Susanna Leonard Hill's Blog

July 16, 2014

Dog saga alert!

(You can skip down to Would You Read It if you don't want to hear the dog story.  My feelings will only be a little bit hurt... and you may possibly get less Something Chocolate... but please, skip if you want :))

So yesterday on my way out to meet a writer friend for coffee (okay, actually lemon bars (her) and oatmeal raisin cookies (me)... thank you for the cafe, Barnes & Noble :)) I saw a stray dog.

He was a chocolate lab, young-looking, wearing two collars (a choke chain and a regular collar), but wandering about with that definitely lost look.

He wasn't far from the main road where cars drive VERY fast, and there were heavy thunderstorms in the forecast - both bad things for most dogs.  Plus, he was wearing that choke chain and I don't like to see dogs on the loose wearing things that could get caught on a branch or something and potentially choke them.

So I stopped my car, got out, and spoke to him nicely.

He took right off into the woods.

Ah, well, I thought.  Maybe the people at Crazy Acres across the road got a new dog.  (They have a lot of dogs over there and they're always getting loose.)  I was going to be late, I had no hope of running fast enough to catch a dog that didn't want to be caught, and I certainly didn't want to accidentally chase him toward the main road, so off I went to meet my friend.

But when I came back 3 1/2 hours later (yes, 3 1/2! Don't get all judgy!  It was a half hour drive there and another half hour drive home, and we had a lot to catch up on and a lot of dessert items to eat :)) ANYway, as I was SAYing, 3 1/2 hours later I saw him again in almost the exact same place.

Once again I stopped the car and got out and spoke to him sweetly.  This time he lay down and looked at me, but then decided either me or the car or both were too scary and off he ran again.

I went home to get some chicken to lure him with, and discovered that my daughter had seen him as well on her way in from work an hour earlier, although at that point he had been all the way in near our house.  We set out on foot with the chicken, hoping to tempt him close enough to catch and see if he had tags.

No luck.

We couldn't find him.

So we walked home.

But we were both worried about him out there, wandering lost, with darkness falling and thunderstorms coming and that road not far enough away.

I was about to suggest running down to Stop & Shop to see if anyone had posted a lost dog poster on the board there when my daughter, who is much smarter than I am, googled lost dogs in our town and discovered a listing on a FB page that was definitely the dog we had seen!  There was a photograph of him and a phone number to call.

Chocolate lab missing on Pleasant Ridge Rd. I know he was naughty for running away, but we love and miss him. We are very worried about him. :(
Please call with any info

It had just gone up!  If we'd googled before we walked out with the chicken we wouldn't have seen it!  So I called right away and told the woman we had seen her dog multiple times over the past few hours.  Turns out, she lives up on the corner less than half a mile away!  She was very grateful for the information on where we had seen him and set out at once in her car, hoping that if he was nearby and heard her voice he would come to her.  I was worried, though, because by the time I spoke to her I hadn't actually seen the dog for nearly an hour.  He could have wandered off anywhere.  And she said he wasn't very good about listening or coming when called.

"I hope she finds him" and "I hope he gets home safe" we all kept saying to each other.  But we didn't expect to find out.  I hadn't given the woman my name or phone number in our hurry, just the info on where the dog was so she could get right out and look for him.

Well, we comforted each other as we started making dinner, at least we saw him and called, and she's out looking for him.  We did what we could do.

And then, to my surprise, the phone rang about 20 minutes after I'd spoken to her.  She was very kindly calling back (thanks, redial :)) to report that she had found him and he was home safe and sound (although extremely smelly and requiring an immediate bath :))  "I can't tell you how grateful I am," she said.  "He's my husband's best friend, and he didn't even want to come home if his dog was still missing."

Truthfully I didn't feel like we had done all that much, but it was a happy ending to the adventure all around, and an instance of when social media really works well and is great to have! :)

I know after that emotionally wrenching story you must all be ready for Something Chocolate!  How about some Mississippi Mud Pie (because we are having torrential downpours here which is making a lot of mud, so mud pie seems very apropos :))

Mississippi Mud Pie!
Recipe here: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2013/11/mississippi-mud-pie/Ah!  That's better!  I feel refreshed enough to tell you about the June Pitch Pick, which I know you have all been wondering about so desperately that you got up early just so you could rush over here and find out! :)

So it is my pleasure to announce that the winner of the June Pitch Pick is . . .

Kimberly!!!with her pitch for Sprinkles Goes To School!!!
Congratulations, Kimberly!  Your pitch has already been sent to editor Erin Molta and I'm sure you'll hear from her soon!

Congratulations to all our pitchers from June as well!  You all did a terrific job, and your stories sound wonderful and engaging and I would read them all!  Give yourselves a pat on the back for writing the story, writing the pitch, being brave enough to submit the pitch for feedback, and then being professional enough to revise your pitches based on that feedback to really improve them.  Excellent job everyone!

Today's pitch comes to us from Lavanya who says, "I'm a software engineer by day, and an avid reader of fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and literature by night. I'm also mother to a young girl who has just discovered the magical ability to make meaning out of the printed word. I started putting my own words down on paper last November, and when I went to my regional SCBWI conference in April, I confirmed a suspicion that I had long harbored - writers are the nicest people in the world, and I want to be one of them. :-)"

You can follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/vanyala) and ask her about following her blog which is protected.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Sophie Vs. The Monster
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages
The Pitch: The very first night that Sophie lays her head down in her brand new big girl bed, she meets a monster… who likes to rhyme. When the monster challenges Sophie to a riddle game, she must use her wits to guess the right answers. Will Sophie survive this ordeal, or end up in a monster meal? 

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Lavanya improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Lavanya is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting started on building the ark that we are clearly going to be needing!  It's July, Mother Nature!  Enough with the flash flood warnings! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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Published on July 16, 2014 00:00

July 9, 2014

Would you look at this?  It's Wednesday again!  Where does the time go?!

I miss seeing you guys on Mondays and Fridays, but it's a good thing I'm not trying to post 3 days a week right now - I'd never manage! :)

This week I have been to Massachusetts and Maine... where I STILL did not see a real live moose!  Everyone else on earth has seen a moose, but not me.  Nosirreebob!  I think they run away when they see Princess Blue Kitty approaching.  But I'm going to keep on trying!  I have spent many hours sorting through boxes of stuff that came home from college and needs to be washed and packed away for the summer - but don't be jealous - it's not as glamorous as it sounds :)  I got to visit with my daughter and son-in-law and granddaughters over 4th of July weekend, and also with my parents - lots of cookouts! Also lots of blueberry pie baking and eating :)  And today I have a school visit... well, technically it's a day care since school is out for the summer, but same idea :)  I feel pretty certain there's more, but my head is spinning from all the driving and I can't remember :)

So!  Onward!

First, it is my pleasure to announce that the winner of the May Pitch Pick is Todd!  Congratulations on an intriguing pitch, Todd!  It has already been sent to editor Erin Molta and I'm sure you will hear from her shortly!

Congratulations to all our other pitchers as well - you all did a terrific job!  Even with such a helpful and generous crew of readers as we are fortunate to have over here for Would You Read It, it takes a lot of courage to post your pitch for people to comment on.  I know I speak for everyone when I say you are very brave and committed to honing your craft and we all applaud you for it.

Let's skip merrily on to the June Pitch Pick now.

Here are the pitches:

#1 Kimberly - Sprinkles Goes To School - Picture Book (ages 4-8)
Sprinkles the Clown wants to fit in with her classmates on the first day of Kindergarten, but when her show-and-tell juggling act goes wrong, all the kids laugh at her, in a way even clowns don’t like. However, as a storm rolls in scaring all the students, Sprinkles puts her own fears aside and uses one of her true clowning skills to save the day!

#2 Katey - Dandelion Wishes - Picture Book (ages 3-7)
4 year-old Gia and her mother marvel in the changing seasons from their house on the hilltop until dandelion wishes disappear, and with them Gia’s sense of magic. She finds it again in her first experience of snow. A lyrical, share-able picture book at 578 words, Dandelion Wishes celebrates the everyday magic of nature and family.

#3 Amanda - Immortal Island - YA
Seventeen year old Aria Perin spent her life running from her mother’s demons. That is, until her mentally ill mother attempted to commit suicide. Now, Aria has awoken in the strangely familiar parallel world, Immortal Island, where life is eternal and her mother’s imaginary monsters lurk everywhere.Her arrival has set off a chain of events that leads to the destruction of Immortal Island. The evil ruler seeks to slaughter Aria with hopes of saving her people and regaining her seat of power.Against his mother’s command the ruler’s son, Julian, vows to protect Aria. He leads her to bargain away the life of an undiscovered sibling to cursed Muses, swim with flesh eating Sirens and cross hell to battle Nymphs of the Underworld all for the obscure hope of returning her home to safety.As the connection between Aria, her mother and the island becomes clear, so does the true nature of the ruler and friends Aria has made. Her discovery will set both the Mortal World and the Immortal World on a path to complete annihilation. As her arrival brought catastrophe to the island, only her journey to find home can set everything right.
#4 Stacey - The Bad Guys’ Breakfast - Picture Book (ages 3-7)

Brave Addie’s not afraid of the “bad guys” at bedtime. No way! But after a spooky night seeing a bear in her chair, a witch by her light switch, and a ghost eating toast—EEEEK!— Addie decides the way to a bad guy’s heart might just be through his stomach. So, she invites them over for a home-cooked breakfast. And when the troupe of bad guys shows up at her doorstep ready to eat, things can only go one of two ways.
Please vote for the pitch you think is most deserving of a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday July 13 at 5 PM EDT.
June Pitch Pick 2014
Many thanks!

Now, I don't know about you, but I am definitely in need of Something Chocolate!  And given the extreme heat, I think something cool and refreshing is called for...

Butterscotch ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies - YUM!
Recipe here: http://mom.me/food/8552-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-sandwich/
It is VERY hot, so if you need 2 or 3, you know, in the interest of keeping your core at a safe temperature :), please help yourselves! :)

And now that we are thusly fortified and cooled off, let's have a look at today's pitch.

It comes to us from Brandie who says, "In the library story time world I am known as Miss Brandie. At home I am mom, mama, or MAMA! Either way my life is centered around kids...and... books. After reading what has seemed like a bazillion books aloud to children, I decided that I wanted to read one of my own. Thus, my journey into the picture book writing world was born."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Trouble With Keeping Vikings
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-6)
The Pitch: Having a horde of Vikings come stay for a visit sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong! From snot-snakes to clashing swords, the outrageous antics of these pesky Vikings seem to be never-ending. But who will come to the rescue and bring them under control?

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Brandie improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Brandie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to catching up on all the work I didn't do while I was driving around the eastern seaboard!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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Published on July 09, 2014 00:00 • 1 view

July 2, 2014

Golly how time doth fly!

Second time in a row it's been a whole week since I posted!  How are you all doing?  Having good summers so far, I hope?

Let's see... What have I been up to this week...?  I went to the NJ SCBWI Conference which was fabulous!  It would have been great just for the speakers and workshops etc, but it was over-the-top great because I got to meet so many people in real life that I've known online for a long time.  I hate to make a list because I inevitably forget someone and then feel bad for leaving them out when of course I didn't mean to, so suffice to say, you all know who you are and it was AWESOME to meet you! :)  I also went to Pennsylvania on a college visit and seriously saw the most unbelievable amount of tire material on the side of Interstates 84 and 81 that it made me worry for Princess Blue Kitty, but so far she appears unscathed :)  All that traveling took up most of the week.  So I feel like I've been very unproductive! :)

I had a great plan for today's Something Chocolate.  The lovely Lauri, whom I met at NJ SCBWI, so very kindly brought me a present!  It was meltable white chocolate wafers and a mold with all kinds of sheep in it so I can make white chocolate sheep to go with Can't Sleep Without Sheep!  Isn't she amazing and thoughtful???!!!  I'm so excited to try it, and I was going to do it and share with you for today's Something Chocolate.  But it turns out that I cannot drive to Pennsylvania and make chocolate sheep at the same time, so it's going to have to wait for another week.  In the meantime, we shall make do with something summery and chocolate: White Chocolate Strawberry Muffins (because it's so late while I'm writing this that it's practically breakfast time and my thoughts are turning fondly to muffins :))



So, it appears in the craziness of June that we somehow never got around to the May Pitch Pick, so here it is today.  Our brave and talented May pitchers have worked hard to revise their pitches based on your feedback and here they are:

#1 Vivian - The Long Wait For Mom - PB (ages 5 and up)
Sophie finds a huge hole in her life and an ache in her heart after Mom is deployed. Trying to speed up time by keeping busy, Sophie jumps rope, writes letters and bakes cookies. But when she involves her community in a project to bake cookies for soldiers who don’t have families, Sophie discovers that helping others is the best way to help yourself while waiting for the ones you love.

#2 Todd - Orville Wright's Final Flight - NF PB (ages 7-12)
Orville Wright may be best remembered for his first flight, but it was his final flight 41 years later would completely change the world of aviation.  

#3 Linda - I Know What I’m Doing - Picture Book (ages 3-7)
Lizzie likes to explore her world all by herself. When her parents caution her about trying something new, her reply is always, I know what I’m doing!  Each day of the week, Lizzie gets herself into some kind of minor trouble, until Saturday, when she gets stuck in a tree and has to finally admit she doesn’t always know what she’s doing. Does Lizzie learn to ask for help from now on?
#4 Steve - Princess Petulia's Problem - PB (ages 5-8)
Princess Petulia had the longest hair you ever saw. It was long, it was luscious, it was glossy and glamorous and Princess Petulia … hated it. Children stood on it, birds made nests in it, but the Kings number one rule was NO HAIRCUTS  and kings can't be disobeyed. Fortunately, when she bumped in to the old gardener with the pruning shears and the shaky hands, Princess Petulia saw the perfect solution to her problem.

Please vote for the one you think most deserves a read and comment by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday July 6 at 5 PM.  I'll announce the winner next week.
May Pitch Pick 2014
Today's pitch comes to us from Michelle who is a mom, a teacher, and a writer.  She blogs at http://amomnextdoor.wordpress.com/about/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Escalators Don't Bite! A Little Traveler's Guide To Airports
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2-7)
The Pitch: Serious Salim wants to be sure his family makes their flight to visit Grandma and Grandpa, but he's worried about his little sister, Malika. It's her first time at the airport, and he knows how much trouble she can be. His Little Travelers' Guide to Airports is just the ticket to make sure everyone gets to the gate on time!

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Michelle improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Michelle is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Fourth Of July Weekend!  And I hope you all have a great one!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and Happy Fourth!!! :)




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Published on July 02, 2014 00:00 • 1 view

June 25, 2014

Hi everybody!!!

How are you all?  I feel like I haven't seen you in ages!  This is what skipping blog days does to me - I miss you!

So let's see... What have I done in the past week?

I went to Vermont... I signed books at the Millbrook Literary Festival where I got to say hi to some of my good friends (hi Iza, Nancy, Karen, Pat, Tim, Brian, Scott, Alison, etc. :)) and made a new one (hi Helen!)... I hopped over to the end of the Children's Nonfiction Conference in New Paltz and got to meet Kirsten and Sue in real life!!! - such fun!!! - and they are as nice and smart and beautiful in real life as they are online :)...  and I drove to Boston and fetched #4 for the summer :)  Probably some other stuff too, but that's all I can think of right now :)  Clearly my brain is in need of some type of nudge...

Gee, I wonder what would do the trick?

Perhaps... Something Chocolate! :)

Snickers Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake!
Recipe here: http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/2013/05/28/snickers-peanut-butter-brownie-ice-cream-cake/And seriously, how could anything be better than Snickers Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake?  It has Snickers - indisputably the world's best candy bar YUM! - brownies - YUM YUM!! - and ice cream - YUM YUM YUM!!! and perfect for summer!

Please!  Help yourselves!

Now that our mouths are full, let's turn our attention to Would You Read It :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Stacey who says, "I'm a pre-published picture book author and momma of two adorable boys who give me every ounce of writing material I need. When I'm not reading to, writing for, or raising kids, I'm usually collaborating with my writer's critique group, attending local SCBWI events, or eating chocolate. I'm amazed by the talent out there and happy to be just a small part of it."

Stacey blogs at http://staceydhan.blogspot.com/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Bad Guys Breakfast
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch:  "It was just like any other morning, except a monster was sitting at my kitchen table."
Adeline K. Strauss has a problem with monsters in her house. Could there be a way to win over these “bad guys”? In The Bad Guys Breakfast, Addie discovers the way to a monster's heart might just be through his (or her) stomach. So, she invites them for breakfast. But when a witch, ghost, shark, and bear (...and maybe more) show up at her doorstep ready to eat, things can go only one of two ways.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Stacey improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Now accepting pitches for September!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.   Polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Stacey is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to trying out that Snickers Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake recipe! :)  Oh, and I'm also looking forward to attending the NJ SCBWI conference this weekend!  I've never been before, but I've heard tell it's awesome, and I think quite a few people I'm anxious to meet in real life are going to be there.  Anyone going?  Let me know in the comments!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!  See you next week! :)


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Published on June 25, 2014 00:00 • 2 views

June 18, 2014

Greetings from the Green Mountains, my friends!

(Because that is where I am right now - campus touring and college info session-ing to beat the band :)  Would anyone like to hear me GIVE a college tour and info session by the way?  I'm pretty sure I could do it, since I am on my 43rd college visit in the last 4 years at the moment!)

I love Vermont.  It's so bucolic.


I used to live here, you know, back in some of the days of my misspent youth :) so I feel very at home.  I mean, Vermont is the land of Ben & Jerry's so what's not to love? :)

Quick poll!  Favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor!

For me it's a tie between mint oreo and coffee heath bar.  Although I do also have quite a fondness for Cherry Garcia...  How about you?

While you mull over that immensely important question, let me present Straight From The Editor from April.  You will recall that the April Pitch Pick was won by Frances, and here is her winning pitch:

Working Title: Peter and AsburyBy Frances Kalavritinos
Picture Book Ages 4-8

Peter is a shy, socially awkward six-year old boy whose best friend just happens to be an ancient oak tree he calls Asbury.  When Peter learns that Asbury will be cut down, he comes up with a plan to keep the memory of Asbury alive forever.  The unlikely bond that develops between boy and tree helps Peter discover a very special talent that he and Asbury will one day share with the whole world.  

Here are editor Erin Molta's insightful comments:

This seems like it has potential, but you are going in two seemingly different directions which makes it a little confusing. Peter and Asbury are best friends, which is great—though begs comparisons to ShelSilverstein’s The Giving Tree. But is the story about this special talent that Peter and Asbury will share or the plan that will keep Asbury’s memory alive forever? And if it’s to keep the memory alive—wouldn’t a reader rather keep the tree alive—and shouldn’t Peter be fighting for that, instead? These are questions that an editor may not want to bother with. You want to present a more linear pitch that is clear on a point that will grab an editor’s attention and make her or him want to see the full story.

This is why we call on the expert, folks!  Erin has a knack for getting to the heart of the issue and helping us see it!

Now then.  Thanks to you all talking incessantly about Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors, our Something Chocolate for today simply has to be ice cream...
YUM!  Doesn't that look just chock full of chocolatey goodness?
Happy sigh.  Now that we are fortified with chocolate ice cream, let's have a look at today's pitch, shall we?

Today's pitch comes to us from Amanda who says, "My name is Amanda Hildreth (though my pen name is Amanda Wilson). My YA works have been previously published though now I seek new representation. I've been writing since I learned how to hold a pencil and began in the field of poetry. I have a degree in psychology which adds rich and gritty elements to my array of characters. I savor YA fantasy and romance because of the fast pace and magical worlds. Reading was my escape before my poems gave way to novels. Now, writing is not simply my escape from reality, it's my way of life." 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Immortal Island
Age/Genre: YA
The Pitch: Seventeen year old Aria has awoken on the strangely familiar parallel world, Immortal Island, where life is eternal and once imagined monsters lurk everywhere. Aria’s arrival sets off a chain of events leading the Island’s destruction.

With the evil ruler’s son’s vow of protection, Aria is led to swim with hungry Sirens, cross hell to battle Nymphs of the Underworld and bargain the life of a loved one away to Muses with only the obscure chance of being guided home.

As a connection between Aria and the island becomes clear, so does the true nature of the ruler’s son and the other friends Aria has made. Her discovery sets both the Mortal World and the Immortal World on a path to complete annihilation. As her arrival brought catastrophe to the island, only her journey to find home can set everything right.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Amanda improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Amanda is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to touring Ben & Jerry's today's college, which is actually at a college I've never toured before! Woo-hoo!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


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Published on June 18, 2014 00:00 • 1 view

June 16, 2014

Happy Monday Everyone!

I hope you all had lovely weekends and happy celebrations of Father's Day!

I am happy because I get to start off the week by giving out prizes to some of my favorite people :)

You will recall that on Friday, we celebrated the 100th posting of Perfect Picture Books, and by way of a little thank you, I had 9 highly acclaimed picture books to give away randomly to 9 lucky staunch supporters.

And here they are!!!

I will list their names, their fabulous blogs where they have faithfully posted tons of wonderful picture books, and the picture book they won:

Barbara Gruener at The Corner On Character wins: On A Beam Of Light: A Story Of Albert Einstein

Joanna Marple at Miss Marple's Musings wins: Warning: Do Not Open This Book

Julie Rowan-Zoch at Julie Rowan-Zoch - Writing Illustrating Reading Children's Books wins: Mitchell Goes Bowling

Stacy Jensen at Stacy S. Jensen - Writer & Designer wins: Gaston

Vivian Kirkfield at Picture Books Help Kids Soar wins: Mr. Wuffles

Joanne Roberts at Bookish Ambition wins: The Dark

Beth Stilborn at By Word Of Beth wins: Journey

Carrie Finison at Story Patch wins: This Is The Rope: A Story Of The Great Migration

Laura Miller at Laura Miller - Children's Book Writer/Illustrator wins: The Watermelon Seed

Winners, please email me with your snail mail addresses so I can get the books mailed out!  And if any of you want to exchange what you won for any reason, let me know and we'll see if we can work it out :)

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to the winners and to everyone else who has faithfully posted Perfect Picture Books, visited the many wonderful blogs each week to read and comment, and generally supported the whole Perfect Picture Book project!  You guys are what makes it all work! :)  Like I said on Friday, I wish I could give everyone a prize!

Alrighty!

Now that we have completed the happy task of giving out prizes, let's talk summer plans a bit, shall we?

I've got a busy summer ahead.

Full classes in Making Picture Book Magic for June, July, and August (for which I am exceedingly grateful!)

A full queue of picture book critiques to do through mid-July (for which I am also exceedingly grateful!)

A house full of family - my kids for the whole summer, my sister and her family for about 4 weeks (again - so happy :))

Another summer of college visits (tons of fun, but on the road again... :)  Ohio, Maine, etc... lots of driving and time away from home)

Life in general, and, oh yes, my own writing which I'm supposed to get around to from time to time :)

I am not one to take blog breaks lightly.  I like consistency, and I so value all of you and appreciate that you make time in your day for me and my blog.  I worry (a LOT) that if I drop off the grid for a while, you'll all find someone else's blog to go hang out at and I will miss you terribly!

But I think it's unrealistic of me to pretend that I'm going to manage blogging with any kind of regularity this summer.

So here's my plan (such as it is and subject to change because you know me and plans :)):

Would You Read It Wednesdays will continue uninterrupted through the end of July, because they are all already scheduled.  I do so hope that you'll continue to stop by and help our brave pitchers!

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are on hiatus until September 5 or 12 (depends when all my kids go back to school :))

I may post on sporadic Mondays if and when I have something to share.

But I will be completely on a blog break for the whole month of August.

I know.  Hard to imagine me shutting up for a whole month, but there you have it :)

I hope you guys won't mind.  I figured you all might actually like a break too - we all have things to do in the summer that involve being away from our computers, and I know a lot of people do step away from blogging.   I think a little break will help us all feel refreshed come September.

I had all kinds of plans... another season of Summer Short & Sweets (but Tracey Cox is running Summer Sparks which is kind of the same thing)... a writing contest in August... something new and different which I haven't thought up yet... but I think I've reached my limit for a bit and my family is going to disown me if I don't pay a little attention to them :)

So I hope you'll all continue to visit on Wednesdays through July, as well as on whatever other random days I happen to post, and I hope you'll forgive me for the sparse posting, and I hope you'll all have wonderful summers full of fun, family, time outdoors, productive writing, and enjoyable reading!

Please feel free to voice your thoughts on the matter below :)

Have a magnificent Monday, everyone! :)


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Published on June 16, 2014 00:00 • 1 view

June 13, 2014

WOO-HOO!!!

Can you believe it?

In spite of the fact that Perfect Picture Books goes on vacation every summer, we are now celebrating the 100th week of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!  (Just in time to go on summer vacation again :))

100 weeks of fabulous picture books with resources of all kinds to make them easy for parents and teachers to use at home and in the classroom!

100 weeks of highly recommended books listed alphabetically and by theme to make it easy for gift-givers to find the perfect picture book for that special little someone!

100 weeks of perfect examples that we, as writers, can study and learn from!

To date, we have picture books listed in 226 themes/categories.

And we have - get this! - 2055 Perfect Picture Books on our list!!!

(Or, we would if I ever got caught up updating!  Which is on my to-do list for this summer along with about a million other things :))

For those of you who haven't noticed yet (because I haven't announced it because I'm not finished with it :)), Perfect Picture Books is now on Pinterest.  I'm hoping it will make it easier to search.  But it's a work in progress and far from complete!  If you want to check it out, here's the link: http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/

So really, after all the hard work you guys have put in, all the wonderful picture books and resources that are now available to teachers, parents, writers, and gift-givers everywhere, I think we should celebrate!!!

First, we need cake (obviously!) :)


Next, we need streamers. . .

. . . confetti. . .

. . . and balloons!

And last but not least, we need prizes for all the amazing bloggers who have contributed so devotedly week after week to this effort!  So let's do today's Perfect Picture Book, and hopefully by then I will have thought up a plan.  I'll meet you down below after you're done reading about this delightful book!

Title: I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!
Written By: Jill Esbaum
Illustrated By: Gus Gordon
Dial (Penguin Group), May 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: honesty, courage, animals

Opening: "Nadine was a truly remarkable cow.
There was nothing she feared - so she claimed, anyhow.
"Not lightning?" asked Starla.  "Loud noises? A rat?"
"I'm not scared," Nadine boasted, "of any of that."
"The woods?" asked Annette.  "'Cause that place scares me stiff."
"Not me," bragged Nadine with a proud little sniff.
"As a matter of fact, just to prove it, let's go!"
(She was certain her meek-hearted friends would say no.)

Brief Synopsis: Nadine boasts that she isn't afraid of anything!  When her friends call her bluff, she learns that sometimes acting brave can make you feel brave... and sometimes it can't!  And when she's hailed as a hero for saving her friends, she has the choice to 'fess up and admit she was just as scared as they were or let her friends believe what they want.  Which do you think Nadine chooses? :)

Links To Resources: this book will give parents and teachers a great opportunity to have discussions about what courage is, and what makes a person brave.  Is it not being afraid? Or is it going forward in spite of your fear?  It will also give an opportunity to talk about honesty.  Is is okay to lie if it ends up being the truth?  Is it okay to let people believe something good about you even if it's not exactly deserved?  Talk with kids about things they're afraid of.  What do they think could make them feel braver?  Ask kids if they've ever lied about something and gotten caught?  How did they feel?  Classroom Activities: Honesty, Classroom Activities: Courage.


Why I Like This Book:  Nadine is so full of herself, so spunky and fun, and so believable because haven't we all met kids (or adults :)) who can bluster their way through just about anything?!  Kids will relate to this confident bovine who pretends not to be scared of the Deep. Dark. Woods. only to discover that she really isn't afraid... until the sun goes down!  Things unravel a bit (I don't want to spoil it :)) but she ends up saving her friends (completely by accident) and is hailed as a brave hero... an illusion she chooses not to discourage :)  The art is lively and entertaining, and the story is fun and full of humor!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

So.  About those prizes!  Since we're celebrating Perfect Picture Books, I'd like to give away a few :)  I wish I could give everyone a prize, but I have yet to become one of those authors who makes millions of dollars :)  Instead, I've chosen a few books that have been widely well-received that I hope you guys might want to win:

Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick)
Mr. Wuffles by David Weisner (Clarion)
Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. by Matthew Forsythe (Simon & Schuster)
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (Disney/Hyperion)
On A Beam Of Light: A Story Of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illus. by Vladimir Radunsky (Chronicle)
Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand, illus. by Tony Fucile (Candlewick)
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illus. by Jon Klassen (Little, Brown)
This Is The Rope: A Story Of The Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by James Ransome (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson (Atheneum)

+1 - If you'd like to win one of these fabulous books, please leave a comment below.
+1 - If you follow the Perfect Picture Books Pinterest Board, you'll get an additional chance to win (if you already follow, please remind me, if you don't already follow, there's no time like the present :))  http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/
+5 - If you've posted 50 or more Perfect Picture Books on your blog over the course of the past 100 weeks, tell me that and I'll give you 5 additional chances to win!  (Scout's Honor - I don't have time to count! - but I think I know who qualifies :))

(And if there's a book your particularly hope to win or one that you already own, feel free to let me know.)

Please leave your comments/follow the Pinterest Board/let me know if you've posted 50 or more PPBs etc. by Sunday June 15 at 5 PM EDT.  Names will be entered the appropriate number of times into random.org and 9 winners will be randomly chosen and matched with the books.

My deepest thanks to all the bloggers who have supported this effort so whole-heartedly, and to all the readers who come by to share our love of picture books every week!  Perfect Picture Books would not exist without you!

And maybe we'll have another celebration/giveaway in September when we start up again because I'd really like to spread the word about PPBF but now is a dumb time since we're about to go on Summer Vacation! :)

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you one last time before summer!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and I look forward to hearing from you all in the comments!!! :)


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Published on June 13, 2014 00:00 • 1 view

June 11, 2014

Well, lovelies, I promised you a little synopsis of the conference, so here it is.

I think it went okay.

Well, maybe I should say I hope it went okay.  Because truly, it's all a bit of a blur - intense nervousness apparently has an inhibiting effect on memory - someone should probably study that if they haven't already! :)

There was a brief period just before I began when I feared someone would have to employ smelling salts to peel me off the floor, but luckily that didn't end up being necessary :)

Here I am, standing at the front trying to look and sound like I know what I'm talking about:



Here is one of the slides from the beautiful power point presentation (my first ever!) that my daughter kindly helped me with (and by helped I mean did the entire thing with me leaning over her shoulder saying, "I want it to look like this here, and say this there", etc.... patience and kindness, thy name is Katie :)):

Here are some attendees having the kindness to look interested:
And, now for the really important photo, here is the Something Chocolate that Dee, the organizer, who clearly knows me well, left as a gift for me when I arrived at the hotel:

This is a Buffalo specialty called Sponge Candy.  It has a delicious inside, kind of like caramelized sugar but with a texture that is light and crispy when you bite into it, but then melts away in your mouth like cotton candy.  And the outside is coated in milk or dark chocolate.  Here is a close up:
YUM!
I know you all want to rush right out to Buffalo and get some!

So anyway, that about sums it up: long drive to Buffalo, perfect gift on arrival, miraculously managed to get through the whole full day workshop, went out for a delicious and delightful dinner with the organizers as well as 5 YA authors and 2 agents who were going to be Sunday's workshop - really fantastic company - what a group!, and then long drive home from Buffalo. . . and am here to tell the tale :)

Now then!  Onward!

Today's pitch comes to us from Katey.  Katey Howes has been dreaming of publishing children's books since she was 5, and finally had the good sense to take a break from a full time job as a physical therapist to turn her dreams into realities. She is raising 3 voracious readers (8, 6, and 4 years old) who are her biggest inspiration AND harshest critics. Katey has worked with children her entire life in camps, schools, homes and hospitals. Because of this, she has a special sense of what makes them tick, what makes them strong, and what makes them laugh. She tries to bring this to all her stories. Katey blogs on Raising Readers every Monday (and other random mommy/writer/insomniac nonsense on other days) at http://www.kateywrites.wordpress.com.  You can find her tweeting @kateywrites, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kateywrites, and pinning book-y goodness at http://www.pinterest.com/kathrynhowes3/.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Dandelion Wishes
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: Gia and her mother have everything they need on their hill above the trees: one Saturday after another of togetherness, magic, and wishes.  Dandelion Wishes follows Gia and her mother as they journey through the seasons and see sunny skies turn grey; fields of dandelion wishballs disappear.  Just when Gia thinks magic has gone from her hill and her heart, something beautiful happens to remind her that what she always wished for was there the whole time.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Katey improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Katey is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to catching up on all the work I left by the wayside whilst preparing for the conference so that things can get back to normal! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!  And don't forget to help yourselves to Sponge Candy.  I feel quite certain that anything that light cannot possibly have any calories.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it has negative calories :)

Enjoy! :)


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Published on June 11, 2014 00:00 • 3 views

June 9, 2014

Good Morning, Everyone!  Happy Monday!

As you can see, I survived my In-Real-Life teaching experience this weekend!  I would tell you about  it, but I'm suffering selective amnesia and besides, we've already got something else on the agenda for today, so it will have to wait :)

Today it is my pleasure to host Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan Elwood on the final stop of their blog tour for Edmund Pickle Chin - A Donkey Rescue Story, their wonderful new picture book!


The previous stops on the tour (listed below for your convenience) covered animal mistreatment, collaboration, a book review, an author interview, and an interview with Edmund himself :)  Make sure you visit them and follow the instructions because there are PRIZES involved! :)
Today, we will hear about how teachers can use Edmund in the classroom.
Please help me welcome Susan Elwood!
Hi Susanna, it’s a pleasure to be your guest!
Edmund Pickle, A Donkey Rescue Story, may be a children’s picture book, but it is packed with opportunity for teachers to use in the classroom in various subjects and themes. I can see the opportunities spilling over into not only in the kindergarten and first grade classroom but the second and third as well. For the younger grades it has the days of the week built right in, along with an adventure Edmund has for each day. The days of the week also allow for the children to see that Susan, Edmund’s care giver in the story did not get results in a day, that it took a period of time (and patience).
There’s the cause and effect lesson.  Each and every one of us are responsible for our actions toward others and the results it may bring, and that includes our actions toward creatures. For those children who don’t have the opportunity to have pets, it teaches that all creatures respond to the way they are treated, be it positively or negatively. Compassion toward others goes a long way.
Bullying is a serious topic in schools now a days and this book talks about a donkey trying to overcome this obstacle and how with patience from his care giver he is able to blossom and give back. It shows team work and patience.
Ah patience! It seems with all the immediate results children can get now days with numerous technology devices, instant gratification is accepted. Sometimes that doesn’t come quickly when we are dealing with real life. Susan the care giver dedicates the time needed to bring on the results she hopes for Edmund. 
As far as my hopes on what the book will do for rescue animals, first and for most I hope it teaches the older children that places like Evermay Farm exists.  That there is an option to abuse and neglect. I hope the book will impress upon them that animals have feelings and needs.  My hope is that the younger generations grow up showing compassion and not looking the other way, when they could step in and make a difference. 
The book was written in hopes on drawing attention to a small rescue/sanctuary called Evermay Farm, which I founded about a year ago.  The book was written to bring attention to the nonprofit and help with donations, but also, for me at least, to teach children compassion and patience. 
In the end....I hope they enjoy it as a story with a happy ending, because every child deserves one!
So happy to have had this chance to chat! Susan April Elwood co-author Edmund Pickle Chin,A Donkey Rescue Story

Thank you so much, Susan!  I'm sure teachers will find that very helpful and informative!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. . .


 Prizes - From Clara And Susan!Thanks so much for reading Friends! For all friends of Edmund are my friends. Below please find our links and the tour. Read every post, follow the blog and comment for prizes. The reader who follows each blog and comments on each stop of the tour will get first prize. And if there are many winners, hurray! We will deliver!First prize is a print book of both Annie’s Special Day and Edmund Pickle Chin. Second prize is either a print copy of Edmund or of Annie, you get to pick. Third prize is a copy of the ebook of Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story.For Susan April Elwood: www.evermayfarm.org https://www.facebook.com/pages/Edmund-Pickle-Chin-A-Donkey-Rescue-Story/233625116837649 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Evermay-Farm/154892358148
For Clara Bowman-Jahn www.clarbojahn.com https://www.facebook.com/cbowmanjahn https://www.facebook.com/pages/Edmund-Pickle-Chin-A-Donkey-Rescue-Story/233625116837649
BLOG TOUR DATESMay 26: Animal abuse and mistreatment — Joanna -www.joannamarple.comMay 29: Author collaboration— Stacy – http://www.stacysjensen.comMay 30: PPBF and review — Vivian – http://viviankirkfield.com/June 2: Author interview  — Erik – www.ThisKidReviewsBooks.comJune 4: Edmund interview — Patricia – http://childrensbooksheal.comJune 9: Teacher info and guide — right here :)
About the Authors:

Clara Bowman-JahnClara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for thirty two years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short stories have been published in three anthologies, Campaigner Challenges 2011, The ‘I’ Word and Charms Vol. 2. She is also the author of Annie’s Special Day a children’s picture book. Her second Picture book, a true story, called Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story, is co-authored with Susan April Elwood.

When Clara is not writing, she teaches ESOL to adult students through a library program. She also likes taking long walks with her husband, blogging, and reading books. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Julie Hedlunds Picture Book Challenge 12x12, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic; Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, and two fat cats. She is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson. 
Susan April Elwood
Susan April Elwood has worked with children for over twenty years in Northern Virginia as a preschool teacher, kindergarten assistant, and a library assistant. With her passion for animals it made perfect sense to combine the two and write an animal story for children, teaming up with author Clara Bowman-Jahn.

Susan and her husband Tom moved from Northern Virginia in 2007 to central Georgia where they founded Evermay Farm, a non-profit rescue for farm animals. This is the setting for the book titled, Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story. The story is based on Edmund a donkey, the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm home. Susan and her husband Tom have two treasured sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a precious grandson. In her free time, Susan enjoys photographing animals and antiquing.                www.evermayfarm.org

Thank you all so much for joining us today!
Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! :)

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Published on June 09, 2014 00:00 • 2 views

June 6, 2014

Hi Everyone!

Happy Friday!

As you all know, I am shuffling off to Buffalo to the SCBWI conference.  And it's finally happened.  I have run out of time.

Does anyone here realize how long it takes to try to turn a perfectly good online course into a one day workshop?  Sheesh!  I had no idea!  And shockingly (because you all know how organized I am and how good I am at estimating time :)) I underestimated how much time I'd need.  I've been nose-to-the-grindstone for days, and when I realized at 11:45 PM that I'd forgotten it was Thursday and hadn't done a Perfect Picture Book I was too zombified to come up with a decent plan.

So here is my indecent plan :)

I am posting the list, packing up Princess Blue Kitty, and hitting the road!

Please wish me luck.  I'm not at all sure I can do this.  There's a reason writers are perfectly happy writing in the kitchen with their dogs where they don't have to be outgoing and brave!

Hopefully I will see you Monday with the last installment of Clarike Bowman-Jahn's book tour for Edmund Pickle Chin!

And even though today is technically the 100th Perfect Picture Book Friday, we will celebrate next week with our last PPBF post before the summer hiatus!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)


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Published on June 06, 2014 00:00 • 1 view