PoP Goes My Heart! The Second Annual Valentiny Writing Contest Is Here!!!

2/19/17 PM Note to Contestants: Sorry! Due to various circumstances finalists will not be posted by 3 AM Monday as hoped.  Judges are trying for late day Monday 2/20 or Tuesday 2/21!  Apologies for keeping you waiting!

(Hope everyone enjoys the blog title nod to Music & Lyric’s fictional band PoP 🙂 )

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Hang onto your chocolate everyone!  It’s time for . . .

The Second Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

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Valen-tiny because the stories are not very long and are written for little people 🙂

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is confused!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone confused (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to submit more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Tuesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Would You Read It or Perfect Picture Book Friday until the contest is over, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  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! Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments!)  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂  Oh, and please, everyone, DO give yourself credit for your work and put your names on your entries so I know who wrote it (fun as it is to try to guess who pokypig379 or harrassedmomof7 is 🙂 )

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 20th.   The winner will be announced by Friday February 24th. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using confusion and success in making us feel the confusion!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh. My. Goodness! do we have fabulous prizes!  If these don’t motivate you to write your best, I don’t know what will! 🙂  It’s a complete critiquefest!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from “Dear Editor” Deborah Halverson!!!

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“Dear Editor” Deborah Halverson

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from children’s literary agent Jodell Sadler!!!

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Agent Jodell Sadler

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from Andria Rosenbaum, author of the forthcoming Trains Don’t Sleep (May 2017) and Big Sister, Little Monster (September 2017) as well as others!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from children’s author Jodi McKay!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from Amy Dixon, author of Marathon Mouse, Sophie’s Animal Parade, and the forthcoming Maurice The Unbeastly!!!

– A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from children’s author Jason Kirschner!!!

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–  A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique from Children’s Author Vivian Kirkfield!!!

– A Query Letter Read and Critique from SubIt Club founder Heather Ayris Burnell!!!

– a personalized signed copy of Jodi McKay’s delightful Where Are The Words?

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– a personalized signed copy of Diana Murray‘s wonderful (and very seasonally appropriate!) Groggle’s Monster Valentine

Once again, please join me in thanking Deborah, Jodell, Andria, Jodi, Amy, Jason, Vivian, Heather, and Diana 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!

So now it’s time for me to post my little sample.  Prepare yourselves 🙂

A Valentiny Mistake (214 words)

The Monday before Valentines, Tilly found a heart-shaped note on her desk. You’re sweet. W
“I think it’s from Wendell,” she told Millie.
Tilly batted her eyelashes at Wendell.
Wendell stuck his tongue out at her.
“Maybe not,” said Millie.
On Tuesday another note said You smell delicious. W
Do I smell delicious?” Tilly asked Millie doubtfully.
Millie sniffed. “I think so,” she said loyally. “You smell like glue and crayons.”
“I’m making a Valentine for Walter,” explained Tilly, tossing her hair in Walter’s direction. “Maybe it’s him.”
Walter scowled.
“Maybe not,” said Millie.
On Wednesday, a third note said You sound scrumptious. W
“How can anyone sound scrumptious?” asked Tilly, bewildered. She wrinkled her nose thoughtfully. “Maybe Wilbur thinks I have a beautiful voice.” She blew him a kiss.
Wilbur pretended to gag.
“Maybe not,” said Millie.
Thursday, Tilly found the fourth note. I love you like ice cream. W
“Hmm….” Tilly frowned, puzzled. “Maybe it’s Werner?”
Werner was burping the alphabet.
“Hopefully not,” said Millie.
On Valentines, Tilly’s desk bore a beautiful sparkly pink heart. Be my bestie. W
“I don’t get it,” said Tilly. “They’re all signed W, but it’s not Wendell, Walter, Wilbur or Werner!”
“Silly Tilly,” said Millie. “That’s an M!”
“It’s YOU!” squealed Tilly.
“It’s me.”  Millie smiled.
And they were best friends forever.

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 nearly 5 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.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

So!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the list below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – click on the links in the list to visit the blogs and read the stories.  And be sure to read the 57 fabulous entries posted in the comment section below!!!

Happy Valentines Week, Everyone! ❤

Scroll through the comments to find these wonderful stories!

  1. Surprise, Surprise! – Rebekah
  2. Valentine Peas – Susan
  3. Banana In Love: A Valentiny Knock Knock Story – Ryan
  4. Bear In Mine, It’s For The Love Of Honey – Nina
  5. Love Makes Me Sick – Christyne
  6. Think Think Think – Betsy
  7. Two Hearts – Dr. Anne
  8. Cupid Claus – Christyne
  9. A Day For…Love? – Karen
  10. Peanut Butter Valentine – Sandra
  11. Little Frank N. Stein’s Valentine – Tracie
  12. What Is Love? – Anne
  13. A Valentine’s Day With Rain And Shine – Maria
  14. Brian & Katy Hare Find Something New – Marie
  15. Candy Cows – Jennifer
  16. Valentine’s Guy – Tasha
  17. Balentine’s For Bailey – Tasha
  18. Sophie And Nana – Jim
  19. Fiona’s Day – Molly
  20. Cupid’s Very Long Valentine’s Day – Robin
  21. Candy’s Hearts – Tracie
  22. Spider Legs – Carolyn
  23. The True Story Behind The Queen Of Heart’s Tarts – Kathleen
  24. Hungry For You – Rosie
  25. The Great A Mistake – Lauren
  26. Child Of Mine – Sandy
  27. V Day Is Here – Lorraine
  28. Myrtle, where are you going? – Cecile
  29. The Tiny Valentine – Lauren
  30. Liliana From Havana – Corine
  31. The Pirate’s Valentine – Judy
  32. The Cow That Was A  Little Hoarse – Elizabeth
  33. Gary Grossberger’s Valentine – Dina
  34. A Valentine’s Day Gift For Mami – Carmen
  35. November Is Scary, But Marriage Is Bliss (A Love Story) – Carol
  36. Hearts And Beans – Cammie
  37. Mister Zombie’s Undying Love – Terri
  38. Valentine Homework – Tracie
  39. Misaki’s First Valentine – Geoffrey
  40. Lion Hearts Mouse – Kim
  41. Did You Know THAT I Love You – Margaret
  42. Marry Me Mommy! – Michele
  43. A One-of-a-kind Valentine For Mama Mouse – JC
  44. Vampy’s Val-o-ween – Jana
  45. Valen-Rhymes – Katie
  46. Balingtine Day Mix Up – Jim
  47. Misunderstood At The Dance – Merriweather
  48. Valentine Blush – Sandy
  49. Happy Porcupine Day – Sara
  50. Punny Bunny’s Valentine Dilemma – Linda
  51. My Veggie Valentine – Deborah
  52. A Sweet Treat? – Samantha
  53. Oh My Darling Valentine – Ingrid
  54. Special Delivery! – Gina
  55. Love Bugs – Katherine
  56. A Surprise For Mr. Timms – Carol
  57. Word For Word Valentine – Deborah

EXTRA! EXTRA! THIS JUST IN! Opportunity For Writers and Illustrators!

Hi Everyone!

I know I signed off and wished you all well for the holidays and new year, saying we’d pick up on January 4th.

But I got wind of a contest I thought you’d all like to know about: Writing With The Stars!

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Writing with the Stars is a new picture book contest where writers and illustrators apply to win a mentorship from published authors and illustrators. The mentors will evaluate the applications and pick a winner to work with for three months. The contest is open to unpublished and un-agented picture book writers and illustrators. All the details can be found at http://beckytarabooks.com/contest/

Doesn’t that sound amazing?!  And you could win a mentorship with Lori Richmond, Andrea Zuill, Camille Andros, DJ Steinberg, Stacy McAnulty, Peter McCleery, Beth Ferry, Penny Parker Klostermann, Paul Czajak, Laura Gehl, Katy Duffield, and many more!

