Saturday, October 29, 2022

Halloweensie! The House Creatures' Halloween

Forget the trick-or-treating and candy and costumes and watching your jack-o-lantern slowly collapse into a gooey mess... Halloween means it's Halloweensie time! 

This is my 11th year writing for this contest, and thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill it just gets more fun every year. If you want to play along, the rules are to write a story or poem for kids in 100 words or under about Halloween with this year's contest words (treat, slither, scare.) Entries must be posted in the comments of the contest blog post

After we decorated the house for Halloween this year, I noticed the dog looking at the decorations (and us) like we were very weird. That inspired this story about the surprise the creatures of the house might feel when they creep out at night. 

Here is my entry: 

The House Creatures’ Halloween (100 words)


By Lauri C. Meyers


When night falls, the house creatures wake. But things look spookier.

Mouse snuffles for crumbs, but… “Squeak! A glowing ghost!”       

She scampers into a hole.

Bat hovers over apples, but… “Eek! A fangy vampire!”

He dives into a hole.

Centipede hunts for a bite, but… “Yikes! A monstrous spider!”

It slithers into a hole.

this work is titled: "I'm not an illustrator but 
still had fun doodling"

Cat prowls for a late-night snack. Suddenly, he sniffs a whiff of sneaking, flying, creeping beasties near a skeleton.

The animals shake and jump!

“Yowl! The skeleton is alive!” The cat runs scared.

The house creatures crawl out and celebrate on a feast of Halloween treats. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Why Critique is Worth Celebrating

 One of the most beautiful parts of writing Kidlit is critiquing. 

    "Um, hearing why your story sucks doesn't sound beautiful," you say. 

But that feedback, no matter how devastatingly true, even if it causes you to painfully rewrite a rhyming stanza or throw a character off a plane without a parachute, is critical to getting your story read. And that's what we all want...our lovely story babies in the hands of others as smiles spread on their faces at the fun in our words. 

    "Remember that time they suggested your story about a tree was actually about the process of grieving and then you cried for like two days?" you say like a wickedly popular 17-year-old.

That was amazing. A critique partner able to identify an emotion I didn't even realize I had infused into that story. Understanding my story's layers made writing a query letter easier too. The flipside is also true, a critiquer (just like any reader) may see a meaning behind a character's action that you didn't intend but is true to her read.   

Actual pen used to recently
kill a character.

    "Well, what's the best kind of critique group?" you say. 

Critique groups can come in all shapes and sizes. I have a group of four writers from 12x12 which exchanges pieces in email. Another group of four was set up this summer via the selfless offer of Hannah Holt to connect similar writers looking for partners. This group which I lovingly call the NeRDLes (because of our initials) works on google docs and is even brave enough to critique rhyme. Another critique group chats in a Facebook group and posts in Tapatalk. I also have some lovely critique partners always willing for an impromptu exchange. 

    "Why are you in so many groups?" you question with an unnecessary eyeroll. 

Groups often have a life cycle. Life babies...back to school... job changes... sickness... and your critique friends (and you!) may need to step back at times. A once busy group can turn to crickets. Members can change focus between picture books and longer works. Other times new opportunities may mean you need more support. As a PB Chat Mentor in 2021 I had a lot of manuscripts to polish. Since joining 12x12, I am successfully writing more drafts, and new manuscripts mean more critiques. I also try to not hit the same group with multiple revisions of a story, because it's no longer a fresh read. 

    "You are so right and have been incredibly convincing about the power of critique groups!" I type right after you have taken a bite of cruller, but I'm pretty sure that's what you were going to say. 

Want to celebrate the wonder of critiquing?! Join in PB Critique Fest. Sponsored by Brian Gehrlein and his PB Spotlight page, this is a chance to win a critique from an author, illustrator or agent and show your support for the kidlit community. Follow the #PBCritiqueFest hashtags on twitter to join in the fun. 

And THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all my critique partners out there who help me move my manuscripts forward. And THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for letting me be a part of your work, too. 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Say Howdy to Cowboy Bob!

Well, my Spring was wild with school activities, my Summer frolicked with fun, and I've rolled right into back to school! Fall is always a productive season with lots of revisions to chew on and many contests to inspire new pieces. 

One of those contests is Fall Frenzy hosted by Lydia Lukidis and Kaitlyn Sanchez. To join in, just pick one of the images from Lydia's site for inspiration and write a story in 200 words or less. 

This picture gave me all the feels and inspired a little 200 word ditty about Cowboy Bob. 

Halloween- Credit: Brian Wangenheim for Unsplash

Cowboy Bob's Candy

By Lauri C. Meyers

Cowboy Bob hugged his candy. “I’m not sharing my sweet vittles with those rascally trick-or-treaters this year!”  

“I’ll hand out beans!” Cowboy Bob laughed. But he loved his beans.

“I’ll fill their bags with oats!” Cowboy Bob hop-skipped. But Horsiepoo needed her feed.

Cowboy Bob slapped his knee. “I’ve got a gravy idea!”

He got busy lickety-split spookifying the ranch. Gravestones lined the trail, ghosts hung from branches, and spiderwebs stretched from post to post. Horsiepoo wore vampire fangs. Cowboy Bob got gussied up with a roll in the dirt and some guts on his shirt.

            “Those lil’ uns will be too scared to trot up my path.” Zombie Cowboy Bob rested his boots on the porch and grabbed his bowl of sweets.  

Suddenly, lights flickered on the path. Giggles bounced off the fence. It was a stampede!

“I think these critters plumb like being scared,” Cowboy Bob cried. Candy flew faster than a hooty owl in a storm.

Cowboy Bob checked his bowl. “Two pieces left for us, Horsiepoo!”

“Trick-or-treat!” a little witch called. “I love your spooky ranch, Cowboy Bob!”

“Aww, shucks,” Cowboy Bob said dropping both pieces in her bag. “My candy sure makes those trick-or-treaters sweet.”



Saturday, April 2, 2022

Why Owls - a Spring Fling Poem

It's snowing one day and hot the next, so it must be Spring!

The Spring Fling Kidlit contest is open for entries through 4/3/22. This contest hosted by Ciara O'neal and Kaitlyn Sanchez is for stories under 150 words for kids under 12 inspired by a gif. You can enter here.

(I don't know the original source for this meme...
but thank you for breaking my brain mystery photographer)
My entry is based on a gif that has been bothering me since I saw it last exposes the truth of owls long legs. It's makes me laugh thinking about it!

"Excuse Me" on Giphy

Why Owls

By Lauri C. Meyers


I know why owls have giant eyes:

For super sight at night,

Tapered tips on powered wings

For stealthy gliding flight,

Heads that swivel all around

Extending what they hear

With feathered ears to funnel sounds

Of rodents creeping near,

Offset ears triangulate

The spot to grab the prey,

Talons spread to stun a mouse

And carry it away.

Sharpened beak for tearing food

Because they cannot chew,

But why they hide flamingo legs

I haven’t any clue!

(from Zenoshogun on Imgur)
Whooooo spent too much time looking at owl gifs? That was me, but it can be you too! If you need more owls, I recommend: 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Bloom! A poem for Spring

Vivian Kirkfield hosts an annual #50PreciousWords contest in March which challenges writers to pen a story under 50 words. Please read a few of the wonderful entries in the comments of her post. 

I had one of those waking dreams where the muse floats in and prods you with a piece of poetry. She left me with the feeling that morning is so full of hope and possibilities for the day and also fraught with doubt and the weight of expectations. Each day we have to push through the challenges to bloom. Thought it is snowing outside my window, it's hard not to feel the power of Spring approaching. 

Here is my entry in 45 words. 


crocus in snow taken by Lauri 2017


By Lauri C. Meyers

Sunshine warms my bed.
Breaks my hibernation.
Hope awakens.


Peel away the covers.
Stretch toward the sky.
Dare to grow.


Shake in chilly breezes.
Drip with springtime rain.
Miss my bed.


Sunshine smiles brightly.
Robin calls, “It’s time!”
Believe I can.



Thursday, March 3, 2022

Ten Years!

     Ten years ago today I wrote my first blogpost. That day I claimed to be Committing to be a Writer.  Posting that on the interwebs for the whole wide world (or really a few writing friends and some spammers) to see must have done the trick, because here I am a decade later still grinding away at this keyboard. (Well, actually it's a new mechanical keyboard that makes a clicky sound like a typewriter, and I love it.)

The question "Am I a writer?" still skips by on the sidewalk of my brain on occasion. But now I am wise enough to know the only proof I need is that my pencils have become dull again, so I must be a writer.

So what does the next decade hold? Win a contest? Publish a poem in a magazine? Get an agent? Sell a picture book? I sure as sugar hope so, but that's for the stars to decide. All I can control is how many pencils I go through. 

I hope it's a lot. 

Happy Ten Years!

Photo credit: Probably my Mom
Giving knife to 3 year old credit: Probably my Dad

Saturday, February 12, 2022

My Gummy Love

Monday is Valentine's Day, and the best way to celebrate is writing a story for kids! Enter Susanna Hill's Valentiny contest. Stories must be 214 words or less, about Valentines Day, and about someone feeling proud.  Read all the great entries here. 

**UPDATE! My Gummy Love won an Honorable Mention for the contest as a hole!**

My Gummy Love

By Lauri C Meyers

214 Words


Joey crafted a Valentine for Grammy and wrote, “I love you THIS much!” He added a gummy heart.

But the gummy was little, and he loved Grammy a lot.

Joey grabbed a pot and a box of cherry gelatin. He mixed it and poured out a big gummy heart.

But he loved Grammy more than that.

Joey grabbed a bigger pot and three boxes of cherry gelatin. He mixed it and poured out a bigger gummy heart.

But he loved Grammy more than that.

Joey grabbed the biggest pot and twenty boxes of cherry gelatin. He mixed it and poured out a gummy heart as big as the table.

“I did it! Joey said. “That’s how much I love Grammy!”

Ding, dong! Grammy was here!

He poked the gummy heart. It jiggled with love.

“It’s probably ready,” he said.  

He held his card and wrestled the gummy heart into his arms.

The huge, wiggly heart flopped across his face.

His fingers squished deep into the gummy.

Drops of cherry goo trickled down his ear.

Finally, Grammy opened the door… just as the giant gummy heart melted over Joey’s head.

“You love me that much?” Grammy said. “Well, I love you this much!”

She wrapped up her red, sticky, cherry-scented grandson in a Grammy-loves-you hug.

For extra fun check out the recipe to make gummy hearts (which clearly need to chill longer than a few minutes, Joey!)

And Joey if you want to be clear about your love, go anatomically correct gummy heart! 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Kids Choice!

Update: Quiet as a Butterfly Fart won an Honorable Mention! Thank you Kailei for the fun contest. See the other winners here. 

How fun is this? Kailei Pew is hosting a kids choice contest with 100 kid judges. Stories can be all kidlit ages, must be under 200 words and posted on her site by the day of twos... 2/2/22. 

So I looked through some unfinished pieces to see if anything spoke to me for this contest. I needed a laugh, and kids need laughs so I give you Quiet as a Butterfly Fart. It's honestly nearly memoir, because me trying to tell quiet bedtime stories almost always devolved to an unfortunate word choice which failed to create sleepiness.  Did I throw Dad under the bus? Maybe. Does Mommy sometimes make body noises? No. Absolutely not. MOMMY IS A PERFECT LADY!  

I hope you get a laugh and visit Kailei's site for more stories. 

Quiet as a Butterfly Fart

By Lauri C. Meyers

Genre: PB

Rest your sleepy head.

Let your sweet dreams start.

The night is quiet as …

A butterfly fart.


The sun has gone to bed,

Nighttime’s dark has come.

The night is dimming like…

A firefly’s blinking bum.


Slow your breathing with

The cricket’s steady chirping.

The night is calming like …

A ladybug burping.


Close your eyes my love

Let sleep come at last.

The air is sweet until…

Daddy passes gas.

Friday, January 7, 2022

A Year of Gratitude

 A Year of Gratitude

Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas renewal process has been a great way to start the year. Even though I’ve done it several years, there are always new learnings. This year when I got to day 7, Practicing Gratitude, I realized the list of authors who had supported me this year was very lengthy. Very. Lengthy.  Thanks are in order!

Susanna Hill – Thank you for your contests which get me writing fresh material and provide so many fabulous awards. Thank you for your Making Picture Book Magic class which I won and LOVED. I also won a PB critique from Rebecca Rector, who gives amazing critiques – thank you Rebecca!

Marcie Colleen – Thank you for your Study Hall program and instilling in me the habit of Daily Intention. That month and your critiques pushed me to a new level. Thank you to my study hall colleagues Judy Sobanski, Lisa Perron, and Anne Reilly for the helpful critiques.

