2018 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

So darlings, it’s Wednesday, and you know what that means, right?




It means that today is the day…


…for us to FINALLY find out…


…the thing that kept us up all night in anticipation…


…what our reindeer names are!

According to the Elf On The Shelf Site (a character I confess I find a bit creepy and don’t really get!) my reindeer name is Cocoa Wonderland.

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a bit of a mouthful to me…

On Dasher, on Dancer,
On Prancer and Vixen,
On Comet, on Cocoa Wonderland,
On Donner and Blitzen…

I don’t know…

When in doubt, try another site! So I took the MagiQuiz… and now my name is Mistletoe!

Pretty, but…

Since I’m a writer, and here in the land of writers we love the Rule Of Three, I thought I’d better check one more option… and there I struck gold, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the pick of the litter, my True Reindeer Name (which I might have to give to my car after Christmas 🙂 )

Are you ready?

(I am not making this up…!)

My reindeer name is…


…wait for it…


Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder!


Really!  That’s what it is!

Okay.  Technically even longer than Cocoa Wonderland, but I can’t resist 🙂

Let’s try it out!

On Dasher, on Dancer,
On Prancer and Vixen,
On Comet, on Cupid,
On Donner and Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder!

*** moment of appreciative silence***

I just don’t think it gets any better than that 🙂

I wonder what YOUR reindeer names are…???!!! 🙂

But okay, okay.  Enough reindeer games.  You may all address me as Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder from now until Christmas (don’t even think about nicknaming it down to Salla or Shiny or Speedy!) and we will devote ourselves to the business at hand…

Hot chocolate…


…the wrap up of…


Super Santa.png

~for children’s writers~


As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  Really!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!

But as you well know by now, with large entry numbers, all of high quality, come hard choices.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you on (yes it was still even if barely) Saturday for your vote.

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another, or that the judges couldn’t reach a consensus on.

So my assistant judges and I would like to award recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (entries we truly wrestled with not including in the finalists!)

Teresa Traver for Ten Chocolate Coins (an entry we loved for the writing and kid-friendliness)

Judy Sobanski for Ozzie Owl To The Rescue (an entertaining, well-written rhyme with some great lines – “directional expertise”, “Santa switching to cruise control”, and “To OWL a great night!” 🙂 )

Angela Hawkins for Burro’s Christmas Wish (a well-written story with a great twist ending!)

Sue Heavenrich for Moose Is A Hero! (how can you not love a moose with X-ray goggles and a decoder ring determined to be a hero even if others say he can’t be?!)

Lisa Lee Furness for Come Back, Santa (wonderfully relatable kid character, plenty of humor – loved those reindeer names 🙂 – and heart!)

Barbara Gruener for A Recipe For Hope (a tale of true heroism, kindness, and Christmas spirit beautifully written for kids)

Liz Tipping for Happy Rose For Christmas (a beautifully written story about one child noticing and caring about the need of another)

Johanna Speizer for The 12 Days Of Christmas With Noni (a lovely twist on Secret Santas)


2. For Great Kid Appeal: (not already mentioned in the finals or other categories)

Stacy Jensen for Penguin’s Quest For Answers: Saves Christmas (which could also have been in a category for Favorite Character – Penguin is something else! We loved this one, Stacy 🙂 )

Stuart Carruthers for How I Saved Christmas Dinner (believable, imaginative kid character and there’s a dragon involved – what kid wouldn’t love that?! 🙂 )


3. For Excellence In Representing A Different Holiday Tradition:

Mary Ann Cortez for The Burro’s Blanket(finally a story about Las Posadas! 🙂 )


4. For Beautifully Written Spiritual Story:

Michelle Kennedy for The Christmas Prayer (such a lovely expression of what the world needs, and beautiful last line: “Whatever you do, let love be the reason.”)


5. For Best Entry Based On A True Story:

Matthew Lasley for Delivery (we loved that this actually happened and could imagine it as a picture book with a little more detail and emotional resonance than 250 words allowed for!)


6. For Best, Most Original Setting:

Shariffa Keshavjee for Momo The Xmas Hero (set in Nairobi, Kenya, with a wonderful folk tale feel to the writing)



7.  For Humor Funnier For Grown-ups But Well-Written And Enjoyable!

Darcee A. Freier for The Cookie Defenders

Julie Abery for The Holiday Show

(both of which were delightful and oh-so-believable! but for which we felt adults would be more amused by the humor than kids would)


8. For Incredibly Original And Different (but the math vocab was a little over our heads 🙂 ):

Mishka Jaeger for Christmas-Shaped


Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about) (and if you request a paperback, please include your snail mail address!)

For Kindle:

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

How To Query An Agent Or Editor: A Children’s Writer’s Insider Guide From Mentors For Rent by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Getting Published: How To Access Editors: A Children’s Writer’s Insider Guide From Mentors For Rent by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

The Easy Way To Write Picture Books That Sell by Robyn Parnell OR

Self-Publish Your Book: A Quick And Easy Step-By-Step Guide (Writing In A Nutshell Series Book 6) by Jessica Bell, OR

The Write Ideas Creative Writer’s Toolkit: A Genre-Spanning Box Set of Writing Prompts And Creative Exercises by Kate Krake

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To City Spaces by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Personal And Natural Places by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Ultimate Fiction Thesaurus by Sam Stone, OR

Writing In A Nutshell: Writing Workshops To Improve Your Craft (Writing In A Nutshell Series Book 4) by Jessica Bell, OR

In paperback:

Show And Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell

The Six Senses In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Bleak To Bold Narrative by Jessica Bell OR

Adverbs And Cliches In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions Of Adverbs & Cliches Into Gourmet Imagery by Jessica Bell OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard

Just For Fun…

2019 Pocket Calendar (Kittens) OR

2019 Pocket Calendar (Puppies) OR

Magnetic Poetry – Little Box Of Awesome Kit – Words For Refrigerator (let me know your color choice if you care 🙂 )


And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2018 HOLIDAY CONTEST as voted on by you, our esteemed readers!!!



In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

John McGranaghan

Christmas In The Park!!!

Congratulations, John, on a beautifully written, poignant entry with carefully chosen details and a lovely message that clearly struck an emotional chord with a LOT of readers!!! 🙂

In Second Place

Jennifer Broedel
Nippynose Flu

Congratulations, Jennifer, on an entry we loved for its fun story, rollicking rhyme, clever solution to a knotty (I just can’t say snotty 🙂 ) problem, and chicken soup with snowballs!    Apparently you’re a writer to watch – 2nd in last year’s Holiday Contest, 1st in this year’s Halloweensie Contest, and now 2nd again in the Holiday Contest!  You get to pick your prize after John.

In Third Place

Jill Lambert

Christmas Scent-sation

Congratulations, Jill, on a delightfully fun, kid-friendly entry in wonderful rhyme!  How can you not love firefighters and Stan the wildlife control guy saving toys for tots from a skunk soaking? 🙂  You get to pick your prize after John and Jennifer.

In Fourth Place… a TIE!!! between

Patricia Nozell             and            Jenna Waldman
for                                                 for
Hester Saves Christmas                   Larry’s Latkes

Congratulations, Patricia, on a most entertaining and humorous entry about determination and working hard to achieve your goals – hurray for Hester the cow!  And congratulations, Jenna, on a most original story – latke-eating gators – who’d have thought?! – in perfect rhyme with fabulous language!  You two get to pick your prizes after John, Jennifer, and Jill!  I guess we may have to negotiate a little…


In Sixth Place

Nicole Loos Miller

Alex & Apple

Congratulations, Nicole!  We loved the whole “Santa stakeout/witnessing of a crime!” and Alex’s MacGyver-like ability to make use of things to hand to save the day!  You get to pick after John, Jennifer, Jill, Patricia, and Jenna!

In Seventh Place…

Vivian Kirkfield
A New York Hero

Congratulations, Vivian!  We loved the authentic historical immigrant-new-to-New York feel of your story, the coziness of Rachel’s store, the believability of a child suffering stares and glares and wrinkled noses, and the heroism of offering help even after being treated unkindly! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Eighth Place…

Beverly Warren
A Special Nest

Congratulations, Bev!  We loved your original and very accessible take on the baby in the manger, your earnest, formal yet affectionate Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow who worked so hard to accomplish their important task, and the tiny sprinkling of humor woven in.  You get to pick after Vivian 🙂

In Ninth Place… ANOTHER TIE!!! between

Laura Bower             and            Connie Bergstein Dow
for                                                     for
The Christmas Pick-Up                     Sparkle The Snowflake

Congratulations, Laura, on your big-hearted, helpful truck entry, and to you, Connie, on your beautifully written dance of the snowflakes that made us long for a white Christmas!  You two get to pick after Beverly :). And again, we may need to negotiate a little…

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  (The sooner the better!)  And for your convenience, the whole prize list is included at the bottom of this post.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause and a Holiday Treat (Reindeer Chow anyone?  🙂 )

Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals, or by donating a prize.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

As I… hmm… maybe didn’t mention…? but seem to do every year so you’re probably not surprised, I’m taking a little blogging break so I can spend time with my family – I’ve got children to fetch, cookies to bake, Christmas presents to shop for and wrap, and my sister and her family just arrived from Georgia! 🙂   And, I’ve been so busy I haven’t put up my holiday decorations or gotten a tree yet, can you believe it?!  So I will see you all in a couple weeks – most probably the first week of January 🙂

So now, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday filled with love, laughter, joy, and family, and a happy, healthy and successful new year!  It is a pleasure and a privilege to get to spend time with you all, and I’m happy and grateful to know each and every one of you!