Such an incredible opportunity!

Please share with anyone you know who might be interested!

Full details are at this link: http://beckytarabooks.com/contest/

Consider it a little holiday gift to you! 🙂  Good luck!!! and may the force be with you! (er, why yes I went to see Rogue One yesterday… how could you tell?! 🙂 )

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The First Annual Valentiny Contest FINALISTS!!!

Good Morning, Everyone!

I know it looks like Monday, but let’s go with me here and pretend that it’s last Wednesday, because that’s when I said the finalists would be posted.  So here they are, right on time! 🙂

valentiny logo

I’m trying to remember whose idea this contest was…

(Oh right.  YOURS! 🙂 )

…because holy pink glitter hearts on a doily, batman, we got a LOT of entries!  154, to be exact, the most we’ve ever had in any contest.  I guess you guys weren’t kidding when you said you wanted a contest in February to chase away the winter doldrums – you really stepped up!

The overall quality of the entries was impressive.  Really, if you were hoping to drive the judges to a completely irresponsible over-indulgence in chocolate as we agonized over our choices, you succeeded admirably 🙂  There isn’t a single morsel of chocolate left in the entire state of New York…or Connecticut… or Vermont… actually, we’ve had reports of people in chocolate withdrawal all the way up to Montreal!   We wish to extend our sincere apologies to anyone who is without chocolate because of us!

The quality of entries in these contests is improving every time.  This means there are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!  Hence the irresponsible chocolate indulgence!

Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say.  (I know you’re shocked as I’m normally such a girl of few words :))

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!

Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to go around and read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments.  This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories.  It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed.  I hope you all got as much delight  and entertainment out of the reading as I did!  Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 🙂

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using grumpiness, and success in making us feel the grumpiness!
  3. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  4. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
  5. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

We really tried to choose stories that did the best job of fulfilling ALL the judging criteria.  There were some truly wonderful stories that didn’t have much to do with Valentines Day (remember – it was supposed to be a Valentines Day Story for kids), or didn’t have a particularly grumpy character, or didn’t seem particularly kid-oriented even though they were very creative and well-written.  We tried our best to select finalists that checked all the boxes.

So without further ado, I present to you the finalists in the 2016 First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday February 25 at 12 PM (noon) Eastern time.

 

To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the grumpiest tiger in 1st grade or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

#1 JASPER AND ABIGAIL

Jasper Turtle wanted to look dashing.

He would be escorting his best friend, Abigail Mink, to the Village Valentine Bash. She always looked so sleek in her soft furry coat.

He pulled his tuxedo shell from the closet and tried it on.

SQUEEEEEEZE

“It’s a little snug,” he squeaked.

Perhaps he should shed a few pounds before the bash. He glanced at the calendar. And soon!

Jasper nibbled on greens.

His tummy rumbled.

He jogged through the park.

He tripped and tumbled.

Jasper stepped on the scale,

and grumpily grumbled!

Grrrrr! Jasper wasn’t a snapping turtle, but…

He SNAPPED at the mailman.

He SNAPPED at his cat…fish.

He SNAPPED at Abigail.

Oops.

Abigail huffed. “Well!” She stormed off.

Jasper felt too grumpy to say he was sorry.

So he didn’t.

The night of the bash, Jasper slipped into his tuxedo shell.

It fit. He was a dashing sight.

“But what good is it without my best friend?” He sighed.

Jasper knew what he had to do.

He knocked on Abigail’s door.

He brought flowers.

And chocolates.

Lots of chocolates.

He apologized.

And explained.

Abigail smiled. “Silly, Turtle. I like you just the way you are. You’ve always looked dashing to me.”

Jasper’s heart swelled so big, he almost burst his tuxedo shell.

Almost.

#2 PIRATE GETS A VALENTINE

Winter comes by northern breeze.
Nights grow longer. Harbours freeze.
Pirate gets the winter blues,
red-hot temper, shortened fuse.

So Pirate hides from winter’s wail.
‘Til she reads her Love Day mail.
Boats are brown. The sea is blue.
All your friends are missing you!

Pirate shivers, peeks outside,
sees her friends all smiling wide.
“Come out Pirate,” call her mates.
“Bundle up and bring your skates!”

But Pirate’s skate is way too tight.
and nothing fits her peg leg right.
Pirate grumbles. Pirate gripes.
Friends all stop and Viking pipes,

“Come on Pirate, try these skis,
glide across the snow with ease!”
But Pirate cannot bend both knees,
manage hills, or dodge the trees.

Pirate whimpers. Pirate whines.
But can’t deter her Valentines.
Nanuk offers. “If you like,
“we could take a snowshoe hike.”

But Pirate’s snowshoes are too small.
They don’t help her out at all.
Pirate kicks and Pirate cries.
But Jack has brought a sweet surprise.

He digs right down into his pack,
“Pirate, would you like a snack?”
Steaming cocoa, heart-shaped treats.
Friends all wait while Pirate eats.

Pirate snickers. Pirate smirks.
Sharing cookies always works.
Pirate rumbles, “Snowball fight!”
Heaves the snow with all her might.
Pirate sparkles. Pirate shines.
and she delights her Valentines.

#3 KANDIE’S KISS

 

Kandie buried herself as deep as possible. She wiggled and squirmed until she was hidden by her heart-shaped friends.

What kind of Valentine’s Day surprise am I? Kandie scowled from the bottom of the bowl. She peeked out. That just made her even crankier.

“I’m all wrong!” she wailed, eyeing the other sweets. “How can you smile and feel sugary at a time like this?!”

Old Man Tart chuckled from across the way, “What’s yer bellyaching about?”

“You all have such beautiful words. I’m a fructose failure,” Kandie sulked.

She had a point. Old Man Tart’s tummy boldly stated: HUG ME! Pinky’s bragged: TOO CUTE! Why, Honey’s phrase even proposed: MARRY ME!

Kandie glanced down irritably at her own letters. “HISS ME? Seriously. HISS ME?” she pouted. “Someone at the factory cannot spell! Whoever heard of a candy heart that says HISS ME? I’ll never find a Valentine! No one will want me!”

Old Man Tart waited for her to finish complaining. He cleared his throat and said, “A wise person once said there is someone for everyone. Kandie, I’m sure you’ll find your match.”

I should try to be optimistic, Kandie thought, scooting back to the top of the bowl. And the first person she spotted was Gummy Snake smiling shyly at her.

#4 GRUMPY BEAR’S VALENTINE 

Mr. Bear did not sleep well; his pillow way too lumpy.

He had nightmares.

He woke up scared.

So Mr. Bear was grumpy!

And when he reached for honey, and then realized he was out,

his tummy growled,

he sneered and scowled,

he moaned and marched about.

He huffed and puffed, with cheeks bright red, he crawled back into bed,

to take a nap

then heard TAP, TAP

A sound that hurt his head.

He shouted “STOP!” and so it did, soon he began to snore,

but then a ring

ding, ding, ding.

Who dared approach his door?

He stomped his feet and roared, “Who’s there?” The ground and gravel shook.

No voice was heard,

yet something stirred.

Intrigued, he took a look.

Laying there, outside his lair, with honey and a teddy bear…

a heart-shaped note,

that read, I quote,

“For you, because I care.”

His heart swelled up, he couldn’t speak, his chin fell to his chest,

He’d gotten mad,

and now felt bad,

he’d scorned his thoughtful guest.

Then tracking prints, he trailed them to a cave beside the pine,

he tip-toed in

and with a grin

he asked, “Will you be mine?”

#5 Come In For The Cold

“Hot chocolate is for kids who get to play outside in the snow!” Sheena yelled back down the stairs. “I’m not cold and I don’t need warming up!”

