2020 Blogs

December 8, 2020
I waited until almost the last moment to enter Susanna Leonard Hill's holiday contest. Two rules: 250 words or less, and must be about a Holiday Helper, someone has to help someone in some way. I hope you enjoy my 249 word entry:


by Debra Daugherty


“Let’s decorate the tree,” said Holly’s mother.

Holly grabbed the box of glass ornaments. “Let me help.”

Holly held tight to the box. As she pranced into the living room, her collie darted in front of her.

Crash! Crunch! Crack!

Tears streaked down Holly’s face. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

Her mother sighed. “Accidents happen.”

After Holly decorated the tree, she followed her mother into the kitchen.

“Let’s bake Christmas cookies,” said her mother.

“Let me help,” said Holly. She dumped the sugar, flour, butter and eggs into the electric mixer, and turned it on high.

Swish! Swoosh! Splat!

Batter flew everywhere, on the ceiling, in Holly’s hair, and on her mother’s new blouse.

Holly gasped. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

Her mother took a deep breath. “Accidents happen.”

“It’s time to decorate the cookies,” her mother said after they cooled.

Holly opened the tube of icing. “Let me help.”

Squish! Squirt! Splash!

Icing covered not only the cookies, but the countertop and her mother’s face.

“Oops! I’m sorry, Mom.”

Her mother wiped off the icing and laughed. “Accidents happen.”

That night, as her mother tucked her into bed, Holly said, “I ruined Christmas.”

“What do you mean?” asked her mother.

“I broke the ornaments, splattered batter on your new blouse, and made a mess decorating the cookies.”

“You didn’t ruin Christmas,” her mother said. “You made this one memorable.”

Her mother bent down to kiss Holly’s cheek.

Bump! Thump! Whump!

“Ouch! I hit my head on the bed.”

Holly giggled. “Accidents happen.”

To leave a comment, email me at ddaugherty329@gmail.com or comment on twitter @dmddeb
October 29, 2020
Posted below is my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's 10th Annual Halloweensie Contest. If you'd like to offer a comment, my twitter handle is @dmddeb and my email is ddaugherty329@gmail.com. (To view my Fall Writing Frenzy Contest entry, scroll further down.) I hope you enjoy my 92-word graveyard poem.


by Debra Daugherty

Zombie’s graveyard bash on All Hallows’ Eve,

Drew hordes of ghouls seeking fun, not to grieve.

Skeletons, vampires, witches and ghosts

Brought food and gifts for their brain-seeking host.

Creepy eyeballs, spiders, beetles, and bats,

Were served on a tombstone by four black cats.

Zombie wore a mask as he stirred the brew,

His eyes nearly popped as his party grew.

A hag with huge warts sashayed with her broom,

While Zombie regaled with his tales of doom.

Witches and vampires danced through the night,

And declared Zombie’s bash ‘a frightful delight.


October 1, 2020
Beneath this beautiful photo of a sunflower is my entry for Lydia Lukidis and Kaitlyn Sanchez's Fall Writing Frenzy Contest 2020. It's a poem, titled A SUNFLOWER'S JOURNEY. Debra Daugherty


Image 14, The Sunflower, courtesy of Susan Kaye Leopold

93 words


by Debra Daugherty


Sunflower, Sunflower,

Open your eyes,

Gaze at blue skies.

What do you see?

Show sun your face,

Follow his pace,

Feel the soft breeze.


Sunflower, Sunflower,

Butterflies flap,

Bees buzz and zap.

Never look down.

Sun's cheery rays

Brighten your days,

Eyes on the crown.


Sunflower, Sunflower,

Robed in yellow,

Sweet and mellow.

Reach up! Stretch high!

When darkness creeps,

It's time to sleep.

Bid sun goodbye.


Do not be sad.

Rejoice! Be glad!

You'll see the sun.

A brand, new day

Will come your way,

Once night is done.

Journey on, Sunflower!


