The 2019 Holiday Contest WINNERS!!!

 

 

          🎄             ⭐️             ✡️             ❄️             🕎             ☃️             🎄

 

Well, hello there, my little cupcakes!

It’s Thursday, so you know what that means!

For starters, it means you’re a little confused!

This is the second time this week you’ve come to visit on a day I don’t post!

But that is delightful in every way because I am ALWAYS glad to see you!

And as it turns out, I kind of thought you might wander in, so I made you something.

Yes! I really did!

All by myself!

It IS the holiday baking season after all . . .

. . . which got me to thinking, wouldn’t we all like to know what kind of holiday cookie we are?

I mean, I know wondering about that keeps me up at night. . . !😊

The rest of the world may be busy figuring out their elf names or their reindeer names, but that is so last year.

You are so special that you are the ONLY people IN THE WOLRD who get to discover what kind of cookie you are!  Check it out!

What Kind Of Holiday Cookie Are You_

And now you know how I spend my time – thinking up cookie flavors and types, randomizing the lists, and employing canva to make festive charts.  No wonder I haven’t vacuumed😊

Allow me to introduce myself:  Chocolate Chip Crinkle Cookie!!!  (which I think describes me to a T since I love chocolate and I am quite crinkly-looking now that I’m more than half a century old!😊)

So now that you all know what kind of cookie you are (please feel free to share in the comments!) you can all go off happily to your holiday whirlwind of shopping and wrapping and cooking and baking and traveling or tidying depending whether your visiting or hosting and etc, etc, etc!

Bon voyage!

See you next year!

                                                 ❄️

                                                                                                                                    ❄️

                       ❄️                                                              ❄️

                                                      ❄️

                                                                                                ❄️

                         ❄️                                           ❄️

                                                                                                                   ❄️

 

Tra-la-la…

Oh!

You’re still here?

Not that I mind, but . . .

. . . was there something you wanted?

Besides your cookie name?

It’s almost as if you’re hanging around . . .

. . . waiting for something . . .

. . . like . . .

. . . maybe . . .

. . . to find out who won

THE 9TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Holiday

~ for children’s writers ~

 

As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  Really!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!

But as you well know by now, with large entry numbers, all of high quality, come hard choices.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you on Monday for your vote.

There were, however, a few entries that barely missed being finalists, and many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another, or that the judges couldn’t reach a consensus on.

So my assistant judges and I would like to award recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

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

Carmen Castillo Gilbert for Andres SAVES la Navidad (beautifully written with a natural interweaving of Spanish vocabulary and a lovely depiction of a grandmother/grandson relationship)

Colleen Murphy for The Recipe (beautifully written and poignant – a tug-on-the-heartstrings story with a hopeful ending)

Janet Smart for Ho! Ho! Ho! Yum! (fun and kid-friendly with a delightfully conscientious mouse 🙂 )

Sarah Meade for Claire’s Big Christmas Trip (we could imagine her special outing to New York City perfectly!)

Maria Antonia for Last Christmas Cookie (great portrayal of sibling interaction and a nicely executed twist ending!)

Lori Sheroan for Watch And Learn (an entry we loved for its beautiful setting and wonderful characterization done in very few words as well as its Appalachian folk tale flavor)

Deb Sullivan for A Great Treat (energetic, kid-friendly and fun!)

Kathy Halsey for Likin’ Lichen . . . Or Marshmallows? (fun and believably kid – favorite line: “Their eyes – how they twinkled. Their noses – So hairy. Their antlers – so tall and a teensy bit scary.” 🙂 )

Katrina Swenson for The Great Cookie Escape (original, creative and entertaining Point of View (the cookies!) very well written!)

Kelly Pope Adamson for Recipe For A Snowman (very creative – who knew you could make a snowman without snow?!)

 

2. For Fun, Well-Written Twists on Familiar Tales:

Brenda Covert for A Surprise For General Gingerbread (well written and fun, not exactly based on the tale, but the main character is technically a Gingerbread Man 🙂 )

Jill Lambert for Even Trolls Deserve A Treat (a kind-hearted twist on The Three Billy Goats Gruff)

Angela Verges for Cora’s Christmas Cookies (a cute twist on The Little Red Hen)

Stacey Miller for A Fairy Tale Treat (a twist on Hansel And Gretel with a touch of the The Three Little Pigs thrown in – favorite line: “A book of 101 Things To Make With A Turnip” 🙂 )

 

 

3. For Top Of The Naughty List:

Sarah Hetu-Radny for A Trickster’s Treat (that Ellery was up to every kind of no-good! – good job with character!)

 

4. For Poetic Writing and Original Format:

Tracy Curran for The Choice Of A Tree (lovely language, poignant story which she somehow wrote in the shape of a Christmas tree!)

 

5. For Excellence In Representing A Different Holiday Tradition: (not already in the Finals or All-Around HM)

Jyoti Rajan Gopal for Luscious Laddoos: A Sweet Story (wonderfully descriptive and mouth-watering!)

 

 

6. For Best Entry Based On A True Story:

Pat Finnegan for A Taste Of Peace (based on the Christmas Eve truce in hostilities on the Western Front)

 

 

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 🙂 )

 

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2019 HOLIDAY CONTEST as voted on by you, our esteemed 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…

Rebecca Gardyn Levington
for

The Greatest Latke Topping!!!

Congratulations, Rebecca, on a fun, kid-friendly story written in spot-on rhyme with a delightfully humorous ending that was clearly very popular with a LOT of readers!!!  It ain’t over til Ketchup comes to the table! 🙂

In Second Place

Laurie Carmody
for
All I Want For Christmas

Congratulations, Laurie, on a fun, kid-friendly entry that made us laugh at yet another use for the poor. much-maligned fruit cake 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Rebecca.

In Third Place

Kelly Kandra Hughes
for

Christmas Peach Pie

Congratulations, Kelly, on an entry that made us long for peach pie and admire your little main character for being willing to embrace the naughty list to get that pie! 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Rebecca and Laurie.

In Fourth Place

Sue Lancaster
for
Grandpa Ted’s Garden Shed

Congratulations, Sue, on a fun story about a holiday treat that wasn’t food!!! with a great ending that left us wondering what exactly Grandpa gets up to in his spare time… 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Rebecca, Laurie, and Kelly!

In Fifth Place… a tie! between

Kailei Pew                                                                                      Anne Lipton
for                                                                                                       for
       A Christmas Treat For Mama                                                         Vinarterta With Amma

Congratulations, Kelly, on a sweet story that embraced the true spirit of the season, and Congratulations, Anne, on a beautifully-written story full of lovely language that introduced us to a different holiday tradition!  Great job both of you!  You get to pick your prizes after Rebecca, Laurie, Kelly, and Sue… and we may have to negotiate a little (which is why I try to avoid ties, but when they happen they happen!)

In Seventh Place…

Lara Elliot
for
Gingerbread Family

Congratulations, Lara!  We loved how Isabel found a way to make the best of things, not only saving the cookies but celebrating each member of the family for their uniqueness!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Eighth Place…

Gabrielle Cardwell
for
Biscuit’s Christmas Treat

Congratulations, Gabrielle!  We loved that your story celebrated a dog’s POV of a Christmas walk through the neighborhood, and we felt like we knew Biscuit!  You get to pick after Lara 🙂

In Ninth Place

Tracy Curran
for
The Gingerbread Sleigh

Congratulations, Tracy, on your mouth-watering entry written in excellent rhyme with a wonderful ending!  You get to pick after Gabrielle 🙂

In Tenth Place

Brenda Whitehead
for
Christmas Eve Treats

Congratulations, Brenda, on a lovely entry that celebrated the love between a grandmother and granddaughter and came around to such a sweet ending where their roles were reversed.  You get to pick your prize after Tracy!

In Eleventh Place

Deborah Bence Boerema
for
Christmas Kitchen Chaos

Congratulations, Deborah, on an entry that perfectly portrayed the way things seem to go in the kitchen this time of year with a lovely ending that showed it’s the who not the what that matters!  You get to pick after Brenda!

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 Holiday Treat (see what I did there?  🙂 )

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, or by donating a prize.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

As I… hmm… maybe didn’t mention…? but seem to do every year so you’re probably not surprised, I’m taking a little blogging break so I can spend time with my family – I’ve got children to fetch, cookies to bake, Christmas presents to shop for and wrap, and my sister and her family arriving from Georgia! 🙂  So I will see you all in a couple weeks – most probably the first week of January 🙂

So now, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday filled with love, laughter, joy, and family, and a happy, healthy and successful new year!  It is a pleasure and a privilege to get to spend time with you all, and I’m happy and grateful to know each and every one of you!

Looking forward to all the things we’ll do in 2020!

Happy Holidays, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 4.46.14 PM

 

 

 

The Prizes!:  OMG! So much awesomeness!!!

 

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of your picture book manuscript plus a 10 minute phone call to talk!!!

MG/YA First 1500 Words Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of the first 1500 words of your MG or YA manuscript!!!

Melissa Richeson

Literary Agent Melissa Richeson

Melissa is currently looking to build her client list and is focusing on children’s book authors—picture books through young adult. She’s drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. She’s not the best fit for horror, high fantasy, or graphic violence of any kind

.

 

 

Art of Arc Writing Course from writer and editor Alayne Kay Christian!

Art of ArcArt of Arc is an independent-study picture book writing course. Most stories have some sort of arc. Many successful picture books are built around an arc. Understanding story and character arcs will help give your story order and the tension that will energize it from the beginning to the end. This energy will not only drive your protagonist forward – it will also drive readers to turn pages and keep reading.

The purpose of this course is to deepen your understanding of picture books written with a classic arc and to introduce you to many other picture books structures. The course also addresses a number of common issues that weaken a story and common writing mistakes that authors make.

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

fb844-penny 495eb-penny A Cooked Up Fairy Tale

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019)

Young headshot hi res for blog - jacket

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

Picture2 Picture1 gorilla

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019) and the forthcoming YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020) and LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020)

julie abery Yusra Swims

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover Little Monkey Little Hippo

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction

Signed Copies of multiple star- and award-winning picture books

SONNY’S BRIDGE: JAZZ LEGEND SONNY ROLLINS FINDS HIS GROOVE (Charlesbridge 2019) and A PLACE TO LAND (Charlesbridge 2019)

and

A PLACE TO LAND: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND THE SPEECH THAT INSPIRED A NATION (Charlesbridge 2019) by Barry Wittenstein

barry-wittenstein-photo Sonny's Bridge A Place To Land

 

Book Bundle #2 – Two By Tara Plus One

Personalized, signed copies of OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019) and I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019) by Tara Luebbe

Tara Luebbe Operation Photobomb I Used To Be Famous

and a personalized signed copy of MOTHER TERESA: THE LITTLE PENCIL IN GOD’S HAND (Spork 2019) by Patricia Saunders

patricia-saunders_orig  Mother Teresa cover

Children's Writers And Illustrators 2020

(Charlesbridge 2019)

Making A Living Writing Books For Kids: Tips, Techniques, and Tales from a Working Children’s Author – by Laura Purdie Salas

Making A Living

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, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

The 2019 Holiday Contest FINALISTS!!!

hello?

Hello?

Is someone there?

What day is this?

Monday?

It IS Monday.

So what brings you to this neck of the woods?  I don’t post on Monday.

Ah! I know!

You came for treats!

Hang on.  Let me rummage about for a moment and see what kind of goodies I have squirreled away.

Hmm. . .

The cupboard is alarmingly bare.

It’s empty of cookies.

It’s empty of pies.

It’s empty of gooey marshmallow surprise!

No gumdrops! Or twizzlers!! Or peppermint sweets!!!

No chocolate!  NO CHOCOLATE!  NOT ONE CHOCOLATE TREAT!!!!!!!

OMG!!!!!!! EMERGENCY!!!!!!!

AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

It’s okay.

I’m not panicking.

I just had a little . . . moment.

But all is well.

Nothing a little shopping trip and an hour or two of baking won’t fix in a jiffy!

I forgot that, in a desperate bid to maintain sanity, the other judges and I ate every single treat this weekend whilst trying to winnow your many, many amazing entries down to a handful of finalists.

Which, I imagine, is the real reason you’re here 🙂

So, I just want to say three little things before I post the actual finalists (shocking, I know, because normally I’m so quiet you can hardly get a word out of me 🙂 ):

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

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

Third, I want to reiterate how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to revise, expand, and polish if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  A lot of people have successfully done that at this point – we have quite a few books in the world that were born in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests, plus a chapter book series that came out of the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest one spring!  So bravo to everyone who entered!

You will recall the judging criteria:

  • 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 Treat! – the rules state a Holiday Treat story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about a treat of some kind that is specific to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate.  The story must center on the treat  – the treat 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.

 

As I said above, you all did a stellar job – there were no bad stories.  But we had to pick the 11 we thought were the all-around best on all 5 counts listed.  (11 because we have 11 prizes)

So, without further ado, I present to you the 2019 Holiday Contest Finalists.  A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, poignant, and cute.  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite.  To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

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

So here we go! Read! Enjoy! VOTE! 🙂

#1 – Gingerbread Family

The warm scent of ginger and cloves tickled Isabel’s nose. “Mami, the timer’s going off!”

“Okay, stand back, Isa. It’s hot.” Mami pulled the pan out. “Oh no!”

“What’s wrong?” Isa climbed up on a stool to get a closer look. The cookie dough had spread! All the little gingerbread men were plump and lopsided.

Mami put her hand on her hip. “They’re ruined. We can’t serve these.”

“Why not?” Isa licked her lips. They still looked yummy.

“Christmastime with family is special. I want everything to be perfect.”

“Can we make new ones?” Isa asked.

Mami shook her head. “We don’t have enough ingredients.”

“Can we fix them?”

“They would probably break.”

Isa thought for a moment. “Maybe the family won’t mind that they’re crooked.”

“I don’t know.”

Isa pointed at one of the cookies. “Look! This one looks exactly like Abuela with her poofy hair.”

“I guess.”

She pointed to another with a big round belly. “And that one looks like Tío Emanuel.”

Mami laughed. “You’re right. It does.”

“This crooked one looks like Abuelo.”

“Mija, I love the way you see things.”

Isa and Mami carefully decorated their unique treats. When the family visited, they each were delighted to get a cookie that looked like them.

Isabel felt so proud. “You were right, Mami. Christmastime with family is special.”

“Sí, Isa. Everything was perfect.”

 

#2 – A Christmas Treat For Mama

Melody grinned as she rushed home. She had planned the perfect Christmas treat for weeks. And today, Grandma helped her make a mountain of fudge for Mama.

“Wow!” Someone said from behind. “Is that a mountain of fudge?!”

Melody turned to see her new neighbor, Jason.

“Yes!” Melody boasted. “All for my Mama!”

“Oh,” Jason said, looking at his toes. “Sure wish I could make a treat like that for my Mama.”

“Go tell your Daddy.” Mindy suggested. “I’m sure you can make a fine treat for your Mama.”

“Yeah…” mumbled Jason. “Maybe…”

Melody continued on her way. But she slowed as she approached her house…

Maybe it was the way that Jason’s coat hung much too big around his small frame.

Or the way his sad eyes had never quite met hers.

Or perhaps something in her heart just told her…

…Jason couldn’t make a treat like this for his Mama.

She hurried back and clumsily pushed the fudge into Jason’s hands.

“I think your Mama would like this even more than mine,” she said hastily.

“Oh boy! Thank you!” He whooped. “Mama! Mama!” He called as he ran inside.

Melody raced back to her house, hot tears burning in her eyes.

She burst through the door and fell into her Mama’s arms. The entire story tumbled from her lips.

“And now,” she sobbed, “I don’t have a Christmas treat for you!”

“Oh baby girl,” Mama said, “Don’t you see? You’ve given me the greatest treat of all!”

 

#3 – Christmas Peach Pie

Twas the night before Christmas,
and I was in bed.
No visions of sugar plums
danced in my head.

All I could think of
was Grandma’s Peach Pie.
Just one slice remaining,
I’m not gonna lie….

I wanted that slice
to be mine alone;
to not have to share it
with big sister Joan.

Or Mama or Papa,
Uncle Bob or Aunt Sue.
Or my three little cousins,
John, Mark, and Lou.

Just thinking about
that perfect pie slice,
I crept out of bed
each step so precise.

Into the hall,
I moved like a snail.
Just one creaky floorboard
could cause me to fail.

I made it downstairs!
Just one room to go.
Crikey, that hurt!
I stubbed my big toe.

I limped to the fridge.
I opened the door.
Oh, peachy delight!
My tummy did ROAR.

Onto a plate
I set down my slice.
Wait just a second,
Warm pie would be nice.

OMG, that was close!
I almost forgot.
The microwave beeps;
I nearly was caught.

Now it’s just me
and my peachy pie.
A Christmas Eve treat,
I thought with a sigh.

“Naughty or nice?”
boomed a voice from behind.
I whirled around
And then lost my mind.

Santa was there
wagging his finger.
I looked at my pie,
and I didn’t linger.

I gobbled it up;
I shoved it right in!
“Naughty,” I said,
through my peachy-pie grin.

“No regrets,” I told Santa.
And to my surprise,
Santa agreed,
“I do love peach pies.”

 

#4 – Grandpa Ted’s Garden Shed

Grandpa Ted has a garden shed, but the door stays firmly closed,
Whenever I visit, I try to peek in, but he won’t even show Granny Rose.
Whatever it is Grandpa keeps inside, he will not let me see.
I beg to him: “pleeeeease let me in,” but he keeps it a mystery…
Maybe Grandpa’s a super hero, and it’s where he keeps his cape?
Then, when he thinks no-one’s looking, he quickly makes his escape…
Maybe Grandpa’s a time-traveler, and his shed is a time machine?
Transporting him far in the future, the things he must have seen…
Maybe Grandpa’s a secret spy, and it’s where he keeps his tools?
Night vision goggles, invisible ink – now, that would be really cool…
Maybe Grandpa’s an astronaut, and his shed is a rocket ship?
Whenever he steps inside, he takes an intergalactic trip…
Then, one afternoon when I visit, Grandpa opens the shed door wide,
“Come in,” he says, “I’m finished. Let’s see what’s hidden inside.”
Grandpa has made me a playhouse, as a special Christmas treat!
“It’s filled with all my favourite things! Oh, Grandpa, you’re so sweet!
A train track with a wind-up train… a doll’s house with four floors…
Jigsaw puzzles… board games… and picture books galore!”
So now the mystery’s over, but something’s made me pause:
A suit so bright tucked out of sight… is Grandpa…

Santa Claus?

 

#5 – All I Want For Christmas

Franny’s Big Front Tooth would not move.
Not a wiggle or a jiggle. Not a shimmy or a shake.

Its pearly white neighbor jumped ship on a regular old Tuesday.
The bottom chompers both popped out with the help of an apple.
Even the other Big Front Tooth had taken the plunge last fall.
One by one, each and every tooth bit the dust.
But not Big Front Tooth.

Franny tried tugging and tapping.
Even prodding and pleading.
Big Front Tooth WOULD. NOT. MOVE.

“All I want for Christmas is my tooth to come OUT!” Franny begged while sitting on Santa’s lap.
“Try a candy cane,” said Santa.
Crunch!…Nothing.
“…a molasses cookie?”
Chomp!…Still nothing.
“Peppermint bark will surely take the bite out of your bite!”
Crack!…The tooth stayed firmly rooted.

And so Franny woke up on Christmas morning, frantically feeling with her tongue.
There it was. Big Front Tooth, parked squarely in her gums.
She plodded downstairs, wondering if Santa had given her some magical dental equipment or something.

Instead, she found a package under the tree and a note that read:
“Dear Franny,
Please enjoy my famous fruitcake. No teeth can chew it. No glass of milk can soften it.
-Tooth Fairy”

“No teeth can chew it?” repeated Franny.

She took a bite.

Big Front Tooth wiggled and jiggled.
It shimmied and shook.
And POP!

That stubborn sweet tooth came right out.

Whistling through the new gap in her smile, Franny cried…

“Merry Christmas tooth all!”

 

#6 – Christmas Kitchen Chaos

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the kitchen
Mom was so flustered; I just had to pitch in.
Church potlucks, class parties, and family dinners . . .
This volume of baking was not for beginners!

Treats for teachers and neighbors and coaches and sitters . . .
The list kept on growing. It gave us the jitters!
We Googled ideas for cookies and breads,
While lists of ingredients danced in our heads.

We spoke not a word, but went straight to our work.
Things started out fine, then they just went berserk!
The counter dusted with flour like new-fallen snow;
We were getting it ready to roll out the dough.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But our KitchenAid mixer, jammed in high gear!
I looked on in horror as eggs splashed everywhere
On the floor, on the walls, and of course in my hair!

And then, in a twinkling, I thought I smelled smoke.
Oh no! Not burned cookies! This must be a joke.
It was time for the icing, confetti, and such.
Slather, squirt, sprinkle! Oops! Did I use too much?

When the last gift was packaged, Mom plopped on a chair,
Asking, “Which Christmas treat is your favorite to share?”
I said, a bit puzzled, “I thought that you knew . . .
The best treat for me is just baking with you!”

 

#7 – The Gingerbread Sleigh

The day is drawing nearer,
for our yearly Christmas treat.
We’re heading off to Grandma’s
to whip up something sweet.

A gooey, sticky biscuit house,
with walls of gingerbread.
And a roof that’s draped in icing;
white and green and red.

We cover it in sweeties,
Pipe windows on, then doors.
And roll some golden marzipan
to carpet all the floors.

But my brother is not happy.
“We do this every year!”
So Granny gives him full control.
“Make something else, my dear!”

My brother looks delighted
(though I am not too keen).
He cuts out complex templates
and pipes a background scene.

Till, finally, I come on board
and help to mix and weigh
and bake and glue his good idea…

a jolly Christmas sleigh.

It stands so proud and regal
Piped with gleaming gold.
But still, it’s needing something more
and so we start to mould…

We sculpt and shape the marzipan,
we work till they appear.
We paint, then add the antlers…
a fleet of nine reindeer.

Our holiday treat is finished;
a sleigh of gingerbread,
but we never get to eat it…

for next day the sleigh has fled!

And still the neighbours whisper
about the strange-shaped sight…
a biscuit sleigh with reindeer
flying out into the night.

 

#8 –

 

#9 – Biscuit’s Christmas Treat

Biscuit the bulldog is taking a nap,
snoring and drooling on Oliver’s lap.
She rolls to the floor but continues to snooze
as he wipes off the slobber and laces his shoes.

She opens her eyes as he tickles her chin,
“Let’s go for a walk, it’s too nice to stay in.”
He strolls down the path, through the gate to the street.
She waddles behind, smelling good things to eat.

Turkey with stuffing at house number four.
Ham at the place with the wreath on the door.
Warm apple pie at the home with the tree.
Pudding with custard at house number three.

Gingerbread stars at the home with the lights.
Biscuit inhales all these Christmas delights,
Roasted potatoes and mixed berry crumbles.
Her tummy is hungry. It growls and it grumbles.

“It’s time to go home for it’s getting quite late.”
They turn and walk back to the house through the gate.
In Biscuits blue bowl – surprise! It’s a bone,
a fabulous Christmasy treat of her own.

After the feasting is done for the night,
Biscuit is tucked in her bed, snug and tight.
She snuffles and snorts while she dreams of her treat
and all of the wonderful scents from the street.

 

#10 – Christmas Eve Treats

We have a tradition, my Grandma and me,

To make a new treat every year Christmas Eve.

And each little treat comes along with some fun,

A story, a dance, and a mess when we’re done!

 

When I was three we made gingerbread friends,

We practiced the ginger waltz kitchen to den,

She told me a story of button gumdrops,

That made me so strong I could climb the treetops!

 

When I was four we made cinnamon swirls,

And while they were baking we practiced our twirls.

She told me a story of dresses so rare,

That when twirled fast took me up in the air!

 

When I was five we made candy cane sweets,

And we danced the twist arm-in-arm through the streets.

She told me a story of red-striped balloons,

That when I held tight floated me to the moon!

 

This year I’m six and in charge of the treat.

See, Grandma has moved, and she has a wheeled seat.

 

Grandma, I made us some gingerbread friends,

I’ll push you, and we’ll ginger waltz once again!

 

Grandma, I made us some cinnamon swirls,

I’ll help spin your chair into special wheeled twirls!

 

Grandma, I made us some candy cane sweets,

Now let’s go outside and roll-twist through the streets.

 

Grandma, I brought some more presents for you,

Button gumdrops, a dress, and a red-striped balloon.

Now you can climb, fly, and float up with me!

We’re the story this year, the best Christmas Eve treat.

 

#11 – Vinarterta with Amma

Góðan daginn! Hello from New Iceland!
Amma and I are making vinarterta for Þorláksmessa, Saint Thorlak’s Day, and Christmas.
We cream sparkling sugar into fluffy butter and sprinkle in spicy cardamom for warmth.

Crack! Each egg yields a yolk as precious as the winter sun,
which shines for only a few hours each day
in Manitoba
and Iceland.

Whoosh! Flour sifts into the bowl
like the drifts of snow
in Manitoba
and Iceland.

We roll the dough into seven pans and bake them in the oven.
Why seven?
Wait and see.

We hum “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” as the dried plums bubble into glossy jam.
Amma lifts the pans from the oven, two by two, and then the last, odd one out.
“Are we Icelandic or Canadian?” I ask.
“Já,” says Amma.
“Yes?”
Amma smiles, her blue eyes twinkling, and squeezes my fingers in her warm palm. “Two hands, one heart.”

I spoon the plum filling on top of each layer.
It flows like lava over the warm cake.
We stack the seven layers,
pressing them paper-thin,
making stripes of fire and ice,
as red and white as the Canadian flag,
or the red and white cross of the Icelandic flag.

We slather the cake in icing and wrap it like a present.
Gleðileg jól! Merry Christmas!
Takk! Thank you for coming.
We hope you enjoy our vinarterta.
But you must wait a week before you eat it,
letting the seven layers soften
over seven long short days.

 

 

Wow! Did those entries knock your socks off or what?! 🙂

Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 7PM EST Wednesday December 18.

 

 

Tune in Thursday December 19 to see THE WINNERS!!! – same bat time, same bat station 🙂

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

I can’t wait to see who you choose as the winner!  Good luck!!! 🙂

Ho! Ho! Ho! The 9th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!

⭐️Deck the Halls! ⭐️ Light the menorah! ⭐️ Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja! ⭐️

It’s time for . . .

THE 9TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Holiday

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday TREAT!

Your treat can be any kind of treat – a delectable holiday food specialty – Grandma’s Sugar Cookie Reindeer, or the Brown Family Gingerbread House; an event or experience that is a treat – the town Holiday Parade, attending the Nutcracker Ballet, or getting to light a candle on the menorah; making a treat for someone else – baking peppermint crunch brownies for the residents of a local shelter, or doing something special for a favorite teacher or neighbor – sky’s the limit 🙂

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 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 on your blog between right now this very second and Wednesday December 11 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below.  This post will remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debuts, Perfect Picture Book, or Would You Read It) 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 I can’t 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!  Please do not submit entries before the start of the contest!  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!

 

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 16 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 18 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 19.

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 Treat! – the rules state a Holiday Treat story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about a treat of some kind that is specific to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate.  The story must center on the treat  – the treat 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.

The Prizes!:  OMG! So much awesomeness!!!

 

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of your picture book manuscript plus a 10 minute phone call to talk!!!

MG/YA First 1500 Words Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of the first 1500 words of your MG or YA manuscript!!!

Melissa Richeson

Literary Agent Melissa Richeson

Melissa is currently looking to build her client list and is focusing on children’s book authors—picture books through young adult. She’s drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. She’s not the best fit for horror, high fantasy, or graphic violence of any kind

.

 

 

Art of Arc Writing Course from writer and editor Alayne Kay Christian!

Art of ArcArt of Arc is an independent-study picture book writing course. Most stories have some sort of arc. Many successful picture books are built around an arc. Understanding story and character arcs will help give your story order and the tension that will energize it from the beginning to the end. This energy will not only drive your protagonist forward – it will also drive readers to turn pages and keep reading.

The purpose of this course is to deepen your understanding of picture books written with a classic arc and to introduce you to many other picture books structures. The course also addresses a number of common issues that weaken a story and common writing mistakes that authors make.

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

fb844-penny 495eb-penny A Cooked Up Fairy Tale

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019)

Young headshot hi res for blog - jacket

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

Picture2 Picture1 gorilla

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019) and the forthcoming YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020) and LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020)

julie abery Yusra Swims

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover Little Monkey Little Hippo

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction

Signed Copies of multiple star- and award-winning picture books

SONNY’S BRIDGE: JAZZ LEGEND SONNY ROLLINS FINDS HIS GROOVE (Charlesbridge 2019) and A PLACE TO LAND (Charlesbridge 2019)

and

A PLACE TO LAND: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND THE SPEECH THAT INSPIRED A NATION (Charlesbridge 2019) by Barry Wittenstein

barry-wittenstein-photo Sonny's Bridge A Place To Land

 

Book Bundle #2 – Two By Tara Plus One

Personalized, signed copies of OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019) and I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019) by Tara Luebbe

Tara Luebbe Operation Photobomb I Used To Be Famous

and a personalized signed copy of MOTHER TERESA: THE LITTLE PENCIL IN GOD’S HAND (Spork 2019) by Patricia Saunders

patricia-saunders_orig  Mother Teresa cover

Children's Writers And Illustrators 2020

(Charlesbridge 2019)

Making A Living Writing Books For Kids: Tips, Techniques, and Tales from a Working Children’s Author – by Laura Purdie Salas

Making A Living

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, Amazone, 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, but I’m afraid today, without burdening you with the details, my heart just can’t be in it.  Bad timing, I’m sorry 😦

But I know you guys are going to come up with great stories, and I’m so looking forward to reading them all.  I know they will lift my spirits! 😊

I can’t wait to read all of your entries!  With so many great prizes up for grabs I hope there will be a lot – 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!

 

Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!!!🎄⭐️ ✡️❄️☃️🕎

And don’t miss the 77!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  The titles are linked and will take you directly to the stories!

  1. Grandpa Ted’s Garden Shed – Sue Lancaster
  2. The Popcorn Tree – Lindsey Hobson
  3. Christmas Vacation Anticipation – Glenda Roberson
  4. A Great Treat – Deb Sullivan
  5. Santa’s Selfie – Sue Lancaster
  6. Mountain Magic – Deb Buschman
  7. The Great Cookie Escape – Katrina Swenson
  8. Elves Need Treats Too – Alicia Fadgen
  9. And One For Me! – Priscilla Merryman
  10. Gulab Jamuns – Shariffa Keshavjee
  11. Xmas Surprise – Shariffa Keshavjee
  12. The Candy Cane Con – Maryna Doughty
  13. Santa’s Sweet Treats – Lu Pierro
  14. Flavor Favor – Dorothy Wawa
  15. Gingerbread House UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Liz Sites
  16. Earl’s Christmas Gift – J. Gray Frye
  17. How NOT To Sit On Santa’s Lap – Chelsea Tornetto
  18. Vinarterta with Amma – Anne Lipton
  19. A Present For Grandma – Susan Drew
  20. Fudge – Johanna Speizer
  21. Never Too Old For Grandma Soo’s Pie – Bru Benson
  22. Where Light Can Reach – Kristen Loughlin
  23. Santa’s Cookies – Megan Hoffman
  24. Broccoli: The Best Holiday Treat – Taylor Gardner
  25. The Big Bad Wish – Roo Parkin
  26. Treats From Trash – Geraldine Jones
  27. Dinosaur Dress-up – Roo Parkin
  28. Christmas Cake Hero – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  29. Even Trolls Deserve A Treat – Jill Lambert
  30. Christmas Kitchen Chaos – Deborah Bence Boerema
  31. Home For The Holidays – Penelope McNally
  32. The Choice Of A Tree – Tracy Curran
  33. The Gingerbread Sleigh – Tracy Curran
  34. The Cookie Competition – Lisa Cloherty
  35. Santa’s Favorite Treat – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  36. Hero Cat’s Treat For Christmas – Lily Erlic
  37. Three Treats For Santa – Dawn Young
  38. Emma’s Turn – Beverly Warren
  39. A Sweet Escape – Tara Cerven
  40. How the Kvetch Hijacked Hanukkah – Paul Kurtz
  41. Best Christmas Ever! – Paul Kurtz
  42. Jungle Bells – Donna Kurtz
  43. My Bubbie’s Special Hanukkah Recipe – Donna Kurtz
  44. Luscious Laddoos: A Sweet Story – Jyoti Rajan Gopal
  45. Santa’s Millionth Cookie – Heather Pierczynski
  46. Recipe For A Snowman – Kelly Pope Adamson
  47. A Fairy Tale Treat – Stacey Miller
  48. All I Want For Christmas – Laurie Carmody
  49. Double The Christmas Waffle Recipe – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  50. A Surprise For General Gingerbread – Brenda Covert
  51. Christmas Magic –  Kristy Roser Nuttall
  52. Special Report – Augusta McMurray
  53. The Reindeer Farm – Carrie Williford
  54. The Greatest Latke Topping – Rebecca Gardyn Levington
  55. That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles – Amy Flynn
  56. Believe In Christmas Magic – Linda Staszak
  57. Tortellini Day: A Family Holiday Tradition – Mona Pease
  58. Gingercats!– Amy Duchene
  59. Twinkle Twinkle Little Candle – Lisa Hutcheson
  60. Christmas Cookie Cuties – Kathy Mazurowski
  61. Biscuit’s Christmas Treat – Gabrielle Cardwell
  62. A Treat For Nana – Deborah Holt Williams
  63. Gobblewolly’s Gingerbread Goof – Jenny Buchet
  64. An Indigestible Treat – Jill Proctor
  65. Uh-oh, What Happened To The Dough? – JC Kelly
  66. Nutty Nut-Cracking – Ledys Chemin
  67. The Greatest Gift – Valerie Bolling
  68. Grandma Goodsnacks– Abbi Lee
  69. A Taste Of Peace – Pat Finnegan
  70. Andrés SAVES la Navidad – Carmen Castillo Gilbert, PhD
  71. The Case Of The Disappearing Candy Canes – Kristen Donohue
  72. Goodnight Zoolights – Kelly Pope Adamson
  73. With A Puff Of Snow – Yara C
  74. Santa’s Treat – Judy Sobanski
  75. A Wondrous Treat – Michelle S. Kennedy
  76. Hodgepodge – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  77. Little Bot’s Crunchy Latkes – Deborah Bernick

 

Extra! Extra! Saturday Evening Post!!!

Okay, my pretties.

I don’t know who has been monkeying with the time-space continuum (and I am sorry to say that is definite Naughty List behavior!!!), but somehow we’ve gotten into THIS week when I need us to still be in LAST week.

I’m going to have to put things back to normal so all my posts and contests etc. work out right, because what we’ve got here is a snowball rolling out of control that’s going to bowl us right over.  (We are not even going to discuss that I’m still working my way through prize distribution for the Halloweensie Contest which should have been finished 3 weeks ago! 🙂 )

Just hang on a sec while I hitch this sleigh flown by 8 tiny reindeer, with menorah running lights, a New Year’s blowout horn, and a Solstice candy holding Kikombe cha Umoja on the dash, to 21 gigawatts of electricity and take us. . .

. . . Back to Last Week!

Ah, that’s better!

Lucky I’m good at such a variety of tasks, isn’t it?  Not just anyone could have turned a fancy-schmancy variety holiday sleigh into a time machine and solved this knotty little problem!

No need to thank me.  It’s the least I can do.

Now when this post goes up you’ll have more time to write your entries!

Because it’s time to put on your Elf Thinking Cap, fire up your writing implements, and write your way to fame and fortune in . . .

THE 9TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Holiday

~ for children’s writers ~

 

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday TREAT!

Your treat can be any kind of treat – a delectable holiday food specialty – Grandma’s Sugar Cookie Reindeer, or the Brown Family Gingerbread House; an event or experience that is a treat – the town Holiday Parade, attending the Nutcracker Ballet, or getting to light a candle on the menorah; making a treat for someone else – baking peppermint crunch brownies for the residents of a local shelter, or doing something special for a favorite teacher or neighbor – sky’s the limit 🙂

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 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 on your blog between 12:01 AM EST Monday December 9 and Wednesday December 11 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 9 and remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debuts, Perfect Picture Book, or Would You Read It) for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section of my December 9th post when it goes up.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email me.  (We’ll go over this part in more detail on the December 9th post! 🙂 )

 

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 16 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 18 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 19.

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 Treat! – the rules state a Holiday Treat story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about a treat of some kind that is specific to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate.  The story must center on the treat  – the treat 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.

 

The Prizes!:  The prize list is not quite complete. . .  But I wanted to get the guidelines up so you guys would have as much time as possible to work on your stories!  Stay tuned for an updated list at some point 🙂

 

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of your picture book manuscript plus a 10 minute phone call to talk!!!

MG/YA First 1500 Words Critique from Children’s Literary Agent Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary!!! Melissa will read and give a written critique of the first 1500 words of your MG or YA manuscript!!!

Melissa Richeson

Literary Agent Melissa Richeson

 

Melissa is currently looking to build her client list and is focusing on children’s book authors—picture books through young adult. She’s drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. She’s not the best fit for horror, high fantasy, or graphic violence of any kind.

 

 

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

fb844-penny 495eb-penny A Cooked Up Fairy Tale

 

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019)

Young headshot hi res for blog - jacket

 

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

Picture2 Picture1 gorilla

 

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019) and the forthcoming YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020) and LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020)

julie abery Yusra Swims

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover Little Monkey Little Hippo

 

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction

Signed Copies of multiple star- and award-winning picture books

SONNY’S BRIDGE: JAZZ LEGEND SONNY ROLLINS FINDS HIS GROOVE (Charlesbridge 2019) and A PLACE TO LAND (Charlesbridge 2019)

and

A PLACE TO LAND: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND THE SPEECH THAT INSPIRED A NATION (Charlesbridge 2019) by Barry Wittenstein

barry-wittenstein-photo Sonny's Bridge A Place To Land

 

Book Bundle #2 – Two By Tara

Personalized, signed copies of OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019) and I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019) by Tara Luebbe

Tara Luebbe Operation Photobomb I Used To Be Famous

Children's Writers And Illustrators 2020

(Charlesbridge 2019)

Making A Living Writing Books For Kids: Tips, Techniques, and Tales from a Working Children’s Author – by Laura Purdie Salas

Making A Living

 

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, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 🙂

 

So there you have it!  Fire up those brain cells!  Grab a cup of hot chocolate, plonk your tiny hiney into a comfy chair, and get to writing your potentially prize-winning Holiday Treat story!!! You have 10 full days!  (Sorry it isn’t more – blame it on the joker who tinkered with the space-time continuum 🙂 – but look at the bright side – deadlines are great for creativity and productivity!  Your house doesn’t need to be cleaned this week, your children can eat raisin bran for dinner for a few days, and let’s be honest – no one’s concentrating on getting homework done or practicing their trombone at this time of year anyway, so you’ll have plenty of time to write! 🙂 )

On your mark…

…get set…

…GO!

I am SO looking forward to getting to read all your stories!!!

Have a great rest of the weekend! 🙂

 

The 2019 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

Well, hi there! 😊

So lovely of you to drop by to visit on a Thursday when I don’t usually post!

Latte?

latteartheart.jpg

You must have heard about my irresistible new offering and stampeded over to avail yourself of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Yes! The hype is all true!

Today, you can broaden your horizons with

Susanna's Seven Secrets

for the low, low price of $0!!!

Learn how to:

  • start ten tasks at once. . . without the burden of actually finishing any of them!
  • work for 10 minutes and get distracted with online holiday shopping!
  • realize you’ve been online shopping for one hour and 73 minutes and remind yourself sternly that you’re supposed to be working!
  • check all your social media accounts, work for 10 minutes, then sharpen your mental skills with a rigorous round of Sporcle! (Can you name the 10 US State Capitals you can’t fly to?)
  • travel to another continent in the middle of hosting a writing contest!
  • fall asleep on your computer and get keyboard checkers on your cheek!
  • work for 10 minutes and decide to make tiramisu!
  • . . . and so much more!

What is that?

You DIDN’T come to absorb my freely-given wisdom on productivity when I have clearly taken it to new heights?  (I did say it was unprecedented. . . 😊)

Fine.

I will do my best not to take it personally that you doubt my fitness as a model of organization, efficiency, and productivity just because the Halloweensie Winners haven’t been posted yet, and we’ll move on to how I can help you with choosing the right burlap sack for any social occasion which must be why you’re here if you don’t want to improve your productivity.

Wait, what?

You’re here because you want to know who won Halloweensie?

Well why didn’t you just say so?!

Because it just so happens that I know! 😊

As you are all aware by now, we had an amazing turnout for Halloweensie 2019 – 324!!! entries!  Golly gee willikers!!!

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories and meet so many new writers!  And I don’t know about you guys, but for me Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without Halloweensie!  What’s better than a candy-filled dark and spooky night?  A candy-filled dark and spooky night with 324 fabulous stories to read! 😊

With large entry numbers come hard choices, though.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you for your vote.

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another (one reason being that, at a certain point, we just had to stop adding finalists to the list! :))

So my assistant judges and I would like to award recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (all-around well-written stories we loved that just missed the finals for one small reason or another!)

Lindsay Leslie for The Scurry Treat (well written, great use of language, great ending!)

Cassy Ciarq for Trick Or Treat (well written, great job evoking the delicious fear and excitement of a child trick-or-treating in the dark!)

Marta Magellan for Scary Things (well written, great job showing the spookiness of Halloween and the back-to-normal morning after – good kid appeal)

Linda Hofke for What Witch Whips Up (so cleverly written with the body parts subtly woven in to lead up to the ending of “body lotion”!)

David McMullin for Billy And Buddy’s Epic Halloween (fun and kid-friendly, very believably “kid” and sibling!)

Tracy Curran for My Mummy’s A Witch (fun and kid-friendly with a great twist ending!)

Mary Vander Plas for Some Arachnid (well written fun story – great twist on Charlotte’s Web!)

Chelsea Tornetto for Booty And A Beat (clever, fun to read aloud, irresistible rhythm)

Roo Parkin for The Road To Grimly Gore (well written, great use of language, fun ending!)

Pat Finnegan for Save-This-Night (a kid-friendly witchy change-of-attitude story)

 

2. For Best Endings: (not already in the finals)

Stephanie Williams for The Contest

Lauri Meyers for Haunted Halloween Hop

Lauren Neil for Witch 101

Shelley Kinder for Fishy Witchy

Sue Lancaster for The Halloween Hop

 

 

3.  For Great Use of Language: (not already in the finals)

Sue Heavenrich for Spider Parade

Jenna Waldman for All Hallows Poetry Reading

Sarah Meade for The Goblin And The Girl

Deborah Boerema for Monster-Matopoeia

 

4. For Spookiest/Creepy Entry: (not already in the finals)

Christina Dendy for The Bone House

Unidentified author for Matilda’s Treat

Paul Kurtz for Cobwebs

Mary C. Thorpe for What Had They Found?

Vashti Verbowski for Cecil The Beetle (And The Web Of Wishes)

 

 

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

Kael Tudor for Hubble, Bubble, Toil And . . . Muddle?

Greg Bray for The Ultimate Spider-Man Costume

Susan Summers for The Witch’s Dilemma

 

 

6. For Sweetest Entry: (not already in the finals)

Melissa Miles for Just One Child

Lisa Zaccaria for Halloween Surprise

 

7.  For Unique Character: (not already in the finals)

Cathy Murphy for A Cure For Cobweb (Spider turns into a Unitoad – like a unicorn but a toad!)

Lori Himmel  for The Very Haunted House (MC is the house)

 

8. For Great Read For Younger Readers: (not already in the finals)

Brenda Whitehead for Halloween Countdown

Avana Lily for The Little Witch Helps Out

JoAnn DiVerdi for Boo-Boo! A Little Ghost Story

 

9. For Creative Format:

Jenna Waldman for Ghost Store (written like a commercial)

Michelle Henrie for Halloween Treat (written as a crossword puzzle)

 

10. For Good Kid Voice:

Lindsey Hobson for Little Brother

 

11. For Good Depiction of Siblings: (not already in the finals)

Tara Cerven for A Silken Surprise

 

12: For Cleverness: (not already in the finals)

Mary Rudzinski for Halloween Forever

Erin Kerger Duffett for Three Cauldrons Full

 

13. For Contestants Who Entered Multiple Strong Entries:

Sarah Meade

Paul Kurtz

Donna Kurtz

Michelle Kennedy

 

14. Last But Not Least A Very Special Mention:

Joyce Schriebman for The Good Witch – a tribute to our sweet friend, Robyn Campbell, who always went out of her way to help others and whom we miss dearly.

 

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 prize, which is a $5 Amazon Email Gift Certificate (which you may spend on one of the many Kindle choices listed in previous contests here, or add to your  Amazon bucks for a gift for yourself or someone else, or whatever else you might choose to do!) as well as a beautiful certificate of achievement that you may display on your blog or print out and frame or turn into a flag to carry with you everywhere and wave out the window of your car 😊

A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.

We have 12 fabulous prizes, generously donated by authors and various professionals in the writing field.  My policy is to let the first place winner have first pick of all the prizes, the second place winner have second choice, etc.  That way hopefully nobody gets something they already have, and hopefully everyone gets something that’s valuable to them.  All prizes are listed at the bottom of this post for your convenience in perusing the goodies 🙂

Now.

Finally!

Onto the moment you’ve all been waiting for. . .

. . . the reason you got out of bed this morning. . .

. . .  in spite of shadows under your bleary eyes. . .

. . . and the candy corn that is stuck in your hair!!!

. . . THE WINNERS OF THE 2019 HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST as chosen by you, our esteemed voters!!!!!

 

In First Place, winner of the whole entire contest and top of the heap who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Jocelyn Watkinson

for

Vampire Stains

Congratulations, Jocelyn, on a fabulously written, entertaining entry that was all around well done and clearly very popular with judges and voters alike!!!

In Second Place,

Keatley Eastman

for

Sneaky Sister

Congratulations, Keatley, on a cute, well written, kid friendly entry with a great ending! (and for coming in 2nd two years in a row!) You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jocelyn chooses!

In Third Place,

Paul Kurtz
 for

A Halloween Visit

 

Congratulations, Paul, on a well written, clever entry that masterfully combined elements of Halloween and Christmas into Spider Claws!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jocelyn and Keatley choose!

In Fourth Place,

Leslie Goodman
for
The Nickname Cure

Congratulations, Leslie, on a fun story with funny twist of an ending!  You get to pick a prize after Jocelyn, Keatley, and Paul!

In Fifth Place,

Katrina Swenson
for
Itchy Witchy Underwear

Congratulations, Katrina, on your delightfully well written entry that made us laugh out loud!  You get to pick your prize after Jocelyn, Keatley, Paul, and Leslie!

In Sixth Place,

Maryna Doughty

for

Ghost’s Pest Problem

Congratulations, Maryna, on your clever, fun and creative entry! You get to pick your prize after Jocelyn, Keatley, Paul, Leslie, and Katrina!

In Seventh Place,

Mary Ann Cortez
for
Let’s Go Scarecrow

Congratulations, Mary Ann, on your fun, Going On A Bear Hunt-esque twist on Halloween!  You get to pick your prize after Maryna!

In Eighth Place,

Colleen Murphy
for
Broom Or Bust

Congratulations, Colleen, for a beautifully written, fun, entertaining kid-friendly entry! You get to pick your prize after Mary Ann!

In Ninth Place,

Jill Lambert
for
Tacky Trick

Congratulations, Jill! What is a spider to do if his silk has no stick’em?! 😊  You get to pick a prize after Colleen…!

 

In Tenth Place

Debbie Day
for
Gloona The Grinchy Witch

Congratulations, Debbie, on making us laugh at your Grinchy Witch!  You get to prize pick after Jill.

In Eleventh Place
Sandy Perlic
for
Boo Quiet To Spook?
Congratulations, Sandy, we loved your timid little witch who was given a little boost by her giant sneeze 😊  You get to pick a prize after Debbie.
In Twelfth Place
Ingrid Boydston
for
Tricky Witch Test
Congratulations, Ingrid, on a fun story!  Nothing like turning into a pumpkin! 😊  You get to pick your prize after Sandy!

 

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

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  If you choose a prize that requires snail mailing, PLEASE include your snail mail address so we don’t have to email back and forth too many times 🙂  If you would like a beautiful certificate to celebrate your accomplishment, you are most welcome to one!

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, a confetti parade, and a truckloads of  leftover fun-sized chocolate. . . if there is any 😊

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, or by donating a prize!  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

And before we go, I will give you all advance warning so you can start planning a little time into your December schedule…

Assuming you guys are up for it – and you’d better let me know in the comments!!! – the 9th Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 7 so we can all fully enjoy it and still have time for last minute holiday things.  I will do my best to post the rules well in advance (maybe the Saturday after Thanksgiving, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise! 🙂 ) so you all have time to work on your stories!  But please let me know if you feel like it’s too much and you’d rather not do it!

Have a terrific Thursday everyone, and thanks again for making the Halloweensie Contest such a wonderful time for all! 🙂

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

Go Directly To Go! Skip The Slushpile at Blue Whale Press and Get Your PB Manuscript Directly On The Editor’s Desk!!!

Submit your picture book manuscript directly to editor Alayne Christian for her consideration and critique. Helpful feedback is a certainty, publication could be a possibility!

blue whale logo

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official  thumbnail_randall-randall-cover-ISBN9780981493879-highres

Blue Whale Press is an SCBWI PAL publisher of children’s books that focuses on stories involving themes of friendship and/or personal challenge. Most often, stories are selected for publishing due to their inherent educational or moral value. But as a general rule, a good dose of humor or a tug at the heart doesn’t hurt their chances of being published either. While a few chapter books and a middle grade are on their list, their focus is picture books. As a boutique publisher who doesn’t mind taking risks, Blue Whale Press considers itself to be a launch pad for authors and illustrators hoping to establish themselves.

For more info: https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Hone Your Skills with the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme & Meter Self Study Crash Course (11 Lessons) from accomplished writer and poet Renee LaTulippe

INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER CRASH COURSE

This option contains all the same lessons as Module 1 of Renee’s fully guided course, including all supplemental materials, downloads, and audio/video components. This is the option to choose if you need to build a strong foundation in the mechanics of rhyming picture books and poetry. The major focus is on the four main types of meter and how to use mixed and varied meter. Other topics include rhythm, cadence, breath, scansion, rhyme, sound devices, figurative language, imagery, and diction.
.
You also have the opportunity to submit two of your assignments to Renee for feedback, and have email access to ask questions about the lessons as you complete them. Although lessons will arrive every other day, you are free to complete them at your own pace.
See the course description above for more information.

For more info: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/ (scroll down)

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming, Non-Rhyming, Fiction, or Nonfiction – Vivian is open to any type of picture book critique) from Vivian Kirkfield 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…

Sweet Dreams Cover Template Revised Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Christine Evans, author of EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST (Innovation Press, September 2019)

Evelyn cover Christine Evans

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS and DON’T HUG DOUG, forthcoming from Putnam in August 2020 and Spring 2021.

Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.35.37 AM   Carrie-Finison-200x300

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Janet Johnson author of HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (Capstone, March 2020) as well as the MG novel THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB & J SOCIETY (Capstone 2016)

must love books JanetJohnson.AuthorPic

Fiction OR Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI forthcoming from HMH/Versify, Spring 2021

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 8.19.13 PM

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Gabi Snyder, author of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, forthcoming from Abrams Appleseed, May 2020 and LISTEN, forthcoming from S&S/Wiseman, Spring 2021

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

Query Letter Critique from Dee Romito, author of PIES FROM NOWHERE: HOW GEORGIA GILMORE SUSTAINED THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT (Little Bee Books, 2018) as well as several middle grade books.

pies from nowhere dee romito

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction
Signed Copies of WAITING FOR PUMPSIE (Charlesbridge, 2017) and THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (Charlesbridge, 2018) by Barry Wittenstein

and JURASSIC RAT (Spork, June 2019) by Eleanor Ann Peterson.

waiting-for-pumpsie boo boos barry-wittenstein-photo

EP 3  EP 2

Book Bundle #2  – Board Books
Personalized Signed Copies of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (both Amicus Ink, 2019) by Julie Abery

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover julie abery

Book Bundle #3  – Holiday Books
Personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Personalized signed copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman, 2018) by Nancy Churnin

The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young

Jerry  The Queen and the First Christmas Tree hi res for blog - jacket

shelley-kinder_orig         nancy churnin              Young headshot

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 🙂

 

 

Just When You Thought It Would Never Happen . . . The 2019 Halloweensie Contest Finalists – Vote For Your Favorite!!!

All right, you guys.

Clearly there was a dastardly plan afoot.

A plot, one might say, involving sneaking, secrecy, and skulduggery!

I know what you’ve have been up to.

On a dark and stormy night, you all got together in a cobweb-covered barn and, sipping a delectable steaming potion concocted of chocolate and cream, with bobbing marshmallows and a dusting of cocoa powder, you rubbed your hands together gleefully and cackled, “Oh, what a trick we can play!”

Forthwith, you applied yourself to submitting 324 –  yes, that’s THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FOUR!!! – amazing entries to the 9th Annual Halloweensie Contest!

I think it’s safe to say you nearly did us in.

We are but shadows of our former selves, haggard from a solid week of reading and re-reading, evaluating and re-evaluating, trying desperately to narrow the tremendous field down to 12 finalists.

I’m going to tell you straight out it was an impossible task.

There were SO MANY well-written, fabulous, entertaining, delightful entries.  In order to pick 12 for you to vote on we had to put aside literally hundreds, many of which were of equal quality.  So I recognize that many of you may feel you would have chosen differently.  I get that.  In the final analysis, try as we might to be objective, an element of subjectivity almost has to come in to play in order to choose between multiple entries of similar quality.  Please know we admire everyone for their talent, throughly enjoyed every story we read, and that we did the best we could.

12 entries made the finals.

312 did not.

A mere 3.7% made it to the top.  If you’re in that 3.7%, give yourself a congratulatory handshake.  If you’re not, rest assured you’re in extremely good company.

We were ruthless about some things because we simply had to be.

The judging criteria were clear:

1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness did not make the cut.  Same for entries where the appeal, humorous or otherwise, seemed more directed toward adult readers than children.

2.  Halloweeniness – the rules stated a Halloween story, so entries that failed to mention anything Halloween-y did not make the cut even if they were well-written. Surprisingly 5-10 fell into this category and were stories that could have taken place at any time – not specifically Halloween.

3. Quality of story – the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn’t make the cut.  We looked for a character and a true story arc.

