Happy National Inventors Day and a Sneak Peek at #50PreciousWords 2021

Happy National Inventors Day!

Happy Birthday to Thomas Edison!

Happy Birthday to…me!

That’s right! Today is my birthday. I was always happy to share a birthday with a famous inventor. So, maybe it’s not surprising that I wrote FROM HERE TO THERE – a collection of stories about nine visionaries who changed the way the world moves.

And I guess it’s also not surprising that I created a contest for other writers.

Art by Vicky Fang

When I first got the idea for this contest back in 2016, I thought a few of my friends might take pity on me and submit a story – to my surprise, there were

128 entries! The winner that year went on to sign with my wonderful agent, Essie White, and the story that won, LITTLE TIGER, is now part of a beautiful board book series. And on March 1st, we’ll be celebrating the book birthdays of TWO MORE of Julie Abery’s Little Animal series.

Over the years, other entries have become books…but what I love the most is the enthusiasm and the positive energy that this contest generates.

If you are currently writing picture books…or just reading them, you’ll notice that the average word length for many is getting shorter and shorter. I thought, wouldn’t that be a great challenge…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. I opened the challenge to everyone. And here’s the 50-word story I wrote as an example for the 2017 #50PreciousWords Contest.


Everyone made fun of Pig’s little feet.

An invitation arrived.

                   Please come to Coyote’s feast.

Rooster knew the invitation was for him.
Cow disagreed.

They hurried to Coyote’s den.

Pig followed.

By the time his little feet got him there, the feast was finished.

And so were Rooster and Cow.

Please put on your thinking caps, sharpen your pencils, and get busy writing. The official contest post will go live on March 2nd right here on my blog, and you will be able to post your story in the comment section of that contest specific post till March 7th at 11:59pm. I wanted to give everyone a heads-up today so that they can start thinking about their stories now!


  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, that has a total word count of 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. The contest officially opens today, Saturday, March 2, in a special post on my blog entitled: #50PreciousWords 2021 is OPEN.
  6. Between March 2 and March 7, post your story in the comments of that special contest blog post. If you have a blog of your own and want to post it there also, that is terrific…please add the link to your comment so we can all go and visit you there.  Also, please make sure you put your name in the post.
  7. Only ONE entry per person, please. I know…it’s hard to choose. But we had 392 entries last year – that’s a lot of stories for me and my judges to read and comment on. Just think, if everyone had submitted two, that would have been almost 800 entries to read. 😊
  8. Deadline for posting the story in the comments is Sunday, March 7th, at 11:59pm.
  9. Winners will be announced on the first day of Spring, Saturday, March 20.
  10. First place winner will choose first. Second place winner goes next and can choose from the remaining prizes. And so on.  There are 51 prizes –  critiques with EDITORS and AGENTS and PUBLISHED AUTHORS, seats in WRITING CLASSES, a PORTFOLIO REVIEW, SIGNED PICTURE BOOKS…and more. The book prizes are limited to USA addresses, please.

HERE IS THE LIST OF PRIZES – They are arranged somewhat haphazardly – Editors and Agents in the first group, seats in picture book writing classes in the second group, and author critique and signed copies of picture books in the third group. I wanted to do it alphabetically, but I ran out of time.

AND THIS JUST IN!!! ANOTHER PRIZE!!! I don’t want to renumber everything so I am calling this Prize A:

Prize A: A Picture Book Critique with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt executive editor ANN RIDER. Ann was my editor for FROM HERE TO THERE – and working with her was an awesome experience! And HMH is closed to un-agented/unsolicited submissions – this is a life-changing golden opportunity for one of the participants of #50PreciousWords. Here is a link to a fab interview she did with Michelle Barnes: https://michellehbarnes.blogspot.com/2016/11/spotlight-on-ann-rider-dmc-challenge.html

  1. Picture Book Critique with Penguin Random House UK editor COURTNEY FAHY. Courtney was my editor for MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD – she was a joy to work with.

Courtney Fahy is the Editorial Assistant at Little Bee Books and Yellow Jacket, where she acquires and edits board books, picture books, and middle grade novels. Some of Courtney’s picture books include Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit by Linda Marshall, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield, Mootilda’s Bad Mood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Kirsti Call, as well as Moonbeams: A Lullaby of the Phases of the Moon by Ann Bausum. Prior to joining Little Bee Books, Courtney interned at Macmillan at Roaring Brook Press and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for Young Readers, as well as W.W. Norton. Originally from New Jersey, Courtney graduated from Pace University with a Master in Science in publishing. You can find Courtney on Twitter @courtneyfahy.

2. A Critique with the amazing agent Essie White, Storm Literary partner

There isn’t enough room on this page to detail how amazing my beloved agent, Essie White is. This is an unbelievable opportunity to get your manuscript in front of a stellar agent who is currently closed to submission.

