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!

 

Susanna Hill’s 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest

One of the most important things a writer can do is…WRITE!

Perhaps you set aside a large chunk of time every day to write. Or maybe, because of family and other obligations, you snatch precious minutes whenever you can.

Jane Yolen advises writers to BIC…Butt in Chair.

And one way that encourages writers to do that is to enter contests and writing challenges. One of my dear friends and favorite picture book authors, Susanna Leonard Hill, is holding her 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest.

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If you are interested in joining in the fun, there is still time to do so. And even if you aren’t able to participate, you’ll have so much fun reading all of the entries.

The rules are simple: Write a 100 word Halloween story for children using the words monster, candy-corn, and shadow. For more details, go to Susanna’s website by clicking the link above.

I decided to take a trip around the world via the internet to see how Halloween is celebrated in other countries. Interestingly enough, it began in Ireland and has spread, in various forms, to many parts of the world. In some places it is celebrated on different days and in others, it is a more religious holiday to honor the dead. But costumes and candy seems to be present in most of the celebrations.

Here is my entry. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Maybe I need to do a picture book about HALLOWEEN AROUND THE WORLD.

THE HALLOWEEN CONNECTION (100 words)

It’s time to search for Halloween

Around the globe and in-between.

Jack-o-lantern in the shadow

Glowing eyes and burning smile.

Trick or treat,” a monster shouts.

Halloween—American style

Chinese children say Teng Chieh.

Lanterns glow to light the way.

Special foods are offered up.

Spirits come on Halloween Day.

In Mexico, kids decorate

With posies bright and candy-corn

And shout “Queremos Halloween.”

They trick or treat from dusk till dawn.

Disguised, Greek children come to call.

“Do you know who I am?” they ask.

A guessing game begins until

The treats are served and they unmask.

Hurray for Halloween!

Haloween-worldwide-web-e1445546580957Photo courtesy: https://www.google.com/search?q=halloween+around+the+world&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjqk-qr3ZTXAhVHSyYKHR3MBJ8Q_AUIDCgD&biw=1094&bih=408#imgrc=ZK8axJblvt5XUM:

And hurray for Susanna Leonard Hill and her wonderful contests!

Susanna Hill: Will Write for Cookies – It’s Not Easy Being Green…or Experienced

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Susanna Hill (3)

SUSANNA LEONARD HILL

DO YOU WANT TO WRITE PICTURE BOOKS, MG, YA? wELL, FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS…BECAUSE YOU ARE IN FOR A WILD RIDE. Luckily, in this kidlit community, we have a couple of amazing mentors who are always there to help. ..even in the midst of busy book blog tours!

Susanna…thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us today! Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! The floor is yours!

Hi Everyone!

(And Vivian, thank you so much for inviting me for cookies again!  You know what a sweet tooth I have!)

Vivian and I thought that today perhaps we’d have a frank discussion about the writing life. Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Road That Trucks Built PLUS Giveaway

Welcome all.

Rev up your engines..it’s time for a special Perfect Picture Book Friday.

We are on tour with the wonderful Susanna Leonard Hill….and her newest book for kids, THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT, is about to head on down the road.

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the giveaway – comment on ALL the blog stops of #trucksontour, and you’ll win a special prize.

And speaking about giveaways and prizes…we’ve got a copy of MARIGOLD BAKES A CAKE that the incredible Mike Malbrough is giving away. And the winner is…..

BETH GALLAGHER

Congratulations, Beth! Mika and I will be in touch to get you the book.

And now back to our regularly scheduled post.trucks cover

THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT

Writen by Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by Erica Strolich

Published by Little Simon (2017)

Opening lines:

“This is the traffic that’s moving too slow. Cars and buses have nowhere to go. What is the answer? I’m guessing you know.”

Synopsis:

Bulldozers, scrapers, graders, and more are hard at work making sure that every car, truck, and motorcycle can get where they’re going fast! With smooth writing by Susanna Leonard Hill and heavy-duty illustrations by Erica Sirotich, The Road That Trucks Built shows the importance and effectiveness of teamwork in a picture book that’s perfect for on the road readers.

