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

Holy Jack-O-Lanterns, Batman!

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

A pumpkin who has fallen off her creaky broomstick!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1 Halloween SMS (Short Messaging Scariness)

Halloween SMS

#2 Creaky Cackle

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

#3 Full Moon Rising

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

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

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

#5 Sulky Spider’s Spooky Webs

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


#6 This Year’s Halloween Mascot

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


#7 Halloween Chase

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


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

#9 The Shadow

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

#10 Halloween In A Box

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


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

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

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

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

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

Okay.

Not really.

I’m SO not a napper.

But I might eat some leftover Halloween candy 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

The 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

Would You Read It Wednesday #110 – Broccolilocks (PB)

Do you ever get ideas but have no idea how to make them a reality?

I am full of ideas… but when it comes to execution I lack many skills 🙂  Drawing, for example.  Doing anything at all with photoshop, for another.  Also, there are those who would say that dancing is not my forte (although I do it with a great deal of enthusiasm :))

So imagine my delight at having children who are just SO much more competent than I am!

As a result, I am finally going to have something I’ve been desperate for for about 7 years.

Bookplates!

My own beautiful bookplates!  (They are so pretty!  Wait until you see!)

They are designed, and I ordered one sheet so I can see how they look.  (Just in case there are any problems with the printing, I don’t want ten million not-quite-right ones :))

Due to the fact that the one sheet cost $3.99 and the cheapest possible shipping I could get was $5.04, I chose the cheapest possible shipping and now have to wait 14 days.

But what’s 14 days after the approximately 7 years I’ve already waited?

As soon as I have them, I’ll show you!

And then the really fun thing is that if you want a signed copy of one of my books but you live in Kamchatka or somewhere that is not right around the corner from me, you can simply purchase the book from your favorite bookseller, email me with who/how you want the book signed, and I can mail you a book plate just how you want it and you can stick it right in!

Voila!  An idea has become reality!

That is just so exciting that I think we need a snack!  I have a total craving for apple cider donuts, so

… help yourselves!  (I realize these are not technically Something Chocolate, but it’s only cider donut time for a short portion of each year and they really are best fresh :))

Now then.  Are you ready for today’s pitch?

It comes to us from Julie who has visited us twice before (WYRI #68 Eddie Brick Visits The Aunts and WYRI #75 Just Call Me The Kid.)  A scribbler of children’s stories in between chores, Julie Rowan-Zoch has visited three continents, attempted to learn 4 languages, and has a 2-3-3-3-3 phalangeal formula in both of her hands and feet. (Though not yet able to get a good grip with her toes, she has been drawing with her hands since she exchanged a banana for a crayon.)  Please come visit her on her blog and view her beautiful artwork!  (Really, it’s amazing!  You’re in for a treat so go see it!)

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Broccolilocks
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-6)
The Pitch: CRUNCH! Broccolilocks has a GIANT appetite for her prized vegetable. MUNCH! But a mysterious stink leads her nose down the garden rows to find that something has been munching on her broccoli! 

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Julie improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you’ve got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Julie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to when my bookplates arrive!  Did I mention that I have 5 different ones?  So awesome! 🙂  I can’t wait to show them to you!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

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

Happy Columbus Day, Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

courtesy google images

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

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 28th and Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my October 28th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up.

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

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

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

Have fun! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #100!!! – The Golden Egg (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor

Holy Hundredth Would You Read It, Batman!

Can you believe it?

Today marks the 100th week!  The 100th brave person to post their pitch!  The 100th Wednesday of Wonderfulness when we all get to learn so much from each other!

Who would have thought we’d get to 100 back on July 27, 2011 when we had our very first pitch?

So I think we should celebrate.  As always, Something Chocolate shall be involved (with many many thanks to the awesome and wonderful Coleen for making this for us today – and while I’m mentioning Coleen you should go read her blog if you don’t already because she is tons of fun :))

This, my friends, is a Brookie – a Brownie Cookie – pretty much the best of both worlds, don’tcha think?
Photo copyright Coleen Patrick 2013 used by permission

Doesn’t that look delicious???  Help yourself to a cup of coffee or a nice cold glass of milk to go with it! 🙂

But wait!  There’s more!

Because the 100th day of anything doesn’t come around all that often, I think I will give away a prize to one lucky randomly selected commenter from today’s post!  Just because I love you and my blog would be nothing without all you wonderful people who come to read and comment and share your love of kidlit.

Hmmm…. what should the prize be, I wonder?

Well, you can never really have enough picture books, can you? 🙂  If you’re a parent or a teacher they come in super handy.  If you’re a writer, you can learn so much from how a good one is written.  So how about the prize shall be the winner’s choice of Is Your Buffalo Ready For Kindergarten by Audrey Vernick (perfect for this time of year), I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder (perfect for poetry lovers), Journey by Aaron Becker (perfect for art lovers), America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle by David A. Adler (perfect for nonfiction lovers), or, if you already have all 4 of those, something else that we pick together!

Now, just quickly before we get to today’s pitch, I have a Straight From The Editor for you.  You will recall that Andrea won the June pitch pick with her pitch for The Backpack Secret (PB).  This was her pitch:

On the first day of kindergarten, Amani notices that Mason won’t take off his backpack. She’s determined to find out why, especially when the other kids start calling him names. After she finally convinces Mason to share his secret, it gives her an idea that will help everyone in the class feel braver at school.

And this response from editor Erin Molta is almost a first (it certainly doesn’t happen often!):

I like this and can’t think of anything to make it more appealing. It states the problem succinctly and resolves it satisfactorily while intriguing an editor to want to find out what’s inside that backpack.

Wow!  Good for you, Andrea!  Well done!  (And maybe you’d better send that story our on submission soon :))

Straight From The Editor reminds me that I don’t think we’ve done the July Pitch Pick, so maybe I’ll put that up on Friday.

Now then, today’s pitch comes to us from Lisa, whom you may remember from last month with her pitch for That Tommy Thompson.  Lisa says, “I’m a former elementary school social worker, mom of two, and have recently made writing my full time job.  Two years ago I wrote my first picture book and just this past fall I  decided it wasn’t going to do any good sitting on my computer. I began taking classes, reading craft books, attending conferences and workshops and just writing, everyday, writing.   The original story is long gone but at last count I’ve got 42 other drafts and ideas jotted down.  Oh yeah, and about four or five ready to go manuscripts. I have worked with kids my entire adult life and I feel strongly that this is the avenue in which I am meant to reach those little hearts and minds at this time in my life.  On a random note, I’m a big fan of chocolate covered gummy bears. ;)”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Golden Egg
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: The sight of a golden egg creates quite a stir among the feathered community and the fact that it doesn’t hatch has the Whisperers working overtime.  But have no fear, the Eggsperts are called in to save the day. But do they?  In the end,  Mother Hen knows she must listen to her heart.   Through a humorous story, lies a nurturing tale about a mothers love, acceptance and healing.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Lisa improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September which is alarmingly close, so please send your pitch in right away for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Lisa is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing how my freshly updated website and blog turn out.  The marvelous Donna Farrell is hard at work trying to update, freshen, and streamline my blog and website with only the barest, minimal, cryptic information from me – such comments as, “Can you make it so it does that thing like, you know?” – very specific, detailed instructions 🙂  Good luck, Donna 🙂  But she’s a genius so I know it will turn out exactly how I want it!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!  And don’t forget, one lucky commenter today will win a prize! 🙂  Thank you all for your devoted readership!  It makes me happy to be part of this warm-hearted, generous community!

Short And Sweet Monday – Collections

Sufferin’ sassafras!  Is it Monday already?

Then in that case it must be time for something Short & Sweet!

badge created by Loni Edwards

And when I say Short & Sweet, I mean it!  Seriously!  Somehow October snuck up on me, never mind Monday, and I’ve got SOO much to do!

Today is Princess Blue Kitty’s first birthday.  (For those of you who didn’t spend the summer here, Princess Blue Kitty is my car.)  And I will have you know that yesterday, on the way home from Stop & Shop her odometer rolled over 35,000 miles.  That is a lot of miles to collect in one year.

