November 26, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #154 - Got Your Nose (PB)

Well, dearies, you're about to get the most unembellished Would You Read It post ever!

That is because yesterday I had to drive to Boston... normally a 7 hour round trip, but what with Thanksgiving traffic and the fact that lots of people were traveling early due to the storm we're getting today, it took closer to 12.

By the time I got home, it was 11:20 PM, and I still had to write today's post...

But the important stuff is here :)

The winner of the October Pitch Pick was Michelle, with her PB pitch for Zoo Rules!  Congratulations, Michelle, well done!  Your pitch is on its way to editor Erin Molta, and I'm sure you'll hear from her soon.

And congratulations to our other brave pitchers as well!  Everyone did such a great job, and you are all winners just for writing and polishing your pitches and putting them out there for people to comment on!

Even in my zombie I've-been-driving-a-car-non-stop-for-nearly-12-hours stupor, I would not forget your Something Chocolate!  I think it should be something Thanksgiving-y, don't you?  In the spirit of giving, I offer you a choice of
milk...

or dark... :)

But anyway you gobble it, a chocolate turkey is delicious :)

Now then, today's pitch comes to us from Jean, who says, "I am a critical care nurse by day, and aspiring writer on my days off.  I write a nursing blog at nightingalechronicles.com, and have been published at inthepowderroom.com,  but I have always had a love of children’s stories.  I am a mother of three children ages 11, 9, and 7.  I look forward to submitting my pitch; this will be my first time putting my children’s work out there."

I'd like to add a quick note that Jean's schedule caused her to be on duty for her Would You Read It day, so please know that she will be reading your comments as soon as she can, and responding when she can, but it will probably take her a couple days.  She is very grateful for your help!

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Got Your Nose
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Who doesn’t love the game 'Got Your Nose’?  Jack doesn’t, that’s for sure; well, not anymore.  You see, Jack loved playing 'Got Your Nose' with his mom, but when bedtime came Jack wasn’t ready to quit.  Instead, Jack decided to see if he could play with his sleeping brother’s nose by stealing it right off of his face.  But when Jack heard the sounds of approaching footsteps he nervously tossed his brother’s nose sending it flying on a harrowing adventure thatll be bound to make you hold your breath, and your nose a little tighter.


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 Jean 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!

Jean is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to spending tomorrow with family!  AND I can say with truthfulness that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... since our trusty local weather predictors are forecasting 8-12 inches of snow for us today!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone, and I hope you all have safe travels (if you're traveling), and wonderful, happy, healthy, brimming with fun and family Thanksgivings (if you're celebrating)!!!  :)




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November 21, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Leaf Man

Wahoo!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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

I didn't think so :)

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

I have a gorgeous book to share with you today.  Get ready to have your breath taken away by this thing of beauty! :)

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

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Thanksgiving coming along in less than a week, are you hosting or visiting?  Which do you prefer?  I'm hosting this year, but I'm really happy to do either... as long as I don't have to travel too far :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)

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November 19, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #153 - Knights Of The Kids' Table (PB) PLUS The October Pitch Pick

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

I think I might owe you an apology.

I may have accidentally abused my powers.

You see, on Monday, I posted the contest rules for the Pretty Much World Famous 4th Annual Holiday Contest.  If you have read them, you will know that the subject matter is wild weather.  I was merely thinking we could have tons of fun with that topic. . .

But here we are, within hours of that posting, and the temperature is 12 degrees in mid-November!

In New York!  (not the Buffalo part! where there are already 3 feet of snow with 3 more predicted!)  in the semi-civilized part not that far from NYC!

Wild!

Unheard of!

Coincidence?

I'm afraid not.

I'm going to do my best to turn things around by buying a new pair of expensive warm winter boots (Sorel.  Model: Women's Caribou.  Color: Cinnamon.  Or maybe Slate. Size: 7.5 - or maybe 7 since the reviews say they run large.)  That should pretty much guarantee that we won't get any snow.  But of course that will be unusual too... so there we are, back at wild weather!

I'm afraid I've caused it coming and going.

You just have to be sooooo careful when you have magical powers!  One little moment of inattention, and whoops! you've unleashed Winter 2014-2015!

