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Archive for August, 2013

AND THE WINNER IS . . .

Voting for the first annual Grandparent’s Day writing contest is over. Before I reveal the winners, I would like to thank all the creative writers who participated in the contest.

Also, a big thank you to Mercer Mayer for donating an autographed copy of “Grandma, Grandpa, and Me.” Much gratitude to Laurie Jacobs for donating a signed copy of “Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie.” My deepest appreciation to the hundreds of people who took time to stop by our blogs, read the stories and vote. Without you, I would have had some very tough decisions to make. If you haven’t read the stories and would like to, click here.

To those of you who are grandparents, I wish you all an early HAPPY GRANDPARENT’S DAY!

This contest was so much fun that I plan to make it an annual event. And now, here are the winners. . . .

FIRST PLACE

“An Ocean Apart, Near by Heart” by Maria A. Velardocchia

Maria has won the following: $25 Amazon gift card, plus a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa” and a highly detailed picture book manuscript critique from me.

SECOND PLACE

“Grandma, Can You Guess How Special You Are?” by Kristina (Senese) Johnson

Kristina has won the following: One highly detailed picture book manuscript critique from me plus a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa.”

THIRD PLACE

 “Vacation Sport” by Donna Sadd

 Donna has won the following: A signed copy of Laurie Jacobs’s picture book, illustrated by Anne Jewett,  “Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie” and a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa.”

BONUS PRIZE

All contest participants were included in a drawing for the chance to win a signed copy of Mercer Mayer’s “Grandma, Grandpa, and Me.” The winner is . . . Sally Phillips!

HONORABLE MENTION

Thank you to the other finalists for your participation. Your stories helped make this contest touching and fun. I hope you will join us again next year.

“Where’s My Grammy?” by Sally Phillips

“ Messages” by Linda Schueler 

 “I Hate Grandparent’s Day” by Helen Velikans

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZES

Please contact me via the contact tab at the top of the blog page. I will need your address to send the prizes and your email address so we can discuss the critique.

SFGT cover-smallLucky for Sophie and Chloe, Grandma Tillie knows how to royally entertain her grandchildren. To their delight, whenever Grandma Tillie babysits, she seems to disappear, only to be replaced by a parade of lovable characters. There’s Tillie Vanilly with the bright pink hair, star of The Tillie Vanilly Show, who loves to tell jokes and dance the conga; Chef Silly Tillie with the lampshade hat who offers up a dinner of Worm Chili with Glue Gravy; and Madame Frilly Tillie with the sparkly eyeglasses and towel turban, the world’s most creative bath-bubble stylist. Sophie and Chloe wonder who will appear to tuck them into bed: Hiker Hilly Tillie, Explorer Chilly Tillie, or Zoo-lady Gorilly Tillie? To their surprise, it’s the best character of all—just plain Grandma Tillie. Available at Amazon.com.

Grandma, grandpa, and me v2

Little Critter is having a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm! He’s excited—there is so much to see and do. Join Little Critter as he helps his grandparents milk the cows, pick blueberries, and bake a pie for the contest at the Country Fair. There are many delicious pies in the contest, but Little Critter’s pie has a secret ingredient that is sure to make it a favorite! Available at Amazon.com among other places.

978-0981493800

Emily loves to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Like most grandchildren, she is showered with affection and enjoys the freedom to eat sweets, stay up late, and help Grandma in the garden. But when Emily’s visit with her grandparents ends, she’s saddened by thoughts of missing them. To comfort her, Grandma gives Emily a book that teaches her to use her imagination, memory, and natural surroundings to help her feel close when they are apart. In a surprising role reversal, Emily comforts Grandma by sharing her own secrets for staying close. Great Grandparent’s Day gift for long-distance grandparents who miss their grandchildren. Available at Amazon.com among other places.

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VOTING HAS ENDED . . . VOTING HAS ENDED . . . VOTING HAS ENDED

Because there were only six story entries in the Grandparent’s Day writing contest, I am announcing our six finalists and voting will start early. However, voting will remain open until the time originally stated in the contest rules – Friday, August 30 at 11:59 PM CDT. Winners will still be announced on Saturday, August 31 by 11:59 PM CDT.

All you have to do is read the six stories, note the number of the story that you like best, and vote on the poll at the bottom of this page. If you would like to read more about the contest or learn about the prizes go to  WRITING CONTEST IN HONOR OF GRANDPARENT’S DAY.

The contest inspired all kinds of long-distance love stories: Love across technology, heavenly love, old memories love, across the ocean love, funny love, and runaway love, What a variety of touching and fun writing. I am so happy that the contest helped encourage these writers to tell their stories.

The stories or links to stories are listed below.

Thanks to everyone for participating, and best of luck to the finalists.

STORY # 1

Where’s My Grammy?

by Sally Phillips

Emma spent her summers visiting Grams wonderful bakery. It was always filled with Emma’s favorite goodies. There were ooey-gooey chocolate frosted donuts and chewy soft pretzels. Baking marble rye breads and fruity pies of very kind kept Grams busy.

One day, Grams said, “Let’s make gingerbread cookies.”

Emma clapped her hands, “Let’s make Grammy cookies! That way when I go, I’ll have cookies to remember our visit.” Molly barked her approval.

Grams mixed the spicy dough and rolled it out. She cut a grammy shape. Emma added raisins and a tiny cherry for her nose. Grams drew a smile into the dough and popped it into the oven.

After baking, Grams put it on the counter to cool. “Just a few extra touches,” said Grams pulling out a bag of red licorice. Emma added it for her grammy’s hair with icing to tack it down. Grams used icing to draw a sweatband and racing shoes.

“That’s just like you Grams,” said Emma pointing to a picture.

“That’s when I won the long distance race last year,” said Grams smiling.

Then, quick as a flash the cookie disappeared from the counter. The screen door slammed like a 4th of July firecracker.

“Oh, no said Grams, I should have never added those racing shoes. The Grammy cookie has run off!”

Grams and Emma were out the door in a flash. “I see something brown running down the road,” said Emma.

Chasing after her grammy gingerbread cookie, Emma soon came across a police officer. “What’s going on?” asked Officer Jane.

“My Grammy cookie is running away,” said Emma catching her breath.

Officer Jane saw Grams running down the road. “I’ll call for back up. Well get your Grammy back,” she called to Emma. Officer Jane ran down the road.

Emma passed a field full of soccer players. “What’s going on?” the team captain asked.

My Grammy cookie is running away,” called Emma.

“We’ll get her, come on boys,” he said. All the players ran down the road too.

Emma heard a whirling sound overhead. It was a TV helicopter. “We heard on our radio that your Grammy from the bakery is missing,” the reporter said. “Well fly around and find her.”

“No wait,” Emma said. “My Grammy cookie ran off, not my Grams!” But they had already flown away.

At the end of the road, the TV crew was recording all the action. “And here’s the girl with her missing Grammy.”

“I wasn’t missing,” said Grams. “We were chasing Emma’s grammy gingerbread cookie!”

Molly appeared out of the bushes. She had gingerbread crumbs around her mouth. Molly’s nose had a red cherry on it.

“You ate the cookie?” said Emma.

“And so we have it, a happy ending after all,” said the reporter. “News at 9”.

Emma said, “Let’s record the news tonight Grams. When we feel sad about being apart, we can watch our adventure all over again.”

“That’s better than a cookie,” Grams said laughing and gave Emma a big hug.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

STORY # 2

An Ocean Apart, 

Near by Heart

by Maria A. Velardocchia

Brrrring! The phone rang right on time! When Antoinette’s daddy nodded ‘OK’, she answered the phone before it could ring a second time. Antoinette was so excited! She knew the phone call was from Pappou, her grandfather in Greece. On the first day of each month, at 8:00 in the morning, either Pappou called Antoinette’s house, or Antoinette’s daddy called Pappou. They took turns, and this month it was Pappou’s turn to call.

“Hi, Pappou!” Antoinette said, with a smile in her voice.

“Hello, my Antonia,” said Pappou. Pappou liked to call Antoinette by her Greek name. “Tell me how you are and what you’ve been doing, so I can hear your beautiful voice.”

“Oh, Pappou, we’re all doing well here in Florida. The weather is so nice and mommy and daddy have been taking me to the beach a lot. Daddy says it reminds him of when he was a little boy in Greece and you used to take him to the beach in the summer.”

“Yes, Antonia, your daddy is right. We would pack our lunch and go to the beach every day. It was your daddy’s favorite place to go,” Pappou said in a voice that sounded like he was remembering.

“Pappou, did daddy like to find shells on the beach?” Antoinette asked.

“Find shells, you ask? He sure did. Not only shells, but here in Greece we have beautiful little pebbles on our beaches. They are smooth and colorful, and your daddy loved to bring a favorite one home each day,” answered Pappou.

“He did?” asked Antoinette. I like to collect rocks. I guess that’s another way we’re alike!”

“Yes,” Pappou said. “Antonia, you remind me very much of your daddy when he was eight years old like you.”

“I know what, Pappou!” exclaimed Antoinette. “When we go to the beach today, I’m going to have daddy take a picture of me holding some shells. Then, when I write you my letter, we’ll send you the picture so you can see me at the beach!”

