October 28, 2013

The 3rd Annual Halloweensie Contest - aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!

Eye of newt and toe of frog!  It's finally time for

The 3rd Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!

courtesy google images
The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words spookyblack cat, and cackle.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words (you can count black cat as one word) and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie - because it's not very long and it's for little people :)  [Note: of you choose to use cackle as a verb, any form is acceptable - cackles, cackled, cackling...]

Post your story on your blog between now and Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Would You Read It or Perfect Picture Books this week, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  I hope everyone will visit everyone and you'll all get your friends and relations to visit, read and enjoy too!  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.  (If you have trouble, and alas, people sometimes do, just email your entry to susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I'll post it in the comments for you!)

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

The Prizes:

First Prize is a PB Critique from the amazing Corey Rosen Schwartz, author of The Three Ninja PigsHop! Plop!, and the forthcoming Goldirocks, Ninja Red, and What About Moose? AND a copy of Linda Ashman's new Nuts And Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books (your choice of e-book or PDF)!  The winner will also be incredibly famous and able to boast that he or she won The Halloweensie Contest... and that is not something most people can say! :)

Second Prize is a PB manuscript and query letter critique from talented author Heather Ayris Burnell, author of Bedtime Monster.

Third Prize is a set of personalized signed picture books just in time for the holidays - Charlotte Gunnufson's Halloween HustleTiffany Haber's The Monster Who Lost His Mean, and Amy Dixon's Marathon Mouse (perfect timing because NYC Marathon Sunday is next weekend!)

Please join me again in thanking these very generous authors for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books for holiday 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 :)

I'm actually a little amazed (and worried) because the inaugural Halloweensie Contest, won by Cathy with Untitled was postponed due to 2 feet of snow - which around here is unusual for the end of October.  The 2nd Annual Halloweensie Contest, won by Julie with Hallow's Eve was delayed and interfered with by Hurricane Sandy!  So fingers crossed we don't get any wild weather this year!

Now then.  Time for my sample entry which I provide both because I wouldn't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do myself, and because in case anyone is worried about the quality of their entry they have only to read my abysmal attempts to be filled with confidence that their's is MUCH better!

So without further ado:

A Witch For Spooky (100 words)

Spooky was a black cat with no witch.
Things just never worked out.
Grimelda's potions were too stinky for his delicate nose.
"Scram!" said Grimelda when he kept sneezing.
Hauntabelle flew her broomstick like a maniac.
"Scat!" said Hauntabelle when he got broomsick.
Armathystle's cackle made Spooky run and hide!
Spooky had almost given up when he found Serena.  She was very small, but she didn't smell bad or fly fast or cackle.
"You can be my Pookie," she crooned (which was close enough!), and she carried him home in a candy-filled plastic pumpkin.
Spooky had a witch at last!

and, to provide one in rhyme (kinda storta :))

Spooked! (100 words)

A pirate, a witch, and a gypsy queen
Went trick-or-treating one Halloween.
Away past the farthest edge of town
To the ramshackle home of Farmer Brown.
Up the dark lane where no one dared.
The gyspsy queen said, "We're not scared!"
A spooky shadow loomed ahead!
"Relax," said the pirate.  "It's just a shed."
"Eeeek!" shrieked the witch as she danced about.
"Something touched my leg!  Look out!"
"It's just a black cat.  Come on, let's go."
But then came a sound they didn't know.
Cackle-cackle!  "It's witches on the loose!"
And they ran helter-skelter from the Farmer's goose!

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I HOPE so! :)

I can't wait to read all of yours!  I hope there will be a lot - the more the merrier!  And there are still 4 days to write, so you have time if you haven't written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! :)

Don't miss 19 entries in the comments section from Megan, Pia, Linda, Michele, Stacy, Laurie, Kathy, Patricia, Eileen, Nancy, Pam, Pat, Kristen, Teresa R., Teresa S., Suzy, Tracy, Heather, and Karen!  (Marcie is now on the link list at #15, Jackie is now on the link list at #33 - she has a brand new blog!, Laura S is on the list at #40, and Deirdre is on the link list at #52.  I hope I've caught all the doubles, but there may be a couple more.)