(via free images, by kikashi)

My “Fine Grind” support group for finding ways to get together virtually and in person this year and being a supportive place where you can share what it means to be a writer. Marlaina Cockroft, Mitu Malhotra, Donna Cangelosi, Donna Marie, Rebecca Gardyn Levington, Suzanne Morris, Andria Rosenbaum, Ariel Bernstein, Chana Stiefel, and others who pop in.

My “Book Nook” critique group for helping me continually improve and giving me so many delightful pieces to read, Connie Colon, Kelly Calabrese, Linda Bozzo, Jen Kaplan, Genevieve Petrillo, Viji Chary

Justin Colon for running PB Chat weekly and the PB Chat Mentorship where he invests HOURS of time to help the mentees grow their craft. Thank you to all the agents and editors who stopped by the showcase. Thank you to my fellow 20 mentees who supported, celebrated, and critiqued. Thank you to the authors who hosted zoom sessions with us.

Rebecca Gomez, my PB Chat mentor - Thank you for reading, critiquing, and wordsmithing in my rhyming and prose stories. Thank you for all the time, support, and learning I received during the process. Your love of rhyme is infectious!

Tara Lazar – Thank you for hosting Storystorm. Brainstorming ideas is the perfect way to start the year. Thank you to all the authors who write posts and donate prizes.

Manju Howard, Alayne Kay Christian, and Gabrielle Schoeffield – Thank you for hosting KidLit Creatives (which I still call SubSix!) which is a wonderful space to support PB authors, celebrate new releases, and give us a place to celebrate our actions in our writing journey. I won the book Laila and the Sands of Time by Shirin Shamsi (Thank you!) and a cover letter critique by Alexandria LaFaye (Thank you!) 

Gayle Krause- I won a rhyming critique in 2020 and invested in another critique in 2021, which I attribute to helping me earn the PB Chat Mentorship. Thank you!

Vivian Kirkfield – Thank you for hosting your 50 Precious Words Writing Contest which inspires new ideas.

The Nonfiction Chicks (Pat Miller, Nancy Churnin, Peggy Thomas, Linda Skeers, Susan Kralovansky)-Thank you for hosting NonFiction Fest

Shannon Anderson –Thank you for your videos on Ikigai and Growth Mindset

Six Ladies and a MANuscript Critique Group (Kaitlyn Sanchez, Jolene Gutierrez, Sarah Heaton, Sarah Meade, Mike Irvine, Kristin Wauson)- Thank you for hosting Kidlit Zombie Week. I won a critique from Charlotte Offsay which was incredibly helpful.

Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara Oneal and Lydia Lukidis – thank you for hosting the Spring Fling and Fall Frenzy contests which encourage me to try other genres.   Thank you Lydia for your blog giveaways too- I won Kim Zachman’s There’s No Ham in Hamburgers which is an amazing nonfiction book. (Thank you Kim!)

Kirsti Call, Carrie Charley Brown, Janie Reinart – Thank you for hosting ReFoReMo, though we are sad to say good bye to this event. Thank you to all the authors who contributed posts & prizes and shared their mentor texts.

Kathy Temean of Writing and Illustrating blog for offering so much information and opportunities.

Laura Backes & Jon Bard of Children’s Book Insider – Thank you for the monthly newsletters and especially the videos/live events with authors during the pandemic. I have learned tons. Thank you to all the authors who took the time to participate! I particularly enjoyed the session with Katy Tanis.

Melissa Stewart – thank you for blogging and making videos about Nonfiction

Renee Latulippe- Thank you for the new Peek & Critique videos on Rhyme

Jess Keating – your Instagram keeps it real and offers tremendous encouragement

Halli Gomez – Thank you for your Tic Tac Toe event which encouraged me to try new things and for the middle grade critique.

Natalie Aguirre- Thank you for the agent spotlights on Literary Rambles. It is an amazing resource for agent research.

Lisa Wheeler – I won a wonderful critique in 2020, but in 2021 you sent a postcard that said “Keep Writing.” This postcard hangs by my desk for much needed daily encouragement.

Julie Hedlund – Thank you for 12 Days of Christmas and all you do within the kidlit community throughout the year.

Thank you to my family - Rob for saying a new manuscript was hilarious, Kelsey for her tough critiques, and Delaney for liking everything. 

Thank you to whoever I may have forgotten this early snowy morning gratitude moment. * I reserve the right to keep adding to this list!*

In short – no in quite long – I have been unbelievably blessed in my writing life. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


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