Roses are red
Violets are blue
And so do YOU!
Hang onto your chocolate everyone! It’s time for . . .
The 4th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!
~ for children’s writers~
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 feels guilty! Your someone can feel guilty themselves or make someone else feel guilty. They may feel guilty for good reason, or just because they think they should! 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 guilty (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 right now this very second and tomorrow Thursday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below. There will be no Would You Read It or PPBF for the duration of the contest so this post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to 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 writesbynightlight1 or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!) If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email your entry to 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 including byline 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. 🙂
P.S. Although I try to stay glued to my computer 24/7 I am sometimes forced to leave my desk. If you haven’t commented on my blog before, your comment won’t show up until I approve it. It may take a little while if I’m away from my desk. Likewise, if you send me an entry to post, I promise I will do it as soon as I can!
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 Wednesday February 20th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.) The winner will be announced Friday February 22nd or Saturday February 23rd depending on judging and voting time needed. 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:
- Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
- Creativity in using guilt and success in making us feel the guilt!
- 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, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
- Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂
The Prizes: Oh, the awesomeness! Such great prizes to motivate you! With thanks to all who donated!
– “Skip The Slushpile” AND get a Query Letter Critique from Charlotte Wenger, associate editor at Page Street Kids, the picture book division of Page Street Publishing. She earned her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons University (then College) and is a board member of the Mazza Museum’s National Advisory Board of Visitors. She enjoys working with debut picture book authors and illustrators and is excited about the 19 Page Street Kids picture books pubbing in 2019.
Charlotte will read the winner’s picture book manuscript of choice, then send an email letting you know she’s read your story and including one thing you did well and one thing you might work on to improve the manuscript. In addition, she will give you a query letter critique. Like all editors, she has a hectic schedule, so she will aim to fulfill the prize within 2 months of receiving the manuscript.
– Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the incredibly talented, multi-published author/illustrator Iza Trapani!
– Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the Queen of KidLit411 herself, Elaine Kiely Kearns, author of Noah Noasaurus, forthcoming April 1, 2019 from Albert Whitman!
– Top Ten Reasons for Rejection – a 52 minute webinar from Alayne Kay Christian, author of Butterfly Kisses (picture book) and the Sienna The Cowgirl Fairy series (chapter books), and Content and Developmental Editor of Blue Whale Press.
Webinar Description: If you want tips on some corrective action that you might take to improve your chances of submission success, and/or if you would like to deepen your understanding of plot and arc, this webinar is for you.
(And if you’re interested in seeing what else Alayne has to offer, like her Writing For Children Webinars and Courses page on FB and keep an eye out for upcoming offerings!)
– 15-30 Minute Your Questions Answered Phone Call – with Ryan Sias, author/illustrator of Balloon Toons: Zoe And Robot, Let’s Pretend, Sniff Sniff!, and the Woof And Quack beginning reader series (Green Light Readers), and the Super Doodle Series. He has worked in animation, film, and television, including Sesame Street 🙂
Do you have questions about writing, revising, submitting, whether or not to try for an agent, what happens after the sale, or anything else publishing industry related? If so, this is your chance to ask away and get answers from a professional!
– Query Letter Critique by Heather Ayris Burnell, creator of the Sub It Club and author of Bedtime Monster, Kick! Jump! Chop! The Adventures Of The Ninjabread Man, and the Sparkly New Friends early chapter book series from Scholastic!
– 2-Pack of Personalized Signed Picture Books from amazing author Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, Gorilla!
– The Writer’s Tool Box: Creative Games And Exercises for Inspiring The “Write” Side Of Your BrainAND a $10 Amazon Gift Card
– Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2019 – by Robert Lee Brewer AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card (2 available)
I can’t thank these authors 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.
It could have really benefited from the 65 words I had to cut out of it to make the 214 word limit! I’m warning you now – have some chocolate handy to help ease the pain of reading it 🙂
Valentine Fair and Square (214 words)
Flora and Miles liked all the same things.
And peanut butter ice cream with marshmallow sauce.
Unfortunately, Miles didn’t know Flora existed.
But Flora had a plan.
For days she toiled, making the Best Valentine Ever.
Valentines morning, she put her valentine on Miles’s desk.
Miles would notice her now!
But then Isabella put hers on top!
It was HUGE.
It was FANCY.
It came with a whole box of candy.
There was only one thing to do.
When Isabella wasn’t looking, Flora grabbed the huge, fancy, pink valentine and hid it behind the bookshelf.
During Attendance, Flora’s middle felt pinchy.
She hadn’t stolen it, she told herself. She’d only moved it!
But during the Pledge, her heart felt twingy.
She so wanted Miles to like her. He had to like her valentine most!
But by Morning Announcements Flora’s thoughts were poking her in the brain. Sharply.
Isabella probably worked as hard on her valentine as Flora had.
Flora flooded with guilt.
She didn’t want to hurt Isabella.
She didn’t want Miles to like her when she’d been deceitful.
So she put Isabella’s valentine back.
“Hey!” said Miles, holding up a valentine. “This is the Best Valentine Ever!”
It wasn’t fancy pink.
It was a climbing-tree-fishing-peanut-butter-cup-and-mini-marshmallow-covered baseball-glove heart.
I feel GUILTY for writing such drivel 🙂 But surely you are all feeling a surge of confidence, emboldened to share your stories, now that I have posted this travesty for all the world to see! Never let it be said that I’m not willing to make a fool of myself for you, my friends! 🙂
I can’t wait to read all of yours! I’m SO looking forward to them! I hope there will be LOTS – the more the merrier! And you still have until midnight tomorrow to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet. Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well. And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc. The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!
Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the list below so we can all come read your awesome stories! (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!) Please allow a few minutes and possibly refresh your browser before deciding that your link hasn’t posted and adding it a second time or emailing it to me.
Eager Readers – click on the links in the list to visit the blogs and read the stories. And be sure to read the 92 fabulous entries posted in the comment section below!!!
Happy Valentines Week, Everyone! ❤
Scroll through the comments to find these wonderful stories!
- Valentine’s Day Confession – Juli
- Prince Froggie Went A’ Courtin’ – Sherry
- Valentine’s Remorsel – Joel
- Sophie Builds A Bridge – Corine
- Charity’s Chocolate Bath – Johanna
- Candy Hearts – Glenda
- Cupid’s Valentine Scrabble – Jill
- Momo On Valentine’s Day – Shariffa
- A Valentine’s Party At School – Anneberly
- Secret Mission Valentine – Ramona
- It Wasn’t Me! – Susan
- The Little Piggies Celebrate Valentines Day – Sarah
- Messy Valentines – Sarah
- Wilfred’s Valentine’s Day – Cheryl
- A Box Full Of Love – Anne
- No Sweethearts – Marcia
- The Missing Pupcake – Jill
- Cupid And Bob – Jessica
- The Important Pink Washcloth – Marcia
- Valentine’s Day Smiles – Katie
- A Penny For His Thoughts – Charlene
- The Girl With The Dragon Choo-Choo – Anne
- Where Does Love Go? – Aixa
- The Sucker – Megan
- I Was Wrong – Nina
- Alex & Apple Solve The Case – Nicole
- Tamu, The Thieving Cat (Paka Mwizi)! – Ketan
- Late Night Snack – Mary
- A Way With Words – Susan
- A Spiny Valentiny – Rachel
- Love Bug At The Zoo – Chambrae
- Stan’s First Valentine’s Day – Jessica
- Tom’s Dad – ???
