Tuesday Debut – Presenting Janet Johnson!

Hi Everybody!

Tuesday Debut is always a fun and exciting day, but it’s especially fun and exciting when the debut-ess is a hackey-sack queen and a personalized license plate fan 🙂

I am thrilled to introduce you to Janet Johnson and her debut picture book!

Help Wanted, Must Love Books
Written by: Janet Sumner Johnson
Illustrated by: Courtney Dawson
Published by: Capstone
Fiction, ages 4-7
March 1, 2020

Cover.Help Wanted Must Love Books.small

When Shailey’s dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime story routine, Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Janet!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We are so excited to have you!!!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

JANET: This story idea came from my husband and daughter’s own bedtime story routine. One night, my then-7-year-old came in and announced it was time for bedtime stories. My husband had a work presentation the next morning and lots to prepare, so he told her he couldn’t. My daughter didn’t beg. She stomped her foot and said, “I’ll read my own story!”

I laughed, and said, “I think you just got fired!” And boom! The idea struck. It wasn’t fully formed, but over the next hour, I asked myself a bunch of questions: If she fires her dad, what will she do next? And if she puts up a help wanted sign, who can actually apply for the job? Siblings? Mom? Neighbors? I didn’t like those ideas, so I kept digging until I stumbled on the idea of book characters. That led to brainstorming a list of possible candidates, and what problems they would each bring to the story.

 

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

JANET: My first draft went fast. I had it done in about an hour. That is unusual for me. What really helped was that I had a great model for who my character was (through my daughter). I knew what my character’s problem was. I knew what she would do to try to fix the problem. And I knew how I wanted it to end. By answering those questions before I began writing, the actual writing went very quickly.

Revision took much longer.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JANET: Haha! Yep. Lots of revision. First, I had several rounds with my critique partners. They pointed out some problems I hadn’t thought of. For example, while Shailey put up the help wanted sign, she didn’t really do anything else in that first version, so I needed to make her more pro-active.

It was hard to hear, because I loved what I’d written, but I turned off that urge to argue, and instead worked on finding a solution. That took some more brainstorming. I had to re-organize my characters, and find some new ones that would work with the new structure. And amazing, I liked that new version even better!

My agent also asked for several revisions. She pointed out some characters who might be too obscure for kids. She also pointed out inconsistencies with who I’d chosen. For example, in that earlier draft, one candidate was the monster in her closet, who, she rightly pointed out, was not a book character. That meant more brainstorming to find more characters.

The key to good revision is listening. Readers could see things I couldn’t because I was too close to the story.

 

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

JANET: When my agent had no more comments on my draft! I’m a huge proponent of agents, and critique partners. If it had just been me, I would have sent that first draft because I loved it so much. If that had happened, it would not be a book now.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JANET: I have an agent, so when the manuscript was ready, my agent sent me a list of publishers she was sending it to. She forwarded responses as she got them, and my main job was to sit back, forget all about it (haha!), and write the next thing.

 

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

JANET: The whole submission process was quite the ride. We went out in January, and in February, I got an R&R. The editor really liked it, but felt the ending was too obvious. I talked with my agent about it, and we decided to go for it, because we had ideas. This isn’t typical, but my agent decided to send the change to every editor who had it.

Once we did that, I had a lot of interest. My book went to several acquisitions meetings (some with the old ending, and some with the new), and I had a lot of close calls, but in the end, none of them offered. That was really hard.

By July, my agent and I had moved on to submitting the next book. So, when she called, I had zero expectations. I was in the kitchen, texting with some author friends, glumly reporting that I had nothing to report. And then everything changed with those four magic words: “We have an offer!”

And because I’m guessing some of you are curious, my editor allowed me to choose my preferred ending. I went with the original which she confessed was her favorite, too. Writing really is so subjective!

 

SUSANNA: Those words, “We have an offer!” really are magical, aren’t they?  There is nothing like them (except for maybe it’s a girl! or it’s a boy! 🙂 ) How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JANET: I went out to dinner with my family. (After an impromptu dance party in the kitchen!)

 

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

JANET: Because I had already published a middle grade book with my publisher (Capstone), my expectations were pretty grounded. However, the advance was significantly lower than I expected (under 5K) because they had recently gone through a re-organization.

We sold World Rights and negotiated royalties to 6% for hard cover and paperback, 12% for digital products, and 5% for audio. They were willing to negotiate on percentages, but not on the advance, which I found interesting. I will receive 20 copies as the author, and my agent will receive some as well.

Some other interesting contract things: we negotiated the non-compete clause to make it more narrow. We negotiated how much say I would have on images and cover (spoiler alert, not much, but more than zero!). And the contract included deadlines for both the publisher and me. It was a pretty straight-forward contract.

 

 

SUSANNA: What was the editorial process like for you?

JANET: The editorial process really surprised me. I had an initial chat with my editor, who had almost no changes for me at the time. They wanted a new title, and we discussed adding back matter. I spent a month working on that.

Over the next several months, I got periodic emails with suggested changes—some big, some small. Often, they came because of feedback from another department (like marketing). This continued up until the day it was being sent to print (we literally made the last change that day!).

I considered all the comments thoughtfully, but there were times I still didn’t agree. When that happened, I would share my concerns with my editor, and explain why I disagreed. At that point we could talk it through and come to a solution we both felt good about—sometimes that meant we left it as it was, and sometimes that meant changing it.

I think communication is so important. There is so much give and take in the process—as an author you need to both listen and speak up for yourself. It can be a delicate balance. It helped to remember that we both loved the book and had the same goal of making the best story possible.

 

Captain Hook

 

SUSANNA: I have to say that the back matter in your book is one of my favorite parts – so entertaining! 🙂  Can you tell us a little about your experience of the illustration process?

JANET: As per my contract, I got to see the sketches and give input. However, in the case we disagreed, the publisher had the final say. Everything was sent digitally, so no F&Gs.

For the most part I loved what I saw. We were all definitely on the same page in terms of vision. However, I did have some concerns.

The publisher made a few changes based on my comments, but also chose not to make others. Some of that came down to cost, which I can respect. But it also meant that I had to change some of the text to work a little better with the images. I definitely hadn’t expected that! Still, I love how the book turned out.

My manuscript had quite a few art notes, and to my surprise, my editor made a point to thank me for having as many as I did. Here is one example of how my art note went from text to image:

This arrangement worked perfectly . . . until her dad got a new job.

[ART: Dad on cell phone; Dad studying a book; Dad tapping at laptop; Dad snoring on couch]

 

Janet's Favorite Spread

 

This is probably my favorite spread! I’m so happy with how it turned out.

 

 

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

JANET: The marketing department sends me all the advance reviews shortly before they publish. I’ve had some not-so-nice reviews in the past, so I have mixed feelings about this. I have to let those emails sit while I build up the courage to look.

When the reviewers like your book, it’s fabulous. And since they don’t review everything, it’s a really happy thing when they do. But the not-nice reviews are tough. I remind myself that not everyone will like my book, and that it’s not a critique of me personally.

 

 

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

JANET: From offer to copy in hand (I’m estimating, because I don’t actually have one yet!) was about 20 months. For a picture book, that feels really fast. The publishing date changed a couple of times and ended up being faster than expected.

 

 

 

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

JANET: My publisher offered advanced copies at ALA in 2019, and also put it on NetGalley. That’s made a huge impact on getting the word out about my book. They sent ARCs to bloggers and review groups, as well as to the industry reviewers like Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly. They regularly post about it on their social media accounts, and they also support my tweets. Recently they hosted a free webinar for teachers and librarians, and they book-talked all their upcoming titles, including mine.

One thing I’m really excited about is that they’re making a book trailer! It should be out soon.

 

 

SUSANNA: Ooh!  I can’t wait to see the book trailer!  Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

JANET: Marketing and promotion is something I’m constantly learning. One of the best things I’ve done is join a debut group for picture books: the Debut Crew 2020. We work together to promote each other’s work and to find opportunities to build our platforms. It’s been super helpful!

In addition, I had bookmarks made, and still plan to make some stickers and other swag for future events. I also hope to get some coloring pages made, as well as an activity guidebook.

While I’m not doing an official blog tour, I’ve been fortunate to be invited to interview or write a guest post on several blogs in the weeks surrounding my book’s release.

I’ve also booked several in-person events over the next few months: a book launch, bookstore signings, school visits, book festivals, conference presentations, and NerdCampSoCal. You can see the full list on my events page. I’m excited to have so many opportunities to make connections and promote my book.

A lot of these opportunities have come because of connections I’ve made with people at previous events or through online discussions. Others have come from participating in groups on social media where others have shared calls for proposals or information about upcoming events. Making connections is key.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

JANET: It took about 8 years to get that first picture book deal. Granted, I was focusing on middle grade for a lot of that time, but I’ve had the dream of getting a picture book published from the beginning. It’s still hard to believe I’m a published picture book author!

Thanks so much for having me, Susanna! Your classes made such a difference for me!

JanetJohnson.AuthorPic

Author Janet Johnson

Social Media Links:

Website: http://janetsumnerjohnson.com/
Twitter: @MsVerbose
Instagram: @janetsumnerjohnson
Facebook: @janetsumnerjohnson

 

SUSANNA:  Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience, Janet!  It was so interesting and enlightening – a real benefit for our readers!  I know I speak for all of us when I wish you all the best with this and future books!

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

You may purchase Janet’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 (self pub)

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 (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

 

 

 

The 2019 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

Well, hi there! 😊

So lovely of you to drop by to visit on a Thursday when I don’t usually post!

Latte?

latteartheart.jpg

You must have heard about my irresistible new offering and stampeded over to avail yourself of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Yes! The hype is all true!

Today, you can broaden your horizons with

Susanna's Seven Secrets

for the low, low price of $0!!!

Learn how to:

  • start ten tasks at once. . . without the burden of actually finishing any of them!
  • work for 10 minutes and get distracted with online holiday shopping!
  • realize you’ve been online shopping for one hour and 73 minutes and remind yourself sternly that you’re supposed to be working!
  • check all your social media accounts, work for 10 minutes, then sharpen your mental skills with a rigorous round of Sporcle! (Can you name the 10 US State Capitals you can’t fly to?)
  • travel to another continent in the middle of hosting a writing contest!
  • fall asleep on your computer and get keyboard checkers on your cheek!
  • work for 10 minutes and decide to make tiramisu!
  • . . . and so much more!

What is that?

You DIDN’T come to absorb my freely-given wisdom on productivity when I have clearly taken it to new heights?  (I did say it was unprecedented. . . 😊)

Fine.

I will do my best not to take it personally that you doubt my fitness as a model of organization, efficiency, and productivity just because the Halloweensie Winners haven’t been posted yet, and we’ll move on to how I can help you with choosing the right burlap sack for any social occasion which must be why you’re here if you don’t want to improve your productivity.

Wait, what?

You’re here because you want to know who won Halloweensie?

Well why didn’t you just say so?!

Because it just so happens that I know! 😊

As you are all aware by now, we had an amazing turnout for Halloweensie 2019 – 324!!! entries!  Golly gee willikers!!!

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories and meet so many new writers!  And I don’t know about you guys, but for me Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without Halloweensie!  What’s better than a candy-filled dark and spooky night?  A candy-filled dark and spooky night with 324 fabulous stories to read! 😊

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

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another (one reason being that, at a certain point, we just had to stop adding finalists to the list! :))

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

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (all-around well-written stories we loved that just missed the finals for one small reason or another!)

Lindsay Leslie for The Scurry Treat (well written, great use of language, great ending!)

Cassy Ciarq for Trick Or Treat (well written, great job evoking the delicious fear and excitement of a child trick-or-treating in the dark!)

Marta Magellan for Scary Things (well written, great job showing the spookiness of Halloween and the back-to-normal morning after – good kid appeal)

Linda Hofke for What Witch Whips Up (so cleverly written with the body parts subtly woven in to lead up to the ending of “body lotion”!)

David McMullin for Billy And Buddy’s Epic Halloween (fun and kid-friendly, very believably “kid” and sibling!)

Tracy Curran for My Mummy’s A Witch (fun and kid-friendly with a great twist ending!)

Mary Vander Plas for Some Arachnid (well written fun story – great twist on Charlotte’s Web!)

Chelsea Tornetto for Booty And A Beat (clever, fun to read aloud, irresistible rhythm)

Roo Parkin for The Road To Grimly Gore (well written, great use of language, fun ending!)

Pat Finnegan for Save-This-Night (a kid-friendly witchy change-of-attitude story)

 

2. For Best Endings: (not already in the finals)

Stephanie Williams for The Contest

Lauri Meyers for Haunted Halloween Hop

Lauren Neil for Witch 101

Shelley Kinder for Fishy Witchy

Sue Lancaster for The Halloween Hop

 

 

3.  For Great Use of Language: (not already in the finals)

Sue Heavenrich for Spider Parade

Jenna Waldman for All Hallows Poetry Reading

Sarah Meade for The Goblin And The Girl

Deborah Boerema for Monster-Matopoeia

 

4. For Spookiest/Creepy Entry: (not already in the finals)

Christina Dendy for The Bone House

Unidentified author for Matilda’s Treat

Paul Kurtz for Cobwebs

Mary C. Thorpe for What Had They Found?

Vashti Verbowski for Cecil The Beetle (And The Web Of Wishes)

 

 

5. For Funniest Entry: (not already in the finals)

Kael Tudor for Hubble, Bubble, Toil And . . . Muddle?

Greg Bray for The Ultimate Spider-Man Costume

Susan Summers for The Witch’s Dilemma

 

 

6. For Sweetest Entry: (not already in the finals)

Melissa Miles for Just One Child

Lisa Zaccaria for Halloween Surprise

 

7.  For Unique Character: (not already in the finals)

Cathy Murphy for A Cure For Cobweb (Spider turns into a Unitoad – like a unicorn but a toad!)

