I’m In Texas Today…Well, Almost!

Hello dear friends!

Author Melissa Stoller invited me to her blog today and I hope you’ll pop over there and join the chat as she asks me THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT STORIES, CREATIVITY, AND CONNECTION.

And guess what? Leave a comment on her blog and you might win a picture book critique from yours truly.

Hope to see you there!!

Please don’t forget that the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge post will go live on March 2…that is only FOUR DAYS AWAY…have you sharpened your pencils?

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: YOU KNOW WHAT? PLUS Critique Giveaway

Hello dear friends! 

Somehow, the day has almost gotten away from me. But it’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and I wanted to make sure that I shared a picture book that will be a wonderful addition to every young child’s library. Plus, author Carol Gordon Ekster has offered to donate a picture book manuscript critique as a giveaway! Woo-hoo! So please make sure you leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win it!

You Know What

YOU KNOW WHAT?

Written by Carol Gordon Ekster

Illustrated by Nynke Talsma

Published by Clavis Group (2017)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Bedtime, Procrastination, Curiosity

Synopsis: 

From Amazon: Oliver should go to sleep. But there is so much he wants to tell his mother about: what happened that day at school, the things he read in books, everything he sees around him.
A touching and familiar picture book about (postponing) the ritual of going to sleep.

Why I like this book:

  • I have three children and I remember the words, “You know what?” because they were the words my kids used to put off their bedtime. They all knew their mommy loved to engage in conversation (yup…I haven’t changed) and they knew I would never cut off their curiosity. This is a book that will strike a chord with every parent and every child.
  • Great illustrations that show Oliver in all of his bedtime preparations…kids will identify with his routine.
  • Filled with heart and humor.

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Make a bedtime routine chart

Bedtime-Routine-side-by-side

Photo courtesy: https://bitzngiggles.com

I think if you surveyed parents, one of the most difficult tasks for them is getting the kids to bed. One thing that helps is to put routines in place. And here’s a super cool chart that you can make with your kiddos. For detailed instructions, please go to: https://bitzngiggles.com/printable-bedtime-routine-charts/

Thank you for spending some of your precious time here, dear friends. I hope you’ll hop over to author Melissa Stoller’s blog on Monday because I’ll be stopping by there to chat about my writing process and more. Here is a link to her website, but my post won’t be up until the 26th. https://www.melissastoller.com/

I’m kind of sad to say goodbye to February…but I am so looking forward to the beginning of March because that will mean it is time for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge.  Please come back on Friday, March 2nd when we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss with our 50-word stories. I’m excited to read all of your precious words!

And don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win the picture book manuscript critique from Carol.

 

 

Jackie Leigh Davis: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

(c) 2016 JackieAuthor_500x500

JACKIE LEIGH DAVIS

I’m so excited to welcome one of my local SCBWI buddies. She’s such a special lady…and I was thrilled when she agreed to stop by to chat with us.

Jackie Davis began her career as a professional mime at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. In 1995, she began developing a circus arts curriculum at the Pine Hill Waldorf School in Wilton where she created the first Hilltop Circus in 1996. This led to her founding Silver Lining Circus Camp and the Flying Gravity Circus youth troupe.

Her husband, Rick Davis, who was a teacher at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, became the resident director at youth circus arts education for Circus Smirkus in Vermont.

Together they became founding members of the American Youth Circus Organization, which hosts biennial national festivals in the U.S.

WOW…so now you know that Jackie knows what she is talking about when she writes a book about circus for kids!

Welcome, Jackie…it’s wonderful to have you here. I know you have a lot to share with all of us!

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

JACKIE: I was a huge Dr. Seuss fan as a child (The Sleep Book!! Sneetches!) I loved his wacky worlds and creatures, and I was inspired to draw my own for hours and hours on my mom’s scrap paper. Later, I read The Phantom Tollbooth at the perfect age when I totally understood all of Norton Juster’s plays on words (he really woke up the fun of writing in me), and I loved Jules Feiffer’s dynamic, scribbly illustrations. Louise Fitzugh had a similar scribbly style in her drawings, though I didn’t realize until much later that she had illustrated as well as written Harriet the Spy. I emulated Harriet and did some spying in my neighborhood!

