November 25, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #194 - Ernie Fakes A Tooth (PB)

Holy Pumpkin Pie, Batman!

How did we get to the day before Thanksgiving already?

If you're like me, you still have to vacuum, bake pie, clean the bathrooms, bake more pie, make sure there are fresh towels, and bake more pie :)  And those of you not cleaning and baking probably have to travel.

So we're going to keep today's post as short and sweet as possible!

In honor of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I think our Something Chocolate should be festive and turkey-oriented, don't you? :)
Obviously dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate,
but we'll take what we can get :)
Gobble, gobble, gobble!!! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Jen who says, "I’m just starting out on my journey into the overwhelming and wonderful world of picture book writing.  When I start to doubt myself, my two young kids cheer me on and get me back in the game.  We live in the beautiful seacoast of New Hampshire.  Next up – work on my social media presence!"  

Here is her pitch: (and she would especially love feedback on a title since she's not wild about this one but has yet to come up with anything she likes better!)

Working Title: Ernie Fakes A Tooth
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: In a rush to get his first lost tooth home and under his pillow, Ernie Blossomfoss trips and watches his tooth go sailing into the playground woodchips.  Convinced the tooth fairy won’t come unless she has a tooth to collect, Ernie hatches a plan to leave the perfect counterfeit.  When the clever fairy doesn’t fall for it, Ernie ups the ante until he finally learns a lesson more valuable than a crisp dollar bill.  

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

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Jen improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Jen is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to having the family together for Thanksgiving tomorrow... even though I have to vacuum :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!


November 20, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Great Thanksgiving Escape

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!!!

Even as you read this, I shall be driving to the Green Mountains, accompanied on my journey up my my trusty Audible version of A Storm Of Swords (Book 3 in A Song of Ice and Fire - you know, Game of Thrones :)), and accompanied on my journey back by child #5! :)  And by the time we get home, child #3 will be there too!  I love the holidays and having the kids home! I can't wait!!! :)  I have baked Heath Bar brownies in preparation...which I sampled...and they are GOOD! :)

So although I shall be nowhere near my computer today, I will be with you in spirit for PPBF.  I hope you'll enjoy this entertaining Thanksgiving offering!

Title: The Great Thanksgiving Escape
Written & Illustrated By: Mark Fearing
Candlewick, September 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: family, holidays (Thanksgiving), humor

Opening: "It was another Thanksgiving at Grandma's.
"You can play in here with the rest of the kids," Gavin's mother told him.  "We'll call you when the turkey's ready."
"Have fun!" Gavin's dad called.  
But Gavin knew it was not going to be fun.  Not fun at all."

Brief Synopsis: While waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey, Gavin is supposed to play with his cousins.  But most of them are drooling, stinky babies.  No fun!  He and his cousin Rhonda plan their escape to the swing set in the back yard, but it's not easy to navigate the perils of a family get-together!

Links To Resources: Turkey Songs, Poems, and Finger Plays; Turkey Coloring Pages; play Duck, Duck, Turkey :)

Why I Like This Book:  Anyone who has ever been to a family get-together knows about the football-watching uncles gathered around the TV, the cheek-pinching aunts just lying in wait, and the annoying little cousins who demand attention and entertainment :)  This story is drolly told from the point of view of the kids who realize that "sometimes you have to make your own fun."

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful, happy weekend, everyone!!! :)


November 18, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #193 - The Nude Goose (PB)

Happy Wednesday, dearies!

Boy has it been a busy week so far!  First off, the guidelines for the 5th Annual Holiday Writing Contest went up on Monday!  If you haven't seen the post yet, you can check it out HERE.  I have already updated the prize list twice with new prizes coming in, so make sure to take a look at the goodies on offer to the winners!!!  And rest assured, there are more to come! :)  (At least I'm hoping... fingers crossed! :))

Also, I just got done with two full days of school visits which are always tons of fun, but always leave me playing catch-up with the rest of my work!  So if you're waiting for an email reply or a critique or a response to a comment you left on my blog, or, I don't know, pretty much anything :)  I'm working on it and will get back to you as soon as I can! :)

And the week promises to get busier still since Thanksgiving is approaching and that means kids returning to the nest - a thought which fills me with joy! :)

What with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I think today's Something Chocolate should be Something Turkey and Something Easy Recipe :)

Recipe HERE at the Krazy Coupon Lady

Easy Oreo Pretzel Turkeys seem like they'll cover all the requirements!!

YUM! :)

Even I can probably manage this recipe... and I can practice it for the afore-mentioned returning kids :)

Now then, today's pitch comes to us from Christie who says, "I’ve loved writing since I was small, but when an academic counselor suggested I study something that could get me a “real job”, I mistakenly took her advice - until eight years ago. I’ve since been writing, attending conferences, joined SCBWI and 12X12. I am a wife, mom, and pet person who loves Don Quixote and when someone else does the cooking."

Please find her online at  And hot-off-the-presses news: Christie is having a “housewarming” party on her new website, where people can come celebrate with her for a chance to win a prize.  So hustle on over and check out her site!!!

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Nude Goose
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: When Honk flies south, he meets a few oddly dressed geese and tries to fit in. However, he does not realize they are lawn ornaments. After an awkward inquiry, and a few disastrous outfits, Honk discovers he is happier the way he came - naked. 

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

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Christie improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Christie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to practicing with chocolate, oreos and pretzels and having my flock return to the fold! :)

I hope you've all got those writerly thinking caps on and are cooking up your Holiday Contest stories!!! :)  I, of course, will likely not give my sample a moment's thought until 10 PM on December 6th when I shall fly into a panic at having to come up with something RIGHT THEN in order to post it on time.  You'd think knowing this would encourage me to plan ahead...  You'd think...!  What is that saying about teaching old dogs new tricks??? :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


November 16, 2015

Monday Munchday...An Exciting Announcement!


So nice of you to drop by on Monday and visit me!  I missed you so over the weekend :)

And you won't be sorry for coming over!

I have SUCH exciting news!!!

Guess what???

I have invented a new recipe!

Yes!  It's true!

I must give credit where credit is due.  I was inspired by Shelley Kinder in a blog comment on the Halloweensie Winner's post.  During all the talk about nuts vs. no nuts in dessert, she suggested the benefits of peanut butter chips... and an idea was born!

Lo and behold, my new recipe:

Take the brownie recipe of your choice and add 1/2 (or 1/2 +) cup of peanut butter chips!  YUM!

And this gave rise to ANOTHER idea... add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of toffee chips!

OR add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of crushed peppermint!

OR go the s'mores route and add 1/2 cup mini marshmallows and 1/4-1/2 cup graham cracker cereal!  (Although that might get mushy... I'll have to experiment...!  Maybe crushed graham cracker at the bottom with the brownie batter mixed with marshmallows added on top...?)


And you're welcome, because I know I have just given you a whole new outlook on your holiday baking plans! :)

At least, I've given MYSELF a whole new outlook on MY holiday baking plans! :)

And the added benefit?  An unexpected Monday Something Chocolate Snack:

Please forgive the photos - I'm a baker not a photographer :) - but I promise they taste delicious!!! :)

So, thanks for stopping by.  I hope it was worth your time.  And I hope you weren't expecting anything else...


You were expecting something else?

Well in that case...

...maybe I should tell you...

...that it's time for...

The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
WA-HOOO!!!! :)

The Contest:  Write a children's story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of "Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop."  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version "[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice]."  For example, "Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque," or "Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm," or "Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us," or "Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar"....   You get the idea, I'm sure :)  But "Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop" is completely acceptable too - whatever works for you :)  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest :))  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful :)), but no more than 350!)  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 7 and Friday 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 7 and remain up through Sunday December 13 (no WYRI or PPBF during that week.)  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 7th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you! But please don't send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story into the email.)

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on either Monday December 14 or Tuesday December 15 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 17 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 18.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.

The Prizes!:  Ok, so I'm still working on the prize list and will have to update, but here are some of the prizes that will be offered, and I think we're going to have some additional awesomeness to add! (items in color are links for more info!):