Thank you for reading my entry. I have no comment post, but if you would like to say something about my poem, you can find me on twitter @dmddeb. Or email me at ddaugherty329@gmail.com. Good luck to all who entered! Debra Daugherty






September 28, 2020
Summer's gone! Not sad to see it go, as it has been a crazy, messed up year. Corvid-19 has kept me home most of the summer, except for quick runs to Walmart for my grocery pickup. We've had some hot days, but the weather hasn't bothered me. Gnats have, and every time I went outside, I came in covered with bites. 
I'm spent many summer days on Zoom, watching webinars on writing. I filled several notebooks, and find these online lessons a balm for my soul. I'm particularly looking forward to watching Wednesday's webinar with author Lori Degman. I'm the SCBWI-IL Network Representative for the Springfield Area, The Scribes, and we are hosting Lori. She's doing a presentation on editing prose. She offered to show how she would edit the PBs of attendees, and I sent her my Christmas Jingle. This is what she wrote back to me after reading it:

Debbie, I just read your Christmas Day Jingle - it's fabulous!  I really think Sleeping Bear Press would love it.  If you'd like, I can ask my editor there if she'll look at it.  There are a couple of rhymes that aren't true rhymes, which you can get away with in a song, but you should fix for a book.  They should be easy to fix.

I won't be able to use it in the webinar because there's really nothing that needs editing!

Congrats on writing such a fun story!


I considered this high praise coming from someone as talented as Lori. At a time when I doubted my work, she gave me hope.

This week I also received a nice rejection letter from an agent I admire. Lynnette Novak wrote: Thank you for sending BELLA JOINS THE CIRCUS. This is cute and funny! I can imagine the illustrations that would go with this story. Unfortunately, while I liked this, I didn't love it enough to offer representation, so I have to pass. Keep querying. Another agent might feel differently.

She liked my work and considered it cute and funny. I'm disappointed she didn't offer representation, but again, she gave me hope.

The SCBWI has been good to me. Not only did I win the Kathryn O'Connor Memorial Scholarship for this November's Interactive 2020 three day webinar, I was gifted a free critque with an editor from an anonymous donor. I chose a critique with Meghan McCullough, assistant editor at Levine Querido. I sent the synopsis and first ten pages for VOTE FOR MAX, my middle grade novel about a dog that is elected mayor.

I have been writing and revising a poem for the Fall Writing Frenzy Contest that starts October 1st. This contest is sponsored by Lydia Lukidis and Kaitlyn Sanchez, and the prizes are amazing. Winning a critique is high on my list. My entry will be posted on this blog.

I've been jotting down picture book ideas, but haven't started to write any yet. It's hard sometmes to be motivated, with all that is happening in the world. I should stay away from the news, but that's hard to do, too. Many days I feel drained of energy.

There is still a lot to be grateful for during these trying times. One thing I am thankful for is the fact that the biopsy of my tongue came back as not malignant. My dentist had me fearing the worst when I developed lesions on the side of my tongue. I'm also grateful that my brother, his daughter, and his grandson plan to visit in October. They live in Texas, and although I am looking forward to their visit, I am also fearful for them to be traveling when the coronavirus is still wrecking havoc with people's lives. They are coming to help me with my yardwork, and to fix my roof. I haven't seen my niece and her son for three years. Austin will be 22 this December. We will have a lot of catching up to do. I'm sure to use a lot of tissues, too, when I see them. Tears of joy.

With that note, I am signing off. Stay safe. Stay healthy. And keep on writing!

