The 2018 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS (…FINALLY!!!)

Halloween may be over but the fun is still here. Read through the final fabulous 14 stories and vote your favorite at

Susanna Leonard Hill


The day has FINALLY come!

Normally, I’d engage in a bit of tomfoolery to sidetrack you from our mission and make you think I’d forgotten why we were here on a Thursday.

But I have made you wait so long for the finalists that there will be no stalling today!  We shall get right to announcing the finalists and voting!

(Yes, it’s really me writing this post.  I haven’t been abducted by aliens 🙂 )

We had a huge turnout with 237 very high quality entries!  It is wonderful to watch the writers we see coming back contest after contest getting better every time… but boy does it make the judging hard!!! There are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there are a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!

Before we…

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Why Your Vote Matters


Dopesters all over the globe have made their predictions for who will win the mid-term elections here in the USA. 

Who will be right? Do the predictions matter?? 

I say no. Predictions are good to follow for weather matters but other than that, predictions are just that, predictions. It only takes one person/ one act to prove a prediction wrong. 

My advice is this: Use your voice – get out and vote! Don’t allow predictions to sway your choice to vote one way or another, or not to vote at all. Your vote may well be one that makes history; give your vote that opportunity because all votes matter!

The right to vote is a hard fought honor and should never be taken for granted. Besides, if you don’t exercise your right to vote, you give up your right to bitch about the issues. 

Not sure where to vote? Go to this link:  Find my Local Election Site and Times

I did my part, I voted. I hope you do too. 

peace sign


This is my fourth Annual Halloweensie Contest entry for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest! The rules are simple: 

Write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children, 12 and under, (title not included in the 100 words), using the words shivercauldron, and howl.  Your story can be scary, funny, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words or less. Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. shivery, cauldrons, howling, you get it.

Deadline to post your story on your own website or on Susanna’s, is October 31, 2018 11:59 p.m. EDT. To read full set of rules and all of the other amazing entries, visit: 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest – For Children’s Writers


By Traci Bold

Tonight was Hazel’s third Halloween to brew potion for witchdom.

At the start of Witching Hour, Witch Oma advised, “Follow the recipe.”

‘In cauldron, add these ingredients:


1 howler monkey hair

2 toady warts

3 twigs (choose wisely)

Stir five times.

Apply to witch faces.’

The first year, Hazel used pyracantha.

Purple pox pebbled the witches – which itched.

Last year, Hazel chose berberis.

Tiny thorns tattooed witches chins – which twitched.

This year, Hazel tried hamamelis.

Witch warts waned.

Hazel shivered. A witch without warts, oh no!


“Congratulations Witch Hazel!” Witch Oma exclaimed. “We witches don’t like warts.”



Photo credit:



With Young Adult Author, Liza Wiemer 

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

My series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the Liza4-214x300alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Today we welcome, young adult author, Liza Wiemer, as our ABC Game contestant. Liza hosts two blogs, relevant to teen literature:    

I Hope You Forgive Me and WHORUBLOG. Hello_Cover-200x320

She is also author of HELLO?.

Below is Liza’s list of categories from A – Z, and her answers off the top of her head. Feel free to play along, maybe your answers, will match hers. Enjoy!

ATTIC THINGS: Wedding dress


COMEDY:  Seinfeld

DESSERT:  Cheesecake

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  Mountain gorillas


GAME SHOW:  The Price is Right

HOMOPHONES:  Red and Read


JAMMING SONG:  Centuries by the Fall Out Boy

KNOW HOW TO:  Make the best gingersnap cookies!

LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU):  Gilmore Girls



OCEAN:  Pacific

PICTURE BOOK:  Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill


ROAD SIGN:  Deer Crossing



UNIQUE FONT:  Chalkboard            

VEGETABLE:  Asparagus

WATER SPORT:  Marco Polo

X WORD:  Xylophone


ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE:  Went down a black diamond ski hill my first time skiing.

ME:   Your zaniest thing has mine beat, hands down. Why did you choose a black diamond ski hill for your first time on the slopes?

LW: Well, it was an accident, actually. I got off the ski lift and the only way down was either take the lift, which I thought would be humiliating, or go for it. So, I did! I ended up on my butt several times, but I made it!


ME:   Sounds like you conquered that monumental slope your own way. 😊 That takes guts.

I am delighted you named the quokka as your ‘Q’ animal! They are known as the ‘smiliest’ land mammal of the world. But there is mischief behind their smiles. 😀 Using your wildest imagination, what kind of mischief do think these adorable animals could be up to?

LW: These cute creatures are nocturnal and they’ve got some chops, too. So I can imagine them wreaking havoc on a garden like Peter Rabbit!

ME:  That is a playful visual…the story is going through my head right now. Speaking of visuals, I love gingersnap cookies! Is your gingersnap recipe an old family recipe or one you came up with yourself?  If you could spend an afternoon baking gingersnaps with Lorelei, Rory and Sookie, what do you think the afternoon would be like? Feel free to set the scene for us. 

LW: The gingersnap cookie recipe comes from an old torn Good Housekeeping cookbook. Maybe. The cover is torn off and the name of the cookbook is nowhere to be found on any page!