Lori Himmel  for The Very Haunted House (MC is the house)

 

8. For Great Read For Younger Readers: (not already in the finals)

Brenda Whitehead for Halloween Countdown

Avana Lily for The Little Witch Helps Out

JoAnn DiVerdi for Boo-Boo! A Little Ghost Story

 

9. For Creative Format:

Jenna Waldman for Ghost Store (written like a commercial)

Michelle Henrie for Halloween Treat (written as a crossword puzzle)

 

10. For Good Kid Voice:

Lindsey Hobson for Little Brother

 

11. For Good Depiction of Siblings: (not already in the finals)

Tara Cerven for A Silken Surprise

 

12: For Cleverness: (not already in the finals)

Mary Rudzinski for Halloween Forever

Erin Kerger Duffett for Three Cauldrons Full

 

13. For Contestants Who Entered Multiple Strong Entries:

Sarah Meade

Paul Kurtz

Donna Kurtz

Michelle Kennedy

 

14. Last But Not Least A Very Special Mention:

Joyce Schriebman for The Good Witch – a tribute to our sweet friend, Robyn Campbell, who always went out of her way to help others and whom we miss dearly.

 

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your prize, which is a $5 Amazon Email Gift Certificate (which you may spend on one of the many Kindle choices listed in previous contests here, or add to your  Amazon bucks for a gift for yourself or someone else, or whatever else you might choose to do!) as well as a beautiful certificate of achievement that you may display on your blog or print out and frame or turn into a flag to carry with you everywhere and wave out the window of your car 😊

A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.

We have 12 fabulous prizes, generously donated by authors and various professionals in the writing field.  My policy is to let the first place winner have first pick of all the prizes, the second place winner have second choice, etc.  That way hopefully nobody gets something they already have, and hopefully everyone gets something that’s valuable to them.  All prizes are listed at the bottom of this post for your convenience in perusing the goodies 🙂

Now.

Finally!

Onto the moment you’ve all been waiting for. . .

. . . the reason you got out of bed this morning. . .

. . .  in spite of shadows under your bleary eyes. . .

. . . and the candy corn that is stuck in your hair!!!

. . . THE WINNERS OF THE 2019 HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST as chosen by you, our esteemed voters!!!!!

 

In First Place, winner of the whole entire contest and top of the heap who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Jocelyn Watkinson

for

Vampire Stains

Congratulations, Jocelyn, on a fabulously written, entertaining entry that was all around well done and clearly very popular with judges and voters alike!!!

In Second Place,

Keatley Eastman

for

Sneaky Sister

Congratulations, Keatley, on a cute, well written, kid friendly entry with a great ending! (and for coming in 2nd two years in a row!) You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jocelyn chooses!

In Third Place,

Paul Kurtz
 for

A Halloween Visit

 

Congratulations, Paul, on a well written, clever entry that masterfully combined elements of Halloween and Christmas into Spider Claws!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jocelyn and Keatley choose!

In Fourth Place,

Leslie Goodman
for
The Nickname Cure

Congratulations, Leslie, on a fun story with funny twist of an ending!  You get to pick a prize after Jocelyn, Keatley, and Paul!

In Fifth Place,

Katrina Swenson
for
Itchy Witchy Underwear

Congratulations, Katrina, on your delightfully well written entry that made us laugh out loud!  You get to pick your prize after Jocelyn, Keatley, Paul, and Leslie!

In Sixth Place,

Maryna Doughty

for

Ghost’s Pest Problem

Congratulations, Maryna, on your clever, fun and creative entry! You get to pick your prize after Jocelyn, Keatley, Paul, Leslie, and Katrina!

In Seventh Place,

Mary Ann Cortez
for
Let’s Go Scarecrow

Congratulations, Mary Ann, on your fun, Going On A Bear Hunt-esque twist on Halloween!  You get to pick your prize after Maryna!

In Eighth Place,

Colleen Murphy
for
Broom Or Bust

Congratulations, Colleen, for a beautifully written, fun, entertaining kid-friendly entry! You get to pick your prize after Mary Ann!

In Ninth Place,

Jill Lambert
for
Tacky Trick

Congratulations, Jill! What is a spider to do if his silk has no stick’em?! 😊  You get to pick a prize after Colleen…!

 

In Tenth Place

Debbie Day
for
Gloona The Grinchy Witch

Congratulations, Debbie, on making us laugh at your Grinchy Witch!  You get to prize pick after Jill.

