Hang On! Judging In Progress!

Hi Everyone!

I was hoping to have the finalists posted this morning, but due to the large number of entries, the inclement weather which has taken my internet out repeatedly, and an unfortunate spell of under-the-weatherness for Judge #2, we need more time!

My sincere apologies for keeping you waiting!  We will get the finalists up as soon as we can!

Meanwhile, there are a LOT of fantastic stories to read, so please continue to enjoy them and share them with all your friends and relations!  Here’s the link for your convenience:

Valentiny Contest Stories

Thank you for your patience!  Have some chocolate to tide you over 🙂 (It IS Wednesday, after all! 🙂 )

choc PB hearts

Chocolate-covered Peanut Butter Hearts from Baker By Nature

The 2015 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

Hi there!

I’m so glad you’re here!

I have something of great import to discuss with you, and it really cannot wait another minute.

No, not the questionable decision to place Holiday Inflatables in your front yard… although if you do that we should probably talk… 🙂

And no, not the age old question of what that stuff in fruit cake really is… because darn tootin’ it’s no kind of fruit I could identify!

I think you can guess what it is. . .

. . . the thing that is first and foremost on all of our minds today. . .

. . . and that is. . .

. . .

. . .what our Official Holiday Elf Names should be!!!

Seriously!  We’re running out of time to decide!

Apparently I’ve got a choice of 5:

Cupcake Gingersocks
(generated by http://christmas.namegeneratorfun.com/ – random)

Cinnamon Embercrystals
(generated by http://christmas.namegeneratorfun.com/  – based on first and last name)

Elvis McJingle
(generated by http://mix108.com/if-you-were-an-elf-what-would-your-name-be-find-out-now/ 

Candy Sparklepants
(generated by http://965kvki.com/whats-your-elf-name-generator/ 

or

Sugar Candykirk
(generated by http://www.elfontheshelf.com/content/elf-name-generator 

I’m torn!

I really am!

I think I have to go with either Cupcake Gingersocks or Candy Sparklepants, though… although Elvis McJingle is very appealing too!  Which one do you think I should pick?

And you should go get yours!  Right now!  And share it in the comments!  You know you want to… 🙂  I’m all about the giving over here – I went and researched these helpful links just for you, so that you could waste a little time spend the holidays being called by your official Elf Name 🙂  Think of it as my little holiday gift to you 🙂

So now, happy holidays!  See you in 2016!  May the force be with you etc.!

What?

You were expecting to discuss something else?

Something more important than official Elf Names? (as if there could be anything more important…!)

Oh!

Right!

I knew there was something else. . .

🙂

                    The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!

WINNERS!!!

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!

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 on Tuesday 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.

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:
     David McMullin for Christmas In Discomfort (also so original and creative)
     Jaclyn Kruzie for A Rockin’ Christmas Wish
     Sam Steinfels for Unsilent Night
     Melissa Bulls for Santa’s Stain (also a fun-for-kids mystery)
     Heather ??? for A Real Christmas Tree

2. For Great Kid Appeal: (not already mentioned in the finals or other categories)
     Wendy Greenley for Cookin’ Up The Holiday Kid-Style
     Kirsten Bock Mel The Marshmallow’s Cocoa Catastrophe (also great ending!)
     Gabi Snyder Christmas With Kevin The Nanny Bot

3. For Excellence In Evoking Mood And Holiday Spirit And Tradition:
     Joni Klein-Higger for Happy Festival Of Lights
     Shelly Bond for Christmas Story Time!
     Tracey Cox for Zippin’ Around On Christmas Eve

4. For Beautiful Rendition Of The Christmas Story:
     Kristi Veitenheimer for A Christmas Birth
     Aileen Stewart for Huddled Around The Stable Door

5. For Most Original Setting:
     Anne Sawan for The Outback Christmas Hop
     Lorraine Nelson for A Very Spacey Christmas

6. For Favorite Character:
     Marla LeSage for spunky, resourceful, entertaining Sheila in Holiday Heist

7. For Best-Written Original Point Of View:
     Julie Bergman for The Little Burnt Latke (POV of a latke!)
     Joanne Sher for Precious Cargo (POV of the donkey who carried Mary)

8. For Fun Story In Fewest Words:
     Miranda Ireland for Christmas Party Hop (4 lines, 44 words – the overworked judges love you :))

9. For Best Entry For Parents 🙂
     Shari Schwarz for Rocking Beside The Christmas Tree (so sweet :))

10. For Best Entry For Writers 🙂
     Debbie Austin for What Happened When I First Sat Down To Write This Story (so clever and entertainingly done! – writers you will not want to miss this one!)

11. For Fun Well-Written Animal Entries:
     Ashley Franklin for Picture Perfect (dog)
     Catherine Flynn for Pouncing Around The Christmas Tree (cat)
     Carol Lescinski for Rockin’ Reindeer
     Jo Hart for Jungle Bell Rock (a whole menagerie :))

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about) (and if you request a paperback, please include your snail mail address!)

For Kindle:
Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

The Easy Way To Write Picture Books That Sell by Robyn Parnell OR

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Ultimate Fiction Thesaurus by Sam Stone OR

In paperback:
Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell, OR

The Six Senses In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Bleak To Bold Narrative by Jessica Bell OR

Adverbs And Cliches In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions Of Adverbs & Cliches Into Gourmet Imagery by Jessica Bell OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2015 HOLIDAY CONTEST as voted on by you!!!
rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat
DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!
In First Place
Winner of the whole shebang…
who gets first choice of all the prizes…
Jennifer Reinharz
for The Hanukkah Elf!!!
Congratulations, Jennifer, on a fabulous entry that was clearly very popular!!! 🙂
In Second Place
Vivian Kirkfield
for The Christmas Seed
Congratulations, Vivian!!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jennifer makes her choice.
In Third Place
Suzy Levinson
for City Critter Christmas
Congratulations, Suzy!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jennifer and Vivian choose theirs.
In Fourth Place
Cindy Williams Schrauben
for Jugglin’ High For Pumpkin Pie
Congratulations, Cindy!  You get to pick after Jennifer, Vivian, and Suzy.
In Fifth Place
Kris Allen
for The Incident
Congratulations, Kris!  You get to pick after Jennifer, Vivian, Suzy, and Cindy.
In Sixth Place
Lisa Connors
for The Gift Of The Magpie (And Friends)
Congratulations, Lisa!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂
In Seventh Place
Sandy Jones
for Red Berries In The Snow
Congratulations, Sandy!  You get to pick next 🙂
In Eighth Placea 4-way tie!
Linda Schueler
for Randolph, Not A Reindeer
Nancy Tandon
for No Peeking!
Sheila Lynch-Afryl
for Clucking Christmas
Jen Bagan
for Ned’s Christmas Wish
Congratulations, Linda, Nancy, Sheila and Jen!  You get to pick after Sandy!  And we’ll just have to sort it out between us since you tied!
And in Twelfth Place, rounding out the top dozen of these amazing finalists and the 97 Holiday Contest Entries for 2015…
Deborah Boerema
for A New Classic?

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!  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 Holiday Treat which is not fruitcake! (unless you happen to like it :))

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!

As I… hmm… maybe didn’t mention…?, I’m taking a little blogging break so I can spend time with my family – I’ve got children to fetch, cookies to bake, Christmas presents to shop for and wrap, and my sister and her family are arriving form Georgia on Monday! 🙂 –  Oh, and we’re going to see the new Star Wars movie on Wednesday!  So I will see you all in a couple weeks – most probably Wednesday January 6th for Would You Read It 🙂

So now, 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 2016!

Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!

Love,
Susanna


The Prizes!!!  (items in color are links for more info!):

– A Picture Book Manuscript read and critique (winner’s choice of in-person, on the phone, or via email) by Claire Dorsett, Editorial Assistant, Roaring Brook Press!!!
   A bibliophile and outdoor enthusiast, Claire spent her childhood summers road-tripping across the United States, reading constantly on the long car rides between parks and museums. Her love of literature led her to pursue a BA in English from Cornell University, where she was involved with campus publications The Daily Sun and Rainy Day literary magazine. Claire then completed the six-week intensive Columbia Publishing Course before finding a home at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, assisting VP and Publisher Simon Boughton. She has worked on a range of projects during her time at Roaring Brook, including Lane Smith’s middle-grade debut Return to Augie Hobble, Steve Sheinkin’s National Book Award finalist Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, and picture books The SkunkThere is a Tribe of Kids, and Ned The Knitting Pirate
– a brand new Picture Book Webinar Bundle including one webinar on Concept Books and the other on Rhyme, Verse and Lyricism in Picture Books, generously donated by Emma Walton Hamilton, author, editor, writing coach, and teacher of the fabulous Just Write For Kids courses.
– a 2016 Membership to Children’s Book Insider, including their Children’s Writing Knowledge Base, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes
 – A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author/illustrator Iza Trapani, author of JINGLE BELLS, OLD KING COLE, ITSY BITSY SPIDER, and many, many more!
 – A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the fabulous Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!
 – an e-copy of the fantastic How To Promote Your Children’s Book generously donated by Katie Davis!

 – Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 – A 6-Month Membership to the new and fabulous One Stop For Writers Site!
 – 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
– another 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
– a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing What’s The Story Cards (hitherto un-introduced to the world!) – writing prompts for every occasion 🙂
 – another pack of Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing What’s The Story Cards

I can’t thank these authors and other industry professionals 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 Contest Winner gets first choice of the prizes.  2nd place gets next choice of what’s left and so on.  I do it this way in the hopes that no one will get something they already have and also because I think all the prizes are fabulous and I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel less valued by giving them as 6th place as opposed to 1st. 🙂

In Which Phyllis Bestows Prizes For Her Birthday Bonanza Winners!

Although it is neither George Washington’s nor Abraham Lincoln’s birthday today, we are nonetheless celebrating President’s Day.

I’m sure this makes sense to someone.

Possibly the person who thought up the plan to celebrate the birthdays of two presidents on a day that was no one’s birthday.

We don’t care though, because around here we’re just always glad of an excuse for a day off from school and/or work, and also of an excuse for cake!

Because I think George and Abe would like us to have some cake in their honor, don’t you?  Phyllis picked this one, very Abe and George!

[okay, so my internet is being very persnickety and won’t upload a photo tonight, so imagine, if you will, a luscious lemon layer cake with blueberry lavender buttercream icing in a vivid shade of purple that would definitely be right up George and Abe’s alley – and if you follow the link below you can see it!  Phyllis and I are thinking Spring!]

Lemon Layer Cake with Blueberry Lavender Buttercream http://thewholesomepursuit.com/2014/04/23/lemon-layer-cake-with-blueberry-lavender-buttercream/

Go ahead!  Dig in!

It is not Phyllis’s birthday either, although she is hoping that when she becomes President her birthday, which is also not on this day, will be included with George’s and Abe’s.  Phyllis feels that a little marmot in the White House would be a good thing, and I can’t disagree 🙂

So even though it is no one’s birthday today, we are having cake and celebrating the selection of the prize winners from Phyllis’s Birthday Bonanza!

Are you ready?

Let me start by saying that it was not easy to choose winners.

For starters, all the entries were amazing and marvelous and enrapturing.  In addition, Phyllis felt strongly that all 19 should receive 1st Prize.

“You can’t give 19 people first prize,” I said.

“Maybe YOU can’t,” said Phyllis, “but I can!”

“No, what I mean is that if you make a 19-way tie for first place then it’s like no one won!”

“No, it’s like 19 people won.”

“19 people can’t win!”

“Yes they CAN!”

“No they CAN’T!”

“I say they can and I’m giving them all the Punxsutawney Phyllis Pancake of Awesomeness!”

“Oh, well who wouldn’t want to win a Pancake of Awesomeness?!”

“No one,” said Phyllis smugly.  “That’s why it’s the perfect prize.”

Therefore let it be known on this 16th Day of February 2015 (which is not anyone’s birthday) that Julie A, Karen, Sarah C, Jilanne, Kathy, Stacy, Catherine, Julie R-Z, Wendy, Michelle, Heather, Erik & Josie, Donna, the Hoeft Family, Linda, Vivian, Suzy, Robyn, Sarah M, and Christie all get a pancake from Phyllis.

I’m not really sure what to say about that.

I hope you like it?!

“Now that we’ve got that pancake business out of the way,” I said to Phyllis, “who were really your favorites?  There must have been some among that talented pack that really stood out to you.”

“Well, now that you mention it,” said Phyllis, “there were a few!”

So, without further ado, here are Phyllis’s selections for top placement in her Birthday Bonanza!  She is uncomfortable labeling them 1st, 2nd, etc. because she loved them all so much!

The Hoeft Family – for their beautifully written, illustrated, performed, and videoed Happy Birthday Wish.

Stacy – for her amazing quilling which Phyllis had never heard of before but thinks made her look beautiful and also was fabulously videoed.

Robyn – because Mr. Ed said, “you mean the world to me Phyll” in such an endearing way and had a whole Phyllis wall of wonder in his stall – what’s not to love about a video with a horse in it?!

Julie A – for her amazing poem that included not only Phyllis but all her literary brothers and sisters… and trains and airplanes.

Erik & Josie – for their awesome video which included singing AND costumes and was just an all-out funkadellic performance – and Phyllis wants it to be known that she is Super Funky!

So Bekah, Stacy, Robyn, Julie A, and Erik & Josie, please Email Me to sort out your prizes.

Up for grabs are:

 – a generously donated signed copy of SUBSTITUTE GROUNDHOG by Pat Miller along with an audio recording!

 – a signed copy of PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (should there happen to be anyone among you who wants one and doesn’t already have one)

 – any picture book of your choice (recent titles I have enjoyed and would recommend include Blue On Blue, The Most Magnificent Thing, and Gaston.)

 – any MG or YA book of your choice should you happen to be a winner who would find something more at your reading and interest level more to your liking 🙂

Congratulations to all our entrants!  You all did such a wonderful job, and Phyllis and I enjoyed your efforts SO MUCH!!!  Thank you ALL for making Phyllis’s birthday and 10th Anniversary SO MUCH FUN!!!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!  And those of you who have the day off – celebrate like no one’s watching! 🙂

Punxsutawney Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary Birthday Bonanza!!!

WOO HOO!

It’s Groundhog Day!

And you know what that means, right?

First of all, it means we have an announcement to make!

And that is that Punxsutawney Phyllis, Sage of Sages, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinaire did set forth from her burrow on Blueberry Hill this Monday February 2, 2015 at 7:25 AM and declare, “Six more weeks of winter!”

Obviously with the howling winds and heavy, blowing snow there was no possibility of seeing her shadow, but Phyllis’s weather sense (possibly motivated by her desire to get right back in the burrow!) saw no signs of an early spring.  We are disappointed because we are tired of winter, but we are eating strawberries to make us think of warm summer days 🙂

Second, that means it’s my little Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary Birthday Bonanza!!!

illustration copyright Jeff Ebbeler 2005

“We’re having a party!  We’re having a party!” [That’s Phyllis.  She’s a little excited.]  “We need CAKE!!!” [She’s a girl after my own heart :)]

I said, “How about cupcakes?”

Phyllis said, “Something BIGGER!”

So I said, “How about this?”

Phyllis said, “But there’s no ICING!”

So we settled on this:

and in case you are wondering, those little brown things are
groundhog graham crackers… which makes this a Groundhog Day Cake 🙂

“Now we need festive balloons!” said Phyllis.

“Here!” said I.

 “You’re kidding, of course,” said Phyllis.

“What?  It’s blue!  It’s pretty!”

“It’s only ONE!” said Phyllis.  “ONE is not festive!”

“Fine,” I said, ever accommodating.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that,” said Phyllis.  “Otherwise I might regurgitate my recently ingested natal day pancakes.  What do the words GROUNDHOG and BIRTHDAY mean to you?”

“You’re being just a tad demanding, Phyllis,” I said patiently.  “But I’ll humor you.  Will these do?”

“At last!” said Phyllis.  “And now, for the most important part…  my POEM!”

“Uh, yeah, about that… I’m not quite done yet.”

“WHAT???!!!”

“I want it to be perfect,” I explained.  “After all, it’s for you.  It can’t be just any old thrown together thing!”

“That’s true,” agreed Phyllis.

“But I’ve got to finish it quick.  Everyone’s going to be here soon.”

“Also true,” said Phyllis.

“So it would be helpful,” I said pointedly, “if you would be quiet and let me concentrate.”

“Okay,” whispered Phyllis.

I tapped my pen against the table top.

AN ODE TO PHYLLIS

I wrote across the top of the paper.

“Good start!” said Phyllis.

“Thank you.”

I tapped some more.

There once was a groundhog named Phyllis

“Stop,” said Phyllis.

“What do you mean, stop?”

“Nothing rhymes with Phyllis.  Believe me.  I know.  That’s a nonstarter.”

“How about There once was a groundhog named Phyllis/Who made so much noise that her poem will never get written?

“That doesn’t rhyme,” sniffed Phyllis.  But she stopped talking.

tap tap tap tap tap

In the hollow of old Punxsutawney
Lived Phyllis, whose fur was so . . .

“STOP!” said Phyllis.

“What now?”

“What is it with you and these impossible words?  NOTHING rhymes with Punxsutawney!  You’re supposed to be writing me a poem!  Poems are supposed to RHYME!”

“For your information, Miss Smarty Pants, I was going to say ‘whose fur was so tawny‘, but forget it.”

“Yeah, well, that’s pretty much cheating.  Punxsutawney and tawny – it’s practically rhyming the same word with itself.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be outside looking for your shadow or something?”

“It’s too early,” said Phyllis comfortably, helping herself to a strawberry.

I sighed.

tap tap tap tap tap tap tap

Oh, Phyllis, you forecasting marmot

“Er.  Ahem.  I don’t mean to interrupt, but seriously, marmot?  Where can you possibly go with that?”

“Harm it?!” I suggested.

“No…” said Phyllis, oblivious.  “I don’t think so.  And I don’t think you’re quite getting the sense of an ode.  You’re supposed to be praising me.  You have to set the mood.”

“I’ll set a mood all right.”

Phyllis ignored me and gazed out the window.  “Maybe something like:

Phyllis, your fur is so fine
Your eyes sparkle like finest wine…”

Hacksputtercough! I’m sorry.  I just had to gag a little there.”

“It’s better than yours!”

“How do you know?  You won’t let me get past the first line!”

