August 15, 2015

The 5 Senses on an August day

Sometimes Lexington, Kentucky is just too darn hot to enjoy the outdoors unless you're at a pool.  But when the humidity drops, it's nice to go outside.  This is when I head to the deck.

On one side of the deck, a big birch tree screens our neighbor's driveway and backyard.  The opposite side overlooks a beautiful garden that has flowers which bloom from early spring to fall.  A row of arborvitae forms a tall green hedge against the back side of our property.  In the back corner of the yard, a thirty-foot Colorado fir tree blocks out the sight of townhouses.  Despite living in suburbia, our backyard is fairly private and quiet.

This afternoon, it's pleasant enough to sit outside on the deck and write at the table. I open the umbrella, scoot the plants to the side and open my notebook.  These are the five senses as I sit down to write.

I see:
robins eating flaming-red seeds from cones of star magnolia trees
a small black and white flicker woodpecker climbing a pole and perching on a suet feeder
hummingbirds diving at one another and taking turns sipping from a sugar-water feeder

I feel:
a light breeze
the soft rattan-woven chair seat
the warm wooden deck beneath my feet
the smooth tile table top
the cool moist clay flower pots

I hear:
chickens (yes, my neighbor has three of them) clucking and squawking
cicadas buzzing and holding notes impossibly long
the water fountain splashing and gurgling

I taste:
warm Seattle coffee slightly sweetened

I smell:
a dampness that hangs in the air after days of rain
chicken marinated in balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and dijon mustard cooking on the grill (ahhh...supper will be ready soon)

August 1, 2015

The Joliday Writing Contest

Last spring, Kid's Imagination Train had a nice response to its first contest.  In fact, people have asked us when we would offer another.  So, KIT is sponsoring the Joliday Writing Contest, which is open to new and established writers.

All you need to do is to create a 500-word fictional holiday story for children ages four to eight. The entry fee is $10 and the deadline is October 1, 2015. The story picked as the winner will be published in the December issue of Kid’s Imagination Train, and the author will receive $100.  

So, you might be wondering if you should enter.  It's up to you, but entering gets your work in front of an editor.  And you have the chance of having your story published and read by thousands of viewers.  In addition, winning a contest helps boost your confidence. 

Still deciding whether to enter?  Then, we have provided the judging criteria which can serve as a guide to help you create a great story.

Formatting:  Does the manuscript adhere to the word count?  Is it formatted as specified in the guidelines?  

Hook:  Does the first paragraph pull the reader into the story?

Main Character:  Will the audience care about the main character?  Does the main character change by the end of story?

Conflict:  Is there a true conflict, something that the main character can relate to and something the main character can solve by himself?

Originality:  Is the plot unique and creative? 

Voice:  Is the story told in a captivating tone?   

Age-level:  Is the story written for the appropriate age group?

Resolution: Does the resolution tie-in to the beginning and is it emotionally satisfying?

The editorial staff will review the entries and choose a winning story based on the writing criteria of the contest. We are excited about the new contest and eager to read the holiday stories. More information about the contest can be found on the KIT website or at this link: