The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest ~ aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!

Viper fangs and dragon claws. It’s time for. . .

The 10TH Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!

Halloweensie Pumpkin

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words skeleton, creep, and mask.  Your story can be scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, poetry or prose, 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 over 325 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. skeletons, creepy/crept, masked/unmasked, whathaveyou 🙂  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined 🙂 )

Post: your story on your blog between right now this very second and Saturday October 31st by 11:59 PM Eastern Time and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Tuesday Debut, Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and 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 below (please include your byline if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight so I can identify you.)  If you have difficulty posting in the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post it for you.  Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the topNO ATTACHMENTS!  And please do not submit entries in more than one place because it becomes confusing.

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 6 9 12? top choices (give or take… you know how hard it is to choose!) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Wednesday November 4th or Thursday November 5th (if the judging takes longer than we expect if could be later…but we will do our best!)  The winner will be announced on Monday November 9th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 😊 )

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Halloweeniness – the rules state a Halloween story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Halloween, not just some random spooky night.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 🙂  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes:  SO AMAZING! What a generous community we have to donate so much awesomeness!!! 😊

1 – Get Your MS in Tip Top Shape With Vivian Kirkfield!

Vivian is offering a PB MS Critique (fiction or nonfiction/rhyming or prose), along with a 30 minute Skype or FB video chat to discuss, along with a read-through of the revision. And top it all off she will also help you with a query/cover letter edit to go with your polished up ms! WOW!

Vivian Kirkfield is the author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD (Little Bee, January 14, 2020), and more…

Making Their Voices Heard Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

2 – Penny’s Two Cents – an incredible opportunity for any picture book writer!

Sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a published author about your writing journey. Penny Parker Klostermann is offering her two cents. The prize includes General/Big-Picture Feedback on one picture book manuscript + One 30-Minute Chat (Rhyming or prose-750 words or under) Penny doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, (by any means) but she’s happy to share her two cents based on what she’s learned and continues to learn on her journey as an author.

Penny is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) (now available in board book and with matching pajamas! 🙂 ) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

Penny Klostermann Cooked-Up Fairy Tale 2c5b9-dragon2bcover

3 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyme or prose) from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS (Putnam, July 2020) and DON’T HUG DOUG (forthcoming from Putnam in January 2021.)

Carrie-Finison-200x300 Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.35.37 AM Don't Hug Doug

4 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lydia Lukidis, author of NO BEARS ALLOWED (Blue Whale Press 2019) and many educational titles.

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

5 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction or nonfiction) from Teresa Robeson, author of Queen of Physics (Sterling, 2019) and Two Bicycles In Beijing (Albert Whitman, 2020)

Picture Picture Picture6

6 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Kirsti Call author of The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall (Mazo Publishing, January 2019),  Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee, September 2020), as well as COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) which will release in 2021.

  Kirsti Call

7 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

8 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Heather Gale, author of Ho’onani Hula Warrior (Tundra Books, October 2019)

Heather Gale

9 – a personalized signed copy of The King Cake Baby  and 15 Minute “Ask Me Anything” Video Chat with Keila Dawson, author of The King Cake Baby (Pelican 2015), No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History (Charlesbridge 2020), and Opening The Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book (forthcoming from Beaming Books, January 2021)

Keila Dawson

10 – Making Picture Book Magic Self Study – an online picture book writing class – any month of winner’s choice!

MPBM

11 – a personalized signed copy of EITHER  ROCK AND ROLL WOODS (PB) or an ARC of SPIRITS AMONG US (MG) from author Sherry Howard

Sherry Howard (4)Cover Rock and Roll Woods Spirits Among Us

AND a personalized signed copy of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE (Abrams Appleseed, May 2020) by Gabi Snyder

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

12 –  a personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Jerry shelley-kinder_orig

AND a personalized signed copy of MARS’ FIRST FRIENDS: COME ON OVER ROVERS! (Sourcebooks 2020) by Susanna Leonard Hill

Please join me 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, recommending them for school visits, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 😊

Now then, my pretties! It’s past the witching hour in the dead of night – very appropriate for a Halloween story, don’t you think? – and the time has come for me to embarrass myself my sample entry which should fill you with confidence in your own MUCH MUCH better efforts!!!