So yeah, sorry about that.

Let me try to distract you with a look at the fabulous pitches from October which await your voting pleasure for the October Pitch Pick.

#1 Tonia - Eat At Antonio's - PB ages 8+
A  strange looking restaurant pops up in a small ho hum farm town offering fine cuisine. A real stir is created as these plain Jane folks can't swallow much more than meat and potatoes and common sense. The Grand Opening announces a real eating adventure. Once inside, Master Chef Antonio will transform the taste buds that will take them to exotic places with just one bite.

#2  Gail - Me Hungry - PB ages 4-7
Ted discovers a teeny-tiny zombie, and quickly learns that the little monster packs a big appetite. The little boy sets out to feed his famished friend, leading the pair on a whacky adventure — meat kabooms, a plate is pinched, and a restaurant is invaded! Ted's quick thinking sees Zombie's tummy finally fill, and his own dream of becoming a chef come true.
"Me Hungry!" is a fast-paced, 500-word picture book. A little “Master Chef Junior” meets “Goosebumps,” the story features Ted, a boy who learns that facing his fears is the first step in making his dreams come true.
#3  Debbie - Exactly Ten Marshmallows - PB ages 4-8 (originally titled Your Friend, Conrad)
Finally, an invitation! According to the instructions, Conrad must bring a sword, a bow and arrows, and … exactly ten marshmallows?! He eagerly sets out for his best friend Fiona’s new home. But his journey quickly becomes complicated by a leaky boat, prickly brambles, and a sweets-loving dragon lurking in the moat. Will Conrad have the wits (and enough marshmallows) to make it to Fiona’s front door?

#4  Michelle - The Zoo Rules - PB ages 4-8
Miss Knaffle and her second graders all just want to have fun at school. But when her students take theiridea of fun too far—conducting a farting symphony during reading time, smuggling coffee beans to the class hamster, and using their desks for a bubblegum sculpture contest—Miss Knaffle decides that only a field trip to the zoo will avert classroom disaster. Once there, the canny teacher enlists irritable zoo animals to her cause. When F├ítima tangles with a snake and Mario ends up on the wrong side of a baboon, the students quickly come to appreciate the zoo rules—and their teacher—in a whole new way.

Please vote for the pitch you feel most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday November 23 at 5 PM EST.




Many thanks!

Now then, since the Mid-Hudson Valley is in the grip of the polar vortex (I know! My fault!) and I am therefore freezing ( I know! Still my fault!), we shall have something warming for our Something Chocolate today... Molten Chocolate Cake!!!

Don't you feel warmer already just looking at that molten flood of scrumptious chocolate?  Plus, we really need the extra calories to keep warm, so it's actually GOOD for us to eat this :)

Now that we've averted the danger of freezing AND wasting away into skin and bones, let's jump into Would You Read It!

Today's pitch comes to us from Gail, whom you will remember from October with her pitch for Me Hungry.  (Um, really you don't even need to remember since her pitch is above in the October Pitch Pick :))  She says, "Recently, I participated in the Making Picture Book Magic workshop and in the Telling Children Stories in Today’s Market intensive. I’m a member of SCWBI, and hold both a degree in Fine Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University and a diploma in Journalism from Cambrian College. You’re welcome to visit http://gailtalbot.com anytime to learn more."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Knights Of The Kids' Table
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch:  Most of the Knights of the Kids’ Table found Flooted funny. After all, when he got nervous, Flooted tooted. But cranky Hugh couldn’t stand the smell, so he hatched a plan to get rid of Flooted…for good. When Hugh’s scheme flopped, the little knights giggled, the big knights enjoyed silly sword fights, and the grumpy little knight got exactly what he wished for.


“The Knights of the Kids’ Table” is a 554-word, humorous myth set in a time when swords were silly, and playing cards were the hottest toy. Little readers will be sure to chuckle when they learn the unlikeliest and silliest way some of today’s gaseous gags were coined.
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 Gail 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!

Gail is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Spring :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)



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November 17, 2014

Whistle A Happy Tune

Good Monday, All!

So nice of you to pop by!

Remember on Friday I told you I had exciting news to share?

