easy to choose winners.

For starters, all the entries were amazing and marvelous and enrapturing.  In addition, Phyllis felt strongly that all 19 should receive 1st Prize.

“You can’t give 19 people first prize,” I said.

“Maybe YOU can’t,” said Phyllis, “but I can!”

“No, what I mean is that if you make a 19-way tie for first place then it’s like no one won!”

“No, it’s like 19 people won.”

“19 people can’t win!”

“Yes they CAN!”

“No they CAN’T!”

“I say they can and I’m giving them all the Punxsutawney Phyllis Pancake of Awesomeness!”

“Oh, well who wouldn’t want to win a Pancake of Awesomeness?!”

“No one,” said Phyllis smugly.  “That’s why it’s the perfect prize.”

Therefore let it be known on this 16th Day of February 2015 (which is not anyone’s birthday) that Julie A, Karen, Sarah C, Jilanne, Kathy, Stacy, Catherine, Julie R-Z, Wendy, Michelle, Heather, Erik & Josie, Donna, the Hoeft Family, Linda, Vivian, Suzy, Robyn, Sarah M, and Christie all get a pancake from Phyllis.

I’m not really sure what to say about that.

I hope you like it?!

“Now that we’ve got that pancake business out of the way,” I said to Phyllis, “who were really your favorites?  There must have been some among that talented pack that really stood out to you.”

“Well, now that you mention it,” said Phyllis, “there were a few!”

So, without further ado, here are Phyllis’s selections for top placement in her Birthday Bonanza!  She is uncomfortable labeling them 1st, 2nd, etc. because she loved them all so much!

The Hoeft Family – for their beautifully written, illustrated, performed, and videoed Happy Birthday Wish.

Stacy – for her amazing quilling which Phyllis had never heard of before but thinks made her look beautiful and also was fabulously videoed.

Robyn – because Mr. Ed said, “you mean the world to me Phyll” in such an endearing way and had a whole Phyllis wall of wonder in his stall – what’s not to love about a video with a horse in it?!

Julie A – for her amazing poem that included not only Phyllis but all her literary brothers and sisters… and trains and airplanes.

Erik & Josie – for their awesome video which included singing AND costumes and was just an all-out funkadellic performance – and Phyllis wants it to be known that she is Super Funky!

So Bekah, Stacy, Robyn, Julie A, and Erik & Josie, please Email Me to sort out your prizes.

Up for grabs are:

 – a generously donated signed copy of SUBSTITUTE GROUNDHOG by Pat Miller along with an audio recording!

 – a signed copy of PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (should there happen to be anyone among you who wants one and doesn’t already have one)

 – any picture book of your choice (recent titles I have enjoyed and would recommend include Blue On Blue, The Most Magnificent Thing, and Gaston.)

 – any MG or YA book of your choice should you happen to be a winner who would find something more at your reading and interest level more to your liking 🙂

Congratulations to all our entrants!  You all did such a wonderful job, and Phyllis and I enjoyed your efforts SO MUCH!!!  Thank you ALL for making Phyllis’s birthday and 10th Anniversary SO MUCH FUN!!!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!  And those of you who have the day off – celebrate like no one’s watching! 🙂

Punxsutawney Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary Birthday Bonanza!!!

WOO HOO!

It’s Groundhog Day!

And you know what that means, right?

First of all, it means we have an announcement to make!

And that is that Punxsutawney Phyllis, Sage of Sages, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinaire did set forth from her burrow on Blueberry Hill this Monday February 2, 2015 at 7:25 AM and declare, “Six more weeks of winter!”

Obviously with the howling winds and heavy, blowing snow there was no possibility of seeing her shadow, but Phyllis’s weather sense (possibly motivated by her desire to get right back in the burrow!) saw no signs of an early spring.  We are disappointed because we are tired of winter, but we are eating strawberries to make us think of warm summer days 🙂

Second, that means it’s my little Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary Birthday Bonanza!!!

illustration copyright Jeff Ebbeler 2005

“We’re having a party!  We’re having a party!” [That’s Phyllis.  She’s a little excited.]  “We need CAKE!!!” [She’s a girl after my own heart :)]

I said, “How about cupcakes?”

Phyllis said, “Something BIGGER!”

So I said, “How about this?”

Phyllis said, “But there’s no ICING!”

So we settled on this:

and in case you are wondering, those little brown things are
groundhog graham crackers… which makes this a Groundhog Day Cake 🙂

“Now we need festive balloons!” said Phyllis.

“Here!” said I.

 “You’re kidding, of course,” said Phyllis.

“What?  It’s blue!  It’s pretty!”

“It’s only ONE!” said Phyllis.  “ONE is not festive!”

“Fine,” I said, ever accommodating.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that,” said Phyllis.  “Otherwise I might regurgitate my recently ingested natal day pancakes.  What do the words GROUNDHOG and BIRTHDAY mean to you?”

“You’re being just a tad demanding, Phyllis,” I said patiently.  “But I’ll humor you.  Will these do?”

“At last!” said Phyllis.  “And now, for the most important part…  my POEM!”

“Uh, yeah, about that… I’m not quite done yet.”

“WHAT???!!!”

“I want it to be perfect,” I explained.  “After all, it’s for you.  It can’t be just any old thrown together thing!”

“That’s true,” agreed Phyllis.

“But I’ve got to finish it quick.  Everyone’s going to be here soon.”

“Also true,” said Phyllis.

“So it would be helpful,” I said pointedly, “if you would be quiet and let me concentrate.”

“Okay,” whispered Phyllis.

I tapped my pen against the table top.

AN ODE TO PHYLLIS

I wrote across the top of the paper.

“Good start!” said Phyllis.

“Thank you.”

I tapped some more.

There once was a groundhog named Phyllis

“Stop,” said Phyllis.

“What do you mean, stop?”

“Nothing rhymes with Phyllis.  Believe me.  I know.  That’s a nonstarter.”

“How about There once was a groundhog named Phyllis/Who made so much noise that her poem will never get written?

“That doesn’t rhyme,” sniffed Phyllis.  But she stopped talking.

tap tap tap tap tap

In the hollow of old Punxsutawney
Lived Phyllis, whose fur was so . . .

“STOP!” said Phyllis.

“What now?”

“What is it with you and these impossible words?  NOTHING rhymes with Punxsutawney!  You’re supposed to be writing me a poem!  Poems are supposed to RHYME!”

“For your information, Miss Smarty Pants, I was going to say ‘whose fur was so tawny‘, but forget it.”

“Yeah, well, that’s pretty much cheating.  Punxsutawney and tawny – it’s practically rhyming the same word with itself.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be outside looking for your shadow or something?”

“It’s too early,” said Phyllis comfortably, helping herself to a strawberry.

I sighed.

tap tap tap tap tap tap tap

Oh, Phyllis, you forecasting marmot

“Er.  Ahem.  I don’t mean to interrupt, but seriously, marmot?  Where can you possibly go with that?”

“Harm it?!” I suggested.

“No…” said Phyllis, oblivious.  “I don’t think so.  And I don’t think you’re quite getting the sense of an ode.  You’re supposed to be praising me.  You have to set the mood.”

