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

Alrighty.

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

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

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

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

You know it and I know it!

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

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

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

Namely, which reindeer are you?

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

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

Quiz 1

Quiz 2

Quiz 3

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

Chocolate?

(Always a good topic!)

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

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

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

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

Or maybe…

…just maybe…

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

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

The 7th Annual Holiday Contest

Kangaroo sleigh

FINALISTS!!!

Except first a few words from our sponsor.

Which is, er, me.

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

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

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how really difficult it was to choose.  There were so many fabulous entries.  The sheer volume meant that many great stories had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  (And remember – we had VERY specific criteria, so if you wrote a great story that just didn’t happen to fit the combined parameters it might not have made the finalists, but it’s still good!)  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to hone and tweak if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!  I’d also like to point out that someone who entered the 6th Annual Holiday Contest in 2016 embellished on her story a bit and ended up selling it to an editor!  It is going to be a published picture book!  So that could be you, too! 🙂

Finally, I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  Due to the large number of entries, there are 12 finalists listed below.  I have deliberately listed them by title only, so as to help with objectivity.  Please read through them and choose the one you feel is best and vote.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about Dasher and Dancer’s dreams of Broadway stardom or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

Remember that the judging criteria were:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.  Entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness or whose humor or content felt more appropriate for an older or adult audience did not make the cut.  Sadly there were several GREAT entries where the judges felt the emphasis was too much on the relationship between Santa and Mrs. Claus (too adult to be appreciated by kids) or where the humor was directed at things adults would find funny but were less applicable to kids, etc.  At least one of our favorites fell into this category 😦
  • 2.  Holiday Surprise! – the rules state a Holiday Surprise story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a surprise! 🙂  Most people did a good job with this, but there were unfortunately some that felt predictable and some that just didn’t feel that surprising.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 🙂  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.  I’m happy to say you guys did a great job with that in this contest!
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 🙂  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.  Rhyme is so tricky!  Some of you do it amazingly well – really!  But there are always a few stories that are clever and fun and might have made the finals if written in prose, but problems with the rhyme (usually the meter) keep them from getting there.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

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

#1 Waiting For The Winter Gift

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

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

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

#2 Just Desserts

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

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

#3 Essie The Hen And Her Christmas Surprise

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

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

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

#4 Travelin’ Blues

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

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

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

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

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

Best. Christmas. Ever.

#5 Santa’s Delivery Dilemma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a pink unicorn stood behind him!

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

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

#6 Racing The Sun

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

#7 Rigby And Tuttle: The Pinecone

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

#8 Binah’s Journey

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

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

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

#10 Vegan Cut-Out Cookies

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

#11 Lizard In A Blizzard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#12 Christmas Wildfire

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

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

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

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

Then they froze.

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

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

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

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

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

Ho! Ho! Ho! The 7th Annual Holiday Contest is HERE!

 

Deck the halls!

Light the menorah!

Fill the Kikombe cha Umoja!

It’s time for…

7TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Kangaroo sleigh

 WOO HOO!!!

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) about A Holiday Surprise!  Any kind of surprise – anything at all! – the more unexpected the better! 🙂  Squirrel in the Christmas Tree?  Snowstorm in Jamaica?  Santa delivering toys from an excavator pulled by a herd of worms?  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 Sunday December 10 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below.  This post will remain up through Friday December 15 for your reading pleasure.  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 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 staysuplate2write or something I’ll be able to tell who you are!)  If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email 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 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 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on Friday December 15 (or, if we’re desperate for a little extra time, Saturday December 16) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 17 at 5 PM EST (or Monday December 18th if we need that extra time.)  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place, and the winners will be announced on Monday December 18 (or Tuesday December 19).

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 Surprise! – the rules state a Holiday Surprise story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a surprise! 🙂
  • 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!:  Ok.  This is the moment where I officially admit to probably having bitten off more than I can chew! 🙂   I’ve been in Brazil for the past week, and upon my return was met with some deadlines I have to add into the time equation, in addition to a couple of school visits and getting ready for the holidays and family coming etc.  I wrote my sample entry at the literal 11th hour just before midnight last night.  (That will be extremely obvious when you read it below 🙂 )  So.  I will add to the prizes today and probably have to update them.  My sincere apologies for having over-scheduled my time – it was not intentional! – but I figured you guys would rather have the contest even on a slightly loosey-goosey schedule than not! 🙂

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

rachel-orr-2

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

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

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

vivian-kirkfieldsweet-dreams-new-on-amazon

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

Lori Norbert

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

amy-dixon Maurice

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

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

– a bundle of books! (itemized list forthcoming, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise)

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

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

Now.

The time has come for my sample.  And I think I can say that I have really outdone myself this time in the Worst Ever Sample department! 🙂  Are you ready?  Have some chocolate to get you in a good mood! 🙂  But this should be very comforting to all of you because you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that ANYthing you wrote is better than this! 🙂

(And as I told you, I wrote it in a jet-lagged stupor at nearly midnight last night and I openly admit that it is 39 words over the word limit because I didn’t have time to make it shorter!)

So really.  Are you ready? 🙂

The Christmas Plan
(289 words because I ran out of time and also am not actually in the contest! 🙂 )

Christmas Eve in Santa’s barnyard,
Secret meeting underway.
Said the cow, “We’d better hurry –
Any time they’ll hitch the sleigh!”

Duck looked ‘round. “Are you all ready?
Everyone know what to do?”
All the others nodded gravely.
“Okay, then, let’s move out, crew!”

Each went in their own direction
Silently through dark and snow.
Pulled their parts off to perfection,
Met up in the workshop’s glow.

Quietly, they filed inside
Where elves were loading up the sleigh.
Santa called, “Let’s hitch the reindeer!
Time we headed on our way!”

Eight elves hurried to the stable
With intent to fetch the deer.
Soon came running back in panic.
“Sir! The team has disappeared!”

Santa bellowed, “Were they stolen?
Kidnapped? Hidden? Just set loose?”
“If you need a quick replacement,
I’ll step in,” said Christmas Goose.

Santa muttered, disbelieving,
“Why’d my team go on the lam?”
“Never mind, Sir, we can help you,”
Kindly offered Christmas Ham.

Moments later, in the harness,
Ham and Goose were joined by Hare,
Christmas Roast Beef, Duck, and Turkey.
Plan still working – almost there!

Santa, looking quite bemused, said,
“I can’t drive this motley crew!”
“Sorry, Sir, we’re out of options.
There is nothing else to do!”

So it was that not much later,
Waiting hidden in the night,
Josie, hoping to see Santa,
Saw a most surprising sight!

Santa’s sleigh with bells a-jingling
Flying high above her head,
Being pulled by. . . Christmas Dinner?!
“This must be a dream!” she said.

But all around the world next day
When fam-i-lies sat down to eat,
Christmas fowl and roasts were absent.
Served instead? Tofurkey feast!

Back inside the North Pole barnyard
Secret meeting once again,
Cow and Duck high-fived the others.
“Here’s to vegetarians!”

 

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 there are still over 3 days 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 34 fabulous entries in the comment section below!
(Scroll through comments to view)

  1. Santa’s Switches – Nina
  2. Sneak A Peek At Santa – Jennifer B
  3. Just Desserts – Jennifer B
  4. The Christmas Pageant – Carol
  5. A Magpie Holiday – Karen
  6. Foxy, Mr. Fox – Dianne
  7. A Timely Arrival – Beverly
  8. Not Even A Mouse – Ryan
  9. Waiting For The Winter Gift – Elizabeth
  10. Santa’s Christmas SSS-Surprise – Jenny
  11. Santa Patrol – Megan
  12. Vegan Cut-Out Cookies – Megan
  13. Essie The Hen And Her Christmas Surprise – Kaye
  14. La Navidad I’ll Never Forget – Carmen
  15. Santa’s Bad Day – Anne
  16. Tootsie The Wonder Dog’s Best Day Ever – Kathy B
  17. Holiday Mix-Up – Barbara
  18. The Very Last Gift – Judy S
  19. Family Is Home And Home Is Wherever It May Land – Mona
  20. Christmas With Aliens – Brian
  21. Here Comes… – Elaine
  22. The Ballad Of Bella La Frost – Nancy
  23. The Animated Elf – Marvin Strikes Again – Lucretia
  24. Santa’s Delivery Dilemma – Lucretia
  25. Christmas Cat’s SQUEEZE Day – Lily
  26. Christmas Eve DRAMA – Deborah
  27. Racing The Sun – Jen
  28. A New Day For Mrs. Claus – Laura
  29. The Given Gift – Sarah
  30. Surprise Guests! – Mary
  31. Christmas Eve Surprises – Jim
  32. A Visit From Santa – Judy V
  33. Favorite Day – Susan
  34. The Naughty Christmas Cookie – Britt

Would You Read It Wednesday #270 – Cock-A-Doodle WHAT? (PB)

Good Morning, Dearies!

I’m just going to come right out and confess that I am not even here right now!

Whilst you are reading this post (which I scheduled ahead), I am in BRAZIL!  I know!  Nuts, right? 🙂  But I am!

And I’ll tell you right now, I didn’t even pack my computer!  I am taking a whole week off to visit my son and not doing any work at all!  So you may rightly accuse me of dropping the ball 🙂  Hopefully I’ll figure out how to pick it up when I return, since the Holiday Contest opens approximately the next day!  Have you noticed how there just never seems to be enough time for everything?

Anyhow, even though I am in Brazil where I’m not sure if they even have chocolate (I’ll let you know when I get back) I would not want to deprive YOU!  So how about a little Something Chocolate to get you revved up for helping today’s intrepid pitcher.  (Please help yourself to seconds if you need extra fuel to motivate your Holiday Contest entry writing! 🙂 )

Easy Chocolate Cake

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Candace.  Candace follows her heart and writes poetry and short stories. Her poetry blog is http://rhymeswithbug.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Cock-A-Doodle WHAT?

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2-4)

The Pitch: Clarence the Rooster was nervous. Tomorrow morning was his big opportunity to wake up Farmer Judy. But what if she sleeps right through his crowing? Clarence decides to ask his friends on the farm for advice. He asks the cat, the sheep, the ducks, the cow, and even the hairy dog, for ideas. Should he follow his friend’s suggestions, or should he follow his heart?

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 Candace 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 have 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!

Candace is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the upcoming Holiday Contest!  Have you written your entry yet (hint-hint, nudge-nudge! 🙂 )?!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

A Special Saturday Surprise For YOU!

YOO HOO!

May I have your attention for one second please?

I know it’s Black Friday Weekend, and also the Official Kick Off of Holiday Decorating, so you are all no doubt charging through the aisles of Target and Home Depot at this very moment draped in tinsel and brandishing menorahs with multicolored bulbs at anything that threatens your forward progress, your wallet significantly lighter and your thoughts single-mindedly focused on the left-over pumpkin pie that’s going to sustain you through seven hours of blowing up inflatable Santas and hanging from the roof edge by your fingernails whilst you string lights when you get home, and heaven knows I do not want to interfere with any of THAT!

But it occurred to me that you might want something helpfully distracting to think about whilst you were trying desperately not to think about what airspeed velocity you might attain should your fingernails lose their grip on that roof edge and send you hurtling toward the ground, and whether all that pie you ate would be enough to cushion your landing or simply act as ballast to speed your descent . . .

And you know how much I like to be helpful to you. . . 🙂

So. . .

. . . how about we get the old noggin on the job of thinking up your story entry for the

7TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST!!!

Kangaroo sleigh

Isn’t that a great idea???!!! 🙂

Here are the Official Contest Rules! 🙂

The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) about A Holiday Surprise!  Any kind of surprise – anything at all! – the more unexpected the better! 🙂  Squirrel in the Christmas Tree?  Snowstorm in Jamaica?  Santa delivering toys from an excavator pulled by a herd of worms?  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 7 and Sunday December 10 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 7 and remain up through Friday December 15 for your reading pleasure.  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 would like to enter but don’t have a blog you are welcome to paste your entry in the comment section of my December 7th post when it goes up.  If you have trouble commenting, you can email me.  (We’ll go over this part in more detail on the December 7th post! 🙂 )

 

The Judging:  My lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 10-12 finalists (depending on the number of entries) which will be posted here on Friday December 15 (or, if we’re desperate for a little extra time, Saturday December 16) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Sunday December 17 at 5 PM EST (or Monday December 18th if we need that extra time.)  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to tenth place, and the winners will be announced on Monday December 18 (or Tuesday December 19).

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 Surprise! – the rules state a Holiday Surprise story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a surprise! 🙂
  • 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!:  Ok, I’m leaving the country Monday (seriously! – the day after tomorrow! – I am not making that up! 🙂 ) and have yet to finish getting the prizes organized, so I apologize for not including them in today’s post.  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 the prizes.  I promise they will be as good as I can make them! 🙂

So there you have it!  Fire up those brain cells!  After you hopefully don’t fall off the roof stringing lights or sprain your ankle barreling through Target with your shopping cart, grab a cup of hot chocolate, plonk your tiny hiney into a comfy chair, and get to writing your potentially prize-winning Holiday Surprise story!!!

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 and really try not to fall off the roof! 🙂

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #269 – Sara Stole My Hiccups (PB)

Gobble Gobble!

(That’s turkey for good morning and holy wow don’t we all have a lot to do today!)

I realize it’s the day before Thanksgiving and we’re probably all up to our ears in cleaning the house and fetching loved ones from the airport and baking and arranging flowers and whatnot!

So I will not take up an iota of extra time from you today!

Quick! Something Chocolate!  And Thanksgiving-y!  (And seriously, is there ANYTHING you can’t make out of an Oreo?!  Plus, is there any flavor that Oreo doesn’t make…? They’ve gotten a little out of control!  But I digress…! 🙂 )

Oreo Cookie Turkeys

Chocolate Fudge Turkeys

I thought you might enjoy some chocolate in the shape of turkeys… plus they’re fun recipes you can do with the kids 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Leonie, whom you will remember from her recent pitches for I’m Hungry Mummy and The Magician’s Apprentice in September and October.  Leonie says, “Writing is my fun, I love putting pen to paper and watching a story unfold. I just know you’ll love my stories too! I live in Melbourne, Australia and work for a big company during the day and write early in the morning or late into the night. My husband, 3 daughters and I live in a Bayside community with our pooch, Jade – a German Short-haired Pointer. My love of reading started when I was a young girl and continued into my first job as a librarian. I now spend as much time as I can, reading and writing fiction.”

Find her on the web at
Face Book: Leonie Hearn Author
Twitter: @leonie_hearn

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Sara Stole My Hiccups

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

The Pitch: Tommy has a problem and Sara is here to help! Follow these two friends on their journey to solve Tommy’s problem – with a twist.

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 Leonie 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 have 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!

Leonie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing 3/5 of my kids tomorrow, and 4/5 on Friday!  (The last one will have to wait as he is in another country… but maybe we can Skype him in 🙂 )

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!!  And Happy Thanksgiving!!!  🙂

 

The 2017 Halloweensie Contest WINNERS!!!

Golly, would you look at us?!

We are something else, aren’t we?

Masters of accomplishment!

All the way to Friday already!

Which of course means Perfect Picture Books.

Except for today.

Today it does not mean Perfect Picture Books.

This is because the people in charge around here have had a scheduling foul-up of monstrous proportions which clearly took place in the shadowy underbelly of the administration and left us all in a rut as sticky as candy corn!

There is no other explanation.

Although, now that I think about it, it may have been that, due to budget cuts, the lighting was extremely dim, making it very difficult to discern what was written on the calendar amongst the long shadows cast by the one remaining light bulb, and the PICOS (Person In Charge Of Scheduling…er… which would be me) was so hopped up on candy corn that she was trying to make sense of the schedule whilst dancing the monster mash and thus failed to realize that today – Friday – was supposed to be for Perfect Picture Books.

I think it must have been that.

Unless…

It’s just possible that an army of candy corn led by General Sugarshadow rumbled into my office in orange camo monster trucks and staged a coups, and the new regime insists that every day is National Tri-Colored Undigestible Candy Day and to heck with perfect picture books because they are not made out of sugar nor can they be used as a traction aid in inclement weather.

Be that as it may, according to my sources it is Friday.  And that means, it’s time for Perfect Picture Books.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

Oh.

Wait a minute.

Didn’t some monstrously candy-corn-headed nitwit just say something shadowy about a scheduling conflict?

I’ll have my people get in touch with your people and sort this whole scheduling conundrum out!

Meanwhile, perhaps you’d like to engage in the age-old debate over pop-tarts: toast them? or eat them cold?  Where do you weigh in on this critical issue?

Or maybe we should discuss the qualifications one should look for in a scheduling assistant… because clearly I could use some advice…

Or maybe…

…just maybe…

you’d like to hear about

THE WINNERS
OF
The 7th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!

WA-HOOOOOOO!!!!!

 

As you are all aware by now, we had a record turnout for the Halloweensie Contest – 244 entries!  Holy Halloweensie!  Who’d-a-thunk it?

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories and meet so many new writers!

But with large entry numbers come hard choices.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you on Monday 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-arond well-written stories we loved that just missed the finals for one small reason or another!)

Vanessa Marcus for Scary To Someone

Ryan Roberts for Pumpkin Patch

Jennifer Buchet for Gobblewolly’s Halloweensie Treasure

Katherine Rothstein for Sharkcula

Joni Klein-Higger for Ten Dancing Monsters

Jen Bagan for Shadow Monster

Nancy Granberry for Monster Had A Little Ghost

Nancy Riley for Monster’s Woe

Jill Proctor for Monster Marathon

Delfina Salimbene for The Sweet Tooth Trick Or Treat

Jennifer Raudenbush for Montgomery Monster

 

 

2.  For Great Kid Appeal: (not already in the finals)

Greg Bray for Killer Candy Corn Costume

Ann Martin for Who Scared Who? (also very cute story!)

Diana (Peach?) for Monster Under The Bed

 

3.  For Best Descriptive/Mood Piece:

Terri Ross for Witchy (delightfully Halloweensie mood)

Meryl Cullom for Watch Out! (spooky)

 

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

Maria Marshall for A Halloween Treasure (lovely mood)

Janie Reinart for Parade Of Horribles (spooky mood)

 

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

Brianna Zamborsky for The Lock

Lynley Stace for Sweetie

 

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

Nina Q. Haines for Broomstick Sale

Sandy Perlic for Trick Or Treats For Monster?

 

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

Jennifer Prevost for Candie’s Monster Shadows

Candace Kubinec for No Costume Required

 

8.  For Best Written Original Point of View: (not already in the finals)

Kaye Baillie for House Hates Halloween (POV of a haunted house)

 

9. For Fun Concept With Great Potential:

B.L. Bachman for Witch Hiccups

 

10.  For Favorite Character:

Julie Abery for her Teensy-Weensy Witch

Jean James for her Evil Dr. Gerbil 🙂

 

11.  For Best Entry In 12 Words! 🙂 :

Danielle Hammelef for A Shadow’s Secret

 

12. For Cleverest Parody Close To Judge #1’s Heart 🙂 :

Julie LaCombe for When Your Monster Has The Sneazles

 

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about)

For Kindle:

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell

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

Creating Extraordinary Characters by Angela Hunt, OR

Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt, OR

Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard, OR

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write Way by Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard

OR

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

A $5 Amazon Email Gift Certificate

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

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

Now.

