Three Random Questions Interview with Author Joy Heyer.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome Joy Heyer to my blog. Duck, Duck, Moose seems to be your first book. If that is correct, what inspired you to use animals in your book and feature such an unusual take on a child’s game?

Joy Heyer: I love puns and word play so when the phrase “Duck, Duck, Moose” popped into my head, I immediately pictured a fearful duck riding on the back of a moose. How did the duck get to the moose? Where was goose? What would it be like to play duck, duck, goose with a moose instead? Or a pig? Or a porcupine? And suddenly I had a picture book.

Ferrante: When did you begin writing and why have you chosen children’s picture books as your genre?

Heyer: I studied writing and illustrating children’s books when I was in college but it wasn’t until 2009, when a friend invited me to join her writing group, that I really started seriously writing and illustrating.

Ferrante: You have four children and are now a grandmother as well. Have you used your family as inspiration for your book?

Heyer: Oh yes! My children have been sad, grumpy, and lonely many times because their best friends were out of town. Watching them decide to be happy and make new friends is always a delight.

Ferrante: I see we have similar interest in reading, writing, painting, sewing, and dreaming up home-improvement projects. How do you balance these interests? Do you switch for a break after a long period working on one craft or do you do several at a time? How does this impact your writing?

Heyer: Drawing and painting are my favorite things to do so I have to make sure I set aside time for all the other things that need doing, including reading and writing. Fortunately, reading, writing, and drawing are interconnected so I find myself doing at least a little of each every day. As for home-improvement projects…well, maybe someday I will get to them.

Ferrante: Your bio mentioned that you have a dog that goes crazy whenever you leave the house. Do you think this pet might show up in one of your future books?

Heyer: Definitely. He provides me with lots of great story ideas—so many I hope to create a whole series of books with him as the main character.

Ferrante: That sounds fun. As a new author, what have you learned the hard way that you wish you had known earlier?

Heyer: It takes a lot of hard work and practice to be good at writing and illustrating. Who knows? Maybe I would be discussing my tenth book instead of my first book if I had started practicing earlier!

Ferrante: Absolutely. What are you working on now?

Heyer: I continue to draw and write everyday (practice, practice, practice!) so when the next project comes, I’m ready. In the meantime, I’m enjoying sharing Duck, Duck, Moose with everyone. Maybe I could start a home-improvement project…

Ferrante: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share?

Heyer: I would encourage everyone to find someone who is lonely and be their friend, even if at first they are grumpy. Just like moose and duck.

Ferrante: If you could MC any television show which one would you choose?

Heyer: PBS Masterpiece Mystery! I LOVE mystery shows and books. It all started with my first Nancy Drew book. Maybe one day I will write a mystery book, maybe a dog who solves crimes…

Ferrante: Go for it! If you could compete at an Olympic level, which sport would you pick?

Heyer: Snowboard Half-Pipe. I would love to have that talent. I can’t even handle little rollercoasters so all that twisting and spinning they do is doubly impressive to me.

Ferrante: That’s a gusty choice. What is your favourite children song and why?

Heyer: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, though in our home it is the Eeby-Beeby Spider because that is how one of my daughters sang it when she was little. It reminds me of the happiness one little song sung by a child can bring.

Ferrante: There’s nothing sweeter, that’s for sure. Thank you for answering my questions and sharing your experience with us. Best of luck with Duck, Duck, Moose and your future writing.

Book review of Duck, Duck, Moose

Recycled Sundays – Writers’ Ten Commandments

  1. Writing is your career and your destiny and you shall put no other jobs before it… Except what you need to get paid the bills.
  2. You shall not take the spelling of your craft in vain, but be sure to use both a spell check and grammar check. There is also nothing wrong with cracking open a dictionary.
  3. Remember your deadline day to keep it prompt, exceptions made for destructive forces of nature such as hurricanes and sick children.
  4. Honor your editor and illustrator, without them your work would be smoke.
  5. You shall not sleep with your editor until after your work has been published unless s/he is your spouse then, by all means, make that person happy.
  6. You shall not commit plagiarism, but may quote, and on occasion misquote, in order to fill your word content.
  7. You shall not malign your fellow writers even if they malign you. Just keep writing and improving until you pass them on the best seller list.
  8. You shall not covet the marriages of other professionals. The artistic are seldom understood. There’s nothing wrong with a cat. Or a dog. Or a cat and a dog. Rescued, of course.
  9. You shall not permanently delete today’s work for tomorrow you may need it.
  10. You shall not covet the bank accounts of other professionals, you are a bloody writer after all.

October 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Rejections – Recycled Sundays

A fellow writer was asked which magazine ran her articles and stories.

“Oh, I write mostly for rejections,” she joked.

The inquirer responded seriously, “I don’t think I’ve read that one.”

None of us have. That’s the problem. With the increase of multimedia entertainment, and the spiraling cost of books, publishers are far less likely to gamble with new writers. The buzzword is “marketability.”

To be fair, there seems to be more new writers than ever, many victims of unemployment. A popular or prestigious magazine may only have space to publish one out of hundreds of submissions. The competition for books may be even worse.

Take a look at what’s available in children’s books today. There are still incredible works of art and charm, like Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman, but they are competing fiercely against the “market-driven” fluff generated by Saturday, and daily, cartoons. Not only does every superhero, cutesy puppy, and valiant pony cartoon generate lunchboxes, stuffed toys, action figures, and clothing, but books as well. Many of these books have as much art, depth and originality as a cereal box.

Sadly the scene is not much different for adults. The public’s voracious appetite for talk shows has spilled over into writing. By the way, you’ll know they’ve run dry when they feature talk show host’s interviewing talk show hosts. Magazines run more sensational pieces than they used to as in “women who cheat on their husbands… And don’t feel guilty,” followed up by, “husband’s who know their wives cheat… And don’t feel angry.”

Spill your guts novels are rampant as in The Life Story of The Girl Door: Alcoholic, Sexual Compulsive, Self-mutilater and Collector of Hood Ornaments. Many of these are written with the same/and report style as a talk show.

Still there are editors and publishers who’ve managed to keep their standards intact. Swamped by submissions, they do not have time to personally critique a writer’s work. You may find it strange that and “emerging” writer will be happy to receive a private comment on a rejection form. The personal connection can be enough to spur a three-month rewrite. There are those, though, who find it painful because they still don’t know where to head.

For example, Lisa Powell’s fictional biography of Elizabeth Tutor has received the following rejections:

“This is indeed an outstanding historical and lives up to all the fine things you said about it… As I admired it, I didn’t feel we could do the right job with it in the current market.”

And another, “… There’s so much to admire here that it is with great regret that I’m returning the manuscript.”

And again, “this is a beautifully written and exquisitely researched historical on the Virgin Queen… It would probably be a high risk project in today’s market.”

“You should not be at all discouraged by the fact that we will not be making an offer for the book because this is an extremely publishable novel and a more commercial publisher, I’m certain, will positively leap at the chance to publish it.”

Lisa’s waiting for that leap, net in hand. Should any publisher give the smallest hop in her direction, she’s ready.

Some editors try to soften the blow with humour here’s one I received:

“Congratulations! You have been chosen to receive this beautiful hand-lettered rejection slip! We know you will be proud to add this attractive notice to your personal collection. For additional copies send your contributions to:… Note: in the event that your next contributions accepted for publication we cannot send you another card, and you will just have to be satisfied with money… Sorry – the editor.”

Satisfy me, already. I can take it.

Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, May 30, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Children’s Choice Book Awards – Are They Worth It?

There are numerous American versions and Canadian versions  of this award. There are also provincial/state versions so you need to individually research.



Children and teens vote for their favorite books.

There are different awards for each province, the one I know best is the Forest of Reading/ Silver Birch Awards in Ontario. 


It is run by the Ontario Library Association. It has expanded into four English and three French categories for grades JK to grade 12 books, fiction and nonfiction. There are also two adult categories. Specific categories must be published within specific dates. “The author must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.  The book must be commercially available in Canada. Unfortunately, self-published and print-on-demand books are not eligible.  Small press books with print of at least 450 are eligible.

The winners are listed on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Owl Kids, and numerous other sites. The Silver Birch Awards, and others, have celebratory events and books are well-publicized.


10,000 children participate and many more are exposed to the books. An official seal is available for winners. Winners may appear on stage at the Forest Festival.


Librarians looks to these lists for purchases. Some school and public libraries buy the entire list of finalists to encourage voting.




Voted on by 12,500 children

Books must be for children in kindergarten to sixth grade

Must be published in the United States

Many similar regional awards 


$300 entry for non-members. Competition is broken into five geographic locations.


The winners are listed on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, publisher’s Weekly, Owl Kids, and numerous other sites. Previous year’s winners are left on the site

Announced at a gala charity event


Stickers must be purchased.


Winners felt there was a small increase in sales.

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.


If you can fit the criteria for these awards, it is a great way to get your books into the hands of  children. These awards are held in high regard and winners are promoted for years.


Mom’s Choice Award

Reader’s Favorite Award

Kindle Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Kindle Book Awards – Are They Worth It?

Site –

Deadline – February to May each year

For Independent and small press authors


There are seven categories:

  1. Mystery/Thriller
  2. Romance
  3. Y/A
  4. Sci-fi/Fantasy
  5. Literary Fiction
  6. Horror/Suspense
  7. Non-Fiction

Each category winner receives $345 and publicity packages.


Submit online.

Entry fee is $29.00.

Books must be 25,000 words.


Winner’s lists from previous years are kept on the website.

Goodreads and Library Thing both feature a list of winners.

$200 in Free Promotion from The Kindle Book Review.

$200 Giveaway compliments of The Kindle Book Review

$120 in Free Promotion from Digital Book Today

$85 Free Promotion from


All Semi-finalsts (a maximum of 20 per category), Top-5 Finalists, and 7 Winners receive a Contest Badge. According to a winner, this was a jpg to display on the book. Stickers must be purchased.

Correction: “Badges have never been for sale, and are always given FREE of charge to all Semi-finalists, Finalists, and Winners. It’s a png, high quality image. If someone wants to pay a 3rd party to create a “Sticker” for their print books, we are more than happy to allow that (as far as trade mark is concerned) but we do not sell them–never have. That’s just an author preference. We are The Kindle Book Review. We only review, and judge “Kindle” books, so providing physical stickers doesn’t fit what we do.”


One winner who responded to my survey said it did not help increase sales.

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.


Unfortunately there are no children or poetry categories.

It is recommended by the Self Publishing Advise Center  (which is rare)

The entry fee is so inexpensive and the prize money is decent, so I think this would be worth entering.


The Award blog articles are based on Survey Monkey responses, emails, and comments I received on social media as well as research and some personal experience.

If you have entered any of the contests I have/will blog about and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

Mom’s Choice Award

Reader’s Favorite Award

The next  award covered will be:

  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Mom’s Choice Award – Is It Worth It?

The Mom’s Choice Awards are not just for books. The site reads:

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of items from more than 55 countries.


There are two prices to enter, $500 US to $1500 US both of which are on the very high range compared to other awards. The book has to be mailed to the United States.


Winners receive promotion for a short time. The product is left on the site for longer. Recipients varied widely in their opinion of the amount of promotion with “a little” being the most common.

Winners may feel there are too many winners at once making it difficult for their book to stand out.

Winners are inundated with ongoing requests for more money for more publicity.


There is no trophy.

There is no prize money.

Winners who pay $500 may use the Mom’s Choice Awards seal “for marketing and promotional purposes” BUT must pay the $1500 fee to actually put the seal on the books. Unless you purchase the stick on seals, 100 for $50.00.

Applicants are told winners receive “100 Award Seal Stickers” but when they win they find they must pay shipping. To Canada

$46.55 — USPS Priority Mail International

$120.90 — FedEx International Economy

To the US

$9.44 — USPS Priority Mail

$23.94 — FedEx Ground Home Delivery

The “free” certificate is a picture file the winner must print out.


Most winners said sales showed no increase at all with one saying it increased a little.


Although my book was a silver place winner, I don’t feel it was worth the cost and will not be entering again.

The Award blog articles are based on Survey Monkey responses, emails, and comments I received on social media as well as research and some personal experience.

If you have entered any of the contests listed below and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

The awards covered  in October will be:

  • October 18 – Kindle book awards
  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Reader’s Favorite Award

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Reader’s Favorite Award – Is It Worth It?

Deadline April 1, 2018.

The Readers’ Favorite Award site says:

Contest Features

  • Chance to win one of $50,000 in free prizes just for entering.
  • Chance to have your book made into a movie or TV show.
  • Chance to be published by an award winning traditional publisher.
  • Chance to be represented by a leading author marketing and PR firm.
  • Chance to attend one of the country’s largest book award ceremonies.
  • 20 more features including medals, stickers, certificates and publicity.”


“We receive thousands of entries from all over the world. Because of these large submission numbers, we are able to break down our contest into 140+ genres, and each genre is judged separately, ensuring you only compete against books of your specific genre for a fairer and more accurate competition. We receive submissions from independent authors, small publishers, and publishing giants such as Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, with contestants that range from the first-time, self-published author to New York Times bestsellers like J.A. Jance, James Rollins, and #1 best-selling author Daniel Silva, as well as celebrity authors like Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), and Eriq La Salle (E.R., Coming to America).”


They accept manuscripts, published and unpublished books in English.

“The contest entry fee to enter your book in one genre category by the April 1st Early Bird Registration deadline is $89, by the May 1st Regular Registration deadline is $99.00, and by the June 1st Final Registration deadline is $109. ” US$

Books are submitted online. (No shipping cost.)


