Thursday, August 30, 2018


Welcome to Poetry Friday! Robin Hood Black is hosting this week. Be sure to stop by her blog and check out all of this week's inspiring poetry posts.

I must ask a favor this week. I am scheduled to host the round up on October 19th. My day job is changing and becoming more time-consuming for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to host. If you haven't already volunteered, or you're willing to pick up an extra round up, please let me know in the comments. I would truly appreciate it.

My sweet granddaughter is becoming more skilled with her sippy cup, and her perseverance at the task inspired this week's poem.


Tipsy, topsy
With your cup.

Dripsy, dropsy
Don't give up!

Tipsy, topsy
To your lip.

Nice and slow...
Sip, sip, sip.

Copyright 2018 Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Have a great week, and as always, Happy Poem Making!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Poetry Friday GREAT MORNING! and Back-To-School

Welcome to Poetry Friday! This week's round up is hosted by Wondering and Wandering blog. When you're finished up here, please click over to enjoy all of this week's inspiring poetry posts.

A few weeks ago, I entered a giveaway on Catherine Flynn's Reading to the Core blog. I was the very lucky winner of a copy of Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud, a poetry anthology by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

If you are a teacher, you need to have a copy of this book! It's brimming with fun poems whose subjects are related to the natural calendar/rhythm of a school year. Each topic begins with a small bit of background information followed by that day's featured poem. The chapter ends with some short follow-up questions/ideas/advice to think about and discuss. There is a topic for every week of the school year.

That would be enough reason to own this book, but there's more! The second half of the book includes poetry performance tips, guidance on turning each pom into a mini-lesson, oodles of poetry resources, and useful tips for nurturing young writers and helping them to find publishing opportunities for their own masterpieces.

There are so many great poems featured in this anthology, and it is difficult to choose just a few to share, but here is a tasting of some of what is included.

This first poem takes me back to first grade. A friend and I wanted to create some outside art during recess. We thought crayon would be just as easy to wash off of a sidewalk as chalk. Needless to say, we spent several days of recesses scrubbing the school sidewalk clean.

by Avis Harley

Some play soccer,
some run races.
Others read
in quiet places.

Some find leaves
or draw with chalk.
Some play tag,
while others talk.

A few play chess.
Lots play ball.
And some just like
to watch it all.

I believe this next poem should be heard by every child. To me it exemplifies welcoming and kindness and how very little effort it takes to offer it to others.

by Jane Heitman Healy

You start by saying Hi there,
Hello, Aloha, Ciao--
If someone answers back to you,
Smile and nod and bow.

You might try saying Hola,
Salut, Goddag, Shalom.
If someone answers back to you,
They might be far from home.

A friend begins by greeting
Those they meet along the way
To make them feel welcome
At home, at school, at play.

Inspired by the subject matter and memories of my first day at a new school, I played around with some verse, too.

by Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Tummy rumble,
New shoes stumble,
Book bag fumble,
First day grumble!

Will the teacher like me?
Are my clothes on trend?
Will I like Pre-Algebra?
Will I make good friends?

Will my locker open?
Will the food taste vile?
Will I find my homeroom?
Will anybody smile?

All so unfamiliar-
new building and mates.
Hello to all the new
adventures that await!

That's it for today. Happy Poem-Making!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Poetry Friday: My Blanket Buddy

Welcome to Poetry Friday! This week's poem was inspired by my granddaughter. Like Linus from the "Peanut's Gang," she likes to drag her blankie everywhere. While observing her, I realized that to her, it was so much more than just a piece of cotton fabric meant to keep her warm.

My Blanket Buddy

My blanket is my buddy.
I love it in many ways.

It's a tablecloth for a picnic.
A cape to save the day!

It's a cover for my fort.
A trampoline for my ball.

It's a curtain for my stage.
A coat for my doll.

My blanket is my buddy.
A treasure I will keep.

It snuggles me and warms me
and helps me fall to sleep.

Copyright Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Children have the best imaginations. I think I'm a better storyteller and poet when I try to recapture my own childhood imagination.

Reading to the Core blog is hosting this week's round up. Be sure to stop by and read all of the wonderful contributions. Have a great week, and happy rhyming!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Poetry Friday: Bayou Song Blog Tour and a Giveaway

Welcome to Poetry Friday! The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting this week's round up. When you're finished here, be sure to click over to read all of the wonderful posts.

Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape
Illustrated by Anna Cantrell
Photography by Henry Cancienne
University of Louisiana at Lafayette (June 18, 2018)
ISBN: 978-1946160232

Poem by poem, Margaret Simon introduces readers to the plants and animals that inhabit Louisiana's Bayou Teche. Each subject is treated to a brief explanation and then honored with a beautiful poem. Margaret pairs each poem with a short description/lesson on the poetry form or tool used and art and writing prompts for further creative exploration.

Since many of my poetry Friday posts focus on specific poetry forms/tools, I asked Margaret to share two forms from this collection that she especially enjoyed and to give us a little background lesson for each.

The first poem Margaret chose to talk about was also the first poem featured in the book, I am a Beckoning Brown Bayou. It's the perfect invitation and left me wanting to take this bayou journey with her. Take it way, Margaret!


I am a beckoning brown bayou.
I wonder where my water runs.
I echo egret, heron, and ibis.
I watch waving leaves of cypress trees.
I call your name.

I am a beckoning brown bayou.
I twist and turn like a water snake.
I touch fur and scales and fins.
I nurture nutria, raccoons, and gators.
I want you to come in.

I am a beckoning brown bayou.
I remember tales of Acadians and explorers.
I say courage lives here.
I reveal my secrets at twilight.
I hope you'll stay awhile.

MS: This poem came from a prompt from Allan Wolf's website. The writer decides the topic for his/her poem and uses alliteration for the first line. Each line following begins with an I and an action word. 

A more challenging form is the clogyrnach. When I am teaching during National Poetry Month, I like to challenge my students to write a poem each day. I researched forms for each letter of the alphabet. This one was unique and new to me. Working with such a strict form makes you focus carefully on word choice.

welsh poetry form, clogyrnach

Line 1: 8 syllables with an a rhyme
Line 2: 8 syllables with an a rhyme
Line 3: 5 syllables with a b rhyme
Line 4: 5 syllables with a b rhyme
Line 5: 3 syllables with a b rhyme
Line 6: 3 syllables with an a rhyme

Weeping Wisteria is a model for this form. I had a wisteria vine in my backyard, and it would bloom like crazy every spring. One of the photos of wisteria in the book is mine. Wisteria tends to take over, and it grew over our decking, rotting the wood, so my husband has trimmed it down. I miss the beautiful blooms. It was always covered in bees.


Lavender locks spill from the sky.
In bloom, wisteria curls cry.
Sweet nectar tears fall.
Purple peapods sprawl.
Bright bees crawl,
lick them dry.

Thank you, Margaret. I look forward to trying my hand at both of these forms of poetry. Weeping Wisteria just happens to be one of my personal favorites. Whether you're a poet, a teacher, and/or someone who can just appreciate a beautiful book of poetry, this collection would make a quality addition to your bookshelf. My thanks to Margaret for sharing her book with me and for allowing me to share in its celebration.

Margaret is graciously allowing me to give away a copy of this book to one lucky blog reader. Because of postage costs, the winner has to live within the continental U.S. Just leave a comment to be entered. On Tuesday, July 10, 2018 I will randomly choose and notify the lucky winner.

Other Stops On Margaret's Bayou Song Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 26:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Friday, June 29:
Ruth Hersey at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town
Friday, July 13:
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Tuesday, July 17:
Laura Shovan 
Tuesday, July 24
Amanda Potts at Persistence and Pedagogy
Friday, July 27:
Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
Monday, July 30
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
Friday, Aug. 3
Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work that Matters
As always, Happy Poem-Making!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Favorite Poetry Writing Resources [Poetry Friday]

Welcome to Poetry Friday. Please check out this week's entire round up at Michelle Kogan's blog

I recently turned in the final book in a contracted 4-book wfh series. I enjoyed the subject matter, the research, and the writing, but I only had 5 weeks to complete the project. I was in full-on nonfiction writing mode with little time for anything else. My two writing loves are nonfiction and poetry, but it's very difficult for me to do both at the same time and then to dive back into one or the other after a break. With this project behind me, I was really looking forward to writing some new poetry, but alas, when I sat down to write, it all just seemed like garbage. But that's okay. I let myself write the garbage. With time and work, some of that garbage might turn into something special.

The other thing I did to get back into the poetry swing of things was to revisit some of my favorite poetry writing resources. 

1. This first one is a newer resource for me. Several weeks ago I won a copy of JoAnn Early Macken's Write A Poem Step by Step. From the basics of rhythm, meter, and rhyme to poetry forms to coming up with ideas and using exciting language and imagery, this book covers it all. She also provides chapters with writing exercises, revision techniques, and guidance on  getting your work published.

2. An older favorite is Poem Crazy by Susan G. Wooldridge. If you've ever read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, in my opinion, this would be the poetry equivalent. It provides equal parts inspiration and technique.

3. Some of my favorite "tool" books to use when writing are Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D. (the best book to help you find the best word) and Merriam Webster's Rhyming Dictionary

4. Last but not least, I read lots of great poetry. Thank goodness for libraries and Poetry Friday :) This practice is more inspiring and more of an education than anything else. 

How do you get yourself out of a writing rut? 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Poetry Friday: It's Hot Outside!

A little over a month ago we had 3 inches of snow on the ground. This last week, we've had temps in the 90s and feels-like temps with humidity above 100. 

The weather inspired this week's poem. 

Lazy Hazy Days of May

Buggy air
Muggy air
Heavy hard to breathe air

Puffy hair
Sweaty hair
Firmly on my face hair

Brightest glare
Hottest glare
Angry sun is growing glare

Little prayer
Bigger prayer
Send some cooler air prayer

Copyright 2018 Kimberly M. Hutmacher 

How's the weather where you live? Has it inspired your writing this week? 

This week's round up is hosted by Buffy's blog. Be sure to stop by and enjoy all of the posts.

As always, thanks for visiting. Happy Poem-Making!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Poetry Friday: Free Verse and a Dinosaur Thank you!

Welcome to this week's Poetry Friday post. To enjoy the entire round up, head on over to Sloth Reads blog and check it out.

This week, I've been studying free verse poems. Free verse is poetry that is not written in a fixed rhyme, and it doesn't have a regular meter. 

What I enjoy in a free verse poem:
- Active verbs
- Sensory detail (I want to be able to see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it)
- Sound tools (alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia)
- Symbolism
- Metaphor, Simile, Irony
- Concrete images

A poem obviously doesn't have to (and in most cases probably shouldn't) have all of these things at once, but careful use of some can make a powerful poem.

One of my favorite children's poetry collections is Kristine O'Connell George's Toasting Marshmallows. This time of year brings more days enjoyed outside with cookouts, camping, fishing, and hiking, and it always makes me want to pull this collection off the shelf and savor it once again. She is a master of free verse. 

A Doe

Stepping timidly
out of the thicket,
she trembles, then stills,
poised mid-quiver.

We don't move.
We don't even whisper.
She's almost
         close enough to touch.

Velvet ears swivel.
Slim spindled legs turn,
a silent shiver
         fading into dusk.

by Kristine O'Connell George, Toasting Marshmallows, Clarion Books, 2001

Strong verbs: stepping, trembles, stills, swivel, shiver, etc.

Sensory detail: I can feel the tremble, the quiver. I can hear the whisper and feel the velvet ears. 

Concrete images: Her words have painted a very clear picture of what she is seeing. I feel like I'm right there, enjoying the scene with her.

I'm challenging myself to read 10 more free verse poems from various writers this week. As I study each, I'll ask myself what tools I see in each poem. I'll also compare the poet's styles and voices. And, I may even take a crack at a few free verse poems of my own.

I don't want to end this post before thanking Matt Forrest Esenswine. I helped spread the word about his new picture book with Deborah Bruss and Louie Chin, Don't Ask A Dinosaur, and in doing so, I was entered to win a copy. Of all the entries, I was lucky enough to be chosen the winner! The book is a giant rhyming wild rumpus of a party, and it could not be more fun! My granddaughter had her first birthday last week, and I gave her this autographed copy. Besides my books, it's her first author-autographed book. She loved the rhythm of the words and the bold, fun illustrations. Both Aria and I thank Matt and Deborah for this very special gift.

That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Poem Making! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What's New?

Welcome to my end-of-the-month post where I share what progress I've made toward my writing and publication goals. This month, I sent 5 work-for-hire packets to education publishers. I submitted both a picture book manuscript and a board book manuscript. I received two poetry rejections, and submitted 2 more poems. I worked on a small project for an education publisher, and I ended the month with an offer to write a new series for a nonfiction publisher. More on that later :)

My goals for May will be limited because I will need to give the majority of my time and attention to the nonfiction project, but I hope to revise a picture book manuscript that I've been working on. I want to write/submit two new poems, and I want to submit a couple of picture book manuscripts that I feel are ready to go. 

How was your April? How did you work toward your goals?

Thanks for stopping by. I'll be back in a few days with my Poetry Friday post. Until then, Happy Writing!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Poetry Friday: Metaphor

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Irene Latham's Live Your Poem blog. Be sure to stop by and check out all of the wonderful posts.

This week, I'm exploring the use of metaphor in poetry. Metaphor is defined as a figure of speech that makes a comparison by calling one thing something else.

Perfect for a Picnic
by Kimberly M. Hutmacher 

A baby blue sky
A bright golden sun
The perfect blanket
For afternoon fun! 
Copyright 2003 Poetry Play for Preschoolers

The above poem uses metaphor when it refers to the sun and sky as a blanket.

Nature's Jewelry
by Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Brilliant moon, sparkling stars
Radiant, pure, bright
Nature's precious diamonds
Lighting up the night.
Copyright 2018 Kimberly M. Hutmacher

In this example, the moon and stars are metaphorically referred to as diamonds.

Challenge: Since both of my examples were nature inspired, take a walk outside. Study your surroundings. Find something in nature that inspires you. Ask yourself what else it could be? Attempt to write a poem about it using metaphor.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Poetry Friday: Lune Poems

Welcome to Poetry Friday! This week’s round up is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts:The Opposite of Indifference blog. Be sure to check out all the great posts.

This week, I’m tackling the Lune form of poetry. The Lune also goes by the name American Haiku. It was originally created by Robert Kelly. Kelly didn’t feel the rules of the traditional Haiku worked well with the English language. His Lune consists of a 13-syllable, self-contained poem that has 5 syllables in the first line, 3 syllables in the second line and 5 syllables in the last line. Here is an example of a Kelly-Lune I came up with this afternoon:

Naked limbs shiver
Missing leaves
No cold winter coat

Copyright 2018 Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Lune rhymes with moon. Notice that in a Kelly-Lune, the poem takes the shape of a crescent moon. This is no accident. Also, the 13 syllables correspond to the 13 lunar months.

A variant of the Lune was created by Jack Collom. His form is also three lines, but his is word-based, not syllable based. His structure has 3 words in the first line, 5 words in the second line and 3 words in the last line.

The following are examples of Collom-Lunes created by my daughter, Madison.

Chocolate brown pond
Puffy marshmallow clouds on top
Comfy, cozy, toasty

Sweet frosty mountains
Running with chocolate syrup rivers
Cherry on peak

Take a journey
Into a beautiful, magical land
Imaginations run wild.

Copyright 2018 Madison Hutmacher

Challenge: Attempt to write both a Kelly-Lune and a Collom-Lune on the same topic.
Happy Poem-Making!

P.S. Earlier this week I posted a review of Laura Pudie Salas' new book, MEET MY FAMILY. If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to click over. This book is a treasure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Review: Meet My Family by Laura Purdie Salas

I just finished reading Meet My Family: Animal Babies and Their Families, a new picture book written by Laura Purdie Salas. Where does one begin? I think each of us at one time or another believes that our family is strange / weird / different. We believe that somehow we’re the only ones and that no one else can understand. Laura’s book blows that entire hypothesis out of the water. Every family is special in its own way, and this book celebrates all kinds of human families by relating them to animal families. We see animal babies being cared for by two parents, single parents, and same sex parents. Some animal families live in one place their entire lives and others move often. Some of their families stay together and some split apart. Some animal babies look just like their parents, and some look completely different. We see working animal parents and an animal baby who gets raised by a completely different species of animal. The final spread features several different kinds of human families. So instead of feeling shame / embarrassment / uneasiness, a reader walks away from this book wanting to celebrate their very own (maybe a little strange, but aren't they all :) ) special family. Laura’s beautiful words and Stephanie Fizer Coleman’s gorgeous illustrations combine for a wonderful, whimsical celebration of family diversity.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Onomatopoeia [Poetry Friday]

This week's Poetry Friday Round Up is hosted by The Poem Farm. Be sure to check out all the great posts. 

One of my favorite poetry tools is Onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is the use of of words or phrases that imitate sounds. And, since Onomatopoeia is so fun to say, I think it's the perfect name for this useful tool.

Sounds of Summer 
by Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Daddy mows the grass.
Sister blows a bubble.
Mother throws the ball.
Brother is in trouble!
Copyright 2007 Babybug Magazine

The italicized words help us hear the sound of the lawn mower, the popping of bubbles, the ball whistling through the air, and the sound of the resulting crash.

I believe the following poem is really a celebration of sounds.

by Joyce Armor

If I should list my favorite words,
They'd sound a lot like this:

Rumble, crash, snort, jangle, thump,
Roar, fizzle, splat, moo, hiss.

Then there's grunt, toot, cuckoo,
Thunder, wheeze, bang, mush,

Rattle, splash, rip, ding-dong, and--
My parents' favorite: Hush!

Challenge: Write a poem that celebrates some of your favorite sound words.

Happy Poetry Month and Happy Poem-Making!

Monday, April 2, 2018

What's New?

I don't know what it's like in your neck of the woods, but around here, March came in like a lion and went out like a snowman. We received several inches of snow on Easter Day. I think it might have been Mother Nature's April Fool's Day prank :)

March Submissions

March was busy and fruitful for me. My submissions included: two series nonfiction packets/proposals to two different book publishers, two poems to two different magazines, a 'love project' picture book to two different publishers, a story for consideration in an upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology, and another article was submitted and accepted with Children's Book Insider. 

Goals For April

One of the poems I submitted last month received a positive rejection. One of my goals for April is to get it submitted to another magazine. I've been assigned another project with an educational publisher I worked with previously. This time I'll be writing specs for lesson plans. I want to write and submit two new poems to magazines. I want to get a picture book I've been working on sent off, and I want to get a first draft completed of a new picture book idea that I've been thinking about and taking ideas/notes on. I also want to send another proposal packet to another series nonfiction publisher.

If you're a subscriber to Children's Book Insider, be sure to check out my interview with Laura Purdie Salas in the April issue. We discuss her new book, Making A Living Writing Books For Kids: Tips, Techniques, and Tales from a Working Children's Author. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is overflowing with useful and practical guidance for working writers. Check out the interview and the book, and if you want to comment with your own goals below, please feel free. I would love to hear about what you've been working on. Hope you have a great week, and I'll be back on Friday with a poetry post. Happy Poetry Month!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

One Last Word [Poetry Friday]

My Juicy Little Poem is hosting this week's Poetry Friday Round Up.

This week I’ve been enthralled with Nikki Grime’s One Last Word. The book reintroduces poems from the Harlem Renaissance. Nikki, in turn creates new ‘golden shovel’ poems developed from one line in each of the poems featured.

Here is one example from the book:

Calling All Dreams
by Georgia Douglas Johnson

The right to make my dreams come true
I ask, nay, I demand of life,
Nor shall fate’s deadly contraband
Impede my steps, nor countermand.

Too long my heart against the ground
Has beat the dusty years around,
And now, at length, I rise, I wake!
And stride into the morning-brake!

Nikki Grimes took the first line from this poem, The right to make my dreams come true, and created a new golden shovel poem from it.

The Sculptor
by Nikki Grimes

No accident of birth or race or place determines the
scope of hope or dreams I have a right
to. I inventory my head and heart to
weigh and measure what talents I might use to make
my own tomorrow. It all depends on the grit at my
disposal. My father says hard work is the clay dreams
are molded from. Yes. Molded. Dreams do not come.
They are carved, muscled into something solid, something true.

This is a new poetry form for me, and I find it very challenging, but when it’s done so well, as in One Last Word, it can be beautiful.

If you would like to attempt your own, you can read more about golden shovel poetry here.

Happy Poem-Making!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Personification [Poetry Friday]

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura Salas at Writing the World for Kids blog.

This is another post in a series where I share instruction and examples on writing specific poetry forms and/or tools that can make poetry shine.

Personification: Personification is giving human qualities to an inanimate object.


