Extra! Extra! Saturday Evening Post!!!

Okay, my pretties.

I don’t know who has been monkeying with the time-space continuum (and I am sorry to say that is definite Naughty List behavior!!!), but somehow we’ve gotten into THIS week when I need us to still be in LAST week.

I’m going to have to put things back to normal so all my posts and contests etc. work out right, because what we’ve got here is a snowball rolling out of control that’s going to bowl us right over.  (We are not even going to discuss that I’m still working my way through prize distribution for the Halloweensie Contest which should have been finished 3 weeks ago! 🙂 )

Just hang on a sec while I hitch this sleigh flown by 8 tiny reindeer, with menorah running lights, a New Year’s blowout horn, and a Solstice candy holding Kikombe cha Umoja on the dash, to 21 gigawatts of electricity and take us. . .

. . . Back to Last Week!

Ah, that’s better!

Lucky I’m good at such a variety of tasks, isn’t it?  Not just anyone could have turned a fancy-schmancy variety holiday sleigh into a time machine and solved this knotty little problem!

No need to thank me.  It’s the least I can do.

Now when this post goes up you’ll have more time to write your entries!

Because it’s time to put on your Elf Thinking Cap, fire up your writing implements, and write your way to fame and fortune in . . .



~ for children’s writers ~


The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday TREAT!

Your treat can be any kind of treat – a delectable holiday food specialty – Grandma’s Sugar Cookie Reindeer, or the Brown Family Gingerbread House; an event or experience that is a treat – the town Holiday Parade, attending the Nutcracker Ballet, or getting to light a candle on the menorah; making a treat for someone else – baking peppermint crunch brownies for the residents of a local shelter, or doing something special for a favorite teacher or neighbor – sky’s the limit 🙂

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 Monday December 9 and Wednesday December 11 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 Monday December 9 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 9th 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 9th 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 Monday December 16 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 18 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 Thursday 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 Treat! – the rules state a Holiday Treat story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about a treat of some kind that is specific to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate.  The story must center on the treat  – the treat must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 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 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 🙂


Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of your picture book manuscript plus a 10 minute phone call to talk!!!

MG/YA First 1500 Words Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of the first 1500 words of your MG or YA manuscript!!!

Melissa Richeson

Literary Agent Melissa Richeson


Melissa is currently looking to build her client list and is focusing on children’s book authors—picture books through young adult. She’s drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. She’s not the best fit for horror, high fantasy, or graphic violence of any kind.



Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) from Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

fb844-penny 495eb-penny A Cooked Up Fairy Tale


Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019)

Young headshot hi res for blog - jacket


Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), and THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017)

Picture2 Picture1 gorilla


Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019) and the forthcoming YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020) and LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020)

julie abery Yusra Swims

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover Little Monkey Little Hippo


Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction

Signed Copies of multiple star- and award-winning picture books




barry-wittenstein-photo Sonny's Bridge A Place To Land


Book Bundle #2 – Two By Tara

Personalized, signed copies of OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019) and I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019) by Tara Luebbe

Tara Luebbe Operation Photobomb I Used To Be Famous

Children's Writers And Illustrators 2020

(Charlesbridge 2019)

Making A Living Writing Books For Kids: Tips, Techniques, and Tales from a Working Children’s Author – by Laura Purdie Salas

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, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, and 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 Treat story!!! You have 10 full days!  (Sorry it isn’t more – blame it on the joker who tinkered with the space-time continuum 🙂 – but look at the bright side – deadlines are great for creativity and productivity!  Your house doesn’t need to be cleaned this week, your children can eat raisin bran for dinner for a few days, and let’s be honest – no one’s concentrating on getting homework done or practicing their trombone at this time of year anyway, so you’ll have plenty of time to write! 🙂 )

On your mark…

…get set…


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

Have a great rest of the weekend! 🙂


32 thoughts on “Extra! Extra! Saturday Evening Post!!!

  1. writersideup says:

    Susanna, you totally crack me up 😀 😀 😀 I really do miss reading your posts regularly! These prizes look fanTASTic! But what I really like most about this post—other than those beautiful snowman and mitten cookies, that is—is…your sleigh! Can I hitch a ride? I could DEFinitely use it to be last week again 😉

    I hope you had a WONderful Thanksgiving, my dear 🙂

  2. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    YOU totally deserve a prize, Susanna…smack dab on the tail end of Halloweensie…and the guidelines for the world-famous Holiday Contest are already up!
    Thank you, my friend, for being such a fabulous mentor and for supporting this incredible community of writers.
    And I am totally excited that I’ll be seeing you in a couple of days! Hopefully the weather won’t put the kibosh on our plans.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      You are very kind, Vivian! I feel like I’ve got a tiger by the tail this year – trying to keep up with everything and not doing the most efficient job of it! – but I’ll keep powering through and eventually it will all work out 🙂 I hope I’ll still be able to get to the city – I SO want to see you!

