We are delighted to announce the Grand Prize Winner, “Touchdown!” by Brenda Sturgis! We had such a hard time deciding on a single winner so MeeGenius is also awarding publishing contracts to all of the finalists! Thanks to everyone who submitted their stories, and special thanks to our guest judges, Terri Rowe and Sally Spratt.
1. What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love the creative process, having a thought that takes shape, and finding perfect rhymes to propel a story forward. I do a ton of research finding new ways to say things. I always use a rhyming dictionary. I enjoy revising working with an editor and polishing a story until it sings. I am a rhymer to the core, and when I can come up with an interesting word it just fills my heart with gratitude.
2. What do you do for inspiration?
I love to read, and I am a people watcher. I enjoy hearing little children, how they speak, what amazes them, what makes them happy. And so I am constantly on the lookout for everyday interactions that might spark a story.
3. What advice do you have for future (or current) writers looking to publish their first book?
I would say, “If you seriously want to write for children you MUST do your homework. You must learn how to write, you must read children’s books, you must polish your work, and you must have a thick skin.” More then likely you will get a lot of rejections. You should purchase the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market Guide book, and you must be diligent and thoughtful in your submissions. The majority of publishing houses will not look at your work, they MIGHT read a query.
The reason a publishing house will not look at your work is because editors and publishing houses only look at work from an agent, getting an agent to represent is as hard or harder then getting a book published. Is is imperative that you know exactly where your story would fit in a publisher’s catalog. Read their websites, see what they have published. Make sure your book is very different but would compliment their list. Editors will look at your work if you win a contest, they will also look at your work if you attend a conference. This lets them know you are serious. If you can’t rhyme, don’t write in rhyme, it is tough to sell and it has to be perfect if an editor is going to take it on.
Writing a great query is as important as writing an original story. You have to have a great storytelling voice that is yours and yours alone. Your words must sing on the page. I wrote Touchdown in 2007. It has been loved by several editors, but not one knew how to market it because it is different then anything out there. It’s not just a story about football. It has been rejected 50 times and got me the attention of 3 agents. I held out hope that it would be published someday, and now after 7 years, and 4 dozen rejections it has found a perfect home with MeeGenius. If you want to write, you have to KEEP ON, don’t give up, learn, grow, read, write, revise and BELIEVE.
4. Do you have a favorite literary character (besides your own)?
I would have to say Mrs. Biddlebox. Mrs Biddlebox took the very worst things in life, mixed them up tossed them in, and made them into a beautiful cake. She ate the misery out of her life. Mrs. Biddlebox is like a lot of us. Life gets us down sometimes and we have to find a way to whip and wisk and beat it into something tangible and wonderful.
5. What is your key message to parents and kids?
My motto in life is….
“Children BELIEVE what we tell them, and they BECOME what they believe!”
No matter how busy you are, no matter how tired you are, READ, READ, READ to your children, every single day. Every night before bed. You don’t have to spend lots of time, a good picture book can be read in under 5 minutes, read to your children and love them. Children that are read to become readers, readers sometimes become writers. When you read to your child you give them a chance to dream.
6. Are you planning on writing a second book?…
I have written several books, and many have been rejected. Right now I am busy promoting The Lake Where Loon Lives, published by Islandport Press. Loon is a cumulative rhymer, think…”The House that Jack Built.” Loon stacks one sentence on top of the next in rhyme it is much like a house being constructed, and then in the middle of the story there is a huge ruckus and the story winds down, with a sweet ending. I also am the author of 10 Turkeys in the Road. This was my first book published by Marshall Cavendish, and then Amazon and Scholastic. My agent, Karen Grencik is busy submitting a multicultural story that I love and have huge hopes for.
…If so, what will it be about?
My newest story is about a neighborhood filled with diversity, and the children and families that live in it, and how they all learn to get along, love each other, and accept their differences.
7. What advice do you have for parents trying to make reading, fun time?
First of all, children have a very short attention span. So you want to clap, snap, use funny voices, Read over, and over, so your children can know what is coming next, and ALWAYS place your finger underneath the word you are reading. This teaches a child word recognition, and you’d be surprised how quickly children pick up reading when you use this teaching tool. Find out what your child likes and buy them books, and/or take them every week to the library. If you have a boy that loves ballet, read him books about boys that love ballet, if you have a girl that loves to play football, find a book that has a girl football player. Read what your children love to learn about.
8. What is your all-time favorite food?
I love a lot of different foods. For a meal, I would have to say Wild Alaskan Salmon, for a dessert, absolutely anything chocolate.
by Brenda Sturgis
A small quarterback finally gets a chance to live up to a family legacy and play in the big football game after warming the bench all season. How will this tiny quarterback fare in the important game, especially with Big Thomas on the other team? The outcome may surprise you!