Carrie S. Fannin, A #FallWritingFrenzy Success Story!!

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Hello world!!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome the awesome author Carrie S. Fannin. I met her during the #FallWritingFrenzy competition I co-host with literary agent Kaitlyn Sanchez. And if you participated in the competition yourself, feel free to comment below and share with us.

Here’s Carrie’s success story, in her words:

One of the things I love about kidlit writing contests is how they push me to grow as a creator. Fall Writing Frenzy’s beautiful and intriguing array of photo prompts each year makes me reach a deeper place than usual to find the story. 

But the process of writing ‘Once a House’ for the 2021 contest pushed me even further. It helped me take a leap that led to an entirely new role in the writing world.

While ‘Once a House’ didn’t win any prizes in the Fall Frenzy, I found myself with this piece that felt like my writer’s voice was coming through in a new way, that the poem was saying a true thing. Maybe it was working from a photo, which was a new thing for me, that helped me find my next gear. 

A few months later, I saw a call from Little Thoughts Press magazine for kidlit poems and stories with a nature theme. I sent in my Fall Frenzy piece and was thrilled when I received an email from the editor Claire Taylor a few weeks later that the poem would be published—my first publication credit!

But the success story doesn’t end there. 

I’d gained confidence from the struggle to find and write this story from a picture prompt. Another bit came along with its acceptance for publication. Then a little bit more confidence in the magazine accepting more pieces. And so, with the wind at my back, I took a leap and did something a little out of character for me—I asked if I could come onto the magazine as a submissions reader. 

It was an experience I’d always wanted, and I’m delighted to report Claire said, “yes.” 

I’m just finished reading the submissions for the upcoming “Autumnatopoeia” themed issue, a delightful mashup of the fall season and onomatopoeia as an inspiration. (More about the magazine and current submission opportunities here.)

From writing a story to publishing it to becoming a submission reader–all are successes that sprang from the fabulous Fall Writing Frenzy contest. And that from a story that didn’t win a prize!) If anyone is on the fence about whether to give entering the contest a shot, I say, “go for it!” You don’t know where it might lead. 


(See more below about the entry, etc.)

Time of Contest – October, 2021 

The prompt I chose:

(Photo credit: Julia Solonina / Unsplash) 

A reverse search on this image reveals the building is the chapel at Berg Eltz, an 850+ year old castle in Germany. The age of the property and location were two of the sparks for my poem. 

Read more about the castle’s fascinating history here:

My entry: 

Once a House 

by Carrie Karnes-Fannin (177 words)

She’d once been a house,

 but that was long ago. She remembered

 what it was like.


 stacked memories,

 piled like cordwood ahead of winter snows

 For at her heart

 were the trees.


 people called them,

 turning the black forest

 into boards and rafters

 And trees

 never forget

 those they’ve sheltered.

 Chicks under the eaves

 with broken shells clinging

 to their damp heads.

 Mice and their hidden highways

 between golden paneled walls.

 A girl’s laughter ringing in the hall,

 and through the years.

 she’d loved them all


 the wood reclaimed her

 as its own,


 time dripped down

 slowly slowly

 leafy crowns bathed by crystal rains

 fed the tender roots

 that coursed through cracks

 twisting turning tasting

 and drank deep from her well

 of memories.

 A thousand dappled suns

 kissed her ruined walls,

 casting shadows

 among the saplings.

 she loved them still


 under a frosty blanket,

 her bones slept

 yellow orange red

 drifting falling dreaming

 as the

 once-and-future girl climbed,




 the house

 who used to be a home,

 and would always


My interview with Little Thoughts Press magazine with more about writing the piece:

Announcement from LTP about my joining them as a reader:


What would you say to other authors struggling in the querying trenches?

If I could give one piece of advice to a creative who is querying, it would be to quit.

Quit querying? Not at all. But the words we choose to tell a story matter, and that includes the stories we tell ourselves. We often talk about struggling in the trenches—it’s as if we’re at war to get a book deal. It may feel like it! However, can you control how many “likes” you get in a pitch event? If agents respond to a query? The number of full requests you receive? No. Many of us (myself included) struggle because we’re trying to control the uncontrollable. And that’s exhausting.

So, my advice is to quit spending spoons on what you can’t control, send out those queries, and get back to creating the fantastic work only you can make.

How do you deal with rejection?

I’m going to be honest and admit that receiving passes can be super hard. Some hit harder than others. One of my coping methods is having many potential wins in the making. Don’t hang your hat on one project or one agent. In addition to querying, I enter a ton of contests (like the Fall Writing Frenzy!), apply for mentorships, submit directly to publishers, etc. That way, there’s always potential for good news just around the corner.

Who are some of your mentors when it comes to kidlit authors?

I received a formal picture book mentorship in 2020 in Justin Colon’s PB Chat program with author Elisa Boxer. And even now, I closely observe how she approaches the business side of our industry. In that way she continues to mentor me.

Though she might be surprised to hear this, Sara Fajardo has also been a great mentor. I’ve learned so much seeing how she navigated signing with an agent, her first book deal, etc., and from reading her gorgeous writing. When confronted with a thorny story problem, I ask myself, “What would Sara do?”

And just for fun, if you had to be an animal, what would you be and why?

I’d love to be a sea turtle. They are beautiful, serene creatures who travel the world and lead such mysterious lives.


16 thoughts on “Carrie S. Fannin, A #FallWritingFrenzy Success Story!!

    Jilanne Hoffmann said:
    September 23, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    I also forgot to say that it reminds me a bit of Julie Fogliano’s THE HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS. So lyrical.

    Liked by 1 person

      carriekarnesfannin2 said:
      September 24, 2022 at 4:52 am

      Wow–that’s quite a compliment! Thank you, Jilanne.

      Liked by 1 person

    Jilanne Hoffmann said:
    September 23, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    Oh, my, that poem! So lovely. Such striking images. It speaks to my heart. And clearly, the photo spoke to yours, allowing you to write so movingly about that structure. Thank you for sharing your writing with us! And congrats on your success!

    Liked by 1 person

    yangmommy said:
    September 22, 2022 at 6:28 am

    You are an amazing writer! Really enjoyed reading this post & learning from you esp the gentle reminder not to put all our eggs in one basket. Hugs & inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

      carriekarnesfannin2 said:
      September 22, 2022 at 10:24 am

      Thanks, Jennifer!

      Liked by 1 person

    seschipper said:
    September 22, 2022 at 12:16 am

    Great post! Thanks so much for your encouraging words and positive advice! Congratulations as well on your successes! 🙂


    chardixon47 said:
    September 21, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    Congratulations, Carrie. I remember your poem–it left a mark on my heart. I have those feelings for my childhood home. It still stands the test of time–just a bit weathered and worn. I know I’m going to see more of your lyrical voice!

    Liked by 1 person

      carriekarnesfannin2 said:
      September 21, 2022 at 5:20 pm

      “it left a mark on my heart.” –this has to be one of the biggest compliments I’ve received. Thank you, Charlotte. That means a lot.


    calliebdean said:
    September 21, 2022 at 11:39 am

    Carrie, thanks so much for sharing some of the unexpected ways that we can find success as writers. This was a great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    cinzialverde said:
    September 21, 2022 at 10:54 am

    Love this post! Carrie, your poem is beautiful and you are a rock star. You are such a great community force, and it’s wonderful you are a submissions editor. I can’t wait to see your books in the world, and thanks for the encouragement for the rest of us.

    Liked by 2 people

      cinzialverde said:
      September 21, 2022 at 10:55 am

      Oh – I realize I signed up on WordPress using a synonym pseudonym. It’s Cindy Greene

      Liked by 2 people

    Angie said:
    September 21, 2022 at 9:47 am

    What a wonderful post! I loved reading Carrie’s story (and her story). Thanks for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    Armineh Manookian said:
    September 21, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Carrie, your poem is so beautiful!! Congratulations on the publication and your new role as submissions reader!

    Liked by 2 people

    kathalsey said:
    September 21, 2022 at 8:55 am

    Love and know Carrie’s story well. She’s one of my critique mates and friend. So psyched for her and her jump into new territory w/Little Thoughts Press magazine. Carrie knows story and craft.

    Liked by 2 people

    Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez said:
    September 21, 2022 at 8:40 am

    Wow! Love hearing Carrie’s story! Thanks for sharing, Lydia and Carrie and great advice to stop trying to control the uncontrollable. Your piece is so beautiful too Carrie, such talent!

    Liked by 2 people

    carriekarnesfannin2 said:
    September 21, 2022 at 7:52 am

    Thank you for having me, Lydia! I’m looking forward to this year’s competition and reading all the entries. Who knows what successes they will lead to for so many fabulous writers?

    Liked by 1 person

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