Be Still My Heart! The 1st Annual Valentiny Writing Contest Is Here!!!

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

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

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

valentiny logo

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

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is grumpy!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone grumpy (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words max (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! Title is not included in the word count.  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Friday February 12th by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  I apologize that I’m still experimenting with how to use link lists on wordpress – please forgive me for any glitches and I thank you in advance for your patience!  There will be no Would You Read It or Perfect Picture Book Friday this week, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of this post. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you!  If you email it to me, please put “Valentiny Contest Entry” in the subject line and copy and paste your story, including your title, byline and word count, into the body of the email.  NO ATTACHMENTS PLEASE!)  I’m not sure how posting in the comments is going to work on wordpress… whether there will be room for enough responses to each entry and whether there’s a way to link to specific comments so they’re easy to locate as I did on blogger… so we shall all have to learn together.  Pantsing.  It’s what life’s all about 🙂

The Judging: over the weekend, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 or maybe 6 or possibly 10 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have winnowing, so we’ll see…) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Tuesday February 16th or Wednesday February 17th (depending on how many entries we get and because I will be out of office all day Monday.)  The winners will be announced on Friday February 19th. (And there will be no WYRI or PPBF the week of Feb. 15-19 either so that everyone will have time to read and vote and so that we don’t confuse PPBF with announcing winners.)  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists, if we get more than 30 or 40, well, all bets are off.  I never know what to expect from a new contest.  Remember, you’re witnessing pantsing in action 🙂  But I’m hoping we’ll get enough entries to make giving out the 10 AWESOME prizes worthwhile!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using grumpiness, and success in making us feel the grumpiness!
  3. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  4. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics
  5. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

The Prizes:  Oh. My. Goodness! do we have fabulous prizes!  If these don’t motivate you to write your best, I don’t know what will! 🙂

– A Picture Book Read and Critique from literary agent Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis who is actively building her picture book list!

ChristaCHRISTA HESCHKE graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s. For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror. She is always on the lookout for a compelling voice combined with a strong, specific hook that will set a YA novel apart in its genre and the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism, whether in a voice that is more light and humorous or one with more of a timeless, literary feel. For both YA and MG, she is particularly interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting storytelling structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind. In picture books she is drawn to cute, funny stories (as opposed to sweet and quiet) with strong hooks that will grab both kids and their parents as well as the occasional nonfiction biography on a unique subject whose story has yet to be told.


Please feel free to follow her on twitter and enjoy her blog! Twitter: @ChristaHeschke
Blog: Neverending Stories

– Enrollment in Julie Hedlund and Emma Walton Hamilton‘s Complete Picture Book Submissions System!

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– Enrollment in literary agent Jodell Sadler‘s Pacing Picture Books 2 WOW picture book writing class in March 2016!


– A spot in an upcoming Ariel Richardson webinar, Rule Breaking In Picture Books: The Chronicle Books Edition offered by Jodell Sadler

Twitter bird announce

– Winner’s choice of free enrollment in ART OF ARC: HOW TO ANALYZE YOUR PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT OR a deep analysis critique from Alayne.

ART OF ARC is a self-study course that will deepen your understanding of picture books written with a classic arc and introduce you to other picture book structures. The course gives you tools to analyze your work prior to investing in professional critiques. It shows you how to avoid common writing errors and how apply writing elements that will enhance your stories to take them to a higher level. It includes 217 pages with ten lessons, seventeen supplements, and eighteen worksheets. Plus bonus materials and resources.

– A Picture Book Critique/Developmental Edit (non-rhyming picture book manuscript) from Beth Stilborn. (Beth does  developmental editing and copy editing through her Flubs2Fixes Editing, Consulting and Writers’ Resources service for writers. )

– A Picture Book Critique from the fabulous Robin Newman, author of The Case Of The Missing Carrot Cake and the forthcoming, eagerly awaited Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (please don’t miss the fantastic trailer! 🙂 )

– personalized signed copies of The Case Of The Missing Carrot Cake and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep by Robin Newman

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Before Valentines Day by Natasha Wing!  Natasha Wing loves Valentine’s Day because it’s a week after her birthday. Natasha is the bestselling author of The Night Before series (Grosset & Dunlap). To find out more:

Night Before V Day

– personalized signed copies of Clara Bowman-Jahn‘s delightful picture books Annie’s Special Day and Edmund Pickle Chin

– I Heart Picture Books – a 5-pack of Valentine picture books including A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger, Love, Ruby Valentine by Laurie B. Friedman,  Zombie In Love by Kelly DiPucchio, Love, Splat by Rob Scotton, and Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood PLUS 3 Endangered Species Chocolate Bars!

Once again, please join me in thanking Christa, Jodell, Julie & Emma, Alayne, Beth, Robin, and Natasha for their incredible generosity, and show your appreciation by visiting their sites, buying and recommending their books and services to your writer friends and/or friends with kids, writing them nice reviews on Amazon, GoodReads etc if you’ve read and liked their books, and showing your appreciation to them in any way you can!  I truly can’t thank them all enough!

So now it’s time for me to post my little sample.  Prepare yourselves 🙂


Who’s A Grumpy Valentine? 214 words


Boris and Irma were making Valentines.

Boris frowned with concentration as he cut hearts from red paper.

“Boris is grumpy,” Irma announced. “His hearts aren’t as good as mine.”

“Don’t be grumpy, Boris,” Mom said. “Your hearts look good to me.”

Boris wasn’t grumpy.

His hearts looked good to him too.

Boris laid his hearts in a row.

He grunted trying to squeeze glue from the bottle that Irma had left nearly empty.

“Boris is grumpy,” Irma declared. “He can’t squeeze glue as neatly as me.”

But Boris wasn’t grumpy.

His glue lines were exactly the way he wanted them.

Boris banged the glitter jar against his hand to break up the clump at the bottom.

“Boris is grumpy,” Irma sang out. “He’s making a mess with his glitter!”

EVERYone makes a mess with glitter,” said Mom with a meaningful glance at Irma’s mess.

Boris was carefully writing the letters L-O-V-E-B-O-R-I-S when suddenly…

“My VALENTINES!” Irma shrieked.

She had spilled her juice!

“They’re RUINED!”

Boris snatched his Valentines from the spreading puddle.

Mom swooped in with paper towel.

Irma’s Valentines were saved but soggy.

Irma stamped her foot and made a noise like a hive of angry bees.

Boris looked at Mom. “I think Irma’s grumpy!”

But he shared his Valentines with her anyway.

❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤     ❤


Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still 4 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!


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

Eager Readers – you ALSO need to click the “click here” to add your entry button on the linky list just to see the list of links.  I apologize profusely for the inconvenience of not having the list visible right here on my site.  If I can find a way around it before the contest ends I’ll change it.

Fingers crossed this thingamajig can fly! 🙂

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And don’t miss the 78 fabulous entries posted in the comment section!

1. Grizzly Grump – Sharon G.

2. Mommy Bunny’s Slightly Grumpy Valentine – Eric

3. My Little Buddy Boy – Tracy

4. A Heart In The Sand – Sharon C

5. Sulky Sky – Cate

6. No Valentines For Porcupines – Jess

7. Treasured Lumps Of Pickled Grumps – Maria O

8. A Groundhog’s Valentine – Jill Proctor

9. Valentines Gifts – Cindy

10. (Un)Lovely Leonard – Lauren

11. I Hate Valentine’s Day – Joni

12. NUTS! – Juli

13. My Heart Thumped – Jim

14. Roman’s Lousy Valentine – Lindsay

15. The Lonely Hearts Club – Samantha

16. The Grizzly Who Couldn’t Bear Valentines – Julie

17. Grumpy Badger’s Valentine – Ann

18. The Stinky Valentine – Judy

19. Mr. Mean – Diana

20. The Chocolate Heart – Kris

21. Porchy And Emma – Valerie

22. Replacement Valentine – Melissa B

23. Violet’s Valentines – Beth

24. My Grumpy Valentine – Gabrielle

25. KEEP OUT! A Love Story – Jen

26. Remembering Hammie – Meagan

27. The Right Angles – Meredith

28. Jim’s Valentine’s Day – Maria M

29. The Valentine’s Day Witch – Lesley

30. Lola In Love – Melissa di T

31. Happy Valentine’s Day, Bear! – Carol

32. The Unexpected Kiss – Mindy

33. Millie Mouse, Will You Be My Valentine? – Laura

34. “I Hate Valentine’s Day!” – Carleen

35. Shape Up – Jill Purtee

36. Valentine Sleepover – Caroline

37. Box Of Secrets – Lisa

38. Jim – Polly

39. Puppy Love – Ellen

40. The Favorite Donut – Helen

41. Cupid’s Sea Shanty – Alice

42. Valentine Birthday Boy – Sara

43. Mr. Grumpy’s Birds – Anne S

44. Grumpy Is Blue – Anita

45. Chomper’s Valentine’s Day Road Trip – Michele

46. Squirrel’s Valentine Surprise – Debbie

47. That’s Not A Valentine! – Anne B

48. Grump Truck, Love Truck – Amy G

49. Matty’s Angel Picture – Jane

50. George The Baker – Jennifer A

51. Every Dog Has His Valentine’s Day – Cynthia P

52. Olivia’s Gloomy Valentine’s Day – Carolyn

53. Cantankerous Claudius: The Grouch Behind The Valentine – Suzanne

54. Valentine Surprises – Kathleen

55. Badger’s Valentine – Lori

56. Roman’s Handmade Valentines – Julie R

57. Grumpy’s New Name – Amanda

58. An Unlikely Friendship – Sandy

59. Shoo Fly Valentine – Kristen

60. XOXO, Your Secret Admirer (Larry) – Christine

61. Rather Take A hike – Pamela

62. Valentine’s Rock – Dina

63. Old Grumpentine – Kirsten

64. No Snacks For Mx – Shelley K

65. Billy Goat Grump – Angela

66. The Valentine Phantom – Heather

67. Chocolate Surprise – JC Kelly

68. Grumps And The Valentine’s Day Dance – Janet

69. My Grumpy Funny Valentine – Ashley

70. The Case Of The Missing Valentine Party Supplies – Robin

71. Valentine’s Day At Sweet Pig’s – Patricia

72. The Grumps – Ingrid

73. Leprechaun Love – Patti

74. A Colorful Valentine’s Day – Susan

75. Valentine Magic – Charlotte

76. Special Valentines – Sara

[77. You Had Me At Oink – Shelley M]

78. Flicker’s Valentine – Jenifer