The #50PreciousWords Writing Contest is OPEN: March 2-6

Strike up the band! Sharpen your pencils! It’s time to show the world that:

MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT

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Today is the day, dear friends! Ready! Set! Go!

The #50PreciousWords 2019 Writing Contest 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 three 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. To answer that challenge, Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham. 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! The next year, there were 253 entries. And last year, there were 298.

To backtrack a bit, 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.

#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. IMPORTANT: 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. But no matter how many other places you want to post your story, make sure at least one of those places is in the comment section of this blog post…and please make sure you put your name in the post because some of you have very creative emails/avatar names and I won’t know who you are. 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 Wednesday, March 6, at 11:59pm. And if you plan to ask me to post it for you, please send it at least the day before.
  7. As many of you know, I am in New Zealand right at this moment on a round the world trip of a life-time. I am hoping to announce the winners on March 16th, but I ask for your patience and understanding in case something comes up and it doesn’t happen that day. Also, although I will be posting the winners on March 16th,  I won’t start awarding the prizes until after I return home, on April 8th. But believe me, these prizes will be worth the wait! 
  8.  When I do start contacting the winners, 1st place will choose whichever prize he/she wants. Then I will contact 2nd place with the remaining prizes to choose from. And so on down the line. And here, for your dining and dancing pleasure are the wonderful prizes.

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  • A seat in Susanna Leonard Hill’s MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC: This is the first picture book writing class I took in February 2014..it was a stellar foundation and it has served me well. Susanna is an amazing mentor and a seat in her class can be life-changing!

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  • A complimentary viewing of Alayne Kaye Christan’s latest webinar: Top Ten Reason’s for Rejections.  
    If you want tips on some corrective action that you might take to improve your chances of submission success, and/or if you would like to deepen your understanding of plot and arc, this webinar is for you.

    http://www.alaynekaychristian.com/

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Alayne Kay Christian is the content and developmental editor for Blue Whale Press and an award-winning children’s book author. She is the creator and teacher of a picture book writing course, Art of Arc. She has been a professional picture book and chapter book critique writer since 2014. And worked as a critique ninja for Julie Hedlund’s 12 X 12 for three years. Alayne is a graduate of the Institute for Children’s Literature and she has spent the last eleven years studying under some of the top names in children’s literature.

 

  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Lindsay Metcalf

lindsay h. metcalf (credit anna jackson)Photo courtesy: Anna Jackson Photography

Lindsay H. Metcalf is a children’s author, poet, reporter, and former editor for The Kansas City Star. She will debut with two nonfiction picture books in 2020. In the fall of that year, Charlesbridge will release Taking the Mic: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a poetic anthology co-edited by Lindsay, Jeanette Bradley, and Keila V. Dawson, and illustrated by Bradley. It features fourteen contemporary young activists, each spotlighted by a well-known poet. Subjects include literacy activist Marley Dias, water protector Jasilyn Charger, Scout for Equality founder Zach Wahls, and immigration reformer Viridiana Sanchez Santos. Contributors include Nikki Grimes, Joseph Bruchac, Lesléa Newman, and Guadalupe García McCall. Details about Lindsay’s second nonfiction picture book will be forthcoming. To learn more about her books and paid critique services, please reach out on lindsayhmetcalf.com or on Twitter @lindsayhmetcalf.

 

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Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2019); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, 2018). Upcoming releases include Return of the Magic Paintbrush and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories (Clear Fork, 2019). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant and Blogger for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a Moderator for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Trustees at The Hewitt School and at Temple Shaaray Tefila. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy.

www.MelissaStoller.com

www.MelissaStoller.com/blog

http://www.facebook.com/MelissaStoller

http://www.twitter.com/melissastoller

http://www.instagram.com/Melissa_Stoller

http://www.pinterest.com/melissa_Stoller

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Born and raised in the Midwest, Amber Hendricks grew up reading everything she could get her hands on- including the morning cereal boxes. That passion melded into writing, and by the age of 11 she was writing and binding her own “books”.  Amber is the author of Sophie and Little Star (Clearfork/Spork 2018) and two yet to be announced picture books.  Amber has worn many hats in her career : Army wife, Mother, Visual Merchandiser, Certified Pharmacy Technician, and most recently, Childcare Professional.  But she has always circled back to her first love of telling stories.  Amber currently resides in Missouri with her husband and two children.
  • Picture Book manuscript critique from author Sherry Howard.

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Sherry Howard lives in Middletown, Kentucky, in a household busy with kids and pets. She worked as an educator, and now has the luxury of writing full time. Her debut picture, Rock and Roll Woods, released in October, 2018. And her middle grade NF, Deep Sea Divers, just released. She has quite a few books in the pipeline for publication soon.

Sherry Howard | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 Meet Kuda and Rock and Roll Woods here.

Deep Sea Divers

Julie Abery

Mother. Writer. Teacher of the very young. I live in Switzerland with my partner and Tilly, the Springer Spaniel.

I ❤️ my job (it’s not every day you get to be an honorary five year old!)

I ❤️ chocolate  (I live in Switzerland after all!)

I ❤️  walking the dog (well, I did eat all the chocolate!)

I ❤️  picture books!

If you would like to learn more about me, please visit

http://www.stormliteraryagency.com/our-authors-and-artists/

  • Picture book critique from author Tina Cho.

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Tina Cho is the author of four picture books– Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books/Bonnier Publishing August 2018), Korean Celebrations (forthcoming Tuttle 2019), Breakfast with Jesus (forthcoming Harvest House 2020), and a new sale yet to be announced. Although she grew up and taught in the United States, she currently lives in South Korea with her husband and two children while teaching at an international school.

The Girls Guide to Manners

www.tinamcho.com

 

  • Picture book critique from author Carrie Finison.

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Carrie Finison began her literary career at the age of seven with an idea, a box of markers, and her father’s typewriter. She has been writing off and on ever since, though she has (somewhat regretfully) traded in the typewriter for a laptop. Her poems and stories for children have appeared in Babybug, Ladybug, High Five, and Highlights magazines, and her debut picture book,DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, illustrated by Brianne Farley, will be published by Putnam in 2020. She lives outside Boston with her husband, son, daughter, and two cats who permit her to write in their cozy attic office. Find her online atwww.carriefinison.com or on Twitter @CarrieFinson.

  • Picture book critique from Maria Marshall

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Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature fun for children. She was a round 2 judge for the 2018 & 2017 Cybils Awards. And a judge for the #50PreciousWords competition since its inception. Two of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2016 and 2014-2015 anthologies. She is the parent of two amazing adults and lives in the Pacific Northwest with two Pixie Bob cats. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. The Picture Book Buzz

 

Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

 

  • Signed copy of book by Laura Sassi

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Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme.  Her picture books include  GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018) and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018). She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie. She is represented by Lara Perkins of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and you can learn more about her and her books at https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/

  • Signed copy of THE MASTERPIECE by Shelley Kinder

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Shelley lives in Indiana with her family and loves writing for little people. Not So Scary Jerry (2017) was her first picture book. The Masterpiece (2018) is her second. Its original version got eleventh place in Vivian’s #50PreciousWords Contest in 2016

www.ShelleyKinder.com

 

A big thank you to all of our amazing prize donors! Much appreciation to illustrator Vicky Fang whose awesome logo graces our challenge! And a grateful thank you to my dear friends and critique buddies, Maria Marshall, Julie Abery, and Diane Tulloch who will be helping me read and comment.

Last year there were almost 2000 comments – ALL OF THEM POSITIVE AND ENCOURAGING!  I am so proud to be a part of this amazing kidlit community. Our news stations and politicians could definitely learn something from us.

And before I leave you to post your stories and comment on those you have a chance to read, I thought it would only be fair if I posted my sample of a 50-word story. I hang my head in shame because I am using the same story I wrote for last year’s post. I hope you will forgive me, preparations for my book launches and trip did not allow me time to write a new one, but I did want to put up an example for those who haven’t participated before. And maybe it will be new to them!

WHY THE STARS TWINKLE (49 words)

It was Sun’s birthday.

Moon gathered paper, paint,

glitter and glue to make a card.

But Wind blew.

Glitter and glue covered the stars.

“Now I have no gift for Sun,” cried Moon.

“Twinkling stars are the best present of all,” said Sun.

And Moon glowed all night long.

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Remember, if you have any questions or concerns, please email me at: viviankirkfield@gmail

I ask for your patience and understanding if I don’t get back to you right away…but please don’t stress…if you write a story and have trouble posting it, just email me. As long as your email gets to me time stamped before the contest closes, I will make sure your story is entered. Right at this moment, I am in Auckland, New Zealand, participating in library and school story times, reading FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK, PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE, and SWEET DREAMS, SARAH! How lucky can aa girl get???

And I am so looking forward to reading all of your precious words!

 

A Couple More Giveaway Winners…and Tips on My Writing Process

Hello my friends.  This post is two-fold…I wanted to announce a couple of giveaway winners before I get too far behind again.

PLUS…I’m part of #Newin19 – a group of debut picture book authors and illustrators whose books are launching in 2019. We have a wonderful new website that will be chock full of peeks into the lives of the authors and illustrators, sneak peeks at their book covers, special events and happenings as we come into the new year, PLUS a blog where we’ll share insights and information of interest to all.

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But first, let’s get to the giveaways.

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Author Maria Gianferrari offered a copy of her brand-new picture book: OPERATION RESCUE DOG. And the winner is…

SARAH TOBIAS

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Author Beth Anderson offered a copy of her brand-new picture book: AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET: BEN FRANKLIN & NOAH WEBSTER’S SPELLING REVOLUTION. And the winner is: 

ANNIE LYNN

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Hannah Holt, author of A DIAMOND AND A BOY, offered a Picture Book Manuscript Critique. And the winner is…

KAITLYN LEANN SANCHEZ

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And last, I offered a copy of Hannah’s debut pb, A DIAMOND AND A BOY. And the winner is…

PAMELA COURTNEY

Congratulations…and a big thank you to our generous authors. I will connect you all so the prizes can be distributed.

And now, as promised, the link for the post I wrote for the #Newin19 group. The article is called: SEVEN STEPS AND A FEW SECRET INGREDIENTS:

https://newin19.weebly.com/newin19/seven-steps-and-a-few-secret-ingredients

I hope you all stop by to visit our new blog – shout-outs and shares will be much appreciated by all of these talented new authors and illustrators – I’m honored to be part of their group. To tell you the truth, I almost feel like an imposter because this is the THIRD debut picture book author/illustrator group I’ve been in…I was in PicturetheBooks 2017 and also in Epic Eighteens…but they do say that third time’s a charm. Maybe that’s why I have three books debuting next year! 

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And just a heads up…the #Newin19 group is having a Twitter chat with one of kidlit’s favorite people, MATTHEW WINNER. So please, tune in at #Newin19 on your Twitter page on Thursday, October 11th at 8pm EST/7pm CST. He’s going to be asking us all sorts of fun questions!

I hope you all have a wonderful week…I’ll see you on Friday when Melissa Stoller’s Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush is in the spotlight! And then, looking down the road for the next few weeks, Amber Hendricks’ Sophie and Little Star; Viviane Elbee’s Teach Your Giraffe to Ski; Sherry Howard’s Rock & Roll Woods; Brian Lies’ The Rough Patch; and Lisa Amstrutz’ Finding a Dove for Grandpa! WOW!

 

 

 

 

 

#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!

green-eggs-and-ham

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

I’m In Texas Today…Well, Almost!

Hello dear friends!

Author Melissa Stoller invited me to her blog today and I hope you’ll pop over there and join the chat as she asks me THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT STORIES, CREATIVITY, AND CONNECTION.

And guess what? Leave a comment on her blog and you might win a picture book critique from yours truly.

Hope to see you there!!

Please don’t forget that the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge post will go live on March 2…that is only FOUR DAYS AWAY…have you sharpened your pencils?

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Will Write for Cookies: Chana Stiefel PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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CHANA STIEFEL

TA-DA!!! I’m so happy to roll out the red carpet for today’s Will Write for Cookies author. Chana is part of the debut picture book author/illustrator group, Picture the Books 2017.

 But although DADDY DEPOT is a debut picture book for her, it is NOT the first book she has written. Chana Stiefel is the author of more than 20 non-fiction books for kids about stinky castles, exploding volcanoes, and other wild stuff.  Chana is currently writing a book about creepy critters for National Geographic Kids (Fall 2018). WAKAWAKALOCH, Chana’s semi-autobiographical picture book about a cave girl who wants to change her unpronounceable name, will be coming out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2019. More great news coming soon! Visit Chana at http://www.chanastiefel.com and her blog for authors kidlittakeaways.com, which she writes with her critique partner, Donna Cangelosi.

 Welcome, Chana! We’re so glad you stopped by today!

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

 CHANA:

Robert McCloskey, BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL

P.D. Eastman, ARE YOU MY MOTHER? & GO DOG, GO! (Can you spot my wink to this book in DADDY DEPOT?)

Virginia Lee Burton, MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL

Patricia Lee Gauch, CHRISTINA KATERINA & THE BOX (I still have my original copy with my name spelled backwards)

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

CHANA:

The warmth and support of the kid-lit community is extraordinary! When I went to my first NJSCBWI conference in 2013, I was terrified that it would be very cutthroat, with everyone vying for the attention of agents and editors. I was worried that published authors would be pushing out the newbies. But it was the opposite. Everyone was warm, welcoming, and supportive. During a Round Table, I met Donna Cangelosi, who became my critique partner, co-blogger, and soul sister. I also met dozens of other authors who have become dear friends. And I met my awesome agent at a four-minute pitch! All that in two days! Since then, I’ve joined many online kid-lit groups, like Storystorm, 12 x 12, ReFoReMo, KidLit411, Picture The Books (go 2017s!), and many more. Day or night, whatever you need—writing advice, critiques, comp titles, shoulders to cry on, comic relief, and political support—these people are there for you! And I think everyone will agree that one of the most supportive authors out there is right here…. Thank you, dear Vivian, for all you do to lift up and encourage everyone around you. Continue reading

The Winning Stories – 750 Precious Words

The 50 Precious Words Contest is over. The level of participation was bested only by the level of quality of the stories. I thank everyone who posted a story or shared about the contest. So many people commented that writing the stories and reading the entries were a great exercise in honing their writing skills…I was so happy to hear that because I know we are all on a quest to write books of precious words for children..

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Some of you suggested that it might be nice to have the fifteen winning stories in one place so they could be easily read. GREAT IDEA! I hope you all enjoy reading these as much as I did. If you find any of the entries have been deleted…those lucky stories are out on submission and I have removed them as per the author’s request.

And if you want an inside peek into the process I used to select the winners, please visit the GROG blog, where Janie Reinart asked me some probing questions: groggorg.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-peek-behind-curtain.html

  1. LITTLE TIGER by Julie Abery

Continue reading

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