Hare-Brained Scheme Alert! – Announcing Punxsutawney Phyllis’s Birthday Bonanza!!!

La la la…

illustration copyright Jeff Ebbeler 2005

So, there I was, tootling along, minding my own business, driving to my author visit yesterday and humming my homemade Phyllis song in a most tuneful hummy kind of way when

BAM!

I suddenly realized two things:

1.  Groundhog Day is a mere 11 days away!

2.  THIS YEAR IS PHYLLIS’S 10th ANNIVERSARY!!!

WHAT???!!!

TEN YEARS???!!!

My little furry friend is going to be in double digits! *sentimental sniff*

AND I HAVE NOT MADE A PLAN OF A SUITABLE CELEBRATORY NATURE!!!

What kind of mother am I???!!!  *gnashing of teeth and extended period of self-recrimination*

Instant panic set in.

Not good whilst you are driving and unable to do anything but drive.  A spoonful of panic makes the accelerator go down VRRROOOOOOM!

“Where!” (I fumed) “is my talented and versatile personal assistant who appears like magic at my beck and call to take down notes and implement my thoughts whilst I drive???!!!”

Darn it all.

I don’t have one.

But luckily I have a mind that is prone to hare-brained schemes. . .

And so.

I made a plan!

And you are all welcome to join me, and I truly, deeply hope you do, because it will not be any fun at ALL if it’s just me and that will make Phyllis sad! (And Sad Phyllis is not fun to hang out with!)

Here’s the deal.

We shall have Phyllis’s Birthday Bonanza!  (That has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?)

And for it, we shall all write a poem in honor of Phyllis!

I’m thinking maybe An Ode To Phyllis… or a limerick 🙂  or if you’re really ambitious, a combination of the two 🙂  A sonnet would be nice, if you’re feeling Shakespearean.  Or perhaps a haiku or two about the Natural Wonder that is Phyllis the Groundhog.  Really, Phyllis is not picky, as long as it’s a poem… about her… 🙂

I feel certain that this will result is some poetry the likes of which the world has never experienced.  *snort*

Ah, but the fun shall not end there!

I mean, it CAN end there.  If you are inspired to write a poem for Phyllis, post it on your blog or in the comments on the Birthday Bonanza post, and leave it at that, that will be lovely and Phyllis will send you warm furry brown hugs.

BUT.

For those of us who wish to take it to a further level… (Erik… who has been asking to make a video for like a year now… :))

Download, print out, cut out, and color Phyllis from HERE (or dig the one you made for Phyllis’s Fun Fashion Show or weather predicting Phyllis out of mothballs.)  (Teeny hint – a popsicle stick stuck to her back works great for puppeteering and/or propping up purposes!)

Then.

Video your Phyllis doing a dramatic reading of your special poem!

We will be especially appreciative of creative backdrops, clever costumes, or singing 🙂

Unless you’re channeling Samuel Taylor Coleridge and writing the Rime of Phyllis The Ancient Mariner (or something equally appallingly long) your dramatic poetry reading should probably fit into a video of a minute or two or so (or less – we’re going for entertainment value, not length :)) so it doesn’t have to be a huge production.  And you can hopefully do it pretty easily with your computer or your phone – nothing too film-industry-specific required.

Then on Monday, February 2nd, Groundhog Day 2015, in celebration of Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary, I shall put up the official Phyllis’s Birthday Bonanza post (yes, of course there will be cake! I can’t believe you even asked that!) and you can all put your post-specific links on the link list (or post in the comments, or email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you if you can’t post in the comments – susanna[a]susannahill[dot]com or handy email me button in the sidebar) and we can all visit each other and party in honor of Phyllis, loveliest of lovelies, marmot extraordinaire!

And there will be presents!  For you!  Which I am still working on thinking up because, like I said, I just thought of this and I wanted to give you as much time as possible to prepare your Phyllis Poem & Video.  There might be some kind of voting process… or there might not.  Like I said… still thinking 🙂

So I am sincerely hoping that this sounds like the kind of hare-brained scheme you can get on board with!  Teachers and classes are welcome to join the fun too!  Anyone who loves Phyllis 🙂

Phyllis is wild with excitement  and says she will make strawberry pie for everyone while she’s waiting!

