Category Archives: Authors

Week 8 – Summer Short & Sweet – Final Challenge – Have You Thrown a Hissy Fit Lately?

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“Do whatever you do intensely” – Robert Henri

Well, Susanna Leonard Hill, I thought Week 8 would be breeze, but I tripped and stumbled through your last challenge. Heather Newman’s painting made me gasp. One,–it’s lovely. And two,—a dragon, a castle, a knight, a damsel, and, and, and,–oh my! 🙂

Badge created by Loni Edwards

The last challenge was to write a piece based on Heather Newman’s lovely artwork, and Susanna’s tough criteria.

Artwork created by Heather Newman

1.  A pitch for a children’s story, any level (please specify PB (picture book), ER (early reader), CB (chapter book), MG (middle grade), or YA (young adult)) based on the picture, in the manner of Short & Sweet Week 6

2.  The first 50-100 words (more or less – whatever gets the creative juices flowing) of a children’s story, any level, (please specify PB, ER, CB, MG, YA) based on the picture.

3.  The last 50-100 words (again, more or less is fine – whatever works for you :)) of a children’s story, any level (please specify PB, ER, CB, MG, YA) based on the picture.

4.  Choose a character (there are at least 10 possibilities!) from the picture and introduce us to him or her – who he/she is, where he/she came from, how he/she got into this situation – a character sketch of sorts.

5.  Choose a character and give us a one paragraph synopsis of the story told by the picture from his/her point of view.

6.  The title of the story told by this picture – give us a good one! (Again please specify level).

7.  A poem following the rules from Short & Sweet Week 3 based in some way on this picture.

I persevered and crossed the finish line. Phew!

#6 – The title

Hot-headed Harold And His Hissy Fits (PB)

#1 – The picture book pitch

When a hot-headed lad finds his older sister locked in a tower, he has a hissy fit. Now Harold must steal the golden key from the ornery hag’s raven, slay the dragon, and rescue distressed Rampina before the dark knight claims her for his bride.

Thank you, Susanna. The challenges were fun, intriguing, and tough. I look forward to participating in future ones.

What challenges have you overcome in the last eight weeks?

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Week 7 – Summer Short & Sweet Challenge – A Birthday Present

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Fall is in the air. Adios, hot and hazy summer days. But I’m thankful for photos to remind me of sweet memories spent with my hubby’s family. A perfect lead into Susanna Leonard Hill’s, Summer Short & Sweet Challenge.

Badge created by Loni at http://www.loniedwards.com

I’m in the home stretch. One more week before I say adios, Susanna. Sorry, still no sweets to munch on while you read Susanna’s rules.

“We’re taking a field trip! It can be anywhere you want – and anything that fits into what you’re already doing – no special outings necessary. Going out with your kids to the beach, the zoo, a museum, the playground, the library? Going shopping at the grocery store? Washing the car? You don’t even need to leave the house – the kitchen or the back porch will be just fine!

Your challenge today is to describe a setting – any setting that tickles your fancy. In 50-100 words (more or less if you like, that’s just a ball park) make us feel like we’re there. Take a careful look at your surroundings – whatever they are. What does it look like? sound like? smell like? feel like? taste like?

BUT – here’s the trick. You can’t use the actual word of the place! So if you’re describing the kitchen, you can’t use the word kitchen. We have to be able to guess!

For an extra challenge, describe it from a kid’s perspective – try to look at it through the eyes of the average five -year-old, the typical picture book age target. Places can look a lot different to a five-year-old than they do to an adult. Different features stand out, and kids’ react to things differently.

Although we don’t devote a lot of words to setting in picture books because that part of the job is done by the illustrator, it is helpful to you as a writer to envision your setting clearly. Certain select details will be necessary, depending on your story, and this is good practice in focusing on the details that really matter. If you write for older readers, setting description is very important to make your reader feel like they’re there – but you can’t ramble on indefinitely. MG and even YA readers are not going to have a lot of patience for long-winded descriptions. So this is a chance to practice picking out the part you really need to say.”

I hope you enjoy my entry.

