April 18, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - E-I-E-I-O How Old MacDonald Got His Farm [with a Little Help from a Hen]

Happy Friday, Folks!

While I was writing up this post, my ever-vigilant dogs suddenly roused themselves from a sound sleep to bark and snarl and hurl themselves at the french doors that look out on the back yard.  Assuming such behavior could only mean an invasion of some type, I went to investigate.  Was the bear up from his long winter's nap?  Had a pack of hungry coyotes dared to breech The Perimeter?  Were we being attacked by giant meatball-headed spaghetti people from Mars?

Shockingly, no!

Here was the cause of the alarm:
One of last year's babies, looking a little scruffy in between
winter and spring coats
My dogs take their duty as Protectresses of the Family Homestead a little too seriously sometimes :)

I did not let them out.  I figured this little miss could use some green grass after the long winter.  So she snacked and the Protectresses sulked and I went back to writing this post.

This is just a little sample of the kind of action-packed, emotionally-charged, wild and crazy life we live up here on Blueberry Hill :)

Although Tuesday night's snow is still melting, I insist on believing it is spring and I have a fun, spring-appropriate title to share with you all today which is especially fitting in view of the wildlife on my lawn that makes this place feel like a farm (of sorts :))!  (And no jokes about the funny farm! :))

Title: E-I-E-I-O How old MacDonald Got His Farm [with a Little Help from a Hen]
Written By: Judy Sierra
Illustrated By: Matthew Myers
Candlewick, February 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: composting, gardening, perseverance, innovation

Opening: "Old MacDonald had a house E-I-E-I-O!  Around that house there was a yard MOW MOW MOW MOW MOW!  MacDonald said, "I love my yard, but mowing grass is mighty hard."  So off he went to get a goat E-I-E-I-O!"

Brief Synopsis: In case anyone was wondering how Old MacDonald got his farm, it all started with too much mowing.  Old MacDonald's solution? Get a goat.  But the goat only ate the edges and then chewed a hole in MacDonald's hedges.  Luckily, a smart little red hen came along and taught Old MacDonald a thing or two about sustainable farming :)

Links To Resources: Do The Rot Thing: A Teacher's Guide To Compost Activities, all about Worms, Recycling and Composting, How To Plant Seeds With Kids

Why I Like This Book:  I always love new twists on familiar stories.  Judy Sierra has taken Old MacDonald to a whole new level.  The story is humorous (and so is the art - be sure to read the hen's diplomas and all the picket signs :)) and young readers will learn about composting and growing a garden right along with Old MacDonald.  This is a great story for spring, and a wonderfully fun way to introduce kids to the concept of green farming.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF peeps, please leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come see what fabulous books you've chosen this week!  And to all who celebrate, Happy Easter and a belated Happy Passover.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)


April 16, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #129 - Roy G. Biv And The Amazing Castle Moat (PB)

Sometimes a box arrives on your doorstep.

If it looks like this

you know it is a very very good kind of box!!!

When you open it, you'll see this

and then this

and then this

and finally - squeeeeeeee! -


Please, help yourselves!

And thank you, Kirsten, for your very thoughtful gift!  I'd like to say there were some left, but that would just be lying :)  I can say in complete truthfulness, however, that they were delicious!!! :)

Now that we are all happily munching on the proverbial bonbons, let's have a round of applause (because it would be impolite to yell "Congratulations!" with a mouth full of Godiva chocolate truffles!) for the winner of the March Pitch Pick which is. . .

with her pitch for Sk8r Boy!!!

Congratulations, Ann!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts.  I'm sure you'll hear from her shortly.

And congratulations to our other brave pitchers who also did a terrific job!  I hope you all gained from the Would You Read It experience, and I also hope you'll take a few extra congratulatory truffles :)  Best of luck with your stories!

Now then.  Onward!

Today's pitch comes to us from Charlotte who says, "When I was a little girl, a childless older couple who lived across the street gave me an oversized picture book, written in wonderful rhyming couplets.  More than a half century later, I can still recite the entire story of “The Children That Lived in a Shoe” from memory, as I visualize the pictures of the cherub-like little ones going about their daily routines. I still love this book.  Twenty-first century children deserve access to their own favorite stories that will endure for them throughout their lifetimes. I keep this in mind when I work on my PB manuscripts."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Roy G. Biv And The Amazing Castle Moat
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: Sophie senses there’s magic in the world of nature, while Sam is more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of kid. She likes building fairy houses but agrees to help her brother construct his sand fortress.  When a sudden summer rainstorm spares their beach castle, the overflowing moat delivers a surprise visitor, Roy G. Biv.  Sam thinks someone is playing a trick on him when he hears the guest’s voice share a rhyming, rhythmic poem about the rainbow’s colors. Sophie is delighted at how Sam finds out that Roy G. Biv is not only rather magical, but is also real.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Charlotte improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in July so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Charlotte is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the upcoming Illustrators Contest which is barely a week away now!  It will open on Thursday April 24th!  I am really, really hoping that at least a few people will enter, because I would so love to see how they bring the amazing March Madness Writing Contest winners' ideas to life!  Please feel free to spread the word to all your illustrator friends and join me in looking forward to visiting some new blogs, getting to know some fabulously talented new people, and seeing some amazing art!!!

In the hope that you CAN actually teach an old dog new tricks, let's try this and see if it works.  At all.  For anyone! :)

Tweet: Children's illustrator contest opens April 24! Great prizes! @SusannaLHill #illustration #kidlitart

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


April 14, 2014

Have A Happy Day!

Due to my advanced age, I'm taking the day off (from blogging - not everything else :)) :)

Have some cake on me :)

Then have a wonderful day doing the things you love most with the people you love most!

Then come back and have some more cake :)



April 11, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Extraordinary Jane

Woo-hoo!  It's Friday!

Doesn't Friday just automatically make you happy?

I think Fridays are just a little bit magic and have an advantage over the other days of the week :)

My plan for this weekend includes baking birthday cake for my step-daughter and babysitting for my granddaughters so she and her husband can have a little much-deserved-no-kids-couple-time.  Lucky me - I totally win out!  I see acorn and stick collecting, painting, play-doh, sidewalk chalk, tea parties, hide-and-seek, and being a pony in my weekend :)

And I'm thinking I will share this book - my PPBF pick for this week - because it is so cute and sweet!

Title: Extraordinary Jane
Written & Illustrated By: Hannah E. Harrison
Dial, February 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself

Opening: "Jane was ordinary in a world that was extraordinary."

Brief Synopsis: Jane is a little dog who lives at the circus.  She's not graceful like her mother, mighty like her father, daring like her brothers, or fearless like her sisters.  She's just Jane.  But you don't have to be graceful or mighty or daring or fearless to be special.

Links To Resources: together with your child or class, make a list of things you think everyone would agree are extraordinary, like being brave or strong.  Do you have any of those qualities? Does your child or the members of your class?  Talk about what extraordinary really means.  Make a new list of things that could be considered extraordinary, like helping an elderly neighbor take out the recycling, or being kind to the new kid in class.  Who has these qualities?  Talk about what makes you like people - probably things like they're nice, or they make you laugh.  Can those things be considered special?  What can you do today to make the world a better place just by being you?  Would pair nicely with Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson.

Why I Like This Book: This is one of those delightfully simple and sweet books that I just love!  Let's face it - lots of us feel ordinary.  So many kids can relate to the idea of worrying that they might not measure up in today's world of high expectations.  This sweet story reminds us - kids, parents, and teachers alike - that we are all extraordinary in our own way, and that we are all special to somebody.  The art is bright and colorful.  Some of the spreads are humorous (in particular the balancing ball incident  and the page after it :)) and the last one is guaranteed to make you say "Aww!" :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

So what are you all planning for this weekend (besides a trip to the library to read all the great books that are sure to show up on this week's PPBF list)?

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links on the list below so we can all come visit and make our library lists :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)


April 9, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #128 - Sammy Dougie Foxtrot: Look, Smile, Roar (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor PLUS the March Pitch Pick

My goodness we have a busy day today!

