Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

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Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Like galloping hooves, our brave hearts are pounding with excitement and anticipation (or maybe trepidation!) because it’s time for. . .

The 6th Annual 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 brave!

  • They can be brave about asking someone to be their Valentine, of course, but they can also do something brave to get a Valentine (the person or the gift), or do something brave to help a friend. They could be brave about giving something up, or brave about asking someone they’re not sure they like to be their Valentine just to be nice. . . sky’s the limit!  Think beyond the obvious!
  • 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 brave (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.
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

Post your story in the comment section below (preferred) or on your own blog between right now this very second and Sunday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT. If you only post on your own blog, add your post-specific link to the form list at the bottom of the post.  This post with all the entries in the comment section and the list of links for those who prefer to post on their own blogs will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy. If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com

We discussed changing the entry posting. The majority voted to have all the entries in one place here in the comment section, so we’re going to give that a try. But there were some who wanted to continue blog-hopping, so I’m going to include a link list for them at the bottom of the post. For those who are willing to post in the comment section but also plan to post on their own blogs, you are most welcome to post the link to your blog in your posted entry here (see example below.) That way people can come visit you if they want to but can also read most of the entries in one place on my blog if they prefer. It is certainly easier for the judges to have as many entries as possible in one place. We’ll try it this way one time and see how it works. We can always go back to the old system 😊

(So a sample entry might look like this:
ENTRY TITLE – word count
Author Name
(link to your own contest entry blog post if you have one and would like to share it)

Amazing wonderful Valentiny Contest story.😊

Dudley’s Brave Valentine – 212 words
by Violet Hill
http://bit.ly/3aOxhZm

It was almost Valentines Day and Dudley’s heart had sunk to somewhere near his big toenail.
(etc etc amazing story continues)

I know how hard you all work on your entries and how anxious you are to be sure your entry is posted, but please try to be a little bit patient if you’re waiting for your entry to show up in the comments or on the list of entries. I try never to get up from my desk during contests but sometimes it’s unavoidable. 😊

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 12 top choices which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Thursday February 18th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 22nd 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:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using bravery and success in making us feel the bravery!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 😊
  7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines they won’t even read your submission.

The Prizes:  Talk about a pounding heart! Just look at these fabulous prizes!

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

Hannah will offer one lucky winner a PB MS critique. The winner may submit fiction or nonfiction, rhyme or prose – Hannah is open to anything!

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

Winner’s choice of Renee LaTulippe‘s Lyrical Language Lab Intensive Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course OR a one-hour ZOOM consultation with Renee to get feedback on a manuscript of your choice, ask questions about writing in rhyme/lyrical prose, or spend however you like!

Renee LaTulippe

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, Fiction) from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, March 2020), and THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids January 26, 2021)

Dawn Young

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Kirsti Call author of The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall (Mazo Publishing, January 2019),  Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee, September 2020), as well as COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) which will release in 2021.

Kirsti Call

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), and SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (Spork, October 2020)

Melissa Stoller

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction) from Becky Scharnhorst, author of the forthcoming MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

Becky Scharnhorst

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of A Flood Of Kindness (WorthyKids April 2021), DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction, fewer than 800 words) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, February 16, 2021) (which means it’s coming out in the middle of our contest!😊) and the forthcoming LITTLE RED (Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, Spring 2022) and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

Rebecca Kraft Rector

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonfiction PB or rhyming PB) from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019), YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020), LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020), THE OLD MAN AND THE PENGUIN (Kids Can Press, December 2020), and the forthcoming LITTLE PENGUIN and LITTLE ZEBRA (Amicus Ink, March 2, 2021) and SAKIMOTO’S SWIM CLUB (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

Julie Abery


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman

– Either a signed copy of WHEN A TREE GROWS OR a Picture Book Manuscript Critique – winner’s choice! – from Cathy Ballou Mealey, author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Sterling April 2019) and the forthcoming SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

– a personalized signed copy of SUNDAY RAIN from author Rosie Pova PLUS a personalized signed copy of DEAR GRANDMA from Yours Truly.

– a personalized signed copy of DON’T HUG DOUG: (He Doesn’t Like It) from author Carrie Finison PLUS a personalized signed copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY from author/illustrator Nancy Derey Riley!

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Baafore Easter from author Dawn Young PLUS a personalized signed copy of Hop To It: Poems To Get You Moving from poet Sarah Meade!