Looking forward hopefully to the fruits of your creative talents!

Let the wild poetry writing start!!!!!

Time For Some Fun!!!

So, here we are.

It’s still January.

It’s dark.

It’s really, really, really COLD.

And Spring seems like an impossible dream.

We could wallow in the doldrums…

…but I say, LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!!! 🙂

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

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

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

Therefore, in celebration…

ARE YOU READY…?

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

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

Here’s what to do:

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

Then dress her up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you can color this one in if you like…

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

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

And prizes.  Hmm… prizes…

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

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

Golly!  I’m excited!

Phyllis is jumping up and down!

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

So come join us!!!

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

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

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

by Linda Boyden

And here is our next one!

Olympic Phyllis by Katie Hill

And another!!

Spring Phyllis by Grace age 8!

And two from Sue!

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

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

Phyllis’s World Tour Begins! And Oh Susanna – What Is An "Editorial" Agent?

Holy high and dry, Batman!

Phyllis has been sighted in the Mojave Desert!!!

It’s true!  She made the first stop on her World Tour (really, something as incredible as a World Tour has to be capitalized :)) at Kirsten’s house.  Kirsten and her family gave Phyllis a warm welcome and showed her a truly amazing time, including some important firsts for her:

First Time Piloting An F-117 Night Hawk

As you can see, this picture was taken after she had successfully landed the plane.  That Phyllis is a born pilot 🙂

First Time In A Joshua Tree

Actually, it was the first time she had even SEEN a Joshua Tree.  This picture was taken after she climbed down because furry brown groundhogs don’t show up well against furry brown bark.  But in case you didn’t know, groundhogs are members of the squirrel family and they can climb!

For a detailed post on Phyllis’s first stop in California, hop on over to Kirsten’s blog.  (For those of you ahead of me in time zone, or any other early birds, if the link doesn’t work right away it’s because Kirsten is 3 hours behind me and her post may not be up yet, and I won’t have a post-specific link until later today – but I will update the link, I promise!)

Phyllis is now on her way to Texas, where I hear Natalie has wonderful things in store for her visit.  We will keep you posted.  And by gum, I’d better get that extra tab up top pretty durn soon! *scribbles on very long to-do list!*

After all that excitement, you can probably barely concentrate on regular life, but let’s give it a try.  Most likely some chocolate would help, even though it’s not Wednesday 🙂

Today’s Oh Susanna question comes to us from Penny.  She says:

“When I have searched the internet in search of agents, some sites point out that some agents are more editorial than others.  What exactly does this mean?  Will an agent actually make specific changes to your manuscript or will they give general feedback and have you make the changes?”

This question is both easy and hard to answer.

From the easy side:  Yes.  To both.

Some agents are quite “editorial”.  They read a MS and give very specific suggestions for change and improvement.  I’m sure it is up to the author to actually make those changes, but they are quite specifically suggested in some cases, and the understanding is that without the changes the agent won’t send the MS out.

Other agents are not editorial at all.  They read a MS and say, “Yes, I’ll send it out,” or “No, this one doesn’t work for me,” end of conversation.

Still other agents fall somewhere in the middle.  They may give a broader, less specific suggestion, for example, “Change the beginning,” or, “It needs more emotional tension,” or “Give me a better idea of who exactly Jenny is” but they don’t give you suggestions as to how to achieve that, or any kind of specific details.

The harder side of the question is how to find out how “editorial” an agent is when you’re looking and thinking about submitting to them, and what kind of agent/amount of editorializing works best for you, which you may not know until you’ve gotten a little further in to the publishing process.

Some writers want a lot of hand-holding.  They like agents who will give them a lot of very specific feedback.  Other writers can’t bear to have someone else monkeying so much with their work.  (Still others would never dream of having an agent at all, but that is a whole nother issue!)

