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Another Writing Contest

I found another great writing contest! This time in the Kansas City Star. Here’s how it works: the Star prints a picture; you write a fake caption. It’s fast–results are announced the following week–and you can email your submission. Perfect! The kicker: you’ve got less than 24 hours to submit your best stuff.

So I entered for the first time last Friday, 6/12, on DTV Conversion Day. Although I didn’t win the $25 gift card, I was a runner-up. I couldn’t get a link to page C7, so here’s my caption for this crazy picture:


“Ecstatic over his win in the inaugural DTV Conversion Day Awards, former rock star Melvin Bliggle takes home the Silver Spring.”

I’ve missed the deadline for this week (rats), but I’m gonna enter again when I can. After all, it’s a writing contest, and you know how I loves me some writing contests.

One of My Favorite Picture Books

I discovered Orville: A Dog Story by accident. I might have been researching the publisher, Clarion, or perhaps I was wandering in the “K” section at my library. Either way, I lucked out. The supreme beauty of Haven Kimmel’s Orville is its luscious blend of raw emotion and perfectly chosen words, the essence of a great picture book. And it doesn’t hurt that it features a dog, another of my all-time favorite things.

Picture book writers desiring an example of a great first sentence need only look at Orville’s. It hits you right between the eyes:

“He was so lost, and had been lost for so long, that when the early April thunderstorm blew in like a freight train, the dog lay down in the culvert, covered his eyes with his paws, and decided to never get up again.”

Wow. It’s poetry. It’s raw. It’s literary. And it doesn’t stop with the first sentence. There’s a great story there, filled with longing, conflict, and resolution. It’s a novel in miniature, a love story. Published in 2003 and written for older picture book readers, Orville is not typical of today’s lighter, bouncier, funny picture books. It’s the kind of book I’d like to have written.

Children’s Book Week

It’s Children’s Book Week! And to celebrate, I read some of my picture books to two of my favorite elementary classes. What great audiences they were! Thanks to Mrs. Arth, Ms. Alvis and Mrs. Caywood and all your great students (especially my two favorites)!

Keep reading and writing!

My Debut Picture Book

You asked for it! Okay, not all of you. But a few did. Okay two. Two of my friends. So here it is! THE EASTER BUNNY, my debut picture book, written and illustrated by my 10-year old self. (P.S. World rights still available. Call me.)

The first thing you’ll notice is the unique cover paper. Made from recycled wallpaper sample books, this stunning volume seamlessly melds art and text. And it’s sparkly.

Notice how the animal motif (bunny, tiger) builds on itself on the inside front cover. The title page is simple, yet classic in design, punctuated by a single flower in the top right corner. (And yes, I went through a period where I bubbled the dot above my i’s. Cool, huh?)

Page 1. The problem

Page 2. The community gets involved

Page 3. Mole knows something
Page 4. Mole spills (!!)

Page 5. Mumble, mumble

Page 6. Quick! To your homes!
Page 7. The big finish

What I learned by writing and illustrating my own book? You don’t have to start big. You just have to start. What will you write today?

Writing Contests

Have I mentioned I love writing contests? Well I should have. Writing contests put my brain into overdrive. The excitement! The challenge! The narrow focus and limited timeframe! It’s too much for me to resist–kinda like exclamation points–so I usually don’t.
In 2006 my entry was a winner in the “Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? Contest” sponsored by smartwriters.com and the Penguin group. I won a lovely tote, which I carry to all my writing conferences and gigs, the awesome book of the same name, and a poster which hangs proudly on my office wall. Thanks, Roxyanne and Penguin editors!
In 2007 my picture book, Freezing, Wheezing, Sneezing Weasels, took 3rd place in the picture book category of the W.I.N. Contest, also sponsored by smartwriters. com. Thanks, Roxyanne and Verla!

In 2008 my haiku was chosen a winner in the AirQ Haiku Contest, sponsored by the Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City, Missouri. I won a bike! Thanks, Amanda, judges and River Market Cyclery!

Also in 2008, my holiday haiku took 2nd place in agent Rachelle Gardner’s 17 Syllables Contest. Thanks, Rachelle and blog voters!

I can’t wait to enter more contests. How about you?

Author Visit

What a great day I had last Friday! The sun shone. The birds sang. And I spoke to a wonderful group of second graders about writing. It doesn’t get any better than that!

We talked about the writing process and where ideas come from and how a writer knows when she is finished. They asked questions and listened as I read “The Easter Bunny,” a story I wrote and illustrated as a kid (hey, where’s my Caldecott?), plus a couple of my more recent picture books, unillustrated. They were polite and interested and interesting, and before we knew it, time was up. Thanks for having me, Mrs. Gutshall and Webster Elementary!

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