A chance to become a published children’s book author

Guest blogger, Laurie Isop, owns a photography business with her husband in Renton, Washington.   Laurie is the winner of the 3rd Cheerios New Author Contest for aspiring children’s book authors.

Got a story that’s been languishing in your desk drawer?  Well if it’s geared to children, you could have a chance to see your book published and distributed inside over two million boxes of Cheerios!  Now is the time to polish up an old idea or get inspired with a new one, because the 4th annual Cheerios® New Author Contest is taking submissions.  It’s a once-a-year, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make your dream of getting published a reality, and this year’s contest ends on July 15, 2010.  If you think nobody ever wins these things, think again.  I won it last year and it’s been nothing but wholesome goodness ever since!

I’ve been writing for nine years and this is my first book and my first writing contest.  My book, “How Do You Hug a Porcupine?”, was inspired by a prickly, real-life situation – and the personal encounter soon morphed into an idea for a children’s story.  After two months and about 20 revisions, I felt ready to enter.  Just hitting the “submit” button was a thrill!  Then I waited, and hoped, and waited some more.  The months passed and I figured it just wasn’t my turn to get published.  On October 24 I found out I was wrong, and that I’d won!

Take a gander at the prior winners:  Shellie Braeuner, a nanny from Nashville who creates stories to help communicate with children, was the 2007 winner; she conjured up and entered her winning story on the last day of the contestLori Degman, the 2008 winner, unearthed a 20-year-old manuscript, and after many months and multiple rounds of revisions, she entered her story, which was selected as the Grand Prize winner.  I approached the contest wide-eyed and hopeful, with scads of notes and a “do not disturb” sign on my office door.

This is a big opportunity for anyone interested in becoming a children’s book author. Best of all, it’s free to enter, and backed by Cheerios as part of an ongoing commitment to help get great children’s books to families around the country.  And the Grand Prize winner gets the chance to have their book published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and distributed in over two million boxes of Cheerios (that’s huge for a first-time author).  My book will be distributed in boxes of Cheerios next spring and will be released in hardcover in July, 2011 by Simon and Schuster.  My dream is now a reality!

If you’re thinking about entering the contest, here are some suggestions from me:  Keep the judging criteria in mind; try visualizing from a five-year-old’s point of view; and test your story on kids and adults.  Also, enter more than one story because you’ll get better with practice (I think I submitted five stories), and enjoy the creative process!  And most importantly, don’t miss the deadline, which is coming up on July 15, 2010.  Check out the website for details and complete contest rules:  www.spoonfulsofstoriescontest.com.  And I hope you’ll look for my book, “How Do You Hug a Porcupine?” inside boxes of Cheerios cereal next spring!