Thursday, March 25, 2021

#SpringFlingKidLIt: MYSTERY CAT

 Such fun to begin spring with a #SpringFlingKidLit Challenge. The rules are as follows: a story geared for kids 12 and younger, a gif that inspires your story, no illustrations and a word count of 150 or less words. (Mine is 94 words.) Good luck to all who entered. Also, kudos to contest creators Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara O'Neal.

Note: This is my first attempt at creating a GIF, so bear with me. I can animate the print but not my main characters. 


by Kathy Halsey

(Normal text = tabby cat; Italic  = mystery cat)

So, you're a cat?
You might say that. 

I have sharp claws.
I have soft paws.

You live inside?
My world is wide.

I tuck my tail in human laps. 
My tail tells my family's past. 

Catnapping is my favorite thing.
I rise at dawn and greet the spring.

Do you purr, meow, and prey?
I dance on the breeze then fly away.

Count my lives. They say I have nine.
Put me in water to extend my bloodline.

I'm pussycat. What are you?
I'm pussy willow . . . the cat that grew!




Saturday, March 6, 2021

BOOKDROPPED ( contest piece for #50PRECIOUSWORDS 2021)

Time again for wonderful author and friend Vivian Kirkfield's #50 Precious Words Contest.  It's a fun challenge to tell a story in 50 or less word. My recent library visit and an overdue book fiasco got me thinking about how a book feels in a bookdrop. Voila, it became the inspiration of this very short tale taken from the POV of the book.

The guidelines state our story must be 50 words or less and appropriate for kids ages 12 or under. It may be prose, free verse, silly or serious. You can enjoy all the entries in this post.

I hope you enjoy my entry. (P.S. Always turn your books on time so you aren't hit with a $400+ overdue fine! I finally found all my run-away books and am out of library jail.)

WC: 48 words

by Kathy Halsey

in a box.

between novels,
and tomes.

A used-to-be
happy-go-lucky picture book
on a warm lap,
little fingers wrapped 
'round me,
rhythmic voices
telling my tale.

Set me free
so I can be
propped atop
my bookshelf,
for you
to take me home.


Monday, December 28, 2020

12 Days of Christmas for Writers :2020 Successes

Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2020. I'm proud to say I've participated in this challenge since its inception. Thank you, Julie.  

Goals Met from the 2019 Challenge: 6/9 Met = 66%

 1. Attend new workshops/classes this year: SCBWI Smithsonian NF, Highlights NF Retreat, Illustrator courses/mini-classes at Storyteller Academy

2. Write new stories: 6 new PBs

3. Expand my critique partner network: added an NF group and several individual CPs

4. Expand speaking engagements: accepted for the Virginia Hamilton Conference 2020, accepted for Mazza Summer Institute 2020 (rebooked both for 2021)

5. Grow Twitter Presence: passed 2000 followers in an “organic” way

6. Continue weekly check-ins w/Beth Stillborn, accountability partner

Note of Transparency: some goals not met due to pandemic and my state of mind: I didn't keep up with submissions (found work I was subbing needed revision), didn't keep up w/bullet journal, and never finished organizing my office files.

My motto for 2020 was "Keep Swimming. Fall Forward," which meant I'd keep on taking steps towards my goals even whilst discouraged. If I made a "mistake" or "fell," I'd pick myself up, find the learning, and move on.

2020 Successes (continued from above)

7. I submitted mss to all four #PBPitches, entered #PBParty challenge, the Fall Frenzy, and 2 #PitMad twitter events. I got my work out there.
8. Subbing the traditional way, I subbed several mss w/a total of 10. (It may be higher, I lost rack.)
9. To advance my craft I completed StoryStorm, NF Fest, and ReFoReMo. I won a professional critique from Lisa Schnell in the NF Fest.
10. NF author Melissa Stewart offered me a consulting job to revise/add to her educational resources for her award-winning blog, Celebrate Science. COVID hit and she has time to revise them herself. The invitation to help her was a real confidence boost. TY, Melissa.
11. In May I was hired by author/entrepreneur Arree Chung as his Virtual Assistant. I became Community Manager of his Storyteller Academy later this year.
12. My new job brought lots of new tech learning. I had training but mostly taught myself Notion, Mighty Nets, the intricacies of Gmail Suites, Slack, and Active Campaign. Since I grew up on a typewriter, I call this a BIG win.
13. With Storyteller Academy, I gained skills in writing directions, articles, moderating Zoom classes, and doing help desk work.
14. I was co-host for Storyteller launches and did a PowerPoint on Best Practices for one Opening Ceremony.
15. In September I was asked by ReFoReMo to join the blogging staff for 2021. (another confidence builder.)
16. I continued blogging with the GROG and wrote 6 blog posts including 2 picked up by KidLit411.
17. Authors continued to contact the GROG and me personally to ask if we'd review new books or help w/launches. I enjoy helping kid lit folks get new work noticed.
18. I revised many mss and almost have 3 polished enough for submission.
19. I read 116 books: NF, MG, and PB, picking up mentor texts and comp titles along the way.
20. I have become a mentor of sorts for newer writers at Storyteller Academy and have helped write pitches, advise on query letters and careers in general. This makes me feel like I'm paying my knowledge forward.
21. I met more consistently with my solid rock, the Saucy Mojo Writers and have critique so many great stories.
22. I invested in myself w/a new computer, fancy ergonomic office chair and a Lumen light for Zoom meetings.
23. I also invested in professional photos for headshots w/my neighbor who majored and taught photography. I learned I can take a decent pic when the right person is behind the camera. We're making decisions now re: best shots.
24. My dear community of creatives sent me amazing gifts this year: food, cards, books, jewelry, writerly notebooks, post-its. I am humbled by this care and concern.
25. This is the first year I did an expense sheet for all my writing endeavors and the first year I've been paid for writing-related work. (TY, Arree and Storyteller Academy.)
26. Adding this per my fellow Nf writer and true friend, Carrie Fannin. Think I am proudest of this! I am advancing my critique skills - I'm good at it.We've swapped mss and she tells me, " Your feedback to a fellow write (me) made ALL the difference in a manuscript, leading to the full manuscript being requested for consideration by 3 editors at mid-sized to major publishers. Whatever happens with that, I can never thank you enough for helping me find the poetry of Maggie's story. --Carrie F." 


Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Road to Fall - #FallWritingFrenzy 2020 by Kathy Halsey


Ready for some fall fun? Fall is my favorite season and writing's my "jam" so participating in the second year of the #FallWritingFrenzy is right down my alley road to fall.

The goal for this contest hosted by Lydia Lukidis and Kaitlyn Sanchez is to create connections in the kidlit community and challenge oneself to grow by writing something new. Plus we win prizes, critiques by industry professionals. YAY. Thanks to Lydia, Kaitlyn, judges, and those donating critiques. Good luck to all who enter, too. You can find other entries here.

The rules instruct participants to write to a visual prompt (see mine above), 200 or less words,  and audience age PreK  on up. The piece can be a poem, mood piece, happy, scary, beautiful, grotesque, whatever suits the season and the chosen visual prompt. 


The Road to Fall

by Kathy Halsey

The road to fall runs wild

with pops of pumpkin orange. 

It lead to murky mists 

  settling in the hollows.

What's there? 

The road to fall hints of hidden haunts 

with dappled leaves shadow-dancing,

hovering overhead.

  What lies beyond?

The road to fall rolls down shrouded paths

where the chitter-chatter of chipmunks

 is swallowed by 

sudden stillness.

What looms large?

The road to fall


somewhere between real 

and make-believe.

Step-by-step we creep closer

What's behind brambles and bushes?

The road to fall reveals steep stone steps

up-up until a cold metal gate stops us,

prevents our climb

inside a squire's castle.

The road to fall...

It's on our minds

murky mists,

hidden haunts

between real and make-believe.

What wildness might we unlock? 







Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Where Is Spring? by Kathy Halsey

It's time to write on and shine like the sun for some spring fun. Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Ciara O'Neal are hosting the Spring Fling Kid Lit Contest to brighten our days. Thank you, ladies. 
The 411 for the contest is as follows: a story for kiddos 12 and under, 150-words or less, based on a spring GIF or image. Find my inspirational image and 148-word story below. Thanks for popping by, and Happy Spring!

Where Is Spring?

by Kathy Halsey

Skyler, do you see Spring? Mom said to look outside.
Lily, I see you, a pretend-tiger in a coat.

And I spy a goofy brother in a weird hat. But where’s Spring?
Maybe it’s hiding. Let’s tromp through the bushes. 

Ouch, scratchy-sticky-bushy things. NOT Spring, Skyler.
Yeah, but see those green buds? Are they Spring?

M-a-y-b-e. And what’s that popping through the dead leaves?
A crocus? A tulip? Hmm, could be a sign . . .

Looky, I found it. Right here, Skyler – the teensiest, tiniest blossom of Spring!
Are you sure we found it all? 

No, I hear it, too. Take off your hat; open your ears. 
Yup! It's cheeping birds and glunking frogs.

Lily, ditch your coat. I feel Spring, too.
Hey, the breeze tickles my neck and whips my hair. 

Spring? We gottcha. No more hide-n-seek!

Ready or not, here we come. WE found Spring.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A Tail So True - #50 Precious Words by Kathy Halsey

Time for a new challenge, this one courtesy of prolific author/friend Vivian Kirkfield. This is the 5th year for #50 Precious Words. I thank Vivian, the judges, those who've donated prizes, and readers who leave comments. We writers appreciate these opportunities. 

Guidelines are to write a story for kids 12 and younger, any topic, prose, poetry, any style, BUT 50 words. It's not easy to get a true story in such tight guidelines. However, the challenge is the fun.

My tale highlights my love of animals, dogs especially. This is Iris, our first Corgi, who we lost at 8 to Addison's and kidney failure. She was the inspiration for A TALE SO TRUE, a story with 47 words. Happy reading. As sweet Iris would say, "BAROOOO." 


by Kathy Halsey

If I could call your name,
If I could make you real,
I'd reach across time to fetch you.

You’d bounce and paw,
romp and roll.
You'd snuffle up treats.
We'd sit paw-in-hand.

Nuzzled up close.
wish it was true,
cozy hugs from
a tail so true.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Anti-Resolution Revolution 2019 version - Successes - Big or Small

I've been launching my new year with Julie's positive challenge for writers since its inception. Back again, I'm ready to go into 2020 and make the beginning of a new decade mine.


Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. Here is my list for 2019.

 Goals I Met from 2018 Challenge 

1. Revised my mss with a proven method. I did use the Manuscript Magic tools from a class I took in 2018 with my critique group Mojo Sisters, but I refined the process to make it my own. 2019 turn out to be the year revision for me more than a year of new work. Goal met.
2. I did create a comprehensive submission spreadsheet culling all my subs and editor/agent comments. I was spurred on by my #PBChat mentor Lindsay Leslie to create this. Goal met.
3. I continued to connect w/writers, agents, and editors via SM and conferences. Without the exact goal to grow my twitter presence, I now have 1570 followers just by connecting with like-minded kid lit people. Goal met.
4. Continued my accountability check-ins with writer friend Beth Stillborn every Monday. We are now going on our 3rd year to share what we accomplished each week. TY, Beth. Goal met.
5. Kept moving forward to reach my goal of publication by hitting 100 submissions and creating a FB group for this with Beth Gallagher. Goal continues as we started the FB group and have close to 50 members. I didn't get to100 subs, but did sub monthly with good results which I'll share in the next section of this post.
6. Continued honing craft by taking a year's worth classes and intensives via Arree Chung's Storyteller Academy. Whispering Pines Writing Retreats 2 & 3, Storystorm, ReFoReMo, mini-retreat w/5 Ohio writers, and other classes offered via my Central- Southern Ohio SCBWI. Goal met.

2019 Successes

 1. I completed only a few new drafts, but the new ones came faster and I was able to revise with less emotional attachment this year.
2. My submissions yielded more responses and feedback from both editors and agents.
3. I had a near miss with an agent taking me on but she was having "life issues" and couldn't add to her client list. I'd met her at a conference, and we connected via another writer friend, one of her clients.
4. The story she liked became my signature picture book of the year. I had author Jim Averbeck review it, I revised it and it garnered me my #PBChat mentor, Lindsay Leslie. 
5. Out of over 1500+ submissions to the 1st #PBChat mentorship, I found a publish author willing mentor me! This was my 4th time trying to find a mentor. Advice - don't give up even if things didn't go well before.
6. With my mentor, Lindsay Leslie, we pinpointed my 3 most marketable, well-written mss, took one to the Agent Showcase and 1 agent request. Still waiting to hear @ this point.
7. My critique group is getting stronger and better as writers and had their own success: one has an agent, another will be published in 2020, and a third is a Highlights Diversity Fellow. Because their work is of such high quality, it helps me when I get their feedback. 
8. I've received honorable mentions in the writing contests I've entered this year. 
9. The group blog to which I belong, GROG, continues to grow readership and debut authors are now asking us to review their books and get on our schedule.
10. I am writing stories that I am passionate about and feel will help readers. 
11. I've made new friends in the kid lit community, all who make my goals seem possible and make life rewarding and fun.
12. I am blessed by individual writer friends w/whom I can share work outside my critique group when I need fresh eyes on a story.
13. My commitment to Storyteller Academy also led to a new critique group that is dedicated and international. TY, Wonder Women.
14. I am lucky that ideas come easily for me and I have plenty of new stories to complete.
15. I spoke at the Ohio Educational Library Media conference this year and also at Nerd Camp MI.
16. I have several writer friends who will call me weekly to brainstorm ideas or just chat. The friendships I made this year extend beyond just writing. 
17. I enjoy revision much more than last year. 
18. 39/100 submissions. I stopped subbing around August as I spent the last quarter the year revising my work. 
19. My motto for 2019, "Say Yes to Every Opportunity" worked for me.