The 2021 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!!!

Rise and shine, my friends!

I know it’s Monday.

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

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

But.

BUT!

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

Yes!

It’s true!

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


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

No?

Ok, how about

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

Oh no, wait! I’ve got it!

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

I don’t know what’s happening here.

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

Who could that be?

But never mind, because GUESS WHAT?

It’s time to announce the WINNERS of

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for so many! As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!  The other judges and I are blown away anew each time!

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

Third, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  We chose 14 finalists, and around 35 Honorable Mentions which we also loved, and even with those 49 total there were over 200 entries we couldn’t list! So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  You’re in good company! There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

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

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

Elizabeth Volkmann for Class List

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

David McMullin for Brave Brave Brave (also funny 😊)

Laken Slate for The Brave Little Conversation Heart

M.R. Haqq for Soon

Mia Geiger for Peanut’s Brave Valentine’s Day

Ashlee Hashman for The Wildflower

Lindsey Hobson for U R Brave

Audrey Day-Williams for Legendary Valentine

Sara Ackerman for Arrrrr Is For Valentine

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

Donna Kurtz for The Owl and the Kitty-Kat

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

Una Belle Townsend for Six Secret Valentines

Jan Suhr for The Lost Valentine

Kaylee Gwarjanski for Mission: Cancel Cupid Call

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

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

3. For Original POV:

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

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

4. For Humor:

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

Catherine J Lee for The Valentine on My Shoe

Karyn Curtis for The Valentine’s Quest

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

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

Brenda Whitehead for Step-Brother Battle

Shannon Howarth Nelson for Super Brothers

Danielle S. Hammelef for Scaredy-Cat

6. For Beautiful Writing:

Ciara N M Greenwalt for The Gift Tree

Sandhya Acharya for Sarla Asks A Question

Jyoti Rajan Gopal for A Cocoon of Love

Amy Flynn for Tilly’s Great Big Heart

7. For Best Short Valentiny Story:

P. J. Purtee for A Simple Valentine

8. For Sweet Valentiny:

Kelly Swemba for Brave For Gigi

Anne Bromley for Caleb’s Heart

Carmen Castillo Gilbert for Roses From Valentina

9. Best Story From A Young Writer:

Sophia Zafra for Bravery Is From The Heart

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

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

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

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

DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Sarah McDermott
for

Lemur in Love!!!

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

In Second Place

Sarah Meade
for
Jana’s Valentine Visit

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

In Third Place

Nancy Derey Riley
for
Percy’s Valentine

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

In Fourth Place

Jessica Hinrichs
for
Valentine’s Gotcha Day

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

In Fifth Place

Carrie Boone
for
The Ballad of Bad Bart

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

In Sixth Place...

Nicole Loos Miller
for
Stella & Hank

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

In Seventh Place…

Paul Kurtz
for
Someone Special!

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

In Eighth Place…

Chambrae Griffith
for
Octopus Hugs

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

In Ninth Place…

Janie Reinart
for
Untangled Valentines

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

In Tenth Place…

Anne Lipton
for
Most Valuable Valentine

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

In Eleventh Place…

Katie Brandyberry
for
Valentine Delivery

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

In Twelfth Place…

Lauri C. Meyers
for
Charmadillo

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

In Thirteenth Place…

Judy Sobanski
for
Brave Little Friends

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

In Fourteenth Place…

Samantha Haas
for
Valentine’s Day Rocks

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

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

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

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

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 😊

The Prizes:  Swoonworthy!

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

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

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

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

Renee LaTulippe

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

Dawn Young

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

Kirsti Call

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

Melissa Stoller

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

Becky Scharnhorst

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

Ellen Leventhal

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

Rebecca Kraft Rector

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

Julie Abery


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

Author Jenna Waldman

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

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

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

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

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

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest FINALISTS!!! – Vote For Your Favorite!!!

I know, I know!

You’ve been up all night, wearing holes in your carpet, nibbling your nails to nubbins, refreshing your browser every 10 seconds in case the blog notification you’re waiting for somehow needs a nudge to load, picking the clock up to make sure you read it right because YIKES! how long can it BE until MORNING!

And when at last it is actually time for that blog post to arrive. . .

. . .it DOESN’T! (You had to wait until 11 AM!)

(Gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair, rending of garments, howl of frustration! GAH!!!)

I know. I understand. I really do.

Because here, on the other side of the blog post, the other judges and I have spent the past several days (and nights) reading and re-reading 252 amazing, wonderful entries, trying to narrow them down to a mere handful of finalists when there are SO MANY we’d like to choose. It is agony, I tell you, sheer AGONY!

It makes me realize that apparently I am a glutton for more than chocolate! Who knew? I must also be a glutton for punishment to put myself through this every contest!

Because every contest you guys amaze me with your talent and creativity. Each time I think I can’t be more impressed with the entry pool, you prove me wrong.

So. . .

. . .gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair, rending of garments, howl of frustration! GAH!!! and consumption of a LOT of sustaining chocolate and caffeine 😊

Because entering a contest is a kind of practice for submitting to agents and editors, I thought you might be interested to see a bit of breakdown so you know what you’re up against when you submit. This contest (popular as it is 😊) got 252 entries this year – a mere drop in the bucket compared to the number of submissions agents and editors get. Approximately 240 entries had to be cut. Only the tiniest percentage of entries make it to the finalist list. It is even more competitive among agents and editors. I do not say this to discourage you! But it does show how important it is to submit your best work. When making a choice, it is much easier to cut the ones that didn’t follow the submission guidelines, weren’t proofread, have subpar writing mechanics with mistakes in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word usage, or simply don’t feel special enough to stand out from a crowd of excellent entries.

This contest the entries seemed to fall into topic categories more than usual.

We had many groups of 2 or 3 entries relating to robots, spiders, bees, lions, seeds/flowers, snails/slugs, color blindness, dragons, and zombies.

Then we had bigger groups about:

Birds (4)
Cats (5)
Chickens (5) (I think that was because of the bravery theme 😊)
Grumpy/Scary Neighbor (5)
Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity (6)
Fear of Public Speaking (7)
Nursing Home/Elderly/Ill/Dementia/Dying/Dead Grandparent (8)
Sick/Injured Child (particularly cancer) ((9)
Dogs (10)

(and I don’t claim to have counted exactly right 😊 there may have been a few more in each group)

I thought it might be helpful to you in your continued writing so see how many writers’ minds go in similar directions in order to help you distinguish your writing from that of others by looking for ways to make those topics fresh and new, and to write them in ways that truly enhance the topic and make it shine so that a judge, agent, or editor can’t get it out of her mind. What (for example) will make your dog story funnier, more heartfelt, more original, more…whatever, than the other X number of dog stories it’s up against?

Anyway, with apologies for being unable to winnow the finalist pool to 12 and therefore settling on 14 (which is the number of Valentine’s Day after all 😊) (and yes, I will see if I can scare up two more prizes!) I present to you the finalists in the 2021 Sixth Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest!  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite in the poll below by Sunday February 21 at 5 PM Eastern time.

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

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not tell people you are a finalist.  Please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the brave little alien who faced certain peril at the launch of the Valentine Roboblaster 2000 or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  We operate on the honor system.  I thank you in advance for respecting this. Your win will mean more if it’s honestly earned.

So now, here are the 2021 Valentiny Contest Finalists!!! 7 rhyme, 7 prose (total accident!), some for younger readers, some for older (but still kid) readers, some funny, some sweet, some sad, some thought-provoking but all fabulous! 😊

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ FINALISTS!!! ~

#1 – Percy’s Valentine

“Hello NASA, Percy here,
I’m on approach to Mars.
I’ve come to meet my valentine
out here among the stars.”

Suddenly his dash went dark.
He lost communication.
The rover now was on his own
to reach his destination.

“The next ten minutes are the worst.
It’s called the time of terror.
I’ve calculated all the risks
and have no room for error.”

He used an extra thruster burn,
to slow his rate of speed.
He changed his orbit, pitch, and slope
to plot the course he’d need.

But then alarms began to blare.
He cried, “I’ve overshot!”
His heat shields glowed a brilliant white.
“I’m coming in too hot!”

With only seconds left to save
his Valentine’s Day mission,
he saw “Range Trigger” on a knob,
“That’s how I change position.”

He pulled the knob and felt a thunk,
the parachute deployed.
The sky crane lowered him to Mars
beside another droid.

He smiled at Curiosity.
“I had to persevere.
Please say you’ll be my Valentine,
now that I made it here!”

“Your entrance was spectacular.
It won my heart and soul.”
She said, “We’ll be the best of friends.
Come on, let’s rock and roll.”

#2 – Valentine Delivery

Mail Truck’s engine flutters with nerves. Today is Valentine’s Day and his mailbags are overflowing.

But… snowflakes swirl and twirl around him. Mail Truck has never driven on snowy, slick roads before.

Wheels spinning, he begins his route.
He slips to the left,
then slides to the right.
His shocks shake.
He fogs up in fear.
He carefully shuffles back and parks.

The snow will melt tomorrow. I’ll deliver the valentines then, he thinks. I’m sure nobody will mind.

Across the street, a child darts to her mailbox. She slips in a homemade valentine for pickup. Mail Truck’s tires deflate with guilt.

Further down, an old lady trudges to her mailbox. Seeing it empty, she wipes away a tear. Watching her, Mail Truck’s lights turn red in shame.

Determined, Mail Truck fills his tank.
He turns on his brightest lights.
His wipers zip back and forth.

“My job is to deliver the mail – snow or shine!”

Bravely, he rolls down the street. His heart races as he inches from mailbox to mailbox.

