The 2020 Valentiny Writing Contest WINNERS!!!


Do you know what today is?

Of course you do!

That’s why you’re here!

No one wants to miss National Tortilla Chip Day!

Let’s take a poll!

Which is better: potato chips or tortilla chips?


What is your favorite dip? Guacamole? Salsa? Queso? Other?

These are the burning questions that can only be answered by the great minds here in our little community.

Now I come to think of it, there is probably a picture book in this. . . The Search for Perfection. . . or maybe, Who Stole The Dip?

But back to the point, I think we can all agree that for un-dipped flavor, our friends the potato chips have poor plain tortillas beat hands down.  Also, I would argue that ruffled potato chips have more flavor than smooth ones.  But once dip is involved, all bets are off.  Tortilla chips with both guacamole AND salsa may surpass the lowly plain potato chip.  (Although, if you get a good barbecue or sour cream and onion potato chip, the tables turn again!)

MY!  What a knotty problem!  Thank goodness you’re here to weigh in!

Now off you go to your Mondays to enjoy your properly-dipped tortilla chips.


See you tomorrow for Tuesday Debut.

Thanks for stopping by.

Buh-bye now.


You DIDN’T come to talk about tortilla chips?

What else could possibly be on your mind on National Tortilla Chip Day?

Ah. . .

. . . I know what it is!

You’ve spent the whole weekend in a fever of anticipation to find out who won

The 5th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2019!

So I suppose, if you’re very nice to me and agree with everything I say (for example, that ruffled potato chips are better than smooth ones) and are willing to give me a tiara and elect me Princess of Clove Valley, I will tell you.

But first a few words from our sponsor (me) which I know shocks you (not!) 🙂

As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  (Did I mention there were nearly 150?!)  Really!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!  The other judges and I are blown away anew each time!

But 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 last week 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.  It is SO HARD! One of our favorite entries – well written and curious – was over the word limit!  Two entries came in after the deadline.  Many other entries were so well written but simply weren’t curious enough, although they were fabulous in other ways!

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!)

Ingrid Boydston for What’s Love?

Theresa Kiser for Little Card’s Purpose

Rebecca Loescher for Crabby’s Heart Speaks

Mia Geiger for Secret Stash

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

Laura Howard for Bags Of Love (fun and sweet!)

Kelsey Gross for Moe’s Valentine’s Day Discovery  (good story structure and curiosity, sweet ending)

Sarah Meade for Valenturtle

Mary Warth for Mystery Marks

3. For Original POV:

Amy Flynn for Mailbox (POV of a mailbox! – well-written!)

4. For Humor:

Genevieve Puttay for Cupid Caper (clever and funny! but we thought maybe some of the humor would escape the 12 and under set)

Katrina Swenson for Cupid’s Love Trials

Jen Bagan for Cupid And Curtis

Andrea MacDonald for Peck! (funny, original inside-the-egg POV)

5. For Well-Written, Fun Story With Great Sibling Interaction:

Jilanne Hoffman for Double-Crossed Hearts

Joy Pitcairn for February 14

6. For Well-Written Scariest Valentine Ever That Totally Gave Us The Shivers! : 

Sofia Dibble for Ophelia Divine (so original and very Edgar Allan Poe!)

7. For We Loved It But Not Curious Enough!:

Aundra Tomlins for Better With Bear

Elizabeth LaGrange Muster for Cupid’s Curious Conundrum (great mash-up of holiday characters!)

MaryAnn Cortez for Yeti Wants A Valentine

Sue Lancaster for Shelly & Saul

Claire Lewis for My Piggy Valentine

Elsie Duffany for The Curious Kitten (well done, Elsie!  Keep up the great work!)

Cindy Williams Schrauben for How To Find Your Valentine

Anne Bromley for A Shelter Dog’s Valentine

Kate Thompson for When Love Gives You Wings

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 award badge and prize, which is five dollars in a format that can be emailed for you to put toward something you’d like at a large online store (and I’m being cryptic because when I did this for Halloweensie I got a ton of problematic spam mail because of the way I worded the post, but hopefully you can figure it out.  The store starts with the letter A 🙂 )

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

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



In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Nicole Loos Miller

Seeds Of Love!!!

Congratulations, Nicole, on a beautifully written entry which had us wondering right along with your main character what would grow and what would be done with it, along with a lovely message!

In Second Place

Kelly Conroy
Candy Conundrum

Congratulations, Kelly, on a delightfully kid-friendly entry we loved for your MC’s very believable curiosity and subsequent taste-testing of the candy hearts and perfect final question 🙂   You get to pick your prize after Nicole.

In Third Place

Sarah Meade

Gibbon’s Valentine’s Surprise

Congratulations, Sarah!  You did a terrific job of writing a fun, well-structured story in 214 words!  We were especially fond of Sloth 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Nicole and Kelly.

In Fourth Place

Nancy Riley

Finding A Friend

Congratulations, Nancy, on an engaging story of a curious little rover on a Valentine mission on Mars in perfect rhyme!  You get to pick your prize after Nicole, Kelly, and Sarah!

In Fifth Place

Charlotte Sheer

Scraps Of Love

Congratulations, Charlotte, on your heart-warming story. We felt Papa and the neighbors’ curiosity over what on earth Sergio was up to!  How lovely that he was doing something nice for those who had helped him. . .  using reclaimed and recycled items!  You get to pick after Nicole, Kelly, Sarah, and Nancy!

In Sixth Place

Jean James

The Stinky Valentine

Congratulations, Jean!  You really had us wondering what kind of awful stinky thing was in that box!  And what a fun twist that a Valentine mix-up had occurred! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Seventh Place…

Marty Bellis
Dear Cupid

Congratulations, Marty!  You made us laugh 🙂  You get to pick next 🙂

In Eighth Place…

Sara Ackerman

Congratulations, Sara!  You did a beautiful job of showing curiosity in an unfamiliar world xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  You get to pick after Marty 🙂

In Ninth Place…

Chelsea Tornetto
Sending Love

Congratulations, Chelsea!  We loved your imaginings of how a Valentine might get from one side of the map to the other!  You get to pick after Sara!

In Tenth Place…

JC Kelly
Always.  Every Day.  No Matter What.

Congratulations, JC!  We loved how believably “kid” Johnny was with his curiosity over how far his mom’s love went, and how patient and forgiving his mom! You get to pick after Chelsea!

In Eleventh Place…

Michelle Howell Miller
Whose Valentine Could This Be?

Congratulations, Michelle, on a wonderful entry for youngest readers, beautifully done!  You get to pick after JC 🙂

In Twelfth Place…

Chambrae Griffith
Beetle’s Valentine

Congratulations, Chambrae, on a lovely, curiosity filled story in well-written rhyme!

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 gigantic chocolate heart… or lots of little chocolate hearts… or both… really, you can never have too much chocolate 🙂 . (Or perhaps you’d rather have a shower of tortilla chips and some lovely dishes of dip 🙂 )

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.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh, the awesomeness!  With heartfelt thanks to all who donated!

Penny’s Two Cents – an incredible opportunity for any picture book writer!

Sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a published author about your writing journey. Penny Parker Klostermann is offering her two cents. The prize includes six thirty-minute Skype/Google Hangout sessions with Penny. The sessions can be used anytime during 2020. Ask her anything related to writing for children and getting published. Up to two sessions can be used for general comments on a manuscript (not a full critique). Penny doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, (by any means) but she’s happy to share her two cents based on what she’s learned and continues to learn on her journey as an author.

Penny Klostermann

Penny is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) (now available in board book and with matching pajamas! 🙂 ) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

495eb-penny      Cooked-Up Fairy Tale

 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rosie Pova, author of If I Weren’t With You (Spork 2017),  Sarah’s Song (Spork 2017), and the forthcoming Sunday Rain (Lantana Publishing, September 2020)

Rosie Pova                Sarah's Song

If I Weren't With You Sunday Rain

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) from Katey Howes, author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press 2017), MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling Children’s Books 2018), BE A MAKER (Carolrhoda Books, 2019), and the forthcoming RISSY NO KISSIES (Lerner/Carolrhoda Spring 2021)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art Grandmother Thorn  Be A Maker

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Sherry Howard, author of ROCK & ROLL WOODS (Spork 2018)

Sherry Howard (4)Cover Rock and Roll Woods

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lydia Lukidis, author of NO BEARS ALLOWED (Blue Whale Press 2019) and many educational titles.

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

– a spot in Making Picture Book Magic (Interactive or Self Study version – winner’s choice) – an online picture book writing course from Yours Truly.  If you choose the interactive version, month to be mutually agreed on by me and the winner.


– Prize Pack #1 – a personalized signed copy of A MORNING WITH GRANDPA (Lee&Low Books 2016) by Sylvia Liu and the 2020 Guide To Literary Agents (which you may exchange for the Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2020 if you prefer)

MorningWithGrandpa_cover 2020 Guide to Literary Agents
Lee&Low New Voices Award 2013

Picture Book Prize Pack – a personalized signed copy of NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE (HarperCollins 2019) by Ashley Franklin and a personalized signed copy of NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman & Co 2019) by Elaine Kiely Kearns

Not Quite Snow White      noah

Picture Book Pack From Chris and Chris: a personalized signed copy of EMILY’S IDEA (Sounds True, March 2020) by Christine Evans and a personalized signed copy of HEY, HEY, HAY! A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them (Holiday House 2018) by Christy Mihaly

