WELCOME, DEAR FRIENDS!
The Contest is Officially Closed for 2023
Our judges are hard at work and we’ll share the results on March 20.
Thank you to all who participated – your stories are wonderful!
I love the enthusiasm and positive energy that this contest generates. Every year there are thousands of comments on the contest blog post – and all of them are encouraging and supportive and positive – and that’s not something you find in many places these days.
This year we are continuing the #50PreciousWords Literacy Initiative! I’m asking participants to purchase a children’s book from BALIN BOOKS, one of my local indie bookstores. This is a request, not a requirement. Whether or not you donate a book, I want EVERYONE to join in the fun, Last year, because of the generosity of this amazing kidlit community, we were able to deliver 410 brand-new books to three local schools in need. You can order any children’s book you’d like to donate by calling
(603) 673-1734 or emailing them: email@example.com. Please make sure you tell them the book is for the #50PreciousWords Literacy Initiative.
GUIDELINES FOR #50PRECIOUSWORDS
- Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under.
- Total word count of 50 words or less.
- It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
- This needs to be a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
- Title is not included in the word count.
- No illustration notes please.
- If you have children who want to write a story, please hold onto their stories until the kids’ challenge in May, #50PreciousWordsforKids.
- Between March 3 at 12:01am EST and March 5th at 11:59pm EST, post your story in the comments of this #50PreciousWords 2023 OFFICIAL CONTEST POST. Please make sure you use a new comment…please don’t put your entry in a reply to someone else’s story. If you have a blog of your own and want to post it there also, you can add the link to your comment so we can all go and visit you there. But you must put your entire story in the comments of this 2023 OFFICIAL CONTEST POST, even if you are posting it on your blog. And if you want to create a graphic for social media, that’s terrific. I absolutely LOVED them last year! But please don’t post the graphics on this contest post.
- Please make sure you put your name in the post so that I know who wrote it – if you have a social media handle that you want to include also, please do.
- Only ONE entry per person, please. For very prolific writers, I know that it’s hard to choose. But we had 750 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 1600 entries to read. 😊
Speaking of judges, please let me introduce you to these fabulous folk! Many have been with me since the beginning of the contest and ALL are avid readers, seasoned writers, and dear friends.
And here are four more items to remember:
1. Deadline for posting the story is Sunday, March 5th, at 11:59pm EST. If you have trouble posting your entry, please email me and I’ll be glad to help: firstname.lastname@example.org. But please don’t wait until 11:59pm on March 5th to ask for help.
2. The 50+ prize winners will be announced on the first day of Spring, Saturday, March 20 as long as the internet and life cooperate. There will also be a comprehensive list of Honorable Mentions. And even though it might sound corny, please remember: Even if you don’t don’t receive a prize or an Honorable Mention, everyone who participates is a winner because you wrote, you revised, and you submitted – and if you keep doing that – you will succeed in your goal to be a published author! And that’s a promise!!
3. First place winner will choose first. Second place winner goes next and can choose from the remaining prizes. And so on. There are critiques with EDITORS and AGENTS and PUBLISHED AUTHORS, seats in WRITING CLASSES, Author coaching sessions, a 2-night Personal Retreat at Highlights Foundation in Pennsylvania…and more. Some authors are offering a choice of critique/Zoom chat or books. If you choose a book prize please remember that book prizes are limited to USA addresses only.
4, When you post your entry, take a screen shot or photo or at least copy the specific url link of your entry – you can find that by hovering your cursor over the date stamp of your comment and copying it. That will help you locate your entry in the future. A few years ago, I tried to create a hyperlinked list of all of the entries – but there were so many comments (over 10,000) that WordPress divided the comments into several pages and the hyperlinked list crashed. I won’t be creating a hyperlinked list this year because doing that is labor-intensive and I have no guarantee that it won’t crash again.
HERE IS THE LIST OF PRIZES – Editors and Agents are mostly in the first group, seats in picture book writing classes in the second group, and author critiques and Zoom Ask-Me-Anything sessions in the third. Just because something is Prize 1 or 2 doesn’t mean it’s the best prize…if you are one of the 50+ winners, the best prize is the prize that is best for you.
Prize 1: A 2-night personal retreat at the Highlights Foundation. It includes two nights lodging plus meals (based on availability).
The Highlights Foundation offers personal retreat opportunities for our community at our campus in northeastern Pennsylvania, The Barn at Boyds Mills.
On your personal retreat, time is yours to focus on your work, be in nature, and spend as you please. No structure. No schedule (unless you make one). You can come as an individual, or in groups (friends, critique groups, writing partners, interest groups, and more).