The child runs outside, yelling “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mail Truck!”

When the old lady sees her mail delivered, her face lights up.

On this cold and snowy day, Mail Truck feels warm inside…
and remembers why he loves his job.

#3 – Most Valuable Valentine

This year I’ll make baseball cards instead of valentines,
to honor a brave player who transcended racial lines.
Henry Louis Aaron batted well above his weight,
his legend soaring over those who needled him with hate.

Henry grew up poor but loved, down south in Mobile Bay.
Thwacking bottle caps with sticks, he’d pop them far away.
Though he had no bat or glove, he had great strength within,
but he was barred from Little League because he had dark skin.

Henry’s high school had no team, so he went semi-pro.
When he unspooled his mighty swing, he made the crowd go “Oh!”
Henry slid into home plate, and he’d sew up the win,
yet some hotels and restaurants would not let Henry in.

Henry Aaron never quit, his hopes pinned to his dream,
working hard to do his best, to always help his team.
With his eyes glued on the ball, he’d shut out racist jeers,
and with the cracking of his bat came loud, wholehearted cheers.

Henry was the Home Run King, a diamond for his court.
He rose above the foul done him and championed good sport.
My ball-entines will be a hit, a home run, no debate,
because they’re threaded through with love and not a stitch of hate.

#4 – Stella & Hank

Stella was the perfect cat:
Gorgeous,
And charming,
And oh-so-soft.

She was loved by all,
Especially Hank.

Hank was the perfect dog:
Huge,
And drooly,
And oh-so-playful.

He was loved by everyone…
Except Stella.

Hank tried to win
Stella’s affection
With rope-pulls,
And slobbery bones,
Even his favorite stuffie.

But Stella flattened her ears,
Wrinkled her whiskers,
And turned her tail.

When Hank came near,
Stella’s claws came out.

When Hank whimpered,
Stella HISSSSSSSSED.
When Hank howled a love tune,
Stella SMACKED.
And when he tried to give her a bath…
YIKES!

Poor Hank.

Then, one February day,
Stella
Went
Away
And
Hank
Sighed
And
Waited
And
Sighed
And
Waited
Until…

She finally came back
With a big plastic collar
That went up instead of down.

Stella was sore,
And sad,
And sleepy,
And it broke Hank’s heart.

He gathered his courage,
And his bones,
And his stuffie.

He risked a HISS,
And a SMACK,
And even a SWIPE,
To put his offering at her feet.

Stella opened one eye.
She considered him closely.
And
Scooted
To
The
Right.

Enough room for a large dog
(If he stayed very quiet). Hank barely dared to breathe.
Stella started to purr.
It was the best Valentine’s ever
Because he spent it next to her.

#5 – Octopus Hugs

Octopus was floating by,
when a flyer caught his eye.

Clown fish, dolphins, sting rays, slugs,
are you good at giving hugs?
A Valentine’s Day hug contest.
The prize, a sunken treasure chest!
Contestants, meet at Aqua Park.
Test all your hugs on me!
Love, Shark.

“A treasure chest? Oh what a prize!”
But hug a shark, would that be wise?

With 8 strong arms he’d be the winner,
or he might wind up— shark’s dinner!

He squirmed his way to Aqua Park
to see who dared to hug a shark.

But not one creature stood in line
Only shark—who held a sign.

Hug contest. Enter, please!
I’ve never had a single squeeze.

Shark’s head hung low, he looked so blue,
Octopus knew what to do.

He swam up slowly feeling wary,
shark was big, and very scary!

He stretched his shaking arms out wide,
and whispered, “Here shark, swim inside.”

He wrapped shark up, all tight and snug,
and gave him the most perfect hug.

“Oh what a hug! The very best!
You win this sunken treasure chest.”

But Octopus had fixed his eyes
on something else, a shark-sized prize!

“Though the treasure chest looks great,
I’d rather win— a new best mate!”

#6 – Untangled Valentines

This Valentine’s day is
tangled
like my hair…
like
my
thoughts.

One last time,
I brush
my bangs.

Put on
the gift
from my sister—
a new red
headband.

She’s been
in the hospital
a lot.

My sister
worries…
no one
will want
to be her
valentine.

My sister
worries…
no one
will think
she is
pretty
anymore.

Clumps
of her hair
fall out—
rest
on her pillow.

Today,
we leave for
another
appointment.

I promise her
—cross my heart—
I will hold
her hand
the whole time…

First,
they tie her hair
into ponytails.

Scissors
snip,
snip.

Then clippers
buzz,
buzz.

My heart beats
ba-boom,
ba-boom,
ba-boom.

What’s left
of her soft curls
fall
to
the
floor.

I clutch her hand.

In minutes
her little head is …
bald.

I blink fast.
Squeeze
my eyes
closed.
And swallow
hard.

Her small mouth
quivers
into a half smile.
“Want to rub my head for good luck?”

I exhale.

Slowly,
I take off
my new headband.

The words
untangle
on
my
tongue.

“Better than that,” I say softly.
“I’m next.”

#7 – The Ballad of Bad Bart

High noon
Western town
Bad Bart stares the sheriff down.

Empty street
Dusty square
Tension crackles in the air

Spurs jangle
Fingers shake
Bad Bart’s heart begins to quake.

Overhead
Buzzards fly
Shadows in the clear blue sky.

Down below
Bad Bart stands
Lasso twisting in his hands

Palms sweaty,
Mouth dry,
Bad Bart catches Sheriff’s eye.

Hesitation –
Can he do it?
Deep breath in–nothing to it!

“Tell me, Sheriff Caroline,
Will you be my Valentine?”

Buzzards pause
Wind stops
Bad Bart’s stomach flips and flops

Sheriff frowns
Seconds drag
Bart’s high hopes begin to sag

Sheriff brightens
Hope revives!
Bad Bart’s dearest wish survives

Sheriff says
to her cowboy
Words that fill his heart with joy:

“Put aside your life of crime–
Then I’ll be your Valentine!”

#8 – Someone Special!

“Yoo-hoo, Blowtorch,” Danny calls into the cave.
A dragon appears. “YAWN! I was napping—what’s up?”

“Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day. I want to show someone special I’m brave.” Danny waves a striped bag. “Pretend to fight me and these fireball-jawbreakers are yours.”

“Ooo—my favorite.”

Next day—

“Danny,” Princess Dawn says, “are you sure about this? Your Valentine card, flowers, and candy were plenty.”

“But I want you to see I’m brave.”

CLINK—CLANK—CLUNK—

—rattles Danny’s armor as he approaches the cave.

“Come out, fiery dragon—brave knight Sir Danny challenges you!”

Blowtorch appears—

ROARRRR

Danny’s silver sword flashes—Blowtorch’s golden claws rip the air.

“Oh my—” Princess Dawn gasps.

All day they fight like tigers.

“OH MY!” Princess Dawn squeals.

Blowtorch rises onto his back legs, and—

WHOOSHHH

—giant flames flare from his nostrils.

“YYIII!” Danny shrieks.

The flames melt Danny’s armor and burn away his clothes. Stumbling backward, he sprawls on the ground in his charred, smoking underpants.

“OHHH! Blowtorch, why did you do that?”

Blowtorch winks at a dragon with glittering pink scales standing beside Princess Dawn.

Giggling, she waves her silver claws and flutters her violet eyelashes at him. “My handsome, brave dragon-hero.” Blowtorch sighs and flames flare from his nostrils, forming a heart. “I have someone special too!”

#9 – Charmadillo

Charmadillo sniffed the air
And smelled the lovely Shelly there.
She snorted dirt while pigging out.
He loved her soft pink digging snout.

He should say “hi” or “whatcha eating,”
But his heart was loudly beating.
Too shy to speak, he hatched a scheme
To tell sweet Shelly she’s his dream.

He would write some words of love
And pass the note from up above.
“Your snout is pink, your bands are fine,
Won’t you be my Valentine?”

He watched the letter fall below…
But then his fear began to grow.
He tried to snatch it back again,
But it was deep inside her den!

The situation turned him pale.
He rolled himself and hugged his tail.
His armor wasn’t tough enough –
Inside he felt all squirmy stuff.

He tried to dig a hole and hide,
But something stirred from deep inside.
What if his dreadful doubts were wrong,
And sharing feelings made him strong?

He paced nearby for her reply,
Jumping when he heard her cry:
“Charmadillo, I can’t read.
You want a candied centipede?”

The lunch of termites he prepared
Showed his love how much he cared.
She didn’t know the words he wrote,
But showed her love and… ate the note.

#10 – Valentine’s Gotcha Day

Valentine sat in her kennel, nervously thumping her tail against the floor.

Was today the day? She’d gotten her hopes up before, but everyone always said her fur was too scruffy, her nose was a funny shape, and her size was just too much to love.

Day after day, she remained at the shelter, watching families adopt her friends and hoping one day it would be her turn too.

Just then, Valentine’s ears perked up. She heard a girl’s voice. Her heart beat faster as the girl approached.

“Look, Mommy!” The little girl squealed. “Her fur is red! Her nose is shaped like a heart! And there’s a lot of her to love! She’s perfect.”

The little girl knelt down and smiled—the prettiest smile Valentine had ever seen.

Valentine’s eyes pleaded with her. Could this be my Gotcha Day? I’m too scared to even hope. Be brave! She trembled, but she held the little girl’s gaze.

As if the little girl understood, she reached out her hand and gently whispered, “Sweet Valentine, will you be mine?”

Will I ever! Valentine’s fears faded in a split-second and she lunged into the little girl’s arms, peppering her face with wet kisses.

The little girl giggled. “You’re the best Valentine ever!” No, thought Valentine, you are.

#11 – Lemur In Love

Trevor is an AYE-AYE and he’s ready for some love.
But sadly he’s so SHY-SHY, hiding in the leaves above.
He’s got his eyes on Rita, it feels more than just a whim.
But what if she won’t love a scruffy GUY-GUY just like him?

Trevor knows that AYE-AYEs aren’t the handsomest of males.
He gives a great big SIGH-SIGH as he polishes his nails.
But maybe looks aren’t everything, he needs to make her see
The fluffy little TIE-TIE wearing GUY-GUY up the tree.

Trevor must impress her but an AYE-AYE’s skills are few.
He gives a mournful CRY-CRY. He just hasn’t got a clue.
But then a lightbulb moment, Trevor’s great at French cuisine!
He’ll bake a splendid PIE-PIE, soon she’ll be his jungle queen!

Trevor looks up HIGH-HIGH where the moon is shining clear.
He makes his way to Rita, trying hard to show no fear.
He offers her his PIE-PIE, Rita smiles then takes a bite
And hearts begin to FLY-FLY on this very special night.

#12 – Valentine’s Day Rocks

“Time for show-and-tell!” Ms. Carla announced. “Who wants to share their Valentine’s Day craft first?”

Arms sprang toward the ceiling like balloons. But Roger’s hands stayed hidden inside his sweatshirt.

Dylan held up a homemade flower. “I painted pasta for the petals and used a pipe cleaner for the stem.”

Then Jade chimed in. “Mine is a clothespin butterfly with glitter tissue paper for wings.”

Roger’s fingers fidgeted inside his pocket while the others went around the circle — each project more colorful than the last.

Marjorie nudged Roger. “Psst. Your turn.”

His face turned as red as the rose on his teacher’s desk.

“Roger, did you forget yours at home?” asked Ms. Carla.

He cradled something in his palm, weighing what to do next.

Marjorie leaned over and whispered, “It’s okay. I don’t have craft supplies at my place either.”

Roger took a deep breath and showed the plain rock to the class. “I read a library book about penguins who give out pebbles like people do with candy when they like somebody.”

When the students giggled, Marjorie jumped up to distract them with her project: a bent and twisted paperclip.

“This is my heart,” she beamed. “I’m giving it to the bravest person I know.”

Roger scooted closer to Marjorie. “Psst. You rock.”

#13 – Brave Little Friends

Little raccoon spent all afternoon
making cards that he’d soon give away.
For tomorrow at three, the forest would be
all a twitter for Valentine’s Day.

He put names on each card and tried very hard
to make certain that all were included.
Then Raccoon had a thought that maybe he ought
to give one to his friend who’s secluded.

Poor Mr. Bear, was quite unaware
of the Valentine’s Day celebration.
He was curled in heap, in a winter deep sleep—
his annual bear hibernation.

Little Raccoon arrived around noon
to deliver the card to Bear’s cave.
He shivered and shook as he took a quick look;
he knew that he had to be brave.

He set the card down by the bear—big and brown,
then left in a tippy-toed dance.
His friends all stood near shaking with fear,
“Why would you take such a chance?”

“Cause he’s my friend, too, and so wouldn’t you
like to make a kind gesture toward Bear?”
The rest found their “brave” and went to the cave
to leave goodies and cards everywhere.

When Bear opened his eyes and saw the surprise,
he knew the exact words to say.
“Friends…
I’m very elated to wish you a ‘Belated’ but
Most Happy Valentine’s Day!”

#14 – Jana’s Valentine Visit

Almost there.
Mom sings along to love songs on the radio as she drives.
Jana stares down at her sparkly red fingernails.
They match her Valentine’s Day dress.
She thinks about last time,
even though she doesn’t want to.
How scared she’d been.
The strange smells,
scary sounds,
sad faces.
Jana shivers.
She doesn’t want to go back there today.
When the car stops,
Jana feels her breath catch.
“I’m scared,” she whispers.
“I’ll be with you,” Mom says.
Jana carries her valentine in shaking hands.
They step
up the sidewalk,
through the sliding doors.
Inside.
The strange smells,
scary sounds,
sad faces.
Again.
Jana swallows.
She slides behind Mom,
tries not to breathe,
or hear,
or see.
Outside Gram’s room, they pause.
“See? You’re OK,” Mom says.
Jana nods, her face hot.
She goes to Gram’s bed.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” she whispers.
Gram’s same small smile.
Jana places the valentine in Gram’s hands.
“Thank . . . you,” Gram murmurs.
She grabs Jana’s hand and squeezes.
Jana gasps.
“Pretty. . . nails,” Gram whispers.
Jana smiles. “Sparkly red like valentines. It’s your favorite holiday.”
Gram nods.
“Gram?” Jana says. “Want me to paint your nails, too?”
Gram’s face lights up.
Jana’s hands don’t shake at all as she begins to paint.


Please vote for your favorite in the poll below by Sunday February 21 at 5 PM Eastern time.

Tune in Monday February 22 to see THE WINNERS!!!

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

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

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to . . .

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. . . . 😴 😴 😴

(right after I see what I can do about 2 more prizes so all these well-deserving finalists get they’re just desserts 😊)

Have a thrilling Thursday, everyone!

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

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

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

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

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone feels brave!

  • They can be brave about asking someone to be their Valentine, of course, but they can also do something brave to get a Valentine (the person or the gift), or do something brave to help a friend. They could be brave about giving something up, or brave about asking someone they’re not sure they like to be their Valentine just to be nice. . . sky’s the limit!  Think beyond the obvious!
  • Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone brave (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

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

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

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

Amazing wonderful Valentiny Contest story.😊

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

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

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

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 12 top choices which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Thursday February 18th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 22nd depending on judging and voting time needed.  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using bravery and success in making us feel the bravery!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 😊
  7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines they won’t even read your submission.

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

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

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

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

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

Renee LaTulippe

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

Dawn Young

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

Kirsti Call

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

Melissa Stoller

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

Becky Scharnhorst

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

Ellen Leventhal

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

Rebecca Kraft Rector

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

Julie Abery


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

Author Jenna Waldman

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

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

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

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

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

Ho! Ho! Ho! The 10th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!

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

It’s time for . . .

THE 10TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

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

Your helper can be one helper, or a pair, or a group or a bevy or a herd of helpers. Your helpers can be children, animals, elves, aliens, unicorns, fairies . . . whatever your heart desires. He/she/they can help bake, decorate, shovel snow, wrap gifts, clean the house, entertain guests, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, bring the holiday spirit to those who have lost it – sky’s the limit 😊 But the focus of the story must be on helping – not just a brief mention in passing that Marla helped Dad set the table in the middle of a story about her frustration at not getting the starring role in the school holiday pageant.

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 😊 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 😊 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

Post:  Your entry should be posted between right now this very second and Wednesday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, in ONE of the following three ways:

  1. Post your entry on your own blog and enter your post-specific link (not your main blog URL) to the link list below, OR
  2. Paste your entry in the comment section below (please include your byline since if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight I will have no idea who you are 😊), OR
  3. If you have trouble pasting your entry in the comment section for any reason (which unfortunately does happen!) you can email it to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I will post it for you. If you email it, please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email NO ATTACHMENTS – they will not be opened. Please include your title and byline at the top of your entry. (And since there have been many questions about this byline means who it’s by, for example, The Hanukkah Helper by Janie Simcox.)

Please submit your entry only ONCE! If you add it to the blog link list, and the comments, and email me to post it, things get very confusing!  I try to stay as glued to my desk as possible, but sometimes I have to get up so if I don’t respond to your email or approve your post immediately, don’t panic!  I’ll get to it as soon as I can!

There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or Perfect Picture Book) for the duration of the contest so this post with the links and comments will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy until I post the finalists. 

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Monday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 16th at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 17th. (These dates are subject to adjustment if it takes the judges longer than we anticipate to get the judging completed.)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Holiday Helpers! – the rules state a Holiday Helper story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about someone helping someone else in some way during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  The story must center on helping  – the help must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes!:  The prize list is completely and totally awesome! Read! Covet! Write your best! 😊

A Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique by Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary! Although she is currently closed to submissions (making this prize EXTRA special!) a look at her wish list will give you an idea of what she likes.

Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez

A 12×12 Silver Membership (valued at $177 but worth so much more!) generously donated by author and 12×12 founder and queen, Julie Hedlund! 12×12 is a fantastic, educational, supportive community with TONS to offer its members, including interesting and informational webinars of all kinds, access to forums and critiques, and the chance to submit to agents. If you’re not familiar with it, you can learn all about it HERE. Julie is the author of A Troop Is A Group of Monkeys (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013), My Love For You Is The Sun (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming Over, Bear! Under, Where? (Philomel Books, Fall 2021)

Julie Hedlund
Photo credit Kim Huggins

A Picture Book Manuscript Read and On The Spot Critique by prolific author Laura Purdie Salas! Laura offers a 50-minute on on-the-spot critique via Zoom for one picture book manuscript of up to 600 words (fiction or nonfiction, rhyming or prose or poetry). She will read it out loud to the writer and then do a critique right then and answer questions. Laura is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, her own submissions and work for hire – she’s done it all! She is also the author of a number of fantastic books for writers which are often given as prizes here. Some of her books include A Leaf Can Be (Millbrook Press 2012), Clover Kitty Goes To Kittygarten (Two Lions 2020), Snowman – Cold = Puddle (Charlesbridge 2019), If You Were The Moon (Millbrook Press 2017), Making A Living Writing Books For Kids (CreateSpace 2017), and Picture Books The Write Way (CreateSpace 2014)

Rate Your Story owner, Picture Book Mechanic, and author Lynne Marie is offering 4 amazing prizes!

