Monday Short And Sweet AND The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

I hope you’re ready because boy are we going to have fun today!

badge created by the uber-talented Loni Edwards

First off, we’ll be having birthday cake because we have a birthday in our family today 🙂  Happy Birthday, Justin!  Cake anyone?

Yum!  Now that we’re all supplied with a nutritious breakfast (why do you think I put strawberries on?), we’ll have a Short & Sweet to get our writerly gears turning for a week of exceptional productivity.

For today’s Short & Sweet we’re going super simple:

There’s been some kind of holiday mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster.  Write the newspaper headline (and a couple lines of the article if you like)!

(Admit it.  You didn’t think I could come up with anything that simple!  Well, I’m giving you a break after my very long-winded post on Friday 🙂  Also, my mouth is full of cake :))

Here are a couple examples 🙂

Santa’s Letters All Delivered To South Pole Penguins!  Postal service blames malfunctioning GPS.  The penguins only comment was, “Hrowrrk, Hrowrrk!”

Viking Delegation Arrives At Rockefeller Center.  “We thought you asked for a Norway Truce!” exclaims Harald V whose senior advisor is looking into new hearing aids for the king.

Monopoly Dispute May Ground Sleigh!  “I called first dibs on the shoe!” Dasher yelled as he was hauled off to time out.  Dancer was quoted as saying, “You poopy head!” which earned him a stint in time out as well.  A spokesman for the Clauses said, “This is trouble.  The sleigh won’t fly with only 6 reindeer!”

Post your headline (and as much article as you like :)) in the comments and hopefully yours or someone else’s will give you a great idea for a story!

And finally!!  The moment you’ve all been waiting for!!  Announcing….

The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!
The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story beginning with any version of “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind].”  For example, “Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart” or “Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe” or “Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon…”  You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂  But “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh” is completely acceptable too – whatever works for you 🙂  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (because I have to read them all in the week before Christmas! :))
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Saturday December 15 and Wednesday December 19 at 11:59 PM EST (no WYRI that day), 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 Saturday December 15 and remain up through Wednesday December 19 (no new post on Monday December 17).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 15th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to seven (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Friday December 21 (no PPBF that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Christmas Eve and the winner(s) will be announced on Wednesday December 26 (no WYRI that day).  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to fifth place.
The Prizes!:  When I said the prizes were fantastic, I wasn’t kidding.  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 5th place, and will each receive a picture book manuscript critique AND a $20 Amazon gift card to spend on the reading material of your choice AND the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!  The critiques have been generously donated by the following fabulous children’s authors (in alphabetical order by first name :)):
Alison Hertz: author and illustrator of FLAP! (Magic Dreams Publishing, November 2012)
Amy Dixon: author of MARATHON MOUSE (Sky Pony Press, October 2012)
Corey Rosen Schwartz: author of Hop! Plop! (Walker Children’s Books, April 2006), THE THREE NINJA PIGS (Putnam Juvenile, September 2012), and the forthcoming GOLDIROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS and NINJA RED (both coming from Putnam).  Corey also writes the Meter Maids blog with Tiffany (below).
Sarah Frances Hardy: author and illustrator of PUZZLED BY PINK (Viking Juvenile, April 2012)
Tiffany Strelitz Haber: author of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Henry Holt, July 2012).  Tiffany also writes the Meter Maids blog with Corey (above).

Wow!  Would one of those critiques be an awesome prize to win or what?!  And $20 to spend on a book you wanted but didn’t get for the holidays?  Plus bragging rights?  So put on your thinking caps!  Sharpen your pencils!  Fire up your imagination!  And start writing those holiday stories 🙂  You’ve got 2 whole weeks! 🙂

Just to be clear, in case it wasn’t above, in the interest of leaving time and space for the contest and giving y’all time for the busy-ness of the holidays and all the things I know you have going on in your homes and lives at this time of year, my usual posting schedule will be in a complete shambles between Dec. 15 and 26.  I will have a special post on Saturday December 15 (not a usual posting day for me) to kick off the contest, there will be no new post on Monday Dec. 17 (so we can keep posting and reading each other’s stories), no WYRI on Wednesday Dec. 19 (so we can finish posting and reading each other’s stories), no PPBF on Friday Dec. 21 (so I can post the finalists and you can vote), no new post on Christmas Eve (because it’s Christmas Eve :)) and no WYRI on December 26 (so I can post the winners!)  Hopefully that will free you up to write, read all the wonderful entries I sincerely hope we’re going to get, because with 5 such fabulous prizes to give away it would be very sad if we only got 3 entries :(, vote, and still have time for your families 🙂  I think we got somewhere between 30 and 35 entries last year – I hope we can meet or exceed that this year so our critique donors will feel loved and appreciated 🙂

I can’t wait to read your Short & Sweet headlines :), and then I guess I’d better get to work on my sample entry for the holiday contest since I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write! 🙂

Happy Monday, Everyone!  And please spread the word of the Holiday Contest to anyone you think might be interested.  It’s a chance for some writing fun, lots of blog visits, and maybe even a prize 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Marathon Mouse AND Giveaway Winner AND Hallloweensie Contest Winner!!!

It’s finally Friday!  Hooray!  That means I finally get to show you Marathon Mouse!  Also, I will be announcing the winner of Monday’s giveaway signed copy of Marathon Mouse at the end of the post (I know – so much excitement!) so stay tuned!

Oh, and there is one other thing… halloween related… 🙂

But first things first, and you know the Perfect Picture Book always has to go at the top of Friday’s post.  Those are the rules.  And the person in charge around here made the rules so I really have to follow them 🙂

Marathon Mouse
Written By: Amy Dixon
Illustrated By: Sam Denlinger
Sky Pony Press, October 2012, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 3-8

Themes/Topics: Running, Marathons, Goals, Believing In Yourself, Determination

Opening: “Every New York City mouse dreamed of living under the bridge bewteen Brooklyn and Staten Island.  There, they didn’t have to dodge taxi cabs or escape hungry sewer cats.  And when they wanted to visit, the bustling city was just a hop, skip, and a scamper away.  But there was one day each year that their life under the bridge was not dreamy…

Brief Synopsis: Preston Mouse lives beneath the Verrazano Bridge and dreams of running the New York City Marathon.  “Mice were not made to run,” says Papa.  “A mouse could get crushed,” says Mama.  “You? Run 26.2 miles?” his sisters tease. With this lack of faith, Preston trains secretly, but train he does because he believes he can do it.  At least, he wants to try.

Links To Resources: Teacher’s Guide from author’s website.  Also I think reading this story gives an excellent opportunity to discuss with kids what they dream about – what do they think they can do?  what do they hope to accomplish?  Younger kids can draw pictures of themselves working toward or achieving something that matters to them.  Older kids can write a story about it.  Discover Marathon Kids.  And a little about the first marathon and some related activities HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  Ah, so many reasons 🙂  First, it’s really well written, a captivating story told with gentle humor and warmth.  Second, this is the only picture book I’ve ever seen about running/marathoning, so it’s a new, fresh topic and one I think kids will love.  Third, I don’t think there can ever be too many books that encourage kids to work hard toward something that’s important to them, believe in themselves, and follow their dreams.  Finally, when Preston gets out there to run, I dare you not to cheer him on, and I think you’ll be surprised and touched by how the story ends 🙂  And seriously, how cute is this little guy? 🙂

Preston Mouse from Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon & Sam Denlinger

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

And now that you’re all just desperate to own a copy, I’ll tell you who won Monday’s giveaway 🙂  And I would just like to say that I so enjoyed reading about all the things you guys have accomplished (which was what you had to tell us to qualify for the drawing) – what an amazing group!  If you didn’t happen to read the comments from Monday’s post, hop over and have a look – you’re in impressive company over here!  But I digress… 🙂

Cue the trumpets!

The winner of a signed copy of Marathon Mouse is…

JARM!!!
(who it just so happens rode a camel to the top of Mt. Sinai and after sunrise walked all the way down! which is not why she won the book – that was just random.org – but I really thought you should know! :))

Please email me (by using the handy button on the side or by actually, physically, manually typing in susanna[AT]susannahill[DOT]com) and tell me your address and (never mind, Jarm – I have it from the PPB book mark mailing!) how you’d like Amy to sign it, and we’ll get it straight out to you!

So, have a nice weekend everyone!

