Ho! Ho! HO! The Eighth Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!

Deck the halls!

Light the menorah!

Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja!

It’s time for…

THE 8TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Super Santa.png

~for children’s writers~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday Hero!  Your hero’s act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one – from saving Christmas to leaving a fresh-baked loaf of Challah bread for a homeless person to something like Gift Of The Magi where two people give up the thing most important to them to be sure someone they love has a good holiday.  Your hero can be obvious or unlikely.  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 Saturday December 8 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 would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section below (please be sure to include your byline so that if your posting handle is midnightwriter1 or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!)  If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post your entry for you. But please don’t send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story including byline into the email.  Also, please only post your entry once – either in the comment section of my blog or on the link list or by emailing me and asking me to post it.  Multiple postings of the same entry get confusing.

 

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 Friday December 14 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 16 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 Monday December 17 (how’s that for ambitious?! 🙂 )

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 Heroism! – the rules state a Holiday Hero story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a hero and act of heroism in some form! 🙂
  • 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!:

Magic Happens When You Make Every Word Count Writing Mentorship with Author Vivian Kirkfield!

Vivian will:
1. Read through your body of work (3-5 PB mss)
2. Skype chat with you to discuss your dream/vision/direction and her general thoughts about your work.
3. Help you choose which manuscript to move forward with/work on with her.
4. Critique that ms and then set up a Skype chat to go over it.
5. Help craft a cover letter and pitch for your ms which will then serve as a template for you as you move forward with your other work.

This is a truly amazing opportunity to work one-on-one with a talented author and critiquer to get you submission-ready for an editor or agent!

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Vivian Kirkfield

Writer for children – reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. She’s got a bucket list that contains many more than five words – but she’s already ticked off skydiving, parasailing and banana-boat riding. When she is not looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books that she hopes will encourage young kids to become lovers of books and reading. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate(Holiday House, Feb 2019); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book(PomegranateKids, March 2019); Sweet Dreams, Sarah(Creston Books, May 2019); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). You can visit Vivian on her website, Picture Books Help Kids Soar, where she hosts the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge every March. Or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest,Instagram, Linkedin, and just about anywhere people are playing with picture books.

cover on amazon   four otters cover amazon   sweet-dreams-new-on-amazon

A Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by prolific author Diana Murray!

diana-murray  One Snowy Day

A Non-Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Amy Dixon!

amy-dixon  Maurice

A 2-Pack of Personalized, Signed Picture Books by Tara LuebbeI Am Famous and Shark Nate-O

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O I Am Famous

a spot in my online picture book writing class Making Picture Book Magic (in any month mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)

MPBM

Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2019 – by Robert Lee Brewer AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card (2 available)

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

– Yes You Can Learn How To Write Beginning Readers And Chapter Books – by Nancy I. Sanders AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card
nancy sanders 2
laura salas educational market
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, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

 

Now.

 

The time has come for my sample.  I wrote it between midnight and 2 AM, so that’s my excuse for how bad it is and I hope you all appreciate the fact that I am willing to make a complete fool of myself just for you! 🙂  But this should be very comforting because you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that ANYthing you wrote is better than this! 🙂

So.  Are you ready? (Be forewarned you might need a little chocolate to help you through… I’m going to need a LOT! 🙂  I have taken dreadful writing to a whole new level and should probably write a new sample tomorrow!  Also because this one is a few words over the limit 🙂  )

 

The Christmas Rescue

‘Twas the night before Christmas
The sleigh was packed high.
The team shook their jingle bells
Eager to fly!

Santa and Elsie Elf
Boarded the sleigh
And quick as a wink
They were up and away!

As they soared over rooftops
That glittered with snow
Elsie said,
“Look at that shooting star go!”

Santa leaned forward
And peered through the night.
“That’s no shooting star!
It’s a meteorite!”

“Pretty!” said Elsie.
And Santa said, “Yes…
But it’s going to wreak havoc
With our GPS!”

The NAV screen went blank
A search icon spun round
Because Magnetic North
Could no longer be found!

They tapped at the screen
Turned it off and back on
But it was no use
Their directions were gone!

The meteor’s metal
Messed up Elsie’s phone
So she couldn’t call Tech
At the workshop back home.

“Maybe star navigation?”
said Santa with doubt.
But clouds had moved in
And they blocked the stars out.

“We have no direction
We can’t find our way
To get gifts to good girls and boys
Christmas Day!”

At this precise moment
From out of the blue
A small caped crusader
Flew into their view.

“My goodness!” said Santa.
“Whatever is that?”
The crusader said proudly,
“I’m Super Bat!

I just couldn’t help
Overhearing your plight.
The Bat Squad and I
Can assist you tonight.”

“How?” wondered Elsie.
“Without navigation.”
“No problem,” said Bat,
“we use echolocation!”

With Super Bat skillfully
Guiding the sleigh
The gifts were delivered
By dawn Christmas Day.

“We couldn’t have done this
Without you, you know.”
Santa smiled and said,
“Bat, you’re a Christmas Hero!”

 

So now!  Is everyone filled with confidence about their entries?  I certainly hope so after that display!  Never let it be said that I’m not willing to make a fool of myself for you guys 🙂  It just proves how much I love you 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of your (much better!) stories!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And you still have until Saturday midnight to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet and want to join the fun.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  If you just want to enjoy reading, that’s great too!  We need all the readers we can get, so feel free to spread the word to parents and teachers!  And what better way to entertain yourself and your kids while waiting for the holiday goodies to bake?  Or get someone to read aloud while everyone else wraps presents 🙂

Rejoice! and let the festivities begin!!! 🙂

Happy Holidays to All! 🙂

 

And don’t miss the additional 49 fabulous entries in the comment section below!
(Titles are not links – sorry! Scroll through comments to view)

  1. The Super-Invisible Snowgirl – Anne L
  2. Toby Saves Christmas – Sherry H
  3. The 12 Days of Christmas With Noni – Johanna
  4. Saint Bernard Savior – Sandra
  5. The Cookie Defenders – Darcee
  6. Nippynose Flu – Jennifer
  7. Santa’s Gift – Barbara
  8. I’m Santa – Sarah
  9. Manger Mayhem – Susan
  10. Cat Called Hero – Lily
  11. All By Myself – Jessica
  12. Surprise On The Sleigh – Sarah
  13. Ozzie Owl To The Rescue – Judy
  14. Come Back Santa – Lisa
  15. Christmas Presence – Angelique
  16. Papa Bear’s Rescue – Dianne
  17. Santa Tryouts – Amy F
  18. Just One Bean – Kristy
  19. Merritt Mouse – Saves Christmas – Patricia
  20. Jesse The Pup Saves Hanukkah – Amy B
  21. Sammy, the Skillet Saves Hanukkah – Amy B
  22. UH-OH. OH NO. HO HO – Jill
  23. The Christmas Boots – Sherry F
  24. Christmas Cookies – Kami
  25. Christmas In The Park – John
  26. A Christmas Scent-sation – Jill
  27. A Christmas Prayer – Michelle
  28. A Special Nest – Beverly
  29. Tent City Christmas – Anne B
  30. Who Was The Real Hero The Night Baby Jesus Was Born? – Carmen
  31. The Cookies That Saved Christmas – Jamie
  32. Fox And The Red Wagon – Kathy
  33. Listen To Libby – Nannette
  34. The Soldier’s Little Girl – Beth
  35. Momo The Xmas Hero – Shariffa
  36. The Santa Kid – Mega
  37. Dasher Saves The Day By Night – Tara
  38. Alex & Apple Save Christmas – Nicole
  39. Sparkle’s Special Christmas Wish – Lucretia
  40. Santa’s Beard – Linda
  41. Christmas Kindness – Beth B
  42. A Neighborly Christmas Eve – Mona
  43. Ellen – Priya
  44. The Christmas Pick-Up – Laura
  45. Christmas-time Tea – Elizabeth
  46. The Holiday Hero – Ranessa
  47. The Little Reindeer – Debora
  48. The Hay – Anna
  49. Happy Rose For Christmas – Liz

A Little Sunday Surprise For YOU!

OHHHHHH!!!!!
Dashing through the snow!
In a one-horse open sleigh!
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
HA HA HA!……

Hi there!

Isn’t this a lovely treat?

Me, interrupting your Thanksgiving Sunday Family Breakfast  with my melodious singing?

(Not to brag, but I’ve been told by QUITE a few people that my voice is unrivaled… 🙂 )

I don’t know about you guys, but at my house there is a method to our madness.

I know.

Hard to believe I have a method for anything 🙂

But it’s true.

No matter how they behave at the mall, what with all the North Pole displays and piped in holiday tunes before trick-or-treating is done, I have a self-imposed rule that there is No Listening To or Singing Of Holiday Music Until Thanksgiving Is Over!

It’s just good sense.

For starters, it’s hard to put much conviction into “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” when orange plastic pumpkins full of candy are still sitting on the kitchen counter!

And imagine how all the turkeys feel when we just gloss over their day as if it doesn’t even matter because we’re so busy looking forward to Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/whatever?!

I mean, poor turkeys!  They give up a lot for their day!  We can at least not marginalize them by singing “Dreidel dreidel dreidel” while the turkey is front and center on the dining room table!’

But some of you may have noticed that Thanksgiving is now over…

…which means

a) we can holler out a nice loud chorus of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and

b)…

B)!…

…It’s time for…

THE 8TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Super Santa.png

~for children’s writers~

 

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday Hero!  Your hero’s act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one – from saving Christmas to leaving a fresh-baked loaf of Challah bread for a homeless person to something like Gift Of The Magi where two people give up the thing most important to them to be sure someone they love has a good holiday.  Your hero can be obvious or unlikely.  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 Thursday December 6 and Saturday December 8 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 Thursday December 6 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 6th 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 6th 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 Friday December 14 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 16 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 Monday December 17.

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 Heroism! – the rules state a Holiday Hero story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a hero and act of heroism in some form! 🙂
  • 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 almost – 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 🙂

– A Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by prolific author Diana Murray!

diana-murray  One Snowy Day

– A Non-Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Amy Dixon!

amy-dixon  Maurice

– A 2-Pack of Personalized, Signed Picture Books by Tara LuebbeI Am Famous and Shark Nate-O

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O I Am Famous

– a spot in my online picture book writing class Making Picture Book Magic (in any month mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)

MPBM

Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market 2019 – by Robert Lee Brewer (x2)

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

nancy sanders 2
laura salas educational market
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, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or 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 Hero story!!! You have nearly two full weeks!

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 2018 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

Somehow it is the 19th of November, and I’m sure you all know what that means!

It’s time to start getting ready for my long winter’s nap!

Yep.  Me and the bears.

Preparations are well underway!  We’re putting on our flannel jammies, getting out the fleece blankets and the down comforters, fluffing up the extra pillows, selecting which books warrant inclusion on the bedside table (or in the extra pile within reach on the floor), making sure the nightlight has a fresh bulb (because no one wants to come briefly to the surface at 1:37 AM on a cold night in January in utter, complete, and total darkness!), and negotiating for space with the dogs.  They are winning.  My portion of the sleeping quarters is currently 2 inches wide…

But we interrupt these proceedings for an important announcement from our sponsor!  Because it’s not quite nap time yet, and I have a sneaking suspicion there’s some interest in what I’m about to say… 🙂

As you are all aware by now, we had an amazing turnout for the Halloweensie Contest – 237 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 the Halloweensie Contest always makes Halloween so much more fun for me!  I mean, fun-sized chocolate is fabulous on its own, but it’s even better with entertaining 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 on Thursday 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!)