“I’ll set a mood all right.”

Phyllis ignored me and gazed out the window.  “Maybe something like:

Phyllis, your fur is so fine
Your eyes sparkle like finest wine…”

Hacksputtercough! I’m sorry.  I just had to gag a little there.”

“It’s better than yours!”

“How do you know?  You won’t let me get past the first line!”

“Here’s what we’ll do,” said Phyllis.  “I’LL write a poem and YOU write a poem and then we’ll see whose is better.”

“You’re going to write an ode to yourself?”

“Who better?  I know me and love me well!”

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

tap tap tap tap tap tap tap

“Stop tapping your pen!”

“Stop talking!”

Hmmpphh!

*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“I’ve got one,” said Phyllis.  She cleared her throat and read,

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I can write poems
Way better than you!

“Well in that case,” I shot back,

Two poems diverged in a snowy wood
And I,
I chose the better one…
Which was not yours!

“Hmm…” Phyllis said primly.  “I don’t think we’re there yet.  Ready, set, write another one!”

*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“How about this?” said Phyllis.
so much depends
upon
a brown groundhog
seeking shadows
beside a green
pine tree
“Hey, that’s not bad!” I said.
“Let’s hear yours,” said Phyllis.
Phyllis is the thing without feathers (I began)
“What kind of thing is that to say?” demanded Phyllis.  “I’m a groundhog!  Of COURSE I don’t have FEATHERS!”
“You’re interrupting!” I grumped.  “Are you going to let me read it or not?”
“Fine.  Read. But I don’t think there’s much hope for this one.”  She snickered.
I glared, and started again:
Phyllis is the thing without feathers
That perches in the burrow
And searches the air with her nose
for signs of spring.
Phyllis patted my hand.  “It’s okay that you’re not very good at this.  You’re trying.  That’s what’s important.”  She stuffed a strawberry in my mouth.  “Let’s keep practicing.  Maybe you’ll get better.”
*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“Done!” I said.

“I was done first three times in a row,” said Phyllis.  “That means you have to read first.”

Really, it is hard to follow groundhog logic.  Actually, groundhog logic is probably an oxymoron.

I sighed.  “Okay.  But let me read the whole thing.  Don’t interrupt.”

“I would never do that,” said Phyllis sweetly.  She sat up on her haunches and prepared to listen attentively.

AN ODE TO PHYLLIS
by Susanna

Beauty, wit, charm, grace
Fuzzy little marmot face
Unsurpassed intelligence
Never-equaled weather sense
Even though you’re not a boy
You’re Punxsutawney’s pride and joy
My furry friend, you know it’s true
There’s no one else on earth like you!

Phyllis jumped in my lap and gave me a hug.  “See?  I KNEW you could do it!  Now I’ll read mine.”

ODE TO PHYLLIS
by Phyllis

Lavender’s blue dilly dilly lavender’s green
It’s really true dilly dilly I should be queen
Lavender’s green dilly dilly lavender’s blue
I’m a Punxsutawney dream-come-true.

“Ye-ah…,” I said.  “You should have quit while you were ahead.”

“Yeah, probably,” said Phyllis.  “But never mind.  Happy birthday to me!”

Happy Birthday, dear Phyllis,
Happy Birthday to you!!!

And now, Phyllis and I are looking forward with GREAT anticipation to reading YOUR poems for Phyllis, and hopefully seeing some videos too (no pressure, Erik) since we totally failed on that score!

If you wrote a poem for Phyllis, and/or have photographs, drawings, videos, or other fun feature accompaniments, please add your post-specific blog link to the list below, or post your poem etc in the comments, or Email it to me and I’ll post it for you so that we can all enjoy everyone’s creativity!

Maybe Phyllis and I will pick some top finishers, or maybe we’ll have a vote later in the week, but either way, some people will win a signed copy of PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (if there’s anyone left on earth who doesn’t already have one or who wants another for someone), a signed copy of Pat Miller’s wonderful SUBSTITUTE GROUNDHOG along with audio CD!, and there will be some other non-groundhog-day-related picture books up for grabs too.

Happy Groundhog Day to everyone!  May spring come early in your hearts, even if the weather outside fails to comply! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

And please don’t miss Julie’s amazing and clever poem in the comments! HERE
And Karen’s delightful poem HERE
And Sarah’s wonderful ode HERE
And Jilanne’s terrific limerick HERE

The 2014 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

Happy Friday, Everyone!
Yes, yes!  I know what day it is!
Normally, I would tease you for a while and pretend I didn’t know what brought you to this neck of the woods or what you were after, but not today.
Nope.
Today I’m going to get straight to the point.
No beating around the bush.
Nosirree Bob!
I’m going to give you what you came for . . .
. . .  just as soon as we come up with an answer to that eternal burning question: whose idea was tinsel anyway and does anyone actually use it?
Because seriously, that stuff is as bad as Easter grass!  It gets everywhere!
In your hair!  In the carpet!  On the dogs…
And who has the patience to separate it out into single strands to drape artfully over the limbs of your Christmas tree?  (And let’s face it, it does not have the same effect if you just glob it on in clumps…!)
And we’re not even going to TALK about if you have cats!  By golly!  That’s just a disaster waiting to happen!
You’re all writers!  Let your imagination run amok with the idea of cats, tinsel, Christmas trees…
Yikes!  Truly, I shudder to think!
So anyway, where was I?
Oh, yes!
I was not beating around the bush.
I wonder what bush it is that I’m not beating around?
Is it the same as the bush in “Here we go ’round the mulberry bush?”
Or maybe the bush that a bird in the hand is worth two birds in?
I’m guessing if there are two birds they are turtle doves, because that’s how the song goes.  You know, “On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves…”  Yeah.  Like that.
Except not a partridge, because he was in a pear tree and we are certainly not beating around the pear tree!
Boy!  All this not beating around things is making me a little dizzy!
So maybe I’ll stop and just tell you about

The 4th Annual Holiday Contest!!!

WINNERS!!!

🙂

I was once again thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  Really!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!

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

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another.

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

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole:
     Leslie Tribble for The Perfect Christmas Tree
     Anne Bromley for Christmas Eve At Gate 25   
     Lauri Meyers for Jimmy Cantore Steals Christmas

2. For Fabulous Fun Kid-Friendly Stories (That Sadly Fell Short On The Weather Element But Were Too Good Not To Recognize!):
     Stacy Jensen for How Do I Fix This?
     Bridget Magee for Dear Santa
     Margaret Greanias for A Little Christmas Wish
     Pam Vaughan for My Snowman Is Sick
     Jim Jones for Snowflake…A Christmas Tail

3. For We-Loved-It-But-Thought-The Humor-Was-A-Little-Too-Grown-Up 🙂
      (and seriously, these were terrific entries, well written and funny!)
     Mike Allegra for Carbon Christmas
     Heather Preusser for Dreaming Of A White Christmas  
     Kristen Foote for Polar Warming
     Hilary (Swann?) for No Sweat Santa
     Kathy Halsey for Whether Or Not To Ho-Ho-Ho
  
4. For Sweet Stories That Exemplified Christmas Spirit:
     Sharon Wilson for A Little Christmas Miracle
     Patricia Corcoran for The Christmas Miracle
     Sally Suehler for Just Ice And Snow
   
5. For Fantastic Word Play:
     Amy Ozay for Rain, dear

6.  For Best First Line:
     James Lloyd for Pablo’s First Christmas
   
7. For Best-Written Original Point Of View:
     Carol Lescinski for The Best Christmas (excellent stuffed dog POV!)
     Summer Hinderer for The Snow Miracle (POV of gingerbread people in Gingerbreadville!)