Finding the right agent is about so many things – personality, taste, and amount of editorializing being some of the key questions you need to address.  It’s especially difficult because it’s possible that the only agent offers you get might be from people whose style doesn’t match yours.  Then you have to think long and hard about what you really want.

For my part, I do have an agent.  (As you can see in my sidebar – Liza Voges of Eden Street Lit :))  She has a lot of experience, an encyclopedic knowledge of the publishing world, and a keen sense for what works and what doesn’t.  I would rank her somewhere in between on the editorializing scale.  If I send her a MS she thinks she can’t sell, she’ll just say so.  If it doesn’t work, she won’t waste my time or hers trying to force the issue.  If I send her a MS she thinks is really strong, she sends it out.  If I send her one where she feels there’s potential but I haven’t pulled it off right, she’ll give me a general comment like, “Try to write it more from the baby’s POV” or “The end is too abrupt.”  Then it’s up to me to figure out how to make changes that will make the MS work for her.  Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t.

No matter who your agent is, though, they won’t (and shouldn’t) do your job for you.  It is up to you to give them only your very best work.  Too many half-baked, sloppy MSS will find you looking for a new agent.

I know a number of people who read this blog have agents.  It would be wonderful if you would share your thoughts and experiences in the comments for readers to learn from!  If you can share your agent’s name and how “editorial” she/he is, I’m sure that would be very helpful to people starting their search!
Others of you, what would you look for?  Would you prefer a lot of editorializing or a little?

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Shark Vs. Train And A Few Extras! (Including A New Contest!)

WOW do I have lots to share with you today!  I’m going to try very hard to be concise… we’ll see how I do 🙂  Let’s start with the Perfect Picture Book! (But definitely read to the bottom because there’s good stuff down there!!!)

As I mentioned briefly in Wednesday’s post, I’m very interested in adding another category to the Perfect Picture Book List – Best Books For Boys – because of the amount of discussion I’ve been involved with recently over getting boys engaged in reading.  So I bumped another book so I could post this one today:)

Shark Vs. Train
Written By: Chris Barton
Illustrated By: Tom Lichtenheld
Little Brown Books For Young Readers, April 2010, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 4-8
Topics/Themes: Humor, Imagination, Play
Opening: “Who will win?  Well, that depends on if they’re… in the ocean… or on railroad tracks.”
Brief Synopsis: (from SLJ starred review) “When a boy with a toy shark faces a train-wielding companion, it sets off a series of imaginative and very funny contests between fish and machine.  The result of each battle depends on the setting.”

Links To Resources:  Downloadable Shark Vs. Train poster and activity sheets, Shark Vs. Train Activity Guide.  Challenge kids to pull out their own two toys for a competition and see who they think will win at what.

Why I Like This Book:  It’s fun!  The reader sees two boys pulling toys from a toy chest before there are even any words.  One gets a shark, the other, a train.  This leads to the imaginary world of who will win? in a variety of ridiculous situations where sometimes the shark has the upper hand (as in high diving), sometimes the train is favored (as in the burping contest) and sometimes neither one is cut out for the job (as in their scoreless video game where they say, “It sure would help if we had thumbs!”)  The pictures are hilarious, as are the scenarios in which the shark and train compete.  I think any child would enjoy this book, and it may be one that is especially appealing to boys, even those who aren’t big on reading, because the text is very short but the imagination (and potential for play) can run on long after the story is over!

I hope you all enjoy Shark Vs. Train as much as I do!

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

OK.  Now onto a couple other important things…

Yesterday, Phyllis and I went on a school visit for Groundhog Day.  (If I get a picture I’ll insert it, but as of this writing I don’t have any yet 😦 )  Anyway, one of the kids asked Phyllis, “What is your middle name?”

Well.

I had never thought about it!

Shocking, I know.

But of course Phyllis must have a middle name.

So I had some ideas…  and so did they…  and so I now present you with Phyllis’ full name.  Are you ready?

Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill!

How’s that for fancy?

Phyllis and I LOVE it!!!

We are going to say it as many times every day as we can possibly think up excuses for.  As in, “Would you be so kind as to pass the maple syrup, Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill?”

In other news, we have a winner for the December/January Pitch Pick!  It was a tough choice, as always, and as usual I wish everyone could win, but since it can only be one, the voters have spoken.  This month’s winner, whose pitch will be sent to editor Erin Molta for review and critique, is

Margaret!!!!!

Congratulations, Margaret!  Your pitch is winging it’s way through cyberspace as we speak.  Actually, I hope it’s already there because I sent it last night right after I wrote this 🙂  To everyone else, thank you all so much for submitting your pitches.  I know how hard it is to put your work out for others to see and critique, so you’re very brave.  And we all learn so much from every pitch, so thank you all!

And now, last but not least – definitely not least! – it’s contest time again!!!

Valentines Day Contest
google images

Having skipped January, I really couldn’t pass up February because, as we all know, it has way better holidays than March for contest fodder 🙂  SO. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a children’s story, poetry or prose, 150 words maximum, about unlikely Valentines.

You must post it on your blog, (or in the comment section of this blog if you don’t have a blog), between Saturday February 11 and Monday February 13, and add your entry-specific link to the link list that I will put up on Saturday February 11.  (There will be no new post on Monday February 13 so that the contest post and link list can stay up.)  Entries must be posted by 5 PM EST Monday February 13.  Three finalists (which, judging by my track record probably means anywhere between 3 and 6 :)) will be chosen and posted in a special Valentines Day post on Tuesday February 14 for you all to vote on for a winner.  The winner will receive their choice of either a copy of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation To Publication, or  a picture book manuscript critique from me.  For all you 12X12ers out there, look on this as a chance to get your February story written along with potential for a prize!!!

OK.  That’s it.  I’m done.  How’d I do on brevity? 🙂

Perfect Picture Book bloggers, please remember to add your links below!  Have a great weekend, everyone, and start dreaming up those unlikely Valentine stories – only 150 words – you can do it! 🙂

(P.S.  I apologize in advance for the fact that I will be late visiting everyone’s blogs today as I have 9 hours of driving to do starting at 7 AM followed by my husband’s birthday party when I get home… but I’ll get there eventually :))

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It’s Off To School We Go

Today’s post will be short and sweet (I know, hard to believe coming from me) but seriously, I’m already out of time!

Last year, when I asked what you called taking a groundhog, a sheep, a hamster, an airplane pilot, a freight train engineer, a construction foreman, a taxi driver, and a couple of unruly boys on a school visit, a friend said, “It’s a Phyllistravaganza!” – which seemed just about right.

So today the Phyllistravaganza and I (really, we’re kind of like a traveling circus) are headed to a big school visit where we will be seeing upwards of 200 kids.  We’re just a little nervous, truth be told, because Phyllis is still struggling to come up with a truly great and memorable April Fools Day song to sing.  We like to go with familiar tunes and put in our own special brand of words, but this one is a toughie.  Luckily we still have driving time, and the car might inspire us if Phyllis can manage to focus instead of waving to passersby and making funny faces.

If anyone has any brilliant ideas, we’re open to suggestion at this point.  You have one hour 🙂  But we’ll take suggestions after that, too, in case we have to make due today and come up with something better for next week when we’re doing it again.

Wish us luck!

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day, Everyone!

I hope you all have someone to celebrate love in your life with, whether a spouse/significant other or a feisty groundhog (Phyllis will find a way to get mentioned as often as possible!)  I also hope that you will have the opportunity to over-indulge in chocolate today because really, why not 🙂

Since Valentines Day is about love, I thought I’d take a moment to mention a few of the things I love about being a children’s writer.

I love that it has let me stay home with my children.

I love that it’s creative – every day brings something new.

I love that it offers me the chance to visit schools, share my passion for writing, and meet the people I write for.

I love being part of the writing community – so many interesting, talented, creative, wonderful people!

And I love sharing the writing experience in the blogosphere, and look forward to hearing your thoughts on writing, parenting, teaching, and the world of children’s literature each day.

Here a few Valentines children’s picture books I love (for your enjoyment if you haven’t read them yet!):

The Ballad of Valentine by Alison Jackson
Slugs In Love by Susan Pearson
Love, Ruby Valentine by Laurie Friedman
Love, Splat by Rob Scotten
Henry In Love by Peter McCarty (not, strictly speaking, a Valentine book, but so cute!)

But wait a minute!  What’s this?

Who is that handsome stranger?
And what is he doing with Phyllis?

Do you think Phyllis has a secret admirer???  We’ll have to keep an eye on that situation…!

Have a wonderful Valentines Day everyone! and please join in the comments with your favorite Valentines books, groundhog love stories, or anything else that tickles your fancy on this love-ly day 🙂  Oh, and in keeping with the pink theme of the week, don’t forget our Meet Cori Doerffeld post coming up in the next couple of days, with an opportunity to win her new picture book, PENNY LOVES PINK!

A School Visit With Chocolate And A Tiara On Top!

First things first:  yesterday’s contest for a free, personalized signed copy of Karen Orloff’s new picture book, I WANNA NEW ROOM, is still open.  Check yesterday’s post.  Meet Karen.  Enter to win 🙂

Now…

One of the things I love about writing for children is getting the chance to visit local schools and share my stories with the people I wrote them for.

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a local pre-school.  I was supposed to go last week on Groundhog Day but we got snowed out and had to reschedule.  That’s been happening a lot lately… I think I’d best send Phyllis to have a word with the Weather Man!

Luckily, the sun was shining yesterday (even though it was zero!) so Phyllis and I were able to make our way to Millbrook Community Preschool.

Imagine Phyllis’s surprise and delight when she discovered that the children had presents for her!

They made her a tiara which says “Phyllis” on one side and “Queen Groundhog” on the other!

Here.  She will model it for you…

I hope you can see how sparkly it is, and how exceptionally beautiful she looks even though I know the print is too small to read.

Wait.  Maybe we can get closer up…

That’s better!  Is that gorgeous or what?!  Phyllis refused to take it off (which is why she was wearing it with her scarf as we were leaving.)  She asked me specially to tell all the kids at MCP that she slept in it last night and she is quite certain that it was responsible for her wonderful dreams in which it was already spring 🙂  She is also fairly certain that when she sings with it on, her voice is even more beautiful… if that’s possible!

As if a sparkly tiara weren’t enough, the children also presented her with a bar of dark chocolate, which was their best guess as to what her favorite food would be.  She wishes them to know it was simply scrumptious… and yes, she brushed her teeth after… all 30 of them 🙂

Here she is with her chocolate (it’s pretty hard to see because it’s wrapped in purple, but she’s holding it on her paws)

Good thing we took the picture when we did… that chocolate is nothing but a happy memory now 🙂

We had a wonderful time as we always do at MCP.  In case any of you happen to be in the market for a local preschool, I highly recommend it.  It is run by Diane Schnoor (who also happens to look simply smashing in a tiara.  She and Phyllis may be twins separated at birth… who can tell?)

And now, Phyllis and I are off to Sophie Finn Elementary School where, even though there will be lots more kids, they’re going to have to work pretty hard to come up with anything as wonderful as a sparkly tiara and a bar of dark chocolate 🙂

Don’t forget – entries are still open in yesterday’s contest!  Scroll down and read about Karen Orloff and enter to win a copy of her new picture book!

Happy Phyllis’s Birthday!

Happy Phyllis’s Birthday, Everyone!

Yep, today’s the day, Phyllis’s birthday (which she just happens to share with my husband… coincidence?) so Happy Happy Happy Day to Phyllis (ladies first!) and Eric 🙂

How great is this week?  We’ve managed to have a legitimate excuse for cake every single day so far!

Not only is today Phyllis’s birthday – very fitting that it should fall during National Phyllis Week, don’t you think? –  it is also the first day of the Chinese New Year – The Year of The Rabbit.  (And no, Phyllis, there is no year of the groundhog, and yes, we all understand how misguided that is!)

