2016 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!

Happy Friday, Folks!

There’s something so delicious about Fridays, isn’t there?  That knowledge that the whole weekend stretches out before you – yours to do whatever you want with… sleep late (if you don’t have young children 🙂 … or dogs with very specific ideas of what time breakfast should be served 🙂 )… read a good book by the fire… go to the movies…  fill out financial aid forms… you know, whatever blows your hair back 🙂

And there’s something especially delicious about this Friday!  Something I know you’ve all been anticipating with great intensity!

Unfortunately, I’m having trouble remembering what it is.

I blame avocado deprivation.

They say avocados improve brain and memory function and I cannot remember the last time I had an avocado.  But that may be because I haven’t had any avocados to boost my memory of when I last had an avocado!

As you can see, it’s a knotty conundrum.

It is quite possible that I may wander in a fog for days unless someone arrives to rescue me with guacamole.

Should anyone feel so inclined, I shall be in my tower…

…very damsel in distress…

…with a bag of tortilla chips… 🙂

But wait.

What were we talking about?


Something important…



I bet you don’t give a flying fig about avocados OR guacamole!

I know you’re really here to…

…seek my fashion advice on what you should wear on that hot date this weekend…


You would be more likely to ask a potato for fashion advice?

Well, you’re probably wise in that regard 🙂

Nah.  I’m just foolin’ with you 🙂

I know you’ve been climbing the walls waiting to find out who won the First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Am I right or am I right or am I right???

Well…I’ll tell you!

In a minute… 🙂



valentiny logo

As you are all aware by now, we had a record turnout for the Valentiny Contest – 154 entries!

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories and meet so many new writers!

But with large entry numbers 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 Monday 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 (one reason being that, at a certain point, we just had to stop adding finalists to the list! :))

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:

Christie Allred for Gumshoe Goose

Linda Schueler for Witch Walenda’s Grumpy Valentine’s Day

Ingrid Boydston for The Grumps

Gabi Snyder for The Bookstore Cat’s Valentine


2.  For Great Kid Appeal: (not already in the finals)

Marlaina Gray for Cupcake Party

Robin Brett Wechsler  for The Case Of The Missing Valentine Party Supplies (also the only Valentine Mystery! :))


3. For Great Kid Voice: (not already in the finals)

Terry Turner for The Stupid Valentine

Tammi Truax for How To Ungrump A Bad Day


4. For Funniest Entry: (not already in the finals)

Kristen Foote for Shoo Fly, Valentine (funny and dark! :))

Cathy Hookey- for The Problem With Love Potions

Robyn Campbell for Romeo Duck


5. For Sweetest/Most Touching Entry:

Molly Felder for Dog And Pup


6.  For Best Written Original Point of View:

Meredith Palmer for The Right Angles (POV of scrap paper!)


7.  For Originality/Creativity:

Judith Roth for Dragon Hearts (because Valentine’s and dragons aren’t an obvious match-up 🙂 and for creative and beautiful use of language)

Katie Gast for No More, Said The Door (love story between a door and a door mat :))


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

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

How To Query An Agent Or Editor by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Getting Published: How To Access Editors by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

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

How To Write A GREAT Children’s Book (The Easy Way To Write) by Robyn Opie Parnell, OR

How To Write A Children’s Picture Book by Darcy Pattison, OR

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


In paperback: (if you choose paperback please include your snail mail address in your email!)

Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing 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


Now then.  A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.


We have 10 fabulous prizes, generously donated by authors and various professionals in the writing field.  My policy is to let the first place winner have first pick of all the prizes, the second place winner have second choice, etc.  That way hopefully nobody gets something they already have, and hopefully everyone gets something that’s valuable to them.  All prizes are listed at the bottom of this post for your convenience in perusing the goodies 🙂

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

…THE WINNERS OF THE 2016 VALENTINY CONTEST as chosen by you, our esteemed voters!!!!!

In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Dawn Young

for Grumpy Bear’s Valentine!!!

Congratulations, Dawn, on a fabulous entry that was all around well done and clearly very popular!!! 🙂

In Second Place

Cathey Graham Nickell

for Kandie’s Kiss

Congratulations, Cathey!!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Dawn makes her choice.

In Third Place

Shelley Kinder

for No Snacks For Max

Congratulations, Shelley!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Dawn and Cathey choose theirs.

In Fourth Place

Mishka Jaeger

for Come In For The Cold

Congratulations, Mishka!  You get to pick after Dawn, Cathey, and Shelley.

In Fifth Place

Christine Rodenbour

for XOXO, Your Secret Admirer (Larry)

Congratulations, Christine!  You get to pick after Dawn, Cathey, Shelley, and Mishka.

In Sixth Place

Ann Magee

for Grumpy Badger’s Valentine

Congratulations, Ann!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Seventh Place

Marla LeSage

for Pirate Gets A Valentine

Congratulations, Marla!  You get to pick next 🙂

In Eighth Place,

Cheryl Secomb

for Jasper And Abigail

Congratulations, Cheryl, on a delightful entry!  You get to pick your prize after Marla.

In Ninth Place,

Sam Altmann

for The Lonely Hearts Club!

Congratulations, Sam!  You get to pick a prize after Cheryl!

And in Tenth Place,

Susan Schade

for A Colorful Valentine’s Day

Congratulations, Susan!  You get to pick a prize after Sam!

And, I don’t think I need to remind anyone that in addition to all these fabulous prizes, everyone mentioned on this page has bragging rights as having won or placed in the 1st Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Contest!  Not just anyone can say that 🙂


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!  Finalists who did not finish in the top 10 (Jess, Anne) may also contact me for their choice of the Kindle or paperback prizes listed above.

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 standing ovation, a glitter heart confetti parade, and a large amount of Valentine chocolate 🙂

Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Have a terrific weekend everyone, and thanks again for making the 1st Annual Valentiny Contest such a smashing success and a wonderful time for all! 🙂


The Prizes:

– A Picture Book Read and Critique from literary agent Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis who is actively building her picture book list!

ChristaCHRISTA HESCHKE graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s. For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror. She is always on the lookout for a compelling voice combined with a strong, specific hook that will set a YA novel apart in its genre and the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism, whether in a voice that is more light and humorous or one with more of a timeless, literary feel. For both YA and MG, she is particularly interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting storytelling structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind. In picture books she is drawn to cute, funny stories (as opposed to sweet and quiet) with strong hooks that will grab both kids and their parents as well as the occasional nonfiction biography on a unique subject whose story has yet to be told.

Please feel free to follow her on twitter and enjoy her blog! Twitter: @ChristaHeschke
Blog: Neverending Stories

– Enrollment in Julie Hedlund and Emma Walton Hamilton‘s Complete Picture Book Submissions System!

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 12.57.56 PM

– Enrollment in literary agent Jodell Sadler‘s Pacing Picture Books 2 WOW picture book writing class in March 2016!


– A spot in an upcoming Ariel Richardson webinar, Rule Breaking In Picture Books: The Chronicle Books Edition offered by Jodell Sadler

Twitter bird announce

– Winner’s choice of free enrollment in ART OF ARC: HOW TO ANALYZE YOUR PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT OR a deep analysis critique from Alayne.

ART OF ARC is a self-study course that will deepen your understanding of picture books written with a classic arc and introduce you to other picture book structures. The course gives you tools to analyze your work prior to investing in professional critiques. It shows you how to avoid common writing errors and how apply writing elements that will enhance your stories to take them to a higher level. It includes 217 pages with ten lessons, seventeen supplements, and eighteen worksheets. Plus bonus materials and resources.