What?

Oh, you think I forgot something?

Tee hee 🙂

Okay.  You twisted my arm.  I’ll tell you who won the Halloweensie Contest.  And let me just say – it was quite the nail biter!  But the voters have spoken!

And the winner is…

Oh.  I guess we better have trumpets AND a drum roll this time.

Okay.  The winner is…

Wait!  Maybe we should also throw some confetti, wouldn’t that be nice?

Okay, really.  The winner is…

Cake, anyone?  Something festive and Halloween-y?

Okay, really and truly.  The winner is…

Julie with Hallow‘s Eve!!!

Congratulations, Julie, for a fun story that even included the term halloweensie!!! and was artistically presented in the shape of a cat 🙂  (At least, it looks like a cat to me, but I suppose it could be a halloweensie mouse :))  Julie, you are the lucky recipient of the 5 signed picture books from our generous and talented fellow authors.  You will receive Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon, The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Puzzled By Pink by Sarah Frances Hardy, Flap! by Alison Hertz, and The Monster Who Lost His Mean by Tiffany Strelitz Haber!  Please email me and let me know how you’d like them signed and we’ll all get on the case 🙂  You are also the distinguished recipient of the incredible fame that comes with winning a contest of this caliber.  You can now hold your head high and proudly tell everyone you see that you won the Halloweensie Contest!  Not just anyone can say that!  (In fact, at the moment, only one other person in the world can say that – Cathy who won last year :))  Fame, I tell you! 🙂

Second place and a $25 Amazon gift card goes to Laura R for Jack O’Lantern!

Third place and a $15 Amazon gift card goes to Nancy for Halloween Drives Me Batty!

Congratulations to all the winners!

But I’d like to say again how fabulous ALL the entries were, and congratulate everyone who entered.  You all did a great job, and I know how hard it is to put your work out there, so BRAVO!!!  I know I speak for everyone when I say how much we all enjoyed reading ALL the entries!

And here’s a little heads up.  I’m not running the Thanksgiving Contest this year.  I think it’s just too much with everything else going on in November and having just finished the Halloweensie Contest.  But I WILL be running the Holiday Contest during the week of December 19-24.  And I’ll tell you right now that there are 5 (that’s FIVE!) Picture Book Manuscript Critiques up for grabs to the winners of that contest!!!  And maybe some other good stuff too!  So start thinking holiday thoughts.  Make some notes.  And be sure to keep your calendar open enough to participate!  The reason there are 5 fabulous prizes is because we got so many entries for that contest last year, which gave me the impression (possibly misguided :)) that it was popular.  So I hope people will enter, and please spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.  I will post the contest rules in the first week of December… hopefully… 🙂

Okay.  Now for real, go have a nice weekend 🙂  PPBF bloggers, please remember to add your post-specific link to the list below!

Meet Tiffany Strelitz Haber, Author Of Debut Picture Book The Monster Who Lost His Mean and A Giveway!

I know.  We haven’t done Oh Susanna in ages!  But awesome things keep coming up that I just have to slide in somewhere, one of which is today’s post about a great new picture book.  So… next week?

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Tiffany, but real quick before I do, let me just announce that the winner of Steven Petruccio’s gorgeous picture book Puffer’s Surprise from last week’s author/illustrator interview is Delores (thefeatherednest)!!!  Congratulations, Delores!  I hope you’ll enjoy this beautiful book!

Now then!  Everyone, please meet Tiffany!  I have to tell you, I found this interview so entertaining that I’m afraid you guys will never want to come back and read my boring old posts after it, so you have to promise not to throw me over 🙂

Tiffany Strelitz Haber & Co. 🙂

SLH:  When did you start writing for children?  

TSH:  When I was in third grade, I wrote my first “rhyming picture book”.  I continued writing for many years.  In fact, all throughout highschool, and a bit in college as well.  So obviously, when I was figuring out what I wanted to do for a living, I headed straight for the financial world!  I was never really one for connect the dots.  🙂   Anyway.  Yadda, yadda, yadda, cut to 24 years later (give or take)…chronically unhappy in the career I had been diligently building for over a decade, and feeling like it was ‘now or never’ to make a change, I realized I was barking up the wrong tree entirely.  I wanted to really love what I did for a living.  So I went back to what I had loved for so many years before, and started writing for kids.