3, A Critique with the fabulous Vicki Selvaggio, Storm Literary partner

Victoria Selvaggio, previously with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency was drawn to the publishing scene first as an author. She is a prior Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Northern Ohio, where her desire to help writers and illustrators reach their publications goals inspired her to become an agent.
As a frequent presenter at conferences, library events, contests, etc., Victoria is always interested in meeting writers and illustrators, and hearing about unique projects! This is a life-changing opportunity for some writer because Vicki is currently closed to submissions.

4. Critique from Callie Metler-Smith, publisher of Spork/&mg

I’ve never met Callie in person, but I have shared a webinar stage with her – she’s an amazing woman – generous and kind and a crackerjack editor! It’s a gift just to know her – and someone is going to have the opportunity to connect with her over their manuscript.

5. Seat in Callie Metler Smith’s NEW course on MARKETING for AUTHORS

Callie Metler-Smith is the CEO and founder of Clear Fork Publishing in Stamford, Texas. She’s a wonderful editor and a savvy businesswoman…this is a stellar opportunity to work with and learn from her.

She answers to the following titles: Publisher of Books, Newspaper Chick, Bookstore Owner, Writer, Illustrator, Wife, Mom, and Friend.

6. A PB Manuscript Critique (650 words or less – non-rhyming)  from the amazing Art Director and CBA Founder MIRA REISBERG. https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/

I finally got to meet Mira at the Sydney SCBWI Conference where she was a keynote speaker and I was on the program also. Mira has definitely helped many writers and artists realize their dreams by becoming published authors and illustrators

7. Critique with Melissa Richeson – Associate Agent at Storm Literary

Melissa Richeson comes to Storm with prior experience as an associate literary agent and a growing list of clients. To build her client list, Melissa is drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. She’s not the best fit for horror, high fantasy, paranormal, or graphic violence of any kind.

8. A Critique with Lisa Amstutz – Associate Agent with Storm Literary

Lisa Amstutz fell in love with reading at an early age, devouring stacks of books from the library each week. While she never stopped reading, she earned degrees in Biology and Environmental Science and worked as a lab technician, outdoor educator, and small-scale farmer before returning to her first love: books.

With sixteen years of experience as an author and freelance editor, Lisa comes to Storm Literary Agency as an Associate Literary Agent. She has written more than 140 books for the educational and trade markets as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles. As an editor and mentor, she worked with writers to shape and polish their manuscripts, many of which went on to land agents or book contracts. She also edited materials for several publishing companies.

9. Seat in Making Picture Book Writing Magic course from the founder of Perfect Picture Book Friday, NYTimes Best-selling author Susanna Leonard Hill. https://susannahill.com/for-writers/making-picture-book-magic/

What can I say about Susanna? Her class was the first picture book writing course I took – and it provided an amazing foundation for me. She is a mentor to all, providing challenges and contests to keep us motivated and inspired!

10. Picture Book Editor-in-a-Box Package from author, editor, and arts educator Emma Walton Hamilton. Editor in a Box is a complete 6-step revision system that empowers writers to be their own best editors … to make the most of every submission opportunity, and to become the professional author they dream of being.

Emma Walton Hamilton definitely knows what she is talking about! I took one of her JustWrite4Kids courses early on in my writing career – she is smart, generous, and she knows what she is talking about!

11. A seat in the ART OF ARC writing course and a set of webinars on the craft of writing from author and Blue Whale Editor ALAYNE CHRISTIAN.

Alayne Kay Christian is the acquisitions editor for Blue Whale Press, an award-winning children’s book author, and the creator and teacher of a picture book writing course Art of Arc. In addition, she shares her knowledge with writers through free and affordable webinars at Writing for Children Webinars.

Art of Arc http://www.alaynekaychristian.com/contact.html
Webinars https://alaynekaychristianauthor.com/webinars

12. Seat in Master Class in Picture Book Writing from author Karla Valenti

Karla was born and grew up in Mexico City. Since then, she has had the great privilege and opportunity to live in a number of places: the U.S., Japan, France, and most recently Germany. She currently lives in the Chicagoland area where she keeps herself busy with lots of words and big ideas (both in her job as a lawyer and author).
Her writerly self focuses on picture books and middle grade novels. She also offers a Master Course on Picture Book Writing and Editing and Picture Book critique services.
She is rep’ed by the inimitable Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
Find her on Facebook or Twitter

13. A 60-minute Zoom manuscript consultation OR a Seat in the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme and Meter Self-Study Course from the incredible Renee LaTulippe

I took Renee’s regular Lyrical Language Lab course and it really helped me become a better writer. This self-study class is perfect for those who like to pace themselves.