“Sounds like you do,” her mother replied cheerfully.

“Sorry. I’m missing ALL the fun.” A deep Valentine’s snow had fallen and everybody was sledding on the driveway beneath Sheena’s window. She puffed on the pane and drew a frowny face. “Stupid broken leg.”

Sheena heard the door open and the stomping off of snow in the hall. Her brother came up the stairs.

“Go away!” She snapped without turning around, then shrieked as Joey dumped handfuls of snow over her head.

“Lighten up!” he laughed as Sheena frantically dusted icy flakes from her neck, “I can’t let you miss ALL the fun!”

“What ARE you doing?” Sheena sputtered, reaching for her crutches.

“Since you can’t come out and play, we’ll make a snowman here,” Joey chirped as he emptied a bucket of fluffy snow into the bathtub.

Sheena grinned. “You’re nuts!”

“I love you, too!” he retorted, smiling broadly.

Sheena hobbled to the bathroom shaking icy drops from her hair.

Joey returned with more snow.

The cold felt wonderful in Sheena’s bare hands.  “Mom,” She called, “I’m earning my chocolate! But first… I need a carrot!”

#6 No Valentines for Porcupines

Pip would not go to school today.
He would not ride the bus.
He would not hand out heart-shaped cards
and join in all the fuss.

For every year it was the same.
Each glittered, heartfelt greeting
was passed around with candy treats
for sharing and for eating.

Freddy Fox would slyly smile
at Katy Kangaroo,
while Lucy Lark made googly eyes
at Carl Cockatoo.

But there’d be no note for Pip,
not one small Valentine.
Pip knew no one could ever love
a prickly porcupine.

“Blech!” groaned Pip. “I cannot stand
this lovey-dovey day.
I think I’ll just go back to bed
and wish it all away.”

But Mom and Dad said, “Off you go!”
and kissed their son goodbye.
Pip sulked and moped his way to school,
arriving with a sigh.

The room was full of sugary treats
and Valentines galore.
But Pip sat at his empty desk.
His heart sank to the floor.

“Eh-hem,” Pip heard a tiny voice
and lifted up his head.
Henrietta Hedgehog stood before him
and she said-

“I don’t like pink or candy hearts,
Or Saint Valentine.
But there IS one thing I like,
That’s you, Pip Porcupine.”

Pip smiled a gigantic grin
that chased his blues away.
Maybe he would have to
reconsider Valentine’s Day.

#7 The Lonely Hearts Club

It was Valentine’s Day, and Candy Heart Box sat stewing on the drugstore shelf.

“This is ridiculous,” she grumbled. “All I want to do is spread love, but no one will buy me.”

“Tell me about it,” said a voice on the shelf below.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Noseless Teddy Bear,” said the voice. “I’m missing my nose.”

“I’m still here too!” piped in another voice. “Nobody seems to want to buy a chocolate and beet rose.”

“Gross,” said Noseless Teddy Bear.

“I’m peeved because someone messed up my lettering,” groaned Candy Heart Box. “Instead of Love Bug, it says Glove Rug. Instead of I’m Yours, it says Time Fours.”

“We will never be bought,” moaned Gross Rose.

“This one says, “You and Pee,” whined Candy Heart Box.

Just then, a girl stopped in front of the shelves.

“Hmmm.” said the girl, “What Valentine’s Day gift says I love my brother, but he is still a pest?”

She searched the shelves.

Noseless Teddy Bear puffed out his chest.

Candy Heart Box pushed “DANGER” to the front of her box.

Gross Rose displayed her ingredient list.

“Ah ha! A noseless teddy bear, a gross rose, and a weird candy heart box. Perfect!” said the girl, bringing them up to the register.

#8 A Colorful Valentine’s Day

The crayons were crazy.
The box was a buzz.
Pink and Red wrestled to the front.
Purple pushed past Periwinkle.
Yellow yodeled , “You are my sunshine.”
February 14th was THE day to make Valentines.
Every color was eager.
All except one.
Black was on the bottom when he was bumped.
“OUCH! Watch it or I’ll give you something to be blue about!” He grumbled.
Blue bellowed, “It’s Azul to you! What’s got your wrapper in a bunch?”
Black’s voice was thick with the grumps, “Valentines are covered in color. No one draws black hearts. No one sketches black flowers. I wish there was NO VALENTINE’S DAY!”
His dark words shook the box.
The crayons cringed!
Green gasped!
Fuchsia fainted!
The box went silent.
Black slouched back to the bottom.
But others wanted to brighten his day.
The colors put their sharpened tips together and thought carefully.
They quietly started a special valentine with all the right words.
They finished just before the children arrived.
Black was baffled when tiny fingers searched just for him.
His wrapper was warm by the time he was finished.
His valentine was hung up for all to admire.
The title read “I’m batty for you.”
“Happy Valoween!” Cried the crayons.
The grumpy crayon cracked a smile.

#9 XOXO, YOUR SECRET ADMIRER (LARRY)

Dear Petunia,
I like your hair. You smell like chocolate. Will you be my Valentine?
Love, Larry

You smell like chocolate?

Sweet P,
How do I love thee? Let me count the sand in the sandbox.
Larry

One, two…thirty-seven….eh.

Dearest Petunia,
Your face is nice. Like ice cream in the summer. Or hot dogs.
Yours truly, Larry

Not bad.

Pretty Petunia,
I’m hungry.
Be mine?
Larry

Argh.

To: Petunia,
I love you. Do you love me?
Xoxo, Your Secret Admirer (Larry)

Too much?

To: Petunia,
I like you. Do you like me?
Lots of love!
Larry

Better.

Petunia,
Larry is a great guy.
Cupid

Bah.

Miss Petunia Picklebottom,
You’re the rainbow to my dark day.
With all the colors of the world and love in my heart, Larry

Almost there.

Hey Petunia,
What’s up? I was just thinking, maybe, you’d be mine? You know, if that’s cool with you and all.
Laters baby, Lar-dawg

I quit.

Larry,
You smell like enchiladas and sour cream.
Meet me at the swings.
Petunia

#10 No Snacks for Max

Once upon a Valentine,
A grumpy dog began to whine.

He yelped and barked for heart-shaped snacks.
His owners said, “Calm down, dear Max.”

They rubbed his ears. And tummy too.
Then, out the door, the couple flew.

“They’re buying yum yums!” Max was certain.
He sat for hours by the curtain.

Waiting…
Waiting…
Salivating…

Dripping…
Drooling…
Hope deflating…

Max was angry. Lonely too.
He ate a rose. He chewed a shoe.

He knocked a vase onto the floor.
And that was when he heard the DOOR!

Uncle Harry stepped inside.
“Happy Valentine’s!” he cried.

He plopped his suitcase in the den.
Max’s fit began AGAIN.

He ripped apart a Teddy Bear.
Fuzzy stuffing everywhere!

Harry yelled, “NO TREATS FOR YOU!”
Max went to bed. His dreams were blue.

Harry stayed for one more night.
Max did his best to be polite.

But Max was still a canine grump.
UNTIL…
A car door made him jump!

Max’s tail wagged. They were back!
Did they bring his favorite snack?!?

They had a bag. And something blue.
A blanket moved and said, “AH-CHOO!”

“Meet our little sweet bambino!
Also known as Valentino!”

Max was grumpy. Max was glum.
But soon enough, he had a chum.

#11 GRUMPY BADGER’S VALENTINE

Spying a red card with pink hearts inside his mailbox made Badger grumpy.
“I don’t want a Valentine,” he muttered.
Back in his burrow, he folded the offensive red square this way and that, attached a bit of string, and scurried back outside, hoping for a little bit of wind.
Badger’s new kite took flight and flew away. “Good riddance,” he grunted.

The next day the valentine appeared in his mailbox again. Badger felt grumpier.
“Valentines are silly,” he protested.
Back in his burrow, he folded the repulsive red square this way and that, attached a paper clip, and lumbered back outside, hoping for a little bit of wind.
Badger’s new paper airplane took flight and flew away. “Goodbye forever,” he huffed.

The next day the valentine appeared in his mailbox yet again. Badger felt grumpier than ever.
“I don’t like Valentine’s Day!” he grumbled.
Back in his burrow, he folded the horrible red square this way and that, attached a little flag, and scuttled back outside, hoping for a little wind.
Badger’s new boat sailed down the stream and away. “Don’t come back!” he growled.

The next day his neighbor, Lovey Badger, found him on his porch. She kissed him, thanking him for her three valentines.
Badger’s not so grumpy anymore.

#12 THAT’S NOT A VALENTINE!

Drawing time was almost over. Marco sat with his head down on his desk.

“I hate Valentine’s Day!” he grumbled.

His friend Asha leaned over. “You’d better draw something fast. You’re running out of time.”

“I know that!” He scowled. “I just can’t draw a silly heart. . . or much else.”

He stabbed his red paper with a black crayon and drew circles.

Asha giggled. “I’ll make one for you.” In a snap, she drew a perfect heart.

“It’s really good,” he said. “But it’s not big enough.”

He mumbled the words for his mama’s Valentine.

Mrs. Ling clapped. “OK, everyone! Time to clean up!”

Everyone had made a gazillion Valentines. Except Marco. Not even one.

On the way home Asha offered him one of hers.

“No thanks.” He imagined where the words would go.

When they got to his house, he asked Asha, “May I borrow your chalk?”

Mama would be home from work soon.

He drew a huge circle in the middle of the sidewalk.

Standing back, he was pleased.

Asha stared. “That’s not a Valentine!”

“Yes, it is,” said Marco.

Then he wrote words around the circle in a different color:

“MY LOVE FOR YOU IS BIGGER THAN THE WORLD.”

Asha smiled. “Your mama will love it!”

And she did.

Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 12PM EST Thursday February 25.

Tune in Friday February 26 to see THE WINNERS!!!  (Though we will have a brief contest interruption Wednesday for our regularly scheduled Would You Read It!)

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!

I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going on a cruise to recover from all that reading and agonizing and negotiating.

Okay.

Not really.

I will actually be frantically trying to catch up on things I shoved to the back burner whilst reading Valentiny stories… right after I pick up a dear friend from the train and spend a good portion of the day visiting since she is in my time zone for only a few hours and we have been waiting YEARS to meet in real life!  But after that, yes, definitely back to work! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!!

Be Still My Heart! The 1st Annual Valentiny Writing Contest Is Here!!!

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Hang onto your chocolate everyone!  It’s time for . . .

The First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

valentiny logo

Valen-tiny because the stories are not very long and are written for little people 🙂

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is grumpy!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone grumpy (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words max (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! Title is not included in the word count.  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday February 12th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  I apologize that I’m still experimenting with how to use link lists on wordpress – please forgive me for any glitches and I thank you in advance for your patience!  There will be no Would You Read It or Perfect Picture Book Friday this week, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of this post. (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!  If you email it to me, please put “Valentiny Contest Entry” in the subject line and copy and paste your story, including your title, byline and word count, into the body of the email.  NO ATTACHMENTS PLEASE!)  I’m not sure how posting in the comments is going to work on wordpress… whether there will be room for enough responses to each entry and whether there’s a way to link to specific comments so they’re easy to locate as I did on blogger… so we shall all have to learn together.  Pantsing.  It’s what life’s all about 🙂

The Judging: over the weekend, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 or maybe 6 or possibly 10 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have winnowing, so we’ll see…) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Tuesday February 16th or Wednesday February 17th (depending on how many entries we get and because I will be out of office all day Monday.)  The winners will be announced on Friday February 19th. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF the week of Feb. 15-19 either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists, if we get more than 30 or 40, well, all bets are off.  I never know what to expect from a new contest.  Remember, you’re witnessing pantsing in action 🙂  But I’m hoping we’ll get enough entries to make giving out the 10 AWESOME prizes worthwhile!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using grumpiness, and success in making us feel the grumpiness!
  3. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  4. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
  5. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh. My. Goodness! do we have fabulous prizes!  If these don’t motivate you to write your best, I don’t know what will! 🙂

– 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!

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

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– 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!

So now it’s time for me to post my little sample.  Prepare yourselves 🙂

 

Who’s A Grumpy Valentine? 214 words

 

Boris and Irma were making Valentines.

Boris frowned with concentration as he cut hearts from red paper.

“Boris is grumpy,” Irma announced. “His hearts aren’t as good as mine.”

“Don’t be grumpy, Boris,” Mom said. “Your hearts look good to me.”

Boris wasn’t grumpy.

His hearts looked good to him too.

Boris laid his hearts in a row.

He grunted trying to squeeze glue from the bottle that Irma had left nearly empty.

“Boris is grumpy,” Irma declared. “He can’t squeeze glue as neatly as me.”

But Boris wasn’t grumpy.

His glue lines were exactly the way he wanted them.

Boris banged the glitter jar against his hand to break up the clump at the bottom.

“Boris is grumpy,” Irma sang out. “He’s making a mess with his glitter!”

EVERYone makes a mess with glitter,” said Mom with a meaningful glance at Irma’s mess.

Boris was carefully writing the letters L-O-V-E-B-O-R-I-S when suddenly…

“My VALENTINES!” Irma shrieked.

She had spilled her juice!

“They’re RUINED!”

Boris snatched his Valentines from the spreading puddle.

Mom swooped in with paper towel.

Irma’s Valentines were saved but soggy.

Irma stamped her foot and made a noise like a hive of angry bees.

Boris looked at Mom. “I think Irma’s grumpy!”

But he shared his Valentines with her anyway.

❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤

 

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.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

So!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the linky list below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – you ALSO need to click the “click here” to add your entry button on the linky list just to see the list of links.  I apologize profusely for the inconvenience of not having the list visible right here on my site.  If I can find a way around it before the contest ends I’ll change it.

Fingers crossed this thingamajig can fly! 🙂

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And don’t miss the 78 fabulous entries posted in the comment section!

1. Grizzly Grump – Sharon G.

2. Mommy Bunny’s Slightly Grumpy Valentine – Eric

3. My Little Buddy Boy – Tracy

4. A Heart In The Sand – Sharon C

5. Sulky Sky – Cate

6. No Valentines For Porcupines – Jess

7. Treasured Lumps Of Pickled Grumps – Maria O

8. A Groundhog’s Valentine – Jill Proctor

9. Valentines Gifts – Cindy

10. (Un)Lovely Leonard – Lauren

11. I Hate Valentine’s Day – Joni

12. NUTS! – Juli

13. My Heart Thumped – Jim

14. Roman’s Lousy Valentine – Lindsay

15. The Lonely Hearts Club – Samantha

16. The Grizzly Who Couldn’t Bear Valentines – Julie

17. Grumpy Badger’s Valentine – Ann

18. The Stinky Valentine – Judy

19. Mr. Mean – Diana

20. The Chocolate Heart – Kris

21. Porchy And Emma – Valerie

22. Replacement Valentine – Melissa B

23. Violet’s Valentines – Beth

24. My Grumpy Valentine – Gabrielle

25. KEEP OUT! A Love Story – Jen

26. Remembering Hammie – Meagan

27. The Right Angles – Meredith

28. Jim’s Valentine’s Day – Maria M

29. The Valentine’s Day Witch – Lesley

30. Lola In Love – Melissa di T

31. Happy Valentine’s Day, Bear! – Carol

32. The Unexpected Kiss – Mindy

33. Millie Mouse, Will You Be My Valentine? – Laura

34. “I Hate Valentine’s Day!” – Carleen

35. Shape Up – Jill Purtee

36. Valentine Sleepover – Caroline

37. Box Of Secrets – Lisa

38. Jim – Polly

39. Puppy Love – Ellen

40. The Favorite Donut – Helen

41. Cupid’s Sea Shanty – Alice

42. Valentine Birthday Boy – Sara

43. Mr. Grumpy’s Birds – Anne S

44. Grumpy Is Blue – Anita

45. Chomper’s Valentine’s Day Road Trip – Michele

46. Squirrel’s Valentine Surprise – Debbie

47. That’s Not A Valentine! – Anne B

48. Grump Truck, Love Truck – Amy G

49. Matty’s Angel Picture – Jane

50. George The Baker – Jennifer A

51. Every Dog Has His Valentine’s Day – Cynthia P

52. Olivia’s Gloomy Valentine’s Day – Carolyn

53. Cantankerous Claudius: The Grouch Behind The Valentine – Suzanne

54. Valentine Surprises – Kathleen

55. Badger’s Valentine – Lori

56. Roman’s Handmade Valentines – Julie R

57. Grumpy’s New Name – Amanda

58. An Unlikely Friendship – Sandy

59. Shoo Fly Valentine – Kristen

60. XOXO, Your Secret Admirer (Larry) – Christine

61. Rather Take A hike – Pamela

62. Valentine’s Rock – Dina

63. Old Grumpentine – Kirsten

64. No Snacks For Mx – Shelley K

65. Billy Goat Grump – Angela

66. The Valentine Phantom – Heather

67. Chocolate Surprise – JC Kelly

68. Grumps And The Valentine’s Day Dance – Janet

69. My Grumpy Funny Valentine – Ashley

70. The Case Of The Missing Valentine Party Supplies – Robin

71. Valentine’s Day At Sweet Pig’s – Patricia

72. The Grumps – Ingrid

73. Leprechaun Love – Patti

74. A Colorful Valentine’s Day – Susan

75. Valentine Magic – Charlotte

76. Special Valentines – Sara

[77. You Had Me At Oink – Shelley M]

78. Flicker’s Valentine – Jenifer

 

 

 

Monday Munchday…An Exciting Announcement!

Darlings!

So nice of you to drop by on Monday and visit me!  I missed you so over the weekend 🙂

And you won’t be sorry for coming over!

I have SUCH exciting news!!!

Guess what???

I have invented a new recipe!

Yes!  It’s true!

I must give credit where credit is due.  I was inspired by Shelley Kinder in a blog comment on the Halloweensie Winner’s post.  During all the talk about nuts vs. no nuts in dessert, she suggested the benefits of peanut butter chips… and an idea was born!

Lo and behold, my new recipe:

Take the brownie recipe of your choice and add 1/2 (or 1/2 +) cup of peanut butter chips!  YUM!

And this gave rise to ANOTHER idea… add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of toffee chips!

OR add 1/2 (or 1/2+) cup of crushed peppermint!

OR go the s’mores route and add 1/2 cup mini marshmallows and 1/4-1/2 cup graham cracker cereal!  (Although that might get mushy… I’ll have to experiment…!  Maybe crushed graham cracker at the bottom with the brownie batter mixed with marshmallows added on top…?)

I KNOW!

And you’re welcome, because I know I have just given you a whole new outlook on your holiday baking plans! 🙂

At least, I’ve given MYSELF a whole new outlook on MY holiday baking plans! 🙂

And the added benefit?  An unexpected Monday Something Chocolate Snack:

Please forgive the photos – I’m a baker not a photographer 🙂 – but I promise they taste delicious!!! 🙂

So, thanks for stopping by.  I hope it was worth your time.  And I hope you weren’t expecting anything else…

What?

You were expecting something else?

Well in that case…

…maybe I should tell you…

…that it’s time for…

The 5th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
WA-HOOO!!!! 🙂

The Contest:  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice].”  For example, “Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque,” or “Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm,” or “Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us,” or “Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar”….   You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂  But “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop” is completely acceptable too – whatever works for you 🙂  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest :))  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful :)), but no more than 350!)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between 12:01 AM EST Monday December 7 and Friday December 11 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 7 and remain up through Sunday December 13 (no WYRI or PPBF during that week.)  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 7th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you! But please don’t send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story into the email.)
The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on either Monday December 14 or Tuesday December 15 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 17 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 18.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.
The Prizes!:  Ok, so I’m still working on the prize list and will have to update, but here are some of the prizes that will be offered, and I think we’re going to have some additional awesomeness to add! (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!
 – 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)
 – 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!)

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!

And now!  Sharpen those pencils!  Top off those coffee mugs!  Get those derrieres in your chairs!  And start writing those prize-winning entries!!!

I can’t wait for the festivities to begin! 🙂

The 2015 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS! – Vote For Your Favorite!!!

Darlings?

Is that you?

I can’t see that far…

…from my spot on the floor…

I’m delirious after an agonizing weekend of trying to choose 10 finalists out of more than 10 times that number of entries, all of them wonderful in one way or another!  (And no.  We did not choose 10.  We chose a baker’s dozen – 13 for Halloween!)

The fact that I am flat on the floor is nothing to worry about.  Really.  I’m fine.  And so are the other judges.  You just can’t see them because they crawled off to bed in the wee hours and have yet to emerge.

Seriously.  There is no need to worry about us.  But we won’t say no to chocolate if you wish to send some our way and help us recover 🙂

We had the biggest turn out we’ve ever had in terms of number of entries – 145! – and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic.  Really, it is readily apparent that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time.  This means there are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!

Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say.  (I know you’re shocked :))

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!

Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to go around and read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments.  This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories.  It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed.  I hope you all got as much delight  and entertainment out of the reading as I did!  Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 🙂

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 100 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:
1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness did not make the cut.
2.  Halloweeniness – the rules stated a Halloween story, so entries that failed to mention anything Halloween-y did not make the cut even if they were well-written.
3. Quality of story – the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn’t make the cut.  We looked for a character and a true story arc.
4. Quality of Writing: we took note of spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  In addition, for the rhymers, we looked at rhyme and meter (for which we are sticklers!)  We also looked at overall writing quality and use of language.
5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

A surprising number of this year’s entries were amazingly written… but failed to really tell a story!  They were more descriptions, lists, or mood pieces.  So as awesome as they were, we had to make some very hard calls.

Without further ado, I present to you the 2015 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute.  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite.  To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the pumpkin ballerina or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

#1.  Leila’s First Halloween

Tears puddle in Leila’s dark eyes. Tomorrow is the Halloween costume parade at her new school.
“Costumes cost money,” Mama sighs. “I can’t buy something you wear once for this strange holiday. Any extra money must be sent to our sisters and brothers in Aleppo.”
Halloween haunts Leila’s thoughts. A stomach ache? Mama never lets her miss school. A costume from Teacher’s bin? Her classmates will laugh.
“I know!” she cries, grabbing a navy pullover and red leggings.
As her classmates don costumes, Leila asks Teacher for 50 stars and white tape.
“I’m an American now, an American flag!”

#2 Pirate Prepares For Halloween
Pirate wonders what to wear.
Knitted cap with dreadlocked hair?
Striped pajamas? Bandoleer?
Same old shorts she’s worn all year?
Black bandana? New tattoo?
She can’t dress like pirates do!
But a costume would delight
on this dark and haunted night.
Zombie? Werewolf? Ninja? Cat?
Too cliché, she can’t wear that.
Pirate wants to go disguised,
but her friends should be surprised.
Pirate gathers what she needs:
old bandana, borrowed beads,
Jolly Roger, tattered lace.
Then she snips and sews with grace.
When her tutu is all set.
Sauté, plié, pirouette.
Pirate plans a dance routine
to perform on Halloween.
#3 Spooky Spies
He focused a triangle on the approaching costumed family.
“That Jack-O-Lantern is watching me,” said Franz.
“Don’t be silly,” said his mother, “It’s just a pumpkin.”
“It winked at me!” yelped Tess, “Creepy, haunted pumpkin!”
“Impossible,” scoffed their mother, ”On to next house!”
Hours later, after the last trick-or-treater had gone home,
a lone man waltzed down the dark street.
“Report, Jack-O,” he murmured.
“Evening, sir. I have your list. 100 kids said trick-or-treat. 95 kids said thank you. Five kids took their candy and ran,” reported Jack-O-Lantern.
“Excellent.” said the man, “See you next October.”
“Goodnight, Santa,” replied Jack-O-Lantern.
#4 Nothing To Wear
It was Halloween day,
soon to be night.
Where darkness would lurk,
between Halloween lights.
But Harry and Ava
had nothing to wear.
No colourful costume,
to give folks a scare.
So off they both set,
to “Costumes’R’us”.
Hitching a ride, on the
666 bus.
They said to the driver,
“Your costume is cool.
Totally haunting,
just like a ghoul”
He smiled and he nodded
“it’s Costumes’R’us”
then he drove them both there,
and they jumped off the bus.
But the shop sign said “closed”,
How could that be?
Then the driver and bus,
disappeared from the street.
#5 Grow-A-Ghoul
“Grow-a-Ghoul in 31 days. Guaranteed to be a hit on Halloween. Keep your Ghoul in a dark closet, and feed them a cup of fruit punch every day,” read Meredith.
“Oh goody,” said Ethan, “I can’t wait to scare the pants off Franz Findley.
“My ghoul is going to haunt the whole town,” boasted Sarah.
On October 31st, the ghouls floated out of the closet.
“WOOOOOOO,” wailed Meredith’s ghoul.
“AAAHHHHOOOOO,” moaned Ethan’s ghoul.
“Let’s be best friends! We can hold hands and wear matching princess costumes!” exclaimed Sarah’s ghoul.
“Oh dear,” said Sarah, “My ghoul is broken.”
#6 The Unicorn Ate My Candy Corn: A Halloween Tall Tale
My costume’s crumpled in a heap,
My candy’s in the pail.
Blinking eyes, I’m close to sleep
Until I hear a wail.
And then a snort. And clacking feet.
I think my room is haunted.
A voice neighed out, “I NEED A TREAT!”
I ask what kind it wanted.
“The sweetest treat, shaped like my horn.
With bands of orange and yellow.
I’m craving all your candy corn!”
I hear the creature bellow.
My room is dark, but now I see
Four legs, a mane. . . a horn?
Who ate the treats? It wasn’t me.
I blame the unicorn.
#7 Paisley The Ghostling
Paisley loved Halloween.
What other day could a ghostling wear a costume, trick-or-treat, and play in the
dark?
Paisley wished she could join the fun, but she had scare duty like all the other ghostlings.
Boo-hoo. What’s a ghost to do?
An idea came as quick as a spook.
She’d wear a costume and haunt the kids trick-or-treating.
Paisley dressed as broccoli.
Vegetables were sure to bring a fright.
Paisley yelled, “Eat your vegetables!”
All the kids screamed.
Paisley had a spooktacular time.
Next year she will go as parsnip.
#8 A Meaty Trick-or-Treat
Once upon a Trick or Treat,
T. Rex set out to get some meat.
He and friends went door to door,
Until their bags could hold no more.
“T” raced home past ghosts and clowns,
Costumed pets, and haunted frowns.
When safely home, he dumped his treats:
Frog legs, pork, and scrumptious meats,
Gizzards, ribs, roast beef, and turkey,
White meat, dark meat, Jamaican jerky!
Then “T” saw something quite bizarre…
A package labeled, “CHOCOLATE BAR.”
He grabbed it, halved it, took a bite,
But something simply wasn’t right.
He stuffed some bacon in between,
And CHOMPED his Halloween Supreme!
#9 An Alien Goes Trick-or-Treating
Allen the Alien has landed on Earth on a cold, dark October night.
“Cool costume!” shouts a princess.
“Take me to your leader,” quips a vampire.
“Beep. Boop. Bop,” greets a robot.
Allen is confused.
“Where did his mother find that outfit?” remarks a witch dragging along a little ghost.
The Earthlings are playing dress up!
Allen puts on his costume – jeans, t-shirt, cap, sneakers. Aliens love to dress up as Earthlings.
Allen follows four ninja turtles to a haunted house.
“Trick or Treat!”
“Poor kid doesn’t have a costume,” whispers the ogre handing out candy.
Allen smiles.
#10 Spider’s Halloween Debut
Spider spun her sticky web
and scrutinized the scene below.
A ghoulish ghost and ghastly witch
were putting on a scary show
to entertain a costumed crew
who bravely watched the chilling sight.
The audience heard gruesome groans
and shivered in the cold, dark night.
Spider itched to join the fun,
to haunt, to scare, to steal the show.
She dropped a line and skittered down,
but no one looked… so she let go
and landed on the witch’s neck.
Spider scampered, spider crawled,
She heard a screech! She heard a howl!

Creepy spider spooked them all.
#11 The Haunting

Tonight when children go to bed,
I’ll be that thing that they all dread.
I’ll creep into their darkened room,
A spirit from the grave exhumed.
For this is Halloween tonight,
When even darkness shakes with fright,
But I’ll be laughing with delight
When frightened children bolt upright!
What’s that in the children’s room?
A gang of youngsters in costume!
They’re waiting for me in the dark,
A clown, a monster,
…is that a shark?
Now it’s me who shakes with fright!
The children laughing with delight,
I bolt back to my burial site,
I won’t be haunting them tonight!

#12 The Teensy-Weensy Witch

On Halloween night: October thirty-one,
A teensy-weensy witch shrieked “Let’s have fun!”
She packed her tiny spell book in her pointy purple hat,
Put on her witch’s costume, grabbed her broomstick and her cat.
They left the tiny house in the thickening gloom,
And zoomed in the air on her itsy-bitsy broom.
Out of the dark came a haunting “Whoooooo…
Watch out witches we’re after you!”
The witch gave a wobble, the broomstick took a crash,
Landing in a puddle with one ginormous splash!!!!!
DAGNABIT YOU GHOSTS OUT IN THE BLACK!!
Next Halloween I’ll get you back!!!

#13 Goodnight Halloween

In the dark gray room
Lay a tattered costume
A dim glow-stick
And a bent witch broom
And the smell of
Fresh chocolate’s sugar perfume
And there were three little ghosts
Haunting a house
And a pair of black cats
With a little toy mouse
And a sad saggy pumpkin, flame guttered out
Goodnight room
Goodnight broom
Goodnight sweets I can’t consume
Goodnight mouse
Goodnight cat
Goodnight house and witch’s hat
Goodnight glowstick
Goodnight ghosts
Goodnight pumpkin-love you most
Goodnight socks and tired feet
Goodnight Halloween
Goodnight trick or treat

Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 5PM EST Wednesday November 4.


Tune in Thursday November 5 to see THE WINNERS!!!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!
I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!
Tune in Thursday… same bat time, same bat station 🙂

(And we will have a regularly scheduled Would You Read It on Wednesday too!)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lie on the couch and eat bonbons all day.

Okay.

Not really.

I’m actually driving to Vermont as we speak and will be in the car all day, so forgive me if I don’t reply to your blog comments until later!

But don’t worry – I have plenty of miniature Halloween chocolate bars to keep my sustained whilst I drive… and A Clash Of Kings on audible to listen to (yes, I’m officially hooked on the Game of Thrones series! :))

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!!

The 5th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest – aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!

