The 4th Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!!!

FINALLY!  It’s here!

The Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!

I am so excited about this!  I look forward to these contests so much because so many wonderful, talented writers contribute such fantastic stories!  I can’t wait to read what you’ve all come up with this time!!!

ThContest:  Write a children’s story, in poetry or prosemaximum 400 words about the 4th of July in which a secret is revealed or a mystery is solved!

You may choose any 4th of July setting you like: country, city or small town, sleepaway camp or vacation, with family or friends or all alone, at a parade, a picnic, a fireworks show or a bonfire, in the middle of the woods or in a country where the locals don’t celebrate 4th of July.  Your secret or mystery doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering.  It could be who took Granny’s award-winning Fourth of July cherry pie?  Or what did Robin tell Sarah who told Olivia who told Gracie about Anna in cabin 7?  Or where did the flags for the parade disappear to?  Or why doesn’t Becky Sue want to go to the fireworks show? Or what Old Mrs. Hootenspiegal knows about the mayor!  Just as long as a secret or mystery of some kind is revealed or solved by the end.

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday July 1 at 12:01 AM EDT and Friday July 5 at 11:59 PM EDT, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below which will remain up through Sunday July 7 (no Would You Read It on Wednesday July 3… and although the post will remain up through Sunday to give everyone plenty of time to read and enjoy, the entry list will be closed at midnight Friday so we have time to judge).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on this post by midnight Friday July 5th.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)

The Judging:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Monday July 8 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 6 PM EDT on Thursday July 11 and the winner will be announced on Friday July 12.

The Prizes!:  The first place winner will receive (I am not making this up!) a picture book manuscript critique from Simone Kaplan!!!!!  Yes, THE Simone Kaplan!!!  I wish I knew how to put that up in lights and make it all sparkly! 🙂  Simone Kaplan has been editing children’s books and magazines for over 20 years.  She was an editor at Henry Holt and Company, and then a Senior Editor at HarperCollins.  More recently she has worked as a consultant to various authors, illustrators, and publishing houses.  She also runs a wonderful website called Picture Book People (where you can sign up for her free newsletter among other things.)  A prize like this makes me wish I could compete in my own contest! 🙂

If we get more than 15 entries, we will place through 3rd.  If we get more than 25 entires we will place through 5th.  Additional prizes will include:
 – a $50 Amazon gift certificate
 – a picture book manuscript critique from yours truly (a $75 value)
 – the writing craft book of your choice (up to $30 value)
 – a place in Making Picture Book Magic (my online PB writing course) (a $99 value)

Here is my sample (and I will admit this was a REAL challenge for me!  I’ve never tried writing a mystery before (as I’m sure you’ll be able to tell!), so that was hard enough, but fitting it into 400 words nearly killed me!  In fact, I didn’t quite manage, but it was past my bedtime.  I had to cut so much out to get it near the word count that I’m not sure it even makes sense anymore 🙂  Be forewarned this may qualify as the worst story I’ve ever written – that’s what happens when you over-schedule and write at the last minute! 🙂

The 4th Of July Parade

Lola longed to lead the Crumb Creek 4th of July Parade.
But Granny crashed her motorcycle and broke her arm, and it looked like there would be no 4th of July Pie this year.
“Never mind the parade,” said Lola.  “I’ll help you bake.”
“Fiddlesticks!” said Granny.  “I can bake pie with one hand tied behind my back!”
Lola gave her a hug.  “I’ll be your other hand right after tryouts.”
“Knock their socks off, Sugar-Pie!” said Granny.
At tryouts, the boys hopped on YankeeDoodlePony one after another. Lola hated to admit it, but they were pretty good riders.
When it was her turn, Lola rode her best.
Afterwards George said, “You won’t win.”
“I have just as much chance as you,” said Lola.
Henry said, “You’re too small.”
“I’m the right size for YankeeDoodlePony,” said Lola.
Billy said, “You’re not a boy.  Yankee Doodle was a boy.”
Lola had nothing to say to that.
“This year, the leader will be Lola!” announced Mayor Fluffbottom.
Billy had nothing to say to that.
George stuck his tongue out at Lola, but she was too happy to care.
“They picked me, Granny!” Lola sang, rolling piecrust while Granny picked one-handed through seventeen quarts of blueberries.
“I knew they would!” said Granny.
By bedtime, fifty pies cooled on the counters.
“How will you get these to the Village Green without your motorcycle?” worried Lola.
“I’ll figure a way,” said Granny.  “Sweet dreams, Sugar-Pie.  Big day tomorrow!”
In the morning Lola raced to the barn.
“Hey!” said Billy.  “YankeeDoodlePony is gone!”
“What?” Lola gasped.
George and Henry smirked.
“What did you do with him?” demanded Lola.
“Nothing!” the boys insisted.
The parade started in thirty minutes!
Lola had to find YankeeDoodlePony!
“Help me look for him!” she begged.
They searched high and low, but YankeeDoodlePony was nowhere to be found.
Lola discovered hoofprints and wheel tracks on the driveway.
“It looks like someone drove a pony out here, but he’s long gone.  I guess I won’t be leader after all,” Lola said miserably.
YankeeDoodlePony came down the road at a smart trot pulling a little cart.  Granny drove one-handed!
“Sorry I’m late, Sugar-Pie!  Had to deliver the pies!”
Lola turned to Billy, Henry and George.  “I’m sorry I thought you hid YankeeDoodlePony,” she said.
“That’s okay,” said Billy.
Lola hopped aboard YankeeDoodlePony
George handed her the flag.
Then Lola rode out to lead the 4th of July Parade.
She sat tall and straight and proud.
YankeeDoodlePony pricked his ears and pranced.
The American flag waved its stars and stripes in the hot breeze.
The crowd along the sidewalk cheered.
And afterwards, there was 4th of July Pie for everyone!

Now then!  That was quite spectacularly awful!  So I hope it will fill you all with confidence, because I know you can all do better than that!

CAN’T WAIT to read your stories!!!  Don’t forget to add your post-specific links below, or copy and paste to the comment section!  Look for Sidney, Sian, Pam, Michele, and Brianna’s stories in the comments.

160 thoughts on “The 4th Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!!!

  1. pennyklostermann says:

    Well who needs firecrackers when we have your Fourth of July Contest entries to add sparkle and bang??? I have read every one of them and had tons of fun!

    Your sample was so cute, Susanna! The characters came shining through! And, I think every parade should be led by Lola and YankeeDoodlePony!

  2. Cheryl Secomb says:

    Oh, I really like this. What a wonderful tradition. And I loved the rhyming at the end. Well done!

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    You are far too kind about my sample, Penny, which as Robyn would say “stinketh” 🙂 but I'm glad if you liked it. And I'm glad you got a chance to enjoy all the others – what a group of talented writers! I was impressed by how many people pulled off real mysteries in under 400 words!

  4. Nathan Worrell says:

    Thanks, and no worries. I know how all this internet stuff can get sometimes. Anyway, once this is all over, I will be getting in touch about something I'm working on that I would think you would be a great candidate for. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s