A 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

Another 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

A Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

[From the Rate Your Story site] “A SPEED PASS allows a Non-Member to submit to Rate Your Story, as well as a Member to submit additional items to best serve the rating and feedback needs of our writing community.

We have a variety of Speedpass options, including pitches, query letters, art or a single manuscript at any time for a rating + guaranteed comments*, and it will be returned in less than 7 days’ time. Should you require a faster turnaround, fast pass options may be purchased to facilitate that.” 

Another Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019)  and  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and two others forthcoming.


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, rhyme or prose) by accomplished author Laura Sassi, author of Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz 2014) , Goodnight, Manger (Zonderkidz 2015), Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse (Sterling 2018), Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz 2018), and the forthcoming Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books, February 2021)

A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Sandra Sutter, whose delightful books include The REAL Farmer In The Dell (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, March 2019) and Stan’s Frightful Halloween (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, September 2020)


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

Author Jenna Waldman


Personalized, signed copies of For Spacious Skies (Albert Whitman, April 2020) and The Queen And The First Christmas Tree (Albert Whitman, October 2018) by award-winning author Nancy Churnin.



Personalized, signed copies of The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids 2019) by Dawn Young and Louis (HMH Books For Young Readers 2020) by Tom Lichtenheld, illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoch. The Night Baafore Christmas will be signed by Dawn, the author. Louis will be signed by Julie, the illustrator.



Two Picture Books (TBD) donated by Darshana Khiani, whose own picture book How To Wear A Sari is forthcoming from Versify in June 2021.


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

This is the part in the proceedings where I would normally post my sample to entertain and encourage you. Ahem. Seems I’ve been a little over-scheduled with life lately, and my sample isn’t quite finished. . . If I can get it done whilst running the contest I’ll pop it in here. If not, you guys have the hang of these contest by now and you don’t really need my example! 😊

I know you guys are going to come up with great stories, and I’m so looking forward to reading them all! 😊

***UPDATE 12/8/20*** – I’m late adding this in and it would have benefited greatly from more time to work and a slightly longer word count, but. . .

A Little Christmas Joy (249 words)

Cara longed to play in the snow.
She wanted to open her mouth and feel the cold snowflakes melt on her tongue.
She wanted to lie on her back and make snow angels.
But Cara wasn’t allowed outside alone, and everyone was busy inside because it was Christmas Eve.
“So many presents to wrap!” Mom said.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She handed Mom scissors and tape, and pressed her finger to the crossed ribbon so Mom could tie a snug bow.
“This tree needs decorating!” said Dad.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.
She hung pepperminty candy canes from the fragrant-needled boughs wherever she felt spaces.
“So much cookie dough to bake!” said Cara’s big sister.
“I’ll help!” said Cara.  She grinned and scooped a fingerful of dough from the bowl into her mouth.
The whole day passed, and Cara never got to play in the snow.
She carefully placed cookies and milk on the hearth for Santa, along with apples for the reindeer.
When Santa arrived, he saw everything Cara had helped with – the presents, the tree, the cookies – and her snow boots waiting hopefully by the back door.
He smiled and whispered, “You help everyone else.  It’s time you got a little special help yourself.”
When Cara awoke, her gift was beside her.  A wet nose, a wagging tail, and a note in Braille on her collar that read: Hi Cara!  I’m Joy, your Guiding Eyes. I can’t wait to take you out to play in the snow!

*** There you have it 😊 ***

With so many great prizes up for grabs I hope there will be a lot of entries – the more the merrier!  And you’ve still got a couple days to write, so you can squeeze in under the wire if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the google form below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – just go along the list of links, click on them, and enjoy the stories! And don’t miss the fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  The titles are listed and linked just below the link list at the bottom of the post and will take you directly to the stories!


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

Don’t miss the 119!!! fabulous entries that are posted in the comments below!  The titles are linked and will take you directly to the stories!

  1. Ivy’s Christmas Wish – Anne Reilly
  2. Decorating The Tree – Gabrielle Cardwell
  3. Not Too Little – Marty Findley
  4. Christmas AngelBrenda Whitehead
  5. Decorations DeputyNicola Thackrey
  6. A Super ScooperEllen Turcio
  7. A Cranky ChristmasStacey Miller
  8. Sylvia KittySusan Drew
  9. Bug Academy Christmas Pageant Kathiann Weatherbee
  10. Calma The Llama Mattie Noall
  11. Don’t Let The Cat Help Decorate The TreeLu Pierro
  12. BigFoot’s SurpriseNatalie Cohn
  13. A Fine IdeaJill Proctor
  14. Holly The Holiday HelperAshley Congdon
  15. Ollie’s Christmas VisitsMarilyn Wolpin
  16. A Dust Bunny’s ChristmasMarty Bellis
  17. Naserian – A Maasai The Holiday HelperKetan Ram
  18. Who Will Do It? (April Helps Out)Elizabeth Westra
  19. Bambini ChristmasMartha Holguin
  20. Holiday HelpersShariffa Keshavjee
  21. A Servant’s HeartEllen Crosby
  22. Snail’s Starry NightBecky Loescher
  23. Sandy Claws’ HelpersSusan E. Schipper
  24. Dear SantaDawn Young
  25. Christmas NeighborLinda Staszak
  26. Sugar’s SpinMegan & Rob Hunnicut
  27. Elf And The PixiesVicky Langdon
  28. The Signed ConfessionCristina Raymer
  29. The Reverse Advent CalendarAnne Lipton
  30. Holiday Helper ExtraordinaireSusan Summers
  31. Home For ChristmasP. J. Purtee
  32. Three Christmas CamelsDeb Robertson
  33. Reindeer ShoesKatherine Rahoy
  34. A Little Holiday HelpNina Nolan
  35. Christmas Is For EveryoneGerry Lynne Baker
  36. The Best Christmas HelperJean Hall
  37. Gingerbread Construction CrewAshlee Hashman
  38. A Swedish Pageant And The Mystery Of The Missing MeatballsKathryn Rammell
  39. Christmas SmilesAlli Strauss
  40. A Hanukah DetourSandra Budiansky
  41. The Oldest ElfJim Chaize
  42. Santa’s HelpersE. Elle Bea
  43. La Navidad I’ll Never ForgetCarmen Gilbert
  44. I’m Helping For The Holidays (No, You’re Not)Krista Harrington
  45. Have A New Year!Karen Keesling
  46. Not Too Small At AllSarah Hawklyn
  47. To Celebrate We Mix It UpSarah Hawklyn
  48. Christmas GiftsDonna Kurtz
  49. Colin’s Christmas TreatSally Yorke Viney
  50. App-y Christmas!Paul Kurtz
  51. Santa’s Elves Need Helpers Too Katie Brandyberry
  52. The Red CabooseStephanie Cullen
  53. Christmas In GermanyElizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf
  54. Leo And The Tree LadyAnn Malaspina
  55. The Sleigh-Awake BandLaura Bower
  56. Baba’s Christmas WishTaylor Gardner
  57. A Dear, Dear BoyDarcee A. Freier
  58. Changing The WorldKathleen Campbell
  59. The Christmas Cookie CatastropheLynn Camacho
  60. Grandma’s Christmas Helper, A COVID Alphabet StorySarah Hetu-Radny
  61. Baia’s Bags Of BlessingsElyse Trevers
  62. Chanukah HelpersMarla Yablon
  63. The Farmyard NativityKrystal Snead
  64. Sprinkles For SantaCindy Sommer
  65. The Crocheted StarBeverly Warren
  66. The Toymaker And The Christmas TomteCathrene Valente Youngquist
  67. New Year’s CheerMia Geiger
  68. Santa’s Surprise HelperLiz Kehrli
  69. Holiday Helpers Galore! Isabel Cruz Rodgriguez
  70. Nothing To GiveMaria Marianayagam
  71. Oy To The World: An Ode To 2020Mary Vander Plas
  72. Gingerbread CommotionJC Kelly
  73. Hummus For SantaLeila Boukarim
  74. Island Santa – Anne Sawan
  75. Samosas For Santa Namita Moolani Mehra
  76. Beaver’s GiftDeb Buschman
  77. Let It Grow! Let It Grow! Let It Grow!Allison Strick
  78. Star Light, Star BrightEstelle Grace Tudor
  79. Candy And Cain’s Big JobBecky Kimbrough
  80. Santa KnowsDiane Hanington
  81. The Best Christmas EverDiane Hanington
  82. Little LightPatti Tomarelli
  83. Runny-Nosed RudolphSarah Hetu-Radny
  84. Ask SantaJennifer Reichow
  85. Not Counting On Sweet Treats This YearLinda Hofke
  86. The Runaway Reindeer Caroline Perry
  87. Flossy’s Fairy Fail Laura Howard
  88. The Christmas TreeCynthia Stacey
  89. The Greatest GiftLisa Khan
  90. Adorable, Not AbominableKimberly Lee
  91. Maya’s LightKaryn Curtis
  92. Tiffani And The Talking TreeCourtney Ryan
  93. Santa’s HelpersMeghan Wallace
  94. Missing MagicDarci Nielson
  95. One Cold ChristmasToni Hawks Floyd
  96. Merry MarsmasMegan Walvoord
  97. Me Do It! Simon Yeend
  98. ‘Twas A Night On A FarmPenelope McNally
  99. Winter Welcome Jessica Whipple
  100. A Not-So-Helpful Helper Liv Gehlbach
  101. The Kindness CrewMichelle S. Kennedy
  102. Christmas For The Birds Elizabeth Volkmann
  103. Christmas ShelterRita Russell
  104. Princess ObliviousBill Canterbury
  105. A Forest ChristmasBarbara Keevil Parker
  106. Little Donkey, The Christmas HelperJacqui Boulter
  107. Cam’s ChristmasAnn Gray
  108. Santa’s Helper Mary Rudzinski
  109. “For The Girl Who Has Everything”Bill Canterbury
  110. Buon The ChristmouseGeorgette Kaftan
  111. Great Aunt MaccaBeaDanielle Sharkan
  112. Blue and Boots and the Christmas SpiritKatie Schwartz
  113. Santa’s SlumberJennifer Lowe
  114. The Holiday Helper ThingCindy L. Jeklin
  115. Holiday HelpersBonnie Anderson
  116. GRA’MERE’S COOKIESLoren Hackney

Guess What? It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Contest Time!

