It’s National Humor Month!

It’s that time again–National Humor Month–where we focus on the joy and therapeutic value of laughter. Not only is laughter the best medicine, it also reduces stress, creates endorphines (those “feel-good” hormones in our bodies) and is a great tool for classroom teachers.

This month, I’ll be posting some humor-related activities for teachers (so stay tuned), but to start off, I’d like to announce a Joke/Riddle Writing Contest for Kids that I’m running on my website. I welcome students, teachers and parents to visit my site and join in the fun! Please click HERE for details.

In the meantime, here’s a funny story that I shared in response to an interview I did for Stories for Children Magazine.

SFC: What was the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you in your writing career?

Okay, this one is a funny sort of writing-related story. One day I decided to go to my local coffee house and do some writing. I threw on some clothes and headed out. I hung out there for a couple of hours, even meeting my husband for coffee on his lunch break.

When I got home, I walked past a mirror and noticed something. Hanging out of the back of my pants was a strip of leopard print faux-fur. Apparently, in my rush to get dressed, I had grabbed a pair of pants that had been lying on my bed, where apparently, one of my cats’ toys had also been laying. I grabbed the pants along with the toy and threw them on, not realizing that I had a cat toy hanging out the back of my pants! I supposed that if anyone would have said anything, I could have just said that I was writing a story about a cat and was getting into my character. ;-}

And the Winner Is…

“I LOVE to play Hide & Seek! They’ll never find me here . . . .”
Sent in by Joan! Congratulations, Joan! If you could email me offline, I’ll get your copy of Pet Jokes That Will Make You Howl! sent out right away.
And to everyone, thanks for playing!

Photo Caption Contest Deadline

Just a reminder: Tomorrow (Monday, 12/8) is the deadline for the photo caption contest (scroll down a bit for more info), so keep those clever posts coming in! Don’t let this opportunity to win one of the funniest animal joke books ever written pass you by (hmm…was that a bit over the top?).

Winner will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

Thanks for entering!


Photo Caption Contest!

Wow–where did November go? I just realized that I haven’t posted anything for a few days now (let’s blame it on the tryptophan!).

Well, now that we’re into the holiday season, I’ve decided that it’s time for some outright silliness. So, I’m having a photo caption contest. Below, you’ll see a picture of my cat—well, sort of. Part of him, at least. I’m giving folks until Dec. 8 to send me a funny caption (please post your entries–yes, multiple entries are welcome–in the “comment” section below). The winner will receive a signed copy of “Pet Jokes That Will Make You Howl!” (makes for a great holiday gift!) So, put on those silly thinking caps and let’s see what you can come up with!

Oh–and I suppose that even though I ADORE my cats and have been known to fuss over them in ridiculous ways, I should say that no animals were harmed in the photographing process. In fact, my cat did this of his own accord. I just happened to grab the camera once I stopped laughing.

New CYBILS Award Category!

The CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award) has added a new category to their list of contest genres: Easy Readers. Yea for easys!!! I love seeing easy readers added to the contest. I’ve always said it’s the most overlooked genre in children’s literature and this is another step in recognizing their significance. And guess what? I’m a judge for this year’s contest! Yowza! I’m so looking forward to reviewing the finalists and working with the other judges.

If you want to read more about the CYBILS, click here. Nominations begin Oct. 1, so start thinking about your favorite books of 2008 so you can nominate them.

Best Blackberry Recipe Contest Winner!

Drumroll, please!!!

We have a winner! The winning contribution for the Best Blackberry Recipe came from writer Jean Ann Williams of Santa Maria, CA. Jean Ann’s recipe, On-Top-of-the-Stove Blackberry Cobbler, has been in her family for three generations and originated in Oregon, the birthplace of Blackberry Banquet. It’s one of those old-fashioned recipes that doesn’t require many ingredients or measuring because you suit it to your own taste.