– A Picture Book Critique/Developmental Edit (non-rhyming picture book manuscript) from Beth Stilborn. (Beth does  developmental editing and copy editing through her Flubs2Fixes Editing, Consulting and Writers’ Resources service for writers. http://www.flubs2fixes.com )

– A Picture Book Critique from the fabulous Robin Newman, author of The Case Of The Missing Carrot Cake and the forthcoming, eagerly awaited Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (please don’t miss the fantastic trailer! 🙂 )

– personalized signed copies of The Case Of The Missing Carrot Cake and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep by Robin Newman

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Before Valentines Day by Natasha Wing!  Natasha Wing loves Valentine’s Day because it’s a week after her birthday. Natasha is the bestselling author of The Night Before series (Grosset & Dunlap). To find out more: www.natashawing.com

Night Before V Day

– personalized signed copies of Clara Bowman-Jahn‘s delightful picture books Annie’s Special Day and Edmund Pickle Chin


– I Heart Picture Books – a 5-pack of Valentine picture books including A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger, Love, Ruby Valentine by Laurie B. Friedman,  Zombie In Love by Kelly DiPucchio, Love, Splat by Rob Scotton, and Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood PLUS 3 Endangered Species Chocolate Bars!

Once again, please join me in thanking Christa, Jodell, Julie & Emma, Alayne, Beth, Robin, and Natasha for their incredible generosity, and show your appreciation by visiting their sites, buying and recommending their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, writing them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and showing your appreciation to them in any way you can!  I truly can’t thank them all enough!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Monster Returns

Oh, boy, do we have fun in store today!

But you know the rules – Perfect Picture Book first, other stuff after 🙂  So let’s start with the book!  Today’s choice is by one of my favorite author/illustrators.  Don’t be surprised if some of his other books show up on PPBFs in the future 🙂

The Monster Returns
Written and Illustrated By: Peter McCarty
Henry Holt & Co., January 2012, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 3-7

Themes/Topics: art, friendship, imagination, surprises

Opening:  “One beautiful day, Jeremy was up in his room.  Jeremy didn’t like to be disturbed when he was drawing.”

Brief Synopsis:  (From the jacket copy) “Jeremy thought he’d seen the last of his monster when he sent him away with a one-way bus ticket.  But suddenly the phone rings… The monster has returned!”

Links To Resources: Mad Monster Activity, Monster Songs and Poems, have kids draw their own monsters or make them out of whatever craft materials you have to hand!

Why I Like This Book:  This is a sequel to Jeremy Draws A Monster (also excellent!)  Jeremy is perhaps a little too inclined to spend time on his own drawing, and this book shows both that it’s okay to spend time alone being creative and that it’s nice to have friends to do things with.  Jeremy is imaginative and resourceful in dealing with the monster.  The end is a fun surprise where the monster’s intent turns out to be different than the reader might have expected, with the message that everyone needs friends – even monsters 🙂  The art is simple and engaging with plenty of white space to draw your eye to the monster 🙂

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

Before we get to the fun part (announcing the winner of the Valentines Day Writing Contest!) just a little business about Perfect Picture Books.

A few stats:

– This is PPBs 14th week.
– 37 Bloggers are participating, of which 25 have contributed at least 4 books and 5 besides me have contributed every week since the beginning.  (Also 1 has contributed 12, and 2 have done 11, so we have some very dedicated PPB bloggers! :))
– There are 245 books on the list before today’s go up.
– They fall across 145 categories/subjects/themes.
– With possibly one exception, every single one posted has resources!

So thank you all for your fantastic work.  We are building a great resource here for parents, teachers, home schoolers, writers, and gift-givers!  That said, I think we have enough of a list going now that we should all be talking this up to everyone we know who might find the resource useful – it’s only really great if people are actually  benefitting from it.  So I encourage you all to spread the word in whatever capacity you can.  Tracy (known to many of you as A2ZMommy) is writing a review about it for her local news site today!  You can read it HERE.

Since some bloggers are new to PPBFs, and some people may need a refresher, I’d just like to take a second to remind you all of a few key things:
1.  Please check the list on the Perfect Picture Book tab before you choose a book to post.  I try hard to keep it updated.  If I’m behind, it’s usually only by the previous week’s list, so check that too.  We are trying to avoid multiple postings of the same book.

2.  When you add your link to the list, please add the post-specific link (not the general link to your blog.)  It doesn’t matter that much for the actual day of posting, but for anyone who comes along afterwards, your link then links to whatever the next post you did was – not the PPB.  And for me going along updating, I then have to search for the post and get the right link for the archive page.

3.  Please only post favorite books WITH RESOURCES!  The resources are what set our list apart from many others.  The resources can be links online or things you make up, but there must be something that people can use to expand their use of the book.  Books without resources will NOT be added to the master list.

4.  Please follow the PPB format (available at the bottom of the Perfect Picture Book tab) as closely as possible.  This allows for consistency across blogs, making it easy for people using the list to find the information they want.

5.  Please make sure to post themes, age appropriateness, and fiction or non-fiction clearly.  It’s a lot of work updating the list, and if I have not read the book, I can’t guess where it’s supposed to fit or how to archive it.

Thank you so much for your attention to these details.  I’m sure it seems nit-picky, but it’s really about making the list as useful as possible and preserving my sanity in trying to keep it up-to-date 🙂


Who won the Valentine Contest?

Oh, wait.  I think I hear my doorbell.  I’ll be right back….

JK 🙂

Once again, I’d like to thank everyone for their terrific entries.  Many of us readers are writers.  We know how hard it is to put your work out there.  And we appreciate your bravery.  All the entries were worthy and fun to read, and I wish you could all win!

But I don’t have that many prizes…. unless you want raccoon nest material?  I think there’s some of that in the garage…

It was a closely contested race – the most competitive of any of the contests so far.  But eventually, someone pulled ahead and stayed there.  So, without further ado, the voters have spoken, and the winner of our Valentine Contest is:

PENNY!!!!! with Frankenstein Valentine!!!!!

Congratulations, Penny!  This is the second time you have won a contest here.  You may have a future as a writer 🙂  You get your pick of Ann Whitford Paul’s book, or a picture book ms critique from me.  Let me know via email what your choice is!

2nd Place goes to Erik for Love Has No Point.  He gets a copy of Spilling Ink (if he doesn’t already have it :))

3rd Place goes to Vivian for Whom Do I Love?  She gets our admiration for being 3rd out of 30 entries 🙂

Thanks again to everyone for making the contest such a success!

Now have a great weekend, and PPB bloggers, please remember to add you post-specific link to the list below, which I will hopefully remember to attach this week! 🙂  OH!  And remember our awesome interview which will take place on Sunday with Donna Farrell, website and blog designer for children’s authors and illustrators!

Happy Valentines Day! – The Contest Finalists!

So I had this brilliant idea.

Have a Valentines Contest, I thought to myself.  It’ll be fun.  People are pretty busy with all their various pursuits.  You’ll probably only get about 3 entries – if you’re lucky to get that many – so say you’ll pick 3 finalists and you’re golden!

(Note to self – have you noticed that your brilliant ideas don’t always work out as planned?)



My plan seems to have gone awry.

Did I mention there were 30 entries???  That’s THIRTY!

And they were SO GOOD!

So I have done the best I can.  I have narrowed it to 6.  And a couple honorable mentions.  And a separate division for under 10.  And now it’s up to you, my dear readers, to read the 6 finalists and vote for your favorite by noon on Thursday.  We will see who comes out on top!

But before I unveil the top 6, I just want to say that I’m thrilled we got so many entries, and I was so impressed by the quality of everyone’s stories and poems!  What a talented bunch you all are!  I had so much fun hopping from blog to blog and reading your wonderful work!  It was dreadful having to pluck you off, one by one!  I had to get very nit-picky and really focus on the contest guidelines – appropriateness/appeal for children being the deciding factor in several cases of brilliant writing that didn’t make the final cut.  So you all deserve a huge pat on the back and many boxes of Valentine chocolates 🙂  Give yourselves a round of applause!

Now.  Here are our finalists, posted by entry only, no names.  Please have a look and then vote for your favorite!

#1 Love Has No Point

Bill P. Porcupine had a  love. Not just any love, mind you, it was the greatest love of all, but it was also a secret love.
“Oh, how I love her!” Bill sighed to himself.
Every day when Bill walked home from school he stopped by the gift shop where she worked. He tried to impress her by making his quills stand on end so he would look bigger, but she never noticed him. He’d then go home and cry.
“Boo hoo,” Bill sobbed.
“What’s the matter Bill?” asked his Mom.
“I’m in love mom, but she doesn’t know I exist,” said Bill.
“There, there,  it’ll be OK,” his mom said gently.
“She is so beautifully round. Her skin is smooth and rosy. When she moves, she floats like her feet never touch the ground,” Bill whimpered.
“I think you should just tell her,” Bill’s mom suggested.
The next day, Bill marched to the gift shop with one thing on his mind. He shoved the shop door open, walked straight up to her, threw his arms open to hug her and said, “I love…”
She was gone, except for the bits of pink rubber stuck to Bill.

#2  Oops! Excuse Me!

On her way to school, Porcupine was certain nobody would be her Valentine.  She waddled along, head down, when — oomph!
“Oops, excuse me,” said Porcupine. “Ugh!  What smells?”
“Me. Sorry. Happens when I’m startled.”
“Oh no!  You’re that stinky skunk!  Now you’ve made me stinky.”
“You’re that prickly porcupine!  You gave me an owie.”
Porcupine sighed. “Who would ever be our Valentines?”
As they dillydallied toward school, Skunk stopped to sniff flowers.  Porcupine stuck a puffy one on a quill behind her ear. 
They exchanged looks. 
Porcupine grabbed one for each quill.  Skunk scooted around on them, scenting his bottom. 
Porcupine giggled. “You look funny!”
“So do you.”  They both collapsed in laughter.
 “ACHOO!” said Porcupine.  Quills popped out.  “ACHOO!” said Skunk.  Stink squirted. 
They exchanged glances, and then, started shoving flowers into their noses. 
“No more,” said Skunk, exhausted.
“Enough! “ agreed Porcupine.  “You know, I like you just the way you are.”
Skunk said, “Same here.  Will you be my valentine?”
“Will you be mine?” asked Porcupine.
The new friends scampered off to school.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect.
“Oops, excuse me!”  Giggle.
“Oops, excuse me!”  Giggle, giggle.
But it was close.

#3  Scully And Penny: Love Stinks!

“I’ll never find love,” worried Scully the Skunk.
He was a looker–but this skunk-hunk stunk!
Yet he was determined, that whiff-and-sniff guy
“I might as well ask the next girl who comes by…..”
So when Polly the Poodle wagged by looking fine,
He forced back some fumes and asked, “Will you be mine?!!”
“Oh Scully, my nose…it is sharp as a nail!
It just wouldn’t work with your stinky-stink tail.”
“You’re probably right” – Scully Skunk gave her that.
And as soon as he spoke, he spotted a cat.
It was Kitty LaPretty; she stretched out her spine.
He squeezed back some stench and asked, “Will you be mine?”
“Oh Scully, my nose…it is keen as my ears,
“I just couldn’t stand smelling skunk-funk for years.”
“You’re probably right” – not the first time he’d heard,
Then all of a sudden, down fluttered a bird.
It was Penny the Parrot, bird-beauty divine,
He sucked in his stink and asked, “Will you be mine?”
“Well, of course, handsome Scully—been hoping you’d ask.”
“I’ve searched for so long – finding love’s a real task.
“And please don’t you worry, this will work out well…
My peepers see more than my sniffer can smell.”

#4 Underwater Bliss

A shark saw his mark when he spied a wee fish,
‘I’ll have her for my dinner. She’ll make a tasty dish.’
But as the shark gave chase, the stronger his emotion
Changed from one of hunger, to love and pure devotion.
‘Look at how she swims. She darts with style and grace.’
Each swish of her tail, made his ol’ heart race.
‘Your eyes are round and beautiful, your scales are just divine.
I promise not to eat you, if you promise to be mine.’
The fish, who’d tired of swimming, succumbed to his charm.
And as the shark promised, she never came to harm.
But she’s ever so careful when she gives her love a kiss,
Lest those razor sharp teeth of his accidentally miss.

