Ho! Ho! Ho! The 3rd Annual Holiday Writing Contest Is Here!

WOO-HOO!  Let the joyous news be spread!  It’s time for

The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!!


The Contest:  Write a children’s story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster (a la Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer :)).  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words not counting the title (aren’t I being generous?! 🙂  It can be as short as you like, but no more than 350!)  Did the dog knock over the Christmas Tree?  Did little Johnny’s costume get grape juice all over it moments before the holiday pageant?  Did the menorah go missing?  Did travel arrangements get snarled or miscommunicated?  Did Santa’s sleigh have to make an emergency landing?  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  (And because so many people have mentioned this, the story does not have to be funny!  You can have a holiday mishap that is serious or sweet or mysterious…  Please don’t feel that you have to go the humor route!  Also, because a number of people have mentioned it this time, no art notes please.)

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between now and Friday December 13 at 11:59 PM EST and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below which will remain up through Sunday December 15.  (There will be no WYRI or PPBF this week.)  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments below.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judging:  My lovely assistant(s) and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on Monday December 16 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 18 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 19.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to sixth place.  Remember, judging criteria will be kid appeal/friendliness, originality/suitability of mishap, quality of story, and quality of writing.
The Prizes!:  Well, I hope these prizes are going to knock your socks off!!!  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 6th place.  In addition to the incredible fame of being able to say you won or placed in the Pretty Much World Famous 3rd Annual Holiday Contest, the following AMAZING prizes will be awarded:

 – A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Written Critique by Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge!!! (Priceless!)  Karen Boss is the editorial assistant at Charlesbridge Publishing in Watertown, MA. She has a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College and is currently editing projects that range from picture books for younger readers to picture books for older readers to middle-grade novels, both fiction and nonfiction. (But let’s face it, folks!  You’re getting YOUR picture book manuscript in front of an actual editor at a highly regarded publishing house!  Who knows where that could lead?)

 – A Gold Membership to Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2014 (a $150 value)
    Little GOLDen Book Membership includes:

  • Full access (view and post) to the Main 12 x 12 Forum and Critique Connect (where you can find critique partners)
  • Access to the members-only 12 x 12 Facebook Group
  • Ability to view the Events, Member Books, Videos/Trailers and Help An Author Out (HAAO) sections of the 12 x 12 Forum
  • Opportunity to win craft-related prizes from the monthly featured authors
  • Full (view and post) access to the Events, Member Books, Video/Trailers and HAAO sections of the 12 x 12 Forum
  • FULL (view and post) access to these additional sections of the 12 x 12 Forum: Query Corner (get feedback on your query letters), Pitch Perfect (get feedback on loglines and pitches), and Manuscript Makeover (get feedback on the first 250 words of your ms)
  • Access to the Submission Station section of the 12 x 12 Forum, which will provide information about that month’s agent or editor and instructions on how to submit to him or her.

 – 2 signed Picture Books by Linda Ashman – RAIN! and PEACE, BABY! (Keep for yourself or give as a holiday gift to a little person in your life :)) PLUS
    a $25 Amazon Gift Card

 – A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Erin Molta Erin is an experienced senior editor of picture book, early readers, chapter, middle grade, and YA books, as well as novelty and licensed titles. She has been in childrens publishing for more than twenty years and has a keen understanding of early reader through YA audiences. She has an excellent reputation with established authors, illustrators, and agents.

 – Enrollment in the Online Writing course Making Picture Book Magic in the month of your choice (a $99 value)

 – A signed copy of TUGBOAT by Michael Garland (not even released yet!) AND
    a signed copy of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS by Julie Hedlund (Keep for yourself or give as a holiday gift to a little person in your life :))  PLUS
    a $25 Amazon Gift Card

 – A Picture Book Manuscript Critique from author/illustrator Sarah Frances Hardy, author and illustrator of PUZZLED BY PINK (Viking Juvenile, April 2012) and the forthcoming PAINT ME!. A great choice for someone who is both an author and an illustrator – and I know we have quite a few of those here 🙂

 – 2014 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market by Chuck Sambuchino (your choice of paperback or Kindle edition)

 – The Crock Of Charms Anthology – a three volume collection of stories for readers of all ages from writers all over the world including some you probably know 🙂  Robyn Campbell, Cheryl Secomb, Clarike Bowman-Jahn, Theresa Milstein, Lenny Lee, and me, to name a few 🙂

(Run your mouse over the prizes, books, authors, etc… most of them are links)

The Contest Winner will have first choice of the prizes.  2nd place will have next choice of what’s left and so on.  (I’m doing it this way in the hopes that no one will get something they already have – for example, if you’ve already signed on for Julie’s 12×12 or taken Making Picture Book Magic or own RAIN! and PEACE, BABY! etc.  – and also because I think all the prizes are fabulous and I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel less valued by giving them as 6th place as opposed to 1st.)

Wow!  Let’s get the Holiday Party started! 🙂

Here is my sample… to prove that in can in fact be done… and because I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I won’t do myself…  (But seriously, whose idea was 350 words?  It’s cramping my style! :))

The Trouble With Santa’s Suit (350 words)

On Christmas Eve the sleigh was packed.
The reindeer waited, snug in red velvet blankets.
Santa struggled into the tuxedo he always wore and turned pale.
“Elton!” he hollered.
Chief Elf Elton came running.
“Oh, dear!” he gasped.  “Dry-cleaning disaster!”
The sleeves barely reached Santa’s elbows.  The pants fell short of his knees.  He looked like an underdressed penguin.
“You’ll have to wear something else,” said Mrs. Claus.
But Santa was stuck in his shrunken suit.
“I can’t get it off!” he said.
“Go on a diet,” suggested Elton.
“I don’t think that will work in ten minutes!” said Santa, “I’ve got to go!”
“Call the fire department,” suggested Elton.
“I’m not on fire!” said Santa.
“Everyone calls the fire department for emergencies!” said Elton.
The fire department arrived in a jiffy.  Chief Bumpkin took charge.  “Grab the hose, men!” he ordered.  “We’ll blow that suit off the Big Guy!”
“The hose?” asked Santa.  “I don’t think…”
Icy water blasted Santa off his feet.
“STOP!” spluttered Santa.
“Plan B!” ordered Chief Bumpkin.
The firemen picked up their axes to cut the suit off.
“No axes!” said Santa.
“Well,” said the Chief, “there’s always Plan C…”
The firemen divided into four groups, one by each arm, one by each leg.  On the count of three they pulled the suit to shreds.
“Great job!” said Chief Bumpkin.  The firemen shook hands, gathered up their hose, and left.
Santa sat glumly in a puddle.  “Now I have nothing to wear.”
“How about this?” suggested Mrs. Claus holding up Santa’s Bermuda shirt and shorts.
“It’s TWENTY BELOW ZERO!” said Santa.
“Good point.  Overalls?  Your bunny costume from Halloween?”
“I don’t like to mix my holidays,” said Santa.
“You’d better agree to something or you’re going to miss Christmas!”
Just then Elton returned breathlessly with a red velvet suit.
“How about this?” he asked.
It fit perfectly.
“I love it!” Santa exclaimed.  Then he sniffed.  “Does anyone else smell reindeer?”
“Not me,” said Elton.
Santa climbed aboard the sleigh.  “Merry Christmas!” he called.

And away he flew in the red velvet suit he’s worn ever since.



So now!  Everyone filled with confidence about their entries?  I certainly hope so after that display!  Never let it be said that I’m not willing to be a fool for my art 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of your (much better!) stories!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still 4+ days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet and want to join the fun.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

Don’t miss 38 entries in the comment section below (which thanks to Penny I’ve figured out how to link, so if you click on the person’s name it will take you directly to that story so you can read and comment… just give it a second to load 🙂  And this intelligence just in – if you’re trying to work these links on iPad or iPhone you will need the google Chrome app to get them to work – Safari won’t do it.)
Nancy – Toby’s Christmas: Ho Ho Ho Or No No No?
Suzy – Reindeer In The Eggnog
Mandy – One Squirrelly Christmas
Lakshmy – Santa’s Stocking
Kristen – The Great Christmas Morning Mix-Up
Teresa S – Always Ready Or Not
Michele – Santa Is Stuck
Kim – Popcorn For Santa On Christmas Eve
Ryan (Rino) – The Adventures Of Jonathan James
Alissa – Santa’s Stuck On the Toilet
Kirsten (not to be confused with Kristen above) – Blackout!
Karen – Santa’s New Toy-Making Machine
Anne – The Gingerbread House Disaster
Ann – The Christmas Present
Sue – Pup Unwrapped
Tim – O Deer
Diane – Frank’s Adventure With Santa And The Elves
Karen Z – Santa’s Snow Angel
Michelle S – Cookies For Papa Noel
Pat – Santa’s Paws
Vicki – Mrs. Claus Saves Christmas
Charlotte – Goldilocks’s Night Before Christmas
Susan – The Christmas Wagon
Pia – Santa Baby
Rachel – Fresh Frosting
Bonnie – The Sound And Smell Of Christmas
Martha – A Christmas Surprise
Patty – Santa’s Special Gift
Susan S – Snowman On A Roll
Kristen 2 – No Sleep For Santa (same author as The Great Christmas Morning Mix-Up above)
Debbie – Home For Christmas
Rita – George’s Christmas Present: A True Story
Sue – Blue Latkes And Salsa
Ruth – Santa Claus Has Lost His Voice
Heather – Behind Schedule
Morgan – A Brother For Christmas
Kelly – Happy Birthday Bambino
Kristen S – Dasher Does A Dash


Happy Writing and Happy Holiday Season!!! 🙂

923 thoughts on “Ho! Ho! Ho! The 3rd Annual Holiday Writing Contest Is Here!

  1. Kelly Vavala says:

    High tech Mrs. Clause…love it! And agreed, especially in our house, Santa could eat a little less cookies and a lot more popcorn! Happy Holidays!

  2. Joanne Sher says:

    Oh, I love this – especially the stanza about grandma learning from the teens about the ipod – and the last one. So creative!

  3. Cheryl Secomb says:

    Seth, your story, “Kitty Ate a Candy Cane” is wonderful! You painted so well such fun chaos. I could picture it. The story was told so well in rhyme. Great job! I loved the ending. 🙂

  4. Debbie says:

    Good luck, everyone!!! And thank you for your kind words about my story. I haven't read all of the stories (yet), but the ones I have are all so good. And I'm going to continue reading as I can through the holidays. This was such a fun contest. Thanks, Susanna, for encouraging us all to write!

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