Picture Book Writing Contest for U.S. based writers of color

Picture Book Writing Contest

Sadly, Canadians can’t take part in the Lee & Low Books New Voices Picture Book Writing Contest, but if you live south of the border, and are a writer of color, this is a good one…a cash prize of $1,000 is a bonus to the real prize, which is a publishing contract.

Deadline: 09-30-2014


To recognize the talents of children’s picture book authors, Lee & Low Books (est. 2000) is inviting U.S.-based authors of color to submit manuscripts (up to 1500 words) to its 15th Annual New Voices Award for a chance to win a cash prize of $1,000 and a publishing contract with the company. 

A second-place winner will receive $500.

The judges accept unagented, original, unpublished children’s stories only. Categories include fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appropriate for kids, ages 5-12.

Submissions should focus on the necessities of children of color and engage young readers with relatable stories. You can submit up to two entries per application.

Books are for more than reading

But, what happens when you want to read one of  them?

Greenery is the way to go for non-crafty types

You can even incude a mini book. Here's a centre piece with "The Nutcracker Suite".

I’m not the craftiest type, but one of the things I really enjoy doing in the weeks leading up to Xmas is filling the house with greenery.  I love that it costs virtually nothing to create beautiful centre pieces and swags.  I  love the way they look and smell and I particularly love how easy it is be creative with greenery, some wire, and a few bits of ribbon.  And, greenery arrangements can make fabulous but inexpensive gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today my American family and friends are giving thanks. Up here, on the wet and wild west coast, with gale force winds and trees looking like they’ll topple any minute, I’m giving thanks that I insulated my little cottage house last year.

But seriously, I think that every now and then, it’s a good idea to stop and thank whatever power you happen to believe in for all that is good in your life and in our world.  I then think it’s really really important to look around at things that might be be different, things that might be better, and work to change them for the better.  In our world today, there are too many homeless, too many children who don’t eat breakfast, too many addicts without anywhere to go for help.  Gandhi said that a society’s success can be measured by how they take care of their vulnerable, and when I look around, I’m seeing too many not being taken care of.

Maybe today is the day all that can change.  Maybe today is the day that the poor and disenfranchised, those who are standing in line at the food bank and those who sleep in doorways covered by bits of cardboard, can give thanks.  The occupy movement looked like it was a beginning, but so much of it has been smashed.  Maybe what we need is not to occupy a particular space, but an “occupy spirit” or an idea of occupy  that lives inside of us.  To paraphrase Medgar Evers, you can’t kill an idea. You can’t be kicked out of a park that you carry inside of you.  There is an election coming up in the US.  I can only hope that the occupy spirit shines through, and the people rise up and demand that every citizen deserves a little piece of that big American pie that a very few are getting fat on.  Yes, it means voting.  It’s a year away and a year is long time, but a world where everyone has something to give thanks for is the world I want to live in.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A memorial tribute to Margareta Von Rudloff

My dear friend Marga passed away in her sleep this week.  She was 85.  I have very fond memories of Marga’s Thursday salons where various friends got together to talk about books, eat delicious cakes and pastries purchased especially for these occasions by her wonderful husband Ernst, and choose from one of Marga’s many exotic  teas. Her salons were as likely to attract university students met at the bookstore as they were retirees.  In fact, I met Marga through my oldest daughter who worked at a bookstore that Marga frequented.  All sorts of books were discussed on these Thursdays, from mysteries, to children’s picture books, to the lastest Man Booker short-list.  Marga, who somehow managed to read a book a day, had an extensive library and was a strong supporter of Independent bookstores. And amazingly, Marga could remember and discuss books that she had read long ago as easily as she could the books she’d just finished.  Each week she had a book or two set aside for me to read.  It might be the new Donna Leon mystery, or the lastest Michael Morpurgo, but in each case, she delighted in discussing the books. Since I was never able to keep up with her, I still have a shelf full of books on loan.  I will miss the conversations we would have had about these books.  I will miss our Thursdays together.  I will miss Marga.  Rest in peace my friend.  Margareta Von Rudloff 1926-2011.

Marga’s Hands

Marga’s Hands by Sheryl McFarlane

Marga’s hands are a roadmap of highways
that trace 85 years
leading  from Finland
To South Africa to Saskatoon and finally
landing here, on her beloved island.

Her hands have
caressed a cherished husband
swaddled sons and cradled grandchildren.

Before and since her hands have held a thousand books
that have entertained, informed and challenged,
whispering their truths late at night while others sleep

But now Marga’s hands lack the strength to turn the wheels of her chair.
Sometimes they cannot be relied on to
hold a drink to her lips
turn the pages of  her book.

You might think that Marga’s hands are a roadmap of highways
that lead only to the indignity of
institutional time-tables,
of loneliness and
arthritic pain

But when we sit on the balcony
In the sunshine
and a breeze rustles through the trees
I read to her,
a smile plays across her mouth
her hands squeeze mine and
I know that Marga has not yet
finished traveling.

Big Sisters

What a treat. My daughter Cloe, who has been a Big Sister for about 5 years now,  brought her Little Sister home for a visit.  They went bike riding, toured downtown, picked strawberries in my back garden, went for a hike and walked to Willows Beach.  We only managed to make one pancake breakfast, but we did sneak in a BBQ between rain showers yesterday.  I was sad to have to put them onto the ferry this afternoon, but at least I was able to send Nomi home with piles of books as she’s an avid reader.

If you have a spare bit of time, Big Sisters and Big Brothers need you.  You can make an incredible difference in a young person’s life.  Don’t wait, sign up today.

A brand new deck…well almost

I’m finally finished.  It took three days and three of us to clear, power wash, re-stain and put all the plant pots back on the miles of deck I have .  I think the biggest job was moving the 25 or so very heavy ceramic plant pots off and back on the deck.  Or, maybe it was doing all the edging.  With decking on three of four sides of my house there was a lot of edging!  I meant to take before, during and after pictures but I forgot.  I did get one in process picture and here is one of the finished work…it looks so good.  Now I can relax and just enjoy it with friends, or a good book and a glass of wine…if it would only stop raining!

Maureen Johnson podcast

I’m delighted that Meghan Cox Gurdon’s recent condemnation of dark young adult novels did not go unchallenged. Fortunately, the blogosphere rallied to defend literature that may be dark, but is relevant to many young people’s experiences (self-harm, drug use, rape, suicide, etc.).  For some young readers, such literature may offer eye-opening insights, or even be a life-saver.  To hear more on the subject, you may want check out the following podcast with Maureen Johnson, who has been a strong advocate for young adult literature.


Cornelia Funke’s List of 10 top fairytales

I came across this article about Cornelia Funke’s top ten list of fairytales in the Guardian.  http://gu.com/p/3vc7d  I find it an interesting list.  I don’t think that most of us in North America would have much overlap, and some of them I haven’t even heard of.  My all time favorite fairytale, The Siix Swans, was on her list though.

1. The Goose Girl

2. The Six Swans

3. The Mistress of Copper Mountain

4. The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear

5. Gold Foot

6. The Nightingale

7. The Birthday of the Infanta

8. Donkeyskin

9. Merlin and Vivien, as told in Brittany

10. Dreamfighter and Other Creation Tales by Ted Hughes


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