The 2022 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

Gather ‘round, my friends.

Plump up your pillows.

Burrow into your blankets.

Wrap your hands around a gently steaming mug of sweet hot chocolate.

All comfy and cozy?

Lovely! It’s time for a heartwarming story.

Are you ready?

Let’s begin.

It’s called. . .

Suszelda And Stupid Stupid Optimum

On a dark and stormy night, Suszelda composed furiously by witchlight.

“I’ve a deadline to meet
but this weather’s no TREAT!” she fumed.

Rain lashed. Lightning slashed. Wind howled.

Normally, wild was Suszelda’s favorite weather, but tonight it had sent the mystical power she required to meet her deadline SLITHERING away into the darkness from whence it refused to return.

“Get back here and do your job!” Suszelda shrilled.

But Optimum, recalcitrant snake that it was, stayed sulkily silent.

“You’ll be sorry,” Suszelda shrieked. “Christmas is just around the corner and there will be nothing but Figgy Pudding in your stocking!”

But Optimum would not be threatened and remained annoyingly absent.

“If you come back I’ll give you a pony,” Suszelda sweetly promised.

But Optimum was too clever to take the word of an angry witch.

So Suszelda did the only thing she could.

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she screamed at her high-pitched witchly worst.

And Optimum was scared into submission.

Which is how this post is finally going up! Late, but at long last!

(Because yes, my internet was down from mid-afternoon yesterday until this morning due to a storm!)

But now it is finally time for Suszelda’s big announcement!

Get ready for the. . .

2022 12th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!

As you are all well aware, we had another great turnout this year. So many wonderful stories!  For me (and I hope for you!), Halloween is far better with a towering stack of Halloweensie stories to read by witchlight (as long as our friend Optimum is feeling cooperative 😊)

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!)

Helen Lai for Halloween Nightmare  (fabulous rhyme with a great ending)

Marla Yablon for The Follower (fabulous rhyme, delightfully creepy!)

Melissa Chupp for A Batty Halloween (cute, kid-friendly and funny with a funny ending)

Marianna Sacra for Going As Myself (brave self-acceptance)

Mia Geiger for Truck-or-Treat (kid-friendly truck Halloween with a clever ending)

Sharon Dalgliesh for Little Vampire’s First Halloween (nice play on We’re Going On A Bear Hunt)

Sue Lancaster  for Moldy Mayhem (fabulous rhyme, clever premise, delightfully gross)

Mary Ann Cortez for My Teacher Is A Creature (kids aren’t the only ones who can’t handle sweets!)

Judy Caldwell Hughes for Portia Pumpkin Proclaims (an education in pumpkins with poetic use of language)

2. For Great Humor:

Lisa Lowe Stauffer for Tricky Treats (poor, unappreciated peppermints! 😊)

Abigail Mumford for How To Trick-or-Treat If You’re A Snake (nice how-to format, low doorbells indeed 😊)

Kira Barrett for Snake’s Stealthy Solution (tribulations of snake trick-or-treating 😊)

Keatley Eastman for Costume Crisis (when going naked is scarier than most costumes 😊)

3. For Spookiest/Creepy Entry:

Amy Chini for Something Wriggling This Way Comes (so spookily told!)

Trista Herring Baughman for Enter If You Dare (creepy with a shivery ending)

Jessica Milo for Samira’s Potion (a creepy read for 9-12s)

Susan Twiggs for My Dreadfully Dangerous Walk (suspenseful, great tension)

Liz Kehrli for Candi Corn (a Halloween scare for 7s and 8s)

4. For Great Read For Younger Readers:

JC Kelly for Costume Not Required (Little Bat is already ready for Halloween)

Laura Seely-Pollack for Trick Or Treat (nice spook for younger readers)

Annette Bethers for Dad’s First Trick Or Treat (nice twist on who’s helping who)

5. For Creatively Different:

Sarah Hetu for Sense The Way (Halloween with a cane and a service dog)

CJ Penko for The Spiderweb House (a clever way to win Scariest House)

6. For Very Punny 😊:

David Cobb for Costume Drama

7. For Great Use of Language:

Royal Baysinger for Apparition Preparation For A Scary Halloween

Russell Wolff for The Rattlesloth

Kathleen Mazurowski for What Did You See?


8. For Creatively Informative:

Heather Kinser for On Snail-O-Ween (snails)

Corine Timmer for Get Your Glow On (undersea creatures)

Brittany Richman for Jackie Saves Halloween (Jacqueline Kennedy true story)

Helen Ishmurzin for Scarecrows Of Halloween (history of scarecrows)

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com or use the handy contact form in the menu bar above, 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 it 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 banner to stream off the back of your broomstick for all the world to marvel at 😊

A word about the prizes before I announce the winners.

We have 14 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 WINNERS OF THE 2022 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…

Lori Sheroan

for

Sapling’s Halloween

Congratulations, Lori! What an absolutely lovely story, well written and very original! We loved it!

In Second Place,

Daniella Kaufman

for

Halloween Night Light

Congratulations, Daniella! Your story was so beautifully written from the very original POV of the candle inside a pumpkin. You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Lori chooses!

In Third Place,

Anne Weaver
 for
Candy Night

Congratulations, Anne! You hit the nail on the head for 9-12s and delivered a perfect and surprising last line! You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Lori and Daniella choose!

In Fourth Place,

Kristen Littlefield
for
Halloween Is Magic

Congratulations, Kristen! You made us laugh out loud! 😊 You get to pick a prize after Lori, Daniella, and Anne!

In Fifth Place,

Christina Shawn
for
The Sweetest Treat

Congratulations, Christina! You spooked us to the core! You get to pick your prize after Lori, Daniella, Anne, and Kristen!

In Sixth Place,

Jennifer Lowe
for
A Shady Halloween

Congratulations, Jennifer! Not only did you manage to work an eclipse into a Halloween story (points for originality), you taught us a little something while you were at it! You get to pick your prize after Lori, Daniella, Anne, Kristen, and Christina!

In Seventh Place,

Ashley Sierra
for
Trick-orTreat, Shoes To Eat

Congratulations, Ashley! You told a fun story from the POV of a dog that showed us how all the little party-goers were costumed! You get to pick your prize after Jennifer!

In Eighth Place,

Heather Kinser
for
Rainforest Halloween

Congratulations, Heather! You’ve gotta love a chameleon who scares himself 😊 Funny story, and points for unusual Halloween setting. You get to pick your prize after Ashley!

In Ninth Place,

Elenore Byrne
for
Scary Goat Scam

Congratulations, Elenore! You made us laugh! Points for unexpected characters in a Halloween story. Isn’t it just like a goat to like the bag even more than the candy! You get to pick a prize after Heather!

In Tenth Place

Anne Lipton
for
The Frightful Fugitive

Congratulations, Anne!  You delighted us with just the right amount of spook grossness 😊 Very well written! You get to prize pick after Elenore!    

In Eleventh Place

Jen Subra
for
SSSSSScary!

Congratulations, Jen!  Your funny, kid-friendly story was cleverly told with a promise for scares that made us laugh instead at your snake dressed as a ghost in a sock! You get to pick a prize after Anne!    

In Twelfth Place

Deborah Foster
for
Midnight Snack

Congratulations, Deborah! Fantastic job at misleading us and delivering a surprise ending! Well done! You get to pick your prize after Jen!

In Thirteenth Place

Angela Calabrese
for
A Martian’s Halloween

Congratulations, Angela! Such a sweet story of kindness, and what a clever last line! You get to pick your prize after Deborah!

In Fourteenth Place

Pat Finnegan
for
Pumpkin’s Pride

Congratulations, Pat! You wrote a kid-friendly, entertaining, Halloween-y story that also taught us something about pumpkins! You get to pick your prize after Angela!

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 or use the handy contact form in the menu above 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 badge to celebrate your accomplishment, you are most welcome to one! Since everyone’s prize depends on everyone else’s choices, please get in touch as soon as you can.

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 now, you can gear up for the 2022 12th Annual Holiday Contest which opens December 9th!

Woo-hoo!  Jingle all the way! 😊

And here are

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

⭐️ Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course – Renee LaTulippe Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, 2024) and has poems published in many anthologies including No World Too BigNight WishesSchool People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of USOne Minute Till BedtimePoems Are TeachersThankU: Poems of Gratitude, and A World Full of Poems.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Rosie Pova author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork, April 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork, September 2017), SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing, March 2021), THE SCHOOL OF FAILURE: A STORY ABOUT SUCCESS (Yehoo Press, May 2022), and for Middle Grade readers, HAILEY QUEEN PRANKING MAKES PERFECT: THE ALIEN ENCOUNTER (Spork, April 2017) Rosie does a lot of school visits and presentations, should that happen to be of interest for your Ask Me Anything.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming preferred) with Andrea Denish, author of EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE (Astra Young Readers, March 2020), and THE WAY WE SAY HELLO forthcoming from Starry Forest Books February 7, 2023

⭐️ Picture Book Critique (non-rhyming) with Becky Scharnhorst, author of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Flamingo Books, July 2021) and THIS FIELD TRIP STINKS! (Flamingo Books, August 2022)

⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.

Writer, librarian, bookseller, blogger Kathy Halsey

⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat (anything relating to writing/publishing) with Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017) as well as the forthcoming SPIDER LADY: Nan Songer and Her Arachnid WWII Army (Astra/Calkins Creek 2025) and another as yet unannounced 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.

Developmental Editor, Lou Piccolo

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique PLUS Zoom Chat with Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) with Kelly Conroy whose poems have been published in 5 anthologies (10.10, wee words for wee ones, October 2021; BETTER THAN STARBUCKS, January 2022; THINGS WE EAT, Pomelo Books, March 2022; THINGS WE FEEL, Pomelo Books, July 2022; WHAT IS A FRIEND, Pomelo Books, October 2022) and also the author of a rhyming board book due out in 2025.

⭐️ 30 Minute Picture Book Zoom Critique Session with Lynne Marie

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),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!)

⭐️ 20 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI (Versify, June 2021), I’M AN AMERICAN (Viking Books for Young Readers, May 2023), and THE BOYS OF KOH PANYEE (coming Fall 2023)

⭐️ Rate Your Story Speed Pass from Lynne Marie

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, recommending their books for school and library purchases, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

The 12th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!

Hi Everyone. Posting of finalists is delayed. I’m not exactly sure when they’ll be up, but it will be as soon as possible. Likely another week.

Eye of newt and dragon fang! It’s time for . . .

The 12th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

~ 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 word count) using the words slither, treat, and scare.

  • Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words. Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • You may use the words in any form i.e. slithery (yes, it’s a word, we looked it up 😊), treated, scary, etc, etc, whathaveyou 😊
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!

POST: your story in the comment section of the Official Contest Post (that’s this one!)( between Right NOW this very second! and 11:59PM Eastern Monday October 31st (So you have 3 full days to post – today, tomorrow, and Monday.)

  • For those of you who would also like to post on your blogs, please feel free to do so! You are welcome to include the link to your blog with your entry in the comment section of the Official Contest Post so that people can come visit your blog, but all entries must be posted in the comment section of THIS Post between right now and Monday October 31st at 11:59PM Eastern.
  • 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 Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title, byline (that means who the story is by – you! – so for example, By Jane Doe) and word count at the top NO ATTACHMENTS! and please do not submit any entries before the official opening of the contest at 12:01 AM Saturday October 29th. They will not be accepted.
  • I know how hard you all work on your entries, and how anxious you are to get them posted, but please try to be a little patient if your entry doesn’t show up immediately. Many comments have to be manually approved, and it sometimes takes me a little while to post entries that come in by email. I promise I will get to everything as soon as I can. I try never to leave my desk during contests, but sometimes it’s unavoidable 😊

THE JUDGING: over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will read and re-read and narrow down the entries to a finalist field of about 12 which will be posted here for you to vote on I hope by Saturday November 5th (though if the judging takes longer than expected it might be a little later – we will do our best! But fair warning I have two school visits that week and a long drive Friday.) The winners will be announced Tuesday November 8th (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. Use of all 3 required words and whether you came it at 100 words or less.
  • 4. 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.
  • 5. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  • 6. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 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: So amazing! What wonderful, generous people we have in our kidlit community! Just wait til you see what you can win!

⭐️ Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course – Renee LaTulippe Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, 2024) and has poems published in many anthologies including No World Too BigNight WishesSchool People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of USOne Minute Till BedtimePoems Are TeachersThankU: Poems of Gratitude, and A World Full of Poems.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Rosie Pova author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork, April 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork, September 2017), SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing, March 2021), THE SCHOOL OF FAILURE: A STORY ABOUT SUCCESS (Yehoo Press, May 2022), and for Middle Grade readers, HAILEY QUEEN PRANKING MAKES PERFECT: THE ALIEN ENCOUNTER (Spork, April 2017) Rosie does a lot of school visits and presentations, should that happen to be of interest for your Ask Me Anything.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming preferred) with Andrea Denish, author of EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE (Astra Young Readers, March 2020), and THE WAY WE SAY HELLO forthcoming from Starry Forest Books February 7, 2023

⭐️ Picture Book Critique (non-rhyming) with Becky Scharnhorst, author of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Flamingo Books, July 2021) and THIS FIELD TRIP STINKS! (Flamingo Books, August 2022)

⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.

Writer, librarian, bookseller, blogger Kathy Halsey

⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat (anything relating to writing/publishing) with Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017) as well as the forthcoming SPIDER LADY: Nan Songer and Her Arachnid WWII Army (Astra/Calkins Creek 2025) and another as yet unannounced 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.

Developmental Editor, Lou Piccolo

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique PLUS Zoom Chat with Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) with Kelly Conroy whose poems have been published in 5 anthologies (10.10, wee words for wee ones, October 2021; BETTER THAN STARBUCKS, January 2022; THINGS WE EAT, Pomelo Books, March 2022; THINGS WE FEEL, Pomelo Books, July 2022; WHAT IS A FRIEND, Pomelo Books, October 2022) and also the author of a rhyming board book due out in 2025.

⭐️ 30 Minute Picture Book Zoom Critique Session with Lynne Marie

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),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!)

⭐️ 20 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI (Versify, June 2021), I’M AN AMERICAN (Viking Books for Young Readers, May 2023), and THE BOYS OF KOH PANYEE (coming Fall 2023)

⭐️ Rate Your Story Speed Pass from Lynne Marie

And maybe I’ll have some extra picture books to add in here and there to sweeten the pie. . . 😊

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, recommending their books for school and library purchases, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Happy Writing! Happy Reading! And Happy Halloween!

For those of you having trouble commenting, I apologize for the fact that my site is apparently very temperamental! I can suggest the following: if you’re trying to post comments from a phone or tablet, try a computer – sometimes it works better than way. Chrome seems to work better with this site than some of the other browsers, although one dedicated individual, determined to be able to comment, has reported that she finally managed with Microsoft Edge. Thank you for trying – it’s so important for all of you to get to hear from each other!

Now, let the Halloweensie begin!

The 239 entries listed below are linked to where they appear in the comments so you can click on the titles and get right to them! (Assuming WordPress cooperates . . . fingers crossed!) Anyone who feels kind can start at the bottom of the list so those entries get some comments too! 🎃 😊

  1. Apparition Preparation For A Scary Halloween – Royal Baysinger
  2. Attack Of The Zornaks – Royal Baysinger
  3. Down In the Halloween Cave – Royal Baysinger
  4. Sisters – Sara Kruger
  5. Halloween Nightmare – Helen Lai
  6. The Follower – Marla Yablon
  7. A Frightfully Fun Time – Susan E. Schipper
  8. The Halloween Dream Team – Jenna Elyse Johnson
  9. Skeleton Sam Settles The Score – Jennifer Cowan
  10. Slug Slime – Vashti Verbowski
  11. Ghost Recipes – Julia Pierre Hammond
  12. Rainforest Halloween – Heather Kinser
  13. On Snail-O-Ween – Heather Kinser
  14. The Frightful Fugitive – Anne Lipton
  15. Little Witchy – Elizabeth Myer zu Heringdorf
  16. Get Your Glow On – Corine Timmer
  17. Sally The Slug Has A Sweet Tooth – Eleanor Ann Peterson
  18. In The Middle Of A Snack – Bridget Magee
  19. Coming Around – Emily Durant
  20. Piper’s Pickle – Colleen Murphy
  21. Safe From Scares – Sarah Meade
  22. Claudia Maude Clickerticker’s Costume Shop – Sarah Meade
  23. What Do Witches Eat? – Kelly Clasen
  24. Ghouldilocks And The Three Shares – Claire Blumenfeld
  25. Closer – Reed Hilton-Eddy
  26. SSSSSScary – Jen Subra
  27. A Shady Halloween – Jennifer Lowe
  28. Help! – Elizabeth James
  29. Arabella’s Halloween Treat – Colleen Fogarty
  30. Trick Or Treat? – Corine Timmer
  31. The Coolest Halloween Costume – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  32. Green Goulash Stew – Claudine Pullen
  33. The House With The Good Candy – Vanessa Konoval
  34. The House Creatures’ Halloween – Lauri Meyers
  35. When Good Luck Struck – Molly Ippolito
  36. The Haunted House Halloween Challenge – Marty Bellis
  37. Demon On The Line – Laura Polasek
  38. The Spooky Halloween Parade – Janet Krauthamer
  39. Mrs. Cleary’s Cats – Susan Eyerman
  40. A Halloween Twist – Cheryl Simon
  41. Wilhelmina The Witch – Ashlee MacCallum
  42. Halloween Hater – Blaire Moore
  43. The Halloween Bake-Off – Rose Cappelli
  44. Trick-Or-Treat, Shoes To Eat – Ashley Sierra
  45. Tricks Before Treats – Danielle S. Hammelef
  46. Happy Halloween – Stephanie R. Mena
  47. A Batty Halloween – Melissa Chupp
  48. Who Whispers In The Dark? – Erika Romero
  49. Interview With The Vampire – Helen Lai
  50. Slug Life – Kim Wagner Nolan
  51. Sapling’s Halloween – Lori Sheroan
  52. Nothing Scared Alicia Bones – Christine Evans
  53. The Mask – Su Ko
  54. DON’T FLUSH YOUR GOLDFISH DOWN THE TOILET OR HE WILL COME BACK TO GET YOU ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT – Sue Ko
  55. Going As Myself – Marianna Sacra
  56. Halloween Snack – Debra Daugherty
  57. Halloween-ing – Lori Himmel
  58. Something Wriggling This Way Comes – Amy Chini
  59. Edgar Allen Crow – Kathleen Jacobs
  60. Queen Slug’s Halloween – Kelsey E. Gross
  61. Pull Of The Moon – Darla Christie
  62. There’s One In Every Class – Linda Staszak
  63. Snollooween – Katie McEnaney
  64. A (little) STEM Halloween – Jilanne Hoffman
  65. Trick For Treat – Linda Starszak
  66. Mattie, The Scaredy Tabby Cat – Janet Parkinson Bryce
  67. Nothing Scares Me – Karen Condit
  68. ‘Twas Halloween Night – Sharon Coffey
  69. A Hotdog Halloween Hullabaloo – Sharon Coffey
  70. Their Trick, My Treat – Carol Van Gorp
  71. Interview With The Vampire – Helen Lai
  72. Halloween Night Light – Daniella Kaufman
  73. Do Goblins Gobble? – Sally Yorke-Viney
  74. Witchy-licious Stew – Charlotte Dixon
  75. The Ghouliest Ghouls – Marta Cutler
  76. The Scariest Bear – Marta Cutler
  77. Halloween Is Different This Year – S.S. Lee
  78. The Rattlesloth – Russell Wolff
  79. The Eyes Have It – Marta Cutler
  80. A Scare Affair – Lori C. Evans
  81. Halloween Haul – Stephanie Maksymiw
  82. Halloween Is Magic – Kristen Littlefield
  83. Command Performance – Jamie Donahoe
  84. Zombie In The House – Isabel Rodriguez
  85. A Wise Disguise – Jill Purtee
  86. Truck-Or-Treat – Mia Geiger
  87. The Halloween Dare – Marty Findley
  88. Witch’s Brew – Marty Findley
  89. A Halloween Tail – Katie Lee Reinert
  90. Creepy People – Sharon McCarthy
  91. Happy Halloween – Elaine D’Alessandro
  92. Scared Sssssilly – Julie Lerczak
  93. A Spooky House – Gail Hartman
  94. A Halloween Smile – Tonnye Fletcher
  95. A Scary Dare – Mona Pease
  96. Stop Your Bellyaching Soup, A Jump Rope Song – Debbie Meneses
  97. A Spell Of Transformation – Meagan T. Gentry
  98. First Flight – Paul Kurtz
  99. I Scare You, You Scare Me – Paul Kurtz
  100. Spiders vs. Snakes – Linda Schueler
  101. Pot Of The Witch – Reed Ambrose
  102. Snake In The Grass – Judy Sobanski
  103. Beware Or Be Scared – Norah Colvin
  104. Bat’s First Halloween – no author listed
  105. Children Of The Bog – Melissa Miles
  106. In Through My Window – Eric Sondergeld
  107. A Squishy Scare – Stephanie Henson
  108. The Last House – Janet Smart
  109. Jack-O-Lantern – Darcee A. Freier
  110. Beak-A-Boo! – Jill Lambert
  111. Jackie Saves Halloween – Brittany Richman
  112. The Treat – S. E. Cottrill
  113. Little Vampire’s First Halloween – Sharon Dalgleish
  114. Franny Fruit Bat’s Friendly Halloween – Amy LaMae Brewer
  115. Chicken’s First Halloween – Emma Hay
  116. Moldy Mayhem – Sue Lancaster
  117. Sea Monster – Patricia Nozell
  118. A Halloween Lullaby – Brigid Finucane
  119. Tricky Treats – Lisa Lowe Stauffer
  120. KA-RUNCH! – Donna Kurtz
  121. Scary-Fairy – Donna Kurtz
  122. Halloween Hop – Carole Gerber
  123. Halloween Treat – Krista Legge
  124. Sara’s Hairy Halloween – Jesse Anna Bornemann
  125. Scary Goat Scam – Elenore Byrne
  126. Goulentine – Michelle S. Kennedy
  127. My Teacher Is A Creature – Mary Ann Cortez
  128. The Haunted House – Karen Morgan
  129. Trick or Treat: A Forest Halloween – Sarah Marhevsky
  130. Shadows Come Crawling – Marlee Fuller-Morris
  131. Slithering Snake – Deborah Hunt
  132. Jack-oh-no! – Pollu Mendoza
  133. Jack’s Lament – Steve Jankousky
  134. Sense The Way – Sarah Hetu
  135. A Costume For Sandy The Snake – Susan R. Waide
  136. Slither and Hiss: Trick or Treat? – Cathrene Youngquist
  137. Pumpkin Jack – Jennifer Weingardt
  138. The Peanut Butter Cup Song – Hannah Roy LaGrone
  139. Gregory’s First Halloween – Morgan Lau
  140. Scary Treats – Ken Major
  141. Super Scary Sausages – Chris James
  142. Midnight Snack – Deborah Foster
  143. How To Trick-or-Treat If You’re A Snake – Abigail Mumford
  144. Scarecrows Of Halloween – Helen Ishmurzin
  145. Sneaky Snake – Jan Suhr
  146. Who’s There? – Dawn Renee Young
  147. Space Rangers And Skeletons – Cynthia Mackey
  148. A Halloween For Willard – Krista Harrington
  149. On Halloween Night – Amanda Flinn
  150. Early Worm’s Halloween Birthday Wish – Curtis King
  151. Sweetie The Parrot – Barbara DiMarco
  152. The Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest – Laura Straut
  153. Boo – Jean Martin
  154. Pete The Smallest Pumpkin – Tiffany Hanson
  155. Candy Corn’s Revenge – Tiffany Hanson
  156. A Martian’s Halloween – Angela Calabrese
  157. Candy Monster – Patricia MacMillan
  158. Igor’s First Halloween – Danna Zeiger
  159. You Can’t Scare Me – Danna Zeiger
  160. Pumpkin, Skeleton, Wolverine – Brenna Jeanneret
  161. Tricky Treats – Ashley Sutphen Delaney
  162. Little Sister Saves The Night – Laurie Kaiser
  163. The Sweetest Treat – Christina Shawn
  164. All Hallows’ Eve – Sasha Sirisena-Green
  165. Pumpkin Cat’s Turn – Bru Benson
  166. Frankenslug – Ryann Jones
  167. The Costume – Nina Nolan
  168. The Best Halloween Ever – Dianne Borowski
  169. Tricked – Geraldine V. Oades-Sese
  170. Trista’s Treat Or Trick? – Krissy Massey
  171. The Scariest Costume Of All – Abby N. Wooldridge
  172. Halloween is the BEST, but. . . – Andi Chitty
  173. It’s A Tricky Afterlife – Katie Schwartz
  174. Spider’s Halloween – Cassy Clarcq
  175. Slimon’s Halloween – Imelda Taylor
  176. The Zombie Flop – Liz Kehrli
  177. Melanie Monster – Lindsey LeBlanc
  178. Switch Witch Swap – Julie Fruitticher Schroeder
  179. S-S-Selma – Nancy Forbis-Stokes
  180. A Halloween Adventure – Gregory E. Bray
  181. Enter If You Dare – Trista Herring Baughman
  182. Snake’s Sweet Treats – Nadia Ali
  183. Costume Crisis – Keatley Eastman
  184. Tricked By The Treats – Elizabeth Muster
  185. Halloween Friend – Thelia Hutchinson
  186. My Dreadfully Dangerous Walk – Susan Twiggs
  187. Slither, Treat, Scare: A Halloween Story – Lynn Greenway
  188. I’m Not That Scared – Allison Gray
  189. The Halloween Prize – Mary Rudzinski
  190. Portia Pumpkin Proclaims – Judy Caldwell Hughes
  191. Pookie The Pomeranian’s Halloween Wish – Stephanie Jackson
  192. Boo The Ghost Gets Beaten – Stephanie Jackson
  193. Costume Drama – David Cobb
  194. Slither Spook – Jessica Milo
  195. Samira’s Potion – Jessica Milo
  196. Sabrina Squirrel Does Not Scare Easily – Liz Gill
  197. Snake’s Stealthy Solution – Kira Barrett
  198. What Did You See? – Kathleen Mazurowski
  199. Father Knows Best – Janice Kay
  200. The Costume – Amy Duchene
  201. Trick Or Treat – Laura Seely-Pollack
  202. Many Happy Resquirms – Diana Webb
  203. Theodore Turkey’s Halloween Hunt – Mary-Catherine Amadu
  204. Ghost Finds His Groove – Cindy Greene
  205. Weird Halloween Treats – Una Belle Townsend
  206. The Jabberwocks Of Halloween – Jenny Bowman
  207. Sooner And Sooner Every Year! – Stephanie Henson
  208. A Slimy Halloween: Halloweenie Competition – Erin Buhr
  209. Candy Night – Anne Weaver
  210. Growing Candy Apples – Hannah Roy LaGrone
  211. Sister’s First Halloween Night – Linda Hofke
  212. Calling All Campers to the Camp Spooky Halloween Campfire – Jamie Rodarte
  213. A Pumpkin Named Rattlesnake Pete – Pat Finnegan
  214. Pumpkin Pride – Pat Finnegan
  215. Gardenia Ghost – Katie Walsh
  216. I Am Always a Cat – Amanda Littlefield
  217. Scaredy Snake – Kathy Hill Crable
  218. Classroom Costume Conundrum – Cynthia Reeg
  219. A Beckoning Spell – Les Degnan
  220. Halloween Eve – Tarsia Rhyne
  221. Which Witch Will Win? – Lucretia Schafroth
  222. The Spider Web House – CJ Penko
  223. The Monster of Barlow’s Bakery – Jill Burns
  224. A Candy Break For Mongoose And Snake – Katie Schwartz
  225. Kid Cobra’s Halloween – Denise Seidman
  226. Costume Not Required – JC Kelly
  227. Lucinda Blackletter – Karen Pickrell
  228. Candi Corn – Liz Kehrli
  229. Glass Lizard Halloween – Maria Marshall
  230. Scaredy Cat And The Haunted Hunt – Samantha Cora Christian Haas
  231. Graduation Night – Naz Alibhai
  232. New Friends – Sarah Hawklyn
  233. Sam Wasn’t Afraid – T. May LeGrys
  234. Black Cats Get A Bad Rap – Colleen Dougherty
  235. Dad’s First Trick or Treat – Annette Bethers
  236. Skeletons Need Teddy Bears Too – Sharon Jackson
  237. Sam And Dusty Trick Or Treat – Julianna Helt
  238. Lost – Brenda Covert
  239. The Snakertons – Emily Holewczynski