‘Twas nearly Thanksgiving
When here on my site
I realized you guys needed
Guidelines to write
For the annual Holiday Contest. I know!
I’ve left you with only fourteen days to go!
So put on your thinking cap! Warm up your pen!
For Holiday Contest – numéro TEN!

Okay.

Clement C. Moore I may not be. . . 😊

I mean, if I’m going to be honest about it, I’m not really sure what a sugarplum even is. . . !

Let’s just put dancing fruits right out of our heads for a moment because I have big news!

Huge Excitement!

SOMETHING TO TWIRL YOUR TINSEL FOR!

The guidelines for . . .

THE 10TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

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

Your helper can be one helper, or a pair, or a group or a bevy or a herd of helpers. Your helpers can be children, animals, elves, aliens, unicorns, fairies . . . whatever your heart desires. He/she/they can help bake, decorate, shovel snow, wrap gifts, clean the house, entertain guests, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, bring the holiday spirit to those who have lost it – sky’s the limit 😊 But the focus of the story must be on helping – not just a brief mention in passing that Marla helped Dad set the table in the middle of a story about her frustration at not getting the starring role in the school holiday pageant.

Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 😊 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 😊 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between 12:01 AM EST Monday December 7th and Wednesday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday December 7th and remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or Perfect Picture Book) 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 7th 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 7th post! 😊 )

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries and final number of prizes – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Monday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Wednesday December 16th at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Thursday December 17th. (These dates are subject to adjustment if it takes the judges longer than we anticipate to get the judging completed.)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Holiday Helpers! – the rules state a Holiday Helper story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about someone helping someone else in some way during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  The story must center on helping  – the help must not be just an offhand mention/reference in a story about something else.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 6. PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Large numbers of entries make it easy to cut entries that haven’t been entered as we asked.

The Prizes!:  The prize list is under construction. . .  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 Picture Book Manuscript Read and Critique by Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez of Olswanger Literary! Although she is currently closed to submissions (making this prize EXTRA special!) a look at her wish list will give you an idea of what she likes.

Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez

A 12×12 Silver Membership (valued at $177 but worth so much more!) generously donated by author and 12×12 founder and queen, Julie Hedlund! 12×12 is a fantastic, educational, supportive community with TONS to offer its members, including interesting and informational webinars of all kinds, access to forums and critiques, and the chance to submit to agents. If you’re not familiar with it, you can learn all about it HERE. Julie is the author of A Troop Is A Group of Monkeys (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2013), My Love For You Is The Sun (Little Bahalia Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming Over, Bear! Under, Where? (Philomel Books, Fall 2021)

Julie Hedlund
Photo credit Kim Huggins

Rate Your Story owner, Picture Book Mechanic, and author Lynne Marie is offering 4 amazing prizes!

A 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

Another 1/2 hour Zoom Session Picture Book Manuscript Consultation/Critique from ThePictureBookMechanic.com

A Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

[From the Rate Your Story site] “A SPEED PASS allows a Non-Member to submit to Rate Your Story, as well as a Member to submit additional items to best serve the rating and feedback needs of our writing community.

We have a variety of Speedpass options, including pitches, query letters, art or a single manuscript at any time for a rating + guaranteed comments*, and it will be returned in less than 7 days’ time. Should you require a faster turnaround, fast pass options may be purchased to facilitate that.” 

Another Rate Your Story Speedpass from RateYourStory.org

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019)  and  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and two others forthcoming.


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, rhyme or prose) by accomplished author Laura Sassi, author of Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz 2014) , Goodnight, Manger (Zonderkidz 2015), Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse (Sterling 2018), Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz 2018), and the forthcoming Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books, February 2021)

A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by talented author Sandra Sutter, whose delightful books include The REAL Farmer In The Dell (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, March 2019) and Stan’s Frightful Halloween (Clearfork Publishing/Spork, September 2020)


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

Personalized, signed copies of For Spacious Skies (Albert Whitman, April 2020) and The Queen And The First Christmas Tree (Albert Whitman, October 2018) by award-winning author Nancy Churnin.


Two Picture Books (TBD) donated by Darshana Khiani, whose own picture book How To Wear A Sari is forthcoming from Versify in June 2021.

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

So there you have it!  Fire up those brain cells!  Grab a cup of hot chocolate, plonk your tiny hiney into a comfy chair, and get to writing your potentially prize-winning Holiday Helper story!!! You have 14 full days!  (And remember, I’m being a helper because deadlines are great for creativity and productivity!)  So what if you’re in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this week! Your little cherubs can model helpfulness and serve as inspiration for your contest entry by peeling potatoes, making up the bed in the spare room for Great Auntie Brunhilda, bathing the cats, and whatever other little chores need doing! You’ll have plenty of time to write! 😊

On your mark…

…get set…

…GO!

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

In this unusual year, when people have been isolated and separated and lots of folks are more than ever in need of holiday cheer, lending a helping hand seemed like a nice topic. I hope you’ll all have fun with it!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 😊

The 2020 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

Hello there, my pretties!

I don’t usually get to see you on Mondays!

Especially at this hour when it is WAY past bedtime!

(Shhhh! Don’t tell your mamas!)

But I’m so glad you’re here.

If you’ll all just snuggle up among the pillows, we’ll get right to story time.

Milk and cookies?

Alrighty.

Once upon a time last week, five little skeletons floated down the Halloweensie River in a hollowed out pumpkin.

As they floated they sang:

“Row, row, row your gourd
Gently down the stream,”
“Toss your noggin overboard. . .”

That was the end of the song because their singing parts were all under water!

They fished their skulls back out with their femurs.

Hahahahaha! they all laughed merrily.

“Whose idea was that?” asked one.

“I don’t know,” said another. “We haven’t got a brain between us!”

This was true.

And probably the reason why they decided to play that game again!

And again. . .

. . . and again.

The End.


Wasn’t that a heartwarming story?

I hope you all enjoyed it!

Thank you for coming to story time! I hope you’ll join me again next week when we’ll read all about the five little potatoes who ran away so they wouldn’t be mashed for Thanksgiving! Even though they didn’t have a leg to stand on. (Sorry 😊)

Goodbye.


Bye now.


Buh-bye.


* * * * * * *


* * * * * * *


* * * * * * *


What?

You’re still here?

I told you only one story tonight since it’s already past bedtime.

Were you expecting something else?

Maybe something like. . .

The 10 Annual Halloweensie Contest WINNERS? !!!!!!!

Okay. You’ve twisted my radius, ulna, and humerus 😊

Turns out you’ve come to the right place because it just so happens that I know how it all turned out!

As you are all aware by now, we had an amazing turnout for Halloweensie 2020 – 289!!! entries!  (And did I use “turn out” enough times in the last two sentences?? 😊) Golly gee willikers!!!

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories and meet so many new writers!  And I don’t know about you guys, but for me Halloween is all the better for 289 fabulous stories to read by jack -o’ – lantern light! 😊☢️

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Broedel for Boneyard Ballet (also great use of language!)

Kristen Foote for A 2020 Halloween Bash

Claire Schlinkert for Not-So-Happy Halloween

Rhett Trull for Lightning And A Mask Of Stars (also nice use of language)


2. For Great Writing and Use of Language: (not already in the finals)

Carrie Karnes-Fannin for The Trash Bandit

Rebecca Allain for The Maple Tree Fright


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

Andrew Hacket for A-Huntin’ (yikes!)

Meghan Wallace for The Haunted House Dare

Kelly Swemba for The House That No One Visits

Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf for A Cat-astrophic Halloween

(A Yogi Is Born – no author identified) for Pumpkin Jack


4. For Excellent Story Telling from 8-and-under Writers!

Autumn Haley for The Night Stacy Saved Halloween

Lea Boyd for Beware Of Skeletons


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

E. Elle Bea for Final Moments

Barbara Di Marco for The Attic Mask

Mary Bleckwehl for Class Pet Trickery! (great ending 😊)


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

Nicole Loos Miller for Pumpkin Hunt

Kristy Nuttall for The Itsy Bitsy Skeleton

Ashley Congdon for A-Z: Who’s Behind Me?

Linda Staszak for The Skele-Mummy

Sarah Meade for Skeleton Ring

Beth Volkmann for Halloween Hesitation

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 (and I have to be cryptic here because when I said it right out last year I got a LO-HO-HOT! of spam email!) a gift of a number of dollars that is between 4 and 6, for a large and well-known online store that begins with A, which will be presented to you in an email 😊 You can spend it on one of the many Kindle choices listed in previous contests here, or add to your account for a gift for yourself or someone else, or whatever else you might choose to do! In addition, you will receive a beautiful badge of achievement that you may display on your blog or print out and frame or turn into a flag to carry with you everywhere and wave out the window of your pumpkin 😊

A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.

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

Now.

