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! πŸ™‚

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! 😊

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 πŸ™‚  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 πŸ™‚  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!!!

The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest ~ aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!

Viper fangs and dragon claws. It’s time for. . .

The 10TH Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!

Halloweensie Pumpkin

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words skeleton, creep, and mask.  Your story can be scary, funny, sweet, 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 πŸ™‚  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 325 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. skeletons, creepy/crept, masked/unmasked, whathaveyou πŸ™‚  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined πŸ™‚ )

Post: your story on your blog between right now this very second and Saturday October 31st by 11:59 PM Eastern Time and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Tuesday Debut, Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and 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 (please include your byline if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight so I can identify you.)  If you have difficulty posting in the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post it for you.  Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the topNO ATTACHMENTS!  And please do not submit entries in more than one place because it becomes confusing.

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 6 9 12? top choices (give or take… you know how hard it is to choose!) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Wednesday November 4th or Thursday November 5th (if the judging takes longer than we expect if could be later…but we will do our best!)  The winner will be announced on Monday November 9th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 😊 )

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Halloweeniness – the rules state a Halloween story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Halloween, not just some random spooky night.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny πŸ™‚  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes:  SO AMAZING! What a generous community we have to donate so much awesomeness!!! 😊

1 – Get Your MS in Tip Top Shape With Vivian Kirkfield!

Vivian is offering a PB MS Critique (fiction or nonfiction/rhyming or prose), along with a 30 minute Skype or FB video chat to discuss, along with a read-through of the revision. And top it all off she will also help you with a query/cover letter edit to go with your polished up ms! WOW!

Vivian Kirkfield is the author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD (Little Bee, January 14, 2020), and more…

Making Their Voices Heard Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

2 – Penny’s Two Cents – an incredible opportunity for any picture book writer!

Sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a published author about your writing journey. Penny Parker Klostermann is offering her two cents. The prize includes General/Big-Picture Feedback on one picture book manuscript + One 30-Minute Chat (Rhyming or prose-750 words or under) Penny doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, (by any means) but she’s happy to share her two cents based on what she’s learned and continues to learn on her journey as an author.

Penny is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) (now available in board book and with matching pajamas! πŸ™‚ ) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

Penny Klostermann Cooked-Up Fairy Tale 2c5b9-dragon2bcover

3 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyme or prose) from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS (Putnam, July 2020) and DON’T HUG DOUG (forthcoming from Putnam in January 2021.)

Carrie-Finison-200x300 Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.35.37 AM Don't Hug Doug

4 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lydia Lukidis, author of NO BEARS ALLOWED (Blue Whale Press 2019) and many educational titles.

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

5 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction or nonfiction) from Teresa Robeson, author of Queen of Physics (Sterling, 2019) and Two Bicycles In Beijing (Albert Whitman, 2020)

Picture Picture Picture6

6 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique 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

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

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

8 – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Heather Gale, author of Ho’onani Hula Warrior (Tundra Books, October 2019)

Heather Gale

9 – a personalized signed copy of The King Cake Baby  and 15 Minute “Ask Me Anything” Video Chat with Keila Dawson, author of The King Cake Baby (Pelican 2015), No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History (Charlesbridge 2020), and Opening The Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book (forthcoming from Beaming Books, January 2021)

Keila Dawson

10 – Making Picture Book Magic Self Study – an online picture book writing class – any month of winner’s choice!

MPBM

11 – a personalized signed copy of EITHER  ROCK AND ROLL WOODS (PB) or an ARC of SPIRITS AMONG US (MG) from author Sherry Howard

Sherry Howard (4)Cover Rock and Roll Woods Spirits Among Us

AND a personalized signed copy of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE (Abrams Appleseed, May 2020) by Gabi Snyder

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

12 –  a personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Jerry shelley-kinder_orig

AND a personalized signed copy of MARS’ FIRST FRIENDS: COME ON OVER ROVERS! (Sourcebooks 2020) by Susanna Leonard Hill

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 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 visits, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 😊

Now then, my pretties! It’s past the witching hour in the dead of night – very appropriate for a Halloween story, don’t you think? – and the time has come for me to embarrass myself my sample entry which should fill you with confidence in your own MUCH MUCH better efforts!!!

Halloween
A pumpkin moon
A ghostly ship
A still lagoon
Tattered sails
Like swirling mist
Ancient rigging
Creaks and twists
Skull and crossbones
Striking fear
Warning sailors
Far and near
Captain Jack
Comes thump-a-peg
Limping on
His broomstick leg
β€œSteady now,”
breathes Captain Jack,
β€œMustn’t blow
our sneak attack!”
Silently
The ghost ship glides
Closer . . .
Closer . . .
On the tides
Guided through
The murky blue
By the ghastly
Skeleton crew
Stealthily
it comes abreast
creeping
uninvited guest
nearing windows
warm with light
no idea
of their plight
Captain Jack
Deceit complete
Unmasks and shouts out, β€œTrick-or-treat!”

It’s truly spooky how willing I am to embarrass myself for you! 😊😊😊 

I can’t wait to read all of your entries!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 3 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!!!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the google form 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 – just go along the list of links, click on them, and enjoy the stories! 

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 😊  πŸŽƒ

And don’t miss the 169!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments
below! (Hopefully each one is a link, but thanks to the new wordpress, I’ve redone the list twice with uncertain success!)
Β 
  1. Midnight Rescue – Laura Bost
  2. You Don’t Scare Me – Brenda B. Covert
  3. Rattle, Rattle Skeleton – Vashti Verbowski
  4. Corona’s Evil Plan – Marty Findley
  5. Littlest Witch’s Wild Ride – Marty Findley
  6. Shy Skeleton’s Dance – Marty Findley
  7. A Night Out. . . – Deb Sullivan
  8. See Billy Bony – Helen Addyman
  9. Β 
  10. Scare School – Laura Howard
  11. Is It Time? – Sue Lancaster
  12. The Skeletons’ Masked Ball – Sue Lancaster
  13. Halloween Masquerade – Jamie Donahoe
  14. The Curse of Halloween – Bru Benson
  15. Halloween Hesitation – Beth Volkmann
  16. The Phantom Of The Library – Natalie Cohn
  17. Trick Or Treat – Alli Straus
  18. No Bones About It – Judy Sobanski
  19. Family Business – Natalie Cohn
  20. Tattered Treats – Marilyn Garcia
  21. Halloween Surprise – Anna Ouchchy
  22. A Spider’s Tale – Darcee A. Freier
  23. Grandfather’s Clock – Sarah Heaton
  24. Halloween Peeps – Jamie Donahoe
  25. Mystery Guest – Dawn Young
  26. Nelly O’Skelly – Danielle Sharkan
  27. First Halloween – Carol Jones
  28. One Noisy Halloween – Rebecca Thill
  29. Polly’s Not-So-Perfect Potion – Susan Summers
  30. Masquerade – Kathiann Weatherbee
  31. Howl-o-weenie – Ashlee Hashman
  32. Trick Or Treat – Stephanie Mena
  33. Skelly The Skeleton – Michelle S. Kennedy
  34. Trudy’s Toothy Halloween – Kelsey Gross
  35. Class Pet Trickery! – Mary Bleckwehl
  36. Hola Halloween! – ‘Boo Darkling’ (Roo Parkin)
  37. BOO! – Rebecca Woodall
  38. Haunted – Anne Lipton
  39. Creepy D’s – Martha Holguin
  40. Trick Or Treat – Marla Yablon
  41. Skellie’s Closet – KeelyWrites
  42. Skelly B. Skeleton – Cathy Chester
  43. When Skally Nearly Didn’t Show His Face – Diana Webb
  44. Sammy Goes Home – Courtney Rubo
  45. GRRRRRRRRRR! – Donna Kurtz
  46. Teeth Love HalloweenToo! – Donna Kurtz
  47. The Halloween Fair – Donna Kurtz
  48. Skeleton And Ghostina – Gail Hartman
  49. Little Bonesy Loves Halloween! – Paul Kurtz
  50. Mousey’s Batty For Halloween! – Paul Kurtz
  51. Spider-Claws Is Comin’ To Town – Paul Kurtz
  52. A Bone-afide Friend – Kristen Reinsel
  53. Wendy’s Sugar Spell – Caitlin Eslinger
  54. A Very Scary Halloween – Kerrie Elizabeth Godding
  55. Haunted Hallo-weave – Cathrene Valente Youngquist
  56. Spider’s Can’t Dance! – Cathrene Valente Youngquist
  57. The Beady Eye – Libby Hartwell
  58. Stitch – Amy Duchene
  59. Halloween Surprise – Sarah Hawklyn
  60. Four Dancing Skeletons – Isabel Rodriguez
  61. First Trick-or-Treat – Carol Samuelson-Woodson
  62. BIG Boney Story – Yolanda Danyi Szuch
  63. Skeleton Knights – Islancy Guada
  64. Halloween, This Year – Nina Nolan
  65. The Arnold Rock – Polly Sheldon
  66. Skeleton’s Scare – Erin K. McCabe
  67. Skeleton’s In The Closet – Karen Keesling
  68. Vampire And Skeleton Go Shopping – Jay Reece
  69. Haiku – Corine Timmer
  70. Opportunity Wanders – Florbela NienaberΒ Β 
  71. Β 
  72. Β 
  73. The Skele-Mummy – Linda Staszak
  74. All On A Halloween Night – Linda Staszak
  75. Creep A Little Closer – Yvonne McCutchen
  76. Moonlight Party – Yvonne McCutchen
  77. Stella Decorates – Melissa Warren
  78. Candy Heist – Sarah Hawklyn
  79. Pillows In Pants – Christine Menke
