EARTH DAY 2019 and a few words about #50PreciousWordsforKids

Happy EARTH DAY 2019. I can hardly believe that next year will mark the 50th Anniversary. Where were you on that day in 1970? I think Stuart and I were collecting litter at one of our favorite fly-fishing spots on the Shepaug River in Washington, Connecticut.

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It was a place like that which inspired me to write FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: An Animal Counting Book. And I was fortunate to have the amazing talent of Mirka Hokkanen to bring the story to life with her modern woodcuts. For more thoughts about how we can protect endangered animals, please hop over to Ronna Mandel’s blog, Goodreads with Ronna, and say hello – I’m chatting about Earth Day and the environment and why I wrote FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN in the hopes that it would encourage children to cherish their world and its wildlife.

We are all storytellers. One of the things that fills me with wonder and joy is when I interact with kids at schools, libraries, and bookstore events. They love listening to the story I read. But even more than that, they want to tell me THEIR stories.

And that is what #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge is all about.

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We want to encourage young kids to discover the storyteller that lives in them.

And we also want them to understand the value of each word. Continue reading

Have Books – Will Travel —————— Where in the World are Vivian, Sarah, Pippa, and Those Tobogganing Otters?

 

Hello my friends and welcome!

I wanted to share some of the events coming up on my calendar in the next few months.

February 2: Today is Groundhog Day – what will he do???? Susanna Hill, author of Punxatawney Phyllis might know.

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But if you want to know what I am doing for the next six weeks or more, here’s a brief (or not so brief) itinerary so if you are interested (and I hope you are), you’ll be able to keep track of me Continue reading

Giveaway Winner Catchup and a NEW LOOK

I’m back from Chicago, dear friends, and the extra pounds were unfortunately not in my luggage. It’s really difficult to refrain from eating all the yummy foods during this holiday season…I do try not to take seconds, but I don’t always succeed. If any of you have a great plan to keep unwanted weight off, please share. (the tips…not the weight!)

It turned out to be a working vacation…for my daughter-in-law, that is. She’s so thrilled about my picture books that will be launching next year. “You are a picture book writer,” she said. “You are full of fun and your website needs to reflect that!” And so she made the magic happen and the new banner is the result – featuring characters from two of my 2019 debut picture books, PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE illustrated by the fabulous Jill Weber and FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK illustrated by the talented Mirka Hokkanen, are frolicking around me! Continue reading

Cover Reveal: FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: An Animal Counting Book

I AM SO HAPPY TODAY!

I get to REVEAL THE COVER of my third debut picture book of 2019!

FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK

four otters cover amazon Continue reading

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

 GUESS WHAT???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovely pic and quote from Mirka

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CHALLENGE GUIDELINES

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

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

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

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

And there will be more!

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

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