Finally!

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

. . . the reason you rowed your pumpkin gently down the stream to get here even though it is past your bedtime. . .

. . . THE WINNERS OF THE 2020 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…

Helen Ishmurzin

for

Marine Halloween

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

In Second Place,

Ginny Neil

for

The Eletonks

Congratulations, Ginny, on a clever, entertaining, well written, kid friendly entry. You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Helen chooses!

In Third Place,

Lisa Perron
 for
Trick Or Teeth

Congratulations, Lisa, on your cleverly spun tale of the Tooth Fairy’s halloween!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Helen and Ginny choose!

In Fourth Place,

Heather Kinser
for
A Scare A Skull A Skeleton

Congratulations, Heather, on a fun story with a creative format and a wonderful read-aloud rhythm.  You get to pick a prize after Helen, Ginny, and Lisa.

In Fifth Place,

Hollie Wolverton
for
A Hollow Halloween

Congratulations, Hollie, on making us laugh at just how frustrating it must be for a skeleton to eat candy!  You get to pick your prize after Helen, Ginny, Lisa, and Heather.

In Sixth Place,

Deb Sullivan
for
A Night Out. . .

Congratulations, Deb, on your clever, fun and creative entry! You made us laugh out loud at your ending 😊 You get to pick your prize after Helen, Ginny, Lisa, Heather, and Hollie!

In Seventh Place,

Keatley Eastman
for
Bones: A Love Story

Congratulations, Keatley, on your delightful Halloween love story, so well written with such great rhythm and rhyme and use of language! You get to pick your prize after Deb!

In Eighth Place,

Crystal Lamb
for
The Brown, Brown Boots On The Cold, Cold Floor

Congratulations, Crystal, on your creatively written, suspenseful story that was just right for young readers! You get to pick your prize after Keatley!

In Ninth Place,

Tracy Curran
for
The Skeleton Creep

Congratulations, Tracy! We really enjoyed your playful story with its clever punchline! 😊  You get to pick a prize after Crystal…!

In Tenth Place

“Boo Darkling” (Roo Parkin)
for
Hola Halloween!

Congratulations, Roo, on your sun-loving skeleton and your wonderful inclusion of Day of the Dead!  You get to prize pick after Tracy!    

In Eleventh Place

Sarah Hawklyn
for
Halloween Surprise 

Congratulations, Sandy, we loved your little Jojo, disappointed by COVID but still able to celebrate Halloween after all! 😊  You get to pick a prize after Roo.    

In Twelfth Place

Marla Yablon
for
Trick Or Treat  

Congratulations, Marla, on a delightfully creepy story!  Eek! 😊  You get to pick your prize after Sarah!    

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

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

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause, a confetti parade, and a truckload of  leftover fun-sized chocolate. . . if there is any 😊

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

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

Assuming you guys are up for it – and you’d better let me know in the comments!!! – the 10th 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 a few days before Thanksgiving, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise! 😊 although yikes that’s just around the corner!) 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 Monday everyone, (or actually, I guess by the time most of you read this it will be Tuesday!) and thanks again for making the Halloweensie Contest such a wonderful time for all! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penny Klostermann Cooked-Up Fairy Tale 2c5b9-dragon2bcover

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

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

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

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

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

Picture Picture Picture6

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

  Kirsti Call

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

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

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

Heather Gale

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

Keila Dawson

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

MPBM

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

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

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

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

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

Jerry shelley-kinder_orig

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

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

 

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

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

The 10TH Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!

Halloweensie Pumpkin

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words skeleton, creep, and mask.  Your story can be scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 325 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. skeletons, creepy/crept, masked/unmasked, whathaveyou 🙂  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 Saturday October 31st by 11:59 PM Eastern Time and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Tuesday Debut, Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below (please include your byline if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight so I can identify you.)  If you have difficulty posting in the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post it for you.  Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the topNO ATTACHMENTS!  And please do not submit entries in more than one place because it becomes confusing.

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

Judging criteria will be as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penny Klostermann Cooked-Up Fairy Tale 2c5b9-dragon2bcover

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

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

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

Lydia Lukidis        No Bears Allowed

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

Picture Picture Picture6

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

  Kirsti Call

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

Ellen Leventhal       Don't Eat The Bluebonnets

Hayfest     Lola Can't Leap

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

Heather Gale

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

Keila Dawson

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

MPBM

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

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

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

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

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

Jerry shelley-kinder_orig

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t wait to read all of your entries!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 3 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the google form below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – just go along the list of links, click on them, and enjoy the stories! 

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 😊  🎃

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

Doin’ The Skeleton Dance! Announcing The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

Howdy, Folks!

I know it’s Thursday and not a usual posting day, but sometimes there just isn’t room for everything in the normal course of our weekly schedule.

This is one of those times.

And what is it we must make time for, you may wonder?

Well, I’ll tell you.

I feel it is imperative that we shake our booty. . .

. . . to the tune of

Your leg bone connected to your knee bone
Your knee bone connected to your thigh bone
Your thigh bone connected to your hip bone
Doin’ the Skeleton Dance!

etc… 😊 ☠️

It is a well known fact that a little dancing sparks creativity!

(And if that isn’t well known. . . or a fact. . . it should be! 😊)

I believe, under the circumstances, that the Hokey Pokey would also be an excellent choice, given that body parts get shaken around in that one too 😊

Any dance will do, however, because all that matters is that your creativity gets fired up as we (I’m using the Royal We here) announce the rules for. . .

Th10TH Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!

halloweensie-pumpkin

~ for children’s writers ~

(Holy Caped Crusaders, Batman! I just have to interject here! Can you believe this is the 10th year of Halloweensie? The TENTH???!!! ZOWEE!)

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words skeleton, creep, and mask.  Your story can be scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 325 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. skeletons, creepy/crept, masked/unmasked, whathaveyou 🙂  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined 🙂 )

Post: your story on your blog between 12:00 AM Eastern Time Thursday October 29th and Saturday October 31st by 11:59 PM Eastern Time and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my special October 29th post.  There will be no Tuesday Debut, Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of my October 29th post once it’s up (please include your byline if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight so I can identify you.)  If you have difficulty posting in the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post it for you.  Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the topNO ATTACHMENTS!  And please do not submit entries before the start of the contest!

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

Judging criteria will be as follows:

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

The Prizes:  SO AMAZING! What a generous community we have to donate so much awesomeness!!! 😊
(and I’m still working on this part of the post so it’s incomplete and will be updated with links and photos and more prizes!)

Get Your MS in TipTop Shape With Vivian Kirkfield!

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

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

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

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

Picture Book MS Critiques from
Carrie Finison
Lydia Lukidis
Teresa Robeson
Kirstine Call
Ellen Leventhal
Heather Gale

Signed book and 15 Minute “Ask Me Anything” Video Chat with Keila Dawson

Either A Signed Copy of ROCK AND ROLL WOODS (PB) or an ARC of SPIRITS AMONG US (MG) from author Sherry Howard

A signed copy of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE by Gabi Snyder

2 Picture Books donated by Darshana Khiani

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

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

I can’t wait to read them!!! 😊

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – Week 7!

My goodness!

How time flies!

Can you believe we’re on the last week of our little challenge already?  I’ve been having so much fun and enjoying all your creativity so much that it seems like we just started!

I want to apologize for getting a little behind with the updating and commenting.  A family situation came up and I’m not having much time to work.  But I promise I’ll sort it all out eventually, and I appreciate your patience in the meantime! 😊

This is the last week, so if you want to be eligible for the prize drawing (so many AMAZING prizes!!!) be sure to have all 7 of your entries posted in the comment section of the correct post (links to each week below) by Saturday June 27th at midnight!  I’ll announce the randomly drawn prize winners next Monday – June 29th.

Now! Let’s jump into Week 7!

Mix 'n' Match Mini Writing Challenge

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun during this bizarre stay-at-home spring!

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

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

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

To add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

To add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

To add your Week #4 entry, please go HERE (Week #4)

To add your Week #5 entry, please go HERE (Week #5)

To add your Week #6 entry, please fo HERE (Week #6)

 

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #7 for Week of June 22:

So far we’ve played with characters, setting, and emotion (or a combination, depending on where your random choosing landed you), with nursery rhymes and point of view, with a picture prompt, fun names, and a plot point, with fairy tales taking place in a new setting, with “How To”, and with getting into the young child mindset with only/always/never statements!  This week, for our final challenge, we’re going to do Summer Superheroes! 😊

Choose a superpower from Column A and an object/item from Column B and write a 100 word story for kids about a character of your choosing – boy scout, unicorn princess, sweet potato. . .  – anything goes 😊 that has, or meets someone with, the super power and includes the object.

Column A – Super Powers Column B – Objects/Items
Time travel Sand pail
Invisibility S’mores
Mind reading Picnic or barbecue
Xray vision Popsicle
Breathe underwater Pool float
Supersonic speed Goggles
Superhuman strength Shark or mermaid
Elasticty The Sun
Flight Camp Songs

You can write about Lily and Ben going on a picnic and meeting up with an invisible squirrel who is making off with their peanut butter sandwiches, or a time-traveling cave cricket who resolves an inter-cabin dispute at Camp Uggahmuggah by gathering all the kids around a fire and teaching them fun camp songs, or a Super Kid with xray vision whose powers are compromised at a crucial moment by ultraviolet swim goggles. . .  or anything else that inspires you!

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a super power or object/item that is not on the list you can use that instead – as long as you write a story as outlined above – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please be sure to put the super power and object/item you chose at the top of your entry along with your name and word count.