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 broomstick leg
“Steady now,”
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
creeping
uninvited guest
nearing windows
warm with light
no idea
of their plight
Captain Jack
Deceit complete
Unmasks and shouts out, “Trick-or-treat!”

It’s truly spooky how willing I am to embarrass myself for you! 😊😊😊 

I can’t wait to read all of your entries!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 3 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.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the google form below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – just go along the list of links, click on them, and enjoy the stories! 

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 😊  🎃

And don’t miss the 169!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments
below! (Hopefully each one is a link, but thanks to the new wordpress, I’ve redone the list twice with uncertain success!)
 
  1. Midnight Rescue – Laura Bost
  2. You Don’t Scare Me – Brenda B. Covert
  3. Rattle, Rattle Skeleton – Vashti Verbowski
  4. Corona’s Evil Plan – Marty Findley
  5. Littlest Witch’s Wild Ride – Marty Findley
  6. Shy Skeleton’s Dance – Marty Findley
  7. A Night Out. . . – Deb Sullivan
  8. See Billy Bony – Helen Addyman
  9. The Skeleton Shuffle – Susan R. Waide
  10. Scare School – Laura Howard
  11. Is It Time? – Sue Lancaster
  12. The Skeletons’ Masked Ball – Sue Lancaster
  13. Halloween Masquerade – Jamie Donahoe
  14. The Curse of Halloween – Bru Benson
  15. Halloween Hesitation – Beth Volkmann
  16. The Phantom Of The Library – Natalie Cohn
  17. Trick Or Treat – Alli Straus
  18. No Bones About It – Judy Sobanski
  19. Family Business – Natalie Cohn
  20. Tattered Treats – Marilyn Garcia
  21. Halloween Surprise – Anna Ouchchy
  22. A Spider’s Tale – Darcee A. Freier
  23. Grandfather’s Clock – Sarah Heaton
  24. Halloween Peeps – Jamie Donahoe
  25. Mystery Guest – Dawn Young
  26. Nelly O’Skelly – Danielle Sharkan
  27. First Halloween – Carol Jones
  28. One Noisy Halloween – Rebecca Thill
  29. Polly’s Not-So-Perfect Potion – Susan Summers
  30. Masquerade – Kathiann Weatherbee
  31. Howl-o-weenie – Ashlee Hashman
  32. Trick Or Treat – Stephanie Mena
  33. Skelly The Skeleton – Michelle S. Kennedy
  34. Trudy’s Toothy Halloween – Kelsey Gross
  35. Class Pet Trickery! – Mary Bleckwehl
  36. Hola Halloween! – ‘Boo Darkling’ (Roo Parkin)
  37. BOO! – Rebecca Woodall
  38. Haunted – Anne Lipton
  39. Creepy D’s – Martha Holguin
  40. Trick Or Treat – Marla Yablon
  41. Skellie’s Closet – KeelyWrites
  42. Skelly B. Skeleton – Cathy Chester
  43. When Skally Nearly Didn’t Show His Face – Diana Webb
  44. Sammy Goes Home – Courtney Rubo
  45. GRRRRRRRRRR! – Donna Kurtz
  46. Teeth Love HalloweenToo! – Donna Kurtz
  47. The Halloween Fair – Donna Kurtz
  48. Skeleton And Ghostina – Gail Hartman
  49. Little Bonesy Loves Halloween! – Paul Kurtz
  50. Mousey’s Batty For Halloween! – Paul Kurtz
  51. Spider-Claws Is Comin’ To Town – Paul Kurtz
  52. A Bone-afide Friend – Kristen Reinsel
  53. Wendy’s Sugar Spell – Caitlin Eslinger
  54. A Very Scary Halloween – Kerrie Elizabeth Godding
  55. Haunted Hallo-weave – Cathrene Valente Youngquist
  56. Spider’s Can’t Dance! – Cathrene Valente Youngquist
  57. The Beady Eye – Libby Hartwell
  58. Stitch – Amy Duchene
  59. Halloween Surprise – Sarah Hawklyn
  60. Four Dancing Skeletons – Isabel Rodriguez
  61. First Trick-or-Treat – Carol Samuelson-Woodson
  62. BIG Boney Story – Yolanda Danyi Szuch
  63. Skeleton Knights – Islancy Guada
  64. Halloween, This Year – Nina Nolan
  65. The Arnold Rock – Polly Sheldon
  66. Skeleton’s Scare – Erin K. McCabe
  67. Skeleton’s In The Closet – Karen Keesling
  68. Vampire And Skeleton Go Shopping – Jay Reece
  69. Haiku – Corine Timmer
  70. Opportunity Wanders – Florbela Nienaber  
  71. Trick or Treat – Susan R. Waide
  72. The Monster’s Mash! – Susan R. Waide
  73. The Skele-Mummy – Linda Staszak
  74. All On A Halloween Night – Linda Staszak
  75. Creep A Little Closer – Yvonne McCutchen
  76. Moonlight Party – Yvonne McCutchen
  77. Stella Decorates – Melissa Warren
  78. Candy Heist – Sarah Hawklyn
  79. Pillows In Pants – Christine Menke
  80. The Masked Skeleton – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  81. Mask Required – Lucretia Schafroth
  82. Psyched Out – Karen Pickrell
  83. The Case Of The Missing Skeleton – Karen Pickrell
  84. All Hallows’ Eve – Liz Kehrli
  85. My Worst Thirty-first – Obbverse
  86. Scary Mary – Geraldine Jones
  87. Sweet Escape – Allison Strick
  88. Bones: A Love Story – Keatley Eastman
  89. Phoebe’s Magic Stew – Linda Hofke
  90. Paco And The Skeletons – Katie Schwartz
  91. Lester Skeleton’s Halloween Hunt – Ford Waight
  92. Little Frankie Patches Things Up – Rozana Rajkumari
  93. Witch’s Fiery Broth – Corine Timmer
  94. Jack’s Halloween – Kara Sibilia
  95. The Jolly Skeleton – Linda Staszak
  96. Sammy Skeleton’s Warm Halloween – Lily Erlic
  97. Slinky Skeleton – Penelope McNally
  98. Annabelle’s Halloween – Penelope McNally
  99. The Hungry Corpse – Robert Schechter
  100. Little Goblin’s Halloween – Kathleen Mazurowski
  101. The Curse – Glenda Roberson
  102. Moving Day – Laura Bower
  103. Halloweenie – Lauren Harris
  104. Letter On The Door – Jessica Reed
  105. Sebastian’s Halloween – Polly Owen
  106. Skeleton’s Halloween Party – Polly Owen
  107. Halloween High Jinx – Stacey Miller
  108. Weensie’s Potion – Lisa Lee Furness
  109. The Nightmarish Place – Suzie Olsen
  110. I’m Not Scared – Desirae Moten
  111. What A Haul! – Diane Hanington
  112. The Halloween Trick – Aimee Larke
  113. A Skeleton’s Fright – Nadia Ali
  114. The Maple Tree Fright – Rebecca Allain
  115. Creepy Cookie Night – Annette LaFortune Murray
  116. The Night Stacey Saved Halloween – Autumn Haley (age 8)
  117. The Skeleton Ball – Jenny Caddy
  118. The Halloween Car Parade – Laura Bower
  119. The Halloween Ball – Crystal Lamb
  120. A Halloween Scare – Sarah Hetu-Radny
  121. Skeleton And Jack – Jennifer Bochonowicz
  122. Halloween – Marjorie David
  123. Ben’s Biggest Fear – Maria Pichler
  124. Skeletons – Patty Wright
  125. GHOST On The COAST – Becky Loescher
  126. The Scare Dare – Nancy Derey Riley
  127. Lonely Spider’s Dance – Danielle Sharkan
  128. Things That Go Cronk – Carla Bourne
  129. Grrrr! Brothers! – Susan Drew
  130. Midnight Mortal Ball – Nicola Thackrey
  131. The Monsters Of Halloween – Ryan Roberts
  132. The Perfect Halloween Present – Jenny Buchet
  133. Hopeless Heist – Karyn Curtis
  134. A 2020 Halloween Bash – Kristen Foote
  135. Boneyard Ballet – Jennifer Broedel
  136. Halloween Night – Di Litwer
  137. Tom Bones Goes Rogue – Marty Bellis
  138. A Bone-Fide Halloween Tale – Marty Bellis
  139. Dad’s Halloween – Lisa Lipsey
  140. Final Moments – E. Elle Bea
  141. How To Hug A Ghost – Cathy Lee Patterson
  142. Not This Year! – Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD
  143. Shh! Party In My Room! – MeiLin Chan
  144. Little Witch – Tracy Detz
  145. A Pumpkins Story – Christine Graham
  146. Beware Of Humans – Janelle Springer-Willms
  147. Beware Of Skeletons – Lea Boyd (age 8)
  148. Little Badger’s Great Big Scare – Bridget Grey
  149. Lightning And A Mask Of Stars – Rhett Trull
  150. Creature Of The Night – Lindsey Aduskevich
  151. Thorny Lane’s Treasure – Rhonda Gatlin
  152. Argleby’s New School Adventure – Echo Roben
  153. A Cat-astrophic Halloween – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
  154. Two Can Play – JC Kelly
  155. Mia’s Halloween Celebration – Lily Erlic
  156. Seven Jack-O-Lanterns – Mary Arkiszewski
  157. A-Z: Who’s Behind Me? – Ashley Congdon
  158. The Attic Mask – Barbara DiMarco
  159. Not-So-Happy Halloween – Claire Schlinkert
  160. The Skeleton Creep – Tracy Curran
  161. The Brown, Brown Boots On The Cold, Cold Floor – Crystal Lamb
  162. Hedgehogs In The Garden – Nicola Holden
  163. Home Sweet Home – Mona Pease
  164.  
  165. All Bones – Desi Valle
  166. Hallowcake Cravings – Katie Pals
  167. Foggy Halloween – Denise Seidman
  168. Halloween Is Scary – Valerie McPherson
  169. The Sweetest Halloween Treat On Earth – Jill Burns 
 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Heather Gale!

