Debut Review Challenge with Stephanie Ward

Welcome to the Debut Review Challenge Blog, Stephanie! Thanks for joining me today and participating in this inaugural challenge!


Number of years writing:

8 years or forever depending on how you look at it 

Number of years from contract to published book:

1 1⁄2 years 

Date your book was released:

September 2019

Number of pages:


Number of launch events:

Do they ever end? 

Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity:

0-7, it depends on the opportunities and deadlines 

Number of critique partners:

15+, 3 groups across two continents 

Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years:

10 would be nice 

Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out: 

Every single day

Current number of reviews:

On Amazon: 11; On Goodreads: 14

A Few Questions

  • Who/what are your greatest inspirations?    

Arabella and the Magic Pencil was inspired by an assignment in eighth grade. My teacher, Ms. Ribar, asked us to write a creative paragraph. I still remember sitting in that wooden desk, next to my classmate Pat, having no idea what to write about. I looked down at the pencil on my desk and decided to write a story about a girl whose drawings became real. At the time, I was 13 years old and had recently become a big sister, again. I’m sure I was channeling my annoyance at having a toddler messing up all of my important teenage stuff when I decided to write about a girl who erased her brother! 

  • What have you enjoyed the most in your journey to publication so far? 

A few of my favourite things…the spark of a new idea, the ah-ha moment when figuring out how to make something work, listening to the varied comments from awesome critique partners, seeing the way an illustrator perceives the story. In a nutshell, I enjoy the whole process…even the marketing. 

Time to Play: STORY SMASH!

Think about all the stories you’ve written that have hit a dead end or are hidden away in a drawer somewhere. For each of the items below, lift an element from a different story to create a weird, unexpected mash-up. Who knows? It may even inspire a new manuscript! 

Character(s): Ogre
Setting: Somewhere north
Theme: Resilience
Problem: Fish can’t walk
Pitch: Ogre wants to take Orangina for a moonlit stroll, but there’s no such thing as a leash for a fish.

(This story would certainly be a challenge!) 

Haha! That is one strange mashup, but I love how it gets the creative juices flowing.

It’s time to write some reviews! Leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. For every five reviews you write for debut Kidlit creators, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Stephanie has generously donated a signed book and a picture book manuscript critique. Thank you, Stephanie!


  • Support debut authors by suggesting their book titles to your local library!.
  • Purchase them as gifts for children in your life, a teacher, or a local school.
  • Share book titles or reviews on social media and tag the author/illustrator.

For BONUS ENTRIES, complete this Rafflecopter giveaway!

#DebutReviewChallenge #ReadReviewRepeat

About Stephanie and her Book

BIO: Stephanie Ward is the author of Arabella and the Magic Pencil, illustrated by Shaney Hyde, published by EK Books in September 2019. Her next picture book is due for release in 2020, but it’s all under wraps at the moment so stay tuned for details! After many years in marketing, Stephanie now spends her time writing sweet, silly and side-splitting stories for children. Too old to blame it on youth, she still hasn’t settled down and can be found in London, England with her husband and young son. To find out more about Stephanie and keep up with her latest bookish activities, follow along at

Book Title: Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Author/Illustrator: Stephanie Ward and Shaney Hyde

Publisher: EK Books

Year: 2019

Synopsis: Arabella is a beloved only child who has a picture perfect life until her brother, Avery, arrives. While she certainly ​loves​ him, it’s sometimes hard to ​like​ him. She spends her days creating marvelous things with her magic pencil and ignoring him. But when Avery spoils a perfectly proper tea party, Arabella erases him from her life. Oops! How can she get him back? 

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