In Eleventh Place
Sandy Perlic
for
Boo Quiet To Spook?
Congratulations, Sandy, we loved your timid little witch who was given a little boost by her giant sneeze 😊  You get to pick a prize after Debbie.
In Twelfth Place
Ingrid Boydston
for
Tricky Witch Test
Congratulations, Ingrid, on a fun story!  Nothing like turning into a pumpkin! 😊  You get to pick your prize after Sandy!

 

And, I don’t think I need to remind anyone that in addition to all these fabulous prizes, everyone mentioned on this page has bragging rights as having won or placed in the Pretty Much World Famous Halloweensie Contest!  Not just anyone can say that 🙂

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  If you choose a prize that requires snail mailing, PLEASE include your snail mail address so we don’t have to email back and forth too many times 🙂  If you would like a beautiful certificate to celebrate your accomplishment, you are most welcome to one!

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause, a confetti parade, and a truckloads of  leftover fun-sized chocolate. . . if there is any 😊

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

And before we go, I will give you all advance warning so you can start planning a little time into your December schedule…

Assuming you guys are up for it – and you’d better let me know in the comments!!! – the 9th Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 7 so we can all fully enjoy it and still have time for last minute holiday things.  I will do my best to post the rules well in advance (maybe the Saturday after Thanksgiving, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise! 🙂 ) so you all have time to work on your stories!  But please let me know if you feel like it’s too much and you’d rather not do it!

Have a terrific Thursday everyone, and thanks again for making the Halloweensie Contest such a wonderful time for all! 🙂

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

Go Directly To Go! Skip The Slushpile at Blue Whale Press and Get Your PB Manuscript Directly On The Editor’s Desk!!!

Submit your picture book manuscript directly to editor Alayne Christian for her consideration and critique. Helpful feedback is a certainty, publication could be a possibility!

blue whale logo

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official  thumbnail_randall-randall-cover-ISBN9780981493879-highres

Blue Whale Press is an SCBWI PAL publisher of children’s books that focuses on stories involving themes of friendship and/or personal challenge. Most often, stories are selected for publishing due to their inherent educational or moral value. But as a general rule, a good dose of humor or a tug at the heart doesn’t hurt their chances of being published either. While a few chapter books and a middle grade are on their list, their focus is picture books. As a boutique publisher who doesn’t mind taking risks, Blue Whale Press considers itself to be a launch pad for authors and illustrators hoping to establish themselves.

For more info: https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Hone Your Skills with the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme & Meter Self Study Crash Course (11 Lessons) from accomplished writer and poet Renee LaTulippe

INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER CRASH COURSE

This option contains all the same lessons as Module 1 of Renee’s fully guided course, including all supplemental materials, downloads, and audio/video components. This is the option to choose if you need to build a strong foundation in the mechanics of rhyming picture books and poetry. The major focus is on the four main types of meter and how to use mixed and varied meter. Other topics include rhythm, cadence, breath, scansion, rhyme, sound devices, figurative language, imagery, and diction.
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You also have the opportunity to submit two of your assignments to Renee for feedback, and have email access to ask questions about the lessons as you complete them. Although lessons will arrive every other day, you are free to complete them at your own pace.
See the course description above for more information.

For more info: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/ (scroll down)

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming, Non-Rhyming, Fiction, or Nonfiction – Vivian is open to any type of picture book critique) from Vivian Kirkfield 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…

Sweet Dreams Cover Template Revised Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Christine Evans, author of EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST (Innovation Press, September 2019)

Evelyn cover Christine Evans

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS and DON’T HUG DOUG, forthcoming from Putnam in August 2020 and Spring 2021.

Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.35.37 AM   Carrie-Finison-200x300

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Janet Johnson author of HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (Capstone, March 2020) as well as the MG novel THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB & J SOCIETY (Capstone 2016)

must love books JanetJohnson.AuthorPic

Fiction OR Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI forthcoming from HMH/Versify, Spring 2021

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 8.19.13 PM

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Gabi Snyder, author of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, forthcoming from Abrams Appleseed, May 2020 and LISTEN, forthcoming from S&S/Wiseman, Spring 2021

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

Query Letter Critique from Dee Romito, author of PIES FROM NOWHERE: HOW GEORGIA GILMORE SUSTAINED THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT (Little Bee Books, 2018) as well as several middle grade books.

pies from nowhere dee romito

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction
Signed Copies of WAITING FOR PUMPSIE (Charlesbridge, 2017) and THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (Charlesbridge, 2018) by Barry Wittenstein

and JURASSIC RAT (Spork, June 2019) by Eleanor Ann Peterson.

waiting-for-pumpsie boo boos barry-wittenstein-photo

EP 3  EP 2

Book Bundle #2  – Board Books
Personalized Signed Copies of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (both Amicus Ink, 2019) by Julie Abery

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover julie abery

Book Bundle #3  – Holiday Books
Personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Personalized signed copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman, 2018) by Nancy Churnin

The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young

Jerry  The Queen and the First Christmas Tree hi res for blog - jacket

shelley-kinder_orig         nancy churnin              Young headshot

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 🙂

 

 

The 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!

