2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #5

It’s a hot, hot Monday in June, so what better way to spend the day then on a cool porch, in a shady hammock, or in the air-conditioned library with an iced beverage, your writing implements, and the prompt for Mix ‘n’ Match Week #5?!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

You get to write your own story, enjoy and be entertained by everyone else’s stories, and get yourself in the running for some awesome prizes (please see the end of the blog post for a list of all the prize goodies which continues to grow!)

To be eligible for the prize drawing you must enter all 7 weeks.

For a full description of the challenge, to read the Week #1 entries, or to add your Week #1 entry, please go HERE (Week #1)

To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

To read the Week #3 entries or add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

To read the Week #4 entries or add your Week #4 entry, please go HERE (Week #4)

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #5 for Week of June 7:

So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, a picture prompt with random words and a secret, and turning songs into stories with themes! 😊 This week, we’re going to have fun with concepts!

Kids have a lot to learn about the world, and picture books can be education disguised as entertainment 😊. Think Z IS FOR MOOSE by Kelly Bingham, MOUSE PAINT by Ellen Stoll Walsh, and ROUND IS A TORTILLA by Roseanne Thong.

For this week’s challenge, choose a concept from Column A and a setting from Column B and write a 100 word concept story for kids in which you utilize the setting to show your concept.

Column A – ConceptColumn B – Setting
ShapesHalloween
ColorsBeach
Numbers/CountingFarm
AlphabetSchool
TimeCar Trip
Place/Location (in, on, above, under, around, through, etc.)Circus
EmotionsCity or Country
SeasonsAmusement Park or County Fair
WeatherSupermarket
  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a concept or a setting that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which concept and setting you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

Can’t wait to see what amazing, creative things you guys come up with this week! 

So come join the fun! Get some writing done! Encourage your kids (or students) to give it a try! Or just have a good time together reading what other folks have written!

Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

(And remember, for full details on the 7 week challenge you can check HERE)

Check out the Week #5 stories!

F Is For Fish Farm – Candice Marley Conner

The Reason For Seasons (At The Beach) – Laura Bower

Go To The Beach And Find. . . – Erika Romero

Circus Countdown – Sue Lancaster

ABCs Of Abstract Art – Christine Alemshah

What Color Is Fall? – Jen Subra

Toucan Counts His Berries – Marty Findley

Weather Check – Dawn Young

The Colors In The Farm – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

One Fine Bluebird – Rose Cappelli

Road Trip! – Erin Cleary

Wise Willie Wonders Where – Susan Schipper

On My First Easter Party – Ashley Sierra

Senses Dance At The Beach – Lyn Jekowsky

Roller Coaster – Barbara Renner

Alphabet Road Trip – Aly Kenna

A Trolley Full Of Feelings – Elenore Byrne

It’s Time For The State Fair – Joyce Uglow

They’re Coming! – Jill Lambert

The Colorful Car Trip – Deb Sullivan

Are We There Yet? – Marta Cutler

The Number Line – Colleen Owen Murphy

Five At The Fair – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

Are We There Yet? – Leslie Degnan

A Win At Walmart – Sara Kruger

Circus Opposites – Lauren Scott

Runaway Stroller – Allison Strick

Ghost Crabs At The Beach – Susan Summers

Ups And Downs – Jeannette Suhr

Sleepytime ABCs – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

I’ll Grocery Shop For You – Bru Benson

Weather Or Not – Marta Cutler

At the Beach – Marty Bellis

Counting the Colors of Sunset // Contando los colores del atardecer – Hannah Roy LaGrone

PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete the challenge will be drawn randomly and matched with prizes drawn randomly until we run out! 😊

Please join me 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 gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, suggesting them for school visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, the lovely and talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is penny-parker-klostermann.jpg

⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jennifer-buchet.jpg



⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jen-raudenbush.jpeg
Jen Raudenbush

⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is becky-scharnhorst-collage.jpeg

⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-05-23-at-7.58.46-pm.png

⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alayne-kay-christian.jpg

⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is writing-irresistible-kidlit.jpg

⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is squarecover.jpg

⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is email-header-final-susanna-hill.png

⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a-flood-of-kindness.jpg

⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is making-their-voices-heard.jpg

⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2c5b9-dragon2bcover.jpg

⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sloth-cover.jpg

⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bindus-bindis.jpg

⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

Magnetic Poetry - Little Box of Happiness Kit - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on The Fridge - Made in The USA

2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – Week #4

Good Monday Morning, Everyone!

I know it’s Memorial Day and many of you are busy with family celebrations, parades, and honoring those who have done so much for all of us.

But in case you also have the day off and a little free time. . .

. . .let’s have some Mix ‘n’ Match fun because it’s time for Week #4!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

You get to write your own story, enjoy and be entertained by everyone else’s stories, and get yourself in the running for some awesome prizes (please see the end of the blog post for a list of all the prize goodies which continues to grow!)

To be eligible for the prize drawing you must enter all 7 weeks.

For a full description of the challenge, to read the Week #1 entries, or to add your Week #1 entry, please go HERE (Week #1)

To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

To read the Week #3 entries or add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #4 for Week of May 31:

So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, and a picture prompt with random words and a secret!  This week we’re going to have some musical fun with themes! 😊

Choose a song from Column A, a theme from Column B, and an important item from Column C (optional.)  Write a 100 word story for kids where your version of the song tells a story that shows your chosen theme (including your important item if you wish!) You may use the original song opening if you like, but you are not required to (just make it obvious in your writing and/or identify which song you’re using along with your title and word count), and if rhyming isn’t your thing you can write in prose as long as it’s still clear which song you’re working with.  You may add or subtract characters (e.g. Bob and Joe rowed their boat gently down the stream), change the destination (e.g. Row, row, row your boat up the mountainside), change the type of action (e.g. Row, row, row your boat wildly down the stream) etc… Anything you like!  Have fun with it! (For examples in kidlit, see Iza Trapani’s extended nursery rhyme songs.)

Column A – SongColumn B – ThemeColumn C – Important Item (optional)
Row, Row, Row Your BoatIt’s important to try new thingsNecklace
The Itsy Bitsy (Eensie Weensie) SpiderEven when you’re bad, you’re still lovedTeddy bear
Twinkle, Twinkle Little StarIt’s important to stay true to yourselfBlackberries
Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it isPink Blankie
The Bear Went Over The MountainIf you work together you can solve a problemStory book
Here We Go Round The Mulberry BushYou don’t have to be big to stand up for yourselfMap
It’s Raining, It’s PouringFriends should always stick togetherTractor
Jack And JillBelieve in yourself and you can achieve your dreamsMoon
Rock-A-Bye BabyIf you don’t succeed the first time, try againDaisy

Post your story in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you.)

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a theme that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which song, theme (and important item if you choose to use one) you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

I am SO looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!  You continue to knock my socks off with your creativity every week!!!

Now come join the fun! Get some writing done! Encourage your kids (or students) to give it a try! Or just have a good time together reading what other folks have written!

Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

(And remember, for full details on the 7 week challenge you can check HERE)

Check out the Week #4 stories!

It’s Raining! It’s Pouring! – Leslie Degnan

Dreams Inside! – Robin Currie

Jack And Jill’s New Adventure – Jen Subra

Untitled – Lauri Meyers

Charlie’s Search – Rose Cappelli

Rock A Bye Daisy – Laura Bower

Arachnid At Your Service – Jill Lambert

The Itsy Bitsy Spider And The Moon – Erika Romero

About Our Friends Who Tried To Row A Boat (Perhaps Under A Full Moon?) – Erin Cleary

Untitled – Lauren Scott

Believe In All You Imagine – Sally Yorke-Viney

The Itsy Bitsy Puppy – Marty Findley

All That Glitters Is Not Gold – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

Spunky Little Teddy – Joyce Uglow

Flap Flap Flap Those Wings – Marty Bellis

Dress Dress Dress For Rain – Amy Leskowski

Mark And Grace – Colleen Murphy

I Love Shopping With My Mom – Sara Kruger

Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Pet Spider Gone – Aly Kenna

Where, Oh Where Has My Story Book Gone – Ashley Sierra

Ninja, Ninja, Little Sneak – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

Jack And Jill Revisit Their Hill – Ashley B. Pedigo

Jo And Flo – Christine Alemshah

Little Lilly’s Blunder – Elenore Byrne

Ride, Ride, Ride My Bike – Sue Lancaster

Friends For Life – Deb Sullivan

Fireflies – Lyn Jekowsky

The Rescue – Marta Cutler

Bear’s Fresh Start – Allison Strick

Rock A Bye Zombie – Susan Summers

Rainy Day Problem…Solvers – Susan Schipper

To Grandmother’s House We Go – Jeannette Suhr

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – Dianne Irving

Tinkle, Tinkle, Potty Stress! – Michelle S. Kennedy

Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone? – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

Use Your Map – Padgy Soltis

The Daisy – Barbara Renner

Oopsy Daisy! – Marta Cutler

Yummy, Yummy, Little Pie – Nicole Loos Miller

The Bat Flew Over The Pumpkins – Sarah Meade

Read A Book – Dawn Young

Sun And Moon – Dawn Young

The Itsy Bitsy Scratchy Spider – Bru Benson

Wait For Me – Candace Kubinec

Untitled – Sarah Marhevsky

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – Sarah Hawklyn

Don’t Row The Boat Please – Linda Schueler

How Much Is That Bicycle In The Window – Mia Geiger

The Itsy Bitsy Tadpoles– Hannah Roy LaGrone

Rock Star Baby Brother – Katie Schwartz

PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete the challenge will be drawn randomly and matched with prizes drawn randomly until we run out! 😊

Please join me 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 gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, suggesting them for school visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, the lovely and talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is penny-parker-klostermann.jpg

⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jennifer-buchet.jpg



⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jen-raudenbush.jpeg
Jen Raudenbush

⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is becky-scharnhorst-collage.jpeg

⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-05-23-at-7.58.46-pm.png

⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alayne-kay-christian.jpg

⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is writing-irresistible-kidlit.jpg

⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is squarecover.jpg

⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is email-header-final-susanna-hill.png

⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a-flood-of-kindness.jpg

⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is making-their-voices-heard.jpg

⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2c5b9-dragon2bcover.jpg

⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sloth-cover.jpg

⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bindus-bindis.jpg

⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

Magnetic Poetry - Little Box of Happiness Kit - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on The Fridge - Made in The USA

2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #3

Ok, writers, are you ready?

Forget the dishes in the sink, the pile of work in your inbox, and the fact that it’s your mother-in-law’s birthday on Thursday and you still haven’t thought of a good present!

It’s time to Mix ‘n’ Match your way to a new story! 😊

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

You get to write your own story, enjoy and be entertained by everyone else’s stories, and get yourself in the running for some awesome prizes (please see the end of the blog post for a list of all the prize goodies which continues to grow!)

To be eligible for the prize drawing you must enter all 7 weeks.

For a full description of the challenge, to read the Week #1 entries, or to add your Week #1 entry, please go HERE (Week #1)

To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #3 for Week of May 24:

So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, and with writing a cumulative story.  This week we’re going to play with a picture prompt, 3 random words. . . and a secret!

Here’s the picture, drawn by the incredibly talented Julie Rowan-Zoch (author/illustrator of I’M A HARE, SO THERE! HMH Books For Young Readers 2021, and illustrator of LOUIS by Tom Lichtenheld HMH October 2020!) and used with her permission for your writing fun 😊 (Thank you, Julie!!! 💕)

illustration copyright Julie Rowan-Zoch 2021 used by permission, all rights reserved

And here are random words! Choose one from Column A, one from Column B, and one from Column C.

Column AColumn BColumn C
raindropspicnicstrawberry tart
nestrope swingpond
cherry treemistakebucket/pail
unicornlosttantrum
bridgespringadmire

But wait! There’s a twist! One of the characters has a secret! Which character? What secret? And how does it impact the story? You will probably want to think up your own secret, but in case anyone needs an idea, here are a few suggestions:

-took something that didn’t belong to them
-hid something on purpose
-told someone something that wasn’t true
-doesn’t want to play hide ‘n’ seek (or duck, duck, goose, or musical chairs, or tag, or. . .)
-only wants to play hide ‘n’ seek (or duck, duck, goose, or musical chairs, or tag, or. . .)
-is allergic to acorns
-wants to invite someone to their birthday party (or for a sleepover, or. . .)
-is afraid of dogs (or cats, or bicycles, or bees, or swimming, or. . .) and doesn’t want anyone else to know
-plans to bake a surprise cake for someone
-has a special present for someone
-isn’t telling someone something they should
-secretly really likes someone
-secretly doesn’t like someone
-is getting something they know everyone will love

Write a 100 word story for kids about the pictured characters, using three random words and giving one of the characters a secret which you incorporate into the story, and post your in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you.)

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by random words that are not on the list you can use them instead – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which random words you’re using you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

I am SO looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!  There have been so many amazingly creative, clever, fun, and entertaining stories written so far!!!

Now come join the fun! Get some writing done! Encourage your kids (or students) to give it a try! Or just have a good time together reading what other folks have written!

Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

(And remember, for full details on the 7 week challenge you can check HERE)

Check out the Week #3 stories!


Ruth’s Birthday Surprise – Sue Lancaster

The Perfect Gift – Erika Romero

Getting There – Rose Cappelli

A Hare Raising Mistake – Bru Benson

Acorn Day – Jen Subra

The Secret – Marty Findley

The Secret Spot – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

The Smashed Bash – Laura Bower

The Secrets of Beryl The Bunny – Elenore Byrne

Hare…Or Not – Susan E. Schipper

Better Than Acorns – Erin Cleary

Acorns And, Er, What?! – Marty Bellis

Bunny’s Problem – Deb Sullivan

Floppy And The Rope Swing – Dawn Young

Untitled – Elizabeth Volkmann

The Cherry Pie Problem – Ashley B. Pedigo

Chip, Drip, And Skip – Meg King-Sloan

A Small Mistake – Leslie Degnan

Turtle’s Strawberry Hill Surprise – Joyce Uglow

Disappearing Dewberries – Candice Marley Conner

Rabbit Won’t Have To Wait – Sara Kruger

Hare Today And Gone Tomorrow: From Brey To Form, A Secret That Saved! – Sally Yorke-Viney

Miss Bun’s Secret – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

A Happy Tail – Marta Cutler

Safe Cracking Squirrels – Susan Summers

Clueless Squirrels – Lyn Jekowsky

Scratch And Scritch’s Show Stopper – Ashley Sierra

Fireworks – Aly Kenna

Late Lunch – Hannah Roy LeGrone

Bunny’s Magic – Dianne Irving

Thoughtful Harry – Padgy Soltis

A Secret Entrance – Lauri Meyers

The Scavenger Hunt – Barbara Renner

Vanishing Act – Marta Cutler

Rabbith’th Thee-cret (Rabbit’s Secret) – Allison Strick

Harah Helps Look – Sarah Meade

Momo’s Cherry Tree – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

In The Mood To Play? – Amy Leskowski

A Couple Of Nuts – Jill Lambert

Mr. Bunny’s Secret Skill – Mia Geiger

B-U-N-N-Y Spells Trouble – Jeannette Suhr

Rainy Picnic – Nicole Loos Miller

The Secret of Sassafras – Linda Schueler

A Friend In Need – Candace Kubinec

Untitled – Lauren Scott

The Unicorn – Lynn Katz

Unicorn’s Secret – Michelle S. Kennedy

The Happiest Habit – Christine Alemshah

The Bunny’s Secret – Marla Yablon

Watch Out For Bear? Watch Out For Hare! – Katie Schwartz

The Will To Win – Colleen Owen Murphy


PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete the challenge will be drawn randomly and matched with prizes drawn randomly until we run out! 😊

Please join me 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 gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, suggesting them for school visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, the lovely and talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is penny-parker-klostermann.jpg

⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jennifer-buchet.jpg



⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jen-raudenbush.jpeg
Jen Raudenbush

⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is becky-scharnhorst-collage.jpeg

⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alayne-kay-christian.jpg

⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is writing-irresistible-kidlit.jpg

⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is squarecover.jpg

⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is email-header-final-susanna-hill.png

⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

Magnetic Poetry - Little Box of Happiness Kit - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on The Fridge - Made in The USA

2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – Week 2!

Writers, start your computers!

It’s time for Week #2 of the 2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge!

WOOHOO!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost or a little encouragement to get writing….or maybe just a little fun!

You get to write your own story, enjoy and be entertained by everyone else’s stories, and get yourself in the running for some awesome prizes (please see the end of the blog post for a list of all the prize goodies…which keeps getting added to!)

For a full description of the challenge or to enter your Week #1 entry, please go HERE.

Let’s jump into Week #2!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #2 for Week of May 17:

Last week we played with character needs, an important thing to keep in mind when you’re writing because characters should always need or want something desperately – a goal, an object or possession, a role, a quality, to prove something (to herself or someone else), to overcome something. . . You all did splendidly!

This week we’re going to play with a specific story type: the cumulative tale!

Cumulative stories build and build, growing sillier, or more chaotic, or more outrageous, or more complicated with each new addition, as in There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.

She swallowed the goat to catch the dog …
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird …
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.


Some published examples of clever re-tellings are:

There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann
There Was An Old Monster (Who Swallowed A Tick) by Adrian, Rebecca & Ed Emberly
There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth by B.J. Lee

Your mission, should you choose to accept it 😊 is to choose an adjective from Column A, a character from Column B, a verb from Column C, and a noun from Column D. Mix ‘n’ Match and write your own version!

e.g. There Was An Old Cowboy Who Lassoed A Bear
There Was A Huge Baby Who Lived On A Boat
There Was A Shy T-Rex Who Wished For A Friend

Column A – Adj.Column B – CharacterColumn C – VerbColumn D – Noun
OldMonsterTurned IntoGhost
SmartGrandmaFollowedToad
BraveWarthogFought With/BulliedFriend
ShyT-RexRan From/Ran To/Ran UpSword
HugeKittenPlayed Tricks OnBear
SmallPythonWished For/Wished OnMoon/Star
MeanCowboyLassoedBee
StrangeBabySwallowedWitch
WildZookeepTauntedTree
CuteLionLived With/Lived In/Lived OnBoat

If choosing from all 4 columns is more than you want, or if you don’t like any of the words but the list inspires you to think up your own words, feel free to use as many or as few from the columns as you like and supply the other words yourself, but you must follow the format:

There Was A(n) ___ADJ___ ___CHARACTER___ Who ___VERB___ A(HIS, HER, THE) ___NOUN___

and it must be a cumulative story!

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is just a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by another set of words, go for it! – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which column items you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, title, and word count.
    For example:
    There Was A Cute Kitten Who Followed His Nose
    by Marcia Writer
    107 words
    cute, kitten, followed

So come join the fun! Get some writing done! Encourage your kids (or students) to give it a try! Or just have a good time together reading what other folks have written!

Post your Week #2 story in the comment section below, or, if you have trouble for any reason and can’t post yourself you may email it to me using the Contact Form and I will post it for you.

Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

(And remember, for full details on the 7 week challenge you can check HERE)

Check out the Week #2 stories!

