Writing Picture Books

Mix ‘n Match Mini Writing Challenge

Susanna Leonard Hill always has amazing writing opportunities on her website. If you ever need a boost, hop on over to Susanna Leonard Hill and be amazed at her writing resources, contests, guides for teachers, and more! Every Monday, for seven weeks, Susanna will post a writing prompt. Writers will pick a character, setting, and a feeling in the Mix ‘n Match lists and write a story with 100 words of less. I hope you enter too!

Here is my entry:

Week #1:
I picked camel, school, jubilant. School is used in the story.
Zara means “blooming flower” in Arabic. 99 words

ZARA’S BLOOMING FLOWER
By Lori Himmel

Zara’s smile was bigger than her crayon box in art school.
But now, class was online.
Ms. Barbary organized calls for her students.

But Zara’s hooves fumbled on the keyboard.
Her drool slobbered the computer.
“Why can’t I go to class like before!” she cried.

Everyday she tried to log on.
“Dreaded dromedary!” she yelled.
Then, one day, feeling annoyed, Zara said,
“Computer! Open my class!”
ZIP! ZOOP! HURRAY!

Now Zara could see Ms. Barbary and her friends.
Zara dipped her brush and mixed colors.
Her smile was bigger than her canvas as she admired her
blooming flower painting!

Week #2:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bear

By Lori Himmel

Little Bear’s (Ursa Minor) POV

142 words

Twinkle, twinkle!

I’m Little Bear, or to be more precise, Ursa Minor.

And some call me the Little Dipper.

I live in the sky next to my mom. She has many names too:

Big Bear, Ursa Major, or the Big Dipper.

She watches over for me.

This winter I was almost hunted by Orion, so we ran to the middle of the sky and hunkered down. Safe and sound.

I love my sky. Star friends twinkle hello everyday.

I can also see the Earth twinkle, twinkle lots of lights. 

Many lights in many places. Mom says those are cities.

I shine as brightly as I can, squeezing the light down for all to see.

But the Great Haze rests above Earth.

I hope people can still see me, twinkling up here.

Twinkle, twinkle Little Bear, my mom always says.

So I do.

Writing Picture Books

Honorable Mention – Vivian Kirkfield 2020 #50 Precious Words Contest

I was so excited to be an honorable mention in the adventure category for this fun contest. Thank you Vivian Kirkfield for being so generous with your time on these contests!

ADVENTURE:

#328: Big Ride by Joy Pitcairn
#267: Let’s Take a Walk by Lori Himmel 
#291: Search for Life by Jilanne Hoffmann
#11: Wombat Rescue by Robin Currie
#91: To Catch the Moon by Jenny Buchet

LET’S TAKE A WALK
by Lori Himmel

Let’s take a walk
Down the street
around the block
up a trail.

Where paths twist and turn
and rock beds and mud
slop our shoes.
Look under logs
Collect secret treasures
Until pockets are heavy and
legs grow weak.

Let’s take a walk,
little one
Only hand-in-hand
with you.

viviankirkfield said:
I love that you took us along on this walk also, Lori. And I like that you let us feel what they were feeling: until pockets are heavy and legs grow weak. Thanks for sharing your precious words with us.

Really love that their pockets are heavy with “secret treasure.” Nice imagery, Lori.

Nothing like exploring and finding treasures with a kid. Great job putting us in their shoes – slopped with mud – and heavy pockets. Good luck!

Great visuals on this lovely walk. Good luck Lori.

I really enjoyed walking with you Lori – this is lovely to read :o)

Nancy Riley said:

I can se the whole walk. So fun for a little one. Nice job.

jillburns7 said:

Sounds like a lot of fun! Cute story!

 

Writing Picture Books

Treasured Picture Books

My critique group, appropriately named the PBJs (Picture Book Junkies), talks about, reviews and studies picture books. All. The. Time. Every week we bring books to the table and we learn from and drool over the fact that we are holding years of effort, sweat, and love.

In early December we have our annual Christmas Tea to celebrate our year-end. We laugh at all the fun we’ve had, the minor successes, the heartbreak rejections, the nominations, the mentorships, our writing news. It is a wonderful celebration!

We also have a gift exchange and everyone leaves with full bellies and either a craft book, picture book, MG or YA to enjoy. This year we will also bring a list of our top 15 favorite picture books. This is a challenge for me, but I’ll sort out the ones that have stood out over time or new ones just hitting the charts as best books of the year. Here are some of my most favorite time-treasured picks:

  1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (will probably remain #1 forever!)
    *the rest are in no particular order*
  2. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  3. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
  4. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  5. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
  6. On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier
  7. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
  8. Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick
  9. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  10. The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett
  11. The First Dog by Jan Brett
  12. Owen by Kevin Henkes
  13. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  14. Train by Elisha Cooper
  15. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

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One day, I hope to add my name to this list or be on someone else’s list of top picks. Until then, I will work diligently at my craft and enjoy the beautiful (and sometimes agonizing) process along the way.

contest

Honorable Mention – SUSANNA HILL’S 2019 HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children, using the words potion, cobweb, and trick.  So grateful to announce that my entry was an honorable mention for unique character!

2019 Halloweensie Contest - Lori Himmel

THE VERY HAUNTED HOUSE

100 words

House worked for days decorating herself for Halloween.

She mixed up bubbly potions in the kitchen and watched them ooze to the floor.

She hung ghosts in the living room and set a timer for the booing sounds.

House hung cobwebs in every corner of every room.

She saw that it was scary, but not scary enough.

It had to be perfect.

She added vampire bats! Skeletons! Ghouls and goblins!

Then drops of blood, bones, and slime!

Scream machines and mummies wrapped tight!

There! That would do the trick!

Now, House wasn’t just a house anymore.

She was…

Haunted!

BOO!

write what you know, Writing Picture Books

A Bedtime Story

On October 15, 2012, I put my middle child, Natalie, to bed in my usual nighttime routine: snuggles, kisses, and blanket tucks. I then gave her hopes for a great sleep, prayers, and more kisses. It was getting late so I didn’t read her a book, but she asked me to talk about my childhood. Being tired, I couldn’t really think of a single story to tell her, at least not a new one.

o-whisper-in-ear-facebook

So I leaned in close and whispered her a story that came pouring out of my mouth—a character was developing, there was a plot, a conflict. As the story progressed, my eyes started to well up. I was amazed at what was transpiring. The story ended and Natalie looked at me with wide eyes.

“Is that a true story?”

“No, I just made it up,” I replied.

“Well, that was the best story I’ve ever heard,” she said sweetly.

It wasn’t until the next morning when I thought this story might have potential. It was a subject I knew something about.  I’ve heard time and time again to write what you know. So I fleshed it out over two years. Since then, I’ve been editing, writing more stories, editing some more, researching, receiving feedback and critiques, attending writing conferences, and working toward publishing my first picture book. This whale might give you a little hint on what one of my stories is abowhaleut. Spending time in Hawaii where these beautiful humpback whales live, inspired me to write an adventurous tale.

There have been many, many drafts of this story. Names, titles, rising action, climax have been altered- all because of the great feedback I’ve received from my critique partners. And more and more stories keep pouring out!

 

 

Writing Picture Books

2019 Valentiny Contest

Susanna Leonard Hill, Children’s Author is hosting Oh, Guilty Heart! – The 4th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!

The rules are: write a 214-word Valentine story appropriate for children in which someone feels guilty. Here is my 212-word entry:

MIMI’S MIXED-UP VALENTINE

“Leave the cards alone, Charles!” Mimi roared at her brother.

Charles mixed up Mimi’s Valentine’s Day cards on the kitchen table and hid some in his pocket.

“Mine!” laughed Charles.

“Charles, you are T-R-O-U-B-L-E!” huffed Mimi ripping a card out of his hand.

“Mimi is my favorite.”

She kept signing cards not looking up and Charles crumpled more cards.

 

Her brother poked at everything on the table.

“Mom! Charles won’t stop!”

“Honey, you know Charles just wants to be with you. Be kind.”

Mimi whispered to her mom, “He’s just out-of-control all the time. Annoying, really.”

Mimi gathered all the cards and slammed the door when she left for school.

“What a start to Valentine’s day! Ugh!”

 

Later that day, Mimi put a card in her classmates’ decorated boxes.

“One for you. And one for you.”

When she looked through all the cards she received, she saw a crooked mixed-up Valentine.

“What’s this?”

 

The card was crumpled and scribbled in black marker.

“I love Mimi. Love, Charles.”

Mimi’s heart sank low.

“I didn’t make a card for Charles!”

After school, Mimi ran into the house and wrapped her arms around Charles.

“I love you everything about you, little bro. Thanks for the card!”

“Mimi is my favorite Valentine!”

“And you’re mine!”

Writing Picture Books

2018 Halloweensie Contest

Susanna Leonard Hill, Children’s Author is hosting the 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest. The rules are: write a 100-word Halloween story appropriate for children using the words cauldronshiver, and howl. Here is my entry:

WEREWOLF & THE HALLOWEEN RACE

Witch tapped her cauldron three times.

CLINK! CLINK! CLINK!

“Welcome to the Halloween race!”

Werewolf’s knees knocked as he took his place on the starting line.

“On your marks, get set, GO!”

Ghost zoomed off the line, but then disappeared.

Vampire tumbled over his cape.

Skeleton’s bones clanked, falling apart.

Werewolf stumbled and then found a steady pace.

His fur flew.

Slobber drooled.

Ghost appeared again swooshing in and out of Werewolf’s lane.

“Watch out!” shouted Werewolf.

He darted and shivered right through Ghost as he crossed the finish line.

“AHHHH! What happened?”

“Congratulations, Werewolf! You’re the winner!”

HOOOOWL!”

 

Writing Picture Books

2018 Holiday Writing Contest

Susanna Leonard Hill’s holiday writing contest is underway! Here is my entry:

HOLIDAY NEIGHBORS

In November my email DINGS! It reads:

“Sam, I can’t deliver Christmas this year. I broke my back! All the doctors at the North Pole say I have to stay in bed for six weeks! I don’t know what to do. The elves stopped making toys and Mrs. Claus went on vacation. This is a total disaster! Please write back.”

Santa needs my help? Doesn’t he have a lawyer, psychologist or dermatologist or someone else to ask?

Mom says Santa knows I’m organized and that is why he asks me for my help.

I ask the social worker at my school what to do. She looks at me funny and then says she’ll be seeing me quite a bit in the new year.

I ask the lunch lady what to do, she says, “Lay off the sugar, kid.”

The nurse checks my temperature. “Normal, kind of,” she replies under her breath.

Oh, no! Christmas is in big trouble!

I remember there are other holidays around this time, so I call up Hanukkah and Kwanza.

Hanukkah says, “Happy to help! We don’t start lighting candles until January this year. We’ll bring the gifts, one for each child.”

Kwanza says, “One of our main principles is to create unity in the world. We’ll bring the food as it brings us all together around the table.”

Hurrah! It’s all coming together. Presents and food arrive at homes everywhere.

Christmas day is a huge success—thanks to our holiday neighbors.

A couple of months later, Cupid texts me…