Krystal peeked around the corner. A warm breeze flapped plastic tacked to two corners on the wooden window frame. She giggled at Poppa’s fake owl perched on the ledge.

A beam of sunlight poked through a hole in the plastic and shone down on yellow metal plastered with decals.

Krystal’s mouth formed a perfect ‘O’. “Poppa, is that really for me?” She slapped her cheeks.

Poppa beamed. “Yes, Krystal. You’re old enough.”

“I know. I’m five-years-old.”

Poppa cranked the key. Grey smoke billowed from the exhaust.

Krystal coughed and clamped her hands to her ears.

Poppa patted her back. “Hop on.”

Krystal grunted, swinging her left leg over the hard, black leather seat. She planted her running shoes on the sideboards and wiggled her backside. Her sweaty palms tingled, gripping rigid rubber.

She stared out at the open field. “Hurry, Poppa.”

Poppa strolled to her side and pointed out some very important instructions.

Krystal nodded, licking dust off parched lips. She hunched forward. Her tummy somersaulted, coaxing the noisy machine toward the overhead towering frame.

“Well?” Poppa asked. “What are you waiting for?”

The engine roared.

Her body jiggling, she bounced over hilly mounds. “Whee!” 

Poppa yelled, “Slow—” But his voice got lost in the wind.

She flew past giant sunflowers that smiled and waved.

Krystal threw back her head and belted out at the top of her lungs, “Happy Birthday to me!”

(225 words) Okay, I can’t stick to the word count.

Five-year-old Krystal driving her ATV

Krystal didn’t fly past sunflowers, but she did chug around the yard with Poppa gripping a rope to cut the engine should she dare takeoff.

And one last item. I’m sending love your way, my son. Happy 18th Birthday. I love you.

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Week 6 – Summer Short & Sweet Challenge – Have You Been Bullied?

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This week, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Week 6 challenge is to come up with a pitch for a picture book. I offered sweets in my first pitch.

Badge created by Loni at http://www.loniedwards.com

A writer needs to include three key elements for a successful pitch—character, conflict, and stakes.

Susanna’s definition is a:
“[Character] who [a unique, special, or defining characteristic of said character] wants/needs [goal] more than anything but can’t get it because of [obstacle(s)].

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write an awesome pitch (or 2 or 3) for a picture book. The fun part? It doesn’t have to be for a book you’ve written. Or even intend to write.

It can be a pitch for something you think up right here right now this very second! Or a pitch for a work-in-progress! Or a pitch for a bit of an idea you’ve been ruminating on since breakfast! Or a pitch for someone else’s published book – you take the story and boil it down into a pitch! Or take the idea from someone else’s published book, or a nursery rhyme, or a fairy tale, and change a detail of the plot, setting, character, POV etc. and make it into a new pitch idea! Anything goes!”

The challenge got me thinking about bullies.

Tracy Campbell - Whimsical Work of Art

Tracy Campbell – Whimsical Work of Art

Here are four scenarios:
Your boss threatens your job when you refuse to work weekends
Your ex-spouse threatens to keep your children from you
The new kid in class threatens to beat you up
The big, bad wolf threatens little red riding hood

Yes, bullies exist even in fiction. And no matter our age, we’ve all encountered a bully or two.

So here’s my first pitch on a fairy tale.

Timid, red riding hood needs to swallow her fear when the big, bad wolf breaks into her cottage, snatching her last batch of oatmeal cookies.

Here’s a second pitch from my middle grade novel.

Working Title: “Georgia Rose McLean and the Poisonous Paper Plane”

A new boy in class jams bubblegum into eight-year-old, impulsive, Georgie’s ponytail. When her hair-brained scheme for revenge backfires, she thinks she can never go home.

My pitch needs work. A pitch should be no more than 25 words. An ideal pitch is 12 to 17 words.

For more information on what makes up a good pitch, check out Janice Hardy’s blog post

To find out what some of the top fears and concerns parents may have about sending their children off to their first day of school, check out Positive Parental Participation’s blog post. 

Have you dealt with a bully? How did you handle the bully? Would you have handled it differently?

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Do You Pay It Forward?

