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.”

Challenges

Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy: “Reminiscence”

One of the great things about autumn is the arrival of autumn writing contests, followed by winter holiday contests. I love these blog contests, because they’re fun to write and they’re fun to read. If you’ve never followed one, start with the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy right now, then wait for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie at the end of October!

Here’s my entry. It’s, um, a little more disturbing than my previous holiday stories. Let’s say this one is for older kids, okay?

This story is based on Image 11.

“Reminiscence”

Two crows perched on a single branch, sharing memories.

“I remember when there were cows in this field,”

Said Edgar. “Not cows,” said Allen. “Horses.”

“Maybe both.”

“I remember when there was a scarecrow in that field,” Allen said.

They both looked across the road, and shivered.

“I never liked that scarecrow.”

“Me neither.”

Edgar shuffled his feet. Allen ruffled his feathers.

“I remember one night . . .” began Edgar.

“Stop!” replied Allen. “I don’t like that story.”

“But it happened!”

“Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. But let’s not talk about it.”

They looked away from the field. They cawed at a passing dog.

“Whoever heard of a scarecrow walking, anyway?” Allen asked at last.

“If all it did was walk,” replied Edgar, “That wouldn’t have scared me.”

“That night,” Allen said, “The stormy night. . . ” He couldn’t finish.

So Edgar told the story: “Its head blew away in the gale.

And the scarecrow walked.”

Allen covered his head with his wings.

“When it came back,” Edgar finished, “it had a new head.

I always wondered how it got it.”

“I NEVER wanted to know.” They looked back at the empty field, and flew away.



Book Announcements, Picture Book Journey

It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

It’s almost October, so what better time than now to announce the publication of my first picture book, Spooky and the Gargoyle? It’s available on Amazon in kindle (including Kindle Unlimited), paperback, and hardcover. The hardcover can also be purchased from Target.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and other online sellers– so if you’d rather not support Amazon, you do have other options.

This is the perfect season for enjoying a slightly spooky but very sweet friendship tale. If you do read it, I’d love it if you left a review!

And before I go, let me give you a head’s up about what you’ll see on this blog in the coming month. I hope to do some posts about revision, because that’s what I have been working on right now. And there may very well be a 2019 Halloweensie story for you to read.

Hope your autumn is off to a great start!

Book Announcements, Picture Book Journey

Something SPOOKY this way comes!

If you’ve visited this site before, you may notice that I’ve changed the color scheme . . . and I have a new logo. What’s Thousand Acre Wood Books, you wonder? It’s the name of my writing business, and the name under which I’m going to self-publish one of my picture book manuscripts!

This particular manuscript is near and dear to me. I wrote the earliest version back in 2016, when I had no clue what I was doing. In 2017, it was the first manuscript that I shared with other writers for a critique, and wow, did I learn a lot about what I didn’t know about writing picture books!

The story has changed a lot since 2016. The current version is quite different from what I originally imagined, but it has the same aesthetic and the same lovable characters as that flawed draft. Now, it reads like a picture book rather than a short story. I’m excited to launch this book this fall.

Why not traditionally publish? Have I given up on that route? No, I haven’t given up: I’m still hoping to traditionally publish picture books, and I’m still seeking representation. But after querying agents with this manuscript quite a bit, I’m at a point where I really ought to set it aside. And I’m too attached to do that. So I’m launching it myself, largely because I want to have this beloved book in hand to read to my children while they are still young enough to enjoy it. Plus, it’s going to be fun. 🙂

You may be wondering what the story is about and what the title is. But you’ll just have to wait for a cover reveal. Mwa ha ha!