PRIZE 2: Five (5) winners for above the slush pile submissions to The Little Press, an independent children’s book publisher, publishing picture books through YA. The Little Press is typically by invitation only, so this is a great opportunity to present your work to this fast growing company.
Michele McAvoy is a multi-award-winning author, attorney, educator, and publisher from New Jersey. Her publishing company, The Little Press, publishes picture books through YA. She is also the host of the popular kidlit podcast, My Messy Muse, and the creator of #GirlPowerHour, an annual event celebrating strong women and diversity in children’s literature. Michele’s titles include Buckingham Gets A New Shell, (Pigman Books), multi-award winning Cookie & Milk (Cardinal Rule Press), The Gorilla Picked Me! (The Little Press), and the award-winning My Superhero Grandpa (The Little Press.) You can find Michele on social media @michele_mcavoy (Twitter) and @michelemcavoy (Instagram.)www.MicheleMcAvoy.comwww.littlepresspublishing.com
PRIZE 3: A Picture Book Critique, Fiction or Nonfiction from Charlesbridge editor KAREN BOSS.
Karen Boss is a senior editor at Charlesbridge where she works on fiction and nonfiction books, from board to YA. She holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and has been a mentor for their Writing for Children MFA program. Karen also has an MA in higher education administration and worked at colleges and in the nonprofit sector for 15 years. In her free time, Karen often plans “Auntie Karen adventures” for her four nieces.
PRIZE 4: THREE (3) Winners can choose a Picture Book Critique with Little Bee Books editor, ALEXA CARTER
Alexa Carter is an Editorial Assistant at Little Bee Books, helping publish books for their Yellow Jacket, Little Bee, and BuzzPop imprints. She has a passion for children’s books, specifically graphic novels. On her days off, Alexa enjoys writing, painting, and reading. She currently lives in New Jersey with her dog, Hugo. Little Bee Books website
PRIZE 5: A Picture Book Critique from Essie White, founder of Storm Literary Agency
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.
PRIZE 6: A PB Critique with the lovely Helen Wu, editor at YeeHoo Press.
Helen H. Wu is a children’s book author, illustrator, translator and publisher. She is the author of Tofu Takes Time, illustrated by Julie Jarema (Beaming Books, 2022), and Long Goes To Dragon School, illustrated by Mae Besom (Yeehoo Press, 2023). Helen is the associate publisher of Yeehoo Press, an independent children’s book publisher. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, Helen loves to share stories that can empower children to understand the world and our connections. Born and raised in Hefei, China, Helen moved to the US in her 20s. Currently, she resides in San Diego, California, with her family and two kids. Learn more about Helen at helenhwu.com and follow her on Twitter at @HelenHWu and on Instagram at @HelenHWu.
Yeehoo Press is dedicated to publishing fun, enchanting, and socially responsible children’s books for audiences around the world. Yeehoo Press has offices in Los Angeles and San Diego, California, and Shanghai in China. Yeehoo books are currently being published and sold in English and Simplified Chinese editions.
PRIZE 7: 20-minute Zoom Chat with James McGowan, agent at Bookends Literary
James McGowan began his career right where he is: at BookEnds. He joined the team as an intern in the summer of 2015, and as the joke goes, they couldn’t get rid of him. He has worked in all departments at the agency and is now a literary agent representing a talented list of award-winning authors and illustrators. James’ list focuses on illustrated projects for young readers (board books, picture books, chapter books, and middle grade) as well as adult nonfiction and mystery/suspense novels.In addition to being an agent, James is a children’s author. His debut picture book Good Night, Oppy! launched from Astra BFYR in 2021. He is born, raised, and currently living in Staten Island, NY. He is a professional snacker, a huge fan of Jeopardy!, and fluent in sarcasm. To learn more about James, his wishlist, or upcoming client books please visit the BookEnds website or his personal website. To send a query, please use QueryManager. And to find a growing archive of thoughts no one asked for, follow James on Twitter and Instagram.
PRIZE 8: Picture Book Critique from Thalia Leaf, Associate Editor at Calkins Creek/Astra (Thalia is my editor for ONE GIRL’S VOICE: How Lucy Stone Changed the Law of the Land which launches in 2025)
Calkins Creek Books introduces children to the many people, places, and events that shaped our country’s history. Our picture books, chapter books, and novels—nonfiction and historical fiction for ages seven and up—combine original and extensive research with creative, energetic writing. History is key at Calkins Creek—front and center. Our authors transport their readers back in time to recognizable places with living and breathing people.