Ode To Sunflowers
by Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Sunflowers, O’ Sunflowers,
Reaching for the skies
Glaring at the clouds above
With your chocolate eyes.

Golden faces nodding
As gray gives way to blue
Happy stems a dancing
As the sun shines anew!
                           Copyright Kimberly M. Hutmacher

In the above poem, I gave a sunflower (an inanimate object) a face with eyes and the human ability to dance. These are all examples of personification.

Challenge: Find an object in the room you are in. Study the object, and make a list of ways in which you might give it human qualities. For a further challenge, attempt to write a poem about your object using the tool of personification.

Happy Poem-Making!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Easter Basket Books

I did a little Easter basket book shopping last week. Books make great gifts. Think about book baskets for Easter, birthdays, baby showers, and Valentine's Day. You can fill a stocking with books for Christmas. This gives you a legitimately unselfish excuse to spend money on more books and support the authors you love.

I'll be back later this week with a new poetry lesson. Until then, Happy Writing!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Poetry Corner: Rhyme [Poetry Friday]

Enjoy all the of the great Poetry Friday posts. Teacher Dance is hosting this week's round up.

Rhyme is defined as a word that has the same end sound as another. There are various kinds of rhyme.

Perfect Rhyme are words that rhyme exactly, or perfectly. Here is an example of a poem with perfect rhyme:

Safe and Sound

Seeds buried
Safe and sound
Shooting sprouts
From the ground.
Buds soon bloom
All around
From seeds buried
Safe and sound.
Copyright Kimberly M. Hutmacher Poetry Play For Preschoolers 2003

In the above poem, sound, ground, and around are perfect rhymes.

Imperfect or near rhymes are words that do not rhyme perfectly. One example might be dances/branches.

Eye rhymes are words that look alike but do not sound the same. Examples include mood/wood and prove/love.

Homonyms are words that do not look alike, but do sound alike. Examples of homonyms include: threw/through and meet/meat.

Identical rhyme is an exact word rhyming with itself. A great example of this is Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

Annabel Lee is used to end lines over and over again throughout this poem. This poem also offers a great example of internal rhyme, where there are rhymes placed inside of the same line in the poem. We see beams and dreams and rise and eyes.

Challenge: Look at some of the poetry you’ve already written and identify which types of rhyme you’ve used.

Happy Poem-Making!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Cover Letter: A Taste of What Is To Come

Before you sit down to write your cover letter, you need to ask yourself what it is you hope to accomplish in the letter. You want the letter written in proper form, free of grammar and spelling errors. You want to share your publishing history and professional affiliations like SCBWI.

While all of this necessary and important, I can’t stress enough the importance of the first paragraph. This is the paragraph we use to introduce and briefly summarize our book. I stress briefly for a reason. Oftentimes, writers think they need to tell the entire story in the cover letter. I’ve heard several editors speak at conferences and though they all had differing tastes in books, the one thing they all had in common was that they were busy! They asked that cover letters be short and to the point. They want the story summarized in 2-3 sentences. They will be getting a taste of what’s to come, though, so you want the taste to be delicious and tempting. You want to leave them anxious to read your story.

But how do we narrow our 32 page picture book or 200 page novel down to just 2 or 3 tempting sentences? I found a tool that has helped me a great deal. If you search for a book on amazon, you will find a product description. Look up 3 or 4 of your favorite books and read how they are described in just a few concise sentences. Here’s what they say about Margaret Wise Brown’s GOODNIGHT MOON: “In the great green room, tucked away in a bed, is a little bunny. ‘Goodnight room. Goodnight moon.’ And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room, to the picture of the three little bears sitting in chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one, he says goodnight.” This example successfully sets the tone of the story to come.

Kate Dicamillo’s BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE is described as: “When ten-year-old Opal Buloni moves to Naomi, Florida with her preacher father, she doesn’t know what to expect. She is lonely at first—that is until she meets Winn Dixie, a stray dog who helps her make some unusual friends. Because of Winn Dixie, Opal begins to let go of some of her sadness and finds she has a whole lot to be thankful for. The description gives us a taste and makes us curious. Why did they move? Why is she sad? Just who are these unusual friends? Where did this special dog come from?

Both of the above descriptions give us a taste and leave us wanting to read more. This is our cover letter mission!