Extra! Extra! Saturday Evening Post!!!

Okay, my pretties.

I don’t know who has been monkeying with the time-space continuum (and I am sorry to say that is definite Naughty List behavior!!!), but somehow we’ve gotten into THIS week when I need us to still be in LAST week.

I’m going to have to put things back to normal so all my posts and contests etc. work out right, because what we’ve got here is a snowball rolling out of control that’s going to bowl us right over.  (We are not even going to discuss that I’m still working my way through prize distribution for the Halloweensie Contest which should have been finished 3 weeks ago! 🙂 )

Just hang on a sec while I hitch this sleigh flown by 8 tiny reindeer, with menorah running lights, a New Year’s blowout horn, and a Solstice candy holding Kikombe cha Umoja on the dash, to 21 gigawatts of electricity and take us. . .

. . . Back to Last Week!

Ah, that’s better!

Lucky I’m good at such a variety of tasks, isn’t it?  Not just anyone could have turned a fancy-schmancy variety holiday sleigh into a time machine and solved this knotty little problem!

No need to thank me.  It’s the least I can do.

Now when this post goes up you’ll have more time to write your entries!

Because it’s time to put on your Elf Thinking Cap, fire up your writing implements, and write your way to fame and fortune in . . .



~ for children’s writers ~


The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday TREAT!

Your treat can be any kind of treat – a delectable holiday food specialty – Grandma’s Sugar Cookie Reindeer, or the Brown Family Gingerbread House; an event or experience that is a treat – the town Holiday Parade, attending the Nutcracker Ballet, or getting to light a candle on the menorah; making a treat for someone else – baking peppermint crunch brownies for the residents of a local shelter, or doing something special for a favorite teacher or neighbor – sky’s the limit 🙂

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 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 🙂 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 🙂 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative 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 12:01 AM EST Monday December 9 and Wednesday December 11 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 9 and remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debuts, Perfect Picture Book, or Would You Read It) for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section of my December 9th post when it goes up.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email me.  (We’ll go over this part in more detail on the December 9th post! 🙂 )


The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Monday December 16 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 18 at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 19.

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.  Holiday Treat! – the rules state a Holiday Treat story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about a treat of some kind that is specific to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate.  The story must center on the treat  – the treat must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 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.


The Prizes!:  The prize list is not quite complete. . .  But I wanted to get the guidelines up so you guys would have as much time as possible to work on your stories!  Stay tuned for an updated list at some point 🙂


Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of your picture book manuscript plus a 10 minute phone call to talk!!!

MG/YA First 1500 Words Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of the first 1500 words of your MG or YA manuscript!!!

Melissa Richeson

Literary Agent Melissa Richeson


Melissa is currently looking to build her client list and is focusing on children’s book authors—picture books through young adult. She’s drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. She’s not the best fit for horror, high fantasy, or graphic violence of any kind.



Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) from Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

fb844-penny 495eb-penny A Cooked Up Fairy Tale


Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019)

Young headshot hi res for blog - jacket


Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), and THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017)

Picture2 Picture1 gorilla


Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019) and the forthcoming YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020) and LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020)

julie abery Yusra Swims

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover Little Monkey Little Hippo


Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction

Signed Copies of multiple star- and award-winning picture books




barry-wittenstein-photo Sonny's Bridge A Place To Land


Book Bundle #2 – Two By Tara

Personalized, signed copies of OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019) and I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019) by Tara Luebbe

Tara Luebbe Operation Photobomb I Used To Be Famous

Children's Writers And Illustrators 2020

(Charlesbridge 2019)

Making A Living Writing Books For Kids: Tips, Techniques, and Tales from a Working Children’s Author – by Laura Purdie Salas

Making A Living


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, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 🙂


So there you have it!  Fire up those brain cells!  Grab a cup of hot chocolate, plonk your tiny hiney into a comfy chair, and get to writing your potentially prize-winning Holiday Treat story!!! You have 10 full days!  (Sorry it isn’t more – blame it on the joker who tinkered with the space-time continuum 🙂 – but look at the bright side – deadlines are great for creativity and productivity!  Your house doesn’t need to be cleaned this week, your children can eat raisin bran for dinner for a few days, and let’s be honest – no one’s concentrating on getting homework done or practicing their trombone at this time of year anyway, so you’ll have plenty of time to write! 🙂 )

On your mark…

…get set…


I am SO looking forward to getting to read all your stories!!!

Have a great rest of the weekend! 🙂


Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kathleen Cornell Berman!

Woo hoo!  Time for Tuesday Debut!

I am thrilled to introduce today’s debutess to you all!  She took my class way back in 2013 when it had only been running for 6 months, so she was an early graduate!  I think it’s fair to say, judging by the photo below, that I was incredibly helpful in teaching her the importance of chocolate for good writing 😊

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Kathleen Cornell Berman and her fabulous book about Miles Davis!