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October 25, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Alice And Greta

OMG!  SUCH exciting news!  The lovely Wendy who blogs over at Noodling With Words submitted #PPBF to WriterUnboxed and they accepted it for sharing!  Look!
Aren't we so official now?  Our little hashtag mentioned by Writer Unboxed!  Do you feel famous?  I do! :)

I am embarrassingly bad at twitter, although I'm really trying to get better at it, but now I must really make an effort to remember to use our PPBF hashtag!

Phew!  That was a lot of excitement!  But now it's time for today's Perfect Picture Book, a sort of Halloween-y choice since it's about witches :)

Title: Alice And Greta
Written By: Steven J. Simmons
Illustrated By: Cyd Moore
Charlesbridge, July 1999, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: consequences, behavior (listening, what goes around comes around), perspective, good vs. bad

Opening: "Once, a long time ago, two witches lived on top of a mountain.  Although they looked out at the same view, they saw things differently."

Brief Synopsis: Alice and Greta are two young witches who use their power in opposite ways.  Alice helps people.  Greta makes mischief.  But it's important to watch out for "the Brewmerang Principle: Whatever you chant, whatever you brew, sooner or later comes back to you!"

Links To Resources: Alice And Greta Coloring Page, Alice And Greta Mystery Maze, The Master Magic Wand Maker's Guide To Creating Wonderful Wands, Classroom Guide (from the Picture Book, Teacher's Edition.)

Why I Like This Book:  This book has a fun story about two little witches, and a nice message about reaping what you sow :)  It's full of spells and enchantments and mischief.  But it's the delightful art that takes it over the top for me.  The drawings are full of fun details that kids can spend lots of time looking at and that bring the story so appealingly to life.

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

Before we all head off to read everyone's amazing picks for today and then on to our weekends, I just have to say that I'm so excited for the Halloweensie Contest which opens MONDAY!!!  If you haven't written your entry yet, you still have the weekend and a lot of next week - the deadline isn't until midnight on Halloween (so appropriate, no? :))  This is one of the most fun contests we do because the entries are short, so I hope you'll all participate!  (If you haven't seen the rules, mosey on over HERE.)

First Prize is a PB Critique from the amazing Corey Rosen Schwartz, author of The Three Ninja Pigs, Hop! Plop!, and the forthcoming Goldirocks, Ninja Red, and What About Moose? AND a copy of Linda Ashman's new Nuts And Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books (your choice of e-book or PDF)!

Second prize is a PB manuscript and query letter critique from talented author Heather Ayris Burnell, author of Bedtime Monster.

Third prize is a set of personalized signed picture books just in time for the holidays - Charlotte Gunnufson's Halloween Hustle, Tiffany Haber's The Monster Who Lost His Mean, and Amy Dixon's Marathon Mouse (perfect timing because NYC Marathon Sunday is next weekend!)

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books for holiday 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 :)

And now, off to read everyone's fabulous choices!  PPBF bloggers, please put your post-specific link in the list below, and then tweet with #PPBF to your hearts' content! :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)

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October 23, 2013

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


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

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

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

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

Bookplates!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voila!  An idea has become reality!

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

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

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

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

Here is her pitch:

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

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October 21, 2013

Fun Times At Sheep And Wool

Haaappy Monday, everyone!

I just flew in from the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival and boy are my arms tired!

Ba-da-boom!

Thank you, folks!  I'll be here all week!  Try the chicken cacciatore!

Seriously, though, I really did go to Sheep & Wool and I had tons of fun!

More than 3 people bought copies of Can't Sleep Without Sheep - awesome!

I saw MANY sheep - always fun!  One was being led around like a dog on a leash, baaing plaintively to his mates behind in the pen.  I didn't get a picture because I was carrying all my stuff, but he had very cool long ropy hair - kind of like Bob Marley but a different color :)

I got to read to a bevy of little munchkins in various stages of sugar overdrive from fair food :)


My signing table was right next to Nancy Shaw - yes, THE Nancy Shaw who wrote SHEEP IN A JEEP and many, many others - books I read over and over to my kids when they were little - and I got to meet her and be in a picture with her!

And on the OTHER side of my signing table was my dear friend Iza Trapani!  Here we are:
That's Iza on the left and me on the right, which I felt I should explain since we look so much alike -  almost like we're twins :)  Or like someone who forgot to take a photo before Iza left just drew a picture :)
Here she is for real (in a surreptitious photo taken by my camera-girl) signing for her hordes of loving fans with my hair in the background - that's the closest I could come to an actual picture with both of us in it :)

I hope you enjoyed that Fun Photo Fest and my incredible drawing skills.  (Now you know why I don't illustrate my own books :))

Oh, and before we go, now seems like a good moment to mention some upcoming fun stuff!

Next week, from October 28 - Nov. 1 we'll be having the 3rd Annual Halloweensie Contest!  (Go HERE for details if you'd like to enter!)

Monday November 11 will feature an interview with the one and only Mike Allegra!

Wednesday November 13 we will have a very special Would You Read It!

Monday December 2 we'll be having our Rhyme Clinic with Linda Ashman!

And who knows what other amazing things may happen by :)

So with all that awesomeness to look forward to, have a marvelous Monday, everyone! :)

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October 18, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Tap The Magic Tree

I'm so excited it's Friday because I have the best book to share with you today!

It's one of those "man-I-wish-I'd-thought-of-that!!!" books :)

Are you ready?

Title: Tap The Magic Tree
Written & Illustrated By: Christie Matheson
Greenwillow Books, August 2013, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (according to pub. - I think kids as young as 3 would love it.)

Themes/Topics: following directions/listening, magic, seasons, nature

Opening: "There's magic in this bare brown tree.  Tap it once.  Turn the page to see."

Brief Synopsis: The seasons change as if by magic, all at the reader's touch!  From spring, to summer, to autumn and winter, with a lovely little surprise at the end :)

Links To Resources: Classroom activities, draw pictures of different kinds of trees - apple trees, pine trees, what else can you think of and how can you make them look different from each other?  Talk about what trees wear in different seasons (and how some trees (deciduous) lose all their "clothes" and others (conifers) don't) and compare to what you wear in different seasons.  Project Plant It: Trees For Kids And Their Communities.

Why I Like This Book:  Who needs an app for interactivity?  This book has it all.  Tap the tree to make the leaves come out.  Rub the tree to make it warm so it blossoms.  Jiggle the tree and wiggle your fingers to make a rain of petals.  Brush the petals away and blow the tree a kiss to make apples form.  The reader is in charge and gets to do all the activities.  So clever and fun!

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

I hope everyone is hard at work on their Halloweensie Contest entries and that you're all doing better than I am (since I haven't yet had time to start!)  It's so exciting!  I can't wait to read what everyone comes up with.

Oh, and that reminds me, I think we're going to skip PPBF on Friday November 1 because all the Halloweensie Contest entries will be up (hopefully... assuming anyone actually enters...I'm feeling a little anxious on that score...!) and I want everyone to have time to read them.  I apologize if that's too last minute a change for anyone's schedule.  I just got to thinking that since we'll be in the middle of the contest it would be nice to leave the link list up over the weekend so people who might not have gotten a chance to read yet can do so easily.  Feel free to voice your opinion on this in the comments.  I'm willing to negotiate if anyone feels strongly :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!  And PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you :)

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October 16, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #109 - Iris The Rainbow Girl (PB) PLUS The September Pitch Winner


It's time for everybody's favorite program - Would You Read It! - brought to you in part by Chocolate (it's what's for breakfast!)

Except today, since it's October, our Something Chocolate is going to be Something Pumpkin because I've got pumpkins on my mind.  So how about this?  Hot from the oven pumpkin muffins...
...with chocolate chips :)

YUM!

Now, even though it is rude to speak with your mouth full, I'm going to announce the winner of the September Pitch Pick.  And the winner is...

DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!

Kirsti, with her pitch for Upside Down In Frown Town!

Congratulations on an excellent pitch, Kirsti!  It has already zipped through cyberspace to editor Erin Molta and I'm sure you will hear from her shortly!

Congratulations to our other pitchers as well!  Everyone did such a good job - it was a tough choice this month!  Good luck to you all as you proceed with the stories these pitches are for!

Help yourself to another muffin, and then we'll move right along to today's pitch which comes to us from Rosi.  Rosi has sold a few pieces to Highlights and Highlights High Five magazine, but no books yet.  She writes for all ages, but mostly for children.  She is the Critique Group Coordinator for SCBWI North/Central California.  And she would love it if anyone would like to visit her blog at: http://rosihollinbeckthewritestuff.blogspot.com/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Iris The Rainbow Girl
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2-5)
The Pitch: When Iris sees a rainbow, she decides she want to be a beautiful rainbow. Her parents tell her all the reasons she cannot be a rainbow, but Iris persists and finally finds a way to achieve her goal.

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 Rosi 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!

Rosi is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to figuring out the rest of the prizes for the Halloweensie Contest.  Stay tuned!  And once again, if you have any particular thoughts in the what-you'd-like-to-win department, please let me know and I'll see what I can arrange :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

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October 14, 2013

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

Happy Columbus Day, Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun! :)

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October 11, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Runaway Pumpkin


What a perfect day for Perfect Picture Books!

It's gray and rainy out, still pretty with all the fall foliage, but a nice to day to curl up with a good picture book :)

Since it's October and I've got pumpkins on the brain, today's choice is a tons-of-fun pumpkin real-aloud!

Title: The Runaway Pumpkin
Written By: Kevin Lewis
Illustrated By: S.D. Schindler
Orchard Books, 2003, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-6

Themes/Topics: thinking ahead, consequences, language fun

Opening: "Once upon a hill,
when the wind blew with a chill
wandered Buck and Billy Baxter
with their baby sister, Lil.
And there, upon that hillside, 
growing orange, fat, and fine,
the budding Baxters found a pumpkin
on a twisty, twirly vine."

Brief Synopsis: One Halloween, Buck, Billy and Lil Baxter find an enormous pumpkin.  The boys take one look and have to have it.  Without thinking about how they'll get it home safely, they cut the pumpkin from its vine.  Off it goes, gathering speed, busting through fences, scattering farm animals, with the Baxters right behind it.  How will they stop it, and what will they do with all that pumpkin?

Links To Resources: plant a pumpkin seed and grow a pumpkin of your own!, bake pumpkin seeds, take a trip to a pumpkin patch, try out some pumpkin recipes - pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, Creative Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Recipes, Healthy Pumpkin Dessert Recipes, Classroom Activities for The Runaway Pumpkin, draw a picture or make a collage of a jack-o-lantern, make up a story about another over-sized vegetable or fruit that gets away.

Why I Like This Book: This story does carry a message about the consequences of not thinking ahead, but mostly I like it because it's flat out fun :)  Haven't we all been captivated by something which causes us to leap before we look? :)  The pumpkin is impressively gigantic.  It takes off down the hill with the little Baxters in its wake.  As it wreaks havoc on the countryside, the text bounces along in fun rhyme that kids love to join in on: "'Round and 'round/across the ground/makin' a thumpin' bumpin' sound/came that thumpety/bumpety/thumpin'/bumpin'/round and roll-y/RUNAWAY PUMPKIN!"  See?  Fun! :)  Also a good pick for Halloween :)

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!  And PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come visit you! :)


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October 9, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #108 - Proberta Gerber And The Terrible Mess (PB) PLUS The September Pitch Pick

Woo-hoo!

It's Would You Read It Wednesday!

Let's get this party started, shall we?

I motion that we begin with Something Chocolate!

Scout (who must still be known as Skunk Dog but is getting better) seconds the motion, and Jemma thirds it, so the motion carries!