“Oh, Antonia, what a good idea!” said Pappou. “I can’t wait to get the picture! And do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to find a picture of your daddy and me at the beach, many years ago, and I’m going to send it to you!”

“Hooray, pappou! I’m so excited! I’m going to get ready for the beach now while daddy talks to you. I love you, Pappou,” said Antoinette.

“I love you, too, Antonia,” said Pappou.

Two weeks later they got a letter from Pappou! Daddy carefully opened the envelope. There was a letter for daddy and mommy, and a letter for Antoinette. Tucked inside Antoinette’s letter was a picture of Pappou and her daddy at the beach. She loved the picture! As Antoinette went to bed that night, she held the picture close to her heart and dreamt of the day she would visit Pappou in Greece.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

STORY # 3

Grandma, Can You Guess How Special You Are?

by Kristina (Senese) Johnson

Grandma, can you guess how special you are?

This is my story and now you are the STAR!

When you are here or when you are there

You can count all the clues of the times that we share.

Clue number ONE is the first to let you know

It’s something you do from my head down to my toes.

Lots of smooches and big hugs that are so tight

I love to cuddle when you tuck me in at night.

Moving on to the next clue that is number TWO

In counting with numbers that is what you do.

Sitting at my house and watching me play

Us taking a nap together after a long hard day.

Using my fingers counting to clue number THREE

This you do in the kitchen and it makes me hungry!

Lots of baking and tasting so many delicious treats

Sitting next to me at the table when it is time to eat!

Clue number FOUR is a clue that I adore

But don’t you worry there are so many more.

You and I get to giggle and talk on the phone

The sound of your voice has such a friendly tone.

Next it’s time to count to the clue that is number FIVE

This is what you and I do as soon as you arrive.

I like when you play games with me like hide and seek

Grandma, do those glasses really help you to peek?

Using both hands to count to clue number SIX

This is a clue like the others that is easy to pick.

Your laugh is jolly with a rosy cheek on each side

You light up a room with your smiling eyes.

Bunny ears on one hand makes this clue number SEVEN

Another clue that shows how you are a loving person!

Really smart and funny, so soft and so gentle

Grandma, you don’t complain when I’m a lot to handle!

Wiggling my fingers to count to clue number EIGHT

All have been good, but this clue is sure great!

You are my Grandma forever and for always

How happy I am when you tell me all of your stories!

What can I say about clue number NINE

Just like apple pie Grandma, you are so devine!

When you are here or when you are there

I think of you always and how we are a pair.

The last clue is important it is clue number TEN

It is hard for me to say to you so carefully listen

My special grandma, I love when you are near

I don’t like to say “goodbye,” it brings me to tears.

Now that you have counted all the ways you are a STAR

Grandma, have you guessed how special you are?

One day when I am older and a much bigger me,

The memories of us Grandma, how special they will be!

I LOVE YOU GRANDMA!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

STORY # 4

Helen Velikans’s story  “I Hate Grandparent’s Day” can be read on her blog.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

STORY # 5

Donna Sadd’s story “Vacation Sport” can be read on her blog.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

STORY # 6

Linda Schueler’s story  “Messages” can be read on her blog.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Read Full Post »

ImageLucky for Sophie and Chloe, Grandma Tillie knows how to royally entertain her grandchildren. To their delight, whenever Grandma Tillie babysits, she seems to disappear, only to be replaced by a parade of lovable characters. There’s Tillie Vanilly with the bright pink hair, star of The Tillie Vanilly Show, who loves to tell jokes and dance the conga; Chef Silly Tillie with the lampshade hat who offers up a dinner of Worm Chili with Glue Gravy; and Madame Frilly Tillie with the sparkly eyeglasses and towel turban, the world’s most creative bath-bubble stylist. Sophie and Chloe wonder who will appear to tuck them into bed: Hiker Hilly Tillie, Explorer Chilly Tillie, or Zoo-lady Gorilly Tillie? To their surprise, it’s the best character of all—just plain Grandma Tillie. Available at Amazon.com.

Image

Emily loves to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Like most grandchildren, she is showered with affection and enjoys the freedom to eat sweets, stay up late, and help Grandma in the garden. But when Emily’s visit with her grandparents ends, she’s saddened by thoughts of missing them. To comfort her, Grandma gives Emily a book that teaches her to use her imagination, memory, and natural surroundings to help her feel close when they are apart. In a surprising role reversal, Emily comforts Grandma by sharing her own secrets for staying close. Great Grandparent’s Day gift for long-distance grandparents who miss their grandchildren. Available at Amazon.com

ADDITION OF NEW PRIZE! Today, I received a signed copy of Mercer Mayer’s “Grandma, Grandpa, and Me.” All contest participants will be included in a drawing for the chance to win this great bounus prize.

Grandma, grandpa, and me v2

Little Critter is having a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm! He’s excited—there is so much to see and do. Join Little Critter as he helps his grandparents milk the cows, pick blueberries, and bake a pie for the contest at the Country Fair. There are many delicious pies in the contest, but Little Critter’s pie has a secret ingredient that is sure to make it a favorite!

ABOUT THE CONTEST

This year, in the US, National Grandparent’s Day falls on Sunday, September 8. Because I am a long-distance grandparent, and my picture book “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa” is about a little girl with long-distance grandparents. I have decided to make the long-distance grandchild/grandparent relationship the focus of this writing contest. I know, could I repeat “long-distance” one more time 🙂

CONTEST RULES

  • Write a picture book story (500 words or less) about a child with long-distance grandparents.
  • Post the story on your blog by Friday, August 23 at 11:59 PM CDT. Please include a blurb about the contest and a link back to my blog.
  • Between Friday, August 23 and Sunday, August 25 at 11:59 PM CDT, comment on this blog page announcing the title of your story along with a link to your posted story/blog page.
  • If you do not have a blog, paste your story as a comment on this blog page.
  • I will share a list of all story/blog links on Monday, August 26 by 11:59 PM CDT.
  • The links to the stories will remain posted so everyone will have a chance to read them.

JUDGING ANNOUNCEMENT! VOTING HAS STARTED – CLICK HERE TO GET TO VOTING PAGE

  • My handsome assistant and I will determine the top six finalists, and they will be announced on Wednesday, August 28 by 11:59 PM CDT. The winners will be determined by popular vote as follows:
  • The finalists’ stories will be posted at the same time as they are announced (8/28), and voting will begin.
  • Voting will remain open until Friday, August 30 at 11:59 PM CDT.
  • Winners will be announced on Saturday, August 31 by 11:59 PM CDT.

PRIZES

First Place – $25 Amazon gift card, plus a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa” and a highly *detailed picture book manuscript critique from me.

Second Place – One highly *detailed picture book manuscript critique from me plus a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa.”

Third Place – A signed copy of Laurie Jacobs’s picture book, illustrated by Anne Jewett,  “Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie” and a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa.”  (true confession – I wish I could win the signed copy of Laurie’s fun picture book 🙂

*Please note that my critiques skills are strong with the exception of pictures books written in rhyme. My ability to critique picture books in rhyme is limited.

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One day, after a discussion with my friend about manuscript rejections, she said to me, “We are just going to have to keep writing until we get it right.”

Part of me agreed with her until I woke the next morning thinking, Who says we don’t already have it right?

My daughter loves beets and I hate them. Which one of us is right? Or is the beet wrong for tasting the way it tastes? Sometimes, manuscript rejections might merely be an indication that we have not found the right match for our work – the person who will love our beets. Of course, this thought process doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying to improve my craft. However, it does mean that I have decided not to let other people’s personal tastes make me doubt that I have it right. There are plenty of famous, extremely successful writers who were rejected numerous times before they found the right beet-eater.

I might not like beets, but I love black jellybeans. As far as other jellybeans go, red ones are okay, and green ones? Yuck! It is all a matter of taste for me. I think I would even reject the green ones if I were starving. I could take or leave the red ones. But I cannot resist a black jellybean.  I had to taste a lot of jellybeans before I could determine which flavor I like. I had to taste beets before I could learn that I hate them. Who knows what writing flavor an agent or editor will love without first offering them a taste? Yes, we can do our best to research what they like. But sometimes, it is a matter of building a relationship and learning their literary tastes.

Image

In the above image, there are very few black jellybeans.

Like an agent with manuscripts, I would have to reject a lot of colorful jellybeans to get to the flavor I like.

I have a friend who signed with an agent earlier this year. That same agent also rejected my friend’s first manuscript submission, and then another and another and another. My friend kept submitting manuscripts to this agent until she found the story that the agent could not resist. That story must have been a flavor the agent loves. Now, my friend is trying to rewrite the first rejected story to see if she can change the flavor enough to get her agent to take a bite.

I hope if you ever find yourself feeling dejected over a rejection that you will take any critique comments into consideration, but also keep in mind that sometimes rejections are nothing more than a matter of taste. Even the picture book/literary genius, Jane Yolen, gets manuscript rejections. This week, she shared on Facebook that she received a rejection from one of her favorite editors, and she will continue looking for the RIGHT editor for that particular book. To me, the RIGHT editor will be the one that loves the flavor of Ms. Yolen’s book.

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WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: REJECTION POST #1

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: REJECTION POST #2

ROMELLE BROAS – REJECTION LETTERS FROM A POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE

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