November 27, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #114 - The Good Morning Book (PB)

Today, since it's the day before Thanksgiving and I'm sure lots of you have families and cooking and visitors and traveling to attend to, I'm going to do my best to be brief.

Yes, I heard myself :)  But seriously.  I'm going to try :)

It wouldn't be Would You Read It Wednesday without Something Chocolate, would it?  So how about this?

I think these are easier to make than last week's.  Go check out the blog at
http://www.theidearoom.net/2009/11/oreo-cookie-turkeys.html - recipe
I decided last week's turkeys might be a little complicated.  At least for me since I do all my cooking in a toaster oven :)  This looks a lot more straight forward... cookies and candy stuck together :)

Now that we're happily snacking, let's move right on to today's pitch (without any entertaining anecdotes or silly banter because just look how brief I'm being!) which comes to us from Lyla.  Lyla is an artist and creative writer.  The Good Morning Book was written just as much for the parents as for the child, it's a gentle reminder to find the beauty in every day life and to be grateful for all of life's marvelous wonders. She also owns an Etsy store called "Personalize Love" which features hand stamped jewelry and book marks. 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Good Morning Book
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 0-4)
The Pitch: Start your day exploring the wonders of this world with The Good Morning Book. This book will inspire young ones and adults to take time out of every morning to appreciate all of the things that make life special.  An easy read with rhythmic flow, children of all ages will enjoy.

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 Lyla 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 February 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!

Lyla is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with my family - I have so very much to be thankful for, including all of you!  And I'm looking forward to the Linda Ashman Rhyme Clinic which will take place here on Monday!  It promises to be AMAZING!

(And I'm just a little alarmed by how short this post is... I wonder if I really wrote it? Maybe I've been taken over by aliens... or turkeys...GOBBLE GOBBLE)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow, surrounded by family and with plenty of happinesses to feel thankful for!  (And for those of you who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, have a very happy most excellent Thursday!!!)  And also a very Happy Hanukkah to those who are celebrating! :)

P.S. Please remember, no PPBF post here on Friday... Family time :)

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November 25, 2013

Holiday Gift-Giving Guide For The Writers In Your Life (Or, Where To Send The People Who Want To Get You Presents!)

As you are no doubt aware (due to incessant media inundation :)) we are but days from the Holiday Shopping Frenzy known as Black Friday, to be closely followed by Cyber Monday, and then a couple weeks of generally frantic gift buying.

I decided, as a public service, to make a list for you :)

And by "for you", I mean "FOR you" :)

Banner designed by Katie Hill

Of course, if you happen to have a lot of people to shop for who are writers, then this list will come in handy.  BUT, if you, like many of us, are surrounded by friends and loved-ones who long to get you the perfect present but have no idea what that is, it will come in even handier because you can send them over here to this list and end up with something you actually want!

Their worries will be solved, you'll be sure of getting something awesome, and everyone will be happy :)

So here you go.  Awesome gifts for writers.  And since this blog is primarily focused on picture books, the gifts are often most appropriate for picture book/children's writers, but many of them are valuable to all writers.

I'm going to try to be really organized (stop laughing!) and list them by price within category :)  In most cases the name of the gift is a link that will show you what it is and one place to shop for it.  In some cases (books) there are cheaper Kindle prices and more expensive paperback options.  Categories include: writing materials, books, ideas, classes, critique services, memberships, subscriptions, conferences/retreats, writer's software, promotional materials, and fun stuff... with a few subcategories :)... so take your time and browse :)

Oh, and by the way, everything on this list is either something I've read/used/taken/done myself or that has been recommended from a trusted source, so the quality should be good!

Free - and something every writer wants :)

Time To Write!

Every writer appreciates uninterrupted time to write, so give this certificate, rolled in a scroll and tied with a bow to the writer on your list.  Take the kids to the zoo, or the dogs for a walk, or yourself to the movies, and leave your writer with a couple of blissful hours of peace and quiet to pour those words onto the page!

Writing Materials: Writers love paper!  They can never have enough post-its, memo pads, notepads, or notebooks.  No doubt one or more of these will be right at home on your writer's desk... or in their car... or wherever they need to write!

     Fun Post-It Notes and Memo Pads: Writers like fun office supplies :)

     Pink and Orange Flowers Post-Its ($2.99 on Amazon)

     Apple Memo Pad ($4.18 on Amazon)

     Pear Memo Pad ($4.36 on Amazon)

     Cupcake Memo Pad ($4.93 on Amazon)

     Red and Green Apples Post-Its ($5.08 on Amazon)

     Pink Hearts Post-Its ($6.31 on Amazon)

     Orange and Yellow Stars Post-Its ($9.21 on Amazon)

     Notebooks/Journals/Notepads: Writers need notebooks for everything! Idea notebooks, reading logs, dream diaries, quote books, scrap books, log books, character sketches, and free writing... explore the options!

     Aqua Notes - Waterproof Notepad ($7.95 on Amazon)
     Ideas don't wait for writers to be at their desks!  Get the writer on your list this waterproof notepad in case a brilliant idea strikes in the shower :)

     What You Write Down Journal ($9.95 at Barnes & Noble)

     Soar Journal ($9.99 at Barnes & Noble)

     Mead Spiral Notebook 4-pack Assorted Colors (8.5 x11) ($10.52 on Amazon)

     Mead Spiral Notepad 12-pack Assorted Colors (3x5) ($14.19 on Amazon)

     Inspire Dream Journal ($14.95 at Barnes & Noble)

     Night Time Notepad With Space Pen ($14. 95 on Amazon)
     Middle-of-the-night idea?  No problem with this lighted notepad and pen that writes at any angle!  

     Classic Moleskine Notebook ($18.95 at Barnes & Noble) - lots of color options :)

     AshenFire Handcrafted Leather Journals - extra-special, fancy, gorgeous... and worth the splurge :) ($85-$165, custom designs can be requested)

     Pens: Writers need great writing utensils:

     Pilot G2 Pro Retractable Gel Ink Roller Ball Fine Point Pen (black ink, assorted barrel colors) ($2.88 on Amazon)

     Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Fine Point Pen (8 pack of assorted colors) ($9.03 on Amazon)

     Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Fine Point (12 black, blue, green, purple, or red) ($13.99 per dozen on Amazon)

     Glow Pens (for writing in the dark :)) ($14.88 for 12 on Nicaboyne.com)

     Penlight Night Writer (light up pen...also for writing in the dark) ($16.95 on Amazon)

Books:

     Writing How-To Books: Writers love to study their craft:

     Picture Books The Write Way by Laura Purdi Salas and Lisa Bullard ($2.99 on Kindle)

     How To Query An Agent Or Editor by Laura Purdi Salas and Lisa Bullard ($4.99 on Kindle)

     The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi ($4.99 on Kindle, $12.37 paperback)

     The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi ($5.99 on Kindle, $14.68 paperback)

     The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi ($5.99 on Kindle, $15.29 paperback)

     Nuts & Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman ($9.99 Kindle, $10 e-pub, $20 PDF)

     Writing Irresistible Kid Lit: The Ultimate Guide To Crafting Fiction For Young Adult And Middle Grade Readers ($9.99 on Kindle, $15.30 on Amazon)

     Writing Children's Nonfiction Books For The Educational Market by Laura Purdi Salas ($9.99 on Kindle, $49 print version)

     Writing Picture Books: A Hands On Guide From Story Creation To Publication by Ann Whitford Paul ($11.99 on Amazon)

     The Writer's Guide To Crafting Stories For Children by Nancy Lamb ($12.77 on Amazon)

     Anatomy Of Nonfiction by Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas ($18.80 on Amazon)

     The Giblin Guide To Writing Children's Books by James Cross Giblin ($22.75 on Amazon)

     Marketplace: Writer's need to find markets for their work:

     2014 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market by Chuck Sambuchino ($9.90 on Kindle, $21.66)

     Book Markets For Children's Writers 2014 published by the Institute Of Children's Literature ($26.95 30 day free trial)

     Magazine Markets For Children's Writers 2014 published by the Institute Of Children's Literature ($26.95 30 day free trial)

     Writer Autobiographies: Writers love to read about other writers:

     Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life by Anne Lamott (12.36 on Amazon)

     On Writing by Stephen King ($12.64 on Amazon)

     Take Joy: A Writer's Guide To Loving The Craft by Jane Yolen (but you'll have to find a used copy :( on Amazon)

     Picture Books, Literary Fiction, Suspense Novels, Romance, Biographies etc. - writers love to read!

     A local indie bookstore/Amazon/B&N Gift Card for the amount of your choice will always be welcome!

     Support your favorite authors by gifting their books!

Ideas: Writers need inspiration!

     Rory's Story Cubes - Actions ($7.77 on Amazon)

     Rory's Story Cubes - Original ($7.83 on Amazon)

     Rory's Story Cubes - Voyages ($8.22 on Amazon)

     Storyworld: Quests And Adventures: Create-A-Story Kit (paperback) ($8.80 on Amazon)

     Storyworld: Fairy Magic; Create-A-Story Kit (paperback) ($8.99 on Amazon)

     The Storyworld Box: Create-A-Story Kit (cards) ($10.33 on Amazon)

    The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood ($10.95 on Amazon)

     The Amazing Story Generator ($11.52 on Amazon)

     Rory's Story Cubes - Complete Set (Original, Actions, Voyages) ($24.95 on Amazon)

     The Storymatic ($29.95 on Amazon)

Classes: Writers need education!

     Making Picture Book Magic Online Writing Course (Susanna Leonard Hill) ($99) (You can email, snail mail, or wrap and present this beautiful personalized gift certificate! - which you can see larger if you click the link for the course)
sample - certificate designed by Katie Hill
     Just Write For Kids (Emma Walton Hamilton) ($297)

     Video Idiot Boot Camp (Katie Davis) - videos are helpful for promotion and for making your website more interesting.  Learn how to make them!  ($297)

     Institute Of Children's Literature (price is not listed on website but I believe it's $500 or more)

Critique Services: Writers need feedback on their work:

     Rate Your Story (all info about all levels listed at this link)
          Free Non-Member Services
          Basic: $8/per month
          Pro: $12/per month
          Speedpass: $24.95 (single)

     Heather Ayris Burnell - PB non-rhyming up to 1000 words $55, Query letter critique one page any genre $35, PB and Query letter critique at same time $80

     Susanna Leonard Hill - PB $75 (You can email, snail mail, or wrap and present this beautiful personalized gift certificate! - which you can see larger if you click the critique link)
sample - certificate designed by Katie Hill
     ...and proofreading/copyediting services!

     Beth Stilborn's Flubs 2 Fixes Service - ($2 per page proofreading, $3 per page copyediting - Canadian $)

Memberships: Writers like to belong to groups of writers:

     12x12 in 2014 Membership join other picture book writers in the quest to write a picture book a month.* (Bronze approx. $25/year, Silver approx. $60/year, Gold approx. $150/year)
* 12x12 information is not yet listed on Julie Hedlund's website so for your convenience, details are listed at the bottom of this page.  Please scroll down.

     CBI Clubhouse Membership: (Children's Book Insider) ($5.49 per month, $49.95 per year)

     SCBWI Membership: (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) ($85 per year, membership benefits)

Subscriptions: Writers need to keep up with the world of writing:

     Children's Writer Newsletter Subscription ($15 per year)

     Writers Digest Subscription ($19.96 per year)

     Publishers' Marketplace Subscription ($25 per month/$300 per year)

Conferences/Retreats: Writers like to go places and hang out with (and learn from) other writers!

     1-Day Local Conferences/Workshops: Check SCBWI for your region to find out what's available near your writer.  Cost for 1-Day conferences is usually in the $100-$150 range for SCBWI members with an added cost for a professional manuscript critique if you choose one of about $50-$75

     SCBWI New York, February 21-23 2014 (non-member early bird registration $500)

     SCBWI Los Angeles August 1-4 2014 (no info yet)

     Highlights Foundation Workshops: a long weekend or 5-7 days, multiple subects/topics, most expensive workshops are for whole novel writing ($990 - $2390 scholarship/financial aid available)

Software For Writers: some writers find computer programs helpful...

     Story Weaver ($29.95)
     Scrivener
          For PC ($40 on Amazon)
          For Mac ($45 on Amazon)
     Snowflake Method ($100)

Promotional Materials: Writers need to publicize their books!

     Bookmark/Postcard/Flyer Package from Alison Hertz: Alison will design these promotional materials to your specifications and deliver files that are ready to upload to GotPrint, VistaPrint, or whatever option you choose.  ($400)

     Book Trailers by Carter Higgins: unique custom book trailers made just for your book! ($100 - $1000)

Fun Stuff!!! (games, mugs, candy, tea, beverages, pajamas, t-shirts, clocks, jewelry)

     Games: Writers like to play word games :)

     Bananagrams (word game) ($12.99 on Amazon)

     Scrabble (word game) ($15.94 on Amazon)

     Tapple (word game) ($19.84 on Amazon)

     Taboo (word game) ($30.99 on Amazon)

     Mugs: Writers need caffeine to stay hydrated :)

     Assorted Writer Mugs - lots to choose from ($12.99-$13.99 at Cafe Press)

     Fuel: Writers need chocolate to keep up their energy!

     Customizable M&Ms! :) - Choose up to 3 colors and a message like "Write On Sarah" (1 lb. bag $29.99)

     ...and hot beverages!

     Yogi Organic Tea - good and good for you,  with inspirational quotes (though not specifically writing-related) ($4.99 per box)

     Gourmet Coffee from New York Gourmet Coffee - assorted delicious flavors ($7.99 per lb whole bean or multiple grinding options)

     Gourmet Hot Chocolate from Lake Champlain Chocolates - assorted delicious flavors! ($10.50) (you could give some with a writers mug above!)

     Pajamas: some writers like to say they can work in them, all of us like to sleep in them :)

     PJs For Writers (assorted designs $29.99-39.99 at Cafe Press)

     T-Shirts: Let the world know you're a writer!

     T-Shirts For Writers (assorted designs $21.99-$46.99 at Cafe Press)

     Clocks: all writers need more time!

     Clocks For Writers (assorted designs $16.99-$32.99 at Cafe Press)

     Jewelry: Writer's like jewelry too:

     Vintage Typewriter Key Charm Necklace ($49.95)

And if you really want to go hog wild, you can get your writer a brand new computer... but I won't venture to guess types or styles or prices - that's up to you! :)

If anyone has items they feel should be added to this list, please email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I will be happy to check them out and add if appropriate!!!  Don't forget, the information about Julie Hedlund's 12x12 group is below.

I hope you (and all the people who want to buy you presents) will find this list useful!

Now get ready, get set, SHOP! :)


Information on different levels of Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Membership

Margaret Wise BRONZE -- Write. (approx. $25?)
In the great big Internet, there is a writing group, where folks commune, and write picture books like — A Dog Jamming on the Bassoon…If what you need is the motivation to get your drafts written, along with the accountability of a deadline and the company of a communityof writers dedicated to improving their craft, this level is for you!
Margaret Wise BRONZE includes:
  • Full access (view and post) to the Main 12 x 12 Forum and Critique Connect (where you can find critique partners)
  • Access to the members-only 12 x 12 Facebook Group
  • Ability to view the Events, Member Books, Videos/Trailers and Help An Author Out (HAAO) sections of the 12 x 12 Forum
  • Opportunity to win craft-related prizes from the monthly featured authors
Shel SILVERstein -- Write, Revise. (approx. $50-$60?)
Perhaps you already have a stockpile of manuscripts drafted, and you would like to challenge yourself to revise some of them while also writing new ones. The Shel SILVERstein level gives you the ability to get feedback on YOUR work -- queries, pitches and manuscripts -- perfect for writers want to focus on both writing and revising.
Shel SILVERstein is also perfect for agented, published authors who would like access to an instant platform. A place to share your books, events, trailers AND to get promotion assistance (in the Help an Author Out section of the Forum) from fellow members.
Shel SILVERstein includes:
  • Everything in the Margaret Wise BRONZE Level, but with full (view and post) access to the Events, Member Books, Video/Trailers and HAAO sections of the 12 x 12 Forum
  • FULL (view and post) access to these additional sections of the 12 x 12 Forum: Query Corner (get feedback on your query letters), Pitch Perfect (get feedback on loglines and pitches), and Manuscript Makeover (get feedback on the first 250 words of your ms)
Little GOLDen Book -- Write, Revise, Submit (approx. $150?)
Do you have submission-ready manuscripts? Are you looking for an agent or editor (who accepts picture books!) for your work? If so, Little GOLDen Book is for you! Each month, one agent or editor will accept submissions from 12 x 12 members for the duration of that month, enabling you to bypass the slush pile.*
Little GOLDen Book includes:
  • Everything in the Shel SILVERstein Level
  • Access to the Submission Station section of the 12 x 12 Forum, which will provide information about that month's agent or editor and instructions on how to submit to him or her.
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November 22, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Turkey Trouble AND Announcing The 3rd Annual Holiday Writing Contest!!!

So many great things to share today!

First, a Perfect Picture Book just right for this week!

Title: Turkey Trouble
Written By: Wendi Silvano
Illustrated By: Lee Harper
Amazon Children's Publishing/Two Lions, Oct. 2009, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: problem solving, holidays, animals

Opening: "Turkey was in trouble.  Bad trouble.  The kind of trouble where it's almost Thanksgiving... and you're the main course.  But Turkey had an idea..."

Brief Synopsis: In an attempt not to be Thanksgiving dinner, Turkey tries to disguise himself as another animal.  After all, "Farmer Jake wouldn't eat a horse for Thanksgiving..."  But for one reason or another, no disguise is quite right.  Will Turkey be dinner after all?

Links To Resources: Children can think up or draw their own disguises for Turkey.  Children can think up what would make a good Thanksgiving dinner besides turkey.  Turkey contemplates disguising himself as Rooster and rejects the idea - discuss how are Turkey and Rooster alike?  How are they different?  Here's a great Activity Guide recommended by the author, Wendi Silvano.  Very fun activity HERE.

Why I Like This Book: The concept of this book is fun.  Haven't we all imagined turkeys trying to come up with a way to escape being Thanksgiving dinner?  Turkey has a plan.  And when Plan A... and B... and C... don't work, he proves that he's resourceful by coming up with a backup plan that does the trick.  For now...  But the art is what puts this cute story over the top.  You have GOT to see Turkey in his various disguises!  It would be a pretty tough audience who wouldn't at least chuckle over Turkey dressed up as a horse, cow, etc.  The short simple text is perfect for a wide range of ages, and kids will have fun guessing, at least the first time through, what Turkey's going to think up next :)  And after this, you're probably going to want to read Turkey Claus :)

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

Now then!  As per approximately half of your requests from Monday's informal poll, may I present

The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

The Contest:  Write a children's story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster (a la Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer :)).  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 (aren't I being generous?! :)  It can be as short as you like, but no more than 350!)  Did the dog knock over the Christmas Tree?  Did little Johnny's costume get grape juice all over it moments before the holiday pageant?  Did the menorah go missing?  Did travel arrangements get snarled or miscommunicated?  Did Santa's sleigh have to make an emergency landing?  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  And I'm adding, because so many people have mentioned this, the story does not have to be funny!  You can have a holiday mishap that is serious or sweet or mysterious...  Please don't feel that you have to go the humor route!

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday December 9 and Friday December 13 at 11:59 PM EST (no WYRI or PPBF that week), and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 9 and remain up through Sunday December 15.  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 9th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you!)

The Judging:  My lovely assistant(s) and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on Monday December 16 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 18 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 19.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to sixth place.  Remember, judging criteria will be kid appeal/friendliness, suitability of mishap, quality of story, and quality of writing.

The Prizes!:  Well, I hope these prizes are going to knock your socks off!!!  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st - 6th place.  In addition to the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 3rd Annual Holiday Contest, the following AMAZING prizes will be awarded:

 - A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Written Critique by Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge!!! (Priceless!)  Karen Boss is the editorial assistant at Charlesbridge Publishing in Watertown, MA. She has a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College and is currently editing projects that range from picture books for younger readers to picture books for older readers to middle-grade novels, both fiction and nonfiction. (But let's face it, folks!  You're getting YOUR picture book manuscript in front of an actual editor at a highly regarded publishing house!  Who knows where that could lead?)

 - A Gold Membership to Julie Hedlund's 12x12 in 2014 (a $100 value)
    Little GOLDen Book Membership includes:
  • Full access (view and post) to the Main 12 x 12 Forum and Critique Connect (where you can find critique partners)
  • Access to the members-only 12 x 12 Facebook Group
  • Ability to view the Events, Member Books, Videos/Trailers and Help An Author Out (HAAO) sections of the 12 x 12 Forum
  • Opportunity to win craft-related prizes from the monthly featured authors
  • Full (view and post) access to the Events, Member Books, Video/Trailers and HAAO sections of the 12 x 12 Forum
  • FULL (view and post) access to these additional sections of the 12 x 12 Forum: Query Corner (get feedback on your query letters), Pitch Perfect (get feedback on loglines and pitches), and Manuscript Makeover (get feedback on the first 250 words of your ms)
  • Access to the Submission Station section of the 12 x 12 Forum, which will provide information about that month's agent or editor and instructions on how to submit to him or her.
 - 2 signed Picture Books by Linda Ashman - RAIN! and PEACE, BABY! (Keep for yourself or give as a holiday gift to a little person in your life :)) AND
    a $25 Amazon Gift Card

 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Erin Molta Erin is an experienced senior editor of picture book, early readers, chapter, middle grade, and YA books, as well as novelty and licensed titles. She has been in childrens publishing for more than twenty years and has a keen understanding of early reader through YA audiences. She has an excellent reputation with established authors, illustrators, and agents.

 - Enrollment in the Online Writing course Making Picture Book Magic in the month of your choice (a $99 value)

 - A signed copy of TUGBOAT by Michael Garland (not even released yet!) AND
    a signed copy of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS by Julie Hedlund (Keep for yourself or give as a holiday gift to a little person in your life :))  AND
    a $25 Amazon Gift Card

 - A Picture Book Manuscript Critique from author/illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy, author and illustrator of PUZZLED BY PINK (Viking Juvenile, April 2012) and the forthcoming PAINT ME!. A great choice for someone who is both an author and an illustrator - and I know we have quite a few of those here :)

 - 2014 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market by Chuck Sambuchino (your choice of paperback or Kindle edition)

 - The Crock Of Charms Anthology - a three volume collection of stories for readers of all ages from writers all over the world including some you probably know :)  Robyn Campbell, Cheryl Secomb, Clarike Bowman-Jahn, Theresa Milstein, Lenny Lee, and me, to name a few :)

(Run your mouse over the prizes, books, authors, etc... most of them are links)

The Contest Winner will have first choice of the prizes.  2nd place will have next choice of what's left and so on.  (I'm doing it this way in the hopes that no one will get something they already have - for example, if you've already signed on for Julie's 12x12 or taken Making Picture Book Magic or own RAIN! and PEACE, BABY! etc. and also because I think all the prizes are fabulous and I wouldn't want to make anyone feel less valued by giving them as 6th place as opposed to 1st.)

Wow!  I hope you think everything on that list would be worth getting!  Plus bragging rights!  So put on your thinking caps!  Sharpen your pencils!  Fire up your imagination!  And start writing those holiday stories :)  You've got 2 whole weeks! (plus a couple extra days thanks to the people who wanted a little more time :)  Actually, if you were to post on Friday December 13 you have 3 weeks from today!)

AND, as if all that Perfect Picture Book and Holiday Contest Excitement weren't enough, tune in Monday for my official Holiday Gift-Giving Guide For Writers (a link you're going to want to give everyone you know so they'll get you the right presents this holiday season! :))

You've probably forgotten all about PPBF by now, so let me remind all you lovely PPBF bloggers to please leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you! (assuming we're not so giddy at the prospect of those prizes that we can't concentrate on anything but starting our Holiday Contest stories! :))

Have a great weekend everyone! :)

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November 20, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #113 - Polka Dot Sue (PB)

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Hey!  We're halfway to the weekend :)

So, on Monday I conducted an informal poll about when to post the Holiday Contest guidelines, and people were pretty evenly divided as to "Monday is fine" and "As soon as possible" :)  I'm splitting the difference and thinking I'll post on Friday, before the weekend, so you get a few extra days.  But I'm still trying to make a definite decision as to what to make you do - ah! the power! :) - so not today.  I hope that doesn't ruin anyone's life!

To make up for forcing you to wait, let's have some chocolate right away.  You'll feel better :)

It's barely a week until Thanksgiving.  So I was thinking we should get festive with our Something Chocolate...  Check this out!  Have you ever seen cuter chocolate turkeys?

Go visit the blog this came from and show them some love :)
http://www.ohnuts.com/blog/diy-candy-chocolate-turkeys-for-thanksgiving/

Too tricky for me because I am uncoordinated and prone to burning things, but maybe some of you clever chef types can make them.  You can get the recipe HERE.  Let me know if you try it!  (Feel free to send me a sample :))  And I'm thinking you could cheat a little by using already-made truffles and dipping them in chocolate :)

Now that we're choclified (fortified with chocolate), let's get down to the business at hand.

