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!

 

Tina Cho: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

 

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TINA CHO

In this business, we need a core of critique partners who not only help us polish our manuscripts, but also encourage and support us, commiserating when we get rejections and cheering when success comes knocking at our door. I am truly fortunate to have today’s Will Write for Cookies guest as one of mine. Tina Cho is part of the very first critique group I joined back in 2012 and I credit her with helping me revise and polish many of my manuscripts.

Tina Cho is the author of three picture books– Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books/Bonnier Publishing August 2018), Korean Celebrations (forthcoming Tuttle 2019) and Breakfast with Jesus (forthcoming Harvest House 2020). 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. To learn more about her, you can go to her Website, or connect with her on Twitter or Instagram: tinamcho.

I love doing Q&A’s with every author and illustrator who stops by here, but there is a special joy when it is someone whose work I’ve seen from early draft to polished picture book story. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Tina!

ME: Hello, Tina. After all these years, I feel like I really know you. And I hope that after this interview, many more people will, too. Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

TINA: Richard Scarry: My mom used to read to us from Richard Scarry’s Animal Nursery Tales (fairy tales).

Beverly Cleary’s Ramona & Beezus

Carolyn Haywood’s Betsy & Eddie series

Judy Blume–everything

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

TINA: I wish I had understood that it takes many, many drafts and real revision to make a story superb. When I first began, I thought my first and second drafts were pretty good. Not!

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

TINA: I like to write in my little office off my bedroom. It’s really a connecting room to the bathroom with a vanity, but it’s big enough for a small table, my laptop, and small shelf. I usually outline my stories in a notebook with pen or pencil. Then, I type out the story on my laptop in my office.

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

TINA: During the school year, I write in the evenings after school, especially when I’m doing a work-for-hire assignment. Otherwise, I have dedicated Saturdays as my writing day.

ME: Why do you write for children?

TINA: I fell in love with picture books, especially, from being an elementary teacher and reading them every day to my students. I want to create stories for children because children are our future. Children deserve to learn, to be loved, and to hear about all the stories in the world. I also write for children because I have a passion for different topics, and I just have to share it!

ME: Do you have any special thoughts for aspiring writers

TINA: Never give up. If you want to write, then you have to learn the craft, just like any other career. Take writing classes, read writing craft books, join critique groups, and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Find writing groups in Facebook and stay active 😊

ME: WOW…thank you so much for sharing all of this with us, Tina. I love your action plan for aspiring writers. You’ve laid out all the right steps that lead to success! And I know you are also going to lay out the right steps to creating one of your favorite sweet treats…so, take it away, Tina!

TINA: My grandma used to make Scotcheroos, and I’d take some with me to college. They were so addicting. Here’s a Scotcheroo recipe from a friend in Iowa.

Scotcheroos

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

6 cups Rice Krispies

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Cook sugar and corn syrup over medium heat until it boils in the saucepan. Let boil 1 minute. Take off heat.
  2. Add peanut butter. Stir. Add Rice Krispies.
  3. Press into a 9×13 pan.
  4. Melt butterscotch chips and chocolate chips in a pan on the stove. You can add a tiny bit of water or milk if needed. Pour over the bars. Cut into squares right away.

Enjoy!

We will definitely enjoy these, Tina! And I am enjoying RICE FROM HEAVEN. I know many people are buying it because it is the #1 New Releases in Children’s Asia Books on Amazon..and I hope that many people will be reviewing it as well. Reviews are so important because they help other potential buyers to make good choices when it comes to selecting books for their children.

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I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. Thank you for spending your precious time here.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: RICE FROM HEAVEN

I’ve been waiting a long time to review this book for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

How long, you ask? Well, I will tell you. I’ve been waiting ever since I read one of the first drafts from my critique buddy, Tina Cho. Because honestly, even from the first drafts, I knew this was going to be a real live book one day!

RicefromHeaven cover

RICE FROM HEAVEN

Written by Tina Cho

Illustrated by Keum Jin Song

Published by Little Bee Books

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Compassion, courage, South and North Korea

Synopsis: From Amazon:

“Rice from Heaven is a true story about compassion and bravery as a young girl and her community in South Korea help deliver rice via balloons to the starving and oppressed people in North Korea.

We reach a place where mountains become a wall. A wall so high, no one dares to climb. Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have food to eat.
Rice from Heaven is a true story about compassion and bravery as a young girl and her community in South Korea help deliver rice via balloons to the starving and oppressed people in North Korea.

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We reach a place where mountains become a wall. A wall so high, no one dares to climb. Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have food to eat.

Yoori lives in South Korea and doesn’t know what North Korea is like, but her father (Appa) does. Appa grew up in North Korea, where he did not have enough food to eat. Starving, he fled to South Korea in search of a better life. Yoori doesn’t know how she can help as she’s only a little “grain of rice” herself, but Appa tells her that they can secretly help the starving people by sending special balloons that carry rice over the border.

Villagers glare and grumble, and children protest feeding the enemy, but Yoori doesn’t back down. She has to help. People right over the border don’t have food. No rice, and no green fields.

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With renewed spirit, volunteers gather in groups, fill the balloons with air, and tie the Styrofoam containers filled with rice to the tails of the balloons. With a little push, the balloons soar up and over the border, carrying rice in the darkness of the night over to North Korea.”

Why I like this book:

  • I love books that are based on true events…bringing history alive for young readers is so very important.
  • The text is lyrical and helps us connect to the main character.
  • The illustrations engage the reader/listener from the first page to the last.
  • This book is a perfect launchpad for any school or home discussion about helping others, compassion, and the world situation.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

All Kinds of Rice Crafts

RiceRoundUp-001-400x546Photo courtesy: https://funfamilycrafts.com/rice-activities-crafts-for-kids

75 crafts using rice! For more detailed instructions, please go here:

 https://funfamilycrafts.com/rice-activities-crafts-for-kids

Thank you for stopping by – I hope you will be back tomorrow for our chat with author Tina Cho…she is sharing some of her writing journey, a couple of author tips (like revision is a key ingredient to author success), and a treat recipe that includes…you guessed it…something rice-like.

And if you want to read the second installment of the peek inside my life, head on over to the blog of Sarah Hetu-Radney, Writer. She’s offering a giveaway of one of her own pb critiques!

Please have a safe and happy weekend!

 

 

 

 

Happy Book Birthday: Tina Cho’s RICE FROM HEAVEN

Don’t you love birthdays? I do!

Especially when they are book birthdays and I don’t get any older!

And especially when they are book birthday for one of my dearest kidlit friends!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAY TO RICE FROM HEAVEN!

RicefromHeaven cover

And not only is this a story by a dear critique buddy, the other amazing thing is that this book is based on true events! 

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I am extremely grateful to Tina for writing this story and informing children and adults of what is happening on the other side of the world. We read a lot about North Korea in the news – but this is something that is going on behind the scenes. It shows such love and compassion on the part of the South Koreans who want the people in North Korea to have food. Learn more about RICE FROM HEAVEN tomorrow on Perfect Picture Book Friday.

 

And how excited I am to see that RICE FROM HEAVEN is the #1 New Release on Amazon in Children’s Asia Books!

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I know you won’t want to miss our Perfect Picture Book Friday post when I review RICE FROM HEAVEN…and then, to top off this special week, Tina Cho will be stopping by to chat with us and share one of her favorite treats.

Thank you for spending your precious time here.  Pleases remember that the finest gift you can give the authors of your favorite books is to buy their books, review their books, tell your friends about their books, and ask your local library to purchase copies for their collection.

I hope you have a wonderful week and I hope to see you back here on Friday!

 

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