Hi. My name is Ken. I'm a member of SCBWI. I'm your tour guide into Brianwoods, a blog dedicated to my children's writing endeavors. Thanks for stopping by.

Just for a minute, close your eyes and imagine you're walking along a forest trail. Listen to the forest animals, as they call out to greet you. Welcome to Brianwoods!

This blog includes some of my other writing and details on my published materials.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

2018 Susanna Hill's Valentiny Writing Contest

Susanna is at it again sponsoring yet another contest to help writers improve their writing and possibly win some very cool prizes. The rules are pretty simple, write a 214 word or less story related to Valentine's Day where someone in the story is hopeful about something. It can be a good or bad thing that one of the characters wishes for. Please see my entry below and wish me good luck.

Thanks, Ken

                                                                                                            Word Count: 213        
A Valentine’s Day Surprise
"Why did my first day at my new school have to be on Valentine's Day?" asked Rachel.

"Don't worry, "said Michelle."Our teacher, Miss Hart, is super nice. You’re the 23rd student in our class. We have a special Valentine's Day party planned for the end of the day with pink cupcakes and decorations too.”

Rachel's hands were sweaty. She thought ...I hope something nice happens to me today.
Math and Reading were hard. At recess, Rachel fell and skinned her knee.

When the party started, everyone was handing valentines to each other. Rachel's stomach felt funny. "I think I may need to go to the nurse again, Miss Hart.”

"Oh," said Michelle. "Here's your Valentine's Day box, Rachel."

Rachel's eyebrows raised. "What's in here?"

"It's a surprise. Take a look," said Michelle.

Inside the box, Rachel found 23 valentines welcoming her. But there were only 22 students in the class, not including her.

"Are you okay, Rachel?” asked Miss Hart. “We didn’t want you to feel left out so the class made you a special Valentine’s Day box.”

“Yes, I’m feeling much better, but I think there’s a mistake. I got 23 valentines, one more than everyone else.”

“That’s because I gave you one too," said Miss Hart. “Welcome and Happy Valentine’s Day.”


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Developing Great Story Titles

My research into writing publishable picture book stories lead me to purchasing Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books. In particular, Chapter 16 of the book entitled Grabbing The Reader with a Great Title takes you on a journey on the different approaches to devising a great title for your book.

Here are the names of the sections that Ann strongly recommends you consider when titling your story:

1) Brief, 2) Catchy, 3) Unique, 4) Straightforward, 4) Expresses the Mood of the Book, 5) Hints at What the Book is About, 6) Doesn't give away the Ending, 7) Creates Suspense, 8) Gives the Artist an Idea for the Cover Illustration, 9) A Child Can Easily Say it Out Loud, 10) Includes the Main Character's Name, 11) Use a Catchy Line From Your Manuscript, 12) Free Association, and 13) Turn to Outsiders.

Even before I had purchased Ann's book, I had been using some of these same ideas while developing stories and titles based on my research. For instance, I often tried to come up with catchy titles using some of my poetic background. My poem, The Skunk That Never Stunk, which was published in the magazine,  Advocate, PKA's Publication, is an example of rhyme and alliteration, (e.g. skunk and stunk).

I particularly enjoy titles that create suspense. My poem, Odd Animal Friends, which was published in Ladybug magazine, begs the question, what's so odd about these animal friends?

I encourage picture book writers to check out Ann's book to help them come up with a great book or poem title.



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Susanna Leonard Hill's 2017 Halloweensie Contest

Every year I look forward to participating in Susanna's writing contests. I especially enjoy the Halloweensie contest because I'm a big fan of Halloween. This year we were tasked with writing a story with 100 words or less about Halloween, which contains the words, candy-corn, monster, and shadow. I just came up with my story this morning after jotting down some notes last night. Please let me know what you think about my entry for this year's contest. Thanks, Ken


                                                            CANDY-CORN CAPER            Word Count: 99

Here’s the scenario:

Mom couldn’t find the bag of…
It was on the…
On Halloween night…
Dressed as a detective for…
I had to solve this mystery and…
My two-year-old sister was…
My dad was…
I needed clues, then…
A trail of little white, yellow, and orange candies…
From the kitchen,
To the hallway,
I followed these…
Into the basement,
Where a SHADOWY figure appeared.

Friday, February 10, 2017

My Valentiny Story Entry: 2nd Annual Susanna Leonard Hill Contest

Here's my entry into Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny Writing Contest. I hope you like it.

                                                                                                            Word Count: 210                                          

My Valentine

My teacher asked each student in my class to pick someone to be their valentine this year, make a card, and write about them. I picked my Grandpa.

When Grandpa was younger, he used to play dollhouse and tea party with me. But he is sick now. He has Alzheimer’s disease, which makes it hard to remember who people are and other important things.

I remember the first time we visited Grandpa at the nursing home and he didn’t know who I was. It hurt my feelings.

“What a pretty little girl,” said Grandpa. He asked the nurse who was pushing him in a wheelchair, “Is that your daughter? Why is she crying now?”

Mommy explained that he couldn’t help it. I understand that now.

Anyway, I think my Grandpa is the best because he still tries to play games with me even though Mommy has to explain to him that I’m his granddaughter every time we visit him. I can’t imagine how scary it must be for him to not remember his family. That’s why I decided to visit him on Valentine’s Day to tell him that he’s my valentine this year.

“Thank you for picking me,” said Grandpa. He gave me a big hug.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Grandpa.” 

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Major

Friday, February 3, 2017

Valentiny Writing Contest Sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Susanna is sponsoring the Second Annual Valentiny Writing Contest. Please see the rules below and good luck if you plan to enter.

The Contest: Write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) with a maximum of 214 words in which someone is confused!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone confused (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words or less for Valentines Day.   Your title is not included in the word count.  You can enter more than one entry. No illustration notes please!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Writers for Kids Work and Other Endeavors

Things have been going fairly well for my critique group, Writers for Kids, which I started several years ago. There have been some membership changes, but we are back to full strength with 6 active members. One of our former members just got an agent and has a picture book under contract. It's scheduled to be published in 2018, which is very exciting.

Group members continue to enter contests and participate in writing activities like 12 x12, StoryStorm (formerly PiBoIdMo) and things we read about through our SCBWI contacts. One of our new members just won a free one year scholarship to the Rate Your Story (RYS) Program. She was one of only two writers to be selected to receive this scholarship. The manuscript that won her the scholarship had been critiqued by the group prior to her winning so that was good news too.

Anyway, I continue to work on ideas for new picture book manuscripts and to tweak some of my existing picture book manuscripts, several chapter books and a middle grade novel. I also have been working on a manuscript and some illustrations for a graphic novel with an environmental theme.

That's all for now.


Monday, January 2, 2017

StoryStorm 2017 Formerly Known as PiBoIdMo

It's that time of the year to have some fun with Tara Lazar's annual event meant to motivate children's writers. I believe this is the fourth time I participated in the recently renamed event. As long as you register, follow the instructions and sign the completion acknowledgement form, each participate could win any one of a number of interesting prizes. Check out Tara's website by going to the below link. Happy writing and good luck to all those that register.