Anti-Resolution Revolution – Moving Forward in 2016


Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2015…

  1. I participated in 12×12 for the 4th year…I watched the new webinar series that Julie Hedlund put in place, I wrote 13 picture book drafts, I revised many of my manuscripts countless times, and I submitted to the 12×12 agents every month. In addition…
  2. I submitted to other agents via the Twitter #MSVL and #PitMad and #PBPitch and got several amazing agents who responded and wanted to see more work. My work started getting lots of positive attention! Plus…
  3. I submitted to an agent who had just signed a friend and I fell in love with her about page and then she fell in love with my manuscript, so…
  4. In October of this year, I signed with Essie White of Storm Literary and the very next month…
  5. Creston Books acquired my nonfiction picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah which has a tentative publication date of Spring 2017. Meanwhile…
  6. Essie has several of my other stories out on submission and…
  7. I have more than a dozen amazing topics/people I plan to write about in 2016, thanks to the fact that I participated in Kristen Fulton’s 12 Days of Nonfiction and I also went to the WOW Retreat in July and met so many of the incredible writers and artists in this kid lit community ..I have to say that was an extraordinary highlight of the entire year, but during the year…
  8. I also got up my courage and started doing a little bit of freelance writing work which helped pay towards the webinars and conferences and…
  9. I wrote a couple of middle grade short stories for two anthologies…Lucky Draw: 50 Stories, 33 Authors, 7 Genres that was published in April and Kissed by an Angel that was published earlier this month…what an honor to be involved in both of those projects.
  10. I sent quite a few manuscripts to Rate Your Story and 7 of them got 1’s and 2’s. I sent them my Sarah story for their contest and was thrilled to win second place for picture books and then just last week…
  11. I won second place in Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest this month…but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention  that
  12. I’m thrilled with my on-going blog series, Will Write for Cookies…12 awesome authors took a much deserved bow in the spotlight: Marty Banks, Donna McDine, Laurie Gehl, Julie Rowan-Zoch, Lauri Fortino, Suzanne Williams, Miranda Paul, Becky Gomez, Ana Crespo, Katie Davis, Maryanne Cocca-Leffler, and Artie Bennett…and next year’s line-up is already filled through May. Since I’ve started blogging in 2011, Picture Books Help Kids Soar has published OVER 600 blog posts!!!

Continue reading

Artie Bennett: Will Write for Cookies





Tree and me


Don’t you love to be around happy people? And when they are funny, it is just that much better, right? That’s why I’m dancing for joy that Artie is my guest today! From the first time I connected with him and reviewed one of his picture books, I knew this guy was a keeper. He’s super sweet and smart…and his books are laugh-out-loud hilarious!

He is the author of several picture books, each one loved by parents and children alike. And his website ‘about’ page will have you rolling on the floor. I’ve read every one of his books and have reviewed several of them…they are among my grandson’s favorites.

I promise you are all in for a treat with this interview…so buckle up, you are in for a wild ride!!!

Welcome, Artie! It is a pleasure having you here. I’ll get right down to the questions.

ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child? Continue reading

PPBF: Peter Panda Has a Meltdown – Six Quick Ways to Deal with Temper Tantrums

Today is Friday. But before I share our Perfect Picture Book Friday review, I wanted to tell you about Susanna Hill’s 5th Annual Holiday Contest. Today is the day she reveals   the winners of this much celebrated, highly thought of, exceedingly popular event. If you’d like find out who all the winners are, go here. As of 10:30am, she hadn’t posted yet.

holiday contest

Thank you so much to everyone who visited and read and commented and voted for my story, The Christmas Seed. I’m thrilled and honored that it won 2nd place!

The talented and ever-so-funny Artie Bennett will be here tomorrow as our Will Write for Cookies guest. So I’m sharing one of his many books that I reviewed earlier last year.

 Artie Bennett writes funny books that kids love. If you are looking for GREAT read aloud stories that kids will want to hear over and over again, I highly recommend all of them. Here’s one of my favorites.



Written by Artie Bennett Continue reading

Holiday Writing Contest – The Christmas Seed

Guess what? It’s December! Do you know how I know?

It’s time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual Holiday Writing Contest! YAY!

holiday contest

And this is the fifth year I have participated! Sorry for all the exclamation marks…but it’s one of my favorite writing challenges.

Here are some of the basic rules from Susanna website: the contest is open to everyone and there is still time to enter—deadline is Friday, December 11.  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice].”  For example, “Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque,” or “Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm,” or “Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us,” or “Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar”….   You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂 And the maximum word count is 350. There are PRIZES galore! For more information:

Those of you who know me know I love to write in rhyme. Here’s my entry—I hope you like it!


The Christmas Seed (341 words)


Circling round the planet Mars on their space craft RV-3,

the children begged and pleaded for a real live Christmas tree.

“There is no way,” cried Maw and Paw, “for that to come about.”

So Sue and Lou and Baby Boo would have to do without.

No Christmas tree? That cannot be…they vowed to find a way.

Sue climbed up high and searched the sky, but only saw a sleigh.

And Lou got tangled in the lights while looking in a drawer.

And Baby Boo picked up a seed as he crawled on the floor.

“Take that away,” cried Maw and Paw, “that’s not for Boo to eat”

But Boo skedaddled like a flash to the ejection seat.

Maw screamed! Lou tripped! Sue scrambled down! Paw reached to

save his kid.

They heard a BOOM! It shook the room! The spaceship blew its lid!

They watched as Boo flew through the air; it was a fearful sight.

This wasn’t quite the way they’d planned to spend this Christmas


And Maw, she moaned, and Paw, he groaned, and Sue and Lou,

they cried.

But then they heard a HO! HO! HO! and Santa slid inside.

He opened up his big red sack – plucked out a doll for Sue,

a watch for Paw, a book for Maw, a bat and ball for Lou.

But Maw and Paw, their faces drooped, and Sue and Lou, they


until they heard, deep in the sack, a most familiar sound.

Then Santa reached way down inside and pulled out Baby Boo.

“I saved the best for last,” he said. “This one’s for all of you!”

And scrambling up onto his sleigh, he pointed straight at Mars

The seed Boo found had grown into a Christmas tree with stars.

And Santa’s booming voice rang out as he rode out of sight,

“May peace and love and joy be yours on this and every night.”

So if you get a telescope, please aim the lens towards Mars,

and you might see Boo’s Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling



I hope you get a chance to visit the other contest submissions…they are sure to be fantastic!

And before I forget, a couple of weeks ago, I was part of a book blog tour for Margret Peot’s new picture book,  Crow Made a Friend. I promised there would be a GIVEAWAY of a copy of this precious story. And the winner is….


Congrats, Leslie!

I will get in touch with you for your address so they can ship the book to you.

Have a wonderful week—pass along a smile, give someone a hug, and be kind to yourself.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: A Homemade Together Christmas

Yes! Yes! Yes! I know! It is NOT Friday.

But I’ve got a wonderful story I want to share. Somehow, I missed getting this post up on Friday – and I just realized that because of the Holiday Writing Contest, Susanna Hill will NOT be hosting Perfect Picture Book Friday next week.This brand-new book is lovely any time of year, but it is especially perfect for this season. I wanted to make sure everyone had time to get a copy for sharing with the little people in their lives.


A Homemade Together Christmas

Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler Continue reading