***CONTEST UPDATE***

I apologize for the fact that I am behind schedule posting the finalists.  I know you are all waiting.  I did not anticipate 324 entries or I would have given myself and the other judges more time.  We will do our best to have the finalists posted by tomorrow or Saturday.

 

Lizard toes and dragon scales! It’s time for . . .

The 9TH 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 potion, cobweb, and trick.  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 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. potions, cobwebbed, trickery, 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 Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below (not your blog’s main url because if you post again after your entry during the dates of the contest, the judges will find the wrong post!)  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 I can’t 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 before the start of the contest!  Please submit your entry only ONCE! If you add it to the blog link list, and the comments, and email me to post it, things get very confusing!  I try to stay as glued to my desk as possible, but sometimes I have to get up so if I don’t respond to your email or approve your post immediately, don’t panic!  I’ll get to it as soon as I can!

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the coming days, my devoted assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3  6  9  12? top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with winnowing, so we’ll see!) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 4th (if the judging takes longer than we expect if could be later…but we will do our best!)  The winner will be announced on Thursday November 7th (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!!! 🙂

Go Directly To Go! Skip The Slushpile at Blue Whale Press and Get Your PB Manuscript Directly On The Editor’s Desk!!!

Submit your picture book manuscript directly to editor Alayne Christian for her consideration and critique. Helpful feedback is a certainty, publication could be a possibility!

blue whale logo

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official  thumbnail_randall-randall-cover-ISBN9780981493879-highres

Blue Whale Press is an SCBWI PAL publisher of children’s books that focuses on stories involving themes of friendship and/or personal challenge. Most often, stories are selected for publishing due to their inherent educational or moral value. But as a general rule, a good dose of humor or a tug at the heart doesn’t hurt their chances of being published either. While a few chapter books and a middle grade are on their list, their focus is picture books. As a boutique publisher who doesn’t mind taking risks, Blue Whale Press considers itself to be a launch pad for authors and illustrators hoping to establish themselves.

For more info: https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Hone Your Skills with the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme & Meter Self Study Crash Course (11 Lessons) from accomplished writer and poet Renee LaTulippe

INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER CRASH COURSE

This option contains all the same lessons as Module 1 of Renee’s fully guided course, including all supplemental materials, downloads, and audio/video components. This is the option to choose if you need to build a strong foundation in the mechanics of rhyming picture books and poetry. The major focus is on the four main types of meter and how to use mixed and varied meter. Other topics include rhythm, cadence, breath, scansion, rhyme, sound devices, figurative language, imagery, and diction.
.
You also have the opportunity to submit two of your assignments to Renee for feedback, and have email access to ask questions about the lessons as you complete them. Although lessons will arrive every other day, you are free to complete them at your own pace.
See the course description above for more information.

For more info: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/ (scroll down)

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming, Non-Rhyming, Fiction, or Nonfiction – Vivian is open to any type of picture book critique) from Vivian Kirkfield 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…

Sweet Dreams Cover Template Revised Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Christine Evans, author of EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST (Innovation Press, September 2019)

Evelyn cover Christine Evans

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS and DON’T HUG DOUG, forthcoming from Putnam in August 2020 and Spring 2021.

Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.35.37 AM   Carrie-Finison-200x300

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Janet Johnson author of HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (Capstone, March 2020) as well as the MG novel THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB & J SOCIETY (Capstone 2016)

must love books JanetJohnson.AuthorPic

Fiction OR Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI forthcoming from HMH/Versify, Spring 2021

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 8.19.13 PM

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Gabi Snyder, author of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, forthcoming from Abrams Appleseed, May 2020 and LISTEN, forthcoming from S&S/Wiseman, Spring 2021

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

Query Letter Critique from Dee Romito, author of PIES FROM NOWHERE: HOW GEORGIA GILMORE SUSTAINED THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT (Little Bee Books, 2018) as well as several middle grade books.

pies from nowhere dee romito

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction
Signed Copies of WAITING FOR PUMPSIE (Charlesbridge, 2017) and THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (Charlesbridge, 2018) by Barry Wittenstein

and JURASSIC RAT (Spork, June 2019) by Eleanor Ann Peterson.

waiting-for-pumpsie boo boos barry-wittenstein-photo

EP 3  EP 2

Book Bundle #2  – Board Books
Personalized Signed Copies of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (both Amicus Ink, 2019) by Julie Abery

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover julie abery

Book Bundle #3  – Holiday Books
Personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Personalized signed copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman, 2018) by Nancy Churnin

The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young

Jerry  The Queen and the First Christmas Tree hi res for blog - jacket

shelley-kinder_orig         nancy churnin              Young headshot

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 my sample entry (which I seriously almost did not get done!)  I seem to have developed a bad habit of having editorial deadlines that land in the middle of these contests, so I freely own up to the fact that I way exceeded the word count because I simply didn’t have time to make it shorter.  My apologies for totally cheating!  It’s not even like it’s any good as a result… but it does come to a sort of an ending😊 If nothing else, it should fill you with confidence in your own MUCH MUCH better efforts!!!

Runaway Imagination
(so many words I’m not even writing it down!😊)

Costumes, make-up, pounding feet
Rushing out to trick-or-treat.
Almost at the farmyard gate
Witch Lucinda hollers, “Wait!
In this Halloween commotion
I forgot my poison potion!”
Sets her plastic pumpkin down.
“Go ahead!  We’ll meet in town!”
Grabs her potion. Comes back quick.
But someone’s played an awful trick!
Her pumpkin pail, left on the ground,
Has disappeared and can’t be found!
Nevermind. A bag will do.
The witch zooms off to join her crew.
But halfway down the old farm road
She sees a sight that stops her cold.
In the shadows of the night
Glides a shape of ghostly white
Issuing an eerie moan
That makes Lucinda RUN for home!
Ghost flies past her fleeing faster
Surely this will be disaster!
Stops short at the barnyard fence.
Suddenly it all makes sense.
Head stuck in her pumpkin pail
Covered in a cobweb veil,
This is not a scary ghost!
Just a foolish baby goat!

Never say I’m not willing to embarrass myself for you! 😊😊😊 That is true love!😊

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 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.  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 197!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  (And HURRAY! I FINALLY figured out how to make links (THANK YOU AMY!) so you can click directly through to each story to read and comment for the talented authors!!!)
(Where authors’ first names were the same/same spelling I tried to add last names)
1. Witch’s Brew – Corine
2. A Webbed Witch – Kelly
3. Trick Or Treat – Krystal
6. Vampire Stains – Jocelyn
8. One Magical Day – Heather
9. The Lure Of Chocolate – Glenda
10. A Trick Or A Treat? – Glenda
11. Booty And A Beat – Chelsea
13. Little Brother – Lindsey
15. The Halloween Night Bookstore – Sherry Peace
16. The Halloween Heist – Deb Sullivan
17. Halloweensie Treats – Deborah Williams
18. Sweet Snookums – Linda Staszak
19. Scaredy-Cat – Natalie
20. My Surprise Punch – Natalie
21. Tricks For Treat – Megan Walvoord
22. She’ll Be Back – Linda Staszak
23. Tacky Trick – Jill
24. True Brew – Karen
25. Uncanny Cantations – Diana Gibson
26. Sylvester The Spider – MaryLee
27. A Silken Surprise – Tara
30. The Halloween Spell Test – Mary Vander Plas
31. Some Arachnid – Mary Vander Plas
32. One Halloween Night – Dianne Moritz
33. Web Magic – Marcia
35. Cobs In Cahoots – Linda Staszak
36. Halloween Love – Polly
37. Lil Witch, MBA – Annie
38. Sneaky Sister – Keatley
39. Boo Quiet To Spook? – Sandy
40. The Witch’s Dilemma – Susan Summers
41. Halloween Hijinks – Susan Summers
42. Lottie’s Spin On Halloween – Marty Lapointe-Malchik
43. Smelloween – Deb  Buschman
44. Monster School – Erin Rew
47. The Halloween Hop – Sue
48. The Web – Anne
49. What Witch Whips Up – Linda Hofke
50. The Magician – Susan Drew
53. Witchy’s Party – Judy
54. This Little Piggy – Kaylynn
55. A Handsome Prince – Kaylynn
57. My Own Man – Kaylynn
60. Potion Prank – Kristy
62. Ghost’s Pest Problem – Maryna
63. A Spider’s Cobweb Tale – Michelle Kennedy
64. The Little Cobweb With Big Dreams – Michelle Kennedy
65. Five Silly Witches – Mary Vander Plas
66. The Halloween Shortcut – Marty Bellis
67. A Potion Gone Wrong – Michelle Kennedy
68. Witch 101 – Lauren Neil
69. A Halloween Treat – Stacy
70. The Pretty Little Witch – Lucretia
71. Sally The Witch – Natalie
72. Greta Ghost’s Great Escape – Laura Bower
73. The Trick-Or-Treat Crusader – Laurie Carmody
74. Trick-urkey – Kelly 
75. Wendela The Witch – Valerie
76. Trick Or Treat? – Marcia
77. Brewed For You – Diana Gibson
78. No Thank You – Diana Gibson
80. Halloween Hornswoggled – Kristy
83. Three Cauldrons Full! (Play-On Baa Baa Black Sheep Nursery Rhyme) – Erin
84. It’s Party Time – Marty Bellis
85. Cobweb Soup – Kathy Shanahan
86. Goblin Hates Halloween – Ashley Fagan
87. Halloween Forever – Mary Rudzinski
88. Twinkle Twinkle Little Witch – Debbie Vidovich
89. A Pot Of Potion – Cheryl
90. A Famous Witch – Jill
91. A Halloween Visit – Paul
92. Cobwebs – Paul
95. Grandma’s Halloween Tricks – Debbie Wanninkhof
96. Cinderella’s Halloween – Stephanie
97. Bowl Of Sweets – Augusta
98. Boo Who? – Lolly
100. Spinny Has A Ball! – Donna
101. Most Beautiful? – Donna
102. Tricky Witch Test – Ingrid
104. Cobweb Stew – Kathy Rahoy
105. Cat And Ady – Megan Kunz
106. Witcheroo Switcheroo – Amy Brazda
107. I Don’t Want To Go – Amy Brazda
108. Hallo-wedgies – Linda Staszak
109. The Invisible Dog – Kathi
110. Trim The Tree – Amy Duchene
111. Tricky Nicky – Rebecca
112. Cobweb Commotion– Charlotte
113. Bitsy The Spider – Thelia
115. Perfectly You – Mona
117. Bella’s Barnyard Halloween – Deb Buschman
118. The Perfect Caw-stume – Amy Duchene
119. Halloween Spook – Shariffa
120. Night Of Hallows – Shariffa
121. Sneaky Spiders – Ranessa
122. Big Tea Love Stew – Laura Heath
123. Webster – Mary Miller
124. Whoo! Whoo! Will Help! – Deb Buschman
126. Who Should I Be? – Ashley Congdon
127. Frankie And Frogg Pick A Costume – Ashley Congdon
128. The Sad Jackie-O-Lantern – Mary Thorpe
129. What Had They Found? – Mary Thorpe
130. Agatha’s Not So Witchy Halloween – Kristen Reinsel
132. The Witches’ Rock – Mary Warth
133. Halloween Ubuntu – Elaine
134. Fake Ghost: A Sonnet – Jane
135. Trick Or Treat! – Cassy
138. Tricky Witchy – Mia
139. Grunt And Runt – Barbara
140. Snowflake The Scary – Becky
141. Only In America – Mindy
143. What Spider Saw – Terri
144. Sable Spins Halloween – Darcee
145. Ghost’s Birthday Party – Sherry Fellores
146. A Hairy Trick – Joel
147. Always Pack The Potion – Sharon
148. Witchy Wobbles – Stacey
150. The Frozen Witch – Amber
151. My Granny Is A Witch – Margaret
153. Halloween Story – Rafique
155. Witch’s Trick – Susan Halko
156. A Batty Halloween – Katie Schwartz
157. Black Cat’s Dream – Kathy M
159. Master Of Potions – Katie Williams
160. A New Addition To The Family! – Susan Valli
161. Halloweenie Dog – Kristina
163. Cast-Off Candies – Jennifer Broedel
164. Mighty Monty – Kelly Swemba
165. Spider’s First Halloween – Cynthia Argentine
166. Halloweenie Hide And Seek Ye – Michele Ziemke
169. Dark Dark Magic – Pat
170. Save-This-Night – Pat
171. Casper, Jasper, And Fang – Gabrielle
172. Jimmy The Meanie – Jen
173. Itchy Witchy Underwear – Katrina
174. Halloween Night – Susan Burd
175. Ghost Trail – Cynthia Stone-Medina
176. Fatty Batty – Vanessa
178. My Mummy’s A Witch – Tracy Curran
179. Goldiwitch – Dave
180. The Scaredy-Ghost – Kate
181. The HalloWeenteam – Dedra
183. Is It Really Halloween – Shariffa
184. Incantations – Elizabeth
187. Zippity Zora – Kristy
188. Halloween Party – Chandra
189. Halloween Howl – Chandra
191. Haunted House – Chandra
194. The Thud In The Cellar – Michelle
195. A MOMster’s Warning – Stephanie Shaw
196. An Un-afraid – Erin Fleming
197. Witch’s Halloween Party – Vanessa