Goblins And Ghosties And Ghouls, Oh, My! – Announcing The Guidelines For The 12th Annual Halloweensie Contest!

Holy Jack-O’-Lanterns, Batman!

Can you actually believe that this year is Halloweensie number 12?!

And are you ready? 😊🎃

Well, of course you’re not ready, because I haven’t told you the rules yet!

You’ve got 2 weeks and 5 days to write, eat miniature chocolate bars, revise, eat more miniature chocolate bars, polish, eat some candy corn (ooh, that was a surprise!) and take a little snooze before it’s time to submit your entry!

So get ready. . .

. . .get set. . .

Here are the guidelines for. . .

The 12th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

~ 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 word count) using the words slither, treat, and scare.

  • Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words. Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • You may use the words in any form i.e. slithery (yes, it’s a word, we looked it up 😊), treated, scary, etc, etc, whathaveyou 😊
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!

POST: your story in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12:01 AM Eastern Saturday October 29th (the day the official contest post will go up here) and 11:59PM Eastern Monday October 31st (So you have 3 full days to post – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.)

  • For those of you who would also like to post on your blogs, please feel free to do so! You are welcome to include the link to your blog with your entry in the comment section of the Official Contest Post so that people can come visit your blog, but all entries must be posted in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12:01 AM Eastern Saturday October 29th and Monday October 31st at 11:59PM Eastern.
  • 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 Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title, byline (that means who the story is by – you! – so for example, By Jane Doe) and word count at the top NO ATTACHMENTS! and please do not submit any entries before the official opening of the contest at 12:01 AM Saturday October 29th. They will not be accepted.
  • I know how hard you all work on your entries, and how anxious you are to get them posted, but please try to be a little patient if your entry doesn’t show up immediately. Many comments have to be manually approved, and it sometimes takes me a little while to post entries that come in by email. I promise I will get to everything as soon as I can. I try never to leave my desk during contests, but sometimes it’s unavoidable 😊

THE JUDGING: over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will read and re-read and narrow down the entries to a finalist field of about 12 which will be posted here for you to vote on I hope by Saturday November 5th (though if the judging takes longer than expected it might be a little later – we will do our best! But fair warning I have two school visits that week and a long drive Friday.) The winners will be announced Tuesday November 8th (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. Use of all 3 required words and whether you came it at 100 words or less.
  • 4. 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.
  • 5. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  • 6. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 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: So amazing! What wonderful, generous people we have in our kidlit community! Just wait til you see what you can win! (I’m still juggling the list, so in the interest of getting this posted I’m merely going to generalize the prizes right now – I will add details ASAP!)

⭐️ Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course – Renee LaTulippe Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, 2024) and has poems published in many anthologies including No World Too BigNight WishesSchool People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of USOne Minute Till BedtimePoems Are TeachersThankU: Poems of Gratitude, and A World Full of Poems.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Rosie Pova author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork, April 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork, September 2017), SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing, March 2021), THE SCHOOL OF FAILURE: A STORY ABOUT SUCCESS (Yehoo Press, May 2022), and for Middle Grade readers, HAILEY QUEEN PRANKING MAKES PERFECT: THE ALIEN ENCOUNTER (Spork, April 2017) Rosie does a lot of school visits and presentations, should that happen to be of interest for your Ask Me Anything.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming preferred) with Andrea Denish, author of EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE (Astra Young Readers, March 2020), and THE WAY WE SAY HELLO forthcoming from Starry Forest Books February 7, 2023

⭐️ Picture Book Critique (non-rhyming) with Becky Scharnhorst, author of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Flamingo Books, July 2021) and THIS FIELD TRIP STINKS! (Flamingo Books, August 2022)

⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.

Writer, librarian, bookseller, blogger Kathy Halsey

⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat (anything relating to writing/publishing) with Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017) as well as the forthcoming SPIDER LADY: Nan Songer and Her Arachnid WWII Army (Astra/Calkins Creek 2025) and another as yet unannounced 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.

Developmental Editor, Lou Piccolo

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique PLUS Zoom Chat with Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) with Kelly Conroy whose poems have been published in 5 anthologies (10.10, wee words for wee ones, October 2021; BETTER THAN STARBUCKS, January 2022; THINGS WE EAT, Pomelo Books, March 2022; THINGS WE FEEL, Pomelo Books, July 2022; WHAT IS A FRIEND, Pomelo Books, October 2022) and also the author of a rhyming board book due out in 2025.

⭐️ 30 Minute Picture Book Zoom Critique Session with Lynne Marie

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),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!)

⭐️ 20 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI (Versify, June 2021), I’M AN AMERICAN (Viking Books for Young Readers, May 2023), and THE BOYS OF KOH PANYEE (coming Fall 2023)

⭐️ Rate Your Story Speed Pass from Lynne Marie

And maybe I’ll have some extra picture books to add in here and there to sweeten the pie. . . 😊

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, recommending their books for school and library purchases, and 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! Put on your pointy black thinking cap (you know, to get in that Halloween mood 🧙🏿‍♀️ 😊!)  And write those prize-winning stories!!!

I can’t wait to read them!!! 😊

Ho! Ho! Ho! The 11th Annual Holiday Contest Is HERE!!!

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

It’s time for . . .

The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

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

Your contest can be anything you want! Baking, wrapping, decorating (tree or home), raising money or collecting gifts for those in need, ice skating, sledding, caroling, fancy dress, snowman or fort building. . . sky’s the limit! But it must be about a holiday contest!

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 Thursday December 9th at 11:59 PM EST, and must be posted below in the comment section of this post. All entries should include a title, byline (people always ask what this is – it means who the entry was written by, so, by Suzy Q. Writer or whoever 😊) and word count. You are welcome to also post your entries on your own blogs and include your blog address with your entry here if you’d like to encourage people to come visit your blog, but your entry must be posted in the comment section of this post or it will not be counted because we won’t see it. This post will 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 everyone will have plenty of time to visit and enjoy.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email your entry to me and I will post it for you. Please copy and paste your entry with word count and byline into the body of the email NO ATTACHMENTS please.

The Judging: My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 12 finalists.  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 Tuesday December 14th for you to vote on for a winner.  (But it almost always seems to end up taking us longer. . . so it might be a day or two later.) The vote will be closed on Thursday December 16th at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to twelfth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Friday 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 Contest! – the rules state a Holiday Contest story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about a contest that in some way relates to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, or whatever seasonal winter holiday you choose.  The story must center on the contest  – the contest 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. Please proofread!
  • 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!: Oh! Such wonderful prizes! All I can say is, how lucky are we to be part of such a talented and generous community that offers such amazing prizes!

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! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique/Zoom Chat (Non-rhyming) from children’s author Janie Reinart, author of WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN (Blue Whale Press, 2021)!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.

Developmental Editor, Lou Piccolo

⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.