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During the past year, I’ve connected with many wonderful writers and authors in blog sphere who inspire and encourage me.

Today, I’d like to pay it forward and help Vivian Kirkfield, teacher and author, promote her new book.

Show Me How!

“Show Me How!” will appeal to home school mom’s. And of course to mom’s with children attending main stream schools.

I’m also reblogging Vivian’s post. Take it away Vivian.

The school bells are already ringing, announcing the start of a new school year.

Here at Positive Parental Participation, we are joining the celebration.

We believe that building self-esteem is of critical importance. Do you?

Studies show that children with a positive self-image:

Are more likely to take on new challenges
Have greater school success
Make friends more easily
Do not become bullies or the victims of bullies

Many children are in school for eight hours a day. Little ones in daycare facilities while their parents are working may be there for even longer periods of time.

Isn’t it important for teachers and other child-care providers to have the best resources available to succeed in this important task?

“SHOW ME HOW!”

BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING,

CRAFTING AND COOKING

Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking

Not only an award-winning parenting resource…it’s also a wonderful addition to any classroom bookshelf.

“It will be an excellent resource for our Family Literacy Center’s programs” – Rhonda Cooper, Program Director, Literacy Volunteers of Leon County, FL

Many local teachers have purchased their own copy to place in their classrooms…there is even a copy on the shelves of the teacher-education department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“We will add it to our collection in support of our Educational Studies Program.” – Celia Rabinowitz, Director of the Library, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Show Me How! is a book that every nursery school, preschool, kindergarten, first grade, KinderCare and other daycare facility needs to have for their teachers.

“It is a great tool to help our children become successful.” – Mary Newquist, Assistant Principal, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School, Selma, TX

“Show Me How!” is a framework of carefully crafted, multi-sensory lessons that will promote a willingness to try new experiences.” – Peggy Hicks, MA, Special Education Teacher, Pikes Peak Boces, CO.

What school would you like to see receive a copy of Show Me How?

If you’d like your favorite school to win a copy, just leave a comment on any blog post at Positive Parental Participation this month.

On September 8th, National Literacy Day, Vivian will announce the twelve lucky winners.

“This book is an incredible resource for fostering a child’s sense of self-worth.” – Jodi Harap, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Chicago, IL

EVERYONE IS ELIGIBLE TO NOMINATE A SCHOOL OR CHILDCARE FACILITY!

So hop over to Positive Parental Participation for more ideas on how to be a positive role model.

I’ll be back later to post my Week 5, Summer Short & Sweet challenge.

Are You Ready For Week 2’s Summer Short & Sweets?

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Welcome back to the 2nd installment of Summer Short & Sweets.

Before I reveal what I’ve written, I need to clarify that I wasn’t late last week. Susanna Leonard Hill said as long as the entry is posted on her blog before next week’s round is announced we’re good to go. What a relief. I’m now three days late, but that’s only if you go by last week’s rules.

Badge created by the incomparable Loni Edwards

If you’re up to participating, here are Susanna’s rules and regulations for Week 2. No, Susanna isn’t a drill sergeant. But if you don’t follow the rules you’re cheating.

Today’s Short & Sweet will work best if you don’t peek. I’m not sure quite how to accomplish that on a blog post, so let’s go on the honor system – no scrolling down yet!

First, pick a number from 1-10. Got it? Write it down.

Now pick a number from 1-10 again and write that down.

Now do it again.

And now, one last time.

It’s okay if you pick the same number more than once.” 

You should have 4 numbers between 1 and 10 written down. For example, I chose 7, 3, 5, and 1.

Susanna continues:

“Use your first number to select from this list:

     Character:

  1. A pirate who likes to sing
  2. A little girl who doesn’t want to practice her violin
  3. A zookeeper with a lost animal
  4. A 5 year old girl with a rainbow umbrella
  5. A homeless child
  6. A boy whose father is a Navy SEAL
  7. A monster who is afraid of thunderstorms
  8. A disobedient robot
  9. A sailor who is far from home
  10. A six year old boy who can’t ride his two-wheeler

Use your second number to select from this list:

     Setting:

  1. a museum
  2. a national park
  3. a playground
  4. a big city
  5. a birthday party
  6. the porch of an old farmhouse
  7. an enchanted forest
  8. a fancy restaurant
  9. the moon
  10. Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop

Use your third number to select from this list:

     Time:

  1. first day of school
  2. the Fourth of July
  3. during a thunderstorm
  4. in early autumn
  5. sitting down to breakfast
  6. bath time
  7. the first warm day of spring
  8. during church
  9. a winter evening
  10. after a fight

And use your last number to select from this list:

     Situation/Challenge:

  1. something embarrassing has just happened
  2. someone feels like giving up
  3. someone has to keep a secret
  4. an important decision has to be made
  5. someone has lost something
  6. someone has found something
  7. someone’s pride has been injured
  8. something is where it shouldn’t be
  9. someone has been chosen for something
  10. something has made someone mad

You should now have a randomly selected character, setting, time, and situation/challenge – everything you need to prompt a story!

List the 4 you got and write 50-100 words of whatever story they suggest to you! Don’t agonize! Don’t over-think! We’re all among friends. Just write! All we’re doing here is priming the pump. If all you can squeeze out are 50 rusty words, that’s fine! You wrote 50 words in the middle of your hectic, busy day! But maybe, just maybe, 25-50 more will trickle out a little less rusty, and maybe after you’ve written your 50-100 here you’ll find you’ve got a gush of clear water rushing forth and a whole new story will well up and land on your list of accomplishments for today!

Oh, and if you find it’s too hard to include all 4, it’s okay to just use 1, 2, or 3 of the prompts you picked – the exercise is just to get ideas and words flowing.”

To recap, I chose numbers 7, 3, 5 and 1. So I’ve written my story based on:

Character #7 – A monster who is afraid of thunderstorms

Setting #3 – a playground

Time #5 – sitting down to breakfast

Situation/Challenge #1 – something embarrassing has just happened

Drum roll, please.

Morley scanned the playground. Deserted. His shoulders slumped.

A sonic shock wave cracked and a lightning bolt lit up the sky the way fireworks exploded on July 1st.

Morley’s fur stood at attention like toy soldiers. Rain pelted his body. He pounded the gravel. Cowering beneath the plank that led to the slide, the wood creaked. I should run home. His paws turned to lead.

He fished a peanut butter and jelly clump out of his shirt pocket. Maybe mom’s breakfast will help. He’d scooped his toast off the kitchen table and lumbered out the door. He didn’t have time to sit down for breakfast. He hoped his girlfriend might be at the playground.

He stuffed the gooey morsel into his mouth and chewed. Thunder rumbled. He shivered. A tear leaked and dribbled down his cheek. Samantha didn’t even know she was his girlfriend and mom’s breakfast didn’t calm him one bit.

The plank rattled again.

“W-who’s there?” asked Morley.

“Boo!” Fuzzy, purple braids tied with silk ribbons dangled over the side.

He gulped. “Samantha?” Heat flushed his cheeks. Certain he was redder than his raspberry jelly, he pinched his arm. Why did I let my voice crack louder than thunder?

“Yup. It’s me. Climb up so we can dance in the rain.”

She’s asking me to dance? Morley wasn’t about to let a thunderstorm ruin his chance at happiness. His chest puffed out. He gripped the plank and swung his legs up. Leaping to his musty feet, the board bounced. Samantha teetered like the see-saw. He grabbed her warm paw. She giggled.

“Ready to dance?” he asked. She offered a nod. He twirled her faster than the merry-go-around.

“S-slow down,” said Samantha, gasping for air.

Morley chuckled. The rain tapered off.

Samantha flipped her soppy braids, smacking Morley’s face. “Oops. Morley, look.” Her glossy, pink fingernail pointed at the sky.

A rainbow bowed.

Morley’s heart jumped for joy. Thunderstorms didn’t terrify him anymore. Because…at last, Samantha was his girlfriend.

“He who has hope, has everything.”

Arabic proverb

Okay, okay. So this week, I’m over by 230 words. But hey, I had fun.

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