But it got me to thinking about collecting things.  If you have kids, spend any time around kids, or have ever been a kid, you know that kids love to collect things.  Pokemon cards and baseball cards.  Build-a-Bear outfits and accessories.  Vacation tee-shirts.  Rocks.  Matchbox cars.  Comic books.  Beanie Babies.  You name it, there’s probably a kid somewhere who collects it 🙂

So for today’s Short & Sweet think up something a kid collects.  Then think about why they collect it and what that tells you about who they are.

Then, in the comments (or if you can’t comment because of my @$!%*%! blog you can email me and I’ll post for you) write a sentence, or a couple sentences, or however much you want, that tells us something about your character, what they collect, and why.

Who:  can be as vague as “he” or “she”, or as specific as “Molly, a little brown field mouse”
The Collection: can be absolutely anything you want! – the more interesting/unusual/downright bizarre the better 🙂  (And I mean anything!  Having trouble thinking something up?  Just look around and pick the first thing you see – dog bones, acorns, picture frames, super balls, macaroni, potholders, toenail clippings (sure! why not go for the gross?! :)), grass trimmings, song lyrics, cocoons, seeds…. the possibilities are endless!) … (and in case you were wondering, which I know you were since I told you to look around and pick the first thing you see, I do not have acorns and toenail clippings etc. lying around my living room… only the dog bones :))
Why: hopefully the why of this collecting will give us a peek inside your character and will be the spark that ignites story ideas 🙂

Here are a couple examples:

Henry collected seashells on the beach where he had fished so often with Grandpa.  He searched for those that neither the ceaseless tumbling of the tide nor the careless steps of hard-soled feet had cracked or broken.  Only shells that were whole and perfect made his collection.  Whenever he found a new one, he brought it to Grandpa.  He never said it out loud, because that would ruin it, but in his heart he harbored the hope that somehow, if he laid something flawless and familiar in Grandpa’s gnarled hands, his tangled thoughts would unsnarl, and his mind would become, once again, as whole and perfect as the shells.

Nobody listened to Anne, so she collected words.  Not just any words, not plain, ordinary words, but unusual, unpredictable words that rolled off her tongue in a pleasing way.  Someday she would use her saved up words – words like tangential, garrulous, idiosyncratic, vituperative, onomatopoetic, ecclesiastical and catastrophic – sprinkle  them into her speech like spices, and then, people would listen!  How could they not?

His shoelace collection started because of the orange ones he found with the baseballs on them.  Next he discovered the blue ones with green lizards, and after that, yellow ones with NASCAR flags.  He hung them from the handlebars of his bike, like streamers, and hoped that when he sped past she would look up from where she sat on the bottom step of her front porch stringing beads.

Or you can go as simple as:

Mabel collected milkweed pods because she liked to open them up, pull the soft silk from inside, tuck it into her hair and pretend she was an ancient enchantress in a forbidden forest.

Get the idea?

Even if your own character/collection doesn’t spark a story for you, someone else’s might.  And your offering might spark a story for somebody else!  So let’s all share.  And please feel free to write as many as you’d like! 🙂

Shall we fire up our imaginations and see what kind of stories we can spark with our collections?

Have fun, everyone!  I can’t wait to see what you come up with! 🙂  Hopefully we’ll be so inspired that we won’t be able to write fast enough! 🙂

P.S.  If anyone happened to take the new Short & Sweet badge 2 weeks ago when I first put it up, please swap it for this one – the first one was missing the kitty’s whiskers! 🙂

Short And Sweet

Well, here we are.  It’s Monday September 17 and I promised you a Short & Sweet, so a Short & Sweet we shall have!  And just look at this beautiful, updated badge we have to go along with our non-summer Short & Sweets!  Thank you, Loni 🙂

badge created by Loni Edwards

Actually, now that I think about it, Monday seems like a good day for Short & Sweets – a good way to get those writing gears greased up and ready to go for a productive writing week, don’t you think?

Given the extreme hecticness of the last couple weeks, as we’ve all striven (is that even a word?) to get our kids back to school, or get used to doing homework again, or tried to vacuum ourselves out from under the dog hair mound (oh, is that just me?) we will be very short and sweet today – nothing too taxing.

Let’s make up fun characters, shall we?  Since it’s Monday morning, I’ll give you the chance to think on your own, but I’ll also give you options to choose blindly in case your brain isn’t quite awake yet 🙂

Here’s what to do:

1.  Choose a name you like, male or female, any kind of name, e.g. Harper, Frisky, Stinky Pete.
     Too broad, too vague, too wide open for this hour on Monday morning?  I’ll give you a list to choose from 🙂  Pick a number from 1-10 (no peeking!) and use the name you get.

     1. Sophie
     2. Alex
     3. Rocky
     4. Kyle
     5. Princess
     6. Lindsay
     7. Becca
     8. Ethan
     9. Tiger
    10. Taylor

2.  Pick 4 descriptive traits, e.g. cautious, hopeful, athletic, smart
     Again, if you need choices, I’ll give you some.  Pick 4 letters from A to Z (no peeking) and use the traits you get.

     A= argumentative  B= bold  C= curious  D= desperate  E= eager  F= feisty  G= grateful  H= home-loving  I= impatient  J= joyful  K= kind  L= lazy  M= mean  N= nosy  O= opinionated  P= passionate  Q= quiet  R= rambunctious  S= serious  T= tired  U= unimaginative  V= vacillating  W= worried  X= extra (I know that doesn’t really begin with x!)  Y= yellow  Z= zippy

3.  Pick one: only child or sibling of.  If you choose sibling of, list names of siblings.
     example:  only child
     example: sibling of Howard, Henry and Hugo

4.  Pick two things your character loves, e.g. elephants and birthday cake
     Need help?  Let’s go with the letters again, that was fun 🙂  Pick 2 letters from A-Z and use the things you get.

     A= apples  B=bears  C= cacti  D= dinosaurs  E= easter eggs  F= flowers  G= giants  H= hotdogs  I=   ice cream  J= jumping rope  K= kite-flying  L= licorice  M= mountains  N= nighttime  O= ocean  P= pumpkins  Q= quilts  R= racing  S= snow  T= traveling  U= umbrellas  V= violin  W= white-water rafting  X= extra helpings (yeah, I know that doesn’t really start with x either :))  Y= yodeling  Z= zip-lining

5.  Pick something your character fears, e.g. spiders
     Can’t think of anything?  Choose a number from 1- 20 and go with what you get.

     1= the dark  2= snakes  3= the dentist  4= being alone  5= getting a haircut  6= going to school 7= having a babysitter  8= losing a tooth  9= falling off a bike  10= heights  11= going on an airplane  12= going to sleep-away camp  13= swimming  14= ghosts  15= thunderstorms  16= loud noises  17= big dogs  18= talking to new people  19= bad dreams  20= monsters

6.  Pick something your character wants, e.g. to learn to ride a bike
     Need inspiration?  Choose a number from 1-20 – you know the drill 🙂

     1= a pet  2= to go to the moon  3= to be famous  4= to be in the school play  5= a brother or sister  6= to stay up later  7= to be independent  8= to be brave  9= to have a best friend  10= to go to the circus  11= to get allowance  12= to go camping  13= to bake a cake  14= to be good at something  15= to be popular  16= to lose a tooth  17= to be first  18= to feel important  19= to be listened to/recognized  20= to get a job

Now.   Put your character all together in the comments like this:

     Jemima
     short, loyal, adventurous, brave
     sibling of Pete
     lover of horses and going fast
     who fears being invisible
     and wants a pony of her own

If you want, write the opening of a story about your character, for example:

     Sometimes Jemima was a little too brave for her own good.  Like the time Pete dared her to climb to the top of the apple tree… and she ended up with her arm in a cast for 6 weeks.

The idea here is that, with lots of participants, we’ll generate a great list of possible characters, any of which might spark a story idea for anyone!  The same character might spark 10 different stories in 10 people!  Have fun with it – it should be a pretty quick exercise – and feel free to do more than one! 🙂

I hope we’ll get lots of good ideas percolating this morning!  Have a lovely day, everyone, and Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who are celebrating! 🙂