Being with Lorelei, Rory, and Sookie would be a dream come true. We would have giant to-go cups of coffee from Luke’s, Sookie would have all the ingredients ready for a triple batch. There would be music playing in the background, and a few seconds aftser the first batch came out of the oven, Lorelei would snatch one, shove it in her mouth, then insist that we all eat one, too. After all, gingersnap cookies are best while they’re still warm. The first batch would be gone before the next batch comes out of the oven and Lorelei would complain that she’s so full. (Dramatic moan!) Rory would say that she has a stomachache and Sookie would say, “I told you not to eat the entire batch!”


ME:   (laughing out loud) That sounds about right.

You got me with your ‘chalkboard’ font answer; I have never seen it. What do you use it on and what program do you have that has it?

LW: I have it on Microsoft word. In my next manuscript, the MC has an entire chalkboard wall in her bedroom! This would be a dream come true! I’d love to have one.


ME:   An entire chalkboard wall would be fantastic! Would definitely make life easier for drawing out ideas, etc. And think of the paper that would be saved. You could have your jamming song on while you worked…

Is your jamming song just when you hear it on the radio, or played specifically for the purpose of jamming out? [p.s., great song choice!]

LW: “Centuries” by the Fall Out Boy is definitely my jamming song. It’s so powerful and positive. The idea of leaving a positive mark on this world and being remembered is something meaningful to me. I read an interview on song facts about Pete Wentz, bassist and lyricist for Fall Out Boy. He talks about how this song is about David slaying Goliath. We need more Davids in this world! He also said that we have to get up, dust ourselves off. I love that. If I hear the song on the radio, I’ll crank it up loud. I also love to watch the YouTube video.

ME:   Spellcheck does not cover proper homophone usage. Have you ever had an ‘oops’ moment with homophones in your writing that went out to someone? If so, care to share? If not, then do you know of such instances you’ve seen happen, that made you laugh, that you can share?

LW: I had a letter from a teen who told me that she loved traveling by fairy. In Hello?, there is a ferry that some of the characters travel on to get to Washington Island. But travel by fairy sounds like a lot more fun!


ME:   Hmmm. I’ve heard the tiny fairies are quite strong, and their wings are hummingbird fast; fairy transportation could be a thing. 😉 What a wonderful way to travel!  Your book, HELLO? is set primarily on Washington Island, which you can only get to via ferry, correct? (It’s on my husband’s and mine bucket list to visit, not sure of which season to go though). Are there any road signs on the island?

And, can you share what new projects you are working on?

LW: The island definitely has road signs. Actually, there are over 100 miles of roads, even though the island isn’t that large. 

My next manuscript is almost finished. Details are still hush hush, but it’s based on a true story that was inspired by two brave teens I met in Oswego, New York. I’m thrilled to say that I have a new amazing agent who loves it!


ME:   Wow! On the map, the island doesn’t look like it can hold that much road.

And wow! Congratulations on the new agent and the new manuscript. You gave a tiny teaser; excited to read the story when it comes out.

Thank you for playing the ABC Game with us Liza!

Readers, you can find Liza on the following:





Have a monumental weekend everyone!
















With Children’s Author, Vivian Kirkfield

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

picture-158-b-2 (1)My series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Today, Vivian Kirkfield, children’s author and curator of the top ranked top-childrens-book-blog (1)Children’s Books blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar,  joins us to play the ABC Game.

Her debut picture books SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE, and FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: An Animal Counting Book are scheduled to release, spring 2019. 






Below is Vivian’s list of categories from A – Z, and her answers off the top of her head. Feel free to play along. Maybe your answers will match hers. Enjoy!

ANIMAL:  Horse – when I was a kid, I loved horses and always hoped I’d have one of my own. At the age of 10, I thought about horses, drew pictures of horses, and even wrote a poem about a horse.

BOOK MADE INTO A MOVIE:  GONE WITH THE WIND – I read the book more than a dozen times and saw the movie at least that many. But with a big apology to Margaret Mitchell, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series has definitely moved into the #1 position in my movie queue. I’ve read the entire series (8 or 9 books, each one is about 800 pages) several times and am now enjoying the movie/TV series that starts its 4th season this November. And I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter books and movies as well. See what happens when you ask a lover of books/movies to pick just one!

CAPITAL:  Boston…love the old world/new world feel.

DOG NAME:  When the kids were growing up, we always had dogs…and cats…and bunnies…and gerbils. Favorite name would have to be Bandit because at the same time we had a cat named Smokey…as in the movie with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.

EVERY CHILD…: Every child needs to know he/she is loved and is a person of value, worthy of respect. This impacts a child’s ability to love and respect himself/herself…which in turn, effects how they will interact and be able to love and respect others.

FLOWER:  All of them…but if you force me to choose, I guess it has to be yellow tulips.

GENRE (MUSIC):   Just like with books/movies, I can’t pick just one…folk/rock/pop/blues like Paul Simon/Billy Joel/Bob Dylan/Joan Baez…when I was in high school, I’d come home and sing Blowing in the Wind and The House of the Rising Sun to my mom while she ironed. And I still love singing those songs! 