Ear of snake and tongue of bat!  It’s finally time for…

The 5th 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 costumedark, and haunt.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, 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 over 130 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. haunt, haunts, haunted, darkness, darkening, costumed, whathaveyou 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday October 30th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the link list below.  There will be no Would You Read It this week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (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 – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 2nd.  The winner will be announced in a special Thursday post on November 5th.  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: as always, our generous community has contributed some truly amazing prizes!

 – a read and comments on a PB ms by fabulous agent Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency!!!

Tricia Lawrence – Agent

Tricia is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of EMLA—born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 19 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from kids books to college textbooks, but mostly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.

As agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong worldbuilding, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go.

Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. You can find Tricia’s writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics (for authors and the publishing industry at large) here and here.

 – a picture book manuscript critique by Diana Murray!  website

Diana Murray writes stories and poems for children. She is the author of several forthcoming picture books, including CITY SHAPES illustrated by Bryan Collier (Little, Brown, June 2016), GRIMELDA: THE VERY MESSY WITCH illustrated by Heather Ross (Katherine Tegen Books /HarperCollins, July 2016), NED THE KNITTING PIRATE illustrated by Leslie Lammle (Roaring Brook Press /Macmillan, August 2016), and GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINEillustrated by Bats Langley (Sky Pony Press, Fall 2016). 


Diana was awarded the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Work-in-Progress Grant for a picture book manuscript. She has many poems published and forthcoming in magazines, including SpiderHighlightsHigh Five, and Hello. Diana won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for poetry in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Honor Award in 2013. Diana is represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House literary agency. She recently moved from the Bronx to a nearby suburb, where she lives with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. 


 – a query critique from Heather Ayris Burnell, founder of the Sub It Club

Heather is a mom by day, children’s book writer by night, and librarian on the side. Her picture book, Bedtime Monster, is published by Raven Tree Press. She has far too many manuscripts in various stages of development. If only she didn’t need sleep! Represented by Sean McCarthy Literary Agency.


a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

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

 – personalized signed copies of Sarah Frances Hardy’s Dress Me! and Paint Me!

 – a personalized signed copy of Amy Dixon’s Sophie’s Animal Parade

 – a personalized signed copy of Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez’s What About Moose?

a personalized signed copy of Penny Parker Klostermann’s There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight

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 truly horrific attempt 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.. maybe I’ll think up something better during the week and swap it!

So, here goes nothing…!

Halloween Surprise! (100 words)
Halloween.  Trick-or-treat.
Spooky shadows.  Darkenedstreet.
Suddenly my brother, Jay,
Tugs my arm.  “Let’s go this way!”
He pulls me off the beaten track,
Passes Old Man Clancy’s shack.
Creeping fog licks at our heels.
I don’t like the way this feels.
Something glides in silent flight,
Ghostly shapes against the night.
“Witches!  Let’s go home!” I say.
“Owls.  Let’s go on,” says Jay.
Spidered moonlight through the trees.
Heartbeat pounding.  Shaky knees.
Up ahead this haunted night
Monsters dance by bonfire light!
Turning!  Running!
Then, “SURPRISE!”
Costumed monsters end disguise.
Cake and presents, friends who say,
“Happy Halloween Birthday!”

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!

And there are 70 fabulous entries in the comment section below that you won’t want to miss! (Names are links)

Lynne – Boo Who?
Julie – The Teensy Weensy Witch
Joyce – Scary Scary Halloween
Amanda S – The Haunted Dash
Sam – Spooky Spies
Marilyn – The Best Treats
Jessica – Peek A Boo Moon Scarecrow
Pamela – Libbybeth, Prettiest Monsterette
Jen – Halloween At Last
Bonnie – Happy Scary Halloween
Sandy – Clothespin Costume
Marty – The Old House
Sherri – A Night Of Fright
Jacqueline – Grow A Ghoul
Anne – The Little Ghost’s Audition
Jason – Peace, Love And Happy Halloween
Linda – Dorchester’s Last Dance
Christine – Charlotte And The Ghost
Maria – Best Halloween Ever
Chrystal – Paisley The Ghostling
Pat C – I AM A Monster
Pam W – The Hidden Costume
Mindy – Dizzy Bat
Michele – Unseen Halloween
Carol – Scaredy Bat
Lisa – Mo, The Ghost Who Said Moo
Polly – Nothing To Wear
Pia – Do Not Open This Door!
Jen W – Jack-o-ween
Jen M – Halloween In The Park
J. Bea – Dark Dark In The Park
Ruth – Nellie Pinkerton Needs A Costume
Jana – The Unicorn Ate My Candy Corn – A Halloween Tall Tale
Eleanor – Lillie’s Magic Halloween Wand!
Jim – Jeepers Creepers
Victoria – Is There Anything As Scary
Jennifer – In The Dark Of Night
Terri – Willow
Marty #2 – No Costume, No Candy
Debbie – Gharret And Marty
JC – Broom Trouble
Stephanie – Mummy Unveiled
Vicky – The Sun And His Silly Trick
Melissa – Bunny’s Costume
Penny – Belle Of The Halloween Ball
Katrina – Early Monster
Lori – Indelible!
Suzy – Trick For Treats
Shelley – A Meaty Trick Or Treat
Sharon C – The Disappearing Candy
Sharon W – The Haunted Well
Juli – Hallow-eek!
Kathleen – Dark Sparkles
Rob – Scratch, Bones And Boo
Anne – The Haunted Halloween Ball
Patricia C – The Pumpkin Pie Witches
Shelley #2 – The Little Witch Who Lost Her Hat
Heather – The Cackle
Sandy – Frank-N-Stein’s Store
Elizabeth – The Ghost Of Mary Jane
Elizabeth #2 – The Bug Ghost
Carol – Haunt Couture
Robin – In The Darkness
Charlotte – Scaredy Cat Ghost
Susan – The House On The Corner
Nancy – Dinoween
Jill – Aaahhh, Aaahhh, BOO!
Sandy P – The King Of Screams
Rhonda – Trick Or Treat Trouble
Rachel – Sweet Matilda Conquers Her Fear

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 🙂

http://www.simply-linked.com/listwidget.aspx?l=da1e0d27-7263-404a-a8cb-128ff8661ec6

It’s About That Time…!

Happy Columbus Day everyone!

I hope you’re all enjoying days off from school and work!!!

You know what I always say?
What better way to celebrate Columbus Day then by talking about Halloween?!
And what’s more interesting, fun and exciting about Halloween then anything else (except for miniature candy bars that have no calories because of their tiny-ness!)???


The 5th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!

Can you believe we’re at the 5th???!!!


courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words costumedark, and haunt.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, 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 over 130 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. haunt, haunts, haunted, darkness, darkening, costumed, whathaveyou 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 26th and Friday October 30th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my October 26th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (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 – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 2nd.  The winner will be announced in a special Thursday post on November 5th.  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:  yeah… I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  Feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  But prizes will include:

 – a read and comments on a PB ms by fabulous agent Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency!!!

Tricia Lawrence – Agent

Tricia is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of EMLA—born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 19 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from kids books to college textbooks, but mostly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.

As agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong worldbuilding, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go.

Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. You can find Tricia’s writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics (for authors and the publishing industry at large) here and here.

Tricia will be attending or on the faculty at the following upcoming conferences and events:

WOW Week of Writing Retreat, July 17-23, 2016
Website

 – a picture book manuscript critique by Diana Murray!  website

Diana Murray writes stories and poems for children. She is the author of several forthcoming picture books, including CITY SHAPES illustrated by Bryan Collier (Little, Brown, June 2016), GRIMELDA: THE VERY MESSY WITCH illustrated by Heather Ross (Katherine Tegen Books /HarperCollins, July 2016), NED THE KNITTING PIRATE illustrated by Leslie Lammle (Roaring Brook Press /Macmillan, August 2016), and GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINEillustrated by Bats Langley (Sky Pony Press, Fall 2016). 