 

I’m not sure I’m going to have time for my little just for fun sample this week,  but if I can, I’ll add it in here! 😊

 

 

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

Remember, this is the last week, so if you want to be eligible for the prize drawing be sure to have all 7 of your entries posted in the comment section of the correct post (links to each week above) by Saturday June 27th at midnight.  I’ll announce the randomly drawn prize winners next Monday – June 29th.

Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

(And if you need to motivate yourself scroll down to see all the amazing prizes you could win!!! 😊)

 

Check out the Week #7 stories!

Time Travel Freezing Power – Dawn Young (time travel, freezing power, popsicle)

Marty The Fly – Sue Lancaster (time travel, the sun)

Princess Supersonic Speed – Sara Ackerman (supersonic speed, popsicle)

Popsicles At Sunset – Matthew Lasley (popsicle)

Endless Freeze – Brenda Whitehead (time travel, popsicle)

Mia Flying Heart Girl – Lily Erlic (flight, hearts)

Supersonic Speed S’Mores – Jamie Bechtelheimer

Elasticity And Goggles – Ugo Anidi

When The Baby’s Allowed To Wish – Colleen Murphy (super size)

Untitled – Dot Anson (invisibility, popsicle)

Ed’s New Pair Of Sneakers – Jess Murray (superhuman speed, popsicle)

Marlene And The Fish – Patricia Nozell (breathe underwater, goggles)

The Crab And The Sun – Candice Conner (flight, the sun)

Soother – Mary Van Beuren (elasticity, electric guitar)

Limerick For Week 7 – Marty (superhuman strength, picnic)

Blaze – Rose Cappelli (invisibility, s’mores)

Untitled – Kay DiVerde (invisibility, popsicle)

The Sweet Smell Of Friendship – Jill Lambert (invisibility, s’mores)

Mind Reader – Rebecca Gardyn Levington (mind reading, goggles)

Lunch Lady – Susan Inez (elasticity, picnic)

Shark Breath – Deb Buschman (breathe underwater, shark)

Dr. Whooo – Susan Schipper (time travel, goggles)

A Melodious Picnic – Deb Sullivan (mind reading, camp songs)

X-Ray Birthday – Genevieve Petrillo (X-Ray vision, popsicle, goggles)

Saving Mermaid Arie – Cindy Boyll (breathe underwater, mermaid, goggles)

Rocks Rule – Amy Flynn (superhuman strength, pail)

Singing For His Supper – Penny Adler (elasticity, campfire songs)

Rocco Raccoon – Ashley Congdon (x-ray vision, goggles)

Fire Focus – Leslie Denkers (lights fires, a surprise, s’mores, bbq grill, popsicles)

Limerick #2 for Week 7 – Marty (supersonic speed, s’mores)

Lindy’s Flight Fright – Sarah Meade (flight)

Fish Camp Rocks – Katie Schwartz (breathe underwater, camp songs)

Dig It Up Jay – Michelle S. Kennedy (superhuman strength, sand pail, mermaid)

Untitled – Alicia Meyers Kelly (invisibility, goggles)

Untitled – Linda Schueler (time travel, popsicle)

Goggles The Supercow – Tracy(goggles)

True Blue – Corine Timmer

Week 7 Limerick – Liz Kehrli (flight, the moon)

Week 7 – Ketan Ram (X-ray vision, goggles)

The Super Babysitter – Mia Geiger (elastic, super)

Pudgy The Hero – Barbara Renner (superhuman strength, the sun)

Untitled – Heather Hatch (mind reading, picnic)

Sneaky Drake – Kristy Roser Nuttall (invisibility, s’mores)

All Bread Is Created Equal – Susan Krevat (time travel, s’mores)

 

 

PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin, award-winning author of so many fabulous books I don’t have space to list them all! Visit her website or Amazon Page!

For Spacious Skies

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Kirstine Erekson Call, author of THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN’T FALL (Character Publishing 2013) and the forthcoming MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD (Little Bee Books, September 2020), COW SAYS MEOW (HMH March 2021), and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown Spring 2021)

Kirsti Call Mootilda

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

Ellen Leventhal Lola Can't Leap

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lindsay Hanson Metcalf, author of BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST (September 2020), FARMERS UNITE!: PLANTING A PROTEST FOR FAIR PRICES (Calkins Creek November 2020), and NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge September 2020)

Lindsay+H.+Metcalf+(CREDIT+ANNA+JACKSON)+copy Beatric Potter

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non rhyming) from Kaye Baillie, author of BOO LOVES BOOKS (New Frontier Publishing October 2020), and MESSAGE IN A SOCK (Midnight Sun Publishing 2018)

kaye-baillie-author-headshot Boo Loves Books message-in-a-sock-cover-1_2

Your choice of EITHER a Picture Book Manuscript Critique or a Virtual Visit with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican 2015), and NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge September 2020)

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 1.51.59 PM King Cake baby Keila No Voice Too Small

 

Winner’s Choice of Webinar from the amazing Alayne Kay Christian, author of picture books Butterfly Kisses, An Old Man And His Penguin, and the forthcoming The Weed That Woke Christmas and the chapter book series of Sienna The Cowgirl Fairy, and editor at Blue Whale Press!  Webinar choices include: How A Picture Book Is Made, Perfecting Your Critique, Top Ten Reasons For Rejection, and How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro!

Alayne butterfly kisses An Old Man and His Penguin

 

15 Minute Video Chat – ask your questions about writing, research, submissions – whatever’s on your mind! –  with Christy Mihaly, author of DIET FOR A CHANGING PLANET: Food for Thought(Twenty-first Century Books/Lerner 2018), HEY, HEY, HAY!
A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them (Holiday House 2018) , and FREE FOR YOU AND ME: What Our First Amendment Means (Albert Whitman March 2020)

Chris closeup Free For You And Me HEY, HEY, HAY! Cover

Quick Impressions on your Picture Book Manuscript from Rosie Pova, author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork 2017), the forthcoming SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing March 2021) and others.

Rosie Pova Sunday Rain

RONAN THE LIBRARIAN, (Roaring Brook Press April 2020) brand new fromfabulous author Tara Luebbe

Ronan

Your Choice of EITHER A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, non-rhyming) or an Ask Anything 15 Minute Video or Phone Chat with Tara Luebbe, author of  SHARK NATE-O,(Little Bee Books 2018), I AM FAMOUS ( Albert Whitman 2018), I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019), OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019), and RONAN THE LIBRARIAN (Roaring Brook Press 2020) (see above)

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O

Sherry Howard, author of Rock And Roll Woods (Spork 2018) and a series of Nonfiction Middle Grade titles for Escape Publishing (2019)

Sherry Howard (4) Cover Rock and Roll Woods

Sherry Howard MG NF Books

is offering 6 of her nonfiction middle grade titles which will go to 6 lucky winners!

Ann Whitford Paul, author of Writing Picture Books (being donated by Becky Scharnhorst below), the book we ALL use as our picture book bible 😊, and countless wonderful picture books, is offering signed copies of her IF ANIMALS… Series (Farrar Straus Giroux):

Ann Whitford Paul

If Animals Went To School                     If Animals Kissed Good Night

If Animals Went To School (2019)         If Animals Kissed Good Night (2008)

If Animals Said I Love You                     If Animals Celebrated Christmas

If Animals Said I Love You (2017)        If Animals Celebrated Christmas (2018)

If you would like to benefit from her picture book wisdom, please sign up for her newsletter HERE!

A hand lettered quote of someone’s choice from a picture book,  or a quote about reading or writing that could be framed as a gift for a child’s bedroom, a writer you know and love, or an inspiration for writing in your own work space (why shouldn’t you give yourself a present?!) offered by Kristy Roser Nuttall! (Samples below – you can choose your own quote!)

Kristy Nuttall 20200512_092224 20200512_091604

Making Picture Book Magic – Self Study Class any month (x3)

MPBM

Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, donated by Becky Scharnhorst whose debut picture book P.S. Camp Wildwood Stinks will be released in Summer 2021 from Philomel!

Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication by [Ann Whitford Paul]

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert donated by Becky Scharnhorst whose debut picture book P.S. Camp Wildwood Stinks will be released in Summer 2021 from Philomel!

Big Magic

The Nuts & Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman (only available for Kindle) (x2)

The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by [Linda Ashman]

Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

 

The Story Book Knight by Helen Docherty

storybook knight

This Book Is Gray by Lindsay Ward

This Book Is Gray

Story Cubes

Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.23.08 PM

Writing Journal (x10)

5358C071-383B-4EF4-ADFD-353F737E23E5_1_201_a

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – Week 6!

Good morning, my friends!

It’s Monday!
It’s Monday!
That means it’s writing fun-day!
Grab a pen
and come join in!
We’ll all be published one-day! 😊

I made up that song just for you!  You can sing it to “It’s raining, it’s pouring!” hehehe 😊 It can be like our fight song 😊 Rah! Rah! Rah!

Now let’s jump in to Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Week 6!

Mix 'n' Match Mini Writing Challenge

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun during this bizarre stay-at-home spring!

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

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

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

To add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

To add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

To add your Week #4 entry, please go HERE (Week #4)

To add your Week #5 entry, please go HERE (Week #5)

 

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #6 for Week of June 15:

So far we’ve played with characters, setting, and emotion (or a combination, depending on where your random choosing landed you), with nursery rhymes and point of view, with a picture prompt, fun names, and a plot point, with fairy tales taking place in a new setting, and with “How To” 😊  This week we’re going to get right into the young child mindset! Behavior and choices tell us a lot about personality and character!