“Here’s what we’ll do,” said Phyllis.  “I’LL write a poem and YOU write a poem and then we’ll see whose is better.”

“You’re going to write an ode to yourself?”

“Who better?  I know me and love me well!”

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

tap tap tap tap tap tap tap

“Stop tapping your pen!”

“Stop talking!”

Hmmpphh!

*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“I’ve got one,” said Phyllis.  She cleared her throat and read,

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I can write poems
Way better than you!

“Well in that case,” I shot back,

Two poems diverged in a snowy wood
And I,
I chose the better one…
Which was not yours!

“Hmm…” Phyllis said primly.  “I don’t think we’re there yet.  Ready, set, write another one!”

*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“How about this?” said Phyllis.
so much depends
upon
a brown groundhog
seeking shadows
beside a green
pine tree
“Hey, that’s not bad!” I said.
“Let’s hear yours,” said Phyllis.
Phyllis is the thing without feathers (I began)
“What kind of thing is that to say?” demanded Phyllis.  “I’m a groundhog!  Of COURSE I don’t have FEATHERS!”
“You’re interrupting!” I grumped.  “Are you going to let me read it or not?”
“Fine.  Read. But I don’t think there’s much hope for this one.”  She snickered.
I glared, and started again:
Phyllis is the thing without feathers
That perches in the burrow
And searches the air with her nose
for signs of spring.
Phyllis patted my hand.  “It’s okay that you’re not very good at this.  You’re trying.  That’s what’s important.”  She stuffed a strawberry in my mouth.  “Let’s keep practicing.  Maybe you’ll get better.”
*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“Done!” I said.

“I was done first three times in a row,” said Phyllis.  “That means you have to read first.”

Really, it is hard to follow groundhog logic.  Actually, groundhog logic is probably an oxymoron.

I sighed.  “Okay.  But let me read the whole thing.  Don’t interrupt.”

“I would never do that,” said Phyllis sweetly.  She sat up on her haunches and prepared to listen attentively.

AN ODE TO PHYLLIS
by Susanna

Beauty, wit, charm, grace
Fuzzy little marmot face
Unsurpassed intelligence
Never-equaled weather sense
Even though you’re not a boy
You’re Punxsutawney’s pride and joy
My furry friend, you know it’s true
There’s no one else on earth like you!

Phyllis jumped in my lap and gave me a hug.  “See?  I KNEW you could do it!  Now I’ll read mine.”

ODE TO PHYLLIS
by Phyllis

Lavender’s blue dilly dilly lavender’s green
It’s really true dilly dilly I should be queen
Lavender’s green dilly dilly lavender’s blue
I’m a Punxsutawney dream-come-true.

“Ye-ah…,” I said.  “You should have quit while you were ahead.”

“Yeah, probably,” said Phyllis.  “But never mind.  Happy birthday to me!”

Happy Birthday, dear Phyllis,
Happy Birthday to you!!!

And now, Phyllis and I are looking forward with GREAT anticipation to reading YOUR poems for Phyllis, and hopefully seeing some videos too (no pressure, Erik) since we totally failed on that score!

If you wrote a poem for Phyllis, and/or have photographs, drawings, videos, or other fun feature accompaniments, please add your post-specific blog link to the list below, or post your poem etc in the comments, or Email it to me and I’ll post it for you so that we can all enjoy everyone’s creativity!

Maybe Phyllis and I will pick some top finishers, or maybe we’ll have a vote later in the week, but either way, some people will win a signed copy of PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (if there’s anyone left on earth who doesn’t already have one or who wants another for someone), a signed copy of Pat Miller’s wonderful SUBSTITUTE GROUNDHOG along with audio CD!, and there will be some other non-groundhog-day-related picture books up for grabs too.

Happy Groundhog Day to everyone!  May spring come early in your hearts, even if the weather outside fails to comply! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

And please don’t miss Julie’s amazing and clever poem in the comments! HERE
And Karen’s delightful poem HERE
And Sarah’s wonderful ode HERE
And Jilanne’s terrific limerick HERE

The 2014 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

Happy Friday, Everyone!
Yes, yes!  I know what day it is!
Normally, I would tease you for a while and pretend I didn’t know what brought you to this neck of the woods or what you were after, but not today.
Nope.
Today I’m going to get straight to the point.
No beating around the bush.
Nosirree Bob!
I’m going to give you what you came for . . .
. . .  just as soon as we come up with an answer to that eternal burning question: whose idea was tinsel anyway and does anyone actually use it?
Because seriously, that stuff is as bad as Easter grass!  It gets everywhere!
In your hair!  In the carpet!  On the dogs…
And who has the patience to separate it out into single strands to drape artfully over the limbs of your Christmas tree?  (And let’s face it, it does not have the same effect if you just glob it on in clumps…!)
And we’re not even going to TALK about if you have cats!  By golly!  That’s just a disaster waiting to happen!
You’re all writers!  Let your imagination run amok with the idea of cats, tinsel, Christmas trees…
Yikes!  Truly, I shudder to think!
So anyway, where was I?
Oh, yes!
I was not beating around the bush.
I wonder what bush it is that I’m not beating around?
Is it the same as the bush in “Here we go ’round the mulberry bush?”
Or maybe the bush that a bird in the hand is worth two birds in?
I’m guessing if there are two birds they are turtle doves, because that’s how the song goes.  You know, “On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves…”  Yeah.  Like that.
Except not a partridge, because he was in a pear tree and we are certainly not beating around the pear tree!
Boy!  All this not beating around things is making me a little dizzy!
So maybe I’ll stop and just tell you about

The 4th Annual Holiday Contest!!!

WINNERS!!!

🙂

I was once again 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!

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 on Tuesday 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.

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:
     Leslie Tribble for The Perfect Christmas Tree
     Anne Bromley for Christmas Eve At Gate 25   
     Lauri Meyers for Jimmy Cantore Steals Christmas

2. For Fabulous Fun Kid-Friendly Stories (That Sadly Fell Short On The Weather Element But Were Too Good Not To Recognize!):
     Stacy Jensen for How Do I Fix This?
     Bridget Magee for Dear Santa
     Margaret Greanias for A Little Christmas Wish
     Pam Vaughan for My Snowman Is Sick
     Jim Jones for Snowflake…A Christmas Tail

3. For We-Loved-It-But-Thought-The Humor-Was-A-Little-Too-Grown-Up 🙂
      (and seriously, these were terrific entries, well written and funny!)
     Mike Allegra for Carbon Christmas
     Heather Preusser for Dreaming Of A White Christmas  
     Kristen Foote for Polar Warming
     Hilary (Swann?) for No Sweat Santa
     Kathy Halsey for Whether Or Not To Ho-Ho-Ho
  
4. For Sweet Stories That Exemplified Christmas Spirit:
     Sharon Wilson for A Little Christmas Miracle
     Patricia Corcoran for The Christmas Miracle
     Sally Suehler for Just Ice And Snow
   
5. For Fantastic Word Play:
     Amy Ozay for Rain, dear

6.  For Best First Line:
     James Lloyd for Pablo’s First Christmas
   
7. For Best-Written Original Point Of View:
     Carol Lescinski for The Best Christmas (excellent stuffed dog POV!)
     Summer Hinderer for The Snow Miracle (POV of gingerbread people in Gingerbreadville!)

8. For Best Action Story:
     Caren Cantrell for Northern Exposure

and

9.  The Keep Up The Great Writing Award goes to:
     Ms. Leach’s First Grade for Hopeful Christmas Eve
     And first graders, your special prize will be Happily Ever Madlibs and Once Upon A Madlibs, which we hope you will enjoy doing as a class on days when you can’t go out for recess or something 🙂 as well as 2 StoryWorld Create-A-Story Kits: Quests And Adventures and Fairy Magic which can be used in lots of fun ways to inspire writing and storytelling (and for even more fun you can pull cards from both decks to expand possibilities!)  Thank you for writing another wonderful story for all of us to enjoy!

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about)

For Kindle:

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard OR

The Easy Way To Write Picture Books That Sell by Robyn Parnell OR

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Ultimate Fiction Thesaurus by Sam Stone OR

In paperback:
Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell OR

The Six Senses In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Bleak To Bold Narrative by Jessica Bell OR

Adverbs And Cliches In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions Of Adverbs & Cliches Into Gourmet Imagery by Jessica Bell OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2014 HOLIDAY CONTEST as voted on by you!!!
rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat
DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!
In First Place
Winner of the whole shebang…
who gets first choice of all the prizes…
Randi Sonenshine
for The Rumbledy Jumbledy Holiday Feast!!!
Congratulations, Randi, on a fabulous and fun entry that was clearly very popular!!! 🙂
In Second Place
Elaine Kiely Kearns
for ‘Twas The Stormy Night Before Christmas
Congratulations, Elaine!!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Randy makes her choice.
In Third Place
Katey Howes
for Snow Swirls
Congratulations, Katey!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Randy and Elaine choose theirs.
In Fourth Place
Julie Abery
for Santa’s Satnav
Congratulations, Julie!  You get to pick after Randy, Elaine and Katey.
In Fifth Place
Anika Denise
for Little Christmas, BIG SNOW
Congratulations, Anika!  You get to pick after Randy, Elaine, Katey, and Julie.
In Sixth Place
Bronwyn Deaver
for Jack Quits
Congratulations, Bronwyn!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂
In Seventh Place
Sylvia Liu
for Polar Woes
Congratulations, Sylvia!  You get to pick next 🙂
In Eighth Place
Amelia Shearer
for The Night The Sun Stayed Up
Congratulations, Amelia!  You get to pick a prize after Sylvia!
In Ninth Place, we have a tie! between
Johnell DeWitt                      and                      Teresa Robeson
for A Djiboutian Christmas                              Sandstorm Santa
Congratulations, Johnell and Teresa!  You get to pick next!
In Eleventh Place
Kirsten Bock
for Hurricane Coal
And in Twelfth Place, rounding out the top dozen of these amazing finalists and the 100 Holiday Contest Entries for 2014…
Carol Ann Martin
for Wish You’d Been Here

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!  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, a tinsel parade (clumpy or stringy, however you like it :)), and a large amount of Figgy Pudding (which truthfully I don’t know what that is, but apparently it’s something we all want some of :))

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!

As I… hmm… maybe didn’t mention…?, I’m taking a little blogging break so I can spend time with my family – I’ve got cookies to bake, Christmas presents to shop for and wrap, and my sister and her family are arriving form Georgia on Monday! 🙂 –  so I will see you all in a couple weeks – most probably Wednesday January 7th for Would You Read It unless I have something really important to impart on Monday the 5th… but I’m not really foreseeing that 🙂

So now, 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 2015!

Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!

Love,
Susanna


The Prizes!!!
– A picture book manuscript read and critique by Shari Dash Greenspan, Editor of the multi-award winning Flashlight Press!  I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter HERE!
 – A picture book manuscript read and critique by Jennifer Mattson, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
 – Enrollment in Renee LaTulippe‘s highly praised and recommended Lyrical Language Lab Course (in a month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and Renee) ($249 value!)
 – Enrollment in Jon Bard and Laura Backes’s fantastic Kindle Kids Mastery Course ($197 value!)
 – A website or blog design or redesign by Arturo Alviar.  Arturo will design (or redesign if you already have one that needs updating or a new look) a website or blog for the winner of this prize. The site will be built on WordPress so that after he is done designing it, the winner can manage it themselves with ease. Arturo will include a Home/Welcome page, an About Me/Bio page, a Works/Books/Gallery section, and a Contact section (4 pages total), as well as a blog section if the winner would like to have that integrated with the new site. Different organizations can also be made, for example if the winner would like a “Services” section with separate “School Visits” and “Critiques” pages, or a “Works” section divided into “Black and White” and “Color” illustration galleries. The winner can choose any of the WordPress themes (if they choose one that isn’t free, the cost of the theme will be covered by them), or have Arturo choose a theme based on their vision, and Arturo will modify it based on their color and layout preferences (some themes will have more constraints than others). Arturo can also design a personalized banner or header image to customize the website.  If you already have a website and/or blog and prefer a redesign to update, refresh, or just redecorate, Arturo is willing to work with Blogger, Wix, Drupal, and WordPress.
 – Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in March or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)
 – A picture book manuscript critique by fabulous author Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE and the forthcoming SOPHIE’S ANIMAL PARADE.
– A picture book manuscript critique from Katy Duffield, author of more than 20 books for children including Farmer McPeepers And His Missing Milk Cows (Cooper Square Publishing 2003) and upcoming titles Loud Lula (Two Lions) illustrated by Mike Boldt and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too (Candlewick) illustrated by K.G. Campbell.
 – A picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!
Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 
 – 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, a signed copy of Boy And Poi Poi Puppy by Linda Boyden, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
 – a pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards
 – another pack of Deb Lund’s amazing Fiction Magic Cards

The 4th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest – aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!

Tiger eye and mandrake root!  It’s finally time for

The 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!

courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words pumpkinbroomstick, and creak.   Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got nearly 80 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. creak, creaky, creaks, creaking, creaked.  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Would You Read It Wednesday or Perfect Picture Book Friday this week, so this post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  (I hope you will all visit each other! :))  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you!)

The Judging: in a grueling, marathon weekend, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – okay, who are we kidding? :)) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 3rd.  The winner will be announced in a special Thursday post on November 6th.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turn out we did last year, all bets are off.  I may post as many as 10 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 🙂

The Prizes:  we’ve got some seriously amazing prizes! (words in color are links to more info)

– Julie Hedlund‘s fantastic new course How To Make Money As An Author, interesting, educational and suitable for writers at any stage of their career

 – a 2015 membership to Children’s Book Insider, an absolutely fabulous resource for kid lit writers of all kinds, generously offered by Jon Bard and Laura Backes

 – a picture book manuscript critique from the renowned Alayne Christian (prose only, 800 words or less)
Alayne Kay Christian is an award winning author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA. She is represented by Erzsi Deak of Hen&Ink Literary Studio. To read more about Alayne, her critique service, and her books visit her websites and blog.

– a picture book manuscript critique (rhyme or prose) from Penny Parker Klostermann who, after extensive experience critiquing for writing partners, members of various kid lit groups, and clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is opening her own critique service!!!

Penny Parker Klostermann writes picture books and poetry. Her debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is coming from Random House Children’s, August 2015. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Click HERE to learn more about her critique service. 

 – a picture book manuscript critique by Tracey M. Cox!  Tracey offers a full critique on a fiction PB, 800 words or less, which will include overall impression and line-by-line on a prose only pb ms.  She will also include thoughts and marketing ideas that she thinks about and if she can think of references, she’ll add them also.  Tracey M. Cox has been writing professionally since 2000 and is an author of 6 picture books.  She is an active member in the children’s literature community and explores how to self-market on little to no budget.

Website: www.traceymcox.com
Blog: www.traceymcox.wordpress.com


 – an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books

 – a personalized signed copy of I WANNA GO HOME by Karen Kaufman Orloff, the latest in the brilliant PB series that began with I WANNA IGUANA. (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 – a personalized signed copy of I AM COW HEAR ME MOO by Jill Esbaum (reviewed for Perfect Picture Books HERE and HERE – yep, it’s so popular it got reviewed for PPBF twice :))

 – a personalized signed copy of NINJA RED RIDING HOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz, the riveting follow-up to THE THREE NINJA PIGS.  (Reviewed HERE for PPBF)

 – a PDF copy of Ryan Sias’s A Spooky-Doodle E-Book“doodle pages, drawing lessons and writing prompts inspire kids to invent their own stories, characters and artwork.”

Please join me again 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, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

Now then.  Time for my sample entry which I provide because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  Also, in case anyone is worried about the quality of their entry they have only to read my foolish attempts to be filled with confidence that their’s is MUCH better!  I have to confess, I was really down to the wire this year (my schedule is a little bit nuts!), so, ahem, yeah.. I’ll be proofreading after I post since I’m out of time 🙂  (And I usually do one rhyme and one prose, but I don’t have a prose one this year… yet… if I have time maybe I’ll write one and add it during the week :))

So without further ado:

A Halloween Dare (100 words)
Haggie Witch just had to go

Haggie, as illustrated by the fabulously talented
Julie Rowan-Zoch
click for PORTFOLIODIGITALSKETCHBOOK

To the Broomstick Rodeo
And prove she had the skill and pluck
To ride a broomstick bronco’s buck.
Her sister said she’d fall headlong.
Haggie vowed to prove her wrong!
Haggie’s heart quailed in her chest
But she had to face this test.
The gate sprang open with a creak
Out shot Haggie like a streak.
The broomstick bronco pitched and rolled,
Lunged and plunged quite uncontrolled!
But Haggie rode that fireball
Just like a pro and did not fall.
“I win, Sis, you can’t deny

you owe me a pumpkin pie!”

Pirate Ploy (100 words)

Halloween
A pumpkin moon
A ghostly ship
A still lagoon
Tattered sails
Like swirling mist
Ancient rigging
Creaks and twists
Skull and crossbones
Striking fear
Warning sailors
Far and near
Captain Jack
Comes thump-a-peg
Limping on
His broomstickleg
“Steady mates,”
breathes Captain Jack,
“Mustn’t blow
our sneak attack!”
Silently
The ghost ship glides
Closer . . .
Closer . . .
On the tides
Guided through
The murky blue
By the ghastly
Skeleton crew
Stealthily
it comes abreast
Lurking
uninvited guest
Nearing windows
warm with light
no idea
of their plight.
Captain Jack
deceit complete

shouts, “Mrs. Johnson! Trick-or-treat!”

