100 Things That Make Me Happy

100 Things That Make Me Happy

Here’s my Perfect Picture Book Friday choice:

100 Things That Make Me Happy
Author and Illustrator Amy Schwartz
Abrams Appleseed, 2014
Suitable for: ages 3-6
Themes: Happiness, Numbers (sort of)

Opening Lines: {opening spread}
Red Socks
Building Blocks
Licking the Spoon
The man in the Moon
An orange Hat
An Orange Cat

Synopsis: Rhyming story of 100 things that make me happy.

Links to Resources: A simple idea is to write down a list or draw out items that make you happy. There are a lot of resources about happiness online. Project Happiness has some lesson plans for educators that will work for parents too.

Why I like this book: Because as I carried it downstairs this morning to take a picture of the cover, my son says, “I like that book.” Now, that always makes this mama happy.

The illustrations accompanying each item of happiness are fun and playful. This book is a feast of imagery for both parent and child.
I found this interview with Amy Schwartz.

For more PPBF selections, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

In November, I participated in PiBoIdMo. I always appreciate the hard work of Tara Lazar to post 30-plus days of inspiring posts from authors and illustrators. While not every idea I jotted down on my iPhone is a winner, I have 154 ideas. Don’t get too excited for me. I have a tendency to think of another (similar) idea on a later date during PiBoIdMo that may or may not be more fleshed out than the first one. Maybe I’ll find one fabulous nugget for a story in my list. I did write my 12x November draft from a PiBoIdMo draft.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Now to put on the thinking cap for a story for Susanna’s holiday contest. Perhaps I’ll write something about a boy, who wants to be a dragon in the church Christmas play. Not that I’m dealing with that issue in real life or anything. {hee hee}

Ready for Halloweensie? PiBoIdMo?

I’m as ready for Halloweensie, as I will be this year.
My entry is ready to publish here on Monday, Oct. 27.
If you haven’t read the rules, check them out on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.
You must use the words creak (or some version of it), broomstick and pumpkin in a 100 words or less. She even lets you count candy corn as one word. See, it’s a very generous contest.
I wrote a couple six-word versions among all my false starts and attempts to write a story.

Pumpkin rolled on a creaky broomstick.
{Someone kindly suggested rode instead of rolled.}
Pumpkin rode on a creaky broomstick.
{See one word makes a huge difference.}

Another one:

For sale: creaky pumpkin, rotten broomstick.
{That’s my ode to standard in six-word stories or novel attributed to Ernest Hemingway: For sale, baby shoes never worn.}

My Halloweensie story will post on autopilot this year, because I’m off for a few days.
My nephew Tucker and his dear Katie are getting married Saturday.
Since they chose a Florida location for the wedding, well, why not go see our friends Mickey Mouse and friends. We’ll be in a magical place — being with family — for several days.
My real Halloweensie story is more than six words and more child friendly.
I’m also super excited about November fast approaching, so I can participate in Picture Book Idea Month or PiBoIdMO. Tara Lazar provides lots of inspiration as thousands of picture book ideas are written down in notebooks, on smartphones and on napkins all over the world.
Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday too. While I have dozens of books to add, I’ll save those for when I can properly visit my fellow PPBF bloggers. Enjoy this Friday and check out the PPBF list for great picture books.

Writing Process Blog Tour

I was tagged by Penny Klostermann for the Writing Process Blog Tour.
Despite all of Penny’s updates and reminders, I forgot to handle a huge detail of the blog hop. I forgot to line people up before I posted to the blog tour. Hmm. I always feel like I’m breaking a chain letter, when I do this. Anyone want to help me out and consider yourself tagged? Let me know in the comments.
Participating in the Writing Process Blog Tour involves answering four questions and then tagging fellow writers who will join the tour.
Here are the four questions and my answers:
1. What am I working on? I just completed the National Picture Book Writing Week or NaPiBoWriWee.
I drafted seven new picture book manuscripts. I wrote one story two different ways, so I have eight really. Of those, maybe four are worth revising. I’ll give myself a few weeks before revisiting these drafts. I have an eighth idea that I want to begin today. Then, I’ll revise several other stories before I submit them to editors and agents, who are offering critiques at the upcoming WOW Retreat.
I also write {revise really} memoir. While at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I spoke with agents and attended workshops on the non-fiction craft. Oh … it can be depressing, but there is work to do, so I should focus on moving forward.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? My latest drafts tend to fall in the category of the snarky, picture book characters. Someone used the word “subversive” about one of my characters recently, who is not a traditional bear. While there are plenty of stories with bears, I’m trying to make my Henry stand out.
For memoir, well, it’s my story and no one else can write it.
3. Why do I write what I do? I love picture books for their entertainment value. If they can educate children or parents — BONUS! I love picture books for the pure joy of a funny line or a beautiful illustration. They just make me happy.
I love memoir, because I have always loved learning from other people.
4. How does your writing process work? I’ve written about my efforts to Just Write a couple of times. I try not to be overwhelmed by similar books on the market. If I did, then I would likely NEVER write a story. I mean every story HAS BEEN TOLD, right?
I participate in challenges to keep me motivated throughout the year. As a recovering journalist, I like the deadlines challenges provide.

PiBoIdMo Blog Hop

PiBoIdMo Blog Hop

This post was supposed to appear last week, but I spent ALL my blogging time reading the Halloweensie stories over at Susanna’s. Congratulations to all the winners! It was spooky fun to read and participate in all the Halloweensie fun.
About the blog hop.
Illustrator and Writer Dani Duck tagged me in the PiBoIdMo Blog Hop. PiBoIdMo equals Picture Book Idea Month created by Monstore Author Tara Lazar. I’ve been participating in the picture book idea challenge since Nov. 1. I wrote last week about my goal for this year over at Writing from the Peak.  I’ve met my goal to date!
For the hop, I’m supposed to tag three children’s writers participating in PiBoIdMo. As I write this, I don’t have three. Anyone want to participate? I’ll ask again after my answers.
PiBoIdMo Participant
Here are my answers to the four questions:
1.      What am I currently working on?
Submissions. Others may be talking about specific manuscripts, but for now I’m wading in a flood of digital files and printed manuscripts with scribbles, strikes, and crumples. It’s not fun to crumple up the computer — let me tell ya. The revisions are a result of feedback from submissions and critique groups. I’m also organizing my drafts, so I can improve my revision process.
2.      How does it differ from other works in the genre?
This is why No. 1 is likely supposed to be a specific manuscript. Two of my revisions involve little girls as the main character. That’s different for me, as I tend to stick to boys.
3.      Why do I write what I do?
I love the challenge of writing picture books — both in the efficiency and the responsibility of the words. When, oh when, will I figure out the right way to end a 100-word story.
4.      What is the hardest part about writing?
Staying organized. I know there is time in the day. I just need to stay focused and write at set and random times.
Final Call for Action! I need three volunteers to answer these questions for the PiBoIdMo Blog Hop. (I’ll add your blog links and bios into the post.)

A scary Halloweensie story

A scary Halloweensie story

It’s that time of year for a teeny, tiny Halloween tale called Halloweensie.
Author Susanna Leonard Hill began this contest and dares us (well, maybe encourages is a better word) to write a 100-word Halloween story for children. In addition to the 100-word limit, this year’s entry must contain the words Black Cat, Spooky, and Cackle.
Here’s my effort:

A Scary Halloween

By Stacy S. Jensen

Oscar thought Halloween was extra spooky this year.

Zombies cackled.

Witches moaned.

Black cats barked.

His mom howled at the moon.

Fruits and vegetables filled his trick-or-treat pumpkin.

“I think there’s a problem!” he said.

Oscar ran home and searched the pantry.

One small candy bar remained. He ate it.

The room spun around.

His mom tapped him on the shoulder, “It’s time to trick-or-treat.”

Halloween returned to normal.

Zombies moaned.

Witches cackled.

Black cats meowed.

All was normal, except, Oscar saw a yellow banana in his pumpkin.

“Ahhhhhh!,” Oscar yelled. “Let’s go!”


Wow. I have chills thinking about potatoes and carrots in a Halloween Pumpkin!

Entries can be posted on your own blog or in the comments on Susanna’s Halloweensie story until 11:59 p.m. EDT Halloween night (Oct. 31). You’ll find links spooky, scary, and funny entries on Susanna’s blog.

And one more thing …


I also have a post this week over at the Pikes Peak Writers Blog Writing from the Peak.

“What’s Your Game Plan for Your November Challenge?”

I wrote about my preparation for Picture Book Idea Month. I’m almost finished with the task I outlined for myself before November. I also share my goal for PiBoIdMo this year.

I’m ready for Picture Book Idea Month to begin. Are you participating in any November challenges like NaNoWriMo or PiBoIdMo?

Have fun skipping around the Internet this week!


The Tumbleweed Came Back

The Tumbleweed Came Back

It’s Friday, so here’s my choice for Perfect Picture Book Fridays:

The Tumbleweed Came Back
Written by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Illustrated by Kevin Rechin 
Rio Chico, an imprint of Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2013
Suitable for ages:  3 and up
Themes/Topics: Rhyme, family, tumbleweeds

Opening line:
A mighty wind blew in
as we sat to eat our lunch.
It plopped a tiny tumbleweed
into our jug of punch.
My granny shouted,
“EEK, oh my!
A prickly, wicked weed!”
So we flicked it back into the breeze
before it dropped a seed.”

Synopsis from the author’s website: When a pesky tumbleweed drops in for lunch one day, hilarity ensures. What starts out as a small problem, turns into a giant conundrum as one tumbleweed turns into thousands! The story’s infectious rhythm is brought to life by colorful, funny illustrations. The combination makes for a rollicking read aloud book for parents and grandparents, teachers and caregivers! She also mentions on her website that “the catchy rhythm, loosely based on the folksong — ‘The Cat Came Back’ …”

Link to resources:  This Squido post  has some useful information and a link on where to buy your own seeds. I found this sharing how a community makes snowmen from tumbleweeds. If you live near tumbleweeds (like I do), you can walk around and play a counting game with them. The book offers many creative ways to get rid of tumbleweeds. Have a discussion about how you would get rid of tumbleweeds at your house. Want to play The Cat Came Back on your harmonica? Here it is (thank you Internet) Update: There is a lesson plan for the book too.
Why I like this book: Carmela held this book in her arms in the registration line at the Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI conferencein September. All I saw was the back cover with a rocket ship. And, I thought, “I must have this” as we are in a rocket-ship phase in our house.

When she showed me the cover, all I saw was tumbleweed and realized “I MUST HAVE THIS!” Long story on why I needed this book. We’ve enjoyed it multiple times before bed.

Just so kiddo knows this one is my book.

Not that he really pays attention, but one day he will be able to read!

Find more Perfect Picture Books on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. Hope you have a great weekend. It’s a busy one around here filled with fairs, festivals, and friends.

I marked one item off my “to do” list this week. I signed up for Picture Book Idea Month over at author Tara Lazar’s website. This will be my third year as a participant! Did you sign up?