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Hello, friends!!

Did you start to think you may never hear from me again? Have you wondered why I've basically dropped off the face of the planet? Perhaps not... maybe I shouldn't assume that people wonder where I've gone or why I've been so quiet! haha. But I do feel like for the handful of you who feel like I dropped the ball on a few things, I owe you a bit of an explanation.

First of all, an apology. I'm so sorry that I did not host the Kids Write Kidlit contest like I had originally committed to. I had been so excited about the event, to get kids writing and to get authors into virtual visits with these awesome kiddos. I know that some kids are definitely disappointed that this didn't happen. And all I can say is that I am truly sorry and I *hope* to make it happen this year.

Now, for an explanation... my health has not been grand for the last 9 months or so. I have PCOS and was having some really unfortunate side effects that made the summer months really difficult. So I told myself that instead of going with my original plan of hosting the Kids' writing contest in the summer, I would move it to October since a lot of kiddos have fall break then. But as that time approached, my health got even worse. I even had a cancer scare and went through a bunch of testing and some biopsies and a whole heap of worry and stress. Gratefully, I do NOT have cancer, which we confirmed only very recently. But it was a very difficult time and to be honest, I just didn't have it in me to host the kids' writing contest... running competitions just didn't reach the top of my priority list. Spending time with my own kiddos and hubby and focusing on my health is where all my time and energy went. I didn't even write anything new of my own for many, many months. Still haven't really. And while I am sorry for letting you down, I'm so grateful to you all for understanding.

Well... I have felt like I owed you all an explanation, so there that is. I am now doing much better. Still struggling with some health things, but simply knowing it is not cancer is huge and makes all the difference in my mental health. For those of you reading who are also struggling and did not get the good news you were hoping for, I'm so sorry and I feel deeply for you. Sending love and hugs.

Now... I can promise that I am doing so much better now mentally and I will be able to get back on track with this old blog. Starting with this announcement and following up with the amazing #PB23Bunch features which will start back up TOMORROW! Woo Hoo!

So.... now for the actual reason you all came to read this blog. I am ECSTATIC to announce the SECOND annual #KidsChoiceKidLitWritingContest (Yes, the hashtag is still too long, sorry. I will maybe rebrand some time when I have the mental capacity to do so! haha).

If you were part of this event last January, you know it was a BLAST! You also know that we had some hiccups. But I learned a TON and now know how I want to go about this. So here is the low down.

The #KidsChoiceKidLitWritingContest puts KID readers in the driver's seat. The KIDS get to judge your entries and choose their favorites in a series of voting rounds until we crown the winners. It's so fun because pretty much all of the awards, best-of lists, and best sellers are because of the choices adults make. But this contest is all about finding out what Kid Readers love and helping them know just how important their voice is.

How things will work this year (NOTE THAT WE HAVE SOME CHANGES!)

On Wednesday, January 4th, I will post the rules and all of the specific information you will need for THIS year's competition. (It will be slightly different).

You will then have 3 weeks to work on your entries and get them ready to submit.

Then, I will open a GOOGLE FORM through my blog on Thursday, January 26th that will stay open through 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Saturday, January 28th. This is different from last year because it was a lot of work for me to have entries in comments AND in my contact form for those who wanted to keep their work off the internets. So this way, EVERYONE will submit to the same form, and then you will have the CHOICE if you also want to submit it in the comments section for others to read and encourage you.

OPTIONAL: post your story in the comments section on the entry blog post (coming in January) so that everyone can read your story and give you positive feedback while you await the Kids' choices. This is a fun way to build community, but not necessary. Also, the GREAT NEWS is that Wix has fixed their notifications settings, so you will NOT be getting HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of emails when someone comments on the post. HOORAY!!!

I will then take 1 week to divide all the entries into manageable chunks for our kid judges (about 10 entries each). I will send them their first round of entries on February 4th and they will have 2 weeks to read and vote for their favorites.


We will have a middle round of judging for any really close calls. This will be a small set of entries (3 to 5), just to make sure that we know exactly who the kids choose for the final round. Kid judges will receive this set of entires on February 20th and will have 10 days to read and pick their favorites.

Finally, on March 3rd we will announce the 10-12 finalists in each category (as well as the honorable mentions) and the kid judges will receive the link to finalists' stories and have 2 weeks to read and choose their favorites.

Winners of the #KidsChoiceKidLitWritingContest will be announced via my blog on March 20th

This event was SO fun last year, and I cannot wait to do it again. This year, I will be suggesting (NOT requiring) that all entrants make a donation to help get the kid judges a thank you gift for their hard work. More info on how to do that will be included in the info post on January 4th.

For now, I need one thing from the amazing writing community... KID JUDGES! Applications for judges MUST be filled out by a parent/guardian. I am looking for judges in PB, MG, and YA categories and I especially hope to get a diverse panel of judges. Once again, this contest will be fully virtual, so kid judges can come from anywhere in the world, but must speak English since this contest will be hosted in English (apologies for that. I do still hope to find a way to be even more inclusive in the future, but translating right now isn't going to be an option for me... if you have a child who wants to participate but does not speak English and you would be willing to translation for them, I'd be more than happy to make that happen).

***Kids will nee to read (or be read to) a total of about 25 entries (of 200 words or less) over the course of a month and a half as judges. We will be dividing up the work into 3 rounds this year:

- 10 entires in round 1 (over the course of 2 weeks)

- 3 to 5 entires in a "close call" round (over the course of 10 days)

- 10 entries in the final round (over the course of 2 weeks)

If your child is interested in being a Kid Judge, please fill out THIS FORM (<--click for link)

* Note: All Kid Judges who provide a mailing address will receive a thank-you gift.

Well, friends. THANK YOU for once again making this possible. I love the community from this event. AND... I can't wait to soon share some GOOD PUBLISHING NEWS that has come as a result of last year's event... For now, let's just say these kid judges know their stuff!


To help spread the word, I'm offering 2 giveaways with this post... one for kid judges and one for future entrants.

  1. All kid judges who apply within one week (between now and December 19th) will be entered to receive a FREE book of their choice, mailed from me, in January.

  2. All writers who subscribe to my blog and comment below by December 19th will be entered to win a FREE PB MS critique from me in January. BONUS entry if you RETWEET THIS TWEET. Second bonus entry if you tag a friend in THIS TWEET

Thank you all for making this possible!! I cannot wait to see what comes from this!!

About Kailei Pew

Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and children's book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary.

Upcoming books include:

THE MONSTER ABOVE THE BED (Clarion/Harper, Fall 2023)

I SEE COLOR (With Valerie Bolling, HarperKids, Winter 2024)

KID-VENTORS (F& F/Macmillan, Spring 2024)

Learn more HERE

Hello, friends! Can you believe that we're coming into the very end of October?? I sure can't. This month is probably my favorite... it finally cools down in AZ, it's my birthday month, and I LOVE both fall and Halloween. (Love all things spooky, can't handle horror... it makes sense, really ;) But I hope you're also loving this time of year. Hopefully there are caramel apples, cider, hay rides, and pumpkin patches in your life right now, because really, we all need that. But as per usual, I digress...

The actual reason I'm here today is not to sing praises to October, but to sing praises to Malcolm Newsome! If you don't know him, you should! He is a force and definitely one to watch. I feel so lucky to be part of the PB23Bunch alongside such amazing authors, and Malcolm is one of them and the author of the forthcoming DEAR STAR BABY illustrated by Kamala Nair! So join me in welcoming him to the blog!

Kailei: Hi Malcolm! I'm so excited to be chatting. First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey?

Malcolm: Sure! How much time do I have? Hehe. Kidding! …sort of.

I’ve had the great fortune of having lots of varied experiences throughout my life. I think much of it was fueled by my constant curiosity and willingness to dive into new things. For example, since double-majoring in Psychology and Applied Sociology at Northern Illinois University, I’ve gone on to work in banking as a branch manager as business banker, have run a couple different small businesses, become a software developer and later an executive vice president for a software development firm, and I now work as an ethical hacker/penetration tester for a cyber security firm.

As for writing, it was something that I simply did for fun—beginning in childhood. I can recall making up stories on my parents’ new typewriter when I was in 3rd grade. In 6th grade, I started writing movie and commercial scripts as a way to convince my parents to get me a camcorder (they never did). And in high school and college, my writing took the form of hip hop and other types of song lyrics.

The real commitment to traditional publishing came at the start of 2019—mostly fueled by a desire to see the types of stories that I wanted my children to be able to read and experience.

Kailei: That is truly an amazing journey! I love that you wrote hip hop and other song lyrics too. I think we are going to have to see those some day!! But what great motivation to jump in and create those stories that you want for your own kids. So after that decision to commit to kidlit, what inspired your debut book?

Malcolm: Like the kid who writes the letter in this book, I had my own wonders, wishes, and sadness to process when miscarriages struck my family. And, in many regards, I still do.

It was only during that time that I discovered just how many others had similar experiences. Initially, I felt foolish that I had no idea of how many people had been impacted by unplanned pregnancy loss. Then I realized how taboo of a subject it is in our world. Over time, I came to think that most people don’t really talk about it in part because they might not really know how to.

When we went through it in my household, I didn’t know of any stories to share with the children I’d already had at the time. Such stories could have made discussing it easier.

Knowing now that millions of families are affected each year, my hope is that this book helps supply some words to aid on the healing journey for those who have and will experience this horror.

Kailei: That is powerful, Malcolm. I'm sure it was such a tough time for your family and what a beautiful way to heal and offer support to those on a similar journey. Your book sounds truly incredible. What message would you like for your readers to walk away with?

Malcolm: Miscarriage and infant loss has been such a taboo subject for far too long. In more recent years it seems that people have been addressing it more. But I think we still have quite a ways to go. I would be delighted if DEAR STAR BABY helps people have difficult conversations about miscarriage and infant loss—especially with children.

Kailei: Such an important book! So tell me, when does DEAR STAR BABY hit shelves?

Malcolm: April 4, 2023! (Of course you can pre-order now, though!)

Kailei: How exciting! Where can we follow you online?


On Twitter: @malcolm_newsome

On IG: @malcolm.newsome

On my website:

Kailei: Thank you so much for joining us today, Malcolm! I cannot wait to get my hands on DEAR STAR BABY and all of the other books you put into the world!


Malcolm is generously offering one lucky reader their choice of a PB MS Critique or a Query Critique!

To Enter:

  1. Follow Malcolm on Twitter

  2. Follow PB23Bunch on Twitter

  3. Retweet THIS tweet

For bonus entries:

  1. Tag a friend in THIS tweet

  2. Subscribe to this blog and comment below

Winner will be announce on Twitter. Thank you all for your support!

About Malcolm Newsome

Malcolm Newsome is a children's and Young Adult author represented by James McGowan of Bookends Literary. He is the cofounder of Black Creators in KidLit. His upcoming books include DEAR STAR BABY (@beamingbooksmn, 2023) and SYDNEY'S BIG SPEECH (@harpercollinsch, 2024). ​

About PB23Bunch

The PB23Bunch is a diverse group of 12 authors and illustrators with Picture Books debuting in 2023. We cannot wait to get our books in your hands!!

Hello, friends!! If you're a long-time reader, you know that Valerie Bolling is a dear friend (and co-author!) of mine. She has truly become such an important person in my life and I am beyond thrilled to chat with her today about her brand new book that released earlier this month-- Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! written by Valerie Bolling and illustrated by Sabrena Khadija.

Join me in giving a warm welcome to Valerie!

Kailei: Hello, Valerie! And welcome back to my blog. As you know, I always love having you and will always shout out about your books.

Valerie: I so appreciate you, Kailei, and how supportive you’ve been throughout my publication journey.

I’m also thrilled that we’re co-authoring I See Color. It has been such a joy to collaborate with

you on this 2024 title.

Kailei: Aww, thank you, friend. I am still just beyond grateful for that whole process and that we're on that journey together. But for today, I am so excited to talk about Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun!

This book really resonated with me and my own kiddos. When I first read it, I even got emotional thinking about my own childhood memories and the friendships I cherished so dearly. I grew up in a neighborhood full of kids my age and I have so many great memories that this book brought to the forefront of my mind.

Can you tell me a bit about the inspiration for this book?

Valerie: I’m glad this book resonated with you and your daughters. I, too, have fond memories of childhood friendships, including playing games together outside. I wrote this book to remind children how much fun they can have just by going outdoors. They don’t need expensive equipment or electronics to have a good time – just their friends and imagination. I hope this book inspires children, and their adult readers, to head outside to play!

Kailei: I love that so much! And absolutely agree. Nothing like playing outside as a kiddo! Do you have a favorite spread or a favorite line in this book? Maybe a favorite play activity that the kids are doing?

Valerie: All of the spreads are wonderful, thanks to Sabrena Khadija’s beautiful art. I especially like the basketball spreads, however, because all of the characters are involved in the game, either as players or as cheerleaders from the sidelines.

Kailei: Those really are great spreads! And as a whole, I love the illustrations in this book! The colors are so bright and vibrant and of course I love seeing such a beautifully diverse group of kids. Can you tell us a little more about working with Sabrena?

Valerie: As you know, Kailei, it’s rare for a traditionally-published author to communicate directly with an illustrator during the creation of a book. That said, it has been wonderful to work with Sab on Ride, Roll, Run. They are such a talented illustrator. What captivated me are their vibrant, energetic art that conveys the joy, movement, and sense of community I sought to evoke.

Kailei: They really did do such a great job! I always love hearing more about that collaborative process. It is such an interesting dynamic not talking directly with each other, but it's so amazing how the entire publishing team works together to make that happen. Now shifting just a bit, Valerie... you are such a prolific author! I know we recently talked about Together We Ride and I know you have more than 5 other books slated for release over the next couple of years. It’s amazing and I’m in awe at all you are doing. Can you tell us just a bit about how you are managing it all?

Valerie: Sometimes, I honestly don’t know how I’m managing it all. It’s a challenge because I also have a full-time job as an instructional coach. I try to make the most of my time outside of school, especially on weekends and during holiday breaks. In addition to making time for writing, I carve out time for exercise and visiting with family and friends. Trying to honor and balance all that’s important to me is not easy, but I do my best to manage my time accordingly.

Kailei: I think that is so important, Valerie. And from my perspective, you are doing it all so well! Now back specifically to Ride, Roll, Run. What do you hope that young readers will take away from your book?

Valerie: I hope young readers will go outside and play with their friends. I want them to know that they should have fun! That’s an important part of life, especially for children. So many skills are learned during play – not only physical skills but also how to communicate and work together to accomplish a goal.

Kailei: That really is so wonderful. And to get a little personal, my husband and I were just talking the other day about how we feel like the pandemic has really been at a formative time in our own children’s lives and how they haven’t really had the same “friend experiences” that we grew up with because of that. Of course, as things improved, we were able to have outdoor playdates, pool meetups, etc. but there’s still definitely a sense of things not being quite the same. And truthfully, your book gave me both a peace about what we have been able to give our kids, as well as so much hope for all the experiences and moments that are still going to come for this young group growing up during a global pandemic. So thank you for that!

Valerie: Thanks for sharing that, Kailei. We can’t deny that the pandemic has affected so many things, including kids’ ability to play with friends. I really hope those days of children running and jumping together have returned.

Kailei: Agreed! Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers today?

Valerie: Readers often want to know what’s coming next, so I’ll give an update.

In 2023 there will be sequels to my 2022 books titled,



My Scholastic Acorn early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS (illustrated by Kai Robinson), is also

scheduled for release in 2023.

In 2024, our book, I SEE COLOR (illustrated by Laylie Frazier), will be published. (If you missed it earlier, Kailei and I have co-authored a book!)

To keep up to date

about my books, please check out my website:

Kailei: Wow, Valerie! That is truly amazing!! I am thrilled for all of your successes and can't wait to read all these other books on the horizon. Thank you again for joining me today and for taking the time to tell us more about the wonderful Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun!

About Valerie Bolling

Valerie Bolling is the author of the 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award-winning and CT Book Award finalist LET’S DANCE! (March 2020). In 2022 Valerie is happy to welcome TOGETHER WE RIDE (April) and RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! (October). Sequels to these books (TOGETHER WE SWIM and BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM!) as well as a Scholastic early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS, are slated for 2023. I SEE COLOR will be published in 2024.

A graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College, Valerie has been an educator for almost 30 years. She currently works as an Instructional Coach for Greenwich Public Schools and, additionally, teaches picture book writing classes. She is also a WNDB mentor and deeply immersed in the kidlit writing community, particularly involved with SCBWI, the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, and Black Creators HeadQuarters.

Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.

About Kailei Pew

Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and children's book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary. She loves to write books that help kids see they can

do anything they set their minds to.

Upcoming books include:

THE MONSTER ABOVE THE BED (Clarion/Harper, Fall 2023)

I SEE COLOR (With Valerie Bolling, HarperKids, Winter 2024)

KID MADE (F& F/Macmillan, Spring 2024)

Learn more HERE

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