The 11th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest – FINALISTS!!! – Vote For Your Favorite!!!

I love running writing contests.

I really do.

Right up until the moment when I have to narrow a field of 300 fabulous stories down to a finalist list of 12 or so!

That’s the moment when I say to myself (every single time!), WHAT WAS I THINKING???!!! WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS WHOLE CONTEST THING ANYWAY???!!!

It’s all fun and games when the entries are rolling in, and each one is better than the last, and I’m enjoying the stories and marveling over everyone’s talent and creativity.

But then I have to evaluate all those wonderful entries – dissect and weigh and nitpick (and hem and haw and dither over every single one I have to let go) – because really, everyone steps up and does an amazing job, and there is at least something to like about all of them!

So here I am, along with my fellow judges, doing our best impressions of the Pillsbury Dough Boy after all the chocolate we’ve consumed to get us through this torturous decision-making, having not gotten out of our pajamas for days as we read and re-read. . . really, it’s a very good thing you can’t see us right now! 😊

Please know that we did the best we could to make good choices – entries that met the contest criteria, that were kid-friendly and Halloween-y and had a strong element of story (because those were big reasons why many entries were cut – too adult, not Halloween-y enough, not enough story – which we know is VERY hard in 100 words!)

I just want to say three little things before I post the actual finalists (shocking, I know, because normally I’m so quiet you can hardly get a word out of me 😊😊)

First, 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 read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments.  This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories.  It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed.  I hope you all got as much delight  and entertainment out of the reading as I did!  Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 😊

Third, I want to reiterate 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 revise, expand, and polish if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  A lot of people have successfully done that at this point – we have quite a few books in the world that were born in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests, plus a chapter book series that came out of the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest one spring!  So bravo to everyone who entered!

So.

Are you ready for the finalists?

I hope you like them!

Please read through them all, then vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday November 11 at 3 PM Eastern (so I can post the winners on Friday!)

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 identify yourself or ask others to identify you as a finalist on social media, please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, and please do not ask people to vote for the story about the broomstick-riding vampire princess 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! Read! Enjoy! VOTE! 😊

1. JELLYFISH GEORGE’S HALLOWEEN                                    

Jelly George’s glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume arrived today.

He would FINALLY have bones!

“Just wait until my friends see how good I look. How creepy. And SOOOOO boney!”

George visited Susie Sponge’s house first. He rang her bell with excitement, full of goosebumps.

The door opened.

George could see envy seeping from Susie’s pores as she gave him candy.

She wanted bones too. And he was FULL of them.

George floated the night away, collecting goodies and passing his jelly buddies with their silly mediocre masks.

He felt like a king.

UNTIL he noticed …

David Dogfish eyeing him.

And DROOLING.

UH-OH.

2. SANTA’S HALLOWEEN

‘Tis Halloween evening, and up at the pole
ol’ Santa sneaks into his sleigh, with one goal.

“I know it’s not Christmas but I need a snack!
I’ll gather some goodies and—WHOOSH—I’ll be back.”

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and—YIKES!
I didn’t expect to see skulls stuck on spikes!”

“Monsterly mayhem and ghouls on the streets?
Galloping goosebumps! Now where are the treats?”

But glow-in-the-dark decorations galore
shock Rudolph so much that he’s shook to his core.

“My poor little reindeer have had such a fright.
We’re outta this town—good riddance, good night!”

3. TRICK-OR-TREAT, NIGHT ANIMALS!: A HOLLOWEEN STORY  

Coyote was first to spot the stampede.
“Trick-or-Treaters! Hide!” he yelped with alarm,
hurrying into the big tree’s hollow.

Goose heard Coyote.
If Trick-or-Treaters scared fierce Coyote,
they must be goosebump worthy.
She honked and joined Coyote inside the tree.

Racoon heard Goose.
If Goose and Coyote feared Trick-or-Treaters,
Racoon couldn’t mask his nerves.
He chattered, then crammed into the hollow.

Cat heard Racoon.
She didn’t fancy herself a fraidy-cat,
but Trick-or-Treaters sounded ferocious.
She hissed, then jammed into the tree with the others.

Deep in the hollow, Coyote’s sharp teeth glowed-in-the-dark.

“Goody,” he drooled.

“Trick AND treats.”

4. A FEW OF THE SCARIEST THINGS: A Parody to the tune of My Favorite Things

Witches on broomsticks and vampires flying,
Frankenstein monsters and zombies not dying,
Ogres and aliens, all ghastly green!
I’m getting goosebumps ‘cause it’s Halloween!

Halloween night doesn’t make me feel merry.
Walking around in the dark is too scary.
Glow in the dark, that’s what I need to be.
Trick or treat goodies would all be for me!