Diana was awarded the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Work-in-Progress Grant for a picture book manuscript. She has many poems published and forthcoming in magazines, including SpiderHighlightsHigh Five, and Hello. Diana won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for poetry in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Honor Award in 2013. Diana is represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House literary agency. She recently moved from the Bronx to a nearby suburb, where she lives with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. 


 – a query critique from Heather Ayris Burnell, founder of the Sub It Club

– a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

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

 – a signed copy of Amy Dixon’s Sophie’s Animal Parade

 – a signed copy of Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez’s What About Moose?

Plus whatever else I dream up in the meantime 🙂

I hope those fantabulous prizes fill you with enthusiasm for the contest!

So sharpen your pencils!

Get your butt in that chair!

See what amazing, knock-your-socks-off story you can dream up!

It’s a chance to hone your writing skills, practice your craft, write to specifications and a deadline, win amazing prizes, AND get to read and enjoy the wonderful stories written by all your fellows 🙂

Many, many thanks to Tricia, Diana, Heather, Corey, and Amy for their very generous prize offerings!

I literally cannot wait to read your stories!!! 🙂

Have a Marvelous Monday everyone! 🙂

Whistle A Happy Tune

Good Monday, All!

So nice of you to pop by!

Remember on Friday I told you I had exciting news to share?

I’m guessing that’s why you’re here.

Because of the exciting news I promised.

I said, “Come on over as soon as you wake up!”

And look!  Here you are!

You’re so wonderful 🙂

Okay!

Exciting news!

Guess what I did?

No, really!  Guess!

Never mind.  I’ll tell you.

I made up a song!

Yep!

It’s true!

Want to hear it?

Well, not actually hear it – I didn’t have time to make a video or a recording – but hear it in the sense that I can tell you the tune and the words and you can imagine me singing it to you…

Yes?  Are you ready?

Okay.  The tune is “The Bear Went Over The Mountain” (because I live on a mountain, as you may recall, and I saw a bear a little over a week ago, which you may also recall.)

Ready?

OH. . . !!!!!!!
The dog went over the mountain
The dog went over the mountain
The dog went over the mounTAIN….
Because she saw a bear!
WOOF!

Thank you.  Thank you very much!

So, what do you think?

Are you amazed?

I’m pretty amazed with myself, I have to tell you.  It’s not every day someone writes a song like that!  (Hey!  Did someone say, “Thank goodness!”?  I heard that!  Keep it nice, people.  We can’t all be as musically gifted as I am, but that’s no reason to unleash the green-eyed monster!)

So I can now add “Songwriter” to my resume!

Happy sigh 🙂

Alrighty.  See you on Wednesday for Would You Read It.

Unless you’ve got nothing to do right now. . .
. . . and you’re feeling reluctant to leave because you enjoyed my song so much that you want to hear it again. . .
. . . and you’re also thinking that maybe… just MAYBE… you’d like to hear about. . .
(Oh, golly!  That was fun while it lasted! Hehehe!). . .

The 4th Annual Holiday Contest!!!!
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


The Contest:  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) in which wild weather impacts the holidays!  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (I know!  So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest :))  (It can be as short as you like, but no more than 350!)  Any kind of weather will do: sun, rain, sleet, heatwave, blizzard, tsunami, monsoon, hurricane, hail, tornado, etc!  Weather may be atypical for your setting (rain in Maine, frost in Florida), it may be extreme (blizzard instead of regular snow, drought instead of lush greenery), or it may be unheard of (spring flowers in Antarctica, snow in the Sahara, bathing suit weather at the North Pole), but whatever you choose, make us feel the impact on the holidays!  The wild weather may be a hindrance, a wish-come-true, a threat, a pleasant surprise, etc.  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The wilder and wackier the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday December 8 and Friday December 12 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 8 and remain up through Sunday December 14 (no WYRI or PPBF during that week.)  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 8th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judging:  My lovely assistant(s) and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on either Monday December 15 or Tuesday December 16 (depending on the number of entries :)) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Thursday December 18 at 5 PM EST and the winners will be announced on Friday December 19.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place.  Judging criteria will be kid appeal/kid-friendliness, creativity of weather use in plot, quality of story, quality of writing, and originality.
The Prizes!:  Well, I hope these prizes are going to knock your socks off!!!  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 10th place.  In addition to the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 4th Annual Holiday Contest, the following AMAZING prizes will be awarded: (items in color are links for more info!)

 – 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!)
 – 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.
 – (Hopefully) 2 or 3 PB MS Critiques from other fabulous authors – TBA
 – 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

I can’t thank these editors, agents, authors, and other industry professionals enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, spread the word of their classes, buy and recommend their books to your friends with kids, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

And now!  Sharpen those pencils!  Top off those coffee mugs!  Get those derrieres in your chairs!  And start writing those prize-winning entries!!!

I can’t wait for the festivities to begin! 🙂

Look What’s Coming! The 4th of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!

It’s that time again!!!  Writing Contest time!!!  Yippee-aye-oh-hurray!!!

I know none of you got a wink of sleep this weekend, waiting for the contest announcement, so I won’t keep you waiting another second 🙂  (Plus, I want to give you all plenty of time to get your entries written in case you have plans during Fourth of July week… write now, you’ll be all ready to go and can settle in when you have a few minutes here and there to read all the wonderful entries as they come in with your kids and families! :))

The Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!
WHO ATE THE BLUEBERRIES???!!!

The Contest:  Write a children’s story, in poetry or prosemaximum 400 words about the 4th of July in which a secret is revealed or a mystery is solved!

You may choose any 4th of July setting you like: country, city or small town, sleepaway camp or vacation, with family or friends or all alone, at a parade, a picnic, a fireworks show or a bonfire, in the middle of the woods or in a country where the locals don’t celebrate 4th of July.  Your secret or mystery doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering.  It could be who took Granny’s award-winning Fourth of July cherry pie?  Or what did Robin tell Sarah who told Olivia who told Gracie about Anna in cabin 7?  Or where did the flags for the parade disappear to?  Or why doesn’t Becky Sue want to go to the fireworks show? Or what Old Mrs. Hootenspiegal knows about the mayor!  Just as long as a secret or mystery of some kind is revealed or solved by the end.

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday July 1 at 12:01 AM EDT and Friday July 5 at 11:59 PM EDT, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday July 1 and remain up through Sunday July 7 (no Would You Read It on Wednesday July 3… and although the post will remain up through Sunday to give everyone plenty of time to read, the entry list will be closed at midnight Friday so we have time to judge).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my July 1st post by midnight Friday July 5th.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)

The Judging:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Monday July 8 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 6 PM EDT on Thursday July 11 and the winner will be announced on Friday July 12.

The Prizes!:  The first place winner will receive (I am not making this up!) a picture book manuscript critique from Simone Kaplan!!!!!  Yes, THE Simone Kaplan!!!  I wish I knew how to put that up in lights and make it all sparkly! 🙂  Simone Kaplan has been editing children’s books and magazines for over 20 years.  She was an editor at Henry Holt and Company, and then a Senior Editor at HarperCollins.  More recently she has worked as a consultant to various authors, illustrators, and publishing houses.  She also runs a wonderful website called Picture Book People (where you can sign up for her free newsletter among other things.)  A prize like this makes me wish I could compete in my own contest! 🙂

If we get more than 15 entries, we will place through 3rd.  If we get more than 25 entires we will place through 5th.  Additional prizes will include critiques, gift certificates and signed books.  (Details to come.)

So put on those thinking caps and start bouncing those ideas off the wall!  Your story could win you a fabulous prize, but win or not, you can be certain your stories will be read with appreciation by LOTS of readers! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday everyone! 🙂