Begin with:

I (or Name) only/always eat  __________!
(first or third person, present or past tense – either is fine)

OR

I (or Name) never eat __________!
(first or third person, present or past tense – either is fine)

and choose a Simile from Column A, a Food from Column B, and/or a position from Column C to fill in the blank!

Column A – simile Column B – food Column C – position
Like a pig Peanut butter (or nut-free alternative 😊) Upside down
Like a bird Things that are orange On the floor
Like a horse Things that are square In his/her treehouse

So your story might begin:

I always eat in my treehouse!

or

Dumpling never ate like a pig!

or

Zoe only ate things that were orange, and she only ate them on the floor!

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by another simile, food, or position that is not on the list you can use that instead – as long as you write a story as outlined above – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please be sure to put the simile, food, and/or position you chose at the top of your entry along with your name and word count.

 

Here is my little just for fun sample 😊

Just Like Mom (27 words – can you believe it? from ME?!)
position – upside down

Smidge always ate upside down.
A choice that made other folks frown.
But his mom only smiled
At her bottoms-up child.
“Monkey see, monkey do,” she’d expound!

Okay 😊 I took a few liberties using “expound”! 😊  I’d better leave the limericks to Marty, who has done one every week of the challenge so far!

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

Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

(And if you need to motivate yourself scroll down to see all the amazing prizes you could win!!! 😊)

 

Check out the Week #6 stories!

(apologies for the delays in updating this week – family situation)

I Only Eat Like A Llama – Jamie Bechtelheimer (only, like a llama)

Marigold Eats Orange – Candice Marley Conner (only, things that are orange)

Eating With Gigi – Dawn Young (only, things that begin with P, treehouse)

Neater Eater – Cupcake The Dog (never, like a pig)

Polly’s Peanut Butter Passion – Patricia Nozell (only, peanut butter)

Drip Drop Plop – Brenda Whitehead (only, way up high, on the floor)

Doodle Dot – Cindy Boyll (like Minnie Mouse, dots, everywhere)

Charlie’s Cheesy Choices – Deb Buschman (like a cow, cheese, in the barn)

Lulu – Rose Cappelli (always, foods that begin with L)

Untitled – Colleen Murphy (never, in the stable)

Penny Never Ate Upside Down – Barbara Renner (never, upside down)

Geometric Eating – Deb Sullivan (only, foods that are square)

Ralphie Eats Like A Bird On The Floor – Ashley Congdon (always, like a bird, on the floor)

I Do NOT Eat Like A Bird – Sue Lancaster (like a bird, in my treehouse)

Annabelle Always Eats Chips – Susan Inez (always, like a pig, upside down, treehouse)

King Frederick The Square – Matthew Lasley (only, foods that are square)

Like A Bird – Dot Anson (only, foods that start with C, like a bird)

Limerick For Week 6 – Marty (only, foods that are square)

Milo Slurps – Sarah Meade (only, through a straw)

Stop And Roll – Linda Schueler (foods that are square)

There Was A Young Lass – Jill Lambert (never, like a pig, orange, upside down)

Dahlia’s Dilemma – Leslie Denkers (only)

A Bird Like Petunia – Michelle S. Kennedy (always, like a bird, seeds, on the floor)

Untitled – Kay DiVerde (like a bunny, things that are orange, on the floor)

Meredith, Meal Time Scientist – Sara Ackerman (always, like a scientist)

Untitled – Shariffa Keshavjee (always, like a bird)

Seafood Diet? – Rebecca Gardyn Levington (only, seafood)

I Only Ever Eat Things Beginning With C – Tracy (only, things beginning with C)

Tink Eats Like A Bird – Mary Van Beuren

Peter Liked To Eat Like A Pig – Lily Erlic

I Always Eat Summer – Kristy Roser Nuttall (always, summer)

I Always Eat upside Down – Corine Timmer

Follow The Rules! – Penny Adler (never, like a pig)

Henrietta – Susan Schipper (like a bird, things that are round, upside down)

You Are Invited – Di Litwer (pig, orange things, treehouse)

No To Purple Food – Bev Baird

Try It In Reverse – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (treehouse)

Gabi The Dog Eats Carrots – Susan Krevat

Santa And His Beans – Two Limericks – Liz Kehrli

I Only Eat Things That Are Square – Ugo Anidi

Jim? JIM! – Jess Murray (always, like a bird)

Carl Eats Like A Pig – Amy Flynn

I Only Eat Things That Are Square – Alicia Meyers Kelly

Oakley Only Eats Quirky Food – Katie Schwartz

Afternoon Snack – Mia Geiger (eat, bird)

Upside Down Blu Eats Things That Are Orange – Ketan Ram

Jay The Bird Boy – Lauri Meyers (like a bird)

Untitled – Heather Hatch (only, peanut butter)

 

PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin, award-winning author of so many fabulous books I don’t have space to list them all! Visit her website or Amazon Page!

For Spacious Skies

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Kirstine Erekson Call, author of THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN’T FALL (Character Publishing 2013) and the forthcoming MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD (Little Bee Books, September 2020), COW SAYS MEOW (HMH March 2021), and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown Spring 2021)

Kirsti Call Mootilda

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

Ellen Leventhal Lola Can't Leap

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lindsay Hanson Metcalf, author of BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST (September 2020), FARMERS UNITE!: PLANTING A PROTEST FOR FAIR PRICES (Calkins Creek November 2020), and NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge September 2020)

Lindsay+H.+Metcalf+(CREDIT+ANNA+JACKSON)+copy Beatric Potter

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non rhyming) from Kaye Baillie, author of BOO LOVES BOOKS (New Frontier Publishing October 2020), and MESSAGE IN A SOCK (Midnight Sun Publishing 2018)

kaye-baillie-author-headshot Boo Loves Books message-in-a-sock-cover-1_2

Your choice of EITHER a Picture Book Manuscript Critique or a Virtual Visit with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican 2015), and NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge September 2020)

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 1.51.59 PM King Cake baby Keila No Voice Too Small

 

Winner’s Choice of Webinar from the amazing Alayne Kay Christian, author of picture books Butterfly Kisses, An Old Man And His Penguin, and the forthcoming The Weed That Woke Christmas and the chapter book series of Sienna The Cowgirl Fairy, and editor at Blue Whale Press!  Webinar choices include: How A Picture Book Is Made, Perfecting Your Critique, Top Ten Reasons For Rejection, and How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro!

Alayne butterfly kisses An Old Man and His Penguin

 

15 Minute Video Chat – ask your questions about writing, research, submissions – whatever’s on your mind! –  with Christy Mihaly, author of DIET FOR A CHANGING PLANET: Food for Thought(Twenty-first Century Books/Lerner 2018), HEY, HEY, HAY!
A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them (Holiday House 2018) , and FREE FOR YOU AND ME: What Our First Amendment Means (Albert Whitman March 2020)

Chris closeup Free For You And Me HEY, HEY, HAY! Cover

Quick Impressions on your Picture Book Manuscript from Rosie Pova, author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork 2017), the forthcoming SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing March 2021) and others.

Rosie Pova Sunday Rain

RONAN THE LIBRARIAN, (Roaring Brook Press April 2020) brand new fromfabulous author Tara Luebbe

Ronan

Your Choice of EITHER A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, non-rhyming) or an Ask Anything 15 Minute Video or Phone Chat with Tara Luebbe, author of  SHARK NATE-O,(Little Bee Books 2018), I AM FAMOUS ( Albert Whitman 2018), I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019), OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019), and RONAN THE LIBRARIAN (Roaring Brook Press 2020) (see above)

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O

Sherry Howard, author of Rock And Roll Woods (Spork 2018) and a series of Nonfiction Middle Grade titles for Escape Publishing (2019)

Sherry Howard (4) Cover Rock and Roll Woods

Sherry Howard MG NF Books

is offering 6 of her nonfiction middle grade titles which will go to 6 lucky winners!

Ann Whitford Paul, author of Writing Picture Books (being donated by Becky Scharnhorst below), the book we ALL use as our picture book bible 😊, and countless wonderful picture books, is offering signed copies of her IF ANIMALS… Series (Farrar Straus Giroux):

Ann Whitford Paul

If Animals Went To School                     If Animals Kissed Good Night

If Animals Went To School (2019)         If Animals Kissed Good Night (2008)

If Animals Said I Love You                     If Animals Celebrated Christmas

If Animals Said I Love You (2017)        If Animals Celebrated Christmas (2018)

If you would like to benefit from her picture book wisdom, please sign up for her newsletter HERE!

A hand lettered quote of someone’s choice from a picture book,  or a quote about reading or writing that could be framed as a gift for a child’s bedroom, a writer you know and love, or an inspiration for writing in your own work space (why shouldn’t you give yourself a present?!) offered by Kristy Roser Nuttall! (Samples below – you can choose your own quote!)

Kristy Nuttall 20200512_092224 20200512_091604

Making Picture Book Magic – Self Study Class any month (x3)

MPBM

Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, donated by Becky Scharnhorst whose debut picture book P.S. Camp Wildwood Stinks will be released in Summer 2021 from Philomel!

Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication by [Ann Whitford Paul]

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert donated by Becky Scharnhorst whose debut picture book P.S. Camp Wildwood Stinks will be released in Summer 2021 from Philomel!

Big Magic

The Nuts & Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman (only available for Kindle) (x2)

The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by [Linda Ashman]

Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

 

The Story Book Knight by Helen Docherty

storybook knight

This Book Is Gray by Lindsay Ward

This Book Is Gray

Story Cubes

Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.23.08 PM

Writing Journal (x10)

5358C071-383B-4EF4-ADFD-353F737E23E5_1_201_a

Scythe by Neal Shusterman