Woo hoo! Woo hoo!
Time for something new.
Woo hoo! Woo hoo!
Tuesday Debut!

How’s that for a theme song?

It doesn’t have a tune yet . . . but that’s just a minor detail 🙂

Here on Blueberry Hill the weather forecast is less than optimal.  Rain, snow, ice and other cr** . . . er, precipitation threatens to make going outside something to avoid unless you have a very good reason to want to fall down your mudroom stairs and introduce your hindquarters to the driveway, so today’s debut picture book is perfect! It will carry us away to the island paradise of Hawai’i!

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior
written by Heather Gale
illustrated by Mika Song
Tundra Books
October 1, 2019
Nonfiction, Ages 4 – 9

Ho_onani-cover
An empowering celebration of identity, acceptance and Hawaiian culture based on the true story of a young girl in Hawai’i who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe at her school.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Heather!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

HEATHER: This story came after watching the PBS documentary A Place in the Middle, but it took a while for me to consider it as even a possible picture book.
I had used the documentary to help wind down after a day of research for that next picture book idea. Yet while watching Ho’onani and Kumu Hina face their struggles I was transfixed, swept along with the story and the power of emotions it evoked.  When Ho’onani turned to face her community, I held my breath as if I were amongst the awed silence of the crowd.  And when Ho’onani opened her mouth to begin the chant usually reserved for males, I whooped it up, both proud and relieved she had pulled off her biggest challenge.

The next day I could not stop thinking about each character in the documentary.
I watched and re-watched A Place in the Middle, never getting tired of feeling those same emotions. When this happens, I think you have no choice but to write the story. It’s under your skin and won’t let go until you do.

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

HEATHER: Initially I’d promised the producers, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, a no-commitment rough draft within 6 weeks.  But it helped that by the time we’d met, I already knew where the story would start and where it should end. I’d never written and researched so hard in my life to meet that deadline, but it worked. They got their first draft and I got their green light to carry on.

After that the revisions took almost a year.

My best advice to anyone is to not start a story until you know those two key moments. They’ll keep you going when the writing process gets rough.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

HEATHER: I must have gone through at least 150 revisions and this is the time to ask for help from your critique partners and writing buddies. Listen to their comments and suggestions and if more than one person is saying the same, you know you have to go back.