  80. The Masked Skeleton – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  81. Mask Required – Lucretia Schafroth
  82. Psyched Out – Karen Pickrell
  83. The Case Of The Missing Skeleton – Karen Pickrell
  84. All Hallows’ Eve – Liz Kehrli
  85. My Worst Thirty-first – Obbverse
  86. Scary Mary – Geraldine Jones
  87. Sweet Escape – Allison Strick
  88. Bones: A Love Story – Keatley Eastman
  89. Phoebe’s Magic Stew – Linda Hofke
  90. Paco And The Skeletons – Katie Schwartz
  91. Lester Skeleton’s Halloween Hunt – Ford Waight
  92. Little Frankie Patches Things Up – Rozana Rajkumari
  93. Witch’s Fiery Broth – Corine Timmer
  94. Jack’s Halloween – Kara Sibilia
  95. The Jolly Skeleton – Linda Staszak
  96. Sammy Skeleton’s Warm Halloween – Lily Erlic
  97. Slinky Skeleton – Penelope McNally
  98. Annabelle’s Halloween – Penelope McNally
  99. The Hungry Corpse – Robert Schechter
  100. Little Goblin’s Halloween – Kathleen Mazurowski
  101. The Curse – Glenda Roberson
  102. Moving Day – Laura Bower
  103. Halloweenie – Lauren Harris
  104. Letter On The Door – Jessica Reed
  105. Sebastian’s Halloween – Polly Owen
  106. Skeleton’s Halloween Party – Polly Owen
  107. Halloween High Jinx – Stacey Miller
  108. Weensie’s Potion – Lisa Lee Furness
  109. The Nightmarish Place – Suzie Olsen
  110. I’m Not Scared – Desirae Moten
  111. What A Haul! – Diane Hanington
  112. The Halloween Trick – Aimee Larke
  113. A Skeleton’s Fright – Nadia Ali
  114. The Maple Tree Fright – Rebecca Allain
  115. Creepy Cookie Night – Annette LaFortune Murray
  116. The Night Stacey Saved Halloween – Autumn Haley (age 8)
  117. The Skeleton Ball – Jenny Caddy
  118. The Halloween Car Parade – Laura Bower
  119. The Halloween Ball – Crystal Lamb
  120. A Halloween Scare – Sarah Hetu-Radny
  121. Skeleton And Jack – Jennifer Bochonowicz
  122. Halloween – Marjorie David
  123. Ben’s Biggest Fear – Maria Pichler
  124. Skeletons – Patty Wright
  125. GHOST On The COAST – Becky Loescher
  126. The Scare Dare – Nancy Derey Riley
  127. Lonely Spider’s Dance – Danielle Sharkan
  128. Things That Go Cronk – Carla Bourne
  129. Grrrr! Brothers! – Susan Drew
  130. Midnight Mortal Ball – Nicola Thackrey
  131. The Monsters Of Halloween – Ryan Roberts
  132. The Perfect Halloween Present – Jenny Buchet
  133. Hopeless Heist – Karyn Curtis
  134. A 2020 Halloween Bash – Kristen Foote
  135. Boneyard Ballet – Jennifer Broedel
  136. Halloween Night – Di Litwer
  137. Tom Bones Goes Rogue – Marty Bellis
  138. A Bone-Fide Halloween Tale – Marty Bellis
  139. Dad’s Halloween – Lisa Lipsey
  140. Final Moments – E. Elle Bea
  141. How To Hug A Ghost – Cathy Lee Patterson
  142. Not This Year! – Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD
  143. Shh! Party In My Room! – MeiLin Chan
  144. Little Witch – Tracy Detz
  145. A Pumpkins Story – Christine Graham
  146. Beware Of Humans – Janelle Springer-Willms
  147. Beware Of Skeletons – Lea Boyd (age 8)
  148. Little Badger’s Great Big Scare – Bridget Grey
  149. Lightning And A Mask Of Stars – Rhett Trull
  150. Creature Of The Night – Lindsey Aduskevich
  151. Thorny Lane’s Treasure – Rhonda Gatlin
  152. Argleby’s New School Adventure – Echo Roben
  153. A Cat-astrophic Halloween – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
  154. Two Can Play – JC Kelly
  155. Mia’s Halloween Celebration – Lily Erlic
  156. Seven Jack-O-Lanterns – Mary Arkiszewski
  157. A-Z: Who’s Behind Me? – Ashley Congdon
  158. The Attic Mask – Barbara DiMarco
  159. Not-So-Happy Halloween – Claire Schlinkert
  160. The Skeleton Creep – Tracy Curran
  161. The Brown, Brown Boots On The Cold, Cold Floor – Crystal Lamb
  162. Hedgehogs In The Garden – Nicola Holden
  163. Home Sweet Home – Mona Pease
  164. Β 
  165. All Bones – Desi Valle
  166. Hallowcake Cravings – Katie Pals
  167. Foggy Halloween – Denise Seidman
  168. Halloween Is Scary – Valerie McPherson
  169. The Sweetest Halloween Treat On Earth – Jill BurnsΒ 
Β