14. Membership in New Hampshire Writers Project

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project (NHWP) supports the development of individual writers and encourages an audience for literature in our state. The membership provides a member’s rate on all webinars, workshops, and the 603 conference.  There is also access to a members-only resources section on the website that offers discounts on software, PR services, editing and publishing services, book cover design, access to our webinars, archives, and the opportunity to participate and win prizes in exclusive events such as the Three-Minute Fiction Slam, the 603 conference Pitch Party, and the new monthly Writing Prompt Challenge. This is open to anyone – you don’t need to live in New Hampshire:

15.  Illustrator Portfolio Review or 30-minute Zoom chat with Erika Meza

Erika Meza is an author and illustrator from Mexico. After studying graphic design back home, she moved to Paris to attend the Illustration (Image Imprimée) program at ENSAD. She now lives with a French cat in London and works with ink, gouaches, watercolor pencils and Photoshop, fueled by chocolate and incessant cups of coffee. Her newest book, BALLOONS FOR PAPA, written by Liz Bedia, launches in April of this year.

16. Rhyming PB Critique from author Lori Degman

Lori Degman is the author of the award-winning picture books, 1 Zany Zoo (illus. by Colin Jack) – 2010 Winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and 2013 Illinois Reads featured title; Cock-a-Doodle Oops!(illus. by Deborah Zemke) – 2014 International Literacy Association Honor Book, and Just Read (illus. by Victoria Tentler-Krylov) – 2020/21 Illinois Reads featured title. Other titles include Norbert’s Big Dream  (illus. by Marco Bucci)Like a Girl  (illus. by Mara Penny, and Travel Guide For Monsters (illus. by Dave Szalay).  Lori enjoys helping fellow rhymers by doing critiques and mentoring. Visit her at www.Loridegman.com

17. PB Critique plus a copy of her latest picture book from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler

Patricia Keeler is the author/illustrator of SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK and LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, both of Sky Pony Press. Patricia received the Christopher Medal in 2011 for her illustrations in WOULD YOU STILL LOVE ME IF. Patricia won the children’s book category for the New York Book Festival 2013. Her work has been a selection of the Junior Library Guild and the Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club. Find out more about her and her books at www.patriciakeeler-author-illustrator.com and follow her on Instagram @patricia.keeler.books.

18. PB Critique and copy of Nova the Star Eater from author Lindsay Leslie.

Lindsay likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. She is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESSNOVA THE STAR EATER, and DUSK EXPLORERS.  Lindsay lives with her husband, two boys, two dogs, a guinea pig, and a tortoise in Austin.

19. PB Critique from author Keila V. Dawson

Before becoming a children’s book author, Keila Dawson worked as a teacher, school administrator, and educational consultant in the U.S., the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt.

A native of New Orleans, Keila is the author of THE KING CAKE BABY which celebrates one of the unique cultural traditions in her hometown – eating King Cake during the Mardi Gras season, NO VOICE TOO SMALL: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, co-edited with Jeanette Bradley and Lindsay H. Metcalf, and OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and the Green Book.
Keila is a member of SCBWI, writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) blog, and reviews books for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. When Keila isn’t reading, writing, and visiting schools, she’s traveling, playing tennis, or digging in genealogical archives.
Twitter: @keila_dawson  Website: http://www.keiladawson.com
Facebook author page: @keilavdawson 

20. Non-Rhyming Picture Book Critique from author Melissa Stoller


Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2020); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, 2018). Upcoming picture books include Return of the Magic Paintbrush and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories (Clear Fork, 2020). Melissa is an Assistant and Blogger for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a Moderator for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Shaaray Tefila, and a past trustee at The Hewitt School. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy.
www.MelissaSoller.com       http://www.facebook.com/MelissaStoller
http://www.twitter.com/melissastoller   http://www.instagram.com/Melissa_Stoller
https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissastoller/     http://www.pinterest.com/melissa_Stoller

21. Picture Book Critique or Query Letter Critique from author Laura Roettiger

Laura Roettiger is the author of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON and has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and as a new teacher mentor for two years at a STEM school. She is a judge for Rate Your Story, an active member of SCBWI and 12x12PictureBook Challenge. Laura works with third grade classrooms through #KidsNeedMentors, tutors adults in the Boulder Reads Literacy program at the Boulder Public Library, and works with BookstoKids, a Colorado based literacy nonprofit. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and her students, letting them know she believes in them. She has three children of her own whose curiosity and creativity led all of them into STEM related professions. 
Aliana Reaches for the Moon
Website: LauraRoettigerBooks.co
Twitter: @ljrwritenow

22. Picture Book Critique from author Maria Marshall

Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s a Cybils Awards judge ( http://www.cybils.com/) and a contributing blogger for STEM Tuesday – From the Mixed-up Files of MG Authors ( https://fromthemixedupfiles.com/stem-tuesday/). She interviews authors & illustrators and reviews books on -The Picture Book Buzz ( www.mariacmarshall.com/blog). Her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2017-2018, 2016, & 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes.

23. Awesome bundle #1 of THREE brand-new picture books from Maria Marshall.

  • 24, Awesome bundle #2 of THREE brand-new picture books from Maria Marshall.
  • 25. Awesome bundle #3 of THREE brand new picture books from Maria Marshall.
  •  26. Picture Book Critique from author Katey Howes

Katey Howes is thrilled to be making books for children. She also makes bad jokes, great apple crisp, and messy mistakes. Katey lives in Upper Makefield, Pennsylvania (really!) with her husband and three adventurous daughters-makers. A former physical therapist specializing in brain injury, Katey now divides her time between writing award-winning stories and raising kids with a love of books. She also contributes to parenting, literacy and STEM websites including All the Wonders, The Nerdy Bookclub, STEAM Powered Family and Imagination Soup. Find Katey on Twitter @kateywrites and on Instagram @kidlitlove.

27. A PB Critique from Kirsti Call.

Kirsti Call loves putting words together. She co-runs Reading for Research month, has judged for the Cybil’s award since 2014, blogs for Writer’s Rumpus, and her second picture book, Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee) came out in 2020 while Cow Says Meow (HMH) and Cold Turkey (Little Brown) release in 2021!
Instagram @kirsticall   Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirsti.call
Twitter: @kirsticall Websites: www.kirsticall.comwww.writersrumpus.comwww.reforemo.com

28. Picture Book Critique from author Ellen Leventhal or a signed copy of one of her books.

Ellen Leventhal is an educator and writer in Houston, TX. Her writing usually contains universal themes to which children can relate–even if the thoughts occasionally come from talking cows or lambs.  She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing in some capacity. Ellen is the co-author of Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets and the author of Lola Can’t Leap. Her newest picture book based on the many flood disasters she and her family endured, launches this year, Flood of Kindness.  She has been published in magazines and newspapers as well as in short story and poetry anthologies. Ellen loves school visits! When visiting schools, she coordinates with and supports literacy programs as well as diversity and anti-bullying programs. Ellen’s best days are when she can interact directly with the students and spread her love of literacy and kindness. To find out more about Ellen’s books and writing projects, please go to www.Ellenleventhal.com

29. Picture Book Critique from author Tina Cho

Tina Cho is the author of four picture books– Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books 2018), Korean Celebrations (Tuttle 2019), My Breakfast with Jesus: Worshipping God around the World (Harvest House 2020), and The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story (Kokila/Penguin Random House Aug. 2020). Her lyrical middle grade graphic novel, The Other Side of Tomorrow, debuts from Harper Alley in 2023. After living in South Korea for ten years, Tina, her husband, and two teenagers reside in Iowa where Tina also teaches kindergarten. 
Twitter: @TinaMCho
IG: @TinaMCho
website: http://www.tinamcho.com

30. Picture Book Critique or Signed Picture Books from author Amber Hendricks

Amber Hendricks is the author of Sophie and Little Star (Clear Fork/Spork, 2018), Extraordinary Ordinary Ella (Amicus Ink, 2020), Superheroes Don’t Babysit (Beaming Books, 2020), and the Little Nature Explorers board book series (Amicus Ink, 2020/21). The first two titles in the Little Nature Explorers series, Wildflowers Grow and Butterflies Soar, got their start as entries in the 50 Precious Words Contest!

31.Picture Book Critique from author Beth Anderson

Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. With linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and a penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Loveland, Colorado where she laughs, ponders, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same. She’s the award-winning author of TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE (10/2021), “SMELLY” KELLY AND HIS SUPER SENSES, LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT, and AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET. Beth has more historical gems on the way.
@Bandersonwriter (Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram)

32. Picture Book Critique from author Liz Bedia

Elizabeth (Liz) Gilbert Bedia grew up in the rural Midwest surrounded by fields, blue sky, and a multitude of animals, where she became a keen observer with a big imagination. Liz loved creating stories about the world around her and turned to books to learn more. After college she worked as a researcher, educator, and audiologist. While raising her own children, she returned to her creative roots and started writing books for children. She loves creating heartfelt stories for children about our amazing world.

She is the author of Bess the Barn Stands Strong (Page Street Kids), Arthur Wants a Balloon (Trigger Publishing, UK), and the forthcoming Balloons for Papa (HarperCollins). Liz lives in central Iowa with her husband, two children, and two dogs. For more information, visit: elizabethgilbertbedia.com.