8. For Best Action Story:
     Caren Cantrell for Northern Exposure

and

9.  The Keep Up The Great Writing Award goes to:
     Ms. Leach’s First Grade for Hopeful Christmas Eve
     And first graders, your special prize will be Happily Ever Madlibs and Once Upon A Madlibs, which we hope you will enjoy doing as a class on days when you can’t go out for recess or something 🙂 as well as 2 StoryWorld Create-A-Story Kits: Quests And Adventures and Fairy Magic which can be used in lots of fun ways to inspire writing and storytelling (and for even more fun you can pull cards from both decks to expand possibilities!)  Thank you for writing another wonderful story for all of us to enjoy!

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about)

For Kindle:

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard OR

The Easy Way To Write Picture Books That Sell by Robyn Parnell OR

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Ultimate Fiction Thesaurus by Sam Stone OR

In paperback:
Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell OR

The Six Senses In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Bleak To Bold Narrative by Jessica Bell OR

Adverbs And Cliches In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions Of Adverbs & Cliches Into Gourmet Imagery by Jessica Bell OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2014 HOLIDAY CONTEST as voted on by you!!!
rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat
DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!
In First Place
Winner of the whole shebang…
who gets first choice of all the prizes…
Randi Sonenshine
for The Rumbledy Jumbledy Holiday Feast!!!
Congratulations, Randi, on a fabulous and fun entry that was clearly very popular!!! 🙂
In Second Place
Elaine Kiely Kearns
for ‘Twas The Stormy Night Before Christmas
Congratulations, Elaine!!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Randy makes her choice.
In Third Place
Katey Howes
for Snow Swirls
Congratulations, Katey!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Randy and Elaine choose theirs.
In Fourth Place
Julie Abery
for Santa’s Satnav
Congratulations, Julie!  You get to pick after Randy, Elaine and Katey.
In Fifth Place
Anika Denise
for Little Christmas, BIG SNOW
Congratulations, Anika!  You get to pick after Randy, Elaine, Katey, and Julie.
In Sixth Place
Bronwyn Deaver
for Jack Quits
Congratulations, Bronwyn!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂
In Seventh Place
Sylvia Liu
for Polar Woes
Congratulations, Sylvia!  You get to pick next 🙂
In Eighth Place
Amelia Shearer
for The Night The Sun Stayed Up
Congratulations, Amelia!  You get to pick a prize after Sylvia!
In Ninth Place, we have a tie! between
Johnell DeWitt                      and                      Teresa Robeson
for A Djiboutian Christmas                              Sandstorm Santa
Congratulations, Johnell and Teresa!  You get to pick next!
In Eleventh Place
Kirsten Bock
for Hurricane Coal
And in Twelfth Place, rounding out the top dozen of these amazing finalists and the 100 Holiday Contest Entries for 2014…
Carol Ann Martin
for Wish You’d Been Here

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

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause, a tinsel parade (clumpy or stringy, however you like it :)), and a large amount of Figgy Pudding (which truthfully I don’t know what that is, but apparently it’s something we all want some of :))

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

As I… hmm… maybe didn’t mention…?, I’m taking a little blogging break so I can spend time with my family – I’ve got cookies to bake, Christmas presents to shop for and wrap, and my sister and her family are arriving form Georgia on Monday! 🙂 –  so I will see you all in a couple weeks – most probably Wednesday January 7th for Would You Read It unless I have something really important to impart on Monday the 5th… but I’m not really foreseeing that 🙂

So now, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday filled with love, laughter, joy, and family, and a happy, healthy and successful new year!  It is a pleasure and a privilege to get to spend time with you all, and I’m happy and grateful to know each and every one of you!

Looking forward to all the things we’ll do in 2015!

Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!

Love,
Susanna


The Prizes!!!
– A picture book manuscript read and critique by Shari Dash Greenspan, Editor of the multi-award winning Flashlight Press!  I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter HERE!
 – A picture book manuscript read and critique by Jennifer Mattson, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
 – Enrollment in Renee LaTulippe‘s highly praised and recommended Lyrical Language Lab Course (in a month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and Renee) ($249 value!)
 – Enrollment in Jon Bard and Laura Backes’s fantastic Kindle Kids Mastery Course ($197 value!)
 – A website or blog design or redesign by Arturo Alviar.  Arturo will design (or redesign if you already have one that needs updating or a new look) a website or blog for the winner of this prize. The site will be built on WordPress so that after he is done designing it, the winner can manage it themselves with ease. Arturo will include a Home/Welcome page, an About Me/Bio page, a Works/Books/Gallery section, and a Contact section (4 pages total), as well as a blog section if the winner would like to have that integrated with the new site. Different organizations can also be made, for example if the winner would like a “Services” section with separate “School Visits” and “Critiques” pages, or a “Works” section divided into “Black and White” and “Color” illustration galleries. The winner can choose any of the WordPress themes (if they choose one that isn’t free, the cost of the theme will be covered by them), or have Arturo choose a theme based on their vision, and Arturo will modify it based on their color and layout preferences (some themes will have more constraints than others). Arturo can also design a personalized banner or header image to customize the website.  If you already have a website and/or blog and prefer a redesign to update, refresh, or just redecorate, Arturo is willing to work with Blogger, Wix, Drupal, and WordPress.
 – Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in March or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 – A picture book manuscript critique by fabulous author Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE and the forthcoming SOPHIE’S ANIMAL PARADE.
– A picture book manuscript critique from Katy Duffield, author of more than 20 books for children including Farmer McPeepers And His Missing Milk Cows (Cooper Square Publishing 2003) and upcoming titles Loud Lula (Two Lions) illustrated by Mike Boldt and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too (Candlewick) illustrated by K.G. Campbell.
 – A picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!
Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 
 – 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, a signed copy of Boy And Poi Poi Puppy by Linda Boyden, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 – a pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards
 – another pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards

Ho! Ho! Ho! The 4th Annual Holiday Contest Is Here!

WOO HOO!!!  Let the joyous news be spread!  It’s time for. . .

The 4th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


The Contest:  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) in which wild weather impacts the holidays!  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, but no more than 350!  Title not included in word count.)  Any kind of weather will do: sun, rain, sleet, heatwave, blizzard, tsunami, monsoon, hurricane, hail, tornado, etc!  Weather may be atypical for your setting (rain in Maine, frost in Florida), it may be extreme (blizzard instead of regular snow, drought instead of lush greenery), or it may be unheard of (spring flowers in Antarctica, snow in the Sahara, bathing suit weather at the North Pole), but whatever you choose, make us feel the impact on the holidays!  The wild weather may be a hindrance, a wish-come-true, a threat, a pleasant surprise, etc.  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The wilder and wackier 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 right now this very second and Friday December 12 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below.  This post will remain up through Sunday December 14 (no WYRI or PPBF this week) so there will be plenty of time for everyone to post their entries and visit each other and enjoy all the other entries.  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comment section below.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judging:  My lovely assistant(s) 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 15 or Tuesday December 16 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 18 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 19.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity of weather use in plot, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.
The Prizes!:  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 10th place.  In addition to the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 4th Annual Holiday Contest, the following AMAZING prizes will be awarded: (items in color are links for more info!)

 – A picture book manuscript read and critique by Shari Dash Greenspan, Editor of the multi-award winning Flashlight Press!  I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter HERE!
 – A picture book manuscript read and critique by Jennifer Mattson, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
 – Enrollment in Renee LaTulippe‘s highly praised and recommended Lyrical Language Lab Course (in a month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and Renee) ($249 value!)
 – Enrollment in Jon Bard and Laura Backes’s fantastic Kindle Kids Mastery Course ($197 value!)
 – A website or blog design or redesign by Arturo Alviar.  Arturo will design (or redesign if you already have one that needs updating or a new look) a website or blog for the winner of this prize. The site will be built on WordPress so that after he is done designing it, the winner can manage it themselves with ease. Arturo will include a Home/Welcome page, an About Me/Bio page, a Works/Books/Gallery section, and a Contact section (4 pages total), as well as a blog section if the winner would like to have that integrated with the new site. Different organizations can also be made, for example if the winner would like a “Services” section with separate “School Visits” and “Critiques” pages, or a “Works” section divided into “Black and White” and “Color” illustration galleries. The winner can choose any of the WordPress themes (if they choose one that isn’t free, the cost of the theme will be covered by them), or have Arturo choose a theme based on their vision, and Arturo will modify it based on their color and layout preferences (some themes will have more constraints than others). Arturo can also design a personalized banner or header image to customize the website.  If you already have a website and/or blog and prefer a redesign to update, refresh, or just redecorate, Arturo is willing to work with Blogger, Wix, Drupal, and WordPress.
 – Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in March or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 – A picture book manuscript critique by fabulous author Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE and the forthcoming SOPHIE’S ANIMAL PARADE.

– A picture book manuscript critique from Katy Duffield, author of more than 20 books for children including Farmer McPeepers And His Missing Milk Cows (Cooper Square Publishing 2003) and upcoming titles Loud Lula (Two Lions) illustrated by Mike Boldt and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too (Candlewick) illustrated by K.G. Campbell.
 – A picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!
Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 

 – 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, a signed copy of Boy And Poi Poi Puppy by Linda Boyden, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 – a pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards
 – another pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards

The Contest Winner will have first choice of the prizes.  2nd place will have next choice of what’s left and so on.  (I’m doing it this way in the hopes that no one will get something they already have and also because I think all the prizes are fabulous and I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel less valued by giving them as 6th place as opposed to 1st.)

So let’s get the Holiday Party started! 🙂

I want to warn you in advance that this may actually be the worst story I’ve ever written – embarrassing for me, but very comforting for anyone who is worried about the quality of their story – I can say with complete confidence that ANYTHING you write will be better than this sample! 🙂

Almost Not Christmas
(332 words)

Three days before Christmas a southerly breeze
Heated the earth to one hundred degrees!
“My goodness!” said Santa.  “This just isn’t cool!”
And he sent all his reindeer to chill in the pool.

The heat wave refused to let go of its grip
In time for his once-a-year Christmas Eve trip.
So as Santa took off for his round-the-world flight
He clucked to his team and sang into the night:
“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet! On Cupid! On Donder and Blitzen!
Let’s hope we can get all our Christmas chores done
Without melting like popsicles left in the sun!”

But HEAT didn’t trouble St. Nick as he drove.
As his journey continued, the temperature dove.
And YOU know what happens when warm and cold meet –
— Fog tiptoes in on its little cat feet!

At dawn Christmas morning young children stopped short
When they heard this unthinkable Special Report:
“This just in! Here’s the hot-off-the-presses news scoop!
Santa is lost in that murky pea soup!”

Santa lost? When he’d battled that wild weather night
To ensure each child’s Christmas was merry and bright?
From North Pole to South, from New York to Japan
Christmas morn was abandoned to think up a plan.

In pajamas or nightgowns, in socks or bare feet,
Kids spilled from warm houses and met in the street.
“Santa comes through for us year after year.
It’s our turn to give him some Christmastime cheer!”

Puerto Toro* to Nunavuk* in a straight line
They climbed to their roofs with whatever would shine.
They lit up a beacon as bright as could be
With candles and glowsticks and lights from their tree.
An arrow of light that would gleam through the gloam
So Santa could finally find his way home.

“It’s official!” the newsfolk were happy to say.
“St. Nick made it back with his reindeer and sleigh!”
At last, filled with joy, kids began to unwrap
And Santa? He took a long afternoon nap!

*In case you’re wondering, Puerto Toro, Chile is the nearest settlement to the South Pole, and Alert, Nunavuk is the nearest to the North Pole 🙂

I have another equally bad half-finished story in prose that I might swap out for this one at some point during the week if I just can’t stand it any more 🙂

So now!  Is everyone filled with confidence about their entries?  I certainly hope so after that display!  Never let it be said that I’m not willing to make a fool of myself for you guys 🙂  It just proves how much I love you 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of your (much better!) stories!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still 4+ days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet and want to join the fun.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

Don’t miss the 37 fabulous entries in the comment section! Click on the names or titles to go to the story.  Please note that it takes a minute to load.  And please also note that clicking on these links will allow you to read the story and leave your own comment, but not see previous comments left on that story… I don’t know why… so if you want to see all the comments left on the story, you’ll have to scroll through the whole comment section.

Melissa – On Top Of Hot Cocoa
Suzannah – The Christmas Storm
Kimberly – We Knit You A Merry Christmas
Anne – Christmas Eve At Gate 25
Rosa – My Unicorns Fought The Mean Storm
Gina – A Christmas Prayer
Kristen – Maple Syrup Meltdown
Zainab – Abe’s Cloud
Bronwyn – Jack Quits
Julie – Santa’s Satnav
Kristen – Polar Warming
Jim – Snowflake: A Christmas Tail
Laura – Mordecai’s Hanukkah Miracle
Sharon – Boomer’s First White Christmas
Rachel – A Christmas Miracle
Carol – The Best Christmas
Hilary – No Sweat Santa
Amy – Rain, dear
Tracie – The Under The Weather Weatherman
Kirsten – Hurricane Coal
Anne – What Will Santa Do?
Pam – My Snowman Is Sick
Carol Ann – Wish You’d Been Here
Nina – Only Mermaids Can Find A Christmas Tree In The Sea
Sharon – A Little Christmas Miracle
Ruth – Harry And Genie
Marty – Countdown To Midnight
Rene – Best Christmas Ever!
Angela – A Snowy Night
Patricia – The Christmas Miracle
Susan – Libby’s Blizzard Gift
Charlotte – Hanukkah At Gramma Golda’s House
Kim – The Great Sleigh Ride
Heather – Dreaming Of A White Christmas
Summer – The Snow Miracle
Amelia – The Night The Sun Stayed Up
Sally – Just Ice And Snow

It’s December First! – Do You Know What That Means?

