Challenges, Picture Book Journey

StoryStorm 2023!

Writers, it’s not too late to participate in Tara Lazar’s annual idea-generating challenge, StoryStorm. It started off as a challenge specifically for picture book writers, but now it’s broadened and is open to all writers who want to generate new ideas. Learn more about it here. You can register to win prizes now through January 7.

This year, I’m starting off with a couple of ideas that go back to my picture-book writing roots. But I hope to generate some new novel ideas for the upcoming writing year, as well!

Whether you participate in StoryStorm or not, I wish you happy writing in 2023.


50 Precious Words: Kitten to Owl

It’s officially time for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest, in which kidlit writers try to compose a complete story (beginning, middle, and end) 50 words or less in length. This is, in my opinion, the most challenging of the blog-based writing contests I know, because of the brevity. Here’s my entry! This year, I’ve gone for humor.

Kitten to Owl

“Today I’ll be an owl,” said Kitten. He climbed a tree and perched on a branch.

“Hoo! Hoo!” He hooted. But it sounded more like “Mew! Mew!”

Passersby panicked. “Help! There’s a kitten stuck in a tree!”

The fire department rescued him.

“Tomorrow I’ll be an ostrich instead,” he decided.

an owl perched on a tree stump, depicting what kitten is pretending to be
Photo by Pixabay on

Love is Stronger

The prompt for Susanna Hill’s 2021 Valentiny contest asked for a story about someone being brave. Mine ended up being . . . a little creepier than your average Valentine’s Day story!

Love is Stronger

“Not scared, are you?” my cousin Dylan asks.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” I say. I still shudder as we pass through the gates.

Inside, trees cast shadows that startle me, but I try to be brave.

Our feet break the crust of the February snow. We seek cover behind a hedge.

“He’ll see the footprints!” I whisper.

“Too late now!” says Dylan. We scurry from the hedge to hide behind a mausoleum.

“It’s cold,” I grumble. And creepy.  

“Shh!” Dylan whispers. “Not so loud.” Silently, we wait. And shiver.

I’m glad the sun is high in the sky. If this place gives me chills now, what would it be like at night?

Dylan gasps. “There he is!” We watch as an elderly man trudges through the gates, his snowboots sinking deep with every step.

Snow covers the names on the graves, but he doesn’t need the name to find the right spot. He lays down his bouquet. “Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart.”

Then he turns his head, as if he hears something. We duck down. But it’s too late. He clomps toward us.

“Come home, kids,” he says, “and get some hot cocoa.”

“Grandpa, why do you still give Grandma flowers, even though she’s dead?” I ask.

“Because love is stronger than death.”

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on
Challenges, writing tips

StoryStorm 2021!

Each January brings a writing challenge that’s both fun and useful: StoryStorm. This is an idea-generating challenge, in which you try to create 30 ideas in the span of 31 days. Each day there are helpful blog posts, too. You can find the first one here.

I’ve written about StoryStorm before; this is the third year I’ve participated. For this year, though, I want to set myself an additional challenge. You see, my problem with StoryStorm is that the habit of jotting down ideas doesn’t last with me once the challenge ends.

I want to stay in the habit of writing down ideas even when I don’t have a challenge to aim for. So this year, to start small, I challenge myself to come up with ten new ideas each month after StoryStorm. I know that I may very well not keep up with it, but I’m pretty sure that I will get more ideas than if I didn’t set a goal.

Sounds like a good idea, no? And hey, it’s not too late to join StoryStorm!


Halloweensie Time!

Every year, Susanna Leonard Hill hosts her Halloweensie contest, which invites writers of children’s literature to write a Halloween story in 100 words or less. Today marks the first day of the Halloweensie contest, so if you want to read some great Halloween stories, hop over to Susanna’s blog!

And here’s my story . . .

The Spookiest House on the Block.

Skeletons dangled from the trees, twisting in the wind. Flickering lights barely illumined the sidewalk.

“Maybe we should just go to the next house,” Aiden whispered.

“No way,” Sophie said. She adjusted her mask, gulped, and crept carefully past clinging cobwebs.

“WELCOME!” Something lurking on the porch turned glowing red eyes towards them. Aiden shrieked.

Sophie ran past the figure and slammed her hand on the doorbell. “Trick or treat!” she gasped.

“Happy Halloween,” replied the man who answered. He dropped several treats into her bag.

They were full size Snickers!

“Best house on the block,” Sophie told Aiden.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on