Deck the halls!
Light the menorah!
Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja!
It’s time for…
7TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!
The Contest: Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) about A Holiday Surprise! Any kind of surprise – anything at all! – the more unexpected the better! 🙂 Squirrel in the Christmas Tree? Snowstorm in Jamaica? Santa delivering toys from an excavator pulled by a herd of worms? 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 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 🙂 ) (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 🙂 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250! Title not included in word count.) The field is wide open! Have fun! The more creative the better! No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)
Post: Your entry should be posted on your blog between right now this very second and Sunday December 10 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below. This post will remain up through Friday December 15 for your reading pleasure. There will be no Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy. If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section below (please be sure to include your byline so that if your posting handle is staysuplate2write or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!) If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post your entry for you! But please don’t send attachments! Just copy and paste your story into the email. Also, please only post your entry once – either in the comment section of my blog or on the link list or by emailing me and asking me to post it. Multiple postings of the same entry get confusing.
The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on Friday December 15 (or, if we’re desperate for a little extra time, Saturday December 16) for you to vote on for a winner. The vote will be closed on Sunday December 17 at 5 PM EST (or Monday December 18th if we need that extra time.) Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place, and the winners will be announced on Monday December 18 (or Tuesday December 19).
Judging criteria will be as follows:
- 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
- 2. Holiday Surprise! – the rules state a Holiday Surprise story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a surprise! 🙂
- 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 🙂 Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
- 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc. If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 🙂 Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
- 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
The Prizes!: Ok. This is the moment where I officially admit to probably having bitten off more than I can chew! 🙂 I’ve been in Brazil for the past week, and upon my return was met with some deadlines I have to add into the time equation, in addition to a couple of school visits and getting ready for the holidays and family coming etc. I wrote my sample entry at the literal 11th hour just before midnight last night. (That will be extremely obvious when you read it below 🙂 ) So. I will add to the prizes today and probably have to update them. My sincere apologies for having over-scheduled my time – it was not intentional! – but I figured you guys would rather have the contest even on a slightly loosey-goosey schedule than not! 🙂
– a spot in Renee LaTulippe’s fantastic INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER SELF-STUDY COURSE!!!
– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the FABULOUS Vivian Kirkfield, author of the forth coming Sweet Dreams, Sarah and experienced and much-loved critiquer!
– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the amazing Lori Degman (NORBERT’S BIG DREAM – Sleeping Bear Press 2016, COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! – Creston Books 2014, 1 ZANY ZOO – Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers 2010) – a terrific choice for any rhymers out there!
– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the wonderful Amy Dixon (MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY – Sterling Children’s Books 2017, SOPHIE’S ANIMAL PARADE – Sky Pony Press 2015, MARATHON MOUSE – Sky Pony Press 2012)
– Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
– 2018 Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. (2 available)
– a bundle of books! (itemized list forthcoming, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise)
– a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing What’s The Story Cards (scroll about 1/2 way down the page… (2 available)
I can’t thank these authors and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity! Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!
The time has come for my sample. And I think I can say that I have really outdone myself this time in the Worst Ever Sample department! 🙂 Are you ready? Have some chocolate to get you in a good mood! 🙂 But this should be very comforting to all of you because you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that ANYthing you wrote is better than this! 🙂
(And as I told you, I wrote it in a jet-lagged stupor at nearly midnight last night and I openly admit that it is 39 words over the word limit because I didn’t have time to make it shorter!)
So really. Are you ready? 🙂
The Christmas Plan
(289 words because I ran out of time and also am not actually in the contest! 🙂 )
Christmas Eve in Santa’s barnyard,
Secret meeting underway.
Said the cow, “We’d better hurry –
Any time they’ll hitch the sleigh!”
Duck looked ‘round. “Are you all ready?
Everyone know what to do?”
All the others nodded gravely.
“Okay, then, let’s move out, crew!”
Each went in their own direction
Silently through dark and snow.
Pulled their parts off to perfection,
Met up in the workshop’s glow.
Quietly, they filed inside
Where elves were loading up the sleigh.
Santa called, “Let’s hitch the reindeer!
Time we headed on our way!”
Eight elves hurried to the stable
With intent to fetch the deer.
Soon came running back in panic.
“Sir! The team has disappeared!”
Santa bellowed, “Were they stolen?
Kidnapped? Hidden? Just set loose?”
“If you need a quick replacement,
I’ll step in,” said Christmas Goose.
Santa muttered, disbelieving,
“Why’d my team go on the lam?”
“Never mind, Sir, we can help you,”
Kindly offered Christmas Ham.
Moments later, in the harness,
Ham and Goose were joined by Hare,
Christmas Roast Beef, Duck, and Turkey.
Plan still working – almost there!
Santa, looking quite bemused, said,
“I can’t drive this motley crew!”
“Sorry, Sir, we’re out of options.
There is nothing else to do!”
So it was that not much later,
Waiting hidden in the night,
Josie, hoping to see Santa,
Saw a most surprising sight!
Santa’s sleigh with bells a-jingling
Flying high above her head,
Being pulled by. . . Christmas Dinner?!
“This must be a dream!” she said.
But all around the world next day
When fam-i-lies sat down to eat,
Christmas fowl and roasts were absent.
Served instead? Tofurkey feast!
Back inside the North Pole barnyard
Secret meeting once again,
Cow and Duck high-fived the others.
“Here’s to vegetarians!”
So now! Is 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 make a fool of myself for you guys 🙂 It just proves how much I love you 🙂
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 over 3 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. If you just want to enjoy reading, that’s great too! We need all the readers we can get, so feel free to spread the word to parents and teachers! And what better way to entertain yourself and your kids while waiting for the holiday goodies to bake? Or get someone to read aloud while everyone else wraps presents 🙂
Rejoice! and let the festivities begin!!! 🙂
Happy Holidays to All! 🙂
And don’t miss the additional 34 fabulous entries in the comment section below!
(Scroll through comments to view)
- Santa’s Switches – Nina
- Sneak A Peek At Santa – Jennifer B
- Just Desserts – Jennifer B
- The Christmas Pageant – Carol
- A Magpie Holiday – Karen
- Foxy, Mr. Fox – Dianne
- A Timely Arrival – Beverly
- Not Even A Mouse – Ryan
- Waiting For The Winter Gift – Elizabeth
- Santa’s Christmas SSS-Surprise – Jenny
- Santa Patrol – Megan
- Vegan Cut-Out Cookies – Megan
- Essie The Hen And Her Christmas Surprise – Kaye
- La Navidad I’ll Never Forget – Carmen
- Santa’s Bad Day – Anne
- Tootsie The Wonder Dog’s Best Day Ever – Kathy B
- Holiday Mix-Up – Barbara
- The Very Last Gift – Judy S
- Family Is Home And Home Is Wherever It May Land – Mona
- Christmas With Aliens – Brian
- Here Comes… – Elaine
- The Ballad Of Bella La Frost – Nancy
- The Animated Elf – Marvin Strikes Again – Lucretia
- Santa’s Delivery Dilemma – Lucretia
- Christmas Cat’s SQUEEZE Day – Lily
- Christmas Eve DRAMA – Deborah
- Racing The Sun – Jen
- A New Day For Mrs. Claus – Laura
- The Given Gift – Sarah
- Surprise Guests! – Mary
- Christmas Eve Surprises – Jim
- A Visit From Santa – Judy V
- Favorite Day – Susan
- The Naughty Christmas Cookie – Britt