Emily's Idea HEY, HEY, HAY! Cover

Historical Women Picture Book Pack: a personalized signed copy of QUEEN OF PHYSICS: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) by Teresa Robeson and a personalized signed copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books 2020) by Vivian Kirkfield

queen of physics cover              Making Their Voices Heard
Asian/Pacific American Award Picture
Book and ALA Notable Picture Book

A SURPRISE PACK! – 2 additional picture books (not signed) donated by Darshana Khiani (who will have her own book, How To Wear A Sari, out in Spring 2021!): What Color Is Night? by Grant Snider and Caspian Finds A Friend by Jacqueline Veissid

What Color Is Night? Caspian Finds A Friend

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, buying and recommending their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, writing them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and showing your appreciation to them in any way you can! 😊

30 thoughts on “The 2020 Valentiny Writing Contest WINNERS!!!

  1. Nancy Riley says:

    First, to the Princess of Clove Valley, Susanna of Sunshine and All Thngs Chocolate, thank you for all that you do to encourage us in our writing journeys! Congratulations to all who entered, all who read our stories, all the honorable mentions, and to the winners! I am ecstatic to finish 4th! Thank you!

  2. Deborah Boerema (@Deborah_Boerema) says:

    Congratulations to all the winners 7 honorable mentions! Thanks to those who generously provided prizes! And THANKS to Susanna & her team of judges for all the time, effort, and fun they put into this contest.

    BTW, don’t disregard Susanna’s suggestion to write a picture book about National Tortilla Chip Day! Every day, I post about picture books that relate to one of the celebrations on the National Day Calendar. There’s lots of inspiration for writers looking for story ideas! 😀

  3. Laurie Carmody says:

    Congratulations to the winners! I had so much fun reading the entries. And thank you, Susanna, for a fun contest! You rock!

  4. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    Congratulations to all of the winners, honorable mentions, and judges for make such difficult choices!! You, as well as the donors, all deserve to be celebrated – and what an amazing first prize!!! So jealous!

  5. Wendy says:

    Congratulations everyone! Everyone who send an entry is a winner for putting themselves out there. Tortilla chips are the chip winner (because they can have salsa and melty cheese on them!). Honorable mention to low salt barbecue chips. 🙂

  6. Nicole Loos Miller says:

    AHH! What an unbelievable honor to have been picked among so many incredible stories! These contests never fail to push me in new directions and help me grow as a writer and that is a tremendous prize in itself. The writing community is so warm and supportive and is another prize as well. Basically, it’s raining prizes on me right now ❤ Congratulations to all the other winners and participants and a big thank you for Susanna, the judges, and everyone who read 🙂

  7. chardixon47 says:

    Congratulations winners! Thank you Susanna for this amazing contest. I wish I could make a decision on chips, but I’ve never met bad one 🙂

  8. Judy Sobanski says:

    Congrats to all the winners, and the honorable mentions. Thanks Susanna, judges and the prize donators for another great Valentiney Writing Contest!

  9. sjwmeade says:

    Congratulations to everyone! I’m ecstatic to be a winner this time around. Thank you so much to Susanna, the judges, and all the prize people, too! These holiday writing contests are so full of inspiration and positivity.

  10. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Congrats to all the winners! To all who entered! To all who received some form of special mention! (I feel lucky to be included in that group!) Congrats to those who are now encouraged to enter the next writing contest! Keep on writing! And thank you to Susanna, to all those who judged with her, all who donated prizes, and those who read so many stories and wrote encouraging words! Thank you!!! Love this fabulous community! Until next contest…….

  11. writestuff99 says:

    Thank you, Susanna, for running the contest & to all who participated, wrote, judged or voted. Nothing quite motivates me out of a mid-February slump like the creativity and support of this group. I had a great time participating!

  12. ptnozell says:

    Congratulations to all of the winners, and to everyone who wrote, revised, and submitted a story. And thank you, Susanna, judges, and prize donors, for your generous support of the kidlit community.

  13. ingridboydston says:

    Eeeek! I couldn’t wait to see who won ( but had to wait due to life happening) so imagine my THRILL as I’m sitting in the BOOKSTORE with three of my favorite things- my DAUGHTER. , a caramel macchiato and a cookie ( CHOCOLATE chunk no less!) I finally get to go back on the blog and see my name there! Thank you for the honorable mention!! To be considered close to the top when there were soooo many fabulous entries. My day couldn’t get much better! Congratulations to the prize winners too. And again, thank you Susanna and all the wonderful prize donors…just, wow. 😊🥰

  14. jeanjames926 says:

    Congratulations to Nicole, all the winners, and honorable mentions! So happy to be a part of this contest, and this writing community. Thank you Susanna, judges, and prize donators for your generosity and time.

Leave a Reply to claireflewis Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s