Hey I’ve got it!
I could light up….
I know what I’ll be!
Bright lights and some tinsel, a glittering star!
A Halloween Christmas Tree!

5. BUNNY’S BORED!                             

“Won’t Easter ever come?” sighs Bunny. “I’m bored.”
He checks his calendar.
“Yay! Tonight’s Halloween—I’ll hide yummy glow-in-the-dark goodies.” Hopping through creepy woods, Bunny hears branches shake.
“What’s that?” Goosebumps spike up his back.
“ROARR!” Out jumps Monster.
“Eee-yoww!” Bunny dashes.
“Wait!” Laughing, Monster removes his mask.
“Santa?”
“I got bored waiting for Christmas.”
The ground trembles—
Killer-Robot clanks from the dark.
“Great costume!” cheer Bunny and Santa.
Red beams shoot from Killer-Robot’s eyes—
ZAAPPP!
Bushes explode into flames.
“Eee-yahh—he’s real!” Bunny and Santa skedaddle.
Killer-Robot’s head slides off.
“Tee-hee-hee!” Ms. Claus grins—
“HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!”

6. HOW HANNAH SAVED HALLOWEEN                                                 

A wicked storm blows out the lights
up and down the street.
With costumes set, the children fret,
“They’ll cancel trick-or-treat.”
Except for hopeful Hannah who,
as always, starts to plan,
certain she will find a way
to shift from can’t to can.
She first imagines fireflies,
“Too scattered to control.”
She next considers candlelight.
“Too hard to hold and stroll.
Aha!” she says as goosebumps form.
“A perfect resolution!
We’ll use my sticks that glow-in-the-dark
for lighting substitution!
I’ll ride throughout the neighborhood,
deliver while it’s bright,
then everyone can still collect
their goodies when it’s night.”

7. MY LAST TRICK-OR-TREAT                             

It was the biggest house, once showy now spooky and scary with oodles of stairs that led to darkness; but this was my last Halloween.

Leaves crunched and the wind cried.

Alone except for goodies bumping in my bag.

Ahead, a glow-in-the-dark hand on a curtain at the window. A ghost? A ghoul? Goosebumps form.

Shadows surround me.

At the top a door – large and looming.

Knock, Knock.

CRRREEEEEEK.

A hand materializes from the darkness behind the door.

PLUNK.

I look in my bag.

I am filled with horror.

Looking back at me, one small box of … RAISINS!

8. THE HAUNTED HOUSE HIGH UP ON THE HILL 

Across a front door where no one dared roam,
Spider had woven a web-tastic home.
Dead in the middle, she stifled a cry.
“What?!” grumbled Goosebump, a ghost floating by.
“Halloween’s coming, the ONE night they call!
Children won’t notice… my cobweb will fall!”
Goosebump replied: “I know what to do…”
Then into the derelict mansion he flew;
He reappeared holding a luminous potion,
Splattered it over the web in one motion.
When tricksters arrived for their goodies, they spied
A cobweb that glowed-in-the-dark, stretching wide.
“Best not approach,” someone sounded unsure,
He scurried away…

To try the BACK door!

9. KIT’S COSTUME                                                                                            

“Finally, Halloween!”
Kit couldn’t wait to go trick-or-treating.
The ooey-gooey goodies, the goosebumps, the KIDS!
All he needed was a bit of black paint
and he could be part of it!
One last glob…
“Purrrrfect!”
Under the moon’s glow-in-the-dark light
Kit crept to the corner and peeked.
“Look Mum, a kitty!”
Kit beamed,
finally walking freely.
And with so many people in sight!
Kit marched with creative costumes,
devoured thrills, chills and too-much candy
Until…
He felt a wave of wet.
“SPRINKLERS!”
Kit raced to stay dry
but, the paint had…
“Run! SKUNK!”

“Well…that had been fun.” Kit sighed.

10. ASTRONAUT AIDAN                            

Spacesuit? Check.
Stuffed bear co-pilot? Check.
Rocketship? Almost.

Goosebumps covered Aidan’s arms.
This Halloween he was flying into space.

No huge piles of goodies like last year, he thought.
No parading through the streets with his brother either.

Nervously he waited to take flight.

“The nurses have a special surprise for you,” Mom encouraged.

Do all astronauts feel this topsy-turvy before take off, he wondered.

“Ready, Astronaut Aidan?” the nurse called.

Slowly the lights dimmed.
One by one, glow-in-the-dark stars shone from above.

Reassured, Aidan smiled.

From his seat aboard the radiation machine rocketship he bravely counted. “3, 2, 1 … blastoff!”

11. IT’S HALLOWEEN IN TOOTHYTOWN                     

It’s Halloween in Toothytown,
The ghouls and goblins gather ‘round.

Their trays arranged with cakes and pies,
In hopes of grabbing this year’s prize.

