Happy New Year: Looking Back and Moving Forward

me Stu and Jeremy

I’m a sucker for challenges – and Julie Hedlund put a new one together that I just could not resist.

The12 Days of Christmas – There is still a week left – and the previous days are archived so you can catch up easily!

Julie asked that we celebrate what we HAVE accomplished rather than dwell on what we haven’t.

She encouraged us to make a list of our successes and surprises, before thinking of any failures or disappointments.

And this makes sense…it’s the mindset I encouraged in my kindergarteners when I was teaching. It’s the parenting approach I followed with my own kids. Positive thinking does generate positive results!

So here is a rundown of how I spent the past year.

2014 might have been the Chinese Year of the Horse…but for me, it was the Year of Continue reading

Will Write for Cookies – Susanna Leonard Hill






 Susanna Hill and Baahb read at MCP

When I first started blogging, I was posting a picture book review every week. Another blogger told me that there was a site I just HAD to visit because that author was putting together a resource list of great picture books and activities. “It’s called Perfect Picture Book Friday,” she told me. “You must check it out!”

I did…and the rest is history.  Not only did I join in every Friday with an entry to Susanna’s linky-list, but I also participated in her many writing prompts like Short and Sweets, holiday story contests like the Halloweensie Contest and helpful weekly features like Would You Read It Wednesday (pitches) and O Susanna (answers to specific writing/publishing questions).

Susanna Leonard Hill is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice),No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.  Her newest book, Alphabedtime!, is forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, in Fall 2015.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.

She conducts a picture book writing online course, MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC, and is also well-known for her ‘hare-brained schemes’…which means she is always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need and to creatively support and encourage others. Oh, and every week she feeds us virtual CHOCOLATE and other goodies!

Susanna, I really appreciate you hopping on board this ‘hare-brained’ scheme of mine!

So, without further ado, HERE’S SUSANNA!!!!

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

I am a lucky girl.

I grew up in a family of readers and a house full of books.  Literally.  There were piles of books on the floor in the hall (I thought that was normal… :)) until my dad built new shelves… and then those were filled… and then there were more piles 🙂  My mom used to read to us not just at bedtime but while we ate lunch sometimes, or when we were driving in the car (of course not while she was driving :)).

I really don’t remember thinking in author/illustrator terms at the picture book age, but I loved Make Way For Ducklings, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, The Story of Ferdinand, Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel, Harry The Dirty Dog, and Curious George.  Oh! and Madeline and Bread And Jam For Frances 🙂  Those delightful characters and the magic of the words and pictures together filled me with joy.  Even way back then I knew that someday I wanted to write books like those!

When I got a little older I loved everything Laura Ingalls Wilder, L.M. Montgomery, Beverly Cleary, Sydney Taylor, Louisa May Alcott, and Nancy Drew… and horse stories – every single one 🙂  (And I’ve written my share of horse stories and Nancy Drew books which have thankfully never seen the light of day :))

Picture 3

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

Hmmm….   That’s a tough one.  There are a lot of things I’m glad I didn’t know 🙂

But I wish I’d known that 2700 words was considered too long for a picture book 🙂

I wish I’d known that all writers, even famous, successful ones, have the same struggles you and I do.  They have mornings where they don’t know what to write.  They have days when the delete key gets a serious work-out.  They get stuck in the middle of their stories.  They get rejections.  It’s comforting to know that my heroes work too.  And I don’t mean that in a negative way – I’m not glad they struggle sometimes.  It just makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one 🙂

Which leads me to wishing I’d known Continue reading