- A Picture Book Manuscript read and critique (winner's choice of in-person, on the phone, or via email) by Claire Dorsett, Editorial Assistant, Roaring Brook Press!!!
   A bibliophile and outdoor enthusiast, Claire spent her childhood summers road-tripping across the United States, reading constantly on the long car rides between parks and museums. Her love of literature led her to pursue a BA in English from Cornell University, where she was involved with campus publications The Daily Sun and Rainy Day literary magazine. Claire then completed the six-week intensive Columbia Publishing Course before finding a home at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, assisting VP and Publisher Simon Boughton. She has worked on a range of projects during her time at Roaring Brook, including Lane Smith's middle-grade debut Return to Augie Hobble, Steve Sheinkin's National Book Award finalist Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, and picture books The SkunkThere is a Tribe of Kids, and Ned The Knitting Pirate
- a brand new Picture Book Webinar Bundle including one webinar on Concept Books and the other on Rhyme, Verse and Lyricism in Picture Books, generously donated by Emma Walton Hamilton, author, editor, writing coach, and teacher of the fabulous Just Write For Kids courses.
- a 2016 membership to Children's Book Insider, including their Children's Writing Knowledge Base, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes
 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author/illustrator Iza Trapani, author of JINGLE BELLS, OLD KING COLE, ITSY BITSY SPIDER, and many, many more!
 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the fabulous Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!
 - Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class - in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 2016 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 - a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill's amazing What's The Story Cards (hitherto un-introduced to the world!)

I can't thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you've read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

And now!  Sharpen those pencils!  Top off those coffee mugs!  Get those derrieres in your chairs!  And start writing those prize-winning entries!!!

I can't wait for the festivities to begin! :)


November 13, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

You'll all be thrilled to know that my stove has been successfully installed!

(I know you were waiting with bated breath to find out :))

I may have to bake some cookies to see whether the oven works... who can tell? :)

You will also be thrilled to know that in spite of days of heavy rain everyone on Blueberry Hill is still above the water level... albeit in our canoe :)

Today, for PPBF, I have SUCH a fun book to share with you.  It was love at first read for me.  This book surprised me and made me laugh out loud - a real winner! - and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

Title: Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook (Learn From The Best!)
Written & Illustrated By: Anne Vittur Kennedy
Candlewick, August 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: Humor, animals (farm)

Opening: "I'm Ragweed.  I'm a farm dog, and I'm really, really good at it.  Most dogs aren't.  But don't worry.  You'll be great.  You have the handbook."

Brief Synopsis: Ragweed sets out to tell you everything you need to know about being a farm dog... mostly, everything that ISN'T your job :)

Links To Resources: individually or as a group (in classroom or homeschool) make up your own handbook/story about how to be/do something, for example, Bossie's Milk Cow Handbook about how to be a milk cow, or Archie's Wind Up Handbook about how to pitch in baseball.

Why I Like This Book:  It's cute and funny!  Ragweed is so lovable, and so believable as a character.  He's a dog, but his behavior is very reminiscent of a preschooler's :)  His handbook focuses on all the things you should NOT do to be the farm dog, and only at the very end does he reveal what the farm dog's job actually is.  But I'm not telling.  You'll have to read it to find out :)  The illustrations are delightful and perfect for the story, bright and engaging.  Ragweed is so expressive!  I dare you not to love this one.  It made me laugh out loud!

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

And now, before you all toddle off to your weekends, I want to give you a heads up that I will be posting something interesting on Monday (even though I don't post most Mondays these days) so be sure to check in... I don't think you'll want to miss it! :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!


November 11, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #192 - Cursing Cats (PB)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Today is a very exciting day!

Remember how a few weeks back I was all excited because my house was no longer two-tone but all one color... after a year or more of being unfinished?

Apparently this is a trend because let me tell you about my stove.

Once upon a time, we moved into this house with a new stove.

22 years later (which was last year), on Thanksgiving, the oven decided it didn't feel like working any more.  Our turkey did not cook.  Really.  I am not making this up.

Now, you'd think, given the trauma of Thanksgiving without a turkey, we would have gotten right on that and bought a new stove immediately...  But that is not the way things work on Blueberry Hill.  After all, the oven still functioned well enough to bake brownies and cookies, which is pretty much all I use it for :)

So we coasted along happily using the stove top... and then summer came and we could use the grill outside... and all was well.

But a few weeks ago, we started talking about Thanksgiving.  And using my keen powers of reasoning, I astutely realized that we were going to find ourselves in the same predicament this year as last, since our oven had not magically resurrected itself, which did not bode at all well for the Thanksgiving turkey.

So I bit the bullet and bought a new stove!

It's so pretty!

It has convection roast and convection bake as options (not requirements, for those of us who embrace change slowly) and a simmer burner and a power burner and a griddle/grill for the stovetop.  If all goes according to plan, our Thanksgiving turkey will cook this year!

