#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge WINNERS

 

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CONGRATULATIONS!

The #50PreciousWords 2018 Writing Challenge was a HUGE success! You all made it so with your fabulous participation: 298 awesome stories and a comment thread that contained almost 1900 positive comments!

The guidelines were simple:

  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. Please post your story in the comment section below. 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 post. If 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.

Here are the prizes: Continue reading

#50PreciousWords 2018 Writing Challenge is OPEN!!

 

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Today is the day, dear friends! Ready! Set! Go! The #50PreciousWords 2018 Writing Challenge is now OPEN!

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For those of you who have not participated before, let me give you a bit of back story. 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. And I hope we have a great turnout again this year because I am passionate about helping others follow their dream of writing for children.

In 2012 I had a dream. I wanted to write picture books. And I wanted to be traditionally published. And one of the most important things I did was to participate in writing challenges like Susanna Hill’s contests. Why was that important? Because it got me writing. It got me revising. It got me submitting. Hmmm….writing/revising/submitting. I believe that if we do those three things enough times, our writing improves and agents and editors get a chance to see our work. And as much as I am thrilled with my own success, nothing makes me happier than to hear about the success of others in our kidlit community.

So, please sharpen your pencils. Fire up your computers. And share your #50PreciousWords with us. Continue reading

Katey Howes: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT, INFORMATION, INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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KATEY HOWES

Author Katey Howes is actually a very special person in my life. Facebook friends and fellow kidliters, we met online in writing challenges. Then, in March 2015, I noticed on Twitter that she had just signed with Storm Literary Agency. I had never heard of Storm, nor of the agent, Essie White. So, I hopped over to their website…and fell in love. And the rest is history!

Katey Howes is a fierce advocate of not just literacy, but of raising kids who love to read. She treasures those moments when books allow children to relate their experience to the greater world, or when their curiosity skyrockets from interest to obsession. Katey tries to weave her passion for nature, travel, science, and creativity, as well as her sense of wonder, into stories that make children think more deeply, explore more broadly, and laugh a little bit louder.

Katey is the author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press, Aug. 2017) and MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling, Jan. 2, 2018.) Katey is a team member at All the Wonders and founding member of Picture the Books.  You can get to know Katey better at www.kateyhowes.com or by following her on Twitter @kateywrites or on Instagram @kidlitlove. 

ME: Welcome, Katey! I’m so very excited to have you here today. I could chat with you forever, but first let’s get to the Q&A.

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

KATEY: I’ve always loved rabbits, so many of my favorite books as a child were bunny books. I still have my battered and much-loved copy of A Home For a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, as well as I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom. I think those two books shaped my illustration preferences for a long time – I still get a warm, fond feeling over illustrations that remind me of Garth Williams’ or Richard Scarry’s signature styles.

 

As an older child, I gravitated toward epic adventures, from The Chronicles of Narnia to The Dark is Rising. I also loved nature stories, science fiction, and historical fiction. Prolific authors were big favorites, too – I always wanted more of the characters and voices I loved. I had shelves dedicated to L.M. Montgomery, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony and Cynthia Voight.  My fondness for bunnies continued – I’ve read my copy of Watership Down (given to me by my middle school librarian) so many times that the cover completely fell off.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

KATEY: I wish I had known how much a manuscript changes from inception to publication!  I must have wasted hours agonizing over illustration notes that wouldn’t matter to the illustrator, word choices that would change ten times after acquisition, word counts that would expand and shrink over rounds of revision. It’s important to realize that, while every detail is important, none is immutable, and that other voices and opinions and viewpoints will influence the manuscript many times before it sits on a bookshelf. I could have spared myself a lot of heartache and headaches if I knew that sooner.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

KATEY: I prefer peace and quiet to write. For a long time, the only place I could really find that was in my little office in the basement. Now that we’ve moved to a more rural location, I can sit on my screened porch without interruption from anyone but the birds. It’s perfect.  I jot ideas in notebooks and on sticky notes, and I sketch out rough dummies by hand, but I prefer to do the real drafting of a manuscript on my laptop. There’s an option to turn the keystroke sound off – but I like it on. Loud. That tappity typing sound makes me feel very productive.  

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ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

KATEY: In the summer, my family keeps me busy, and while I have time to write, it has to be flex-time. Once the kids are back in school, I try to focus on writing, revising, studying, reading, promoting, and all that jazz from 8:30am until 3pm. I’m not much good at writing in the early morning hours (by which I mean all hours before my third cup of coffee) but I find I can use that time to read and critique my CP’s manuscripts while I load up on caffeine – and their work usually inspires me to buckle down and create my own. If the day goes according to plan, I take what I call “a writer’s nap” around two in the afternoon. With no plans to actually sleep, I curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket, set a timer for 20 minutes, and give my brain permission to drift and dream. I find a lot of solutions to writing problems that way, and always feel reenergized afterwards.

ME: Why do you write for children?

KATEY: I don’t think I have a choice. I’ve done a lot of other things with my life –  things I’ve enjoyed, things that came easily, things that made more sense or more money – but my path keeps bringing me inexorably back to children and to books.

ME: WOW…Katey…you struck several chords with me in this Q&A. Everything you said about spending time on the illustrator notes and worrying about word choices and word counts (which are, of course, important…but not the way we agonize over them since they ARE going to change) is true. And you’ve given me a wonderful plan of action…that 20 minute afternoon siesta sounds like a great idea! But now i know you have another Great Idea…the recipe you are sharing!

KATEY: My daughters and I love to cook together. We decided to try out a new recipe to go with GRANDMOTHER THORN. In the story, Ojisaan brings Grandmother sweets from the village each time he visits. On one occasion, he brings “a parcel of sweet dorayaki.”

Dorayaki are a traditional, casual Japanese treat made of two small, sweet pancakes sandwiched around a filing of anko – a sweet red bean paste. We watched several videos (I recommend Japanese Cooking 101 for a great instructional video) and read a few recipes, tried a package of pre-made dorayaki, and then tried our hand at making our own – with a twist. This is a very easy recipe for kids to participate in – they especially loved squeezing the “sandwiches” together at the end. We hope you enjoy!

Dorayaki-New-IVPhoto courtesy: https://www.justonecookbook.com/dorayaki-japanese-red-bean-pancake/

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • 3/4 c milk
  • Fillings: Traditional: Anko (red bean paste – can be found at an Asian grocery or ordered online. We bought ours through Amazon.)

Twist: Nutella, Peanut Butter, or Jam (we used our homemade blackberry jam)

 

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and honey together.
  3. Add milk to liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  5. Spray a nonstick pan or griddle with a generous amount of cooking spray like Pam.
  6. Pour batter onto hot griddle or pan to make round, pancake-like cakes. About 1/8 cup of batter makes a nice-sized cake.
  7. Cook about 2 minutes – until the bubbles pop, leaving little holes. Flip over and cook 1-2 more minutes. Don’t let it dry out – moist cakes work best!
  8. Transfer to a plate. Cover with a wet paper towel to keep them moist until you cook all the batter.
  9. When you have all your cakes cooked, it’s time to sandwich them! Place one cake on a square of plastic wrap. Top it with a big spoonful of your favorite filling. Put another cake on top.
  10. Wrap the sandwich tightly in the plastic wrap and squeeze together. Pinch the edges to seal.
  11. Keep wrapped until ready to eat!

This is awesome, Katey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope everyone will leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of an authographed copy of GRANDMOTHER THORN, compliments of Katey!

Have a safe and happy weekend, dear readers!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: GRANDMOTHER THORN + Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!

Before I share this heartfelt story with you, we have some books to give away.

Author Alayne Kay Christian offered a copy of her chapter book, SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY. And the winner is…

KEILA DAWSON

Author Ariel Bernstein offered a copy of her debut picture book,  I HAVE A BALLOON. and the winner is…

DAMON DEAN

Author Penny Parker Klostermann offered a copy of A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE. And the winner is…

CAROLE GERBER

Author Nancy Churnin offered a copy of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN. And the winner is….

ALI EARLE PICHARDO

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL! AND HUGE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO FOLLOWS MY BLOG. YOUR COMMENTS ARE MUCH APPRECIATED! I’LL BE IN TOUCH TO CONNECT THE WINNERS WITH THE AUTHORS.

AND NOW…OUR PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY REVIEW!

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GRANDMOTHER THORN

Written by Katey Howes

Illustrated by Rebecca Hahn

Published by Ripple Grove Press (2017)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Friendship, acceptance

Synopsis:

From Amazon: Grandmother Thorn treasures her garden, where not a leaf, twig or pebble is allowed out of place. But when a persistent plant sprouts without her permission, Grandmother begins to unravel. “Her hair became as tangled as the vines on her fence. Her garden fell into disrepair. One morning, she did not rake the path.” A dear friend, the passage of seasons, and a gift only nature can offer help Grandmother Thorn discover that some things are beyond our control, and that sweetness can blossom in unexpected places.

Why I like this book:

  • Heartfelt tale that reminds me of the old fables I loved as a child.
  • Wonderful illustrations that create an atmosphere of mystery.
  • Message of friendship and acceptance subtly woven throughout the story.

Related Activities:

Gardening with Kids

gardening activities for kidsPhoto courtesy: http://www.growingajeweledrose.com

There are so many indoor and outdoor gardening activities we can do with kids. Grab an old toy truck, fill with soil, and plant some seeds.  Use empty eggshells as your ‘pot’ and store in the egg carton for stability.  Whenever you eat a fruit that has a pit, plant it…who knows what beautiful greenery might flourish. Growing things with kids helps them learn about life, death, and responsibility.

For detailed instructions on many planting activities: http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/03/outdoor-nature-gardening-activities.html

I’m excited for tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies when a very special kidlit friend of mine and fellow Storm sister, GRANDMOTHER THORN’S author, Katey Howes, will stop by to chat with us. Please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of an autographed copy of her book! And remember that Amazon reviews are important and also much appreciated by the author!

For many more picture book reviews, hop over to Susanna Hill’s website this week.