Saturday, March 2, 2019

50 Precious Words Contest

It's time for Vivian Kirkfield's 50 Precious Words Writing Contest! Can you write a story for kids in 50 words or less? Give it a try! Click here to read all the rules and make your own entry. The contest ends March 6th. Good luck, All! Here's what I got this year: 

By Debbie Day
48 words

Kat the rat
swings her bat.
It’s a fly!
Wait - oh my.
Where’d it roll?
Down THAT hole?
Creepy, steep.
Dark and deep.
Now she spies
Kat’s worst fear
inching near.
Creepy crawl.
There’s the….BALL?
“Here you go!”
“Really? Whoa.
…Want to play?”
“Hmmm. Okay!”

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Calling picture book writers! Upcoming contests and events...

Hey all you writers, I want to tell you about another fun contest coming up on March 2nd run by Vivian Kirkfield. Think you can write a book for kids in 50 words or less? Sounds easy right? Well just try it and see how hard it actually can be! These little challenges are just pure fun for me and I hope you will join me in giving it a try. You have a couple weeks to think of the perfect story. All the rules for the contest can be found here:

I also just discovered something called Writeoncon. It's the cheapest (yet still high quality) online writing conference for kidlit writers I've seen yet. The 2019 conference just passed, but you can still buy the content for another month. I went ahead and did it - for 15 bucks? Why not!

One more thing to make picture book writers aware of, if you don't know about it already, there are various pitch parties on Twitter. #PBpitch is specifically for picture book writers and it's coming up in just a few days (February 21st) so look it up, see what it's about (Psst. It's a short cut for getting agents to notice your picture book pitches), and participate!

Lots of fun writing events going on this month, hope to see you there!

P.S. Yay for finishing this year's Storystorm

More soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Short and Sweet Update for a New Year

I thought it was a good idea to write a quick update on the exciting changes that have taken place the last few months.

First of all, my husband got his job assignment and now here we are in...Germany! We've been here about four months already (wow did that time go fast!) It's been a crazy, hard, amazing, and fun adventure so far.

Second of all, we had our baby #4! She came at the beginning of November and is already two months old (Wow that went by even faster!) We are so happy to have her here safe and sound, and boy is she a cutie!

As far as writing goes....As you can guess, I've had  a lot less free time with all that's been going on, but I'm trying to make time when I can because writing truly fills my happiness cup. Here's a few updates:

  • Out of 237 entries, my story BROKEN-DOWN broom from my previous post got 7th place in Susanna Hill's Halloweensie contest, so that was fun! 
  • I'm participating in Tara Lazar's STORY STORM again this year. It's the best writing inspiration activity I've found yet. If you're struggling to come up with new picture book ideas, you should definitely check it out!
  • With a new year ahead, I've made new writing goals. This year, I plan to query five agents a month, with a total of 60 this year. I also have several specific manuscript drafts that I plan on finishing up and getting ready to submit. I'm going to get it done in 2019!!
  • I'm applying to Tara Luebbe's 2019 Writing with the Stars mentoring program. There are some pretty amazing authors this year. The contest is open until January 13th if you want to check it out!
Stay tuned for more soon! 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

2018 Halloweensie Writing Contest: Broken-down Broom

I can't believe it's already time again for Susanna Leonard Hill's "Halloweensie" Writing Contest! These contests are a ton of fun and I'm so glad I get to participate this year! The guidelines are as follows: Write a 100-word or less Halloween story for kids ages 12 or under, containing the words cauldron, shiver, and howl. The contest closes on Halloween at midnight, so if you want to participate, there's still time! Just go here:

Broken-down Broom
By Debbie Day
100 words

While flying away to the Halloween Ball,
Gwen’s broom went CAPUT! and she started to fall.
She dropped with a crash into Skeleton Wood-
the creepiest place in the WHOLE neighborhood.
A shrill, nearby howl made her shiver in fright.
She thought, “Now I might miss the party tonight!”
She pulled out her cauldron and looked all around.
She grabbed molding mushrooms and worms from the ground.
Then just as another shriek echoed unseen,
Gwen whipped up a potion for broom gasoline.
She poured in the mixture and scrambled aboard.
“I’m bound for the ball!” She declared as she soared.

2018 Halloweensie Writing Contest: The Halloween Shack

I can't believe it's already time again for Susanna Leonard Hill's "Halloweensie" Writing Contest! These contests are a ton of fun and I'm so glad I get to participate this year! The guidelines are as follows: Write a 100-word or less Halloween story for kids ages 12 or under, containing the words cauldron, shiver, and howl. The contest closes on Halloween at midnight, so if you want to participate, there's still time! Just go here:

The Halloween Shack
By Debbie Day
100 Words

beyond the woods,
a shack appeared.
“Halloween Goods,” read the sign.

Howling sounds from the shack today.
Gave me shivers!
Should I visit?

Peeked through the window.
Mist spewed from a cauldron.
Almost SURE I saw eyes…

Stepped inside today.
Skulls, spiderwebs, eerie pictures...
Something whispered, “Welcome,”
and I ran!

Walked past the shack today.
Something watched me from the window.

Trick-or-treated at the shack tonight.
Don’t ask why.
A veiled figure
handed me candy
through the door.

I saw its eyes.

beyond the woods,
the shack…was gone.  