Circademic with Brain&Logo

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

JACKIE: Well, I’m coming late to the party – I’m really just starting my writing career in earnest, even though I’ve been writing all my life. Ask me this question in a couple years. 

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

JACKIE: I’ve read that you should be able to write anywhere so that you train yourself to be able to write, well, anywhere. That’s hard for me – I get attached to place. I have a lovely little cabin in my back yard that I love to write in, but it’s not insulated so I can only do that on temperate days. I do like to write on my laptop. However, I also keep a journal (an actual book made of paper), and I write longhand in there. Gotta have a fast, smooth pen. Pentel Energel!

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

JACKIE: I am still sorting this out! Lots of folks get up early and write in the morning. I am a terrible morning person, the brain takes a while to get revved up. By then, the phone is ringing and people are emailing, and I get pulled into the mundanities of the day. So – I THINK I am a night writer. Left to my own devices, I write at night – sometime after dinner and before my brain gets too tired. I keep experimenting. Ask me this one again in a couple years, too!

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ME: Why do you write for children?

JACKIE: I remember being 10 or 11 years old, looking out my bedroom window in the direction of the next town, and suddenly I realized I could “travel” to the next town, and the next… that the whole world was open and my whole life was ahead of me. That was the first moment where I caught a glimmer of self-determination, where I “got” that I was the captain of my ship, and this was my life. I’ve been a teacher for much of my adult life, and I love opening the door to kids’ realization that they are the captains of their ships. I never get tired of that. As a teacher I could do that one-on-one, but as an author I hope to show many, many more kids a magical door to their self-determination.

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear. 

JACKIE: This first book of mine, DIY Circus Lab for Kids, is a non-fiction, how-to book based on my decades of teaching circus. But I was working on a middle grade novel before DIY came along, and now that it’s published (yay!!) I am going back to the novel.  I am so eager to get it written, yet there are so many demands on my time I worry about getting it done. But NO! 2018 is the year! I look forward to being a guest of yours again, Vivian, sometime in 2019!

That sounds like a plan, Jackie! Thank you so much for all of your insights and for sharing your journey with us.

And now, dear friends, we are not done yet. Jackie has a book event today at our favorite local indie bookstore: Toadstool Bookshop in Milford, NH from 2-4pm. I’ll be there and I’m going to buy a copy of DIY CIRCUS LAB FOR KIDS…I’ll have Jackie sign it and I’ll be giving it away to someone who leaves a comment on today’s post or the book birthday post from last Tuesday.

If you’d like to learn more about Jackie, her circus programs, and her book:

https://www.flyinggravitycircus.org/silver-lining-circus-camp (summer camp where I’ll be teaching — this will also be updated by February)

 

And of course, we have to have a sweet ending to our post.

One of the circus tricks is juggling balls…how about making some GLUTEN FREE nut butter balls to eat!

nut butter ballsPhoto courtesy: https://www.furtherfood.com

There are only THREE ingredients in this yummy recipe. Any nut butter. Coconut flour. Maple syrup. It is easy peasy to make with the kiddos…and provides a healthy punch of protein and other nutrients. For detailed instructions: https://www.furtherfood.com/recipe/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-balls-with-coconut-flour-vegan-gluten-free-easy-ms-diet-recipe/

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend and I thank you so much for spending some of your precious time with me.

 

A PW Announcement and a Peek at the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge

 GUESS WHAT???

My next picture book has just been announced in Publisher’s Weekly!

PW announcement screen shot

FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK started out as a PiBoIdMo idea in 2012. Thank you, Tara Lazar! The next year, I wrote it as a 12×12 draft. Thank you, Julie Hedlund! I revised it many many times. Thank you, critique buddies! And sent it for feedback and it got a ‘1’. Thank you, Rate Your Story. And this past year, the manuscript went out on submission. And my agent paired it with Mirka’s amazing illustrations because she just knew that Mirka’s art and my text were a match made in heaven. Thank you, Essie White!

I’m truly enjoying the collaboration of the entire team…editor, illustrator, and me, the author. I know that many times, authors and illustrators are kept apart…but Mirka and I have helped each other–we have each other’s back. Let me share what happened.