As you learn the mechanics behind a story, you’ll also discover your own revision process, and which ones are your favorites.

Mine are adding emotion and deleting.

I may already have one or two emotions in a draft, but there comes a point when the story needs a whole lot more. Thankfully, at this stage of the manuscript you’ll know your character inside and out, so this part is fun.

As I read scene by scene, I imagine my character’s face and gut reactions to the situation. I’ll jot them down and return for a more serious edit.

After emotions are added my next favorite is deleting.

Distilling a draft to 1000 special words is a challenge.

Every word matters.

Every sentence should feel unique.

Every paragraph has the potential to build a scene.

Like decluttering a room, there’s a sense of lightness with deleting which makes a story even better.

I start with spacing out the sentences. This gives me some working room (aka thinking or doodling space).

Then line by line, I’ll check the timing of events. I’ll ask myself does this follow and is it logical?

Then I check the sentence itself, looking at the structure.

Have you noticed sometimes when you split the sentence in half then swap their order it’s so much stronger? Or move one word to the end and you’ve got a WOW sentence.

Next, I look at each word in the sentence.

And here’s where my thesaurus is used to check each word conveys the best meaning I intended.

Perhaps there’s a better word with a deeper meaning. Or, the word is perfect, but in that sentence, it’s a tongue-twister.

And then I like to use words that surprise the reader and are easy or fun to say out loud.

If, after doing all this, the paragraph adds no story value, it qualifies for a total strike-through.

It’s hard to explain but when there’s a line through all that hard work, the story often pops through the noise and clutter.

 

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

HEATHER: I’m slowly learning when my manuscripts are almost ready for submission.

I always read my manuscript out loud to our two dogs (because my two kids are grown up now). This is an incredible way to discover those fancy words you found in thesaurus don’t quite work when placed together.

IMG_0716

I’m lucky to have two work buddies, Molly and Cooper who are best friends. They love daily hikes in Toronto’s ravines, their daycare, and swimming beside me as I kayak.

I check off any sentences where my brain did a ‘huh?’ and question any gaps in the timing of events.

On another round I’ll hunt for emotions in the scenes. I want to walk in that person’s shoes, feel their frustrations and their achievements, get goosebumps and a lump in my throat.

Then, my best tool is the pitch.

Because my working pitches seem to always start off 4-6 sentences long, until I‘ve got one that’s whittled down to one or two sentences, I know the manuscript is not ready.

I tweak and hone that pitch every 3-4 revisions.

Once everything is as close as I can get it , I save my work in a folder, stash it away, put the timer on and wait two weeks.

And . . . tah-dah! This is when you’ll know if your story is ready to submit.

With fresh eyes I’ll read my story out loud, looking for all the same things as before. I want to laugh, to tear up, have the words swimming in front of me.

I want the story to unfold, unrushed yet not too wordy.

And when that happens there’s no way to describe the feeling except you know you’ve given your story the best possible chance.

Your manuscript is ready to face the big wide world.

I have two workspaces that inspire my writing process.

Here’s my view from the cottage:

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.12.13 PM

 

SUSANNA: That is inspiring all right!  But I’m not sure I’d get much work done with a view like that!!! 🙂  When and how did you submit?

HEATHER: I’d submitted this story to one agent while seeking representation and then to a publishing house through an earlier conference connection.

Both times Ho’onani: Hula Warrior was turned down but coming up was our annual Pack Your Imagination conference hosted by CANSCAIP in Toronto.

We have an opportunity to skip the line with Canadian publishing houses which is a fantastic opportunity. I decided to hold this manuscript back from further submissions because I had to know what was wrong with this story!

 

 

 

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 🙂 )

HEATHER: I was the last person slated to meet Lynne Missen, the Publishing Director for Penguin Young Readers at the CANSCAIP conference. You can take being last as good news, bad news, or part of the lucky draw so as I sat and waited. I’ll admit, I was nervous.

And then it was my turn.

As I listened, waiting for the, ‘here’s why your story isn’t working,’ I struggled to understand why Lynne was smiling.

