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

Deck the halls!

Light the menorah!

Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja!

It’s time for…

THE 8TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Super Santa.png

~for children’s writers~

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday Hero!  Your hero’s act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one – from saving Christmas to leaving a fresh-baked loaf of Challah bread for a homeless person to something like Gift Of The Magi where two people give up the thing most important to them to be sure someone they love has a good holiday.  Your hero can be obvious or unlikely.  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 🙂 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 🙂 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

 

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between right now this very second and Saturday December 8 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below.  This post will remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debuts, Perfect Picture Book, or Would You Read It) for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section below (please be sure to include your byline so that if your posting handle is midnightwriter1 or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!)  If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post your entry for you. But please don’t send attachments!  Just copy and paste your story including byline into the email.  Also, please only post your entry once – either in the comment section of my blog or on the link list or by emailing me and asking me to post it.  Multiple postings of the same entry get confusing.

 

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to approximately 10 finalists (depending on the number of entries – if we get a lower turnout we’ll post fewer finalists, a higher turnout possibly one or two more.)  In the interest of finishing up the contest in a timely fashion so everyone can go about their holidays, we will do our best to post the finalists here by Friday December 14 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 16 at 5 PM EST.  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place (or wherever we place to), and the winners will be announced on Monday December 17 (how’s that for ambitious?! 🙂 )

Judging criteria will be as follows:

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

 

The Prizes!:

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Vivian Kirkfield

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

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

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

diana-murray  One Snowy Day

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

amy-dixon  Maurice

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

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O I Am Famous

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

MPBM

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

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

– Yes You Can Learn How To Write Beginning Readers And Chapter Books – by Nancy I. Sanders AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card
nancy sanders 2
laura salas educational market
Making A Living
Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

 

Now.

 

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

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

 

The Christmas Rescue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Rejoice! and let the festivities begin!!! 🙂

Happy Holidays to All! 🙂

 

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

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

Would You Read It Wednesday #307 – Hungry In The Hills Of Hercegovina (PB)

Hiya Folks!

You will all be glad to know that I braved the basement and found the window candles!

And I only smashed one by accident on the basement floor!

I put the candles in the windows and then risked life and limb to climb up and put the wreath in the peak of the porch roof.  Just call me Spidey 🙂

So now my little house looks very festive 🙂

Just in time for the Holiday Contest which opens tomorrow!

If you know me at all, you will not be shocked to know that I haven’t given even one tiny second’s thought to my sample entry.  So no more shilly-shallying!  We must get down to business right now so I can go think something up!

If you’re suggesting there’s no better way to get down to business than with Something Chocolate, that just proves we are kindred spirits and great minds think alike 🙂 Not to pick one holiday over another – I just thought these were cute – and they’re made of chocolate cupcakes… 🙂

Easy Christmas Tree Cupcakes

Christmas-Tree-Cupcake-Recipe-2

Recipe HERE (including helpful video!) at YourCupOfCake

YUM!  Festive AND delicious!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Lily whom you will remember from September with her pitch for Garden Bed. Lily Erlic is a member of the SCBWI. She has authored many books included Finger Rhymes for Manners and Glaciers: Landscape Carvers. She is a preschool and daycare teacher (ECE) with a BA degree from the University of Victoria.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hungry In The Hills Of Hercegovina

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: (Based on my Aunt’s True Story) Ana, is a young girl who struggles with hunger. Puto, her dog, chases wolves away from the family’s herd of sheep. Ana and her family do not have enough to eat sometimes in her poor village in the hills of Hercegovina. When Ana faces a vulture with Puto, the real challenge begins.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Lily improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in January, so you could get your new year of writing of to a great start by getting your pitch up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Lily is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the opening of the Holiday Contest tomorrow!!!  I CAN’T WAIT to read your stories!!!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #306 – Hive To Move (PB)

Gosh we’ve had a busy week so far, haven’t we?

First, the Holiday Contest guidelines on Sunday, then Tuesday Debut yesterday, now Would You Read It today, and we still have Perfect Picture Books on Friday!

But don’t worry.  Not every week is like this!

There won’t be any more Sunday posts…for now 🙂 … and I forgot to mention yesterday that Tuesday Debuts will be on hiatus until at least January because I don’t have any debut authors signed up until February (holler if you are one and want a January spot!)

Since I’ve worn you out this week, though, I think we should get right to Something Chocolate!  A little pick-me-up!  Or, pick-YOU-up 🙂  The holidays are coming and this is so pretty that  I think we should have some No Bake Peppermint Cheesecake (with chocolate crust and chocolate topping! YUM!). And by trying this today, you’ll have time to perfect it before making it for your family in a few weeks! (And by “perfecting” I mean, of course, making it several times and having plenty of sample slices to be sure it comes out just right! 🙂 )

No Bake Peppermint Cheesecake

No-Bake-Peppermint-Cheesecake-Recipe-001

Recipe HERE at YummiestFood

I think peppermint tastes better when it’s pink, don’t you?  Plus it looks so much nicer with chocolate than green peppermint does! 🙂 Please help yourselves to seconds and thirds – you’ll need your strength for helping with today’s pitch and for working on your Holiday Contest entry!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah whom you will remember from her recent pitches for MARSTER SHOES and THE PUNCHING BALLERINA who says, “I am an Optometrist, mother, and lover of the outdoors. I live in NH with my husband and two children. I love to paint in my free time, when I’m not writing.”

Find her on the web at  www.sarahheturadny.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hive To Move

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: Betsie is a honeybee scout, who must find a home for her expanding family.  Her hive has swarmed, leaving their old home behind, and clustering on a tree branch while the scouts seek potential new homes.  Betsie must act fast, as people have noticed the swarm and summoned an exterminator.  This hybrid PB is based on Thomas Seeley’s HONEYBEE DEMOCRACY, and back matter is included.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Sarah improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in January, so start your new year off with a bang with helpful feedback on your pitch and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to rummaging though the basement for my holiday candles.

Okay.

That’s not precisely true.

I’m not really looking forward to the basement rummaging…

But I AM looking forward to having the candles in the windows so when I come home in the dark my little house has pretty lights that make it look festive 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

A Little Sunday Surprise For YOU!

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

Hi there!

Isn’t this a lovely treat?

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

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

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

I know.

Hard to believe I have a method for anything 🙂

But it’s true.

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

It’s just good sense.

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

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

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

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

…which means

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

b)…

B)!…

…It’s time for…

THE 8TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Super Santa.png

~for children’s writers~

 

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about A Holiday Hero!  Your hero’s act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one – from saving Christmas to leaving a fresh-baked loaf of Challah bread for a homeless person to something like Gift Of The Magi where two people give up the thing most important to them to be sure someone they love has a good holiday.  Your hero can be obvious or unlikely.  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 250 words (I know! So much freedom after the Halloweensie Contest 🙂 )  (It can be as short as you like (the judges will be grateful 🙂 , you are welcome and encouraged to write shorter, but no more than 250!  Title not included in word count.)  The field is wide open!  Have fun!  The more creative the better!  No illustration notes please. (And yes, if you feel compelled to submit more than one entry you may, just remember you’re competing against yourself!)

 

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between 12:01 AM EST Thursday December 6 and Saturday December 8 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Thursday December 6 and remain up for your reading pleasure until I post the finalists.  There will be no regular posts (Tuesday Debuts, Perfect Picture Book, or Would You Read It) for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section of my December 6th post when it goes up.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email me.  (We’ll go over this part in more detail on the December 6th post! 🙂 )

 

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

Judging criteria will be as follows:

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

 

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

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

diana-murray  One Snowy Day

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

amy-dixon  Maurice

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

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O I Am Famous

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

MPBM

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

Children's Writer's Guide 2019

nancy sanders 2
laura salas educational market
Making A Living
Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

 

So there you have it!  Fire up those brain cells!  Grab a cup of hot chocolate, plonk your tiny hiney into a comfy chair, and get to writing your potentially prize-winning Holiday Hero story!!! You have nearly two full weeks!

On your mark…

…get set…

…GO!

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

Have a great rest of the weekend! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #305 – The Mouse Of RockTown Museum (PB)

November has been a whirlwind!

Can you believe it?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!!!

By Friday it won’t be safe to go within 10 miles of the mall 🙂

And if Walmart hasn’t got you singing holiday tunes already, we’ll all be doing it by this weekend! 🙂

Since I’m sure we all have a lot to do (and by that I mean I am hosting Thanksgiving and I have to vacuum – ACK!!!) I think we should bolster our stamina with Something Chocolate and get right down to business!

In the spirit of the first Thanksgiving, I’d like to share an old pilgrim recipe handed down from our forefathers (forefathers loosely interpreted as my daughter making Pillsbury homemade in her own special way 🙂 ). It is important around Thanksgiving which involves such demanding time demands as vacuuming that recipes be simple.  So get ready.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (so Thanksgiving-y, am I right?! 🙂 )

Recipe: 1 box of Pillsbury Pumpkin Bread mix prepared according to the muffin directions on the back with however many chocolate chips seem like a good idea (suggestion: a lot!) added in.

See?

Didn’t I tell you it was simple?

I think we all know where my daughter inherited her genius in the kitchen 🙂

You can make these mini-sized and serve them at your Thanksgiving table, or normal size and enjoy them for Thanksgiving morning breakfast.  Ooh!  Or you can bring them as a gift if you’re going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving!  So versatile!

And I know I don’t even need to point out that they are health food, what with being made out of pumpkin which is indisputably a vegetable! 🙂

That’s just my little gift to you because I am so thankful for you all – no jokes! ❤

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Mary who says, “I am a former teacher who loved reading silly books to my students. In another former life, I was employee at a museum overrun with mice. The Mouse of Rock Town evolved out of those two experiences.”

Find her on the web at
https://mrudzinski.com
Twitter: @swimlady50

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Mouse Of RockTown Museum

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)

The Pitch: Parker, a resident mouse of Rock Town Museum, loves his home, but soon realizes the new museum security guard is not mice-friendly. After harrowing experiences involving brooms, mousetraps and a cat, Parker must use his ingenuity to devise a plan and protect the only home he has ever known.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Mary improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in January, so polish up your pitch and get your new year off to a great start with helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Mary is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the vacuuming being over! But more importantly, to seeing all the family I’ll get to see 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

And Happy Thanksgiving!!!

P.S. I’m not sure if I’m going to post PPBF on Friday – depends how much time I have – but if I’m going to run the Holiday Contest, I’ll try to get the guidelines up this weekend!  This is your last chance to weigh in on whether you want to have it or not…! 🙂

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

DARLINGS!

The day has FINALLY come!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:

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

2.  Halloweeniness – the rules stated a Halloween story, so entries that failed to mention anything Halloween-y did not make the cut even if they were well-written.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here we go!

#1 – Belinda’s Broken Brew

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

 

#2 – Witches’ Brew

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

 

#3 – Broken-down Broom

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

 
#4 – Dracula Wants Pie

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

 

#5 – Stitchy Witchy Brew

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

 

#6 – Potion Commotion

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

 

#7 – The Scariest Night Of The Year

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

 

#8 – If You Can’t Beat Them… 

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

 

#9 – The “Wolf” at the Door

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

 

#10 – The Halloween Shack

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

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

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

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

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

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

I saw its eyes.

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

 

#11 – Monster Vacancy

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

 

#12 – Halloween Prize

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

 

#13 – Gordie Goblin’s Potion

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

 

#14 – Next Week

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Would You Read It Wednesday #304 – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (PB)

Hurray!  It’s Would You Read It Wednesday!  Seems like forever since we had one, what with the Halloweensie Contest running!

Before we get to today’s pitch, I’d like to announce that there’s a new addition to my little household!  It is Princess Blue Kitty’s successor!

Apparently I have a favorite color 🙂

IMG_6910

She is VERY beautiful! isn’t she?  But she does not have a name yet… I will entertain suggestions from the peanut gallery if anyone has one 🙂 I’m pretty sure she’s a she, but I’ve only had her for about 24 hours, so I could be wrong 🙂 She is smaller than Princess Blue, and very zippy 🙂 but she also has tremendous presence.

I think we should celebrate with Something Chocolate, don’t you?  How about some Flourless Belgian Chocolate Cake?  Look at that dense richness!  And anything with the words “Belgian Chocolate” in it has to be decadent and delicious!

Flourless Belgian Chocolate Cake

Plus it’s flourless and gluten-free, which makes it health food so we can have as much as we want guilt-free!  Dig in, my friends! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Ciara, whom you will remember from last month’s pitch for Drop The Dragon, who says, “I am a former teacher, mother of five, and corgi lover. I love puns. I might make them on an hourly basis. And I definitely think that there should be a job where one can be a personal shopper of picture books. That’s a thing, right?”

Find her on the web at ciaraoneal.weebly.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-11)

The Pitch: An affectionate but clumsy flamingo doesn’t quite understand why her hugs are not well received by zoo patrons. But when she tries delightful disguises, daring dances, and fishy gifts, will she be able to garner the affectionate she so desperately desires?

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Ciara improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in January, so you could start the new year out with a bang by getting your pitch up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Ciara is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I literally can’t wait to post the Halloweensie Contest finalists tomorrow and see how the votes turn out!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

The 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!

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

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

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

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

halloweensie-pumpkin

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words shiver, cauldron, and howl.  Your story can be scary, funny, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. shivery, cauldrons, howling, whathaveyou 🙂  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined 🙂 )

Post: your story on your blog between right now this very second and Wednesday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below (please include your byline, especially if your posting handle is something like AwesomeWriter92 so I can identify you.)  If you have difficulty posting in the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post it for you.  Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the top – NO ATTACHMENTS!
Please Note: although you are welcome to submit more than one entry, please only post each entry ONCE!  If you post it on your blog (preferred method) everyone will come visit you and you’ll make new friends! 🙂  If you don’t have a blog, post it in the comment section below.  If you’re unable to post, please email me with your entry and byline in the body of the email.  Please DO NOT post on your blog, and in the comments, and send me an email to post.  It makes things confusing!
P.S.  Although I try to stay glued to my computer 24/7 I am sometimes forced to leave my desk.  If you haven’t commented on my blog before, your comment won’t show up until I approve it.  It may take a little while if I’m away from my desk.  Likewise, if you send me an entry to post, I promise I will do it as soon as I can!

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 5th (sooner if possible, later if necessary!)  The winner will be announced on Thursday November 8th, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 🙂  If we get more than 25 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st – 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turnout we’ve had the past couple years, I may post as many as 10-12 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

Judging criteria will be as follows:

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

The Prizes: (it is currently 1:40AM and I’m at the stage where I’m going to make mistakes, so I will finish posting the prize list properly in the morning.  Apologies for the delay!)

First, the amazingly awesome prize I promised!

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

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

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

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

shelley-kinder_orig   Jerry

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

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

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

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

Tricky Witches (100 words)

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

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

I can’t wait to read all of your entries!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 5 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

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

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

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 🙂  🎃

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

Would You Read It Wednesday #303 – The Punching Ballerina (PB) PLUS The September Pitch Pick!

Can it be?

Only three more days until the opening moment of HALLOWEENSIE???!!!

I cannot wait!!! – despite the fact that I have been so busy with other projects that I haven’t given even one second’s thought to my sample entry!  It’s going to be another down-to-the-wire situation, I’m afraid.

But just you guys wait until you see what the big prize is!  You’re going to keel right over!

Let’s just say, you’re going to want to put your best effort forward because this is a prize you’re going to want a real shot at!

So.

Now that you’re DYING to know what the prize is and I’m certainly not going to tell you until Saturday morning when the contest post goes up (MWAH-HA-HA, she laughed evilly 🙂 ) let’s talk September Pitch Pick.

Please read through the pitches below, which have been revised thanks to your helpful input, and choose the one you think is best and most deserving of a read and comments by editor Erin Molta.  Then vote for your favorite in the poll by Sunday October 28 at 9PM Eastern.  I realize that Halloweensie will already be underway, so to make sure you remember to read and vote you might want to do it before the weekend!

#1 – Katie E – ENOUGH – PB ages 4-9

Elpis is an uncommon thing. With feathers sparkling, she spreads hope. Amicus and his friends play in her brilliant cascade. Until… Moros swoops in, throwing deep, deep shade. The children flee and Elpis sputters. Moros preens and gloats as gloom settles in. Elpis nearly sinks. Until… Amicus and his pals demand a return to joy. Their stubborn spirit buoys Elpis – and everyone else – because stepping up with hope is enough.

#2 – Katie W – THE ADVENTURES OF LOU AND BARLEY – PB ages 3-6

When Lou leaves his stuffed stegosaurus in the pouring rain he and his dog, Barley, set out to rescue him. Braving giant waves, outsmarting hungry alligators, and battling a monstrous T-Rex, the determined pair discover even imaginary adventures can be fun!

#3 – Lily – GARDEN BED – PB ages 2-4

In Garden Bed, a rhyming picture book targeted to ages 2-4, a parent and child tuck each vegetable in for the night, helping the child to become sleepy too. Tomato, cucumber, parsley, eggplant, kale, purple potato, lettuce, carrots and peas are lulled to sleep by the refrain: Sleep, sleep, my dear one,

  Sleep until the light,
  We’ll both tuck you in,
  And sing you goodnight. 