SLH:  Do you have an agent, or did you submit on your own?  

TSH:  Agent.  I learned very quickly (by attending a couple of NJSCBWI conferences), that having agent representation opens doors otherwise closed to most authors.  It also allows you the freedom to really focus on writing (and later promoting) as opposed to spending countless hours researching publishing houses and editors, constructing query letters, physically printing, stuffing, stamping and mailing submissions out, following up and…well…you get the point.  


SLH:  Was The Monster Who Lost His Mean your first submitted PB or did you have others before that haven’t sold yet?

TSH:  I actually got extremely lucky.  My agent subbed two PBs of mine simultaneously to a variety of houses.  Several months later…within the same week, we had offers on both.  It was very exciting!  (SLH: OMG!  I think I speak for most of our readers when I say I could sure use a week like that! 🙂

SLH:  Tell us about the moment when you got THE CALL!!!  How did you feel?  What did you do?  Did you celebrate? Call all your friends and relations? 🙂

TSH:  Ok, so I was on a ski trip with a bunch of friends.  We were sharing a house and had been out super late the night before, so everyone was passed out on various couches and beds.  Anyway…for some reason, I found myself wide awake at 5 in the morning so I checked email on my phone.  And there it was.  We had an offer on MONSTER and as I leaped off the couch and looked around for someone to share the news with (read: tackle with uncontrollable zeal), I realized  I was surrounded by zombies.  There wasn’t a single soul within a half mile radius that wasn’t dead to the world and stickin’ to it.  So I kind of just muttered to myself in the corner for a while with a pre-dawn bloody mary.  Party of one, please!


SLH:  Do you have anything else under contract?  

TSH:  I have another rhyming picture book due out in April 2013.  It’s called, Ollie and Claire (Philomel/Penguin) and was illustrated by the amazing Matthew Cordell.

I also have a couple of stories in that critical, “at an editorial meeting” type phase where it could still go either way…but you know you’re close and you’re just kinda….waiting. (read: pacing, email-refreshing, obsessing)

SLH:  And please share where we can find you…


TSH: 
facebook:  www.facebook.com/tshauthor  (BIG facebook gal.  Let’s be friends!)
Twitter: @tiffrhymes
Blog: for tips and tricks on writing in rhyme, come check out  www.themetermaids.blogspot.com
Just for fun quick questions:

Left or right handed?  right
Traditionally or self-published? traditionally
Hard copy or digital? hard
Apps or not?  not that I know of?
Plotter or pantser? plantser?
Laptop or desktop? lap
Mac or PC? Mac
Day or night worker? DAY
Coffee or tea? Coffee (and then suddenly tea for like…a day)
Snack or not? I want to meet the person who says “not”.  And then never talk to them again.
Salty or sweet? Salty.  Althought salty and sweet in the same bite is actual heaven on earth.  #ChocolateCoveredPretzels
Quiet or music? Quiet
Cat or dog? both
Currently reading? Helter Skelter

And now, my lovelies, Tiffany has generously offered a signed copy of her brand new, hot-off-the-presses, WONDERFUL book.  All you have to do is what the Rafflecoptor widget tells you to.  And may I just say that I hope the Rafflecoptor widget is going to show up somewhere – it probably will not show up where I intend it to, so look around, be ingenious and persistent, and hopefully you’ll find it wherever it chooses to appear 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveawaySo yeah – fill that in.  You get extra points for “liking” and “following” and things of that nature.  And just in case the widget doesn’t work, and I am off in the boonies of PA/VA/NC unable to fix it, please also take part in our fun contest in the comments – it’s supposed to show up as mandatory in the Rafflecoptor thingy, but like I said, my faith has limits…. 🙂 so I’m putting it here too:

Everybody knows the ‘M’ in MONSTER stands for Mean.  When one young MONSTER loses his…and becomes THE ONSTER, everything goes awry.  What does the first letter in *your* name stand for?  How would you feel if you lost it?  Answer below for a chance to win a signed copy of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN!

Have fun!  And if you have any questions or comments for Tiffany, fire away.  I’ll try to talk her into checking in from time to time 🙂

Happy Monday, All!