HAIRSTYLE:  Mary Tyler Moore’s flip of the 1960’s was my dream hairdo…but for a girl with curly hair, that was mostly a dream. When I was a kid, my mom kept my hair cut short so it would be easier for her to take care of it, but in high school (1960-63), I let it grow long. I’d sit for three hours under one of those old-fashioned hair dryers with my wet hair wrapped around those huge rollers. Then I’d take out the rollers…and comb out my hair and it would be PERFECT…straight with the little up flip at the bottom…until I walked out the door into the humidity of New York City and then BOING!!!! My curls would come back with a vengeance!

ILLUSTRATOR:  Tomie de Paola…I love the Strega Nona stories; Oliver Button is a Sissy; Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs; and my all-time favorite: The Clown of God.

JUICE:  Watered down Mango-Orange…3 parts water and 1-part juice because it reminds me of the orangeade drink they used to serve at Nedicks, one of the original ‘fast food’ restaurants. I was a little girl growing up in NYC and as a treat, my parents would take me to Nedicks for a hot dog and a drink: 

KITCHEN (FOUND IN A): Beautifully decorated china bowls to eat soup from. I love beautiful flower patterns on dishes and I love soup…I could eat it for dinner every night.

LUCKY ITEM:  I don’t think I have one lucky item…I just enjoy wearing something that belonged to or was given to me by the people I love…it’s kind of a way to keep them close. 

MOST LIKELY TO:  Say yes if someone asks for my help. 


OCEAN:  Pacific – driving down the west coast from Vancouver BC to Mexico on my first cross-country trip with my husband in 1969 was awesome. I grew up in NYC and had spent summers going to Coney Island, but I’d never seen boulders and trees at a beach…and the driftwood was astonishing! 

PLANET:  Earth…and hopefully we will learn how to preserve and protect it before we destroy it completely.

QUOTE:  My own quote from the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge: Magic happens when you make every word count.


‘R’ ANIMAL:  With a tip of the hat to Alice in Wonderland: Rabbit 


TOY:  When I was a kid, I had dolls and a coloring book and a round tin of crayons and a couple of board games like Parchesi and Scrabble. And even though I am not good at them, I love pinball machines. And although it’s not a toy, I LOVE LOVE LOVE ping pong. 



WOOD TYPE: Redwood

X WORD: Xylophone because I love the sound it makes

YOUNG ADULT BOOK:  One book? Are you kidding? The Book Thief, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, the Harry Potter series and so many more.. 

ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE:  Skydiving with my son the year before I turned 65. And after that, I knew I could do anything and that’s when I decided to write picture books!

ME:  Do you have a fun story you would like to share about your Smokey and Bandit? Animal stories are my faves.

VK:  Bandit was a wonderful dog, sweet-tempered and a lover of children. But Smokey, the cat, ruled the roost. And she delighted in chasing the ever-patient pup around the kitchen island.

ME:   The cat chasing the dog! That is a new twist to an old tail. 😊 Is there a toy that you always wanted but never had?

VK: Is a bicycle considered a toy? I always wanted a bike, but we lived in the city and my parents didn’t have a lot of money and I guess bikes weren’t on the top of their must-have item list. When my older sister graduated from junior high, we moved to Brooklyn…still New York City, but a more country-like borough than Manhattan. My parents bought her a second-hand bike with a brand-new bike basket and handlebar ribbons. She was so proud of it. And one day, I ‘borrowed’ it and rode it down the street to the corner where a dirt and cobblestone road started (yes, Brooklyn in the late 1950’s was still pretty rural in places). Bumpity bumpity bumpity CRASH! Down I went! When the dust cleared, my knees were gashed and bloody. Worst of all, the bike basket was bent and mangled. I limped home. My mom wiped my tears, washed my knees and put iodine (OUCH!) on them. And my sister? Oh my gosh, she was so mad! I think I had to save my allowance to buy her a new bike basket, which I guess was only fair. When I got married and later moved to a small town in Connecticut, my husband and I bought bikes and loved riding up and down country roads. 

ME:   A lesson learned. And the sting of both having the iodine (OUCH! IS RIGHT!), and saving your allowance to buy something you broke, sunk right in. Life has a way of giving ‘teaching moments’ to each of us and it’s up to us individually how we handle it. You are thoughtful about more than just people, you care about the entire world. And, you are so right about our beautiful planet. If you had a superpower to put the human race on the course to save the planet, what power would you use and what would your first mission be?

VK: I think a large part of the problem is created by the desire to have MORE. Of everything. Biggie size fries. Larger houses. Several cars. Some kids get so many toys for a birthday, they don’t even have time to open them all. And we live in a throw-away society. We used to fix a toaster if it was broken. Now many people just throw old or broken things away and buy new ones. Often, age isn’t seen as a strong point even if something is well-made and still functional. (and that goes with humans, as well). 

I’d be SUPER-DOWNSIZER…and my first mission would be to find people who have too much and get them to share what they have with those who have too little.

ME:   Stellar answer! I would love to have that super power. Hope you have a story about this super power brewing in your arsenal of riches, ,and I want to read it when you write it. 😊 We also have the curly hair in common too. Do you have any tips for curly girls?

VK: I’ll be 72 on my next birthday and I’ve only just decided to try to come to terms with my curly hair. I had always wanted to have it straight, even though so many people (with straight hair, of course) would wax poetic about how amazing it would be to have curly hair. But with my big travel plans coming up in 2019, I want to be realistic – will I have time to be fussing with hair? Plus, I want to travel light…just one small roller bag for clothing and one small backpack for my laptop and essentials like travel docs, emergency snacks, and a bottle of water. I’d rather not have to tote along a flat iron. I’m trying to find a shorter hair style that is pretty much wash and wear…but that looks fashionable and fun. I know you asked for my tips, Traci, but perhaps I’m the one who needs advice.

ME:   Actually, I think you just gave us the best advice…come to terms with it and do what your hair wants to do naturally. I believe a person’s hair is given to them because it suits them best. Don’t get me wrong, I always wanted the straight hair too but I find I am happiest when I just let my hair be and not fuss with it so much. I don’t think you can go wrong with that.

Do you like the book or the movie better? And why?

VK:  Oh, that’s such a great question! I love the book because it lasts longer and I can envision whatever my mind can imagine. But if a movie is well-done, with the right actors, I am happy to watch it over and over again. In fact, some evenings, I’ll flip through the thousands of movies available on the cable channels (and I also have Amazon Prime which has lots of movie and TV series) and do you know what? I often opt for a movie I’ve seen before because after 5 minutes of the new choice, I wonder why I should waste 2 hours of precious time watching it to the end.  

ME:   Another thing we have in common! If you could give advice to the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, what would it be?

VK: How about: choose your friends wisely. 😊 The White Rabbit had some questionable associates. I think one of the most amazing things about the kidlit community is that just about everyone is helpful, kind, supportive, and encouraging. This is so important, especially in a business where there is so much rejection. And where lots of patience is needed to go from story idea to published book.

ME:   That is excellent advice for all ages.

The release of your picture book, SWEET DREAMS, SARAH was originally slated to be released this autumn, but was pushed back to May 2019. PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE will be released February 2019. And in between these releases, you have another book, FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK, coming out. 2019 will be a busy year for you! What projects are you working on now that you can tell us about?

VK: Actually, SWEET DREAMS, SARAH was originally supposed to launch in March 2017. And that’s how this business is. You just never know. It might be illustrator issues. Or perhaps an editor moves from one publishing house to another. That’s why you need to always be working on something else….so that you can feel you are moving forward, even if one project is stalled. 

In addition to the three books that will be coming out in 2019, I also have two so far for 2020: MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020) and FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). I’m really excited about both of those. The Ella/Marilyn story is one of my favorites and it was almost picked up by three different editors in 2015, 2016, and 2017, but although they loved it, they couldn’t get their sales and marketing teams to buy it. I’m thrilled to have it with Little Bee Books and they’ve signed an amazing illustrator for it: Alleanna Harris. (word to the wise…never give up) And Inventions is really NINE individual full-length, fully-illustrated picture book biographies, compiled into one book. It is the vision of HMH editor Ann Rider and I love her for trusting me with this amazing project. Plus, I’m so thrilled that it’s being illustrated by the incredible award-winning Gilbert Ford! 

My agent also has several other manuscripts out on submission, so fingers crossed for good news. Plus, as always, I’m writing more stories and revising the ones I’ve already written. Right now, I am working on a possible sequel to the PIPPA story. And I’m itching to start on another nonfiction that is calling to me. 

ME:   My fingers are crossed, though I believe you don’t need me to.  Since I have read your delightful stories on your hosted short story contests, I know I will love your books as much.  

Thank you for playing the ABC Game Vivian!

Readers, thank you for stopping by! You can learn more about Vivian on her website

And you can connect with her here:





New In Nineteen:

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!







With Children’s Author, Lisl H. Detlefsen

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

My series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the 13562042ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Yay! Today, picture book author, Lisl H. Detlefsen, of TIME FOR CRANBERRIES (published by Roaring Brook Press) and just released April 2018, IF YOU HAD A JETPACK (published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers), joins us.

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Lisl’s category answers, off the top of her head are below. Feel free to play along, maybe your answer, off the top of your head, will match hers. Enjoy!

AUTOMOBILE: Model T         

BIRD: chickadee         

CHEESE: aged cheddar

DISNEY MOVIE: Mary Poppins         


FLOWER: Black-eyed susans

GRAIN: quinoa

HOLIDAY: Thanksgiving

ICE CREAM FLAVOR: Zanzibar chocolate

JOB: writer


LIQUID: cranberry juice



OCEAN: Pacific

PIZZA TOPPING: sausage and green olives 

Q WORD: quagmire

RECYCLE (SOMETHING YOU): aluminum cans

SPORT: taekwondo

TYPE OF TRUCK: pickup  


VEGETABLE: wax beans

WEATHER: just after it’s rained


YOGA POSE: tree pose

ZOO ANIMAL: meerkat

ME:   Quagmire is a fun word to say and at times, may hold tart delectable treats. You know all about the quagmire I’m hinting at. (first definition from : an area of miry or boggy ground whose surface yields under the tread; a bog.) What Wisconsin quagmires are you especially fond of and why?