4. Quality of Writing: we took note of spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  In addition, for the rhymers, we looked at rhyme and meter (for which we are sticklers!)  We also looked at overall writing quality and use of language.  There were a lot of problems in this department, and since the competition was so fierce, we did cut people for punctuation, capitalization, and word usage errors, as well as for relatively minor glitches in meter – one or two lines that threw the rhythm off – because there were so many that were perfect.

5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

A surprising number of this year’s entries were amazingly written… but in spite of the warning, still failed to really tell a story.  This is SO TOUGH in 100 words – I totally get it.  But some people managed better than others.  There were any number of entries that were superbly written that we wanted to choose, but when we got right down to it, there really just wasn’t much story… not compared to some of the other entries that really managed to tell one.  They were more descriptions, lists, or mood pieces.  So as awesome as they were, we had to make some very hard calls.  A couple were too adult.  Some, because of the cruelly limiting word count were a little hard to follow.  Some of the rhyming ones we really liked were too off-meter to make the cut.  Some entries were just so close, but missed out because of one relatively small thing!  GAH!  So hard!

(There is nothing like reading through so many to give you an editor’s perspective.  Read through 300+ stories and you’ll quickly see how there can be A LOT that are really quite good, so there has to be something to make them stand out.  Something that sets them apart from the ocean of very-strong-nothing-particularly-wrong-with-them-but-nothing-that-makes-you-say-WOW submissions.  It will make you realize exactly how important it is to make your manuscript fresh and heart -or mind-capturing in some way. You want yours to be the submission the editor (or contest judge) can’t stop thinking about.😊)

So now, just quick before we get to the finalists, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!

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

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say one final time how truly difficult it was too narrow such a field!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.   The fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 100 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  A lot of people have successfully done that at this point – we have quite a few books in the world that were born or had new life breathed into them in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests!  So bravo to everyone who entered!

So, without further ado, I present to you the 2019 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  A mix of poetry and prose (weirdly weighted toward rhyme – just the way it panned out), stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute.  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite.  To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

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

So here we go!

#1 – Sneaky Sister

My sister swore her potion
Was succulently sweet.
She whispered if I’d drink it, I’d grow feathers on my feet.
My skin would glow magenta,
My ears would multiply,
The cobwebs sprouting from my nose would smell like mildew pie.

My sister said “Don’t worry,
There’s not a thing to fear!
Tomorrow all the side effects will (mostly) disappear…
You’ll be the perfect monster
For this year’s trick-or-treat!
Just guzzle my concoction, and you’ll terrify our street.”

But now she’s flabbergasted
Because I’m feeling fine.
I guess she doesn’t know:
I poured it in her cup
Not mine.

#2 – A Halloween Visit

The pumpkin-moon rises on Halloween night,
A tiny black coffin with eight bats takes flight.

An eight-legged driver with dagger-fanged jaws?
That’s not old Saint Nick, it’s his pal Spider-Claws!

His cobweb-wrapped presents of potions and spells
Will flip-flop your tummy with nose-burning smells.

He creeps down the chimney with barely a noise
To leave scary gifts for all ghouls, girls, and boys.

He might bring you nightmares or haunt all your dreams
With hair-curling howling and spine-tingling screams.

Then Spider-Claws shrieks from his cold, coffin seat—
“Happy Halloween all, and to all Trick-Or-Treat!”

 

#3 – The Nickname Cure

Matilda’s nickname gave her a case of the gloomies.

Especially today on Halloween.

Since her first day at Spookamentary School,

the zombies, ghouls, and mummies called her

W A R T I L D A !

The name didn’t suit Matilda. After all, her wart was teensy-tiny.

Moments before trick-or-treating, Matilda slipped into the science lab.

She picked a sticky cobweb and two bat wings from a box.

She stirred them up with one juicy, lizard’s gizzard.

“This potion will do the trick!” said Matilda.

She dabbed the mixture on her chin and…

Ka-BOOOM!

Matilda’s wart grew large and hairy.

“Perfect!” said Matilda. “Now my nickname suits me.”

 

#4 – Itchy Witchy Underwear

Every year on Halloween,
there’s pumpkins, costumes, and a scene
that thrills the region’s flight fanatics:
Myrtle’s Fright-Night Aerobatics!
But Myrtle’s stumbled on a hitch:
her witchy britches make her itch!
Charms and chants and incantations–
none relieves her aggravations.
Myrtle checks a cobwebbed cranny
for a brew to soothe her fanny.
“Use this potion if you dare.”
She pours it on her underwear.
“It’s done the trick! Oh, lucky witch!
Britches gone, but so’s the itch!”
Feeling breezy on her broom,
Myrtle zips to practice. Zoom!
On Halloween she wows the town–
but…
DON’T watch Myrtle upside down!

#5 – Tricky Witch Test

It’s Halloween! Tonight’s my chance. I’ve got to join the witches dance!

If I can pass this potion test, at last I’ll with cackle with the rest!

Two strands of cobweb, eye of newt, a pinch of stinky goblin root…

GULP!

Do you smell smoke? I feel a spark! I think I’m glowing in the dark!

What’s that? I passed? I got it right? I’m now a pumpkin burning bright?

Hooray! I’m glad I did so well, but how do I undo this spell?

BURP!

That’s all it took to make the switch? Tonight I get to be a witch!

 

#6 – Let’s Go Scarecrow

Screen Shot 2019-11-09 at 2.28.16 AM

 

Bloop-blop 

Past the oozing potion.

Let’s go, Scarecrow.

Shuffle-shuffle 

Under drooping cobwebs.

There’s the door.

TIP-toe TIP-toe

Shhh, Let’s go, Scarecrow.

DING-DONG!

TRICK or TREAT!”

“MWA-HA-HA-HA!!

AAAAHHH!

Let’s go! Let’s go!

Under the cobwebs.

Past the potion.

Through the maze.

Over the bridge.

Down the path.

Through the leaves,

PHEW!

Finally, safe at home again.

 

#7 – Tacky Trick

Itty-bitty corner,
teeny-tiny shed.
Eensie-weensie spider
hanging by a thread.

Spiderling is spinning.
Complicated! Tricky!
Can’t construct a cobweb.
Help! The strings aren’t sticky!

Searches for solutions,
while Halloween is new.
Awkwardly appears
arachnid has no glue.

Witchy whizzes in then,
(broom repair, you see),
catches Spider sobbing
among the web debris.

Witchy comforts Spider
with a shushing motion.
Utters muttered verses,
promptly pours a potion.

Golden drop is plopped
on Spider’s little backy.
Silken threads appear.
Some twirl and tie—they’re tacky!

Spider’s on the broom now,
trying to repay.
Sticky silk will mend it.
Witchy’s on her way!

 

#8 -Vampire Stains

Curses! No! It can’t be so!
I need to get to my chateau!
Zis cloak is now adorned with stains
From zees night’s many spurting veins.

Vhere’s my blood removal lotion?
Bleh! I vill just make a potion.
To rid ze blood, resume abductions,
Follow zees precise instructions:

Curls of cobwebs, vings of bats
Vort of toad and tails of cats.
Zen a scoop of Oxyclean
To look my best on Halloveen.

Ah-ha! That vorked! A vondrous trick!
Now back to hunting very quick.
Bleh! I’m shiny as a spark!
I’m much too clean; glow-in-ze-dark!

 

#9 – Boo Quiet To Spook?

It’s Halloween, and Glenda Ghost
must face the thing she dreads the most:
to haunt tonight, each ghost and ghoul
must prove they’ve mastered Spooking School!

So Glenda waits to do her best
while witches pass their potions test.
Next up, the werewolves howl and growl,
and black cats hiss and monsters scowl.

As Glenda’s turn approaches fast,
she fears her timid “Boo” won’t pass.
Would trick-or-treaters shrink in fright,
or laugh if Glenda spooks tonight?

The spiders spin,
then Glenda’s next!
She LOOMS—nose twitching, fingers flexed.
With cobwebs clinging, quiet “Boo!”
becomes a spookier
“AhhhhhHHHHHhhhhhhhHHHHhhhhhhhhh-Choo!”

#10 – Ghost’s Pest Problem

Ghost peeked out the window.

GHOST: Ahhhh!!!

He picked up the phone and dialed the number.

WITCH: You’ve reached Lotions, Potions, and Other Solutions, how may I help you?

GHOST: I’ve got a pest problem!

WITCH: Okay, I’ll send the exterminator.

Later…

Knock, knock.

Ghost opened the door.

GHOST: Finally, you’re here! They’re all over the front porch!

SPIDER: It’s that time of year. Halloween always brings them out, especially to haunted houses.

GHOST: You’re sure the traps will work?

SPIDER: Oh yeah, they always get caught in them.

Ding-dong.

GHOST: They’re here! Quick! Spin the cobwebs!

“Trick-or-treat!”

 

#11 – Gloona The Grinchy Witch

Gloona the witch was a ghastly old soul-

more greed than a dragon, more warts than a troll.

On Halloween evening, she mixed up a brew

with lizard tail, bedbugs, and pickled worm goo.

From out of her potion, a ghoulish mist crept.

It oozed through the streets until everyone slept.

Beaming with glee, Gloona flew out unseen.

She swept through the city and stole Halloween.

She took every cobweb, each pumpkin and light,

the scarecrows, the sweets, the decor made of fright,

and inside her cottage, she laughed with conceit.

That is, ‘til she heard, “Ring-a-ding. Trick or treat!”

 

#12 – Broom Or Bust

The Witches-Who-Confer convene,

just once a year on Halloween.

 

The youngest witch to ever try

to earn her broom and learn to fly,

Sabrina stood before the crowd;

enacting words she spoke out loud:

“A pinch of cobweb, extra dusty,

metal shavings, not too rusty.

Put them in a pumpkin shell.

Add the potion; mix it well.”

 

Sabrina ducked behind the chair

as pumpkin pieces pierced the air.

And once the chaos came to rest

Sabrina said, “I tried my best!

I’ll go back home; I’ll hone my tricks

and I’ll be back when I am six!”

 

I know this is a tough choice!  But please read and consider and choose your favorite and vote for it in the poll below by Monday November 11 at midnight Eastern time!  That gives you 3 whole days to vote!

 

 

Due to the large number of entries and the amount of time it took to get the finalists posted, my schedule is a disaster.  There will be a Tuesday Debut on Tuesday and a Would You Read It on Wednesday which were previously scheduled, so I will try to post the contest winners on Thursday.  I am leaving for Brazil on Wednesday, however, which will make handling the prize distribution and related emails a bit tricky until I get back.  So I beg your indulgence and appreciate your patience!  I will get it all sorted out just as quickly as I can!

The 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!

***CONTEST UPDATE***

I apologize for the fact that I am behind schedule posting the finalists.  I know you are all waiting.  I did not anticipate 324 entries or I would have given myself and the other judges more time.  We will do our best to have the finalists posted by tomorrow or Saturday.

 

Lizard toes and dragon scales! It’s time for . . .

The 9TH 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 potion, cobweb, and trick.  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 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. potions, cobwebbed, trickery, whathaveyou 🙂  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined 🙂 )

Post: your story on your blog between right now this very second and Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below (not your blog’s main url because if you post again after your entry during the dates of the contest, the judges will find the wrong post!)  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 I can’t 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 before the start of the contest!  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!

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the coming days, my devoted assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3  6  9  12? top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with winnowing, so we’ll see!) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 4th (if the judging takes longer than we expect if could be later…but we will do our best!)  The winner will be announced on Thursday November 7th (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 🙂  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!!! 🙂

Go Directly To Go! Skip The Slushpile at Blue Whale Press and Get Your PB Manuscript Directly On The Editor’s Desk!!!

Submit your picture book manuscript directly to editor Alayne Christian for her consideration and critique. Helpful feedback is a certainty, publication could be a possibility!

blue whale logo

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official  thumbnail_randall-randall-cover-ISBN9780981493879-highres

Blue Whale Press is an SCBWI PAL publisher of children’s books that focuses on stories involving themes of friendship and/or personal challenge. Most often, stories are selected for publishing due to their inherent educational or moral value. But as a general rule, a good dose of humor or a tug at the heart doesn’t hurt their chances of being published either. While a few chapter books and a middle grade are on their list, their focus is picture books. As a boutique publisher who doesn’t mind taking risks, Blue Whale Press considers itself to be a launch pad for authors and illustrators hoping to establish themselves.

For more info: https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Hone Your Skills with the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme & Meter Self Study Crash Course (11 Lessons) from accomplished writer and poet Renee LaTulippe

INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER CRASH COURSE

This option contains all the same lessons as Module 1 of Renee’s fully guided course, including all supplemental materials, downloads, and audio/video components. This is the option to choose if you need to build a strong foundation in the mechanics of rhyming picture books and poetry. The major focus is on the four main types of meter and how to use mixed and varied meter. Other topics include rhythm, cadence, breath, scansion, rhyme, sound devices, figurative language, imagery, and diction.
.
You also have the opportunity to submit two of your assignments to Renee for feedback, and have email access to ask questions about the lessons as you complete them. Although lessons will arrive every other day, you are free to complete them at your own pace.
See the course description above for more information.

For more info: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/ (scroll down)

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming, Non-Rhyming, Fiction, or Nonfiction – Vivian is open to any type of picture book critique) from Vivian Kirkfield 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…

Sweet Dreams Cover Template Revised Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Christine Evans, author of EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST (Innovation Press, September 2019)

Evelyn cover Christine Evans

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS and DON’T HUG DOUG, forthcoming from Putnam in August 2020 and Spring 2021.

Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.35.37 AM   Carrie-Finison-200x300

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Janet Johnson author of HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (Capstone, March 2020) as well as the MG novel THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB & J SOCIETY (Capstone 2016)

must love books JanetJohnson.AuthorPic

Fiction OR Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI forthcoming from HMH/Versify, Spring 2021

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Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Gabi Snyder, author of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, forthcoming from Abrams Appleseed, May 2020 and LISTEN, forthcoming from S&S/Wiseman, Spring 2021

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

Query Letter Critique from Dee Romito, author of PIES FROM NOWHERE: HOW GEORGIA GILMORE SUSTAINED THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT (Little Bee Books, 2018) as well as several middle grade books.

pies from nowhere dee romito

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction
Signed Copies of WAITING FOR PUMPSIE (Charlesbridge, 2017) and THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (Charlesbridge, 2018) by Barry Wittenstein

and JURASSIC RAT (Spork, June 2019) by Eleanor Ann Peterson.

waiting-for-pumpsie boo boos barry-wittenstein-photo

EP 3  EP 2

Book Bundle #2  – Board Books
Personalized Signed Copies of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (both Amicus Ink, 2019) by Julie Abery

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover julie abery

Book Bundle #3  – Holiday Books
Personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Personalized signed copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman, 2018) by Nancy Churnin

The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young

Jerry  The Queen and the First Christmas Tree hi res for blog - jacket

shelley-kinder_orig         nancy churnin              Young headshot

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 my sample entry (which I seriously almost did not get done!)  I seem to have developed a bad habit of having editorial deadlines that land in the middle of these contests, so I freely own up to the fact that I way exceeded the word count because I simply didn’t have time to make it shorter.  My apologies for totally cheating!  It’s not even like it’s any good as a result… but it does come to a sort of an ending😊 If nothing else, it should fill you with confidence in your own MUCH MUCH better efforts!!!

Runaway Imagination
(so many words I’m not even writing it down!😊)

Costumes, make-up, pounding feet
Rushing out to trick-or-treat.
Almost at the farmyard gate
Witch Lucinda hollers, “Wait!
In this Halloween commotion
I forgot my poison potion!”
Sets her plastic pumpkin down.
“Go ahead!  We’ll meet in town!”
Grabs her potion. Comes back quick.
But someone’s played an awful trick!
Her pumpkin pail, left on the ground,
Has disappeared and can’t be found!
Nevermind. A bag will do.
The witch zooms off to join her crew.
But halfway down the old farm road
She sees a sight that stops her cold.
In the shadows of the night
Glides a shape of ghostly white
Issuing an eerie moan
That makes Lucinda RUN for home!
Ghost flies past her fleeing faster
Surely this will be disaster!
Stops short at the barnyard fence.
Suddenly it all makes sense.
Head stuck in her pumpkin pail
Covered in a cobweb veil,
This is not a scary ghost!
Just a foolish baby goat!

Never say I’m not willing to embarrass myself for you! 😊😊😊 That is true love!😊

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 4 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

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!!! 🙂  🎃

And don’t miss the 197!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  (And HURRAY! I FINALLY figured out how to make links (THANK YOU AMY!) so you can click directly through to each story to read and comment for the talented authors!!!)
(Where authors’ first names were the same/same spelling I tried to add last names)
1. Witch’s Brew – Corine
2. A Webbed Witch – Kelly
3. Trick Or Treat – Krystal
6. Vampire Stains – Jocelyn
8. One Magical Day – Heather
9. The Lure Of Chocolate – Glenda
10. A Trick Or A Treat? – Glenda
11. Booty And A Beat – Chelsea
13. Little Brother – Lindsey
15. The Halloween Night Bookstore – Sherry Peace
16. The Halloween Heist – Deb Sullivan
17. Halloweensie Treats – Deborah Williams
18. Sweet Snookums – Linda Staszak
19. Scaredy-Cat – Natalie
20. My Surprise Punch – Natalie
21. Tricks For Treat – Megan Walvoord
22. She’ll Be Back – Linda Staszak
23. Tacky Trick – Jill
24. True Brew – Karen
25. Uncanny Cantations – Diana Gibson
26. Sylvester The Spider – MaryLee
27. A Silken Surprise – Tara
30. The Halloween Spell Test – Mary Vander Plas
31. Some Arachnid – Mary Vander Plas
32. One Halloween Night – Dianne Moritz
33. Web Magic – Marcia
35. Cobs In Cahoots – Linda Staszak
36. Halloween Love – Polly
37. Lil Witch, MBA – Annie
38. Sneaky Sister – Keatley
39. Boo Quiet To Spook? – Sandy
40. The Witch’s Dilemma – Susan Summers
41. Halloween Hijinks – Susan Summers
42. Lottie’s Spin On Halloween – Marty Lapointe-Malchik
43. Smelloween – Deb  Buschman
44. Monster School – Erin Rew
47. The Halloween Hop – Sue
48. The Web – Anne
49. What Witch Whips Up – Linda Hofke
50. The Magician – Susan Drew
53. Witchy’s Party – Judy
54. This Little Piggy – Kaylynn
55. A Handsome Prince – Kaylynn
57. My Own Man – Kaylynn
60. Potion Prank – Kristy
62. Ghost’s Pest Problem – Maryna
63. A Spider’s Cobweb Tale – Michelle Kennedy
64. The Little Cobweb With Big Dreams – Michelle Kennedy
65. Five Silly Witches – Mary Vander Plas
66. The Halloween Shortcut – Marty Bellis
67. A Potion Gone Wrong – Michelle Kennedy
68. Witch 101 – Lauren Neil
69. A Halloween Treat – Stacy
70. The Pretty Little Witch – Lucretia
71. Sally The Witch – Natalie
72. Greta Ghost’s Great Escape – Laura Bower
73. The Trick-Or-Treat Crusader – Laurie Carmody
74. Trick-urkey – Kelly 
75. Wendela The Witch – Valerie
76. Trick Or Treat? – Marcia
77. Brewed For You – Diana Gibson
78. No Thank You – Diana Gibson
80. Halloween Hornswoggled – Kristy
83. Three Cauldrons Full! (Play-On Baa Baa Black Sheep Nursery Rhyme) – Erin
84. It’s Party Time – Marty Bellis
85. Cobweb Soup – Kathy Shanahan
86. Goblin Hates Halloween – Ashley Fagan
87. Halloween Forever – Mary Rudzinski
88. Twinkle Twinkle Little Witch – Debbie Vidovich
89. A Pot Of Potion – Cheryl
90. A Famous Witch – Jill
91. A Halloween Visit – Paul
92. Cobwebs – Paul
95. Grandma’s Halloween Tricks – Debbie Wanninkhof
96. Cinderella’s Halloween – Stephanie
97. Bowl Of Sweets – Augusta
98. Boo Who? – Lolly
100. Spinny Has A Ball! – Donna
101. Most Beautiful? – Donna
102. Tricky Witch Test – Ingrid
104. Cobweb Stew – Kathy Rahoy
105. Cat And Ady – Megan Kunz
106. Witcheroo Switcheroo – Amy Brazda
107. I Don’t Want To Go – Amy Brazda
108. Hallo-wedgies – Linda Staszak
109. The Invisible Dog – Kathi
110. Trim The Tree – Amy Duchene
111. Tricky Nicky – Rebecca
112. Cobweb Commotion– Charlotte
113. Bitsy The Spider – Thelia
115. Perfectly You – Mona
117. Bella’s Barnyard Halloween – Deb Buschman
118. The Perfect Caw-stume – Amy Duchene
119. Halloween Spook – Shariffa
120. Night Of Hallows – Shariffa
121. Sneaky Spiders – Ranessa
122. Big Tea Love Stew – Laura Heath
123. Webster – Mary Miller
124. Whoo! Whoo! Will Help! – Deb Buschman
126. Who Should I Be? – Ashley Congdon
127. Frankie And Frogg Pick A Costume – Ashley Congdon
128. The Sad Jackie-O-Lantern – Mary Thorpe
129. What Had They Found? – Mary Thorpe
130. Agatha’s Not So Witchy Halloween – Kristen Reinsel
132. The Witches’ Rock – Mary Warth
133. Halloween Ubuntu – Elaine
134. Fake Ghost: A Sonnet – Jane
135. Trick Or Treat! – Cassy
138. Tricky Witchy – Mia
139. Grunt And Runt – Barbara
140. Snowflake The Scary – Becky
141. Only In America – Mindy
143. What Spider Saw – Terri
144. Sable Spins Halloween – Darcee
145. Ghost’s Birthday Party – Sherry Fellores
146. A Hairy Trick – Joel
147. Always Pack The Potion – Sharon
148. Witchy Wobbles – Stacey
150. The Frozen Witch – Amber
151. My Granny Is A Witch – Margaret
153. Halloween Story – Rafique
155. Witch’s Trick – Susan Halko
156. A Batty Halloween – Katie Schwartz
157. Black Cat’s Dream – Kathy M
159. Master Of Potions – Katie Williams
160. A New Addition To The Family! – Susan Valli
161. Halloweenie Dog – Kristina
163. Cast-Off Candies – Jennifer Broedel
164. Mighty Monty – Kelly Swemba
165. Spider’s First Halloween – Cynthia Argentine
166. Halloweenie Hide And Seek Ye – Michele Ziemke
169. Dark Dark Magic – Pat
170. Save-This-Night – Pat
171. Casper, Jasper, And Fang – Gabrielle
172. Jimmy The Meanie – Jen
173. Itchy Witchy Underwear – Katrina
174. Halloween Night – Susan Burd
175. Ghost Trail – Cynthia Stone-Medina
176. Fatty Batty – Vanessa
178. My Mummy’s A Witch – Tracy Curran
179. Goldiwitch – Dave
180. The Scaredy-Ghost – Kate
181. The HalloWeenteam – Dedra
183. Is It Really Halloween – Shariffa
184. Incantations – Elizabeth
187. Zippity Zora – Kristy
188. Halloween Party – Chandra
189. Halloween Howl – Chandra
191. Haunted House – Chandra
194. The Thud In The Cellar – Michelle
195. A MOMster’s Warning – Stephanie Shaw
196. An Un-afraid – Erin Fleming
197. Witch’s Halloween Party – Vanessa

. . . BOO!!! Announcing the 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

It was a dark and stormy night!

Ghostly shadows lurked among the grave stones…

…and from the mist-shrouded forest a ghastly voice shrieked, “BOO!!!!”

Please ignore the fact that it’s morning and the kitchen smells comfortingly of fresh coffee and toast with strawberry jam and the only sound is your preschooler singing the alphabet song.  We’re setting a mood here! 🙂

And I bet you can guess why!

Because it’s time to announce the rules for. . .

The 9TH 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 potion, cobweb, and trick.  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 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. potions, cobwebbed, trickery, whathaveyou 🙂  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined 🙂 )

Post: your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 28th and Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my special October 28th post.  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 of my October 28th post once it’s up (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 top – NO ATTACHMENTS!  And please do not submit entries before the start of the contest!

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 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 Tuesday November 5th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 🙂 ) If we get more than 25 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st – 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turnout we’ve had the past couple years, I may post as many as 10-12 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

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 🙂  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.

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

Go Directly To Go! Skip The Slushpile at Blue Whale Press and Get Your PB Manuscript Directly On The Editor’s Desk!!!

Submit your picture book manuscript directly to editor Alayne Christian for her consideration and critique. Helpful feedback is a certainty, publication could be a possibility!

blue whale logo

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official  thumbnail_randall-randall-cover-ISBN9780981493879-highres

Blue Whale Press is an SCBWI PAL publisher of children’s books that focuses on stories involving themes of friendship and/or personal challenge. Most often, stories are selected for publishing due to their inherent educational or moral value. But as a general rule, a good dose of humor or a tug at the heart doesn’t hurt their chances of being published either. While a few chapter books and a middle grade are on their list, their focus is picture books. As a boutique publisher who doesn’t mind taking risks, Blue Whale Press considers itself to be a launch pad for authors and illustrators hoping to establish themselves.

For more info: https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Hone Your Skills with the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme & Meter Self Study Crash Course (11 Lessons) from accomplished writer and poet Renee LaTulippe

INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER CRASH COURSE

This option contains all the same lessons as Module 1 of Renee’s fully guided course, including all supplemental materials, downloads, and audio/video components. This is the option to choose if you need to build a strong foundation in the mechanics of rhyming picture books and poetry. The major focus is on the four main types of meter and how to use mixed and varied meter. Other topics include rhythm, cadence, breath, scansion, rhyme, sound devices, figurative language, imagery, and diction.
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You also have the opportunity to submit two of your assignments to Renee for feedback, and have email access to ask questions about the lessons as you complete them. Although lessons will arrive every other day, you are free to complete them at your own pace.
See the course description above for more information.

For more info: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/ (scroll down)

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming, Non-Rhyming, Fiction, or Nonfiction – Vivian is open to any type of picture book critique) from Vivian Kirkfield 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…

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Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Christine Evans, author of EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST (Innovation Press, September 2019)

Evelyn cover Christine Evans

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS and DON’T HUG DOUG, forthcoming from Putnam in August 2020 and Spring 2021.

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Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Janet Johnson author of HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (Capstone, March 2020) as well as the MG novel THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB & J SOCIETY (Capstone 2016)

must love books JanetJohnson.AuthorPic

Fiction OR Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI forthcoming from HMH/Versify, Spring 2021

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Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Gabi Snyder, author of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, forthcoming from Abrams Appleseed, May 2020 and LISTEN, forthcoming from S&S/Wiseman, Spring 2021

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

Query Letter Critique from Dee Romito, author of PIES FROM NOWHERE: HOW GEORGIA GILMORE SUSTAINED THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT (Little Bee Books, 2018) as well as several middle grade books.

pies from nowhere dee romito

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction
Signed Copies of WAITING FOR PUMPSIE (Charlesbridge, 2017) and THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (Charlesbridge, 2018) by Barry Wittenstein

waiting-for-pumpsie boo boos barry-wittenstein-photo

Book Bundle #2  – Board Books
Personalized Signed Copies of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (both Amicus Ink, 2019) by Julie Abery

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover julie abery

Book Bundle #3  – Holiday Books
Personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Personalized signed copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman, 2018) by Nancy Churnin

Jerry  The Queen and the First Christmas Tree

shelley-kinder_orig .         nancy churnin

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!  Lay in a good chocolate supply (no better time than right before Halloween for THAT!)! Butt In Chair! Pencils, pens, or keyboards ready! Fire up the old idea generator!  And write those prize-winning stories!!!

