Happy Middle-of-Hanukkah, Merry Christmas Eve Eve, or Joyous Whatever you celebrate!
Are you ready to gather ’round the Old Joanna and sing a few tunes?
I’ll start! You know what a lovely singing voice I have! 🤣 Let’s begin with that old classic, It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Holiday (not Christmas – we want to include everyone!) (and with leniency on where we place the accent in Oahu to make it fit the meter 🤣)
It’s beginning to look a lot like Holiday
Everywhere we go!
Even though it is 52,
As warm as in Oahu,
And rain has melted off our pretty snow!
By tonight it will be approaching zero,
Ice on ev’rything!
If we dare to set foot outside
On our bottoms we will slide
As we freeze and sing!
What should we sing next?
You’re too worried to sing?
Why, my little poppets?
I know why!
It’s because it is the middle of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve Eve and you don’t know what your sleigh name is!
Don’t you know by now that I will always be here for you?
Just look at the chart below and find your sleigh name, and then we can have a race! (And if you don’t like what you get with your actual last name, feel free to use your maiden name, or your middle name or your first name to get a different combination 😊) Please feel free to share you sleigh name in the comments and lay odds to whether or not you think your sleigh will be faster than mine! Good luck! 🤣
(And yes, this is how I spend my time. Making up crazy stuff 😊)
My sleigh is called The Crimson Explorer! Who wants to try to beat me to the Reindeer Games this afternoon?
Now that we’ve got THAT out of the way, let’s get back to our singing!
You need a break from singing? Already?
What is it now?
Oh, I see!
You didn’t come to sing. . .
. . .you came to find out the winners of the. . .
12th Annual Holiday Writing Contest
~ 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!
I want to reiterate how difficult it was too choose! There were so many amazing entries. Really. I could find at least something terrific about every single one. The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut. So if your entry wasn’t a finalist, please don’t feel bad. There was a huge amount of competition. Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, and even though we do it blind, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story. And within the parameters of the contest, sometimes we have to put aside a great story because it did less of a good job meeting the contest criteria. The fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story. Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner! You showed up. You did your best work. You practiced your craft. You wrote to specifications and a deadline. You bravely shared your writing with the world. And you have a brand new story that is now yours to revise, expand, and polish if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript. A lot of people have successfully done that at this point – we have quite a few books in the world that were born in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests, plus a chapter book series that came out of the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest one spring! And not necessarily from people who were finalists – it’s about the idea and what you do with it. So bravo to everyone who entered!
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 Tuesday for your vote.
There were, however, a few entries that barely missed being finalists, and 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, a lovely badge, 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!)
Jenna Elyse Johnson – Definitely-Nice-Nora (this could be a PB!)
Nicole Garnett – Comet, Another Red-Nosed Reindeer
Ryann Jones – The Holidays’ Heist
Katie McEnaney – The Stockings Were Hung By The Chimney With Care
Matthew Lasley – Dimwit
Jill Lambert – The Jealous Elf
Donna Kurtz – Gnome In My Home
Sarah Meade – The Christmas Sisters and the Tunnel Troll
Marty Bellis – Who’s Been In The Bakery?
Marty Findley – Bumble The Bad, Bad Elf
Maria M. Sutanto – It’s A Wrap!