LHD: Gosh, I had not picked it for this reason, but clearly it is no quagmire (second definition: awkward, complex or hazardous situation) to figure out why I am drawn to this fun-to-say word: I’m especially fond of my family’s cranberry marsh in central Wisconsin! I love living on a family-owned and operated farm with my cranberry-growing husband and our two sons, who are the sixth generation. Cranberries happen to be Wisconsin’s state fruit, too!


ME:   And a delicious fruit that will be making its appearance at an upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving. They are a highlighted feature food at many Thanksgiving feasts, as is dressing/stuffing. But if I’m looking for a healthier stuffing recipe, would quinoa be a good choice to include in the recipe? And do you have any special quinoa recipes?

LHD: Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday, and we use plenty of cranberries for ours, including cranberry pie! As to quinoa, I can’t say that I’ve ever made a stuffing with it, but I did once try to pass off a cheesy quinoa recipe as mac-and-cheese when my kids were younger. (Sadly, I was unsuccessful, and I had all the leftovers to myself.) I do have an easy side dish recipe that my family likes that includes quinoa, lime juice and tomatoes.

ME:   Quinoa mac and cheese, intriguing. Sounds like you have not made it again for the family, though. But your side dish recipe sounds delectable. And easy for children to make and eat.

Please share with us, one interesting fact you learned from the non-fiction book, PRAIRIE FIRES: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser?

LHD: What has stuck with me about the book is the amount of will and grit it took to survive as a homesteader during the time of westward expansion. I also was reminded of how few choices women had then: so much of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life was not up to her, but rather her reacting to the (sometimes reckless, in hindsight) decisions of her father and later, husband Almanzo. However, to invoke the concept of another author I adore and admire (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Laura wrote her way out, taking charge of her destiny and supporting her family financially through the written word.

ME:   Laura was a unique pioneering heroine of her times! And a wonderful role model to boot.

Speaking of unique, what is the color, argyle?

LHD: Argyle is the name of a particular shade of green paint that my argyleoldest son picked for the walls in his room in the 140-year-old farmhouse we’re currently remodeling and hope to move into soon. (Argyle was a compromise from the forest green ceiling with electric green walls he initially requested—I value his creativity, but I also value my eyeballs!) Argyle is a lovely color, though a confusing one as argyle is more commonly considered to be a pattern using diamond shapes. As you can imagine, we’ve gotten more than a few curious looks when he tells people his walls in the farmhouse will be argyle!

ME:   I am so glad I asked! I too, was picturing the pattern, not a color.

MARY POPPINS is a fantastic movie! And Mary herself, is magical. She knew the craftiest solutions to any problem. If you had Mary’s magical powers, what would you do to save the blue whales from becoming extinct?

LHD: I adore Mary Poppins and wish my Mom purse or laptop bag had the amazing properties of Mary’s magical carpet bag. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if her bag contained just the right combination of information, experts and resources to save the blue whales?!?

ME:   Yes it would! I feel a story for you in the making here. 😉 Our world is full of upcoming leaders; it is quite possible an upcoming leader or generation will have the exact magic to make it happen.

Besides cranberries, do you grow black-eyed susans or wax beans? And if so, is gardening a family activity?

LHD: Alas, we do not do much in the way of gardening as a family. My husband spends so much time caring for the cranberry plants that he prefers to spend any spare time enjoying other hobbies such as golf, and being a busy writer and mom (and highly allergic human!), I confess I much prefer to admire the gardens of others than tend to one myself. However, I have very fond memories of spending summers with my grandparents “up north” and eating the wax beans my grandpa grew in his garden. Black-eyed susans always make me think of my wonderful mom, who is named Susan (though her eyes happen to be green!)

ME:   Awww, those are wonderful connections to have. It’s amazing how different things hold memories and thoughts of loved ones for us.

If Grover were to write a short story using as many of your category answers as possible, what might his story be? And, does Grover have the insight on your upcoming projects that he can share with us?

LHD: Grover would write a short story about driving an argyle-colored pickup truck made out of aluminum cans to the Pacific Ocean, only to run into a quagmire with a taekwondo-practicing meercat named Xavier driving a cerulean blue Model T. In the end, though, they would resolve their differences over pizza with green olives and sausage and Zanzibar ice cream.

Being a loyal and kind friend, Grover might also be excited to share that I have two picture books coming out in 2019: RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, a table-to-farm story about agriculture illustrated with the delicious art of Renée Kurilla, which will be ready to pick in January, and 1, 2, 3, JUMP!, a (super silly) guide to swimming lessons illustrated with the sensational art of Madeline Valentine, ready to make a splash in May but available for pre-order now! 

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ME:   Grover and you have fantastic imaginations! If Grover publishes his short story, I want to be the first to read it. 😊 Grover is a good friend indeed. I can’t wait to read your new books!

It was a delight playing the ABC Game with you today, Lisl! Thank you!

And readers, thank you for stopping by to spend a little time with us. You can find Lisl on these social medias:

Facebook: @lislhdbooks

Twitter: @lislhd

Have a wonderful weekend!


Compound Words: Real or #Notreal

What is a compound word? New ones pop up daily, but are they truly compound words?

@Grammarly defines compound words:

“When two words are used together to yield a new meaning, a compound is formed. Compound words can be written in three ways: as open compounds (spelled as two words, e.g., ice cream), closed compounds (joined to form a single word, e.g., doorknob), or hyphenated compounds (two words joined by a hyphen, e.g., long-term). Sometimes, more than two words can form a compound (e.g., mother-in-law).

Since you can visit the above web link about proper compound word usage and form, I won’t get into that here. Instead, I’m concentrating on the fun aspects of compound words and the social media trend of forming new ones. 

Social media has created a whole new category of writing…aka,  #hashtags (note the combined word). Thanks to Stowe Boyd, Chris Messina, and Nate Ritter, compound words have taken on a new life.

Are our own created compound words, real or #notreal ? 

They are formally real when they catch on and are used widespread, thus making it into the dictionary. More on this here:

Either real or #notreal, they are fun to create whether you are a writer or not. They are also fun to ponder. Here is an example:

Good + bye = goodbye

Are there really good byesI suppose it depends on if you are happy to see that person go or not. If you are not happy about that person leaving, the compound word could be:

bad + bye = badbye

What about this compound word?

sound + proof = soundproof

Proof there is sound? Nope, it means ‘impervious to sound’. Wouldn’t a better word be:

sound + block = soundblock ?

Just sayin’. The next one makes sense:

up + chuck = upchuck 

What about when you drink something with a fast motion?  Instead of being long-winded in saying, ‘Tony tossed back a shot of cough syrup.’ you could say: 

down + chuck = downchuck  

‘Tony downchucked the cough syrup.’ 

A supershort story:

‘Tony downchucked the putrid, green, cough syrup. He upchucked it soon after.’

My family giggled the day I told them that one. Try it! See what you come up with. Make it a family fun night event. Incorporate more creativity into it with drawings, pictures, or actual objects. Do more by turning your words into stories.

butter + fly =  20160709_142254 ?

Maybe your new compound word will make it into the dictionary.

I hope you share one of your new real or #notreal compound words in the comment section below. Have a wonderful week!

#wordplay #amwriting #familyfun







With Children’s Author, Tara Lazar 

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun. 

My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the newblogphototaraABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy! 

Today we welcome the fabulous and fun picture book author, 2018 Crystal Kite Winner (Atlantic division), RUCCL Co-Chair, and creator of Storystorm (formerly PiBoIdMo), Tara Lazar! Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) 


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Below is Tara’s list of categories from A – Z, and her answers off the top of her head.

ANTONYM FOR AWFUL:   Splendiferous

BOARD GAME:   Candyland


DISNEY MOVIE:   Finding Nemo

EMOTION:   Laughter through tears

FLOWER:  Orchid


HAPPINESS ISA cozy fire, a cup of tea and a good book

INSECT:   Ladybug

JEWEL:   Aquamarine


LANGUAGE:   English

MONSTER:   Manfred

NON-FICTION:   Storyteller: Roald Dahl

OPPOSITES:   Attract

PIRATE NAME:   Lazarrrrrr




TRAIT:   Being funny

UNUSUAL ANIMAL:   Chinchilla        

VILLAIN:   Lex Luthor

WISH:   Happiness


YOUNG ADULT TITLE:   The Murderer’s Ape


ME:  I love your Pirate Name. Lazarrrrr! If you ever decide to change careers and be a pirate, you only have to add a few r’s to your last name. What would be your favorite part of being a pirate?

TL: Having a peg leg !


ME:  Hahaha! You have such a good sense of humor; same as Mother Nature. Cold weather held on well into late spring this year for the Northeast and upper Midwest. And on the occasional cold summer day, your Happiness Is answer is splendiferous. What is the last good book you have read?

TL: THE TRAIN OF LOST THINGS by Ammi-Joan Paquette.


ME:  Oooooo, that’s on my Want to Read list!

Soooo, napping or reading, hmm. Hard to nap when you have a good book to read. But, few people know that napping is a true superpower. Children who fight taking a nap are missing out. What advice do you have for children and adults who do not take advantage of engaging this superpower?

TL: Don’t walk through life like a ZOMBIE ! 


ME:  Fantastic advice.  (Besides, your muscles get stiff when walking like a zombie. 😊 ) Please tell us more about Manfred the Monster!

TL:   He’s enormous and orange, with three eyes and a row of razor-15945853sharp teeth. But he’s a shaggy, loveable lump of a monster. (Just read THE MONSTORE to find out.)


ME:   I did read it! Your books are like candy for me. Speaking of candy… Candyland is often the first board game children play. It’s simply magical. Who doesn’t want to take a sweet journey through Candyland? Medusa is who!

If Medusa were to have her own board game, what would her game objective be?

TL: She already has a board game—Snakes and Ladders.


ME:  You are on a roll Tara! I never made the connection before between Medusa and Chutes & Ladders; but I see it now.

A strange turn of events for your unusual (also endangered) animal, is that by owning a chinchilla as a pet (not as a fur coat-YUK!), owners are helping to keep them from becoming extinct. In fact, chinchillas in the wild are expected to become extinct early in the 21st century. (You can find out why here: Why are chinchillas endangered?) Though these rodents are adorable and can be taught to play with humans, they are also hyperactive and high strung. What activities should a chinchilla owner provide for their adorable pet to counteract their hyperactivity?

TL: Bouncing on a yoga ball.


ME:  Sounds like a calming activity for both owner and pet.

Gemini is the astrological sign of the twins. And in my experience, Geminis also have a remarkable trait of being funny. (Not sure if you are a Gemini or not, but you do have the wonderful trait of being funny!) Using as many of your category answers as possible, and off the top of your head, can you give us a funny synopsis of a story with twins as the main characters? And will you share with us any upcoming projects you have coming out and are working on?

TL:  As you wish. Twins named Lex & Luthor pair up with the dread pirate Lazarrr and have fun storming the castle. 

I just finished a hilarious story that takes place in a candy shop! As a huge fan of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, this manuscript is a dream come true. 


ME:  You had me at …in a candy shop! But alas, I too am a huge Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fan. I can’t wait to read your story when it hits the shelves.

Thank you Tara for playing the ABC Game with us. 20759614 24989936 24612756

Readers, want more Tara Lazar books? Check out your local indie bookstore for them. For signed, personalized copies of her books, call THE BOOKWORM in Bernardsville, NJ 908-766-4599. 

You can also find Tara on these social medias:

twitter: @taralazar

instagram: @taralaser

Thank you for stopping by today to read ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD. May you have a fantastic weekend!




With Children’s Author, Baptiste Paul

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all.

My series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, Baptiste-Soccer350hx286wliterary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Today we have debut picture book author, Baptiste Paul! His first book, THE FIELD, debuted in March of this year.


Below are Baptiste’s answers off the top of his head.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match his. Enjoy!


BALL GAME:  Futbol

COLORFUL BIRD:  Amazona Versicolor  


EXERCISE:  Running

FLOWER:  Hibiscus


HOBBY:  Tinkering





M&M COLOR:   Yellow

NOCTURNAL ANIMAL:   Manicou (St. Lucian Opossum)


PASTIME:   Hiking

QUEEN NAME:   Elizabeth



TYPE OF TRUCK:  Big Truck (a shoutout to a friend)


VILLAIN:  Dr. Claw

WINDOW VIEW:  Loneliness



ZOO:  Penguins

Saint-Lucia-parrot-adultME:   Growing up in St. Lucia offers a large variety of different animals, birds and landscape than where you live now with your family. Your children are fortunate to be able to see these animals in the wild with you. Such as the Amazona Versicolor, a vibrant bird indeed; the Pitons, and the unique coral reefs. Please tell us more about them.

BP: There is so much to tell. You need to checkout it out for yourself. I will leave it at that.

ME:   Fair enough.  A field trip to the library is in order. 😊

What window are you looking out that you see loneliness?

BP: The window I looked through many years ago and vividly see keeps reminding me of how lonely it can be for an immigrant in this country. I was that lonely immigrant who had to spend Christmas all alone.   

ME:    I’m glad you have family now in the United States so you no longer have to spend Christmas alone. You gave us a good reminder about kindness to people; unless we’ve been an immigrant ourselves, we have no idea what they are going through or what they have been through.

Let’s carry out your shout-out to your Big Truck friend. What would you like to say?

BP:  Keep on Trucking! Thanks for being awesome. You deserve cake.

ME:   If National Public Radio asked you to write a whimsical segment for them, what would you write about?

BP:  I would write about cats. I’m not an expert in that field but having four cats right now somehow puts me a few notches below expert status. Each cat has its own unique set of qualities, behaviors and weird things they do like, bring you sock presents every day or pooping in the litter box while you are cleaning it out.

ME:   laughing out loud. Cats are definitely unique individuals. I believe we all would enjoy listening to your segment on cats on NPR. 

Algae glows? Is this good or bad?

BP: Yeah, didn’t you see this clip from Moana? I think six syllable words in kids movies are awesome.

ME:   My daughters love that movie. My hubby and I have not seen it yet, so I will put it on our #mustwatch list.

What is the most unusual experience you and your family have had while hiking?

BP: I would say my son freaking out about a squirrel who he thought carried rabies. We were on a narrow edge with a cliff on one side when he decided to run away from the squirrel. What a scare but he was fine. 

ME:   Your second book, ADVENTURES TO SCHOOL, that you co-wrote with your beautiful wife, Miranda Paul, came out in May.  What new projects are in the works for you that you can share with us?

Adventures to School

BP: Currently, I’m working on a book called The Mountain and it’s about a father and daughter journey hiking a mountain such as the Pitons. Our next Co-authored book, I AM Farmer will be released on February 6th. It’s about an Environmentalist name Farmer Tantoh from Cameroon who has saved thousands of lives by providing safe clean drinking water. We will be on tour from March 15 through May 15 2019. For more information about the tour, email Judy Cooper at

ME:   Thank you for the heads up on the tour and upcoming books, which sound inspiring. We will have to put them on our reading lists for when they are released.

Thank you, Baptiste, for playing the ABC Game with us today! You’ve given us much to ponder.

Readers, you can learn more about Baptiste’s books and follow him on:

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!








(My word of the day stories are written and edited in 60 minutes. The goal, is to just get the words out and encourage readers of all ages, to do the same. First drafts are usually terrible. But, they are necessary. The editing is strictly for grammar and spelling at this point. )

July 05, 2018

Learner’s Word of the Day

chilly [chil-ee] adjective

chillier; chilliest

The woman is chilly.
The woman is chilly.

1:  noticeably cold

2:  feeling cold

3:  noticeably unfriendly



By Traci Bold

Chilly Willy arrived on the coolest evening in April. He shivered midair. He had been given this nickname by his winter friends who said they had named him this for his cool green feathers and his icy white neck.  But really they gave him that name because he shivered whenever a cold breeze blew in from the Atlantic. His mother reassured him that when the change happened sometime during his spring journey north, he would fit into his given name, which he liked much better.

That journey had so far taken him across the Gulf of Mexico, which had been long and tiring and he needed energy fast. 

South Padre Island was below him.

Bright red caught his eye and he flew in for a taste. 

Mmmm. The sugar water was just right; not too sweet, not too watery.

He hovered at the feeder until he was full.

His energy was renewed. Now he needed protein to give him strength to explore the island before his journey north.

A swarm of gnats beckoned him with their gray mist of frenzied fluttering. Gnat snacks were the perfect choice. One by one, Chilly Willy snatched gnats from the air.  

Ahh, just enough. He was ready to rest. He flew back to the feeder, sipped a bit, then settled in on the branch of the emerald green tree nearby. With his cool green coloring, the foliage kept him hidden.

The next day, Chilly Willy explored the island, sipping from feeder to feeder, snatching up flying insects when the opportunity arose, and resting wherever he fancied.  As he explored, he chanced upon a vibrant feeder colored with dazzling red and orange; his favorite colors, as they promised delicious nectar. Choosing not to simply test the drink, he dove right in. Hungrily, he sipped, and sipped. He switched to a different sipping port. There, he noticed a black spot on the port. He sipped again and retreated hastily. The sugar water tasted foul. He tried the first feeder port again and sipped. Still foul tasting. He felt dizzy.

Night time was closing in. He needed sleep. At day’s end he made his way back to his favorite nighttime rest area and settled in.

He awoke to the sound of faint buzzing. A mosquito was close enough to grab with his lightning fast tongue. He missed. He felt groggy. Breakfast for a champion, had just gotten away.

Close by was his favorite feeder. He supped but quickly retreated. The sugar water tasted foul there too. He perched on the nearest bush and closed his eyes.

A gentle touch awoke him. He tried to fly away but was held tight by a human’s hand.  She placed him on a soft shrub that beheld aphids. Hungry, he ate until he was thirsty. The human held a tiny sugar water feeder in front of him. He hesitated but took a sip. Mmmm, it was perfect.

The human watched him until he was strong enough to flutter his wings and hover. She placed the tiny feeder on a metal hook above the shrub.

Chilly Willy hovered while he drank and perched while he ate aphids. He stayed until he felt strong enough to once again, begin his journey north which was when the sun was facing him.

Chilly Willy’s gorget blazed ruby red in the warm sun. He was Chilly Willy no more; he was now Ruby Red Throat.



Hummingbirds are amazing creatures. If you are lucky to have them in your yard and want to keep them coming back, create a backyard habitat for them to thrive in. See the links below for more information on how to do this.

If you choose to feed them via hummingbird feeders, please follow these rules to insure their safety and well-being. Chilly Willy could have succumb to botulism after drinking the rancid sugar water. Just like humans, they need untainted water sources.

Sugar water ferments or can get moldy in the sun if out for longer than a few days. If the temperatures are in the 40’s to high 60’s, sugar water is good for about 5-6 days. 70’s-80: 3-5 days. 80’s to 90: 3 days max and 91 and above, change daily.

Do not purchase store bought hummingbird nectar as it not made with purified water and granulated sugar. Also, purchased nectar also contains red food coloring which can cause botulism and death of a hummingbird. It is true hummingbirds are most attracted to the color red so buy a hummingbird feeder that has red on it. Hummers are inquisitive and will check out anything red to see if it is a nectar source for them.

Here is the recipe for sugar water:

4 parts purified water

1 part granulated sugar.

Example: 1 cup purified water, ¼ cup granulated sugar

Stir sugar into purified water until water is clear. May be stored in refrigerator up to 10 days. Pour into clean feeder.


  1. If you notice the feeder water get cloudy, change it immediately.

  1. If you see mold on any part of the feeder, dump the sugar water, and clean the feeder of mold, using a mild bleach solution if need be to get rid of all mold. Make sure you rinse the bleach solution off completely and dry the feeder before pouring sugar water in.

  1. When the temps are hot, do not fill the feeders full, only keep them ¼ full and empty as needed. Hopefully, the hummers will drink all the water before the water can turn foul.

  1. I keep three feeders filled outside at all times and keep two clean feeders in the house so when I have to change feeders, I can fill a clean feeder immediately and put out in place of a dirty feeder (feeder that needs to be changed). This keeps the hummers happy and not waiting for their feeders to get filled.








The wonder of words is that their arrangement is infinite.

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