Good thing I gave you Monday off to rest up :)

First up, we have Straight From The Editor for Kristine, the February Pitch Winner.  You will recall her pitch:

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: Sophia wants to win the school science fair, but when her project won’t cooperate, she uses perseverance and teamwork to bring home the goal, proving that every girl can be a STEM girl.
Here are editor Erin Molta's comments:

This is a great premise and goodness knows, we definitely need more books about girls succeeding in science, technology, engineering and math. However, in order for this to catch an editor’s eye, you need to put a little more spark into it. It’s very generic right now. What is her science project? How was it not cooperating? Was she snubbed because she was a girl and had something to prove? It seems to infer that, but the focus in your pitch is on perseverance and teamwork, whereas it should be more specific. Think of the one thing that she did to get everyone to help her OR why her project was failing and base your pitch around that. And if there’s humor—see if you can get that in, too.

As always, I find Erin's comments so helpful and insightful!

Now, after all that education, we should probably have a snack :)  Something Chocolate anyone?  I'm in a cupcake mood. And this one is kind of cheerful and spring-like as well as luscious and chocolate, don't you think? :)
Scrumptious! :)

Now that we're all fortified, let's take a look at the awesome pitches from March and see which lucky writer is going to get her pitch reviewed by Erin.

#1 Karen - Puddles And Rainbows (PB ages 4-6)
Growing up is hard, but learning to rain might just prove harder. Either way, this Little Cloud needs plenty of patience and determination. A colorful discovery makes it all worthwhile.

#2 Ann - Sk8r Boy (PB ages 5-8)
Peter wants to be an ice skater but can’t because he’s homeless, and he doesn’t have the money for a pair of skates. But when there’s a poetry contest at school with a small cash prize, he may be able to make his smooth words glide and spin so that he can buy the skates and win his classmates’ respect.

#3 Beth - Martin's Perfect Web (PB ages 5-7)
In a quest to build a perfect web, a fussy spider confronts his biggest fears through an unlikely friendship with an inquisitive dragon.  Laurent the dragon takes Martin on a wild ride on his tail.  No one is more surprised at the ending than this stubborn intractable spider who finally learns how to relax, and enjoy the simple process of creating.

Please vote for the pitch you feel most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday April 13 at 5PM EDT.

Many thanks!!!

Today's pitch comes to us from Morgan who says. "I am an aspiring children's book writer, a licensed school psychologist, and a mother of two boys (ages 1 1/2 and 3), with another on the way. Reading and writing emotional literacy is my passion. I also enjoy writing social stories and making reward charts for fun!" 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Sammy Dougie Foxtrot: Look, Smile, Roar
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Boogie along with Sammy Dougie Foxtrot and his trusted lion, PJ, on their courageous playground adventure. When PJ gets stuck in a sycamore tree, Sammy is scared: “The kind of scared when brakes on a truck screech, it’s dirt dumps, and it is as stiff as stabilizer legs.”Sammy discovers the true meaning of courage: that one can feel scared and brave at the same time. Even though the children at the playground look different, Sammy looks, smiles, and roars, bravely asking for their help. Find out if Sammy and the playground crew can work together to rescue PJ. “Look, Smile, Roar” enhances 4 to 8 year olds emotional literacy through the use of their imaginations. While entertaining, Sammy and PJ also emphasize tolerance and acceptance to promote early intervention. Oh, and I forgot to mention, they love to have fun! 

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Morgan improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in July so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Morgan is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the upcoming Illustrators Contest!  I really am!  Of course, we might not have any entries, but if we DO, think how awesome they will be!  I can't wait to see what our talented friends come up with to bring the March Madness Contest Winners' stories to life!  I have to learn how to do those convenient "tweet this" thingies - then I could helpfully put one here and make it so easy for all you guys to spread the word. I'll add it to my to-do list. . . which is exceedingly long. . . so don't hold your breath for convenient tweet thingies :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! :)


April 7, 2014

Enjoy The Day!