Looking forward to all the things we’ll do in 2019!

Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 4.46.14 PM


The Prizes!:

Magic Happens When You Make Every Word Count Writing Mentorship with Author Vivian Kirkfield!

Vivian will:
1. Read through your body of work (3-5 PB mss)
2. Skype chat with you to discuss your dream/vision/direction and her general thoughts about your work.
3. Help you choose which manuscript to move forward with/work on with her.
4. Critique that ms and then set up a Skype chat to go over it.
5. Help craft a cover letter and pitch for your ms which will then serve as a template for you as you move forward with your other work.

This is a truly amazing opportunity to work one-on-one with a talented author and critiquer to get you submission-ready for an editor or agent!

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Vivian Kirkfield

Writer for children – reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. She’s got a bucket list that contains many more than five words – but she’s already ticked off skydiving, parasailing and banana-boat riding. When she is not looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books that she hopes will encourage young kids to become lovers of books and reading. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate(Holiday House, Feb 2019); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book(PomegranateKids, March 2019); Sweet Dreams, Sarah(Creston Books, May 2019); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). You can visit Vivian on her website, Picture Books Help Kids Soar, where she hosts the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge every March. Or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest,Instagram, Linkedin, and just about anywhere people are playing with picture books.

cover on amazon   four otters cover amazon   sweet-dreams-new-on-amazon

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 AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card (2 available)

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

– Yes You Can Learn How To Write Beginning Readers And Chapter Books – by Nancy I. Sanders AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card
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 🙂

28 thoughts on “2018 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

  1. Corine Timmer says:

    What a fun way to start the day! This is Linnea Forestcoat The Comet congratulating John and all the other winners. I have to confess my favourite is Jill’s Christmas Scent-sation. But I enjoyed all the finalists’ stories. Merry Christmas to all!

  2. ptnozell says:

    Congratulations to all of the winners! I loved each & every one of them. Hester & I are thrilled & shocked to be tied for 4th place! Cowabunga! And congratulations to everyone who entered the contest & put your story out there for all to enjoy.
    Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder, we wish you & your family a very merry Christmas & a joyful new year! Thank you once again for hosting the best Holiday Contest & thanks to the tireless judges. May your stockings overflow with chocolate.

  3. Sarah Tobias says:

    Congratulations to all the winners.
    Congratulations John. It is a beautiful story and so important. May every gift on the list be filled.
    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah ( a bit late), Happy Kwanzaa, A contented and peaceful Winter Solstice, Happy New Year to all.

  4. Connie Dow says:

    Hi Susanna,

    Thanks for this fun contest. I’m so excited to be a finalist. I loved so many of the stories!



    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Marla says:

    Congrats to all the winners! It was hard to choose which one to vote for. I’ll have to try to go back & read the ones I missed the first time through in the too good not to mention list – they sound delightful!
    Susanna – thank you for another lovely contest & Happy Holidays!!!

  6. authorlaurablog says:

    Good morning Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder!
    Turtledove Icicle Pudding here.
    What a wonderful collection of stories and prizes. Congratulations to all of the winners, honorable mention writers, and anyone who entered which is more than I did. Happy holidays to all.
    I’ll be celebrating Solstice on Friday which is also the full moon and a meteor shower! 💜🌕💫

  7. Jennifer Broedel (@JBroedelAuthor) says:

    What the what?! Woooow, I’m beyond honored and humbled to come in second! Truly, I was speechless for a minute, and that’s saying something.

    John, your piece was so sincere and featured a true hero, so congratulations to you on the win! And to all of the other competitors, congratulations to you as well, for your carefully crafted works. I appreciate being featured with all of you. This contest always draws high caliber writers, and that makes it all the sweeter.

    And to Susanna- your kind words of praise really serve as a giant affirmation to me, that I’m totally doing the right thing, chasing down my writing dreams. This honor will propel me into 2019 with gusto and confidence. I’m gonna make it after aaaaaall (somebody get me a hat, so I can throw it in the air).