Good Morning and Happy December, Everyone!

You’re probably all surprised I’m posting today, given that my Monday posts have been practically nonexistent  extremely sporadic  somewhat occasional since the summer.
I’m surprised too!
I had no idea I’d be here!
I thought I’d be taking Princess Blue Kitty to get her oil changed, but no!  Here I am!
Because you know what I realized over the weekend (being the extremely Aware and Observant person I am)?
Today is December 1st!
And that makes today . . .
. . . my 4th Blogiversary!
I couldn’t very well let that go by without even a little whispered yippee! 🙂
It’s hard to believe that a mere four years ago this blog was nothing but a newborn whippersnapper, whose little cries for attention went pretty much universally unheard and unacknowledged.  And look at it now!  4 years old… and still pretty much a voice in the wilderness 🙂 but lucky enough to have made some loyal and beloved friends! 🙂
Since I spent most of last week driving Princess Blue Kitty through the Berkshires to Beantown, and entertaining a houseful of family, and barely online at all (due in large part to having no internet for days because of the snow), and hence missed most of the Thanksgiving posts that were up around the web from all you guys, I mostly wanted to take the opportunity of my blogiversary day to say how much I enjoy getting to spend time with everyone who visits my blog, what wonderful, amazing people I think you all are, how grateful I am for the fact that you come to visit so dependably, so ready to take part in whatever is going on, so generous with your time, your wisdom, and your good humor, and how very, very glad I am to know you all!  Thank you all, because really it’s you who make this blog what it is!
Here’s a little present for you.  Open it up, and inside is the thing you would most like to have today.  It can be anything from 10 minutes of peace and quiet to a book contract – you get to choose 🙂
Whatever it is, ENJOY! 🙂
(And feel free to tell us in the comments what was in your gift box! Health and well-being of your loved ones and yourself is automatically assumed :))

ALSO!  Here is a special gift for you and the little ones in your life!  Teresa Schaefer has designed a fun activity for the days leading up to Christmas!

What she has prepared is 24 coloring pages: one to be revealed each day of advent. Other than Christmas images for children, there is no religious content. The idea is to give children something to be busy with as they wait and count each day until Christmas. She calls it her Christmas Advent Coloring Countdown. All parents need to do is go to her website:  www.teresamischaefer.com  Once there they click on the tab labelled DOODLING. A welcome and directions will be there as to how to click on the image to print. They can print as many as they wish and come back each day for the next coloring page. Day one is a set up for a letter to Santa, address included. Use as much or as little of the above as you wish.

Doesn’t that sound like tons of fun?!  I think I would enjoy some coloring myself… 🙂

And now, as long as we’re all here exchanging gifts and not getting our oil changed, what better time to give you a little update on the Holiday Contest prizes?

It is indeed true that there will be two other picture book manuscript critiques available:
 – a picture book manuscript critique from Katy Duffield, author of more than 20 books for children including Farmer McPeepers And His Missing Milk Cows (Cooper Square Publishing 2003) and upcoming titles Loud Lula (Two Lions) illustrated by Mike Boldt and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too (Candlewick) illustrated by K.G. Campbell.
 – a picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!
Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 

In addition, we have a pretty unique and special prize on the table for one lucky person!  The opportunity to have an author/illustrator website or blog built (if you don’t have one yet) or redesigned (if you have one but would like to redecorate and/or improve function) by Arturo Alviar, a very talented computer science and web design major.  Full details on this to come, as well as links so you can see examples of his excellent work!

Pretty exciting, don’t you think???!!!

I hope you all have your Holiday Contest entries well underway, unlike Yours Truly who has yet to give even a moment’s thought to her sample.  You know, it occurs to me that I may have to have a little talk with Yours Truly.  She has very bad work habits.  This leaving-things-to-the-last-minute has really got to stop.  It is very un-Zen.  I’m going to sit her down and point out the error of her ways.  Yessirree bob!  I feel certain I can make her see reason.  I’m going to add that to my to-do list.

Right after “eat left-over pie” 🙂

Have a magical Monday, everyone! 🙂

Whistle A Happy Tune

Good Monday, All!

So nice of you to pop by!

Remember on Friday I told you I had exciting news to share?

I’m guessing that’s why you’re here.

Because of the exciting news I promised.

I said, “Come on over as soon as you wake up!”

And look!  Here you are!

You’re so wonderful 🙂

Okay!

Exciting news!

Guess what I did?

No, really!  Guess!

Never mind.  I’ll tell you.

I made up a song!

Yep!

It’s true!

Want to hear it?

Well, not actually hear it – I didn’t have time to make a video or a recording – but hear it in the sense that I can tell you the tune and the words and you can imagine me singing it to you…

Yes?  Are you ready?

Okay.  The tune is “The Bear Went Over The Mountain” (because I live on a mountain, as you may recall, and I saw a bear a little over a week ago, which you may also recall.)

Ready?

OH. . . !!!!!!!
The dog went over the mountain
The dog went over the mountain
The dog went over the mounTAIN….
Because she saw a bear!
WOOF!

Thank you.  Thank you very much!

So, what do you think?

Are you amazed?

I’m pretty amazed with myself, I have to tell you.  It’s not every day someone writes a song like that!  (Hey!  Did someone say, “Thank goodness!”?  I heard that!  Keep it nice, people.  We can’t all be as musically gifted as I am, but that’s no reason to unleash the green-eyed monster!)

So I can now add “Songwriter” to my resume!

Happy sigh 🙂

Alrighty.  See you on Wednesday for Would You Read It.

Unless you’ve got nothing to do right now. . .
. . . and you’re feeling reluctant to leave because you enjoyed my song so much that you want to hear it again. . .
. . . and you’re also thinking that maybe… just MAYBE… you’d like to hear about. . .
(Oh, golly!  That was fun while it lasted! Hehehe!). . .

The 4th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


The Contest:  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) in which wild weather impacts the holidays!  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, but no more than 350!)  Any kind of weather will do: sun, rain, sleet, heatwave, blizzard, tsunami, monsoon, hurricane, hail, tornado, etc!  Weather may be atypical for your setting (rain in Maine, frost in Florida), it may be extreme (blizzard instead of regular snow, drought instead of lush greenery), or it may be unheard of (spring flowers in Antarctica, snow in the Sahara, bathing suit weather at the North Pole), but whatever you choose, make us feel the impact on the holidays!  The wild weather may be a hindrance, a wish-come-true, a threat, a pleasant surprise, etc.  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The wilder and wackier 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 Monday December 8 and Friday December 12 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 8 and remain up through Sunday December 14 (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 8th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judging:  My lovely assistant(s) 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 15 or Tuesday December 16 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 18 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 19.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity of weather use in plot, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.
The Prizes!:  Well, I hope these prizes are going to knock your socks off!!!  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 10th place.  In addition to the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 4th Annual Holiday Contest, the following AMAZING prizes will be awarded: (items in color are links for more info!)