Why I like this book:

  • Great read aloud!
  • Bold colorful illustrations. Kids will LOVE the anthropomorphic vehicles.
  • And they will also love the sunoke rhyme that invites participation.
  • PLUS, on the cover is the COOLEST wheel that spins and shows kids the various vehicles they will be reading about.

RELATED ACTVITIY:

Construction Vehicle Mobile

sconsmobilePhoto courtesy: http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/transportation/crafts.html

For detailed instructions, please go to: http://www.dltk-

kids.com/crafts/transportation/crafts.html

Take a walk with your kids…how many construction vehicles do you see on the road?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT.

For more fun, hop over to the other blog on the #trucksontour.

Truck Blog Tour Schedule

Susanna Hill: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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SUSANNA LEONARD HILL

When I started blogging back in 2011, a friend steered me to Susanna’s website. “She loves picture books, too,” my friend told me. I hopped over and discovered one of the kindest, smartest, sweetest, most generous kid lit mentors in the world!

Her picture book writing class was the first one I ever took…what an amazing foundation she gave to me! Her writing contests are legendary. Her Monday Fun-day writing prompts and Would You Read it Wednesday pitch picks encourage us to exercise our writing muscles.

I met her for the first time at the NESCBWI conference in April…what a thrill to be able to give her a hug in person.

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For those of you who may not know Susanna, I grabbed a bit from her website about page.

Susanna began writing as soon as she could hold a pencil. She used to lie on the kitchen floor and ask her mom how to spell things. She wrote her first book in 2nd Grade. It is called The Girl and The Witch and she will read it to you if she comes to visit your school!

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Her first published book was The House That Mack Built, released by Little Simon in 2002

And the rest is history. She has published almost a dozen more books…including the wildly popular Punxsutawney Phyllis series and has many more coming down the pike. I know you are all going to be thrilled with this post because Susanna wanted to share a bit about how she gets her ideas.

I’m excited to welcome her…take it away, Susanna!

Hi Everybody!

Thanks so much for stopping by Vivian’s blog today!

As many of you know, I have the privilege of visiting a number of blogs this month as I introduce some new books to the world.  Vivian kindly invited me to join her for cookies… an invitation I will never turn down  … and we decided that it might be fun to talk about where ideas come from. Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles AND When Your Lion Needs a Bath PLUS Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday. I’m thrilled to be reviewing two brand-new books by one of my favorite kid lit mentors, Susanna Leonard Hill. And the picture book awesomeness doesn’t end there. Susanna is on a whirlwind book blog tour for the next couple of weeks. Don’t miss out on any of the blog tour stops BECAUSE there is going to be a SPECIAL PRIZE from Susanna at the end. Get an entry every time you comment and share on social media with the hashtag #whenyourbooks.

 I’ll be reviewing ANOTHER of Susanna’s new books in a couple of weeks. PLUS, Susanna will be here for a short chat tomorrow on Will Write for Cookies.

But before the double your pleasure, double your fun reviews, let’s announce the winner of the giveaway of A BAND OF BABIES donated by last week’s guest, Carole Gerber. And the winner is…

 PATRICIA TILTON

CONGRATULATIONS, Patricia!!!

I’ll connect with you so Carole can send you the book.

And now for our review duet. With the summer upon us, I know that parents are scrambling for reading material for their kids…these will be PERFECT for the littlest listeners…and maybe the older siblings can read them to the young ones.

elephant cover

WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES

Written by: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by: Daniel Wiseman

Publisher: Little Simon (Board Book Edition – 2017)

Ages: 2-4

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

When your elephant has the sniffles, you better make sure he doesn’t sneeze! This charming and hilarious board book highlights the many ways to make an under-the-weather elephant feel better!

 Does your elephant have the sniffles? Make sure to take good care of him because you don’t want him to start sneezing. Gather up your tissues and your pillows and make that elephant feel better! But don’t get too close…or you just might end up with the sniffles, too!

lion cover

WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH

Written by Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

Publisher: Little Simon (Board Book Edition: 2017)

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

When your lion needs a bath, you have to be pretty sneaky! This charming and hilarious board book highlights the many ways to get your lion into that tub!

 Does your lion need a bath? When your lion needs a bath, you must be a little sneaky. After all, have you ever met a cat who likes water? So gather up your towels and rubber ducks and get that lion into the tub! But be careful…or you just might end up in the bath, too!

Why I like these books:                               

  • Simple text is filled with heart and humor.
  • Wonderful read-alouds!
  • Great illustrations.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Make a Paper Plate Lion

MacroniLion1RS6kPhoto courtesy: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/

WOW…I love this one…what a lot of fun!

You will need: Paper plate, spiral macaroni, glue, markers, googly eyes (optional)

For detailed instructions, please go to: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Safari-Crafts-For-Kids.html

MAKE A PAPER PLATE ELEPHANT

PaperPlateElephant5RS6kPhoto courtesy: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com

Another really creative craft!

You will need: Paper plate, construction paper,scissors, glue, marker, google eyes (optional).

For detailed instructions, please go to: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Paper-Plate-Elephant.html

Spending time with your children can be so much fun! A couple of great books, a few pieces of paper, some glue, scissors, markers…and you can build bonds that will last a lifetime.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to chat with Susanna Leonard Hill…and if you participate in Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’d love for you to leave the link to your post in the comments so that others can come and visit your blog.

Thank you for hanging out here a bit.

 Please remember to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of Susanna books! And come back tomorrow when she chats with us on Will Write for Cookies.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend!

#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge WINNERS!!!!!!

#50PRECIOUSWORDS WRITING CHALLENGE BY THE NUMBERS

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#50: Number of words each story can contain.

#251: Number of fabulous stories entered.

#234: Number of courageous writers (some did more than one story).

#2100: Number of comments on this blog post.

#3: Number of hours of sleep I got the last few nights.

#1: Number of stories created about me. WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY? SOMEONE WROTE A STORY ABOUT ME? Yes, indeed. Fellow-writer Debbie Vidovich gives a nod to the wonderful Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On.

Vivian Reads On by Debbie Vidovich

In a chair in a room,

Of her great big house,

Through a pile of stories,

But without her spouse.

Snuggled in a throw,

With her specs on tight,

She reads through the day,

And she reads through the night.

Stories so cute, so sad, so sweet.

That her heart feels full, she says,

“What a treat!”

Eyes grow weary and her head goes plop, but

Vivian reads on.

On she reads through stories galore,

Til she picks a winner and can snore once more.

 

Elizabeth Barret Browning wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways?”

Let me count the ways I love all of you.

  • You accepted the challenge.
  • You wrote your story.
  • You put your work out there for the world to see.
  • You generously and kindly commented on the other stories. Many of you lifted up other writers by commenting on dozens and dozens and dozens of stories. And I saw some names over and over again…your fellow-writers are grateful for your support.
  • You taught me so much. I learned about Pangolins from Christina Rowe and Periwinkle snails from Beth Gallagher. Joanne Roberts shone a spotlight on a mule-riding, cigar-smoking, former slave woman. And Cathy Stenquist invented a new language (tip of the hat to Du Iz Tak?).
  • Special thanks to Maria Marshall, my other set of eyes…Maria graciously agreed to join me in reading ALL of the entries so she could help me make difficult decisions. And she commented on just about every story. Your help was much appreciated, Maria! I’m extremely grateful.
  • Many of you commented that this was the FIRST time you had ever submitted your work or entered a writing contest or challenge…I am honored that you felt my platform was a place where you felt safe and comfortable. I hope you always feel that way.
  • EVERY story I read has the potential to be published…to become a book that a child will connect with. I’m really serious! I hope whether your story placed in the top thirty or not, you will PURSUE it…think about if it should be expanded. Or not (some were perfect at just 50 words). Send it to critique buddies. Because your stories are unique…with universal truths that all children can relate to. I was blown away by the quality of the entries. You did NOT make this easy for me. There were heart-wrenching stories about refugees and illness. There were hilarious stories that twisted the tongue and caused me to laugh so hard, my stomach ached.

 

These were the rules:

  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.

Are you wondering what MY guidelines were in choosing the winners?

  • Child-friendly/appropriate (EVERY ENTRY WAS)
  • 50 words or less (EVERY ENTRY WAS)
  • Had a beginning, a middle, and end…with a story arc or concept that made sense.
  • If it was rhyming, the rhyme had to be pretty spot on…no inverted phrasing or frivolous words just to make the rhyme work.
  • If it was a concept book, like a counting story, it still had to have a thread that pulled it together and some quality that would make it stand out.
  • The beginning needed to hook me and make me want to keep reading.
  • The ending needed to be satisfying whether it was an ah-ha, a haha, or an aww moment. (tip of the hat to the incredible Linda Ashman, author of dozens of books, including a fantastic writing craft book, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books).
  • Readability…I had to want to read it over and over again…and being a good read-aloud was important for the stories that were geared for the very young crowd.
  • And of course, since as you all know, this is a very subjective business, in the end, I had to like it, love it, and connect to it.
  • You’d think, with all of these necessary elements, there would have only been a few stories that rose to the top. But no. There were so many, I had to make painful cuts. Which is why I urge EVERYONE to take their story and work on it and make it the best it can be. Vet it with your critique partners. And send it to agents or editors. Because I read a whole bunch of promising children’s books that are lurking in your #50PreciousWords.

 

Thanks to generous kid lit mentors, we have some wonderful prizes. I had planned to award 21 prizes, but I just could not distill the winner’s pool to less than 40. First-place winner gets first pick of whichever prize he/she wants. Email me and I will connect you with the prize donor. And then second place gets to pick. And so on. So please be patient…it may take some time to work our way through the list. As I had mentioned previously, books, unless they are e-books will be mailed to U.S. addresses only.

  1. A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White.

essie

  1. 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. Coupon for 50% off author Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).

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5. Or, if you have already taken Alayne’s wonderful class, you can choose a coupon for 50% off an in-depth critique from Alayne Kay Christian (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).

6. A seat in one of the KidLitCollege webinars (I’ve attended a few and they are FABULOUS!) OR $19.99 off a critique, donated by Jodell Sadler, JCLA Editorial Agent and Founder of KidLitCollege. Winner choses one and will get a special code.

kidlitcollege

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

rebecca-colby

8. A picture book manuscript critique from author Lori Degman.

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9. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.

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10. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein

ariel-bernstein

11. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova

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12. A picture book critique from Maria Marshall.

maria-marshall

13. A book on the craft of writing from Rosie Pova

 

14. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from Annie Silvestro.

book-cover

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

Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

writing with pictures

 

16. A copy ofHello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.

tiger

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

lizzie-and-lou-seal-cover

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

clams-all-year

19. A SUPER HAPPY book prize package from author Marcie Colleen with copies of Super Happy Party Bears Gnawing Around and Super Happy Party Bears Knock Knock on Wood.

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20. A copy of Mutt’s Promise,  a middle grade dog adventure written by Julie Salomen…donated by author/illustrator Jill Weber.

mutts-promise-cover

21. A signed copy of Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by author Stacy McAnulty.

fuzzbuster-cover

22.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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  1. through 40: A Kindle copy of one of the following books:

Picture Books the Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas

Rhyming Picture Books the Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas

Writing Children’s Books: 1001 Creative Prompts for Stories Kids Will Love by Anthony Fredericks

Writing Children’s Books: How to Generate Thousands of Creative Story Ideas by Anthony Fredericks

 

WOW! What a generous Kid Lit community we have! I’m grateful to all of the generous prize donors…I hope you all visit their websites and buy their books!

And this has been a long post…I’m sure you are ready to get up and stretch…maybe get a snack or go throw out the trash.

Oh wait…it seems I’ve forgotten something.

AND THE WINNERS OF THE 2ND ANNUAL #50PRECIOUSWORDS ARE:

IN ORDER OF THEIR PLACEMENT (which was incredibly hard to do)..WITH THEIR STORY (because with over 2100 comments, it would be pretty annoying to have to go and find them to read them):

 

  1. DIVERSITEA by Cheryl Kim

Fancy hats,

tasty treats-

sandwiches,

trays of sweets.

Sugar cubes,

porcelain cups,

etiquette-

pinky up!

Tea for two-

Mom and me.

Formal bow,

bamboo whisks,

tatami,

matcha mix.

Mini cup

in-between

two warm hands-

powdered green!

Tea for two-

Grandma and me.

Little lady

growing up,

Diversitea

within my cups!

 

2. INSIDE THE TIDE POOL: by Sam Altmann

 

Removed by request of author – going out on submission!!

3. Dog’s Best Friend by Jean James

Snow Dog,

Show Dog

Come on with me Dog.

Sleigh Dog,

Play Dog

Ride along with me Dog.

Run Dog,

Fall Dog

Hey! Bring back my mitten Dog.

Cold Dog,

Tired Dog

Let’s lay by the fire Dog.

Sleepy Dog,

Dreamy Dog

I love you next to me Dog.

 

4. DANDELION DREAMS by Derick Wilder

Dandelion

Drifts past scampering

Squirrel

Drops nuts on friendly

Frog

Hops in pond, KER-SPLASHES

Beaver

Sinks teeth in weeping

Willow

CRASHES, startles snoozing

Hawk

Soars into puffy

Cloud

Saunters under springtime

Sun

Conjures color-filled

Rainbow

Splashes blue on

Butterfly

Softly lands on little

Girl

Makes a wish on

Dandelion

 

5. A Single Rose by Saba Negesh

New School, strange faces.

Different languages. A lonely place.

Bintu watches other children play.

Tap. Tap.

“Na’am?”

A single rose, a sweet smile.

“Hello.” “Salaam.”

“Play?” “Laa-i’b?”

“Swing.” “Arjoohah.”

“Slide!” “Mezlaaqan!”

“Crayon.” “Qalam Shama’. ”

“Book.” “Kitaab!”

“Shhh.” “Shhh.”

“Tap.” “Tap.”

“Yes?”

A single rose, a sweet smile.

“Fuh-rin?”

“Friends!!”

 

6. A Cucumber Kind of Day by Michael Samulak

Today was a cucumber kind of day.

Cool.

Crisp.

Green.

Clean.

A wee bit wet

With a hint of something sweet.

No sharp edges,

Flexible

Yet firm.

A little too long.

Maybe tomorrow will be like…

A big sweet juicy strawberry!

Today was definitely a cucumber day –

Without seeds.

 

7. The Ballad of Mary Fields by Joanne Roberts

Mary Fields comes chug-chuggin’ from the saloon,

A thundering locomotive,

Streaming smoke from her cigar.

Wolves on the trail,

Four-legged or man-sized,

Won’t slow her down.

Slapping the mail sacks across Moses’s saddle,

She rolls out of town.

Her smile wide as Montana skies,

Freest soul ever born a slave

 

8. A Brief for CF by Erin Buhr

Ever think about your breaths?

Air in. Air out.

Put on shoes. Off you go.

Legs fast. Lungs pumping.

Air in. Air out.

Some kids work for every breath.

Legs fast. Lungs fighting.

Every in. Every out.

They hope one day it will just be

Air in. Air out.

 

9. GNU SHOES by David McMullin

Hugh Gnu’s gnu shoes were used, so Hugh pursued new gnu shoes at SUE SHREW’S SHOES.

“Two and two,” said Hugh, “plus two,”

“Plus two?” asked Sue.

“I choose to chew shoes, too.”

“My shoes are not to gnaw, gnu.”

“Who knew,” said Hugh Gnu.

“Not you,” said Sue. “Shoo!”

 

10. Izzy (or A Zebra & Her Hitchhikers) by Katelyn Aronsen

Two birds perch

on Izzy’s back.

Two o’ pinions

white and black.

Feathered ‘friends’

who kindly

TWEET!

-where she should go!

-whom she should meet!

-what she should eat

for her ice cream:

“Choc’late!” “Vanilla!”

‘Til Izzy screams,

“RAINBOW SHERBET!

…Let ME be ME!”

The birds depart.

Izzy is free.

 

11. BADGER’S GIFT by Jen Bagan

Badger reviewed her delivery list:

Slippers for Skunk

Gloves for Grizzly

Hankies for Hedgehog

She locked her store and began walking.

Badger returned at dusk, sat down and rubbed her sore paws.

“Hmmm … what’s that in the corner?”

She gasped at the attached delivery slip.

Bicycle for Badger

 

12. Little Leaf by Mary Rudzinski

Long branch bends low,

soft breeze swirls

little leaf floats slowly to the rocky creek

Through dark woods to the rushing stream

Into the thundering waterfall

Down the sleepy river

Round the wide bend

Out to the calm bay

Past the busy town

to the deepest ocean

Journey’s end.

 

13. ROSE PETAL SOUP by Heather Kinser

Rose bud.

Bloom!

Sweet perfume.

Rose dud.

Gloom.

Sweeping broom.

Petal pile.

Brainstorm…

smile!

Petal style!

Petal necklace. Petal sash.

Petal blush. Petal lash.

Petal pen. Petal ink.

Petal portrait, rosy pink.

Petal pocket smells divine.

“Rose Sachets for Sale” sign.

When our blooming roses droop,

1-2-3…

make petal soup!

 

14. A Periwinkle Paints by Beth Gallagher

A tiny artist,

dragging his delicately spiraled home,

paints his magnum opus

on the glistening salted surface.

Slow to finish his work,

he toils on

as gulls whirl above looking for lunch.

At last his masterpiece is completed,

just as the white foamy sea stretches up to wipe his canvas

clean.

 

15. ISHAAN’S GARDEN by Candace J Andersen

India is far away, Ishaan.

This is home now.

It is safe.

Here; some earth to make your own.

Onions

Tomatoes

Cauliflower

Potatoes.

Rain.

New school; strangers.

Sun.

New places; rules.

Patience.

Finally…

a

little

sprout.

Summer.

New friends; sharing.

Familiar scents, tastes.

This is home now.

It is safe.

 

16. I’M UNIQUE. I’LL BE LOVED. by Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD

Mommy is happy.

Daddy is nervous.

Pépère is delighted

Abuela is excited.

My nursery is decorated.

My crib’s a-waiting.

Plenty of visitors

Gifts to be opened

Onesies, bottles, diapers, and books

What about my looks?

Dark or fair?

Not important!

No one cares.

I’M UNIQUE. I’LL BE LOVED.

 

17. GIRAFFE’S BLUE SWEATER by Angela Hawkins

Giraffe has lost his blue sweater.

Monkey hasn’t seen it,

Lion doesn’t know,

Hippo isn’t sure, just where could a sweater go?

He’s wandered all around the park, gone here and there times two,

now back at home he’s surprised to find,

a wild and wooly blue…sweater-wearing zoo!

 

18. Papa Pasta by Amber M. Bouchard

Every night Papa and Stella ate together.

Every night Papa cooked Papa pasta.

Linguini, tortellini, fettuccine, ziti.

“No more pasta,” said Stella.

So every night Stella made Stella salad.

Cesar, chef, garden, greek.

Until Papa said, “Enough!”

The next night Stella and Papa made dinner together and enjoyed…

Pasta Salad.

 

19. My Mom is a Ninja by Megan Haslem Jones

Brave.

Prepared.

Problem solver.

I think Mom is a ninja.

Stealthy.

Ninja.

Accurate throws.

Ninja.

Cuts, chops, dices.

Ninja scream.

She must be a ninja.

“Powerful kicks,” I overhear.

Stretchy clothing.

Afternoon meditation.

She IS a ninja!

“Mom, I know your secret.”

“Excited? Future big brother!”

“Huh?!?”

Not a ninja.

 

20. Letter Home by Tracy Helixon

She blinks the tears away

To watch Grandad

Waving

From the Dublin shore

Until the ocean carries her

Too far to see him

Across the sea

The statue welcomes

“Tis Lady Liberty herself,” says Da.

“Gather your things,” says Mam.

“Dearest Grandad,” she writes, in her best penmanship,

“We’ve arrived.”

 

21. Slash, Delete, Chop by Jim Chaize

“50 word limit!” I complained.

My third-grade teacher nodded.

“But I have a lot to say.”

“I know.”

Words flowed.

I counted.

Two hundred nineteen. “Ahhh!”

I slashed.

One hundred forty. “Grrr!”

I deleted.

Seventy-four. “Waaa!”

I chopped.

Fifty!

The teacher smiled.

“That was fun. Can I write another?”

 

22. BE HOP-PY! by Deborah Weed

Go!

Kangaroo hopped faster than Grasshopper.

Leaves crunched,

dirt flew,

underneath Kangaroo’s hind paws.

Grasshopper leaped up,

landed on a branch,

then rolled up into a ball.

As planned,

friend Hare

held onto the branch,

pulled backwards,

then let go.

Grasshopper catapulted through the air.

Sadly,

right into Kangaroo’s pouch!

 

23. An Epicurean Delight? by Pamela Courtney

Flabbergast Forest,

Cool and green.

Lizard spies a scary scene.

Venus stre-e-e-etches,

Opens, closes.

Snaps up Beetle as he dozes.

“En garde Flytrap, you carnivorous barbarian!”

Venus gasped, “But I’m vegetarian.”

Venus trips her trap.

Beetle’s awake.

“Settle your mettle Lizard. You’ve made a mistake.”

“Beetle?”

“Yes, Lizard.”“Let’s eat.”

 

24. CLAM I AM by Vicky Fang

Everyone says I should be happy.

“Happy as a clam,” they say.

I am NOT HAPPY.

If only I could swim like that fish…

Or that shrimp.

Or that squid.

Or – OH NO A SHARK!!!

Feeling pretty good about being a clam right about now.

 

25. THE LION TAMER by Ellen Levanthal

Kyle creeps into the moonless night.

Dark, scary,

silent.

Then…

ROAR!

Kyle is brave.

He tiptoes closer and closer.

ROAR!

He digs deep into his pack,

flings something into the air.

CHOMP!

Mmm…peanut butter.

The beast sleeps.

Contented.

Kyle smiles.

He puts his pen down.

A new adventure tomorrow.

 

26. The Play by Mary Warth

Pitcher Mikey threw a zinger,

But the hitter was a swinger.

Coach yelled, “Keep on running kid, they haven’t got the ball!”

As the fielder’s catch was fumbled,

Rounding third, the hitter stumbled.

The Ump ran down the third base line in time to make the call.

“You’re out!”

 

27. Nuts! By Julie Abery

Crow found a nut…

“My nut!” he cawed greedily.

Jay squawked loudly as crow flew over his tree.

Crow dropped the nut!

Jay caught the nut.

“My nut!” he squawked cheekily.

Squirrel bounced along the branch.

Jay dropped the nut!

Squirrel caught the nut.

“My nut!” he squeaked gleefully.

Woodpecker hammered!

Squirrel dropped the nut!

The nut

t

uuuu

m

bbbb

l

eeee

d

to the ground.

Pig walked under the tree.

“My nut!” he grunted and gobbled it up!

“NUTS!”

28. SLUGS AREN’T SLOW bY DEBBIE DAY

Frog was smug.

He never lost a race.

Then a slug said, “I can beat your pace!”

“Slugs are slow.”

“Then race me to the shoal!”

Mark, set, GO!

Then slug began to ROLL.

Zzzzzip! Slug won!

“You see, you never know.

Slugs can’t run-

that doesn’t mean they’re slow.”.

 

29.BUTTON MEMORIES by Ann Magee

Annie dumped the buttons onto her bedspread. “Tell me another story.”

Grandma’s gnarled hands spooned through the shiny discs, finding the tiny white one.

“Once upon a time, a beautiful baby girl was born. This was on her christening gown.”

“That’s how my favorite story begins, Grandma.”

“Mine too, Annie.”

 

30. ME HUNGRY by Zainab Khan

“Me hungry.”

“Banana?”

“Yuck.”

“Apple?”

“Blech.”

“Grapes?”

“Eeew! Me hungry- not starving.”

“Then get your own food.”

“Fine.”

Sniff.

Hmmmmm.

Whirrr.

Vroom.

Crunch.

Thump.

“What are you doing?”

“Eating.”

“Dust bunnies???”

“Yum!”

“WHY?”

“They fill me up.”

“But those were mine!”

“Not anymore.”

“Ugh! Little vacuum sisters.”

 

31.Bright Bulbs by Dr. Anne Lipton

See the yellow daffodil,

sunning on the window sill?

If you have a pot and spoon,

you can grow your own bright bloom.

Plant a bulb deep in the dirt.

From its top, green leaves will spurt.

But a lightbulb yields no shoots.

Pick a bulb that will take root

 

32. Meowcus Welby, D.V.M. by Gregory Bray

“Mr. Furrypants, I have the results of your cat scan and it shows hairballs in your tummy.”

“You’ve got to be kitten me, Doc. What can I do?”

“I’ll give you a purrscription for catnip.”

“Will I need to see a purrgeon?”

“No. You’ll be feline.”

“Pawsome!”

 

 

33. Tree Entreaty by Stephanie Salkin

Chickadee,

Sit with me.

You see,

I’m hopelessly

Stuck in your tree.

Poor little me.

Wait! Don’t fly away!

What can I say

To make you delay

Your get-away?

Phoo! You took flight.

Now you’re gone—out of sight.

I’ll be stuck here all night.

What now?

Descend? How?

Meow!

© Stephanie Salkin

 

34. HELLO BABY by Keila Dawson

You’re quiet inside mama’s belly. What are you doing in there?

Listening?

Sleeping?

Dreaming?

You’re moving inside mama’s belly. And I can feel what you’re doing in there.

Kicking.

Stretching.

Twisting.

You’re noisy outside mama’s belly. I can hear and see what you’re doing now!

Screaming!

Squealing!

Smiling!

Hello baby!

 

35.WHAT’S THE POINT? By Jeanne Curtin

“Ho hum. I am so dull.”

“Take a spin with me. I’m all the buzz.”

And so Pencil met Sharpener.

Together they created ideas, art, and became best friends.

When Pencil hit a breaking point, Sharpener was there.

And Pencil shared Sharpener’s daily grind.

Until Pencil’s life ended short.

 

36. POW, BOOM, WHOOSH by Beth Schneider

Cooper pulled his blanket over his eyes.

POW!

Water beat against the car window.

“You’re fine,” Jake said.

BOOM!

Wind shook the car.

WHOOSH!

Cooper’s toes curled up.

Then silence.

Sunlight.

“Open your eyes,” Jake said.

Cooper smiled. “That wasn’t bad.”

“Told you.”

“Car washes are fun.”

 

37.The Race by Linda Hofke

sun falls

night calls

owl hoots

mouse scoots

snake hisses

strikes

misses

mouse flees

owl sees

WHOOOOSH!

faint squeak

mouse in beak

GULP!

 

38. Mommy? What Will I Be? by Ingrid Boydston

“Mommy? What will I be when I grow up?”

“You can be anything!”

“Anything?”

“A doctor,

a chef,

a teacher,

maybe a great leader!”

“Thanks Mommy, I know what I’ll be!”

“What?”

“All those things!”

“I’m afraid you can’t be ALL of them.”

 

“Sure I can. I’ll be a mommy!”

 

39. EDAMAME DELIGHT by Charlotte Dixon

Maisy counted at the table…

“One edamame…

two edamame…

three edamame…

FOUR!”

Six edamame plopped on the floor.

THUMP…

“Uh-oh!”

“Is your plate clean?” asked Mom.

“Almost,” said Maisy.

Crawling, Maisy counted…

“Five, six…

seven, eight…

nine…

TEN!”

Maisy sowed her edamame…

in Mom’s macrame!

“All done,” shouted Maisy.

 

 

40. CURLS by Jennifer Broedel

One day, while Nonna was visiting, she said my curls looked like a lion’s mane.

I smiled and said:

“My curls are where my courage lives,

Where my ‘crazy’ climbs,

Where my warm heart gives.

My curls are where my ‘sillies’ shine.

My curls are ME!

And they’re all mine.”

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!  Sometimes at the bottom of posts, you might see the words: THE END. But not here. Oh no! Because this is not the end for all of the #50PreciousWords everyone wrote. Whether you placed first…or didn’t get a prize…your story is a living thing…play with it, work with it, breath life into it…and send it out to the world.

Thank you so much, dear friends. I hope you will join me here, same time next year!

And please, if you aren’t exhausted from my posts, come back tomorrow for Perfect Picture Book Friday. One of 2017’s picture books, Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Petersen, will be in the spotlight. And on Saturday…hold on to your hats…we’ll be chatting with Jessica on Will Write for Cookies and there will be a book giveaway as well!

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

 

 

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