There's just one little thing.

The gas has yet to be hooked up.

And it turns out the stove/oven doesn't work so well without it :)

But that's supposed to happen today.  TODAY, I tell you!  So let's get ready for some baking!

And speaking of baking makes me think of Something Chocolate (shocking, I know :))  How about some triple chocolate cheesecake with oreo crust?  Sound good to you?  It sounds good to me!

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust from OMG Chocolate Desserts
and yes the recipe is on that link :)
YUM!  And I believe it covers all the basic food groups... dairy, veggies (chocolate comes from beans, remember?!), whole grains (there has to be some kind of flour/wheat product in oreos!), and chocolate!  Eat up, lambies!  You need your strength! :)

Now that we are all fortified, and our brains are functioning at 200% power, today's pitch comes to us from Sandy who says,  "I started buying picture books for my kids before I even had kids! And even though my seven-year-old granddaughter can read chapter books on her own, she still lets me read picture books to her. I've published one story in the now defunct "Pennywhistle Press," a Gannett Press newspaper insert for kids. I also write non-fiction articles for local publications."

You can find Sandy on FB at Sandy Lowe Ink.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Cursing Cats
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Tired of being misused and overdressed by a little girl, Jack and Dave learn "curse words" from watching TV. They hope that using words like "bifurcated" and "crepuscular" in front of the girl will ensure her grandmother won't let her play with them anymore. They succeed, but in a way they weren't expecting. 

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

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Sandy improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Sandy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting my stove hooked up and trying it out!  Plus, my lovely sister-in-law, upon hearing we were getting a new stove, sent me a new cookbook to go with it!  Hopefully it's idiot-proof and will provide recipes for the cooking-challenged that I can actually be successful with!  Wish me luck! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


November 6, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Leaf Man

Wahoo!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Is there anything more fun for a picture book writer or illustrator, a parent, a teacher, or a child then the prospect of diving into a pile of great picture books?

I didn't think so :)

Unless maybe it's the prospect of diving into a pile of great picture books with a cup of hot chocolate near to hand (though not quite near enough to get kicked over during the diving :))

It is also tons of fun to dive into a pile of autumn leaves!!!

Given the fact that I've spent the last two weeks up to my hair in Halloweensie, I'm totally cheating and recycling a book today that I posted last year.  But it's an excellent book, and you won't want to miss it!  Get ready to have your breath taken away by this thing of beauty! :)

Title: Leaf Man
Written & Illustrated By: Lois Ehlert
Harcourt, September 2005, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: seasons (autumn), nature, imagination

Opening: "Leaf Man used to live near me, in a pile of leaves.  But yesterday the wind blew Leaf Man away."

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: "Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one's quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows."

Links To ResourcesTeacher's Guide (Harcourt); Lesson Plan (Scholastic);  the jacket flaps of the book are covered with "mystery leaves" - pictures of the leaves with a hint about where they come from so children can try to guess/identify them; the endpapers of the book show examples of many types of leaves, pictured and labeled; go on a leaf walk and collect leaves of your own - how many different kinds can you find? how many colors and shapes?; make a leaf collage, or a pencil rubbing of a leaf, or any kind of leaf art.

Why I Like This Book: If you've spent any time at all on Perfect Picture Books, you'll know that 99.99 times out of 100, I choose books because I love the words or the story.  This is one time when I chose a perfect picture book for the art.  It also has a whimsical story :), but it's the art that sells this book.  It's simply gorgeous.  The illustrations are made from actual fall leaves.  The pages are cut and layered in the shapes of hills.  Each page pictures its subject made out of leaves, for example, on the page where perhaps Leaf Man flew over the turkey, there is a turkey crafted from fall leaves.   The colors are vibrant, and both the story and the art allow children to fancifully imagine all that a leaf might do as it blows before the wind.  The whole book sings autumn - it's just lovely!

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

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see your picks for this week!


November 5, 2015

2015 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

As you all know, I do not normally post on Thursdays.

That is because Thursday is my day for lying on the couch eating bonbons.

I am making an exception today because I have something VERY important to discuss with you.

Something that I know has been weighing as heavily on your minds as it has on mine.

Something very crucial!

Something so earth-shatteringly important that it probably kept you up all night!

So let's just lay it out on the table, shall we?

What is the deal with nuts in dessert items?

I'm serious!  Whose idea was that???

Obviously a dessert like pecan pie requires nuts.  I'm okay with that.

But brownies, cookies, and ice cream were made to be fudgy, chewy, and creamy respectively.  I'm sure you can see how adding hard, crunchy nuts is totally counter to the texture experience and therefore to the true enjoyment of said desserts!  Such appalling effrontery!

I think it's high time we take a stand, don't you?



You think I'M nuts???

I won't lie.  I'm a little hurt.

Sad face.


Were you expecting a discussion on another topic?

I'm not sure anything needs our attention as much as the ongoing nuts/no nuts debate...

...except maybe...


(But wait!  Before I announce, do you want to state your opinion on whether nuts belong in dessert items?

No?  You're sure?

Alrighty then.  Don't say I never gave you a chance to be heard :))

As you are all aware by now, we had a record turnout for the Halloweensie Contest - 145 entries! (Plus 2 that came in after the deadline!)  Holy Halloweensie!  Who'd-a-thunk it?

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories and meet so many new writers!

But with large entry numbers come hard choices.  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 on Monday 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:
     Mishka Jaeger for The Little Trick-or-Treater
     Vivian Kirkfield for Halloween Fever
     Sandy Jones for Frank-N-Stein's Store      
     Gabi Snyder for Jack's First Night (which could also have placed in Best Original POV for being told from a pumpkin's viewpoint!)

2.  For Best Entry For Teen Readers:
     Lori Dubbin for Indelible! (beautifully done!!!)
3.  For Great Kid Appeal: (not already in the finals)
     Charlotte Dixon for Arabella's Web
     Stacy Jensen for Gilda's Zombie Fix
     Julie Rowan-Zoch for Creeeaak....
     Shaelyn Berg for Scaredy House
     Saundra Jones for Halloween Countdown (youngest readers)

4.  For Best Descriptive/Mood Piece:
     Rosi Hollinbeck for The Halloweensie Party
     Becky Shillington for Monster Bash

5.  For Best Use of Poetic Language:
     Randi Sonenshine for March Of The Gargoyles
     Suzy Levinson for Trick For Treats

6. For Spookiest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Bradin Farnworth for Buddy
     Amanda Sincavage for The Haunted Dash

7. For Funniest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Stephanie Salkin for Mummy Unveiled (which also had great poetic language!)
     Mike Allegra for Night Ninja
8. For being Judge #3's Favorite Entry :)
     Lynne Pisano for Boo Who?
9.  For Best Written Original Point of View:
     Johnell DeWitt for Dark's Knight (POV of the dark!)
     Marlaina Gray for YIPE! (POV of a terrier :))
10.  For Originality/Creativity:
     Carrie Burrows for Sophie And The Teal Pumpkin (because we learned about the Teal Pumpkin for allergy-sensitive trick-or-treaters!)
11.  For Favorite Character:
       Lisa Riddiough for Mo, The Ghost Who Said Moo

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they're about)

For Kindle:
Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

In paperback:
Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell, OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard

Now then.  A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.

We have 9 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 :)



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

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

. . . to tell the world once and for all how you feel about nuts in your dessert!

. . . THE WINNERS OF THE 2014 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...
Shelley Kinder
A Meaty Trick-or-Treat

Congratulations, Shelley, on a delightful entry that was all around well done and clearly very popular!!!

In Second Place,

Sam Steinfels
Spooky Spies

Congratulations, Sam, on an exceptionally clever premise beautifully executed! You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Shelley chooses!

In Third Place, a tie!!! between

Marla Lesage                         Polly (sorry I don't know your last name!)
                   for                                                                    for
 Pirate Prepares For Halloween                                   Nothing To Wear

Congratulations, Marla and Polly, on entertaining, well written entries that we all loved!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Shelley and Sam choose!

In Fifth Place, a three-way tie!!!

      Buffy Silverman                    Cathy Mealy                           Jana Locke
               for                                       for                                           for
Spider's Halloween Debut       Goodnight Halloween     The Unicorn Ate My Candy Corn:
                                                                                                  A Halloween Tall Tale

Congratulations, Buffy, Cathy and Jana, on your wonderful entries!  You get to pick your prizes after Shelley, Sam, Marla and Polly!

In Eighth Place,

Patricia Nozell
Leila's First Halloween

Congratulations, Patricia, on a standout entry that was markedly different from the others with its unique theme!  You get to pick your prize after Shelley, Sam, Marla, Polly, Buffy, Cathy, and Jana!

