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Thank you, PiBoIdMo participants, guest bloggers and illustrators. Do you know what you did?

You helped me raise $433.62 to donate to RIF, Reading is Fundamental.



Your purchases via the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop made it possible.


With Carol Hampton Rasco, CEO of RIF

For every $10 donated, RIF is able to distribute four books to a child in need.



So last month I made my way down to RIF Headquarters in D.C. I toured their offices and talked with RIF staff about the important work they’re doing.

One staff member had just returned from a county in Appalachia, where 28% of the schoolchildren were officially homeless, and where even more lived in crowded trailers with multiple families apiece.

The school Principal told RIF that amazingly, their test scores rose from 9th percentile to the 22nd percentile in just one year. To what did they attribute that growth? RIF! Now that these children have books of their own, they’re able to continue learning at home and over the summer break instead of being left behind. Books are AMAZING. But you already knew that, right?

As part of my trip to RIF, my publisher, the Aladdin imprint of Simon & Schuster, donated 100 copies of THE MONSTORE to the children at Bancroft Elementary in Washington, D.C. I was honored to appear at the school to talk to the children about writing and to personally sign every copy.



The best moment of the day? When I told the children they’d each be going home with a copy of my book. They cheered and hoorayed, and two besties in the front row hugged each other so tight they tumbled over in joy. Now that’s a great day for any author. Thank you, Aladdin and RIF!




I have something else important to tell you.

RIF’s donations have taken a plummet in recent times. The economy has hit them hard. So please consider donating directly. Remember $10 = 4 books!


Donate here. Or here.

And again, thank you for making the PiBoIdMo donation possible!

Every sale from the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop will continue to benefit RIF!


Shirt design by Tory Novikova and available in the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop!

Shirt design by Carter Higgins and available in the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop!

Shirt design by Carter Higgins and available in the PiBoIdMo CafePress Shop!


The following picture books were donated by editor Alyson Heller and her colleagues at Simon & Schuster.

Diana of Circle Stables wins SQUARE CAT
Tanya Finestone wins PRESENTING…TALLULAH!
Angela Peña Dahle wins CHRISTMAS SWEATER
Amanda Banks wins MONSTER PRINCESS
Diana Murray wins I LOVE VACATIONS
Mindy Alyse Weiss wins LET’S COUNT GOATS!
Kimberly Lynn wins LOUISE THE BIG CHEESE
Romelle Broas wins THE BOSS BABY

Congratulations and happy reading, everyone! Please check your email for a message from me. (Be sure to check your spam filter.)

Next up, the jewelry and greeting cards!

by Alyson Heller

As I dodged shoppers last Friday at my local mall, I came to realize that trying to find that next “big thing” in publishing is like to trying to find a great pair of shoes on sale—really hard to do, may cause some panic attacks, but once in a while, you will find the perfect fit.

We editors have a love/hate relationship with that “thrill of the hunt”—with every email from an agent, we hope that once we click open the attachment or email, there will be a pitch or manuscript so amazing, we will have to stop our day to read and convince our powers-to-be to let us acquire it. Most of the time, it isn’t quite what we are looking for—it might not be our taste, or in line with our house publishing strategy—but every once in a while, there is a pitch or idea that makes us pause our day.

For me, I always have that gut feeling—much like that fabulous piece of jewelry that draws your eye, I just know that I absolutely have to try to make sure that particular manuscript gets to stay with me, knowing that I would be so very bummed out if I couldn’t work on the project. There’s usually a unique hook—an idea that hasn’t been done over and over and over again—or a character that I immediately fall in love with that triggers that feeling. I also try to see if there is something timeless about the story; a book that you know readers will think is still relevant to their world 10 years from now—the little black dress of publishing, so to speak.

Of course, love for the idea isn’t enough to propel that manuscript into something that can go directly from my in-box to the local bookstore. Even though this may have caught my eye, I need to make sure that the story ultimately can fit into the overall marketplace and fit in with our list. That means a revision or two (sometimes 3!), making sure that the author shares our vision for their project, and coordinating the best PR possible for the title.

Though writing may seem like a solitary endeavor, the editing process is a team effort, and one of the great joys I have with my job. Even though it can be daunting, that chase, that knowledge that another fantastic story for kids could be sitting with me (or a member of my terrific team), is what keeps me going—and what makes this crazy, wonderful, unpredictable world of publishing so great. There’s nothing like finally seeing that finished product hit the shelves—and knowing that book will hopefully be someone’s perfect fit.

Alyson is an assistant editor with Aladdin Books, a kid-centric imprint featuring titles with strong commercial appeal for readers of all ages up to tween.

Alyson was part of the S&S Associate’s Program before landing her job with the Aladdin imprint and becoming part of a wonderful team. Alyson works on everything from picture books through middle-grade novels. She has had the privilege of working with some fantastic authors (and agents!) during her time with S&S. Some new and upcoming titles that she has edited or co-edited include Just Add Magic by Cindy Callaghan, Odd Girl In by Jo Whittemore, Sprinkles and Secrets by Lisa Schroeder, Cold Case by Julia Platt Leonard, The Monstore by Tara Lazar and I Loathe You by David Slonim.

In addition to her love for reading and writing, Alyson is also a huge fan of traveling, baking, eating things that are bad for you, awful reality t.v., and all things sparkly. She currently lives in Connecticut.

Simon & Schuster has generously donated several picture book prizes for PiBoIdMo. Winners for the titles below will be announced on December 4th, randomly selected from those who completed the 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge. Thanks to Alyson and Simon & Schuster for the prizes!

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