According to some online source which may or may not be reliable, the Year of the Rabbit should be quiet, positive and inspiring, and an excellent time for the arts.  I choose to interpret that as a stellar year ahead for writers!

Of course, that requires that I write.  So I’m off to work on today’s manuscript for the Picture Book Marathon (I’m 2 for 2 so far, so off to a good start!) whilst simultaneously baking birthday cake.  Perhaps today’s story should be about a bunny… who is friends with a beautiful groundhog… who has been snowed in for days… but will be having birthday cake for supper 🙂  Or not.  Feel free to send inspiration my way 🙂  26 stories in a month is a LOT!

Happy Beth’s Birthday Day!!!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear Beth,
Happy Birthday to you!

… and many more…!

With best wishes and much love from all your blogging buddies, especially Vivian, Renee, Catherine, Other Beth (Stanton), Heather, Lori, Loni, Pat, Kirsten, Erik, Julie R-Z, Joanna, Bananabeth (we seem to have an awful lot of Elizabeth/Beths!) who wanted to be included but I couldn’t quite make it work so go visit her too :), and last but not least, me and my furry friend, Phyllis!!!  Have a wonderful day, and we hope the year ahead is filled with all good things and much writing success!!!

And now, for your present, if you will kindly email me I’ll give it to you 🙂  xo S

Happy Groundhog Day Everyone!

Here at Groundhog Central we’re full of news!

As dawn breaks on this February 2, groundhogs all over the eastern seaboard are making their predictions for spring.

And now….  drum roll, please… bdrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In Poughquag, NY, Phyllis declares, “No shadow!  Early spring!!”

Yay, Phyllis!!!

In Punxsutawney, PA, Punxsutawney Phil agrees!

In Staten Island, Chuck also predicts an early spring, and managed to do it without biting Mayor Bloomberg this year 🙂  In Georgia, the prediction was slightly delayed when General Lee got away from his handlers and hid, then climbed a fence behind his mock-mansion home, but he too predicts an early spring!  In Woodstock, IL, the weather is so fierce that Woodstock Willie’s 2011 prognostication has been cancelled for safety reasons.  Out in Ohio, Buckeye Chuck concurs with the prediction of early spring!  It seems they’re all in agreement.

It may be a whole lot of wishful thinking, but there’s no doubt, our trusty groundhog friends would have been hard-pressed to see their shadows this morning!

So now, back to the Picture Book Marathon.  Maybe I should write a story about Groundhog Day.  Oh, wait…  🙂

Best wishes to all for an early spring as we hole up for another day of winter.  Maybe at least we’ll get some great writing (or reading) done!

2011 Picture Book Marathon

Happy February Everyone!

Yes, it’s still snowing.  Yes, we’re likely to be snowed in for 2 days.  No, winter isn’t over.  But it’s February – definitely a step in the right direction 🙂

Since it’s National Phyllis week, let me first say that Punxsutawney Phyllis is the smartest, most beautiful, most reliable weather prophet with the loveliest singing voice known to the marmot family!  (Imagine flashing neon and lots of sparkles!)

That should keep her happy for a moment while I tell you that today, February 1st, is Day One of the 2011 Picture Book Marathon!

Here’s the object of the game:  write a picture book a day for the month of February.  Since February has 28 days, and a marathon only has 26 miles, you get 2 days off to use at your discretion.

I did the Picture Book Marathon last year for the first time.  I only managed 17 new stories, but I still felt pretty good about it.  This year, I’ll be lucky to manage 17 given everything else going on.  But I’m going to give it the old college try.  Who’s with me?  Anyone else want to give it a go?  We can exchange blog comments for encouragement and let each other know how we’re doing 🙂

Here’s the link if you’re interested:  The Picture Book Marathon

So now, I’d better get right to work.  Time’s a-wastin’!

I’ll just finish by saying that Phyllis’s feelings were hurt by the lack of response to her questionnaire yesterday.  If you don’t want me to have to put up with a sulky groundhog whilst I cast about for picture book ideas, please soothe her ruffled fur her by commenting on her many wonderful qualities 🙂

Now, runners, take your marks!