August 28, 2020
This is a year I'm sure many will want to erase from their memories. Corvid-19 is still here, increasing its toll on human suffering and human life. I am thankful it has not affected me or any members of my family. I follow the rules, stay at home, wear a mask when out.
The writing community has been supportive through this pandemic. SCBWI, The Highlight Foundation, and Jon Bard and Laura Backes via Kidlit Distancing Socials have offered numerous webinars for writers and illustrations at no cost, and I've taken advantage of as many as possible. I've kept a list, and counted close to 100 webinars and "chats" that I have watched since the middle of March. I have filled 4 notebooks and am on my fifth. These webinars have been a lifeline to me, as I live alone and have felt so isolated since this pandemic started.
I've found some terrific critique partners via Kidlit 411 Facegroup page, and have read some wonderful stories by the authors who critiqued my work. I especially enjoyed exchanging pages with an author who lives in Ireland. Her work contained Celtic words unfamiliar to me, even though my ancestors hailed from Ireland and Scotland.
Much of my time has been spent revising my middle grade manuscripts, and the first story in my YA series. I have also written three new picture book stories. I won a critique on twitter, and the suggestions I received on one of them helped me polish my work to my satisfaction. (I'm not easily pleased and am the harshest of critics on my own work.)
As the SCBWI-IL representative for the Springfield, Illinois area, I've made sure my group still connects via Zoom. We all miss meeting in person at the Chatham Library, but at least we are still sharing our work for critiques, and working to improve our craft. We are having a guest speaker in September. Lori Degman, author of COCK-A-DOODLE OPPS!, JUST READ, LIKE A GIRL, and TRAVEL GUIDE FOR MONSTERS, has agreed to give a talk on editing, and has even offered to use our pages with edit suggestions for her presentation! We are both lucky and honored to have her, and are looking forward to September 30th. We have also invited the SCBWI-IL chapters to join us as it will be on Zoom.
Being home this summer has spurred me to submit and I have sent numerous queries on several different stories to agents and publishers, depending on their tastes. My goal is to be traditonally published. Although I am a published author, my work has only been showcased as e-books or online publications. My deepest wish is to be able to hold my books in my hand, and to see them on bookshelves at libraries and in book stores.
Twitter has been kind to me. Besides connecting with other authors, it has given me a chance to win books. This summer I won five. I treasure each one, and besides giving the book a review on Goodreads, I continue to promote these authors' work on social media, with retweets and praise of their books.
Our world has definitely changed, as I've learned the times I've had doctor and dentist appointments. Rules are to call the office and say, "I'm here," then wait for the nurse to call back and say, "It's okay to come in." Everyone wears a mask, which is great, but I have trouble hearing, and can no longer read lips. Hand sanitizer is kept in my purse, and I use it after shopping in stores or picking up items in a drive-thru. The new normal.
Even my dogs are confused when I take them to get their nails trimmed. I can only imagine what they think when they see everyone in masks.
When I write, I wonder if I need to adjust for the changes in the world, or write as if the pandemic never happened. My YA series is set in London, Paris and Rome, and now travel is so restricted, my MC would probably not be allowed to these countries. I decided to revise these stories and set them in 2018. My protagonist starts with the date and a notation, like one would write in a journal, then tells what happened. It actually works quite well, and I can have her visiting sites that now are closed to the public.
On that note, I shall sign off. Stay healthy and safe, and hopefully we'll return to the old normal soon. At least a new version of it.
Keep writing!
April 29, 2020
The first month of Illinois's stay-at-home order is almost over. The Governor has extended it until May 30th. The Corvid-19 virus has changed the world in how people live, work, receive schooling, travel, shop, dine out, etc. Some days I feel like I am living in a Sci-fi movie or book. This can't be reality, and yet, it is. My heart aches for every life lost. Presently globally, over three million people have the virus and almost two million are sick. A quarter of a million people have died. In the US, over one million have the virus and over 60,000 have died. These numbers overwhelm me. And they scare me. I am staying home, except to buy groceries or pick up my meds.
Today was grocery day. I order online at Walmart and pay with a credit card. At my appointed day and time, I drive to the pick up area and call the number on the sign to let them know I am there. The groceries are  brought to my car and placed in my trunk with no contact with the person. I was able to buy flour today, but the yogurt I ordered was not available. Also, no hamburger buns, but I did get hot dog buns. I haven't been able to buy toilet paper at Walmart since this pandemic started. Fortunately, Menard's received a shipment when I was down to my last roll. I was told to be at the store within an hour after I called, else their supply would be gone. I made it and my supply is good for at least three weeks.
If it wasn't for all the people being sick and/or dying, there would be reasons to be thankful for this pandemic. Families are reconnecting, spending quality time together. Heroes are stepping up, the amazing doctors, nurses, caregivers, police, firemen, etc. People are showing kindness. There's a new kind of unity forming with neighbors checking on each other, some even singing from their balconies, families are meeting on zoom for face-to-face visits, families are cooking together and pets are benefiting with their owners being home.
As a writer, I am finding comfort and encouragement through the writing community. Free writing webinars are being offered by the SCBWI, The Highlight Foundation, Children's Book Insider, etc. It's wonderful for these organizations and the authors/guest speakers to give back to the writing community.
My writers group still meet once a month, but now online via zoom. We still share works for critiques, and offer helpful information. As the SCBWI-IL representative for the Springfield area, I've had to learn how to use zoom for these meetings. I love it! At our last meeting, we discussed the book we plan to read together, THE MAGIC WORD by Cheryl Klein. I gave everyone an assignment, to make a 2 column, 14 row PB book dummy. Since I've learned to so this, I am making one for all my PBs. It's a great way to envision page turns and if a sentence needs shorted. I'm hoping my group tries this at least once, and then they can decide if they want to use this method or not.
For our May meeting, I've asked one of our members to play the ukulete for us. She is learning how to play during her time at home. I thought a sing-a-long might cheer us up. Another member is going to talk about her method to keep track of her finished manuscripts and works-in-progress.
At first I wasn't sure I could write during these trying days. Everything is so tragic, so sad. Yet I have managed to write 2 PBs and do revision/edits on my Middle Grade novel. I'm thankful to my critique partner, Shannon Williams, whom I met online via twitter. We exchanged our manuscripts and helped each other. I have worked on my novel until I feel it shines. This meant cutting out sentences, paragraphs and pages. I hope a publisher or agent feels the same way I do about my story, as I am sending it out.
I am also submitting some PBs, and plan to participate in a twitter pitch event this Friday. #WMPitch. The time for this pitch is 8 AM-8 PM (BST) (British Standard Time), which translate to 2 AM-2 PM in Central time. I figure an agent can work from anywhere, so why not try.
For the time being, I plan on staying home, staying safe and healthy. My hope is this pandemic slows down soon, and then disappears. I have a feeling we'll never go back to what we consider normal. We'll have a new normal to live by, but if it keeps people safe, I'm okay with it.
I'm thankful my family is safe, and I pray they stay that way. I'm grateful for all my writer friends who offer encouragement and advice. I'm grateful for the webinars I've been able to watch and feel they have helped me improve my writing. I thank God for each day, and feel blessed for all the good in my life.
My goal remains the same, to find an agent and be traditionally published, and to that end I will keep on writing.
Blessings to all!
NOTE: The Spring Fling contest is over. There were over 300 entries and 20 winners. I was not one, but a friend whose story I helped edit did receive notice that her story had been in the running. She didn't win either, but received high praise for her writing. This made me happy for her, and for me because I played a part in her writing journey.
April 7, 2020
For Spring Fling Writing Contest with 150 words:


by Debra Daugherty


Morning spilled dew across the rolling green hills of fair Ireland. Miranda fluttered from buds to blooms with her paintbrush and palette. “Spring is here. It’s time to color the flowers in the meadow.”

Miranda studied her chart. Blue for forget-me-nots. Daisies, white petals, yellow centers.

She dabbed her brush in the paint, then splashed the pale flowers sprouting from the earth. “Now they sparkle.”

Miranda flew to her next assignment. Paint the roses red, pink, and yellow.

She stared at the blossoms. “Why not purple, my favorite color?”

Miranda mixed the red and blue paint, then splattered the tint on the roses. She hovered midair and admired her work. “Oh my! They’re beautiful!”

She tapped the delicate petals with her brushes, like beating on a drum.

“Listen to the robins sing.

La, la, la, oh, happy Spring.

Flowers blooming everywhere.

La, la, la, la, Spring is here!”


Site where I found GIF:



February 29, 2020
My entry for Vivian Kirkfield's #50 Precious Words writing contest:

                        RABBIT’S BIG DAY

                        by Debra Daugherty


February 29th. Rabbit poked his head out of his hole. Snow!

Hop! Hop! Hop!

Rabbit’s paws tingled from the cold as he bounced up and down.

When Hawk flew overhead, Rabbit burrowed under the snow and hid.

Hawk left. Safe!

Hop! Hop! Hop!

Why is Rabbit hopping?

It’s Leap Year!

February 26, 2020
Update on my writing journey:
Today, as I stare out my window at the snow, I can't help but feel lucky to be in my warm, home sitting at my keyboard. This is a perfect day to stay inside and write. With March close at hand, I hope it means Spring weather will come soon. But I can remember some very rough March days with heavy snowfall, and even an ice storm that wiped out electicity in my neighborhood for nine days. 
I've made use of the time spent indoors this January and February. I've sent out at least 40 submissions for 11 different manuscripts. I participated in StoryStorm, and from my 30 ideas, I have already written five stories. My writers group have had two productive meetings. In January, eleven members attended the meeting, a record for our group. I remember only two or three in years past. My group's assignment was to do a picture book dummy, and in February, we shared our visions. I found doing a dummy improved my story. I discovered words and pages I did not need. This is a tool I will continue to use.
I entered Susannah Leonard Hill's valentine contest. You can see my entry in the last blog post. I did not win, but had fun competing and reading what others wrote. Friday, I am entering Vivian Kirkfield's #50 Precious Words contest. My story is ready to post. It's not easy writing a story with just 50 words, but I loved the challenge, and am looking forward to reading the other entries.
Februrary I've participated in NFfest, Non-fiction Fest. This is not a genre I write, but the lessons and posts can apply to fiction stories, too. I am learning so much about the non-fiction writing process and the research that is done before the story is written. I identify with this as I've done ton of research for my fiction novels, especially the comtemporary ones, so the setting and dialogue is realistic.
These first two months I've enjoyed online webinars, three in one week in January. Last Saturday, I watched Pat Zietlow Miller's SCBWI-Utah/Southern Idaho's webinar on Cutting the Fluff. As a result, I cut 160 words from one of my PBs. Write On Con had a three day online conference, and for $10, I was able to watch or read 26 podcasts, blogs and videos about writing on each day. That's 78 total. These posts were given by authors, editors, agents and publishers. An amazing lineup, and a wealth of information. I filled 1 1/2 notebooks with notes.
Last Saturday on twitter, it was #CPMatch, critique partner match. I hesitated, but decided to list my NaNoWriMo MG story to see if someone would like to swap manuscripts with me. I feel lucky in having Shannan Williams for my new critique partner. She lives in Georgia and has two children. She's written an amazing MG story which I am enjoying tremendously. Her writing is superb, but I have been able to offer some suggestions/input. In return, she's given me invaluable advice on my novel. It meant cutting out pages of dialogue, but they weren't needed or necessary for my story anyway, and were only dragging the pace. She also has me using Google Docs and highlighting and leaving comments. I'm a newbie with this. I did try four years ago with my editor on the novel that was published, but had problems with it. I've always printed out the pages and did handwritten critiques, but thanks to Shannan, that may be in my past.
There are some writing grants, either available now or soon, which I plan to submit pages. Ann Whitford Paul has one, and then SCBWI has several. Even if not chosen, it's good practice. I participated in #AMM, author mentor match, hoping to be chosen as a mentee, but there were 1000 submissions and only 54 mentors. 
Not to do with writing, but I had good news yesterday. In 2016, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, and had surgery on March 14, 2016. It involved a total hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes. Since then, I've had doctor appointments to make sure the cancer hasn't returned. It started out with quarterly appointments, then twice a year, then once a year. Yesterday was my four year checkup, and the report was good. I have one more year to go before my doctor will dismiss me, so March 3, 2021 will hopefully be a day of celebration.
When I was going through my cancer scare and having doctor appointments, MRIs, sonograms, biopsies and surgery, I was also doing edits for my novel, preparing it for publiction. My publisher did not know at the time that I had cancer, (I found out the same day she offered me a contract), and I never missed an edit round. I believe knowing my novel was being published, and doing the work on it while recovering after surgery, gave me hope. I had something to occupy my mind, rather than the Big C. And I was lucky, I did not need chemo or radiation after the surgery.
#PitMad is the first Thursday in March. I enjoy pitching, and keep a file with pitches for all my stories, so all I need to do is copy and paste. I found my publisher for The Dragon's Ring during a twitter event. It was #Pit2Pub, pitch to publication. My pitch received two likes that day, and Stephanie, the publisher for Clean Reads, offered me a contract.
The Chatham Library, where my writers group meet each month, is having an Author Fair in May, and I am going to be one of the authors in attendence. My only regret is my book is an e-book, so I won't be able do do any book signings.
My goal is to find an agent to submit my work to traditional publishers. I do submit to small presses when they have open submission days. I want to have a book traditionally published so I can do book signings and meet and interact with my young readers. It would be the best feeling in the world to go into a book store or library and find my book on their shelves. I want to share my writing with the world, and to bring smiles to the children and adults who read my books.
Being a writer takes perserverance. It involves hard work with revisions after revisions. But the journey to publication is amazing. You meet other writers and make new friends, you learn learn and hone the craft, and then you share what you know with other writers. Wriers helping writers .And all the hard work is worth it in the end! My advice to you is...
Keep on writing!
February 14, 2020
Happy Valentine's Day! Posted below is a 214 word story for Susanna Leonard Hill's 5th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest.


by Debra Daugherty


On the table I spied a small box tied with red ribbon. A present? For me?

My fingers trembled as I read the attached note.

Do not open! Inside is your valentine gift, but you can never see it.

Love, Mom.

A gift I can’t open? Is this a joke? Or a test to see if I obey?

My curiosity piqued when I picked up the box. Light and airy. I held the box near my ear and shook it. It made no sound.

My mind searched for items that would fit in the tiny box. Earrings? A bracelet? A necklace?

But wouldn’t the box had rattled when I shook it?

Maybe there are tickets to a concert. Or money.

But if any of these gifts were in the box, why couldn’t I see them?

It took all my willpower not to rip off the ribbon and open the lid.

As soon as my mother walked in the door, I pointed to the box. “Why can’t I open my gift?”

“I’m surprised you didn’t peek,” she laughed. “The box is filled with all my love. Whenever you are sad or lonely, hold it close to your heart. You can’t see my love, but you can feel it.”

I hugged my mother. “Best gift ever.”