Thursday, August 2, 2018

It’s Been Awhile! *Breaking out of writer’s block, major life changes, updates, and more*

…Yes it has, and I feel like I need to explain why I’ve been on a blogging hiatus the last 6 months.
It’s a funny thing, writing inspiration. One period of time, you can be bursting with so many ideas and motivation that you can’t put your laptop down. That was my entire January/February. After Storystorm, I was full of inspiration and excitement. Looking at my “STORYSTORM 2018” folder right now, there are FORTY new documents of stories and drafts, most of which were written during that time.
But then- it’s kind of amazing really- how the next day, all that enthusiasm and productivity can get sucked away into some mysterious black hole, leaving you with nothing…that was my entire March, April, and May.
I realized pretty quickly that there was a justified reason for this massive muse swing (see what I did there?) And it was an interesting discovery: A new onset of pregnancy, with its accompanying morning sickness (or in my case evening sickness), lethargy, and weird food cravings, can not only cause “Pregnancy Brain” but it can also cause writer’s block as well.
I’ll never forget the relief I felt around the first of June when my nausea and general feeling of icky-ness died down and Voila! Just like magic, my inspiration returned. I wrote the first decent picture book manuscript in months.
While I haven’t felt quite the same as my pre-pregnancy self, slowly but surely, I’ve been pounding out some new projects ever since. And I have to say, it feels SO good to be back. I’ve been reminded that writing really does make me happy. It was incredibly discouraging to feel empty of ideas for so long. There’s a huge feeling of excitement and fulfillment that comes with writing something new and submitting to agents, publishers, or contests.
So, I guess in the last few months, what I’ve learned is that inspiration can leave for a while, and it’s okay. It feels super discouraging, but it’s important to keep in mind that it WILL come back. It’s alright to take a little break from time to time. Especially when major life events are taking place.
Which brings me to the other big distraction from my writing recently, which is the fact that my husband got a new job out of state. Once we accepted, we had less than a month to get everything squared away – our house, our vehicles (two of which we had to sell), our Jack Russell Terrier Jojo (we couldn’t take her with us ☹) and a whole lot of other things, before moving across the country.
(We are currently in Washington DC but will receive a new assignment shortly that will take us to a new, unknown destination. We are excited to see where we end up!)
Suffice it to say, it’s been a crazy year so far, and now you know my excuses for not blogging in a while. But we are expecting baby #4 this Fall (It’s a girl, hooray!), looking forward to a new adventure with my husband’s job, and planning to keep plugging along with the writing game…in between park adventures, play dates, snack times, temper tantrums, and so forth.
Despite the ups and downs, here’s a few updates/stats for the year thus far: 
  • In the last six months, I’ve submitted eight writing projects to agents/publishers/contests. I’ve received three rejections and am waiting to hear news about two more projects by the end of August. Crossing my fingers!
  • My goal is to send out a query at least every 1-2 weeks for the remaining of the year... This week is covered - I sent one yesterday! 
  • Last week, I departed from the picture book sphere and worked on a creepy short story that’s been on my mind ever since my husband and I made a random pit stop in rural Tennessee two years ago in which we made a TRULY unexpected discovery past a locked gate and down a dirt road (I hope that makes you want to read it 😃) ..Sometimes spooky stories are the most fun for me to write. I'd like to submit it to a magazine (Do you have any suggestions?) once it runs through the peer-editing mill in the coming weeks. 
  • My last update is a plan I’ve been formulating through trial and error for years now. It will probably continue to evolve, but I want to share it because it has worked for me every time I’ve used it. The trick is, using it consistently! (That whole self-discipline thing is kind of hard to stick to). Nonetheless, as I've tried my best to implement it more and more, it has brought me not only writing success, but overall life happiness/productivity as well. I also believe it has played a key role in getting me out of my recent writer's block. It probably wouldn’t work for everyone and I’m in no way giving out advice. All I’m saying is it’s been my own personal solution to juggling kids, home and other duties, getting writing projects done, and not going crazy in the process. So here it is:
    1. Every night, making a list of realistic to-do’s for the next day. 
    2.  Cutting out the social media I’m most attached to for the entire week (weekends are okay). In my case, it’s Facebook. 
    3. Spending one-on-one time with my kids each day (I shoot for 20 minutes).
    4. Being completely present with my kids when I’m with them, with no unnecessary distractions. 
    5. Going to a gym with childcare (as many days a week as possible). This is a key element of success for me because it serves many purposes. A. To get exercise which always reduces my stress and gives me more energy/confidence/happiness. B. To allow myself a short break from the kids, even if it’s for 20 minutes (It’s amazing how a little breather can help me to be a better mom). And C. While I exercise I can read or listen to Audible – Any books, emails, news, or scriptures I need/would like to read that day, can be done while I run on the treadmill. Two birds with one stone = I feel really happy and productive. 
    6. Making the very most of down time (kids’ naps/scheduled TV time), which is when I pull out my to-do list and start crossing stuff off.  
    7. Getting the kids to bed early every night. Our kids’ bedtime has always been 7pm and it’s been the best thing ever. I mean, EVER (For me AND the kids). I owe this step to the book HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS, HAPPY CHILD by Marc Weissbluth – one of the most helpful parenting books I've read. 
    8. Getting to bed myself before 10pm.  
      •  What these steps do for me: After my kids go to sleep, I’ve spent quality time with them without distractions so I feel good and not guilty. I’ve already read what I wanted to read that day. I’ve already exercised. I’ve already finished everything on my to-do list (because it was realistic). I still have energy because I’ve been going to bed on time. I feel satisfied about my day instead of discouraged/depressed. I don’t need to worry about being distracted with time-wasting social media because I’m still off it until the weekend. I’m completely ready to write or work on whatever else I’m excited about…which may be watching a good movie with my husband too. I’m not perfect at following this plan, but it’s taken me awhile to realize the necessity of each step and I KNOW that for me, it’s what I need to do to balance my life, get things done, and feel at peace. 
 So anyway, that’s what I’ve been working on and thinking about lately. How about you?
 More soon - Hopefully much sooner than last time!

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 Valentine's 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: