Last month I announced Sandra Delgado won THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS by Annie Silvestro and Trine Grillo won THE QUIET SHIP by  Hallee Adelman, both never got back to me with the addresses (after many tries), so if Antoinette Truglio Martin contacts me with her name and address, she will be the winner of The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains and Beth Kennedy will win The Quiet Ship (If they send me their names and addresses).

Q:  I’ve gotten a lot of conflicting advice about putting art notes in my picture book manuscripts.  What are the rules?

A:  Great question!  Defining when and how to use art notes is an art in itself, and of course only a writer who is not also an illustrator need address the issue.  Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether an illustration note is needed:

  1. Is the illustration note going to identify something integral to the plot that isn’t implied in the text? Said differently, would the plot work just as well whether this detail was not given in an illustration note?  Is there a visual joke that you want the reader to be in on?
  2. Does the proposed illustration note describe something that is already described in the text itself? You may decide to keep it in the text or take out the text and leave the illustration note to do the work.  But you certainly do not need both.
  3. Does the illustration note give a detail that isn’t needed for characterization or setting the scene? For example, does it matter if the character’s eyes are blue? Or the soda shop is owned by Mr. MacDougal on Main Street?  If these specifics are not crucial to the plot moving forward, they are not needed as an illustration note.  Let the illustrator fill in the details as only he or she can.
  4. If an illustration note is truly needed, KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE. Use as few as possible because they are bumps in the road that interrupt the easy reading of a narrative.  There are a few different ways to express art notes in a manuscript such as :  (illio: only Lily sees the tree) or [art note: only Lily sees the tree] or (illustration note:  only Lily sees the tree).  Some people put the notes in a different color ink, or in boxes flanking the narrative text they address.  As we’ve discussed there are many ideas on what is right.  My opinion is the as long as it makes it easy to read the actual story text, it’s perfectly fine.

The picture book format is one in which the words and the pictures play equal roles in story-telling.  The words come first, but they must always be written with the goal of stimulating the illustrator’s imagination without confining it in any unnecessary way.  By creating fascinating characters, interesting settings, lively language, and dynamic plot action, picture book writers can provide a springboard for creative collaboration rather than a box in which each detail is dictated.  The result will be a book that is greater than the sum total of its individual contributions—one that will be read again and again.

Happy Writing!



Dianne Ochiltree is a nationally recognized author of books for the very young. Her books have appeared on numerous recommended reading lists, classroom desks and library shelves. Her bedtime book, LULL-A-BYE, LITTLE ONE, was a selected for the Dollywood Foundation’s childhood literacy initiative, Imagination Library in 2007. Her picture book, MOLLY BY GOLLY! THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER, received the Florida Book Awards (FBA) Bronze Medal in the Children’s Literature category in 2012 and was chosen for the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer list of feminist literature for girls. Her picture book, IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT, won the FBA Silver Medal in 2013. Her 2015 title, IT’S A SEASHELL DAY, was given the FBA Gold Medal/Gwen Reichert Award as well as the Gold Medal for Florida picture book from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. For more information about Dianne’s books, go to

Dianne, thanks for sharing your expertise with us. Another great article.

REMEMBER: To send in your questions for Dianne. Use Kathy(dot)Temean(at) Please put ASK DIANNE in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 10, 2018

Book GIVEAWAY: I’m Done by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan

Author Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan has a new picture book titled, I’M DONE. It is available in bookstores now. Gretchen has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Gretchen!


A little beaver with a slapdash approach to dam-building comes to appreciate the satisfaction of a job well done in this sweet tale that’s perfect for storytime.

Nibble, nibble, snap. When Little Beaver sets a single twig across the stream, he figures that should be good enough for a dam. “I’m done!” he calls to Papa before tearing off to play with Fish. But Papa isn’t buying it, and it’s back to work for Little Beaver. Nibble, nibble, snap, scoop, scoop, pat. Little Beaver sets two more twigs across the stream, and adds some mud before scurrying off with Blue Heron. Mama isn’t amused. “You’re not done yet.” GRETCHEN MCLELLAN’S text explores the value of perseverance at a level perfect for very young readers, while CATHARINE LAZAR ODELLS darling illustrations capture the sweetness of Little Beaver’s attempts at perfecting his dam–and the triumph of his eventual success.


I’m Done! was inspired by my students. In my former life I was an elementary  reading specialist. I heard, “I’d Done!” over and over and over again, but the children making this very public announcement rarely understood what being done meant. I knew that I wanted to write a book with that title, and one day after work I decided to give it a try. I still only had a title, or so I thought. I said to myself, I’ll try this out as an animal story. (I usually write human characters.) Pick an animal, any animal. It was no stroke of genius that a beaver popped into my mind. But then my pen started moving and this story poured out of me like water breaking through a proverbial dam.

But the unconscious inspiration for this story is much deeper. “I’m Done” is a deceptively simple phrase. Said with joy, frustration, or despair it takes on many meanings, all that resonate with me in the process of writing and in the journey toward publication and beyond.

Kirkus says that I’m Done! is “a sweet tale of perseverance  and camaraderie.”  I am the poster child of perseverance. My journey to publication was as lengthy and arduous as an epic tale. At one point, I thought I was done. Finished. I was quitting writing, abandoning my dream. I knew I could not show up at another conference or retreat unpublished, ever again. I didn’t want to be an object of pity. But at the eleventh hour, I signed up for an SCBWI retreat for the last time, partially lured by the last-day-of-the-early-bird-discount email and the news that there was still a critique slot left with an agent, partly that I wanted to see my friends.

It turns out I wasn’t done yet

In that critique slot I met my wonderful agent. I have two published picture books with three more on the calendar.

I didn’t give up and either does Little Beaver.


Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan is the author of many upcoming picture books, a lover of teaching reading, playing word games, baking, hiking in the woods with her dog, Koby, cross-country skiing, and the culture of childhood. If she were in retail, she’d have a children’s book and toy store replete with espresso bar and bakery and places to write and draw. She seeks out places just like this to write in. Have any suggestions? She is also on a personal quest for the best hot fudge sundae on the planet. Gretchen loves to travel, especially returning to the Germany of her nomadic army-brat childhood. She once traveled overland from the Netherlands to Kabul, Afghanistan with a backpack full of, you guessed it, books. Now she hopes little backpacks will be carrying her books on adventures of their own.

Gretchen is a former elementary reading specialist who now devotes her time to writing and visiting bookstores and schools. She lives in Camas, WA. She is the author of Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 (Peachtree 2017), I’m Done! (Holiday House 9,25,18), Button & Bundle (Knopf, 2/29/29) and When Your Daddy’s a Soldier(Beach Lane, Spring 2020). Find out more at  Catherine is a Portland, Oregon artist and Saturday Market Vendor. Find her there and at Both are available for events.


Catherine Lazar Odell is a Portland, OR artist who sells her drawings and cards at the famous Portland Saturday Market every weekend. Our editor’s mother was visiting the market from back east and discovered Catherine’s work. She said she had a daughter in publishing and she was going to show her Catherine’s darling drawings. She did. When my manuscript landed on the editor’s desk from my agent, the editor chose Catherine to illustrate my book.  It was a perfect match. Catherine and I live on opposite sides of the Columbia River. After the book was finished, we met and are enjoying doing lots of events together. What a bonus.  You never know where this book business will take you!

Thank you Gretchen for sharing your book and journey with us. It looks like an awfully cute picture book. Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 9, 2018

2018 Goodreads Choice Award Winners

How many of these book’s did you read?

Looking over the nominees for this year is a good way to find books you want to read. Here is the link:


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 8, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Lorraine Rocha

Lorraine Rocha started out studying architecture but quickly realized she wanted to draw more than just floor plans and returned to school to study illustration and animation at San Jose State University. After graduation, she worked at Industrial Light + Magic in the art department, contributing to such films as National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Miracle at St. Anna, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Ironman.

Following her time at ILM, Lorraine worked as a concept artist on the game Bioshock 2 and taught classes at The Art Institute of Las Vegas.

Upon her return to the San Francisco bay area, Lorraine focused on picture book illustration, and creating funny, whimsical images. Lorraine’s debut picture book, Zebra On The Go, published in 2017.

Lorraine lives with her two favorite people, her husband and daughter. All three enjoy singing and dancing, and Lorraine’s cooking.


The thumbnail drawings are drawings that I made for myself, to describe ideas for the compositions of the respective spreads.

Thumbnail rough sketch.

Image I submitted to Peachtree Publishers for the drawing phase for page 4/5. These were drawn at full scale.

This is how the final paintings look in print. 

Rough sketch. 

Image I submitted to Peachtree Publishers for the drawing phase of page 20/21. These were drawn at full scale.

This is the image I painted for the SCBWI Illustrator Intensive, before I was asked to be the illustrator for ZEBRA ON THE GO.

This is the final image in print. There are some differences in the 20-21 painted images.  The art director for ZEBRA ON THE GO wanted me to show the pier, where the Zebra and Lion chase would head to in the following pages.

How long have you been illustrating?

I have always liked to draw, so I’m not sure I can pinpoint when I started. My best guess is since I was six years old.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

I interned in the art department at Factor 5 (a video game developer) in 2005. I produced artwork for them and it was a paid internship, so that’s when I was first paid for my artwork.

What made you choose San Jose University University to study illustration?

My sister (Anne Fix) and brother-in-law (Colin Fix) had graduated from San Jose State’s illustration/animation program. They knew that I was unhappy working in architecture, and they encouraged me to go back to school.  I am really grateful for their urging.  San Jose State University has a fantastic program for illustration and animation.  The professors are very knowledgeable and there is a student community ( that pushes everyone to do their best.

Did any of the schools help find illustration work for you?

While I was in the illustration/animation program at SJSU, the faculty would bring in representatives of companies like Hallmark, Dreamworks, and Factor 5 to look at student work. That is how I heard about the Factor 5 internship, and about the position in Industrial Light + Magic’s art department – where I would eventually work.

What do you feel that also studying animation influenced your illustrating style?

Animation was definitely not my strong suit, but I think it helped me with the ideas of pacing and of framing a shot (composition).

What type of things did you learn at your job with Industrial Light + Magic?

At ILM, I learned about composition, lightning, color and how to use Photoshop very well. When I worked on Bioshock 2, I made drawings and paintings of furniture, statues and architecture for the game. Those ideas were then given to modelers.  It was a lot of fun – the art director needed most of my work to be in the art deco design style, which was nice to research and work with.

Was ZEBRA ON THE GO your first picture book?


Before you got the job to illustrate your first book, what type of things did you sell? Example: Book covers, ads, commissioned art, etc.?

I didn’t sell anything before I illustrated my first book.  I began to make whimsical paintings in my spare time.  I also submitted work to Illustration Friday (  I posted my work on my blog (which I don’t really use anymore).  I found out that my work was shared through another site that has a large following.  Soon after, I received an email from an associate editor at Paula Wiseman books.  She wanted to know if I was interested in illustrating books for children.  After several more email exchanges, she recommended that I join SCBWI.  I did!  Shortly after I joined, the California: San Francisco North and East Bay chapter of SCBWI hosted an illustrator intensive.  Participants for the intensive were invited to storyboard one of 3 manuscripts in advance of the Intensive for Loraine Joyner, who was an art director for Peachtree Publishers.  I chose to show work for author Jill Nogales’ ZEBRA ON THE GO, which did not yet have an illustrator attached.  During the Illustrator Intensive, Loraine let me know that she wanted me to be the illustrator for ZEBRA.  Needless to say, I was very excited!  It took a while for all the stars to align, but happily, I did get to illustrate my first picture book, ZEBRA ON THE GO.

How did you land is Las Vegas to teach at The Art Institute of Las Vegas?

I left ILM and the bay area when I got married. My husband’s job transferred him to Las Vegas, so away we went.  When we were there, I did freelance work for 2K Games, and I met someone who taught at the Art Institute.  I gave a presentation to the students there, and then got a job teaching.

I see that you have another picture book coming out in March titled, When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree published by Sterling. Have you finished the illustrations for that book? How long did it take?

Yes! WHEN GRANDMA GIVES YOU A LEMON TREE (Sterling, 2019), written by Jamie L.B. Deenihan and illustrated by me, and it’s publishing date is March 5, 2019.  I think it took about a year to illustrate.  I finished the bulk of the paintings in August, and made all the tweaks by September of this year.

How did Sterling find you for this book?

I think Sterling found me through my agent, Stephanie Fretwell-Hill of Red Fox Literary (

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

I’m not sure about illustrating for an author who wants to self-publish. I would have to ask my agent for her input.

Have you worked with any educational publishers or children’s magazines?

I have not worked with educational publishers, or worked illustrating for children’s magazines, but it sounds like a fun endeavor!

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

I would like to write and illustrate my own children’s book. Writing for me is a huge challenge.  Maybe I’ll be able to do it someday!

Have you ever thought of doing a wordless picture book?

A wordless picture book is an appealing idea, but there still has to be great story behind it, quite the challenge.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I like working traditionally. Watercolor and gouache are my favorite.

Has that changed over time?

I used to prefer acrylic, but it takes longer for me.

Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

My studio is in our 1930’s era house. I think it used to be the laundry room.  It has low ceilings, and is pretty messy.  I need to work on that.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I try to work on art as much as possible, but I never seem to have enough time.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I do take pictures and I look for reference images in books and online that will help with a new project.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes, it’s because I posted images online that an editor in children’s book publishing noticed my work.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Sometimes I use Photoshop, and I also use Procreate.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

I use a wacom tablet when I work digitally.

Do you ever exhibit your art?


Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

No… Just to keep on going!

What are you working on now?

Now I am working on a sequel to WHEN GRANDMA GIVES YOU A LEMON TREE. It is called WHEN GRANDPA GIVES YOU A TOOLBOX (Sterling, 2020), and it is written by Jamie L.B. Deenihan.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I really like to use Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils when I draw. I also find that my electric eraser  (Sakura cordless) comes in very handy.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I’m not sure how wise my words are… I would say that focus is important. For me, that means that I continuously check out picture books from the library, draw, paint and learn as much about children’s publishing as I can.  Oh, and share your work with others!  Posting work on social media is a great tool.

Thank you Lorraine for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Lorraine’s work, you can visit her at: Website: 

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Lorraine. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 7, 2018

November Agent Anna Oslwanger – First Page Results

Anna Olswanger has been a literary agent since 2005. She started her career at Liza Dawson Associates in Manhattan, and in 2014 launched her own literary agency, Olswanger Literary LLC, where she represents picture books (author-illustrators only), middle grade fiction and adult nonfiction. She is a member of the AAR, Association of Authors’ Representatives.

Anna has sold to major publishers, including Bloomsbury, Chronicle, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

Her clients’ books have won the Newbery Honor, Asian Pacific American Award for Literature Honor, Flora Stieglitz Strauss Award for Nonfiction, Orbis Pictus Honor, PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing, Parents Choice Gold Award, Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books, Sibert Award Honor, Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Honor, Sydney Taylor Silver Medal, Boston Globe Horn Book Nonfiction Honor, International Bologna/Ragazzi Nonfiction Honor, CCBC Choices, and been Junior Library Guild Selections and on The New York Times Bestseller list. You can view all her clients’ books on Pinterest.

Anna enjoys discovering new authors and illustrators, and is looking for “voice,” the sound and rhythm of an author that is hers alone. She has a particular interest in picture books (author-illustrators only).

She works hard with authors to get their manuscripts into shape for submission. She finds that most manuscripts need work on plot, so if you’re a potential author or illustrator client, be ready to go through many revisions before Anna agrees to send out your manuscript. Her job is to get the story to the point where an editor will make an offer. (And then be prepared to make more revisions for the editor.)

Anna is also interested in finding unusual books with a Judaic or Israel theme. She is the agent for Ruchama Feuerman’s novel In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, about the friendship between a rabbi’s assistant and a devout Muslim janitor, and Santiago Cohen’s picture book The Yiddish Fish, about a fish who speaks Yiddish.


I am looking for picture books (author-illustrators only), nonfiction for all ages (PB, MG, YA, and adult, including nonfiction graphic novels), and the occasional middle grade novel (no adult or YA fiction, unless you have written the most brilliant historical cozy mystery series). I rarely represent rhyming texts, and please don’t send manuscripts set in a circus. I would not like to be part of the publication of any book that sends the untrue message that circuses are happy places for animals. You can view my client’s book at:

Submission Guidelines for Anna:

Submissions should be emailed to
Start by sending an email with a few details about your book and the opening pages in the body of an email (not in an attachment). If I like what I read in your query, I’ll ask to see the full manuscript. No phone calls please.


Jean Richardson
Art Cart’s Busy Workshop Day
Picture Book

Life was not very colorful for the Art Cart.

She sat unused in the farthest corner of a small cramped, lonely art room listening as Easel complained of being overworked.

Easel must be very popular, the Art Cart thought. He boasted that great painters such as Rembrandt and Picasso used wooden easels.

The Art Cart was crafted from hard white plastic instead of wood, with no history of famous artists to brag about. But the Art Cart had no time to be sad.

“Today’s my first art workshop!”

Her racks cheerfully rattled when Emily, the art teacher arrived.

After stocking her shelves with art supplies, “All set,” Emily said.

The Art Cart hoped they hadn’t forgotten anything.”

It was nearly time to start.

Her wheels nervously rolled down the ramp…around the corner—and across the floor into the elevator—and up to the art center. She settled beside the big table upfront and braced herself.

“My shelves overflowed with everything an artist could want, including markers, construction paper, drawing paper, paper for paints and paintbrushes on my second shelf. A few sharpeners were on top, next to the erasers.”

“Art class is fun,” gushed one boy with glasses.

The Art Cart artfully angled to hear the boys.

“I love this art workshop,” another student agreed.

The Art Cart felt proud.

HERE ARE ANNA’S thoughts about Art Cart’s Busy Workshop Day:

I would like to see a stronger narrative arc in this story. What I’m seeing on the page is a description, not a story. What is the inciting incident? In a classic plot, something happens to make the protagonist want something. What does the Art Cart want? Until we know what the main character wants, we don’t know what the story is about. You write, “Life was not very colorful for the Art Cart” and “But the Art Cart had no time to be sad,” but it’s not clear from the text that life was dull for the Art Cart or that the Art Cart was sad. You imply it might be sad because it’s made of plastic instead of wood, but why is that a reason to be sad? Again, what does the Art Cart want? The rest of the story will flow from there.


Kirsten Randall
Middle grade novel 


Limbo, first stop in the After-Death

Death is a big adjustment. The other boys tease me about being fixated on sparklers, our nickname for the newly dead. I tried explaining, but they don’t get it. When I first came to Limbo, I waited with all the other sparklers and watched eager folks from the Beyond stream into Limbo to welcome their relatives. Cap in hand, I waited for hours, then days. My sparkle faded away. Nobody ever came.

Everybody else in my Dead Boys Club had somebody to greet them—me. For over a hundred years, I’ve made it my mission to welcome as many new sparkly kids as I can.

On board my grand ship Lucy, I perch on a wooden crate and hook my elbows over the officers’ deck railing. Sparklers of all shapes and sizes shimmer into Limbo on the first-class passenger deck below me, twinkling like golden bits of sunshine on ocean waves.

Limbo’s not so bad once you get used to it. Here in Limbo, everybody has their own view, what I call home base. If you closed your eyes and imagined your favorite place, that would probably be your home base in Limbo. Me, I couldn’t ask for anything better than Lucy, the famous ocean liner R.M.S. Lusitania. Her upper deck shows off a row of four bright red steam funnels with black bands on top.


I suggest deleting the first paragraph and starting with the second paragraph, which has a strong opening sentence: “Everybody else in my Dead Boys Club had somebody to greet them—me.” The first paragraph, in addition to feeling unnecessary, is also unclear. Why wouldn’t the narrator be fixated on the newly dead? Why wouldn’t they all be? Why wouldn’t they all greet the newly dead? In the second paragraph, what is the Dead Boys Club? Is it the “other boys” or the sparklers? In the last paragraph, the reader probably won’t know what the Lusitania is. As a general comment, I wonder if you can’t find a more interesting word than “Limbo,” which feels a bit trite because it is such a common word in our vocabulary. But in general, this feels like a strong first page.


Diana Patton
Wallace Wiggens, Frog Extraordinaire
Picture book

Wallace Wiggens could only glimpse the Mystery Pond if a breeze blew aside the hollyhocks. Who lived in that deep blue water? Was the algae super tasty? The water lilies fantastic colors? The young frog just had to find out.

“Mom,” Wallace said. “I wanna’ go to Mystery Pond.”

“How? You’re too little and that pond is too big,” his mother said.

“Maybe Shiny Stream will take me there.”

“Wallace, most frogs are content to live in a small safe pond,” his mother said.

“I’m not most frogs, Mom,” Wallace croaked loudly.

Wallace asked Cousin McClellan, “Want to help me get to Mystery Pond?”

McClellan scarfed down a huge mosquito. Wallace saw his throat wiggling as the wings went down.

“Gross!” Wallace said.  Wallace only ate algae and fish food flakes.

“No, Wallace, I’ve got all I want right here in Little Pond.” McClellan gulped and swallowed a few times, grinned, and burped.  “Delicious!” he croaked.

Mosquito wings flapping against his tongue?  Yeccccch!  Wallace thought. Flies?  Who knew where they’d been before his mouth? Wallace choked on crickets, gagged on grasshoppers, and barfed up beetles.

Wallace sat on his special moss-covered rock, and thought about Mystery Pond.

His friend Petite Verte sat on a lily pad. “I love this wobbly lily pad. It’s my trampoline.”

“I don’t like lily pads,” said Wallace. “I can’t think while wobbling.”

A breeze carried a new scent to Wallace. Sweet! Could it be Mystery Pond flowers?

Wallace followed the new scent to the stream entering Little Pond. The water made a glistening pathway to Mystery Pond.

HERE ARE ANNA’s Thoughts on Wallace Wiggens, Frog Extraordinaire

I’m finding this first page slow, partly because of the use of “telling” rather than “showing,” such as: “‘Wallace, most frogs are content to live in a small safe pond,’ his mother said. ‘I’m not most frogs, Mom,’ Wallace croaked loudly.” The story would be stronger if the reader experienced this information through a scene, rather than to be told that Wallace is different. It’s not clear why Wallace eats only algae and fish food flakes, or why fish flakes would be more palatable to him than crickets, grasshoppers, or beetles (aren’t they all “animal” food?). By the end of the page, I’m left wondering when this story is going to start. Is Wallace going to risk visiting Mystery Pond? I think you need an inciting incident, something that happens to make the protagonist want something.


Lena Shiffman
Sara Saves Sankta Lucia Day
picture book

“It’s not fair!” Sara exclaimed when she came home from school.

“Cecilia was chosen to be Lucia for the Sankta Lucia celebration tomorrow. She gets picked for everything.”

“I’m sure there is a good reason the teacher chose Cecilia,” Mom said, giving Sara a hug. Maybe she was picked because of her beautiful voice. She does sing like an angel.”

“I think she sings like a cow!” yelled Sara as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Oh, Sara, you’re still part of the celebration,” said Mom.

“Being a Lucia maiden is just as important. The festival of light wouldn’t be the same without them or the Star boys.”

“I think it stinks!” cried Sara as she ran to her room. “Sankta Lucia Day is stupid and so is Cecilia!”

That night after dinner Sara forgot about being mad.

She was busy baking “lussekatter,” saffron flavored buns, with her family. They baked them every year for Lucia day morning.

“I love making lussekatter,” said Sara, concentrating on rolling out the dough. The dough felt smooth and warm in her hands.

“And, I love eating them!” Dad teased.

“Can I bring some to school tomorrow?” Sara asked, twisting the dough into S shapes and pressing two raisins into each one. It made them look like cat’s eyes.

“If there are any left after I’m finished,” laughed Dad.

He put the buns into the hot oven to bake. The smell of sweet saffron filled the house.

Baking was hard work and Sara fell fast asleep as soon as her head hit her pillow that night.


I’m seeing some “overwriting” on this page (using “exclaimed” instead of the simple “said,” for example, and the phrase “sing like an angel,” which feels over the top for the mother to say), but I like that we get a sense right away of what this book is going to be about: Sara’s growth as she discovers her own importance to the celebration. Near the end of the page, the phrase “Lucia day morning” isn’t clear, and the next couple of sentences feel extraneous, if not irrelevant: “‘I love making lussekatter,’ said Sara, concentrating on rolling out the dough. The dough felt smooth and warm in her hands. ‘And I love eating them!’ Dad teased.” A picture book is short, and every scene should contribute to narrative arc, in this case, what the protagonist (Sara) wants and what she does to get what she wants.


Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 6, 2018


Author Alice Faye Duncan has new picture book titled, THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE. Illustrated by Mary Uhles. It’s now available in bookstores. Alice has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Alice and Mary!


On the first day of Christmas my parents gave to me . . . a holiday book about my very own state!

The Volunteer state is GREAT! When Carly visits her cousin Teddy in Tennessee for Christmas, she discovers how amazing it is. She hikes the Great Smoky Mountains, dances to bluegrass music, tastes Nashville’s famous hot chicken, and meets more than one Elvis Presley. Every day, Teddy gives her a special Tennessee gift, from 12 rockers rocking and 11 eagles nesting to a mockingbird in a tulip poplar tree.


Sterling looks for artists who have some connection to each state featured in their Twelve Days series. I’ve lived in Tennessee a good chunk of my life but when I received the manuscript I immediately realized there were places I would need to visit! So over a school break my family and I toured several stops in East Tennessee. My favorite of these is reflected in Day 6, The Lost Sea Cave in Sweetwater, TN. It’s a huge lake 500 feet underground, it even has blind fish in it! While that is plenty amazing all on its own, the real reason this cave is on the map is for the tiny anthodite crystals that grow on  the walls – cave flowers. An early sketch had Teddy handing the flowers to Carly. After visiting the cave I learned that it is a crime to touch or break the crystals. So instead Teddy and Carly stare in amazement up at the crystals from the boat.


One of the most challenging pieces for me was the spread that contains ALL of the characters from every day of Teddy and Carly’s trip. I mean I had to get 7 train cars and 8 horses and 12 Elvis impersonators to fit! Then I remembered that there is a train trestle that goes over the Mississippi river….. and I came up with a perfect solution. A train on that bridge would tow 7 cars, each with one of the other larger characters on board while the smaller characters look on from around the bridge.

Finally two of my favorite spreads were for Day 5 and Day 10. The Christmas season in Tennessee is actually pretty full of color because we don’t get snow until January or February. It’s not unusual to see leaves changing up until Christmas and some December days can be downright warm and sunny. So I very much enjoyed doing the woodsy scenes with lots of leafy colors for ‘five gold finches’ and ‘ten turtles snapping. (They’re snapping cause they’re in a rock band, get it?)

Sterling released a board book simultaneously with the jacketed copy. While it doesn’t contain the letters Carly writes to her family, it does have the illustrations and song for each day. I’ve had a great time revisiting all the sites I did my initial research at and sharing the finished book!


Alice Faye Duncan writes books for young readers and adults. HONEY BABY SUGAR CHILD is a mother’s love song to her baby. The lyrical text sings and swings just like music. One must read it aloud with LOVE, JOY and SOUL!

MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP (The 1968 Sanitation Strike) is a lyrical combination of poetry and prose that explores Dr. King’s assassination and his last stand for economic justice in the city of Memphis. The illustrator is Caldecott Honor recipient, Gregory Christie.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE is a child’s travel guide across the Volunteer State (GO VOLS!). Two cousins in ugly holiday sweaters visit important landmarks throughout the state, while traveling in a mini-van called the “Reindeer Express.” The illustrator is Mary Uhles.

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS will debut in January 2019. This is the first picture book biography to explore the life and times of Chicago poet–Gwendolyn Brooks. In 1950, Miss Brooks was the first African American writer to receive a Pulitzer Prize.

Have you heard the name, “Pinkney?” Alice’s book–JUST LIKE A MAMA will make its debut on Mother’s Day (2019). The illustrator is Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. Her grand father is Caldecott illustrator, Jerry Pinkney. Charnelle is a master artist too. Get ready to be charmed with impressive images and a lyrical text.


Mary Reaves Uhles has created illustrations for numerous books and magazines. Her newest picture books include A TUBA CHRISTMAS (Sleeping Bear) and THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE (Sterling), both available Fall 2018.

She has also illustrated THE LITTLE KID’S TABLE by Mary Ann McCabe Riehle (Sleeping Bear); KOOKY CRUMBS by J. Patrick Lewis (Kane Miller); and BEYOND THE GRAVE Choose Your Own Adventure Series by Dottie Enderle (ABDO Magic Wagon Press). Mary has twice been awarded the Grand Prize for Illustration from the SCBWI Midsouth Conference and her piece, EAT was a finalist in the 2014 SCBWI Bologna Book Fair Gallery. Prior to beginning her career as a freelance illustrator, Mary worked as an animator on projects for Warner Brothers and Fisher-Price Interactive. As Midsouth Illustrator Coordinator of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mary lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Since creating characters and stories is her favorite thing in the world (even more than mocha fudge ice cream) she feels mighty lucky to do it every day in her hilltop studio.

Thank you Alice and Mary for sharing your book and journey with us. It looks like a fun picture book. Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 5, 2018

Interview with Mira Reisberg and Editor Kelly Delaney

I’m so happy to be here today with good friend Dr. Mira Reisberg Acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clear Fork/Spork and Director at the internationally renowned Children’s Book Academy and the fabulous Kelly Delaney, Acquiring Editor at Random House/ Knopf. They will be co-teaching a course called, the ‘Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books’ that launches January 7th.

Mira, as you know I was curious about your MG novel course and signed up for it the other year, so now I’m curious about what your PB course is all about. So, before we get started, Mira, could you tell me about the interactive courses that you have here at the Children’s Book Academy?

Mira: I’d love to, thank you Kathy. Here at the Children’s Book Academy, we’ve created an interactive environment that fits really well with working or adventure seeking adults looking to further their writing career. You can attend wherever you are, whenever you like, and complete the assignments as you choose. But, the big bonus are the live weekly webinars and the HIGHLY interactive Facebook group. My favorite is the weekly webinars – it’s like a workshop and tutorial session with live critiques from experts in the field. Each week different student’s stories are blindly chosen for a critique from one of our guest experts in a way that makes sure everyone gets at least one.

So, the course is actually interactive in a live setting?

Mira: Yes, there’s the private Facebook group for the students, which also feature a weekly success story and help from former students who have now published as well as optional small interactive critique groups where students schedule critiques amongst themselves and gather loads of priceless tips about shaping their story or stories.

Beautiful. Okay, I’d love to pass the mic over to Kelly for a bit. Kelly, is this your first time co-teaching at the Children’s Book Academy?

Kelly: Hi Kathy, thank you for having me! This is my fourth time teaching the Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books. It’s a really wonderful way to provide specific feedback that is broadly applicable so that the other students benefit from it as well. I love working with students in the Facebook group, in the weekly webinars, and also in optional individual critiques. It’s such a treat to get to know them and learn where their inspiration comes from, and to work together to figure out the best way to turn that idea into a picture book.

It’s so rewarding to provide feedback while the students are developing their work and to see the stories evolve. And these students are from all over the world, so we see not just what writers and readers are hungry for here in the US, but internationally. It’s a great learning experience and it’s as beneficial to me as an editor as it is to the students as writers.

That’s great! So, we’re talking about the Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Book course, Mira can you tell me a bit more about the benefits of a course like this?

Mira: One of the main benefits of taking this course, apart from everything that students learn and do, is that at the end, you have the opportunity to present your work to acquiring editors, publishers and agents through our Golden Ticket Talent Search contest. This opportunity provides our writers with a VIP pass past the slush pile that many people spend years drudging through before reaching someone to take a good look at their pitch.

But, the benefits on a whole are innumerable. I can’t even tell you the amount of friends I’ve made through the years – the KidLit world is my tribe, we bounce ideas off and assist each other in so many ways.

Aside from the opportunities that accompany the writing course, the content is out of this world. I’ve had many students tell me that in a fraction of the time, they’ve gained more knowledge than they did at a major university offering courses in Children’s Literature.
You won’t find a more comprehensive program. The amount of time and dedication that went into the content is impossible to calculate – it’s my life.

I love that you have found a way to share your knowledge. Can you give me a brief overview of the course?

Mira: Definitely Kathy. I call it a buffet of KidLit writing goodness. We start off with the real attention grabber for acquiring editors, agents and publishers – the hook. Once we craft the perfect hook, you start working on completing your first, what Annie Lamott calls, shitty first draft or SFD and then refine it as we go.

Throughout the course, we talk about character development and structure; plots, biographies, nonfiction, anthropomorphism and personification, how to revise for action and lowered word counts. Students learn about creating and using luscious language, voice, emotion and action for maximum effect, different genres of picture books, the developmental stages of kid readers, We teach students how to write great pitches and bios and how to get their story ready for publishers, editors and agents while providing concrete and provide resources for finding the perfect agent and or publisher. We also give insight into the business side of the industry and what to look for and ask for in a contract. In week five, we talk about the 5 Ps of Publication and what to do when you do or don’t receive feedback.

And then, in week six we have a super cool mini-conference with wonderful guests.

One of the main things setting this course apart from others is that we talk about things that are beyond the basics for the more advanced student. Critical race theory, postmodernism, how to uncover universal underlying themes and also how to tap into what editors are looking for in the current market.

That sounds great! Wow, so why co-teach? What is it about the dynamic between the two of you that works so well?

Mira: Awe, well Kelly and I have been working together for a while now. Other than the fact that it’s an absolute pleasure to work with Kelly, together we can offer the students a more comprehensive education. Kelly and I are both in the field and have different experiences to share and teach from. I think keeping the energy fresh and effective is really important.

“…Fresh and effective” – nice. Kelly, same question to you. What do you see as some of the biggest benefits of the two of you co-teaching the course?

Kelly: Well, Mira is as great at bringing out the best in her co-teachers as she is in her students! She’s worn so many different hats in this industry, and that perspective encourages me to bring new insight to my own perspective on the craft and business of picture books. The interactive format of the critiques and the webinars offer insight into what I’m looking for at a traditional publisher like Random House, but students also benefit from Mira’s experience at Clear Fork and as an agent, not to mention her deep knowledge of the history of children’s writing and publishing. So together we really provide a 360-degree of the publishing industry. I think having us tune in from opposite sides of the country also highlights how accessible the class and its resources are. You never know how inspiration will strike, and you have those tools available to you no matter where you are when it does!

That’s likely why the course has helped create so many successful picture book creators. 240 books have been published or contracted by Academy students (so far!)! It’s really rewarding to be a part of that and to see that process from the very earliest stages.


240? That is impressive. Mira, is that number correct – 240? I hear your students are like family? I remember you mentioning scholarships when I spoke with you before, a diversity scholarship I think you said… Do you still offer scholarships at the Children’s Book Academy? And, if so, how does that work? What kind of scholarships are they?

Mira: Yes! Yes! 240 and counting! And yes, we’re still so pleased to offer the Yuyi Morales Diversity and More Scholarships to a group of students each session – the number varies based on applicant and how much we can afford to give. They were created to help bring more diversity into the field and to honor one of my first students, the phenomenally exquisite Yuyi Morales. We have a broad definition of diversity to include writers and illustrators who identify as being of color, or LBGQTI, as having a disability, or low income who are currently underrepresented in the children’s publishing industry as well as some other groups that help our community.

It’s our mission to help the world by promoting social justice and/or just bringing more joy and happiness into it.

So, if a prospective student feels that they meet our applicant criteria, they have the opportunity (for a specific period of time) to apply for our scholarships. Here’s the link – I’d love it if your readers would share about this.

Thank you so much Mira, what a beautiful mission. So, before we go, can you tell us a bit about where to register? What kind of students usually register for your courses? What do you recommend students prepare for or have prepared before the course starts?

Mira: Thank you, Kathy. Yes if your readers would like to register, they can visit: . Or visit the to check out all of our course offerings. You can find the Children’s Picture Book Writing course at the top of the Writing section.

Our students are a beautiful mix of demographics, from beginner writers and notebook note takers to major award-winning published authors looking to hone their skills and get in front of professionals looking for fresh talent.

Since the experience levels vary drastically throughout there are varied levels of assignments and content. After registering,the student might want to start with some of the many free bonuses or start getting their ideas together. And if they aren’t sure which story to work with, they can run a bunch of ideas by us in the Facebook group and everyone including Kelly and I will help them choose which one to work on first in the course. We also include some story starters for folks who don’t already have an idea but are ready to learn the craft and business. In addition, some students have submitted their entire story to publishers already but are still looking to get a foot in the door in the industry, and we can help there as well. We do everything in our power to help our students succeed.

Perfect. That’s wonderful, thank you. Kelly I just wanted to check back in with you, is there anything that you might add to Mira’s response?

Kelly: Yes, to Mira’s mention of skill level, I love the variety of experience you get within the program. I’ve done critiques with students who were just working on preliminary ideas that I’ve seen come to life in only 5 weeks. I’ve also seen completely developed ideas change beautifully into more marketable text – it’s really a completely different experience for everyone and I love watching these stories and writers grow! And the sense of community you feel from the writers really is a special part of it—writing can be such a solitary pursuit, but in our group you’re never really doing anything alone. Getting stuck is easier when you can talk to other writers who can share their own experiences with writer’s block (and how they overcame it!), and sharing good news is even sweeter when you have a whole family of writers rooting for you and celebrating with you!

I can just feel your excitement and can just imagine what fun this course is. Is there anything else you want to add?

Mira: Oh yes I nearly forgot. We have a fabulous $100 discount that ends December 15th with this code: YesPB19 This includes all the bonuses, the full course, the half off the humor course and the interactive Facebook group and webinars. It’s a wonderful deal and we also offer a money back guarantee that if you do the work and after a year feel like you didn’t learn A LOT, we will give you your money back. Here’s the link to register again or just find out more:

Wonderful. Ladies, thank you again.

Mira and Kelly: Thank you, Kathy.

My Pleasure!

Talk tomorrow,



Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 4, 2018

Book Giveaway: Bagel in Love


Poor Bagel! He dreams of entering the Cherry Jubilee dance contest . . . but no one wants to be his partner! Can he find a sweet-tart who doesn’t think his steps are half-baked? 
Bagel loved to dance. It made him happier than a birthday cake! And more than anything, he wants a partner who will spin and swirl, tap and twirl with him in the dance contest. But Pretzel sniffs that he doesn’t cut the mustard, Croissant thinks his moves are stale, and Doughnut’s eyes just glaze over. Can a cute cupcake save the day for our would-be Fred Éclair? Witty and pun-filled, this picture book really takes the cake.


My previous agent had been shopping this story about a bagel wanting to enter a dance contest and finding a cupcake to be his partner around since 2004. I always got back notes such as, “the puns are more for adults,” “the romance is too old for kids.” I kept rewriting it because the image of a happy-go-lucky bagel stuck with me, and I thought the bakery puns were funny. So later, between agents, I sent this story to Meredith Mundy who was then at Sterling and she liked it! Meredith worked with me to give the story more heart, and 14 years since I first wrote the story, the book came out.

It was worth the wait. I just adore Helen Dardik’s illustrations and Sterling really got behind the promotion of the book. They made Valentine’s Day cards and stickers which were really fun to share at schools and signings. Helen’s characters and saturated colors inspired me to have a dress designed by a college fashion student so I could promote the book and wear the dress to school visits and book conferences. I got a lot of mileage out of that dress! Bagel In Love’s humor also gave me the confidence to approach Sterling about writing a joke book about food. They said yes, and Lettuce Laugh: 600 Jokes About Food came out in September.


When I was a young girl, I wanted to be a teacher.  I’d line up my stuffed animals – Billy Bear, Boing Boing, Easter Bunny – in front of a board with magnetic letters and numbers and teach them the alphabet and how to count. In high school I wanted to be a tennis player.  I was on the tennis team and played at our neighborhood tennis club in the summers – and even competed in tournaments. Then in college I thought digging dinosaur bones would be a cool job. Or working at a big time advertising agency. It wasn’t until after college, when I was working at my small public relations agency, that I decided I really wanted to write children’s books. I was so inspired by the magic that happens when reading a story that I wanted to see if my active imagination could create magical moments for kids all over the world. So I started writing. Luckily, I sold my first manuscript, Hippity Hop, Frog on Top, in 1992.  I’ve been writing ever since.

I love the freedom of being my own boss, of coming up with ideas on my own, and writing that first draft to see if my idea has any spark. I’m not so crazy about the revising process although there are thrilling moments when I figure out a better way to say something, nail dialog, or work through a complicated plot line. The most exciting moment is when an editor says they want to publish my story.  Then I know all my hard work has paid off, and that soon, children will enter my imaginative world through a book. Check out her website:

Natasha Wing has published 36 children’s books, with more in the works. She is best known for her paperback series based on the popular story, The Night Before Christmas. The stories are about families celebrating holidays and other big events in kids’ lives such as the first day of school and losing a tooth. Her titles include The Night Before Kindergarten which has sold more than 2 million copies and has regularly been on bestseller lists since its publication in 2001. When Jackie Saved Grand Central is a narrative nonfiction about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s fight to save the famous train terminal in New York City. The book received starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus, is a Colorado Authors’ League winner, and is also published in Chinese. Natasha lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. She collects squished pennies.


Helen Dardik was born by the Black Sea in Odessa, Russia and now works out of Canada. After living in Siberia, studying art & design in Israel, and finally settling in Canada in 1993, she began working as a graphic designer and illustrator. Helen mainly works in digital media, but once in a while watercolor, gouache, oil paint, and embroidery find their way into her repertoire. Her inspiration comes from her 3 little girls, vintage illustration, and her own childhood.

Thank you Natasha for sharing your book and journey with us. It looks like a fun picture book. Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 3, 2018

Book Giveaway: Miracle on 34th St. by Valentine Davies


For the First Time Ever in Picture Book Format!

For a little girl named Susan, Christmas could be any other day. She doesn’t believe in Santa Claus or magic or miracles of any kind. Then one day she meets Kriss Kringle. As she doubtfully tells him the gifts she most wishes for, deep down Susan finds herself hoping that just maybe, he is the real thing. Based on the original holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street is a heartwarming story about generosity, imagination, and the spirit of Christmas.

Experience the magic of Valentine Davies’ 70-year-old holiday classic, a heartwarming story about generosity, imagination, and the spirit of Christmas. This picture book is sure to find itself among your most treasured Christmas traditions.\


As I imagine is true for many of you, the heartwarming Miracle On 34th Street was part of my childhood holiday tradition.  A true expression of the holiday spirit, I felt a special connection with it because I lived in New York City, attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and knew exactly where West 34th Street was.  That made it feel real and close to home, and I loved watching that old black and white film.

Valentine Davies wrote the screen play and the novella which were released simultaneously in 1947. A re-creation of the 1947 edition was published in 2013 by HMH Books For Young Readers, but there has never been a picture book.  My editor at Sourcebooks realized this and set about seeing if there was a way to do one.  She contacted the Valentine Davies estate and received enthusiastic permission to go ahead with the project.  And then she contacted me and asked me to write it.  Can you imagine the thrill?  The honor?  I was amazed and grateful to be chosen for such a privilege.

Turning the one hour forty-one minute movie into a picture book was a challenge!  As anyone who has seen the movie knows, it’s a complicated story with many characters, layers, and sub-plots.  In addition to having to condense the material to a length that would work for a picture book, there were certain elements of the original story that were not suitable for inclusion in a book for very young children, including the original hired Santa’s alcoholism, and Kris Kringle’s committal to a mental hospital!  It was also necessary to simplify the story a bit with less attention given to various elements such as Mr. Sawyer’s manipulations, Susie’s mother’s trust issues, and some of the courtroom proceedings.

The resulting text is a tad long by picture book standards, and as such is called a “storybook”, but I think (hope!) it conveys the spirit of the timeless tale in a form accessible to young children – that they come away uplifted by the story’s message that “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to,” and that a world of possibility exists if only you allow it to.  James Newman Gray was hired to illustrate, and he did an incredible job of capturing the era of the original…but in color.  I can say without bias since I didn’t do the illustration or design that the book is simply beautiful!  From tasteful sparkles in the cover that look like falling snow, to the snowflake covered endpapers, to the little details of wrapped gifts, holly sprigs, and ribbons that adorn the pages, right down to a “gift tag” in the front, the team that put it together produced a book that will make a treasured holiday present.


Susanna is the award winning author of more than fifteen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner and an Itabashi Translation Award Finalist), and When Your Lion Needs A Bath(Parents Magazine #1 BoardBook 2017, CYBILS Award Finalist, CBC Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year along with When Your Elephant Has The Sniffles)

Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, Japanese, and Chinese. Alphabedtime!(Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books) and The Moon’s First Friends: How The Moon Met The Astronauts From Apollo 11 (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) are forthcoming in Spring 2019 with 6 additional titles coming in 2019.  She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.




Face Book Author Page:


Thank you Susanna for sharing your book and journey with us. It looks like a wonderful picture book. Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 2, 2018

Happy Hanukkah & Winter Literary Contest

Amalia Hoffman sent in this colorful illustration to help me wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah.

Deadline Midnight, December 15!

Contest Submissions


F(r)iction‘s Winter 2018 Literary Contests

Guest Judges Kwame Dawes, Tara Laskowski, and J.M. Holmes
$1600 in Prizes

F(r)iction is now accepting submissions for our Winter Literary Contests!

F(r)iction is accepting previously unpublished works of short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry. We accept submissions from writers located anywhere in the world, as long as the work is in English.

Short Story Contest

The winner of our short story contest will be awarded $1,000.00 and publication in F(r)iction. Five finalists will receive free professional edits on their submission and will be considered for publication.

Criteria: Stories of any genre, ranging from 1,000 to 7,500 words.
Fees: $15.00 USD entry fee for each submission.

Poetry Contest

The winner of our poetry contest will be awarded $300.00 and publication in F(r)iction. Five finalists will receive free professional edits on their submission and will be considered for publication.

Criteria: Poems of any genre or form, three pages or less per poem.
Fees: $8.00 per entry, or three entries for $12.00.

Flash Fiction Contest

The winner of our flash fiction contest will be awarded $300.00 and publication in F(r)iction. Five finalists will receive free professional edits on their submission and will be considered for publication.

Criteria: Stories of any genre, with a maximum of 750 words.
Fees: $8.00 per entry, or three entries for $12.00.

Our editorial staff favors stories that celebrate the weird, take risks, and are driven by a strong, unique voice. To best understand our style, we strongly recommend buying an issue of F(r)iction at the TBL Store.

Please visit our formatting guidelines page to properly format your work for submission. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please notify TBL immediately if your work is selected for publication elsewhere. We encourage writers to submit as many pieces as they wish. All stories will be considered for publication in F(r)iction, our triannual print journal.

Please note: We are unable to offer refunds for contest submissions, so please read the options and choose your submission category carefully. For poetry and flash fiction, you can submit ONE ENTRY or a THREE PACK.

Talk tomorrow,


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