PRIZE 9: A PB Manuscript Critique (600 words or less, fiction, rhyming or nonrhyming) from Kaitlyn Sanchez, Literary Agent at Bradford Agency
Kaitlyn Sanchez is a mom, wife, agent with Bradford Literary Agency, and middle school math teacher. She’s also the proud co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read. Especially when she’s all cozied up with her husband and daughter reading together.
Please follow my clients on social media: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/literary-clients/
PRIZE 10: Critique of PB, CB, MG or YA (she’ll let the winner know the details of what to send depending on the type of manuscript the winner wants to submit) from Heather Cashman – Associate Agent and Agent Mentor at Storm Literary
Surrounded by books from her earliest memories, Heather reads picture books, biographies and select nonfiction, poetry, and all genres of fiction. While she devours any book that tells a good story and introduces a new world, she especially loves the ones that make her want to be the heroine of her own life. She was a professional editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, helped authors by working as Managing Director of Pitch Wars, and interned for three years at The Bent Agency. She’s now an Associate Literary Agent and Agent Mentor with Storm Literary Agency. You can find her latest deal announcements on her website, but many more have yet to be announced.
Storm Literary Agency 520-850-5043 email@example.com
Way-Word Writer | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook
PRIZE 11: A Picture Book Critique with Lisa Amstutz – Associate Agent with Storm Literary
Lisa Amstutz is the author of more than 150 books for children, including Mammal Mania, Plants Fight Back, and Amazing Amphibians. After 16 years as an author and freelance editor, she joined Storm Literary Agency as an associate literary agent in 2021. Find her online at https://linktr.ee/LJAmstutz.
PRIZE 12: A PB, CB, or MG Critique OR a YA Publishing Package Opportunity with author/editor DONNA L. MARTIN, founder of Story Catcher Publishing
Author and editor Donna L. Martin is offering something very special…a choice of a PB, CB, MG Critique OR a YA Publishing Package. Donna says:
The YA publishing package allows the winner to submit their manuscript to SCPublishing for possible publication if I feel we can do their story justice. Starting this fall, I’m going to
start taking submissions for publication. This package will include working with the winner to edit and get the manuscript ready for publication. It will also include the cover design, formatting, preparation of ebook and print production files, distribution through KDP (ebook) and IngramSpark (print) to ensure the book is available to over 80,000 online and/or brick & mortar stores around the world. It also includes my services helping the winner set up things like their website, blogging, social media accounts, and basic marketing like promos, giveaways, author events, sales sheets, submitting to legitimate book awards, etc.
You can check out this link to get more detailed information: https://storycatcherpublishing.com/2023/01/11/story-catcher-publishing-expansion-chapter-book-novel-submissions/
PRIZE 13a: A PB or CB or MG Critique with Brunella Castagiola, founder of The Military Editor Agency.
Brunella Costagliola is an award-winning children’s book author, best-selling editor, and translator. Raised in Bacoli, a small coastal town west of Naples, Southern Italy, Brunella is passionate about sharing her home country’s culture, traditions, and history through her stories. Founder and owner of The Military Editor®Agency, LLC, a ghostwriting and editing agency catering to military authors and military-related manuscripts, and recognized by Forbes NEXT1000, Brunella helps fellow writers tell their stories and achieve their publishing dreams. Author of A Stroke of Magic: The Dinosaur Woman, a chapter book series that celebrates diversity and marginalized historical figures, Brunella is a proud Mamma of her two Italian American children, who are an endless source of inspiration for her stories, and devoted Air Force wife to her now-retired husband. Brunella lives in Florida with her family and their three dogs.
PRIZE 13b: A Picture Book Critique with author and editor Patricia Stockland, founder of Kind World Publishing
Founder and CEO Patricia Stockland is a seasoned executive in children’s publishing. Prior to starting Kind World Publishing, she led change and growth initiatives as publisher for Capstone, VP and editor in chief for Lerner Publishing Group, and editorial director for Red Line Editorial, among other roles. She’s authored more than 80 books and edited and concepted numerous others. Her expertise spans creative work and continual improvement across operations. She has a secret love of metadata and a not-so-secret love of baked goods, which she shares with her family in Minnesota. Connect with her on Twitter (@pstockland) and LinkedIn and follow Kind World on Instagram @kindworldpublishing.
PRIZE 14: Seat in Making Picture Book Writing Magic course from the founder of Perfect Picture Book Friday, New York Times 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!
PRIZE 15: A seat in the self-paced Lyrical Language Lab course from RENEE LA TULIPPE
I took Renee’s Lyrical Language Lab class in 2014…it helped me with every word that goes into my picture book manuscripts, whether they are rhyming or prose. And her website offers tons of videos and resources – she’s a shining light for this kid lit community!
PRIZE16: 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
PRIZE 17: A 30-minute phone or video call to ask anything about publishing or editing with Independent YA & Children’s Book Editor Julie Scheina
Julie Scheina is a former senior editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers with over fifteen years of experience editing acclaimed and bestselling books for children and young adults. Julia has edited more than 200 titles across a variety of genres, from picture books and poetry collections to middle grade and young adult novels. Please visit www.juliescheina.com to learn more about Julie’s work. Julie also recently launched a free resource for writers, www.youreditorfriend.com, a series of weekly letters filled with writing guidance, revision advice, and encouragement.
PRIZE 18: Promotional opportunity – Mel Rosenberg, host of the Children’s Literature Channel of the New Books Network and co-creator of OurBoox is offering a one-on-one consultation on either ‘techniques for inventing ideas for picture books’ or ‘how to create and edit dummy books in minutes’, or a video interview which may subsequently appear as an NBN podcast.
Mel Rosenberg is a scientist-inventor-musician turned children’s book writer. He is founder and host of the Children’s Literature Channel of the New Books Network and co-founder of Ourboox, a free platform for creating and sharing picture books and dummies. His new picture book, Emily Saw a Door is due out this year in Hebrew (Tal May Publishers). Mel is offering a one-on-one consultation on either ‘techniques for inventing ideas for picture books’ or ‘how to create and edit dummy books in minutes’, or hosting a video interview which may subsequently appear as an NBN podcast.
Children’s Literature Channel
New Books Network.
PRIZE 19: A 15-minute Digital Presence Feedback Session from Sarah Maynard to do some first look feedback on your website or social media profile.
Sarah Maynard is a passionate storyteller and lifelong learner. She is a children’s book writer and illustrator, a digital marketing strategist at the Start Effect, and postcard artist at Cardifully. As she prepares for a big birthday, she is sharing 40 postcards in 40 days on Instagram at @cardifully. She is excited to connect online and off with others through this project!
Sarah is the ARA of SCBWI Pennsylvania: West, and the former President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of IAW. After living in New York, Vermont, Virginia, Texas and Maryland, Sarah now lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, their four kids, two dogs, and books in every room. You can connect with Sarah about all things digital presence @thestarteffect on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. www.SarahDMaynard.com
PRIZE 20: A PB Critique, plus a signed copy of PEDRO & DANIEL author/illustrator Federico Erebia’s debut YA novel that launches June 6, 2023.
Federico Erebia is an author-illustrator, artist and woodworker. His works have been featured in various magazines [including Boston Spirit Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine], newspapers [including The Boston Globe, Boston Home], television [Greater Boston] and radio [NPR-Boston]. The Pepito The Squirrel books have received critical recommendations from Kirkus, Booklife, and other editorial reviewers. His debut YA novel is schedule for publication on June 6, 2023 by Levine Querido.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B08NLCYPM6https://twitter.com/FedericoErebia
PRIZE 21: PB Critique from award-winning author Lindsay Leslie.
A diary keeper, a journalism major, a public relations executive, now a children’s author—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. Lindsay is the award-winning author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, NOVA THE STAR EATER, DUSK EXPLORERS (an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner, Bank Street Best Book of 2021 with Outstanding Merit, and Amazon Editors’ Pick), and SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A LIBRARY. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two kiddos, two fur-beasts, and a guinea pig.
PRIZE 22: A Picture Book Critique (fiction/nonrhyming) 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, as a mentor for new teachers at a STEM school, and as a tutor in the adult literacy program Boulder Reads. She is a judge for Rate Your Story. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and her students, letting them know she believes in them.
She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @ljrwritenow
Website LauraRoettigerBooks.com which includes a blog with author interviews, giveaways, and photography.
PRIZE 23: Picture Book Critique from author Maria Marshall (Maria is one of my long time critique partners – her thoughtful feedback has helped me take my manuscripts to the next level)
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.
PRIZE 24: ASK-ME-ANYTHING AUTHOR Zoom chat and a signed picture book from author Ellen Leventhal. (Ellen is another of my long-time critique buddies – I love her feedback!)
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 picture book based on the many flood disasters she and her family endured, Flood of Kindness, has helped many children cope with loss. And her newest book, Debbie’s Song: The Debbie Friedman Story, illustrated by Natalia Grebtsova, launches from Kar Ben on April 4th! 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
PRIZE 25: Picture Book Critique from award-winning author Tina Cho (Tina is one of my long-time critique partners – her insights are spot on!)
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.
PRIZE 26: A First Chapter Critique of a MG novel (not to exceed 8 pages) and a Signed Copy of Daddy, Can You See the Moon? from author Gayle Krause
Named the 2022 MG first place winner of the Kid’s Choice KIDLIT Writing Contest, I’m a PAL SCBWI member and currently write PB, MG and YA novels. My YA novel, Ratgirl:Song of the Viper, a retelling of The Pied Piper in a globally-warmed future was nominated for the Boston Globe /Horn Book and The International Reading Association Award. My picture book Rock Star Santa was performed as a play in Australia and presented at Storytime in Montserrat, British West Indies with a real British Rock Star. My picture book Daddy, Can You See the Moon? shares royalties with Our Military Child, an organization that helps veteran’s children deal with their parent’s war injuries/deployment. And my new picture book, Zadie and the Witch’s Tea will be available for pre-order August 31, 2023.
Website – www.gayleckrause.com
Blog – https://thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gayle.c.krause
Twitter – @GeeCeeK
PRIZE 29: 30 Minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom from author Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children’s author and kid lit Writing Coach. Her picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her newest picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success was released in both China and the USA.
Rosie loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women’s and moms topics.
Join Rosie’s Facebook group community for supporting unpublished writers, The Unstoppable Writer, or find out more about her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Website Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram
PRIZE 30: A 30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat with award-winning author Carrie Finison (Carrie is one of my long-time critique buddies…her insights are amazing!)
Carrie Finison writes picture books with humor and heart, including Dozens of Doughnuts (2020), Don’t Hug Doug (2021), and Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story, and Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School! (2022). She lives in the Boston area with her family. For updates and giveaways, subscribe to her newsletter, check out her website, or follow on Twitter or Instagram.
PRIZE 31: A 30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat from award-winning author Hannah Holt. (Hannah is also one of my long-time critique partners – her feedback helps me make my manuscripts sing).
Hannah Holt is a children’s author with an engineering degree. Her picture books weave together her love of literature and lifelong learning. They include, The Diamond and the Boy (HarperCollins), A Father’s Love (Penguin), and A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken (Macmillan). She lives in Oregon with her husband, four children, and a very patient cat.
Find out more about Hannah and her books here.
PRIZE 32: A 30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom Chat and a signed copy of Forever Home plus adorable kitten swag from author Cathy Stenquist.
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,” a story about two orphaned kittens searching for a place to be loved was recently published. She was delighted to work with her talented daughter @ericaleighart who illustrated it. Cathy is a longtime member of SCBWI, The Writer’s Loft in Hudson, Mass. and Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge. You can find her at: www.cathystenquist.com and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @cathystenquist.
PRIZE 33: A Picture Book or Board Book Critique from award-winning author (and the person who won 1st Place in the very 1st #50PreciousWords Contest, Julie Abery
Throughout the many years of teaching English to her classes in international schools, picture books have been Julie Abery’s friends and allies bringing rhyme, rhythm, and repetition to the ears of her young students. She also teaches in French, where she shares her joy of picture books, storytelling and song with her local community. It is the magic that picture books create for children that inspires her writing. To connect with Julie:
Twitter: @juliedawnabery • Facebook: • Website: littleredstoryshed.wordpress.com
PRIZE 34: A Picture Book Critique or a signed copy of one of her books from author Jenna Waldman
Jenna Waldman is the author of the picture books, PURR-IM TIME! (Apples & Honey Press, 2023), LARRY’S LATKES and SHARKBOT SHALOM (Apples & Honey Press, 2021). Jenna is originally from Rhode Island, but now lives in the SF Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, their two boys, and three felines. Jenna is represented by Joyce Sweeney of The Seymour Agency.
PRIZE 35: Author Zoom Chat and a signed book from author Cindy Williams Schrauben
Cindy writes books for kids ranging from truly serious to seriously silly. As a former teacher, administrator, and children’s museum developer, empowering kids has always been her thing. That’s why she was thrilled to accept a position as a speaker for Cardinal Rule Press’ new Bucket Filler series of books.
To learn more about Cindy and to connect with her: https://cindyschrauben.com/
PRIZE 36: An Ask-Me-Anything Zoom Chat with author Marzieh Abbas
Marzieh Abbas is a baker turned award-winning author. She loves adding magic to her creations— whether a seven-layer rainbow cake or the books she writes for children all over the world. She enjoys learning new skills, jumping rope, sipping chai, eating samosas, and observing nature. She is the author of several upcoming children’s books, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a graduate of the Children’s Book Academy and Lyrical Language Lab. She lives in Pakistan. You can find out more about her on www.marziehabbas.com and follow her on social media–
PRIZE 37: 30 Minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat and a copy of WE LOVE FISHING from author ARIEL BERNSTEIN
Ariel Bernstein is the author of such picture books as WE LOVE FISHING!, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and the upcoming YOU GO FIRST, a Junior Library Guild Selection, both illustrated by Marc Rosenthal. She also wrote the WARREN & DRAGON chapter book series, illustrated by Mike Malbrough. Ariel lives in New Jersey with her family. Find out more at www.arielbernsteinbooks.com
PRIZE 38: A Signed Copy of DEEP DEEP DOWN Plus a Picture Book Critique (under 1000 words, no rhyming) OR a 30-minute Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat from author Lydia Lukidis
Lydia Lukidis is the author of 50+ trade and educational books for children. Her passion for reading and writing began at a very young age, when she was a voracious reader and composed poem after poem in her journals. She volunteers as a judge on Rate your Story, co-hosts the annual Fall Writing Frenzy competition, and is an active member of SCBWI, CANSCAIP, 12 x 12, and The Authors Guild. Another passion of hers is fostering a love for children’s literacy through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools across Quebec with the Culture in the Schools program. This program is organized by the Ministre de Culture et Communications Québec and the workshops are subsidized by the Quebec Government.
PRIZE 39: An Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat and a signed copy of one of her books from author/illustrator Ellen Tarlow
Ellen Tarlow writes stories for young children, including the picture books Looking for Smile and Becoming Blue. She has been a teacher and for many years worked as an editor of early childhood classroom materials. In that job, she got to create hundreds of stories for young children. Now, she is excited to work on stories of her own. Ellen lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband, David, a painter.
PRIZE 40: Picture Book Critique or Ask-Me-Anything Zoom Chat with author Tina Shepardson
An award-winning teacher for 33 years, Tina was privileged to share her love of books with many students. She is the author of Walkout, a picture book, with Clear Fork Publishing (2020). Forthcoming is Canines Unleashed, a chapter book with CFP (2024), and The Sorry Seeds, a picture book, with Gnome Road Publishing (2024). She is an active member of 12×12 and a Rate Your Story judge. When Tina, a winter enthusiast, isn’t writing, she enjoys Upstate New York and the Catskills with her husband, daughter, and two Akitas, one snowstorm at a time. Learn more about Tina at www.tinashepardson.com.
PRIZE 41: A Picture Book Critique, Fiction or Nonfiction, Rhyme or Prose from author Jocelyn Rish
Jocelyn Rish is a writer and filmmaker who loves researching weird and wonderful animals and sharing what she learns. Her debut was BATTLE OF THE BUTTS, about ten animals that do weird things with their butts. Her latest book is BATTLE OF THE BRAINS, a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection about ten animals with mind-blowing brain abilities. When she’s not writing, she tutors kids to help them discover the magic of reading. Jocelyn has won numerous awards for her short stories, screenplays, films, and novels and lives in South Carolina with her adorable dog. Learn more at: jocelynrish.com
PRIZE 42: A Picture Book Critique (non-rhyming) from author Mary Boone
Mary Boone has ridden an elephant, jumped out of an airplane, hung out backstage with a boy band, and baked dozens of cricket cookies – all in the interest of research for her books and magazine articles. She’s written more than 65 nonfiction books for young readers, ranging from inventor biographies to how-to craft guides. Her most recent book is BUGS FOR BREAKFAST: How Eating Insects Could Help Save the World (Chicago Review Press, 2021). She has two picture books slated for publication in 2024.
PRIZE 43: A Zoom Chat and a copy of WHEN WATER M AKES MUD from author Janie Reinart
Janie is a word gatherer. She can sweet-talk a phrase here and surprise a pun there—finding the words to hold a feeling. She revels in playing with words for the sheer joy of writing, cultivating the writer/reader connection—heart to heart. A former Poetry Day Liaison for OCTELA (Ohio Teacher of English Language Arts), a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project (NWP), and member of the NWP Writers Council, Janie shares hope filled poems on her website using her own photos at janiereinart.com.
PRIZE 44: A Picture Book Critique from author Jessica Stremer
Jessica Stremer is a mom, military spouse, and author of two forthcoming nonfiction picture books – GREAT CARRIER REEF (Holiday House, 2023) and LIGHTS OUT (Paula Wiseman Books, 2024). Jessica obtained a B.S. in Biology, with an emphasis in Ecology, from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She enjoys combining her love of science and writing to create books that inspire kids to explore the world around them and beyond. Jessica received honorable mention for the SCBWI 2021 Ann Whitford Paul award, and took first place for her nonfiction entry in the 2021 Rate Your Story writing competition. When not writing, Jessica loves spending time with her family traveling, hiking, and camping. Jessica currently resides in Okinawa, Japan.
PRIZE 45: A Picture Book Critique or an Ask-Me-Anything Zoom chat from author Jocelyn Watkinson
Jocelyn Watkinson is the author of THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2022) and co-author of TRAVEL GUIDE FOR MONSTERS PART DEUX: A CANADIAN ADVENTURE (Sleeping Bear Press, Spring 2023). When Jocelyn isn’t writing in rhyme, she’s playing sports, crafting or sipping on a used to be hot cup of tea. Through her writing, Jocelyn hopes to bring a little humour into the lives of kiddos of all ages, parents and grandparents alike.
PRIZE 46: A Picture Book or Poetry Book Critique Plus a Picture Book from author Lee Wardlaw
Lee Wardlaw claims that her first spoken word was ‘kitty.’ Since then, she’s shared her life with 30 cats (not all at the same time!), and published 30 books for children and young adults, including Won Ton – A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, an NCTE and ALSC Notable poetry book, and recipient of both the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children’s Poetry and the CLCSC Myra Cohn Livingston Poetry Award.
Lee’s books have sold more than a million copies world-wide. In 2019, the CLCSC honored Lee with the Dorothy C. McKenzie Award for Distiguished Service to the Field of Children’s Literature for her work collecting 6,000 autographed children’s books to help rebuild the school libraries destroyed by the deadly inferno in Paradise, CA.
A popular speaker at schools since 1986, Lee continues to do both on-site and online workshops and presentations for students, teachers, parents, librarians, and writers.
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100048791483397
FB Personal Page: https://www.facebook.com/leewardlaw/
PRIZE 47: A Nonfiction Picture Book Critique and her new board books from author Jilanne Hoffman
Jilanne Hoffmann is the author of A River of Dust: The Life-Giving Link Between North Africa and the Amazon, a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection (Chronicle Books, July 2023). She’s also the author of two new board books for young explorers, Happy Camper and The Honey Bear Hive. Jilanne is a member of 12×12, SCBWI, and the Writing Barn’s Courage to Create community, and a member of the @StoryJammer, @PBSpree, and @SteamTeam marketing groups. She reviews children’s books from her home office in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband, son, and Wrigley-the-rescue-dog. Find links to Jilanne’s books and more info here: https://linktr.ee/JilanneHoffmann Follow her on Twitter: @Jill_SF and Instagram: @jilanne2694.
PRIZE 48: An Ask-Me-Anything Zoom plus a copy of one of her books from author Ana Siqueria
Ana thinks she’s still a child at heart, Her grandson says she’s super silly. Her family thinks she’s goofy. So, what can she do? All the adventures in her head and heart need to come out on paper. And, children are the best. Also, being a member of a Brazilian-Cuban-American family, she makes sure all her stories have latinx children. As a co-founder of @Latinxpitch, she believe all children need to see themselves in stories.
Bonus: Educators, Librarians, and parents, check some activities, including her teacher’s guide activities for her two first books. She will be completing the Abuela one soon, but most ideas can be used for Abuela too. Check them HERE.
PRIZE 49: A Picture Book Critique from author Chloe Ward
Chloe Ito Ward is a Japanese American author. A former curriculum director, she has a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Chloe has spent the last decade teaching kindergarten, where she discovered her passion for picture books. She has some *vague publishing news* in the works and loves helping authors elevate their writing. Chloe enjoys critiquing lyrical and humorous picture books.
To find out more and connect with Chloe:
PRIZE 50: An Ask-Me-Anything Zoom Chat plus a signed novel in verse from Darlene Beck Jacobson
Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl. She is the author of the middle grade historical novel WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston 2014) which is a 2015 Notable Social-Studies Trade Book from the Children’s Book Council (CBC), A 2015 Mighty Girl Pick, and The Grateful American Book Prize Honorable mention for 2015. Her middle grade novel-in-verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston 2020) is a Notable Verse Novel for 2021 from the CBC.
Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. When she’s not writing , she enjoys baking and eating pies, dancing to the oldies in the supermarket, and discovering new things. She’s caught many fish, but never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful what she wishes for.
Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators.
PRIZE 51: A Rhyming Picture Book Critique or a Bundle of Signed Books from author Erin Dealey
Erin Dealey’s original career goal was Olympic Gold Medal tetherball player. When that didn’t pan out, she became a teacher, theater director, actor, mom, screenwriter, and author of over a dozen children’s books (so far), including DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5 (Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe), and the upcoming HALF BIRTHDAY BOOK (Genius Cat / Illus. Germán Blanco) & CHRISTMAS AHOY! (Sleeping Bear/ Illus. Kayla Stark). She lives in northern California with her husband, and welcomes any opportunity to visit schools around the world. You can find her online at erindealey.com and on social media as @ErinDealey. (She will follow you back!)
PRIZE 52: A Picture Book Critique or an Ask-Me-Anything Zoom Chat from author Katey Howes
Katey Howes is an award-winning picture book author. She’s passionate about raising kids who love to read, and about helping kids recognize that they are makers, inventors, and creators! A former physical therapist, Katey is fascinated by physics and biology, reads everything from classic children’s lit to modern neuroscience, and has strong opinions about commas. wh
When not writing for children, Katey contributes to websites such as Nerdy BookClub, KidLit411, STEAM-powered Family, and Imagination Soup. She has presented at NCTE and several nErDcamps and taught picture book writing and revision at the SCBWI NJ Fall Craft Weekend.
You can hear Katey interviewed on podcasts such as Reading With Your Kids, Lu and Bean Read, and All the Wonders.
PRIZE 53: The Paula Cohen Martin Big Dreams Mentorship – for an older (over 50) un-agented and unpublished writer who has been plugging away for 5+ years and would like to work with me to polish a manuscript, pitch and cover/query letter. The mentorship includes written feedback on at least one manuscript and Zoom chats.
I created this mentorship last year after author/illustrator Paula Cohen Martin passed away right before BIG DREAMS, SMALL FISH, her debut book as an author/illustrator, launched. Paula epitomized this kid lit community – she was passionate about sharing her stories and her talent with children – she was devoted to polishing her craft and helping others with theirs. This mentorship honors her work ethic and celebrates her beautiful life.
WOW! 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 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.
As I mentioned, this year I’m partnering with my local independent bookstore, Balin Books in Nashua, NH, to continue the literacy initiative that will put books in the hands of children who need them. I’m asking each participant to purchase a children’s book when they post their entry on the Official Contest blogpost. Every book will be donated to three local schools in need – an elementary, a middle, and a high school. That way, you can buy whatever type of book you prefer – a board book, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or YA. You can buy a book written by a friend. If you are a published author, you can buy a copy of your own book and it will become part of one of the school’s libraries.
Balin Books is updating their website. To order a book, please call: (603) 673-1734 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are not able to buy a book or you’d rather not, please remember, this is not a requirement and I still want you to join the contest. But if you buy a book, either via email or over the phone, please let them know that this is for #50PreciousWords. That way, the bookstore will be able to put it aside in the #50PreciousWords pile. This is a win-win-win for the independent bookstore, for the schools, and of course, for the students. And also for the authors and illustrators of the books that are purchased.
Several author and illustrator friends have asked if they can donate their own books for the Literacy Initiative. YES! That would be lovely. I will add your name and the name of your book in a special section on this blog post. You can mail the book to me and I will deliver it to the schools when the contest is over. And if you are just stopping by to enjoy reading the contest entries and perhaps commenting on them (it’s so lovely for writers to read encouraging words!) and you’d like to donate a book to schools in need, I’d be thrilled to accept it. You can mail a book to me or order it from Balin Books for the #50PreciousWords Literacy Initiative.
Dear friends, if anyone has questions, please email me. I will be happy to answer them: email@example.com.
WE ARE ALL SO EXCITED TO READ YOUR PRECIOUS WORDS!!!!
THE 2023 #50PRECIOUSWORDS CONTEST IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED.
PLEASE ENJOY THE WONDERFUL STORIES AND STAY TUNED FOR THE RESULTS!!
Fun story Robin. Rooster is sure to keep her up! Good luck!
Thank you, Diane! 🙂
THE SNOW BALL
Stars twinkling bright
For the Snow Ball Tonight!
As flakes float by
sharing the sky
A swirling wind
Lends a hand.
Dusk dance ended.
Standing in mornings glow
Last evenings performers
Snuggled in a man of snow. ⛄️
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Vivian I’m so sorry here! I don’t know what happened. I posted my 50 words on 3/4 and it never showed up. Having trouble with word press. I realize it’s too late but I submitted. I’ll resubmit next time! I just always love this contest and try to participate every year! Love you and all that you do!
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Thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry that your lovely entry didn’t post. When a blog gets thousands of comments, wonky things happen. I did keep checking my spam folder throughout the contest and was able to rescue several entries, but I didn’t see yours. Please do enter next year…and if WordPress gives you any trouble, just reach out and I’ll be happy to post it for you.
Just donated 3 copies of “How to Dress a Dinosaur” to #50PreciousWords Literacy Initiative via Balin Books
LikeLiked by 1 person
Oh Robin! Thank you so much…that is fabulous!!!! I love that book!!!
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