Lynne must have repeated it three or four times before her words and their meaning sank in – they loved my story!

We got to work right there, going through the manuscript, tweaking areas, discussing ideas and my 15-minute slot turned into the best 30 minutes I could’ve ever imagined . . . working on a story that my heart was so vested in.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

HEATHER: We popped a bottle of bubbles and had a barbeque with my hubby, kids and dogs.

 

 

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

HEATHER: The contract was just what I expected, an advance, followed by a percentage in royalties and for me, the best gift ever – 10 author copies! (I’m one of 6 kids so my siblings all got a dedicated and signed copy.)

 

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

HEATHER: Samantha Swenson is such a gifted editor who, through some word tweaks made the story pop, and that’s when I saw the potential they’d seen all along.

 

 

SUSANNA: How about your experience of the illustration process?

HEATHER: I was so lucky with having Mika as my illustrator.

From the beginning I saw all her sketches, and my thoughts and ideas were sought out while any questions I had were explained.  Mika captured each child in the documentary at the right moment while Kumu Hina looked the same yet different as she too experienced her emotions.

I had one illustration note in the story at the end and that was only because Ho’onani’s sister is not mentioned in the text.

Here’s what I wrote:

One person stood.

[illo: Kana smiles]

Ho'onani - illo note and illustration

and here’s how that illustration turned out!

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?  What was that like?

HEATHER: I saw a mix of advance reviews while others were sent to me soon after being released.

I think the best part about reading a review is, you get to see how the rest of the world views your story.

I’ve learnt so much about Mika’s illustrations from reading reviews.

For example, one review commented on Mika’s technique as a way to convey information to children.

“Boldly outlined watercolor and ink artwork by Song (A Friend for Henry) conveys visual information with strength that suggests Ho‘onani’s own.”

Publishers Weekly
https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7352-6449-6

And then I read, “Watercolor and thick, angular black lines against a combination of white, open spaces, and blue or tan backgrounds elevate and emphasize Ho’onani as the central character within each spread.

As well, the use of bold colors at times helps some characters become more noticeable in crowd scenes.”

Canadian Review of Materials

https://www.cmreviews.ca/node/952

And here’s another wonderful comment on Mika’s illustrations: “The boys filing past in the background, and the empty pair of flip-flops left in the hallway, are pale and weak in comparison to Ho’onani’s profound sense of self as a hula warrior.”
E. Schneider at Imaginary Elevators
https://imaginaryelevators.blog/2019/09/03/she-is-who-she-is/

With each of these reviews I went back to my copy and noticed the same.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

HEATHER: The process from signing the contract to a first copy was almost two years. That sounds like a long time, but it wasn’t. We were always moving forward with the next steps.

 

 

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

HEATHER: Tundra Books has gone above and beyond in their efforts to get this book noticed by various communities.

From trade reviews to tradeshows, to advertising to promotions, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior has been included or is their featured title.

 

 

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

HEATHER: I’ve reached out to picture book bloggers I know and asked for any opportunity to be a guest post or have the book reviewed.
I’ve also figured out Twitter and become more involved.

And I plan on doing school and library visits – my first is in NZ!

 

 

SUSANNA: Wow!  NZ?!  That is AMAZING!  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
HEATHER: The whole process took me six years along with a lot of online and class courses, some conferences and then just hours in the chair, practicing and honing the craft.

I actually started my serious writing with a psychological thriller which I wrote one year during NANOWRIMO (National November Writing Month). And, I still like that story and maybe one day I’ll get to revise it.

 

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
HEATHER: This book has taught me a lot about the industry and I’m in awe. We have so many dedicated, passionate professionals who work with picture books and once a manuscript is sold, there’s still so much more that happens behind the scenes before it reaches the shelves.

 

 

SUSANNA:  Heather, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate all your insights, and the helpful information you shared about your writing process!  Wishing you the very best of success with this and future books!!!

 

Heather-head-shot

Author Heather Gale

You can visit me over at
https://heathergale.net/

and my social media links include:
https://twitter.com/writergale
https://www.facebook.com/heather.gale.311

Readers, if you have questions for Heather, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Heather’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas