Category Archives: GIVEAWAYS

Perfect Picture Book Friday PLUS Looking Back, Moving Forward, and the WInner is…

Today is Friday, December 30, 2016…which is significant for several reasons.

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday…so I’ll be reviewing a wonderful picture book.

But I’ve got a couple of other things to tell you, so, hold onto your hats! Today’s post is chock full of good stuff!

12-days

First of all, for the last several years, Julie Hedlund has gifted the kidlit community with the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. This daily video prompt gives you a chance to take a look at your accomplishments, pat yourself on the back for your successes, as well as your failures…because failures mean that you are one step closer to reaching your goals. There is still time to join in – this is the type of challenge that can help you get on the right track for 2017. And her post, The Anti-Resolution Revolution, is a must-read. As per her suggestion, here is a short list of what made me smile in 2016:

  1. There was a fabulous turnout for my #50PreciousWords writing contest in March that celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss. I expected perhaps a dozen friends to submit stories…but in the end, we had 128 awesome entries. I was blown away with the quality of the stories…and fifteen people walked away with prizes…a critique with my incredible agent, Essie White, a seat in Kristen Fulton’s Nonfiction Archaeology class, a critique from me, and a dozen brand-new books. As many of you know, the writer who won first place chose the agent critique and is now represented by Storm Literary Agency! Which just goes to show that entering contests and writing challenges is definitely a valuable step toward publication. I’m already planning the 2017 contest and hope to see all of you there. If you have something you’d like to offer as a prize (critique, signed art, book), your donation will be much appreciated.
  2. In April, I attended my first real SCBWI conference…in Chicago. It was fantastic. And in July, I spent a glorious week in Georgia at the WOW Retreat.
  3. Sweet Dreams, Sarah became available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and several Indie bookstore sites…and the cover is all I could have hoped for. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in this business, there was a delay and the publication date has been pushed back till 2018. But I am turning lemons into lemonade and using this time as an opportunity to lift up the picture books that will launch in 2017.
  4. With the accountability of 12×12, I wrote 12 picture book drafts and revised them and others.
  5. Several of my manuscripts received very positive editor feedback…and I revised two of them for specific editors. Three stories are still out on submission and hopefully we will hear good news in 2017.
  6. Three new nonfiction picture book manuscripts are ready to send to my agent – who knows – maybe one of them will catch an editor’s eye. What I am finding out is that this business is 100% subjective…and if you’ve written a great story, there is an editor out there who WILL fall in love with it.
  7. Thanks to the prayers and positive thoughts of friends and family, I sailed through major surgery this summer.

I’ll stop with lucky number seven!

storystorm

Another thing I want to mention is that since 2009, countless writers and illustrators have participated in Tara Lazar’s month-long challenge, PiBoIdMo. But for 2017, she’s changed things up…so grab your snow boots and get ready for a blizzard of ideas and inspiration…STORYSTORM is on the horizon and it’s time to sign up.

I can tell you from my own experience that keeping a journal or notebook of ideas really works…my first Picture Book Idea Month notebook contained an idea about a pristine mountain river where animals converged…I wrote that picture book draft for 12×12…and, after dozens of rounds with critique buddies, the polished manuscript went out on submission and got lots of positive feedback from editors. Right now we are waiting to hear back from a major house…but whatever the outcome, it’s an indication that the process works and these challenges can help move you along towards your goals.

Plate of Cookies

Last of all, I want to share some changes I’m making in my blog posts. For the past four years, my Will Write for Cookies series has been honored to interview dozens of authors and illustrators. On the third Saturday of every month, we’ve all enjoyed an informative Q&A with Katharine Holabird, Iza Trapani, Duncan Tonatiuh, Josh Funk, Susanna Leonard Hill, Sylvia Liu, Jill Esbaum, and so many more. Each guest has shared an inside peek into their writing process, what they wished they had known from the start, plus a favorite cookie or other sweet treat recipe. And for 2017, it’s going to get even better!