- The Lovebird’s Valentiny Ball – Barbara
- Love LOVES Love – Rebecca
- Sasquatch: In Search Of A Valentine – Mary
- The Case Of The Missing Valentine’s Candy – Sherry
- My Muddy Valentine – Jennifer
- Sometimes To Always – Jan
- The Heart-Shaped Balloon – Amy
- Tater Tot Tilly’s Valentine Treat – Kim
- No Ordinary Thursday – Emma
- Alma’s GREEN Valentine – Amy
- Ahava’s School Valentine Surprise – Amy
- An ImPURRfect Valentine Surprise – Deborah
- Last Valentine’s – Tonya
- Vivi’s Heart – Pai
- A Valentine For Papa – Keely
- A Valentine Party To Remember – Judy
- A Valentine For Prince Donald – Jim
- Tiny Crush – Amy
- The Valentine’s Day Mess & Cure – Joyce
- Hillary’s Heart – Deborah
- The Perfect Valentine – Susie
- Change Of Heart – Jeannine
- The Presents – Kirsten
- Teacher Valentine – Rosemary
- Happy Valentine’s Day To Everyone – Michele
- Conversation Smarts – Lauren
- Twenty Chocolate Kisses – Patricia
- A Little Heart – Lynn
- Guess Who? – Marty
- Big Sister For The Day – Alison
- Puneet’s Valentine Birthday – Johannah
- Ella And Emma And The Valentine Verdict – Cindy
- A Valentine For Valentina – Lara
- The (Not So) Great Revenge – Darcee
- The Glass Heart – Gabriella
- All Wrapped Up – Mia
- A Valentine’s Day Breakfast “Trip” – Susan
- Raisins Or Frosting – Ashely
- Buffa-lonely Love Day – Jennifer
- Bookworm’s Valentine – Dee
- The Saga Of Cupid – Linda
- Celebrate Every Day With A Poem – Kathy
- Puppies Can’t Eat Chocolate – Jan
- Something Special – Deb
- Spoon In Hand – DL
- The Unkeepable Promise – Juliana
- Guilty As Charged – Michelle
- Valentines For All – Marjorie
- Mom’s Valentine – Scott
- How It All Began – Linda
- The Coconut Covered Chocolates – Carmen
- Valentine Dilemma – Ranessa
- Who Will Be Mine? – Susie
- Blue Whale’s Big Heart – Susan
- Chadwick The Zombie Cooks Up A Valentine – Katrina
- Noses Are Red – JC
- The Tattle Tale – Karen
- An Extra Special Valentine – Margaret
- Operation Chocolate Hearts – Lucretia
392 thoughts on “Oh, Guilty Heart! – The 4th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!”
ENTRY POSTED FOR LUCRETIA (received on time)
OPERATION CHOCOLATE HEARTS – Lucretia Schafroth
(Word count: 214)
Marvin’s nose twitched, nudging him awake. He stretched, sniffing the sweet-smelling air.
YUMMM! His sweet tooth tingled.
Glittery hearts sparkled in windows. Chubby cherubs looked ready for an ambush…
he knew that meant…VALENTINE’S DAY!
—And that meant candy, especially his favorite, CHOCOLATE!
Candy caper time!
Inside, sweet aromas guided his feet. Marvin hid near his target. Massaging his twitching sweet tooth, he reviewed his plan.
“Psst! That box’s mine,” said a voice.
“Whozzat?” Marvin whispered.
“A chocolate fanatic…,” it responded. “…on a stake out!”
“That’s my target!” Marvin clarified.
“I got here first!” it hissed.
“I’m not leaving…,” Marvin stated.
“GET. OUTTA. HERE!”
“Make me!” he sneered.
OUCH! Marvin stumbled backwards…
Skittering feet approached. YIP-YIP!
“You wrecked my mission,” Marvin seethed.
“Me? It’s your fault!” she fumed, massaging her twitching cheek.
“SORR-RRY!” he whispered. “I’m Marvin—and I’m irritable when I’m chocolate-deprived!”
“Haha! MYRNA…I’m totally guilty of that, too!” she chuckled.
“Wanna work together?” Marvin asked. “…split the loot?”
“Fifty-fifty?,” she asked.
“Exactly!” He shared his plan.
“Mighty watchdog!” laughed the girl, scooping it up. “Time to open my chocolates!”
“Showtime!” Marvin winked.
Marvin and Myrna leaped outward…
shouting, “HAAP-PPPY VALL-LEN-TINE’S DAY!”
Sharing nibbles with Myrna, Marvin thought…
OPERATION CHOCOLATE HEARTS…SUCCESS!
Cute story, Lucretia! I may be related to Marvin – my sweet tooth tingles all the time 🙂 I’m glad he and Myrna found a way to work together to successfully complete Operation Chocolate Hearts! Thanks for joining in the Valentiny fun!
Very cute story, Mia!
Such a cute story, Mia! I totally felt that irresistible temptation! And how could he ignore a hungry tummy???!!! I love that he gives her only the bows… but has plans to go out and buy more chocolate 🙂 Thanks for joining in the Valentiny fun!