⭐️Deck the Halls! ⭐️ Light the menorah! ⭐️ Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja! ⭐️
It’s time for . . .
THE 10TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!
~ for children’s writers ~
The Contest: Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about a Holiday Helper!
Your helper can be one helper, or a pair, or a group or a bevy or a herd of helpers. Your helpers can be children, animals, elves, aliens, unicorns, fairies . . . whatever your heart desires. He/she/they can help bake, decorate, shovel snow, wrap gifts, clean the house, entertain guests, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, bring the holiday spirit to those who have lost it – sky’s the limit 😊 But the focus of the story must be on helping – not just a brief mention in passing that Marla helped Dad set the table in the middle of a story about her frustration at not getting the starring role in the school holiday pageant.
Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 😊 ) (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 😊 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250! Title not included in word count.) The field is wide open! Have fun! The more creative the better! No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)
Post: Your entry should be posted between right now this very second and Wednesday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, in ONE of the following three ways:
- Post your entry on your own blog and enter your post-specific link (not your main blog URL) to the link list below, OR
- Paste your entry in the comment section below (please include your byline since if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight I will have no idea who you are 😊), OR
- If you have trouble pasting your entry in the comment section for any reason (which unfortunately does happen!) you can email it to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I will post it for you. If you email it, please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email NO ATTACHMENTS – they will not be opened. Please include your title and byline at the top of your entry. (And since there have been many questions about this byline means who it’s by, for example, The Hanukkah Helper by Janie Simcox.)
Please submit your entry only ONCE! If you add it to the blog link list, and the comments, and email me to post it, things get very confusing! I try to stay as glued to my desk as possible, but sometimes I have to get up so if I don’t respond to your email or approve your post immediately, don’t panic! I’ll get to it as soon as I can!
There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or Perfect Picture Book) for the duration of the contest so this post with the links and comments will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy until I post the finalists.
The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.) In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Monday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner. The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 16th at 5 PM EST. Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 17th. (These dates are subject to adjustment if it takes the judges longer than we anticipate to get the judging completed.)
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. Holiday Helpers! – the rules state a Holiday Helper story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about someone helping someone else in some way during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose. The story must center on helping – the help must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
- 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 😊 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!: The prize list is completely and totally awesome! Read! Covet! Write your best! 😊
A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique by Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary! Although she is currently closed to submissions (making this prize EXTRA special!) a look at her wish list will give you an idea of what she likes.
A 12×12 Silver Membership (valued at $177 but worth so much more!) generously donated by author and 12×12 founder and queen, Julie Hedlund! 12×12 is a fantastic, educational, supportive community with TONS to offer its members, including interesting and informational webinars of all kinds, access to forums and critiques, and the chance to submit to agents. If you’re not familiar with it, you can learn all about it HERE. Julie is the author of A Troop Is A Group of Monkeys (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013), My Love For You Is The Sun (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming Over, Bear! Under, Where? (Philomel Books, Fall 2021)
A Picture Book Manuscript Read and On The Spot Critique by prolific author Laura Purdie Salas! Laura offers a 50-minute on on-the-spot critique via Zoom for one picture book manuscript of up to 600 words (fiction or nonfiction, rhyming or prose or poetry). She will read it out loud to the writer and then do a critique right then and answer questions. Laura is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, her own submissions and work for hire – she’s done it all! She is also the author of a number of fantastic books for writers which are often given as prizes here. Some of her books include A Leaf Can Be (Millbrook Press 2012), Clover Kitty Goes To Kittygarten (Two Lions 2020), Snowman – Cold = Puddle (Charlesbridge 2019), If You Were The Moon (Millbrook Press 2017), Making A Living Writing Books For Kids (CreateSpace 2017), and Picture Books The Write Way (CreateSpace 2014)
Rate Your Story owner, Picture Book Mechanic, and author Lynne Marie is offering 4 amazing prizes!
A 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com
Another 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com
A Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org
[From the Rate Your Story site] “A SPEED PASS allows a Non-Member to submit to Rate Your Story, as well as a Member to submit additional items to best serve the rating and feedback needs of our writing community.
We have a variety of Speedpass options, including pitches, query letters, art or a single manuscript at any time for a rating + guaranteed comments*, and it will be returned in less than 7 days’ time. Should you require a faster turnaround, fast pass options may be purchased to facilitate that.”
Another Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org
Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019) and Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and two others forthcoming.
A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, rhyme or prose) by accomplished author Laura Sassi, author of Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz 2014) , Goodnight, Manger (Zonderkidz 2015), Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse (Sterling 2018), Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz 2018), and the forthcoming Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books, February 2021)
A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Sandra Sutter, whose delightful books include The REAL Farmer In The Dell (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, March 2019) and Stan’s Frightful Halloween (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, September 2020)
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
Personalized, signed copies of For Spacious Skies (Albert Whitman, April 2020) and The Queen And The First Christmas Tree (Albert Whitman, October 2018) by award-winning author Nancy Churnin.
Personalized, signed copies of The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young and Louis (HMH Books For Young Readers 2020) by Tom Lichtenheld, illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoch. The Night Baafore Christmas will be signed by Dawn, the author. Louis will be signed by Julie, the illustrator.
Two Picture Books (TBD) donated by Darshana Khiani, whose own picture book How To Wear A Sari is forthcoming from Versify in June 2021.
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, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊
This is the part in the proceedings where I would normally post my sample to entertain and encourage you. Ahem. Seems I’ve been a little over-scheduled with life lately, and my sample isn’t quite finished. . . If I can get it done whilst running the contest I’ll pop it in here. If not, you guys have the hang of these contest by now and you don’t really need my example! 😊
I know you guys are going to come up with great stories, and I’m so looking forward to reading them all! 😊
***UPDATE 12/8/20*** – I’m late adding this in and it would have benefited greatly from more time to work and a slightly longer word count, but. . .
A Little Christmas Joy (249 words)
Cara longed to play in the snow.
She wanted to open her mouth and feel the cold snowflakes melt on her tongue.
She wanted to lie on her back and make snow angels.
But Cara wasn’t allowed outside alone, and everyone was busy inside because it was Christmas Eve.
“So many presents to wrap!” Mom said.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She handed Mom scissors and tape, and pressed her finger to the crossed ribbon so Mom could tie a snug bow.
“This tree needs decorating!” said Dad.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She hung pepperminty candy canes from the fragrant-needled boughs wherever she felt spaces.
“So much cookie dough to bake!” said Cara’s big sister.
“I’ll help!” said Cara. She grinned and scooped a fingerful of dough from the bowl into her mouth.
The whole day passed, and Cara never got to play in the snow.
She carefully placed cookies and milk on the hearth for Santa, along with apples for the reindeer.
When Santa arrived, he saw everything Cara had helped with – the presents, the tree, the cookies – and her snow boots waiting hopefully by the back door.
He smiled and whispered, “You help everyone else. It’s time you got a little special help yourself.”
When Cara awoke, her gift was beside her. A wet nose, a wagging tail, and a note in Braille on her collar that read: Hi Cara! I’m Joy, your Guiding Eyes. I can’t wait to take you out to play in the snow!
*** There you have it 😊 ***
With so many great prizes up for grabs I hope there will be a lot of entries – the more the merrier! And you’ve still got a couple days to write, so you can squeeze in under the wire 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! And don’t miss the fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below! The titles are listed and linked just below the link list at the bottom of the post and will take you directly to the stories!
Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!!!🎄⭐️ ✡️❄️☃️🕎
Don’t miss the 119!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below! The titles are linked and will take you directly to the stories!
- Ivy’s Christmas Wish – Anne Reilly
- Decorating The Tree – Gabrielle Cardwell
- Not Too Little – Marty Findley
- Christmas Angel – Brenda Whitehead
- Decorations Deputy – Nicola Thackrey
- A Super Scooper – Ellen Turcio
- A Cranky Christmas – Stacey Miller