Miss Dragon’s Breath, the crusty judge,
Turns up her snout at Franky’s fudge.

She sneers at Ogre’s goosebump blintz,
And gags on Troll’s toejam with lint.

But Gremlin’s spicy pepper bread,
Makes Dragon hold her scaly head.

Her nostrils flare. She starts to wheeze,
And lets out a gigantic…

SNEEZE!

The goodies sizzle, snap, and spark,
Like pumpkins glowing in the dark. Miss Dragon’s eyes begin to brim,
“Now that’s a treat! Let’s all dig in!”

12. THE WITCH’S MISTAKE                     

OH, GOODY, my first victim! Goosebumps prickle my warty body.
“Trick-or-treat!”
At last I will turn these horrid children into delightfully frightful black cats!!
It was an easy potion: dog tears, firefly butts, swamp mud, and a fingernail of salt. Looks just like king-sized chocolate bars!
Yes, they all come running now. Greedy goblins!
I stifle a cackle and wait…
But instead of feline screeches and yowls, I hear…
“Woah! Check us out! We glow-in-the-dark! Best. Halloween. EVERRRRRR!!!”
OH, BOO! I can’t believe I mixed up the sugar and salt again. Worst. Halloween. Ever.

13. PUMPKIN’S HALLOWEEN                                                          

Alone near the farm truck, Pumpkin sagged and straightened his white tag like a tie.

Ryan zigzagged through the pumpkin patch. “Here’s the last one!”

Grandpa shook his head, “Cracked.”

Ryan touched Pumpkin’s white tag. “What’s it say?”

“Sound it out.”

Ryan traced the letters. “F-R-E-E. We’ll take Free home! Put two happy eyes and a great grin on his goose-bumply face!”

Glowing-in-the-dark on Ryan’s stoop, Pumpkin enjoyed the costumes. The giggles. “Halloween is beautiful…”

Ryan thanked her shining friend with goodies. “Your midnight snacks.”

Soon, Pumpkin’s light faded. His eyes drooped. But his smile didn’t. “I’m Free.”

So there you have them! Your 2021 Halloweensie Finalists!

(And yes, I realize we posted 13 finalists and 12 prizes, so I’ll dream up an extra prize!)

Please vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday November 11th at 3PM Eastern!

Tune in Friday November 12th to see THE WINNERS!!! – same bat time, same bat station 😊

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 truly cannot wait to see who you choose as the winner!  Good luck!!! 😊

Wheee-hee-hee! Witches In The Air! – Announcing The Guidelines For The 11th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

So, I know it’s Monday and I don’t usually post on Mondays.

But this is a special Monday.

A Monday I post on almost every year (except when I’m really behind schedule and end up on a random Thursday…😊)

And you know what I’m about to say, right?

Of course you do!

This isn’t your first trip around the blog! (See what I did there?)

I removed a section of this post because although it was intended to be in good fun it caused offense to some people, which was never my intention.

So, get ready for. . .

The 11th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

So! Are you ready?

THE CONTEST: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in word count) using the words glow-in-the-dark, goosebumps, and goodies.

  • Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words. Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • Also, being super clear for this year, glow-in-the-dark counts as 1 word (even though it looks like 4 😊)
  • You may use the words in any form i.e. glowed-in-the-dark, goosebumpley, goody (“Oh, goody!”, goody-two-shoes etc.), whathaveyou 😊
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge! We got just shy of 300 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!

POST: your story in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12AM Eastern Friday October 29th (the day the official contest post will go up here) and Sunday October 31st at Midnight – the witching hour! (see, there are those witches again 😊)

  • For those of you who would also like to post on your blogs, please feel free to do so! You are welcome to include the link to your blog with your entry in the comment section of the Official Contest Post so that people can come visit your blog, but all entries must be posted in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12 AM Eastern Friday October 29th and Sunday October 31st at Midnight.
  • If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the top NO ATTACHMENTS! and please do not submit any entries before the official opening of the contest at 12AM Friday October 29th. They will not be accepted.
  • I know how hard you all work on your entries, and how anxious you are to get them posted, but please try to be a little patient if your entry doesn’t show up immediately. Many comments have to be manually approved, and it sometimes takes me a little while to post entries that come in by email. I promise I will get to everything as soon as I can. I try never to leave my desk during contests, but sometimes it’s unavoidable 😊

THE JUDGING: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will read and re-read and narrow down the entries to a finalist field of about 12 which will be posted here for you to vote on I hope by Friday November 5th (though if the judging takes longer than expected it might be a little later – we will do our best!) The winner will be announced Monday November 8th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 😊)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Halloweeniness – the rules state a Halloween story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Halloween, not just some random spooky night.
  • 3. Use of all 3 required words and whether you came it at 100 words or less.
  • 4. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 5. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  • 6. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines, they won’t even read your submission.

THE PRIZES: So amazing! What wonderful, generous people we have in our kidlit community! Just wait til you see what you can win! (This list is still under construction, so there may be changes…!) (And in the interest of getting this posted I’m merely listing the prizes tonight – I will add details ASAP!)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids, 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, 2020), THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids, 2021), THE NIGHT BAAFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL (WorthyKids, 2021), and the brand new ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids, October 19, 2021)!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) by Janie Reinart, author of WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN (Blue Whale Press, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (biography) by Lindsey McDivitt, author of NATURE’S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018), TRUTH AND HONOR: THE PRESIDENT FORD STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2020), and A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE: NELSON MANDELA’S HOPE FOR HIS NATION (Eerdman’s Books For Young Readers, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or any) or First 10 Pages of a longer MS (winner’s choice) by Kenda Henthorn, author of the forthcoming BAA, BAA TAP SHEEP (Sleeping Bear Press, April 15, 2022)

Kenda works in the aviation industry now so it’s no surprise that her writing inspirations and aspirations are sky-high, too.  She resides in Oklahoma and when the winds aren’t sweepin’ down the plains, Kenda enjoys acting, flying, kayaking and riding horses or her motorcycle.  (Vroom-vroom!)She has served as a Regional Coordinator for the Oklahoma SCBWI and a Best in Rhyme Award committee member and judge.

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or lyrical) by Randi Sonenshine, author of THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT (Candlewick March 2020) and the forthcoming THE LODGE THAT BEAVER BUILT (Candlewick Fall 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Danielle Dufayet, author of YOU ARE YOUR STRONG (Magination Press, March 2019) and FANTASTIC YOU (Magination Press, September 2019)

⭐️ Storyboard Notebook – a great way to draft your picture books!

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS by Dawn Young

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of BRANCHES OF HOPE: The 9/11 Survivor Tree by Ann Magee

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of MIMIC MAKERS: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature by Kristen Nordstrom

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation by Lindsey McDivitt

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT by Randi Sonenshine

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

Now!  Lay in a good chocolate supply (no better time than right before Halloween for THAT!)! Butt In Chair! Pencils, pens, or keyboards ready! Put on your pointy black thinking cap (you know, to get in that Halloween mood 🧙🏿‍♀️ 😊!)  And write those prize-winning stories!!!

I can’t wait to read them!!! 😊

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

Can you believe it?

We’ve arrived at Week #7!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But not just anything. . . 😊

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

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

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

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you.
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is just a guideline.
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a beginning or ending or some onomatopoeia that isn’t here, go for it! – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing! Please just tell us what you’re using at the top of your entry.
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which column items you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, title, and word count.
  • I have been so enjoying reading all your amazing stories every week – so many different, creative, delightful, entertaining stories! – that I’m sad this is the last hurrah for this year!

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

    Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

    Check Out The Week #7 Stories:

    Beach Baby – Bru Benson

    The Worm’s Halloween Adventure – Marty Findley

    Perfect Piggy – Robin Currie

    Watermelon Woes – Rose Cappelli

    Beach Bound – Sue Lancaster

    The Unexpected Ride – Dawn Young

    Sloth Finds A Friend – Jen Subra

    The Fairy And The Thunderstorm – Erin Cleary

    Will Summer Begin? – Erika Romero

    Max And The Fireworks – Sara Kruger

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

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    Max And The Alligator – Marta Cutler

    Duck’s Creek – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Sam’s Trouble With Watermelon – Lyn Jekowsky

    Game, Game, Go Away! – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Watermelon Delight – Jeannette Suhr

    The Fear Of Fireworks – Amy Leskowski

    Merchant Pips – Elenore Byrne

    The Very Slow Sloth – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

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

    Why Piggies Have Curly Tails – Jill Lambert

    Dorothy’s Umbrella – Brenna Jeanneret

    Beach Adventure – Ashley Sierra

    Sloth And Bee – Linda Schueler

    Maddy Wants More, More, More – Sarah Meade

    Climbing Up – Marty Findley

    This Little Piggy – Marty Bellis

    Sloth And The Bees In The Tree – Barbara Renner

    Munch Goes The Pirate – Aly Kenna

    Marianna And The Mermaid – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Undersea Soiree – Nicole Loos Miller

    Ella’s Wild Ride – Michelle S. Kennedy

    A S’more By The Fire – Allison Strick

    The Ant Raid – Deb Sullivan

    A Wagonful Of Trouble – Susan Summers

    A Nap And A Watermelon Field – Jana Mattern

    Rules For A Pig-Perfect Life – Joyce Uglow

    Wanted: ESPR – Colleen Own Murphy

    Not So Bad After All – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    Watermelon Problem – Mia Geiger

    A. Sloth Or Not A. Sloth – Katie Schwartz

    Saltwater Kisses – JC Kelly

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

    The Prince And His Alligator – Deb Buschman

    The Lonely Sloth – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Tilly’s Mermaid – Dianne Irving

    Untitled – Padgy Soltis

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

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

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

    

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

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

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

    Sara Kruger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

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

    ⭐️A copy of PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA! by Linda Ashman

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

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

    ⭐️Writing Journal (with a side of prompts 😊)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a name, relationship or emotion that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which relationship and emotion you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.
  • I am ready to be bowled over by your creativity and talent! 

