Challenges

Fall Writing Frenzy 2020

Here we are in October. Everyone’s sipping their pumpkin drinks and planning for Halloween. Do you know what else it’s time for? The Fall Writing Frenzy, a contest for kidlit writers. It’s not too late to join the challenge, either! Find the rules here.

And here’s my entry for this year.

The Runner

Footfalls echo around me as I run, trying to pretend that things are fine, that I’m just a normal kid jogging in the woods. Trying to pretend that I’m bold and brave. Trying to pretend that the red cloaks are not roaming the woods, axes in hand, just looking for a wolf to chop.

Every breath I draw hurts now. If I tried to speak, I would find my throat raw. At least the woods are on my side: I can hear the trees shifting around me to cover my tracks; hear the paths hissing as they shift position behind me. I mouth a silent thank you and keep running, heading for the pack grounds deep in the heart of the woods. Any red cloaks that follow me there will get more wolves than they can handle.

Behind me, hoofbeats pound. Someone is catching up to me. I bite my lip and run faster. I don’t know how long I can keep this up, but I’m almost to pack land. Once I get there, I can shift form and run on four legs.

Uh-oh. Someone’s throwing axes now. First one misses . . . CRACK! Second one? Better aim.

Courtesy of Unsplash
Book Announcements, Picture Book Journey

New Book in 2022!

I’m delighted to announce that my next picture book, Sprinkles to the Rescue, will be released in 2022 by Hurn Publications. Please keep an eye open for future updates about artwork, cover reveals, etc. I hope to have more info to share with you in the coming months!

In the meantime, I’ve been working on young adult fiction as well as picture books. I don’t know if any of this work is going to make it to print, but writing these stories has been a LOT of fun. As much as I love picture books, I’ve also really enjoyed the longer scope of a novel. For me, the most fun stage of writing is creating the first draft, and writing a longer book means more time spent on drafting. 😉

I’m in good company: many picture book writers also write in other genres, such as chapter books or middle grade. I’m looking forward to continuing to experiment with writing for different age groups.

Book Announcements, Picture Book Journey

SPOOKY wins an Award!

I’m pleased to announce that my picture book, Spooky and the Gargoyle, is one of the ategories in the 2020 Indie Reader Discovery Awards! This doesn’t mean instant fame and fortune for me (alas), but it is nice to see “Spooky” getting a little recognition. I’m very proud of that book, though I have to admit I didn’t really know what I was doing when I published it!

Take a look at all the winners. It’s exciting to see all the different kinds of books that the judges selected.

Challenges

Rainy Day

It’s time for the shortest –and in some ways, most challenging– of the annual writing contests for children’s literature. Every year, Seuss week brings Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words writing contest. And this year, once again, I’m throwing my hat in the ring with a new story that plays with the form of haiku. Enjoy!

“Rainy Day”

Dark clouds hide the sun.

Gloomy day; nothing to do

Till Mom brings out new

* * *

rain boots and raincoat.

Mud puddles plus yellow boots

Make rainy day fun.

* * *

Boots off, cocoa time!

Blow heat away. Sip slowly.

Sweet treat. A fun day.

Challenges

The Taste of Christmas

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I love writing challenges and contests. For a picture book writer, the challenge of having to write with a set word count is very useful training. It’s amazing what you can do with just 50 words, or 100 . . . or, in today’s contest story, 250. Because it’s time for The 9th Annual Holiday Story Contest!

Here’s my entry: The Taste of Christmas.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Shopping downtown was like wandering through a holiday carnival. So much to see! Lights decked every signpost. Banners hung across the street.

So much to hear, too! Musicians played on street corners. Bells jingled from many of the doors.

Good smells floated everywhere. Food trucks filled the air with savory odors, and the candle shop smelled like every good winter scent mixed together. 

Camille was full of Christmas joy. Her brother? Not so much.

“Mom,” Aiden whined, “I’m COLD.”

“Almost done,” said Mom. “We’ll have hot chocolate when we get home.”

But there was no hot chocolate mix in the pantry.

Aiden pouted. Camille pondered. “Isn’t there some other way we could make it?”

“I think you can use baking cocoa, but I’ve never done it. What if I just make hot tea instead?”

“It has to be hot chocolate,” said Aiden.

“We can read directions,” Camille said. “Let’s try it!”

Aiden found the baking cocoa. “There’s a recipe here on the back.”

Together they measured water and sugar, a scoop of cocoa, a pinch of salt. Mom put the saucepan on the stove.

“A watched pot never boils,” Mom warned. But they watched anyway . . . and eventually the mixture boiled. Time to add milk!

Finally, Mom measured out tiny spoonfuls of vanilla and peppermint. Whisking it was fun.

“All done!” Mom poured out three cups.

“Sweet,” said Aiden. “We should make it this way all the time.”

“It tastes like Christmas,” Camille said. “It’s perfect.”