Three January Writing Challenges: Writing Challenge #2

I have decided that I am going to take a poetry writing course this January. Learning how to write poetry is supposed to enhance your ability to write picture books. This is because it teaches you a lot about the rhythm of language as well as the concise use of language.

So when I heard about “month of poetry”, I thought it was a fabulous challenge to complement my poetry course.

The challenge is to write a poem a day for the month of January. You may share these poems on a password protected blog. Or not. It’s entirely up to you.

The challenge is not a competition and there will be no prizes awarded. But there will be demonstrations and discussions of poetic forms, and one of your poems may be published in the future. Read about some of the success stories here.

To gain access to this blog, you must register here. I hope you will join me.


Three January Writing Challenges: Writing Challenge #1


It’s almost Christmas, so I am not doing as much writing as I want. Are you in the same boat?

I know that in January though, there will be a lot to inspire me to write. I am going to be participating in three free writing challenges.

The first one is ReViMo.

Held January 12-January 18, “Revise More Picture Books Week” is a week for picture book writers to dust off their manuscripts and revise, revise, revise.

During this time there will be blogs and vlogs that will give you advice. In fact, the fun has already started with pre-ReViMo posts. And after all the excitement, there will be awarding of prizes and a webinar by Mira Reisberg.

Maybe you’d like to join me.


Holiday Story Contest: “Where is Santa?”

When I first read Susanna Leonard Hill’s holiday story contest rules, I read that it must be under 250 words. Ugh. So I wrote 238 words of a very sparse story.

Then when I went to enter the story, I realized that it must be under 350 words. Double ugh. I toyed with the idea that I should just enter it in as it was. I decided against that and added one more solution and some description.

This story is loosely based on a few holiday celebrations. I decided to add the final solution in, because I realize that when I cannot sleep, if I focus on the future, then I still cannot sleep. But if I focus on past good events, then I am able to sleep. I must be accessing different parts of my brain. What do you think? Hopefully somebody will benefit from this knowledge.

So here it is, exactly 350 words. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know your thoughts.

“Where is Santa?”

Ava stood over her sister Emma’s bed, sobbing.

Emma sat up. ‘What’s the matter, Ava?”

“Santa didn’t come.”

Emma looked at the clock. She flopped back down. “It’s only 2:00 a.m., Ava.”


“Santa has to deliver presents to a lot of children. He surely hasn’t come here yet.”

“Oh.” Ava rubbed her eyes. “I am going to wait by the Christmas tree and catch him then.” She dashed towards the door.

“A-va, you know you need to go to sleep. Santa won’t come if you are not sleeping.”

Ava stopped. “But I can’t sleep. I’m too excited.”

“Why don’t you count sheep?”

“That won’t help.”

“How about counting gingerbread cookies?”

Ava giggled. “I’ll try.”

Ava climbed into bed. “One gingerbread cookie…two gingerbread cookies…three…Emma?”

“What now, Ava?

“It’s not working. It’s making me hungry.”

“Ava, just try to sleep.” Emma turned her back to Ava.

“OK, Emma, good night.”

“Good night, Ava.”

“How about I listen for the sound of the reindeer?” Ava jumped out of bed and ran to the window.

Emma sat up again. “Is that going to help you sleep?’

“I don’t think so.”

“Go back to bed, Ava.”

Ava climbed back into bed. “But I still can’t sleep.”

Emma sighed. “Do you want me to sing to you?”


Emma started to sing.

Ava smiled and hummed along.

“Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good,” Emma sang.

Ava started to cry again.

Emma stopped. “Now what?”

“What if Santa just didn’t come because I have been too naughty?”

“That’s not the reason. It’s just too early…Come on, Ava, go to sleep.”

Emma rolled onto her side and put her pillow over her head.


Emma groaned. “You need to go to sleep.”

“I know what to do, Emma. I will think good thoughts, and it will help me go to sleep.

“Good idea, Ava.”

Ava snuggled under her covers. “I will think all about putting up the Christmas tree and singing carols and the Advents calendar and…” Ava yawned. “Good night, Emma.”

“Good night, Ava.”


“Emma, Emma, Santa came!”


Submitting to Closed Publishers

I sat in on a webinar conducted by Mira Reisberg of the Picture Book Academy and Miranda Paul of Rate Your Story. The webinar, which was called “Ten Things You Must Know Before Submitting your Manuscript”, was fabulous.

One tip that Miranda gave was that although a publisher says it is closed to unsolicited submissions, you can send a query letter to find out if they will accept your manuscript. So in other words, although they will not welcome unsolicited manuscripts, if you query them first, and they like your idea, you have now opened a door by making your manuscript solicited.

Just make sure that you do your research first and that your manuscript is a right fit for the publisher.


PiBoIdMo Winner


I did it! I am a PiBoIdMo winner.

And I didn’t only get 30 ideas. I got 58 ideas. Woo hoo! I surprised myself too: 33 of those ideas are nonfiction.

My favourite idea though came the day after PiBoIdMo finished. It has been humming in my head and it is the first idea that I have had to sit down and write more details about. Now I need to research if it has been done.

What about you? Did you do PiBoIdMo this year? And if so, how many ideas did you have? If not, will you join us next year for this fabulous challenge?