Good Morning, Everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Saturday was cold, rainy, and windy, but yesterday, for the first time, it felt like spring was coming.  The peepers are out, and that's always a good sign :)

Now it's Monday.  We all have a busy week ahead.  And things have been pretty busy and hectic on this blog for the last couple weeks so I thought to myself, we could probably all use a break!

So, grab a good book and a cup of tea, hot or iced, settle yourself in right here,

and enjoy the day :)

If you really NEED something to do, ponder the upcoming Illustrators Contest which promises to be tons of fun and spread the word to any illustrators you know :)

See you Wednesday for Would You Read It and Straight From The Editor!

Have a marvelous Monday everyone :)


April 4, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Sparky

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

It's been a couple weeks!

What with the March Madness Writing Contest and all the long posts for the finalists and the winners, etc., I think we could all use a break.  So today I'm going to do my best to be brief :)

I hope you all enjoy this picture book as much as I do :)

Title: Sparky
Written By: Jenny Offill
Illustrated By: Chris Appelhans
Schwartz & Wade Books, March 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: age 3-8

Themes/Topics: pets, being yourself

Opening: "I wanted a pet. A bird or a bunny or a trained seal.  My mother said no to the bird.  No to the bunny. No no no to the trained seal."

Brief Synopsis: A little girl's mother says she can have any pet she wants as long as it doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed.  So the little girl finds just the pet to fit the requirements... A sloth... whom she names Sparky :)

Here the girl plays with Sparky and introduces us to Mary Potts

Links To Resources: Talk about what makes a good pet; discuss the pros and cons of various pets, 10 Popular Small Pets, Best Pets For Kids slideshow, Rainforest Classroom Activities, read with "Slowly, slowly, slowly," said the Sloth by Eric Carle, or perhaps with other picture books about more boisterous pets for comparison.

Why I Like This Book: I love Sparky.  He's so cute!  And so sleepy and slow :)  And I admire any child who can come up with a pet that doesn't break the rules of not needing to be walked or bathed or fed.  The girl tries to play games with Sparky, but with the exception of Statues he's not much good at them.  In response to annoying Mary Potts from across the street she tries to teach him tricks to show what a good pet he is.  But aside from excelling at playing dead he's not much good at that either.  But you know what? She doesn't care.  For her, Sparky is "it" :)  And what a nice message that pets can just be loved for who they are.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

How'd I do?  Brief enough? :)

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come see what you picked and make our library lists for the weekend :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)


April 2, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday # 127 - Dead Trees Don't Need Water (PB)

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

And Happy Children's Book Day!

(It's also National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day - very kid-friendly, but maybe not great to mix with books :))

I'm happy to report that it is officially April here on Blueberry Hill... probably wherever you are too :)

It is a well-known fact that April is the best month of the year, due to April Fool, Phyllis (and also April Fools Day :)), Earth Day, Arbor Day, usually Easter (which I know is not technically about chocolate but still...), Blah Blah Blah Day (which we certainly couldn't do without!), the fact that it is National Welding Month (and you all know what a big part of my life welding is... not :)) and the celebrity birthdays of certain pretty-much-famous people who shall remain nameless :)

Plus, it has such a pretty sound.  April.  So pleasing to the ear.

Really.  What's not to love about April? :)

But let's hearken back to the bygone days of February and March for one second.

Due to the March Madness Writing Contest preempting WYRI last week, I didn't get to announce the winner of the February Pitch Pick, so. . .

prup prup-pr prup-prup pr prup!

(that was a trumpet call in case you didn't quite catch it)

. . . the February Pitch Pick Winner was Kristine with her pitch for The STEM Girls Take Off!  Congratulations, Kristine!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts, and I'm sure you will hear from her shortly :)

Congratulations also to our other brave pitchers, all of whom had wonderful story ideas and well-written pitches!  Good luck to all of you with your stories!

Now.  How about Something Chocolate?  These are festive and spring-like and practically totally healthy since they are mostly strawberry and only part chocolate :)
Help yourselves :)
Today's pitch comes to us from Frances, who says, "I began writing children’s stories many, many years ago, but I got sidetracked by needing to make a living!  Now that my son has started college, I feel I have the time to devote myself to my passion for children’s literature once again.  I have an MFA in Creative Writing, and I have been writing and editing professionally for about 30 years.  I currently work as a freelance editor and am a member of SCBWI, Children’s Books Insider, and Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Forum."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Dead Trees Don't Need Water
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Peter wants to be friends with Asbury the tree, but when he finds out that Asbury will be cut down, he comes up with a plan to save Asbury.  In the process Peter  discovers a very special gift that he and Asbury can share forever.  

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Frances improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in July so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Frances is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to all the awesomeness that is April!  I expect robins on my lawn and hyacinth blossoms beside the mudroom porch any second now! (Not because it's likely, just because I'm ready :))

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! :)


April 1, 2014

Announcing The First Ever Illustrators Contest!!!

Whoopeee!  Yahooo!

I'm excited!

Can you tell I'm excited?

It's because I'm about to launch a new hare-brained scheme and you guys are all going to get to be part of it!

(And no, just because it's April 1st and we just had a contest, this is NOT an April Fool.  I just couldn't add this to yesterday's Winner Celebration Post or tomorrow's WYRI!)

I've been thinking for a while that children's authors get all the fun.  Contests and prizes and being able to claim top finishes in Pretty Much World Famous Writing Contests. . .

It isn't entirely fair.

In the world of picture books, authors are only half the story.

We couldn't do what we do without our illustrators!

I think it's high time to let the illustrators have some fun and a contest and prizes and be able to claim top finishes in a Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest!

So that's what we're going to do!

Are you ready?


The First Ever Pretty-Much-World-Famous Illustration Contest!!!
the fact that this particular illustrator resembles a female
is in no way meant to deter any male illustrators! :)

The ContestDraw/Paint a children's picture book cover illustration (no text required - art only) for one of the following stories (which you will recognize as the top finishers in the March Madness Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest - a little extra surprise for those authors :)):

 - The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff by Wendy Greenley
 - Goldilockup by Mike Allegra
 - Goldibawks And The Three Pairs by Dawn Young
 - The Sweetie Witch by Pen Avey
 - The Princess And The Stinky Cheese by Lauri Meyers
 - Mongoose's Holi Party by Darshana Khiani
 - The "Princess" And The Pete by Jennifer Caritas
 - The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster by Elliah Terry

Illustrations should be 8x10, horizontal or vertical, any medium, posted in jpg at least 72 px
All stories can be read on the March Madness Finalist Post HERE so you will know what to illustrate :)

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Thursday April 24 at 5 AM EDT and Monday April 28 at 9 PM EDT, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on my Thursday April 24 post which will remain up through Tuesday April 29 so that people can come visit and enjoy your gorgeous artwork!  (No PPBF on Friday April 25, no new post on Monday April 28, but there will be a brief interruption for WYRI on Wednesday April 30 because I forgot to leave it open for the contest :)).  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments of my April 24 post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, you may email me and I'll post your entry for you!  Also, since this is the first time we've done an illustration contest, I'm not sure if you actually CAN paste your entry into the comments.  If this turns out to be the case, email them to me and I'll add them directly to my April 24 post.)

Judging:  entries will be judged by multi-talented, award-winning author/illustrators Iza Trapani, author and illustrator of over 20 gorgeous picture books, and Lisa Thiesing, author and illustrator of at least 16 beautiful and fun picture books and early readers!   Judging criteria to include:

 - is the picture readable to a young audience,
 - how well does it show the character(s) and
 - is the character(s) appealing (character development),
 - does it make you want to read the story,
 - originality
 - skill.

They will narrow down the entrants to 6 finalists (or possibly a couple more or less depending on the number of entries :)) which will be posted here on Thursday May 1 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 5PM EST on Sunday May 4 and the winner will be announced on Monday May 5.  (No PPBF on Friday May 2.)

The Prizes!:  There will definitely be a 1st prize.  Whether we give prizes for 1st only, 1st-3rd, or 1st-6th will depend on how many entries we get.

First Prize is absolutely amazing!  A portfolio critique by celebrated author/illustrator Michael Garland, who has over 20 picture books to his credit!!!

 - Second Prize - a $50 gift certificate to Dick Blick Art Materials
 - Third, Fourth & Fifth Prize will be winner's choice of one of the following books:
      - Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz
      - 2014 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Chuck Sambuchino

 - Sixth Prize - sketch pads/pencils

Illustrators, we can't wait to see what you've got in store for us!

Everyone else (authors, parents, teachers, librarians, farm equipment retailers, etc. :)) think how much fun it's going to be so see what the illustrators come up with!

You've got three weeks, illustrators!

On your mark, get set, GO!!! :)


March 31, 2014

The 2014 March Madness Contest Winners!!!

Oh. My. Goodness!

That was the closest, most hotly contested race for a winner we've ever had!

I hope that means that my assistant judges and I made good choices for the finalists! :)

The MarcMadness Writing Contest!

I admit it - I get all the fun.  Sitting in the judge's chair, watching the votes come in, seeing first one person and then another in the lead, biting my nails when there are ties, waiting on pins and needles to see who will emerge victorious....

Normally I'd string you along and tease you for a while, but I'm too wiped out by this whole roller-coaster process.

Truly, it is not for the faint of heart.

Up one minute, down the next.  Nerves stretched like bow strings.

A person less physically fit than myself (haha snort! - can't say THAT with a straight face after this winter :)) might suffer palpitations!

And speaking of palpitations, I had them aplenty when her royal highness, Miss Scouty Brown, came sauntering back in the house this morning having found something dreadful to roll in!  "What is that SMELL???!!!" all the children shrieked!

Fortunately, we are in the midst of a small flood which, aside from making the basement a delightful place for canoeing, means that there is a lot of water outside.  Scouty was able to enjoy her first swim of the year... twice... with the fortuitous result that she returned from our walk refreshed and smelling mostly like wet dog instead of Something Yucky.

But wait.

What were we talking about?

Oh yes!

The contest!

So, who won?

Oh!  I'm supposed to tell you!




I'm really going to tell.

We had 75 fantastic entries, which we winnowed down by hook or by crook, to the best of our ability, to 10 fabulous finalists.

Y'all voted for your favorites.

And the winner of the 2014 March Madness Writing Contest, who gets to send the picture book manuscript of her choice to none other than the renowned children's literary agent, Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary is. . .

duhn duhn duhn

dddddrrrrruuuuummmmm rrrrrooooollllllllll pppppllllleeeeeaaaaassssseeeee!!!!!

Wendy Greenley
with her clever Three Wiggly Worms Bluff!!!

Congratulations on a wonderful story, Wendy!  I think it's clear that a LOT of people really enjoyed it! :)

Now, I wasn't kidding when I said this contest was hotly contested.  I kept asking for votes this weekend, hoping the ties would get broken, but not all of them did.

So, for 2nd place we had a tie between

Mike Allegra
with the fantabulous Goldilockup!


Dawn Young
with the hilarious Goldibawks!

Congratulations Mike and Dawn, on two terrific and very different twists on Goldilocks!  Lori and Cori have generously agreed to each give a critique instead of just one or the other, so you will each get a picture book critique by a fantastic author!

In 3rd place, guess what?  Another tie!  This time between

Pen Avey
with her delicious Sweetie Witch


Lauri Meyers
with her daring Princess And The Stinky Cheese!

Congratulations, Pen and Lauri!  I will prevail upon Corey to tire her signing hand by signing copies of her books for both of you! :)  And you may email me about your gift cards.

4th place goes to

Darshana Khiani
with her delightful Mongoose's Holi Party!

Congratulations, Darshana, on a truly original tale!  You may choose the two picture books you'd like from the prize list.  (I'll tack it on the bottom of the post for easy reference :)) And email me about your gift card.

In 5th place,

Jennifer Caritas (hope I've got that right...!)
with another forthright heroine in The "Princess" And The Pete!

Congratulations on a terrific story, Jennifer!  You may also choose the two picture books you'd like from the prize list below and email me about your gift card.

And in 6th place,

Elliah Terry
with her fun southwestern Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster!

Congratulations, Elliah!  I bet that gila monster is still running from the coyote :) You will receive a personalized sighed copy of SNORING BEAUTY by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen!

All the winners should email me to work out prize details!

But now, we are not quite done.

Because, like I said, this was a hotly contested contest.  My assistant judges and I had quite a few other favorites that we felt couldn't quite make the finalist list for one reason or another, but we all thought they were worthy of recognition.  So the following people (in no particular order) receive our heartfelt Honorable Mention!

Gaye Hemsley - Chocolate Muffins
Joanne Roberts - Goldi And The Three Squirrels
Vivian Kirkfield - Singerella
Katie Gast - Little Dead Riding Hood
Katie Cullinan - The Three Little Easter Bunnies
Jen Doherty - The Mischievous Fire Truck
Laura Shovan - The 12 Clumsy Princesses
Margaret Greenias - The Big, Bad-Mannered Wolf
Angela Turner - The Belle And The Sticker Burrs
Cheryl Secomb - Little Red Rider
Robert Schechter - Humpty
Erik Weibel - The Once Upon A Times
Rachel - Handsome And Gretchin

Congratulations to all of you on stories that were original, fun, and very entertaining!  You may all choose one of the following as a prize: (titles are links so you can check them out)

Kindle Edition - The Nuts & Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman
Kindle Edition - Picture Books The Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas & Lisa Bullard
Kindle Edition - How To Write A Children's Picture Book by Darcy Pattison
Kindle Edition - The Easy Way To Write Picture Books That Sell by Robin Opie Parnell
Kindle Edition - How To Promote Your Children's Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets To Create A Bestseller by Katie Davis

Paperback - Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine (also available for Kindle)
Paperback - How To Write A Novel: 47 Rules For Writing A Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever by Nathan Bransford (also available for Kindle)
Paperback - The Plot Skeleton by Angela Hunt (also available for Kindle)

Please email me and let me know your preference!

Congratulations to everyone who entered a story in this contest.  You all did an amazing job!  My assistant judges and I loved every story for one reason or another.  And I think it's fair to say that you entertained a LARGE number of readers!

Thank you so much to everyone who visited blogs, read, commented, and voted - these contests couldn't happen without you!

And thank you to the generous people who donated prizes - Karen Grencik, Lori Degman, and Cori Doerffeld - you're what everyone tries so hard for and you bring out the best in the writing community!

It's been another fun contest, and I thank you all!

I was going to announce the upcoming first ever * Illustrator Contest * today, but this post is too long already, and I really don't want to distract from the winners' moment in the spotlight, so I will either write a special Tuesday post for tomorrow or tack it onto the Would You Read It post on Wednesday.

So congratulations again to all the winners for all their wonderful stories, and to everyone who wrote a story for this contest.  You are all winners just for showing up, writing something new, and practicing your craft!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! :)

List of Prizes:

 - 1st Prize is a read and critique by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary!!! (Unless for some reason you don't want a read and critique by an agent, in which case you may swap for any of the other prizes)

 - 2nd Prize is a picture book manuscript critique (for rhyming mss only) by Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and the forthcoming COCK-A-DOODLE-OOPS! OR a picture book manuscript critique (for non-rhyming mss only) by Cori Doerrfeld, author/illustrator of LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO and PENNY LOVES PINK as well as illustrator of many others.

 - 3rd Prize is personalized signed copies of THE THREE NINJA PIGS and GOLDI ROCKS & THE THREE BEARS by Corey Rosen Schwartz PLUS a $25 Amazon Gift Card

 - 4th and 5th Prizes are your choice of any two of the following picture books PLUS a $20 Amazon Gift Card:
     - LITTLE RED WRITING by Joan Holub
     - THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS by Caryl Hart

 - 6th Prize (which just skated in under the wire - thank you Sudipta!) is a personalized signed copy of hot-off-the-presses SNORING BEAUTY by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

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