    Feeling really thankful, and ready to enjoy the holidays! Blessings to all of you.

  8. Jill Lambert (@LJillLambert) says:

    What an honor it is to be in the midst of so many outstanding finalists! I’m having to pinch myself! Thank you Susanna…or I should say Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder, and the judges for all your time and hard work during this busy month, and all of you with words of encouragement in the comments. Your contests are so inspiring to write for and to see all the creative responses to the requirements. I am truly thankful for this early gift! It is just what I needed to keep putting my work out into the world. I wish you all a joyous Christmas and wonderful writing in the New Year!

  9. Sue Heavenrich says:

    Greetings,Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder
    From Sofia Whiteantlers The Daring
    Congratulations to all the winners who won prizes, and all the winners who won the opportunity to share their story. So many good ones – I think I read most of them, too!
    I am humbled to see Moose (also the Daring) honored along with other fun stories that almost made it into the sleigh. But like a game of Mooseshoes, “almost” counts, especially if it includes chocolate.

  10. Wendy says:

    Congratulations to all the winners, and everyone who entered. This time of year is so busy, I’m applauding y’all. (LOL, can I be Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder, too says Elina Sparklynose the Cake-Eater! –Are there hidden cameras in my house?!)

  11. viviankirkfield says:

    Congratulations, John! The authenticity of your story captured my heart the first time I read it…and every time after that. And congratulations to all of the winners, honorable mentions, and truly, to each and every one of you who put your work out there. I’m honored to be part of the contest, both as a finalist (woo-hoo!) and as a prize. Thanks to Susanna and the judges…as well as to all who took the time to read and comment on the entries – these contests are a team effort…each person is of great value.
    And now, this is Sanna Goldenlashes the Wise, signing off and wishing everyone a Merry Holiday Season and a New Year that blossoms with joy, good health, and much success! I can’t wait to move forward into 2019 with all of you in Kidlitland.

    Oh, and a note to Salla Shinyhooves the Speeder: I actually have to take the decorations OFF my tree which has been up for the past 2 years…because I want my little granddaughter to have the fun of hanging up the ornaments when she arrives on Thursday.

  12. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Congrats to all of the winners! John’s captured the top spot in my heart as well. I’m thinking that his story will be speeding its way to a publishing house soon. But all in all, so many great stories! Congrats to all who put participated! And thanks to Susanna and all of the judges and to those who are donating prizes! This contest always gives me holiday spirit, the spirit of generosity and community-building, no matter what’s going on in my life. Happy Holidays, everyone!

  13. littleredstoryshed says:

    Congratulations to John and all of the winners – the top ten were brilliant! Many thanks to Susanna (or Salla Shinyhooves the Speeder) and the excellent judges for another wonderful contest! So chuffed to be mentioned for humor! My children would surely say I don’t have a funny bone in my body…but now I can say differently! Crackling Crackers, it turned out alright…Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!! 🎄

  14. bookfish1 says:

    Congratulations to all the entries. The stories were great. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to judge the stories and then vote for one. I loved reading the rhyming stories. Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement. My story was actually inspired by some experiences I have had in working with the homeless.
    Susanna or should I say Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder, I ‘m so grateful and appreciative to you for putting this contest together and all you give to aspiring writers, especially at this time of year when you put so many other things on hold. You are truly the real Holiday Hero. Much thanks. God Bless and peace to all.

  15. jennawaldman says:

    Congrats, John, and all of the winners!

    I’m thrilled to represent the latke lovers of the world with my Fourth Place tie!

    Thank you Susanna, and judges : D I’m looking forward (before you know it) to Valenteeny!

  16. julie rowan zoch says:

    Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions and to all the participants! What a feast of stories this year! I have to admit Christmas in the Park did make me cry and I’d like to ask the author if I may share a link to it with my team volunteers, all of whom work with and for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Would you please give me John’s contact info, Susanna? Thanks! So much love to you, Susanna, for pulling this joyous occassion together, once again!

  17. jeanjames926 says:

    Wow, what a bunch of talented writers, and brilliant stories. Congratulations to John, and all the winners, and honorable mentions. A big thank you to Salla Shinyhooves The Speeder, and her helpers! Happy Holidays and here’s to a Happy New Year!

  18. M.A. Cortez says:

    Congratulations to all the winners and thanks Susanna, for this wonderfully fun contest. I’m so thrilled that my story got an honorable mention. (Yay, street creds for me!) I really needed some encouragement and this did the trick. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone!

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