Wednesday, February 14, 2018

3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

Time for another one of Susanna Leonard Hill's writing contests, hooray! These are so much fun. This time, I'm submitting to the 3rd Annual Valentiny Contest. The rules are as follows:


1. It must be a Valentines story. 2. It must be appropriate for children (ages 12 and under). 3. It must be under 214 words. 4. It must include someone who is hopeful.


Good luck to all the contestants and thank you Susanna for the opportunity!




A Heartfelt Valentine
By Debbie Day
201 words

 
All the hearts gathered on Valentine’s Day

to hear what their president, Cupid, would say:

“The people are hoping for Valentine cheer.

What message of love can we send them this year?”

Every heart shouted the answers they thought:

“Love is like Nachos – it’s cheesy and hot!”

“You are my nut bar. You’re crunchy and sweet.”

“Hey there, I’m single…so please rub my feet!”

 
Then a small heart stepped in front of the crowd.

Boldly she stated her message out loud.

“Perfect,” said Cupid, “That’s what we’ll all say!

Just the right message for Valentine’s Day.”

Everyone cheered (well, the nacho guy frowned).

Then all the hearts rained on each city and town.

 
Some people scoffed at their heart-note surprise.

Others ignored it, while some rolled their eyes.

But all those who hoped for more love on that day,

smiled at the message and went on their way…

They said “hi” to strangers and held open doors.

They donated money and food at the stores.

They talked with their neighbors and friends far away,

to share the heart-message they’d read on that day:


“NOONE’S THE SAME AND WE ALL DISAGREE,

BUT I CAN TREAT YOU LIKE I HOPE YOU’D TREAT ME.”  

Thursday, February 1, 2018

High Time for Another Update

It's been awhile, so I thought I'd give a quick update on what's been happening the last couple months...


In December, I had my one-on-one skype critique with the talented Penny Parker Klostermann (see previous post and check out her wonderful books). She gave me a great critique on one of my rhyming stories and also shared some invaluable advice that I wanted to pass on:
  • When writing rhyme...don't sacrifice the story just to get the rhyme. You have limited real estate, so to speak, don't waste it just for that last word of the phrase.
  • Make every word count. Every word must belong and make sense to the story - don't take short cuts.
  • Picture books need to either A) Have a strong goal/purpose, where the main character goes through some sort of transformation, or B) If the story is more of a general journey through and experience, there must be a theme throughout the story to tie it all together, such as a repeating phrase. (Say no to vague stories about feelings or lists, that don't have any purpose or theme!)
  • Check out Storystorm here: https://taralazar.com/storystorm/. It happens once a year in the month of January (So it just finished up), but it's a great, FREE resource for picture book writers.
  • Read THE NUTS AND BOLTS GUIDE TO WRITING PICTURE BOOKS by Linda Ashman.
  • Make sure your in a writing group that consists specifically of picture book writers, who know the market and the ins and outs of picture book writing (which is quite different than other genres).  
Following Penny's advice, I participated in Storystorm this year, and wow. What a great experience that truly was! It's put on by Tara Lazar and it's basically a series of blog posts designed to help you generate ideas for picture books. It's still up on her website so any writer can look through the posts and get inspiration all year long (which I highly recommend). At the end of the month, I was left with more than 60 new ideas, 5 newly written manuscripts, and over a dozen more I started writing. Never has anything helped me so much with my writing.




I'm also in the process of reading Linda Ashman's book: THE NUTS AND BOLTS GUIDE TO WRITING PICTURE BOOKS, and again have found this so incredibly helpful! It contains the best, most straight-forward advice on writing picture books I've ever seen in one place - AWESOME resource.



I also organized a new writing group last month through my SCBWI membership - they have resources on their blackboard where you can find other members who'd like to start a critique group. So we have started meeting once a month and that's been great!



So yeah, Penny's advice has been amazing. I'm feeling super excited about my newly written manuscripts and have even started querying some stories again. It's been a good month!



In other news, my new book THE TWO ANGELS, A STORY ABOUT TWINS has been out for about 2 months now, and I've been so grateful for the success it's had. The first month of sales was better than I hoped, and I'm noticing that even after Christmas, there's been a steady stream of online sales. This wasn't the case with my first self-published book, ITCHY MITCHIE, and here's what I think is the difference. THE TWO ANGELS appeals to a very specific market: Twin families, and also Christians. When I set the book up in Amazon, I made "books for twins" and "a book about twins" two of the key phrases. Because of that, and also since there just aren't that many twin books out there, when people search for those things in Amazon, my book is one of the first to show up. It's also listed under religious fiction and Christianity, which makes it even more specific. So it turns out that writing a book for a niche market can be really beneficial rather than a generic children's book that may appeal to a wider audience but will simply not get seen in the enormous sea of picture books. Good to know, huh! (Now what other book could I write that appeals to a small, but consistent niche? Hmmmmm....)



Anyway, the kids are all emerging from naps and play time, so I better wrap this up, but it's been a great couple months of writing  and I'm excited for what's ahead in 2018!



Oh, oh! Ps. One more thing: Susanna Hill's next writing contest has been announced. It's coming up in a couple weeks, check it out here: https://susannahill.com/2018/01/27/bic-writers-its-time-for-the-2018-valentiny-contest-guildelines/



More soon!

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Two Angels is HERE!

Hey all! My brand new book, THE TWO ANGELS, A STORY ABOUT TWINS, is officially available!!!

Order it right here:



This book makes a perfect Christmas present for the little ones in your life and if you order in November, leave me your email and I'll write you an extra magical Christmas story for you to enjoy this holiday season!

Thanks so much for your support! Please feel free to share - especially with the twin families you know! πŸ™‚

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Picture Book Summit, Halloweensie prize, and my new book!

What a busy month it’s been! Exciting things happening! Let me tell you all about itπŸ™‚:

In October, I participated in my first Picture Book Summit. It’s an all-day on-line picture book conference with amazing guest speakers, which included Tomie dePaola , Carole Boston Weatherford, and Adam Rex, WOW! It was a great experience, and I learned lots of important tidbits of writing info that I’ve scribbled down on several pages of notes. (In theory, I hope to copy those notes here on the blog at some point when things settle down, so hopefully that will really happen). If any picture book writer is considering taking this course in the future, I would definitely recommend it – aside from the valuable advice and straight talk about how to have writing success, another perk about attending the summit is that you can submit your manuscript to participating agents and editors who are usually closed to submissions.  So at the moment, I’m going through my stories and deciding which ones to send to who! If you're interested in attending next year's Picture Book Summit, here’s a link for you to learn more: http://picturebooksummit.com/.

Also in October, I submitted my picture book story to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie writing contest (see below), and out of 244 entrants, ended up winning 2nd place! I can’t tell you how honored and grateful I felt to have received this news! I got to choose from a pretty amazing list of prizes and ended up picking a one-on-one Skype session with Penny Parker Klostermann, author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT and A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE (Random House), both adorably charming and hilarious picture books! Check out her website here: https://pennyklostermann.com/. So now I just need to send her one of my picture book manuscripts and then I get a 30-minute critique from her. How cool is that! (which one to send? WHICH ONE TO SEND!) Not only am I a fan of her books, I also love her poetry blog – check it out on her website, it’s called “Blog a penny and her jots”😊. Again, for any of you picture book writers out there (or those who want to try it out!) Susanna is holding another writing contest around December 8th. They are sooo fun, so I definitely think you should give it a try! The rules should show up on her blog sometime in the near future. Here's where you'll find it: https://susannahill.com/blog/.

The biggest news I have to share is that my next book, THE TWO ANGELS: A STORY ABOUT TWINS, will be available to purchase in just 2 days!!! I am so happy to have finished this project. It’s been a long 2+ years putting my heart into the text and illustrations. I really look forward to sharing it with the world! I’m setting a goal to sell 50 copies through the rest of November. As an incentive, for all those who order in November, I will write a magical Christmas story for them to enjoy this holiday season! I’ll give all the details on Black Friday, when the book will be available, so stay tuned!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’ll talk to you in a couple days!😁

Monday, November 13, 2017

Halloweensie Contest Finalist!

Hi Friends!

This morning, I was super excited to see that my story made it as a finalist for Susanna Hill's Halloweensie Contest! Hurray! I'm so grateful!

The next step in the contest is voting, which means all us finalists need your help! Please oh please just take a moment to look at all the entrants and vote for your favorite before this Thursday, November 16th. Here's the link:

https://susannahill.com/2017/11/13/the-2017-halloweensie-contest-finalists-at-long-last/comment-page-1/#comment-46518

Good luck to all the finalists and thank you so much for voting!! :)


Monday, October 30, 2017

Attack of the Vampire Cookie! **7th Annual Halloweensie Contest**

Hello friends! I know it's been a while, but I have a good excuse. I've been busy finishing up my latest writing project - a self-published picture book about twins, so stay tuned for upcoming announcements!

As for today, I'm submitting my entry to Susanna Leonard Hill's 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest! (You can find the contest here).

The rules are as follows: Write a Halloween story in 100 words or less that is appropriate for children (children defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using some form of the words candy corn, monster, and shadow. (Candy corn will be counted as 1 word.)

Here's my entry, thanks for the opportunity!




ATTACK OF THE VAMPIRE COOKIE
By Debbie Day
Word count: 100

On Halloween morning, a cookie is baked,
frosted in crimson and black.
With candy corn fangs and peppermint eyes,
it’s finished -  a vampire bat.

On Halloween midday, the party guests come,
craving a Halloween treat.
Before they can reach the desserts on the shelf,
a cookie escapes to the street.

On Halloween evening, up in the sky
Something bizarre is in flight.
A shadowy monster with candy corn fangs
is looking for children to bite.

On Halloween night, while kids trick-or-treat,
a creature descends, mean and vicious.  
“Look!” says a child, “caught in this branch,
a bat cookie. Mmmm, tastes delicious!”


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

MANIFEST WEST is in print!

I was excited to see this come in the mail today! MANIFEST WEST is an anthology that "delves into the rich mixing pot created in the West, derived from assorted cultures and ethnicities and from a variety of beliefs and traditions across the world, all manifested in today’s Western culture." Inside is my second official publication: a poem entitled MOVING WEST, describing some thoughts I had moving from Maryland to Wyoming. 

I look forward to reading all the contributions. If you're interested in a copy, you can buy one here:
http://upcolorado.com/university-press-of-colorado/item/3196-women-of-the-west