When I discovered that the publication date of Sweet Dreams, Sarah was being pushed back to February 2018, I knew I had to find a way to turn disappointment into something positive. What about featuring ALL the 2017 picture books on Perfect Picture Book Friday and their authors and/or illustrators on Will Write for Cookies? YES! YES! YES! And many of those posts will offer a book giveaway as well!

p-and-w

Speaking of giveaways, it’s time for one of those, I believe. Earlier this month, we were fortunate enough to have a Q&A with author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh. And I promised a giveaway of his newest picture book, The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanos.

AND THE WINNER IS:

 

KATHY HALSEY

Congratulations, Kathy…PM me or email me with your address and I will get this beautiful book out to you ASAP.

And now, dear friends and readers, since many people take the opportunity of the New Year to make plans to reach their goals and follow their dreams, our Perfect Picture Book is all about believing in yourself and following your dreams.

cow-who-climbed-a-tree

THE COW WHO CLIMBED A TREE

Written and illustrated by Gemma Merino

Publisher: Albert Whitman (2016)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Be true to yourself, follow your dream, ingenuity

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Tina isn’t like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren’t convinced―and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her…and soon discover a world of surprises!

Opening Lines:

“Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.”

Why I like this book:

  • I read this story to my grandson and he asked for it the next day.
  • I love the whimsical illustrations.
  • Most of all, I love the simple, concise way the author is able to convey the emotions of Tina and the message of the importance of following your dreams.

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I’m wishing all of you a New Year that blossoms with joy, good health, and much success! See you next year!

 

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

Emma Bland Smith: Will Write for Cookies PLUS GIVEAWAY

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot-1

EMMA BLAND SMITH

Joining Storm Literary Agency connected me with a wonderful family of awesome authors and illustrators. They are smart and super supportive. And I’m thrilled to welcome one of them to Will Write for Cookies.

Emma Bland Smith is a mom, librarian, and writer. She was born in Scotland, grew up in San Francisco, and has lived in New York, Santa Barbara, and Paris…no wonder she wrote a book called Journey. Now she’s back home in San Francisco, living a block away from the house she grew up in. Her past careers have included magazine editor and French teacher. Today she works part-time as a librarian and fills the rest of her time volunteering at her kids’ school, leading a Girl Scouts troop, driving to baseball practice, cooking, gardening, and writing.  

Emma, I’m not sure how you find time for the writing with all those other activities…but thank goodness you do. I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Emma’s BRAND NEW picture book, Journey: The Most Famous Wolf in the West (click here to read my Perfect Picture Book Friday review)…so please stick with us throughout the post and then leave a comment at the end.

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

 EMMA:

I was definitely a book worm, and the first books I remember reading on my own, starting in about first grade, were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. So many lines from those books, along with the evocative illustrations by Garth Williams, are ingrained in my mind! After that, the book I remember the most clearly is Ramona the Pest. I used to get so indignant on Ramona’s behalf, when the she got in trouble for pulling Susan’s curls! I loved Henry Higgins, too. I remember practically dying of anxiety when Henry smuggled Ribsy onto the bus in a box, and Ribsy slowly began to wiggle his way out of the box, to Henry’s horror. The way that Beverly Cleary makes the reader pull for her characters is extraordinary. When I got older, I read the entire Green Gables series over and over until they fell apart. In about sixth grade I began reading James Herriot and Gerald Durrell, and their beautiful imagery, compassion, humor, and language were very influential for me years later, when I began to write.

Picture books I remember from childhood and still love include Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, Charlie Needs a Cloak, Dogger (and anything by Shirley Hughes), and Madeline.

 ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

EMMA:  

I should say that I wish I had known what a long haul this journey would be. I started writing about seven years ago, and of course I expected to get published right away! However, if someone had told me that my first book wouldn’t come out for seven years, I probably would have given up, so maybe it’s for the best that I started out so naïve!