There Was A Small Baby Who Wished For A Star – Sue Lancaster

There Was A Wild Warthog Who Wanted To Dance – Sally Yorke-Viney

There Was A Shy Monster Who Followed A Toad – Jen Subra

There Was A Young Cowboy Who Lassoed A Bee – Rose Cappelli

There Was A Strange Witch Who Turned Into A Bee – Candice Marley Conner

Who Might She Be? – Dawn Young

There Was A Brave Grandma Who Followed A Star – Erin Cleary

There Was An Old Grandma – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

Where Is Baby’s Bear? – Hannah Roy LaGrone

There Was A Smart Grandma Who Bullied A Bee – Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden

Traffic Jam Baby – Elenore Byrne

There Was A Huge Monster That Lived In A Tree – Erika Romero

There Was A Huge Baby Who Followed A Bear – Leslie Degman

I Know A Small Baby Who Swallowed Some Milk – Lauri Meyers

There Was A Mean Cowboy Who Lassoed A Bee – Aly Kenna

There Was A Huge Heron Who Followed A Toad – Jill Lambert

There Was An Old Cowboy Who Wished For A Boat – Candace Kubinec

There Was A Shy Kitten – Nicole Loos Miller

There Was A Shy Monster Who Lived On A Star – Susan E. Schipper

There Was A Small Kitten Who Followed A Toad – Barbara Farr Renner

There Was A Weird Warthog Who Lassoed A Bear – Lyn Jekowsky

There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Bee – Deb Sullivan

There Was A Wild Warthog Who Wished For A Witch – Susan Summer

There Was A Young Writer Who Wrote A Great Word – Sarah Meade

Wishing Kitten – Julie Kurtz

There Was An Old Monster Who Wished For A Boat – Brenda Whitehead

The Nose Of A Kitten – Elizabeth Volkmann

There Was A Mean Monster Who Swallowed A Toad – Laura Bower

Come To My Party – Ashley B. Pedigo

There Was A Brown Cow Who Lived In A Tree – Marty Bellis

There Was A Strange Cowboy Who Wished For A Friend – Sophia Zafra

There Was A Shy Lion Who Wished For A Friend – Marta Cutler

There Was A Brave Woman Who Wrote Down A Note – Ashley Sierra

The Hungriest Python Turned Into A Boat – Allison Strick

There Was An Author Who Got Stymied By The Prompt – Joyce Uglow

There Was A Small Kitten Who Followed A Bee – Diane Irving

Are you New? – Marla Yablon

There Was A Shy Lion Who Wished For A Friend – Lauren Scott

There Was A Strange Kitten Who Lassoed The Moon – Linda Schueler

There Was A Smart Baby Who Followed A Star – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

There Was An Old Grandma Who Followed A Ghost – Marta Cutler

There Was A Brave Grandma Who Lassoed A Witch – Jeannette Suhr

There Was A Brave Zookeeper That Taunted A Bear – Sarah Hawklyn

There Was A Wild Zookeeper Who Ran From A Bear – Jana Mattern

There Was A Smart T-Rex Who Played Tricks On A Witch – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

A Huge Baby Swallowed A Witch – Bru Benson

There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Bee – Jamie Bills

The Old Cowboy – Katie Schwartz

There Was A Cute Baby Who Charmed A Mommy – Christine Alemshah

There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Bee – Sara Kruger

There Was A Strange Cowboy Who Lived On A Boat – Michelle S. Kennedy

The Grandma Who Bullied A Bear – Lynn Katz

There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Witch – Padgy Soltis

There Was A Shy Monster Who Taunted A Tree – Amy Leskowski

A New Friend – Mia Geiger

There Was A Smart Grandma – Marty Findley

There Was An Old Cowboy Who Lassoed A Star – Melissa Wrex

There Was An Old Cowboy Who Wanted A Friend – Robin Currie

Not Guilty – Colleen Owen Murphy

There Was A Wild Warthog Who Ran Up A Tree – Deb Buschman



PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete the challenge will be drawn randomly and matched with prizes drawn randomly until we run out! 😊

Please join me 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 gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, suggesting them for school visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, the lovely and talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

Jen Raudenbush

⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade (details coming)

⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner

⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

Magnetic Poetry - Little Box of Happiness Kit - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on The Fridge - Made in The USA

The 2021 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!!!

Rise and shine, my friends!

I know it’s Monday.

I know it’s freezing cold and snowing… AGAIN!

I know someone in your house probably snagged the last Poptart and you’re stuck eating All-Bran for breakfast. . .on a frigid Monday morning. . .in the snow!

But.

BUT!

I am about to cast a ray of sunshine into your freezing, snowy, All-Bran-y, Monday morning!

Yes!

It’s true!

Here comes sunshine and heart-warming happiness because I am going to SING YOU A SONG! 🎶🎵🎶


🎶How much are those Poptarts in the window,
So sugary sweet and divine?
I’m brave, but not brave enough to offer
All-Bran to my sweet Valentine!🎶

No?

Ok, how about

🎶Oh, my darling,
Oh, my darling,
Oh, my darling, Valentine!
I will give you all my Poptarts
If you promise to be mine!🎶

Oh no, wait! I’ve got it!

🎶I’m a little Poptart filled with jam
Some say I’m sweet and it’s true! I am!
But my Valentiny also true –
No one else is sweet as you!🎶

I don’t know what’s happening here.

Apparently someone (who is not a good singer) has Poptarts on the brain.

Who could that be?

But never mind, because GUESS WHAT?

It’s time to announce the WINNERS of

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

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 so many! As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!  The other judges and I are blown away anew each time!

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, 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.  We chose 14 finalists, and around 35 Honorable Mentions which we also loved, and even with those 49 total there were over 200 entries we couldn’t list! So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  You’re in good company! 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!

Because it was such a hard choice, and there were so many wonderful stories, before we get to the winners, my assistant judges and I would like to award bragging rights, recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (entries we truly wrestled with not including in the finalists!)

Elizabeth Volkmann for Class List

Melissa Trempe for The Most Terrible, Awful, Icky Valentine Ever

David McMullin for Brave Brave Brave (also funny 😊)

Laken Slate for The Brave Little Conversation Heart

M.R. Haqq for Soon

Mia Geiger for Peanut’s Brave Valentine’s Day

Ashlee Hashman for The Wildflower

Lindsey Hobson for U R Brave

Audrey Day-Williams for Legendary Valentine

Sara Ackerman for Arrrrr Is For Valentine

Amy Leskowski for A One-of-a-Kind, Just-in-Case, Not-at-All-Pink Valentine’s Day

Donna Kurtz for The Owl and the Kitty-Kat

2. For Great Kid Appeal: (not already mentioned in the finals or other categories)

Una Belle Townsend for Six Secret Valentines

Jan Suhr for The Lost Valentine

Kaylee Gwarjanski for Mission: Cancel Cupid Call

Gregory E. Bray for A Valentine’s Day Quest in the Land of Moore

Elizabeth Muster for W-R-I-T-E For Each Other

3. For Original POV:

Molly Ippolito for Cardamom’s Courage (POV of cardamom)

Rozana Rajkumari for Lemon-Tine (POV of a lemon)

4. For Humor:

Kelly Conroy for The Monster’s Valentine Buffet (dark 😊)

Catherine J Lee for The Valentine on My Shoe

Karyn Curtis for The Valentine’s Quest

Tracy Curran for The Wibbler (also great POV – jelly!)

5. For Well-Written, Fun Story With Great Sibling Interaction:

Brenda Whitehead for Step-Brother Battle

Shannon Howarth Nelson for Super Brothers

Danielle S. Hammelef for Scaredy-Cat

6. For Beautiful Writing:

Ciara N M Greenwalt for The Gift Tree

Sandhya Acharya for Sarla Asks A Question

Jyoti Rajan Gopal for A Cocoon of Love

Amy Flynn for Tilly’s Great Big Heart

7. For Best Short Valentiny Story:

P. J. Purtee for A Simple Valentine

8. For Sweet Valentiny:

Kelly Swemba for Brave For Gigi

Anne Bromley for Caleb’s Heart

Carmen Castillo Gilbert for Roses From Valentina

9. Best Story From A Young Writer:

Sophia Zafra for Bravery Is From The Heart

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your award badge and prize, which is five dollars in a format that can be emailed for you to put toward something you’d like at a large online store (and I’m being cryptic because when I did this for Halloweensie I got a ton of problematic spam mail because of the way I worded the post, but hopefully you can figure it out.  The store starts with the letter A 😊) I know it’s not much, but hopefully it will come in handy for something!

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2021 VALENTINY CONTEST as voted on by you, our devoted readers!!!

rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat

DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Sarah McDermott
for

Lemur in Love!!!

Congratulations, Sarah! We had such fun reading this aloud! Terrific job 😊

In Second Place

Sarah Meade
for
Jana’s Valentine Visit

Congratulations, Sarah!  So believable! You get to pick your prize after Sarah.

In Third Place

Nancy Derey Riley
for
Percy’s Valentine

Congratulations, Nancy!  What a perfectly rhymed and timely story! You get to pick your prize after Sarah and Sarah.

In Fourth Place

Jessica Hinrichs
for
Valentine’s Gotcha Day

Congratulations, Jessica!  So sweet! You get to pick your prize after Sarah, Sarah, and Nancy!

In Fifth Place

Carrie Boone
for
The Ballad of Bad Bart

Congratulations, Carrie!  What a Valentine bargain! You get to pick after Sarah, Sarah, Nancy, and Jessica!

In Sixth Place...

Nicole Loos Miller
for
Stella & Hank

Congratulations, Nicole!  You must have a cat and a dog to write them so well! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 😊

In Seventh Place…

Paul Kurtz
for
Someone Special!

Congratulations, Paul!  You made us laugh   You get to pick next 😊

In Eighth Place…

Chambrae Griffith
for
Octopus Hugs

Congratulations, Chambrae!  Happy ending for shark 😊 You get to pick after Paul 😊

In Ninth Place…

Janie Reinart
for
Untangled Valentines

Congratulations, Janie!  So beautifully written!  You get to pick after Chambrae!

In Tenth Place…

Anne Lipton
for
Most Valuable Valentine

Congratulations, Anne!  You did a masterful job of turning history and racial justice into a Valentiny story! And in rhyme! You get to pick after Janie!

In Eleventh Place…

Katie Brandyberry
for
Valentine Delivery

Congratulations, Katie! We could just see the picture book your little mail truck would make! You get to pick after Anne 😊

In Twelfth Place…

Lauri C. Meyers
for
Charmadillo

Congratulations, Lauri! You had us at the title! And we laughed at the ending 😊 You get to pick your prize after Katie.

In Thirteenth Place…

Judy Sobanski
for
Brave Little Friends

Congratulations, Judy! Little Racoon was certainly very brave! 😊 You get to pick after Lauri!

In Fourteenth Place…

Samantha Haas
for
Valentine’s Day Rocks

Congratulations, Samantha! We loved Marjorie for her kindness and understanding, and Roger for bravely (and intelligently) coming up with valentines that worked for him!

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  (The sooner the better!)  And for your convenience, the whole prize list is included at the bottom of this post.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause and a gigantic chocolate heart… or lots of little chocolate hearts… or both… really, you can never have too much chocolate 😊 . (Or, can I interest you in a Poptart? Maybe a chocolate Poptart… 😊 )

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

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 😊

The Prizes:  Swoonworthy!

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

Hannah will offer one lucky winner a PB MS critique. The winner may submit fiction or nonfiction, rhyme or prose – Hannah is open to anything!

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

Winner’s choice of Renee LaTulippe‘s Lyrical Language Lab Intensive Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course OR a one-hour ZOOM consultation with Renee to get feedback on a manuscript of your choice, ask questions about writing in rhyme/lyrical prose, or spend however you like!

Renee LaTulippe

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, Fiction) from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, March 2020), and THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids January 26, 2021)

Dawn Young

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Kirsti Call author of The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall (Mazo Publishing, January 2019),  Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee, September 2020), as well as COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) which will release in 2021.

Kirsti Call

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), and SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (Spork, October 2020)

Melissa Stoller

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction) from Becky Scharnhorst, author of the forthcoming MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

Becky Scharnhorst

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of A Flood Of Kindness (WorthyKids April 2021), DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction, fewer than 800 words) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, February 16, 2021) (which means it’s coming out in the middle of our contest!😊) and the forthcoming LITTLE RED (Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, Spring 2022) and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

Rebecca Kraft Rector

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonfiction PB or rhyming PB) from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019), YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020), LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020), THE OLD MAN AND THE PENGUIN (Kids Can Press, December 2020), and the forthcoming LITTLE PENGUIN and LITTLE ZEBRA (Amicus Ink, March 2, 2021) and SAKIMOTO’S SWIM CLUB (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

Julie Abery


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman

– Either a signed copy of WHEN A TREE GROWS OR a Picture Book Manuscript Critique – winner’s choice! – from Cathy Ballou Mealey, author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Sterling April 2019) and the forthcoming SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

– a personalized signed copy of SUNDAY RAIN from author Rosie Pova PLUS a personalized signed copy of DEAR GRANDMA from Yours Truly.

– a personalized signed copy of DON’T HUG DOUG: (He Doesn’t Like It) from author Carrie Finison PLUS a personalized signed copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY from author/illustrator Nancy Derey Riley!

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Baafore Easter from author Dawn Young PLUS a personalized signed copy of Hop To It: Poems To Get You Moving from poet Sarah Meade!

Please join me 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 birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

[For those trying to post, you must click on the Blog Post Title to get on the blog post page and access the comments]

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Like galloping hooves, our brave hearts are pounding with excitement and anticipation (or maybe trepidation!) because it’s time for. . .

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

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 feels brave!

  • They can be brave about asking someone to be their Valentine, of course, but they can also do something brave to get a Valentine (the person or the gift), or do something brave to help a friend. They could be brave about giving something up, or brave about asking someone they’re not sure they like to be their Valentine just to be nice. . . sky’s the limit!  Think beyond the obvious!
  • 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 brave (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.
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

Post your story in the comment section below (preferred) or on your own blog between right now this very second and Sunday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT. If you only post on your own blog, add your post-specific link to the form list at the bottom of the post.  This post with all the entries in the comment section and the list of links for those who prefer to post on their own blogs will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy. If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com

We discussed changing the entry posting. The majority voted to have all the entries in one place here in the comment section, so we’re going to give that a try. But there were some who wanted to continue blog-hopping, so I’m going to include a link list for them at the bottom of the post. For those who are willing to post in the comment section but also plan to post on their own blogs, you are most welcome to post the link to your blog in your posted entry here (see example below.) That way people can come visit you if they want to but can also read most of the entries in one place on my blog if they prefer. It is certainly easier for the judges to have as many entries as possible in one place. We’ll try it this way one time and see how it works. We can always go back to the old system 😊

(So a sample entry might look like this:
ENTRY TITLE – word count
Author Name
(link to your own contest entry blog post if you have one and would like to share it)

Amazing wonderful Valentiny Contest story.😊

Dudley’s Brave Valentine – 212 words
by Violet Hill
http://bit.ly/3aOxhZm

It was almost Valentines Day and Dudley’s heart had sunk to somewhere near his big toenail.
(etc etc amazing story continues)

I know how hard you all work on your entries and how anxious you are to be sure your entry is posted, but please try to be a little bit patient if you’re waiting for your entry to show up in the comments or on the list of entries. I try never to get up from my desk during contests but sometimes it’s unavoidable. 😊

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 12 top choices which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Thursday February 18th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 22nd depending on judging and voting time needed.  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 bravery and success in making us feel the bravery!
  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, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 😊
  7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines they won’t even read your submission.

The Prizes:  Talk about a pounding heart! Just look at these fabulous prizes!

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

Hannah will offer one lucky winner a PB MS critique. The winner may submit fiction or nonfiction, rhyme or prose – Hannah is open to anything!

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

Winner’s choice of Renee LaTulippe‘s Lyrical Language Lab Intensive Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course OR a one-hour ZOOM consultation with Renee to get feedback on a manuscript of your choice, ask questions about writing in rhyme/lyrical prose, or spend however you like!

Renee LaTulippe

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, Fiction) from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, March 2020), and THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids January 26, 2021)

Dawn Young

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Kirsti Call author of The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall (Mazo Publishing, January 2019),  Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee, September 2020), as well as COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) which will release in 2021.

Kirsti Call

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), and SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (Spork, October 2020)

Melissa Stoller

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction) from Becky Scharnhorst, author of the forthcoming MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

Becky Scharnhorst

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of A Flood Of Kindness (WorthyKids April 2021), DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction, fewer than 800 words) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, February 16, 2021) (which means it’s coming out in the middle of our contest!😊) and the forthcoming LITTLE RED (Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, Spring 2022) and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

Rebecca Kraft Rector

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonfiction PB or rhyming PB) from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019), YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020), LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020), THE OLD MAN AND THE PENGUIN (Kids Can Press, December 2020), and the forthcoming LITTLE PENGUIN and LITTLE ZEBRA (Amicus Ink, March 2, 2021) and SAKIMOTO’S SWIM CLUB (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

Julie Abery


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman

– Either a signed copy of WHEN A TREE GROWS OR a Picture Book Manuscript Critique – winner’s choice! – from Cathy Ballou Mealey, author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Sterling April 2019) and the forthcoming SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

– a personalized signed copy of SUNDAY RAIN from author Rosie Pova PLUS a personalized signed copy of DEAR GRANDMA from Yours Truly.

– a personalized signed copy of DON’T HUG DOUG: (He Doesn’t Like It) from author Carrie Finison PLUS a personalized signed copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY from author/illustrator Nancy Derey Riley!

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Baafore Easter from author Dawn Young PLUS a personalized signed copy of Hop To It: Poems To Get You Moving from poet Sarah Meade!

Please join me 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 birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Now! Put your heart into it and bravely post your entries!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

Eager Readers: Check out the comment section for all the fabulous entries, and the link list at the end to visit the blogs of the authors who wanted to post on their own home turf 😊

ENTRIES IN THE COMMENT SECTION: (all entries are linked)

  1. Not “IT” – Danielle Sharkan
  2. A Goosely Valentine – Danielle Sharkan
  3. Charlie and Sienna – A Friendship Story – Laura Roettiger
  4. Most Valuable Valentine – Anne Lipton
  5. A Valentine’s Day Quest in the Land of Moore – Gregory Bray
  6. Red-Green Valentine’s Day – Stephanie Amargi
  7. A One-of-a-Kind, Just-in-Case, Not-at-All-Pink Valentine’s Day – Amy Leskowski
  8. Love Is Stronger – Teresa Traver
  9. Valentine’s Gotcha Day – Jessica Hinrichs
  10. Carmela’s Valentines – Lu Pierro
  11. Bee Brave – Gennie Gorback
  12. Crushed – Corine Timmer
  13. Too Chicken – Sue Lancaster
  14. Shelly and the Path of Peril – Sue Lancaster
  15. Brave Hearts – Jamie Donahoe
  16. Step-Brother Battle – Brenda Whitehead
  17. I Woof You – Debra Daugherty
  18. My Valenchicken – Glenda Roberson
  19. A Neighborly Valentine – Meg King-Sloan
  20. U R Brave – Lindsey Hobson
  21. If I Were Brave – Rose Cappelli
  22. Elonso’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever – Susan Drew
  23. Dibble and Wiscowski: “A Cookie Valentine” – Bru Benson
  24. One Brave Balloon – Susan Schade
  25. The Wibbler – Tracy Curran
  26. Brave Bonnie – Shannon VanStraten-Sundlass
  27. Cupid, Junior – Linda Staszak
  28. A Valentine Visit – Julie Maria
  29. Cupid: The Love Fairy – Rachel Shupin
  30. Be Brave On Valentine’s Day – Sara Kruger
  31. Operation Moonbeam – Simon Yeend
  32. A Valentine Rose – Daryl Gottier
  33. The Ballad of Bad Bart – Carrie Boone
  34. The Brave Little Seed – Michelle S. Kennedy
  35. Something I Want To Say – Jeny Morales
  36. Stella & Sparky And The Last Valentine – Patricia Nozell
  37. Stella & Hank – Nicole Loos Miller
  38. Untangled Valentines – Janie Reinart
  39. The Wildflower – Ashlee Hashman
  40. The Color of Love – Allison Strick
  41. Puppy Love – Deb Buschman
  42. Super Brothers – Shannon Howarth Nelsen
  43. Brave For Gigi – Kelly Swemba
  44. Wannabe my Valentine – Cynthia Stacey
  45. Cupix – Bridget Magee
  46. U To The Rescue – Amy Heath
  47. Blob’s Valentine’s Wish – Deb Sullivan
  48. Violet & The Valentine’s Vampire – Sarah Meade
  49. Jana’s Valentine’s Visit – Sarah Meade
  50. Mole & Miss Vole on Valentine’s Day – Sarah Meade
  51. A Valentine’s Mouse In Our House – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  52. Will you be my ninja – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  53. Grouchy Grover – Rebekah Hoeft
  54. Brave In A Cave – Cedar Pruitt
  55. Cardy’s Valentine Story In All Its Glory – Sally Yorke-Viney
  56. My Kind of Valentine! – Megan France
  57. Lavender Buzz – Vicky Langdon
  58. Love Sick – Abi Island
  59. Be Brave! – Lisa M. Clewner-Newman
  60. I’m Not Afraid – Patricia J. Franz
  61. The Girl With The Candyfloss Hair – Simon Yeend
  62. Valentine’s Day on Halloween Hill – Abby Wooldridge
  63. W-R-I-T-E For Each Other – Elizabeth Muster
  64. Olive You Forever – Ann Ferrello
  65. The Pink Pro – Kelsey Gross
  66. Brave Brave Brave – David McMullin
  67. The Witch of Valentine Lane – Marietta Apollonio
  68. Gordon’s One-Footed Hop – Kelsey Gross
  69. Charmadillo – Lauri C. Meyers
  70. “Soon” – M.R. Haqq
  71. More Than Cookies – Halley M. Cormack, LCSW
  72. Leroy The Lion (Hearted) – Lisa Varchol Perron
  73. Fishing For Love: A DIARY – Amy Olsen
  74. The Lost Valentine – Jeannette Suhr
  75. Brave New Friends – Dawn Young
  76. Scaredy-Cat – Danielle S. Hammelef
  77. Hard To Love – Robin Currie
  78. Brave Hearts – Susan Klaren
  79. Across The Road – Rachel Dutton
  80. Knight of Hearts – Ellen Crosby
  81. Tootsee Tulip Bulb’s Love-Treat – Judy Caldwell Hughes
  82. Brave in the Basement – Jessica Whipple
  83. Caleb’s Heart – Anne Bromley
  84. Corn Dogs on the Corner – Colleen Dougherty
  85. Brave Heart – Rebecca Gardyn Levington
  86. Knock, Knock, Knock – Marty Findley
  87. Villain-tine’s Day – Laura Bower
  88. Take A Deep Breath – Elyse Trevers
  89. Only Three Words – B. A. Schlosser Hill
  90. A Stolen Valentine – Martha Holguin
  91. Class List – Elizabeth Volkmann
  92. Cards and Cookies – Jennifer Reichow
  93. Chalk Tears – Judy Brewer
  94. Nurse A Broken Heart – E. Elle Bea
  95. Bravely Soldier On – E. Elle Bea
  96. New Kid Blues – Darcee A. Freier
  97. Valentine’s Recitation – Keely Leim
  98. Mama Love. Dada Love. – Nancy M. Tichenor
  99. A Valentine’s Treasure – Ingrid Boydston
  100. An Itsy Bitsy Valentine – Maria Antonia
  101. Dino & Gigi – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  102. Hearts Trail – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  103. The Giant’s Valentine – Sheila M. Hausbeck
  104. The Loneliness Street – Nina K. Brown
  105. Brave Little Valentine – Charlotte Dixon
  106. Playdate – Margaret Aitken
  107. Octopus Hugs – Chambrae Griffith
  108. Conversation Heart Courage – Becky Kimbrough
  109. My Friend Nate – Karima Davis
  110. Jojo’s Valentine – Sarah Hawklyn
  111. “I Like You A Lot” – Julie Schnieders
  112. Unconventional Friendship – Sarah Hawklyn
  113. The Flavors of the Heart – Armineh Manookian
  114. The Candybot – Ellen Seal
  115. An Otter Love Story – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  116. Floret And The Fondue – Ashley Sierra
  117. Be Brave, Be Kind, My Valentine – Susan E. Schipper
  118. Cupid’s Booty Camp For BabyBoo – Ally Enz
  119. Playing To Win – Norah Colvin
  120. Super Special Valentine – Aundra Tomlins
  121. A Brave Change of Heart – Amy Nicolai
  122. Sarla Asks A Question – Sandhya Acharya
  123. A Trail of Ketchup and Mustard – MeiLin Chan
  124. Juliet and Romeo: Verona’s Valentine’s Celebration – Cristina Raymer
  125. A Little Atom – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez
  126. Oscar Octopus Plants A Garden – Isabel Cruz Rodriquez
  127. My Bestest Friend – Roberta Abussi
  128. My Every-Day-Valentine – Roberta Abussi
  129. Sarah’s Valentines – Rachel Zimmerman Brachman
  130. Lemur In Love – Sarah McDermott
  131. A Cocoon of Love – Jyoti Rajan Gopal
  132. Eggbert – Charlie Bown
  133. A Valentine For Mom – Patricia Martin
  134. Becca’s Brave Hearts – Marty Bellis
  135. Little Truck’s Daring Delivery – Kristin Kolp
  136. The Valentine On My Shoe – Catherine J. Lee
  137. No More Pink – Robin Currie
  138. Shiny Sharp Scissors – Katie Fischer
  139. Valentine Love Languages – Jaymie Dean
  140. Val & Jack – Karen Keesling
  141. Brave Heart – Tonnye Fletcher
  142. Valentine Delivery – Katie Brandyberry
  143. Apple Pie: Valentine’s Day Treat – Sarah Skolfield
  144. Brave Little Friends – Judy Sobanski
  145. Lone’s Very First Day – Jennifer Reinharz
  146. The Monster’s Valentine Buffet – Kelly Conroy
  147. Freddie Frog’s Valentine – Lindsey Hobson
  148. A Simple Valentine – P. J. Purtee
  149. The Wonky Heart – Stacy Burch
  150. Roses From Valentina – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  151. A Natural Valentine’s Day – Sharon McCarthy
  152. Miss Hedgehog’s Valentine Mission – Amy LaMae Brewer
  153. Blown Away – Diana Webb
  154. Zooming Valentine’s Day – Susan VandeWeghe
  155. Snack Attack – Melisa Wrex
  156. Heart Hands – Sarah Heaton
  157. Bigfoot’s Valentine – Kirsten Leestma
  158. Geronimo! – Lydia Loeber
  159. The Most Terrible, Awful, Icky Valentine Ever – Melissa Trempe
  160. Babies Share Bedrooms – Kristi Newsome
  161. 214 St. Valentine Way – Tracy Anderson Martin
  162. Six Secret Valentines – Una Belle Townsend
  163. The Bees and the Birdss – Paul Kurtz
  164. Someone Special! – Paul Kurtz
  165. Zombie My Valentine – Donna Kurtz
  166. The Owl and the Kitty-Kat – Donna Kurtz
  167. No Pictures! – Diane S. Scotti
  168. Blue Flower – Mary Warth
  169. New Line Valentine – Marcia Parks
  170. Leo Lionhearted – Jill Lambert
  171. Bravery Is From The Heart – Sophia Zafra
  172. A Heavenly Visit – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  173. The Bird And The Cat – Beth Winslow
  174. THE Valentine Question – Kate Rehill
  175. How To Be Valentines (With A Boa Constrictor) – Mary Noon
  176. Desi’s Daring Delivery – Darci Nielson
  177. New Best Friend – Sherri T. Mercer
  178. The Gift Tree – Ciara N M Greenwalt
  179. One Shot – Dazzle Ng
  180. Fuzzy Bum – Stacey Miller
  181. Arrrrr Is For Valentine – Sara Ackerman
  182. Valentine’s Day Rocks – Samantha Haas
  183. Cyrus The Bold – Patricia Corcoran
  184. Saying What I Really Mean – Nina Nolan
  185. Mr. Grumpy’s Valentine – Anne Sawan
  186. Heart Shaped Everything – Rathi Munukur
  187. You Can Do This Jonathan! – Martina Palkovicova
  188. Caveman Valentine – Jennifer Lowe
  189. Percy’s Valentine – Nancy Derey Riley
  190. Brave Hearts – Mary Rudzinski
  191. Legendary Valentine – Audrey Day-Williams
  192. In Front Behind – Diana Webb
  193. A Punny Valentine – Linda Staszak
  194. Love is an Ocean Away – Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden
  195. Valentine’s Day Rescue – Brigid Finucane
  196. Mission: Cancel Cupid Call – Kalee Gwarjanski
  197. The Valentine’s Quest – Karyn Curtis
  198. Seeking Courage – Bonnie Kelso
  199. Valentina and Valentino – Claire Lewis
  200. Will You Bee My Valentine – Ranessa Doucet
  201. A Valentine Ski – Clara MacClarald
  202. Dance Like An Eagle – Jyothi Nookula
  203. A Gift For Abuelo – JC Kelly
  204. My Tummy Valentine – Janice Kay Alexander
  205. Elijah and the Valentine – Susan Twiggs
  206. Assortment Phobia – JC Kelly
  207. A Beastly Valentine – Steve Jankousky
  208. A Valentiny for ME! – Karima Davis
  209. Friendship Cake – Dea Lenihan
  210. Be My Valentine – Liz Kehrli
  211. Love Story – Liz Kehrli
  212. Love Birds – Lisa Lee Furness
  213. Mr. Grumpy – Mary A. Zychowicz
  214. Feep and Meep – Echo Roben
  215. The Cave of Utter Darkness – Bill Canterbury
  216. Yellow Like A Mango – Imelda Taylor
  217. Melanie’s Back! – Shari Della Penna
  218. All About Heart – Anna Lunt
  219. Tilly’s Great Big Heart – Amy Flynn
  220. Insiya’s Valentine – Aditya Simha
  221. Corazon Does Not Cliff Jump – Kate Rehill
  222. We’re Still Brave! – Kelly Coutsoubos
  223. The Cupcake Who Dared To Be Different – Susanne Whitehouse
  224. Lucy’s Brave Lifelines – Karen A. Kelly

This form ONLY for people who prefer to post on their own blogs and are ONLY posting their entries on their own blogs!

Eh, What’s Up Doc? Announcing The Guidelines For The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?

Atlas.

Atlas who?

Atlas, it’s Valentines Day!

Ok, well, it’s not quite Valentines. . .

How about this one?

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?

Iguana.

Iguana who?

Iguana hold your hand!

Ok 😊 I’ll stop 😊 Because what iguana do really is let you know that it’s time to fire up those brain cells and write your entry for. . .

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

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 feels brave!  They can be brave about asking someone to be their Valentine, of course, but they can also do something brave to get a Valentine (the person or the gift), or do something brave to help a friend. They could be brave about giving something up, or brave about asking someone they’re not sure about for some reason to be nice. . . sky’s the limit!  Think beyond the obvious!  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 brave (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 enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Friday February 12th and Sunday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my February 12th post.  There will be no regularly scheduled posts that week (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It or 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! Although I have a question I’d love addressed in the comments: would it be easier for everyone to post their entry in the comment section of my blog so everything is all together? I know it means no blog-hopping, but do you guys think it would be simpler? Or do you prefer the opportunity to visit new blogs?

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 Thursday February 19th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 22nd depending on judging and voting time needed.  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 bravery and success in making us feel the bravery!
  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, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 😊
  7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines.

The Prizes:  I’m still working on prizes (aren’t I always 😊), but I wanted to get the contest guidelines up so you’d have time to write.  If anyone has anything fabulous to offer, drop me an email 😊  But meanwhile, start writing and watch this space for prizes which I will add as I get them organized!

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

Hannah will offer one lucky winner a PB MS critique. The winner may submit fiction or nonfiction, rhyme or prose – Hannah is open to anything!

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

Winner’s choice of Renee LaTulippe‘s Lyrical Language Lab Intensive Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course OR a one-hour ZOOM consultation with Renee to get feedback on a manuscript of your choice, ask questions about writing in rhyme/lyrical prose, or spend however you like!

Renee LaTulippe

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, Fiction) from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, March 2020), and THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids January 26, 2021)

Dawn Young

Kirsti Call – Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Kirsti Call author of The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall (Mazo Publishing, January 2019),  Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee, September 2020), as well as COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) which will release in 2021.

Kirsti Call

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), and SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (Spork, October 2020)

Melissa Stoller

– Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction) from Becky Scharnhorst, author of the forthcoming MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

Becky Scharnhorst

Ellen Leventhal – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of A Flood Of Kindness (WorthyKids April 2021), DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal

– Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction, fewer than 800 words) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, February 16, 2021) (which means it’s coming out in the middle of our contest!😊) and the forthcoming LITTLE RED (Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, Spring 2022) and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

Rebecca Kraft Rector

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonfiction PB or rhyming PB) from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019), YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020), LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020), THE OLD MAN AND THE PENGUIN (Kids Can Press, December 2020), and the forthcoming LITTLE PENGUIN and LITTLE ZEBRA (Amicus Ink, March 2, 2021) and SAKIMOTO’S SWIM CLUB (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

Julie Abery


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman

– Either a signed copy of WHEN A TREE GROWS OR a Picture Book Manuscript Critique – winner’s choice! – from Cathy Ballou Mealey, author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Sterling April 2019) and the forthcoming SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

Rosie Pova – personalized signed copy of SUNDAY RAIN

– a personalized signed copy of DON’T HUG DOUG: (He Doesn’t Like It) by Carrie Finison PLUS a personalized signed copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY by Nancy Derey Riley!

Dawn Young – personalized signed copy of The Night Baafore Easter

So you’ve got nearly 3 weeks to write your entry!  Butt in chair! Valentine Chocolate and coffee/tea on your desk!  Brain in gear!  Ready, set, WRITE!  Be Brave! You can do it!!!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!