Thursday, October 31, 2019

Spider's Tricky Treat by Kathy Halsey

It's the spookiest time off the year and . . . time for Susanna Leonard Hill's annual Halloweensie contest. Why "weensie?" Kid lit writers can tell a Halloween story with ONLY 100 words ad 3 of them must be potion, cobweb, and trick. Entries can be scary, sweet, funny, poetry, or prose. Stories must be appropriate for children, ages 12 and under.

Hope you enjoy my entry. (Judges, word counts 71/100.) Have even more fun & read other entries with your kiddos and leave some comments. Writers love feedback.  (Click here & scroll to the bottom.) Bwaa-haa-haa-haa.

My inspiration? The spiders I saw spinning webs on  my back deck this summer! Watch out for the trick in this spider's tale

Spider's Tricky Treat

by Kathy Halsey

Spider spun a silky cobweb
and sent out cards with words that said:

“Friends, all invited
Halloween treats, 
fun, fun, fun,
and plenty to eat.

Flies and Earwigs,
buzzed by the bash, 
yet soon entangled, 
the party crashed.

Zap. ZAP. 

Spider bit,
injected a venomous potion,
insects immobilized,
caught in mid-motion

Spider tap-danced ‘round his prey in delight,
Spider’s trick
(now his treat), 
made for a delicious Halloween night.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Kidlit Writing Frenzy Contest

Hi, y'all. It's fall and contest time. This is a new one hosted by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis. Thank you ladies, and here's to apple cider and crisp cool days. 

The contest rules state: Pick a fall image (they had tons on their post), and write about it. We can write a poem. story, mood piece, whatever suits one's fancy. The audience is any kidlit age and maximum length is 200 words. 

I chose image #9 as it spoke to my years in Arizona where I  learned more about Mexican and Spanish culture. My four years in AZ taught me to better appreciate the plethora of cultures that make our country more diverse, stronger, and more interesting. 

Our first year in Phoenix we took our kids and grands to the Desert Botanical Gardens to experience their version of el Día de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead. Artists had set up a myriad of altares, and we were delighted to learn and enjoy a new tradition. I had just lost my mother to a stroke, and after reading up on Day of the Dead traditions, I created an alter for my mom. It made me feel her spirit. And, so, in that spirit, I wrote this piece.

Kathy Halsey                                                                                                         WC: 198                
@infowoman1 (twitter handle)                                                                         Prize: PB or CB
image #9
United States

Abuela’s Favorite Holiday: el Día de los Muertos

by Kathy Halsey 

            My bones rattle-clack as cool winds blow through them. It’s time.
           Time to settle in for fall. 
           Time to greet la familia again. 
            Oh, how I have missed them – my ninas and ninos. Once, we were together often, now just this special day. I have hovered near them since I passed on to a different world.
             But now, the veil is clear between the spirit world and my family. 
            I sniff, smile, and sneak a peek as Sonia readies my favorites . . . 
sweet breads, 
sugar skulls,
and spiced mole sauce.
            Rafa and Alejandro gather to place special offerings on my altares  . . .
tangerine marigolds,
photos of mi marido at our wedding,
candles that light my way;
water for this journey of mine.
            A tear slides, but I shake away my longing for the past. For now we will dance, feast, and parade. Will Rafa don a fancy suit and paint his face this year? Oh, my Alejandro, how he loves to “raise the dead” as he says, with strings of shells and noisemakers. 
            The breeze stops and I alight. “Mi familia? It’s Abuela. Ready for two glorious days of el Día de los Muertos?” 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Mona's Pease Little Ditty

Hi  all. My writer friend Mona Pease doesn't have a blog so I'm sharing her Storyteller Academy entry for our no-holds-barred #DaffyCrappyRhymingDraftThrowDown. Give Mona a round of applause and a few comments. We writers love feedback. Thanks for participating, Mona.

I’m Finally Old Enough To Rake Blueberries
by Mona Pease

Tons of Maine blueberries creep around 
My back is bent, my head to the ground
And all I see is blue, blue, blue
It’s my first day on the raking crew. 
                        I’m twelve and I’ll earn my own cash.       

I rake between strings that mark my row
Scooping up berries on vines growing low.
I only meant to taste a few.
But eat a lot, oh what do I do?
                        The outhouse is calling to me!

My sneakers feel stiff. They’re stained bright blue.
A kid calls out,  “Your mouth is blue too.”
There’s not one bone that doesn’t ache.
I think my back is about to break.
                        But, I fill another box.

When I’m finally home I’ll flop on my bed
If I take a nap will I wake up dead?
But if by chance I am alive.
I’ll start my day at quarter to five!
                        And do it all over again!

Monday, June 17, 2019


My dear friend and talented MoJo Writer Woman critique partner Pam Courtney came up with a fun writers' challenge for those of us who are "rhyme-impaired." That's me, straight, no chaser! It had to be a first draft and you know what we call those . . . right?

So here are the rules and my "poem" of sorts.

Storyteller Academy's #DaffyCrappyRhymingDraftThrowDown is underway. Everyone is invited to join in on the fun. Newbies to pb rhyming are STRONGLY encouraged to participate .This writing sprint extravaganza goes from June 1st to July 6th. Here's what'cha do:
Choose a writing prompt: All Things Ninja, That's When I Noticed It, Something Wasn't Quite Right, When the Sun Shines, or I Didn't want To . . . 
Post completed 200 word crappy draft on your blog. Link it back here ONLY on this thread for eager SA readers of your masterpiece.

Rhyme Time: The Meta Poem

by Kathy Halsey

I didn’t want to write this poem because . . .
I don’t rhyme naturally so . . .
naturally I knew that

I tried to write it right.
I tried the William Carlos Williams route but . . .
I had no plums or icebox and there was . . . 
delicious or
sweet or
about this poem that I tried to write.

That’s when I noticed a new idea that snuck stealthily
into my mind. It whispered . . .
“All things ninja.”
It wanted to fight me
It was quite e e cummings-like.

When the sun shines or
the clouds shroud 
my words
I carry on with this Herculean task.
I carry them on my back 
with a slant rhyme.

I let them know, I’m doing fine because . . .
I did not decline
 to rhyme; rather
I had to find 
the words that spoke to me 
and maybe now to you.
The prompts prompted me, 
gave me clues to 
share a silly,
drafty draft. 
(I must be daft!)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Bustin' Out with My 2018 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 2018.

Bustin' Out with My 2018 Writing Successes
The 2018 year was a like a bucking bronco I tried to tame. I had some time-consuming illnesses that set me back for a few months (concussion/broken nose after I fell off a treadmill, back injury that had me in ER twice, injured left knee and ankle when I tripped over my dog, then 2 months of PT). However, I busted out of the gate and mounted the writing pony again. 

Goals Met that I Set After 2017's 12 Days of Christmas
1. Beth Stillborn and I set up a weekly check-in as writer buddies to keep each other accountable. I'm proud to say we kept it up all year. This helped me manage my time better and motivated me to focus more.
2. By end of January I switched offices with Bob to get more space. I purged the office, my files, and email subscriptions to blogs I didn't read. We painted the office a restful green, and I bought a second desk for the research piles that appear when I'm writing.
3. I evaluated my best manuscripts, revised them and submitted more than I did in 2017. (13 subs, but I've been gun-shy due to an agent dropping me awhile ago.)  I entered 6 twitter pitch contests, too.
4. Stretched myself and embraced new opportunities instead of my go-to safe standbys by attending new conferences - Whispering Pines Writing Retreat, Harold Underdown's half-day revision workshop, and my first Highlights workshop, The Nuts and Bolts of Writing Science.
5. Tried my hand at writing for new age groups and in new genres: I completed a chapter book that both Harold Underdown and Rachel Orr critiqued. I wrote an informational picture book with a science theme that 2 editors asked to see. (A very nice "no" with comments, and one editor yet to reply from a twitter pitch request.) Wrote a proposal for a magazine article plus two NF writing samples for ASK magazine.
6. I joined my usual kid lit challenges that I completed: Storystorm (30+ ideas), ReFoReMo, and added inktober to exercise my drawing muscles.  

7. I began my first bullet journal and kept it up for the entire year. 
8. One critique partner had her first book published this year and it was exciting to know I helped her with revisions, ideas for PR, and educational activities for her picture book.
9. The Ohio Educational Library Media Association asked me to write a blog post on picture books. 
10. I judged middle grade compositions for the Ohio PTA's annual Reflections contest. (This put me in touch with the MG mindset as I've been reading and studying middle grade this year.)
11. The State Library of Ohio asked me to serve on the Choose To Read Ohio Advisory board. I am currently writing a teachers' toolkit for one CTRO award book.
12. I wrote two new picture book manuscripts, one a PB bio, and did my first interview with the biographee's daughter. (I worked on revisions more this year.) 
13. I began working part-time at a children's only indie bookstore, Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers. In the new year, I will be in charge of the ARCs. 
14. I wrote 8 blog posts for the GROG blog: book reviews, interviews with authors, miscellaneous posts on craft. My best post had almost 900 page views and the Highlights Foundation recommended it, too.
15. My online critique group met once a week every month of the year. ( I missed some sessions due to illness, but I count on my weekly 2 hour sessions with my "Mojo Women."
17. A success that is hard to "quantify," but my writing IS getting better, and I am receiving more personalized rejections.
18. I am ending 2018 hoopin' and a hollerin' as I revised 3 more mss with Marcie Colleen's December Study Hall class, and Agree Chung's Maker program for 2019.
Revision, craft, and study marked 2018. This new year, 2019, is going to be the year of 100 submissions.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Super Squirrels to the Rescue

Eleven lords a'leaping, readers!  It's that time again, time for mistletoe and holly, and Susanna Hill's 2018 Holiday Writing Contest. This year writers are to craft a holiday story for children 12 and under about a holiday hero. Our hero's act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one, BUT it can only be 250 word or less. So cuddle up with a cup of cocoa and a chuckle or twoI hope my story leaps into your funny bone today as it features the most unknown of super heroes...THE FLYING SQUIRREL!

Super Squirrels to the Rescue!!!!

by Kathy Halsey

             Hurricane-strength winds, ice thick as windowpanes, a real Snow-ageddon pummeled Santa’s reindeer. The pack shivered – not with anticipation but with fear of flying.

            Nothing interested them – not reindeer games, not even SUPER LICHEN, a treat that stoked their bellies for liftoff.
            Grounded reindeer. Ho-ho-NO.  Santa paced, pulled his beard, and peered. What to his wondering eyes did appear— flying squirrels in flight gear!

            “Never fear, Holly and Berry here. Able to leap 150 feet in a single bound, fly under the radar, and pierce the dark with x-ray eyes.” 

            Visions of flying reindeer did NOT dance in Santa’s head. “Come quick. The herd’s sick.”

            “Eleven Lords a’leaping, Berry. Grounded reindeer? Oh dear and no levitation? What a strange situation!”

            Super Squirrels vowed to get them upright. Comet and Cupid and all the rest perched on tree branches to learn from the best. 

            Reindeer spread antlers, sensed the wind. Puffed fur like squirrels, headed airborne again. They pawed, pranced, and rose to the roof. 

            BAM! BOOM! CRASH!  A soupy fog caused a great crash. Holly and Berry to the rescue once more fitted them with night vision goggles so they could explore.

            Gliding by moonlight, super squirrels at the lead, over trees the herd sped with Santa and sled. In the nick of time, to the four corners of Earth they spread Christmas cheer.

            Now reindeer all snuggle, safe in their beds while visions of super squirrels fly in their heads. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good flight!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Gratitude Attitude

Today's exercise from Julie Hedlund's 12 Days of Christmas Anti-Resolution Revolution centers on gratitude. We are to fill the page thinking back to our surprises and successes from 2017 and how gratitude infuses itself in our writing journey. I instinctively began thinking of gratitude with my success list, so look back to my last post, #22. (It's the last item on my list.)

1. As I begin my 5th year as a children's writer, I am happy in the confidence I've gained in my craft. 
2. My world has grown so much larger thanks to the connections I've made with other writers in kidlit land.
3. I finally feel I know "who I am" as a writer - my strengths, my weaknesses, my favorite themes and topics.
4. I am amazed at how many published authors take time to help us pre-pub folks. Generous authors have encouraged and even offered critiques out of friendship. I am humbled by their actions. (Jen Swanson, Jill Esbaum, Linda Skeers, Alayne Kay Christian, Andrea J. Loney, Miranda Paul, Carmella Van Vleet, Michelle Houts, Sherri Duskey Rinker have been so giving.)
5. My critique group helps me with all aspects of my writing. They are personal friends who mean so much to me. (Janie Reinart, Pam Courtney, Charlotte Dixon, Melissa Rutigliano, and Monique Morales Wakefield.)
6. Both SCBWI Ohio groups have accepted me with open arms after I moved here from AZ. They are active, meet regularly, and have great conferences and events. 
7. Columbus OH libraries are some of the best in the country! They are open even on Sundays and the children's librarians at the Gahanna branch have become colleagues. 
8. Writing for children has opened up my inner child. I am more alive and aware in daily life as I look through a child's eyes at this world. (My two grands, Rosie and Tobin, always give me inspiration.)
9. I learn and grow everyday. I am never bored. 
10. Writer friends I trust are plentiful. I am energized and happier after I talk  or share stories w/Lindsay Bonilla, Pam Vaughn, and Liana Lee.  
11. My soul mate and partner of almost 30 years, husband Bob, is patient with me, gives me space to work, offers ideas and suggestions, and has even written a story or two himself. I am so blessed to have him in my life.