 – A picture book manuscript read and critique by Shari Dash Greenspan, Editor of the multi-award winning Flashlight Press!  I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter HERE!
 – A picture book manuscript read and critique by Jennifer Mattson, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
 – Enrollment in Renee LaTulippe‘s highly praised and recommended Lyrical Language Lab Course (in a month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and Renee) ($249 value!)
 – Enrollment in Jon Bard and Laura Backes’s fantastic Kindle Kids Mastery Course ($197 value!)
 – Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in March or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 – A picture book manuscript critique by fabulous author Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE and the forthcoming SOPHIE’S ANIMAL PARADE.
 – (Hopefully) 2 or 3 PB MS Critiques from other fabulous authors – TBA
 – 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, a signed copy of Boy And Poi Poi Puppy by Linda Boyden, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 – a pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards
 – another pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards

I can’t thank these editors, agents, authors, and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, spread the word of their classes, buy and recommend their books to your friends with kids, 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 4th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest – aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!

Tiger eye and mandrake root!  It’s finally time for

The 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!

courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words pumpkinbroomstick, and creak.   Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words 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 nearly 80 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. creak, creaky, creaks, creaking, creaked.  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Would You Read It Wednesday or Perfect Picture Book Friday this week, so this post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  (I hope you will all visit each other! :))  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!)

The Judging: in a grueling, marathon weekend, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – okay, who are we kidding? :)) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 3rd.  The winner will be announced in a special Thursday post on November 6th.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turn out we did last year, all bets are off.  I may post as many as 10 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 🙂

The Prizes:  we’ve got some seriously amazing prizes! (words in color are links to more info)

– Julie Hedlund‘s fantastic new course How To Make Money As An Author, interesting, educational and suitable for writers at any stage of their career

 – a 2015 membership to Children’s Book Insider, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes

 – a picture book manuscript critique from the renowned Alayne Christian (prose only, 800 words or less)
Alayne Kay Christian is an award winning author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA. She is represented by Erzsi Deak of Hen&Ink Literary Studio. To read more about Alayne, her critique service, and her books visit her websites and blog.

– a picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!

Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 

 – a picture book manuscript critique by Tracey M. Cox!  Tracey offers a full critique on a fiction PB, 800 words or less, which will include overall impression and line-by-line on a prose only pb ms.  She will also include thoughts and marketing ideas that she thinks about and if she can think of references, she’ll add them also.  Tracey M. Cox has been writing professionally since 2000 and is an author of 6 picture books.  She is an active member in the children’s literature community and explores how to self-market on little to no budget.

Website: www.traceymcox.com
Blog: www.traceymcox.wordpress.com


 – an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books

 – a personalized signed copy of I WANNA GO HOME by Karen Kaufman Orloff, the latest in the brilliant PB series that began with I WANNA IGUANA. (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 – a personalized signed copy of I AM COW HEAR ME MOO by Jill Esbaum (reviewed for Perfect Picture Books HERE and HERE – yep, it’s so popular it got reviewed for PPBF twice :))

 – a personalized signed copy of NINJA RED RIDING HOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz, the riveting follow-up to THE THREE NINJA PIGS.  (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 – a PDF copy of Ryan Sias’s A Spooky-Doodle E-Book“doodle pages, drawing lessons and writing prompts inspire kids to invent their own stories, characters and artwork.”

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

Now then.  Time for my sample entry which I provide because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  Also, in case anyone is worried about the quality of their entry they have only to read my foolish attempts to be filled with confidence that their’s is MUCH better!  I have to confess, I was really down to the wire this year (my schedule is a little bit nuts!), so, ahem, yeah.. I’ll be proofreading after I post since I’m out of time 🙂  (And I usually do one rhyme and one prose, but I don’t have a prose one this year… yet… if I have time maybe I’ll write one and add it during the week :))

So without further ado:

A Halloween Dare (100 words)
Haggie Witch just had to go

Haggie, as illustrated by the fabulously talented
Julie Rowan-Zoch
click for PORTFOLIODIGITALSKETCHBOOK

To the Broomstick Rodeo
And prove she had the skill and pluck
To ride a broomstick bronco’s buck.
Her sister said she’d fall headlong.
Haggie vowed to prove her wrong!
Haggie’s heart quailed in her chest
But she had to face this test.
The gate sprang open with a creak
Out shot Haggie like a streak.
The broomstick bronco pitched and rolled,
Lunged and plunged quite uncontrolled!
But Haggie rode that fireball
Just like a pro and did not fall.
“I win, Sis, you can’t deny

you owe me a pumpkin pie!”

Pirate Ploy (100 words)

Halloween
A pumpkin moon
A ghostly ship
A still lagoon
Tattered sails
Like swirling mist
Ancient rigging
Creaks and twists
Skull and crossbones
Striking fear
Warning sailors
Far and near
Captain Jack
Comes thump-a-peg
Limping on
His broomstickleg
“Steady mates,”
breathes Captain Jack,
“Mustn’t blow
our sneak attack!”
Silently
The ghost ship glides
Closer . . .
Closer . . .
On the tides
Guided through
The murky blue
By the ghastly
Skeleton crew
Stealthily
it comes abreast
Lurking
uninvited guest
Nearing windows
warm with light
no idea
of their plight.
Captain Jack
deceit complete

shouts, “Mrs. Johnson! Trick-or-treat!”

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still 4 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.

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 🙂

There are already 57 entries in the comment section below that you won’t want to miss! (names are links):
Barbara – The Trick Or Treat Troll
Eric – Witch Poem
Lata – Halloween Colors
Nomie – Mabel’s Spooky Soiree
Tracie – The Misspelled Witch
Rachel K – A Home On Halloween
Suzy – Witch In My Hamper
Sarah C – The Moon Is Up!
Angela B – A Messy Halloween
Sue – Untitled
Kimberly C – First Flight Of Halloween
Ann – Off To See The Wizard
Susan – The Contest
Michelle V – The Halloween Sneer
Ashley – Pumpkin’s Plight
Abigail – Maddie’s First Broomstick
Jim – Jack
Melissa – Pumpkin’s Patch
Pia – The Green Witch’s Brew
Kathleen – The Littlest Pumpkin
Lori D – The Trick Or Treat Bag
Debbie – Halloween In A Box
Sharalyn – The Witch And The Pumpkin Contests
Jaymie – No Tricks, Just Treats
Jenifer – Broomstick Ball
Ellen – Emma’s Evening Ride
Beth – Halloween Night
Anne – What’s That?
Brandie – No Ordinary Witch
Marty – Winnie’s Spell
Michelle B – This Year’s Halloween Mascot
Jessica – Spooky Sharing
Alistair – The Raven And The Pumpkin
Kirsten – Family Re-BOO-nion
Jodi – Halloween Hide-And-Go-Seek
Anne B – The Pumpkin Patch Scarecrow
Carol – Halloween Night
Nicole – Black At Night
Hope – In The Wee Hours Of Halloween
Maggie – Arabella The Witch
Gina – Halloween Chase
Kelly – The Pumpkin King
Mandy – On This Night
Eric – The Scarecrow
Cat – Etty Bitty Belina
Julie A – Orinda Owl’s First Halloween
Donna R – The Witches’ Gathering
Kathy – Who Is It?
Robin – Kitchin-nastic Trick Or Treats
Sandy – Pete’s Pumpkins
Judy – Halloween Parade
Merry – Witch School
Victoria – Creaks
Amelia – Full Moon Rising
Colleen – Tell It To The Ghosts
Sydney – Midnight Critters
Stefanie – Monsters Rock

About That Exciting Announcement I Promised Last Week

Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Last week I told you I had something exciting to tell you today and I do!

Are you ready?

dddddrrrrruuuuummmmmrrrrrooooollllllllll!!!!!

This week . . .

. . .

. . . Stop & Shop bath tissue is on sale for $.75 off!!!

I know!  It’s not every day you get such incredible news!

So bring the van and load up, alrighty?  I knew you’d want to know!

Okey-dokey, then.

Thanks for stopping by.

I hope you all have a Marvelous Monday 🙂

See you on Wednesday for Would You Read It.

Bye.

Buh-bye now.

Bye! 🙂

Oh, but wait.  I guess there was one more thing. . .

Apparently I’m becoming very nice in my old age, because here it is, only October 6, with a full 3 weeks to go, and I’m announcing. . .

DUHN DUHN DUHN. . . !

The 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
That’s right!  It’s about that 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 pumpkin, broomstick, and creak.   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 candy corn 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 nearly 80 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. creak, creaky, creaks, creaking, creaked, pumpkiny, broomsticks, whathaveyou 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 27th and Friday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my October 27th 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!)

The Judging: in a grueling, marathon weekend, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 3rd.  The winner will be announced in a special Thursday post on November 6th.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turn out we did last year, all bets are off.  I may post as many as 10 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 🙂

The Prizes:  yeah… I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  Feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  But prizes will include:
 – Julie Hedlund‘s fantastic new course How To Make Money As An Author, interesting, educational and suitable for writers at any stage of their career,
 – a 2015 membership to Children’s Book Insider, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes,
 – a picture book manuscript critique from the renowned Alayne Christian (prose only, 800 words or less),
Alayne Kay Christian is an award winning author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA. She is represented by Erzsi Deak of Hen&Ink Literary Studio. To read more about Alayne, her critique service, and her books visit her websites and blog.
 – an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books.
 – a PDF copy of Ryan Sias’s A Spooky-Doodle E-Book, “doodle pages, drawing lessons and writing prompts inspire kids to invent their own stories, characters and artwork.” 

Plus whatever else I dream up in the meantime 🙂

I hope those fantabulous prizes fill you with enthusiasm for the contest!

So sharpen your pencils!

Get your butt in that chair!

See what amazing, knock-your-socks-off story you can dream up!

It’s a chance to hone your writing skills, practice your craft, write to specifications and a deadline, win amazing prizes, AND get to read and enjoy the wonderful stories written by all your fellows 🙂

Many thanks to Julie, Jon and Laura, Alayne, Linda, and Ryan for their very generous prize offerings!

I literally cannot wait to read your stories!!! 🙂

Now, for real, have a Marvelous Monday everyone! 🙂

100 Weeks Of Perfect Picture Books! (Celebrated In The 101st Week!) – I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! PLUS PRIZES!

WOO-HOO!!!

Can you believe it?

In spite of the fact that Perfect Picture Books goes on vacation every summer, we are now celebrating the 100th week of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!  (Just in time to go on summer vacation again :))

100 weeks of fabulous picture books with resources of all kinds to make them easy for parents and teachers to use at home and in the classroom!

100 weeks of highly recommended books listed alphabetically and by theme to make it easy for gift-givers to find the perfect picture book for that special little someone!

100 weeks of perfect examples that we, as writers, can study and learn from!

To date, we have picture books listed in 226 themes/categories.

And we have – get this! – 2055 Perfect Picture Books on our list!!!

(Or, we would if I ever got caught up updating!  Which is on my to-do list for this summer along with about a million other things :))

For those of you who haven’t noticed yet (because I haven’t announced it because I’m not finished with it :)), Perfect Picture Books is now on Pinterest.  I’m hoping it will make it easier to search.  But it’s a work in progress and far from complete!  If you want to check it out, here’s the link: http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/

So really, after all the hard work you guys have put in, all the wonderful picture books and resources that are now available to teachers, parents, writers, and gift-givers everywhere, I think we should celebrate!!!

First, we need cake (obviously!) 🙂

Next, we need streamers. . .

. . . confetti. . .

. . . and balloons!

And last but not least, we need prizes for all the amazing bloggers who have contributed so devotedly week after week to this effort!  So let’s do today’s Perfect Picture Book, and hopefully by then I will have thought up a plan.  I’ll meet you down below after you’re done reading about this delightful book!

Title: I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!
Written By: Jill Esbaum
Illustrated By: Gus Gordon
Dial (Penguin Group), May 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: honesty, courage, animals

Opening: “Nadine was a truly remarkable cow.
There was nothing she feared – so she claimed, anyhow.
“Not lightning?” asked Starla.  “Loud noises? A rat?”
“I’m not scared,” Nadine boasted, “of any of that.”
“The woods?” asked Annette.  “‘Cause that place scares me stiff.”
“Not me,” bragged Nadine with a proud little sniff.
“As a matter of fact, just to prove it, let’s go!”
(She was certain her meek-hearted friends would say no.)

Brief Synopsis: Nadine boasts that she isn’t afraid of anything!  When her friends call her bluff, she learns that sometimes acting brave can make you feel brave… and sometimes it can’t!  And when she’s hailed as a hero for saving her friends, she has the choice to ‘fess up and admit she was just as scared as they were or let her friends believe what they want.  Which do you think Nadine chooses? 🙂

Links To Resources: this book will give parents and teachers a great opportunity to have discussions about what courage is, and what makes a person brave.  Is it not being afraid? Or is it going forward in spite of your fear?  It will also give an opportunity to talk about honesty.  Is is okay to lie if it ends up being the truth?  Is it okay to let people believe something good about you even if it’s not exactly deserved?  Talk with kids about things they’re afraid of.  What do they think could make them feel braver?  Ask kids if they’ve ever lied about something and gotten caught?  How did they feel?  Classroom Activities: Honesty, Classroom Activities: Courage.

Why I Like This Book:  Nadine is so full of herself, so spunky and fun, and so believable because haven’t we all met kids (or adults :)) who can bluster their way through just about anything?!  Kids will relate to this confident bovine who pretends not to be scared of the Deep. Dark. Woods. only to discover that she really isn’t afraid… until the sun goes down!  Things unravel a bit (I don’t want to spoil it :)) but she ends up saving her friends (completely by accident) and is hailed as a brave hero… an illusion she chooses not to discourage 🙂  The art is lively and entertaining, and the story is fun and full of humor!

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

So.  About those prizes!  Since we’re celebrating Perfect Picture Books, I’d like to give away a few 🙂  I wish I could give everyone a prize, but I have yet to become one of those authors who makes millions of dollars 🙂  Instead, I’ve chosen a few books that have been widely well-received that I hope you guys might want to win:

Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick)
Mr. Wuffles by David Weisner (Clarion)
Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. by Matthew Forsythe (Simon & Schuster)
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (Disney/Hyperion)
On A Beam Of Light: A Story Of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illus. by Vladimir Radunsky (Chronicle)
Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand, illus. by Tony Fucile (Candlewick)
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illus. by Jon Klassen (Little, Brown)
This Is The Rope: A Story Of The Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by James Ransome (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson (Atheneum)

+1 – If you’d like to win one of these fabulous books, please leave a comment below.
+1 – If you follow the Perfect Picture Books Pinterest Board, you’ll get an additional chance to win (if you already follow, please remind me, if you don’t already follow, there’s no time like the present :))  http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/
+5 – If you’ve posted 50 or more Perfect Picture Books on your blog over the course of the past 100 weeks, tell me that and I’ll give you 5 additional chances to win!  (Scout’s Honor – I don’t have time to count! – but I think I know who qualifies :))

(And if there’s a book your particularly hope to win or one that you already own, feel free to let me know.)

Please leave your comments/follow the Pinterest Board/let me know if you’ve posted 50 or more PPBs etc. by Sunday June 15 at 5 PM EDT.  Names will be entered the appropriate number of times into random.org and 9 winners will be randomly chosen and matched with the books.

My deepest thanks to all the bloggers who have supported this effort so whole-heartedly, and to all the readers who come by to share our love of picture books every week!  Perfect Picture Books would not exist without you!

And maybe we’ll have another celebration/giveaway in September when we start up again because I’d really like to spread the word about PPBF but now is a dumb time since we’re about to go on Summer Vacation! 🙂

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you one last time before summer!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and I look forward to hearing from you all in the comments!!! 🙂

Edmund Pickle Chin Blog Tour – And A Chance For A Prize!

Good Morning, Everyone!  Happy Monday!

As you can see, I survived my In-Real-Life teaching experience this weekend!  I would tell you about  it, but I’m suffering selective amnesia and besides, we’ve already got something else on the agenda for today, so it will have to wait 🙂

Today it is my pleasure to host Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan Elwood on the final stop of their blog tour for Edmund Pickle Chin – A Donkey Rescue Story, their wonderful new picture book!

The previous stops on the tour (listed below for your convenience) covered animal mistreatment, collaboration, a book review, an author interview, and an interview with Edmund himself 🙂  Make sure you visit them and follow the instructions because there are PRIZES involved! 🙂
Today, we will hear about how teachers can use Edmund in the classroom.
Please help me welcome Susan Elwood!
Hi Susanna, it’s a pleasure to be your guest!
Edmund Pickle, A Donkey Rescue Story, may be a children’s picture book, but it is packed with opportunity for teachers to use in the classroom in various subjects and themes. I can see the opportunities spilling over into not only in the kindergarten and first grade classroom but the second and third as well. For the younger grades it has the days of the week built right in, along with an adventure Edmund has for each day. The days of the week also allow for the children to see that Susan, Edmund’s care giver in the story did not get results in a day, that it took a period of time (and patience).
There’s the cause and effect lesson.  Each and every one of us are responsible for our actions toward others and the results it may bring, and that includes our actions toward creatures. For those children who don’t have the opportunity to have pets, it teaches that all creatures respond to the way they are treated, be it positively or negatively. Compassion toward others goes a long way.
Bullying is a serious topic in schools now a days and this book talks about a donkey trying to overcome this obstacle and how with patience from his care giver he is able to blossom and give back. It shows team work and patience.
Ah patience! It seems with all the immediate results children can get now days with numerous technology devices, instant gratification is accepted. Sometimes that doesn’t come quickly when we are dealing with real life. Susan the care giver dedicates the time needed to bring on the results she hopes for Edmund. 
As far as my hopes on what the book will do for rescue animals, first and for most I hope it teaches the older children that places like Evermay Farm exists.  That there is an option to abuse and neglect. I hope the book will impress upon them that animals have feelings and needs.  My hope is that the younger generations grow up showing compassion and not looking the other way, when they could step in and make a difference. 

The book was written in hopes on drawing attention to a small rescue/sanctuary called Evermay Farm, which I founded about a year ago.  The book was written to bring attention to the nonprofit and help with donations, but also, for me at least, to teach children compassion and patience. 
In the end….I hope they enjoy it as a story with a happy ending, because every child deserves
one!
So happy to have had this chance to chat!

Susan April Elwood co-author Edmund Pickle Chin,A Donkey Rescue Story

Thank you so much, Susan!  I’m sure teachers will find that very helpful and informative!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. . .


 Prizes – From Clara And Susan!

Thanks so much for reading Friends! For all friends of Edmund are my friends. Below please find our links and the tour. Read every post, follow the blog and comment for prizes. The reader who follows each blog and comments on each stop of the tour will get first prize. And if there are many winners, hurray! We will deliver!
First prize is a print book of both Annie’s Special Day and Edmund Pickle Chin. Second prize is either a print copy of Edmund or of Annie, you get to pick. Third prize is a copy of the ebook of Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story.
For Susan April Elwood:
For Clara Bowman-Jahn
BLOG TOUR DATES
May 26: Animal abuse and mistreatment — Joanna –www.joannamarple.com
May 29: Author collaboration— Stacy – http://www.stacysjensen.com
May 30: PPBF and review — Vivian – http://viviankirkfield.com/
June 2: Author interview  — Erik – www.ThisKidReviewsBooks.com
June 4: Edmund interview — Patricia – http://childrensbooksheal.com
June 9: Teacher info and guide — right here 🙂
About the Authors:

Clara Bowman-Jahn

Clara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for thirty two years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short stories have been published in three anthologies, Campaigner Challenges 2011, The ‘I’ Word and Charms Vol. 2. She is also the author of Annie’s Special Day a children’s picture book. Her second Picture book, a true story, called Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story, is co-authored with Susan April Elwood.

When Clara is not writing, she teaches ESOL to adult students through a library program. She also likes taking long walks with her husband, blogging, and reading books. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Julie Hedlunds Picture Book Challenge 12×12, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic; Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, and two fat cats. She is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson. 

Susan April Elwood

Susan April Elwood has worked with children for over twenty years in Northern Virginia as a preschool teacher, kindergarten assistant, and a library assistant. With her passion for animals it made perfect sense to combine the two and write an animal story for children, teaming up with author Clara Bowman-Jahn.


Susan and her husband Tom moved from Northern Virginia in 2007 to central Georgia where they founded Evermay Farm, a non-profit rescue for farm animals. This is the setting for the book titled, Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story. The story is based on Edmund a donkey, the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm home. Susan and her husband Tom have two treasured sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a precious grandson. In her free time, Susan enjoys photographing animals and antiquing.      
        

www.evermayfarm.org

Thank you all so much for joining us today!
Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 🙂