Finally!

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

. . . the reason you got out of bed this morning. . .

. . .  in spite of shadows under your bleary eyes. . .

. . . and the candy corn that is stuck in your monsterly bed head!!!

. . . THE WINNERS OF THE 2017 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…

Dawn Young

for

Clomp, Stomp, Chomp!

Congratulations, Dawn, on a delightful and humorous entry with good tension that was all around well done and clearly very popular!!!

In Second Place,

Debbie Day

for

Attack Of The Vampire Cookie

Congratulations, Debbie, on a creative, wonderfully written entry with a great title! You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Dawn chooses!

In Third Place,

Lucretia Schafroth
 for

Marvin…The Monster

 

Congratulations, Lucretia, on an entertaining entry with a great surprise ending that we all loved!  You get first choice of the prizes that are left after Dawn and Debbie choose!

In Fourth Place,

Jennifer Broedel
for
Beware The Candysnatch

Congratulations, Jennifer, on a fun version of the classic rhyme with a great ending!  You get to pick a prize after Dawn, Debbie, and Lucretia!

In Fifth Place,

Judy Sobanski
for
Vampire Has A Sweet Tooth

Congratulations, Judy, on your well written entry with a resourceful MC!  You get to pick your prize after Dawn, Debbie, Lucretia, and Jennifer!

In Sixth Place,

Kelly Conroy

for

Werewolf Trick Or Treat

Congratulations, Kelly, on your well written just-the-right-amount-of-scary entry! You get to pick your prize after Dawn, Debbie, Lucretia, Jennifer, and Judy!

In Seventh Place,

Jessica Bennett
for
Shadow Play

Congratulations, Jessica, on your delightfully spooky story!  I’m sure you get the idea of the prize picking by now! 🙂

In Eighth Place,

Chambrae Griffith
for
Boogley’s Halloween

Congratulations, Chambrae, for a wonderful character and well written story with a nice surprise ending!  You get to pick your prize after Jessica.

In Ninth Place

Susie Sawyer
for
The Scariest House On The Block

Congratulations, Susie, on your humorous depiction of every kid’s worst Halloween nightmare 🙂  You get to prize pick after Chambrae.

In Tenth Place,

Katie Frawley
for
Vampette’s Visions

Congratulations, Katie, on a fun backward twist of an entry that we all loved!  You get to pick a prize after Susie…!

In Eleventh Place, a tie between

Jennifer Cole Judd                        and                  Sara Gentry
for                                                                         for
Bathilda’s Scary Surprise                                Jimmy’s Nighttime Guest

Congratulations Jen and Sara on your wonderful, kid-friendly, fun-spooky entries!  You two will have to fight over the last two prizes, but I’ll give priority to whoever emails me first 🙂

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

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  Finalists who did not finish in the top 12 (Christine and Deborah) may also contact me for their choice of the Kindle or paperback prizes listed above.  If you choose a prize that requires snail mailing, PLEASE include your snail mail address so we don’t have to email back and forth too many times 🙂

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause, a confetti parade, and a large amount of chocolate cake 🙂

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

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

The 7th Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 8-12 so we can all fully enjoy it and still have time for last minute holiday things.  I will do my best to post the rules well in advance (maybe the Saturday after Thanksgiving, good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise! 🙂 ) so you all have time to work on your stories!

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

The Prizes:

– a read and Skype critique of a picture book manuscript by the fabulous editor Callie Metler-Smith of Clear Fork/Spork Publishing!!!

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 10.55.48 PM

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

 

– a 30 minute Skype conversation/critique of a picture book manuscript with the amazingly wonderful and talented author Penny Klostermann!!! (THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT – Random House 2015, A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE – Random House 2017)

Penny Klostermann

–  a webinar of your choice from among the selection offered by Julie Hedlund on her Teachable site (details of selection choice to be discussed with Julie)

julie h

Julie Hedlund

– a picture book manuscript critique from accomplished author/illustrator Cori Doerrfeld (PENNY LOVES PINK – Little Brown 2011, LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO: THE REAL STORY – Dial 2012 and the forthcoming THE RABBIT LISTENED – Dial 2018 and THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF ESTHER THE WONDER PIG – Little Brown 2018, and many, many more!)

0c24b-cori_bio_pic

Cori Doerrfeld

– a picture book manuscript critique from talented author Lynne Marie (HEDGEHOG GOES TO KINDERGARTEN – Scholastic 2011, HEDGEHOG’S 100th DAY OF SCHOOL –  Scholastic 2017, THE STAR OF THE CHRISTMAS PLAY – Sparkhouse Family 2018 and MOLDILOCKS AND THE 3 SCARES – Sterling, TBA. Her stories, articles and poems have appeared in many magazines, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider and Baby Bug. She’s a Feature Columnist/On-staff writer for Children’s Book Insider, a book reviewer and a 2016/17 Cybils Picture Book Panelist. She’s a former New Yorker who now lives a simpler life on a lake in South Florida with her daughter and several resident water birds.

lynne marie

Lynne Marie

– a query letter critique from SubIt Club Founder and fabulous author Heather Burnell (BEDTIME MONSTER – Raven Tree Press 2010, KICK! JUMP! CHOP!: The Adventures of the Ninjabread Man – Sterling 2017)

heather burnell

Heather Burnell

– an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books. OR a paperback copy of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation To Publication (on the off chance you don’t already have it 🙂 )

–  a Bundle Of Books from KidLit411 (must be selected by someone in the USA due to postage) which will include picture books and middle grade book, about 7 in total, details still to come.  (Totally awesome for writers, readers, parents, teachers, or gift-givers!!!)

– a personalized signed copy of GRIMELDA AND THE SPOOKTACULAR PET SHOW by Diana Murray PLUS a personalized signed copy of BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER by Andria Rosenbaum
Grimelda 2big sis little monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

– a personalized signed copy of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN by Nancy Churnin

Manjhi

– a copy of MEET WOOF & QUACK by Jamie Swenson and donated by the illustrator, Ryan Sias

woof and quack

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 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #268 – The Wildness In Mellie Feye (MG)

(Go HERE to read the Halloweensie finalists and vote for your favorite!)

Does anyone know how it is possible that Thanksgiving is a week from tomorrow???!!!

Seriously!  I do not know where October and November went!

I guess that’s what happens when you’re very busy 🙂

giphy

Since I am so busy (and we got such a tremendously wonderful number of entries in the Halloweensie Contest!) the posting schedule got a little messed up.

The poll is still up for you to vote for your favorite Halloweensie entry until tomorrow at noon.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the finalists and vote, please go HERE.  We need all the votes we can get!  Tell your friends and relations to come read and vote for their favorite too!  They will have the pleasure of reading some fantastically entertaining stories and it will only take them a couple minutes! 🙂

Even though I didn’t want to interrupt the voting, I also didn’t want to disappoint Candice who is signed up for Would You Read It today.  So please have a look at her pitch below and let her know what you think!

To give you strength, here is Something Chocolate!

Oreo Brookie Layer Cake

Mmmm!  Lip-smackin’ YUM!

I know that will fortify you for the job ahead! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Candice who says, “An avid reader of fairytales, I have to take turns with my six and four year-old on who gets to play the villain. Evil cackles have been mastered by all.. I blog at candicemarleyconner.wordpress.com, tweet @candice_marleyc, and facebook at www.facebook.com/CMarleyConnerAuthor ”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Wildness In Mellie Feye

Age/Genre: Upper Middle Grade Eco-Fairytale Retelling

The Pitch: Mellie isn’t sure what her mama’s curse made her—a half sea serpent, a water spirit, a freak of a mermaid. Or simply cursed.

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 Candice 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 have 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!

Candice is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing who wins the Halloweensie Contest… which we will know on FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

The 2017 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS! (at long last…!)

Hello, Everybodeeee!

SO nice of you to drop by for a Monday morning visit!

Pull your chair up to the kitchen table and pour yourselves a cup of tea or coffee while I rummage about and see what kind of second breakfast goodies I have around here…

Hmmm…..

Ah!

How about this?

assorted breakfast pastries             breakfast pastries 2

Luckily I always keep a few plates of assorted pastries on hand just in case someone should drop by.  My motto is: be prepared!  Also: breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and should therefore be eaten at least twice! (Clearly I could have been a girl scout…if I had been so inclined…! 🙂 )

So, how’re things?  What’s new?

I think there’s something important we need to talk about…

Yes….

I’m referring to that most critical of topics!

Are you ready?

Well then…

How early is too early to put up your Holiday Decorations?

And while we’re at it, when is it really okay to start listening to Holiday Music?

Now, I know some people never take their decorations down.  That certainly saves time and work!

And I, personally, have been known to get Holly Jolly Christmas stuck in my head in July, for no reason I can ever seem to pinpoint!

But I think most people would argue that…

What?

You couldn’t care less?

Really?!

About something as VERY CRUCIAL as the appropriate putting up of decorations and belting out of holiday tunes?!

So what brought you over for coffee hour, then?

Halloween?

Halloween is over!

Why on earth would we want to talk about that?

Oohhhh….

Halloweensie!

Right!

You want to know who the 2017 Halloweensie Writing Contest Finalists are!!!

(And here I thought you just came for the pleasure of my company… and maybe the chocolate croissants…! 🙂 )

All righty, then!  If that’s what you want, Here. We. Go!

We had the biggest turn out we’ve ever had in terms of number of entries – 244! – and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic.  Every contest I am thrilled to see that the quality of the entries has gone up yet another notch.  This means 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.  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.

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!  One of our favorites – a clever, fun story we all enjoyed – switched verb tenses repeatedly from present to past and we had to let it go!  Another of our favorites was written in rhyme, and while the 2nd-4th stanzas were okay, the first one never found its rhythm and didn’t flow or match the other stanzas. So we had to cut that one 😦  A couple of others were interesting and educational in a nonfiction-y way, but didn’t feel as much like stories to us as we wanted them to.   GAH!  So hard!

So, without further ado, I present to you the 2017 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 pumpkin ballerina 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 Attack Of The Vampire Cookie
On Halloween morning, a cookie is baked,
frosted in crimson and black.
With candy corn fangs and peppermint eyes,
it’s finished –  a vampire bat.

On Halloween midday, the party guests come,
craving a Halloween treat.
Before they can reach the desserts on the shelf,
a cookie escapes to the street.

On Halloween evening, up in the sky
Something bizarre is in flight.
A shadowy monster with candy corn fangs
is looking for children to bite.

On Halloween night, while kids trick-or-treat,
a creature descends, mean and vicious.
“Look!” says a child, “caught in this branch,
a bat cookie. Mmmm, tastes delicious!”

#2 Vampette’s Visions
Little Vampette snuggled into her coffin.
When I wake, it will be Halloween Night!
But soon…
SNIFFLE,
SNUFFLE,
SMOOCH!
“Bunnies!” Vampette shrieked.
She tossed them some candy-corn to satisfy their hunger and slammed the coffin lid.
Vampette peeped out. All was quiet, until…
FLITTER,
FLUTTER,
FLY!
“Butterflies!”
She flung death lilies at the swarm and ducked back into her coffin.
Vampette settle down once more, until…
SQUEAK,
CREAK,
CRACK!
Vampette lifted her lid and peeked out.
A shadow fell across her coffin.
“Wake up, little monster. It’s Halloween Night!”
“Mummy?”
“You were having a daymare!”
Vampette sighed. “Phew. Happy Halloween!”

#3 Boogley’s Halloween
Boogley brewed up something sweet,
a candy-corny scrumptious treat.
But when the shadows crept around,
no trick-or-treaters could be found.
“I wish they’d knock upon my door.
Don’t be frightened, I won’t roar.”
He brushed his fangs, shined up his horns,
cleared the webs and trimmed the thorns.
He heard a creak, “Is ss-someone there?”
He grabbed his tasty treat to share.
The breeze howled in, lights flickered low,
then Boogley saw an eerie glow.
A monster with a crown and wand,
gleaming eyes and curls of blond.
He backed up slow, in full retreat,
that’s when she shouted…
“TRICK-OR-TREAT!”

#4 Shadow Play
House creaks.
Witch-hand branches scratch.
Moon sails in ghostly clouds on Halloween night.
Big sister, so grown up, hands out candy.
She looks bored.
I’ll fix that.
Flashlight: check.
Dracula cape: check.
Candy corn fangs: check.
The shadow creeps down the staircase ahead of me.
Vampire wings flap, teeth bare.
The monstrous shape crosses the door,
touches her shoulder.
“Marcellllaaa…” it hisses.
Shrieks and screams!
M&M’s everywhere!
Mini candy bars fly like shotgun shells.
Marcella sprawls among the rubble.
“You almost scared me to death!”
But now I crouch beside her,
staring at the shadow
still
looming
over
us.

#5 Vampire Has A Sweet Tooth
Young Victor Vampire moped because he’d lost his second fang.
“A toothless ghoul just isn’t cool!” he told his monster gang.
“I feel ya, dude, said Skelton. “Last year I broke a bone.”
“My throat was sore,” said Frankie Stein. “I couldn’t growl or moan.”
Vic huddled in the shadows while he sucked on candy corn.
“This is the ONLY Halloween I’ve missed since I was born!”
Then suddenly Vic smiled wide, as happy as could be.
The candy corn became his fangs,
“Hey monsters…wait for me!

#6 Marvin…The Monster
Marvin tucked himself into the corner. He couldn’t risk anyone seeing him lurking…watching…
waiting…
for the Trick-or-Treaters.
He’d prepared for months, laser-focused on tonight’s mission…
finding the perfect spot…
mastering a flawless special effect…
to thoroughly spook the costumed kids.
As children swarmed onto the porch, Marvin jumped in front of the light…
striking his ninja pose…
casting a huge, creepy shadow…
and screeched, “BOOO!”
“MONSTER! RUN!” shrieked the kids.
Dropping their Halloween loot, they careened off the porch.
Tasting a piece while carrying the bounty to his lair, …
Marvin, the chipmunk, thought…
‘OPERATION CANDY CORN’…
SUCCESS!

#7 Bathilda’s Scary Surprise
Bathilda haunts the shadowed streets,
watching kids munch trick-or-treats.
She moans: “There are no treats for me,
when those monsters all run free!
Candy corn and gummi bears–
I get nothing for my scares!
On Halloween, I’m always bored,
but this year, I won’t be ignored.”
Into the moonlight, thin and pale,
she leaps and groans a ghastly wail.
The startled children flee in fright.
Bathilda cackles with delight.
She gathers up forgotten snacks
from all of the abandoned sacks.
Then moans again, “It all looks sweet,
but I forgot that ghosts can’t eat!”

#8 Beware The Candysnatch
It’s Halloween night, and I’m snug in my bed,
as visions of candy corn dance in my head.
The night’s trick-or-treating brought in quite the haul
of candy bars, lollipops, bubble gum all
hidden, tucked carefully under my covers.
And yet, I feel certain a monster still hovers.
It’s not the dark shadows that trouble me most.
I fear no rogue werewolf, aged mummy, or ghost.
The sinister phantom I worry about
is lurking beside me now, snatching claws out.
A theft-proof alarm bell just might come in handy…
My sister wants ALL of my Halloween candy.

#9 Unveiled Terror
Fear of Halloween monsters has kept Jack hiding since nightfall. He’s had nothing to eat but stale candy corn. His rumbling stomach and aching muscles now coax him from his cramped refuge.

With his first cautious movement, chaos erupts! Jack’s body is bound. His legs tangle. A hood envelops his head. Something grabs Jack and whips him into the air.

Jack gasps in horror when he glimpses a ghostly shadow through his veil. The cover is torn from his face, thrusting him into brightness. He trembles as a voice cackles,

“Jack, you silly dog! Stop dragging the sheets off my bed.”

#10 CLOMP, STOMP, CHOMP!
CLOMP CLOMP
There’s a noise and I’m no longer sleeping
and Yikes! there’s a shadow that’s crawling and creeping.
It’s hairy and scary and has a huge horn.
monster that’ s growling, “Me want candy corn!”
It grunts and it groans and it’s down on all fours.
I toss my whole bag to the creature, “It’s yours!”
I’m under the covers and scared half to death.
I quietly peek out while holding my breath.
It enters. STOMP STOMP
Comes closer. CHOMP CHOMP
Hey wait!
That big beast with the horrible horn?
Is my sister, still dressed as a pink unicorn!

#11 Lulu And Betty’s World Record
Lulu’s pumpkin overshadowed the vegetable patch.
“Time for the World Record weigh-in!” Lulu told Betty, her chicken.
Betty tilted her head… and went back to chomping candy corn.
Lulu embraced her pumpkin and heeeeaaaved….
THUMP!
Lulu scratched her head, “Why are you so light?”
Lulu tapped: hollow! And monster teeth marks blighted the squash’s skin.
“Noooo! I won’t win now.”
Betty pecked the deflated pumpkin.
“Perfect!” said Lulu, clapping.
Lulu carved for hours following Betty’s pecks.
On Halloween night Lulu and Betty’s pumpkin illuminated the town. And smashed the biggest jack-o’-lantern world record.

#12 Werewolf Trick Or Treat
The werewolf wore his costume.
His sack jam-packed with treats,
Like candy corn and Snickers,
He couldn’t wait to eat.

But lurking in the forest,
There was a gruesome pack,
Who shot out from the shadows,
To steal the werewolf’s sack.

The werewolf chased the trio,
Down sidewalks and through lawns,
But when he caught up to them,
The candy was all gone.

“You monsters ate my candy!”
His rage began to brew.
“The candy’s in your bellies…
So now I must eat you.”

#13 The Scariest House On The Block
“Brace yourself, Bobby,” Penelope said.
Anxiety’s shadow enveloped his head.
“Why me?” Bobby whimpered, his voice growing thin.
“Because it’s your turn,” she replied with a grin.
He knocked on the door, and its monstrous feet
approached with a rhythmic, unwavering beat.
It opened the door and met Bobby’s eye.
“Trick or Treat,” Bobby mumbled and tried not to cry.
With a candy corn smile and breath just as gross,
it grabbed Bobby’s head and pulled him in close.
Then … SMACK!—its red lips planted square on his face.
Bobby suffered a kiss from his Aunt Mary Grace.

#14 Jimmy’s Nighttime Guest
Jimmy lay awake in bed,
quaking, shaking, filled with dread.
Shadows cast upon the wall
must mean monsters came to call.

One stood like a triangle,
pointy, tall, and terrible.
Jimmy wondered if this beast
hunted for its dinner feast.

Peeking out behind his sheet,
bracing for a sure defeat,
waiting for a monster raid,
Jimmy felt his courage fade.

Trembling in his bed with fright,
Jimmy reached out for the light,
never to expect this sight.

Resting on the radio,
something blocked his night-light’s glow.
Not a monster’s tooth or horn –
one small piece of candy corn!

 

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) Thursday November 16.

We will have a regularly scheduled Would You Read It on Wednesday, but I want to make sure everyone gets a chance to read and vote on Halloweensie.

Tune in Friday November 17 to see THE WINNERS!!!  (yeah… we’re going to have to skip PPBF because of the timing getting messed up by the judging taking so long – sorry about that!)

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 Friday… same bat time, same bat station 🙂

(Although don’t forget WYRI on Wednesday!)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lie on the couch and eat bonbons all day.

Okay.

Not really.

I have to catch up with students, critique work, and stuff with a deadline!

But there might still be chocolate involved 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!!  And please make sure you VOTE!  With this many finalists, we will need A LOT of votes!

Would You Read It Wednesday #267 – Dewey Drops (PB)

Hey there, friends!

(If I still have any friends out there due to my interrupted and extremely tardy judging of the Halloweensie Contest!)

I sincerely apologize for the delay!

You know how, for a while, nothing happens at all… and then all of a sudden everything happens at once?

That’s been the last week or two for me!  So I’m sorry it messed with the contest!  And I will do my level best to get the judging done and the finalists up ASAP!  Friday if possible… more likely the weekend… but that remains to be seen!

Meanwhile, let’s interrupt our regularly scheduled Halloweensie programming for our regularly scheduled Would You Read It programming! 🙂

First things first, though.  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty desperate for Something Chocolate!  A girl needs her fuel! 🙂 I don’t personally have any leftover Halloween Candy, but for those of you who do, here’s a recipe to use some of it up 🙂

Candy Bar Cheese Cake

Candy Bar Cheesecake

Recipe HERE at Sugar Hero!

Doesn’t it just give you energy to look at that?  Never mind taste it… YUM!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Jennifer.  Jennifer Prevost is a wife, mom and picture book writer of the pre-published variety. She’s dreamed of seeing her words in print for as long as she can remember (and feels blessed to have made it this far.) You can find her at her blog, Magnolias & Manuscripts (http://magnoliasandmanuscripts.wordpress.com/blog) where she’s capturing her writing journey and asking questions to authors far more successful than she. If she’s not there, she’s probably somewhere jotting down ideas, playing with her kids or chasing her big, goofy, dog Rex with a cup of coffee in her hand. (Also check IG and Facebook @jennifergprevost, and maybe one of these days, she’ll figure out Twitter)

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Dewey Drops

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)

The Pitch: Dewey heard the rumblings, this rainfall would be a big one. As he peeked over the edge of the cloud to check the drop zone, he saw the thing he dreaded most of all. All he wanted was to make someone smile, but would he ever get the chance?

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 Jennifer 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 have a little 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!

Jennifer is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to finishing the Halloweensie judging for you and getting the finalists up for your vote!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

And stay tuned for the posting of the Halloweensie Finalists!  IT WILL HAPPEN!!!

(just not quite sure exactly when! 🙂 )

 

The 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!

My sincere apologies that the finalists are not going to be listed for your votes until at least Wednesday!  Editorial deadlines… enough said.  I’m so sorry for the delay and will do my very best to get the finalists posted as soon as possible!  Thank you for your patience and understanding ❤ 

Ear of bat and toe of worm!  It’s finally time for. . .

The 7th 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 candy corn, monster, and shadow. (Candy corn will be counted as 1 word.)  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 nearly 150 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. monsters, monstrous, shadowy, shadowed, 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 Tuesday 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 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 6th (sooner if possible, although I’m warning you ahead of time I have a deadline for something else and if time gets dicey the finalists may get posted later.)  The winner will be announced on Thursday November 9th, 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:

– a read and Skype critique of a picture book manuscript by the fabulous editor Callie Metler-Smith of Clear Fork/Spork Publishing!!!

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 10.55.48 PM

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

 

– a 30 minute Skype conversation/critique of a picture book manuscript with the amazingly wonderful and talented author Penny Klostermann!!! (THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT – Random House 2015, A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE – Random House 2017)

Penny Klostermann

–  a webinar of your choice from among the selection offered by Julie Hedlund on her Teachable site (details of selection choice to be discussed with Julie)

julie h

Julie Hedlund

– a picture book manuscript critique from accomplished author/illustrator Cori Doerrfeld (PENNY LOVES PINK – Little Brown 2011, LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO: THE REAL STORY – Dial 2012 and the forthcoming THE RABBIT LISTENED – Dial 2018 and THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF ESTHER THE WONDER PIG – Little Brown 2018, and many, many more!)

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Cori Doerrfeld

– a picture book manuscript critique from talented author Lynne Marie (HEDGEHOG GOES TO KINDERGARTEN – Scholastic 2011)

lynne marie

Lynne Marie

– a query letter critique from SubIt Club Founder and fabulous author Heather Burnell (BEDTIME MONSTER – Raven Tree Press 2010, KICK! JUMP! CHOP!: The Adventures of the Ninjabread Man – Sterling 2017)

heather burnell

Heather Burnell

– an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books. OR a paperback copy of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation To Publication (on the off chance you don’t already have it 🙂 )

–  a Bundle Of Books from KidLit411 (must be selected by someone in the USA due to postage) which will include picture books and middle grade book, about 7 in total, details still to come.  (Totally awesome for writers, readers, parents, teachers, or gift-givers!!!)

– a personalized signed copy of GRIMELDA AND THE SPOOKTACULAR PET SHOW by Diana Murray PLUS a personalized signed copy of BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER by Andria Rosenbaum
Grimelda 2big sis little monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

– a personalized signed copy of MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN by Nancy Churnin

Manjhi

– a copy of MEET WOOF & QUACK by Jamie Swenson and donated by the illustrator, Ryan Sias

woof and quack

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 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!  I have to confess, I was really down to the wire this year (my schedule is a lot nuts!), I have some looming deadlines for various things… which is why I may be a little behind getting started reading entries and why the judging may be slightly delayed… just so you know… but I digress!

So, here goes nothing…!

Sneak Attack! (95 words)

Minnie Monster feels forlorn.
How she craves some candy corn!
Why do children have no clue
That monsters covet candy too?
Min peers out the closet door.
Plastic pumpkin on Jen’s floor
Brimming full of trick-or-treat
Surely more than Jen can eat!
What’s a monster girl to do
But help herself to just a few?
Min darts left, then tiptoes right.
Silent, stealthy, out of sight.
Candy corn within her reach,
Min emits a fearful screech!
Hurtles underneath Jen’s bed.
Hides her hairy monster head
From the THING that scared her so –
Nothing but her own shadow!

[And the two lines I had to cut from the end because they took the word count to 105:
Moral of this monster tale?
Don’t filch from another’s pail!  🙂 ]

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 135!!! 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.   Scaredy-Crow Joe – Ingrid
2.   The Bone Spider – Shelemur
3.   The Best In The Bowl – Susan S
4.   Fall Forest Stew At Edora Park – Kristen
5.   Scary To Someone – Vanessa
6.   The Trick In The Treat – Corine
7.   Vampette’s Visions – Katie
8.   Pumpkin Patch – Ryan
9.   The Spooky Night Of Halloween – Nina
10. Screamoween – Lindsay
11. The Baddies’ Curse – Cindy
12. Fangsmith’s Missing Fangs – Ann
13. Shadow Play – Jessica
14. Candy Corn: Sweet Or Scary – Jodi
15. Little Monster’s First Halloween – Kathy M
16. Halloween Blizzard – Marilyn U
17. The Scary Sweet – Megan W
18. The Shadow – Megan W
19. The Neighbor Kid – Viji
20. Dancing In The Moonlight – Kathy E
21. “Knock, Knock” – Jerry
22. Gobblewolly’s Halloweensie Treasure – Jennifer B
23. Raven’s Trick – Sydney
24. Sugar Monster’s Revenge – Sydney
25. Corny Smile Costume – Sheri
26. Unveiled Terror – Deborah
27. Trick Or Treat – Claire
28. Halloween With My Sister – Hilda
29. Sharkcula – Katherine
30. Monster Ball – Marilyn G
31. Happy Halloween Volcano – Barbara
32. Boogley’s Halloween – Chambrae
33. Pumpkin Patch – Summer
34. Victor Frank Bakes A Monster – Chambrae
35. Harry’s Favorite Night – Karen
36. The Monster – Judy V
37. The Candy Corn Monster – Gail
38. The Chilling Search For Candy Corn – Laurie
39. The Candy Corn-Eating Contest – Robin
40.  Witchy – Terri
41. The Purple Monster And The Candy Corn – Janet
42. The Purple Monster – Janet
43. Vampire Has A Sweet Tooth – Judy S
44. Candy Monster – Jennifer G
45. Nitro’s Halloween Surprise – Jenifer
46. Beware The Candy Snatch – Jennifer B
47. The Five Houses On Halloween – Cindy
48. Only Around Halloween – Janie
49. Broomstick Sale – Nina
50. The Candy Corn Monster – Marje
51. The Rumor – Judy V
52. Trick Or Treats For Monster? – Sandy
53. Witch Hiccups – B.L.
54. Manny’s Perfect Costume – Anne
55. Shadows Of The Candy Corn Monster – Sarah
56. A Real Witch – Brook
57. Fright Night – Marty
58. Beware The Great Candy Corn – Jenna
59. In The Ginger House Of Licorice Flax – Megan H
60. Do You Know About… – Robyn
61. I’m Not A Candy Corn – Kristen D
62. Halloween – Bah Humbug! – Susan R
63. Shhh – Michael
64. My Favorite Holiday – Jenna
65. Monster’s Shadow – Marcia
66. A Terrible Monster – Anne L
67. Candy Corn Meadow – Megan H
68. Monster’s Brave Halloween – Dee
69. Halloween – Best Day Ever! – Kathy B
70. The Scariest Monster – Dina
71. Marvin…The Monster – Lucretia
72. A Halloween Feast – Elaine
73. Monster Manners – Cheryl
74. Halloween Goodies – Tiffany
75. Pumpkin P.I. – Heather
76. Who Killed Candy Corn? – Beth
77. Sweet Halloween – Tasha
78. Ten Dancing Monsters – Joni
79. The Candy Corn Trap – Nancy R
80. Halloween Raid – Laura
81. Tricky Nicknames – Valerie
82. Shadow Monster – Jen
83. Monster Shadow – Erin
84. Charlotte’s Colorful Night And The Unstuck Candy – Barbara
85. Monster Had A Little Ghost – Nancy
86. The Quest – Linda
87. Watch Out! – Meryl
88. Monster Mayhem – Mary
89. Monster’s Treat – Bridget
90. The Watcher – Mare
91. Spooky Old House – Sherry F
92. Untitled – Katie S
93. The Monster Ball – Anne S
94. Bathilda’s Scary Surprise – Jennifer J
95. House Hates Halloween – Kaye
96. Not So Scary – Judy C
97. Monster’s Pay Day – Sherri
98. The Scary House – Lauren
99. The History Of Candy Corn – Ashley
100. Jimmy’s Nighttime Guest – Sara
101. Trick Or Treat – Kathy S
102. Freaky Pet – Mandy
103. The Shadow Of The Candy Corn Monster – Jim
104. Lonely Halloween – Sparkle
105. The Truth About Halloween – Keatley
106. Sweet Dreams – Risa
107. Call Backs – Risa
108. Sendak Admirer – Risa
109. Ghosts and Goblins and Gremlins, Oh, My! – Mia
110. Monster’s Woe – Nancy R
111. The Great Candy Corn Debate – Mary M
112. Trick Or Be My Treat – Corine
113. It’s All About The Treats – Sharon E
114. Hildy – Sharon E
115. Monster Imposter – Jeanette
116. Even Ghosts Get Scared – JC
117. Witchie On Her Toes – Kathleen
118. Candy Corn’s Big Night – Sharon W
119. Where Is Lilu? – Veronica
120. Which Witch? – Mary W
121. Oh My! – Judy V
122. No Candy Corn! – Grace
123. Monster Suprise – Mona
124. Shadowy Footsteps – Midge
125. Halloween No Fear – Deborah A
126. Scary Mary’s Halloween Harvest – Amy B
127. Me And My Shadow – Laura G
128. Boycott Halloween – Laura G
129. The Walk Home – JC
130. Candy Corn Mystery – Charlotte S
131. Needed: Halloween Partner – Marjorie
132. Mrs. Smith’s Halloween – Marjorie
133. Monster Jr.’s Halloween – Edna
134. Max’s Halloween Costume – Donna
135. The Scariest House On The Block – Susie