Uncategorized, Writing for Children

MRS. NOAH is Selah Awards Finalist!

Top O’ the Mornin’ to You Friends!

It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of March and almost St. Patrick’s Day! I hope all of you are well, happy and looking forward to the beauty of spring that’s just around the corner. As a gardener, spring is one of my favorite seasons. It’s so much fun to visit my garden each day and see how my plants are getting on. The first thing to stretch its leaves towards the sun are the Lenten Roses. These brave plants don’t mind the leftover (or new) snow or the cold nights. They are determined to bloom by Easter, no matter what comes or what goes. These plants inspire me; their courage to be their loveliest in the face of challenges more delicate flowers can’t tolerate is a perfect object lesson for the writing life. Success in writing can often be summed up in just showing up and doing the work each day, in spite of rejection after rejection. My Lenten roses know what it takes to get the job done. Sometimes it seems the more difficult the spring, the more beautiful they are. The same thing is true about watching a story come to life and make its way into the world. The more difficult the struggle, the more satisfying the result.

I’ve shared with you the story behind the story of MRS. NOAH, and that’s why when wonderful things happen to this book the reward is all the sweeter. I found out a couple of weeks ago that MRS. NOAH is a Selah Award finalist in the picture book category! I was overjoyed to hear her name (and mine) read out during the finalists’ announcements. We’ll find out sometime in June if she wins an additional award, but to be a finalist is such an honor. I am beyond grateful!








In other news, I’ve opened back up to picture book critiques! If you or a writer friend is looking for a thorough and thoughtful evaluation of a manuscript for a reasonable price, please check out the PGWRites Critiques tab above for more information.

Thanks again for being on this journey with me! Here’s an Irish Blessing to take with you today:

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

May the rain fall soft upon your fields and until me meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.



Sensibility- Recognition of the work it takes can often be a long time coming. But what a gift when it does!

Sense- Take time to research contests as part of your writing week. Contests are a great way to boost your confidence and get the word out about your work.




Susanna Hill’s 8th Annual Holiday Writing Contest! MAZY’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE

I love the holiday season! And what better way for a writer to celebrate than by entering a holiday writing contest! This is children’s author, Susanna Leonard Hill‘s 8th year of sponsoring this fun event, and the rules are as follows:

Theme: Holiday Heroes

Ages: 12 and under

Words: 250 or less


And here’s my submission. . .hope you enjoy!



By Patti Richards


The stable was damp.

There was leftover hay.

No one would help

On that December day.


Snoring sheep snuggled

All warm in their stalls.

Mice dreamed sweet dreams,

In their nests in the walls.


But one mouse woke up

When it heard the soft cry

Of a baby just placed

In a manger close by.


“That little one’s cold,”

Tiny Mazy could see.

She grabbed knitting needles

And called out to Bea,


Her very best friend

Of all the barn beasts.

“We need to act fast,

Give me some of your fleece!”


Mazy carded and spun

As quick as she could.

Her fingers were flying,

While Bea calmly stood


As her wool became yarn.

Then row after row,

Mazy knit swaddling clothes

For the small one below.


Now, when Mary gets

Credit for wrapping her babe,

Mice and sheep the world ‘round

Know it’s what Mazy made.



Sensibility- Use the holiday season to spark new ideas for writing projects in the coming year.

Sense- Pace yourself and your writing based on the demands of the holiday season. Don’t fret if you’re not as productive as usual. Embrace this time and be present in each moment with family and friends.



Get Ready for the Madness!!! Poetry Madness That is!

It’s almost March, and that means Madness…for POETRY!


I’m honored to once again be participating in Ed DeCaria’s March Madness Poetry Contest! I’m in the running alongside 64 amazing writers. The writing begins March 8th with the first flight word matchups. Voting begins shortly after the poems are submitted. I’ll keep you posted when my poem is up and ready for viewing and voting!

So what can you do to help? Vote! Vote! Vote! And encourage your teacher-friends to register their classrooms as well. The winning group of students receives 64 volumes of kids poetry for a classroom library. At the end of the contest, each participating authlete sends a favorite poetry collection to the winning class. Not only is it crazy-poetic fun, it’s for a great cause.

So watch my blog and be ready to vote for your favorites! Here’s the link to get you started!


Sensibility- It’s the little things, like participating in contests, that keep writing fun. Look for chances to share your work in this way.

Sense- Writing from a writing prompt, or in this case one word, stretches your writing muscles and keeps you fresh!

And speaking of writing..don’t forget to check out PGWRites Critiques. If you need a fresh perspective on your picture books, I’m here to help!


It’s a Back-to-School Writer Giveaway! And the Winner is…

Thanks to all of you for your great writer-education ideas and for sharing your experiences! Along with all the amazing educational opportunities out there, learning from other writers is probably the best way to increase your own writer knowledge!

So without further delay (drum roll please)…the winner is Danielle Hammelef! Danielle wrote about her experiences taking the Institute of Children’s Literature writing courses. Thanks so much Danielle for sharing your insight about this great opportunity. Please email me at info@pgwrites.com and let me know where I can send your prize!  And for everyone else, stay tuned to Sensibility and Sense for more great give aways and more advice from one imperfect writer to another!

Sensibility- Adding knowledge to your writer arsenal is like adding fertilizer to your plants.  A few drops at the right intervals can make bigger blossoms and better stories.

Sense- Choose writer education that increases your knowledge of craft and boosts your personal creativity.


Happy First Day of School!



Building a Fan Base: The Bane and Blessing of Social Media

I had the privilege of participating in this year’s March Madness Poetry Contest hosted by poet Ed DeCaria on his Think.Kid.Think! blog. I was both honored and overwhelmed at the thought of being chosen as an authlete for the competition. It was especially daunting thinking about writing a poem in 36 hours out of a word I was assigned and being up against such heavy hitters as Jane Yolen and fellow Michigan SCBWI authors Shutta Crum, Buffy Silverman, Elizabeth McBride and others. But when the time came to submit and begin voting, a strange thing happened…the playing field became eerily leveled due to one overwhelming factor- the public vote. And where did the public vote come from for the most part you ask? Social media. I tweeted, Facebooked, Linked In and Google+’d my little fingers off to scare up as many votes as I could for my brave little poem. And even though at the end of the day I didn’t make it past the first round, I had a decent showing. The contest is in its final stages, so if you haven’t gotten a chance to read some of the great poetry showcased and vote, I highly recommend it.

So, not only did this contest help me dust off my love of writing in rhyme (I tend to think in rhyme-weird I know), but it reminded me of how important it is to build a fan base, or following, long before a first book comes out. Building a following is pretty easy these days since the social-media tools are essentially free and just waiting to be used. But if you never get the tools out of the toolbox, they are basically useless. I know what you’re thinking. “But I don’t have time to use social media!” “Exposing myself to the public makes me uncomfortable!” “What if someone steals my idea or my personal information?” “I need to spend my time WRITING, not posting on Facebook!” Believe me, all of these things are true to some extent. But never before in history have we authors had so many vehicles available to get the word out about our books and what we do. To put it plainly, if you’re not taking advantage of social media as an author, in many ways, you’re being left behind. Waiting until you sign that first book deal or agent contract is too late to start thinking about building a social media platform. Many houses and agencies want to see that you’ve already done your homework in this area before ever taking you on.

I know trying new things can be scary, but we’re authors, and that’s what we do. While you’re waiting for that next great book idea, are in the middle of revisions, or are putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard for the first time, take time to develop your online presence. Who knows, it could make the difference between making it to the “final four” and getting left in the dust!

Sensibility– Getting on board with social media does not have to take time away from the creative process. Use the stories of others to inspire and encourage you in your writing journey.

Sense– Balance is necessary in every new adventure. Use social media as a tool, but don’t let it take over your writing life.