I'm guessing that's why you're here.

Because of the exciting news I promised.

I said, "Come on over as soon as you wake up!"

And look!  Here you are!

You're so wonderful :)

Okay!

Exciting news!

Guess what I did?

No, really!  Guess!

Never mind.  I'll tell you.

I made up a song!

Yep!

It's true!

Want to hear it?

Well, not actually hear it - I didn't have time to make a video or a recording - but hear it in the sense that I can tell you the tune and the words and you can imagine me singing it to you...

Yes?  Are you ready?

Okay.  The tune is "The Bear Went Over The Mountain" (because I live on a mountain, as you may recall, and I saw a bear a little over a week ago, which you may also recall.)

Ready?

OH. . . !!!!!!!
The dog went over the mountain
The dog went over the mountain
The dog went over the mounTAIN....
Because she saw a bear!
WOOF!

Thank you.  Thank you very much!

So, what do you think?

Are you amazed?

I'm pretty amazed with myself, I have to tell you.  It's not every day someone writes a song like that!  (Hey!  Did someone say, "Thank goodness!"?  I heard that!  Keep it nice, people.  We can't all be as musically gifted as I am, but that's no reason to unleash the green-eyed monster!)

So I can now add "Songwriter" to my resume!

Happy sigh :)

Alrighty.  See you on Wednesday for Would You Read It.

Unless you've got nothing to do right now. . .
. . . and you're feeling reluctant to leave because you enjoyed my song so much that you want to hear it again. . .
. . . and you're also thinking that maybe... just MAYBE... you'd like to hear about. . .
(Oh, golly!  That was fun while it lasted! Hehehe!). . .




The 4th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


The Contest:  Write a children's story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) in which wild weather impacts the holidays!  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest :))  (It can be as short as you like, but no more than 350!)  Any kind of weather will do: sun, rain, sleet, heatwave, blizzard, tsunami, monsoon, hurricane, hail, tornado, etc!  Weather may be atypical for your setting (rain in Maine, frost in Florida), it may be extreme (blizzard instead of regular snow, drought instead of lush greenery), or it may be unheard of (spring flowers in Antarctica, snow in the Sahara, bathing suit weather at the North Pole), but whatever you choose, make us feel the impact on the holidays!  The wild weather may be a hindrance, a wish-come-true, a threat, a pleasant surprise, etc.  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The wilder and wackier the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you're competing against yourself!)

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday December 8 and Friday December 12 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 8 and remain up through Sunday December 14 (no WYRI or PPBF during that week.)  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 8th 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 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on either Monday December 15 or Tuesday December 16 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 18 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 19.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity of weather use in plot, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.

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 - 10th place.  In addition to the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 4th Annual Holiday Contest, the following AMAZING prizes will be awarded: (items in color are links for more info!)

 - A picture book manuscript read and critique by Shari Dash Greenspan, Editor of the multi-award winning Flashlight Press!  I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter HERE!
 - A picture book manuscript read and critique by Jennifer Mattson, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
 - Enrollment in Renee LaTulippe's highly praised and recommended Lyrical Language Lab Course (in a month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and Renee) ($249 value!)
 - Enrollment in Jon Bard and Laura Backes's fantastic Kindle Kids Mastery Course ($197 value!)
 - Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class - in March or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 - A picture book manuscript critique by fabulous author Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE and the forthcoming SOPHIE'S ANIMAL PARADE.
 - (Hopefully) 2 or 3 PB MS Critiques from other fabulous authors - TBA
 2015 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, a signed copy of Boy And Poi Poi Puppy by Linda Boyden, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 - a pack of Deb Lund's amazing Fiction Magic Cards
 - another pack of Deb Lund's amazing Fiction Magic Cards

I can't thank these editors, agents, authors, and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, spread the word of their classes, buy and recommend their books to your friends with kids, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

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

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



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November 14, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Very Best Pumpkin

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Guess what?

We got snow last night!

Have you had your first snow yet this year?

I'm afraid I wasn't ready with a book about snow, but I do have a lovely story of fall and friendship to share today :)

Title: The Very Best Pumpkin
Written By: Mark Kimball Moulton
Illustrated By: Karen Hillard Good
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, August 2010, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, seasons (autumn), nature/gardening (pumpkins)

Opening: "Down a winding country lane and over a rolling hill you'll find Pumpkin Hollow Farm, where a young boy named Peter lives with his grandparents, Mimi and Papa."

Brief Synopsis: While caring for pumpkins on his grandparents' farm, Peter discovers a little lonely one all off by itself.  He takes special care of it, and it grows into a beautiful perfect pumpkin.  Will he save it for himself?  Or give it to someone special?


Links To Resources: the back of the book has "Peter's Guide To Growing Your Own Very Best Pumpkin"; easy recipe for pumpkin bread; Jack-O-Lantern and Pumpkin Coloring Pages; go for a walk and look for signs of autumn; talk about how to make a friend

Why I Like This Book: The story is simple, sweet, and very appealing.  Peter tends the pumpkins while Meg, brand new to the neighborhood and given to sitting alone and reading, keeps an interested (but distant) eye on the proceedings.  When Meg comes to the pumpkin farm to pick a pumpkin, she can't find the right one... until Peter leads her out to his special pumpkin (which he has carefully saved, knowing she has been there watching) and gives it to her - the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  The art is warm, and inviting - full of charm and homey details.  All around, a comforting and cozy read.  And you get to learn a little something about growing pumpkins as an added bonus :)

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

Before we all go off to read everyone's wonderful selections for the week, I want to thank you all for your kind and supportive comments on Wednesday.  Such thoughtfulness and friendship truly make dealing with rejection easier, and your kindness meant so much to me.  And I just want you to know that I didn't write that post with the intent of getting sympathy - I wanted to share the things that matter to me, the things I love about my writing life, along with the reality of this path we've chosen.  I wanted other writers not to feel alone on their hard days because we all have them.  And I wanted people to know that rejection can happen at any stage in your writing career - it's not just for those who are new to the publishing world!  It just goes with the territory.  And maybe the rejections help us savor the acceptances just that much more, the disappointments making the joy that much sweeter. All that said, I very much appreciated your sympathy and feel lucky to have such friends! :)  And I hope any of you who gets an acceptance will come over here and shout it from the rooftops so we can all celebrate with you! :)

Oh!  And one more thing!  On Monday (good lord willing and the creek don't rise!) I will have a special post to share with y'all!  It's something good... something exciting... something full of potential goodies... so you won't want to miss it!  Come right over when you wake up on Monday!!!

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)


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November 12, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #152 - Hubert's Dreadful Allergies (PB)

Good morning, merry sunshines :)

I don't know about you guys, but I love this writing life.

I feel so lucky that it's what I get to do.

I get up at 5:20, when the world is dark and peaceful.

I get to take my dogs for a run on this quiet, pretty road as soon as it's light enough to see.

Sometimes I see these guys (though of course they're older now :))

Hopefully, I don't meet this guy
but as you know from Friday's post, I do run into him occasionally :)

I get to drive my daughter to school - a little time we get to chat each morning - and then go feed the horses, turn them out, and do the barn (and what could be better than hanging around with horses?) :)

Then I come home, ignore my office :) and work at my sunny kitchen table (of which I apparently do not have a picture :))

I set my own schedule, which allows me to be there for my family all the time.

And I am lucky enough to work at something that, though challenging and prone to making me tear my hair out from time to time :) doesn't really feel like work.  I invent characters, and imagine settings and play with language.  As I tell kids on school visits, I get to make up stories all day long - as jobs go, pretty awesome.

So when I have days like yesterday - days when the rejections come in an avalanche - literally! (some mischievous aligning of the stars that makes every editor respond negatively on the same day!) - days when I question whether I really have any right to be doing this at all, whether I have any ability for this career that I've chosen, whether somehow I have wandered onto a path that isn't mine to travel - I try to remember all the things I love about this writing life so I don't lose my perspective entirely.

It's so easy to feel discouraged.

But if you can find the courage to dust yourself off, go for a morning run, and sit yourself right back down at that kitchen table, it's also easier than you'd think to try again.

So for anyone else who had that kind of day yesterday - or any day :) - here's to optimism and inspiration and trying again.  Who knows?  This could be the day we get our best idea yet :)

And of course, around here, we raise our glasses with Something Chocolate :)

Recipe for this gorgeous creation HERE
Dig in :)  (Remember, a healthy breakfast is essential to a productive day - and what could be healthier than cocoa beans (vegetables!) and milk (protein and calcium!)?)

How do you cope with the hard days?  Because let's face it - in this business, we all have them!  That's one of the things that makes them bearable - knowing that we're in good company :)

Now then!  Onward to a good day and Would You Read It!

Today's pitch comes to us from Heather.  Several years ago, Heather Kinser was a Silicon Valley proofreader/editor. Now she’s the mother of two amazing girls, a charter school volunteer, a breast cancer survivor, a long-term writer’s group member—and a wanna-be children’s book author. She keeps her head in the clouds and sand in her shoes. She lives with her husband and children in beautiful Redwood City, California (“Climate Best by Government Test”).

If you'd like, you can go show her some love on her brand new bloghttp://troubadourmoon.weebly.com/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hubert's Dreadful Allergies
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Aunt Lottie’s fancy luncheon party is in full swing when her highly allergic dog, Hubert, walks in and sniffs the flowers. What happens next is a riot of mishaps that eventually sends the proper party guests on a crazy chase, with Hubert leading the way.

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 Heather 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!

Heather is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to a new idea.  I don't know what it will be.  I don't know when it will come.  But I'm going to get busy so the idea doesn't think I'm just waiting around for it.  When it ventures near, I'll be careful not to look at it or acknowledge it in any way.  (Ideas are shy and easily scared.)  After a while, it will get a little annoyed that I'm not paying it any mind, and it will come right over and nudge me to get my attention.  And then I'll have it right where I want it :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)

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November 7, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Little Blue Truck

Phew!

I don't know about you, but I'm glad it's Friday!  This week has been long and busy!  I'm plumb tuckered out!  (That's Little House On The Prairie speak for "tired" :))

I'm so plumb tuckered that I might even be able to sleep without sheep... but in case you can't, now thru Nov. 23, CAN'T SLEEP WITOUT SHEEP is a Kindle Big Deal at only $1.99! so I thought I'd mention it in case any of y'all would like a copy... or know anyone who would :) ow.ly/DYFLA

Today's character is not plumb tuckered out, though.  He is busy and helpful :)

Title: Little Blue Truck
Written By: Alice Schertle
Illustrated By: Jill McElmurry
Harcourt Children's Books, 2008, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: friendship, helping, animals

Opening: "Horn went "BEEP!"
Engine purred.
Friendliest sounds
you ever heard.

Little Blue Truck
came down the road.
"BEEP!" said Blue
to a big green toad."

Brief Synopsis: A friendly Little Blue Truck drives down a country road, beeping hello to everyone he passes - a toad, a sheep, a cow, a piggy, etc.  All is well until a self-important dump truck comes along, shouldering everyone out of the way.  When the dump truck gets mired in the mud, it's up to Little Blue and his animal friends to help out even though the dump truck hadn't been very nice to them.

Links To Resources: draw and color in your own Little Blue Truck (or truck of any color of your choosing :)) and add in any animals that YOU would like to include in your journey; talk about what it means to be a friend; talk about the importance of helping others, even if they don't help you; K-5 Teaching Guide to Being Friends

Why I Like This Book:  This is a cute, fun book that will entertain toddlers through young elementary schoolers.  The beginning has lots of fun animals sounds to join in on and practice, and the rhythm of the text mimics the rhythm of the Little Blue Truck bounding down the road.   The end has a nice message about friendship and helping others.  The pictures are cute and friendly and warm - perfect for this lively little book :)

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

Apropos of nothing, Linda Boyden (who always posts awesome stuff!) posted a picture on FB a few days ago of a bear charging down the middle of a road.  The picture said, "Not a runner?  Now you are!" (I'd post it here, but I'd probably be breaking every copyright rule in the book!)  Anyway, I had to laugh, because I saw the picture yesterday, and then this morning when I was out "running" with my dogs, guess who we saw?  THE BEAR!  We were all pretty surprised.  There was a lot of barking (Scout) and pleading (me saying, "Scouty, PLEASE!  Leave that bear alone and come HERE RIGHT NOW!") and lumbering off into the bushes thank goodness (the bear), but golly, that'll get the ole heart pounding at 6 AM!