 

#4 – Sarah – NO SHOES STANLEY – PB ages 4-8 (formerly titled MARSTER SHOES)

While mostly human, like mom, Stanley has his dad’s huge Martian feet.  This wasn’t a problem when they lived on Mars, where Stanley enjoyed the feeling of being barefoot every day.  But Earth’s rules aren’t Mars’ rules, and Stanley must try to come up with a creative shoe solution for life in a new world.  Not one to follow the crowd, Stanley’s answer involves a twist.

It’s always a tough choice, but do your best!  Something Chocolate awaits as your reward 🙂

 

Thank you for voting!

Since Halloween is right around the corner, and this is our last WYRI before it, I wanted something Halloweenie for our Something Chocolate today.  I thought this Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna fit the ticket pretty well 🙂

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna

YUM!  Doesn’t that look scrumptious?  I am totally having seconds!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah whom you will remember from last month with her pitch for MARSTER SHOES who says, “I am an Optometrist, mother, and lover of the outdoors. I live in NH with my husband and two children. I love to paint in my free time, when I’m not writing.”

Find her on the web at www.sarahheturadny.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Punching Ballerina

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: KC is a boy with identity questions, who wishes to express himself via ballet.  Mom is hesitant to acquiesce, encouraging karate for self-defense instead.  After various attempts to learn ballet on his own, KC dresses as a ballerina for school, thereby inciting a group of bullies.    KC reacts in his own way, leaving the situation with new-found confidence in who he is, as well as a potential friend.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Sarah improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  At this point, I think we’re full for WYRI until after the holidays, but there are openings in January, so you have plenty of time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta! Reserve your spot in the new year today!

Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to being struck with inspiration for a Halloweensie sample entry that will delight you all!  Failing that, I’m just hoping to write something down before I go to sleep Friday night/Saturday wee hours of the morning!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #302 – Weeping Willow (PB) PLUS The July Pitch Pick Winner!!!

Apparently, it is Wednesday.

I’m not sure how we got here… TARDIS? The twilight zone? The yellow brick road? The Starship Enterprise?…but I skipped right over Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  That is what days holed up in front of a deadline will do to a person.  Along with eating apple cinnamon cheerios for dinner so you don’t have to take time away from work to shop 🙂

Anyhow, one way or another, here we are at Wednesday, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, shampooed and dressed in outdoor clothes and ready to take on the world!

Or possibly take a nap 🙂

But really, who can nap when the winner of July Pitch Pick is Greg with his PB pitch for The Remindeer!!!  Congratulations, Greg!  Your pitch will be on its way to editor Erin Molta any minute now as I try to regain control of my email after days of ignoring it!

And congratulations to our other fabulous pitchers who all did a tremendous job!  I hope the experience was helpful to you even if Erin doesn’t get to read your pitch.

Now, onto the next item on our agenda:

No Pitch Pick this week! 🙂

I could have done September, but I figured you guys had really earned a break!  So… next week 🙂 And thank you from the bottom of my chocolate-loving heart for being so wonderful about voting for weeks in a row!

Speaking of chocolate… How about Something Chocolate? I don’t really think we can go far wrong with 24 Layer Chocolate Cake!!!

24 Layer Chocolate Cake

I’m not sure I have the patience to actually bake and assemble that beautiful thing, but you can count on me to eat it! 🙂 Breakfast of champions – that’s what I say! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Meghan who says, “My name is Meghan. I am an aspiring author. When I’m not living with my nose in a book or a piece of writing I’m working on, I am teaching third grade, working out, spending time with the people I love, or binge-watching my favorite movies and television shows (I love to Netflix and chill on my own). I have loved books for as long as I can remember, and now I’d like to use that passion to create timeless works of literature for all ages.”

Find her on the web at her author page: https://www.facebook.com/Meghan-Wiley-563844300401335/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Weeping Willow

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-10)

The Pitch: Todd is a young boy that faces an unexpected choice: one that could ruin or fulfill his new friend’s deepest dreams. She is a tree that yearns to be made into something magical, but the consequence might be too much for Todd to bear. Can he handle the pressure?

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Meghan improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in November, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Meghan is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to that nap I mentioned…except I don’t actually have time for a nap, so maybe I’ll just have a second helping of the 24 Layer Chocolate Cake (fortification, you know – gotta keep my strength up 🙂 ) and forge ahead, plowing through my inbox, boldly going where nobody has gone for many days…

If you don’t hear from me within a reasonable amount of time, send out a search party! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