#5  Frankenstein Valentine

Won’t you be my Valentine?
And say, “I love you, Frankenstein?”
Love my ragged, jagged hair?
Love my bloodshot, frightening stare?
Won’t you be my Valentine?
And say, “I love you, Frankenstein?”
Love my grisly, garish grin?
Love my lumpy, warty skin?
Won’t you be my Valentine?
And say, “I love you, Frankenstein?”
Love my stitched-up, crooked scar?
Love my brain from Victor’s jar?
Won’t you be my Valentine?
And say, “I love you, Frankenstein?”
Love my garbled, boorish talk?
Love my lumbering, stilted walk?
Yes, it’s your chance, my Valentine
to be my Mrs. Frankenstein.
You say that you will NOT be my mine?
Will NOT love this Frankenstein?
Then…just forget this love-fest scene
I’m heading back to Halloween!

#6  Whom Do I Love?

Whom do I love?
Quizzed the cloud-covered moon.
I love the dish that ran off with the spoon.
Whom do I love?
Posed the run-away dish.
I love the silvery stream-swimming fish.
Whom do I love?
Slurped the shimmering trout.
I love the rock-hopping toad that jumped out.
Whom do I love?
Croaked the hip-hopping toad.
I love the waddling duck on the road.
Whom do I love?
Quacked the web-footed duck.
I love the pig on the rusty farm truck.
Whom do I love?
Oinked the curly-tailed pig.
I love the floppy-eared dog that can dig.
Whom do I love?
Barked the diggity-dog.
I love the bee in the hollowed-out log.
Whom do I love?
Buzzed the bumblely-bee.
I love the mouse that lives under the tree.
Whom do I love?
Squeaked the scurrying mouse.
I love the curly-haired boy in that house.
Whom do I love?
Asked the sweet little lad.
I love my momma and I love my dad.

The poll is below.  Please vote for your choice of winner!

<a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/5941172/”>Valentines Contest</a>
The poll closes at noon EST on Thursday February 16 so I can announce the winner Friday!

I’d also like to give Honorable Mention to Heather for Daisy Loves Fred, and Eric for Puffy Pancho and Pretty Paulita: The Perfect Penguin Pair.

And a tie in the (hastily added) junior division (under 10 years old) between Isabella for Puppy & Kitten Love and Gabby for How Miss Mouse Became A Door Mouse will result in a prize each which I have yet to determine 🙂

Congratulations to everyone for excellent entries!  Now go ahead and vote!  We will all be waiting anxiously for your choice of winner!  Thank you all for sharing your wonderful writing!

Valentines Day Contest!!!

Throw pink confetti!  Open the chocolates!  It’s here!  It’s here!


And do you know why I’m so excited?

It’s not because I’m about to publicly humiliate myself with my sample entry.  (Although I suppose that does beg for a certain amount of excitement.)

It’s because I’m going to get to read all of your FABULOUS entries!!!

At least I hope I am.  Was anyone able (or willing?) to write one?

We shall see…

For any who may not have heard yet and who might like to join us in our contest, all the info is HERE.  (Please scroll down below the slugs, and please note the word count, slightly raised from the original.)

Meanwhile, for your roll-on-the-floor-and-possibly-die-laughing-at-me pleasure, here is my sample:

Fishing Valentine

So it’s Valentines Day and we’re in the Secret Clubhouse.
We is me, my little brother Ty, and our dog, Leroy.
Not Bronwyn.
I’m boss of the club because I can talk.
Ty and Leroy are perfect sidekicks because they can’t.
Bronwyn wore a dress to school today.  Traitor.
“Here’s the problem,” I tell them.  “Valentines Day is so full of silly it ruins the only decent girls.”
“Lala,” says Ty.
“Exactly,” I say.  “Pink overload.  It’s probably poisonous.”
Ty and Leroy do not disagree.
“Luckily, I have a plan.”
Here it is:
1. Cancel Valentines Day.
I am a master of simplicity.
Someone bangs on the clubhouse roof.
It’s Bronwyn.
“Go away!” I say.
Ty eats some dirt.  Leroy wags his tail.  Traitor.
“I’ve got worms,” says Bronwyn.  “Want to do some Valentine fishing?”
Fishing Valentine?
Maybe her mother made her wear that dress.  “Okay,” I say.
As we head for the fishing hole, I make up a Valentine for her.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Girls are gross
Except for you.

Yikes!  Looks like the pink poisoned me, too!

SO.  After that, I think everyone should feel pret-ty confident they can do better!  I had trouble getting an idea I could squeeze into such a low word count.  This was 22,067 words at the outset.  (Well.  I may be exaggerating a little :))

This time I am remembering the link list on the first try (yay me!) so get your entry-specific links right on there so we can all come applaud your genius!  I can’t wait to read everyone’s stories!!!

Remember, this post will stay up until Monday evening, and you have until 5PM EST Monday to post your link.  Then we’ll have a special post Tuesday with the finalists for you to vote.


(Oh, and P.S. I am being featured today, February 11, on Kai Strand’s blog, on the topic of industry love!  Should you care to pop over and have a look, I wrote about my indie :))

Also, please check the comments – there are at least 2 entries posted there, one under jrzoch and one under my name due to posting trouble.

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Slugs In Love

You know, I just LOVE Perfect Picture Book Friday!  All week I’ve been downright tingly with excitement because I’m going to share arguably one of the best love stories ever.  Are you ready?  It involves slugs.  What’s not to love? 🙂

Slugs In Love
Written By: Susan Pearson
Illustrated By: Kevin O’Malley
Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books, November 2006, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 4-8
Themes/Topics: love, friendship, perseverance, humor, Valentines Day
Opening:  “Marylou loved everything about Herbie – how his slime trail glistened in the dark, how he could stretch himself thin to squeeze inside the cellar window, how he always found the juiciest tomato.  Though she never spoke a single word to him – she was too shy – she thought about Herbie every morning and every night and most of the hours in between.

On Monday, while she grazed in the strawberry patch, Herbie filled her mind and a love poem filled her heart.  She wrote it in slime on the watering can.”

Brief Synopsis:  (From Publishers Weekly) “Herbie keeps finding Marylou’s poems, etched in slug slime and full of devotion, but Marylou keeps missing the longing letters he writes in return.  While she watches his every move, he can’t find anyone who knows where she is so he can meet her.”  How will the “slime-crossed” lovers ever meet?

Links To Resources:  Cool Facts About Slugs, Doorknob Valentine, Finger Puppet Valentine – (and with a little ingenuity, the last two could incorporate slugs! :))  Kids could make up their own poems like Herbie and Marylou.

Why I Like This Book:  It’s sweet and it’s funny.  It’s maybe not technically a Valentines Day book (as in, it’s not about Valentines Day) it is about love/friendship on a level that I think kids can relate to.  Because Marylou and Herbie can’t seem to connect, there’s the added fun of rooting for the heroes. And the art complements the story perfectly.  It’s so wonderful – really, I think it takes a genius to make slugs look so expressive 🙂

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

Now then.  I hope you’re all geared up for our Valentines Day Contest which opens tomorrow!  Having spent some time (I’m not saying days, but, seriously, days!) trying to come up with my sample entry, I am deeply regretting setting the 150 word limit.  Kudos to any of you who pull it off!  After extensive MERCILESS cutting mine is only down to 178.  I realize that I tend to the verbose, so maybe no one else is having a problem.  But if you’re struggling, I’ve decided to up the word limit to 200.  Because it’s Valentines Day and all about sharing the love, right? 🙂  So a little recap on the contest guidelines:

A children’s story, poetry or prose, maximum 200 words, about unlikely Valentines, posted on your blog (or in the comment section of mine) between Saturday February 11 and Monday February 13 at 5 PM EST.  Add your entry-specific link to the link list on my blog so we can all come read your entries!  There will be no new post on Monday so the link list will stay up.  Instead, I will have a hitherto unheard of Tuesday post to celebrate Valentines Day, and that post will list 3 finalists (or possibly a couple more – you know how bad I am at choosing :)) for you all to vote on.  The winner will be announced on Friday February 17 and will receive his/her choice of a copy of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation To Publication or a picture book ms critique from yours truly.

See you tomorrow with Valentines stories.  I can’t wait to read yours and I sincerely hope there will be more than one entry 🙂

And now, since I forgot last night – SO SORRY everyone, please blame the fever 🙂 – here is the link list for this weeks Perfect Picture Books.