Mia Gieger – New Year’s Bandit
2. For Humor: (we laughed out loud! 😊)
Joy Pitcairn – The Wrong Song
Abby N. Wooldridge – Santa’s Nightmare
Rosemary Basham – Sassy Cat
Alicia Meyers – South Pole Santa’s Christmas Takeover
3. For Great Story, Humor A Little Too Adult (but we loved the stories 😊):
Emily Durant – New Year’s Resolution (Santa’s on a diet)
Emily Holewczynski – The Pinch (tempted by baby cheeks)
Gale Strathdee – Diablo and the Fat Man Plan (vocab and punchline a tad above kid…)
Russell Wolff – Soured Cream (older readers might appreciate humor more than younger…)
4. For Original POV:
Stephanie K. Mena – The Noddle Art Turns (POV of noodle art)
Jennifer Lowe – Bad Box (POV of a cardboard box)
5. For Sweetest Story:
Una Belle Townsend – One Last Christmas
Deana Darmack – The Grumbledy Bear’s Christmas
Sharon McCarthy – A Holiday Welcome
6. For Great Nonfiction:
Judy Caldwell Hughes – Oopsie Poopsie Christmas
Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories! You may all use the handy Contact button or email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your award badge and prize, which, for Category 1: Honorable Mention in the Competition as a Whole, is ten dollars for an online store that begins with A OR one of the following picture books which I will mail to you (please provide snail mail address) on a first come, first claimed basis:
Hip, Hip Beret by Melanie Ellsworth, illustrated by Morena Forza
Oscar’s American Dream by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell
Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way to Win by Claire Annette Noland, illustrated by Alicia Teba
Big and Little: A Story of Opposites by Cheryl Pilgrim (signed)
Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle
13 Ways To Eat A Fly by Sue Heavenrich, illustrated by David Clark
The Night Baafore Christmas by Dawn Young, illustrated by Pablo Pino
Jackie and the Mona Lisa by Debbie Rovin Murphy, illustrated by Jen Bricking (signed, includes paper doll)
Pigeon & Cat by Edward Hemingway
Spellbound by Jess Townes, illustrated by Jennifer Harney
This Could Be You by Cindy Williams Schrauben, illustrated by Julia Seal
Wait and See by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder
For all the other Categories 2-6, the prize 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 if I’m not I get a ton of problematic spam mail, but hopefully you can figure it out. The store starts with the letter A 😊 ) and if there are any picture books unclaimed from Category 1, I will mail those to the first to say they want one and provide their snail mail address!
For anyone who claims a picture book, they will be mailed AFTER Christmas.
…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2022 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…
Maria P. Pope
Olive, The Accidental Villain!!!
Congratulations, Maria, on a fun, kid-friendly story with an adorable, lovable villain that was clearly very popular with a LOT of readers!!!
In Second Place
Nancy Dery Riley
Reindeer Games 2.022
Congratulations, Nancy, on a very entertaining story with a sneaky villain written in impeccable rhyme! You get to pick your prize after Maria.
In Third Place
The Rat King
Congratulations, Andi, on your delightfully wicked villain! You made us laugh out loud at the last line! You get to pick your prize after Maria and Nancy.
In Fourth Place
Moose and the Mountain
Congratulations, Katie, on your territorial moose who just wanted his mountain back! And couldn’t help being kind in spite of himself 😊 You get to pick your prize after Maria, Nancy, and Andi!
In Fifth Place
Kelsey E. Gross
The Christmas Cloud Team
Congratulations, Kelsey, on such an original band of holiday characters with an unlikely villain for this time of year! Nicely done! You get to pick your prize after Maria, Nancy, Andi, and Katie!
In Sixth Place…
The Christmas Dragon
Congratulations, Anne! So fun! We loved your poor misunderstood dragon and the inventive ways he found to help when his villainy turned around! You get to pick your prize after Maria, Nancy, Andi, Katie, Kelsey, and Anne.
In Seventh Place…
Congratulations, Daniella! We loved your truly original, invented villain, the relationship between your characters, and your humor! What a fun story! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 😊
In Eighth Place…
Old Man Santa’s Holiday Ruckus
Congratulations, Royal! We loved your wild west holiday story, with Sheriff Rita, villainous Mayor Jack, and the narrowly-avoided showdown! So much fun! You get to pick after Daniella 😊
In Ninth Place
The Humbug House
Congratulations, Heather! We loved your grumpy, Scrooge-like house and its transformation into a home! What a unique villain! on your entertaining entry. You get to pick after Royal! 😊
In Tenth Place
Katie Lee Reinert
A Wicked Christmas Bash
A Wicked Christmas Bash
Congratulations, Katie, on a wickedly entertaining story of fairy tale villains – so clever and fun! You get to pick your prize after Heather!
In Eleventh Place
Congratulations, Laura, on your creation of a nasty and unexpected villain who left us quaking at his eventual return 😊 Great rhyme and use of language! You get to pick after Katie!
In Twelfth Place
Lauri C. Meyers
Congratulations. Lauri, on your poor disgruntled Yeti being awoken from his 100-year nap by a bunch of hammering elves! Thank goodness he was able to clean up his mess and be soothed back to sleep 😊 You get to pick after Laura!
In Thirteenth Place
The Hanukkah Hand
Congratulations, Sasha, on a wonderful Hanukkah story with an original and unexpected villain – a Big Hand! – and a resourceful candle who saves the day (or, I guess, the nights 😊)! You get to pick after Lauri!
In Fourteenth Place
Congratulations, Sharon, on a dastardly villainous elf who wreaked all kinds of havoc only to discover that, in doing so, he actually likes Christmas 😊 You get to pick after Sasha!
In Fifteenth Place
The Candy Crook
Congratulations, Marta! We loved your gingerbread village peopled with candy, cozily named Aunt Cinnamon and Mrs. Lemondrop etc, and villainized by a door-licking visitor from Tinsel Town – so creative and fun! You get to pick after Sharon!
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 shower of holiday confetti!
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. So I will see you all in a couple weeks – most probably the first week of January 😊
Before we part company, 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 2023!
Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!
The Prizes!: Good luck choosing!!!
⭐️ Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course – Renee LaTulippe Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, 2024) and has poems published in many anthologies including No World Too Big, Night Wishes, School People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of US, One Minute Till Bedtime, Poems Are Teachers, ThankU: Poems of Gratitude, and A World Full of Poems.
⭐️ Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat with Sandra Sutter, author of THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL (Spork, March 2019) and STAN’S FRIGHTFUL HALLOWEEN (Spork, September 2020) and the Owner/Publisher/Editor of Gnome Road Publishing)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (author, illustrator, or both) from author/illustrator Julie Rowan-Zoch author/illustrator or I’M A HARE, SO THERE! (Clarion Books 2021), illustrator of LOUIS (written by Tom Lichtenheld, Clarion Books, 2020) and illustrator of NOT ALL SHEEP ARE BORING (written by Bobby Moynihan, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, September 2022)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (written/Zoom) OR Ask Me Anything 1 hour session about author websites from author and website creator Stacy Jensen (stacyjensen.com – currently undergoing revision), author of BEFORE I LIVED HERE (coming Fall 2024 from Neal Porter Books)
Author and website creator Stacy Jensen
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) 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), SADIE’S SHABAT STORIES (Spork, 2020) and PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM
⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat AND Signed PB from Janet Johnson, author of HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (Capstone 2020), BRAVER THAN BRAVE (Capstone, July 2022), and A BAD CASE OF THE ALMOSTS (Capstone, December 29, 2022)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique 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) as well as the forthcoming SPIDER LADY: Nan Songer and Her Arachnid WWII Army (Astra/Calkins Creek 2025) and another as yet unannounced 😊
⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything with Rebecca Gardyn Levington, author of BRAINSTORM! (Sleeping Bear Press, 2022), WHATEVER COMES TOMORROW (Barefoot Books, Mar 7, 2023), I WILL ALWAYS BE…(HarperCollins, Spring 2024), and AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? (Penguin/Rocky Pond, Spring 2024)
⭐️ Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat and signed book from Cindy Schrauben, author of THIS COULD BE YOU (Cardinal Rule Press, April 2022) and the just announced HANK’S CHANGE OF HEART (scheduled for February 2025 from The Little Press)
⭐️ Signed copies of LISTEN (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books July, 2021), COUNT ON US (Barefoot Books, September 20, 2022), and the new TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE board book (Harry N. Abrams, October 18, 2022) – 1 prize 3 books from author Gabi Snyder
⭐️ 15 minute AMA with Teresa Robeson, award-winning author of QUEEN OF PHYSICS: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Union Square Kids 2019), TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING (Albert Whitman 2020), and the forthcoming CLOUDS IN SPACE: THE NEBULA STORY (scheduled for Spring 2024 from Candlewick/MIT Kids Press)