Winners felt they received quite a bit of publicity.

There was a Gala dinner in Miami with press present.

Winners’ books were displayed at Miami Book Fair.

The win was widely broadcast over the internet & more.

Winners received PR photos.

Winners are listed permanently on the website.

“If you do not already have a Readers’ Favorite review for your book, we will provide you with one as part of your contest entry. Your review will be posted on our site, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. You can also post our review in your Amazon Editorial Reviews section…

All 5-star reviews receive a FREE “Five Stars” digital seal for your website and a high-resolution version for your book cover. Our seal can be seen on book covers from indie authors to iconic publishers like Simon & Schuster. All reviews come with a Readers’ Favorite Review Page and a host of free features to help you promote your book and your new review.”

“We announce our contest results to 115,000 libraries, 85,000 bookstores and 300,000 schools (elementary through high school) nationwide. We use a white-listed email company that professionally maintains these lists to ensure they are current and accurate. ”

and more.


There is a maximum of five possible level winners in each category. Although there are numerous categories, you book has a good chance of being noticed.

EXTRA BONUS PRIZE MONEY: “All authors are automatically entered to win one of more than 200 prizes worth a combined total of $50,000 just by entering the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest. Prizes are generously donated by industry experts who support our contest and our authors. Winners are picked at random, and it does not matter how many categories you entered or whether you won an award or not.”

SEALS: “Gold, Silver, Bronze and Illustration Award winners will receive a free roll of 250 1.5 inch high quality, embossed award stickers ($50 value) to affix to copies of their book.” Winners outside of US had to pay shipping costs. As well, winners received a digital seal to place on their books.

Winners received a certificate.


Winners said sales increased a little.


“I recently entered the Readers Favorite book award contest, and won a bronze medal in the humor category for my book “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive”  It boosted sales slightly — and I got a lot of attention for it.  What I really liked about it, though, was the review.  It’s good to have a relatively credible review on a third party site.  And it my book cover looks much better with bling on it (in the form of a sticker.)  What was annoying was that I had to look up myself to see if I won.  Is a form letter email that hard?”

  • Lori B. Duff
  • Ghostwriter (boo), Legal Writing Expert, Blogger, Humorist, and all around Fun to Be Around
  • Amazon Bestselling Author of “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,”  “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket,” and “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive”

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.


This looks like a lot of bang for your buck. I would probably enter this contest. However, Self Publishing Advice recommends caution.


The Award blog articles are based on Survey Monkey responses, emails, and comments I received on social media as well as research and some personal experience.

If you have entered any of the contests listed below and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

The awards covered  in October will be:

  • October 11 – Mom’s Choice Award
  • October 18 – Kindle book awards
  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Writers’ Awards – Are They Worth It?

Every Wednesday, beginning October 4, I wish be discussing Writers’ Awards. I won’t be discussing the tried and true like the Caldecott. There has been an explosion of available awards since the arrival of indie publishing.  These are the topics:

  1. Are they worth the time and money to enter?
  2. Do they result in increased exposure, recognition, and sales?
  3. Are they valid or are they a spin-off of vanity publishing?
  4. Are some more reputable than others?

If you have entered any of the contests listed below and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

The awards covered  in October will be:

  • October 4 – Reader’s Favorite
  • October 11 – Mom’s Choice Award
  • October 18 – Kindle book awards
  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Depending on the response, I may continue into November. If you feel strongly about an award being included, let me know.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t

I understand why so many bloggers are refusing to review indie books. You get tired of this kind of stuff. I think I’ll be taking a break soon. It’s hard to be energetic and positive when I get this kind of hate. I’m not sure where she’s reviewed me but I think revenge reviewers should be outted. (I didn’t even review her for cripes sake.) This is what happened. I see why bloggers burn out.

From: Alma Hammond (I won’t post her email)
Sent: September 10, 2017 8:45 AM
Subject: New Picture Book to Review

Hi Bonnie,

I popped by your website on a google search and was impressed by your blog of picture books.  I published a picture book a couple months ago that I would love to have you review on your site.  The book, in .pdf form is attached, along with a marketing piece I use to sell the books to stores (currently carried in 8 stores in the USA).

Let me know if you could be interested.


Alma R. Hammond


On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 6:52 PM, B.Ferrante <> wrote:

Hi Alma,

There is a lot I liked about the book but I felt the ending was a bit of a let-down. It was a little too passive. I’ll pass on this book but keep me in mind for the next.




Thanks B.  I left a review of Amida as well.  After reading it ( I bought it) I thought, what makes you an expert?  You have no talent in writing children’s books, so unoriginal and stupid frankly.

Author Jessica Boyd – Three Random Questions Interview

Bear Hockey is Jessica Boyd’s first published book. She worked as a senior creative writer/creative lead for Webkinz World ( for eight years. She was inspired by reading to her two and four-year-old daughters to begin her own publishing company, Buttertart Books.


Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Jessica. Why did you choose hockey as the subject of your first picture book?

Jessica Boyd: The title came first – I loved the sound of ‘Bear Hockey.’ The story told itself! It’s all about having a good time. It doesn’t matter if you happen to be a bear who excels at sports or, like me, happen to be a bear that just likes hanging out with their friends on skates.

Ferrante: How did you decide to use bears and hibernation as the central subject of Bear Hockey? It’s a clever and unusual idea to choose an animal that hibernates throughout the winter.

Boyd: I liked the idea of hibernation being the ending. The whole book reads like an actual hockey game – it’s fun, fast-paced and exciting. Until the last pinecone is scored, that is. At that point, the bears quiet down. They get cleaned up and ready for bed. The final two pages show the bears sleeping, which is the perfect ending to a bedtime story.

Ferrante: Do you feel children today get enough opportunity to play unstructured sports?

Boyd: I think unstructured play in general is something kids don’t get enough of. When I was younger (I was a child of the eighties), I’d roam the neighbourhood with my friends and just kind of meet up with other kids. Games were generally loose and made up of whoever happened to be around at the time. Kids need that freedom and time to use their imagination.  

Ferrante: You didn’t just write a book, you also started a publishing company. I see you used Kickstarter to finance your first enterprise. How has that gone?

Boyd: Kickstarter was a terrific learning experience! The most important thing I discovered was that it’s crucial to tell as many friends/loved ones/acquaintances/well-wishers about your plans ahead of time. People generally want to support your dreams – they just need to know in advance. (This seems obvious, but when you’re in the throes of getting a book written/published, it’s easy to forget the marketing part.)

Ferrante: You have two small girls at home. Do you have a structured time for writing?

Boyd: Not really! My writing time (and the time I use to work on marketing/running Buttertart Books) is when my girls go to bed. Occasionally I get an hour or two on the weekends, but most of my writing is done by the light of my computer screen in my dark office.

Ferrante: I have four adorable hockey cards representing four bears on the team. How can readers obtain these? Are there more?

Boyd: The hockey cards were an add-on we did for Kickstarter. People really liked them! If anyone orders a book through Amazon, I will send along two random hockey cards with it.

Ferrante: Maurizio Curto did a stellar job with the illustrations. How did you connect with this artist?

Boyd: Maurizio and I worked together in Webkinz World. He’s still there, actually! We worked on another book, Forgetful Eddie, a number of years ago. The book turned out really well (and will be one of the next books Buttertart Books publishes), so I knew who to turn to when Bear Hockey needed illustrating! Maurizio has a terrific style and his illustrations worked perfectly with the story.

Ferrante: You have a second book in the works, Duck Fort. Would you like to tell us a little about that?

Boyd: Duck Fort is about a clever duck building a fort to relax in…and then having all her friends drop by and ask for forts of their very own. It’s really funny, but there’s a little bit of a lesson at the end about appreciating our friends and thanking people for their hard work.

Ferrante: Is there any advice you can give to beginning picture book writers?

Boyd: Read, read, read. The more you read picture books, the more you’ll understand what makes them so special. I absolutely LOVE Phoebe Gilman (“Something from Nothing” and any of the Jillian Jiggs series are read quite often around here), Mo Willems (anything he writes is wonderful) and Jeff Kinney (I’m a total Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan). I have a gigantic picture book collection and I love perusing the children’s book section at my local bookstore to see what’s new (one of my youngest daughter’s newest favourites is “No, No Kitten!” by Shelley Moore Thomas).

three random questions

Ferrante: As a child, what was your favourite treat?

Boyd: Anything chocolate. Actually, anything with sugar in it. I have a huge sweet tooth.

Ferrante: What character flaw would you like to get rid of?

Boyd: My dentist would say the huge sweet tooth. I would say my inability to keep my office neat and tidy/my apparent need to work in a chaotic (but creative!) environment.

Ferrante: If you had limitless courage, what would you do in the next few days?

Boyd: Limitless courage? I’d go dancing, probably. Or speak in public! Or go skydiving. Or maybe all three. If my courage is limitless, let’s go big!

Ferrante: Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your writing experience with us. Good luck with Duck Fort.

Bear Hockey will be reviewed Friday, September 8.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages