Fall 1st Page Critique Blog Hop

Thank you Michelle for hosting first page critique blog hop! http://www.michelle4laughs.blogspot.com/2014/11/fall-1st-page-critique-blog-hop.html

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful feedback. I have revised below:

2nd Revision to show Abigail’s character up front and center. I have also changed the exhibit to be a bit more boring so that when the dolphin shows up, well it gets pretty exciting:


TITLE: SAVING SAPPHIRE ( Sapphire is the dolphin)

Abigail Harris jumped up from her beach chair. She dusted the sand off her legs. “I better get going,’ she said. “I’m already late.”

“Ah…can’t you stay here on the beach with us. We’re going swimming soon, down at Crescent Cove,” begged her best friend, Rebecca Morris.

“I wish. My dad has it in his head that I need to work this summer. And by work, I mean volunteer.” Abigail huffed.

“That stinks!”

“You bet it does. I’ll text you later.” Abigail grabbed her bike off of the bike rack and peddled up the hill. It was a half mile ride to East Coast Marine Center. The morning air was hot but breezy. A great day for swimming, not working.

Abigail zipped across the parking lot. She raced around the back of the building and opened the Employees Only door. “Abigail Harris, you are late!” Dottie called, grinning at her from the side of the clownfish exhibit.

“I know! I know!” Abigail stashed her bike in her dad’s office and yanked on her staff jacket. She hurried to the freshwater tank. “Do you want me to help?” she asked, as she watched Dottie dump a load of blood worms into the enclosure.

“No, I got it. Besides, you’re dad’s already been on a rampage looking for you. He’s over with the jellyfish. Better get going.”

Abigail rolled her eyes. “See ya’ later.”

Revised 1st 250 words:


TITLE: SAVING SAPPHIRE ( Sapphire is the dolphin)

Abigail raced up the sidewalk as fast as she could. She was already late for her first day of work at the aquarium and Mr. Chow was a stickler for tardiness.

In the distance, Abigail could hear loud clicks and whistles coming from the orcas tank. She giggled. “Must be feeding time.”

“Better hurry, Abigail. Mr. Chow is already waiting for you,” Dottie yelled from the seal exhibit.

“I know! I got a flat on my bike and had to stop for air.” Abigail shouted back. She stashed her bike in her dad’s office and yanked on her East Coast Aquarium curator jacket.

As she closed the door, a strange noise echoed across the aquarium. “What’s that?” Abigail asked Dottie.

“A surprise. Go see for yourself.” Dottie smiled.

Abigail gasped. Her eyes lit up. “Seriously. Did Mr. Anderson finally say yes!” Abigail clapped her hands. “I have to find my dad. Do you know where he is?”

“With the surprise.”

“Awesome! See you later Dottie!”

Abigail zig-zagged past the seals. She rushed by the orcas and the walrus exhibit. By the time she made it to the other side of the aquarium, she was out of breath and exhausted. But there it was finally, after all these years, a bottlenose dolphin at East Coast Aquarium. Abigail stood frozen. Mesmerized.

“Hey, dad. I thought Mr. Anderson said he didn’t want a dolphin.” Abigail asked.

“He’s hoping the dolphin exhibit will bring in more spectators.” Mr. Harris answered. “Numbers weren’t too good last summer. “

Below is the original first 250 words of my WIP Middle Grade.


TITLE: SAVING SAPPHIRE ( Sapphire is the dolphin)

Loud clicks and whistles pulsed across the water. The orca flapped his tail as he gobbled fish after fish. In the distance, barks echoed from the seal exhibit. A yellow and green ball skipped crossways from rock to rock. Morning playtime was always the seals favorite time of day. But the noise that was coming from the south side of the aquarium puzzled Abigail. In some ways in sounded like the orcas, only the pitch was much higher. Almost like a moaning verses a clicking noise. It was a different noise. Something Abigail had never heard before at the aquarium.

Abigail rushed across the orca exhibit. She zig-zagged past the seals. And she didn’t even stop at the shark tank. Once she made it to the south side of the aquarium, she was stunned. Inside a tank swam a bottlenose dolphin. Abigail loved dolphins and had always wanted the owner, Mr. Anderson to get one for the aquarium but he would always say no. His excuse was that they were finicky and too expensive.

Abigail scoured the aquarium for her dad. Her dad worked at the aquarium way before Abigail had been born. Abigail had spent her whole life at East Coast Aquarium. She knew every animal. So she had to introduce herself to the dolphin. She spotted her dad next to the front office. He was heading her way. She ran to meet up with him. “Hey, dad. I thought Mr. Anderson said he didn’t want a dolphin.”

I have a cover!

This week has been pretty exciting. I got to see the cover of The Sparrow and The Trees in color for the first time. And I LOVE it. Susan has done such a beautiful job!.


My Fractured Fairy Tale Contest Entry in Susanna Leonard Hills March Madness Writing Contest


The Contest: Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words, that is a fractured fairy tale. Feel free to add a theme of spring, or mix in one of the spring holidays if you like – St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools Day, Easter or Passover, Arbor Day, Earth Day… Have fun with it! The madder* the better! :)
*as in wild and wacky, not angry :)

You do not have to include spring – that is optional.

The story can be a picture book or a short story – whatever you like.

If it’s a picture book, you may NOT include art notes, because we get into a weird area of whether that’s fair in terms of word count and added description etc. So if you write a picture book that’s wonderful, but make sure art notes aren’t necessary to understand it.
“Fairy Tale” apparently turned out to be a very debatable term, so my fellow judges and I will do our best to handle whatever you’ve come up with.
Title not included in word count.

Click here for all the stories http://susannahill.blogspot.com/

Thank you to all who read and commented on my fractured fairy tale.

My First Picture Book to be Published by Sylvan Dell Publishing!


What a fantastic day of firsts Feb.11, 2014 turned out to be. As the first big snowstorm (and hopefully the last in this case) of the 2013-2014 winter season approached my area, all was wonderful for me in the world of kidlit.

When I arrived at home, I had my first agent interview for my blog in my email inbox. The wonderful Christa Heschke took such an interest in answering each and every one of my many questions. In her answers, I can see the personality of a very nice, very sincere, very knowledgable agent.

Second, my husband walked in with the mail and handed me my contributor’s copy of The Mailbox with my very first printed magazine publication inside of it. Oh what a happy feeling.

Then if things could not get any better, as I was working on my first Chapter Book, I spotted an email in my inbox from Sylvan Dell Publishing with the subject line “We would like to publish your manuscript.” I stared at it for a second, just to make sure it was real. I clicked the email and right there in front of my eyes was a contract from the publisher that I have been submitting to for 5 long years! Over the years,  I have had some terrific feedback from Donna German, the editor and even an almost offer back in 2009, but this time it was an actual contract attached. The feeling of “Ahh…I finally did it!” was surreal. All those years admiring their books and keeping in contact through submissions to the editor and yes, of course all of those rejections…almost a dozen to be exact. My first published picture book, a folklore titled THE SPARROW AND THE TREES will be in my hands and more importantly in the hands of little kids in 2015. After all of these years, finally my dream has come true.

So yes, the snow storm may be coming and I sure hope it is the last one, but no amount of snow could put a damper on this author. Feb. 11, 2014 is a wonderful day!