  3. heavenlyhashformoms says:

    Oh, fun! Since the weather outside looks frightful, writing a holiday tale sounds …delightful! And since we’ve no place to go (church was canceled), let it snow , let it snow, let it snow! ❄️❄️🌲❄️❄️❄️🌲🎄☃️❄️⛸☕️

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      The weather outside is TOTALLY frightful – snow, sleet, freezing rain, more snow – all manner of nasty precipitation and it’s 19 degrees! So yes! WE can all enjoy staying inside, sustaining ourselves with treats while we write about treats! 🙂

  4. ptnozell says:

    Such a treat to find this fun-filled post in my inbox! It feels much more festive around here already! And nothing like a good old-fashioned contest to burn off those Thanksgiving calories. Now where did that elf stash my pencil…

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      My pleasure, Ciara! (And I think I owe you an email!) Life as a whirlwind isn’t necessarily bad – just busy. I got to go to Brazil and see my son, and host Thanksgiving for the rest of my family, and sell a new book – all good! But attending to my email and such tends to suffer! 🙂

  5. Nicole Loos Miller says:

    You are so wonderful, Susanna. I wasn’t sure how you found the time to run Halloweensie and the Holiday Contest this time of year but now that your secret sleigh news is out, it makes so much more sense. No human could accomplish all this without a little magic 🙂

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      The secret sleigh is VERY helpful, Nicole – I won’t lie! 🙂 The thing is, when I started these contests, I was lucky to get 30 entries. It was no trouble at all to read, judge, choose winners and distribute prizes and be done with time in between the two contests. But as the entry numbers have risen (which I’m thrilled about!), the contests have taken more time to judge, and I added Honorable Mentions (which take a lot of extra time to choose and list) because lots of entries deserve to be recognized when there are 324 entries and only 12 will be finalists, etc… So now they run into each other 🙂

  6. jeanjames926 says:

    You are a brave and generous soul! Thank you for all of your amazing contests, and thank you in advance to your helpers, and all the generous prize donors! What a wonderful writing community. All this talk about treats…time to get writing!

  7. Patricia Tilton says:

    Like the flexibility in the Holiday contest! Are you moving in the direction of permanently eliminating the Perfect Picture Book Fridays? A group of us keep posting and include the link. Just curious.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      No, I’m not, Pat! I’ve just been so busy I can’t keep up with everything. Life… you know… 🙂 I’m going to do my best to get one up this Friday before the Holiday Contest opens, and you can all add your books from the past few weeks!

  8. montaukdeb says:

    Santa’s Favorite Treat
    Deborah Dolan Hunt

    “Mama,” said Lucy. “I want to make Santa a special treat.”
    Mama smiled. “We can bake cookies.”
    “But everyone gives Santa cookies,” said Lucy.
    “We can make meatballs,” said Tommy.
    Lucy giggled. “Santa doesn’t eat meatballs.”
    Tommy pouted. “I bet he does.”
    “I think we should make him a cake,” said Lucy.
    “He can’t eat a whole cake,” said Tommy.
    “He can share it with his reindeers,” said Lucy.
    Tommy stamped his feet. “Reindeers eat carrots.”
    Mama nodded.
    Lucy looked in the pantry. “We can make him oatmeal.”
    “It will be cold and yucky.” Tommy snapped his fingers. “We can make him a pizza.”
    “That’s silly,” said Lucy.
    Mama nodded.
    Lucy pouted. “We have to think of something special.”
    Mama went to the shelf and took out Grandma Kay’s old recipe book.
    Lucy and Tommy sat down next to Mama.
    Mama opened the book and out fell a piece of faded yellow paper.
    Lucy shouted. “Look at all these special recipes.”
    Tommy said with glee. “And there’s even one for meatballs.”
    Mama wiped a tear from her eye. “Every year Grandma and I made a special treat for
    “But which one should we make?” asked Lucy.
    Tommy pointed to the middle of the page and read. “This one because its Santa’s favorite.”
    Lucy read it out loud. “Santa’s Favorite Treat.”
    “How do we make it?” asked Tommy.
    Mama smiled. “We mix cookies, meatballs, cake, oatmeal, and pizza.”
    “Yummy,” shouted Lucy and Tommy.
    Mama nodded.

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