A Little Sunday Surprise For YOU!

Dashing through the snow!
In a one-horse open sleigh!
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

Hi there!

Isn’t this a lovely treat?

Me, interrupting your Thanksgiving Sunday Family Breakfast  with my melodious singing?

(Not to brag, but I’ve been told by QUITE a few people that my voice is unrivaled… 🙂 )

I don’t know about you guys, but at my house there is a method to our madness.

I know.

Hard to believe I have a method for anything 🙂

But it’s true.

No matter how they behave at the mall, what with all the North Pole displays and piped in holiday tunes before trick-or-treating is done, I have a self-imposed rule that there is No Listening To or Singing Of Holiday Music Until Thanksgiving Is Over!

It’s just good sense.

For starters, it’s hard to put much conviction into “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” when orange plastic pumpkins full of candy are still sitting on the kitchen counter!

And imagine how all the turkeys feel when we just gloss over their day as if it doesn’t even matter because we’re so busy looking forward to Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/whatever?!

I mean, poor turkeys!  They give up a lot for their day!  We can at least not marginalize them by singing “Dreidel dreidel dreidel” while the turkey is front and center on the dining room table!’

But some of you may have noticed that Thanksgiving is now over…

…which means

a) we can holler out a nice loud chorus of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and



…It’s time for…


Super Santa.png

~for children’s writers~


The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday Hero!  Your hero’s act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one – from saving Christmas to leaving a fresh-baked loaf of Challah bread for a homeless person to something like Gift Of The Magi where two people give up the thing most important to them to be sure someone they love has a good holiday.  Your hero can be obvious or unlikely.  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 12:01 AM EST Thursday December 6 and Saturday December 8 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Thursday December 6 and remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debuts, Perfect Picture Book, or Would You Read It) 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 of my December 6th post when it goes up.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email me.  (We’ll go over this part in more detail on the December 6th post! 🙂 )


The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Friday December 14 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 16 at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Monday December 17.

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 Heroism! – the rules state a Holiday Hero story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a hero and act of heroism in some form! 🙂
  • 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!:  The prize list is almost – not quite – complete.  But I wanted to get the guidelines up so you guys would have as much time as possible to work on your stories!  Stay tuned for an updated list at some point 🙂

– A Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by prolific author Diana Murray!

diana-murray  One Snowy Day

– A Non-Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Amy Dixon!

amy-dixon  Maurice

– A 2-Pack of Personalized, Signed Picture Books by Tara LuebbeI Am Famous and Shark Nate-O

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O I Am Famous

– a spot in my online picture book writing class Making Picture Book Magic (in any month mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)


Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2019 – by Robert Lee Brewer (x2)

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

nancy sanders 2
laura salas educational market
Making A Living
Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂


So there you have it!  Fire up those brain cells!  Grab a cup of hot chocolate, plonk your tiny hiney into a comfy chair, and get to writing your potentially prize-winning Holiday Hero story!!! You have nearly two full weeks!

On your mark…

…get set…


I am SO looking forward to getting to read all your stories!!!

Have a great rest of the weekend! 🙂


53 thoughts on “A Little Sunday Surprise For YOU!

  1. Sarah Tobias says:

    Wow! You are so fun. Thank you for loving ALL the holidays, the turkeys appreciate it. Off to meet my winter holiday hero.

  2. ptnozell says:

    How heroic of you to spend part of your family time this weekend prepping this post, Susanna. Thank you (and I know turkeys everywhere are thankful that you didn’t post this until after their special day).

  3. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    “Unrivaled.” Hmmmm… It sounds remarkably (sadly) similar to when Mom says I am “unbelievable.” I WANT to think I’m being a good girl, but apparently – not always. In any case, sing on, S. You rock.

    Love and licks,

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      You’ve got it exactly right, Cupcake – that is precisely the way “unrivaled” is intended 🙂 But what do people know? I think we should stick with believing that I can sing and you’re a good girl 🙂

  4. https://katiewalsh.blog/ says:

    Yay! Thank you again, Susanna, for another fun and festive contest. Thanks to everyone for generously sharing their time to read and judge the stories. Not to mention the giveaways! I can’t wait!

  5. viviankirkfield says:

    With nary a moment of recovery from Halloweensie, you are out of the gate with yet another awesome writing contest! Susanna…thank you so much…the kidlit community is much in your debt because these writing challenges are so very important. They are a means to encourage us to write and get our work out there and, most importantly, to connect with one another. YOU ARE THE BEST!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Yeah, well, it’s my own fault for getting behind on Halloweensie, Vivian! If I’d been able to finish it sooner these two contests wouldn’t have fallen quite so much on top of each other. Back when I used to get 8 entries for Halloweensie it was a lot easier to finish that contest up quickly. I’m not so speedy with 240! Thank you for your appreciation of the contests, and for spreading the word and encouraging writers to take part! YOU are the best! 🙂 ❤

  6. jimchaize (@jchaize1) says:

    Woohoo! If they ever do a live-action “Incredibles” movie you should be in it. You’d bring humor, surprises, kindness and generosity to the role. Wait, but then we might lose you, if you became a big star. On second thought, say “no” if they call.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Hahaha! You’re too funny, Jim (and too nice!) No worries – I am not cut out to be a star of stage and screen 🙂 Although I did really want Phyllis to be one and I STILL think she could be a fantastic animated kids’ Groundhog Day movie!

  7. Debora Hoffmann says:

    Susanna, you are a holiday heroine! The turkeys and I thank you. 🙂 I’m eager to meet all these holiday heroes in everyone’s stories. And now, my brain will be ruminating on who my own holiday hero (or heroes) will be!

  8. yangmommy says:

    250-w—wow!!! Talk about a gift, LOL 😉 Alright, off to the blank page to write we go, even as I feel guilty myself putting ol’ Tom Turkey away already (I’ve just a few days between Thanksgiving and kiddo’s bday before we turn to snowfolk & Santas!) Thx for hosting again!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      It’s all a blur, isn’t it, Jenny? Just an avalanche of holidays and birthdays, presents and cake and holiday cookies! And if we manage to get a little writing in somewhere that’s the star on top of the Christmas tree 🙂

  9. jeanjames926 says:

    Oh boy, here we go again! I am so excited, and you are so brave with these back-to-back holiday contest marathons! I LOVE the theme of a holiday hero! This is going to be a blast. Thanks Susanna…you’re the best!

  10. authorlaurablog says:

    Holiday hero, you say? I love this prompt. I missed the holiday deadline last year because I was traveling but this year I’m going to put on my superhero cape and see what I can do.
    Thank you for your commitment to the kidlit community.

  11. ingridboydston says:

    Oh my! So much fun so soon! I hope I will be able to compose an entry but I certulook forward to reading them. Thanks again, for putting me right in the holiday spirit! Merry Chrseaon and happy holidays to you and yours!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Well, we all know I’ll be writing my sample about 4 minutes before the official contest post has to go up because I am ALWAYS down to the wire with that! So if I can do it, you can do it, Ingrid :). And you can probably do it a lot better! 🙂 Happy Holidays to you and yours too!

  12. Sandra Sutter says:

    I had fun working on this yesterday as an end-of-the-holiday-week writing prompt. Now to spruce it up a bit. Thanks so much for your exciting contests. I look forward to reading all the entries!!

  13. Traci Bold says:

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you Susanna! I totally agree with not skipping over Thanksgiving (poor turkeys, though I do wonder if they wished we would skip over them…).
    Thank you so much for time and dedication to hosting your contests! I love them as they give me the kick in the seat I need sometimes to start a new project. And the stories that come from them are joyous to read. Now, onto some writing!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thanks, Traci! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I think the turkeys would like be invited to dinner instead of being dinner 🙂 I’m so glad if the contests help jump start your writing – that IS part of the intent! And I agree – it is amazing to read what everyone comes up with. So much talent out there!

  14. Mishka Jaeger says:

    Hahah! But in my family, we did exactly that – sang dreidel around the Thanksgiving turkey. Since Hanukkah (like all Jewish holidays) moves dates every year, my family, living all over the country, couldn’t reliably travel to get together for it on a random Tuesday-ish night in December, so we always celebrated Hanukkah and exchanged gifts on Thanksgiving. My brother used to call it Thanksgivukkah. I thought it was pretty funny a few years ago that Hanukkah actually DID land on Thanksgiving for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then, EVERYONE called it Thanksgivukkah. I’m sorry my brother was no longer around to see that! And we no longer all get together for Thanksgiving as travelling has become too expensive. But since you mentioned the dreidel, I have to laugh because I’d made a card with carved pumpkins as dreidels which is on GCU.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      That is amazing, Mishka! I can’t believe it! Hanukkah is pretty early this year – begins December 2, right? – so I imagine you might not have been the only one to combine the two this year 🙂 Great greeting card!

  15. Debbie Sexton Lee says:

    Woo hoo!!!! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! First Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas and NOW I must sit my butt down once again and write! Thank you so much for your fantastic contests (and for always motivating me to SIT DOWN AND WRITE) I figure if I keep at it long enough you’ll finally get tired of me or I’ll actually get a book “born” 🙂

  16. Bruce Goodman says:

    I’ve put a lot of time and thought into this – but EST has not posted at the appointed time and I can only conclude it’s a scam. I’m bitterly disappointed. I thought it was going to be so good. It is already a day ahead of your time where I live – so now I’m going to bed. It is pathetic. Thanks for nothing.

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