Jenna Waldman for My Best Trick Yet (also great use of language!)

Mia Geiger for Guess Who?

Maile McCarthy for Halloween Banquet

Katie Engen for Pirate’s Halloween Mutiny

Pat Finnegan for Midnight Fright

Nannette Brophy Major for Fright Fight

Jennifer Raudenbush for Little Miss Halloween

Jean James for Tricks On You

 

2. For Best Ending Lines!:

Henry Herz for When Candy Goes Bad

Jim Chaize for Are You Sure?

Susan Valli for Eat Up Your Carrots!

Lauren Neil for Trick-Or-Sweet

 

3.  For Best Descriptive/Mood Piece:

Heather Kinser for Fearsome Brew

MaryLee Flannigan for The Gathering

Sarah Tobias for Dancing With The Night

Mary Ann Cortez for Halloween Party Scene

Laura Bower for The Halloween Ship

 

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

Diana Gibson for Chef Crone

 

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

Delfina Salimbene for The Dancing Figurine

Michael Neuenschwander for Full Moon Rising

Ella Hron, age 9, for Untitled

 

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

JC Kelly for No Bones About It

 

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

Jessica Reiner-Harris for A Calm Halloween

Anne Bromley for Halloween Stew For Two

Joan Leotta for Wolfie’s Pumpkin

 

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

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez for Needed (MC is a lonely umbrella!)

Jill Lambert for The Candivore (MC is The Candivore)

 

9.  For Best Entry In Fewest Words! 🙂 :

Su Moon for Three Pig-Witches (47 words)

Michelle S. Kennedy for Halloween Haiku (11 words)

Anna Hron, age 11, for Untitled (13 words)

 

10. For A Little More Appealing For Grown-ups But Well-Written And Enjoyable!

Sherry Howard for Love Potion Number 9

 

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 your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about.). If you choose a prize that must be snail mailed, please include your address in your email!

If you are age 11 or under and received Honorable Mention, you may choose any book on Amazon you’d like to read that is under $10 if you prefer that to the prizes listed below 🙂

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: (PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR SNAIL MAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR EMAIL!)

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… (PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR SNAIL MAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR EMAIL!)

Magnetic Poetry – Little Box Of Awesome Kit – Words For Refrigerator

OR

If you already have all these, or can’t decide, or want to build up your wish list fund:

A $5 Amazon Email Gift Certificate

Now then.  A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.

We have 11 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 🙂 The reason there are 11 prizes for 10 places is because one of them can only go to an unagented unpublished writer and may therefore not qualify depending how things work out…

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 2018 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…

Jennifer Broedel

for

Stitchy Witchy Brew

Congratulations, Jennifer, 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

Belinda’s Broken Brew

Congratulations, Keatley, on a creative, wonderfully written entry with a great sense of humor! You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jennifer chooses!

In Third Place,

Susie Sawyer
 for

The Scariest Night Of The Year

 

Congratulations, Susie, on a beautifully written entry with great use of language that we all loved!  You made our hearts pound and included a nice message for kids!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Jennifer and Keatley choose!

In Fourth Place,

Kirsten Ealand
for
Halloween Prize

Congratulations, Kirsten, on a fun story with laugh-out-loud ending!  You get to pick a prize after Jennifer, Keatley, and Susie!

In Fifth Place,

Kelly Conroy
for
Witches’ Brew

Congratulations, Kelly, on your delightfully well written entry that cast the spell to begin Halloween!  You get to pick your prize after Jennifer, Keatley, Susie, and Kirsten!

In Sixth Place,

Kalee Gwarjanski

for

Dracula Wants Pie

Congratulations, Kalee, on your fun entry for younger readers! You get to pick your prize after Jennifer, Keatley, Susie, Kirsten, and Kelly!

Now… just to be difficult, there was a 4-way tie for Seventh Place and the remainder of the prizes!  I mention this because technically all four of the following entries received the same number of popular votes and should be thought of as having earned 7th place.  But for the sake of choosing prizes which a 4-way tie makes extremely difficult, the judges put their heads together and placed them 7th-10th. So…

In Seventh Place,

Debbie Day
for
Broken-down Broom

Congratulations, Debbie, who knew broomsticks required gasoline? 🙂 You get to pick your prize after Kelly!

In Eighth Place,

Charlene Taber
for
The “Wolf” At The Door

Congratulations, Charlene, for a beautifully written kid-friendly entry! You get to pick your prize after Debbie!

In Ninth Place,

Jen Bagan
for
Gordie Goblin’s Potion

Congratulations, Jen, on nice use of misdirection and cooking up something in the cauldron that no one else thought of 🙂   You get to pick a prize after Charlene…!

In Tenth Place

Linda Staszak
for
If You Can’t Beat Them…

Congratulations, Linda, on making us laugh at your opening line!  You get to prize pick after Jen.

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!  Finalists who did not finish in the top 10 (Jennifer (Potion Commotion), Joy (Next Week), Laura (Monster Vacancy), and Debbie (The Halloween Shack)) may also contact me for their choice of the Kindle or paperback prizes listed above.  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 🙂

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 large amount of chocolate cake 🙂

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 8th 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 weekend everyone, and thanks again for making the Halloweensie Contest such a wonderful time for all! 🙂

The Prizes:

(NOTE: There are 11 prizes listed for the 10 winners because one of them is only available to an unagented unpublished writer, so may not be applicable to all.)

Skip The Slushpile with Hannah Lambert, Senior Editor at Little Simon!!!

Hannah Lambert            Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 7.32.05 PM
The lucky winner of this prize will get to place the picture book manuscript of his/her choice directly into editor Hannah Lambert’s hands!  (FYI, Hannah is the editor of all 4 of my books in the WHEN YOUR… series.)  Hannah will read the manuscript and then send you an email to let you know she’s read your story.  She will include a brief mention of something she likes, and something you can work on. (Not a full critique.)  Of course what makes this prize so incredible is that if you send her a really, really good manuscript the dream could come true!  You’re putting your ms directly in front of a senior editor.  This is your chance! – knock her socks off! 🙂  And if your ms isn’t for her at this time, she will still know who you are should she see your work in future.  So good luck to whoever wins this!  Hannah is particularly interested in mss with a very low word count and/or board book potential, and always has an eye out for excellent holiday stories.
(with thanks to Tania Guarino for thinking up the idea of skipping the slush pile!)

PB MS Critique – from Cori Doerrfeld, author/illustrator of The Rabbit Listened, A New York Times Editor’s Choice, An Indie Next List pick, and A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018, and many other wonderful picture books including Penny Loves Pink, Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story, and Good Dog.

0c24b-cori_bio_pic  Rabbit

PB MS Critique – from Heather Ayris Burnell, author of Bedtime Monster, Kick! Jump! Chop!: The Adventures of the Ninjabread Man, and the forthcoming Unicorn and Yeti books (an Acorn Chapter Book series). Heather is also the founder of SubIt Club

heather burnell  Kick Jump Chop

– PB MS Critique – from Melissa Stoller, author of Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush, Ready, Set, GOrilla, and the Enchanted Snow Globe Collection (a chapter book series)

Picture2     Picture1

15-30 Minute Your Questions Answered Phone Call – with Ryan Sias, author/illustrator of Go Greenie! Are You Eating Something Red?, Go Greenie! Are You Eating Something Green?, Balloon Toons: Zoe And Robot, Let’s Pretend, Sniff Sniff!, and the Woof And Quack beginning reader series (Green Light Readers) 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

Extra Entry into Writing With The Stars – Tara Luebbe (only for unagented, unpublished writer)

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-10-13-05-pm

“Writing with the Stars is a mentorship opportunity for aspiring picture book writers and illustrators to win a free, three-month mentorship with a published author or author/illustrator. Mentors will help mentees further develop their craft and share invaluable advice and insight into the publishing world.” (~from the website)

Writers are allowed to enter 3 times, but the winner of this prize will get an extra 4th entry to this amazing writing mentorship opportunity!!!

 – 2-Pack of Personalized Signed Picture Books by the lovely and talented Tania Guarino, author of MEET THE QUACKERS (Spork, 2017) and GARDEN PARTY: A COUNTING ADVENTURE (Spork, 2018)
tania-guarino_1_orig Quackers Garden Party

a personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY JERRY by the wonderful and gifted Shelley Kinder

shelley-kinder_orig   Jerry

 

 

Surprise Bundle Of Books – assorted PBs, MGs, YAs  – generously donated by Elaine Kiely Kearns and  KidLit411

Yes You Can

 

Making A Living

Please join me again in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

The 2018 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS (…FINALLY!!!)

DARLINGS!

The day has FINALLY come!

Normally, I’d engage in a bit of tomfoolery to sidetrack you from our mission and make you think I’d forgotten why we were here on a Thursday.

But I have made you wait so long for the finalists that there will be no stalling today!  We shall get right to announcing the finalists and voting!

(Yes, it’s really me writing this post.  I haven’t been abducted by aliens 🙂 )

We had a huge turnout with 237 very high quality entries!  It is wonderful to watch the writers we see coming back contest after contest getting better every time… but boy does it make the judging hard!!! There are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there are a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!

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

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

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

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

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:

1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness did not make the cut.  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.

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

4. Quality of Writing: we took note of spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  In addition, for the rhymers, we looked at rhyme and meter (for which we are sticklers!)  We also looked at overall writing quality and use of language.

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

A surprising number of this year’s entries were amazingly written… but 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!

When you read the finalists you will note that almost all of them are in rhyme!  This is partly because those just happened to be the best ones, but also because the entries as a group this year were heavily weighted toward rhyme.

Also worthy of note, we had 4 entries with witches named Wanda in the title, at least 3 entries entitled “Witches’ Brew” (plus one Horrid Witches’ Brew), 2 or 3 entries besides my sample that had hot chocolate in the cauldron, and 2 completely different entries written by different authors called “Potion Commotion”!  The vast majority of witches had “w” names – Wanda, Willa, Winni, Winnifred, etc, though we did have a Gwen and a Belinda and probably some others I’m forgetting right now too 🙂

So, without further ado, I present to you the 2018 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute.  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite.  To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the 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 – Belinda’s Broken Brew

Belinda’s best cauldron went bonkers one night.
All her concoctions were full of…delight?
She dropped in a shiver–out popped a kiss.
She snuck in a slither–out poured some bliss.
In went a howl–out came a grin.
A giggle rang out when a wriggle fell in!
She dribbled in cackles, a moan, and a shrug–
Out sprang some cuddles, a wink, and a hug.
She threw up her hands, no more could be done.
She had to admit, the cauldron had won.
This was a curse, nasty and mean!
Belinda was stuck with a nice Halloween.

 

#2 – Witches’ Brew

The witches convened
in a clearing each fall,
to conjure the trickiest
spell of them all.
They gathered up bats
and black cats
and an owl.
Then sprinkled in shivers
and shrieks
and a howl.
The cauldron grew bubbly,
all spicy and hot,
creating a vapor
that rose from the pot.
The witches fell silent.
Their pointy ears perked
each anxious to hear
if the witches’ brew worked.
Then over the clearing,
came rollicking noise.
Ding-dong.
“Trick or treat!”
sang the sweet girls and boys.
The witches, they cackled.
They’d done their job well,
successfully casting
The Halloween Spell.

 

#3 – Broken-down Broom

While flying away to the Halloween Ball,
Gwen’s broom went CAPUT! and she started to fall.
She dropped with a crash into Skeleton Wood-
the creepiest place in the WHOLE neighborhood.
A shrill, nearby howl made her shiver in fright.
She thought, “Now I might miss the party tonight!”
She pulled out her cauldron and looked all around.
She grabbed molding mushrooms and worms from the ground.
Then just as another shriek echoed unseen,
Gwen whipped up a potion for broom gasoline.
She poured in the mixture and scrambled aboard.
“I’m bound for the ball!” She declared as she soared.

 
#4 – Dracula Wants Pie

Today is the day of the Halloween fair and Dracula is hungry.
His mom offers some of her famous red juice. Dracula shivers, “eewwww. I’m tired of juice, I’m in the mood for something new…”
Pie!
“Get your marshmallows here!” shouts Ghost.
No thanks, Dracula wants pie.
“Cauldron is bubbly, hot and delicious”, tempts Witch.
No thanks. Dracula wants pie.
“Care for a bite, do yooouuu?” howls Werewolf manning the grill.
No thanks. Dracula wants pie.
Only one stand left. Finally, he reaches Pumpkin.
Dracula smiles.
Dracula loves pie.

 

#5 – Stitchy Witchy Brew

Party time looming and closet shelves bare,
Hazel VanBazel howled, “Nothing to wear!”
Flipping through frocks, she fell down in a slump.
“This clothing won’t cut it. I look like a frump!”
She danced to her cauldron with sheets from her bed,
satchels of sequins, and spider-silk thread.
In flurries of fabric, she sang out a spell,
tumbled in buttons, then folded it well.
The pot gave a shiver and spit out a gown,
sure to make Hazel the talk of the town.
She twirled in her tulle and sashayed in her sash,
ready to shine at her Halloween bash!

 

#6 – Potion Commotion

One broom, one flight….one magical Halloween night.
“Swizzle-zee, swizzle-zum, sizzle and simmer till it’s done!”
Tabitha sampled her brew. Something was missing… garlic should do.
SPRINKLE
DASH
MUDDLE…
SPLASH!
The cauldron crashed. The potion pitched. The broom set aflame!
No broom, no flight! One horrid Halloween night.
WAIL
GROWL
MOAN
HOWWLLL!
Tabitha paced. Tabitha pondered.
Tabitha began again.
“Swizzle-zee, swizzle-zum, sizzle and shimmer till it’s done!”
Tabitha sampled her brew. Something was missing… dragon scales would do.
BOOM
CRASH
CRACKLE
BASH!
Tabitha laughed! Tabitha danced! Tabitha shivered with glee!
No broom? Alright! Tabitha soared on dragon wing that Halloween night.

 

#7 – The Scariest Night Of The Year

Painted faces.
Heartbeat races.
Trick-or-treat at spooky places.
Vampires,
villains,
ghosts galore –
follow me from door to door.
Cauldrons bubble.
Werewolves howl.
Ghouls and goblins stalk and prowl.
Caught in cobwebs,
swooping bats,
monsters, mummies, creepy cats!
Shivering!
Quivering!
What’s that slithering?
Witchy fingers, gnarled and withering.
All this spooky, scary, stuff –
Maybe I’m not brave enough!
Hold on.
STOP.
I’ll be just fine.
These spooks are all just friends of mine!
We’re dressed in costumes,
having fun.
Back to normal when we’re done.
I say good bye to all my fright
(but I’m still glad it’s just one night.)

 

#8 – If You Can’t Beat Them… 

Griselda banged on the caldron with an old bone. “Wake up. It’s Halloween.”
Around the graveyard ghosts and goblins stretched and yawned. Scratchy voices that hadn’t been used in a year yowled and howled.
“Here come children. Get ready,” whispered Griselda, shivering with excitement.
They leaped from their hiding places, bloodcurdling screams piercing the night air.
The children laughed.
“Forget them,” said Griselda. “Here come some more.”
Zombies wildly grasped for the children. Ghosts fluttered in their hair.
“Cool costumes,” the children said. “Are you going to the party?”
The creatures looked at each other and shrugged. “Might as well.”

 

#9 – The “Wolf” at the Door

On Halloween a pint-size witch
Went door-to-door without a hitch,
A plastic cauldron in her hand,
Collecting candy, as she’d planned.
But at the last house on the block,
In answer to her timid knock,
She heard a long and mournful howl,
Followed by a fearsome growl!
“Is that a wolf?” the young girl cried
As the front door opened wide.
She shivered as she looked around,
And then she saw ———— a basset hound!
She thanked his owner for the treat,
Then laughed and scampered down the street.

 

#10 – The Halloween Shack

10.1.18
Today,
beyond the woods,
a shack appeared.
“Halloween Goods,” read the sign.

10.5.18
Howling sounds from the shack today.
Gave me shivers!
Should I visit?

10.10.18
Peeked through the window.
Mist spewed from a cauldron.
Almost SURE I saw eyes…

10.18.18
Stepped inside today.
CREEPIEST PLACE EVER.
Skulls, spiderwebs, eerie pictures…
Something whispered, “Welcome,”
and I ran!

10.22.18
Walked past the shack today.
Something watched me from the window.

10.31.18
Trick-or-treated at the shack tonight.
Don’t ask why.
A veiled figure
handed me candy
through the door.

I saw its eyes.

11.1.18
Today,
beyond the woods,
the shack…was gone.

 

#11 – Monster Vacancy

My house lost it’s monster and I’m in a jam.
Halloween’s coming but I have a plan.
I called reinforcements. Demons and pests.
Howling wanted. Please come do your best.
I held my breath on Halloween night.
Only one ghost arrived, glistening white.
I put on the cauldron, set it to brew,
Safely conducted a quick interview.
Though doubtful about her blood-curdling skill,
I hired her instantly paying her bill.
To my satisfaction, my shivering fright,
I’d chosen wisely that October night.
When children approached to say ‘trick-or-treat’
Every kiddo ran screaming straight for the street.

 

#12 – Halloween Prize

Eve’s school gives a Halloween prize
for the costume with the best surprise.
Believe me competition’s hot
But she just might win with the idea she’s got.
With cardboard, scissors, paint and string
Eve could’ve made most anything;
A slime-filled cauldron, a spider-filled hat
But they’d been done so she didn’t make that.
Other outfits make kids shiver or scream
But Eve has gone for a different theme.
She attracts them with creative drama
All dressed up as a cute, little llama.
She may not howl, screech or hit
But they’d better watch out … because she sure can spit.

 

#13 – Gordie Goblin’s Potion

On Halloween morning Gordie Goblin awoke with an ACHOO!
“No!” he moaned. “I must do my fierce and frightening tricks tonight!”
Gordie headed out into the howling wind.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
“Winni Witch!” he shouted. “I need a healing potion!”
Winni ushered him in and did a quick examination.
“You need a strong brew indeed.”
Winni lit her cauldron while Gordie studied her shelves.
Cyclops lashes
Bat fur
Werewolf toenails
“Yuck!” he thought with a shiver.
Finally, Winni brought him a steaming goblet.
Gordie braced himself and took a sip.
“It’s … yummy!”
Winni smiled. “Chicken soup works every time!”

 

#14 – Next Week

Three friends marched along in the light of the moon:
One doctor, one witch, and one purple baboon.
They shivered and quivered in fear or in chill.
Each carried a colorful cauldron to fill.
With candy—sweet candy! They’d waited all year.
The night they’d awaited was finally here!
“Hello?”
“TRICK OR TREAT!”
“Dears, I’m sorry to say…
I haven’t got candy to give out today…”
“NO CANDY!” they howled.
“Now, my dears, let me speak…
You’ve come a bit early; I’ll have some next week.”

 

Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 12PM EST (Noon) Sunday November 18. (We’re going to skip PPBF to leave the poll post up because of the timing getting messed up by the judging taking so long – sorry about that!)

 

 

Tune in Monday November 19 to see THE WINNERS!!!

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

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

Tune in Monday… same bat time, same bat station 🙂

The 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!

***Update November 12th***
We’re pretty close to having the finalist list, but even if it was ready in a couple hours, that wouldn’t give enough time to vote today and I have previously scheduled blog posts for Tuesday Debut tomorrow and Would You Read It Wednesday on Wednesday, so the finalist list will be posted on Thursday November 15th.  Apologies for the delay, but there were a LOT of good entries and the judging process has been harrowing! 🙂 

***Update November 5th***
So sorry everyone but the other judges and I need more time – my fault not their’s.  Work deadlines, family needs, and 234 wonderful entries from you guys that all deserve careful and thoughtful consideration mean that I’m just not able to post finalists today.  I will get them up as soon as I possibly can but I think Wednesday or Thursday is likely.  Sorry for the delay!

Wool of bat and howlet’s wing!  It’s time for . . .

The 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest!!!!!
~ for children’s writers ~
aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!

halloweensie-pumpkin

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 shiver, cauldron, and howl.  Your story can be scary, funny, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. shivery, cauldrons, howling, 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 Wednesday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no 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, especially if your posting handle is something like AwesomeWriter92 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!
Please Note: although you are welcome to submit more than one entry, please only post each entry ONCE!  If you post it on your blog (preferred method) everyone will come visit you and you’ll make new friends! 🙂  If you don’t have a blog, post it in the comment section below.  If you’re unable to post, please email me with your entry and byline in the body of the email.  Please DO NOT post on your blog, and in the comments, and send me an email to post.  It makes things confusing!
P.S.  Although I try to stay glued to my computer 24/7 I am sometimes forced to leave my desk.  If you haven’t commented on my blog before, your comment won’t show up until I approve it.  It may take a little while if I’m away from my desk.  Likewise, if you send me an entry to post, I promise I will do it as soon as I can!

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 (sooner if possible, later if necessary!)  The winner will be announced on Thursday November 8th, 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: (it is currently 1:40AM and I’m at the stage where I’m going to make mistakes, so I will finish posting the prize list properly in the morning.  Apologies for the delay!)

First, the amazingly awesome prize I promised!

– Skip The Slushpile with Editor Hannah Lambert of Little Simon!!!
The lucky winner of this prize will get to place the picture book manuscript of his/her choice directly into editor Hannah Lambert’s hands!  (In case you are wondering, Hannah is the editor of all 4 of my books in the WHEN YOUR… series.)  Hannah will read the manuscript and then send you an email to let you know she’s read your story.  She will include a brief mention of something she likes, and something you can work on. (Not a full critique.)  Of course what makes this prize so incredible is that if you send her a really, really good manuscript the dream could come true! 🙂 So good luck to whoever wins this!  Hannah is particularly interested in mss with a very low word count, and always has an eye out for excellent holiday stories.
(with thanks to Tania Guarino for thinking up the idea of skipping the slush pile!)

– several picture book manuscript critiques from amazing critiquers (details to come – I need to spread my generous volunteers out over 3 contests, so, planning…)

 – 2-Pack of Personalized Signed Picture Books by the lovely and talented Tania Guarino, author of MEET THE QUACKERS (Spork, 2017) and GARDEN PARTY: A COUNTING ADVENTURE (Spork, 2018)
tania-guarino_1_orig Quackers Garden Party

– a personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY JERRY by the wonderful and gifted Shelley Kinder

shelley-kinder_orig   Jerry

– Bundle Of Books – assorted PBs, MGs, YAs (details to come) – generously donated by KidLit411

– an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books. OR paperback of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication.

Please join me again in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

Now then.  Time for my sample entry which I finished at 1:30 AM and provide because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  Also, in case anyone is worried about the quality of their entry they have only to read my truly horrific attempt to be filled with confidence that their’s is MUCH better!

Tricky Witches (100 words)

On a dark All Hallow’s night,
Shivering with cold and fright,
Tiny trick-or-treaters dare
To approach the witches’ lair.
Past the lighted edge of town
Black-cloaked witches stand around.
Something sticky, thick, and hot
Bubbles in their potion pot.
“Come and get it!” witches lure.
“It’ll warm you up for sure!”
Ghostly howls warn, “Stay away!
Don’t be fooled by the bouquet!
Cauldron’s contents might smell sweet,
But that’s trickery, not treat!”
Little candy-hunters flee!
Plan has worked out perfectly.
Witches cackle gleefully,
“Now there’s more for you and me!”
Final check, the brew is done.
“Fresh hot chocolate anyone?”

Now then, darlings!  Is everyone feeling better about their way-better-than-that! stories?  I certainly HOPE so! 🙂

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

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 122!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  (Unfortunately I can’t make links to them, but please scroll through and read and comment for the talented authors!!!)
1. When The Shivers Moved In – Kaye
2. Luna’s Mysterious Costume – Sara A
3. Pet Cemetery Picnic – Corine
4. Fright Night Stew – Dee
5. Halloween Night – Karen
6. Belinda’s Broken Brew – Keatley
7. Mummy’s Mess – Diana
8. New Halloween Cauldron – Kathleen
9. There Was An Old Witch – Dianne
10. Trick Or Treasure – Anne
11. A Seedy Story – Connie
12. The “Wolf” At The Door – Charlene
13. Halloween Sleepover – Pat
14. Little Cauldron’s Halloween Surprise – Ingrid
15. A Halloween Bite – Debora
16. Who Needs – Joan
17. Cauldron Conundrum – Danielle
18. Pete And Re-Pete – Heather
19. Stitchy Witchy Brew – Jennifer B
20. The Lost Boys – Michael
21. Full Moon Rising – Michael
22. Truly Boo – Mary
23. The Last Piece – Carrie
24. One House Left – Tara
25. Mission Halloween – Monica
26. The Family Resemblance – Debora
27. One Chilly Halloween – Debora
28. Skellie Ton’s Encounter – Laura
29. Monster Vacancy – Laura
30. The Halloween Ball – Sylvia
31. Mrs. Tank’s Pennies – Jennifer M
32. Midnight Feast – Becky
33. Halloween Prize – Kirsten
34. Three Pig-Witches – Su
35. The First Corner – John
36. Potion Commotion – Jennifer Bu
37. If You Can’t Beat Them… – Linda
38. A Brew For You – Diana
39. A Horrid Witch’s Brew – Erin
40. Halloween Stew For Two – Anne B
41. A Halloween Scene – Michelle K
42. The Skeletons On Halloween – Michelle K
43. Wolfie’s Pumpkin – Joan
44. What’s Cooking? – Jill
45. Halloween Friends – Kay
46. Not This Halloween! – Carmen
47. A Calm Halloween – Jessica
48. Festival – Beth B
49. School Screams – Lu
50. It’s Only Pretend – Jill L
51. The Candivore – Jill L
52. Shiver, Cauldron And Howl – Lisa
53. A Bite Of Soup – Megan
54. The Gathering – MaryLee
55. Are You Sure? – Jim
56. A Halloween Haiku – Michelle K
57. Festive Feast – Jamie
58. Halloween – Amy
59. The Best Night For Little Ghouls – Beth S
60. Trouble – Bonnie
61. H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N K-I-D-S G-E-T C-A-N-D-Y – Michelle K
62. Opposite Day: A Halloween Scare – John
63. Midnight Fright – Patricia
64. Trick Or Treat – Linda
65. Snap Apple Fright – Corine
66. Worst Costume…Never – Rich
67. Witch’s Welcome – Elaine
68. Fright Fight – Nannette
69. The Halloween Ship – Laura B
70. A Gold Wand For Wanda – Laura B
71. Safe – Dawn D
72. Stage Fright – Michelle Kl
73. Dusty Bones Has No Guts – Andrea
74. Who’s The Scariest? – Mona
75. Chef Crone – Diana
76. Calling All Witches! – Anne S
77. Halloween Dinner – Sara G
78. Tis The Season(ing) – Judy
79. Itchy, Itchy, And Twitch – Patricia
80. A Witch Is In The Kitchen! – Jeannie
81. Avocado And Toast – Rebecca
82. The Scary Costume – Karen
83. Trick-or-Treat – Amy B
84. Three Little Pumpkins – Karen
85. Oh Drat! – Kathy
86. Witchy, The Transylvanian Sheepdog – Karen
87. Fright School – Lucretia
88. Ghosts, Witches and Wolves, Oh No! – Amy R
89. Grandma’s Secret – Susie
90. Transylbirdia – Debbie
91. Little Bat’s First Halloween Journey – Linda
92. Mischief Night – Tania
93. The Scariest Night Of The Year – Susie
94. Pumpkin Sky – Cassandra
95. Halloween Punch – Gyeong
96. Winifred Waited – Gail
97. The Night Of The Candy – Jennifer H
98. Untitled – Anna
99. Untitled -Ella
100. The Question Of The Cat On The Pumpkin At Hallowe’en – Jane
101. The Halloween Scheme – Susan
102. A Witch Can Switch – Nancy
103. Guess Who – Mia
104. Little Wolfs Howlween – Beth
105. Gordie Goblin’s Potion – Jen
106. Bubble Bubble – Jen
107. The Missing Treat – Cheryl
108. Stir The Pot – Linda S
109. No Bones About It – JC
110. Trick-Or-Sweet – Lauren
111. Spooky Spies II: The Spookening – Samantha
112. Halloween Surprise – Linda B
113. Last Halloween – Susan V
114. Eat Up Your Carrots – Susan V
115. The Creepy Cupcake CATastrophe – Karen G
116. No Chocolate For Dogs – Shae
117. Double, Trouble, Bubble… – Deborah A
118. Tricky Halloweensie Velvet – Virginia
119. The Sleepy Pirate – Jennifer C
120. Three Little Witches – Debbie V
121. Courageous Cauldron Queens – Katrina
122. One Sweet Halloween – Darcee

2018 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!!!

“The time has come!” the walrus said, “to announce the winners of the 3rd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!!!”

Valentiny Writing Contest 2018

Okay.

Maybe that’s not exactly what the walrus said.

I believe he rambled on for a bit about shoes and ships and sealing wax, cabbages and walrus colorkings, why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings…

But I’m pretty sure he was getting around to the Valentiny Contest 🙂

 

 

Anyway…

I know none of you slept for the entire weekend, on tenterhooks (whatever those are… probably something the walrus was also getting around to discussing! 🙂 ) over who the winners would be!

And I’m sure you all rushed to your computers at the earliest possible moment this morning, disregarding bed head and whether or not you had packed the little darlings’ lunches yet, in order to see the results!

So I won’t make you wait another moment!

Well, maybe just one. . .

. . .since as usual I have a couple things to say first… 🙂

As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  (Did I mention there were 160?!)  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.

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!)

Teresa M.I. Shaefer for A Valentine For Maia

Colleen Murphy for He Thought He Could

Laurie Batzel for The Blue Valentine

Jean James for The Princess Frog

David McMullin for Steve

Carolyn Leiloglou for Won’t You Be My ValenSPINE?

 

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

Greg Bray for A Squirrelly Valentine (also funny 🙂 )

Jilanne Hoffman for The Best Valentine’s Day Party Ever

Nina Nolan for Bunny Hugs

 

3. For Excellence In Evoking Powerful Emotion:

Jenna Waldman for Grandpa’s Roses

Amy Frost Davidson for Not Alone

 

4. For Original/Unique/Entertaining POV:

Liz Tipping for The Happy Little Paper (piece of paper – also nice kid appeal)

Matthew Lasley for Puppy Love (excellent job making Jed seem like a dog! 🙂 )

Laura Sealey for A Card With A Heart (card and envelope love story)

Franziska Macur for The Heart Of The Heart

M.S. Nass for Rose And Tulip

Sara Gentry for This Will Be The Year (Gerald turned out to be a gerbil! 🙂 )

 

5. For Humor:

Christine Rodenbour for Sweet Love

 

6. For Favorite Character: 

Rebekah Hoeft for Grumpily Yours (we loved both Vern AND Miss Springtide! 🙂 )

Leah Kolidas for Max’s First Valentine (we loved Max and especially Lulu!)

Katrina Swenson for Grumble’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever (gotta love a troll valentine story 🙂 )

 

7. For Conveying A Great Message:

Mishka Jaeger for Happy Thursday

Ariane Peveto for Special Delivery

 

8. For Beautiful Use of Language:

Alayne Christian for Ladybug Love

 

9.  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)

Susan Schade for Valenswine (funny 🙂 )

Susie Sawyer for Valentine For Mom (also funny! 🙂 )

Ryan Roberts for Upside Down Valentine’s Day

 

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…

2018 Pocket Calendar (Kittens) OR

2018 Pocket Calendar (Puppies) OR

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…

Mary Warth
for

Red!!!

Congratulations, Mary, on a fabulously written poem that made us feel your character’s hope and embarrassment superbly, was very realistically kid, and was clearly very popular!!! 🙂

In Second Place

Meg Mahoney
for
Valentine Handyman

Congratulations, Meg, on an entry we loved for your MC’s amusingly earnest innocence and sweet desire to help his mom.  Beautifully done!  You get to pick your prize after Mary.

In Third Place

Rachel Dutton
for

Heart-Shaped Butt

Congratulations, Rachel!  You had us rolling on the floor 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Mary and Meg.

In Fourth Place

Stephanie Williams
for

A Valentine For Leaf

Congratulations, Stephanie, on a lovely entry with a unique POV!  You get to pick your prize after Mary, Meg, and Rachel!

In Fifth Place

Lynne Marie
for

A Valentine’s Day For Milton Monster

Congratulations, Lynne, on an all-around well-written and fun entry with great kid appeal!  You get to pick after Mary, Meg, Rachel, and Stephanie!

In Sixth Place

Gabi Snyder
for

The Valentine’s Rooster

Congratulations, Gabi!  You tugged on our heartstrings with your unique spin on a Valentine’s Day pet adoption!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Seventh Place…

Nancy Riley
for
Antsy Valentines

Congratulations, Nancy!  You wrote a fun story with a perfect last line 🙂  You get to pick next 🙂

In Eighth Place…

Becky Shillington
for
Hoping For Snow

Congratulations, Becky!  You captured hoping for a snow day perfectly 🙂  You get to pick after Nancy 🙂

In Ninth Place

Leigh Anne Carter
for
Timberdoodle Valentine

Congratulations, Leigh Anne, on a beautifully written, evocative (and educational!) entry!  You get to pick after Becky 🙂

In Tenth Place

Judy Sobanski
for
Mums The Worm

Congratulations, Judy!  We just loved Wendell and Juanita and the clever way they managed to express their love 🙂  You get to pick after Leigh Anne!

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.  Carol Ann and Beth, if you’d like to choose a prize from the Honorable Mention selection of prizes 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:

– a PB manuscript read and critique from Nikki Garcia, assistant editor at Little, Brown!

Nikki-Garcia

Nikki Garcia

– a PB manuscript read and phone call critique with Nicole Otto, assistant editor at MacMillan Children’s Publishing!

Nicole Otto

Nicole Otto

– a PB manuscript critique from the superb multi-published award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani

Iza 2014          Old MacDonald
Iza Trapani was born in Poland and moved to the US at age seven.  Her relatives gave her a large Mother Goose Treasury, and she began learning English through those rhymes.  Little did she know that someday her dream would come true and she would become a children’s book author and illustrator.
    Iza’s best selling nursery rhyme extensions, including The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly and Row, Row Row Your Boat are widely used in schools and libraries across the U.S. and abroad. Old MacDonald Had a…Zoo?  is Iza’s latest release. She is currently at work on her 27th picture book, as well as a childhood memoir.
You can learn more about Iza and her books at:

http://izatrapani.com/blog
Facebook
Twitter

– a PB manuscript critique (ms not to exceed 800 words please) along with a follow-up phone call if the author is interested from the lovely and talented Katey Howes, author of Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press 2017) and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling Children’s Books 2018)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art

– a PB manuscript critique from the fantastic Lynne Marie, author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018) and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending) . Her stories, poems, folk tales and crafts have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She was a first-round panelis for 2016 Cybils Awards and again, in 2017. In addition, she’s an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard’s Children’s Book Insider and a book reviewer. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and Anakin, their little Schipperke, as well as several resident water birds. She has offers both critiques and mentorships for writers. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com

Lynne          HH100th

– a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming please) from the wonderful and amazing Melissa Stoller, author of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island (Spork 2017)

Melissa Stoller               Return To Coney Island

– a signed copy of Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke The Color Barrier In Golf (Albert Whitman 2018) from fabulous author Nancy Churnin accompanied by a terrific Teacher’s Guide (created by Marcie Colleen)

Nancy Churnin               Charlie Takes His Shot

– a signed copy of Twinderella from Corey Rosen Schwartz AND a signed copy of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island from Melissa Stoller

Twinderella          Return To Coney Island

– a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’s brand new book Making A Living Writing Books For Kids

Making A Living

– a copy of the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (it’s only February – still very useful!)

Children's Writer's & Illustrators 2018

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

With Hopeful Heart! – The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Update February 19 – Sorry folks!  We need more time to make our decisions between all these amazing entries!  I will get the finalists up just as soon as I can!!!

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

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

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

Valentiny Writing Contest 2018

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

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

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Wednesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link on the form below.  There will be no Would You Read It or PPBF this week, so the post and the list of links will stay up for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you!  susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com ) Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments!  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 19th (or possibly Tuesday February 20th if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced by Friday February 23rd. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

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

The Prizes:  Oh, boy, do we have some GREAT prizes!  I feel certain you are all highly motivated to compete for these!!!

– a PB manuscript read and critique from Nikki Garcia, assistant editor at Little, Brown!

Nikki-Garcia

Nikki Garcia

– a PB manuscript read and phone call critique with Nicole Otto, assistant editor at MacMillan Children’s Publishing!

Nicole Otto

Nicole Otto

– a PB manuscript critique from the superb multi-published award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani

Iza 2014          Old MacDonald
Iza Trapani was born in Poland and moved to the US at age seven.  Her relatives gave her a large Mother Goose Treasury, and she began learning English through those rhymes.  Little did she know that someday her dream would come true and she would become a children’s book author and illustrator.
    Iza’s best selling nursery rhyme extensions, including The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly and Row, Row Row Your Boat are widely used in schools and libraries across the U.S. and abroad. Old MacDonald Had a…Zoo?  is Iza’s latest release. She is currently at work on her 27th picture book, as well as a childhood memoir.
You can learn more about Iza and her books at:

http://izatrapani.com/blog
Facebook
Twitter

– a PB manuscript critique (ms not to exceed 800 words please) along with a follow-up phone call if the author is interested from the lovely and talented Katey Howes, author of Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press 2017) and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling Children’s Books 2018)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art

– a PB manuscript critique from the fantastic Lynne Marie, author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018) and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending) . Her stories, poems, folk tales and crafts have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She was a first-round panelis for 2016 Cybils Awards and again, in 2017. In addition, she’s an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard’s Children’s Book Insider and a book reviewer. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and Anakin, their little Schipperke, as well as several resident water birds. She has offers both critiques and mentorships for writers. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com

Lynne          HH100th

– a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming please) from the wonderful and amazing Melissa Stoller, author of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island (Spork 2017)

Melissa Stoller               Return To Coney Island

– a signed copy of Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke The Color Barrier In Golf (Albert Whitman 2018) from fabulous author Nancy Churnin accompanied by a terrific Teacher’s Guide (created by Marcie Colleen)

Nancy Churnin               Charlie Takes His Shot

– a signed copy of Twinderella from Corey Rosen Schwartz AND a signed copy of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island from Melissa Stoller

Twinderella          Return To Coney Island

– a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’s brand new book Making A Living Writing Books For Kids

Making A Living

– a copy of the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (it’s only February – still very useful!)

Children's Writer's & Illustrators 2018

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

Now.

I’m afraid the time has come for my sample (because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself 🙂 )

Brace yourselves for mediocrity 🙂  (I recommend a large quantity of chocolate to get you through – perhaps a dump truck load or so?) and prepare for the return of Boris and Irma (who appeared in the inaugural Valentiny 🙂 )

A Hopeful Kind Of Valentine
(214 words on the nose!)

Three days before Valentine’s, Irma made her list.

“I will make 32 valentines!” she announced. “How many are you making, Boris?”

“Zero,” said Boris.

“Spoilsport,” said Irma. “I hope Norman’s not a spoilsport.”

Irma cut construction paper.

“Are you making pink hearts or red hearts,” she asked.

“Neither,” said Boris.

“Party pooper,” said Irma. “I hope Norman’s not a party pooper.”

The day before Valentine’s, Irma decorated. Confetti hearts and glitter flew everywhere.

Boris ignored her.

But then she said, “I hope Norman will be my Valentine.” She sounded so wishful that Boris looked at her thoughtfully. He had doubts about Norman.

Boris made a list.

On Valentine’s Day, Irma clutched her valentines. “I hope Norman will give me a valentine,” she told Boris on the school bus.

Boris worried.

Tears rolled silently down Irma’s cheeks all the way home. She went right to her room.

Boris went right to work.

At dinner, Irma sat with her eyes downcast and said nothing.

Although Valentine’s was stupid, Boris didn’t want Irma to be sad.  If only his plan would work.

He set the pink-frosted, heart-shaped chocolate cake he had made in front of Irma.

“It’s not Norman, but Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.

“It’s perfect,” said Irma, hugging him.

“Yuck,” said Boris, but he smiled.

❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤               ❤

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂  After that horror show you can post yours with certainty that yours is better! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m SO looking forward to them!  I hope there will be LOTS – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 5 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!  Also, have I mentioned the number of people who have gotten agents or sold manuscripts to editors based on the writing contest entries over the years?  There are quite a few!  One of these days I’ll figure out how many and do a blog post 🙂

So!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the list below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)  Please allow a few minutes and possibly refresh your browser before deciding that your link hasn’t posted and adding it a second time or emailing it to me.

Eager Readers – click on the links in the list to visit the blogs and read the stories.  And be sure to read the 76 fabulous entries posted in the comment section below!!!

Happy Valentines Week, Everyone! ❤

Scroll through the comments to find these wonderful stories!

  1. Victoria’s Valentine – Susan
  2. Victor’s Valentine’s Day Surprise – Sharmaine
  3. You – Jennifer B
  4. the most amazing fantastic special Valentine ever – Erin
  5. The Lost Dog Dilemma – Chris
  6. Thank You – Katelyn
  7. Positively Paulina – Nancy
  8. A Day In The Life Of Cupid – Marty
  9. Rose And Tulip – M.S.
  10. The Valentine Monster Crash – Megan
  11. Valenswine – Susan
  12. Top Secret Valentine – Marie
  13. Tiny the Pony Wants to be Special – Kaye
  14. Grandma’s Cookies – Deborah
  15. This Will Be The Year – Sara
  16. Who Sent This Valentine? – Marie
  17. Hope In A Jar – Anne
  18. A Fur-Ever Valentine – Beth
  19. A Card With A Heart – Laura
  20. Upside Down Valentine’s Day – Ryan
  21. Not Alone – Amy
  22. Valentine’s Day Strike – Chambrae
  23. I Love Ewe – Kirsten
  24. A Valentine’s Day Adventure – Sarah H
  25. Adeline’s Hope – Carmen
  26. Snowy Owl Valentine Delivery – Kathleen
  27. A Valentine Snowman – Rebecca
  28. The Heart Art Contest – Marie
  29. The Right Valentine – Lauren
  30. The Red Envelope – Karen
  31. First Grade Love – Darcee
  32. Mama’s Purple Heart – Anne B
  33. Valentine’s Day With The Deli Family – Sandra
  34. Valentine-Making Time – Robin
  35. Unexpected Valentine – Brian
  36. The Valentine Tree – Jenny B
  37. Valentine Treat – Judy V
  38. A Purrfect Valentine – Mia
  39. Eliza’s Broken Heart – Anne S
  40. Porcupine’s Gift – Jim
  41. Hope’s Valentine – Nancy R
  42. Yellow And Blue Valentines – Marty
  43. Tootsie The Wonder Dog’s Valentiny Poem – Kathy
  44. Sakie’s Flock – Gayle
  45. Teddy’s Valentine’s Day – Deb
  46. Dear Daughter – Sandra S
  47. Mum’s The Word – Judy S
  48. Hope Floats – Jen B
  49. Charlotte’s New School – M.R.
  50. The Valentine Genie – Anne S
  51. Triple The Love – Brandi
  52. Emily’s Big Idea – Beth
  53. Red – Mary
  54. The Valentine Hat – Gwen
  55. Winston Wins! – Corine
  56. Bamboo Panda’s Special Surprise – Liz
  57. Oh No! Where Did It Go? – Mona
  58. Sweet Love – Christine
  59. You Rock! – Karla
  60. Picture Perfect – Tiffany
  61. Bunny Hugs – Nina
  62. Timberdoodle Valentine – Leigh Anne
  63. Valentine For Mom – Susie
  64. The Muddy Valentine – Karen
  65. Chocolaty Delight – Gina
  66. Valentine Handyman – Meg
  67. Daisy Power – Patricia
  68. Cupid’s Graduation Wish – Lucretia
  69. Huggle And Snug – Stephanie V
  70. My Valentine – Kurt
  71. Cupid’s Candy Craving—Marvin’s Valentine’s Surprise – Lucretia 
  72. A Pirate Valentine – Ingrid
  73. Lily’s Leg – Stephanie K
  74. If I Gave A Witch A Valentine – Amber
  75. Bunnies’ Heart-Shaped Hopes – Jen R
  76. Grumble’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever – Katrina

BIC, Writers! It’s Time For The 2018 Valentiny Contest Guildelines!!!

I know!

It’s Saturday!

You’re lazing in bed with the comics before getting up to make pancakes with the littles!

What on earth am I doing infringing on your weekend time?!

Well, I’ll tell you 🙂

Two years ago, a bunch of folks asked for a contest to cheer them out of the winter doldrums!

The result?

The First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!

(Valentiny because, like the Halloweensie Contest, it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂 )

We had so much fun that we went ahead with the 2nd Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  And that was so much fun that it seems like a good idea to continue the tradition!  I mean, winter doldrums are winter doldrums and must be conquered 🙂

So here we are!  The reason I’m interrupting your Saturday!

Announcing . . .

The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!!

Valentiny Writing Contest 2018

 

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

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Saturday February 10th and Wednesday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my February 10th post.  There will be no Would You Read It that week, and no PPBF, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email – no attachments! And please do not submit emailed entries until the contest begins on Feb. 10!)  Please only post your entry ONCE! Either on your blog and the associated link list, or in the comment section of my post!  Otherwise it gets confusing 🙂

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-10 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday February 19th (or possibly Tuesday February 20th if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced by Friday February 23rd. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF that week either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

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

The Prizes:  Oh, boy, do we have some GREAT prizes!  Get ready!

So far prizes will include:

– a PB manuscript read and critique from Nikki Garcia, assistant editor at Little, Brown!

Nikki-Garcia

Nikki Garcia

– a PB manuscript read and phone call critique with Nicole Otto, assistant editor at MacMillan Children’s Publishing!

Nicole Otto

Nicole Otto

 

– a PB manuscript critique from the superb multi-published award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani

Iza 2014          Old MacDonald
Iza Trapani was born in Poland and moved to the US at age seven.  Her relatives gave her a large Mother Goose Treasury, and she began learning English through those rhymes.  Little did she know that someday her dream would come true and she would become a children’s book author and illustrator.
    Iza’s best selling nursery rhyme extensions, including The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly and Row, Row Row Your Boat are widely used in schools and libraries across the U.S. and abroad. Old MacDonald Had a…Zoo?  is Iza’s latest release. She is currently at work on her 27th picture book, as well as a childhood memoir.
You can learn more about Iza and her books at:

http://izatrapani.com/blog
Facebook
Twitter

– a PB manuscript critique (ms not to exceed 800 words please) along with a follow-up phone call if the author is interested from the lovely and talented Katey Howes, author of Grandmother Thorn (Ripple Grove Press 2017) and Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe (Sterling Children’s Books 2018)

KathrynHeadshots-20 (2)               Magnolia Mudd cover art

– a PB manuscript critique from the fantastic Lynne Marie, author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Sparkhouse Family, 2018) and Moldilocks and the 3 Scares (Sterling, pending) . Her stories, poems, folk tales and crafts have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She was a first-round panelis for 2016 Cybils Awards and again, in 2017. In addition, she’s an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard’s Children’s Book Insider and a book reviewer. She lives on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and Anakin, their little Schipperke, as well as several resident water birds. She has offers both critiques and mentorships for writers. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com

Lynne          HH100th

– a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming please) from the wonderful and amazing Melissa Stoller, author of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island (Spork 2017)

Melissa Stoller               Return To Coney Island

– a signed copy of Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke The Color Barrier In Golf (Albert Whitman 2018) from fabulous author Nancy Churnin accompanied by a terrific Teacher’s Guide (created by Marcie Colleen)

Nancy Churnin               Charlie Takes His Shot

– a signed copy of Twinderella from Corey Rosen Schwartz AND a signed copy of The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return To Coney Island from Melissa Stoller

Twinderella          Return To Coney Island

– a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’s brand new book Making A Living Writing Books For Kids

Making A Living

– a copy of the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (it’s only February – still very useful!)

Children's Writer's & Illustrators 2018

… and as usual I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  so feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  Or if you have clout with anyone who could offer a good prize please contact me at once! 🙂

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

Now then!  Aren’t you feeling inspired to write the best Valentiny Story you can so you can win one of these awesome prizes?  And aren’t you glad now that I interrupted you on Saturday when you can send the kids to Grandma’s for a couple hours and write write write?! 🙂

Set the scene:

Nice hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Check!

Plate of delicious Valentiny sugar cookies?  Check!

Computer or paper and writing implement?  Check!

Butt in chair?  I certainly hope so!

Ready, set, WRITE!

I so look forward to reading your stories in a couple weeks!!! 🙂

2017 Holiday Contest WINNERS!

Look at us!

Hanging out together on a Tuesday! 🙂

Now, normally I’d go through some kind of song and dance about why you’re here, since Tuesday isn’t a regular posting day in these parts, and I’d pretend I had no idea what was up.

But it’s Holiday time, and all of us are busy, and I am seriously SUPER-busy, so I won’t waste any of your valuable time with silly runarounds.

Nosirree bob!

Not today!

Today, it’s right to the point!

And the point is. . .

. . .is. . .

. . .what was the point?

Oh, no!

I’ve forgotten the point!

But knowing me, it probably had something to do with chocolate. . .

choc moose

That’s chocolate and it has points. . . looks like about 14 points 🙂

Yep.  That was probably it.

So, enjoy some solid dark chocolate moose wherever you are (or, if solid dark chocolate isn’t your thing, a decadent chocolate mousse will do just as well) and have a lovely day!

Thanks for stopping by!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Only 5 more shopping days til Christmas, so go on!  Skedaddle!

 

*

*

*

 

Uh. . .

. . .why are you still here?

There’s shopping and baking and wrapping and freaking out because your mother-in-law showed up two days early and you’re out of eggnog to be getting on with!

What’s that?

You wanted to know about what?

Windows?

Swindlers?

Twizzlers?

Gosh!  I can tell you a thing or two about Twizzlers!

Oh, winners?

You want WINNERS???

Okay.

You twisted my arm 🙂

Without further ado, the WINNERS of the

 

7th Annual Holiday Contest

Kangaroo sleigh

2017

 

are . . .

Okay.

A little ado.

Just a teensy bit because I have just a couple quick things to say first 🙂  But the winners are coming very soon, I promise!

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 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 Friday 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.

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!)

Matthew Lasley for Midnight Delivery (an entry we loved for the writing and kid-friendliness)

Jonathan Merkel for mom and i on Christmas (a lump-in-your-throat bittersweet story)

Carolyn Leiloglou for Old MacDonald Had A Farm. Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! (well-written and fun!)

Delfina “Sugarplum” Salimbene 🙂 for Sparkle McSprinkle’s Surprise (lively and fun, great rhyme and meter!)

Ryan Roberts for Not Even A Mouse (a fun twist on the original with a great last line!)

Jennifer Prevost for Ginger’s Gift (a sweet story with an original POV – a Christmas tree ornament!)

Susan Schade for Favorite Day (an original story personifying the days of the week!)

 

 

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

Eleanor Peterson for A Surprise For Ava

 

Michelle de Freitas for Penelope Violet’s Christmas Surprise

Rose Cappelli for Christmas Chaos

Deborah Boerema for Christmas Eve DRAMA

 

3. For Excellence In Evoking Mood And Holiday Spirit And Tradition:

Elaine D’Alessandro for Here Comes… (we felt like we were there in that kitchen 🙂 )

 

4. For Beautiful Rendition Of The Christmas Story:

Janie Reinart for Channah’s Star

 

5. For Lovely Depiction Of Treasured Family Tradition:

Kathy Halsey for Roger The Christmas Squirrel

 

6. For Favorite Character: (enjoying the continuing adventures 🙂 )

Lucretia Schafroth for Marvin The Chipmunk (The Animated Elf – Marvin Strikes Again!)

Christine Evans for Lulu and Betty (Lulu And Betty’s Christmas Surprise)

Candice Conner for Bean and Jilly (Bean And Jilly And The Holiday Surprise Visitor)

 

 

7.  For More Appealing For Grown-ups But Well-Written And Enjoyable!
(These entries were terrific but either focused on the relationship between Santa and Mrs. C or had humor that we considered funnier for adults than kids)

Judy Sobanski for The Very Last Gift

Laura Bower for A New Day For Mrs. Claus

 

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!)  Lauri and Kaye, who were finalists with terrific stories but placed out of the top 10, please feel free to choose a prize from the list below if there’s something there you’d like!

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

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2015 HOLIDAY 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…

Elizabeth Curry
for

Waiting For The Winter Gift!!!

Congratulations, Elizabeth, on a beautifully written entry that had a nice element of suspense and a sweet ending and was clearly very popular!!! 🙂

In Second Place

Jennifer Broedel
for
The Just Desserts

Congratulations, Jennifer, on an entry we loved for your MC’s sneaky plan… and how it backfired 🙂  You get to pick your prize after Elizabeth.

In Third Place

Lucretia Schafroth
for

Santa’s Delivery Dilemma

Congratulations, Lucretia, on a delightfully fun, kid-friendly entry!  How can you not love pink unicorns? 🙂  Apparently you’re on a roll!  3rd in the Halloweensie Contest and now 3rd in the Holiday Contest!!!  You get to pick your prize after Elizabeth and Jennifer.

In Fourth Place

Mishka Jaeger
for

Binah’s Journey

Congratulations, Mishka, on a poignant entry with a nice feeling of history and family!  You get to pick your prize after Elizabeth, Jennifer, and Lucretia!

In Fifth Place

Megan Walvoord
for

Vegan Cut-Out Cookies

Congratulations, Megan, on an entry that had something for both our allergy-conscious young readers and our dinosaur-lovers!  Who knew Santa was a stegosaurus? 🙂  You get to pick after Elizabeth, Jennifer, Lucretia, and Mishka!

In Sixth Place

K. Callard
for

Lizard In A Blizzard

Congratulations, K!  We loved your clever and creative take on Christmas ornaments!  I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 🙂

In Seventh Place…

Jen Bagan
for
Racing The Sun

Congratulations, Jen!  You managed an ending that was a REAL surprise! 🙂  You get to pick next 🙂

In Eighth Place…

Heather Kinser
for
Rigby and Tuttle: The Pinecone

Congratulations, Heather!  Adored your funny ending 🙂  You get to pick after Jen 🙂

In Ninth Place

Mona Pease
for
Family Is Home And Home Is Wherever It May Land

Congratulations, Mona, on your sweet, fun entry!  You get to pick after Heather 🙂

In Tenth Place

Rebekah Hoeft
for
Travelin’ Blues

Congratulations, Rebekah!  We so enjoyed your taste of Christmas in other countries!  You get to pick after Mona!

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 (gingerbread chocolate truffle anyone?… not that I’m trying to get rid of them or anything… 🙂 )

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!

As I… hmm… maybe didn’t mention…?, 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 are arriving from Georgia today! 🙂   And, I’ve been so busy I haven’t put up my holiday decorations or gotten a tree yet, can you believe it?!  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 2018!

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

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 4.46.14 PM

The Prizes:

– a critique of a picture-book manuscript or dummy by agent Rachel Orr of Prospect Agency!!!

rachel-orr-2

– a spot in Renee LaTulippe’s fantastic INTENSIVE RHYME AND METER SELF-STUDY COURSE!!!

Renee-LaTulippeScreen Shot 2017-10-28 at 8.37.39 AM

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the FABULOUS Vivian Kirkfield, author of the forth coming Sweet Dreams, Sarah and experienced and much-loved critiquer!

vivian-kirkfieldsweet-dreams-new-on-amazon

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the amazing Lori Degman (NORBERT’S BIG DREAM – Sleeping Bear Press 2016, COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! – Creston Books 2014, 1 ZANY ZOO – Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers 2010) – a terrific choice for any rhymers out there!

LoriNorbert

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the wonderful Amy Dixon (MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY – Sterling Children’s Books 2017, SOPHIE’S ANIMAL PARADE – Sky Pony Press 2015, MARATHON MOUSE – Sky Pony Press 2012)

amy-dixonMaurice

– Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic (my online picture book writing class – in January or a later month to be mutually agreed upon by the winner and me)

2018 Children’s Writer’s And Illustrator’s Market  and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  (2 available)

– a bundle of (mostly) winter picture books!
We Wish For A Monster Christmas by Sue Fliess
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman
Ten On The Sled by Kim Norman
Someone Like Me by Patricia MacLachlan
The Gingerbread Man Loose At Christmas by Laura Murray

– a pack of Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing What’s The Story Cards  (scroll about 1/2 way down the page…

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

The 7th Annual Holiday Contest FINALISTS! – Vote For Your Favorite!!!

Alrighty.

So it’s not my usual posting time Friday.  I’m a little behind schedule.

But it IS still Friday!  So there’s that 🙂

Given the complete and total over-scheduling of late – not just mine, but my fellow judges and probably most of you guys because, let’s face it, Hanukkah is already underway and it’s only 10 days until Christmas! – it’s pretty much of a miracle that there’s a post going up at all!  I have an imminent appointment with a hairy scary tangle of Christmas lights on the agenda, and a recipe to try that involves actual yeast and letting things rise, and who knows how that kind of thing might end!

But here we are, and THAT means it’s time to discuss something of great importance!  Something we cannot go even one minute further without settling!

You know it and I know it!

And I know it’s really been weighing on your minds!

No, not the meaning of life (although clearly that is important too…)

I’m talking about something much less philosophical and much more immediately crucial!

Namely, which reindeer are you?

I tried three different quizzes.  Two of them said Cupid because for me the holidays are all about love and family.  (The other one said Prancer and that I would always be the best dressed person in the room for photographs… I don’t know what went wrong with THAT one because, well, have you SEEN me? 🙂 )

Since I know none of us can go another second without knowing where we are on Santa’s team, feel free to check out the quizzes and let me know how you line up! 🙂  Also, if you got consistent results!  Also, if anyone gets Rudolph, who in my book is technically not one of the hard core team since he was a recent addition to the original 8 who did the job unaided for time immemorial!  You’ll notice there is no mention of him in Clement C. Moore’s classic poem!  But I digress…  Take a quiz or two or three and let me know how it goes 🙂

Quiz 1

Quiz 2

Quiz 3

Alrighty, now that THAT’S settled, what do you want to talk about?

Chocolate?

(Always a good topic!)

Or maybe what’s on your Hope-I-Get-It gift list?

(I’m guessing either an agent or a book contract or both are at the top of most of our lists 🙂 )

Or maybe the insanity of ruining perfectly good chocolate by trying to make it taste like gingerbread?

(I am not making this up!  Lindor truffles has a gingerbread flavor!  I saw it in Kohls!  And of course I had to try one because I love chocolate (as you may have heard 🙂 ) and I also love gingerbread… but I’m sorry to say that in my opinion it was an extremely misguided idea!  Feel free to debate, but I’m going to take a lot of convincing.  However technically, I guess this isn’t really a separate topic but falls under the category of “chocolate” above…)

Or maybe…

…just maybe…

you’d like to know who the Holiday Contest Finalists are???????!!!!!!!

Far be it from me to disappoint you!  Ready or not, here they come! 🙂

The 7th Annual Holiday Contest

Kangaroo sleigh

FINALISTS!!!

Except first a few words from our sponsor.

Which is, er, me.

First, I want to thank EVERYONE who found time in their busy holiday season schedule to write an entry for this contest – all 78 of you!  The overall quality of the entries was amazing!  There were no easy cuts.  My assistant judges and I found something to like in every story and hated having to cut anyone!  You guys did an amazing job and really rose to the occasion.  So much creativity and great writing!  You should all pat yourselves on the back and have a celebratory bonbon!  (I recommend something besides gingerbread-flavored chocolate 🙂 )

Second, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time to go around to as many of the 44 different blogs as you could, as well as the 34 entries posted in the comments here, and read and leave supportive comments for the writers who worked so hard on these stories, and especially those who took the time to share many of those entries on social media to draw in other readers.  In this business where rejection is a common and unavoidable part of the process, it means a great deal to writers to know that their work was read and enjoyed, and to receive a few kind words about their writing.  It is one of the best things about this community – that people are so generous and kind to each other.

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how really difficult it was to choose.  There were so many fabulous entries.  The sheer volume meant that many great stories 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.  (And remember – we had VERY specific criteria, so if you wrote a great story that just didn’t happen to fit the combined parameters it might not have made the finalists, but it’s still good!)  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.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to hone and tweak if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!  I’d also like to point out that someone who entered the 6th Annual Holiday Contest in 2016 embellished on her story a bit and ended up selling it to an editor!  It is going to be a published picture book!  So that could be you, too! 🙂

Finally, I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  Due to the large number of entries, there are 12 finalists listed below.  I have deliberately listed them by title only, so as to help with objectivity.  Please read through them and choose the one you feel is best and vote.  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 Dasher and Dancer’s dreams of Broadway stardom 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.

Remember that the judging criteria were:

  • 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.  Entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness or whose humor or content felt more appropriate for an older or adult audience did not make the cut.  Sadly there were several GREAT entries where the judges felt the emphasis was too much on the relationship between Santa and Mrs. Claus (too adult to be appreciated by kids) or where the humor was directed at things adults would find funny but were less applicable to kids, etc.  At least one of our favorites fell into this category 😦
  • 2.  Holiday Surprise! – the rules state a Holiday Surprise story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a surprise! 🙂  Most people did a good job with this, but there were unfortunately some that felt predictable and some that just didn’t feel that surprising.
  • 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.  I’m happy to say you guys did a great job with that in this contest!
  • 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.  Rhyme is so tricky!  Some of you do it amazingly well – really!  But there are always a few stories that are clever and fun and might have made the finals if written in prose, but problems with the rhyme (usually the meter) keep them from getting there.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

We cut 66 entries to leave you with these 12.  It was very hard!  We did the best we could.  You’ll find some poetry (surprisingly little in this list of finalists – weird how that works out!) some prose; some for younger readers, some for older; some funny, some quieter; and a mix of holidays.  I hope you’ll all find at least one of your favorites on the list below.

#1 Waiting For The Winter Gift

“Mama, what will we do when winter comes?” Little asked.
“What deer always do,” Mama said, “slow down and eat what we find.”
“Can’t we hibernate like Bear?” asked Little.
“We’ll be cozy beneath the pines,” Mama said.
“We could dig snow tunnels like vole,” said Little.
“Our winter coat will block the chill,” said Mama.
“Let’s vacation like goose!” said Little.
“And miss the winter gift?” said Mama.
“What’s that?” said Little.
“A surprise to wait for,” Mama said.
Soon snowflakes fell.
“Is it time?” Little asked.
“Not yet,” Mama said.
“Are you certain the gift will come?” Little asked.
“It always comes,” Mama said.
Little tired of twigs, bark and pokey pine needles.
She dreamed of acorns, buds and spring flowers.
Finally, on the coldest of evenings, Mama’s whisper woke her.
They crept to the edge of the woods.
“I can’t see!” said Little.
“Shhh,” said Mama. “Wait.”
Little peered into the darkness at a lone pine.
Suddenly, it gleamed with light.
“The tree!” Little said.
“Shhh,” said Mama. “Wait. And listen.”
Little squinted.
Dim shapes gathered around the pine.
Soft voices filled the air.

“The first Noel, the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay…”

As the carolers sang, a boy dragged a sled full of cracked corn toward them.
“Merry Christmas,” he whispered, leaving the sled behind.
Little’s tummy tingled hopefully.
“Is that for us?” Little asked.
“Yes,” said Mama.
And soon Little and Mama’s bellies matched their full hearts.

#2 Just Desserts

Every year at Christmas, it’s my job to pick a game,
so this year I suggested that we each should draw a name.
Last night we went shopping, then came home and wrapped the loot,
piled up mounds of gifts, and settled in to have a hoot.
No one knows the trick I played, to make me get the most
(and I’m not gonna tell them now- I’m not the one to boast).
What a plan! I bet I’ll get all kinds of awesome stuff.
Robots, nun chucks, tablets…I just hope I get enough.

Morning’s here, we all rush down, I feel like I could burst!
“Settle down,” Mom says. “Let’s all take turns. Now, who goes first?”
Looking at the shining paper, fluffing all the bows,
picturing the things we’ll get, I hope it’s good. Who knows?
Gracie picks her gift up first and shakes it in surprise,
tears off all the wrapping, “Oh, I can’t believe my eyes!
It’s everything I wanted! Thank you Mommy, thank you Dad.”
A doll? Who needs a doll? I guess for her, it’s not so bad…
Maybe Ollie’s present will be something more my speed.
Building blocks?! That’s baby stuff. It’s not quite what I need.
My turn! This one’s heavy! I just can’t believe my luck!
I yank the paper off and find… “A GIANT FRUITCAKE! YUCK!”
No big deal, there’s fifteen more, all labeled with my name.
But ripping each gift open, one by one… THEY’RE ALL THE SAME!

#3 Essie The Hen And Her Christmas Surprise

It was almost Christmas and Essie loved nothing more than chatting
and scratching and fussing over excited chicks.
Then one day, a horse trampled her foot.
The kind farmer made a bed for Essie in the kitchen.
Essie tried to tell Nettle the dog all about it, but Nettle hardly noticed her at all.
Each day, Essie waited for Nettle.
Then in the evenings, she did her friendliest best.
She chatted about her grand chicks.
Yawn.
She chatted about her great grand chicks.
Bigger yawn.
She even chatted about her great great great grand chicks.
Snarl!

Time went by, Essie began to hobble about while Nettle did nothing but sleep.
What a lonely Christmas this will be, thought Essie. So she decided perhaps she could help.
Essie tidied the woodchips by the fire.
She picked up Nettle’s spilt food.
She even watched for dangerous intruders.
Bagawk!
Nothing seemed to work.

That night, as the fire’s last embers glowed, Essie dreamed of a merry Christmas.
Then she noticed something strange.
Nettle was a big squirming monster!
Essie hid but then …
“One, two three, four, five … six glorious pups!” she squawked.
When Nettle went outside, the pups shivered and whimpered
and cried.
Essie hobbled straight to the basket …
and hopped on top of the pups.
“Cloork, cloork!” sang Essie.
Nettle stared at Essie sitting on her pups, sniffed her then sat beside the basket.
What a merry Christmas this would be after all! Brock!

#4 Travelin’ Blues

We’re travelers.
Mom writes books about different cultures. We’re home for a bit while we catch up with friends and school work. Then — off again!
The only time this is a problem is Christmas. Every year, a new place. I just want to be home.
This is how it goes before Christmas:
“Mama, can we go home for Christmas?”
“Not this year, Kels. This year we’re going to [insert name of faraway country].”
And then we’re off.

I’ve gotta admit we’ve been part of amazing Christmas celebrations.
When I was seven, fireworks and ice cream in Brazil: spectacular!
Thirteen desserts in France. YESSS!
A sauna on Christmas Eve in Estonia:   interesting?!
Last year, two Christmases.
Iceland in December: books and pretty fried bread. Perfection.
Ethiopia in January: 4:00 a.m. candlelight procession. Intense.

This year, I’ve had it. I wanna go home.

We’re in Australia. I say, with grump:
“Mom. Let’s go home for Christmas.”
She just gave a tired smile and kept typing.
Grrr.

Today we’re off to wherever we’re going. Don’t care where.
We’re late, rushing to get settled with our flight standbys: earbuds, neck pillows, books. Mom pulls out a gift bag.
“Open it.”
I know it must be her buttering me up for another traveling Christmas.
As the flight attendant says “…and then straight to the States,” I read the words “DTW” at the end of the printed itinerary that was in the bag. Detroit. Michigan. Home. Heaven on earth.
“Surprise,” Mom says quietly.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

#5 Santa’s Delivery Dilemma

On Christmas Eve, Santa awoke early, ready for his annual journey.

Nice list? Check—toys loaded for delivery. Naughty list? Done—coal on board. All the reindeer had their check-ups and international travel vaccinations last month. The sleigh had its annual tuneup last week. Just a pre-departure test flight remained.

But as the reindeer whisked him into the sky, Santa noticed Rudolph’s nose flickering. Then Rudolph sniffled and sneezed. The sleigh jolted, suddenly losing altitude. Clearly, Rudolph was too sick to fly!

“What are we going to do?,” worried the other eight reindeer. Laden with gifts, the sleigh needed another strong flyer to complete its deliveries before Christmas morning.

