PB 14:14 – Day 9 – Top Ten Elements in Picture Books

Happy Sunday, everyone. We are continuing our countdown with Day Nine of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14.

Having loved picture books for most of my life, I’ve read quite a few. Many of my favorites contain rhyme…which isn’t surprising since rhyme is one of the Top Ten Elements found in picture books.

So today my choice is a book that includes lots of rhyme.

Title: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys

Author: Julie Hedlund

Illustrator: Pamela Baron

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Date: 2013

Word Count: 250 estimated

Top Ten Element: Rhyme


Opening Lines:

“A parliament of owls hoots in the night.

A pandemonium of parrots begins to take flight.

A troop of monkeys travels by swinging.

A colony of bats spends the day clinging.

What makes this book really special is that each page delivers a word for the group of that particular animal. Did you know that a group of peacocks is called an ostentation? Or that a group of giraffes is called a tower? Or that a group of skunks is called a surfeit? Continue reading

#PPBF – My Love For You Is The Sun

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday – I review a picture book, provide a simple fun craft you can do with your kids and then I link up with dozens of other writers, moms, librarians and other lovers of picture books on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. If you are a mom, teacher or librarian, please check out Susanna’s amazing Perfect Picture Book page with over 1000 categorized picture book reviews and activities.



I love reviewing picture books! It gives me the perfect excuse to read them myself, just in case I can’t find a willing child-listener. But most of all, I love reviewing picture books written by my friends! Julie Hedlund, founder of the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, has a beautiful new picture book out – and I just had to tell you about it.



Written by Julie Hedlund

Illustrations by Susan Eaddy

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing (2014)

Ages: 0 and up

Themes: Parent-child love, unconditional love, nature


Opening Lines:

“My love for you is the sun,

Rising to your tender heart.

It shines on you when we’re apart.” Continue reading

Julie Hedlund – Will Write for Cookies







I connected with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor several years ago when I hesitantly wriggled my writing toes in the waters of kid lit. There was a strong community that was building around Julie’s 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge – write a picture book draft every month for a year – what a novel idea! I took a deep breath, pinched my nose, and jumped in – and the rest is history. Julie Hedlund is a trailblazer…from an app of her first picture book, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys to a Kickstarter Campaign for her latest one, My Love for You is the Sun. Her Renaissance Writer’s Retreat in Florence, Italy is an opportunity of a life time that I hope one day to attend. Best of all, she is a friend to all writers and illustrators. She speaks at SCBWI and other conferences and generously shares her knowledge and expertise. I finally got to meet her at a Peter Brown book event in Denver, right before I moved from Colorado. I’m thrilled she agreed to participate today – so, without further ado…here’s JULIE!



Welcome, Julie! Thanks again for being here. I know you’ve got a lot to say, so I’ll start with the first question.

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


Julie: Well that’s an easy one – Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss. It’s funny because I don’t remember reading very many picture books as a child. I lived in a small town in Northern Michigan, and when I was little, we just had a tiny library with an even tinier children’s book session. But somehow I read (devoured more like) every Dr. Seuss book. 


The first illustrations I remember loving were Hilary Knight’s in ELOISE, which is also one of the first books I owned. Oh how I pored over them for hours and hours. And you know what? I still do! 


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


Julie: I don’t mean to sound discouraging, but I wish I had known that the writing never gets easier. Other things about the business get easier, but not the writing. Every book is its own being, comes about in a unique way, and uses pieces of your heart and brain that haven’t been used before. I spent a lot of time worrying that I just wasn’t “getting it” because I found each manuscript as challenging as the next. I hope by sharing this, others can be spared some frustration and self-doubt. 



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


Julie: I have a desk that faces out to my yard and the Rocky Mountains beyond, so I can’t complain. I do most of my physical writing on a computer, but the truth is I do the vast majority of my writing in my head. I know that sounds like a copout, but because I ruminate over stories for so long, many times by the time I sit down to write I’m usually able to knock out a complete draft or a full revision. Not that the first drafts (or revisions) are always good mind you, but they’re usually fully-formed.


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?


Julie: No official schedule here. I WISH I could be that type of writer, and believe me I’ve tried. What works for me is deadlines. Imposing deadlines on myself was the primary motivation for creating 12 x 12. It’s also why I attend as many workshops and courses as I can. For example, this winter I was preparing for Jane Yolen’s picture book boot camp. You can bet your booty I was writing up a storm to get ready for that one! 


ME: Why do you write for children?

Julie: Because once I had children of my own, I fell 100% in love with picture books.  To end with the beginning, I think it’s because I don’t remember reading many of them as a child that I was so overjoyed to discover their beauty and sophistication. Also, I truly believe books change children’s lives for the better. The idea that one of my books might mean the world to a child is all the motivation I need. Plus, writing for children is just plain FUN! Right now I have a dragon, a talking stick, a cowgirl in medieval times, and dancing dogs as just a few of my main characters. Lucky me!



ME: Please share any tips that will help aspiring writers/illustrators or anything else you feel would be of interest.


Julie: Advice for aspiring writers…it’s not very sexy – but my advice is to be patient. The most common trait I see in newer writers is a huge sense of urgency to be published, to “make it,” to grab the brass ring. Even worse is when that desire turns to entitlement — that they deserve to be published NOW and WHY is it taking so long? 

I think this mindset comes from a mistaken view that once they get that publishing contract, or the agent, or the first foot in the door, the world will open up to them and the struggle will be over. I understand that deep desire, I do. I’ve been there. But now that I’m on what other people perceive to be the “other side,” I can tell you there is no brass ring. The second book isn’t easier than the first. Your agent won’t like everything you write and his or her submissions on your behalf will still get rejected. There will be bad reviews. Days when the writing just won’t come. The only people who make it in this business are the ones who are in it for the long haul. You have to love the writing for itself and trust that the rest will come. I HIGHLY recommend all your readers go out and pick up a copy of TAKE JOY by Jane Yolen. She says this all far better than I ever could. 🙂


Now, after all that I think we deserve a treat. For me, digging up a recipe was the most challenging part of writing this post. While I love cooking, I’ve never been a baker, and especially not now that I have the added challenge of high altitude in Colorado. But I do love these Bourbon Balls. AND, they don’t require baking. 🙂


Bourbon Balls – Makes about 25

6 oz vanilla wafers

1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts if you prefer)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 tbsp honey

1/2 cup bourbon

1. Put cookies in a plastic bag and crush them finely with a rolling pin. Put the crumbs in a large bowl and add the nuts, cocoa powder and half the confectioner’s sugar. Add the honey and bourbon. Stir until mixture forms a stiff paste. Add a little more bourbon if needed.

2. Shape the mixture into small balls. Place on a platter and chill until firm.

3. Roll the balls in the remaining confectioner’s sugar, then chill for 15 minutes. Then roll again in the sugar.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, JULIE! I know everyone joins me in a rousing cheer for all the golden nuggets you shared. In fact, I’m on my way to see if I can grab of copy of Jane Yolen’s TAKE JOY. And the Bourbon Balls remind me so much of the rum balls I used to make – yum!

If you would like to find out more about Julie, her picture books and apps, 12×12, the Renaissance for Writers or any of the other fabulous things she is involved with, please click on the links below.


  1. juliehedlund.com
    Coming Fall, 2014! MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN
    Available on iTunes: A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS(IBPA Benjamin Franklin Digital Gold Award Winner, 2014)
    Available on iTunes: A SHIVER OF SHARKS (Digital Book Award Winner, 2014)
    Founder, 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge
    Leader, Writer’s Renaissance Retreat in Florence, Italy

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Monday Writing Magic – Building Relationships Within the Kid Lit Community

Monday Writing Magic: Building Relationsips Within the Kid Lit Community

Writing can be one of the most solitary occupations. Many writers carve out time from busy schedules that often include family and job responsibilities. Setting the alarm early or staying up after everyone else is in dreamland are two ways to find ‘quiet’ time.

Even though most of us need to be ‘alone’ when we are creating, it is really important to be part of a community that can encourage, inspire and motivate…one that can provide needed resources and feedback. Two years ago, when I began blogging, I discovered a whole new world of incredible kid lit people like Continue reading

Sunday Post: Hope…The First Step to Success

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is HOPE. To hope is to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true. Hope is the first step to success. It’s important to take other steps to make sure what you hope for will actually happen.

Hope, First Step to Success, Show Me How Build Your Childs Self Esteem, www.positiveparentalparticipation.com

Many years ago, I hoped to write a book for parents and teachers. That was the first step and, in 2011, I went to Chicago for a book event at Lollie’s, one of the stores that sells that book.

This year, I hope to have some of my picture books published.

But hoping for this is only the first step. There are other steps that must be taken if I want to succeed.

One of those other steps involves Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. Last month I submitted a picture book query for a special critique from author Emma Walton Hamilton. This month, as a Golden Book member, I was able to submit a full picture book manuscript, The Boots of Dylan McGee, to agent Stephen Fraser.

Another step I’ve taken towards realizing my hope of having my picture books published is to take Emma Walton Hamilton’s online picture book writing course, Just Write for Kids. I’m only on lesson four out of eight…but I’ve learned lots already.

Entering contests and writing challenges is another important step in making this hope become reality. Last month I sent a children’s story to the Highlights Fiction Contest. In addition, I entered Nancy Hatch’s Writer’s Desk Contest with a poem about why and where and how I write.

The seven finalists were announced yesterday…and yes, I am one of them!!!!

For those of you who might not have seen it:

goals,writer's desk competition,vivian kirkfield


A writing space by any name does serve me well.

By lamplight or with sunlight streaming

Ideas flourish while I’m dreaming.

From mind to pen words quickly teeming

Pages fill with stories beaming.

In quiet or with children screaming

Cluttered desk or table gleaming

I’ve found my heaven…not to write would be my hell.