33. Signed copy of one of her books from author Nancy Churnin

A native New Yorker, Nancy is a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University. She lives in North Texas with her husband, a dog named Dog and two cantankerous cats. Learn more about Nancy at www.nancychurnin.com

34. Picture Book Critique (fiction) from author Lisa Katzenberger.

Lisa Katzenberger lives in La Grange, IL in a hundred-year-old Victorian house with sloping hardwood floors, glass doorknobs, and the tiniest bathroom you’ve ever seen. She has a great husband and amazing boy-girl twins. She’s an active member of SCBWI, where she volunteer as the Social Media Coordinator for the SCBWI-Illinois region. Lisa works part-time as a technical writing consultant to fund her writing conference habit. She is represented by Wendi Gu of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

35. Picture Book Critique from author Jenna Grodzicki

Jenna is the author of both fiction and nonfiction picture books, including Finn Finds a Friend (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017), I See Sea Food: Sea Creatures That Look Like Food (Millbrook Press, 2019), Harmony Humbolt: Perfect Pets Queen (Clear Fork Publishing, Fall 2020), and Wild Style: Amazing Animal Adornments (Millbrook Press, September 2020). She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two crazy awesome kids. At all hours of the day (and night) she can be found at her desk, drinking iced coffee and working on her next story. Jenna is represented by Victoria Selvaggio of Storm Literary Agency.

  • 36. Picture Book Critique from Lydia Lukidis

Lydia Lukidis writes for children aged 3-12, and her artistic mandate is to inspire and enlighten. She’s the author of three trade picture books, thirty educational books, thirty-two eBooks, as well as numerous articles and stories. Her latest STEM book, THE BROKEN BEES’ NEST(Boyds Mills & Kane, 2019), was nominated for a CYBILS Award, and she’s a two-time finalist for the #PBParty contest. Her background is multi-disciplinary and spans the fields of literature, science, and puppetry.

Lydia is an active member of SCBWI, CANSCAIP, 12 x 12, The Authors Guild and QWF. She’s very involved in the kidlit community through her blog and newsletters, as well as on social media. She’s also a judge on Rate your Story. Another passion of hers is fostering a love for literacy with children through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools.
Lydia is represented by literary agent Miranda Paul from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. For more information, please visit www.lydialukidis.com.

37. Picture Book Critique from Carrie Charley Brown

Carrie Charley Brown is the founder and co-coordinator of ReFoReMo. She eats, sleeps, and breathes picture books as an elementary school librarian, writer, and professional critique mentor. Carrie serves as a 12 x 12 Critique Ninja and contributed as a CYBILS fiction picture book panelist and regional advisor for SCBWI North Texas. She enjoys blogging, reviewing books, and spreading mentor text love. Her publications include ghostwritten projects and teacher resources. Carrie has a Masters of Education in School Library Media, and an endorsement in Literacy. She loves motivating people of all ages to discover the joy of reading by connecting personal interests.

Twitter https://twitter.com/carriebrowntx @carriebrowntx
ReFoReMo Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1574236042820744
Personal FB page https://www.facebook.com/carrie.brown.56614

  • 38. Picture Book Critique from author Rosie J. Pova

Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children’s author, poet, speaker, and writing coach. She’s a Writing Instructor for the Dallas Independent School District through The Writer’s Garret, an instructor with Writing Workshops Dallas, teaching online picture book courses to children’s writers, and also serves as a judge for Rate Your Story.

Rosie speaks on many women’s topics as well and has appeared on radio and print media.
Her upcoming picture book,Sunday Rain, celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships. Her other upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in spring of 2022. Visit Rosie at www.rosiejpova.com.

Website Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram

39. Signed Copy of LAILA AND THE SANDS OF TIME from author Shirin Shamsi

Shirin was born and raised in the U.K. and now resides in the US. Laila and The Sands of Time is her debut Middle-grade novel

40. A 30-minute Zoom chat with me – about writing, the path to publication, or whatever you’d like to talk about.

41. Two Beautiful Board Books from Rina Singh

Writer for children, Own Voices author and Spoken Word coach. Rina has an MFA in creative writing and is the author of many critically acclaimed picture books for children. Her most recent publications are A MEETING IN THE SKY (Creative Editions); Holi Colors & Diwali Lights (Orca Books); Grandmother School (Orca Books); 111 Trees (Kids Can Press); A Garden of Grenades (Greystone Kids) coming out in 2022. Her daughter is a professional photographer in Toronto and her son works in finance in San Francisco. She lives with her husband in a blue house in Toronto, Canada. It’s surrounded by tall trees and it feels like she is living in a forest. There are birds, squirrels, even a rabbit and a fish pond with Japanese koi in it. She likes writing amongst the trees.
You can connect with her on her website www.rinasingh.com or on Instagram & Twitter @storiesbysingh

42. The Writer’s Weekly Planner from Judy Cooper and Dea Lenihan

A planner that is designed specifically for writers that gives you a place to organize all your brilliant story ideas, record  important writing related appointments and establish your writing focus for each week with plenty of room to capture all those notes that used to end up on scraps of paper and napkins. Also included are inspiring quotes to let you know you’re not alone on this journey.

Judy Cooper is an award recipient of the 2021 SCBWI FL Rising Kite contest for her picture book manuscript, You Might Be an Artist. With her passion for inspiring and nurturing creativity in young children, she has designed a curriculum for and taught arts enrichment classes to children in grades PreK-4th. She has intensively studied the craft of picture book writing for the past 3 years with membership in SCBWI, Rate Your Story and 12×12, and has worked as a booking agent for kidlit authors.  Judy has lived in many places including Miami,  New York,  Indiana, Wisconsin, and Poland. Fulfilling a 20-year goal,  she now lives near the happiest place on earth and works joyfully with her cowriter and dear friend, Dea Lenihan.

Dea Lenihan  is an artist and writer whose drawings have been featured at The Eric Carle Museum of Storybook Art. Her designs can be found in children’s books, the cover of a history book, and a series of best-selling adult coloring books. Dea is currently an active member of SCBWI, Rate Your Story, and a past Picture Book Summiteer. She is enchanted by the unusual: living things that glow, lavender-colored eyes, and the many forms of ice. In her past life she was an editorial makeup artist and undercover short-story writer. She feels lucky to now spend her days drawing and writing near the sea, often exchanging ideas with her favorite writing partner and friend, Judy Cooper.
Listing link for ETSY:  https://www.etsy.com/listing/951715772/i-am-a-writer-28-week-writers-planner?ref=shop_home_feat_1&frs=1
Website link: https://www.dealenihan.com

43. A Teacher’s DREAM prize! Are you a writer who teaches? Award-winning author Darlene Jacobson is offering a 30-minute Skype/Zoom classroom visit PLUS a copy of each of her middle grade books: Wheels of Change AND Wishes, Dares, & How To Stand Up To A Bully.

Darlene Beck Jacobson, a 2021 recipient of the Notable Verse Novels Award by the NCTE for her novel WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston), is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing ever since she can remember. She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining skeletons from her past to incorporate bits of her ancestry into her award winning books. She lives in New Jersey and tries to be careful what she wishes for. Her blog features interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators, recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, and book reviews. www.darlenebeckjacobson.com
Twitter: @DBeckJacobson

44. A Manuscript Critique or a 30-minute Zoom chat with debut picture book author Anna Lazowski.

Anna Lazowski wrote her first picture book for a class assignment in the sixth grade and has been creating stories ever since. Now an award-winning radio producer, Anna got back into writing picture books after searching for a new creative outlet. She has an MA (Journalism) from the University of Western Ontario and a BFA (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba and is a member of SCBWI. Anna’s debut picture book, T. REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES (Doubleday Books for Young Readers), illustrated by Steph Laberis, is launching June 29, 2021.
Website: https://www.annalazowskibooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/anna_lazowski

45. An Author Showcase Premium book marketing package to gain visibility and publicity for your children’s book on The Children’s Book Review – or A signed copy of both Don’t Wake the Dragon and Who Loves the Dragon? from author Bianca Schulze.

Bianca Schulze is the founder and editor of The Children’s Book Review – a resource devoted to children’s literature and literacy. Bianca is also the bestselling author of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up (an Amazon “Book of the Month” in 2016) and the highly enjoyable and interactive picture book Don’t Wake the Dragon. She is a reader, reviewer, mother, and children’s book lover. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Bianca now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado. To learn more, visit https://www.biancaschulze.com/ and https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/

46. A Picture Book Manuscript Critique with a 20-minutes phone chat from author Zeena Pliska.

Zeena M. Pliska spends her days immersed in the joy of 5-year-olds.  She is a kindergarten teacher by day and a children’s book author by night in Los Angeles, California.  A progressive public school educator, she believes that the most important aspect of teaching is listening to children.  A social justice activist and organizer for over 30 years, she brings race, class, and gender analysis to everything she does.  A lifetime storyteller, she has facilitated stories as a theater director, visual artist, photographer and journalist.   Her debut picture book, Hello Little One:  A Monarch Butterfly Story from Page Street Kids came out May 12, 2020.  Her second picture book Egyptian Lullaby from Roaring Brook Press is due out in 2022.  Find out more about Zeena at Teaching Authors – and connect with her at www.zeenamar.comInstagram @zeenamarTwitter @zeenamar1013Facebook zeenamarFacebook Zeena M. Pliska author