“I will summon some Arctic alternates!,” said Santa. “We must believe—in ourselves and in Christmas miracles.” Soon, a menagerie of candidates arrived at Santa’s snow-covered driveway.

A moose plodded up but had no flying experience. “Next!,” called an elf. An athletic polar bear volunteered but was dismissed for exceeding the weight limit. “Next!” A snowy owl eagerly fluttered up but wasn’t strong enough for the position.

As Santa considered his predicament, he sensed something behind him. “I’m well-suited for this task,” a voice whispered. Looking back, Santa stared…

a pink unicorn stood behind him!

“You’re…actually…REAL?,” Santa gasped. “I stopped believing…in unicorns…years ago,” he admitted.

Satisfied after one last test flight, Santa began his important journey—led by Trudy, the unicorn, who proudly flew with an LED light duct-taped to her horn.

#6 Racing The Sun

Mrs. Claus adjusted Santa’s hat.
“This night always makes me nervous,” she said.
“I’ll be fine,” Santa said. “Quick as a wink and back before the sun is up.”
They kissed goodbye just as the head elf opened the door.
“Lift off in 5 minutes!”
The reindeer were waiting.
Santa said, “Fly like the wind. We stay ahead of the sun tonight.”
They understood and soon galloped at full speed into the dark night.
The journey was smooth as Santa whooshed around the South Pacific. Packages flew from his nimble hands through Asia, Africa and Europe.
But then the sleigh was slammed by a meteor shower.
“We have to find shelter!” cried Santa.
The reindeer flew toward earth and landed in the Canadian Rockies.
Santa checked his watch and looked at the sky. We’re running out of time, he thought.
Finally, they could take off.
Santa worked at a frantic pace through Mexico and South America. An amber glow emerged from the darkness as he delivered the last present.
“Home! On the double!” shouted Santa
Dawn was breaking as the sleigh touched down at the North Pole.
“Ouch!” cried Santa as he touched a sizzling blister forming on his cheek.
The elves whisked him inside to Mrs. Claus.
“Tonight was too close,” Santa said as he quickly brushed his fangs.
Mrs. Claus pulled the drapes tight and opened his coffin.
“In you go,” she said. “I’ll see you tonight.”
She closed the lid and chuckled.
If the kids only knew.

#7 Rigby And Tuttle: The Pinecone

It was Christmas, and Rigby Bear still didn’t have a gift for his friend.
“What to get the otter who has everything?” Rigby wondered.
Something special,
incredible…
surprising!
He lumbered through the neighborhood, thinking….
and slathering peanut butter onto bread. (Rigby always brought a snack.)
Soon he passed a persimmon tree.
“Persimmon popovers!” said Rigby. “Tuttle loves them! Luckily, I’m the best baker in town.”
But Rigby had given popovers before–
on Valentine’s Day,
April Fool’s Day,
and even Teacher Appreciation Day.
“On second thought,” said Rigby. “Popovers aren’t surprising.”
He bit into peanut-buttery bread. (To help him think, of course.)
Rigby padded into the countryside…
and past a pumpkin farm.
“Pumpkin pie! Good thing I’m an excellent baker.”
But he had given pie, many times before–
on Tuttle’s birthday,
Halloween,
and even National Paperclip Day.
“Come to think of it,” said Rigby. “Pie isn’t surprising.”
He shuffled into the forest…
but couldn’t dream up a Christmas surprise.
Huckleberry tarts? No.
Granola bars? No.
Frosted eclairs? Nope.
Rigby plopped down and sighed. “I only know how to bake. I can’t make anything else.”
He reached for a slice of bread…
picked up a pinecone instead…
and slathered it with peanut butter.
“Oops.”
Just then, Tuttle appeared, wearing bird-watching gear.
Rigby waved.
The icky-sticky pinecone clung to his fur…
and thirteen little birds perched on his paw, happily pecking peanut butter.
Chirp!
“A pinecone birdfeeder, for me? Thanks, pal!” said Tuttle. “What a surprise.”
“It sure is,” Rigby agreed…
“Merry Christmas!”

#8 Binah’s Journey

It was the first night of Hanukkah and everyone had gone across to the Mazur’s for latkes, leaving Binah alone to think for the first time since she arrived.
She could still hear them through the walls. It was always noisy in the crowded tenement.
Binah missed the village where she’d lived with Zayde, Bubbe, and Papa. She could run through the nearby fields and breathe fresh air!
Last spring, the pogroms began. Every week bought destruction and fear. One day Papa disappeared.
In August, Binah was sent aboard a ship to join family in New York.
Kneeling near the stove on the cold kitchen floor, Binah dragged her overcoat from under the narrow bed she shared with her cousin Sally. She fumbled in the pockets until she found the large wooden dreidel Zayde tucked inside that day she had to say goodbye. It was large and lopsided, just like Zayde. Binah wondered if she’d ever see him again?She stood the dreidel on end and tried a spin but it toppled right over showing the lucky letter, gimmel. Looking closer, Binah noticed a tiny crack. She put her thumbs on the gimmel and pushed. The side slid open.
Tickling her fingers into wool batting, Binah pulled out a coin, then six more, a gold watch, pearl earrings, and a little paper scroll.
Unrolling it, she read: “Binah—Use these treasures to help build your shining future in America. Always remember I love you, zeisele. I know you will succeed.”

#9 Family Is Home And Home Is Wherever It May Land

Hazel found a safe spot, deep in the arm of a needly fir. She wove a fluffy nest and welcomed her new litter.
Winter winds blew. Swoosh! Whoosh!
Frost sparkled. Crickle! Crackle!
The field mouse and her growing family snuggled until…
Clomp!
Clomp!
Clomp!
Chop!
Chop!
Chop!
Hazel and her children held tight as they went topsy-turvy. Their home was dropped, dragged, then propped upright again.
The mice peered at their woodsy neighborhood from the inside out. Gasp!
Mesmerized, they peeked at the people dancing, decorating, stretching high to place a star.
Snap! Lights twinkled
Choo-choo! A train chugged.
Children hung stockings.
Parents pointed at the clock.
Everyone went upstairs.
After awhile, Hazel and her curious little ones jumped down to explore their new surroundings.
They hopped on the train and rode ‘round and ‘round the holiday town. Whee! Then…Bump! Thump! Thump!
Black boots tromped toward the tree.
Squeakkkkkk! Eeeeeeeek! Hazel and her family raced back to their nest, hoping the big guy with rosy cheeks, twinkly eyes, and white hair, hadn’t seen them.
He piled people presents high; books, blocks, dolls.
Then, he looked straight at the mice. Yikes!
He stretched his black-gloved hand toward them. They froze!
The big guy’s hand opened. Surprise!
Presents: coverlets of silky curls, bits of carrots and cookies, and mouse-sized cups of warm cocoa.
He winked, and waved and left.
Even though temporary, Hazel and her family celebrated the wondrous night at home, together.

#10 Vegan Cut-Out Cookies

Sammy was allergic to a lot of things. He couldn’t have milk or gluten. Peanuts made his face puff up and corn made him throw up.
His mother found a recipe for cut-out cookies called Zucchini Coconut Oil Vegan Sugar Cookies. It was a big deal to create something sweet.
He poured and mixed just the right amount. He rolled the dough out. He cut out a Santa, star, and stocking.
He baked them, cooled them and decorated them. He covered them with homemade frosting and fruit.
As he finished he started to worry. Would Santa like his treat? Would he be delighted with his sugary sweet?
He put out the Soy milk and Vegan cookies out on Christmas Eve. Hoping and praying that Santa would like them.
As He stayed awake in his bed. Thoughts of dread danced in his head. What if he was allergic to coconut?
As he was almost asleep he heard a BUMP! THUMP! Followed by STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!
Wow! Santa was heavy. I wonder if I could sneak into see him trying my treat.
Sammy snuck quietly down the hall. He peeked around the corner. He had to muffle a yell.
Santa wasn’t human at all. The Santa Stegosaurus tromped around his living room gulping down the cookies and milk.
Santa Stegosaur turned to Sammy and said, “Thank you! Finally, a kid that knows I’m an herbivore.”
“Yyyou’re welcome,” said Sammy a smile crossing his face. Who knew that Santa was a dinosaur.

#11 Lizard In A Blizzard

Down south in December
It’s usually warm,
Except for the year of
The wicked snowstorm!

One lizard, Negrita,
(Which translates as “bold”)
Chose to take action,
To get out of the cold.

She peered in a window
And what did she see?
A cozy, warm house
With a huge indoor tree!

So she hid on the porch
And trembled and shivered
Then darted inside
When a box was delivered.

Straight for the tree,
She skittered so fast,
Ignoring the squeals
Of the people she passed.

She clambered up branches
And hid on a bough,
As somebody shouted,
“Get it out, now!”

Huge faces came near,
Peering in through the greenery,
But Negrita stayed still
To blend in with the scenery.

Big hands came in next,
Fingers grasping and groping,
“Don’t let them find me,”
Negrita sat, hoping.

The fingers came closer.
She thought she was doomed.
‘Til: “The thing’s disappeared!”
A jumbo voice boomed.

For hours she stayed there,
Continuing to hide,
Thinking, Maybe I would have
Been safer outside.

A branch below rustled,
A human was back!
But instead of chasing Negrita,
They brought her…a snack?

A tiny young human
Carried fruit on a tray.
“It’s not milk and cookies,
But I hope it’s okay.”

“You’re feeding the pest?”
Anger. Irritation.
“It’s not a pest,
It’s our new decoration!”

So, tucked amidst tinsel,
And safe from the blizzard,
Negrita became
The first Christmas Tree Lizard.

#12 Christmas Wildfire

Black bear pawed at the ground by a big douglas fir and snorted, “This one.”
Elk wrapped the tree with honeysuckle vines, carefully tucking in the ends with his antlers.
Bluebird dotted the needles with red Christmas berries.
Jackrabbit dangled wild carrots, joyously jumping to the highest branches.
Coyote paced around the tree and howled with delight.

Black bear grunted, “Quiet.”
Jackrabbit’s nose twitched, “Smoke.”
Elk raised his antlers, “Danger.”
Bluebird chittered, “Run, run, run!”
Coyote snapped at their feet to hurry.

After their long flight, the animals huddled under a strange tree on Christmas Eve.
Jackrabbit rubbed his long ear and squeaked, “Our Christmas tree?”
Black Bear let out a low growl and tucked jackrabbit under his arm.

In the morning Great Horned Owl swooped low and hooted, “Safe.”
The animals meandered through black trunks.
Puffs of ash followed Jackrabbit’s jumps.
Black bear shook soot from his fur.
Bluebird landed on Elk’s antlers and rapidly tweeted, “No. No. But Santa. Oh dear. No.”

Then they froze.

Their Christmas tree stood alone. The green needles were covered in Christmas berries, wrapped in honeysuckle, and dangled with carrots. Only one thing had changed. The tree glistened with a coating of Christmas snow.
Jackrabbit cried, “Saved!”
Black Bear nodded, “Unexpected.”
Elk bellowed, “Miracle.”
Bluebird trilled, “Santa! Santa! Santa!”
Coyote howled with delight.

Having read (and probably re-read and re-read!) through these 12 fabulous finalists, please VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE in the poll below by Monday December 18 at NOON EST.  I’m hoping the full weekend will give you enough time but I’m including Monday morning too just in case!  Winners will be posted on Tuesday December 19 and we can celebrate and then all get on with our busy holiday schedules!

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

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

Tune in Tuesday… same bat time, same bat station 🙂