"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen


A Wild Aussie Christmas - A Holiday Contest Entry

I've spent the past week or so writing this story for Susanna Hill's 4th Annual Holiday Contest (by the way, I "met" Susanna a year ago with the 3rd Annual Contest, which I also entered). The requirements: 350 words or less, written for children (age 12 or under), and where wild weather impacts the holiday.

I will probably (at some point) rework this a bit to make it more of a picture book-type manuscript - so I would love any feedback along those lines. Hope you enjoy the story (and that I didn't make too much of a fool of myself!).

A Wild Aussie Christmas
By Joanne Sher

December in Australia is very different than America. Instead of snowmen, they build sand castles. Rather than sitting by the fire, they get a tan.

December is summer Down Under, and it's often sweltering on Christmas day. But one Aussie Christmastime was very unusual indeed.

The Durvan family was preparing for their annual Christmas eve barbecue on the beach – making dessert and salad and preparing chicken to grill – when little Debbie Durvan darted into the kitchen.

“Mum! Dad! It's snowing outside. It looks like a snowstorm!”

“Snowing? In December? It can't be!”

“Come look.”

And they did.

“Snow for Christmas. Imagine that,” Mum said.

Dad couldn't believe it. “What now? We certainly can't have our family Christmas barbie, or pile the presents under a palm tree in weather like this.”

Mum sighed. “We'll have to try something different.”

“But we've always had a beach Christmas.” Debbie crossed her arms. “It'll be weird to do anything else.”

“Maybe,” Dad said,” but it might be lots of fun. And perhaps we'll find a new tradition.”

“I know!” Debbie piped in. “Instead of making sandcastles, we can build snowmen. And we can sled instead of surf.”

Mum nodded. “And we'll have a fire in the fireplace instead of on the barbie.”

“Of course. I'm guessing he won't be in his swimmers this year, though,” Dad said. “And he might need a snowboard to get here.”

“But how about all the presents?” Debbie asked.

“Oh – maybe a sleigh.” Mom piped in.

Pop's eyes twinkled. “Maybe.”

“It sure will be cold for caroling by candlelight,” Debbie added.

Pop pat Debbie on the back. “We can just wear our winter gear.”

“But what about poor baby Jesus? Won't he be freezing out in the manger this year?” Debbie's eyes dropped.

Mum smiled. “He will have His love to keep Him warm. And besides, He grew up a VERY long time ago. You know that – right?”

Debbie nodded. “And He loves us whatever the weather.”

Even during an Aussie Christmas blizzard.


Make sure you stop by Susanna's blog and read some of the other entries.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1


Perfect Picture Book Friday:Brother Sun, Sister Moon

I'm joining with the delightful Susanna Leonard Hill today, sharing a fun picture book I encountered last week for Perfect Picture Book Friday. Thanks, Susanna, for giving us a place to share our favorite picture books! (Check out her ever-expanding list of perfect picture books here - and check out what she, and several others, are adding to the list here at her blog)

I had intended to post this last week, the day after Thanksgiving, because of the gratefulness theme. But last week completely got away from me, so here we go.

Title: Brother Sun, Sister Moon: St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures

Author: "reimagined by" Katherine Paterson

Illustrator: Pamela Dalton

Publisher: Handprint Books, 2011

Age Range: 4-6 years

Theme/Topics: Gratitude, Prayer, Nature

First Page/Spread: "We come to sing a song of praise to you, O God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who by your power and out of your love have created all things and called them good."

Synopsis: In Brother Sun, Sister Moon, award-winning author Katherine Paterson re-imagines a hymn of praise originally written by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1224. Illuminated with the exquisite illustrations of cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton, this picture book offers a stunningly beautiful tribute to nature.

Resources: The original prayer/canticle is included in the back of the book to look at. There are some activities related to St. Francis of Assisi at this site. Most nature-related activities would also work, including looking through the gorgeous paper-cut illustrations for specific plants or animals.

Why I LOVE it: The language is absolutely gorgeous, as are the pictures. The prayer itself is just lovely and peaceful.And the whole idea of praising the Lord for nature warmed me - especially at this time of year. It is a lovely story to share about thankfulness (yes - last Friday would have been better - right?)

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1


Some FREE Christmas Treasures - Including My Own!!

I know - not quite Thanksgiving yet - but have I got a Christmas present for you :)

I know I've mentioned it here earlier this month, but I have three stories in a wonderful Christmas anthology that is available on Amazon right now called Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories. There's a little something for everyone - romance, humor, tears, you name it - all about this wonderful time of year.

The anthology features 14 different authors, including some of my dearest friends (and maybe some of yours too!): Patty Wysong, Linda S. Glaz, Christina Rich, Karen Wingate, Karen Campbell Prough, Karla Atkins, Donna Hubbard Scofield, Elaine Stock, Karlene Jacobsen, Kathy Rouser, April Strauch, Anne Garbozci Evans, Susan F. Craft, and yours truly :D
Get it here!

And the best part? Today through Saturday, the book is FREE for the Kindle! Hope you'll stop by and pick it up - and tell your friends! (It's also available in the print version for only $5 - also a great deal, don't you think??)

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

What's your favorite Christmas memory?  


Perfect Picture Book Friday: A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe

I've been pretty busy with writing and editing and such, and haven't had a chance to participate in Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday in a while. SO VERY glad I'm making time to do it today - as this book has been sitting on my desk for at least a week or two, waiting for the chance to be featured. And the time has FINALLY come!

Title: A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe
Author: Barbara Odanaka
Illustrator: Lee White
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster
Age Range: 4-8
Theme/Topics:Animals, mayhem, restaurants, humor, rhyme
First Page:"It was a quiet morning at the Critter Cafe. The cook was dozing in his cheese souffle. The waiter was whistling sleepy tunes when through the door walked three raccoons."
Synopsis: Swish, zoom, swish. Clickety-clack! When a bus full of critters breaks down, a sleepy roadside café suddenly wakes up! Raccoons, elephants, zebras, and rams are only a few of the many animals demanding grub, and it is all that a cook and a waiter can do to keep up. But when Skateboard Cow swerves her way through the crowd, more than a few feathers are guaranteed to be ruffled! Rhythmic text and energetic illustrations combine for a romp of pure fun and entertainment.

Resources: I found a couple free printables for this book here. Here is another cute idea for making word burgers. Having the kids play restaurant would also work.

Why I LOVE it: The voice is fabulous, the pace is fast and TOTALLY fun, and the story absolutely delightful and silly and relateable (to kids - yeah, that's it). And the end surprised me delightfully. The art AND words are a super combination. Just plain fun !

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1


A Fantastic, Fun Project (with Friends!)

This post is party of Patty Wysong's
A to Z meme. This week's letter is "F"

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
I don't know about you, but I LOVE Christmas. As a Jew who came to Christ in her early 30s, there is such rich meaning to this time of year for me that I never realized as a child (or even a young adult).

So, when my extremely dear friend (who shares my brain) Patty Wysong mentioned a Christmas short story anthology she wanted to put together, I  was on top of it. (Sort of) I found a few of my Christmas flash fiction articles I'd written and sent them off to her right away (actually, I got distracted and didn't send them until a couple days AFTER the deadline - but that's because SHE had the brain :P). And despite my tardiness, my three little stories will be in this wonderful anthology which will be available VERY soon!

We are still working on a cover and release date, but we have a TITLE - which is super exciting to me!

So, if you to sit down with some Christmas stories that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and worship (and who knows what else!) be sure to keep your eyes open for:

Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories

We have more than a dozen different authors in this book (many of which are VERY dear friends), and the stories are in a variety of genres, so there is sure to be something for everyone.So, you want to know who ELSE will be in this anthology? Well, feast your eyes on THIS list (and click the links to see their blogs/webpages)!

Donna Scofield
Joanne Sher (yeah - that's me :D)
April Strauch

I promise to let you all know when we have a cover, a release date, AND when it can be purchased! I'm pretty stoked :)
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

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