Help yourselves to chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing!  (That way we get vegetable - from the cocoa BEAN - and dairy and protein from the cream CHEESE.  I am nothing if not concerned for your health and well-being, so I try to make sure we cover as many food groups as possible :))


Now then, I've got the September Pitch Pick ready to go and it's only October 9th!  (Yes, it's really me, and no, I am not feverish, nor is my mind being controlled by aliens... although that's what I would say if my mind were being controlled by aliens, so I guess you never know... :))

So without further ado, let's have a look-see at our new and improved pitches and vote for the one we think deserves a read by editor Erin Molta!

Here are our contenders:

#1 Kirsti
Upside Down In Frown Town - PB ages 3-8
Where Sam lives, smiling is frowned upon. But, no matter what he tries, he can't wipe the smile off his face. Even a frowning contest doesn't make a frowner out of Sam. When he can't change himself, he decides to change the town instead.

#2 Kathy
The Garden Disaster - PB ages 4-7

Jasmine’s daily chore is to collect pollen and nectar, but she never seems to collect enough. Her Mom said it’s because she plays too much, but Jasmine knows the real reason.  Today was different though. Today a new hairy beast showed up!  Jasmine must think up a great idea to outsmart this new bee chasing beast and then she will finally be able to fill her bucket to the tippy-top.
The Garden Disaster is a 480 Word PB for early readers ages 4-7.


#3 Wendi
The Superhero Rejects - MG
Morphus is ashamed that his superpower is turning into lame objects like paper clips, rubber bands and light bulbs. At ZITS (The Zapdor Institute for the Training of Superheroes), he and the other Superhero Rejects are relegated to practice their pathetic skills in the old gym in the basement. When the nefarious Scorpius attacks the school and puts everyone upstairs into a hypnotic trance, Morphus and his band of rejects might be the only ones that can save them!

#4 Donna
The Lightbulb And The Lab Coat - PB ages 8-12
Thomas Edison befriends an orphaned robin, who provides him with companionship and inspiration as he faces a tight deadline to deliver the first incandescent light bulb. As tests are feverously conducted to find the right bulb filament, the industrious robin shows him that the answer was right under his nose all the time!

Please cast your vote below for the pitch you feel most deserves a read by Erin by Sunday October 13 at 11:59 PM EDT.  Thank you all so much!



Today's pitch comes to us from Linda, who has visited us a couple times before (WYRI #79 - Twitch (MG) and WYRI #72 - The Good For Plenty Bibs (PB) and WYRI # 60 - Alpha Bitty (PB) - did I miss any Linda? :)).  Linda is a former gifted and talented teacher and the author of a number of books including the multi-award winning picture book, The Blue Roses.  Please take a moment to visit her website at www.lindaboyden.com.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Proberta Gerber And The Terrible Mess
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Once upon a time Proberta Gerber once had a purple and pink bedroom; now all she has is a terrible mess. Dad wonders why? Big brother Arbuckle helps: “Clean one thing at a time. Start with your bed.” Proberta can’t find it. She blames the mess on the Dust Bunnies who live in her closet, but Mom says, “Stay there until it is cleaned, young lady.” Sniffling, Proberta makes a special wish for help. And who appears? The REAL Dust Bunnies who help, but not in the way she thinks. 

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 Linda 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 have a little time to polish up your pitches and send them for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Linda is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I just got the final proofs for the Crock of Charms Anthology project I participated in (along with a few devoted readers from this blog :)) and I am looking forward to seeing it in print!  I will share full details when they are available, hopefully by early December :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

Ready, set, WRITE! (or read, or teach, or go play on the swings, or whatever happens to be on your agenda today :))


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October 7, 2013

Miscellaneous Monday

Good Monday, Everyone!

I hope you all had lovely weekends!

Remember on Friday when I was being so amazingly brief?  And I told you that I wanted to wax poetic about something but didn't have time?

Well, lucky you!  Now I have time!

(But not too much, so don't panic and run away :))

I am of the firm opinion, at least when it comes to my own writing, that there is always room for learning and improvement.  So I've always got my eye out for books and classes and such-like that might help me in my quest to be a better writer.  And it just so happens that I have discovered a gem!