In Ninth PlaceJulie Abery for The Teensy-Weensy Witch!  Congratulations, Julie!  What a determined little witch!  You get the idea of the prize picking by now I'm sure :)

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!  Finalists who did not finish in the top 10 (Stephanie, Jacqueline, Jean, and Chrystal) may also contact me for their choice of the Kindle or paperback prizes listed above.

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 large amount of chocolate cake :)

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.  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...

The 5th Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 7-11 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 so you all have time to work on your stories!

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

The Prizes:  we've got some seriously amazing prizes! (words in color are links to more info)

 - a read and comments on a PB ms by fabulous agent Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency!!!

 - a picture book manuscript critique by picture book author Diana Murray!  website

 - a query critique from Heather Ayris Burnell, founder of the Sub It Club

a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

 - an e-pub or PDF copy (winner's choice) of Linda Ashman's Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books

  - personalized signed copies of Sarah Frances Hardy's Dress Me! and Paint Me! (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 - a personalized signed copy of Amy Dixon's Sophie's Animal Parade (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

a personalized signed copy of Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez's What About Moose?(Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 - a personalized signed copy of Penny Parker Klostermann's There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

Please join me again in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up :)


November 4, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #191 - Showdown At The Sippy Cup Saloon (PB)

Howdy folks!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Would You Read It for this important message from our sponsors:

Voting continues in the Halloweensie Contest until 5 PM today!!!  If you haven't had a chance to weigh in yet, please hop over HERE to read the amazing finalist stories and vote for your favorite!!!  We need all the votes we can get!!!

Now then, back to WYRI!

And by "back to WYRI" I of course mean "time for Something Chocolate!!!" :)  And since it's only a couple days after Halloween, what better than leftover chocolate Halloween Candy???

Whoever thought up Halloween was a genius! :)
YUM!!!  Of course, I don't actually HAVE any leftover chocolate Halloween candy... I can't imagine why... :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Jessica Swaim, a parttime poet who spends an inordinate amount of time playing with her dogs.
Take a peek at both her books and her dogs at

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Showdown At The Sippy Cup Saloon
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: In the tiny town of Toddle, in the cradle of the West, Sheriff Wyatt Burp is snoozing in his crib when Wild Bill Hiccup arrives to wake up -- and shake up -- the pint-size population.  "Don't go gettin' yer onesie in a twist," Wild Bill warns Wyatt, but tempers flare until the two go bib to bib in a showdown at the Sippy Cup Saloon. Who will emerge the rootin' tootin' squirt gun shootin' hero of the West? 

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

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Jessica improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Jessica is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to finding out who wins the Halloweensie Contest!  Tune in tomorrow!!!  Meanwhile, try to keep calm and think about something else so you won't go nuts waiting.  Really.  Just don't think about it.  Don't keep wondering who the winner might be, and who might be second and third....! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! :)


November 2, 2015

The 2015 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS! - Vote For Your Favorite!!!


Is that you?

I can't see that far...

...from my spot on the floor...

I'm delirious after an agonizing weekend of trying to choose 10 finalists out of more than 10 times that number of entries, all of them wonderful in one way or another!  (And no.  We did not choose 10.  We chose a baker's dozen - 13 for Halloween!)

The fact that I am flat on the floor is nothing to worry about.  Really.  I'm fine.  And so are the other judges.  You just can't see them because they crawled off to bed in the wee hours and have yet to emerge.

Seriously.  There is no need to worry about us.  But we won't say no to chocolate if you wish to send some our way and help us recover :)

We had the biggest turn out we've ever had in terms of number of entries - 145! - and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic.  Really, it is readily apparent that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time.  This means there are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!

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

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

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

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

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

A surprising number of this year's entries were amazingly written... but failed to really tell a story!  They were more descriptions, lists, or mood pieces.  So as awesome as they were, we had to make some very hard calls.

Without further ado, I present to you the 2015 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute.  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite.  To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

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

#1.  Leila's First Halloween
Tears puddle in Leila’s dark eyes. Tomorrow is the Halloween costume parade at her new school.
“Costumes cost money,” Mama sighs. “I can’t buy something you wear once for this strange holiday. Any extra money must be sent to our sisters and brothers in Aleppo.”
Halloween haunts Leila’s thoughts. A stomach ache? Mama never lets her miss school. A costume from Teacher’s bin? Her classmates will laugh.
“I know!” she cries, grabbing a navy pullover and red leggings.
As her classmates don costumes, Leila asks Teacher for 50 stars and white tape.
“I’m an American now, an American flag!”