I had researched each animal before I wrote the book. I wanted animals local to an area in Colorado where I flyfished many times with my husband. And I chose animals that were endangered or threatened because I know that it’s important for young children to develop an awareness of our fragile environment and how each of us can make a difference.

But when Mirka began illustrating…as every good illustrator should…she did her own research. And messaged me one night…the Golden Cheeked Warbler doesn’t live in Colorado!!!!

Sure it does, I told her. It lives in Colorado Bend State Park! 

So she sent me a link to Colorado Bend State Park…and, after reading more carefully, I discovered that Colorado Bend State Park is in…

…TEXAS! And the Golden Cheeked Warbler is ONLY found there. Oops!

We researched some more and picked another wonderful bird…the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. And I can’t thank Mirka enough for her careful attention to detail. That is why making a beautiful book is really a collaborative effort between author, illustrator, and editorial team.

Mirka has been amazing…sharing the illustrations with me–I love them all! And she agreed to let me share an illustration she made for Valentine’s Day that has a few of the animals that appear in our book…the otter, the turtle, and the fish…oh yes, and the butterfly.

Lovely pic and quote from Mirka

 

The quote is by Gregory Brown…perfect for us to keep close to our hearts as we travel through this somewhat crazy, often tragic world where we are trying to spread hope and love with our writing.

SPEAKING ABOUT WRITING…are you ready for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge? I hope so!

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 I wanted to give everyone a heads-up for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge that is just around the corner. I want to make sure everyone has plenty of time.

green-eggs-and-ham

March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. For the last two years, I’ve hosted a little contest based on Bennet Cerf’s challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

In 2016, I thought it would be fun to try to write a story for kids with ONLY 50 words. With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. And then I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And last year, there were 253 entries.

Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. On March 2nd, I’ll post the opening of the contest and you will have until March 6th at 11:59pm to post your story. Here are the guidelines:

#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CHALLENGE GUIDELINES

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count of the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. On March 2nd, I will put up the contest post and you will need to post your story in the comment section of that post. If you have your own blog and want to post your story there also, please do. And let us know your post link.  I ask for the link so that people will visit each other and find new friends in the kid lit community. Please make sure you put your name in the postIf you have any trouble at all posting the story, please email me and I will be happy to do it for you: viviankirkfield@gmail.com.
  6. Deadline for posting the story in the comments is Tuesday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
  7. Winners will be announced in a special blog post on Sunday, March 11.
  8. Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too!

I’m still putting together the prizes (hint,hint, hint…if anyone would like to donate a prize, please email or PM me. But here are a few so far: 

  • A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of the first year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency and THAT story, plus a sequel to it, will be published next year!

essie

  • Your choice of ONE of the following from author, mentor, and founder of Sub Six FB group, Alayne Kay Christian: Picture Book critique or Chapter book critique (first three chapters), or Complimentary Art of Arc course.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Lori Degman.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Melissa Stoller.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Amber Hendricks.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Katey Howes.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Julie Abery.
  • Signed copy of OFFICER KATZ AND HOUNDINI from author Maria Gianferrari
  • A piece of original signed art and a copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus a silver seal necklace from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.
  • Rest & Relaxation package with two picture books and a surprise from author Maria Marshall.
  • A signed copy of CAT IN THE CITY from author/illustrator Jill Weber.
  • $15 credit in her TeachersPayTeachers store from Barbara Leyne (GradeOnederful)

And there will be more!

So dear friends, many good and hopeful things going on amidst the sad happenings. Our prayers are with the families who have been impacted by this latest tragedy. Many ask what we can say to our children. I think what is most important is for us to reassure our children that we love them and that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe.

Please do stop by tomorrow for our Q&A Will Write for Cookies chat with author and circus guru Jackie Leigh Davis, a yummy cookie recipe, AND a giveaway!

 

 

Happy Book Birthday: DIY CIRCUS LAB FOR KIDS Plus Giveaway

Hello dear friends!

I know all about birthdays – I’ve had 71 of them! But there is nothing like the first one. And that’s why I’m so thrilled to wish a big Happy Book Birthday to:

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And big congratulations to author and circus-guru, Jackie Leigh Davis.

Are you a  camp director or counselor, looking for a great program to offer the kids?

Are you a teacher or after-school center youth leader needing a new activity?

Are you a parent looking to do something fun-filled and family-friendly with your children?

This book is a hands-on, step-by-step guide with easy instructions and clear photos that demonstrate each juggling, balancing, clowning, and show-making activity.

Jackie is one of my local SCBWI buddies and I’m totally excited to attend her book signing event at the Toadstool Bookstore in Milford, NH on Saturday, February 17th from 2-4pm. Yes, that’s right! It’s in only a couple of days. So if you are local to the Milford area, why not stop in and say hello! Toadstool is our wonderful Indie bookstore where I get to hang out with my local writer buddies sometimes.

By the way, I plan to buy a copy of DIY CIRCUS LAB FOR KIDS while I’m at Jackie’s book signing and I’ll be giving it away to one lucky winner! So, if you’d like to win that signed copy, please leave a comment below…and for an extra entry, come back on Saturday when Jackie stops by to chat on Will Write for Cookies.

And please make sure you are here on Friday. I’ll be posting a special Perfect Picture Book Friday with a peek inside this year’s guidelines for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge. There will be some awesome prizes, including a critique with my wonderful agent, Essie White of Storm Literary Agency.

A bit of news from me on the book front: I just got to see the tentative cover for the counting book that Pomegranate Books bought. My fellow Storm teammate, Mirka Hokannen is illustrating and oh my gosh…she is amazing! And the story that used to be called Visitors to Deep Pool is now entitled…hmmm…maybe we’ll have to have a TITLE REVEAL sometime down the road. The book hasn’t been announced yet, hopefully any day. But I have to tell you, it is heaven when author, illustrator, and editor are able to collaborate together…that is a recipe for a beautiful book!

I know many of you are participating in Susanna’s Valentiny Contest…there is still time to enter…or you can just hop over to read some of the wonderful stories.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: MOTH AND WASP, SOIL AND OCEAN

Hello dear friends! I hope you haven’t given up on me. With a March 1st deadline, I’ve been writing and revising for the past three weeks. I’m happy to say that four of the manuscripts for the compilation book are already on the editor’s desk. I have one more ready to go, another almost there, a third that needs a bit more research, and a fourth…well…let’s just say that one is still a rough draft. 

January was also Tara Lazar’s STORYSTORM challenge and I now have a notebook with 30+ new story ideas. If you didn’t get a chance to hop over to read my post, you can click here. I shared how I got ideas for all of the books that are now under contract – and a few that are out on submission. If you are writing with the view to getting traditionally published, I urge you to read Jane Yolen’s post – I am always inspired by her words.

Speaking of being inspired…our Perfect Picture Book Friday selection does exactly that! The text by award-winning author Sigrid Schmalzer is glorious and the illustrations by debut picture book illustrator Melanie Linden Chan are incredible!

moth and wasp soil and ocean

MOTH AND WASP, SOIL AND OCEAN: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong’s Work for Sustainable Farming

Written by Sigrid Schmalzer

Illustrated by Melanie Linden Chan

Published by Tilbury House Publishers (2018)

Ages: 6-9

Themes: Sustainable farming, Chinese culture, conservation

Why I like this book:

  • A true gem of history that will inspire adults and kids
  • A beautiful diverse story that will help children get a better picture of life in other places and times
  • Incredible illustrations from debut picture book illustrator Melanie Linden Chan…just incredible!
  • I love the message of sustainable farming!

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Plant Seeds

plants14Photo courtesy: https://www.prekinders.com/category/themes/plants-seeds/

One of the favorite activities of my kinders was planting seeds. They loved getting their hands in the soil, pressing the small beans, peas, or other seeds with their fingers. Best of all, the loved watching the little green sprouts push up and flourish. For detailed instructions, go here: https://www.prekinders.com/category/themes/plants-seeds/

For more wonderful picture book reviews, please go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. And for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up, go here.

And while you are there, why not check out her Valentiny Contest that starts soon!

And last, but definitely not least, if you’d like to get a peek at the 2018 Debut Picture Books, please visit the Epic Eighteens website.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend. Stay warm or stay cool, whichever you prefer.