Writer, librarian, bookseller, blogger Kathy Halsey

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, fiction only) from children’s author Shelley Kinder! Shelley is the author of NOT SO SCARY JERRY (Spork 2017), THE MASTERPIECE (Spork 2018) and GOD AND ME AND THE SEA (Kregel Children’s Books, May 17, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (written) PLUS 15 minute Zoom Chat (no nonfiction) from Cindy Williams Schrauben author of THIS COULD BE YOU (Cardinal Rule Press, April 1, 2022)!

⭐️ Zoom Visit to a classroom or to kids at home by children’s author Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)

Author, Ellen Leventhal

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Heather Gale, author of HO’ONANI: HULA WARRIOR (Tundra Books, 2019) which was one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids 2019, one of the Ontario Library Association’s 2019 Top Ten Titles, Featured on the 2020 Rainbow Book List, Featured on the 2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, and received a Booklist Starred Review!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Maria Marshall! Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature fun for children. She’s a judge for the Cybils Awards and the #50PreciousWords competition. Four of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. The Picture Book Buzz  Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Maria Marshall

⭐️ A Reversible Handmade Christmas Stocking or Other Winter or Holiday-Themed Gift Bag from Karen Gebbia PLUS a Personalized Signed Copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY by Nancy Derey Riley to fill it!

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of either QUEEN OF PHYSICS:How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Children’s Books 2019) or TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING (Albert Whitman 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Teresa Robeson

PLUS!!!

a Personalized Signed Copy of either LISTEN (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2021) or TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE (Harry N. Abrams 2020) (Winner’s Choice!) by Gabi Snyder

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⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE: Queen Charlotte’s Gift to England (Albert Whitman 2018) by Nancy Churnin PLUS a Digital Copy of THE STAR IN THE CHRISTMAS PLAY (Beaming Books 2018) by Lynne Marie

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel July 2021) by Becky Scharnhorst PLUS a Kindle or Audiobook Copy of either FUNNY JIMMY (AuthorHouse 2011) or THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF RIDDLES (Avid Readers Publishing Group 2011) (Winner’s Choice!) by Vanessa Rose Lee

⭐️ Winner’s Choice of 2 of the following 4 picture books, kindly donated by Dee Knabb!

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 you MUST post your entry in the comment section below and include title, byline, and word count.

Eager Readers – just go along the list of links below, click on them (they’ll take you directly to whichever story you click on), and enjoy the stories!

So let the Holiday Contest begin!

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

I can’t wait to read your entries!!!

THE ENTRIES!

  1. It Takes A Forest – Lucretia Schafroth
  2. The Kelpie Challenge – Bonnie Kelso
  3. The Cookies Of Holiday Hollow – Royal Baysinger
  4. Elf Off The Shelf – Anne Lipton
  5. The Trolls: A Winter Tale – Royal Baysinger
  6. Upon A Winter Solstice – Royal Baysinger
  7. So You Think You Can Prance – Amy Leskowski
  8. The Festive Flying Race – Nicola Beach
  9. Birdie’s Song – Beth Stillborn
  10. The Holiday Homework – Sue Lancaster
  11. How Tiny Won A Seat On Santa’s Sleigh – Elizabeth Westra
  12. The Claus’ Candy Cane Contest – Susan Schipper
  13. He Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good – Colleen Murphy
  14. Olive, The Other Reindeer – Lindsay Moretti
  15. Go Green For Christmas – Margaret Zotkiewicz
  16. Tree Number Nine – Lindsey Hobson
  17. Christmas Boots – P.J. Purtee
  18. Ellarose’s Sweater – Marta Cutler
  19. A Fourth Grader’s Poster Problem – Jennifer Vose
  20. A Buggie Tradition – Kay Inglis
  21. Kendy And The Solstice Solo Show – Sarah Meade
  22. Elsie And The Christmas Comedy Contest – Sarah Meade
  23. The Better Elf On The Shelf – Molly Ippolito
  24. Ernie And The Science Fair – Deborah Foster
  25. Mr. Tweedy’s Christmas Trees – Colleen Fogarty
  26. Best Wrapped Surprise – Sara Dean
  27. Christmas Eve Ride Along Contest – Dawn Young
  28. The Christmas Tree Contest – Dorothy K. Kohrherr
  29. Alfredo Learns The Secret Of Greatness – Joan Leotta
  30. The Pretty Ugly Sweater – Pamela Swanson
  31. Jamie’s Holiday Surprise – Diana Sussman
  32. Katie’s Snow Creation – Marty B.
  33. The Tasty Treat Christmas Contest – Katie Brandyberry
  34. Santa’s Secret Contest – Linda Staszak
  35. Phoebe’s Snowperson – Kelly Clasen
  36. THAT’S Not A Christmas Cookie! – Vanessa Konoval
  37. Candy Pies – Sharon McCarthy
  38. Solstice Skaters – Allison Strick
  39. The Best Gift Ever – Pen Avey
  40. The Most Christmassy House – Jen MacGregor
  41. Candy Caribou – Steena Hernandez
  42. A Christmas Pickle Story – Daniella Kaufman-Schloss
  43. Shining Star – Sarah Hawklyn
  44. Grumpy Snow Pants – Stephanie Maksymiw
  45. The Best Reading Contest Of Winter, 1959 – Beth Schmelzer
  46. Playground Games – Colleen Dougherty
  47. Simply The Best – Nicole Loos Miller
  48. Bear’s Christmas Cookie – Marta Cutler
  49. Happy Everything! – Laura Barens
  50. Dancing With The Elves – Jill Lambert
  51. A Creature Was Stirring – Judy Sobanski
  52. The Monster On Christmas Eve – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
  53. What Christmas Means To Me – Marty Findley
  54. A Miscalculation – Emily Durant
  55. Lily And The Winter Festival – Karen J Moore
  56. 2021 Monkey Merry Xmas – Shariffa Keshavjee
  57. The Ginger Friend House – Kelly Swemba
  58. Gingerbread House Extravaganza – Elaine D’Alessandro
  59. Parol: This Little Star Of Mine – Lynn Grace Wong
  60. Christmas Song – YauMei Chiang
  61. Reindeer Games – Tiffany Hanson
  62. The Cookie Contest Caper – Kelsey E. Gross
  63. The Clean-Out-The-Clutter Contest – Sarah Demarest Guthrie
  64. The Contest – Amanda Sherlock
  65. Asher’s Chanukiah – Dina Silverberg
  66. Best Hanukkah Ever! – Paul Kurtz
  67. Cinder-Latke – Paul Kurtz
  68. Bunny Claus – Donna Kurtz
  69. Jangle Shells – Donna Kurtz
  70. Spin – Cheryl Simon
  71. Fantastical Fairytown Christmas Snowflake Contest – Ellen Crosby
  72. The Winning Recipe – Judy Abelove Shemtob
  73. The Greatest Display Of All – Barbara Kimmel
  74. Sparky’s Wish – Ingrid Boydston
  75. The Night After Christmas – Abby N. Wooldridge
  76. The Claus’s Hawaiian Vacation – C. S. Boyll
  77. Gifts For Grandma – Cindy Sommer
  78. Keep Christmas Coming – Jeannette Suhr
  79. The Most Special Ornament – Timothy Hicks
  80. Santa’s Workshop Winners – Polly Owen
  81. Elfie Selfie Contest – Stephanie Henson
  82. The Great Holiday Bake Off – Jamie Donahoe
  83. Laughing All The Way – Sarah Hetu
  84. A Sack Full Of Presents – Patricia Nozell
  85. Fairy Tale Houses – Jim Chaize
  86. Christmas…By A Nose – Jesse Anna Bornemann
  87. Reindeer Sing…Are You Listening? – Katie Schwartz
  88. Christmas Carrots – Vashti Verbowski
  89. Being Santa Lucia – Cindy Greene
  90. Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin – Who Will Win? – Stephanie Wildman
  91. ANDRÉS BLUE RIBBON – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  92. The Chubby Bunny Champion – Alicia Meyers
  93. Up And Away! – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  94. Christmas Isn’t – Ingrid Boydston
  95. The Christmas Pirate – Julianna Kurtz
  96. Maryam’s Happy Persian Christmas – Shadi Kafi
  97. The Most Beautiful Snowflake Of All – Cassie Silva
  98. Fire And Ice – Jyn Hall
  99. The Santa Spectacle – Mary Cathering Amadu
  100. A Jarring Contest – Bru Benson
  101. Everything – Sandhya Acharya
  102. Similarity Despite Diversity – Eva Felder
  103. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Becky Goodman
  104. Solstice Wars! – Phoebe Browning
  105. Gingerbread Surprise – JC Kelly
  106. Squirrels Christmas – Charlotte Boyer
  107. The Holiday Contest – Denise Seidman
  108. The Witch’s Gingerbread House – Lauri Meyers
  109. Elf Rivalry – Michelle S. Kennedy
  110. Dream Big, Little Pip! – Sally Yorke-Viney
  111. An Extraordinary Elf – Becky Kimbrough
  112. Jasmine Jingletoes And The Christmas Stocking Contest – Brenda Covert
  113. Let There Be (MORE!) Lights – Judy Carey Nevin
  114. Laughing All The Way – Samantha Gassman

2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #7!

Can you believe it?

We’ve arrived at Week #7!

The last week of the 2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

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 which continues to grow!)

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

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

To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

To read the Week #3 entries or add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

To read the Week #4 entries or add your Week #4 entry, please go HERE (Week #4)

To read the Week #5 entries or add your Week #5 entry, please go HERE (Week #5)

To read the Week #6 entries of add your Week #6 entry, please go HERE (Week #6)

Before we get to today’s challenge, one little housekeeping detail:

If you want to qualify for the prize drawing, you must have completed an entry for each of the 7 weeks and posted them on the appropriate week’s post by Saturday June 26th at midnight Eastern time in order to qualify, so that I can post the winners on Monday June 28th! So take note of that deadline – all 7 completed and posted by Saturday June 26th at midnight!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #7 for Week of June 21:

So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, a picture prompt with random words and a secret, turning songs into stories with themes, concept stories in particular settings, and relationships and emotions between characters! 😊 This week, since it’s the last week, it seems fitting that we do something with endings.

But not just anything. . . 😊

Endings do not exist in a vacuum. In order for endings to feel satisfying – make readers, laugh, cry, gasp with amazed delight, or sigh with satisfaction – the ending must feel connected to the beginning.

So. This week, choose a beginning from Column A and an ending from Column B and write a 100 word story for kids that fits between them using a tidbit of onomatopoeia from Column C if you want to (just for fun 😊).

Column A – BeginningsColumn B – EndingsColumn C – Onomatopoeia (optional)
Once upon a time…And that is why she/he tucked it very carefully into her/his pocket.splish, splash, sploosh
When [Character Name] woke up, a thunderstorm was brewing.  “OH, NO!” (or, “HURRAY!”)Then he/she snuggled close and whispered with a smile, “I love you more than marshmallows.”kackata-kack-krack-POP!
It all began when the mermaid’s tail got caught on the handle of [Character Name]’s umbrella.Never let an alligator get in the way of your plans!plink-plank-plunk
She/he wasn’t always a bad piggy.So he/she/they rushed back out of the woods shout-singing Ain’t No Bugs On Us until he/she/they was/were really, truly, sure it was true!slurrrp
There was a sloth who lived all alone.[Character Name] knew summer was here at last!buzzz bzzz-bzzz
[Character Name] was all ready for the beach!Aunt Ruby was right.  It had been a better day!splop
We’re finally on our way! We’re having the best time ever! Until…Inch by inch, step by step, they made it all the way to the tippy top.chirp
Holly, Molly, Ollie, Wally, and Little Boo packed a picnic and set out in search of adventure.And so he/she/they did.bee-beep
On the Fourth of July, Max went into hiding.And they lived happily ever after.murmur
[Character Name] had a problem with watermelon.Shushshush, the waves whispered. Shushshush.hissss

  • 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 just a guideline.
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a beginning or ending or some onomatopoeia that isn’t here, go for it! – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing! Please just tell us what you’re using at the top of your entry.
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which column items you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, title, and word count.
  • I have been so enjoying reading all your amazing stories every week – so many different, creative, delightful, entertaining stories! – that I’m sad this is the last hurrah for this year!

    So 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)

    Check Out The Week #7 Stories:

    Beach Baby – Bru Benson

    The Worm’s Halloween Adventure – Marty Findley

    Perfect Piggy – Robin Currie

    Watermelon Woes – Rose Cappelli

    Beach Bound – Sue Lancaster

    The Unexpected Ride – Dawn Young

    Sloth Finds A Friend – Jen Subra

    The Fairy And The Thunderstorm – Erin Cleary

    Will Summer Begin? – Erika Romero

    Max And The Fireworks – Sara Kruger

    Melodia’s “Mis” Adventure – Susan E. Schipper

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    Max And The Alligator – Marta Cutler

    Duck’s Creek – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Sam’s Trouble With Watermelon – Lyn Jekowsky

    Game, Game, Go Away! – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Watermelon Delight – Jeannette Suhr

    The Fear Of Fireworks – Amy Leskowski

    Merchant Pips – Elenore Byrne

    The Very Slow Sloth – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Sloth And The sUAS (Small Unmanned Aircraft System) – Laura Bower

    Why Piggies Have Curly Tails – Jill Lambert

    Dorothy’s Umbrella – Brenna Jeanneret

    Beach Adventure – Ashley Sierra

    Sloth And Bee – Linda Schueler

    Maddy Wants More, More, More – Sarah Meade

    Climbing Up – Marty Findley

    This Little Piggy – Marty Bellis

    Sloth And The Bees In The Tree – Barbara Renner

    Munch Goes The Pirate – Aly Kenna

    Marianna And The Mermaid – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Undersea Soiree – Nicole Loos Miller

    Ella’s Wild Ride – Michelle S. Kennedy

    A S’more By The Fire – Allison Strick

    The Ant Raid – Deb Sullivan

    A Wagonful Of Trouble – Susan Summers

    A Nap And A Watermelon Field – Jana Mattern

    Rules For A Pig-Perfect Life – Joyce Uglow

    Wanted: ESPR – Colleen Own Murphy

    Not So Bad After All – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    Watermelon Problem – Mia Geiger

    A. Sloth Or Not A. Sloth – Katie Schwartz

    Saltwater Kisses – JC Kelly

    Where There’s A Skate There’s A Way – Sarah Hawklyn

    The Prince And His Alligator – Deb Buschman

    The Lonely Sloth – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Tilly’s Mermaid – Dianne Irving

    Untitled – Padgy Soltis

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

    When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete 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, Amazone, 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! 😊

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

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    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

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    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

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    Jen Raudenbush

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from the lovely and talented Sara Kruger!

    Sara Kruger

    ⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

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    ⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

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    ⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

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    ⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

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    ⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner
    

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    ⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

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    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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    ⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

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    ⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

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    ⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

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    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

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    ⭐️A copy of PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA! 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

    ⭐️Picture Book Writers Rock! Mug for the writing fuel of your choice! 😊

    ⭐️Writing Journal (with a side of prompts 😊)

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    2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #6!

    Look at us! Half way through June and up to Week #6 in our Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge! Can you believe you’ve written at least 5 brand new stories so far (I know some of you are writing more than one per week!) with two weeks of inspiration still to go? Who knows how many new picture books might be getting their start during this challenge!

    So let’s fire up the old brain cells and show Week #6 who’s boss!

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

    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 which continues to grow!)

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

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

    To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

    To read the Week #3 entries or add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

    To read the Week #4 entries or add your Week #4 entry, please go HERE (Week #4)

    To read the Week #5 entries or add your Week #5 entry, please go HERE (Week #5)

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #6 for Week of June 14:

    So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, a picture prompt with random words and a secret, turning songs into stories with themes, and concept stories in particular settings! 😊 This week, we’re going to explore the importance of relationships and emotion!

    Picture books are often about relationships – parent/child, sibling, friends/enemies, child/pet, grandparent/child, babysitter/child etc. and those relationships can cause emotions or be affected by emotions.

    Choose a main character from Column A, a second character from Column B, and an emotion from Column C and write a 100-word story for kids where the story centers around the emotion between them.  (For example, 2 friends where one is jealous of the other, or a child who feels angry toward his beloved dog for chewing up his prized baseball glove, or a child who feels nervous about visiting her elderly grandmother who is wrinkly and smells like mothballs but whom she is supposed to love.)  Feel free to make “siblings” a dog and a cat, or “friends” a dinosaur and a goat, etc – you don’t have to stick with all human characters – write monsters, fairies, and aliens if you like 😊

    Column A – Character 1 (MC)Column B – Character 2Column C – Emotion
    RosieGrandma or Grandpa (Gran, Grand Dad, Oma, Poppa, etc)awe (looks up to/hero worship)
    TuckPet (any kind – your choice)jealousy
    MaisieFriendanger
    ChipSibling (older, younger, twin, step)sadness
    BentleyMom or Dad or Stepbetrayal
    EsmeBabysitter (any age or gender)boredom
    EnzoDragonworry, anxiety, nervousness
    XanderDinosaurjoy
    DylanFairy Godmotherlove
    AprilEnemypride
    August/Auggie/Gus  resentment

  • 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 name, relationship or emotion that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – 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 say which relationship and emotion you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.
  • I am ready to be bowled over by your creativity and talent! 

    So 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)

    Check out the Week #6 stories!

    Gus – Robin Currie

    My Sister’s For Sale – Rose Cappelli

    Esme And Enzo, Aquatic Besties – Candice Marley Conner

    Alice And Ollie – Joyce Uglow

    Enzo The Pelican – Lyn Jekowsky

    Tuck And Pops – Marty Findley

    Anna And Granna – Marty Findley

    Mighty Maisy – Jen Subra

    Dance! Dance! – Leslie Degnan

    Gus Gets A Pet Dragon – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Big Dog – Marty Findley

    Chip Goes Blip – Laura Bower

    My Grandpop Can Fix Anything – Susan Schipper

    The Chosen One – Sue Lancaster

    Fire Circle – Sarah Hawklyn

    The Festival – Erika Romero

    I Have A Poem For You – Padgy Soltis

    A Fork In The Road – Jill Lambert

    Birthday Surprise – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    How A Radio Flyer Brought Two Unlikely Friends Together – Erin Cleary

    Maisie And Dana – Sarah Meade

    Dylan Loves His Friend – Barbara Renner

    The Tooth Fairy And The Dragon – Aly Kenna

    Grammy’s Twinkles – Dawn Young

    Date Night Betrayal – Allison Strick

    Maise Marigold Mariah Munder Would Not Let Her Face Go Under – Sara Kruger

    Maisie Astounds – Jeannette Suhr

    Dear Tooth Fairy – Nicole Loos Miller

    Creating Joy – Jeannette Suhr

    I Don’t Need A Babysitter – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    According To My Grandma – Marta Cutler

    Bentley’s Bad Behavior – Susan Summers

    A New Day – Mia Geiger

    Rosie’s Great Gramma Mary Onion – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Maisie’s Big Brother – Marty Bellis

    The Fairy Godmother Problem – Ashley Sierra

    The Most(ly) Boring Babysitter – Amy Leskowski

    Love – Lauren Scott

    Maisie’s Surprise – Deb Sullivan

    Little Dragon Worries – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    The Green Dragon – Marta Cutler

    Betrayed – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Hearts More Like Me – Elenore Byrne

    Little Gus Giraffe Goes To Tokyo – Dianne Irving

    I Hate Puppies – Deb Buschman

    Not The Enzo But A Beginning – Bru Benson

    The Great Escape – Katie Schwartz

    Monster And Alien – Brenna Jeanneret

    Late For School – Again – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Xander And The Dinosaurs – Linda Schueler

    Esme And Rex – JC Kelly

    Enzo’s Fire – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

    When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete 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, Amazone, 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! 😊

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

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is penny-parker-klostermann.jpg

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jennifer-buchet.jpg

    

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jen-raudenbush.jpeg
    Jen Raudenbush

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from the lovely and talented Sara Kruger!

    Sara Kruger

    ⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is becky-scharnhorst-collage.jpeg

    ⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-05-23-at-7.58.46-pm.png

    ⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alayne-kay-christian.jpg

    ⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is writing-irresistible-kidlit.jpg

    ⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner
    

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is squarecover.jpg

    ⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is email-header-final-susanna-hill.png

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a-flood-of-kindness.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is making-their-voices-heard.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2c5b9-dragon2bcover.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sloth-cover.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bindus-bindis.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA! 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

    ⭐️Picture Book Writers Rock! Mug for the writing fuel of your choice! 😊

    2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #5

    It’s a hot, hot Monday in June, so what better way to spend the day then on a cool porch, in a shady hammock, or in the air-conditioned library with an iced beverage, your writing implements, and the prompt for Mix ‘n’ Match Week #5?!

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

    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 which continues to grow!)

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

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

    To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

    To read the Week #3 entries or add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

    To read the Week #4 entries or add your Week #4 entry, please go HERE (Week #4)

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #5 for Week of June 7:

    So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, a picture prompt with random words and a secret, and turning songs into stories with themes! 😊 This week, we’re going to have fun with concepts!

    Kids have a lot to learn about the world, and picture books can be education disguised as entertainment 😊. Think Z IS FOR MOOSE by Kelly Bingham, MOUSE PAINT by Ellen Stoll Walsh, and ROUND IS A TORTILLA by Roseanne Thong.

    For this week’s challenge, choose a concept from Column A and a setting from Column B and write a 100 word concept story for kids in which you utilize the setting to show your concept.

    Column A – ConceptColumn B – Setting
    ShapesHalloween
    ColorsBeach
    Numbers/CountingFarm
    AlphabetSchool
    TimeCar Trip
    Place/Location (in, on, above, under, around, through, etc.)Circus
    EmotionsCity or Country
    SeasonsAmusement Park or County Fair
    WeatherSupermarket
    • 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 concept or a setting that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – 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 say which concept and setting you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

    Can’t wait to see what amazing, creative things you guys come up with this week! 

    So 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)

    Check out the Week #5 stories!

    F Is For Fish Farm – Candice Marley Conner

    The Reason For Seasons (At The Beach) – Laura Bower

    Go To The Beach And Find. . . – Erika Romero

    Circus Countdown – Sue Lancaster

    ABCs Of Abstract Art – Christine Alemshah

    What Color Is Fall? – Jen Subra

    Toucan Counts His Berries – Marty Findley

    Weather Check – Dawn Young

    The Colors In The Farm – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    One Fine Bluebird – Rose Cappelli

    Road Trip! – Erin Cleary

    Wise Willie Wonders Where – Susan Schipper

    On My First Easter Party – Ashley Sierra

    Senses Dance At The Beach – Lyn Jekowsky

    Roller Coaster – Barbara Renner

    Alphabet Road Trip – Aly Kenna

    A Trolley Full Of Feelings – Elenore Byrne

    It’s Time For The State Fair – Joyce Uglow

    They’re Coming! – Jill Lambert

    The Colorful Car Trip – Deb Sullivan

    Are We There Yet? – Marta Cutler

    The Number Line – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Five At The Fair – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Are We There Yet? – Leslie Degnan

    A Win At Walmart – Sara Kruger

    Circus Opposites – Lauren Scott

    Runaway Stroller – Allison Strick

    Ghost Crabs At The Beach – Susan Summers

    Ups And Downs – Jeannette Suhr

    Sleepytime ABCs – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    I’ll Grocery Shop For You – Bru Benson

    Weather Or Not – Marta Cutler

    At the Beach – Marty Bellis

    Counting the Colors of Sunset // Contando los colores del atardecer – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Farm Time – Robin Currie

    Halloween Alphabet – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Alphabet Road Trip – Deb Buschman

    At Grandma’s House – Sarah Meade

    Not The Only One – Amy Leskowski

    Beach Day – Katie Schwartz

    At The Beach – Sarah Hawklyn

    Monday Mornings – Padgy Soltis

    Farm Life – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Seasons Market – Linda Schueler

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Roller Coaster – Nicole Loos Miller

    Ten Little Sea Creatures – Mia Geiger

    Head Down Under And Count To Ten – Dianne Irving

    The Halloween Seasons – Brenna Jeanneret

    “Is It Halloween Yet?” – Ashley B. Pedigo

    I Simply Cannot – JC Kelly

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

    When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete 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, Amazone, 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! 😊

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

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is penny-parker-klostermann.jpg

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jennifer-buchet.jpg

    

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jen-raudenbush.jpeg
    Jen Raudenbush

    ⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is becky-scharnhorst-collage.jpeg

    ⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-05-23-at-7.58.46-pm.png

    ⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alayne-kay-christian.jpg

    ⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is writing-irresistible-kidlit.jpg

    ⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner
    

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is squarecover.jpg

    ⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is email-header-final-susanna-hill.png

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a-flood-of-kindness.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is making-their-voices-heard.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2c5b9-dragon2bcover.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sloth-cover.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bindus-bindis.jpg

    ⭐️ 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

    2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – Week #4

    Good Monday Morning, Everyone!

    I know it’s Memorial Day and many of you are busy with family celebrations, parades, and honoring those who have done so much for all of us.

    But in case you also have the day off and a little free time. . .

    . . .let’s have some Mix ‘n’ Match fun because it’s time for Week #4!

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

    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 which continues to grow!)

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

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

    To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

    To read the Week #3 entries or add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #4 for Week of May 31:

    So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, and a picture prompt with random words and a secret!  This week we’re going to have some musical fun with themes! 😊

    Choose a song from Column A, a theme from Column B, and an important item from Column C (optional.)  Write a 100 word story for kids where your version of the song tells a story that shows your chosen theme (including your important item if you wish!) You may use the original song opening if you like, but you are not required to (just make it obvious in your writing and/or identify which song you’re using along with your title and word count), and if rhyming isn’t your thing you can write in prose as long as it’s still clear which song you’re working with.  You may add or subtract characters (e.g. Bob and Joe rowed their boat gently down the stream), change the destination (e.g. Row, row, row your boat up the mountainside), change the type of action (e.g. Row, row, row your boat wildly down the stream) etc… Anything you like!  Have fun with it! (For examples in kidlit, see Iza Trapani’s extended nursery rhyme songs.)

    Column A – SongColumn B – ThemeColumn C – Important Item (optional)
    Row, Row, Row Your BoatIt’s important to try new thingsNecklace
    The Itsy Bitsy (Eensie Weensie) SpiderEven when you’re bad, you’re still lovedTeddy bear
    Twinkle, Twinkle Little StarIt’s important to stay true to yourselfBlackberries
    Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it isPink Blankie
    The Bear Went Over The MountainIf you work together you can solve a problemStory book
    Here We Go Round The Mulberry BushYou don’t have to be big to stand up for yourselfMap
    It’s Raining, It’s PouringFriends should always stick togetherTractor
    Jack And JillBelieve in yourself and you can achieve your dreamsMoon
    Rock-A-Bye BabyIf you don’t succeed the first time, try againDaisy

    Post your story in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for 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 theme that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – 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 say which song, theme (and important item if you choose to use one) you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

    I am SO looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!  You continue to knock my socks off with your creativity every week!!!