By Kathleen Cornell Berman
Illustrated by Keith Henry Brown
Page Street Kids, April 16, 2019
Non-fiction  Age 8-11


BIRTH OF THE COOL: HOW JAZZ GREAT MILES DAVIS FOUND HIS SOUND is a picture book biography about Miles’ journey to creating his unique sound. Readers will discover what inspired his sound and how his perseverance pushed him to new heights.

SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?

KATHY: I was brainstorming ideas for a Tara Lazar’s picture book month. I was anxious to write a picture book bio and my husband suggested Miles Davis. I loved the idea. I had fallen in love with Miles Davis’ music as a kid, and was eager to discover how he developed his sound on the trumpet.

I didn’t start research until almost year later. I read several books about Miles, including his autobiography and magazine articles. I listened to countless YouTube interviews, and played his music while I wrote.


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

KATHY: The seed for idea started in 2012, but I didn’t start the research until much later. Research plus writing and revisions took about two and half years. As I wrote the book, I continually went back and forth to check for accuracy, since some interviews contradicted others.



SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATHY: It went through many revisions. My first draft was filled with facts, but also very boring. I had recently finished Renee LaTulippe class that had given me the audacity to write in free verse. Once I started writing in free verse, the words flowed.


Chocolate definitely helps with revisions. I always have an assortment on hand.


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

KATHY: It’s so hard to know when a manuscript is ready. That’s why it’s really important to share your work with other writers who also write in verse. I asked Tameka Brown as well as another writer in Renee’s group to read the story. Getting good feedback is essential in making the big decision.



SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATHY: I don’t have an agent. I submitted to about 25 agents and 6 publishers over 2 years, which isn’t a lot according to some. I had 4 agents who were interested, but alas, not interested in my other fiction picture books. I like to check out the #MSWL website to see what editors and agents are looking for. I was elated to read Charlotte Wenger’s tweet, looking for PB biographies related to the arts, music. Charlotte is the editor at Page Street Kids. So yes I submitted directly to the publisher.


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

KATHY: I submitted to Charlotte in May 2017 and heard back quickly.  After going through a few rounds of revisions, I signed the contract at the end of August 2017. The heart of the book is essentially the same, but with a few specifics to help clarify Miles’ journey, and more revisions process concerning word choice.

When my editor wanted to change the title to Birth of the Cool, I added more text about some details about the Birth of the Cool band.


SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATHY: I think I sang at the top of my lungs (I’m tone-deaf and have no musical ability), then toasted a glass of Proseco with my husband.


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

KATHY: I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately I have critique partners who do have experience with contracts, so they advised me. I also contacted a lawyer for the final decisions.

My advance was standard, less than 5k and 5% royalty, with 15 author copies.


SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

KATHY: The revision process was smooth and straightforward. The editor and I basically had the same vision. I basically made changes where the text was confusing to some. And I added more text because of the change of the title. Each time I revised I kept the audience in mind. I wanted kids to be able to relate to Miles in some way and also to be inspired by his journey.


SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

KATHY: I was consulted every step of the way in choosing the illustrator as well as the ongoing sketches for the book. I loved Keith’s illustrations and how they’re free flowing, rhythmic, and moody. Since the book is non-fiction, I notified them of any inaccuracies in the illustrations.



Keith Henry Brown and I at Jazz Gallery


I think art notes are important for a non-fiction text, they help the illustrator to keep the art in line with the time period or with specific facts noted in story.

Some of my notes were used to describe the high school band or places where he played music as a young man.



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

KATHY: Yes we got to see the reviews and we were thrilled to get a starred review from Kirkus. Being a debut author and illustrator, we didn’t fully realize the significance. We were both beyond thrilled.




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

KATHY: I signed the contract August 31, 2017.  We had the book in our hands in less than two years. Very cool feeling.



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

KATHY: They use social media to promote the book. We’re also in contact with the publicist who has contacted booksellers as well event venues for book signings. They also made gorgeous bookmarks and provided us with a curriculum guide that is downloadable on my website.


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

KATHY: Keith made a booktrailer and is also creating a coloring book. I’ve created the swag bag along with a wordsearch and goodies. There will be activities added to my website as time goes on.

I have done a number of blog tours and a podcast. Both Keith and I appeared on Jazz 88 WBGO radio show. We were asked interesting questions and it was amazing to hear ourselves on the radio.


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

KATHY: It took seven years of reading, writing, reading, classes, conferences, and of course being in a critique group is essential to getting published


SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

KATHY: I totally enjoyed the research and the revisions. I never felt overly frustrated. It always brought me joy in hopes that my book would inspire kids to find their own voice and be inspired by Miles’ tenacity to reach his goal. Obviously many kids will not become musicians, but I hope they find their own voice in what ever they attempt.



SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kathy, and for taking the time to participate in this series and pay it forward to other writers!  We all so appreciate the knowledge and experience you shared with us today, and who knows how many writers you may have helped toward publication?! 😊



Author Kathleen Cornell Berman

Website: kathleencornellberman.com

Twitter: @bermankathy

Instagram: kcornellb


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

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


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