I can’t wait to read them!!! 🙂

2019 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!

Do you know what Thursday is perfect for?

Barely squeaking under the wire of Last Day of February to announce the winners of the 4th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest for Children’s Writers!!!

valentiny writing contest 2019!

. . .but first a few words from our sponsor (me) which I know shocks you (not!) 🙂

As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  (Did I mention there were nearly 170?!)  Really!  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!

But with large entry numbers, all of high quality, come hard choices.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you last week for your vote.

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another, or that the judges couldn’t reach a consensus on.  It is SO HARD! One of our very favorite entries – well written and full of guilt – never mentioned a thing about Valentine’s Day! Many other entries simply weren’t guilty enough, although they were fabulous in other ways!

So my assistant judges and I would like to award recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

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

Joy Pitcairn for I Didn’t Give Rufus A Valentine

Kalee Gwarjanski for Chocolates For Mom

Mary Vander Plas for Sasquatch: In Search Of A Valentine

Mia Geiger for All Wrapped Up

Lynn Katz for A Little Heart

 

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

Helen Ishmurzin for Mila’s Cookies (we could totally see a kid struggling with that temptation! )

Sherry Peace for The Case Of The Missing Valentine’s Candy (fun kid detective work 🙂 )

Jeannine Pao Brown for Change Of Heart (very believable boy behavior 🙂 )

Sarah Hetu-Radny for A Slippery Situation (no one wants to be in trouble 🙂 )

 

3. For Original/Unique/Entertaining POV:

Megan Hoffman for The Sucker (POV of a Valentine sucker! – well-written!)

Deborah Dolan Hunt for Hillary’s Heart (POV of an actual heart! – loved the health angle)

 

4. For Humor:

Sarah Tobias for A Valentine For Mom

Susie Sawyer for Who Will Be Mine? (also wins for shortest entry with only 36 words! 🙂 )

Lauri Meyers for Don’t Eat Your Valentine (dark humor! 🙂 )

 

5. For Great Depiction of Family:

Scott Kinder for Mom’s Valentine (we found all the characters believable and felt like we were there! 🙂 )

 

6. For Favorite Character: 

Joy Pitcairn for I Ate It… (we LOVED Otto – such a believable guilty dog! 🙂 )

Rachel Hobbs for Valentine Cookie Surprise (we loved Carla – so exuberant! and we can imagine an expanded version of this as a picture book! 🙂 )

 

7. For We Loved It But Not Guilty Enough!:

Kelly Conroy for Glitter, Paint, and Glue

Lynn Baldwin for The Year Without Sweethearts

 

8. For Lovely Writing:

Kelly Hughes for Will You Be Mine?

Keely Leim for A Valentine For Papa

 

9. For So Cute!:

Amy Flynn for Tiny Crush

 

10.  For More Appealing For Grown-ups But Well-Written And Enjoyable!
(These entries were terrific but either focused on content we felt was more appropriate for over age 12 or that had humor that we considered funnier for adults than kids)

Emma Wood for No Ordinary Thursday (very sweet, beautifully written, and a believable depiction of husbandly behavior! 🙂 )

 

(And although we’re not awarding prizes for these this time, we always enjoy seeing some of your familiar characters back from other contests for new adventures, including Candice’s Bean and Jilly, Nicole’s Alex and Apple, and Lucretia’s Marvin The Chipmunk 🙂 )

 

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about) (and if you request a paperback, please include your snail mail address!)

For Kindle:

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

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

How To Query An Agent Or Editor: A Children’s Writer’s Insider Guide From Mentors For Rent by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Getting Published: How To Access Editors: A Children’s Writer’s Insider Guide From Mentors For Rent by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

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

Self-Publish Your Book: A Quick And Easy Step-By-Step Guide (Writing In A Nutshell Series Book 6) by Jessica Bell, OR

The Write Ideas Creative Writer’s Toolkit: A Genre-Spanning Box Set of Writing Prompts And Creative Exercises by Kate Krake

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

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To City Spaces by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Personal And Natural Places by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Ultimate Fiction Thesaurus by Sam Stone, OR

Writing In A Nutshell: Writing Workshops To Improve Your Craft (Writing In A Nutshell Series Book 4) by Jessica Bell, OR

In paperback:

Show And Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell

The Six Senses In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Bleak To Bold Narrative by Jessica Bell OR

Adverbs And Cliches In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions Of Adverbs & Cliches Into Gourmet Imagery by Jessica Bell OR

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

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

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

Just For Fun…

Magnetic Poetry – Little Box Of Awesome Kit – Words For Refrigerator (let me know your color choice if you care 🙂 )

 

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2018 VALENTINY CONTEST as voted on by you!!!

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…

Chambrae Griffith
for

Love Bug At The Zoo!!!

Congratulations, Chambrae, on an imaginative, entertaining, well-written poem that made us feel the chaos ensuing from your MC’s guilty behavior! 🙂

In Second Place

Jennifer Broedel
for
Buffa-lonely Love Day

Congratulations, Jennifer, on an entry we loved for your MC’s very believable and understandable grumpiness leading to bad behavior and guilt!  You get to pick your prize after Chambrae.

In Third Place

Anne Sawan
for

A Box Full Of Love

Congratulations, Anne!  You had us laughing over your “chip off the old block” guilt 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Chambrae and Jennifer.

In Fourth Place

Colleen Murphy
for

Mother Knows Best

Congratulations, Colleen, on a delightfully believable story of guilt in perfect rhyme!  You get to pick your prize after Chambrae, Jennifer, and Anne!

In Fifth Place

Tiffany Dickinson
for

Heart Socks For The Win

Congratulations, Tiffany, on your heart-warming story. We felt Alex’s guilt and appreciated her empathy!   You get to pick after Chambrae, Jennifer, Anne, and Colleen!

In Sixth Place

Rose Cappelli
for

The Queen Of Hearts

Congratulations, Rose!  You really made us feel Meg wrestling with her guilt!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Seventh Place…

Katrina Swenson
for
Chadwick The Zombie Cooks Up A Valentine

Congratulations, Katrina!  You won us over with your zombie sweet-maker the same way he won over his fellow zombies 🙂  You get to pick next 🙂

In Eighth Place…

Marty Bellis
for
Guess Who?

Congratulations, Marty!  You captured a child’s good intentions and not-so-good execution perfectly 🙂  You get to pick after Katrina 🙂

In Ninth Place… a tie!

Joyce Schriebman                                                Jill Lambert
for                                                                           for
The Valentine’s Day Mess & Cure                        The Missing Pupcake

Congratulations to both of you on very humorous entries!  You get to pick after Marty 🙂 (And since you tied, we’ll work it out…)

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.  Jose and Beth, if you’d like to choose a prize from the Honorable Mention selection of prizes above you are most welcome to!

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 🙂

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:  Oh, the awesomeness!  With thanks to all who donated!

“Skip The Slushpile” AND get a Query Letter Critique from Charlotte Wenger, associate editor at Page Street Kids, the picture book division of Page Street Publishing. She earned her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons University (then College) and is a board member of the Mazza Museum’s National Advisory Board of Visitors. She enjoys working with debut picture book authors and illustrators and is excited about the 19 Page Street Kids picture books pubbing in 2019.

 
Find Charlotte on Twitter at @WilbursBF_Char, and learn more about Page Street Kids via www.pagestreetpublishing.com, Twitter: @PageStreetKids, and Instagram: pagestreetkids.

Charlotte will read the winner’s picture book manuscript of choice, then send an email letting you know she’s read your story and including one thing you did well and one thing you might work on to improve the manuscript.  In addition, she will give you a query letter critique.  Like all editors, she has a hectic schedule, so she will aim to fulfill the prize within 2 months of receiving the manuscript.

Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the incredibly talented, multi-published author/illustrator Iza Trapani!

Iza 2014  Old MacDonald

Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the Queen of KidLit411 herself, Elaine Kiely Kearns, author of Noah Noasaurus, forthcoming April 1, 2019 from Albert Whitman!

elaine  noah

– Top Ten Reasons for Rejectiona 52 minute webinar from Alayne Kay Christian, author of Butterfly Kisses (picture book) and the Sienna The Cowgirl Fairy series (chapter books), and Content and Developmental Editor of Blue Whale Press.

Alayne butterfly kisses

Webinar Description: If you want tips on some corrective action that you might take to improve your chances of submission success, and/or if you would like to deepen your understanding of plot and arc, this webinar is for you.

(And if you’re interested in seeing what else Alayne has to offer, like her Writing For Children Webinars and Courses page on FB and keep an eye out for upcoming offerings!)

 

15-30 Minute Your Questions Answered Phone Call – with Ryan Sias, author/illustrator of Balloon Toons: Zoe And Robot, Let’s Pretend, Sniff Sniff!, and the Woof And Quack beginning reader series (Green Light Readers), and the Super Doodle Series. He has worked in animation, film, and television, including Sesame Street 🙂

Do you have questions about writing, revising, submitting, whether or not to try for an agent, what happens after the sale, or anything else publishing industry related?  If so, this is your chance to ask away and get answers from a professional!

85044-ryan_headshot  SniffSniffcover-300x300  woof and quack snowy doodle

 

Query Letter Critique by Heather Ayris Burnell, creator of the Sub It Club and author of Bedtime Monster, Kick! Jump! Chop! The Adventures Of The Ninjabread Man, and the Sparkly New Friends early chapter book series from Scholastic!

heather burnell  Kick Jump Chop

2-Pack of Personalized Signed Picture Books from amazing author Melissa StollerScarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, Gorilla!

Picture2  Picture1 gorilla

The Writer’s Tool Box: Creative Games And Exercises for Inspiring The “Write” Side Of Your BrainAND a $10 Amazon Gift Card

writer's toolbox

Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2019 – by Robert Lee Brewer AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card (2 available)

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

I can’t thank these authors enough for their incredible generosity!  Please visit their sites, buy and recommend their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, write them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and show your appreciation to them in any way you can!

 

The 4th Annual Valentiny Contest FINALISTS!!!

So, I’m noticing a trend here.

This is at least the second year in a row when my best laid plans for getting the Valentiny judging done have found themselves up the creek without a paddle and no help in sight!

What is it about February?!

Once again, Judge #1 ended up with a whole lot of extra family stuff – some expected, some not…plus unexpected work…

…and Judge #2 had a ton of actual job-related work that had to be attended to.

(Judge #3 was awesome in every way and is probably the only reason the judging ever got finished! 🙂 )

But at this rate, we may have to start running the Valentiny Contest in July! 🙂

Add to that that apparently “guilt” was a tough topic! and we were seriously up against it!!!

Nearly all the entries fell into one of 5 categories:

– MC unintentionally makes a V-Day related mess

– MC accidentally ends up eating all the chocolates intended as a gift

– number of Valentines for class comes up short by one/one “mean” child is skipped on purpose

– MC didn’t make/purchase Valentines (either because V-Day is stupid or MC didn’t get around to it)

– a guilty dog is involved 🙂

I’m not sure we’ve ever had a contest where the entries could be so uniformly categorized.  This is not to say, of course, that ALL the entries fell into those categories – they did not! – or that there weren’t some very well written entries – there were! – or that the stories weren’t original – but it was interesting that the topic of guilt seemed to be harder than some others to come up with wide variety for.

Anyway, after much agonizing, torment, and second-guessing, we have come up with a list of finalists that we felt did the all-around best job of meeting all the judging criteria.  No doubt there will be some you’re surprised not to see – there were some very well written ones that did not make the cut, mostly because the guilt wasn’t strong enough. But we did the best we could!

So, at long last, and with sincere apologies for keeping you waiting 5 extra days, let’s have a look at….

The 4th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

valentiny writing contest 2019!

~ FINALISTS!!!~

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

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

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

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition – about 170 entries of which only 12 made the finals.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using guilt and success in making us feel the guilt! (Not enough just to use the word guilt!)
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story and as such must feel like it is connected to Valentine’s Day/has something to do with it being Valentine’s!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

We really tried to choose stories that did the best job of fulfilling ALL the judging criteria.  There were some truly wonderful stories that didn’t have much to do with Valentines Day even if Valentine’s Day was mentioned in passing – they just didn’t seem connected to Valentines – or that didn’t seem to really showcase guilt although they may have used the word “guilt”, or that didn’t seem particularly kid-oriented even though they were very creative and well-written, or that really had us…until the last line or two when things sadly fell apart.  We tried our best to select finalists that checked all the boxes.

So without further ado, I present to you the finalists in the 2019 Fourth Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite in the poll below by Wednesday February 27 at 12 PM (noon) Eastern time.  I apologize for the fact that since I’m late posting the finalists, there will be a Tuesday Debut post on Tuesday and a WYRI post on Wednesday, so this post with the finalists and the poll will drop down the blog list – but it will still be there and the poll will be open for voting until midday Wednesday!

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

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not tell people you are a finalist.  Please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the tap-dancing troll who felt guilty for waking up the baby billy goat or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  We operate on the honor system.  I thank you in advance for respecting this. Your win will mean more if it’s honestly earned.

Here are the 2019 Valentiny Contest Finalists!!! Some poetry, some prose, some for younger readers, some for older (but still kid) readers, all fabulous 🙂

#1 – The Valentine’s Day Mess & Cure

Dear Mom and Dad,

When you wake up,
you’ll see your tea and coffee cup.
(Don’t worry, ‘cause the broom worked well for cleaning up the plate that fell.) 

I made you toast with jam and butter, wiped the crumbs but left some clutter.
(Couldn’t get some sticky spots off counters, tables, chairs, and pots.)

A napkin holds a chocolate heart that you can simply break apart.
(Yes, there were two, but I concede, how much dark chocolate does one need?) 

This card is trimmed in frilly lace to put a smile upon your face.
(Oh, by the way, the sewing kit? It now needs straightening up a bit.) 

I hope your Valentine’s Day fun is nicer ‘cause of what I’ve done
(and sort of wondering if you might, push back my time for bed tonight?)

XOXOXOXOXOXO 

P.S. Uh-oh…I’m feeling bad. I wanted you to be so glad
but went about it like a jerk and caused you both a lot of work.
I wasn’t such a thoughtful kid. I should have cared—not like I did.
When you wake up, let’s make a plan, and I’ll correct what goofs I can.

With Love and Kisses,

You Know Who (I love you both a bunch, I DO!)

 

#2 – The Queen Of Hearts

Meg didn’t care about candy hearts or lacy cards. Tomorrow was the Valentine’s play!

All she wanted was to be the Queen of Hearts.

All she wanted was to wear the golden crown with the red sequins.

All she wanted was to win the role from Leah and Carly.

“I can’t decide,” said Mrs. Clark. “You would all make exquisite queens.” Then she wrote each girl’s name on a strip of paper and placed them in a basket.  “I’ll pick one of you tomorrow.”

The bell rang. Meg lingered.

No one will know.
I want it more than they do.
 Just this once.

Meg wrote her name on two more paper strips. Carefully, she replaced the names of her friends with her own in Mrs. Clark’s basket. She could almost feel the crown on her head as she skipped home.

At dinner, Meg couldn’t eat.

She tried rehearsing, but couldn’t remember her lines.

She went to bed early, but couldn’t sleep.

Her heart hurt.

When Meg arrived at school the next day, she was surprised to see a lacy, red-sequined Valentine on her desk.

Good luck to all of us today!
Love,
Leah and Carly

 Meg’s eyes filled with tears.

“Mrs. Clark,” she said, “I have something to tell you.”

 

#3 – Mother Knows Best

“Here, let me do the dishes Mom.”

“But you can’t reach the sink.”

“Then let me take the garbage out. I’m strong enough…I think.”

“Dad took the trash out yesterday. Son, what is up with you?”

“Um, nothing. Can’t I want to help?”

“Not when you never do.”

“I hope you liked the Valentine I worked so hard to make.

I cut a billion tiny hearts; I thought my hands would break!”

“I think I told you twenty times how much I loved your card.

Max, if you really want to help, then play out in the yard.”

“A great idea! While I’m out I’ll do some helpful deeds –

like rake the leaves or mow the grass or even pull some weeds.”

“It’s winter – there’s no grass to cut and no leaves anywhere!

Now Maxwell Walter Anderson, you sit down in that chair

and do not move a muscle ‘till you’re ready to confess.”

“Mom,

…if I’ve done something awful will you love my any less?”

“Of course I won’t! Now come on dear, just tell me what you’ve done.”

“You know your Truffles Daddy bought?

I only left you one.”

 

#4 – Single… Double… TRIPLE GUILTY!

Valentine’s Day tomorrow! Tony could hardly wait. Ms. Flinker was throwing an old-fashioned Valentine’s party with balloons and cupcakes, and a Valentine’s Box for each of them, so all the kids in the class could put in cards.

Tony dumped out his box of SuperZoomer Valentines. Uh-oh. 20 cards per box. 21 kids in his class.

He giggled. He wouldn’t give nasty Lisa one. She said he was too little for Kindergarten. She called him Tiny, even when he yelled MY NAME IS TONY!

On Valentine’s Day, a SuperZoomer Valentine superzoomed into nearly all the Valentine Boxes lined up along the front table. Nobody noticed that Tony didn’t put one in Lisa’s box. His stomach did, though. GUILTY, it told him.

They ate their cupcakes. They drank red juice. Then it was time for the Valentines. The first one out of his box was from – LISA! Oh no. His stomach said DOUBLE GUILTY. The Valentine said, “Tony – I’m sorry. Can we be friends?”

TRIPLE GUILTY said his stomach. He ran to the back of the room. Red construction paper. Markers. SuperZoomer fast, he made a Valentine.

“Lisa, my card for you wouldn’t fit in the box.”

She looked. “To my new friend. Happy VALENTINY Day!”

 

#5 – The Missing Pupcake

Brayden loved both of his dogs just the same.
They weren’t alike–one was wild, one was tame.
Mona made mischief, she didn’t know, “NO!”
Lisa obeyed because Brayden said so.

Brayden created some Valentine treats,
a doggy dessert made with eggs, oats, and beets.
The piping hot pupcakes were spread out to cool
all over the counter, but underneath—DROOL!

“Let’s grab a pupcake while Brayden is gone,”
Mona said. “I’m too short! Let me climb on.”
Lisa looked back toward the door with remorse.
Mona whined, “Help me out! You be my horse!”

Lisa stood steady while she climbed aboard.
Mona stretched upward, then seized her reward,
nearly inhaled the first pupcake she saw,
leaped down from Lisa’s back, “Got it! Hurrah!”

Lisa slunk out of the kitchen to hide.
She acted guilty, but Mona felt pride.
Brayden came in, heard their skittering feet,
glanced at the counter, saw one missing treat.

“Mona and Lisa!” he cried in dismay.
“I baked those pupcakes for Valentine’s Day.
Which of you took it? It’s time to confess!”
Lisa looked hangdog, her eyes blinked distress.

Brayden inspected them, solving the puzzle.
Mona had cake crumbs all over her muzzle.
“Mona, you’re busted! Now you go to bed!”
Then Brayden gave Lisa two pupcakes instead.

 

#6 – Cupid’s Last Card

Hands off, it’s mine.

I know what you’re thinking. He’s Cupid. He’s supposed to give out Valentine’s cards. It’s his job.

Well, maybe you’re right, but has anyone ever thought about me? Don’t I deserve some attention too?

It’s not easy flying around delivering all those chocolates and stuffed pandas, you know.

So I’m keeping the card.

Yes, I know it’s supposed to be yours. You’re my last delivery. But let’s just forget about that, okay? I’ll make it up next year. You’ll get a REALLY BIG stuffed panda.

Don’t look at me like that.

I’m sure you’re a nice kid. Eat all your veggies? Brush your teeth every night? That’s great.

But the card’s mine.

What’s that? No one else has given you a card? Well…

Phew. Kinda warm in here.

I’m sure you’re mistaken. Check your mailbox again.

Still nothing? Well…

How about we split it? I’ll take half and you’ll…

Oh, don’t cry.

I can’t stand seeing nice kids cry. If you start then I’m…

WHO’S CUTTING THOSE ONIONS?

How about borrowing it…? No?

Sniffing it…? No?

How about… uh…

OH, I CAN’T STAND IT! Here, take it! Just take it! I hope you’re happy now! And furthermore–

Huh? What’s that?

Oh. Thanks. Thanks, kid.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.

 

#7 – Chadwick The Zombie Cooks Up A Valentine

Chadwick the zombie was often alone,
feeling quite lonesome and blue.
While all of his peers nibbled brains, eyes, and ears,
Chadwick baked bread and cooked stew.

“Nobody gets me,” young Chadwick complained.
“But next week is Valentine’s Day!
Instead of fresh hearts I’ll bring raspberry tarts,
That should bring new friends my way!”

Valentine’s came and his classmates gave out
boxes of brains and warm bile.
Chadwick left sweets at the kids’ assigned seats
then waited to see them all smile. 

“Ew!” “What is this?” “Who’d bring sweets to a party?”
Chadwick felt tears in his eyes.
His classmates went still when they saw those tears spill,
ashamed as they heard his soft cries.

Norbert, a boy in the back of the class
squeamishly reached for his treat.
He screwed up his face, then he took a small taste…
and smiled! “This is good! Let’s all eat!”

Zombies were gobbling those tarts in a flash.
“Chadwick, good job!” “Crust has flake!”
Chadwick then heard these delectable words:
“Hey, could you teach us to bake?”

Chadwick the zombie was often with pals,
smiling for hours on end.
Blending and stirring, kneading and whirring,
mixing up fun with his friends.

 

#8 – A Box Full Of Love

Max gave the heart shaped box a big shake.
Empty.
How could all of the candy be gone? He meant to eat only one piece but it had tasted so good…
“Hola, Max,” said Papi. “What is that in your hand?”
“Nothing,” sighed Max. “It was going to be a Valentine’s Day gift for Mama but, I ate all the candy so now it’s just an empty box.”
Papi opened the box. “This box is not empty,’ he said.
“Yes, it is,” said Max.
“No,” said Papi. “You thought of Mama and wanted to make her happy and that is what love is, thinking about others and wanting to make them happy. So you see, this box is full of love. Now how about we go to the kitchen and make Mama some special Valentine’s Day cookies? You get the flour and I’ll get the eggs and sugar.”
On the kitchen counter Max noticed another heart shaped box.
“What is that?” he asked
“That?’ said Papi, furiously mixing the eggs and sugar together. “Ahhh…That is another box of love for Mama.”
Max smiled. “You ate all the candy too, didn’t you Papi?”
“Si,” said Papi. “Now, hand me the flour so we can finish these cookies before Mama gets home. Rapido!”

#9 – Buffa-lonely Love Day

At the zoo, it’s party time:
zebras clamor, monkeys climb.
Elephants hang decorations—
time for Love Day celebrations.

Sending cards, they’re all gung-ho…
all except for Buffalo.

Looking for her valentine…
Doesn’t find one!
“So what?! FINE!”

Scrunched-up nose and pouted lips,
tucks her hooves into her hips.

“Such a wild, rambunctious crowd,
much too lively, much too loud.
Had enough of this commotion.
Too much lovey-dove emotion.”

Quick, she trots around the zoo,
making others cranky too.

Creeps up to the three baboons…
POP! There go their three balloons.

Finds two penguins on the ice…
steals their heart-shaped pebbles (twice).

One bear’s heart cake—Where’d it go?
Who would smash it?
“Buffalo!”

Party ruined: roars and growls.
Buffalo just sits and scowls.

Buffa-lonely, all alone.
“Still no cards, still on my own.
Wrecked their party, made them mad.
What a rotten day I’ve had.”

Maybe if she sent a letter…
she might feel a little better.

“Sorry that I wrecked your bash,
and tossed your goodies in the trash…
See, I found it pretty hard
when all but me received a card.”

Party mix-up, at the zoo…
“You got no card? We never knew!”
“Buffalo, look here and see:
your valentine fell in this tree!”

Buffalo is so excited!
Party re-do… All invited!

 

#10 –  Guess Who?

Who made their bed and fed the cat?
Almost.

Who cleaned up when the milk went splat?
Well, close.

Who carried out the trash with care?
Oops, whoa!

Who fixed the baby’s messy hair?
Oh no.

Who put a drawing at your place?
Rub, scrub.

Who found a flower for your favorite vase?
Mop slop.

Who saved a foil wrapped chocolate kiss?
Yum, yum.

And set it where you couldn’t miss?
“Dear Mum”

I guess you figured out it’s me.

I’m guilty, as no doubt, you see.

I tried to think of something good

but it didn’t turn out quite as it should. 

My valentine surprise is done.

With hugs and kisses from your son.

 

#11 – Heart Socks For The Win

Alex clutched her rainbow wallet. Inside the dollar store, she headed for the clothing aisle.

Her eyes widened. Perfect! Just what she wanted for the Valentine’s party. She gazed at the socks with rainbow-colored hearts. Her own heart raced.

A smaller girl stopped beside her. Through thick glasses, she peered at the heart socks. “Ooh! I’m gonna ask Grandma to buy them with my birthday dollar.” Alex heard the girl’s loose shoes slapping away.

“I saw them first!” Alex grabbed the socks, pressing them to her body. Head down, she marched to the check-out. The clerk gave her change from her $10. Alex barely mumbled “Thank you.”

On Valentine’s Day, she shoved the socks in her backpack. “I’ll put them on later,” she thought.

At school, the gym was open. A little girl with glasses cartwheeled in circles. Alex’s guilty heart did a somersault. She knew what she must do.

Walking quickly to the shoes lining the wall, she knelt and set a heart sock in each of two old sneakers.

Without the socks, the party was just okay. But Alex’s heart soared when she ran to the bus. On a playground swing, a pair of little legs covered in hearts the color of the rainbow flew high.

 

#12 – Love Bug At The Zoo

I’m know I’m just small, but I must confess,
I am the love bug who caused this huge mess.
I shouldn’t have gone out on Valentine’s Day,
I infected the zoo, I got carried away.
I’m sorry my nibbles caused such a commotion
My bites are much stronger than any love potion.
Now Monkey is gaga and Parrot is squawking
“I love you, I love you…” she doesn’t quit talking.
Poor Panda is spellbound, and Seal is lovesick,
and Frog is enamored with bright red lipstick.
The meercats are staring, with googley-eyes,
at Penguin, who suddenly really loves fries.
Giraffe has gone ape, and Ape is obsessed,
he keeps blowing kisses and pounding his chest.
Lion’s in love, and Emu is entranced
by Flamingo’s new fondness for ballroom style dance.
Bear is bewitched, and so is Baboon.
Zebra saw Peacock and started to swoon.
Peacock keeps prancing to get Snakes attention
But Snake has been charmed, and there’s more I won’t mention.
The bites will wear off, they’ll be fine before morning,
But watch out for love bugs, we strike without warning!

Wow!  Those were impressive, weren’t they?  Good luck picking! 🙂

Please vote for your favorite in the poll below by Wednesday February 27 at 12 PM (noon) Eastern time.

Tune in Thursday February 28 to see THE WINNERS!!!

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

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

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to lie on the couch, wrap a hot towel around my head, and get a nap 🙂 after all that reading and agonizing and negotiating.

Okay.

Not really.

I will actually be taking my dad’s car to get a recalled part replaced and frantically trying to catch up on things I shoved to the back burner whilst reading Valentiny stories in the dealership waiting room where they will hopefully have a Keurig!

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!!! . . . now that it’s basically Monday 🙂