    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)

    Check out the Week #4 stories!

    It’s Raining! It’s Pouring! – Leslie Degnan

    Dreams Inside! – Robin Currie

    Jack And Jill’s New Adventure – Jen Subra

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Charlie’s Search – Rose Cappelli

    Rock A Bye Daisy – Laura Bower

    Arachnid At Your Service – Jill Lambert

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider And The Moon – Erika Romero

    About Our Friends Who Tried To Row A Boat (Perhaps Under A Full Moon?) – Erin Cleary

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    Believe In All You Imagine – Sally Yorke-Viney

    The Itsy Bitsy Puppy – Marty Findley

    All That Glitters Is Not Gold – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    Spunky Little Teddy – Joyce Uglow

    Flap Flap Flap Those Wings – Marty Bellis

    Dress Dress Dress For Rain – Amy Leskowski

    Mark And Grace – Colleen Murphy

    I Love Shopping With My Mom – Sara Kruger

    Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Pet Spider Gone – Aly Kenna

    Where, Oh Where Has My Story Book Gone – Ashley Sierra

    Ninja, Ninja, Little Sneak – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Jack And Jill Revisit Their Hill – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Jo And Flo – Christine Alemshah

    Little Lilly’s Blunder – Elenore Byrne

    Ride, Ride, Ride My Bike – Sue Lancaster

    Friends For Life – Deb Sullivan

    Fireflies – Lyn Jekowsky

    The Rescue – Marta Cutler

    Bear’s Fresh Start – Allison Strick

    Rock A Bye Zombie – Susan Summers

    Rainy Day Problem…Solvers – Susan Schipper

    To Grandmother’s House We Go – Jeannette Suhr

    It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – Dianne Irving

    Tinkle, Tinkle, Potty Stress! – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone? – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Use Your Map – Padgy Soltis

    The Daisy – Barbara Renner

    Oopsy Daisy! – Marta Cutler

    Yummy, Yummy, Little Pie – Nicole Loos Miller

    The Bat Flew Over The Pumpkins – Sarah Meade

    Read A Book – Dawn Young

    Sun And Moon – Dawn Young

    The Itsy Bitsy Scratchy Spider – Bru Benson

    Wait For Me – Candace Kubinec

    Untitled – Sarah Marhevsky

    It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – Sarah Hawklyn

    Don’t Row The Boat Please – Linda Schueler

    How Much Is That Bicycle In The Window – Mia Geiger

    The Itsy Bitsy Tadpoles– Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Rock Star Baby Brother – Katie Schwartz

    Albert Went Over The Mountain – Deb Buschman

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider Is Bored – Brenna Jeanneret

    The Just Right Story Book – JC Kelly

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

    When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete 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, Amazone, 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! 😊

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

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is penny-parker-klostermann.jpg

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jennifer-buchet.jpg

    

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jen-raudenbush.jpeg
    Jen Raudenbush

    ⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is becky-scharnhorst-collage.jpeg

    ⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-05-23-at-7.58.46-pm.png

    ⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alayne-kay-christian.jpg

    ⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is writing-irresistible-kidlit.jpg

    ⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner
    

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is squarecover.jpg

    ⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is email-header-final-susanna-hill.png

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a-flood-of-kindness.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is making-their-voices-heard.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2c5b9-dragon2bcover.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sloth-cover.jpg

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bindus-bindis.jpg

    ⭐️ 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

    2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #3

    Ok, writers, are you ready?

    Forget the dishes in the sink, the pile of work in your inbox, and the fact that it’s your mother-in-law’s birthday on Thursday and you still haven’t thought of a good present!

    It’s time to Mix ‘n’ Match your way to a new story! 😊

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

    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 which continues to grow!)

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

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

    To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #3 for Week of May 24:

    So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, and with writing a cumulative story.  This week we’re going to play with a picture prompt, 3 random words. . . and a secret!

    Here’s the picture, drawn by the incredibly talented Julie Rowan-Zoch (author/illustrator of I’M A HARE, SO THERE! HMH Books For Young Readers 2021, and illustrator of LOUIS by Tom Lichtenheld HMH October 2020!) and used with her permission for your writing fun 😊 (Thank you, Julie!!! 💕)

    illustration copyright Julie Rowan-Zoch 2021 used by permission, all rights reserved

    And here are random words! Choose one from Column A, one from Column B, and one from Column C.

    Column AColumn BColumn C
    raindropspicnicstrawberry tart
    nestrope swingpond
    cherry treemistakebucket/pail
    unicornlosttantrum
    bridgespringadmire

    But wait! There’s a twist! One of the characters has a secret! Which character? What secret? And how does it impact the story? You will probably want to think up your own secret, but in case anyone needs an idea, here are a few suggestions:

    -took something that didn’t belong to them
    -hid something on purpose
    -told someone something that wasn’t true
    -doesn’t want to play hide ‘n’ seek (or duck, duck, goose, or musical chairs, or tag, or. . .)
    -only wants to play hide ‘n’ seek (or duck, duck, goose, or musical chairs, or tag, or. . .)
    -is allergic to acorns
    -wants to invite someone to their birthday party (or for a sleepover, or. . .)
    -is afraid of dogs (or cats, or bicycles, or bees, or swimming, or. . .) and doesn’t want anyone else to know
    -plans to bake a surprise cake for someone
    -has a special present for someone
    -isn’t telling someone something they should
    -secretly really likes someone
    -secretly doesn’t like someone
    -is getting something they know everyone will love

    Write a 100 word story for kids about the pictured characters, using three random words and giving one of the characters a secret which you incorporate into the story, and post your in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for 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 random words that are not on the list you can use them instead – 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 say which random words you’re using you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

    I am SO looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!  There have been so many amazingly creative, clever, fun, and entertaining stories written 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)

    Check out the Week #3 stories!


    Ruth’s Birthday Surprise – Sue Lancaster

    The Perfect Gift – Erika Romero

    Getting There – Rose Cappelli

    A Hare Raising Mistake – Bru Benson

    Acorn Day – Jen Subra

    The Secret – Marty Findley

    The Secret Spot – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    The Smashed Bash – Laura Bower

    The Secrets of Beryl The Bunny – Elenore Byrne

    Hare…Or Not – Susan E. Schipper

    Better Than Acorns – Erin Cleary

    Acorns And, Er, What?! – Marty Bellis

    Bunny’s Problem – Deb Sullivan

    Floppy And The Rope Swing – Dawn Young

    Untitled – Elizabeth Volkmann

    The Cherry Pie Problem – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Chip, Drip, And Skip – Meg King-Sloan

    A Small Mistake – Leslie Degnan

    Turtle’s Strawberry Hill Surprise – Joyce Uglow

    Disappearing Dewberries – Candice Marley Conner

    Rabbit Won’t Have To Wait – Sara Kruger

    Hare Today And Gone Tomorrow: From Brey To Form, A Secret That Saved! – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Miss Bun’s Secret – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    A Happy Tail – Marta Cutler

    Safe Cracking Squirrels – Susan Summers

    Clueless Squirrels – Lyn Jekowsky

    Scratch And Scritch’s Show Stopper – Ashley Sierra

    Fireworks – Aly Kenna

    Late Lunch – Hannah Roy LeGrone

    Bunny’s Magic – Dianne Irving

    Thoughtful Harry – Padgy Soltis

    A Secret Entrance – Lauri Meyers

    The Scavenger Hunt – Barbara Renner

    Vanishing Act – Marta Cutler

    Rabbith’th Thee-cret (Rabbit’s Secret) – Allison Strick

    Harah Helps Look – Sarah Meade

    Momo’s Cherry Tree – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    In The Mood To Play? – Amy Leskowski

    A Couple Of Nuts – Jill Lambert

    Mr. Bunny’s Secret Skill – Mia Geiger

    B-U-N-N-Y Spells Trouble – Jeannette Suhr

    Rainy Picnic – Nicole Loos Miller

    The Secret of Sassafras – Linda Schueler

    A Friend In Need – Candace Kubinec

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    The Unicorn – Lynn Katz

    Unicorn’s Secret – Michelle S. Kennedy

    The Happiest Habit – Christine Alemshah

    The Bunny’s Secret – Marla Yablon

    Watch Out For Bear? Watch Out For Hare! – Katie Schwartz

    The Will To Win – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Magic Unicorn – Robin Currie

    Happy Spwing – Deb Buschman

    The Unicorn’s Mistake – Brenna Jeanneret

    Tantrum Blues – Sarah Hawklyn

    That Hare – JC Kelly


    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

    When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete 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, Amazone, 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! 😊

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

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    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

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    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

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    Jen Raudenbush

    ⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

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    ⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

    ⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

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    ⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

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    ⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner
    

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    ⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

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    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

    ⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

    ⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

    ⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

    ⭐️ 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 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! 😊