Today's pitch comes to us from Mary Russo, PhD, a psychologist and RNCS, who for over 2 decades has worked with individuals to deal with personal development and overcome anxiety and depression.  Mary says, "Through many therapeutic endeavors I assist them with their adaptation to a new sense of self. In my therapy work I share a deep concern for the individual's conscious awareness that each of us has our own yearning inner child. I have been inspired to write this and other children's books to help children to be less afraid and see themselves as strong and unique.  My goal to teach children to help themselves through their imagination. The stories provide metaphors to help children learn to take control of their fears, by fostering self-empowerment.  The embedded messages slip into the child's unconscious, while the story produces a sense of fun and adventure and wonderment."

You can find her at:
          www.maryrussophd.com
          facebook author page: mary russo,phd

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Polka Dot Sue
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-6)
The Pitch:  Polka Dot Sue is the story of a young girl with polka dot hair, who takes great pride in who she is and conveys this pride with her enjoyment of clothing herself handsomely each day. The story gives a child the sense of self acceptance and pride to show others that a deep sense of self-empowerment come from believing in one self despite obstacles.  With  the color-emotion awareness, another sense of expressiveness, it encourages the young reader to understand more about feelings with color and self-expression.  Also with the encasement the days of the week the story gives the young reader an opportunity of for more fundamental growth.

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 Mary 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 February 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!

Mary is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to sharing the Holiday Contest Rules with you on Friday!!!  So exciting!!!  I wonder what I'll decide on??? :)


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November 18, 2013

Winners Of All Kinds!

What a way to start the week!


I've got nothing but winners for you today :)

Oh.  And one teeny question...

But first, let's give out some prizes, shall we?

Somewhere in the flurry that was the end of the Halloweensie Contest, you'll recall we voted for the October Pitch Pick winners.  Well, wouldn't you know it?  There was a tie!  Normally I would have made you vote again to break the tie, but I thought after the contest and the pitch pick you might be all voted out, so I asked Erin if she'd be willing to take 2 pitches this month and being the amazing, kind, generous person she is, she said yes!  Many, many thanks, Erin, if you happen to be reading this!

SO!  The dual winners of the October Pitch Pick are:

Julie, with her pitch for Broccolilocks,

and

Rosi, with her pitch for Iris The Rainbow Girl!!!

Congratulations to you both - your pitches are already in Erin's inbox :)  And congratulations also to all our pitchers for October.  You all did a terrific job!  I hope you all found the reader feedback helpful.  We are certainly grateful to you for being brave enough to pitch - it gives us all a chance to learn.

Next up, you will recall that we had a copy of SARAH GIVES THANKS by Mike Allegra to give away - very timely with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  And the winner of this fabulous book is...

Teresa M.I. Schaefer!!!

Congratulations, Teresa!  You lucky duck :)  Please email me (handy email button in side bar or susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com) so we can work out details!

Next up, we had a special Would You Read It last week for Faith The Heroic Pony.  People who contributed helpful feedback were entered to win 3 separate prizes.  And the winners are:

Wendy Greenley - who gets the "signed" photo of Faith!!!
Cathy Hall - who gets the DVD of "The Story So Far"!!!
Stacy Couch - who gets a copy of the book Diary Of A Heroic Horse: Molly Gives Faith Hope!!!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who tried to help with the book's blurb.  We all want to see the Easy Horse Care Rescue Center benefit from sales of this book!

Winners, please email me (handy button in side bar or susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com) so we can work out how to get your prizes to you!

PHEW!  That was a lot of prizes!  Pretty good way to start off the week, wouldn't you say?

So now, the teeny question:

As you may know (because I've been talking your ear off about it :)), the Holiday Contest is fast approaching.  It will probably run from Monday December 9 - Wednesday December 18 or Thursday December 19 (5 days to post your stories, a couple days for judging, a couple for voting, and then the winners announcement in time to get you all on your way with a week of shopping time in hand :))

So here's what I want to know:  If I post the rules next Monday November 25, which gives you about 2 weeks (a little more really because you'll have all the way to the 13th to post) will that give you enough time to work on your stories given that part of that time is the Thanksgiving long weekend and Black Friday?  Or would you prefer I post it sooner?  I can add it onto the end of WYRI on Wednesday or PPBF on Friday.

So let me know....  I don't want to give you so much time that you think to yourselves, "Oh!  I have AGES to get that done!" followed by "Oops!  I forgot."  Likewise, I don't want to box you into too short a time frame.  So please let me know in the comments.

Have a marvelous Monday everyone, after all that prize giving! :)

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November 15, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!

Mornin' folks!

What's new and exciting in your lives?

I spent a fair part of the last two days at the Get Read online conference.  It was very well run and interesting, but now I'm feeling behind in my work (for a change :)) so I'm going to put on my Succintness Hat and try to be brief and to the point today.  (And you all know how THAT'S likely to go... :))

First, here is my Perfect Picture Book:

Title: Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!
Written & Illuatrated By: Bob Barner
Chronicle Books, 1999, Non-Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 2-6

Themes/Topics: Bugs

Opening: "Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!  I want to see bugs!  Butterflies that flutter in the sky.  Spotted ladybugs that go creeping by."  (This is actually the first three spreads.)

Brief Synopsis: Simple facts about familiar bugs in a rhyme.

Links To Resources:  One back page of the book includes a display of actual-sized bugs so young readers can see how big they are in real life and how they compare with each other.  Another back page compares facts about all the insects mentioned in the book: can it fly, where does it live, etc.  Here are a few activities, and here are a bunch of coloring pages.

Why I Like This Book: This book is delightfully simple.  Easy enough for youngest readers to enjoy, but with enough information in the back to interest slightly older children.  The pictures are bright, colorful, and engaging and do a great job of making bugs look friendly and non-threatening.  I'm not really much of a bug person, but I find this book very appealing :)  This is also an interesting example for writers to study.  The author gets across information in a fun way in only 76 words!

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

Before we go, a few housekeeping details:

On Monday, I will announce who won the October Pitch Pick, who won the giveaway of SARAH GIVES THANKS by Mike Allegra, and who won the giveaways from Faith The Heroic Pony's special Would You Read It post on Wednesday.

The wonderful and delightful Vivian Kirkfield has invited me to her blog where I will be a guest on her Will Write For Cookies series tomorrow (Saturday Nov. 16), so please go visit her!

Anyone who would like to submit to the Linda Ashman Rhyme Clinic which will take place here on Monday December 2, you still have a few days.  Linda has extended the deadline to Wednesday Nov. 20.  Complete details HERE.  (But the gist is, submit the first 20 lines of your rhyming picture book manuscript to susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with Rhyme Clinic in the subject heading and Linda will help out with whatever rhyme troubles you're having.  She has asked that writers submit their complete ms to her so she can see how well the beginning fits the whole story, but only the first 20 or so lines will be used for the clinic.)

Finally, I would like to announce a couple of scheduling things.  There will be NO Perfect Picture Books on Friday November 29.  It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I'm assuming most of you will be busy with family.  (And I am trying to take the hint from my family that there are some days when I should not be on the computer :))

Likewise, I think I'm going to take the last two weeks of December off from blogging since that is also a busy family time.  The Holiday Contest will run from approximately December 9 -18 so that we can all enjoy it and still have time for holiday related madness (a whole week left before Christmas.)  We WILL have Perfect Picture Books on Friday December 20 (so we can sneak in a few more of everyone's favorite holiday titles... unless everyone wants more of a break... please let me know!) and after that I think we'll just all have a little rest over here so we can start up fresh and revitalized in January!  (Which means there will be NO Perfect Picture Books Friday December 13 or 27, and we can skip the 20th too if you guys want - let me know, and NO Would You Read It December 11, 18, or 25.)  So mark your calendars (and I'll try to remember to remind you! :))

So.  How'd I do?  Not SO bad on the succinctness given how much we covered (and given that it's me), don't you think? :)

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what terrific books you've chosen this week!

Have a great weekend, everyone! :)


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November 13, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #112 Special Edition - Faith The Heroic Pony (PB) - PLUS 3 Giveaways

Good Morning, Everyone!

Today, I have an unusual and very special Would You Read It to present.

If you've spent any time at all around my blog, you know that I love animals - especially horses and dogs :)

Our 2 dogs were both rescued from shelters, and I have friends who have rescued horses, so the subject of this book is very close to my heart.  I can't bear to see animals mistreated.

So when I received a Would You Read It inquiry from Koren Helbig, an Australian freelance journalist living in Spain, asking if we could do a slightly different kind of Would You Read It I was more than happy to contribute in any small way I could.

Koren told me she'd been volunteering at a horse rescue center run by Sue and Rod Weeding.  (Koren blogged about it HERE.)  Sue has written a picture book about a little horse who had come to them in desperate need of help.  Through the book, Sue wants to raise awareness of animal welfare.  All funds from the sale of the book go to two foundations: Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre Foundation (in Spain) and Kids And Ponies - Molly's Foundation (in America).

But though the book is up on Amazon, it's not selling as well as they'd hoped, which they feel is in part due to the blurb that accompanies it.

Koren and Sue wondered if they could share the blurb on Would You Read It in hopes that you all might be able to help.

So first, I'd like to share with you a little Q&A with the author, Sue Weeding, conducted by Koren Helbig, so you get a chance to see where she's coming from and what she's hoping to accomplish.  Afterwards, the book blurb will be presented as today's Would You Read It in hopes that all of you may be able to help Sue come up with a stronger way of presenting her book to the world and hopefully increasing sales (which will help fund the rescue organizations) and awareness.

Three people who make suggestions for improvement to Sue's blurb will be randomly selected to receive a prize.  One will receive a hard copy (as opposed to Kindle) of the book: Diary Of A Heroic Horse: Molly Gives Faith Hope.  One will receive a DVD of "The Story So Far".  And one will receive a signed photograph of Faith.

So let's start with the Q&A so you can meet Sue and hear her story :)
Sue and Rod Weeding with Dexter the mule at the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre
Koren:  How did you get involved in horse rescue in Spain?
Sue:  About 13 years ago my husband Rod and I decided that we were fed up working seven days a week. We’d both always wanted to live in the sun and Spain seemed like a nice place to go so we moved here. After about six years I started an English tack shop, which opened me up to a wide range of people and I started to hear horrific stories about how horses were kept.
One day we were asked to deliver some rubber matting to a stable yard. There was Lucerio stuck in a filthy dirty stable, his eye was rotten and there were maggots in it, the flies were driving him crazy and he was hurling himself against the bars. His owner had abandoned him. They used to throw food through the bars and no one used to muck out his stall. He was two and half years old and had never seen the light of day.
I looked at Rod and we both knew that our lives would never be the same again. We had to do something. After that the phone never stopped ringing.

