The Summer Send-Off Contest!!!

September 3rd update: 8 entries on the link list, 4 in the comments, and at least one other that is neither linked nor in the comments – all fantastic!  What talent!  Come read, enjoy, and add your own – there are still 2 days left to enter (today and tomorrow!)

It’s August 31st, and we’re sending summer out in style with a fun and fabulous contest!

Fingers on the keyboard?

Writing gears engaged?

Ideas sparking like mad?

Then let’s get cracking! 🙂

illustration copyright Heather Newman 2012 used by permission

Contest Rules:
The contest is for a children’s story of 250 words or less based on the picture above and in which somebody somewhere in your story says, in dialogue, “Did/do you see that?” (you may substitute any of the other senses – “Did/do you hear/feel/taste/smell that?”) and somebody somewhere in your story says, “Goodbye!” (you are allowed to substitute “Farewell!”, “Au revoir!”, “Sayonara!”, “Ciao!”, or “So long!”)

Entries must be posted on your blog (or, if you don’t have a blog but would still like to enter, in the comment section of this post which will stay up through Tuesday September 4) between today and Tuesday September 4 at 11:59 PM EDT.  (I’m giving you an extra day to post, because I realize it’s Labor Day weekend!)

Once your post is up you must add your post-specific link to the linky list below so everyone can come visit you and read your amazing story (or, if you don’t have a blog, copy and paste your entry into the comment section as mentioned above – everyone please be sure to check the comments for entries so you don’t miss any! :))  Special note:  I know some people have been having trouble commenting on my blog since disqus updated.  If anyone has trouble, please email your entry or your link or whatever you need to me at susanna [at] susannahill [dot] com and I will make sure your link gets linked or your comment gets posted!!!

Finalists – we’ll say 3, but you know me… it may be more like 6 🙂 – will be chosen by me and my assistant judge and posted for you all to vote on on Monday September 10.  I’m guessing we may not get tons of entries, what with it being Labor Day weekend and all (although I’m hoping I’ve given people enough time to plan ahead and pull it off! :)), so we’ll probably only have one winner.  But if perchance we get lots of entries – more than 20 say 🙂 – we’ll expand to 1st , 2nd and 3rd places.
Prize choices will be:
1.  A PB manuscript critique by yours truly 🙂
2.  Your choice of 2 picture books.
3.  Your choice of 2 paperback middle grade books.
4.  Your choice of 1 paperback YA book.
5.  Your choice of 1 writing craft book.
and whoever wins will get their first choice of those options, whoever’s second will get second choice, etc….  Hopefully there’s something in there that will appeal to every writer! 🙂

So here’s my demo:  (And I admit, I had a TERRIBLE time getting down to 250 words.  I have 5 other stories – all better! – that I couldn’t get below 286, 547, 272, 308, etc.  I guess I should have tried this before I published the guidelines… :))  Anyway:

Bathtime For Balkazar

Donovan couldn’t find the dragon soap.
He had the scrub brush, the hot water, and the ladder.
But he couldn’t find the soap.
“Stay, Balkazar,” he told the dragon.  And he gave him some bubblegum to keep him busy.
When he came back with the soap, he gasped.
“What’s wrong?” asked Balkazar (because as everyone knows, dragons can speak English.)
Do you see that?” asked Donovan.  The dragon looked at his reflection in one of the water buckets.
“I’m pink!” shrieked Balkazar.  “Ack!  Get it off!”
“It must have been the bubblegum!” said Donovan.  “But King Hallvard is due within the hour.  If he sees you like this it’ll be sayonara! kemosabi for us!”
“Try scrubbing!” begged Balkazar.
Donovan scrubbed.
Balkazar became a dazzling, sparkling, glowing pink.
“It’s even worse,” Donovan moaned.  “Try rolling.”
The dragon rolled.  He kicked up great clouds of dust that blotted out the sun and left everyone gasping and choking.
Now he was brownish pink.
“I look like an overgrown scaly earthworm,” he said sadly.  “Not scary at all.”
“You turned pink from the inside,” said Donovan.  “Maybe we can turn you back the same way.”  He dashed into the castle and came back rolling a barrel of pickles.  “Eat these!  And hurry!  The king’ll be here any minute!”
Balkazar scarfed down pickles. When King Hallvard rode across the drawbridge, Balkazar, mostly green again, greeted him with a colossal belch of pickle-scented fire.
“Stupendous!” shouted King Hallvard.
“Phew!” said Donovan.  (Or was it “Pee-ew!”?!)
(249 words)

I hope that gives you the courage to post your entry, should you happen to be feeling doubtful – surely your story is better than that! 🙂  And I would also like to remind you that we really have a lovely community of people here – kind, generous, and supportive – so your entry will be read with friendly eyes by people who want to find the good in what you’ve written and cheer you on!  So go ahead – add your entry post-specific link to the list below, or copy and paste your entry into the comment section.  Remember, if you have any trouble, email me and I’ll do it for you!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!  Let the contest begin! 🙂

82 thoughts on “The Summer Send-Off Contest!!!

  1. Renee LaTulippe says:

    Alas, I'm crazy with work, and you know I freeze up with contests – they send me cowering into corners. I can't compete with Balkazar, or Joanna's crazy Cedric story, haha! And did you see ThisKid's entry – amazing!

    BTW, I got my books from storage. I'll email you!

  2. Laura Renauld says:

    Thinking (and looking) outside the box. Of course the illustration is a stage set! I love the twist you took. A fun read!

  3. Laura Renauld says:

    I love stories that show a different side of familiar characters. I could just picture this extension of the Camelot story. Bravo!

  4. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I know, isn't it amazing and fun?!

    Laura Renauld (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    A dreamscape. I love the different angles everyone is viewing the illustration from.

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  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Gee, I hope the family member is checking out the comments 🙂

    Penny Klostermann (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Oozing creativity for sure! Fun story :•)

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  6. Kim Murray says:

    Ahhhh…I love a story where the message is to be thankful for what you have, not worry about what you don't have. Well done!

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Hahahahaha – you made me laugh 🙂

    Renee LaTulippe wrote, in response to Renee LaTulippe:

    But seriously…
    You must write this book, and I mean it! (Anybody want a…oh, never mind.)

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  8. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    You with the contests, me with the videos 🙂 We'll both have to step out of our comfort zones one of these days 🙂 But I know how well you write and you could compete! Excited to hear about the books!

    Renee LaTulippe wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Alas, I'm crazy with work, and you know I freeze up with contests – they send me cowering into corners. I can't compete with Balkazar, or Joanna's crazy Cedric story, haha! And did you see ThisKid's entry – amazing!

    BTW, I got my books from storage. I'll email you!

    User's website
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  9. Romelle Broas says:

    I'm going to post my submission here. This was a challenge, no doubt! It gave me practice on word cutting. A story with a beginning, middle, and end, a hook, a problem/conflict, a character change…all in 250 words? Here is my attempt. It's exactly 250 words!



    Prince Nogard lived in Castle Alder
    for as long as he could remember. But
    today, unlike any other day, he smelled trouble.

    Fifer, the mischievous fox, strutted

    “It's time you knew,” said
    Fifer. “You're not a prince. You are just a dragon.”

    Prince Nogard fumed. “How dare you say such a

    Prince Nogard has been treated like royalty,
    sleeping on fluffy pillows, and dining on the finest steaks. His loyal servant, Crocker, groomed him

    Fifer snickered. “Crocker is not your servant. He is your
    master and Prince is your nickname.”

    Prince huffed and puffed. “That's not true,” he said in a
    faint voice. He wondered about his walks
    with Crocker. “Could he be walking
    me?” Prince dismissed the thought,
    but it kept burning in the back of his mind until he finally made a disturbing

    “I'm not just a dragon…I'm a
    pet dragon!” Prince felt like a
    lizard. He decided to leave Castle

    “Where are you going?”
    asked Fifer.

    “To find my real family,”
    said Prince. “Farewell.”

    “I'll walk you out,” said
    Fifer with a smirk.

    Prince hadn't gone too far when he
    heard a cry. “Do you hear that?”



    Prince's heart ached. He and Crocker were inseparable. He hurried back.

    When Prince arrived at the castle,
    he found Crocker sobbing. “I
    thought you left.”

    Prince rubbed his cheek against
    Crocker. “I will never leave
    you,” thought Prince.

    Nogard may not be a prince, but he was the happiest pet dragon around.

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    This is terrific, Romelle! You met the challenge well! 🙂 I love that the fox taunts the dragon, in much the way siblings say things to each other like, “Didn't you know? You're adopted!”, how the dragon doubts himself, and the ambiguity that remains – is he a prince or a dragon, and does it matter? Because ultimately he loves his boy. Great job!

  11. Patricia Nozell says:

    Susanna, what a wonderful contest to send summer out in style & ease us back into the routine of fall. Heather, your “prompt” is so rich with possibilities (as i can see from the varied and wonderfully-imaginative stories I've read thus far). Coming in at exactly 250 words, I present,

    Raven clutched the golden key in her strong yellow beak. “Bring me the key, my pretty,” cooed Gwynda, the White Witch, “and I’ll share some stew with you.”
    “Heed not her pleas, noble Raven,” hissed Mistress Spratt. “Her heart is blacker than coal though she appears white as new snow. Better to drop the key into the fiery depths of yonder ravine than to deliver it to that Sorceress.”
    “Did you hear that, Raven? She called me a Sorceress. She is nothing but a pot calling the kettle black! Look, she plants Rosalita like a flower in that tower, and will roast her with that powder-puff of a dragon.”
    “I’ll take that key, Raven. It is I, Sir Reginald, upon my trusty steed; I’ll save her and love her and heed her every need.” Raven peered at Gwynda. The witch was white as parchment, skin dry as ink. Her stew reeked of lizard tails and eye of newt – what stink!
    Raven looked down on Mistress Spratt. Her knobby fingers stretched like talons towards the claws of her bloated puff of a dragon. Raven stared at Sir Reginald. The handsome knight trembled with fright; his steed was poised, ready for flight.
    “Caw! Caw!” crowed Rosalita. Raven rose like a phoenix from her perch. Rosalita sprang towards her glistening back, and landed with a lurch. “Farewell!” she cried. “I crave not pot, nor oven, nor to be a bride meek. It is adventure and treasure and my destiny I seek!”

  12. Ruth Schiffmann says:

    Oh, you are the queen of writing contests, Susanna. I wish I could get my brain cells to engage long enough to participate. Guess I'm stuck in blog visiting mode right now.

  13. Lauri Meyers says:

    I love the opportunity to write about dragons. Thanks for this great introduction to a few blogs I haven't read before too!

  14. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    That's OK, Ruth 🙂 I'll give you a heads up – there will be another one at the end of October for Halloween. That gives you almost 2 months to get a head start 🙂 But don't feel like you have to enter – I'm happy just to have you visit 🙂

  15. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Heather is a very talented artist!

    Patricia Nozell wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Thanks, Susanna. I loved writing this one – such a terrific writing prompt!

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