Oct 11, 2019


For fun, I decided to participate in Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez’s Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest this year. For this contest, participants were asked to choose one of ten fall images and write a 200-word (or less) story or poem about it. The piece could be happy, scary, beautiful, grotesque—whatever the writer feels like—for any kidlit age group, preschool through teen.

The photo I chose as my inspiration is below, followed by my entry. I hope you enjoy reading it! To read more entries, visit Kaitlyn’s website here (scroll down for links).

·        Name: Becky Shillington
Twitter: @BeckyShillingtn
Image: #7
Word Count: 195
Age Level of Prize: YA
Country: USA

Hi, it’s me!
I brought you a present. And I even wore a costume! I know it’s your favorite holiday.
You would’ve rolled your eyes at school today. The entire junior class dressed up as Disney characters, except for me and a few other rebels. Chloe Paxton sat in your seat in Chemistry (sorry!) wearing the full Cinderella getup—including the glass slippers! Even Mr. D. dressed up. Imagine the genie from Aladdin directing the band. Yep. It was interesting.
I was trying to remember all of our Halloween costumes today; Thing 1 and Thing 2, the twins from The Shining, a hotdog and ketchup. I gave our idea for this year to the Thompson twins from church. I hope you don’t mind—it was too good of an idea to go to waste.
Mom called on my way here, trying to sound excited. “Pumpkin pancakes for dinner tonight, Avery!” I guess we’re keeping up our old tradition this year, too?  
These dried-out flowers have to go. How did this get dirty so fast?   
There. I can see your name again. And our birthday.
Now I’ll set this right…here.
I miss you, Anna.
Happy Halloween. 

Oct 10, 2019


Our poetry anthology THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE came out on September 3, with contributing poets everywhere holding book signings and events celebrating its release. My contributor friends and I in the Charlotte, NC area participated in several events, as well!

On Sunday, August 25, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Chrystal Giles, Megan Hoyt, and I had a pre-release book signing event at Main Street Books in Davidson, NC. And on Saturday, September 7, we held a book signing at Park Road Books in Charlotte. At both events, Vanessa, Chrystal, Megan, and I each read our poems from the book and led an interactive activity. Audience participation was terrific, our hosts were amazing, we signed SO MANY BOOKS, and we all had a wonderful time! 

Vanessa, me, Chrystal, and Megan

Vanessa talking about her limerick poem

Then on Saturday, September 28, Megan and I signed books at our regional SCBWI Carolinas conference, Stories in Pictures and Prose, in Charlotte.  

I am so very grateful to my editor, Miranda Paul, for selecting my poems to be a part of this beautiful anthology. Each time I read through this book, I get a little thrill (again!) to see my work alongside these wonderful poems written by such illustrious and brilliant poets. And the illustrations amaze me anew each time I come back to them—Marlena Myles is stunningly talented!

If you do not already have a copy of THANKU, get one as fast as you can—you won’t be disappointed!

(To read more about THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE, click here.)

Aug 1, 2019


I am thrilled to announce that my poetry will be included in the upcoming anthology THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE (September 3, 2019, Millbrook/Lerner). The anthology is edited by author Miranda Paul and illustrated by Marlena Myles and includes many different types of poems about being thankful for all that we have, each and every day. The talented and diverse group of authors write about a variety of topics, each using a different poetic format, and Marlena Myles’ stunning artwork perfectly illustrates each poem.

The poems I contributed to THANKU are math poems—one of my favorite types of poetry—which I discussed in three posts in the past (on you can find these here, here, and here). I cannot tell you what an honor it is for my poetry to be included in this book alongside authors I have long admired, such as Jane Yolen, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Renee LaTulippe, Sylvia Liu, Cythia Leitich-Smith, and SO MANY others! I am also thrilled that three of my local critique group members also have poetry in this anthology—Chrystal Giles, Megan Hoyt, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton. We are currently planning two book signing events in the Charlotte area and are excited to have four contributors in one place!

A portion of the proceeds from THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE will go to We Need Diverse Books, a “non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” For more information, please here.

Please consider purchasing a copy of THANKU! This book will be a wonderful addition to your personal picture book collection and would also make an excellent contribution to any classroom library. THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE will be available through online booksellers and can be ordered through your local bookstores beginning September 3rd. "THANKU" in advance for your support!

* * * * *

An excerpt from the July 15th issue of Kirkus:  

THANKU: Poems of Gratitude
Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Marlena Myles
Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner
Pages: 40
Price ( Hardcover ): $19.99
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-5415-2363-0
Category: Poetry
An anthology of diverse voices united by the theme of giving thanks. In her editorial debut, Paul 
(Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born, 2019, etc.) pairs over 30 poems with Myles' (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscokee Creek) spirited illustrations capturing favorite things for which the nearly three-dozen poets represented here are thankful. Motivated by the sentiment that gratitude should be expressed year-round, Paul collects poems as varied in form as content...Myles' colorful digitally rendered illustrations help contextualize the poems, saturated, often abstract backgrounds complementing neatly outlined, diverse figures...Lovely lyric lessons in appreciating the ordinary. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10) 

An excerpt from the August 1st issue of Booklist:
Thanku: Poems of Gratitude.
Ed. by Miranda Paul. Illus. by Marlena Myles
Sept. 2019. 40p. Lerner/Millbrook, $19.99 (9781541523630). 

Gr. 1–4. 811
Authors from diverse backgrounds contribute poems (each displaying a distinct literary form) focusing on the concept that gratitude is appropriate in all seasons, not only at Thanksgiving...Myles' full-color digital illustrations exhibit variety as well, and she is equally adept at creating panoramic vistas, playground close-ups, and inventive collages...Appended with an explanation of poetic forms, biographical information on the creators, and an editor's note, this attractive and accessible collection should be popular with browsers and useful for creative writing classes. 
— Kay Weisman