Thursday, March 2, 2017

And We're Off to the Races: 50 Precious Words Contest by Kathy Halsey

Say, what? Yes, another contest...it's time for author Vivian Kirkfield's 50 Precious Words modeled off Bennet Cerf's challenge to Dr. Seuss to create a story using only 50 unique words. This was the origin of GREEN EGGS AND HAM. I recycled an old picture book manuscript and shaved it down to 47 words, no easy feat, believe me. 




Let's have a bit of word association before we begin, shall we? There's "feat" and "feet," but in my story we have  a race to the finish with "hoof" versus "paw." Yes, it's Blaze Cheetah versus Giraffe. (Did you know that a giraffe's hooves are as big as dinner plates? Did you know they can cruise at 35 mph? Did you know that we PB writers learn many odd facts?) Onward to our race!



Kalahari Elementary Track Meet

by Kathy Halsey

Blaze's fast,
Always best.
Giraffe laces up,
Cannot rest.

They'r-r-r-e OFF!
'Round the track.
Blaze zooms ahead,
Giraffe bounces back.

Giraffe tangles up.
Legs run amok!

Neck and neck,
Hoof to paw.
Near the half mark,
Shock'n awe.

Photo finish.
Who will win?
It's...GIRAFFE!
Mile-wide grin.

















Friday, February 10, 2017

Saw-whet Owl's Valentine by Kathy Halsey

Hi all, time for a fun contest from Susanna Hill! It's the second annual Valentiny contest. Check out Susanna's blog for more Valentine fun and her books here! Read other stories and leave comments. Share the Valentiny love. These stories must feature a confused character and be "tiny," only 214 words because Valentine's Day is 2/14. That clever Susanna!


My story is about an owl I fell in love with on Facebook. He was posted by author/illustrator friend Teresa Robeson! Isn't he cute? Thanks, Teresa. And, yes, my story is only 202 words.


The Northern Saw-whet Owl, a Solitary Creature

Saw-whet Owl's Valentine 

High in his tree, Saw-whet slept. He was rarely spotted in the woodlands, and he liked it that way. 

Tiny Saw-whet was verrrrry shy but verrrrry devoted to Fox, Squirrel and Rabbit. He watched over his forest friends while he roosted.

Today as his friends scurried about, Saw-whet woke with a start. 

Saw-whet smoothed his feathers, mustered his courage and said, "Say, what is happening today?"

Fox pulled red ribbons. He tied knots. 

"Say, what are you up to with those bows, Fox?"

Fox winked.

Squirrel fluffed his tail as if to hide... something. 

"Say, what is behind your tail, Squirrel?"

Squirrel puffed up more before he snuck away.

Rabbit hopped 'round making odd-looking snow tracks. 

"Say, what are you doing, Rabbit?

Rabbit giggled and wiggled his behind.

Saw-whet sighed. No one would say what was up today. He turned his head left. He turned his head right. He turned his head all the way around and found...

Fox with a present wrapped in red, 
Squirrel with a heart-shaped candy box,
and Rabbit's message that read," Happy Valentine's Day!"

Saw-whet smiled. He sailed down to hug his friends on the forest floor and said, "Say, WHAT a day, Valentine's Day!"    
"Say what? Say Happy Valentine's Day!" 





  



Monday, January 2, 2017

12 Days of Christmas 2017- Successes

Not to brag just to look back at some of the accomplishments that moved me farther on my road to even more writing success. The journey is the destination. Looking back help us move forward.

1. Sent out more submissions than the year before.
2. Joined NaNoWriMo for the 1st time. Did not achieve 50,000 words but did write more in 1 month than I ever have before.
3. Wrote in a new genre- turned a PB into a MG - still in progress.
4. Had one of my dream agents ask for more of my work. Did not achieve representation, but was invited to submit new work again. 
5. 1. Began the weekly Story Trail class at the Gahanna Public Library working w/ 5 middle/intermediate students, 2 high schoolers and 2 librarians to write a picture book to be illustrated and mounted at Friendship Park this spring.
6. Continued blogging at the GROG with other kid lit writers. We now have 213, 111 page views. I wrote 14 posts, so at least 1 a month. 
7. Signed up for the spring NESCBWI conference and critique w/Julie Bliven at Charlesbridge. Made new friends and extended myself in a new environment.
8. Did a ReFoReMo read/study Charlesbridge NF bios.
9. Was chosen to be a mini-metee for Stacy McAnulty along with 4 other PB writers. We agreed to critique each others work.
10. Attend many workshops: OH SCBWI workshop "Take Your Work to the Next Level, webinar on "How to Be a Better Critique Partner" w/Heather Alexander, and attended monthly SoCenOH SCBWI meetings. 
11. Worked on another partial revision of PB bio.
12. Wrote a story for Susanna Hill's Valen-tiny Contest. I really liked it an it had a true plot arc. 
13. Dove into reading MG and have read 17 books since September for a reading challenge at the school from which I retired.
17. Participated in  ReFoReMo in March.
18. Presented at 2 professional conferences: Mazza Summer Institute 2016 and Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Children.
19. Revised 4 PB mss to submission level.
20. Taught my first class on writing PBs a the local library and got paid. My first check as a writer!
21. Worked on the Ohio Educational Library Media Association's Author Committee 2016.
22. Reinvigorated my goodreads account.
23. Asked to write a blog post for a company, no pay but publicity for me.
24. Created a professional website w/the help of Lisa Amstutz. Secured my domain name, too.
25. Moderated the intermediate school Battle of the Books in Canal Winchester.
26. Submitted a poem to SCBWI.
27. One ms was chosen for a first pages review from a reputable blog.
28. A submission from "Open Coop" day received a detailed response from an agent.
29. Read and volunteered to lead chapter discussions over at Word by Word FB group. We read: SAVE THE CAT, ANATOMY OF NONFICTION, and SECOND SIGHT.
30. Joined a new critique group. 
31. Met periodically with a small group of Central Ohio SCBWI members to write for 2-3 hours and then share our work.
32. Have several CP partners who have agents or have work in acquisitions. How is this my success? I have helped them hone their mss to a new level. When one boat rises, so do they all.






Friday, March 11, 2016

50 Words Contest - Dancing on Daddy's Feet

I love a fun contest & Vivian Kirkfield gave us a challenge to write a story in 50 words, just like Dr. Seuss did. If it's good enough for the good Doctor, it's good enough for me. Check out her blog for other stories. 
My story came to mind while reminiscing about my dad, Richard Hackman, a jazz lover, zoot-suiter, and educator, gone to soon. So this goes out to all of you who learned to dance while DANCING ON DADDY'S FEET.

DANCING ON DADDY'S FEET

By Kathy Halsey

I love to dance with Daddy.
He dances to and fro
And me? I dance with Daddy
always on my toes.

I love to dance with Daddy.
He really keeps a beat,
and when we dance together,
we both have happy feet.

Daddy and me?
What a treat!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Birthday Day, Sourpuss!





Hey, hey. It's almost Valentine's Day! Time for a fun contest for writers and readers. Here's my entry for Susanna Hill's contest. Here are the rules:
Write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is grumpy!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone grumpy (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words max (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day. You can go under the word count but not over! Title is not included in the word count. 



Happy Valentine’s Birthday Day, Sourpuss!

 Kathy Halsey

Word Count: 211



            Sourpuss swiped at the calendar. February. Most cats loved this meow-velous month. Not Sourpuss.
First, that pesky groundhog could NEVER decide if it was winter or spring. Presidents with birthdays and tall hats! Silly holidays crowded out HIS special day.
Sourpuss shared his birthday with Valentine’s Day. “Hip-hip-hooray- boo-ray,” Sourpuss mewed, straightened his red bow-tie, and grabbed his Valentine box for the class party.
After recess, Miss Pittypaws herded her class back to a room festooned with pink and red streamers. Salmon, chicken patties, and catnip cupcakes awaited. The clowder of cats swished their tails excitedly…all except Sourpuss.
He scanned the room for birthday cake, candles, and presents. Nope. Just giant red hearts while his heart sighed, “No one remembers.” Sourpuss hid in the kitty cubbies. He knew no one would miss him.
While Sourpuss moped, his meow-mates piled BIRTHDAY cards into his Valentine box. They climbed the flagpole and hung a special banner that said, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY! IT’S FEBRUARY! MAY THE GROUNDHOG OF HAPPINESS LEAVE A VALENTINE IN YOUR CHERRY TREE!
Miss Pittypaws chirpped, “Sourpuss, come out. It’s a special day.”
MEOW! I’m in trouble now.
Sourpuss crept out, spotted the banner, and smiled a mile-long smile.
“Thank you, it’s …PURRRR-FECT! Hoo-ray for February, my favorite month of the year.”



            

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Join Me in the 2015 Anti-Resolution Revolution for Writers!

Happy New Year's Eve 2015. 2016 is literally around the corner and this is the second year I've joined Julie Hedlund, children's author, in this challenge to start my new year of writing right! Julie believes that our usual resolutions come form a place of negativity - what we didn't do. Instead, we are going to set goals for 2016 that build on our achievements of 2015. So, thanks to Julie, here's my list of my successes.
I have goals not dreams that 2016 will add even more successes to  my writing life. Action to goals and my word for 2016 is:
FOLLOW-THROUGH!

MY 2015 SUCCESSES
  1. Took 2 craft classes: Making Picture Book Magic w/Susanna Leonard Hill and Pacing to WOW w/ agent Jodell Sadler. (Gift from Jodell, my agent.)
  2. Organized a picture books schmooze for 15 local writers while still in Phoenix AZ at The Newton, indie bookstore.
  3. Began the study of Nancy I. Sanders YES YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO WRITE BEGINNING READERS & CHAPTER BOOKS. Led a chapter discussion on FB group Word by Word.
  4. Posted a pitch for a PB on Susanna Hill's blog series WOULD YOU READ IT WEDNESDAY. I have over 77 responses that said they would read my ms based on the pitch.
  5. After we made a cross-country move, I met Ohio writers at the Ohioana Spring Book Festival. I connected with the director of children's programming for the Thurber House & had an interview to teach at Thurber for summer 2016.
  6. Attended the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference and roomed w/my agent. Became friends with 2 Cincy writers & met an editor who has an interest in early chapter books.
  7. A successful PB author stayed AT MY HOUSE and I arranged a school visit for her at the district from which I retired. She generously read tow of my WIPs and gave feedback.
  8. I blogged consistently throughout the year on the GROG. Our page views have topped over 112,000! 
  9. I interviewed Lynne Avril, Amelia Bedelia's illustrator, and Salina Yoon, author/illustrator for the blog. Salina's PR person asked me to help procure school visits.
  10. Two well-established NF writers asked me to review their newest books on the GROG.
  11. I finished my picture book biography on MC and polished it to the point that it is on submission to 5 publishers. Only 1 response so far, but it's a start.
  12. I revised 4 mss for ReviMo. (Revision month w/Meg Miller.)
  13. Wrote a new ms based on 2 students from an elementary in PHX that I worked w/ for several months. I dedicated it to them and they were so proud. It is now one of my fav mss!
  14. From May-July, I participated in an online goggle chat critique group twice a week,
  15. I revised 3 mss in preparation for WOW NF Retreat in July. Two of my WIPS had professional writers and another agent engaged enough to laugh.
  16. I began to volunteer at my intermediate school from which I retired in the library weekly and took out scores of PBs.
  17. I reconnected with the Gahanna Library branch children's director and will help teach a writing class w/intermediate-middle grade students in Feb. 2016. 
  18. I began a writing project w/gifted 5th graders and their E/LA teacher called Write 4 Real. We are creating PB bios and as co-teachers we plan to turn the project into an educational book.
  19. I refocused on plot and completed Suditpa Bardhan-Quallen's & Kami Kinard's Kid Lit Summer School: The Plot Thickens.
  20. I completed my 3rd PIBoIdMo and have 32 ideas for picture books. I wrote several rough crafts of these ideas. 
  21. I attended AASL's annual conference and met 2 editors from an educational publisher who may be interested in my Write 4 Real project.
  22. I helped many kid lit writers w/feedback and revisions. One writer told me I could charge for my critiques because they were insightful and detailed.
  23. I created a PB writing class for adults and pitched it to the Parks & Rec director who liked the idea. Not enough people signed up for it, but I have several modules done on it.
  24. I submitted my information for a PB mentorship w/ Stacy McAnulty in 2016 for 6 months and I am a finalist!
  25. Forgot one more...just finished the study of WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT for Word by Word and led a chapter discussion.
  26. How could I forget that I started a chapter book and am co-writing it w/Pam C.??? 
  27. Submitted a proposal for a pullout session at the Virginia Hamilton Conference 2016 and was accepted.
  28. Submitted a proposal for the Mazza Summer Institute 2016 and was accepted.
So, that's my 2015 wrapped up in a bow. I do feel I lost momentum when I moved, but I feel good about what I achieved.









    Thursday, October 22, 2015

    Do You Speak PiBoIdMo? I Do and You Should, Too! by Kathy Halsey

    PiBoIdMo? No, it's not some strange foreign language, but if you write picture books or if you need new ideas, PiBoIdMo is for YOU!
    Put away that pumpkin pie, crack open a notebook, rustle up some new ideas for the month of November. Voila, you have PiBoIdMo!
    This will be my third year to participate, and I have new friends, new ideas, and daily inspiration during a month when shopping and eating take center stage. Speaking of eating, here's my recipe for PIBoIdMo.
    Recipe for PiBoIdMo
    1. Check out our "Martha Stewart," chef/creator of this challenge for daily picture book idea a day here. Tara has concocted some wonderful PBs herself with a plethora of ideas, including monsters (THE MONSTORE) and fairy tale mashups (LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD.) See her books here.
    2. Next, add yourself to the mix and join PiBoIdMo for 2015. Remember to click on Tara's blog beginning Oct. 25 to join in on the fun. 
    3. Ingredients you will need to bake a month's worth of ideas include:


    • Create a set time, anywhere from 10-30 minutes daily to get your ideas down in writing. 
    • Add a format to capture those ideas. Here's a snapshot of a form I use. 
      Some days I complete the entire form; other days I draw pictures or jot down ideas. 
    • Add one open mind-don't edit ideas, just get them down on paper. Somehow titles get my juices flowing.
    • Spice it up by adding a journal. I began a process journal that helped me look back at what I was doing. I did not force myself to journal everyday, but being aware of my process helped me.
    4. Share the recipe! Invite writer friends, teachers, and students to join in! Having folks to hold you accountable helps ensure a sweet success.
    Middle school student in a Writers' Club reads some of my PiBoIdMo ideas from 2014