So I know that has nothing whatsoever to do with Perfect Picture Book Friday or the book I'm sharing today, but I had to tell SOMEONE! :)

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)


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November 6, 2014

Halloweensie Contest 2014 WINNERS!!!

Happy Thursday, Folks!

It was so nice of y'all to come visit me on a non-posting day!

Really, the fact that you would come all the way over here just to see me makes me feel all warm and fuzzy :)  You are all so sweet!

Can I offer you some refreshments?  Forgive me for being a little unprepared - I wasn't expecting company today - but please, help yourselves to coffee and donuts!



Everybody got something?  Good!  Let's get comfy and settle in for a nice chat!

I have a scintillating story to tell you about the smell in our bathroom wall.

No!  Not that kind of smell!

What happened was this:

On Saturday, we lit a fire in the fireplace for the first time this fall.  No sooner did the chimney heat up then a dreadful odor began to pervade the house!  We traced it to the upstairs bathroom wall which, oddly enough, does not touch the chimney.

You would really think that in order for a smell to be coaxed out of the wall it would have to be quite near the heat source, but apparently this is not the case, because the bathroom wall is not anywhere near the chimney, but there was no doubt about the smell.

Ah, the mysteries of architecture!

But wait.  Where was I?

Oh, yeah.  The dreadful odor...

So there we were, enjoying our first cozy fire of the season, when this ghastly smell nearly knocked us flat.  Obviously it was imperative that we discover the cause...

What?

You don't care about the dreadful odor in my bathroom wall?

I think you should at least pretend, seeing as how you're my guests and I gave you donuts!

You're only here for the donuts and the what?

You want results?

What kind of results?

And who's to say I have them?  I may have been incapacitated by the decomposing bat (yes, that's what was causing the dreadful odor, since clearly I'm not going to get to finish telling my story...!)

But really, a decomposing bat is a pretty appropriate item to have found right before announcing. . .



THE WINNERS OF
The 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
WA-HOOOOOOO!!!!!


(But wait!  Before I announce, do you want to see pictures of the decomposing bat?

No?  You're sure?

Alrighty then.  Don't say I never offered you anything :))

As you are all aware by now, we had a record turnout for the Halloweensie Contest - 132 entries!  Holy Halloweensie!  Who'd-a-thunk it?

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

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

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

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

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole:
     Susan Halko for The Contest
     Mishka Jaeger for The Poag's Revenge
     Julie Abery for Orinda Owl's First Halloween
   
2.  For Great Kid Appeal: (not already in the finals)
     Marla Lesage for At Grandma's House Last Halloween (which was also delightfully spooky!)
     Marty McCormick for Winnie's Spell
     Christie Allred for Petie Pumpkin And The Stinky Halloween
     Teresa M.I. Schaefer for The Best Pumpkin
     Marlaina Gray for Lolly Is Scary
     Tracie Percival for The Misspelled Witch
     Vivian Kirkfield for A Night Of Friendship For Miss Witch

3.  For Best Descriptive/Mood Piece:
     Carol (whose last name I'm sorry I don't know!) for Halloween Night
     Mandy Yates for On This Night

4.  For Best Use of Poetic Language:
     Penny Klostermann for HG (Haunted and Ghostly) TV Ex-Scream Makeover Ghost Edition

5. For Spookiest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Eric Hammond for The Scarecrow
     Michelle Valencia for The Halloween Sneer
     Jean James for Trick Or Treat?
     Alistair Lane for The Raven And The Pumpkin
     
6.  For Sweetest/Cutest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Anne Bromley for The Pumpkin Patch Scarecrow (sweet)
     Jennifer Wesselink for Five Silly Monsters (cute)
     Ellen Leventhal for Emma's Evening Ride (cute)
     Linda Boyden for Pumpkin Moon (cute, and could have also won Best Entry in Fewest Words at 27! :))