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 birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Now! Put your heart into it and bravely post your entries!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

Eager Readers: Check out the comment section for all the fabulous entries, and the link list at the end to visit the blogs of the authors who wanted to post on their own home turf 😊

ENTRIES IN THE COMMENT SECTION: (all entries are linked)

  1. Not “IT” – Danielle Sharkan
  2. A Goosely Valentine – Danielle Sharkan
  3. Charlie and Sienna – A Friendship Story – Laura Roettiger
  4. Most Valuable Valentine – Anne Lipton
  5. A Valentine’s Day Quest in the Land of Moore – Gregory Bray
  6. Red-Green Valentine’s Day – Stephanie Amargi
  7. A One-of-a-Kind, Just-in-Case, Not-at-All-Pink Valentine’s Day – Amy Leskowski
  8. Love Is Stronger – Teresa Traver
  9. Valentine’s Gotcha Day – Jessica Hinrichs
  10. Carmela’s Valentines – Lu Pierro
  11. Bee Brave – Gennie Gorback
  12. Crushed – Corine Timmer
  13. Too Chicken – Sue Lancaster
  14. Shelly and the Path of Peril – Sue Lancaster
  15. Brave Hearts – Jamie Donahoe
  16. Step-Brother Battle – Brenda Whitehead
  17. I Woof You – Debra Daugherty
  18. My Valenchicken – Glenda Roberson
  19. A Neighborly Valentine – Meg King-Sloan
  20. U R Brave – Lindsey Hobson
  21. If I Were Brave – Rose Cappelli
  22. Elonso’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever – Susan Drew
  23. Dibble and Wiscowski: “A Cookie Valentine” – Bru Benson
  24. One Brave Balloon – Susan Schade
  25. The Wibbler – Tracy Curran
  26. Brave Bonnie – Shannon VanStraten-Sundlass
  27. Cupid, Junior – Linda Staszak
  28. A Valentine Visit – Julie Maria
  29. Cupid: The Love Fairy – Rachel Shupin
  30. Be Brave On Valentine’s Day – Sara Kruger
  31. Operation Moonbeam – Simon Yeend
  32. A Valentine Rose – Daryl Gottier
  33. The Ballad of Bad Bart – Carrie Boone
  34. The Brave Little Seed – Michelle S. Kennedy
  35. Something I Want To Say – Jeny Morales
  36. Stella & Sparky And The Last Valentine – Patricia Nozell
  37. Stella & Hank – Nicole Loos Miller
  38. Untangled Valentines – Janie Reinart
  39. The Wildflower – Ashlee Hashman
  40. The Color of Love – Allison Strick
  41. Puppy Love – Deb Buschman
  42. Super Brothers – Shannon Howarth Nelsen
  43. Brave For Gigi – Kelly Swemba
  44. Wannabe my Valentine – Cynthia Stacey
  45. Cupix – Bridget Magee
  46. U To The Rescue – Amy Heath
  47. Blob’s Valentine’s Wish – Deb Sullivan
  48. Violet & The Valentine’s Vampire – Sarah Meade
  49. Jana’s Valentine’s Visit – Sarah Meade
  50. Mole & Miss Vole on Valentine’s Day – Sarah Meade
  51. A Valentine’s Mouse In Our House – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  52. Will you be my ninja – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  53. Grouchy Grover – Rebekah Hoeft
  54. Brave In A Cave – Cedar Pruitt
  55. Cardy’s Valentine Story In All Its Glory – Sally Yorke-Viney
  56. My Kind of Valentine! – Megan France
  57. Lavender Buzz – Vicky Langdon
  58. Love Sick – Abi Island
  59. Be Brave! – Lisa M. Clewner-Newman
  60. I’m Not Afraid – Patricia J. Franz
  61. The Girl With The Candyfloss Hair – Simon Yeend
  62. Valentine’s Day on Halloween Hill – Abby Wooldridge
  63. W-R-I-T-E For Each Other – Elizabeth Muster
  64. Olive You Forever – Ann Ferrello
  65. The Pink Pro – Kelsey Gross
  66. Brave Brave Brave – David McMullin
  67. The Witch of Valentine Lane – Marietta Apollonio
  68. Gordon’s One-Footed Hop – Kelsey Gross
  69. Charmadillo – Lauri C. Meyers
  70. “Soon” – M.R. Haqq
  71. More Than Cookies – Halley M. Cormack, LCSW
  72. Leroy The Lion (Hearted) – Lisa Varchol Perron
  73. Fishing For Love: A DIARY – Amy Olsen
  74. The Lost Valentine – Jeannette Suhr
  75. Brave New Friends – Dawn Young
  76. Scaredy-Cat – Danielle S. Hammelef
  77. Hard To Love – Robin Currie
  78. Brave Hearts – Susan Klaren
  79. Across The Road – Rachel Dutton
  80. Knight of Hearts – Ellen Crosby
  81. Tootsee Tulip Bulb’s Love-Treat – Judy Caldwell Hughes
  82. Brave in the Basement – Jessica Whipple
  83. Caleb’s Heart – Anne Bromley
  84. Corn Dogs on the Corner – Colleen Dougherty
  85. Brave Heart – Rebecca Gardyn Levington
  86. Knock, Knock, Knock – Marty Findley
  87. Villain-tine’s Day – Laura Bower
  88. Take A Deep Breath – Elyse Trevers
  89. Only Three Words – B. A. Schlosser Hill
  90. A Stolen Valentine – Martha Holguin
  91. Class List – Elizabeth Volkmann
  92. Cards and Cookies – Jennifer Reichow
  93. Chalk Tears – Judy Brewer
  94. Nurse A Broken Heart – E. Elle Bea
  95. Bravely Soldier On – E. Elle Bea
  96. New Kid Blues – Darcee A. Freier
  97. Valentine’s Recitation – Keely Leim
  98. Mama Love. Dada Love. – Nancy M. Tichenor
  99. A Valentine’s Treasure – Ingrid Boydston
  100. An Itsy Bitsy Valentine – Maria Antonia
  101. Dino & Gigi – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  102. Hearts Trail – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  103. The Giant’s Valentine – Sheila M. Hausbeck
  104. The Loneliness Street – Nina K. Brown
  105. Brave Little Valentine – Charlotte Dixon
  106. Playdate – Margaret Aitken
  107. Octopus Hugs – Chambrae Griffith
  108. Conversation Heart Courage – Becky Kimbrough
  109. My Friend Nate – Karima Davis
  110. Jojo’s Valentine – Sarah Hawklyn
  111. “I Like You A Lot” – Julie Schnieders
  112. Unconventional Friendship – Sarah Hawklyn
  113. The Flavors of the Heart – Armineh Manookian
  114. The Candybot – Ellen Seal
  115. An Otter Love Story – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  116. Floret And The Fondue – Ashley Sierra
  117. Be Brave, Be Kind, My Valentine – Susan E. Schipper
  118. Cupid’s Booty Camp For BabyBoo – Ally Enz
  119. Playing To Win – Norah Colvin
  120. Super Special Valentine – Aundra Tomlins
  121. A Brave Change of Heart – Amy Nicolai
  122. Sarla Asks A Question – Sandhya Acharya
  123. A Trail of Ketchup and Mustard – MeiLin Chan
  124. Juliet and Romeo: Verona’s Valentine’s Celebration – Cristina Raymer
  125. A Little Atom – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez
  126. Oscar Octopus Plants A Garden – Isabel Cruz Rodriquez
  127. My Bestest Friend – Roberta Abussi
  128. My Every-Day-Valentine – Roberta Abussi
  129. Sarah’s Valentines – Rachel Zimmerman Brachman
  130. Lemur In Love – Sarah McDermott
  131. A Cocoon of Love – Jyoti Rajan Gopal
  132. Eggbert – Charlie Bown
  133. A Valentine For Mom – Patricia Martin
  134. Becca’s Brave Hearts – Marty Bellis
  135. Little Truck’s Daring Delivery – Kristin Kolp
  136. The Valentine On My Shoe – Catherine J. Lee
  137. No More Pink – Robin Currie
  138. Shiny Sharp Scissors – Katie Fischer
  139. Valentine Love Languages – Jaymie Dean
  140. Val & Jack – Karen Keesling
  141. Brave Heart – Tonnye Fletcher
  142. Valentine Delivery – Katie Brandyberry
  143. Apple Pie: Valentine’s Day Treat – Sarah Skolfield
  144. Brave Little Friends – Judy Sobanski
  145. Lone’s Very First Day – Jennifer Reinharz
  146. The Monster’s Valentine Buffet – Kelly Conroy
  147. Freddie Frog’s Valentine – Lindsey Hobson
  148. A Simple Valentine – P. J. Purtee
  149. The Wonky Heart – Stacy Burch
  150. Roses From Valentina – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  151. A Natural Valentine’s Day – Sharon McCarthy
  152. Miss Hedgehog’s Valentine Mission – Amy LaMae Brewer
  153. Blown Away – Diana Webb
  154. Zooming Valentine’s Day – Susan VandeWeghe
  155. Snack Attack – Melisa Wrex
  156. Heart Hands – Sarah Heaton
  157. Bigfoot’s Valentine – Kirsten Leestma
  158. Geronimo! – Lydia Loeber
  159. The Most Terrible, Awful, Icky Valentine Ever – Melissa Trempe
  160. Babies Share Bedrooms – Kristi Newsome
  161. 214 St. Valentine Way – Tracy Anderson Martin
  162. Six Secret Valentines – Una Belle Townsend
  163. The Bees and the Birdss – Paul Kurtz
  164. Someone Special! – Paul Kurtz
  165. Zombie My Valentine – Donna Kurtz
  166. The Owl and the Kitty-Kat – Donna Kurtz
  167. No Pictures! – Diane S. Scotti
  168. Blue Flower – Mary Warth
  169. New Line Valentine – Marcia Parks
  170. Leo Lionhearted – Jill Lambert
  171. Bravery Is From The Heart – Sophia Zafra
  172. A Heavenly Visit – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  173. The Bird And The Cat – Beth Winslow
  174. THE Valentine Question – Kate Rehill
  175. How To Be Valentines (With A Boa Constrictor) – Mary Noon
  176. Desi’s Daring Delivery – Darci Nielson
  177. New Best Friend – Sherri T. Mercer
  178. The Gift Tree – Ciara N M Greenwalt
  179. One Shot – Dazzle Ng
  180. Fuzzy Bum – Stacey Miller
  181. Arrrrr Is For Valentine – Sara Ackerman
  182. Valentine’s Day Rocks – Samantha Haas
  183. Cyrus The Bold – Patricia Corcoran
  184. Saying What I Really Mean – Nina Nolan
  185. Mr. Grumpy’s Valentine – Anne Sawan
  186. Heart Shaped Everything – Rathi Munukur
  187. You Can Do This Jonathan! – Martina Palkovicova
  188. Caveman Valentine – Jennifer Lowe
  189. Percy’s Valentine – Nancy Derey Riley
  190. Brave Hearts – Mary Rudzinski
  191. Legendary Valentine – Audrey Day-Williams
  192. In Front Behind – Diana Webb
  193. A Punny Valentine – Linda Staszak
  194. Love is an Ocean Away – Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden
  195. Valentine’s Day Rescue – Brigid Finucane
  196. Mission: Cancel Cupid Call – Kalee Gwarjanski
  197. The Valentine’s Quest – Karyn Curtis
  198. Seeking Courage – Bonnie Kelso
  199. Valentina and Valentino – Claire Lewis
  200. Will You Bee My Valentine – Ranessa Doucet
  201. A Valentine Ski – Clara MacClarald
  202. Dance Like An Eagle – Jyothi Nookula
  203. A Gift For Abuelo – JC Kelly
  204. My Tummy Valentine – Janice Kay Alexander
  205. Elijah and the Valentine – Susan Twiggs
  206. Assortment Phobia – JC Kelly
  207. A Beastly Valentine – Steve Jankousky
  208. A Valentiny for ME! – Karima Davis
  209. Friendship Cake – Dea Lenihan
  210. Be My Valentine – Liz Kehrli
  211. Love Story – Liz Kehrli
  212. Love Birds – Lisa Lee Furness
  213. Mr. Grumpy – Mary A. Zychowicz
  214. Feep and Meep – Echo Roben
  215. The Cave of Utter Darkness – Bill Canterbury
  216. Yellow Like A Mango – Imelda Taylor
  217. Melanie’s Back! – Shari Della Penna
  218. All About Heart – Anna Lunt
  219. Tilly’s Great Big Heart – Amy Flynn
  220. Insiya’s Valentine – Aditya Simha
  221. Corazon Does Not Cliff Jump – Kate Rehill
  222. We’re Still Brave! – Kelly Coutsoubos
  223. The Cupcake Who Dared To Be Different – Susanne Whitehouse
  224. Lucy’s Brave Lifelines – Karen A. Kelly

This form ONLY for people who prefer to post on their own blogs and are ONLY posting their entries on their own blogs!

2,381 thoughts on “Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

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