#2 Pirate Prepares For Halloween
Pirate wonders what to wear.
Knitted cap with dreadlocked hair?
Striped pajamas? Bandoleer?
Same old shorts she’s worn all year?
Black bandana? New tattoo?
She can’t dress like pirates do!

But a costume would delight
on this dark and haunted night.
Zombie? Werewolf? Ninja? Cat?
Too cliché, she can’t wear that.
Pirate wants to go disguised,
but her friends should be surprised.

Pirate gathers what she needs:
old bandana, borrowed beads,
Jolly Roger, tattered lace.
Then she snips and sews with grace.
When her tutu is all set.
Sauté, plié, pirouette.
Pirate plans a dance routine
to perform on Halloween.

#3 Spooky Spies
He focused a triangle on the approaching costumed family.
“That Jack-O-Lantern is watching me,” said Franz.
“Don’t be silly,” said his mother, “It’s just a pumpkin.”
“It winked at me!” yelped Tess, “Creepy, haunted pumpkin!”
“Impossible,” scoffed their mother, ”On to next house!”
Hours later, after the last trick-or-treater had gone home,
a lone man waltzed down the dark street.
“Report, Jack-O,” he murmured.
“Evening, sir. I have your list. 100 kids said trick-or-treat. 95 kids said thank you. Five kids took their candy and ran,” reported Jack-O-Lantern.
“Excellent.” said the man, “See you next October.”
“Goodnight, Santa,” replied Jack-O-Lantern.

#4 Nothing To Wear
It was Halloween day,
soon to be night.
Where darkness would lurk,
between Halloween lights.
But Harry and Ava
had nothing to wear.
No colourful costume,
to give folks a scare.
So off they both set,
to "Costumes'R'us".
Hitching a ride, on the
666 bus.
They said to the driver,
"Your costume is cool.
Totally haunting,
just like a ghoul"
He smiled and he nodded
"it's Costumes'R'us"
then he drove them both there,
and they jumped off the bus.
But the shop sign said "closed",
How could that be?
Then the driver and bus,
disappeared from the street.

#5 Grow-A-Ghoul
“Grow-a-Ghoul in 31 days. Guaranteed to be a hit on Halloween. Keep your Ghoul in a dark closet, and feed them a cup of fruit punch every day,” read Meredith.
“Oh goody,” said Ethan, “I can’t wait to scare the pants off Franz Findley.
“My ghoul is going to haunt the whole town,” boasted Sarah.
On October 31st, the ghouls floated out of the closet.
“WOOOOOOO,” wailed Meredith’s ghoul.
“AAAHHHHOOOOO,” moaned Ethan’s ghoul.
“Let’s be best friends! We can hold hands and wear matching princess costumes!” exclaimed Sarah’s ghoul.
“Oh dear,” said Sarah, “My ghoul is broken.”

#6 The Unicorn Ate My Candy Corn: A Halloween Tall Tale
My costume’s crumpled in a heap,
My candy’s in the pail.
Blinking eyes, I’m close to sleep
Until I hear a wail.
And then a snort. And clacking feet.
I think my room is haunted.
A voice neighed out, “I NEED A TREAT!”
I ask what kind it wanted.
“The sweetest treat, shaped like my horn.
With bands of orange and yellow.
I’m craving all your candy corn!”
I hear the creature bellow.
My room is dark, but now I see
Four legs, a mane. . . a horn?
Who ate the treats? It wasn’t me.
I blame the unicorn.

#7 Paisley The Ghostling
Paisley loved Halloween.
What other day could a ghostling wear a costume, trick-or-treat, and play in the
Paisley wished she could join the fun, but she had scare duty like all the other ghostlings.
Boo-hoo. What's a ghost to do?
An idea came as quick as a spook.
She'd wear a costume and haunt the kids trick-or-treating.
Paisley dressed as broccoli.
Vegetables were sure to bring a fright.
Paisley yelled, “Eat your vegetables!”
All the kids screamed.
Paisley had a spooktacular time.
Next year she will go as parsnip.

#8 A Meaty Trick-or-Treat
Once upon a Trick or Treat,
T. Rex set out to get some meat.
He and friends went door to door,
Until their bags could hold no more.
"T" raced home past ghosts and clowns,
Costumed pets, and haunted frowns.
When safely home, he dumped his treats:
Frog legs, pork, and scrumptious meats,
Gizzards, ribs, roast beef, and turkey,
White meat, dark meat, Jamaican jerky!
Then "T" saw something quite bizarre...
A package labeled, "CHOCOLATE BAR."
He grabbed it, halved it, took a bite,
But something simply wasn't right.
He stuffed some bacon in between,
And CHOMPED his Halloween Supreme!

#9 An Alien Goes Trick-or-Treating
Allen the Alien has landed on Earth on a cold, dark October night.
“Cool costume!” shouts a princess.
“Take me to your leader,” quips a vampire.
“Beep. Boop. Bop,” greets a robot.
Allen is confused.
“Where did his mother find that outfit?” remarks a witch dragging along a little ghost.
The Earthlings are playing dress up!
Allen puts on his costume – jeans, t-shirt, cap, sneakers. Aliens love to dress up as Earthlings.
Allen follows four ninja turtles to a haunted house.
“Trick or Treat!”
“Poor kid doesn’t have a costume,” whispers the ogre handing out candy.
Allen smiles.

#10 Spider's Halloween Debut
Spider spun her sticky web
and scrutinized the scene below.
A ghoulish ghost and ghastly witch
were putting on a scary show
to entertain a costumed crew
who bravely watched the chilling sight.
The audience heard gruesome groans
and shivered in the cold, dark night.
Spider itched to join the fun,
to haunt, to scare, to steal the show.
She dropped a line and skittered down,
but no one looked… so she let go
and landed on the witch’s neck.
Spider scampered, spider crawled,
She heard a screech! She heard a howl!

Creepy spider spooked them all.

#11 The Haunting

Tonight when children go to bed,
I’ll be that thing that they all dread.
I’ll creep into their darkened room,
A spirit from the grave exhumed.
For this is Halloween tonight,
When even darkness shakes with fright,
But I’ll be laughing with delight
When frightened children bolt upright!
What’s that in the children’s room?
A gang of youngsters in costume!
They’re waiting for me in the dark,
A clown, a monster,
…is that a shark?
Now it’s me who shakes with fright!
The children laughing with delight,
I bolt back to my burial site,
I won’t be haunting them tonight!

#12 The Teensy-Weensy Witch

On Halloween night: October thirty-one,
A teensy-weensy witch shrieked "Let's have fun!"
She packed her tiny spell book in her pointy purple hat,
Put on her witch's costume, grabbed her broomstick and her cat.
They left the tiny house in the thickening gloom,
And zoomed in the air on her itsy-bitsy broom.
Out of the dark came a haunting "Whoooooo...
Watch out witches we're after you!"
The witch gave a wobble, the broomstick took a crash,
Landing in a puddle with one ginormous splash!!!!!
Next Halloween I'll get you back!!!

#13 Goodnight Halloween

In the dark gray room
Lay a tattered costume
A dim glow-stick
And a bent witch broom
And the smell of
Fresh chocolate’s sugar perfume
And there were three little ghosts
Haunting a house
And a pair of black cats
With a little toy mouse
And a sad saggy pumpkin, flame guttered out
Goodnight room
Goodnight broom
Goodnight sweets I can’t consume
Goodnight mouse
Goodnight cat
Goodnight house and witch’s hat
Goodnight glowstick
Goodnight ghosts
Goodnight pumpkin-love you most
Goodnight socks and tired feet
Goodnight Halloween
Goodnight trick or treat

Now that you've had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 5PM EST Wednesday November 4.

Tune in Thursday November 5 to see THE WINNERS!!!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn't be what they are without all of you!

I can't wait to see who the winners will be!

Tune in Thursday... same bat time, same bat station :)

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

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to lie on the couch and eat bonbons all day.


Not really.

I'm actually driving to Vermont as we speak and will be in the car all day, so forgive me if I don't reply to your blog comments until later!

But don't worry - I have plenty of miniature Halloween chocolate bars to keep my sustained whilst I drive... and A Clash Of Kings on audible to listen to (yes, I'm officially hooked on the Game of Thrones series! :))

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!!

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