My 2018 Valentiny Entry

So Susanna Leonard Hill is a rockstar who puts on three fabulous, teeny, tiny contests each year. If you haven’t checked them out, I encourage you to challenge yourself with an entry. A great way to flex your writing muscle!

The requirements for the Valentiny Contest: write a 214-word-or-less, kid-friendly Valentine’s Day story about someone who is hopeful.

At 212 words, here goes!

CLEO, BE MINE
Candy, scones, ribbon, bows
Signs that read, Be Mine.
But I say down with mushy gushy.
Down with valentines!

At school they all swap notes.
They laugh, hug, whisper.
Ugh. Last year the valentine I got was…
From my sister.

They pass each other cards.
One then two then three.
But I sit alone in the hallway.
None addressed to me.

Boo to valentines!

Cleo’s across the way.
She’s like a ray of light.
If I got a valentine from her,
That would be alright.

“Hey, Cleo.” My voice cracks.
“You look nice today.”
She looks at her friend Clara, giggles,
Then sprints fast away.

Which wise guy created
A love day like this?
I mean, who really wants chocolate hearts,
Sweet songs, or a kiss?

It’s not like I want one.
Chocolate hearts, I mean.
The easiest way to get candy?
Duh. Vending machine.

Go away, valentines.

Then Clara sneaks on by.
“Check out what she wrote.”
Attached to two giant candy bars
Is one purple note.

From Cleo, says the treat.
I unstick the glue.
Under “cute” in the dictionary
I hope I’d see you.

I guess it’s not so bad,
This whole holiday.
If Cleo wants to send me letters,
Hey, that’s A-OK!

Cleo, be mine.
Thumbs up for valentines!

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Roll, baby, roll

Watching my son learn is magical. There’s nothing like it. Last weekend he taught himself to roll over. He was playing on the floor, babbling away, when I caught the tail-end of him teetering from his back to his tummy. And then again a minute later. And then again.

He didn’t quite remember his new trick a couple hours later. I had to swing one leg over the other to remind him. As soon as I helped him along, he was back to his cute wobble from back to front, balancing all his weight on his elbow.

I expected I’d have to show him this for another week or so before he remembered. But no. Bubs proved mama wrong earlier this week by rolling on his own with no reminding. And he continued to do so even after I flipped him on his back over and over. It became a game of sorts. Until he spit up from the excitement.

Just a few months ago he was struggling to hold his head up on his own. And before that we met for the first time in a hospital room. Last summer he was bundled snug in my tummy, not knowing that one day he would accomplish something huge like rolling over.

And now he’s growing and learning faster than I can keep up. Part of me wants him to stay this small forever, but the other part can’t wait to see what he’ll show me tomorrow.

I’m Back!

Holy hiatus.

Quite a bit of time has passed since I last posted. And I must say, it feels good to be back. Much has happened. Something life changing kept me from my blog.

I gave birth to my first baby, Oliver, last September. And boy oh boy, is he seriously my whole world. The months leading up to his arrival are now a blur of exhaustion, worry, excitement, and hunger. (Let’s be real—there were a lot of cheeseburgers involved.) The past four-and-a-half months have been filled with those some emotions, only amplified and even more wonderful.

img_9368I mean, come on. That face. Those cheeks. That smile. Ughhhhh, my bubs is magic.

Though over the past year I couldn’t muster up the energy to deliver blog content that wasn’t filled with rambling thoughts and food references, I did make some personal writing accomplishments. I finished the first revision of my second MG novel. And just weeks before Oliver decided to greet us a week early. I pushed myself hard to complete that revision before my due date. Even when it was the last thing I wanted to do, I dragged myself to the library on my lunch break to bang out another chapter. With detailed notes and analysis from my critique group, I kissed my manuscript goodnight and tucked it away to hibernate. All in time to focus my attention on my bubs.

And now that writerly itch is scratching again. I’m ready to jump back into everything—the blog, the WIPs, the conferences. Do I have lots of time? Nope. Do I often pass out on the couch by 8:30 p.m.? You betcha. Will time with my son take precedence over everything? Um, duh.

But a writer is a writer through and through, and she will find the time. Even in the sleepy hours of the day or the quiet of the early morning.

So, I have so aptly renamed my blog Moonlit KidLit: Nocturnal ramblings and reviews by one tired mama. I’ll most often post when the sky is dark and all is still, and topics will range from book reviews to writer thoughts/advice to mama stories.

Can’t wait to share more with you.

PB Gush: Best Frints in the Whole Universe

At the 2016 summer SCBWI conference I had the pleasure of attending a session led by editor Neil Porter. During that hour, he invited author/illustrator Antoinette Portis on stage to discuss and read from her picture book, Best Frints in the Whole Universe. I fell in love with this PB instantly. It has everything I love in a PB: quirk, humor, and a lot of heart. It’s one of my favorites and I’m excited to gush about it today.

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Meet the Characters of Jackie Azua Kramer’s The Green Umbrella + Giveaway

Today is a special day on the blog because I’m gushing about The Green Umbrella, a darling picture book written by Jackie Azua Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni!

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I was given an opportunity to read it last fall and I instantly tumbled head over heels for this story about imagination. The language is gorgeous, and the texture and intricacies of the illustrations had me finding new details each time I read. I COULD NOT put this book down.

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PB Gush: Oh No, Astro!

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s Astro! And he’s picking up speed fast. Oh No, Astro! written by Matt Roeser and illustrated by Brad Woodard is filled with fun words, stellar illustrations, and space-y facts, all sure to enthuse future space cadets. And to top it off, the humor will have little ones laughing from cover to cover. Grab your telescope and prepare for some serious gushing. I love this book!

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Interludes and Rev-ups

There’s one struggle I constantly have with myself as a writer: whether or not I’m allowed to give myself permission to take a break.

That sentence even sounds silly. Of course I’m allowed to give myself permission. It’s my own writing. Duh. But doesn’t it fly in the face of all the advice we hear from various well-known writers?

Write every single day. Write at the same time every day. Find your writing routine and stick to it. Don’t stop.

But a couple of months ago, I found myself overwhelmed with the approaching holidays and all that I needed to do. I promised myself I’d crochet gifts for my immediate family members and committed to crocheting items for a holiday boutique. (I’m an avid crocheter, for those of you who don’t know.) That, coupled with the pressure I’d put on myself to keep up revisions on my middle grade novel, was too much to handle. I could only exhaust my creative energy in so many places.

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Mapping Out My Plot

Drafting a novel is one thing, but figuring out where in the heck to start with your revision is an equally daunting task. After reading my first draft and recording all plot, character, setting, and other problems in a notebook, I still felt overwhelmed at all I had to fix. I knew I needed to start on my plot first, but I wasn’t sure how.

After combing the internet, I stumbled upon this DIY MFA article on mapping out your story like subway routes. It calls for identifying the important scenes of your plot and subplots, and then marking where they stand alone and where they converge. The point is not only to analyze the arc of each storyline, but to see where they come together.

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My 2016 Halloweensie Entry

It’s my favorite time of year—Halloween! For a month (or maybe three) it’s socially acceptable (I think) to watch Hocus Pocus on a loop. Don’t judge me.

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It’s also time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s 6th Annual Halloweensie Contest! To enter, you must write a 100-word-or-less Halloween story containing the words spider, ghost, and moon. Judging criteria include kid-friendliness, Halloweeniness, story quality, writing quality, and creativity/originality.

I encourage you to participate. It’s spooktacular fun! Read my entry below.

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How to Revisit “Kid” You

If only I could go back in time to walk in young me’s shoes. Sure, research via reading books and talking to kids is arguably just as effective for churning out kid-friendly stories, but wouldn’t it help to be 7- or 12-year-old you for even an hour? To relive those kid feelings and write them into your current stories?

Well, if you wrote stories when you were a kid, I suggest you dust off those gems and read. As a kidlit writer, you strive to capture how children feel in your stories and characters. When I reread my old stories, I’m transported back to that time and, even if just momentarily, feel those kid feelings of excitement, wonder, possibility, and fear.

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