Faith shortly after being rescued, underweight and terribly injured
from being tangled in the rope she was tied up with
Koren:  How many horses are you caring for now?
Sue:  We now have 62 horses, ponies and donkeys living here with us at the centre. We also have a mule, nine dogs, nine cats, two parrots, a very old cockatiel, peacocks, chicken, geese, Ernie the turkey and Isadora the pig.
Animals just turn up and we never turn anyone away. We’re not an eccentric couple of lunatics that are collecting all these animals. People come to us and I feel it is only right and fair to help these animals when nobody else would.
Koren:  What was it about this particular story, about Faith, that made you want to write a book?
Sue:  I’m not a literate person. I left school when I was 14. But these animals have the most amazing stories to share and I felt compelled to write their stories from their own point of view, how they felt, their feelings and frights. Faith was the first because her story was so special. And now we’re having it translated into Spanish!
There are situations out there that we as humans find difficult to address and when we come upon it – whether it’s us having an amputation or a parent or a grandchild – we don’t know how to deal with it. Sometimes handling other people’s perception of that is actually harder then going through it. So maybe my little book can help people out there who are dealing with this.
It’s showing a message that it’s okay to be different. When I look at Faith I see a little pony that is surrounded by love and care, she lives in fantastic facilities, she has state of the art treatment. I do not see a sad little pony that has had her leg cut off and is in pain. That’s an important message.
I also wanted to write the book in a very simple way for children because I firmly believe that children are the future and if we can educate children we can move things on for animal welfare.
Sue Weeding caring for Faith at the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre in Rojales, Spain
Koren:  Why did you include Molly, the American pony with a prosthetic leg, in Faith’s story?
Sue:  I went to visit Molly in America and I got to know Kaye Harris as a friend. I know they really struggle financially, they live hand to mouth. There’s a book about Molly the pony but Kay doesn’t get any money from the ongoing sales. So I rewrote my book to include Molly’s story and half of the profits go to her, that’s my little way of helping.
Koren:  What do you hope your horse rescue foundation will achieve in Spain?
Sue:  There is a huge problem here with lack of care and lack of knowledge. The reality here is that most horses are stabled 24 hours a day in filthy, handmade conditions without proper bedding or airflow and a lot of them are not fed properly but nobody sees them so they don’t exist to the general public.
Our role is raising awareness about the problem, pushing for changes to animal welfare laws and educating people, because education is the only way to stop this happening.
I want our foundation to keep growing and to create other centres across Spain. I hope that when Rod and I are too old to keep going it will continue to be run by switched on young people who will carry on. I want the centre to be here forever.
Faith, glossy and healthy with her new prosthetic leg, a testament to what
love and kindness and good care can accomplish.
The Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre has a website HERE where you can learn more about the wonderful and important work they do and how much they are helping, but please use discretion in viewing it with children - although there is lots of joy and success, there are some terrible stories about where the animals came from and potentially upsetting photographs from "before".

So now, here is the information about the book and the blurb that accompanies it.

Title: Diary of a heroic horse: Molly gives Faith hope
Age/genre: Picture Book (ages 6-13)
Blurb: See the world through Faith’s eyes. A beautiful picture book diary of the little amputee pony, Faith and her best friend Molly the pony. Two very special little horses who overcame all the odds to survive. One horse in America, one in Spain. Both of them rescued by people as determined as they were, to fight for life and never give up. Faith a victim of ignorance and cruelty in Spain, and Molly a victim of hurricane Katrina in America. Saving these two special little horses brought two families together across the Atlantic to form a lasting friendship and a bond between horses that can never be broken. This book has been written with love to help the horses in both America and Spain. All funds raised from the sale of this book will be shared equally between the two charities – Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre Foundation (in Spain) and Kids and Ponies - Molly's Foundation (in America).
So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  Sue and Koren and I would all be extremely grateful for your help in coming up with a better blurb for the book.  How can Sue improve it?  Please let us know in the comments.
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!
Thank you all in advance for your help, and remember, 3 of you will be lucky winners! :)  Anyone who would like to support Sue's efforts by tweeting or FB posting this post, Koren's post, the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre's website, and/or the Amazon link for the book, and/or by purchasing a copy of the book, will be earning good Karma! :)  You can also like their FB page HERE.  And if you buy the book and like it, and would like to post a review on Amazon or GoodReads etc. that would be lovely!


Links: (for your convenience in earning Karma :))

This post: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2013/11/would-you-read-it-wednesday-112-special.html
Koren's post: http://thelittlegreenhouse.net/2013/11/01/giving-goodness-easy-horse-care-rescue-centre/#more-7552
Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre Website: http://www.easyhorsecare.net
Amazon link for the book: http://www.amazon.com/Diary-heroic-horse-Molly-ebook/dp/B00CHPVKXM
Like Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre on FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Easy-Horse-Care-Rescue-Centre/151489774624?fref=ts%29


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