- Sylvia Kitty – Susan Drew
- Bug Academy Christmas Pageant – Kathiann Weatherbee
- Calma The Llama – Mattie Noall
- Don’t Let The Cat Help Decorate The Tree – Lu Pierro
- BigFoot’s Surprise – Natalie Cohn
- A Fine Idea – Jill Proctor
- Holly The Holiday Helper – Ashley Congdon
- Ollie’s Christmas Visits – Marilyn Wolpin
- A Dust Bunny’s Christmas – Marty Bellis
- Naserian – A Maasai The Holiday Helper – Ketan Ram
- Who Will Do It? (April Helps Out) – Elizabeth Westra
- Bambini Christmas – Martha Holguin
- Holiday Helpers – Shariffa Keshavjee
- A Servant’s Heart – Ellen Crosby
- Snail’s Starry Night – Becky Loescher
- Sandy Claws’ Helpers – Susan E. Schipper
- Dear Santa – Dawn Young
- Christmas Neighbor – Linda Staszak
- Sugar’s Spin – Megan & Rob Hunnicut
- Elf And The Pixies – Vicky Langdon
- The Signed Confession – Cristina Raymer
- The Reverse Advent Calendar – Anne Lipton
- Holiday Helper Extraordinaire – Susan Summers
- Home For Christmas – P. J. Purtee
- Three Christmas Camels – Deb Robertson
- Reindeer Shoes – Katherine Rahoy
- A Little Holiday Help – Nina Nolan
- Christmas Is For Everyone – Gerry Lynne Baker
- The Best Christmas Helper – Jean Hall
- Gingerbread Construction Crew – Ashlee Hashman
- A Swedish Pageant And The Mystery Of The Missing Meatballs – Kathryn Rammell
- Christmas Smiles – Alli Strauss
- A Hanukah Detour – Sandra Budiansky
- The Oldest Elf – Jim Chaize
- Santa’s Helpers – E. Elle Bea
- La Navidad I’ll Never Forget – Carmen Gilbert
- I’m Helping For The Holidays (No, You’re Not) – Krista Harrington
- Have A New Year! – Karen Keesling
- Not Too Small At All – Sarah Hawklyn
- To Celebrate We Mix It Up – Sarah Hawklyn
- Christmas Gifts – Donna Kurtz
- Colin’s Christmas Treat – Sally Yorke Viney
- App-y Christmas! – Paul Kurtz
- Santa’s Elves Need Helpers Too – Katie Brandyberry
- The Red Caboose – Stephanie Cullen
- Christmas In Germany – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf
- Leo And The Tree Lady – Ann Malaspina
- The Sleigh-Awake Band – Laura Bower
- Baba’s Christmas Wish – Taylor Gardner
- A Dear, Dear Boy – Darcee A. Freier
- Changing The World – Kathleen Campbell
- The Christmas Cookie Catastrophe – Lynn Camacho
- Grandma’s Christmas Helper, A COVID Alphabet Story – Sarah Hetu-Radny
- Baia’s Bags Of Blessings – Elyse Trevers
- Chanukah Helpers – Marla Yablon
- The Farmyard Nativity – Krystal Snead
- Sprinkles For Santa – Cindy Sommer
- The Crocheted Star – Beverly Warren
- The Toymaker And The Christmas Tomte – Cathrene Valente Youngquist
- New Year’s Cheer – Mia Geiger
- Santa’s Surprise Helper – Liz Kehrli
- Holiday Helpers Galore! – Isabel Cruz Rodgriguez
- Nothing To Give – Maria Marianayagam
- Oy To The World: An Ode To 2020 – Mary Vander Plas
- Gingerbread Commotion – JC Kelly
- Hummus For Santa – Leila Boukarim
- Island Santa – Anne Sawan
- Samosas For Santa – Namita Moolani Mehra
- Beaver’s Gift – Deb Buschman
- Let It Grow! Let It Grow! Let It Grow! – Allison Strick
- Star Light, Star Bright – Estelle Grace Tudor
- Candy And Cain’s Big Job – Becky Kimbrough
- Santa Knows – Diane Hanington
- The Best Christmas Ever – Diane Hanington
- Little Light – Patti Tomarelli
- Runny-Nosed Rudolph – Sarah Hetu-Radny
- Ask Santa – Jennifer Reichow
- Not Counting On Sweet Treats This Year – Linda Hofke
- The Runaway Reindeer – Caroline Perry
- Flossy’s Fairy Fail – Laura Howard
- The Christmas Tree – Cynthia Stacey
- The Greatest Gift – Lisa Khan
- Adorable, Not Abominable – Kimberly Lee
- Maya’s Light – Karyn Curtis
- Tiffani And The Talking Tree – Courtney Ryan
- Santa’s Helpers – Meghan Wallace
- Missing Magic – Darci Nielson
- One Cold Christmas – Toni Hawks Floyd
- Merry Marsmas – Megan Walvoord
- Me Do It! – Simon Yeend
- ‘Twas A Night On A Farm – Penelope McNally
- Winter Welcome – Jessica Whipple
- A Not-So-Helpful Helper – Liv Gehlbach
- The Kindness Crew – Michelle S. Kennedy
- Christmas For The Birds – Elizabeth Volkmann
- Christmas Shelter – Rita Russell
- Princess Oblivious – Bill Canterbury
- A Forest Christmas – Barbara Keevil Parker
- Little Donkey, The Christmas Helper – Jacqui Boulter
- Cam’s Christmas – Ann Gray
- Santa’s Helper – Mary Rudzinski
- “For The Girl Who Has Everything” – Bill Canterbury
- Buon The Christmouse – Georgette Kaftan
- Great Aunt MaccaBea – Danielle Sharkan
- Blue and Boots and the Christmas Spirit – Katie Schwartz
- Santa’s Slumber – Jennifer Lowe
- The Holiday Helper Thing – Cindy L. Jeklin
- Holiday Helpers – Bonnie Anderson
- GRA’MERE’S COOKIES – Loren Hackney
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