BIC, Writers! It’s Time For The 2018 Valentiny Contest Guildelines!!!

I know!

It’s Saturday!

You’re lazing in bed with the comics before getting up to make pancakes with the littles!

What on earth am I doing infringing on your weekend time?!

Well, I’ll tell you 🙂

Two years ago, a bunch of folks asked for a contest to cheer them out of the winter doldrums!

The result?

The First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!

(Valentiny because, like the Halloweensie Contest, it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂 )

We had so much fun that we went ahead with the 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  And that was so much fun that it seems like a good idea to continue the tradition!  I mean, winter doldrums are winter doldrums and must be conquered 🙂

So here we are!  The reason I’m interrupting your Saturday!

Announcing . . .

The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2018


The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is hopeful!  Your someone can hope for something good or something bad.  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone hopeful (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Saturday February 10th and Wednesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my February 10th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments! And please do not submit emailed entries until the contest begins on Feb. 10!)  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 19th (or possibly Tuesday February 20th if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced by Friday February 23rd. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using hopefulness and success in making us feel the hopefulness!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh, boy, do we have some GREAT prizes!  Get ready!

So far prizes will include:

– a PB manuscript read and critique from Nikki Garcia, assistant editor at Little, Brown!


Nikki Garcia

– a PB manuscript read and phone call critique with Nicole Otto, assistant editor at MacMillan Children’s Publishing!

Nicole Otto

Nicole Otto


– a PB manuscript critique from the superb multi-published award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani

Iza 2014          Old MacDonald
Iza Trapani was born in Poland and moved to the US at age seven.  Her relatives gave her a large Mother Goose Treasury, and she began learning English through those rhymes.  Little did she know that someday her dream would come true and she would become a children’s book author and illustrator.
    Iza’s best selling nursery rhyme extensions, including The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly and Row, Row Row Your Boat are widely used in schools and libraries across the U.S. and abroad. Old MacDonald Had a…Zoo?  is Iza’s latest release. She is currently at work on her 27th picture book, as well as a childhood memoir.
You can learn more about Iza and her books at:

– a PB manuscript critique (ms not to exceed 800 words please) along with a follow-up phone call if the author is interested from the lovely and talented Katey Howes, author of Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press 2017) and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling Children’s Books 2018)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art

– a PB manuscript critique from the fantastic Lynne Marie, author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018) and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending) . Her stories, poems, folk tales and crafts have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She was a first-round panelis for 2016 Cybils Awards and again, in 2017. In addition, she’s an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard’s Children’s Book Insider and a book reviewer. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and Anakin, their little Schipperke, as well as several resident water birds. She has offers both critiques and mentorships for writers. You can learn more about her at

Lynne          HH100th

– a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming please) from the wonderful and amazing Melissa Stoller, author of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island (Spork 2017)

Melissa Stoller               Return To Coney Island

– a signed copy of Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke The Color Barrier In Golf (Albert Whitman 2018) from fabulous author Nancy Churnin accompanied by a terrific Teacher’s Guide (created by Marcie Colleen)

Nancy Churnin               Charlie Takes His Shot

– a signed copy of Twinderella from Corey Rosen Schwartz AND a signed copy of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island from Melissa Stoller

Twinderella          Return To Coney Island

– a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’s brand new book Making A Living Writing Books For Kids

Making A Living

– a copy of the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (it’s only February – still very useful!)

Children's Writer's & Illustrators 2018

… and as usual I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  so feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  Or if you have clout with anyone who could offer a good prize please contact me at once! 🙂

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!

Now then!  Aren’t you feeling inspired to write the best Valentiny Story you can so you can win one of these awesome prizes?  And aren’t you glad now that I interrupted you on Saturday when you can send the kids to Grandma’s for a couple hours and write write write?! 🙂

Set the scene:

Nice hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Check!

Plate of delicious Valentiny sugar cookies?  Check!

Computer or paper and writing implement?  Check!

Butt in chair?  I certainly hope so!

Ready, set, WRITE!

I so look forward to reading your stories in a couple weeks!!! 🙂

42 thoughts on “BIC, Writers! It’s Time For The 2018 Valentiny Contest Guildelines!!!

  1. Heather Kinser says:

    Hooray! Valentiny!!! Suzanna, you’re generosity to this community is amazing. Thanks for hosting this contest. I’m going to think on it, and try to get inspired.

  2. jeanjames926 says:

    Wow I’m already feeling hopeful after reading this post. I was so upset at not having time to enter the holiday contest, so I’m really excited for Valentiny! Thanks Susanna!

  3. maryzychowicz says:

    Yeah!! I love your contests. Thank you for doing this. I always loved writing prompts when I was in school and I enjoy your clever (2/14=214 words) ideas for guidelines. And the prizes are so great! This is very generous of you and your contributors. ❤ ❤ ❤

  4. ingridboydston says:

    Oh boy oh boy oh boy! I too missed participating in the last contest and and am very hopeful and excited for this one. Thanks Susanna!!! (and all your lovely assistants!)
    Happy non-doldrummy-days to you!

  5. viviankirkfield says:

    The Valentiny Contest is here already??? Susanna…what is happening with time…it is DISAPPEARING WAY TO QUICKLY!!!! I’ll spread the word…I know a lot of writers who have been waiting for this!!!

  6. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Oh, Hooray! Not sure if i’ll be able to swing an entry this time. I’ve got too many fish in the fire..or maybe that’s irons to fry. Gotta go unscramble some ducks and put all of my eggs in a row. Cheers to some fun! Hope you get lotsa lotsa entries!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      You say that now, Jilanee, but I know… the seed is planted… you won’t be able to think about anything else until you write an entry – even if it’s at the absolute 11th hour! It’s too fun not to take part, and there are too many great prizes up for grabs! 🙂

  7. mona861 says:

    Wow! Susanna.
    Another contest! These are the things that keep me moving along and writing! Selfish I know, but motivation is good! And what a bonus the prizes are!!!
    Thank you so much!!!

  8. Rachel Dutton says:

    I’m so excited about this! I think I’ve got a great start on my story.

    I have a question, though. Are there potential problems regarding first publication rights if we publish our stories on our blogs, and later sold the manuscript? Thanks!

  9. Kaye Baillie says:

    Tiny the Pony by Kaye Baillie
    214 words

    Tiny was not like the horses at the castle.
    They outran him,
    out-pranced him,
    and leaping … forget it.
    To top it off, every day he heard …
    “Ooh la la. Look at my stallion.”
    “My filly is soooo fantastic.”
    “Horses are totally cooool.”
    But would Silver Girl ever find him a teensy bit special? Sigh.
    Finally he had an idea.
    Tiny picked the prettiest blooms, wrangled those stems together,
    strutted his fancy schmancy headgear, but …
    Silver Girl was too busy admiring her knight’s new armour.
    Tiny practiced his moves.
    He whistled a catchy tune.
    Then tap danced his tiny pony heart out. But …
    Silver Girl raved over her prancing horse pals.
    Tiny needed a real show stopper.
    Think, Tiny, Think.
    “I’ve got it!” Make way, horse faces.
    Tiny flew across the moat,
    landed with a splash,
    then did backstroke with crocs and eels.
    Wait — what! Crocs and eels! Yowee!!
    Tiny needed to think outside the square.
    What could he do?
    While the whole castle watched the weekly parade,
    Tiny waited till it finished,
    then …
    “My turn.”
    “Me next.”
    “Tiny is the best.”
    Tiny was mobbed, adored!
    He was …
    Tiny was not like the horses at the castle.
    But to Silver Girl,
    he was very special indeed.

  10. Karen Morgan says:

    The Red Envelope
    by Karen Koepcke Morgan
    214 words

    “Maybe today will be the day!”, Liam shouts as he slams the gate behind him. He tears down the long driveway to the box standing at the end.

    He swings the door open to find an array of envelopes and colorful, glossy pages.

    None have his name on them.

    Liam dejectedly trudges back up the drive and through the front gate.

    The next day, Liam zooms out the door when he hears the mail truck rumbling down the road.

    He even beats the mailman to the box.

    “Anything for me?”

    The mailman rifles through the stack and shakes his head.

    Liam takes what the mailman offers and tromps back up the driveway, with his head hung low.

    Another Day. Liam is filled with hope.

    But, sadly, nothing for Liam.

    Another day passes.

    And, another one.

    Nothing for Liam.

    Nothing for Liam.

    “Today is the day!” Liam proudly announces, “I feel it down to my toes!”

    Liam runs.

    He speeds.

    He stops.

    He opens.

    He peers inside.

    Liam sees something red sticking out from the pile.

    Liam pages through the stack, with the speed of a race car careening around the track.

    There is his name written in familiar loops and curls….on an envelope filled with hearts.

    “Hooray! At last!”

    A Valentine from Grandma.

  11. C Brandi Cooper says:

    Triple the Love by Brandi King Cooper 214 words
    Jennifer’s dad married a woman who had triplets the same age as Jenny. She was excited and hopeful they would be the best of friends. But, they played mean tricks on Jenny. One night, she found they had sprinkled cereal crumbs between her sheets. She just grabbed her waste basket and brushed them off without a word. “Goodnight Sara. Goodnight Hannah. Goodnight Emma.”
    Another time, the triplets made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for themselves and even one of Jenny. But when she bit into it…. yuck, pepper. She excused herself and went to the kitchen to make a new sandwich. When she returned, she gave each of the girls one of the chocolate chip cookies she had made earlier in the day.
    The next day was Valentine’s day and Jenny was determined to win the girls over. That night, she gathered all her fancy papers and pretty ribbons and made special cards for each of them. The next morning the triplets gave cards to their mom, her dad and to each other but none to Jenny. She ran to her room heartbroken where she saw all the pretty cards and paper flowers covering her bed. Then the three girls slipped into the room and hugged Jenny.
    Love wins! Three new sisters for Jenny.

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