Writers, To The Starting Line! Guidelines For The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest!!!

For all you writers of kid lit, this FREE-TO-ENTER contest offers terrific prizes! Susanna Hill runs the best writing contests.

Susanna Leonard Hill

I was tootling along, minding my own business, when suddenly I realized it’s November 22!

“Holy Flying Reindeer, Batman!” I said to Violet. “Do you understand the implications of this?”

Apparently she thought I was asking her to BE a flying reindeer and felt no urgency whatsoever regarding the situation!

I, on the other hand, understand the urgency all too well!

There are only TWO WEEKS until the opening of the Holiday Contest and you guys need your guidelines so you can put your thinking caps on and start writing!

I tried to get Violet to put HER thinking cap on but she was very uncooperative so I had to fake it. Clearly, she doesn’t like the fake one any more than the real one.

ANYWAY, the point is that somehow November has flown by and it’s time to tell you what you need to know to get started on…

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I’m grateful to be able to live a semi-hermit life and still get my art/writing out to the world. I’m grateful for good friends who understand my aversion to being social. And I’m so very grateful for pie.

Sour cherry crumble-top pie (front) and butternut squash “pumpkin” pie (back)

A Happy Thanksgiving long weekend to everyone in the U.S. who is celebrating! I wish you many things to be thankful for.

Sonic boom

This week passed by so fast, I swear it broke the sound barrier. Here are some of the jewelry I shared on social media in the past several days (plus a German apple cake).

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is turning out to be a NaNo-FAIL-Mo for me. Unless I turn things around in the next 12 days 😂😂😂, it’s gonna be a bust. But given how well the month has gone in other ways, I’m not too upset about it.

Have a nice and relaxing weekend!

The (non) family jewels

This month, I thought I was going to be busy with writing for NaNoWriMo, and therefore I would just showcase the jewelry I’ve made in the past on social media. Turns out, I’m busy doing a number of other things (attending webinars/online classes, giving interviews, addressing copy edits on one of my books, etc.) and have gotten very little done on NaNo. But I have showcased a few piece of jewelry on Instagram and Twitter. Um, yay?

Anyway, that’s about all I have time for to share on the blog this week. I plan to gift or sell many of these pieces because I have so much jewelry, I can’t wear them all. Also, I’m going to (like with my soap-making) give up the hobby once I deplete my supplies. Not only don’t I have time to work on making wearable art, but since I don’t officially sell anything, they just pile up at home. Plus, my hands are getting old and stiff, and my eyes aren’t what they were in my younger years.

“The Chips are All In” – made with fresh water pearl chips, dyed green + Swarovski crystals
“On Aegean Shores”
“Lapis of Luxury” – SOLD!
“Twice as N-Ice”
“Everything’s Coming Up Rose Pearls” – with fresh water pearls dyed pink

And it’s back to work for me now. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Book news!!

Friday completely slipped away from me. It’s not like anyone is eagerly waiting for my Friday blog posts but it’s a discipline that I try to cultivate. Anyway, it’s just a little post with a bit of book news.

First of all, I placed Silver in the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest:

And then my book deal was announced:

So, it’s been a good week mainly preoccupied with thanking everyone for their congratulatory wishes, and that’s never way to keep busy.

Hope your weekend has been going well!

What happens in critique groups

Let’s suppose you write a Little Red Riding Hood type story. You send it to your critique group.

3/4 of your critique partners reply, “Oh, I see you’re trying to write a Little Red Riding Hood type story. Very good. Here are some ways you might want to consider to possibly improve it.”

1 of them replies, “This is nothing like War and Peace. I don’t understand why there’s a little girl and a wolf in it. The red cape makes no sense at all. Here’s how I would rewrite it.”


There’s always that one person…and I’m hoping I’m not that one person for someone else who never understands their work.

Drawings, part 2

Happily, my talk at the Montana SCBWI virtual conference went pretty well last weekend. This weekend, I’m giving the talk at the Highlights Foundation online class on nonfiction. So I’ve been a bit distracted with updating that (I’d previously presented it in February), and am glad that I already have a post planned for today.

Day 6 – Faber-Castell pen + Tombow Dual Brush Pens
Day 7 – Faber-Castell pen + Tombow Dual Brush Pens
Day 8 – Faber-Castell pen + Lyra colored pencils
Day 9 – Faber-Castell pen + Lyra colored pencils
Day 10 – Faber-Castell pen + Lyra colored pencils

And that’s all folks. Have a lovely weekend!

Bikes and Bicycling

Love bicycles or, better yet, know of kids who do? My TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING is included in this grouping of terrific picture books with bikes in them…plus links on activities and bike science!

Science in Storytime

The Magical Yet written by Angela DiTerlizzi

New things can be tricky, but never you fret–it’s time to make friends with the Magical Yet!

Bike & Trike written by Elizabeth Verdick

When Lulu graduates to a bicycle with training wheels, rusty, old Trike feels lonely in the garage and worries about Lulu’s safety on her shiny, new bike.

Two Bicycles in Beijing written by Teresa Robeson

Lunzi and Huangche were made in the same bicycle factory and remained close in a shop, but when Huangche is purchased before Lunzi, she races through Beijing seeking her friend. Includes glossary of Mandarin Chinese terms and descriptions of the places visited.

Bikes for Sale written by Carter Higgins

Maurice rides his bike all over selling lemonade, while Lotta rides her bike collecting sticks as she goes; they ride different routes and are completely unaware of each other–until their bikes are wrecked and they…

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Writing versus Other things…who wins?

It’s apparently a draw. Or a drawing or five. I debated whether I should do the #scbwiartober thing. It’s never been a completely satisfactory experience doing these group challenges, but I still get pulled in every so often.

Then a friend on social media shared about this other challenge, ##autumnwoods2021 , and I stupidly decided that the best thing to do was to combine the two.

No, the best thing to do would be to ignore both altogether and work on my writing. But I never learn from past miserable experiences. 🙄 All is not lost, however, I’ve decided I should stop at 10. I’ll share the first 5 with you today and the last 5 next Friday.

I swear that panther is me. 😐
“Now where was that acorn I’d hidden?”
“Get off my tail, you stupid kids.”
I’ve seen this happen to insects and birds before! 😆

All of these were done with Tombow Dual Brush Pens. And to compensate for my whining, I have to admit that doing these forced me to think creatively when trying to combine the words into an interesting scene. They also gave me some practice with the Tombow markers. I’m not very good at making art with markers.

Have you participated in challenges where you look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “What in the heck were you thinking of???” Tell me about it on Twitter!

The juicer of my dreams

Like all the reviewers on the Lehman’s site said, why didn’t I get this years earlier??

You just put the water in and you don’t have to deal with it for an hour! I cooked down the juice to make a syrup. We also canned several pints of salsa that day.

I’m not the best at gauging headspace though. See how much there is in the jelly versus the salsa (the Spousal Unit canned that while I did the jelly)? He gives me a hard time about it.

The syrup is quite tasty and reminds me of Ribena which I use to drink a lot of as a kid.