If you would like to vote, you can go here. All of the entries are great…I am honored to be among them.

As parents, we also have to instill hope in our children…and then offer them opportunities to realize those hopes. If you have the time, please watch this video of Jarrett Krosocska’s TED talk on ‘How a boy became an artist’…it is inspirational and educational and Jarrett is an amazing speaker!


How can a parent instill hope in a child?

  • Be a good role model…be hopeful about your own life
  • Encourage your child to try new things…go to museums, read books, etc.
  • Provide support when your child fails…but please allow your child to fail
  • Allow your child to pursue his or her talents and gifts
  • Spend positive time with your child

My book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers that build self-esteem, develops better literacy skills and creates a life-long parent-child bond. Isn’t that what we all hope for our children? It’s a one-stop book that provides quick and easy activities. Grab a copy! Engage your child, encourage creative expression and, most of all, have fun together!

 time after time, positive parental participation

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?


Hello 2013…Turning The Next Page

viviankirkfield,show me how,2013,new year

Happy New Year, Everyone! We say goodbye to 2012…and hello to 2013.

A new year gives us all the opportunity to:

  • Start afresh
  • Create a plan
  • Say sorry
  • Keep a promise
  • Make a vow
  • Get in shape
  • Change direction
  • Share love
  • Connect with nature
  • Eat healthy
  • Take a breath
  • Reach out
  • Stand up
  • Step in
  • Work smart
  • Practice time-management
  • Smile more
  • Move forward

I’m excited to be taking part in several writing challenges for 2013:

Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 (to write 12 picture book drafts in 2013)

Alayne Kay Christian’s Sub Six (to submit 6 picture books in 2013)

Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (to review a picture book every Friday)

Nancy Hatch 1st ever SLTW Writing Contest

Highlights Fiction Short Story Contest (thank you, Hannah, for the heads-up about this)

I’ll also be doing Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write for Kids online picture book writing course that I won as part of Julie’s 12×12 Prize Extravaganza.

And I’ve just found another challenge that will add some balance to this picture book writing/submitting frenzy…No/Low Spend and De-cluttering January Challenge  sponsored by Carla at My 1/2 Daily Dozen

I’ve been wanting some encouragement and support for these tasks…not sure which will be more difficult…budgeting or throwing away stuff we don’t need! I actually think it will be the de-cluttering. But I know that a less cluttered workspace can mean less stress and more efficient use of time…no more hunting for hours for that slip of paper with the important story ideas. If these are areas where you need help, check out Carla’s link above.

So, this is my plan:

  • Stick to our budget by trimming spending to only necessary items.
  • Reevaluate at the end of the month to see if more cutting is necessary.
  • I already cook/bake almost everything myself…I treat myself to take-out Indian once a month.
  • Go through the house…one drawer, cabinet, closet at a time…perhaps there is money to be made (which will help the budget) by selling stuff we no longer need/want/use.


I’ve connected with the most amazing people…writers, photographers, artists, teachers, librarians, moms, dads and kids…I thank all of you for visiting my blog and commenting on my posts.

We donated 20 copies of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking to libraries in 8 states and 3 provinces in Canada.

We also donated 12 copies of Show Me How to schools in the US and Canada.

new year,vivian kirkfield,2013,show me how

A portion of the proceeds from my book sales went to several children’s organizations:

  • JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)
  • Bess the Book Bus (a mobile literacy outreach)
  • STAR (Sit and Read Together…a literacy program funded by CPCD in Colorado Springs)
  • Books of Wonder (for renovation of this NYC indie children’s bookstore)
  • Kids Are Heroes (recognize children all over the world who reach out to help their community)
  • Reach Out and Read (nationwide program that connects books and kids via pediatricians)

As most of you know, there are big changes in my life…I am retired as of January 1st.

What does that mean?

As my son so aptly wrote, “We wish you all the best as you turn the page to the next chapter in your book of life.”

I could not have said it better!

So on this first day of the New Year 2013, I wish all of you the best as you turn the page to the next chapter in your book of life!

Sunday Post: Christmas…A Holiday of Gifts

positive parental participation,show me how,vivian kirkfield

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is CHRISTMAS.

Christmas is a holiday that is all about gifts!

vivian kirkfield,positive parental participation,show me how]

Christmas: Gifts for good boys and girls!

 vivian kirkfield,show me how,positive parental participation,three wise men

 Christmas: Gifts for the Baby Jesus!

What’s the best gift you can give your young child? Your love and your positive parental participation in some simple activity like reading a picture book or doing an easy arts and crafts project.

And now some “gifts” from me to you…links that might be helpful.

Are you needing a picture book, but don’t know which one to pick?

Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Page

Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking

Are you a writer of children’s stories who needs inspiration, motivation, encouragement and support?

Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2013

Alayne Kay Christian’s Thirty-One for Fun

Alayne Kay Christian’s Sub Six

Happy Holidays…and May the New Year Bring Good Health and Much Joy to All!

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

time after time, positive parental participation


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