Congratulations to Jean Ann and a huge thanks to all of the other entrants. It was fun baking, assembling and tasting the various recipes; and it truly was a difficult decision to make. In fact, I couldn’t decide alone—I ended up soliciting a “panel” of judges for their opinions. What was one judge’s comment on Jean’s winning entry? “It’s like blackberry pie in a cup!” So, without further ado, here is the winning recipe:

By Jean Ann Williams

1. As many blackberries you managed to pick.
2. Sugar to taste and added in before dough strips.
3. Favorite pie dough recipe made with shortening or lard, not butter.

Prepare pie dough for either one or two crust pie, depending on how many berries.

Wash berries in a colander, careful not to squeeze berries and therefore losing juices. Dump into a pot, not filling more than 2/3 full. DO NOT ADD WATER! Simmer on low to medium heat. Stir occasionally. Add the sugar to taste.

Pull an apricot-sized ball of pie dough and roll thin on a cutting board. Cut long strips like for lattice weave about ¾ inches wide. Then, cut the lattice in half to accommodate layering into pot of berries.

Once berries juices flow and thicken and boil slightly, add first layer of dough strips. Let simmer for five minutes to set the dough, and then stir into berries. Repeat the rolling of dough and continue this until all dough is gone or you have enough dough to suit you in cobbler. After last layer of dough is stirred in, let simmer for five more minutes. Take off stove and let cool to warm in the pot or in bowls.

This cobbler is very tasty warm and with a side of ice cream. IF you have leftovers, refrigerate. Eating cold is another treat, but if you wish to reheat, then add a bit of water to stir into bottom of pan so as not to scorch.

I make this for at least twelve servings and use the double pie dough recipe (with maybe a little leftover). We’ve never measured our ingredients, except for the dough and it always comes out tasty. Did I say never add water when making? That is a sure way to lose some of your rich berry flavors. Enjoy! Our family has for three generations.

My own notes: (from Terry)
Because I’m one of those people who likes things in measurements, I’ll share the amounts I used:
four 6-oz. containers of berries (fresh berries are unavailable where I live)
½ cup sugar
Also, I kept a lid on the pot while it simmered to retain the heat and “bake” the piecrust pieces.
I served in custard cups with a choice of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for my judging team.


RECIPE CONTEST: Blackberries!

Friends, Romans, Children’s Writers and Cooks,

Lend me your muffins, pies, cakes and smoothies!

In celebration of the release of Blackberry Banquet, I’m holding a recipe contest! I’m asking for your best and tastiest original recipe that includes blackberries as one of the main ingredients.

The lucky winner will receive:
1. A signed copy of Blackberry Banquet with a special surprise gift.
2. Pride in seeing his/her recipe posted on my blog.
3. Pride in knowing that his/her recipe with appropriate credits will be used by Sylvan Dell Publishing as a part of their media release for Blackberry Banquet, which includes a feature in Sylvan Dell’s Aug/Sept issue of Book Beat, their bi-monthly e-newsletter, online posting and possible inclusion with other Blackberry Banquet media promotion.

Contest rules:
1. You must state in your entry that your recipe is your original recipe.
2. The recipe must include blackberries as one of the main ingredients.
3. Your recipe must be sent to me at with the words, “Recipe Contest” in the subject line.
4. Entrants must have a U.S. residence where I can send the contest prize.
5. Employees of Sylvan Dell Publishing (or their family members) are not eligible for entry.
6. The deadline is July 10, 2008.
7. The winner will be announced on my blog on July 22, 2008.

By submitting the winning recipe, you are giving me permission to use your recipe on my blog and you are giving Sylvan Dell Publishing permission to include the recipe with media information about Blackberry Banquet.

Thanks for entering and good luck!


We Have a Winner!

Drumroll, please! The winner of the drawing for a free copy of Blackberry Banquet is…
Stephanie Reed!
Congratulations, Stephanie, and a big thanks to all of you who entered the drawing. And stay tuned for another contest I’ll be holding soon (okay, that means I’ll be posting the contest and its guidelines later today).