Okay. So this is the part where we pretend it’s Monday morning instead of Monday fashionably late evening 🙂
(Don’t look at the clock! You’re only imaging that it’s nearly midnight and basically Tuesday for all intents and purposes!)
You have only yourselves to blame!
There we were. . .
Three innocent judges minding our own business, confident in our ability to choose a group of finalists for this contest, happily gobbling heart-shaped chocolates whilst sipping delicious coffee from writerly-themed mugs, glasses perched, pens in hand, ready to make informed decisions, and . . .
. . . WHAM!!!
We were blind-sided by such a landslide of unrivaled entries that we quickly found ourselves overwhelmed by awesomeness to the point where we had to drag in an extra judge to help settle disputes that threatened to become physically violent!
A certain amount of
knock-down-drag-out-fighting confusion ensued over what, exactly, constituted “confusion” as opposed to frustration, indecision, lack of knowledge, coordination and/or ability, or just plain ole mystery! Someone, (ahem!), should have thought more carefully before choosing confusion as the emotion. It will NOT happen again! 🙂
If it weren’t for the quick thinking of Judge #1 (moi) who cleverly thought to break up the fight with a box of glazed chocolate Munchkins (no comment on exactly how those Munchkins were used to break up said fight, but let’s just say some of us grew up with brothers and have experience with sling shots and very precise aim… 🙂 ), or it might have ended in injury!
Luckily for all involved, a little Munchkin magic was worked, we all simmered down, and by some miracle we managed to come to some kind of
May I present to you . . .
The 2nd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest
And may I just say, once again, that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time. This means there are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over! It is agony, I tell you! Hence the Munchkin mayhem!
Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say. (I know you’re shocked as I’m normally such a girl of few words :))
First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest. You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!
Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to go around and read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments. This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories. It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed. I hope you all got as much delight and entertainment out of the reading as I did! Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 🙂
Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose! There were so many amazing entries. Really. I could find at least something terrific about every single one. The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut. So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad. There was a huge amount of competition. Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story. And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story. Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner! You showed up. You did your best work. You practiced your craft. You wrote to specifications and a deadline. You bravely shared your writing with the world. And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript. So bravo to everyone who entered!
Now. Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:
- Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
- Creativity in using confusion and success in making us feel the confusion!
- Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
- Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
- Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
- Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂
We really tried to choose stories that did the best job of fulfilling ALL the judging criteria. There were some truly wonderful stories that didn’t have much to do with Valentines Day (remember – it was supposed to be a Valentines Day Story for kids), or didn’t seem to really showcase confusion, or didn’t seem particularly kid-oriented even though they were very creative and well-written, or that really had us…until the last line or two when things sadly fell apart. We tried our best to select finalists that checked all the boxes.
So without further ado, I present to you the finalists in the 2017 Second Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest! Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday February 23 at 12 PM (noon) Eastern time.
To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.
And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process. You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best. Please do that. The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better. HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the most confused baby in the playpen or whatever. Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit. I thank you in advance for respecting this.
#1 Banana In Love: A Valentiny Knock-Knock Story
Banana gathered his courage. Flowers in hand, he stepped up to Orange’s door.
“Banana who?!? I live next door!”
“Are you the red, shiny, popular guy who brought me flowers last week?”
“No…” Banana sighed and glanced at his flowers. “That’s Apple.”
“Oh. Are you the short, funny, fuzzy guy who brought me chocolates?”
“No!” Banana rolled his eyes. “That’s Kiwi!”
“Aw. So, you’re the squishy guy, who wrote me that poem, ‘What It Means to Be a Fruit’?”
“No, no, no! That’s Tomato! Look, never mind. I’m gonna split.”
“Wait!” shouted Orange. “If you’re not them… By chance, are you the tall, yellow, handsome guy that I find so….”
Orange flung open the door.
Banana and Orange looked into each other’s eyes.
Banana cleared his throat. “Orange, you going to be my Valentine?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
#2 A Mixed Up Valentine
Charlie Thomas carefully cut and pasted, glittered and glued, wrote and colored. Then, he sat back and admired the valentine he’d made for Rose. Charlie had adored Rose since Kindergarten, and every year he created a special card just for her.
When he finished admiring the card, he carefully placed it on her desk and returned to his seat. Just then, Sam passed down that aisle. The breeze he created when passing caused the card to float to the floor next to Jenny’s desk.
Jenny entered the class shortly afterwards and noticed what she thought was a note. She picked it up, looked around, and decided it was for her. Carefully she unfolded the heart shaped card and began to read. She smiled at the signature that said__ Love Charlie.
Jenny had adored Charlie Smith since kindergarten. She walked to Charlie’s desk, bent down so they were eye to eye, and hugged him around his neck. Charlie turned bright red. He wasn’t sure why Jenny had hugged him, but he had admired her since kindergarten, so he didn’t mind at all.
#3 Lilla, Not Just Vanilla (A Tiny Self-Love Story)
Lilla was a plain, ol’, donut hole.
Whenever a fancier donut rolled by, her tummy ached.
Strawberry icing…chocolate coating…snazzy sprinkles…nut topping…coconut flakes…
“I don’t even have a sugar glaze,” she sniffed.
“Cheer up, lil’ lump!” said Mini Muffin. “You’re just…vanilla. Vanilla is exotic! Vanilla comes from Madagascar.”
“But I don’t wanna be ‘just vanilla’!’” said Lilla.
She wanted to be a little something extra. But extra what?
On Valentine’s Day, Lilla decided a makeover was just the treat she needed.
She took the Rainbow Sprinkle Plunge.
The sprinkles wouldn’t stick.
She showered in powdered sugar.
She even went cinny-dipping.
Lilla lolled about, lost. Her tummy only ached more.
She rolled, roly-poly-slowly, to the doctor’s.
“Flavor?” said Dr. Cruller.
“Plain,” said Lilla.
“Hmm…” Flummoxed, Dr. Cruller ran one final test.
“Well, well, well. You aren’t so ‘plain’ after all, Lilla.”
Lilla peered at the x-ray. She saw a secret kiss of raspberry jelly, baked right inside her.
“I’m a surprise-inside kind of cake?!” she cried.
“No one will ever know unless you smile,” he said.
Lilla’s tummy ache faded.
BOING! She bounced out of the doctor’s, beaming.
“MINI! I’m not JUST vanilla!”
And from then on, everybody knew it.
#4 Never Text A Valentine
Happy V-Day to my BESTIE! Won’t you bovine?
No, I mean pea vine.
Stupid auto car wreck.
Are you OK?
BFF? Are you there?
Hey! Why don’t you answer???
Sorry, phone died.
How did the car get wrecked?
What are you talking about?
You said your auto got in a car wreck.
What? No! The car’s fine.
It’s my phone. Keeps autocorrecting my worms.
I was trying to say
TY! Slime to you!
Um gist going to call.
#5 Sebastian, Say Something
Nell held in her hands three Valentine’s cards
She made in her class during Art.
Miss Polly, her teacher, had helped her to trace,
Then carefully cut out each heart.
Nell glued them on paper she’d folded in half.
Miss Polly had said they looked good.
She wrote on each inside, “I love you so much!”
As well as an eight-year old could.
But now as she held them, while perched on the bed
She slept in the end of each week,
Nell said to Sebastian, her step-mother’s cat,
“Sebastian, I wish you could speak!”
“I know I have known you for only two years.
And clearly, at first I was mad.
I wanted my parents to stay as they were,
But your mommy married my dad.
“I hated to come here; I hated you all.
Leaving my mother was hard,
But your mommy, Susan’s, been ever so nice.
Now, I want to give her this card.
“Sebastian, the problem’s my mother still cries.
I’m worried what harm I might do
By giving to Susan this Valentine’s card
And telling her I love her too.
“So, give me some signal, a simple meow
Or purr to convince me I’m right,
But hurry Sebastian; she’s coming in soon
To hug me and kiss me goodnight!”
#6 Too Many Mannys
“Look,” said Manny Mooney. “I found a valentine on Penny Pepper’s desk. It says, ‘For my marvelous Manny. You do the funniest things!’”
“It must be for me,” said Manny Mackey. “I mimic messy monkeys.”
“Or, it could be for me,” said Manny Meany. “I march through muddy muck.”
“No, it’s for me,” said Manny Murphy. “I make myself milkshake mustaches.”
“You forget about me,” said Manny Mitty. “I moo to mixed-up music.”
“And what about me,” said Manny Moony. “I mumble with a mouthful of mini-marshmallows.”
All five Mannys held onto the valentine and performed their funny feats.
Penny Pepper pranced in and was perfectly perplexed.
“What are you doing with my valentine?” She asked.
All of the Mannys answered at once, “I’m proving this valentine was meant for me.”
“Oh,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine is not for Manny Mackey, Manny Meany, Manny Murphy, Manny Mitty, OR Manny Mooney.”
“But there are no more Mannys” said the many Mannys.
“If you look closer,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine says, ‘For my marvelous Mommy.’ I’m bringing this one home.”
#7 A Picture-Perfect Valentine
Moose eyed the pile of valentines. On top was a handmade card from Maya. Honestly, he was surprised to see any valentines, let alone one from Maya.
On the card, she’d drawn a doughnut with sprinkles. “Sweet?” Moose whispered. “Sweetie? Sweet Thing?”
Next was a picture of something with wings. “A bee,” thought Moose.
Below that, a drawing of Maya herself. Moose stared, confused.
Why would Maya give him a valentine? He broke her crayons and stole her snacks. Well, not every day. “Sweetie, be mine.”
“Thanks for the valentine,” he told Maya. Now Maya looked confused. “I figured it out. See? Something sweet…”
“A doughnut,” Maya corrected.
“And a bee.”
“And that’s you,” Moose continued.
“Well, sure, but…”
“So the message is, ‘Sweetie, be mine!'”
“Actually,” said Maya, her nose wrinkling, “that’s just a bug. Get it? ‘Donut bug me,’ like, leave me alone and don’t steal my candy today.” Maya walked away, shaking her head.
Moose blushed. He sank into a chair. Then he noticed another valentine on his desk, two candy hearts glued to construction paper. One said, “PUPPY LOVE.” The other said, “NO WAY.” Signed, Chloe.
“No way,” he repeated. “Not puppy love? Then it must be true love.”
“Hey, Chloe,” he shouted “thanks for the valentine!”
#8 Cupid’s Heart Finds A Home
Dear Stupid Cupid,
Last year, you gave me a green candy cane. I barfed. Please don’t do that again.
Dear Hurty Gertie,
You hurt my feelings. It’s not nice to call someone stupid.
Sorry you’ve been sick. I know nothing about candy canes or the color green. I only know about chocolate, the color red, and hearts. Maybe you have me confused with someone else?
Dear Clueless and Confused Cupid,
Sorry to hurt your feelings, but I’m sure it was you. Speaking of red, you wear a red suit, don’t you?
No, I wear my birthday suit.
Dear Birthday Suit Cupid,
Now I’m confused. My birthday’s in June, but I got the candy cane in December, along with a bunch of toys. Does your mom really let you go outside naked?
I have no family, no home. I’m just a lonely cherub, spreading love and chocolate around the world, not toys.
Dear Sad and Homeless Cupid,
Please come live with me! You can sleep in my room, and I’ll give you clothes to wear. We’ll hide the chocolates under my bed.
On my way! Happy Valentine’s Day!
All my love,
#9 Misaki’s First Valentine
Misaki hugged her mother goodbye, went into school, and hung her coat. She was surprised to find many little envelopes and papers waiting in her locker. They were pink and red and white, and many were cut in the shape of hearts. On each there was writing — English letters that Misaki could not read yet.
Holding these pretty papers, Misaki walked into her classroom. She saw her friends were holding their own pink and red and white papers. She watched as Rosa handed a red heart to Sophia, and Caroline gave a pink note to Ramin.
Misaki looked at the papers in her hand. She wanted to keep them all, but she picked a white heart with red writing and gave it to Oskar.
Oskar smiled and gave it back. “This is your Valentine, Misaki. You don’t give it away. Ramin made this one for you. We give cards to our special friends on Valentine’s Day.”
Misaki looked again at her friends giving cards to each other. She smiled at Oskar, and took a red paper from the art tray. Misaki made 14 quick folds, just as her grandmother had taught her, and the paper became a delicate red heart. Misaki placed it in Oskar’s hand and said, “You are a special friend.”
Hi, Gogo! Want to help make valentines?
Sure! What do I do?
You draw a little picture, and write a little poem. Like this:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you!
Neat! Let me try.
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet.
So brush your teeth later!
No, no, no. That doesn’t rhyme.
No. It has to rhyme.
Of course! Like BLUE – YOU – SHOE – TRUE. Those words rhyme!
If you say so.
Let’s try again.
Violets are blue.
Roses are red.
I dream of our friendship
Each night in my…
No, not sleep. Bed! Like RED – BED – HEAD – FRED.
Fred is no one.
Then why are you writing him a valentine?
Jiminy Cupids, Gogo! Pay attention.
Okay. I’m ready.
Are you sure?
Daises are white.
Some roses are too.
If I were a cow
I would stand here and…
Forget it! I give up! You CANNOT rhyme!
What is it, Gogo?
I made this for you.
Didi, you’re special.
You are my best friend.
I know I’m no poet.
But I love you a lot.
Oh, Gogo. Thank you.
Did I do it right?
You did it perfectly.
#11 Valentine Crush
I hope you’ll be my valentine.
You’re not so sure? I see.
You wonder why the card I gave
is crushed and crumpled?
I fashioned it with you in mind–
with paper, sequins, glue–
then gently walked it to your house.
The next part’s strange, but true…
I tried to place it in your box.
(Yes, that’s what I had planned.)
Just then, a sentimental ape
removed it from my hand!
She lumbered down the street so fast
(your note crushed in her fist).
She seemed to think she’d won my heart
but in a crazy twist
a magpie spied your valentine
as ruby sequins flashed.
It stole her heart! She stole your card,
flew far away…
A smitten chipmunk found your note
and stuffed it down a hole.
It would have stayed there–disappeared–
except a lovelorn mole
insisted it was in his way
and swept it from his floor.
It popped up at my feet. What luck!
I bolted to your door.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts,
so don’t look so confused.
This valentine’s a fine design
it’s just a little…used.
And anyhow, it demonstrates
the kind of love I feel.
This crushed-up valentine is proof–
my crush on you is real!
#12 Love Bug
My sister Anna has been acting funny all day, working on some top secret card.
She’s been humming to herself, giggling, and was nice to me!
Anna even shared her Valentine’s chocolate with me.
Something must be wrong.
“Anna was bit by the love bug,” Mom said.
“Gross!” I said. I HATE bugs.
“Is she going to the doctor?” I asked. My Mom just giggled. Maybe she was bit too.
I wanted to find this bug.
I went outside with my butterfly net and a jar of leaves. This bug was mine.
I swished and I swooshed the net around until it was crawling with critters to fill up my jar.
Lady bug, no—Wait! The lady bug has a heart shaped spot on its wing! Love bug!
I was so excited that I ran inside to show Anna the love bug that bit her.
There was a boy sitting at the kitchen table with her eating cookies. Anna handed him the secret Valentine’s card, and he gave her one back. They were both giggling. She must be contagious!
“Who’s that???” I asked.
“That’s the love bug, sweetie,” Mom said smiling.
“Gross!”, I said. The only thing worse than bugs are boys!
Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 12PM EST Thursday February 23.
Tune in Friday February 24 to see THE WINNERS!!!
Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote! These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!
I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to a tropical island paradise to recover from all that reading and agonizing and negotiating.
I will actually be frantically trying to catch up on things I shoved to the back burner whilst reading Valentiny stories… right after I meet a dear writer friend for lunch and spend a good portion of the day gabbing since we have a LOT to catch up on and we have been waiting WEEKS to get together! But after that, yes, definitely back to work! 🙂
Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!! . . . now that it’s Tuesday 🙂