The 2013 Holiday Contest – Judging In Progress!

Click HERE to go to the Official List of Entries to read and enjoy!!!

The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!!
judging in progress...
     Once upon a time, a picture book writer who also writes a blog thought it would be fun to have a little writing contest.
     “Writing is hard,” she said to herself.  “Writing can be lonely.  Writers are faced with a lot of waiting and a lot of rejection.  We can all use a little motivation and fun and instant gratification… and some prizes :)”
     So for Halloween in 2011, she made up a contest, provided a prompt, and posted some rules and a sample entry.
     She got 7 contestants!
     “Not bad,” she said to herself, “especially considering the freak snow storm that dumped 2 feet of snow on Halloween and totally knocked out the internet for 4 days!”
     She and the writers who entered had tons of fun writing their stories and reading each others’, so she decided to do it again.
     She ran contests at Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, and 4th of July.
     She ran a birthday contest, and a contest for welcoming spring.
     She pretty much just made stuff up to suit her fancy in the hopes that other writers would enjoy both the opportunity to create a new story and the chance to read the stories written by everyone else.  After all, in most contests you never get to see the competition!  In her contests you get to read everything if you so desire, AND get lots of positive feedback from the people who read your work (a nice change from waiting and rejection :))
     On December 9, 2013, she posted the rules for the 3rd Annual Holiday Contest.  She tried to pick good prizes, and hoped that people would want to give it a try.
     “It’s a busy time of year,” she said to herself.  “It will be lovely if we get 30-40 entries.  It will be a miracle if we get 50-60.”
     So imagine her surprise and delight when she received not 30 or 40 entries, not 50 or 60 entries, but ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN!
     “Holy Holly!” she said to her husband, her kids, her dogs… pretty much anyone who would listen 🙂  “Who’d have ever thought we’d get so many?!”
     And she spent a very happy week reading fabulous story after fabulous story, and marveling at the talent and creativity of so many writers who took the time to join the fun.
You’d think that would be THE END, wouldn’t you?
But NO!  Because this is a contest, and a contest means competition, which means some entries have to be selected as standing above the others.
So now the writer had her work cut out for her!  How to narrow down a field of 118 fantastic entries to a manageable handful of finalists?
She called in extra judges.
She (and the assistant judges) read and imbibed caffeine and read and ate cookies and read and imbibed more caffeine and read and snacked on brownies and read some more.
They each ranked the entries.
They compared notes.
They discussed.
They re-read and re-ranked.
They had more caffeine and snacks.
They argued over kid-appeal, mishap-ness, and writing and story quality.
And they burned the midnight oil… and the candle at both ends.
And then the writer took a little break around midday on Sunday to let you know how the judging was going (ACK!!!! YIKES!!! HOW WILL WE EVER CHOOSE???!!!) and to give her chance to say, WOW!  You guys are amazing!  You have made the judging practically impossible!  We love all your stories.  Every single writer who showed up to write a story and share it is a winner, and there isn’t a single entry that doesn’t have something we like, some reason why we’d like to keep it in the running!
So please know how much we appreciate all of you – your effort, your creativity, your talent, and your generosity for sharing your stories and taking the time to read and comment on other people’s stories – even though in the end, with a field of 118, most of you cannot be chosen.
Back to the judging currently in progress…
See you tomorrow with the list of finalists…
… if we survive the process! 🙂

48 thoughts on “The 2013 Holiday Contest – Judging In Progress!

  1. pennyklostermann says:


    My thoughts exactly as I'm finishing up reading the last of the entries! Amazing stories and a bundle of holiday fun!

    Sending caffeine, cookies, and chocolate!

  2. Cindy Williams Schrauben says:

    We can't thank you enough for all of your time and hard work, Susanna. Please know how much you are appreciated.

  3. Teresa Robeson says:

    May I just partake in the caffeine and cookies while peering over the judges' shoulders?

    That is an incredible number of entries! I do not envy your task of choosing a handful among all those gems.

    Good luck to you and good luck to all those to entered! Happy Sunday! 🙂

  4. Elaine Kearns says:

    Susanna, thank you and your panel of judges for doing this! I had so much fun not only participating, but reading all of the fabulous entries! Good luck choosing! Make another pot of coffee and I am sending you all something warm, chocolatey and delicious! (Virtually, of course) 🙂

  5. Jackie Wellington says:

    I agree with everyone here. I know how hard it is for you. It was hard for me to decide on my favorites. Thanks for running this contest and good luck with the reading. Looking on the bright side of things, at least you had entertaining entries. 😀

  6. Julie says:

    A hair-brained scheme if ever there was one! So grateful , not just for the fantastic prize offer, not just for the chance to read what others are able to create with the same prompt and parameters, but how all together one is energized to participate, creating a personal joy that might have gone under in the holida hulabaloo. We love you for this, and so much more! Thank you, Susanna!

  7. Kristen Foote says:

    In writing most time is spent by ourselves, working on ideas, plotting out stories, writing and re-writing… this contest felt like a fun party where we weren't alone doing this on our own (if only by communicating over our computers) 🙂 So much talent – so many creative people – and such touching stories. It's been fun everyone!!! Thanks Susanna!!

  8. Kelly Vavala says:

    Just want to take the time out to thank all the judges 🙂 I have read a lot of the stories and I wouldn't want to be in your shoes right now lol A lot of great stories and besides them being in a competition, what a great time of year to do this…I love reading Christmas stories! I start in the middle of November and end in January sometime…Happy Holidays to you all and to all a Good Night!

  9. Martha Hubbard says:

    Susanna, just getting up the nerve to post my story for “public” consumption feels like “winning” to me! I appreciate the opportunity to share in such a supportive, friendly competition. I love the “no fear” factor! Thank you for all of your hard work (along with your assistants), time, and energy on our behalf. I can't wait to see the outcome! Happy Holidays to all! 😀

  10. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    Oh my goodness Susanna and assistants. Thank you for doing this. It's always fun to participate an read the entries! I'm still reading. I wasn't kidding about my 12 days of Reading!

  11. Dawn Young says:

    Susanna, this whole experience has been amazing. Reading all the stories and comments and getting to know each other has been so much fun! I am very grateful for this opportunity. Thank you for making the holidays ever happier! Thank you to the judges for their time especially during such a busy season 🙂

  12. Tracey Cox says:

    Thanks Susanna! You are pretty amazing too! Thanks for thinking up some great prompts and getting us going. I am so thankful for you and my writing community!!! Children's writers truly are the best people on Earth!

  13. Juliana Lee says:

    Susanna, Santa must have you (and your lovely assistants) at the top of his Good Boys and Girls list for the extra work it takes to read and judge all the stories. You are so right in saying that the positive feedback from all the contestants makes this contest unique. But I must say, it's also worth the risk of putting yourself out there. It's such a gift to hear nice things about your work, especially from other writers! I truly appreciated all the nice comments people left on my blog; but even more, I appreciate all the connections I'm making with my fellow writers. I love reading their work and following their blogs. So in case you haven't heard it enough, 'THANK YOU SUSANNA!'

  14. Joanne Sher says:

    I do NOT envy you – but thank you so very, VERY much for all the work you're doing for this! I think each of YOU should get prizes (yes – the awesome ones you've put together for US!)- and should be able to pick first – BEFORE the winners!

  15. Yvonne Mes says:

    Wow, so glad your competition has grown, it has been a lovely diversion from pre-Christmas and end of year madness to be able to sit down and read all these wonderful entries, just the thing!

  16. Wendy Greenley says:

    I'm glad we made it so hard for you, Susanna! In a way, each entry is a thank you note to you for helping kidlit writers grow and giving us opportunities like this. You have created the monster!

  17. Cecilia Clark says:

    I don't envy you one tiny bit. They are all wonderful creations in their own right. I loved being part of this and reading other people's work as well as taking a real life situation and turning it into a kids story. Good Luck

  18. Michelle Lynn Senters says:

    Thank you, Susanna, for creating such a wonderful experience. Most competitions are not supportive and encouraging in nature. You have accomplished that, which is quite a feat. After PiBoIdMo and this competition, I now have a small group of new writer friends of which I am so appreciative. Thank you. I will look forward to your next competition. Merry Christmas!

  19. Kim Tyser says:

    Susanna, with what you have just written – the message in general regarding this contest – you've once again shown everyone what a wonderful, kind and compassionate person you are overall. You are someone that has excelled as an author, you are successful, you have a family and yet, you still take the TIME to teach a course, run a blog, create a huge contest such as this and through it all manage to make sure everyone is Heard and Matters! Whether you realize this or not, this is rare and Special. I absolutely know that I speak for many others when I say YOU are special and very appreciated! Thank you – for being YOU! And much, much luck with the judging. So many wonderful, creative writers out there – I feel privileged to have read all these stories!

  20. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh, Kim! You're so sweet! You made me all teary with your very kind words. I'm so glad if you enjoy any of the hare-brained schemes I come up with – like my course and the contests. That really is why I do them – so that people can learn and have fun and grow and hopefully get closer to realizing their writing dreams. Thank you so much for taking the time to say this. You made my day! 🙂

  21. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Aw gee, Juliana, I can never hear that enough 🙂 But it's entirely my pleasure. I'm just so glad if it's opened doors for you to meeting other writers and feeling more confident about your work… which is lovely!

  22. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    It's hard, Jarm, it really is. Because there isn't one single entry that I don't like something about. It's a matter of trying to pick the ones that are best all around, but many of the others truly shine in certain areas – like the lovely words/sentiments at the end of your story!

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