47. A Writer’s Dream Bundle: Cool canvas tote/mug with tea/copy of Jumpstart Your Writing in 30 Days by Heather Kelly

Cathy Stenquist won second place in the 2020 Boston Author’s Club Picture Book Discovery Award for her MS “I Wish I Were” and had the chance to work with Peter H. Reynolds, who called her a “Magical wordsmith.”  Her debut picture book Forever Home (which began as a 50 Precious Words entry!), is a story about two orphaned kittens searching for a place to be loved. It will be published this spring. Cathy is delighted to have her talented daughter @ericaleighart illustrating it.  Cathy is a longtime member of SCBWI, The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, Mass. and Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge. You can find her at: Instagram @cathystenquist, Facebook: www.facebook.com/cathy.stenquist and on Twitter: @cathystenquist.  Her website: www.cathystenquist.com will be launching soon.

48. A Picture Book Manuscript (non-rhyming) Critique with author Lisa Rogers.

Lisa Rogers is an elementary school librarian and former newspaper reporter and editor. Her picture book, 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS AND “THE RED WHEELBARROW,” illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2019), received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, is a Bank Street Best Children’s Book, a Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice, a Junior Library Guild selection, an ALSC Notable Books shortlist book,  and the winner of the Boston Authors Club Julia Ward Howe award for young readers. HOUND WON’T GO, a rhyming picture book illustrated by Meg Ishihara (Albert Whitman, 2020), was inspired by her rescue dog, Tucker. Her poems are included in FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: OCEAN POEMS FOR CHILDREN (Writers’ Loft Press, 2020). LOOK AT HER ART, coauthored with Jean Wiecha, is forthcoming from Chicago Review Press in 2022. 
Lisa lives outside Boston with her family and is a four-time runner of the Boston Marathon. lisarogerswrites.com

49. A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, nonrhyming) with a Zoom Chat from author Ana Siqueira.

Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher, an award-winning Brazilian children’s author, and a published author in the Foreign Language educational market. Her forthcoming picture books include BELLA’S RECIPE FOR DISASTER/SUCCESS (Beaming Books, 2021) IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA/ CUANDO TU NIÑERA ES UNA BRUJA (SimonKids,2022), and other books that can’t be announced yet. Ana is represented by Andrea Walker.
Ana is a member of  SCBWI, Las Musas Book and co-founder of LatinxPitch
Besides writing, Ana loves to read, teach, and play with her Cuban-Brazilian-American grandchildren.

50. One of Mirka Hokkanen’s amazing HAND-PRINTED ORIGINAL Nature prints from FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: An Animal Counting Story – suitable for framing.
Mirka Hokkanen is a Finnish-American author, illustrator, and printmaker, who creates nature centric art and household goods, with a mission to bring joy to wherever you call home. Her work is often inspired by retro and Scandinavian patterns and colors, made to be timeless and enjoyed by animal lovers everywhere.

Mirka is a versatile illustrator due to her background in fine art. She works comfortably with watercolors, digital and printmaking media. Her love for line and drawing underlies her style no matter which media or style she is working in. Her favorite subjects to illustrate are quirky animal characters. 
Website http://www.mirkah.comInstagram http://www.Instagram.com/mirkadrawsTwitter http://www.twitter.com/mirkahokkanen This is a link to the prize: https://www.etsy.com/listing/102550201/butterfly-and-floral-woodcut-original

What do you think about these amazing prizes? I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of this kid-lit community. Thank you to all the prize donors. And to all those who are participating, please remember that the best gift you can give an author or illustrator (or editor or agent) is to buy their books, review their books, tell friends about their books, and ask your local library to purchase the books for their collection.

Dear friends…please put on your thinking caps and sharpen your pencils and rev up your computers. It’s time to write! And if you know someone who is always saying they are going to write a story, please let them know about this opportunity.  If anyone has questions, please email me and I will be happy to answer them: viviankirkfield@gmail.com.

Please return tomorrow for a wonderful Perfect Picture Book Friday when we turn the spotlight on BIRDS OF A FEATHER by Sita Singh and Stephanie Coleman.

90 thoughts on “Happy National Inventors Day and a Sneak Peek at #50PreciousWords 2021

  1. Pingback: The Hunt – Kaitlin Sikes Author

  2. “Happy Birthday, Dear Vivian, Happy Birthday to you!” If I were with you, I’d sing it to you, but for now, I want to sincerely say “Thank you!” for sponsoring this terrific 50-word picture book contest. I do have a question. The rules say the book can be for children up to 12-years old. Is there any drawback in submitting a manuscript for this older age-group, say 10-12? I know typically, board books and picture books are for younger audiences. Is this the place to submit the manuscript, or do I go to a different blog site? Thanks, and Mega Blessings to you on your special day.


    by Emily Siwek (50 words)

    Early one morning
    a family searched for treasures on the beach
    stolen by a dog
    slipped through small fingers
    stones that changed color in water
    too heavy to carry
    a fragile shell
    crumbled in two
    names written in sand
    washed away
    they left with nothing but full hearts

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: #50PreciousWords Writing Contest – Abbi Lee Books

    Lu Pierro 50 words
    Benjamin Flox keeps boogers in a box,
    To everyone’s disgust.
    He likes them mushy, gushy,
    Or with a gooey crust.

    Benjamin Flox lost his box
    Which everyone thought dandy.
    MaryJo took them home,
    Made them into candy.

    “Benjamin Flox, I made these just for you.”
    “Thanks, I’ll have a few!”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. MISSING! Yummy, juicy wamboozle berries.

    Spring is ruined.

    HELP! Cottontail finds friends.

    Detective Snake is on the case.

    MYSTERY! First, hunt for clues.

    Wamboozle bush is droopy.

    QUICKLY! Follow the trail.

    Water stops.

    AHA! Beaver apologizes.

    Teamwork makes fresh water flow.

    WAMBOOZLES! The forest feasts.

    Case closed.




    (48 words)

    I went to the moon
    because I love cheese
    and so I thought life would be better.

    My favorite is Brie
    so I carried with me
    some crackers and mom’s silver spreader.

    Alas and alack,
    I had to come back.
    It turned out the moon is hard cheddar.


  8. The Adventures Of Cow And Rabbit
    Barn Painting Day
    by Marlena Leach

    Cow and Rabbit disagreed on what color to paint their barn. Cow insisted blue. Rabbit demanded yellow. They scowled at each other as they raced towards the barn with their paint buckets flying. They painted in a frenzy of blue and yellow. Then, both shouted, “Green? Green! It’s perfect!”


  9. El Volcán Pilon (47 words)
    by Elisa Cantero Moreiras

    Javier must make un volcán for class. He asks Mamá for help.

    “I am still sleepy, like a dormant volcano. Cafecito first,” Mamá murmurs.

    GURGLE GURGLE rumbles la cafetera, hot liquid erupting from the spout inside.

    “Look, Mamá—el Volcán Pilon! Now you are both active volcanoes!”


  10. also posted – https://fireurchin.studio/2021/03/06/the-dog-contest-piece-for-50preciouswords-2021/

    Bonnie ‘fireUrchin’ Lambourn

    I begged, “Pleeeeze! Let me. I NEED a dog.”
    Four years.

    The relatives prodded . . .

    Reluctantly Mom caved,
    but her eyebrows twisted like cheese curls
    at the black mop with legs and wagging tongue –
    who then skulked to the corner.
    40 minutes sulking.

    Earned . . .
    a bowl of food.

    [wc= 50 words ]


  11. Also posted on my website: https://www.mariettaapollonio.com/writing-adventures/50preciouswords

    (48 words)
    By Marietta Apollonio

    Saunter, stride.
    Tiger moves, down trail.
    Swish, swoosh.
    Tiger swings, strong tail.

    Crouch, crawl.
    Tiger low, scraping ground.
    Wait, watch.
    Tiger stops, without sound.

    Slink, slip.
    Tiger sneaks, steep brae.
    Rush, run.
    Tiger pounces…
    clever prey.

    Grumble, groan.
    Tiger sulks, ravenous kitty.
    No dinner tonight.
    What a pity.


  12. # 50 Precious Words

    The Girl Who Cried

    Dear Heart–why do you cry?
    Why, Baba, why?
    I don’t know why the sky is blue!
    Do you?
    Um…Go ask Mum.


  13. (50 words)
    By: Kelli Drummer

    Penalty Kick

    It’s just me and the goalie.

    The crowd is silent.

    Heart beating.
    Sweat dripping.
    Stomach fluttering.

    I’m waiting for the whistle.
    My chance to win it all.

    The high-pitched tweet pierces the air.

    I stride toward the ball.
    Just like I practiced.

    One, two, three… kick!

    Then I wake up.


  14. #50PreciousWords

    Oh the Socials You’ll Meet
    Pamela Courtney- 49w/c

    Your SEO is M-I-A!
    Says, Tracking Source@google.
    Top Ten RECOGnoogle!

    You’re nearly there.
    Your Widget is STARoogle.
    You’re Social Media Royalty.
    Top Five RECOGnoogle!

    They’re both quite NECEroogle!
    SEO’s will come and go
    COMMUNITY’s EVER-troogle.


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