The 2014 March Madness Contest Winners!!!

Oh. My. Goodness!

That was the closest, most hotly contested race for a winner we’ve ever had!

I hope that means that my assistant judges and I made good choices for the finalists! 🙂

The MarcMadness Writing Contest!

I admit it – I get all the fun.  Sitting in the judge’s chair, watching the votes come in, seeing first one person and then another in the lead, biting my nails when there are ties, waiting on pins and needles to see who will emerge victorious….

Normally I’d string you along and tease you for a while, but I’m too wiped out by this whole roller-coaster process.

Truly, it is not for the faint of heart.

Up one minute, down the next.  Nerves stretched like bow strings.

A person less physically fit than myself (haha snort! – can’t say THAT with a straight face after this winter :)) might suffer palpitations!

And speaking of palpitations, I had them aplenty when her royal highness, Miss Scouty Brown, came sauntering back in the house this morning having found something dreadful to roll in!  “What is that SMELL???!!!” all the children shrieked!

Fortunately, we are in the midst of a small flood which, aside from making the basement a delightful place for canoeing, means that there is a lot of water outside.  Scouty was able to enjoy her first swim of the year… twice… with the fortuitous result that she returned from our walk refreshed and smelling mostly like wet dog instead of Something Yucky.

But wait.

What were we talking about?

Oh yes!

The contest!

So, who won?

Oh!  I’m supposed to tell you!

🙂

Okay.

Seriously.

I’m really going to tell.

We had 75 fantastic entries, which we winnowed down by hook or by crook, to the best of our ability, to 10 fabulous finalists.

Y’all voted for your favorites.

And the winner of the 2014 March Madness Writing Contest, who gets to send the picture book manuscript of her choice to none other than the renowned children’s literary agent, Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary is. . .

duhn duhn duhn
dddddrrrrruuuuummmmm rrrrrooooollllllllll pppppllllleeeeeaaaaassssseeeee!!!!!

Wendy Greenley
with her clever Three Wiggly Worms Bluff!!!

Congratulations on a wonderful story, Wendy!  I think it’s clear that a LOT of people really enjoyed it! 🙂

Now, I wasn’t kidding when I said this contest was hotly contested.  I kept asking for votes this weekend, hoping the ties would get broken, but not all of them did.

So, for 2nd place we had a tie between

Mike Allegra
with the fantabulous Goldilockup!

and

Dawn Young
with the hilarious Goldibawks!

Congratulations Mike and Dawn, on two terrific and very different twists on Goldilocks!  Lori and Cori have generously agreed to each give a critique instead of just one or the other, so you will each get a picture book critique by a fantastic author!

In 3rd place, guess what?  Another tie!  This time between

Pen Avey
with her delicious Sweetie Witch

and

Lauri Meyers
with her daring Princess And The Stinky Cheese!

Congratulations, Pen and Lauri!  I will prevail upon Corey to tire her signing hand by signing copies of her books for both of you! 🙂  And you may email me about your gift cards.

4th place goes to

Darshana Khiani
with her delightful Mongoose’s Holi Party!

Congratulations, Darshana, on a truly original tale!  You may choose the two picture books you’d like from the prize list.  (I’ll tack it on the bottom of the post for easy reference :)) And email me about your gift card.

In 5th place,

Jennifer Caritas (hope I’ve got that right…!)
with another forthright heroine in The “Princess” And The Pete!

Congratulations on a terrific story, Jennifer!  You may also choose the two picture books you’d like from the prize list below and email me about your gift card.

And in 6th place,

Elliah Terry
with her fun southwestern Jackrabbit Who Cried Gila Monster!

Congratulations, Elliah!  I bet that gila monster is still running from the coyote 🙂 You will receive a personalized sighed copy of SNORING BEAUTY by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen!

All the winners should email me to work out prize details!

But now, we are not quite done.

Because, like I said, this was a hotly contested contest.  My assistant judges and I had quite a few other favorites that we felt couldn’t quite make the finalist list for one reason or another, but we all thought they were worthy of recognition.  So the following people (in no particular order) receive our heartfelt Honorable Mention!

Gaye Hemsley – Chocolate Muffins
Joanne Roberts – Goldi And The Three Squirrels
Vivian Kirkfield – Singerella
Katie Gast – Little Dead Riding Hood
Katie Cullinan – The Three Little Easter Bunnies
Jen Doherty – The Mischievous Fire Truck
Laura Shovan – The 12 Clumsy Princesses
Margaret Greenias – The Big, Bad-Mannered Wolf
Angela Turner – The Belle And The Sticker Burrs
Cheryl Secomb – Little Red Rider
Robert Schechter – Humpty
Erik Weibel – The Once Upon A Times
Rachel – Handsome And Gretchin

Congratulations to all of you on stories that were original, fun, and very entertaining!  You may all choose one of the following as a prize: (titles are links so you can check them out)

Kindle Edition – The Nuts & Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman
Kindle Edition – Picture Books The Write Way by Laura Purdie Salas & Lisa Bullard
Kindle Edition – How To Write A Children’s Picture Book by Darcy Pattison
Kindle Edition – The Easy Way To Write Picture Books That Sell by Robin Opie Parnell
Kindle Edition – How To Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets To Create A Bestseller by Katie Davis

Paperback – Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine (also available for Kindle)
Paperback – How To Write A Novel: 47 Rules For Writing A Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever by Nathan Bransford (also available for Kindle)
Paperback – The Plot Skeleton by Angela Hunt (also available for Kindle)

Please email me and let me know your preference!

Congratulations to everyone who entered a story in this contest.  You all did an amazing job!  My assistant judges and I loved every story for one reason or another.  And I think it’s fair to say that you entertained a LARGE number of readers!

Thank you so much to everyone who visited blogs, read, commented, and voted – these contests couldn’t happen without you!

And thank you to the generous people who donated prizes – Karen Grencik, Lori Degman, and Cori Doerffeld – you’re what everyone tries so hard for and you bring out the best in the writing community!

It’s been another fun contest, and I thank you all!

I was going to announce the upcoming first ever * Illustrator Contest * today, but this post is too long already, and I really don’t want to distract from the winners’ moment in the spotlight, so I will either write a special Tuesday post for tomorrow or tack it onto the Would You Read It post on Wednesday.

So congratulations again to all the winners for all their wonderful stories, and to everyone who wrote a story for this contest.  You are all winners just for showing up, writing something new, and practicing your craft!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 🙂

List of 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

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)

Some Alligator Fun And A Contest Rule and Prize Update!!

Happy Monday, Everyone!
**Warning!**
I have made up a poem!
(Yes, I realize I’m playing it fast and loose with the term “poem” :))
(And yes, I have a reason for this gross departure from sanity.  I didn’t just go off the deep end :))
Anyone whose sensibilities may be injured by my attempt at poetry should leave immediately!
Those of you who are brave enough to stay, prepare yourselves.
You may need some cake to fortify you.
Alligator cake by Courtney
Are you ready?
Here we go:
Boy’s Best Friend
Daddy said, “A boy like you
Should really have a dog.
A parrot, an iguana, or a happy, hoppy frog.”
I answered, “Thank you, Daddy, but on this my heart is set.
I want an alligator for my one and only pet!”
Thank you.  Thank you very much 🙂
Now.  About that reason.  The lovely and talented Catherine Johnson, author of Weirdo Zoo (buy your copy HERE), has a new book out!
It’s called The Everglades (hence the alligator themed “poem”) and she describes it as a collection of poetry for children who are old enough not to mind the odd arm hanging out of an alligator’s mouth 🙂  Seriously.  How can you resist that? 🙂  She says, “Half the poems are serene, and half are snorty.”  And she drew the illustrations herself!!  Such talent!!
She is celebrating on her blog HERE and running a giveaway, so scuttle on over as fast as your little alligator legs allow and join in the fun!
Should you happen not to be lucky enough to win a copy, you may buy one HERE!
Now, before you all go marching off to your magnificent Mondays, I’d like to clarify a couple things about the March Madness Writing Contest.
You will recall the contest guidelines:
The ContestWrite 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 🙂
I want to clarify three things (because a few people have asked.)
1.  You do not have to include spring – that is optional.
2. The story can be a picture book or a short story – whatever you like.
3. 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.
The other thing I want to add is a full description of the prizes!!!  (So you’ll all be very motivated to think up stories! :))
 – 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

And don’t forget, all you illustrators out there, we’re going to have an illustrator contest immediately following the writing contest!  (Details coming soon… :))

Now then!  I hope that fills you with inspiration and fuels the muse!
Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – JJ The American Street Dog

Well, it’s Friday, and guess what?  It’s still zero!

Every morning I wake up all hopeful that today will be warmer.  The light is coming earlier (well, at least until daylight savings times throws a monkey wrench in that on Saturday night :)), and the angle of the light says spring is coming.  The robins are incurably optimistic.  But every morning I walk downstairs and check the thermometer and it’s still COLD.

The novelty has worn off.

I’ve forgotten what grass looks like.

But it is March!  Time is on our side!  And to help us throw off the winter doldrums, we have the amazing March Madness Writing Contest to distract us, with the fantastic first prize of a read and critique by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary!  So I hope you’re all busily concocting stories 🙂

Chins up, everyone!  It’s technically less than 2 weeks until spring AND the contest fun! 🙂

And now, how about a Perfect Picture Book or two or twenty to get us through the weekend?

Title: JJ The American Street Dog And How He Came To Live At Our House
Written By: Diane Rose-Solomon
Illustrated By: Rachel Cellinese
SOP3 Publishing, 2012, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: responsibility, pets, rescue animals

Opening: “Since as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a dog.  At night, I dream about dogs.  Little dogs with floppy ears and short legs. Big dogs with pointy ears and long legs. There are brown dogs, tan dogs and spotted all over dogs. Some are even pink and green. But those dogs are just in my dreams.”

Brief Synopsis: Maya has always wanted a dog.  When her Uncle Jerry finds a stray, it looks like maybe her dream will come true.  But what if his owner comes to claim him?  Maya learns a lot about stray dogs and about what it is to care for a pet of her own.

Links To Resources: talk about caring for pets, discuss responsibility and what that means in relation to taking care of an animal, talk about making thoughtful decisions, Bookmaking Activity, free downloadable worksheets for individual grades, Animal Welfare Lessons from the ASPCA, some animal rescue information at the back of the book.

Why I Like This Book: Well, you guys all know I love dogs, and that both my dogs are rescues, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart.  The story is entertaining and serves to get across a lot of information to help kids understand why dogs may be homeless and how they can help.  Although this is a fictional story, the information presented within it is true.  Lots of kids want pets, or think they do, so a story like this can be helpful in promoting discussion of exactly what is involved and expected.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers, please be sure to leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come visit you (since it’s still too cold to spend much time outside!)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

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 🙂