And because you are my peeps I will share it with you :)

This gem of which I speak is Linda Ashman's new Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books.  I'm sure you all know Linda - author of the fabulous No Dogs Allowed and 30 or so other wonderful picture books.  Well, I read her guide last weekend and loved it.  Tina Cho did a wonderful write up of it HERE along with an interview with Linda, so rather than reinvent the wheel I'll just direct you over there if you want an in-depth review.

But if you're interested in purchasing this excellent how-to book, which I highly recommend, it's available in e-pub format ($15) or PDF ($20) and you can get copies at







I am happy to say that Linda has kindly offered a copy as a prize in an upcoming writing contest on this blog.  I think it will be for the Halloweensie Contest... but I'm still deciding... :)  So some talented writer will be able to win one here! :)

(And as long as we're on the subject of Linda, I have more great news which is that she will be offering a Rhyme Clinic here on Monday December 2.  Full details will be provided in a future post, but mark your calendars for the day and all you rhymers get out your troublesome stanzas and get ready to send them in! :))

And now, given that it's only about 3 weeks until the Halloweensie Contest and I'm sure you're all anxious to have the guidelines so you can get started working on your stories, let's have a chat about Halloween words, shall we?  Everyone please share one or more of your favorite Halloween-related words in the comments below!  And I was thinking I'd post the guidelines next Monday, which would give you just over 2 weeks to write your stories, but feel free to let me know in the comments if you think you need more time.  I can always post them in an extra special post somewhere :)

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!  And don't forget - Halloween words!!!

Now, I'm off to talk to a class of college students about a career in writing picture books.  Wish me luck (as having to stand up and talk to people over the age of 9 turns my knees to jelly!)



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October 4, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Alexander And The Dragon

Goodness, the weeks are flying by!  Here we are at Perfect Picture Book Friday again already!  Having spent half my week washing the dogs I am feeling a bit behind (see Wednesday's post if you missed it and are wondering why).  The result?  I will be admirably succinct!

I have an oldie but a goodie to share today :)

Title: Alexander And The Dragon
Written By: Katherine Holabird
Illustrated By: Helen Craig
Clarkson N. Potter, Inc, November 1988, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: fear (of the dark), friendship

Opening: "Alexander was quite small, but he was very, very brave.  He wasn't afraid of dogs or thunderstorms; he liked riding on roller coasters and swimming underwater.  The only thing that really frightened Alexander was the dark."

Brief Synopsis: Alexander does not like the dark.  Especially when he discovers a dragon under his bed.  "There are only two things you can do with a dragon," says his father.  "You've either got to scare it off or make friends with it."  So Alexander dons his armor...

Links To Resources: Dragon coloring pages, printables and crafts, dream catcher craft for kids (not exactly fear of the dark - more nightmares - but same general area :)), talk about fears with kids - what are they afraid of? what are some things they could do to scare those fears away?

Why I Like This Book: This is a sweet story told and illustrated in a comforting way.  Alexander's parents are kind and understanding, but they leave it up to him to face his fear.  He does, learning a valuable lesson in the process: if he is brave enough to face a dragon, he can handle the dark.  What's great about this book is that, should you happen to be reading it to several children at once (for example, your own at bedtime :)), it's a soothing story for one who is afraid of the dark while still a fun story about a boy and a dragon for everyone else.

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

Now, everyone, off you go to enjoy all the other books on today's list.  I told you I was going to be admirably succinct!  (And yes, it's really me, not an impostor :))  I was going to wax poetic about something I want to share with you, but it will have to wait until I have time to do it justice... maybe Monday :)  Also, keep a weather eye out for the upcoming Halloweensie Contest Announcement!!!

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific link in the list below.

Have a great weekend, everyone! :)

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October 2, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #107 - The Great UFO Hunt (ER) PLUS Straight From The Editor

I love my dogs.

I really do.