I wish I had read more books and blogs about picture book writing, attended more conferences, and taken more classes. It took me a few years to jump into the kidlit world with both feet. Now that I’m here, I learn something every day.

journey-emma-bland-smith

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

EMMA:

I write either on the sofa or out in the backyard, with my computer on my lap. (Sitting outside can be very effective. It’s harder to get out there, but once I’m there, I’m not as distracted by constantly nagging housework, paperwork, and other obligations.) The only time I’ll write with pen and paper is when I’m out and get inspiration on the run. Then I’ll frantically make notes on notebooks, receipts, anything I can find. (I highly recommend something like this! If I don’t jot things down, I will forget them, no matter how sure I was that they’d stick with me!)

ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

EMMA:

As soon as my kids are at school, I sit down and dig into any real writing I might have on my plate. I don’t write on schedule and my work is pretty varied. On any given day, I might work on critiques for my critique partners, revise a manuscript and send it to my agent, start something new, or work on an article for Red Tricycle. And there are plenty of days I don’t write at all. I definitely work as the muse strikes, but I don’t procrastinate much, so if someone asks me for a revision, I usually get it done within a few days.

ME: Why do you write for children?

EMMA:

I write for children because I want to be part of what I think is the most beautiful, dynamic, challenging literary field. When my kids were young, I was reading them all these wonderful books, and I remember being so amazed at the quality of children’s literature. One of the first picture books that made me want to be a children’s book writer was Someday, by Alison McGhee. That book just slayed me with its lyricism and ability to touch the emotions. Another inspiration was the Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant. I would love to create books that grab readers the way these do.

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

EMMA:

One thing I’d recommend to beginning writers is to think about looking for an agent first, rather than submitting mostly to publishers. Although some writers do land a book contract on their own, unagented, it’s hard. Once you have an agent, you have someone on your side, who has access to all the houses, and who will take care of all submissions, so that you can focus on writing.

And the single most important thing new writers can do is join a critique group! It can be in person or online. I learn so much from critiquing and reading other people’s critiques. It can be a little hard to receive criticism, and sometimes I need a few days to digest major edits. (The worst is always hearing that everyone likes the concept and the beginning, but that the middle and ending don’t work at all!) But eventually, I end up seeing their points, and I revise the manuscript and send it right back for another round. Most of my manuscripts simply wouldn’t exist without the help of my critique partners!

Oh, Emma! I totally agree with you…critique groups are such an important part of our writing journey. And I thank you so very much for participating in Will Write for Cookies…this was so much fun!

 And for all of you who want to find out more about Emma and her awesome book or get in touch with her:

Twitter

Facebook

Author Website

Okay friends…please take a breath…because we are not finished yet. Emma has shared one of her favorite cookie recipes.

Lace Cookies

cookies

Our whole family looks forward to these cookies every year at the holidays! The recipe, from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, is incredibly easy to make, and after you try one, it will become one of your regulars, too!

1 ½ cups uncooked oatmeal

1 ½ cups light brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup melted butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the oatmeal, sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then add the eggs and vanilla and combine. Arrange the batter by teaspoonful, about 2 inches apart, on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly, removing the cookies from the cookie sheet with a spatula as soon as they are firm.

What a perfect recipe for the holidays…a million thanks, Emma!

And now, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Emma’s beautiful picture book. If you could take a journey to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…and all good wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving.

Prince Bear and Pauper Bear…Teaching Kids About Love and Friendship

How can we teach kids about love and friendship?

  • By being great role models and treating our friends with love and respect
  • By giving our children respect and attention and expecting the same from them
  • By reading stories that deliver this important message

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday…an opportunity for me to share a book with you that teaches kids about love and friendship…come and join Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

www.positveparentalparticipation.com

February is a month that is chockfull with special days. Thursday, February 14 is Valentine’s Day…which is all about love…but it is also International Book Giving Day…which is all about getting books into the hands of children who have none.

I want to help young children become lovers of books and reading…and a child must have a book in order to fall in love with it.

www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Last year, I donated to Reach Out and Read, Sit Together and Read and Books for Africa.

In honor of International Book Giving Day and Valentine’s Day, I am donating $25 to provide books for kids…but I would like your help in choosing where the money goes. Do you have a favorite organization that supports this cause? Please leave a comment on my blog and tell me why your favorite should get the money. I will use Random.org and the winner will be announced in next Friday’s post.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book celebrates love and friendship…and is written by a children’s author and blogger I connected with last year. Emily Lim is now a member of 12×12 and is one of the featured speakers at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content. If you’d like to find out more about her and the many beautiful books she has written, you can visit her blog. When the book first came out, Emily appeared on TV, talking about how she came to write the book.

www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Prince Bear and Pauper Bear

Written by Emily Lim

Illustrated by Neal Sharp

Publisher: Mustard Seed Books (2007)

Ages: 2 and up

Themes:

Friendship, love, self-esteem, believe in oneself, caring about others, sharing

Synopsis:

From Amazon’s book page: “Pauper Bear is a sad little teddy bear who longs to be loved whilst Prince Bear is a proud teddy bear who loves himself. When their paths take different turns, the two bears discover that things do not happen as they expect… Prince Bear & Pauper Bear has been awarded the Bronze Medal (Children’s Picture Books category) at the 2008 IPPY Awards (World’s largest independent publishers book awards).”

Why do I like this book:

All kids love teddy bears…and here is a timeless story about two bears who are as different as day and night. Kids will cheer when Pauper Bear is carried home and lovingly cared for by his new owner. The illustrations are sweet and clever and clean and simple, with muted tones (a perfect bedtime story) and bold lines. The  pictures are so expressive that we can tell what the teddy bears are thinking, even without reading the words. The author has given us a fresh perspective on the classic story of The Prince and the Pauper, with a book that kids will want to hear over and over again. Unfortunately, the book has limited availability here in the States…I was lucky to get a copy on Amazon and I plan to use it for the fall semester in my school programs.

Related Activities:

TEDDY BEAR PAPER BAG PUPPET

www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Photo courtesy www.dltk-kids.com

You will need: 1 paper lunch bag, construction paper, markers or crayons, scissors and glue.

A paper bag is an amazing craft resource. Depending on the age of the child, you can make this puppet as simple or as intricate as you wish. If you want templates for the arms, ears, etc…please go to: http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/teddy/mbearbag.html

If not, you can just cut out approximate-sized pieces from a piece of construction paper.

  1. Cut out arms, ears, eyes, etc. from construction paper.
  2. Glue onto the paper bag in the appropriate places.
  3. If you’d like to make this a Valentine Bear Puppet, you can cut out a heart and glue onto the front, instead of the bow tie or the stomach…wherever you choose.
  4. Make one with your child so that you each will have one…then you can role-play…retelling the story of Prince Bear and Pauper Bear.

Great teddy bear Valentine’s Day crafts from DLTK: http://www.dltk-holidays.com/valentines/mheartbear.htm

More teddy bear Valentine’s Day drafts here: http://parenting.leehansen.com/holidays/valentine/kids_valentines/index.shtml

And more here: http://dreamlandmagic.soniacjensen.com/valentine/valentine_teddy_pin.html

Wonderful resource website here: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/bears-crafts-ideas-activities.html

Last link for teddy bear Valentine’s day crafts here: http://www.ehow.com/info_12100662_teddy-bear-valentine-arts-crafts-preschoolers.html

Okay…I lied…here is one more: http://easypreschoolcraft.blogspot.com/2012/07/teddy-bear-puppet-craft.html

And this one has a template you can print out for a bear with movable arms and legs: http://www.storyplace.org/preschool/activities/takehometeddy.asp

www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Show Me How! No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Click this link to purchase a copy

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