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#50 Precious Words Writing Challenge is Almost Here

.

Are you ready for a whole lot of fun?

As many of you know, I’m a BIG fan of writing contests and challenges.  I love them because

  1. they encourage writers to write
  2. they push us to submit our work
  3. they engage us in the kid lit community and provide us with positive feedback and inspiration.

 

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March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Last year I put together a little contest based on Random House founder Bennet Cerf’s 1960 challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.

green-eggs-and-ham

My challenge is a bit different…yout MAX WORD COUNT for the entire story is 50.

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. So 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. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And now it’s time to DO IT AGAIN.

Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. You have a couple of weeks until you need to post your story. Here are the guidelines:

#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CONTEST

  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. The contest officially opens on Thursday, March 2nd, in a special post on my blog.
  6. Between March 2nd and March 6th, post your story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post OR post the entire story in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post. Last year, because the stories were so short, eventually, we had all of them in the comment thread. Please make sure you put your name in the post.
  7. Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Monday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
  8. Winners will be announced Thursday, March 9.
  9. Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too! The book prizes are limited to USA addresses, please.
    1. A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of last year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency!) essie

2. A seat in author Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing Making Picture Book Magic online writing class (the first writing class I ever took and it set me on the path of writing wonderful picture book manuscripts).

mpbm3. A seat in author Kristen Fulton’s incredible Nonfiction Archaeology online writing class (that was the class that opened the door for me to discover the joy of writing nonfiction picture books).

kristen

4. This next prize can be chosen by two people…there are TWO 50% off coupons for Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).

art_of_arc_v35. OR…if you have already taken Alayne’s awesome class, you can choose 50% off an in-depth critique from her (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).

6. A manuscript or query letter critique from author Rebecca Colby.

rebecca-colby

7. A picture book critique from author Lori Degman

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8. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.

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9. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein

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10. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova

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11. A book on the craft of writing from author Rosie Pova

12. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from author Annie Silvestro:

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13. A book on the craft of writing from author Maria Marshall

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14. A copy of Hello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.

tiger

15. A copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus an adorable SEAL NECKLACE from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.

lizzie-and-lou-seal-cover

16. A copy of CLAMS ALL YEAR by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.

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17. A picture book critique from me and a copy of my parent-teacher book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

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I am exceedingly grateful to all of these kid lit pros who generously donated prizes…to find out more about these wonderful people, please click on each link above to visit their websites…follow them on social media..and buy their books!!!!

Please help spread the word and share this around your social media…the more the merrier… #50PreciousWords.

Are you excited?

I am!

And I just can’t wait to read all of your precious words.

P.S. Don’t forget…this is NOT the post you will be using for the contest entries…that post will go live on March 2nd.

 

 

Will Write for Cookies: Annie Silvestro

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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ANNIE SILVESTRO

Today I’m thrilled to help you to get to know a little bit more about another 2017 debut picture book author.

Annie Silvestro is a lover of books who reads and writes as much as possible and can often be found shuffling piles of them around so she has a place to sit or someplace to put her teacup. Her picture books include BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Doubleday Books for Young Readers), MICE SKATING, illustrated by Teagan White (Sterling, Fall 2017), and THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (HarperCollins, Fall 2018). Annie lives by the beach in NJ with her husband and two boys who like to read, and a cat who does not.

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So, without further ado, let’s welcome Annie!

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

 ANNIE:

There are so many!  For a start, I loved William Steig, Richard Scarry, James Marshall, the BABAR books by Jean de Brunhoff, AMELIA BEDELIA by Peggy Parish, MADELINE by Ludwig Bemelmans. Growing older I was crazy about Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, and L.M. Montgomery.

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

ANNIE:

Don’t rush! Everything in publishing takes time and patience. Wait to submit your work until you have several stories (at least) under your belt and have spent a good amount of time reading and writing and practicing and researching.      

 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?

ANNIE:

I mostly use the computer on the desk in my office to write. Most ideas, though, start as written “drafts” in a notebook or on a scrap of paper. As nice as it is to have a notebook in my purse and next to my bed, more often than not I end up writing on an old receipt I find in the car or whatever is closest at hand at the odd moment when inspiration strikes.

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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?

ANNIE:

I like to write in the morning but a lot of times I end up writing late at night when my kids are finally asleep. I don’t have any set schedule, but since I work part time I try to use my days off as writing days as best I can. It’s easy to get sucked in by laundry, grocery shopping, etc., but I try hard to protect that time..

ME: Why do you write for children?

ANNIE:

My father is an amazing storyteller. When I was growing up, he would invent the most wonderful bedtime stories. My favorite was called The Marshmallow Pillow. He inspired me to become a storyteller myself.

Also, the books I read as a child still mean so much to me. Books are incredibly powerful and provide children with their earliest connections to and understandings of the world. What a gift to have the potential to make that type of meaningful connection! Or to make a child smile, laugh, or feel understood or comforted in some way. Not to mention the profound opportunity to encourage kindness and empathy. 

ME: Annie, 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.

ANNIE:

For aspiring writers:

Being a member of the SCBWI has been invaluable to me. I have been involved with my local NJ chapter for many years and have learned so much and made so many wonderful friends and connections. It is an incredible organization!

ME: I agree 100%. The SCBWI is an organization that stands ready to assist writers and illustrators in so many ways.…joining in the fun is the best way to learn and grow. Annie…this was so much fun…we all appreciate what you shared.

Visit Annie online at: http://www.anniesilvestro.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @anniesilvestro

And now for one of my favorite parts of Will Write for Cookies…the cookies!

Annie is sharing an unbelievable treasure with us…a recipe, actually written by her grandmother!

recipe

The photo is of my grandmother’s recipe for Anisette Biscuits (biscotti) along with my latest batch. They were my favorite treat as a child and I love baking them for my children. They never turn out exactly the same as my grandmother’s biscotti did, but I will keep trying! The smell of them in the oven brings back the very best of memories.

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Oh my gosh…I am going to gain lots of pounds this year with all of these incredible recipes!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Next week, we’ll be reviewing another 2017 picture book, THE GREEN UMBRELLA. And we are going to have a SPECIAL blog post on Monday…the COVER REVEAL for..well…that would be telling!

 Yup…2017 is a wonderful year for picture books! And I thank all of you for joining me on this journey.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bunny’s Book Club

Hello friends!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday…and I’ve got a PERFECT PICTURE BOOK for you!

But we need to make THREE announcements first.

  1. The lovely Susanna Hill is hosting her Valentiny Contest. For details on how to enter and win one of the fabulous prizes, go here.
  2. Last week we promised a copy of Andrea J. Loney’s debut picture book, BUNNYBEAR…and the winner is…

JEAN JAMES

Congratulations, Jean! I’ll be contacting you ASAP so I can give your address to Andrea.

  1. Next month we’ll be honoring Dr. Seuss with the #50PreciousWords Contest…last year we had an unbelievable 128 entries…and prizes galore. I’m putting the challenge together now…more details to follow. If you’d like to donate a picture book, book on the craft of writing, piece of art, critique, or whatever else you think would warm the heart of a kid lit writer, please contact me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com…I plan to list the prize donors and their bios and photos/book covers on the February 11th contest post.

And now…hurray…I get to tell you how much I LOVE Annie Silvestro’s debut picture book!

book-cover

BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB

Written by Annie Silvestro

Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss

Publisher: Doubleday Books for Young Readers (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Reading, libraries, friendship

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Join Bunny for a top-secret trip to the library in a story that celebrates the love of reading.

 Bunny loves to sit outside the library with the kids and listen to summer story time. But when the weather gets cold and everyone moves inside, his daily dose of joy is gone. Desperate, Bunny refuses to miss out on any more reading time and devises a plan to sneak into the library at night . . . through the library’s book drop!

 What follows is an adorable caper that brings an inquisitive, fuzzy bunny and his woodland pals up close and personal with the books they have grown to love. A warm celebration of the power of books, Bunny’s Book Club is sure to bring knowing smiles to any child, parent, teacher, bookseller, and librarian who understands the one-of-a-kind magic of reading.

And the book has received glowing praise from major reviewers:

“A sweet salute to reading.”—Kirkus

“[Annie Silvestro] makes the pleasures of reading abundantly clear.”—Publishers Weekly

“Mai-Wyss’ soft, muted watercolor scenes sprinkled with charming, expressive cuddly animals is the perfect complement to Silvestro’s enchanting story about the love of books.”—Booklist

Opening Lines:

“Bunny loved books.”

Why I like this book:

  • I love books that encourage young children to become lovers of books and reading…and this book definitely does!
  • Wonderful read-aloud!
  • Encourages parents and children to utilize the library.
  • Beautiful illustrations team perfectly with Silvestro’s text.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

bunny-paper-bag-puppet-slidePhoto courtesy: http://www.education.com

Paper bag bunny puppet

Paper bags are one of my favorite craft materials…they are inexpensive, easy to work with, and so versatile.

You will need: 1 paper bag, construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons or markets.

  1. Cut out eyes, nose, whiskers, and ears from construction paper and glue on.
  2. Use crayons or markers to add details.
  3. Kids will enjoy role-playing with the puppet.
  4. Visit https://www.education.com/activity/article/bunny-paper-bag-puppet/ for more fun activities for kids.

This book provides a unique opportunity to get a library card for your child if he or she doesn’t already have one. And please check out your local library…most libraries have an array of free activities for children and adults.

That’s all for today…but don’t forget to come back tomorrow:

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

WITH

ANNIE SILVESTRO

 

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 hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

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