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still 4 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 🙂

There are already 57 entries in the comment section below that you won’t want to miss! (names are links):
Barbara – The Trick Or Treat Troll
Eric – Witch Poem
Lata – Halloween Colors
Nomie – Mabel’s Spooky Soiree
Tracie – The Misspelled Witch
Rachel K – A Home On Halloween
Suzy – Witch In My Hamper
Sarah C – The Moon Is Up!
Angela B – A Messy Halloween
Sue – Untitled
Kimberly C – First Flight Of Halloween
Ann – Off To See The Wizard
Susan – The Contest
Michelle V – The Halloween Sneer
Ashley – Pumpkin’s Plight
Abigail – Maddie’s First Broomstick
Jim – Jack
Melissa – Pumpkin’s Patch
Pia – The Green Witch’s Brew
Kathleen – The Littlest Pumpkin
Lori D – The Trick Or Treat Bag
Debbie – Halloween In A Box
Sharalyn – The Witch And The Pumpkin Contests
Jaymie – No Tricks, Just Treats
Jenifer – Broomstick Ball
Ellen – Emma’s Evening Ride
Beth – Halloween Night
Anne – What’s That?
Brandie – No Ordinary Witch
Marty – Winnie’s Spell
Michelle B – This Year’s Halloween Mascot
Jessica – Spooky Sharing
Alistair – The Raven And The Pumpkin
Kirsten – Family Re-BOO-nion
Jodi – Halloween Hide-And-Go-Seek
Anne B – The Pumpkin Patch Scarecrow
Carol – Halloween Night
Nicole – Black At Night
Hope – In The Wee Hours Of Halloween
Maggie – Arabella The Witch
Gina – Halloween Chase
Kelly – The Pumpkin King
Mandy – On This Night
Eric – The Scarecrow
Cat – Etty Bitty Belina
Julie A – Orinda Owl’s First Halloween
Donna R – The Witches’ Gathering
Kathy – Who Is It?
Robin – Kitchin-nastic Trick Or Treats
Sandy – Pete’s Pumpkins
Judy – Halloween Parade
Merry – Witch School
Victoria – Creaks
Amelia – Full Moon Rising
Colleen – Tell It To The Ghosts
Sydney – Midnight Critters
Stefanie – Monsters Rock

The First Ever Pretty Much World Famous Illustration Contest for Children’s Illustrators!!!

Fasten your seat belts and prepare for take off!  It’s finally here!

The First Ever PrettyMuchWorldFamous Illustration Contest!!!
the fact that this particular illustrator resembles a female
is in no way meant to deter any male illustrators! 🙂

The ContestDraw/Paint/Create a children’s picture book cover illustration (no text required – art only) for one of the following stories (which you will recognize as the top finishers in the March Madness Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest – a little extra surprise for those authors :)):

 – The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff by Wendy Greenley
 – Goldilockup by Mike Allegra
 – Goldibawks And The Three Pairs by Dawn Young
 – The Sweetie Witch by Pen Avey
 – The Princess And The Stinky Cheese by Lauri Meyers
 – Mongoose’s Holi Party by Darshana Khiani
 – The “Princess” And The Pete by Jennifer Caritas
 – The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster by Elliah Terry

Illustrations should be 8×10, horizontal or vertical, any medium, posted in jpg at least 72 px
All stories can be read on the March Madness Finalist Post HERE so you will know what to illustrate 🙂  Illustrators may enter more than one entry if they’re feeling ambitious enough to illustrate more than one book title 🙂
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between right now this very second and Monday April 28 at 9 PM EDT (contest deadline!), and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below.  This post with the link list will remain up through Tuesday April 29 so that people can come visit and enjoy your gorgeous artwork!  (For regular blog followers, there will be no PPBF on Friday April 25, no new post on Monday April 28, but there will be a brief interruption for WYRI on Wednesday April 30 because I forgot to leave it open for the contest :)).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments below.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, you may email me and I’ll post your entry for you!  Also, since this is the first time we’ve done an illustration contest, I’m not sure if you actually CAN paste your entry into the comments.  If this turns out to be a problem, email them to me and I’ll add them directly to this post.)

Judging:  entries will be judged by multi-talented, award-winning author/illustrators Iza Trapani, author and illustrator of over 20 gorgeous picture books, and Lisa Thiesing, author and illustrator of at least 16 beautiful and fun picture books and early readers!   Judging criteria to include:


 – is the picture readable to a young audience,
 – how well does it show the character(s) and
 – is the character(s) appealing (character development),
 – does it make you want to read the story,
 – originality
 – skill.


They will narrow down the entrants to 6 finalists (or possibly a couple more or less depending on the number of entries :)) which will be posted here on Thursday May 1 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 5PM EST on Sunday May 4 and the winner will be announced on Monday May 5.  (No PPBF on Friday May 2.)


The Prizes!:  There will definitely be a 1st prize.  Whether we give prizes for 1st only, 1st-3rd, or 1st-6th will depend on how many entries we get.  We need at least 12 entries to place through 3rd, and at least 20 to place through 6th.

    First Prize is absolutely amazing!  A portfolio critique by celebrated author/illustrator Michael Garland, who has over 20 picture books to his credit!!!

 – Second Prize – a $50 gift certificate to Dick Blick Art Materials (which is online)
 – Third, Fourth & Fifth Prize will be winner’s choice of one of the following books:
      – Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

 – Sixth Prize – a Canson sketch pad and a small set of Derwent or Faber Castell colored pencils

I’m so excited to see what everyone comes up with!  As a person whose artistic ability is limited to stick figures, scribbling and relatively easy coloring books, I am in awe of anyone who can draw/paint/cause anything recognizable to appear on paper/canvas/computer screen 🙂  I hope we’ll get plenty of entries, and that there will be at least one attempt at every title!

Tweet: Enjoy the art! Enter yourself! Children’s Book Cover Illustration Contest @SusannaLHill http://ctt.ec/58ZUb+ #kidart #illustration

Let the artistic fun begin!!!  🙂

Don’t miss Laura’s entry for The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff in the comment section! (click HERE and be a little patient :))

And here’s Katie’s entry for Goldibawks And The Three Pairs! (click HERE and be a little patient :))

And here’s Laura’s entry for The Sweetie Witch! (click HERE and be a little patient :))

And here’s Angela’s entry for The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff! (click HERE and be a little patient :))

and here’s Suzy’s entry for The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff! (click HERE and be a little patient :))

Entry from Hilary Swann for The “Princess” And The Pete

Hilary Swann – The “Princess” And The Pete

March Madness Writing Contest Finalists!!!

I know you’ve all been on tenterhooks, waiting with bated breath, counting the minutes until you find out which of the amazing fractured fairy tales entered in the March Madness Writing Contest made the finals!

Well, I’d love to tell you, but we couldn’t decide.

The MarcMadness Writing Contest!
Just kidding 🙂  We decided… in the end… but it was nearly the end of us, and I’m not sure who will be living happily ever after!

We agonized.

Seriously.

We’ve done nothing but eat, sleep and breathe fairy tales for the last 3 days solid.  (Well, not counting a school visit on Tuesday which took me out of the judging room for a large portion of the day.)  And we stayed up WAY past our bedtimes last night (which is likely to result in a challenging school visit today!), evaluating and re-evaluating, weighing kid-friendliness, story quality, creativity, and originality, good beginnings, good endings, and clever twists, stories for youngest readers, middle grade readers, and teen readers.

We had entries that moved down out of the finalists short list and back up.  We had entries that were incredibly creative and well-written but weren’t quite stories.  We had entries that were great ideas but their plots didn’t quite hang together.  We had entries we loved until the last two sentences.  We had a couple that even the judge who usually goes for such things thought were a little too dark.  We had entries we loved that we thought were a little too adult or that had elements of humor we thought were too adult for the rest of the story.  And we had a LOT of entries that were great but we felt just lacked that certain something to put them quite over the top onto the list… and that of course is subjective to some degree, so another group of judges might have chosen differently.

Any of you who had a chance to read through the entries will know how fantastic they were.  Across the board  you guys should all be so proud of yourselves!  Not only did you show up, you delivered!  And like I said, the choice was incredibly hard.

So, without further ado…

… let me give you a few statistics that I’m sure you’ll find thrilling 🙂

In case you were wondering (admit it, you were), the fairy tale entries broke down as follows:

Goldilocks: 10
Red Riding Hood: 8
Cinderella: 5
Jack & Bean Stalk: 5
Mash-Up: 5
Princess & Pea: 4
Billy Goats Gruff: 4
Hansel & Gretel: 4
Nursery Rhyme-related: 4
3 Little Pigs: 3
Little Red Hen: 3
Boy Who Cried Wolf: 3
Sleeping Beauty: 2 (one of which was submitted by my husband and was therefore just for fun)
Gingerbread Man: 2 (one of which was mine, so technically not an entry :))
12 Dancing Princesses: 2
Emperor’s New Clothes: 1
Snow White: 1
Rapunzel: 1
Shoemaker & Elves: 1
Frog Prince: 1
Tortoise & Hare: 1

Also, the human eye blinks an everage of 4,200,000 times a year… since we’re talking statistics 🙂

And now, without further ado…

Wait.  One more thing.

There were so many great entries we DID after much tearing of hair and rending of garments come up with a finalist list, but in order to do so we had to be incredibly picky about minute details.  Many of the stories we cut were fantastic… but for one tiny detail which dropped them out of contention.  So on Monday, when we announce the winners, we will also announce a list of 12 Honorable Mentions (a nice even dozen :)) who almost made the list and truly deserve recognition, and they will probably qualify for a little prize of some kind which I will think up over the weekend 🙂

VOTING:  Please read through these 10 amazing stories, choose the one you think most deserves to win, and vote for it in the poll below.  Stories are listed by number and title only – author’s name deliberately omitted to help with objectivity in voting.  If you’d like to share this post on FB, twitter etc. so that the deserving finalists get more reads and votes, you are encouraged to do so, but I ask that you please not attempt to influence the vote by requesting people to vote for specific numbers or titles.   That is not in the spirit of the competition, and if I find out you’ve done it you will be disqualified.

And now, really without further ado…

…here are the 10 Finalists:

#1  The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff

“Melting snow is swamping the soil! Time to head to higher ground,” said Papa Worm.
Papa, Mama and Baby Worm squirmed to the surface and wiggled up the grassy slope to face—
the dreaded sidewalk.
“Ow! It’s rough,” said Baby.
“Go as fast as you can.” Mama gave him a pat. “And keep a lookout for birds.”
Baby wiggled as fast as he could.
But he was only halfway across when a robin swooped down.
“I’m going to gobble you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.
“I’m a baby myself. Barely a bite, and not worth your flight. Mama is coming, she’s more than a morsel. Why don’t you wait for her?” said Baby.
The robin thanked Baby and sent him on his way.
When the coast looked clear, Mama wiggled as fast as she could.
But she was barely halfway across when the robin hopped out from a bush.
“I’m going to gobble you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.
“I’d make an adequate dinner, but if you want to treat your babies to a feast you might want to wait for Papa worm. He’s coming next,” said Mama.
The robin thanked Mama and sent her on her way.
Papa did calisthenics, warming up his wiggle. Between the birds and the pavement heating up, He needed to be fast!
Papa wasn’t halfway across when the robin landed in his path.
“I’m going to gobble you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked. “You are plump perfection!”
“Is it true that the early bird gets the worm?” asked Papa.
“That’s true.” The robin opened wide.
“Stop! How do I know you’re the early bird? Maybe someone else is supposed to eat me,” said Papa.
A second bird saw its chance. “I was here first.”
“No, you weren’t!” the robin screeched.
“I’m the early bird!” they both insisted.
The two birds went beak to beak, pecking and pulling feathers.
While the birds quarreled, Papa wiggled,
across the concrete and—Ploop!—down a hole in the grass.
“No worm for the early bird today.” Papa hugged his family.
They wiggled down to enjoy their damp, but not flooded, springtime home. .

until summer heat baked the soil and they had to return across the sidewalk again.


#2  Sweetie Witch

A sweet old witch named Hilda
Lived deep in Toffee Wood,
Weaving magic, casting spells…
Some bad, but mostly good.
One day while dipping in a stream
To catch a moonlight pearl,
She heard a sob, and in a bush
There crouched a tearful girl.
“I beg you Miss, don’t eat me!”
Pleaded little Gretel,
“My bones are dry, my flesh is thin,
My blood tastes yuck, like metal.”
Hilda laughed and shook her head,
Though Gretel was suspicious.
“Why would I eat you dear
When my house tastes so delicious?”
The witch led Gretel through the trees
Into a fairy glade,
And Gretel’s eyes grew round as hoops
At wonders there displayed.
A cottage built from gingerbread
And cake, instead of oak.
Up from the chocolate chimney pot
Rose cotton-candy smoke.
Brightly colored lollipops
In pots beside the door.
Honeycomb for roof tiles,
And sherbet on the floor.
A table made from liquorice,
With soft marshmallow chairs.
A rug of woven apple-whips,
And jelly-beans for stairs.
“The best part’s round the back, my dear,”
Hilda trilled with glee,
“My sweetie tree makes anything – look –
I’m growing a muffin settee!”
When Gretel saw she gave a gasp
For on it her brother sat,
His mouth crammed full of muffin crumbs,
Stroking the witch’s cat.
“Hello there, my name’s Hansel,”
The foolish glutton said,
“Could you get me some milk to wash this down?”
Suddenly… the witch… saw RED!
“Oh, greedy boy!” yelled Hilda,
“You really are a hog!”
With that she waved her candy wand
And turned him to a frog.
Poor Gretel started weeping,
Which softened Hilda’s heart,
And she turned her to a frog too
So they’d never be apart.
Now Hansel and Gretel live happily
In Hilda’s little stream,
Diving down for moonlight pearls

And eating fly ice-cream.


#3  The Princess And The Stinky Cheese

“If you don’t find a princess to marry soon,” the Queen said, “I’ll be forced to give the crown to the dog.”
“Mother, your ridiculous “true princess” tests are the problem,” Prince Plumbottom whined. “Let’s see. Merida didn’t feel the grain of rice in her pillow.”
“Snored like a bear.”
“Fiona couldn’t taste donkey snot in her soup.”
“Gobbled it down like a dragon.”
“Even if a princess passed your test,” Prince Plumbottom said, “Princesses are so boring. I want to marry a daring lass!”
“Very well, son. We will look for a true princess who is also daring. I know just the right test.”
“Here comes a girl now, and she has a branch in her hair!” he clapped his hands. “This young woman has had an adventure.”
The prince skipped over to the soaking wet maiden.  
“Hello, I’m Prince Plumbottom.”
“Hello, I’m Princess Peabody,” she said. “I was tracking a rattlesnake, but I fell into the river and now I’m quite lost.”
“A rattlesnake? How daring!” the prince squealed. “Won’t you join us for lunch?”
Princess Peabody wiped her muddy face with a napkin. She was about to blow her nose, but stopped when she heard the Queen whisper “Stinky Cheese Test” to the prince. She had heard of queens like this.  
“Cheese, dear?” the Queen asked.
“Oh, it’s a lovely green,” Princess Peabody said. “But it’s not nearly stinky enough.”
The prince beamed.
The Queen thumped on the table. “Cook! Bring the stinkier cheese!”
The cook held a handkerchief over her nose and presented the stinkier cheese.
“Yummy. It smells like an ogre’s shoe,” the princess said. “But my Kingdom has much stinkier cheese.”
The Queen’s face turned red. “Guards! Find the stinkiest cheese in the land!”
The knights returned with a metal trunk which smelled like a dragon’s armpit.
“Open it!” the Queen commanded.
The knights closed their armor masks and reached with a sword to open the chest.  The stench was so horrific, so terrible, so… stinky that everyone fainted.
Everyone except Princess Peabody.
She fed the stinky cheese to the royal dog who didn’t mind the smell at all. Then she blew her nose, finally clearing it of river mud.
The Queen came to and saw the empty cheese plate. “A true princess!”
Prince Plumbottom declared, “A daring princess!”
Burp! The dog agreed.

And they all lived stinkily ever after. 


#4  The Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster

Torito’s brothers were sound asleep, 
but Torito . . . was as perky as a cactus.
Naps are no fun, he thought. He twiddled his ears until he got a wonderful idea.
“Help!” he cried. “There’s a Gila monster under our bed!”
Torito’s brothers jumped so high, they bumped the ceiling. Mama burst into the room, broom in hand. Torito giggled.
“Torito,” Mama said, grabbing the stuffed Gila monster he’d hidden, “YOU are supposed
to be asleep.” She handed him the toy and left.
Torito and his brothers snuggled into their bed. Soon his brothers were sound asleep, but
Torito . . . was as restless as a tumbleweed.
Naps are boring, he thought. I know . . .
“Help!” he cried. “There’s a Gila monster under our bed!”
Torito’s brothers cowered in the corner. Mama burst into the room. Torito laughed so hard, his sides ached.
“Torito J. Jackrabbit,” Mama said, grabbing the stuffed Gila monster, “YOU—”
“I tricked you!” Torito teased.
Mama crossed her arms. “It isn’t nice to trick. Now go to sleep.” This time she kept the toy.
Torito and his brothers snuggled into their bed. Torito was as tired as a tortoise.
He closed his eyes.
Scritch-scratch!
Torito tore off his covers and peeked under the bed.
He gasped.
Two beady eyes stared back at him. Five sharp claws flexed on each hand. A long, purple tongue flickered out.
“Giiiiii-laaaaa monnnn-sterrrrr!” Torito yelled as he leaped into the closet.
His brothers didn’t move. They covered their ears and rolled over.
“Mama!” Torito screamed.
But Mama called back, “Go to sleep, Torito.”    
The Gila monster stretched its jaws. Torito’s heart raced. Suddently, he got a wonderful idea—he knew Mama wouldn’t like it—but he didn’t know what else to do.  
“Watch out!” Torito cried, “There’s a coyote in this closet!”
The Gila monster scoffed. “I’m not falling for that.”
Torito pulled the string on his stuffed coyote. Yarooooooooo!the toy howled.
The Gila monster hissed and scurried out the window. When he was far enough away, Torito called out, “I tricked you!”
“Torito . . .” Mama’s voice drifted from the kitchen.
“I know—it isn’t nice to trick.” (Unless it saves your life,) he thought. 
Clutching his stuffed coyote, Torito snuggled between his brothers.

Soon, he felt as calm as the desert sand and drifted off into a peaceful jackrabbit slumber. 


