50 PRECIOUS WORDS 2021

Thank you Vivian Kirkfield for hosting such a fun and CHALLENGING contest. I didn’t think I could write a story with a beginning, middle, and end in only 50 words, but I surprised myself. Check out all the entries here: 50 PRECIOUS WORDS 2021.

FRANKIE’S FIERY FART (50 words)

“Get in back, Frankie.”

Frankie frowned and fell out of formation.

“I can’t help that my fire comes out the wrong end.”

Suddenly, a giant eagle attacked.

Frankie flew back to the flock and scorched the eagle’s feathers with a fiery fart.

“Thanks!” the dragons cried.

Frankie smiled.

“My pleasure.”

#50PRECIOUSWORDS

Storystorm 2021 Day 3: Ashley Franklin Brainstorms with Feelings

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Ashley Franklin

Hello there, writing friends! We’re at the start of a new year, so you know what that means: now is the time to tackle those writing goals with all the optimism you can muster.

Not feeling very inspired? It happens to the best of us. Don’t have a lot of time to commit to writing and need to be able to write on command? Well, that probably applies to many of us. What can you do? Stop waiting for inspiration to come to you and go get it.

Whenever I need to generate ideas, I rely on feelings. No, this doesn’t mean that I only write when I’m feeling good. It doesn’t even mean that I write sad characters when I’m feeling sad. I consider the wide range of feelings and emotions that are out there and pair them with different scenarios.

Want to give it a…

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Storystorm 2021 Day 2: Vivian Kirkfield Creates a Compilation Book

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Vivian Kirkfield

Ten years ago, I skirted the shadows of Tara’s 2011 PiBoIdMo (now Storystorm) Challenge. I walked away with a notebook filled with 30 ideas and a thirst for more. Two months later, I hopped aboard the first year of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge and wrote 12 picture book manuscripts. I got in the habit of gathering ideas from wherever they came and turning them into picture book stories. And that habit came in handy in the fall of 2017. I sold a manuscript to Ann Rider at HMH and she didn’t want just that manuscript—she wanted NINE! She wanted to create a compilation book about inventions that changed the way the world moves. My deadline was May 1, 2018—which gave me nine months to hand in nine submission-ready narrative nonfiction picture book biographies.

The idea for the first story actually came from my sister who…

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Accentuating the Positives: My 2020 Writing Successes

2020 was full of unprecedented challenges. Julie Hedlund and the participants of Julie’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series inspired me to post my writing SUCCESSES from 2020. New Year’s Resolutions typically come from a place of wishful thinking about how the previous year could have been better. Especially in the time of COVID, it’s important to reflect on the positives and create goals based on our achievements from the previous year. Here’s my list!

  • At age 40 and in the time of COVID, I’m finally starting to see myself as a real writer. I’ve written for myself, school, and work for years. Now I’m ready to work on my craft and prepare to release my stories to the world.
  • I discovered how AMAZING the Twitter kidlit writing community is. I’ve connected with more writers and illustrators than I could have imagined. The resources, events, contests, and support are so inspiring.
  • I’ve started participating in workshops, courses, critique groups, writing organizations, challenges, and contests.
  • Two of my stories won holiday writing contests. What?! 
  • I developed a brainstorming/drafting process that I love.
  • I have two manuscripts that my 5-year-old daughter requests me to read again and again.
  • I have a list of 71 picture book ideas as of today. 
  • I participated in a live Zoom pitch event without puking. I got a rejection, but I’m still glad it happened.
  • I rediscovered how happy writing makes me. I can be Dana Marie and not just “Mom.”
  • I’m becoming a better critique partner.
  • I created a website and blog!

THANK YOU to everyone who has inspired and pushed me a little further on this journey. Best wishes for 2021!

The 2020 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

Thank you!

Susanna Leonard Hill

Well hi there, my little snowflakes!

You’re just in time for some high jinx and shenanigans!

I’m always on the lookout for those fun holiday quizzes, but let’s face it: we’ve done Elf Names, and Reindeer Names, and that pretty much covers the available options. Last year I made up a What Kind of Christmas Cookie are you quiz. . . which was entertaining. . . but now we’ve done that too.

So this year I’ve decided to combine holiday quiz tomfoolery with writing prompt/idea generation! Try out this one!

I will not even try to deny that some of these combinations work better than others 😊 But I don’t mind if you cheat a little and use the first letter of your middle or last name or the month your pet iguana was born to get a better result 😊

My Holiday Picture Book Title is The Littlest Cookie…

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HOLIDAY CONTEST 2020: CHRISTMASAURUS HEX

I’m so glad that Susanna Hill’s 10th Annual Holiday Contest gave me the boost to finish a story that’s been simmering for awhile. The Contest: Write a children’s holiday story about a Holiday Helper in 250 words or less.

Check out my 250-word submission below. I hope you enjoy it! You can read all the amazing stories on Susanna’s blog.

CHRISTMASAURUS HEX

Wanda looked out the window. It was Halloween, but there wasn’t a skeleton in sight, just Santas and strings of colorful lights. “Christmas season starts earlier every year,” Wanda grumbled. “But this time they’ve gone too far.” 

For the next 55 days, Wanda planned and plotted and prepared a spell to ruin Christmas.

On Christmas morning, Wanda took a candy cane and waved her wand. “Halloween was skipped, and so I’m vexed. Give me a monster that runs, roars, and wrecks.” 

POOF!

Wanda clapped as a Christmasurus appeared. “Come with me and help,” she cackled. 

But when the Christmasaurus ran through town, everyone smiled. 

“You’re fast,” a child said. “Please pull our sled.” The Christmasaurus was happy to help. 

Wanda grumbled and waved her wand. Needs to be louder.

POOF!

But when the Christmasaurus roared, everyone cheered. “Your voice is the perfect pitch,” a caroler said. “Please sing with us.” The Christmasaurus was happy to help.  

Wanda grumbled and waved her wand again. Needs to be bigger. 

POOF!

But when the Christmasaurus went to wreck the tree, everyone looked relieved.  “You’re just the right height,” the mayor said. “Please put the star on top.” The Christmasaurus was happy to help.  

Wanda flew home fuming. 

The Christmasaurus followed with a note from the mayor.

“Dear Wanda,” it read. “Thank you for the holiday helper. I hope to see you both at the Christmas party. P.S. Sorry we missed Halloween.” 

Wanda grinned. “Why not?” she said. “I do like parties.”

Thank you E. Elle Bea for the photo.

Thursday Read-Throughs with Maryna Doughty

I love this idea so much.

Sarah Meade, Writer for Children

My friend and critique partner, Maryna Doughty, has begun a new blog series called Thursday Read-Throughs. This week I’m excited to join her! 

Push Play Recording On Reel To Reel Tapes GIF by Soundfly - Find & Share on GIPHY

Picture books are meant to be read aloud, so it’s important for authors to hear their work read aloud. A recording of a first-time read-through can give a writer insights into the flow of the story, as well as any spots new readers may stumble.

I’ve always loved reading aloud. When I taught elementary school for ten years, my favorite part of the day was shared reading. Now I read aloud to my own little ones multiple times a day, as well as reading the stories of my critique partners. 

Would YOU like a recording of your kid lit material (1000 words or less)? If so, please subscribe to Maryna’s blog here, subscribe to my blog, and retweet Maryna’s pinned tweet on Twitter

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HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST 2020: TRICK OR TROLL

I’m very excited to enter Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest this year. I’ve been loving writing challenges lately. Thank you Susanna Hill for organizing this competition. Read more about Halloweensie here: https://susannahill.com/blog/

Prizes include PB MS Critiques from the talented Vivian Kirkfield, Parker Klostermann, Carrie FinisonTeresa Robeson, Lydia Lukidis, Kirsti Call, Ellen Leventhal, and Heather Gale.

The challenge:

  • Written for kids
  • No more than 100 words 
  • Contains the words skeleton, creep, and mask 
  • Tells a complete story

I really like how my story turned out. Limiting to 100 words was a challenge, but that’s good practice. A lot of great recent picture books are low on word count. I watched a wonderful 12X12 workshop called Mine the Gaps with Hannah Barnaby recently where she discusses the importance of allowing room for the illustrator. Let me know how you think I did.

TRICK OR TROLL

One Halloween, after eating all their candy and the wrappers too, three billy goats decided to cross a troll bridge for more. 

“Our skeleton costumes will scare that troll,” said the two eldest.

“Boo!” The troll ran under the bridge.

But the youngest didn’t like being scary. “I’ll just creep across quietly.”

He tried to slink. He tried to crawl. He tried trotting on tiptoe. But the troll heard him every time.

“Wait!” he thought. “Everyone likes candy.”

“Want to come too?” he asked. “You don’t even need a mask.”

“Yes!” the troll replied. And they crossed the bridge together.