They keep me company while I work.  They are warm and cuddly and sweet and lovable.  They're always up for an outing if the writing is not going well.
Really, how can you not love these two?
(Even though they are blurry because it's next to impossible
to get them both in the same picture :))
But yesterday?

Yes, well, yesterday, I can't say I was terribly happy with either one of them.

First, on a perfectly lovely morning run, during which I don't recall losing sight of Scout (although Jemma disappeared for a while to investigate the neighbor's compost heap), Scout somehow managed to get skunked.
we run here - no cars, so no leashes
Those of you who have dogs know that anything to do with skunks IS NOT FUN!

How could I have not seen it happen?  I was right there!

Nevertheless, skunked she was.  And I didn't have time to wash her - I had to get my daughter to school!  So I had to gate her in the kitchen, open all the windows, and pray that her extreme odor wouldn't asphyxiate either dog while I was gone and that I would somehow be able to get the smell out of the house when I returned.

Then came the bathing.

Although she will get in any scummy, algae covered, filth-laden mud puddle, pond or stream as long as it isn't actually iced over, Scout does NOT like to be bathed!

And when I am alone, with no one to hold on to her, bathing Scout is an Olympic sport, let me tell you!

Afterwards, she sulked.

See?  She wouldn't even look at me.

Then, while she was still QUITE wet (it's hard to comprehend how much water that coat holds if you haven't experienced it firsthand), the guy showed up out of nowhere to service the furnace.

"But you said October 3rd!" I sputtered, when he insisted the dogs be shut up before he got out of the truck.

So I had to shut them in my office... which now smells like wet skunk dog with a trace of lemon dish soap.  Quite the scent.  I think Febreze will be introducing it this fall.

So then, when he finally left, I put them out in hopes of airing out the house...

... and they conveniently found something dead to roll in....

...so we had another round of baths....

...and now my house smells like wet skunk dog mixed with barely concealed dead animal and a trace of lemon dish soap.

Truthfully it's a miracle I was even able to write this :)

I think that calls for Something Chocolate if anything ever did!

Let's go hog wild!!! (with many thanks to Kathy P. for the photo!! :))
It's called Candy Shop Truffle!
(but it kind of looks like cereal so let's pretend it's good for us :))
So, after all that!, we have the August Straight From The Editor.  You will recall that Lisa won the August Pitch Pick with her pitch for The Golden Egg, a PB for ages 5-8.

Here is her pitch:

The golden egg that doesn't hatch creates quite a stir among the feathered friends on the farm. The Eggsperts are called and the Whisperers weigh in. In the end, Mother Hen must decide whether to follow their advice or listen to her heart.

And here is what Erin had to say:


This sounds like it has potential, but in order for an editor to be intrigued you have to clarify it a bit. I love the Eggsperts and can imagine all the other hens giving advice, but who are the Whisperers? Are they the horses, or the cows? Some other animal entirely? If so, if you are envisioning the horses, perhaps you can say something like the Whisperers neighed their opinions or the Whisperers mooed their recommendations. If it’s a snake then the Whisperers would hiss . . .  It helps to draw a picture in the reader’s mind.  Good luck!

As always, I find Erin's comments interesting and enlightening!  Thank you, Erin, and thank you Lisa!

Now, onto today's pitch which comes to us from Kari who says, "I live in upstate NY and resurrected this children's series I started way back in elementary school.  My stories are based in part on things that happened to me and my friends when we were younger.  Living in a very small town in the middle of nowhere, you had to make your own fun, just like Mekayla and her friends do."
Twitter (I just joined twitter so there's not much there yet):https://twitter.com/kariwithey 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Great UFO Hunt
Age/Genre: Early Reader
The Pitch: Aspiring space explorer Mekayla is convinced she sees a UFO crash land in the woods behind her house.  But despite finding evidence of something from another world, no one but her friends believe her!  With weird things happening in their small, sleepy town, Mekayla and her friends are out to save their town and prove life from outerspace does exist.

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 Kari 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 have a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Kari is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to when my house no longer smells like wet skunk dog with barely concealed dead animal and a trace of lemon dish soap!

See you all on Friday for PPBF!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! :)

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