7.  For Saddest Ending: (hehe :))
     Nancy Hatch for It's Time To Fly

8.  For Best Written Original Point of View:
     Victoria Aranda for Creaks (written from the POV of a haunted house)
   
9.  For Excellence In Depicting Sibling Relationships:
     Carrie Charley Brown for Prankenstein
     Kimberly Cowger for First Flight of Halloween
     Joanne Sher for Dumb Jack-'O-Lanterns

10.  For Originality/Creativity:
     Jen Garrett for How To Carve A Pumpkin

11.  For Favorite Character:
       Pat Tilton for her "gutsy witch" who "slammed the ghost with her sack of candy" in Little Ghost :)

12.  For Best Collaboration:
       Susanne Leach and her First Grade Class for Sweetsie's Jack-O-Lantern***

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt

*** The exception is Susanne Leach and her First Grade Class.  I wasn't sure they'd have much use for the aforementioned writing guides, so instead a group of lovely authors and I would like to present them with a gift pack of signed picture books for their classroom, including NINJA RED RIDING HOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz, FARMER MCPEEPERS by Katy Duffield, COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS by Lori Degman, MARATHON MOUSE by Amy Dixon, and PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS by yours truly.

Great job, first graders!  You knocked our socks off! :)

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

We have 10 fabulous prizes, generously donated by authors and various professionals in the writing field.  Since some of the winners may already have taken a class, or own a book, or have only rhyming mss or only non-rhyming mss for critique, etc, my policy is to let the first place winner have first pick of all the prizes, the second place winner have second choice, etc.  That way nobody gets something they already have, and hopefully everyone gets something that's valuable to them.  All prizes are listed at the bottom of this post for your convenience in perusing the goodies :)

Now.

Finally!

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

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

. . . to see a picture of my decomposing bat!

. . . THE WINNERS OF THE 2014 HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST as chosen by you, our esteemed voters!!!!!

In First Place, winner of the whole entire contest and top of the heap who gets first choice of all the prizes...
Jodi McKay
for
Halloween Hide-and-Go-Seek

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

In Second Place,

Nick Rowe
for
Halloween SMS (Short Messaging Scariness)

Congratulations, Nick, on a wonderfully spooky entry with very creative and original formatting!  Well done! You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jodi chooses!

In Third Place,

Lauri Meyers
for
Sulky Spider's Spooky Webs

Congratulations, Lauri, on a well written, clever, and funny entry that we all loved!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jodi and Nick choose!

In Fourth Place,

Nancy Tandon
for
Snip, Snap, Crack

Congratulations, Nancy, on a deliciously creepy entry!  You get to pick your prize after Jodi, Nick, and Lauri!

In Fifth Place,

Joanna Marple
for
Devious Dads And Halloween

Congratulations, Joanna, on a very clever and creatively formatted entry!  You get to pick your prize after Jodi, Nick, Lauri, and Nancy!

In Sixth Place,

Gina Silvester
for
Halloween Chase

Congratulations, Gina, on an entry that was tons of spooky fun!  You get to pick your prize after Jodi, Nick, Lauri, Nancy, and Joanna!

In Seventh Place, Carrie Finison for The Shadow!  Congratulations, Carrie!  Your rhyme was outstanding, and we loved your little cat :)  You get to pick next :)

In Eighth Place, Linda Schueler for Creaky Cackle!  Congratulations, Linda!  Your entry may have been the funniest one in the pack!  You get to pick after Carrie!

In Ninth Place, Michelle Barnes for This Year's Halloween Mascot!  Congratulations, Michelle!  Boy, do you know how to write believable kid behavior :)  You get the idea of the prize picking by now I'm sure :)

and in Tenth Place, Amelia West for Full Moon Rising!  Congratulations, Amelia! Nicely done!  You get the remaining prize! :)

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

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  Finalists who did not finish in the top 10 (Michael, Mike, and Debbie) may also contact me for their choice of the Kindle or paperback prizes listed above.

Congratulations again to all our winners - it was a stiff competition!! - and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause, a confetti parade, and a large amount of chocolate cake :)

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

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

The 4th Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 8-12.  I'm running it a little bit earlier this year so we can all fully enjoy it and still have time for last minute holiday things.  And to whet your appetites and get your thinking caps on, I will tell you that first prize is something AWESOME!  A picture book manuscript read and critique by an actual editor at an actual highly regarded publishing house!!!  But that is all I'm saying for now :)  You will just have to stay tuned for more details as the Holiday Contest approaches.  And I will do my best to post the rules well in advance so you all have time to work on your stories!

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



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

Julie Hedlund's fantastic new course How To Make Money As An Author, interesting, educational and suitable for writers at any stage of their career

 - a 2015 membership to Children's Book Insider, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes

 - a picture book manuscript critique from the renowned Alayne Christian (prose only, 800 words or less)
Alayne Kay Christian is an award winning author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA. She is represented by Erzsi Deak of Hen&Ink Literary Studio. To read more about Alayne, her critique service, and her books visit her websites and blog.

- a picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!
Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 

 - a picture book manuscript critique by Tracey M. Cox!  Tracey offers a full critique on a fiction PB, 800 words or less, which will include overall impression and line-by-line on a prose only pb ms.  She will also include thoughts and marketing ideas that she thinks about and if she can think of references, she'll add them also.  Tracey M. Cox has been writing professionally since 2000 and is an author of 6 picture books.  She is an active member in the children's literature community and explores how to self-market on little to no budget.
Website: www.traceymcox.com
Blog: www.traceymcox.wordpress.com


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

 - a personalized signed copy of I WANNA GO HOME by Karen Kaufman Orloff, the latest in the brilliant PB series that began with I WANNA IGUANA. (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 - a personalized signed copy of I AM COW HEAR ME MOO by Jill Esbaum (reviewed for Perfect Picture Books HERE and HERE - yep, it's so popular it got reviewed for PPBF twice :))

 - a personalized signed copy of NINJA RED RIDING HOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz, the riveting follow-up to THE THREE NINJA PIGS.  (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 - a PDF copy of Ryan Sias's A Spooky-Doodle E-Book"doodle pages, drawing lessons and writing prompts inspire kids to invent their own stories, characters and artwork."

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

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November 5, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #151 - Just Like Us (PB)

Due to all the flurry and excitement and extensive reading involved in the Halloweensie Contest, I'm going to take pity on you today and present nothing but Something Chocolate and Would You Read It.

No amusing anecdotes from my childhood.

No tales of adventure from the wilds of Blueberry Hill.

No witty musings on life.

(Well, okay, I don't really ever have those :))

Just one thing before you get your snack:  if you haven't had a chance to vote yet for your favorite Halloweensie Contest finalist, you have until 5 PM and we really need all the votes we can get.  The top contenders keep being tied.  So please go HERE (and encourage your neighbors and your grandmother and your mailman to stop over, read the entries and pick their favorite too!)

Wasn't that so quick?  And now your reward....

Something Chocolate!

Hold onto your dental work...

Recipe HERE http://damndelicious.net/2013/12/11/easy-homemade-toffee/
I LOVE toffee!  Truly, I think it is one of the best inventions ever.  Help yourselves!  Tell me if you agree! :)

Now then, today's pitch comes to us from Maria who says, "I am a pre-published author and roommate of two loving, adorable Pixiebob cats. Recently granted a chance to decide "what I wanted to be when I grew up," I began actively pursuing my my love of writing (a path on hold for the past ten years, while I raised my kids).  I renewed my SCBWI membership, joined Julie Hedlund's 12x12 forum, and Kid Lit Summer School, took numerous writing courses, found awesome critique groups, and attendeded conferences."


Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Just Like Us
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2-6)
The Pitch: As children frolic through and around a park playground, glimpses of two bear cubs mimicking their fun can be seen, partially obscured on each page. Both the bears and children roll down a hill, play on the equipment, and dig for treasure. But in the end, who is watching whom. 

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 Maria 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, right after the holidays, 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!

Maria is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to announcing the Halloweensie Contest winners TOMORROW!!!  I know!  The excitement!  The anticipation!  Who will it be?????

Tune in and find out! :)

Have a wonderful and toffee-filled Wednesday, everyone!

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