#5  Little Red Riding Hood And The Tiny Rude Bunny

Once upon a springtime, Little Red Riding Hood encountered a bunny nibbling grass near the forest path. He said, “Good morning, little girl. Where are you going?”
Now, Red knew she should not talk to strangers. She had talked to a wolf once, and had almost been eaten! But this was just a tiny bunny, so she said, “To grandmother’s house.”
“What’s in your basket?”
“Fancy eggs,” Red answered, showing him. The eggs sparkled like beautiful pink, blue, green, and gold gems. “We’re going to share them with the village children.”
“I want them!” The bunny grabbed at the basket. He was not a very polite bunny.
“No!” said Red. And off she went.
The bunny was angry. He wanted those eggs! He would trick her into giving them to him.
Over the river and through the woods, the bunny raced to Grandma’s house. And, because bunnies are very fast when they want to be, he got there well before Red.
Bunny knocked on the door. No one was home. So he ran inside, put on Grandma’s clothes, and jumped into her bed, just as Red got to the cottage.
She was suspicious immediately.
“Grandma, you look so small today.”
“People shrink as they age,” the bunny said. “It’s not nice to point it out.”
“What big ears you have.”
“Ears never stop growing. A polite girl wouldn’t mention it.”
“What big whiskers you have.”
“How rude!”
“What big teeth you have.”
That was the last straw for bunny. “The better to eat your eggs,” he said and jumped from the bed.
Red wasn’t scared. After all, this wasn’t a big, bad wolf, this was a tiny rude bunny. She picked him up by the scruff of his neck. “No,” she said. “In fact, as punishment, you can deliver these eggs to the children for us.”
“Good idea,” said Grandma, coming in and pulling out a wand. (Ever since the incident with the wolf, Grandma had been studying witchcraft as self-defence.) She cast a spell to make the bunny deliver the eggs.

But the bunny was tricky. Instead of giving the eggs to the children, he hid them around their houses. The next day he went back and stole the ones they’d missed. But the kids had so much fun that Grandma let the bunny keep his eggs, so long as he promised to hide more again next year.

#6  Goldibawks And The Three Pairs

Once upon a time there lived a mama duck, a daddy duck and junior duck.
One day after mama fixed seaweed stew they went out for a waddle while it cooled.
Meanwhile nearby, Goldibawks, a young chicken as yellow as the sun, who had just wandered out from the countryside, spotted an ad.
WANTED:
BASKETBALL PLAYER
FOR NCAA MARCH MADNESS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
TODAY AT CHICKERBOCKER ARENA
c/o National Chicken Athletic Association
Wattles wiggling, Golidbawks was eggstatic.  Back on the farm, the roosters refused to let her play. This was her chance to show those roosters in the coop that this chick can play hoop!
In a shirt, skirt and heels, Goldibawks needed gym clothes but she was too far from home. Just then she saw the ducks’ house. She knocked. No one answered. She tried the door and it opened so she let herself in.
Goldibawks looked around for gym shorts.
She found papa’s pair but they were too boring.
She found mama’s pair but they were too bright.
She found junior’s pair and they were just right, so she put them on.
Next Goldibawks looked for socks.
She found papa’s pair but they were too dingy.
She found mama’s pair but they were too white.
She found junior’s pair and they were just right, so she put them on.
Finally, Goldibawks looked for some cool kicks.
She found papa’s pair but they were too heavy.
She found mama’s pair but they were too light.
She found junior’s pair and they were just right, so she put them on.
Then the ducks burst in. Goldibawks hid.
“Somebody tried on my shorts, socks and sneakers,”  quacked papa duck.
“Somebody tried on my shorts, socks and sneakers,”  quacked mama duck.
“Somebody tried on my shorts, socks and sneakers, and still has them on,”  quacked junior duck.
With that, they spied Golidbawks, dressed in junior’s gear.
“I can eggsplain,” she clucked and told the ducks the whole story.
Eggcited for Goldibawks, the ducks escorted her to the arena.
Goldibawks joined the team alongside Charles Bawkley, Larry Byrd, Mag-chick Johnson and Michael Jord-hen.
She had a stellar game, with a dozen dunks , half a dozen assists and went twelve for twelve from the fowl line.

Her signature Goldibawks blocks and the team’s peck and roll offense led them to the NCAA championship game, which they won when Goldi tipped in the winning shot.

#7  Mongoose’s Holi Party

#8  Sleeping Beauty: Burn The Wheel, Spare The Barrel

After waiting a really, really, really long time a king and queen had a baby.
“To celebrate we’ll invite everyone in the kingdom, especially the fairies!”
But not the Dark Fairy.  It could be that they forgot, or maybe she was a downer and no one wanted her there.
If you are the only person not invited to a party, it’s not difficult to notice.  The Dark Fairy could hear music at the castle and see bonfires, and crowds.  Can you blame her for being mad?
“Curses red, yellow and green, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and DIE at age 15!”
“I change it to a nap that ends in a kiss,” said another fairy.
“Burn every spinning wheel in the kingdom!” cried the king and queen.
The spinning wheels were burned.
“But how will we make clothes?” asked the king’s subjects.
You see, spinning wheels are used to create yarn and thread.  Yarn and thread are woven into fabric, and fabric is made into clothes.  No spinning wheels, no clothes.
“What will we wear?” asked the people.  “We can’t afford to buy clothes from other kingdoms!”
Soon everyone was wearing the strangest things.
“Does my wine barrel make me look fat?” asked a maid.
“I wouldn’t recommend suits of armor without underwear,” said a chaffed knight.
Storekeepers wore pots and pans.  Subjects grew out their hair.
“We best wear pots and pans too, so everyone will stop being mad at us,” said the king and queen.
When the princess was 14 years and 364 days old the king’s subjects had had enough.
“Our barrels give us splinters!”
“Pans are too heavy!”
“Let’s smuggle in a spinning wheel,” someone said, no one remembers who.
“Where do we hide it?”
“The one place the king and queen won’t look… the castle’s attic.”
The smugglers had forgotten about the princess.
The king and queen had too.  On the princess’ birthday they went on a date.
Exploring, the princess discovered a strange contraption in the attic.  “What an interesting machine, I think I’ll touch this sharp point.”
The princess pricked her finger on the spindle and fell into a deep sleep.
“We are in so much trouble,” said the smugglers.
“I’m not going to kiss her, I’m married.” one said.
“She’s already asleep so we can have spinning wheels now.” agreed the others.

And they did.


#9  The “Princess” And The Pete

Late in the evening, in cold April showers
A maiden on horseback approached Prince Pete’s towers
“I hate to be forward,” she said, “but I’m beat!”
“Would you have a place I could hide from this sleet?”
Her warm, friendly smile…
Her natural glow…
Now here was a person Pete wanted to know!
He asked her inside
His mom piled the bed up
To give her the test that had Pete truly fed up
“This pea stuff!” Pete spluttered. “You’re always so pushy!”
“Who cares if the girl has a sensitive tushy?!”
But he knew that his mom glorified the elite
So to marry this girl he might just have to cheat
So just when his houseguest was washing her face
He took out the pea…
And put a squash in its place
But next morning, weirdly, the girl simply said
“I’m really enjoying this mile-high bed!”
The queen looked annoyed. “Not a princess, I see.” 
The worried prince begged her for leniency.
And later when evening was starting to fall
He switched out the squash for his dad’s bowling ball
But next day, more thank you’s!
Our poor prince was shaken
And knew that this night drastic steps must be taken
So just as the girl said good night to the queen
He lifted a mattress and squeezed in between
And all through the night, hardly taking a breather
He wiggled and wriggled and kicked underneath her.
The prince felt her toss
Heard her groan “What the heck?”
In the morning he noticed her rubbing her neck
Still, when asked by the queen if she’d had a good rest
The girl simply beamed and said “It was the best!”
Prince Pete was confounded. Confused! Mystified! 
He decided to fess up and ask if she’d lied.
She looked disbelieving. “Of course! I’m a guest!
When asked if I slept well I always say yes!”
Prince Pete couldn’t help it; he asked for her hand
She shook her head sadly, said “Please understand…”
“Someday I might marry (right now I’m all set)
But I’m not going to marry a guy I just met
And even a girl who’d get hitched in a hurry
Might find your MOTHER a real source of worry.
But I could use a friend, and some laughs, and a talk
So how about this… Let’s start with a walk?”


#10  Goldilockup

“Someone has been sleeping in my bed!” exclaimed Papa Bear.
“Someone has been sleeping in my bed!” exclaimed Mama Bear.
“Someone has been sleeping in my bed!” exclaimed Baby Bear. “And there she is!”
At that, Goldilocks awoke with a shriek, jumped out the window, and ran away as fast as she could.
But it wasn’t fast enough. Before she could disappear into the forest, a large hand clamped down on her shoulder and slapped on the cuffs.
The man was in uniform. He scowled at Goldilocks and spoke into his crackling walkie talkie. “I got her,” he growled. “I’ll be downtown in ten.”
Then he turned to Golidlocks. “You’re coming with me, blondie.”
“What? Why?”
“Breaking and entering, grand theft porridge, vandalism, squatting… You’re a regular crime wave, kid.”
And into the squad car she went.
“You punks are all alike,” the officer said once they arrived at the station. “You always think you’re the hero.”
He pointed to a boy getting his mug shot. “See that kid? He thinks he’s a hero, too. But he’s been charged with murder, burglary, and chopping down a giant beanstalk without a forestry permit. He ain’t no hero, girlie, and neither are you.”
Goldilocks was shoved into a holding cell. She was terrified by the lowlifes who surrounded her. There was a woodsman who practiced stomach surgery without a license. Pigs who attempted to boil their dinners alive. Prince charmings found carrying unregistered swords and daggers. Billy goats accused of assault and battery.
It was a motley crew.
“What’s going to happen now?” Goldilocks asked the officer.
“Well, first we gotta catch up with Cinderella and Snow White,” he replied.
“What are they wanted for?” she asked.
“Oh,” the man replied, “we’ll come up with something.”
At that moment, another officer shouted in triumph. “We got ‘em!”
A joyous “Whoop!” went up throughout the precinct as Snow White and Cinderella were booked, photographed, fingerprinted, and tossed in the cell with the others.
“A good day’s work, gentlemen!” said the police captain emerging from his office. He wasn’t exactly a police captain, though.
He was a Big Bad Wolf.
The officers then pulled off their masks.
Giants!
Ogres!
Stepmothers!
Goldilocks and the other prisoners shuddered at the sight.

It was official: Fairy Tale Forest was under new management.

Please vote for the one you think deserves to win by Sunday March 30 at 5 PM EDT.  Winners will be announced on Monday March 31!!


Thank you all so much for reading and voting!  I can’t wait to see who the winners are!!!

Have a terrific Thursday and a wonderful weekend!

See you Monday with the winners 🙂

The March Madness Writing Contest Is Here!!!

Woo-hoo!!!

Spring is here!

And so is

The MarcMadness Writing Contest!

The Contest: Write a children’s story, in poetry or prosemaximum 400 words, that is a fractured fairy tale.  Feel free to add a theme of spring, or mix in one of the spring holidays if you like – St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools Day, Easter or Passover, Arbor Day, Earth Day…  Have fun with it!  The madder* the better! 🙂
*as in wild and wacky, not angry 🙂

You do not have to include spring – that is optional.
The story can be a picture book or a short story – whatever you like.
If it’s a picture book, you may NOT include art notes, because we get into a weird area of whether that’s fair in terms of word count and added description etc.  So if you write a picture book that’s wonderful, but make sure art notes aren’t necessary to understand it.
“Fairy Tale” apparently turned out to be a very debatable term, so my fellow judges and I will do our best to handle whatever you’ve come up with.
Title not included in word count.
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between right now this very second and Monday March 24 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below which will remain up through Wednesday March 26 so we can all take our time reading and enjoying everyone’s stories!  (No PPBF on Friday March 21, no new post on Monday March 24, no WYRI on March 26).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments below.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)

The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to 6 finalists (or possibly a couple more depending on the number of entries :)) which will be posted here on Thursday March 27 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 5PM EST on Sunday March 30 and the winner will be announced on Monday March 31.  (No PPBF on Friday March 28.)

The Prizes!:  

 – 1st Prize is a read and critique by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary!!! (Unless for some reason you don’t want a read and critique by an agent, in which case you may swap for any of the other prizes)
 – 2nd Prize is a picture book manuscript critique (for rhyming mss only) by Lori Degman, author of 1 ZANY ZOO and the forthcoming COCK-A-DOODLE-OOPS! OR a picture book manuscript critique (for non-rhyming mss only) by Cori Doerrfeld, author/illustrator of LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO and PENNY LOVES PINK as well as illustrator of many others.
 – 3rd Prize is personalized signed copies of THE THREE NINJA PIGS and GOLDI ROCKS & THE THREE BEARS by Corey Rosen Schwartz PLUS a $25 Amazon Gift Card
 – 4th and 5th Prizes are your choice of any two of the following picture books PLUS a $20 Amazon Gift Card:
     – THE THREE LITTLE WOLVES AND THE BIG BAD PIG by Eugene Trivizas
     – CINDY ELLEN: A WILD WESTERN CINDERELLA by Susan Lowell
     – LITTLE RED WRITING by Joan Holub
     – THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE SOMEWHAT BAD WOLF by Mark Teague
     – THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS by Caryl Hart
     – THE WOLF’S STORY: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD by Toby Forward
     – GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS by Mo Willems

 – 6th Prize (which just skated in under the wire – thank you Sudipta!) is a personalized signed copy of hot-off-the-presses SNORING BEAUTY by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

And don’t forget, all you illustrators, that this will be followed by a related Illustrator Contest in April!!! (to be announced and elaborated on as soon as the writing part of the contest is over! :))

And now, so that everyone will feel happy and confident about posting their stories, I will share my sample, a Wild West twist on The Gingerbread Boy at exactly 400 words (phew!):

The Cornpone Cowboy

     Once upon a time (because that is the way all good fairy tales begin), Farmer Bubba and his lovely bride ThunderLily had the most beautiful ranch in the Wild West.
     The grass was emerald green.
     The rivers were pure as morning dew.
     The cattle were sleek and fat and gave such rich, creamy milk that all the ice cream makers in the world fought over who would get it.
     But even with all this beauty and excellent ice cream, Bubba and ThunderLily were sad.  For though they were surrounded every spring by velvet-eyed calves and stilt-legged foals, fluffy chicks, pink piglets, and wooly lambs, they never had a child of their own.
     Luckily, ThunderLily was not one to sit around moping.  “If I can’t have a child, I’ll make one,” she told her darling Bubba.
     She got cornmeal and buttermilk, eggs, salt, and bacon drippings, and quick as you like she whipped up a sturdy little Cornpone Cowboy.
     “We’ll call him Charlemagne,” she said dreamily as she plucked the skillet from the barbeque pit.
     “You’ll have to catch me first!” snorted the Cornpone Cowboy, and off he rode as fast as his cowpony could carry him.
     He passed the pigpen and the piglets grunted, “Oh, Charlemagne! Come be our friend!”
     “Don’t call me that!” said the Cornpone Cowboy, and he galloped on his way.
     He passed the sheepfold and the lambs baahed, “Oh, Charlemagne! Come be our friend!”
     “Don’t call me that!” said the Cornpone Cowboy, and he galloped on his way.
     He passed the cow barn and the calves mooed, “Oh, Charlemagne! Come be our friend!”
     “Why does everyone insist on calling me that?” said the Cornpone Cowboy, and he galloped on his way.
     And so it was at the hen house…
     . . . the horse pasture…
     . . . and the goat shed.
     Along about sundown a voice called, “Hey, Cowboy! Won’t you come set a spell by the campfire?”
     “Don’t mind if I do,” said the Cornpone Cowboy, tuckered out from galloping. He hopped down from his pony, spurs a-janglin’, and came face to face with…
     . . . COYOTE!
     Quick as a wink he twirled his lariat. . . 
     . . . hog-tied Coyote . . .
     . . . and lit out for home!
     When Bubba and ThunderLily heard his story, ThunderLily said, “That’s our boy! Lightning fast!”
     Which is how he came to be called LightningCharlie instead of Charlemagne (because really, who could live with that?) and they all lived happily ever after!

The End

Wasn’t that nice of me?  Now you can all feel brave and smug, secure in the knowledge that your story is better than that!!! 🙂

Anyone besides me feeling an urge to sing?
     “Like a Cornpone Cowboy
     riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
     Cornpone Cowboy…

No? Darn! I was hoping the exceptional quality of my singing would distract you from that story even though “cornpone” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “rhinestone”  🙂

I can’t wait to read what you have all come up with!  Let the fun begin! 🙂

And remember to check back here for entries added in the comments.  I’ll list them as they come in 🙂 (Titles link to stories in comments – give them an extra moment to load)

Jennifer C – The Princess And The Pete
Pat H – Jack And The Giant
Angela – The Belle And The Sticker Burrs
Sean – No Spring Chicken Little
Shelly – Prince Frog
Kirsten B – Goldi And Red
Pen – The Sweetie Witch
Connie – Chocolocks And The Three Bunnies
Karen – Little Red Hen’s Shiny New Friend
Teresa S – Little Red’s Green Cloak
Eric – A Sleeping Beauty
Katie – Little Dead Riding Hood
Robert – Jack And The Beanstalk
Lisa – Rabbi Wolfberg And The Boarmans Celebrate Sukkot
Denise – The Biscuit Man
Kristen – The Boy Who Cried Spring
Jennifer Mc – Little Red Ray
Debbie – The Three Kittens
Gaye – Chocolate Muffins
Nancy – Big Bad Wolf And Red Riding Toad
Robert2 – The Emperor’s New Clothes
Kelsi – Goldinocks And The Three Scares
Jen – The Mischievous Fire Truck
Heather – Rap-unzel
Robert3 – Humpty
Hilary – Hare And Tortoise
Sandy – The Three Little Pigs And The Shoemaker
Kelly V – A Fractured Fairy Tail (Literally)

This Just In…!

You will all be glad to know that I’m starting the week with one of my shortest posts ever!

Woo-hoo!  More time for you guys to go do other fun things!

I had great intentions for a proper post, but, well… stuff happens… long story…

So all I have to share today is THE PRIZE for the March Madness Writing Contest.  (If you missed the guidelines, read all about it HERE! – scroll down below the perfect picture book)

Are you ready?

Are you holding onto your socks (which are in danger of being blown off)? 🙂

The winner of the March Madness Writing Contest will get…

…drum roll please…!

…to have one of their picture book manuscripts read by the one and only Karen Grencik, renowned agent at Red Fox Literary!!!  And Karen will give helpful feedback!!!  And who knows – if you send a good enough story, she might love you and ask to see more!!!

I hope that lights the fire under you and you are now all racing for your pencils/pens/laptops/writing tools of choice!

And due to my exceptionally brief post (some might call it a masterpiece of brevity – that would be fine with me :)), you have extra writing time, so hop right to it!  Let me know how it goes!

May the muse be with you!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone 🙂