Giveaway Winner & Mighty Mac Activities

Thank you so much for celebrating the release of Mighty Mac the Bridge that Michigan Built by Jacquie Sewell. Her story was many years in the making, and her devotion and passion about the story of the Mighty Mac has brought life to an important event in Michigan history.

If you are here for the giveaway, the winner is named at the bottom of this post. I will be emailing the winner today.

 I hope that you share in the love for this majestic bridge.


Below are some web sites that you may find useful to use alongside Mighty Mac the Bridge that Michigan Built.

General Bridge Websites

Teach Engineering- Bridge Unit

All About Bridges

Building Bridges Engineering Activity 

The Curious Crew- Bridges

Curious Crew- Bridges Activities (PDF)

Suspension Bridge activities

Building Big: The Bridge Challenge

PBS Kids Suspension Bridge Activity

 Mackinac Bridge Live Bridge Cam

Mackinac Bridge Live Cam

 About Mackinac Bridge

Mighty Mac Bridge Web Page

Might Mac Bridge Facebook Page


The winner by random Rafflecopter draw is…..


Congratulations Stephanie!  I will be contacting you by email to make arrangements so that you can receive your copy of Mighty Mac the Bridge that Michigan Built.

Thank you for joining Jacquie and I for her book debut and my Debut Author debut.  I’ve got many more interviews scheduled throughout 2018.  I hope you will subscribe to the blog so that you will be the first to know when there are more great books being born!

Next week there will be a Mentor Study and review of my new favorite 2017 book, After the Fall, by Caldecott Medal Winner Dan Santat. You DON’T want to miss this one!

Till then,


Mighty Mac and a Giveaway!

Welcome to my inaugural debut author interview!

I am excited to usher in this new blog series with debut author Jacquie Sewell. Jacquie’s book, Mighty Mac, The Bridge That Michigan Built is on shelves today..


Jacquie, thank you so much for letting me celebrate the release of Mighty Mac with you. Have you always been a writer?

No, I have a background in Laboratory science but left that to be a stay at home mom. While my boys were young, I did a lot of freelance writing for a local magazine, the Lansing City Limits and healthcare publications. Then I discovered my dream job as a children’s librarian.

The library is my happy place! Have you been published in any KidLit publications?

Yes, in 2006 I had an article in Cobblestone Magazine. It was about Anna Coleman Ladd, a Boston sculptress who spent a year in France during World War I creating life-like masks for disfigured soldiers. It was republished in 2017 as part of their World War I commemorative issue.

I love Cobblestone Magazine! As a former American History teacher, I would have definitely used your article in my classroom. I had never heard of Anna Coleman Ladd so I read the article posted on your blog. She was a very interesting woman. I’m impressed with the amount of research you must have done on her. I’ve included a link to the article at the end of this post. I encourage my readers to go read about this fascinating woman.

So, tell me about Mighty Mac. What was the inspiration behind the story?

I was asked by a 4th grade student for a library book about the Mackinac Bridge. We didn’t have one in our library or any library I checked that was suitable for children! I decided to research it and write it myself.

What a great story! Inspired by a 4th grader’s question. What kind of research did you do for your story?

I read David Steinman’s book, Miracle Bridge at Mackinac. Steinman was the bridge’s architect and engineer. There was a lot of online research and I interviewed Larry Rubin, the Secretary of the Bridge Authority who was tasked with building the bridge. I also interviewed Steinman’s grandson on the phone. I also studied the historic photos online, and read books and articles about bridge building.

I have a passion for research. The thrill of hunting down that elusive piece of information or finding an unknown nugget that is screaming to be told. Did you enjoy the research?

I love to do research! Dig into databases, books and archives for the treasures hidden there. It’s hard to stop researching and start writing. I pray a lot for wisdom in what to include and how to say it.

I’d say that’s a pretty solid writing process! I tend to get so involved in the research and then want to include every nugget that my story ends up way too wordy. How long did it take for Mighty Mac to go from a 4th graders question to publication?

17 years! The story of getting MM published is a cautionary tale of woe. I had two publishers “very” interested – but no follow through, and a third one even offered me a contract – which she reneged on. There were periods of years where MM sat in my file drawer – but I never forgot it – or lost my belief that it was a book that kids needed. The Mackinac Bridge is awesome – and at one time was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Kids (and adults!) needed to know the story of how it came to be. So two years ago I read about a regional publisher just getting started and emailed him with my idea. Russ shares my vision for the book and he agreed to publish my manuscript – and now, Mighty Mac, the book, is a reality!

I wouldn’t call that a “cautionary tale of woe.” I think it is inspiring for those of us not yet published. Never give up on a manuscript you believe in, it’s time WILL come. What is your favorite line in Might Mac?

The first line, “This is the bridge that Michigan built.”  It’s meant to be reminiscent of “This is the house that Jack built.” MM is written in layers. The first layer is a cumulative verse that grows with each spread as we explore the Who and How of the bridge’s construction. Each spread also contains text that elaborates on the subject being explored (eg: the towers or the special equipment). And then I included some “fun facts” in a bulleted list on each spread.

I love the first line! How creative and what a great hook! Do you have a special or favorite place to write?

For writing, my home office supervised by my dog Minnie. Otherwise I love being in the woods or a rocky beach.

I hope your four-legged supervisor isn’t too “ruff” on you! Sorry! I couldn’t resist a little dog humor. Who were some of your favorite authors/illustrators as a child?

I was a voracious reader as a child. I don’t remember reading many picture books (my loss!) but at an early age fell in love with Judy Bolton, Girl Detective – a fabulous series by Margaret Sutton. I also loved Little Women and the Bobbsey Twins.

What drew you to writing for children?

I love sharing our amazing world with them through the magic of books – especially picture books.

One last question. What do you know now that you wish you had known before you began writing?

How discouraging it can be. Build community and support early!

That’s sage advice. Writing is a solitary venture and the number of rejections before you finally get a yes can be numerous.

Thank you Jacquie for letting us help you celebrate Mighty Mac, The Bridge That Michigan Built. How are you going to celebrate?

Shout for joy! Email everyone I know. Post a celebratory post on Facebook.

Jacquie Sewell, author

Jacquie is available for school and Skype visits. You can find her on the Internet at her website

Jacquie’s Cobblestone article about Anna Coleman Ladd

Jacquie has graciously offered a copy of Mighty Mac to one lucky blog reader. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway. I will email the winner to arrange shipment by Jacquie.

The Rafflecopter doesn’t look right, but I promise you that if you click the link it’ll take you there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mentor Monday -Still a Gorilla


Still a Gorilla is a charming rhyming preK-first grade story by author Kim Norman.

Willy the gorilla wants to be another animal in the zoo.  After each try, he’s still a gorilla.  In the end, he realizes that it’s ok to be himself-a silly Willy gorilla.

The rhymes are spot on and make this a fun, interactive read-aloud.

Here is my Master Study worksheet for still a gorilla.


Remember, you can always grab a free copy of the Master Study worksheet here.

You can also find Kim Norman on her web page.






Community & Education

How’d the goal setting go?

Got your steps mapped out and deadlines set?


One of my goals this year is to further my writing education.  Whether it be from online webinars or classes, to reading about the craft.

I plan to participate in something monthly.

Today I’ve got a list of challenges, education opportunities and writing communities I find helpful. If you know of other writing related groups or courses, please drop me a note so I can add it to the list.

StoryStorm A month long challenge created by Author Tara Lazar. There are daily posts of inspiration from published authors who also offer prizes for participation. Registrations closes January 9, 2018 for this year, so RUN over and register! (free)

12X12 Challenge – A yearlong writing challenge where members aim to write 12 complete picture book drafts. (paid membership)

Picture Book Blueprint – program that breaks the writing of books down into small chunks.  It includes an interactive private Facebook group. (paid membership)

Making Picture Book Magic – Author Susanna Leonard Hill’s picture book writing course (paid membership)

Art of the Arc – Author Alayne Kay Christian’s independent study picture book course ( paid membership)

Mentors for Rent – Author Laura Purdie Salas’s inexpensive video writing courses.

KidLit 411 – your one stop information shop for children’s writers and illustrators.

Storyteller Academy – Picture book writing workshops offered by author Arree Chung (paid)

Institute of Children’s Literature – offers training, podcasts, and critique services.

KidLit College – offers webinars, contests and Crit-n-chats(paid)


These are a few of my favorites.  Next week, I’ll be featuring a few of my favorite blogs and their contests.

Setting Goals for 2018

Can you believe it’s already 2018? 2017 flew by like a hawk after it’s prey. 

Most people look at the new year as a time for resolutions and goal setting. How many of us have failed or forgotten our New Year’s resolutions by the third week of January? 


Come on, I know I’m not alone!

98% of New Year’s resolutions are not kept.

80% of those who make resolutions fail by January 20 according to a recent poll.

Ya’ll, that means only 2% of New Year’s resolutions are kept!

Why? I’m sure there are many reasons, but for me, it’s planning.


Years ago, I decided that New Year’s resolutions were just a marketing scheme by gyms! I don’t make resolutions, I make PLANS!

Plans have a definite and reasonable goal; steps to make it happen, and a definite resolution with a deadline.

I sit down frequently to review and set new goals.


I found a free printable online created by blogger Abby Lawson at Just a Girl and her Blog.

She created this printable and wrote a great post on setting goals.  Go check her out.

Print out the worksheet, fill it out, and post it where you see it everyday. 

Come back next week and I will have a great list and links of writerly resources to help you attain your goals in 2018.




I’ve been extremely lucky lately.  I’ve won copies of  6 books from blog contests.  One of my most recent wins was a copy of Mara Gianferrari’s HELLO GOODBYE DOG.  

This book holds a very special place in my heart.  

Amazon’ s description of the story:

For Zara’s dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with his favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side.

Hello, Moose!

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school and Moose has to go back home.
Goodbye, Moose.
But Moose can’t be held back for long. Through a series of escalating escapes, this loyal dog always finds her way back to Zara, and with a little bit of training and one great idea, the two friends find a way to be together all day long.
How many of us have been lucky enough to have the love and devotion of a dog like Moose?  I know that I’ve been lucky enough to have several special dogs in my life.  

I was lucky  enough to grow up in a neighborhood in which two sets of aunts & uncles lived on the corners of my street.  My Uncle Floyd lived on the corner I passed each morning on my way to school.  I hated having to walk alone the 10 minutes it took to get to Mark Twain Elementary.  Lucky for me, my uncle owned a German Pointer that loved me.  Every morning, that dog would jump the fence and walk with me to school.  Every afternoon, he would be waiting for me to walk me back home. Once we hit the corner, he’d just map the fence back into my uncles yard.  That dog never failed to be waiting for me. 

Zara & Moose have the same relationship.  Maria’s great choice of language and Patrice Bartons’s illustrations work together beautifully to show the relationship between girl & dog.  Zara’s disability is never mentioned in the text but the illustrations show her wheelchair as just another aspect of Zara’s life.  

Master Study Monday- Your Alien Returns

Happy Monday!

I thought today’s book would be perfect for Halloween!  Living within driving distance of Roswell, New Mexico, we embrace all things space alien!

WHEN YOUR ALIEN RETURNS is one of my favorite books. Of course, I love anything written by Tammi Sauer!  She has the ability to use humor in order to demonstrate the heart of a character.  your alien returns

I love the emotion that is conveyed in the illustrations and the caring that these two unlikely friends show for one another. If only life were a picture book!


I hope you find my MSM’s helpful.  They definitely help me dissect the heart of a story and my writing is getting better for it.

Here is my MS sheet for Your Alien Returns  and don’t forget, you can pick up a copy of a blank form here.

I’ll see you later this week with a review of HELLO GOODBYE DOG.  I was lucky enough to win a copy and LOVE the story!


Monster’s Nightmare

Here is my second entry into Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie contest.

You can find my first entry, When Your Monster Has the Sneazles,  here.


Monster’s Nightmare

(91 words)


Monster crouched in the dark, listening for his quarry.


His hearts pounded in his chest.

Inch-by-inch, Monster crept through the Halloween shadows toward the door.

With sweaty paws, he reached out and turned the knob.


Easing the door open, he saw something sitting at the table.

Monster froze and watched, waiting for the right time to pounce.


Get ready…


Get set…



Monster sprang through the door.


“I caught you Mom! You’ve been eating the candy corn.”

Halloweensie 2017

*Those who got this yesterday, my apologies, I goofed and scheduled it for the wrong day.  I hope you will read it again as changes have been make and links added.

Yay!  It’s here!  Susanna Leonard Hill’s annual Halloweensie contest.

If you aren’t familiar with this writing contest you are missing out.  The contest is designed for children’s writers to really stretch their muscle, so to speak.  You are given three Halloween related words (this year they are monster, shadow and candy corn) that you MUST use in your story.  Your story can be rhyming, it can be a poem, really pretty much anything goes as long as it’s for young children, and the biggie, no more than 100 words.  100 words.  That is SO hard to do.

This year, I’ve written two stories.  One is a pays homage to author and contest hostess, Susanna Hill and her recently published book WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES.  I ADORE this book and it’s companion WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH. Making it’s debut in January 2018 is WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT.  Llama look SO cute!  I can’t wait to add it to my collection.  

When I saw this years three words, I knew exactly the story I had to tell.  It just flowed from my fingertips!  I hope that she likes it.  You can read my first entry below.


When Your Monster has the Sneazles

(91 words)

When your monster has the Sneazles, you must take care of him.

Sneazles can be quite serious. You don’t want him to burn the house down.

Put him to bed, even if he tells you he’s OK.

Make him comfy and bring him his favorite bug to snuggle.

Soon, he will get bored and want to make shadows on the wall.

Then, he will be hungry. Feed him candy corn – they’ll make him feel better.

When he feels better he’ll want to trick-or-treat the neighbor.

But watch out for…

Gr.  Gr.  Grazooo!

He’s allergic to the neighbor’s cat.



Click here to find my second entry, Monster’s Nightmare.

What a Week!

Ever since school has been back in session, life has been crazy.  I’ve had to start scheduling my day by the half-hour.  Between kids and their activities, spending time with the hubs, working some at the girls school, and volunteering I’ve pushed writing to the back of the list.

BUT…I changed that this month!  I put writing as my priority (once I got the kids and hubs out of the house!)

This month I’ve finished two nonfiction manuscripts, along with their author’s notes and bibliography, wrote 2 stories for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest(2016 entry), and am almost finished with a story that will be submitted to several children’s magazines.

I’d say I’ve had a productive month!

I owe it all to 2 things: 1. actually sitting down and writing out WHY I want to write, WHAT my goal was for my writing and the STEPS needed to achieve it; and 2. block scheduling.

Sitting down and really, REALLY thinking about my reasons for writing helped me clarify my goals.  Yes, of course I want to get published and win awards, but once I got over the prideful reasons, I looked at the HEART of why I write.

What is YOUR reason? Is it to make YOU happy?  Is it to make others happy? Is it to encourage the love of reading in children?  WHY?    Write it down somewhere and post it where you can see it while you write.

Next I had to set some goals. I pulled out my planner and wrote dates that I would accomplish things by.  I set deadlines. After all, this is my job and jobs have deadlines.

Then I wrote the steps to achieve my goals.  Do I need more education? Find a critique group? Put my butt in the chair and write (biggie for me!)?  Clarify what YOU need and in the words of Nike…Just Do It!

In order for me to actually get my butt in the chair, I had to plan my day.  I plan to the half-hour and even include travel time if I have to leave home.  This has helped me be so much more productive that I feel like wonder woman.  You can see my schedule from yesterday in the picture below.  And this wasn’t a busy day!

block schedule.jpgNow I need to just work on being consistent with blog posts! That is going on next month’s goals list.

Tomorrow is Susanna Leonard Hill’s annual Halloweensie contest.  This is one of my FAVORITE writing contests.  If you aren’t familiar with it, you have to write a story using three Halloween related words that she specifies.  Here’s the kicker…it can’t be more than 100 words!  Do you know how hard that is?!

Come back tomorrow and read my entries into the contest and leave me some feedback, I’d really appreciate some love!

Tomorrow is also #PBPitch!  PBPitch is a Twitter party where writers post a pitch for their manuscript in 140 characters or less.  Editors and agents read the pitches and like those they are interest in.  You can then query them for possible representation/ submission.  It’s really exciting and nerve-racking! I’ve already scheduled my pitches for two of my manuscripts.  Wish me luck!

don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my Halloweensie entry and to see my pitches!