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

    Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

    Check out the Week #6 stories!

    Gus – Robin Currie

    My Sister’s For Sale – Rose Cappelli

    Esme And Enzo, Aquatic Besties – Candice Marley Conner

    Alice And Ollie – Joyce Uglow

    Enzo The Pelican – Lyn Jekowsky

    Tuck And Pops – Marty Findley

    Anna And Granna – Marty Findley

    Mighty Maisy – Jen Subra

    Dance! Dance! – Leslie Degnan

    Gus Gets A Pet Dragon – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Big Dog – Marty Findley

    Chip Goes Blip – Laura Bower

    My Grandpop Can Fix Anything – Susan Schipper

    The Chosen One – Sue Lancaster

    Fire Circle – Sarah Hawklyn

    The Festival – Erika Romero

    I Have A Poem For You – Padgy Soltis

    A Fork In The Road – Jill Lambert

    Birthday Surprise – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

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

    Maisie And Dana – Sarah Meade

    Dylan Loves His Friend – Barbara Renner

    The Tooth Fairy And The Dragon – Aly Kenna

    Grammy’s Twinkles – Dawn Young

    Date Night Betrayal – Allison Strick

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

    Maisie Astounds – Jeannette Suhr

    Dear Tooth Fairy – Nicole Loos Miller

    Creating Joy – Jeannette Suhr

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

    According To My Grandma – Marta Cutler

    Bentley’s Bad Behavior – Susan Summers

    A New Day – Mia Geiger

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

    Maisie’s Big Brother – Marty Bellis

    The Fairy Godmother Problem – Ashley Sierra

    The Most(ly) Boring Babysitter – Amy Leskowski

    Love – Lauren Scott

    Maisie’s Surprise – Deb Sullivan

    Little Dragon Worries – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    The Green Dragon – Marta Cutler

    Betrayed – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Hearts More Like Me – Elenore Byrne

    Little Gus Giraffe Goes To Tokyo – Dianne Irving

    I Hate Puppies – Deb Buschman

    Not The Enzo But A Beginning – Bru Benson

    The Great Escape – Katie Schwartz

    Monster And Alien – Brenna Jeanneret

    Late For School – Again – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Xander And The Dinosaurs – Linda Schueler

    Esme And Rex – JC Kelly

    Enzo’s Fire – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

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

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

    

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

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

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

    Sara Kruger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

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

    ⭐️A copy of PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA! by Linda Ashman

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Column A – ConceptColumn B – Setting
    ShapesHalloween
    ColorsBeach
    Numbers/CountingFarm
    AlphabetSchool
    TimeCar Trip
    Place/Location (in, on, above, under, around, through, etc.)Circus
    EmotionsCity or Country
    SeasonsAmusement Park or County Fair
    WeatherSupermarket
    • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
    • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
    • If you’re deeply inspired by a concept or a setting that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
    • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which concept and setting you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

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

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

    Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

    Check out the Week #5 stories!

    F Is For Fish Farm – Candice Marley Conner

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

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

    Circus Countdown – Sue Lancaster

    ABCs Of Abstract Art – Christine Alemshah

    What Color Is Fall? – Jen Subra

    Toucan Counts His Berries – Marty Findley

    Weather Check – Dawn Young

    The Colors In The Farm – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    One Fine Bluebird – Rose Cappelli

    Road Trip! – Erin Cleary

    Wise Willie Wonders Where – Susan Schipper

    On My First Easter Party – Ashley Sierra

    Senses Dance At The Beach – Lyn Jekowsky

    Roller Coaster – Barbara Renner

    Alphabet Road Trip – Aly Kenna

    A Trolley Full Of Feelings – Elenore Byrne

    It’s Time For The State Fair – Joyce Uglow

    They’re Coming! – Jill Lambert

    The Colorful Car Trip – Deb Sullivan

    Are We There Yet? – Marta Cutler

    The Number Line – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Five At The Fair – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Are We There Yet? – Leslie Degnan

    A Win At Walmart – Sara Kruger

    Circus Opposites – Lauren Scott

    Runaway Stroller – Allison Strick

    Ghost Crabs At The Beach – Susan Summers

    Ups And Downs – Jeannette Suhr

    Sleepytime ABCs – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    I’ll Grocery Shop For You – Bru Benson

    Weather Or Not – Marta Cutler

    At the Beach – Marty Bellis

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

    Farm Time – Robin Currie

    Halloween Alphabet – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Alphabet Road Trip – Deb Buschman

    At Grandma’s House – Sarah Meade

    Not The Only One – Amy Leskowski

    Beach Day – Katie Schwartz

    At The Beach – Sarah Hawklyn

    Monday Mornings – Padgy Soltis

    Farm Life – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Seasons Market – Linda Schueler

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Roller Coaster – Nicole Loos Miller

    Ten Little Sea Creatures – Mia Geiger

    Head Down Under And Count To Ten – Dianne Irving

    The Halloween Seasons – Brenna Jeanneret

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

    I Simply Cannot – JC Kelly

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

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

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

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

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

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

    Good Monday Morning, Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Post your story in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you.)

    • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
    • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
    • If you’re deeply inspired by a theme that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
    • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which song, theme (and important item if you choose to use one) you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

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

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

    Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

    Check out the Week #4 stories!

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

    Dreams Inside! – Robin Currie

    Jack And Jill’s New Adventure – Jen Subra

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Charlie’s Search – Rose Cappelli

    Rock A Bye Daisy – Laura Bower

    Arachnid At Your Service – Jill Lambert

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider And The Moon – Erika Romero

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

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    Believe In All You Imagine – Sally Yorke-Viney

    The Itsy Bitsy Puppy – Marty Findley

    All That Glitters Is Not Gold – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    Spunky Little Teddy – Joyce Uglow

    Flap Flap Flap Those Wings – Marty Bellis

    Dress Dress Dress For Rain – Amy Leskowski

    Mark And Grace – Colleen Murphy

    I Love Shopping With My Mom – Sara Kruger

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

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

    Ninja, Ninja, Little Sneak – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Jack And Jill Revisit Their Hill – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Jo And Flo – Christine Alemshah

    Little Lilly’s Blunder – Elenore Byrne

    Ride, Ride, Ride My Bike – Sue Lancaster

    Friends For Life – Deb Sullivan

    Fireflies – Lyn Jekowsky

    The Rescue – Marta Cutler

    Bear’s Fresh Start – Allison Strick

    Rock A Bye Zombie – Susan Summers

    Rainy Day Problem…Solvers – Susan Schipper

    To Grandmother’s House We Go – Jeannette Suhr

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

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

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

    Use Your Map – Padgy Soltis

    The Daisy – Barbara Renner

    Oopsy Daisy! – Marta Cutler

    Yummy, Yummy, Little Pie – Nicole Loos Miller

    The Bat Flew Over The Pumpkins – Sarah Meade

    Read A Book – Dawn Young

    Sun And Moon – Dawn Young

    The Itsy Bitsy Scratchy Spider – Bru Benson

    Wait For Me – Candace Kubinec

    Untitled – Sarah Marhevsky

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

    Don’t Row The Boat Please – Linda Schueler

    How Much Is That Bicycle In The Window – Mia Geiger

    The Itsy Bitsy Tadpoles– Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Rock Star Baby Brother – Katie Schwartz

    Albert Went Over The Mountain – Deb Buschman

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider Is Bored – Brenna Jeanneret

    The Just Right Story Book – JC Kelly

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

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

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

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

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

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

    Ok, writers, are you ready?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Write a 100 word story for kids about the pictured characters, using three random words and giving one of the characters a secret which you incorporate into the story, and post your in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you.)

    • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
    • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
    • If you’re deeply inspired by random words that are not on the list you can use them instead – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
    • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which random words you’re using you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

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

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

    Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

    Check out the Week #3 stories!


    Ruth’s Birthday Surprise – Sue Lancaster

    The Perfect Gift – Erika Romero

    Getting There – Rose Cappelli

    A Hare Raising Mistake – Bru Benson

    Acorn Day – Jen Subra

    The Secret – Marty Findley

    The Secret Spot – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    The Smashed Bash – Laura Bower

    The Secrets of Beryl The Bunny – Elenore Byrne

    Hare…Or Not – Susan E. Schipper

    Better Than Acorns – Erin Cleary

    Acorns And, Er, What?! – Marty Bellis

    Bunny’s Problem – Deb Sullivan

    Floppy And The Rope Swing – Dawn Young

    Untitled – Elizabeth Volkmann

    The Cherry Pie Problem – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Chip, Drip, And Skip – Meg King-Sloan

    A Small Mistake – Leslie Degnan

    Turtle’s Strawberry Hill Surprise – Joyce Uglow

    Disappearing Dewberries – Candice Marley Conner

    Rabbit Won’t Have To Wait – Sara Kruger

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

    Miss Bun’s Secret – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    A Happy Tail – Marta Cutler

    Safe Cracking Squirrels – Susan Summers

    Clueless Squirrels – Lyn Jekowsky

    Scratch And Scritch’s Show Stopper – Ashley Sierra

    Fireworks – Aly Kenna

    Late Lunch – Hannah Roy LeGrone

    Bunny’s Magic – Dianne Irving

    Thoughtful Harry – Padgy Soltis

    A Secret Entrance – Lauri Meyers

    The Scavenger Hunt – Barbara Renner

    Vanishing Act – Marta Cutler

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

    Harah Helps Look – Sarah Meade

    Momo’s Cherry Tree – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    In The Mood To Play? – Amy Leskowski

    A Couple Of Nuts – Jill Lambert

    Mr. Bunny’s Secret Skill – Mia Geiger

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

    Rainy Picnic – Nicole Loos Miller

    The Secret of Sassafras – Linda Schueler

    A Friend In Need – Candace Kubinec

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    The Unicorn – Lynn Katz

    Unicorn’s Secret – Michelle S. Kennedy

    The Happiest Habit – Christine Alemshah

    The Bunny’s Secret – Marla Yablon

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

    The Will To Win – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Magic Unicorn – Robin Currie

    Happy Spwing – Deb Buschman

    The Unicorn’s Mistake – Brenna Jeanneret

    Tantrum Blues – Sarah Hawklyn

    That Hare – JC Kelly


    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

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

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

    2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – Week 2!

    Writers, start your computers!

    It’s time for Week #2 of the 2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge!

    WOOHOO!

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

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

    For a full description of the challenge or to enter your Week #1 entry, please go HERE.

    Let’s jump into Week #2!

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #2 for Week of May 17:

    Last week we played with character needs, an important thing to keep in mind when you’re writing because characters should always need or want something desperately – a goal, an object or possession, a role, a quality, to prove something (to herself or someone else), to overcome something. . . You all did splendidly!

    This week we’re going to play with a specific story type: the cumulative tale!

    Cumulative stories build and build, growing sillier, or more chaotic, or more outrageous, or more complicated with each new addition, as in There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.

    She swallowed the goat to catch the dog …
    She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
    She swallowed the cat to catch the bird …
    She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
    That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.


    Some published examples of clever re-tellings are:

    There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann
    There Was An Old Monster (Who Swallowed A Tick) by Adrian, Rebecca & Ed Emberly
    There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth by B.J. Lee

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it 😊 is to choose an adjective from Column A, a character from Column B, a verb from Column C, and a noun from Column D. Mix ‘n’ Match and write your own version!

    e.g. There Was An Old Cowboy Who Lassoed A Bear
    There Was A Huge Baby Who Lived On A Boat
    There Was A Shy T-Rex Who Wished For A Friend

    Column A – Adj.Column B – CharacterColumn C – VerbColumn D – Noun
    OldMonsterTurned IntoGhost
    SmartGrandmaFollowedToad
    BraveWarthogFought With/BulliedFriend
    ShyT-RexRan From/Ran To/Ran UpSword
    HugeKittenPlayed Tricks OnBear
    SmallPythonWished For/Wished OnMoon/Star
    MeanCowboyLassoedBee
    StrangeBabySwallowedWitch
    WildZookeepTauntedTree
    CuteLionLived With/Lived In/Lived OnBoat

    If choosing from all 4 columns is more than you want, or if you don’t like any of the words but the list inspires you to think up your own words, feel free to use as many or as few from the columns as you like and supply the other words yourself, but you must follow the format:

    There Was A(n) ___ADJ___ ___CHARACTER___ Who ___VERB___ A(HIS, HER, THE) ___NOUN___

    and it must be a cumulative story!

    • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
    • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is just a guideline
    • If you’re deeply inspired by another set of words, go for it! – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
    • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which column items you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, title, and word count.
      For example:
      There Was A Cute Kitten Who Followed His Nose
      by Marcia Writer
      107 words
      cute, kitten, followed

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

    Post your Week #2 story in the comment section below, or, if you have trouble for any reason and can’t post yourself you may email it to me using the Contact Form and I will post it for you.

    Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

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

    Check out the Week #2 stories!

    There Was A Small Baby Who Wished For A Star – Sue Lancaster

    There Was A Wild Warthog Who Wanted To Dance – Sally Yorke-Viney

    There Was A Shy Monster Who Followed A Toad – Jen Subra

    There Was A Young Cowboy Who Lassoed A Bee – Rose Cappelli

    There Was A Strange Witch Who Turned Into A Bee – Candice Marley Conner

    Who Might She Be? – Dawn Young

    There Was A Brave Grandma Who Followed A Star – Erin Cleary

    There Was An Old Grandma – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Where Is Baby’s Bear? – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    There Was A Smart Grandma Who Bullied A Bee – Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden

    Traffic Jam Baby – Elenore Byrne

    There Was A Huge Monster That Lived In A Tree – Erika Romero

    There Was A Huge Baby Who Followed A Bear – Leslie Degman

    I Know A Small Baby Who Swallowed Some Milk – Lauri Meyers

    There Was A Mean Cowboy Who Lassoed A Bee – Aly Kenna

    There Was A Huge Heron Who Followed A Toad – Jill Lambert

    There Was An Old Cowboy Who Wished For A Boat – Candace Kubinec

    There Was A Shy Kitten – Nicole Loos Miller

    There Was A Shy Monster Who Lived On A Star – Susan E. Schipper

    There Was A Small Kitten Who Followed A Toad – Barbara Farr Renner

    There Was A Weird Warthog Who Lassoed A Bear – Lyn Jekowsky

    There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Bee – Deb Sullivan

    There Was A Wild Warthog Who Wished For A Witch – Susan Summer

    There Was A Young Writer Who Wrote A Great Word – Sarah Meade

    Wishing Kitten – Julie Kurtz

    There Was An Old Monster Who Wished For A Boat – Brenda Whitehead

    The Nose Of A Kitten – Elizabeth Volkmann

    There Was A Mean Monster Who Swallowed A Toad – Laura Bower

    Come To My Party – Ashley B. Pedigo

    There Was A Brown Cow Who Lived In A Tree – Marty Bellis

    There Was A Strange Cowboy Who Wished For A Friend – Sophia Zafra

    There Was A Shy Lion Who Wished For A Friend – Marta Cutler

    There Was A Brave Woman Who Wrote Down A Note – Ashley Sierra

    The Hungriest Python Turned Into A Boat – Allison Strick

    There Was An Author Who Got Stymied By The Prompt – Joyce Uglow

    There Was A Small Kitten Who Followed A Bee – Diane Irving

    Are you New? – Marla Yablon

    There Was A Shy Lion Who Wished For A Friend – Lauren Scott

    There Was A Strange Kitten Who Lassoed The Moon – Linda Schueler

    There Was A Smart Baby Who Followed A Star – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    There Was An Old Grandma Who Followed A Ghost – Marta Cutler

    There Was A Brave Grandma Who Lassoed A Witch – Jeannette Suhr

    There Was A Brave Zookeeper That Taunted A Bear – Sarah Hawklyn

    There Was A Wild Zookeeper Who Ran From A Bear – Jana Mattern

    There Was A Smart T-Rex Who Played Tricks On A Witch – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    A Huge Baby Swallowed A Witch – Bru Benson

    There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Bee – Jamie Bills

    The Old Cowboy – Katie Schwartz

    There Was A Cute Baby Who Charmed A Mommy – Christine Alemshah

    There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Bee – Sara Kruger

    There Was A Strange Cowboy Who Lived On A Boat – Michelle S. Kennedy

    The Grandma Who Bullied A Bear – Lynn Katz

    There Was A Brave Baby Who Followed A Witch – Padgy Soltis

    There Was A Shy Monster Who Taunted A Tree – Amy Leskowski

    A New Friend – Mia Geiger

    There Was A Smart Grandma – Marty Findley

    There Was An Old Cowboy Who Lassoed A Star – Melissa Wrex

    There Was An Old Cowboy Who Wanted A Friend – Robin Currie

    Not Guilty – Colleen Owen Murphy

    There Was A Wild Warthog Who Ran Up A Tree – Deb Buschman

    There Was A Wild Grandma Who Turned Into The Moon – Brenna Jeanneret

    There Was An Old Cowboy Who Lassoed A Friend – JC Kelly



    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

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

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

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

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

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

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

    Jen Raudenbush

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

    ⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade (details coming)

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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

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

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

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

    Here We Go Again! Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Take 2!

    Good morning, my little chickens!

    Are things feeling a wee bit humdrum?

    Is daily routine getting you down?

    Does this look familiar?

    Just as I suspected!

    It seems we’ve all got a case of the I Haven’t Gone Anywhere Done Anything Seen Anyone For A Year So What The Heck Can I Write About Blues!

    But don’t worry.

    I can fix that! 😊

    All that’s required is a little tomfoolery! A few high jinx and shenanigans to knock the K off of FUNK and get us back to good old F-U-N!

    Who’s with me?

    Give me a woo!

    WOO!

    Give me a hoo!

    HOO!

    What does that spell?

    Well. . . technically it doesn’t actually spell anything, since neither woo nor hoo is a letter, but one way or another it comes out

    WOOHOO!

    Now! Let’s have some fun!

    And fun in this instance is. . .

    another round of the ever-popular, practically world famous

    (Not a contest exactly… no room in the blog calendar, no time for judging, no gigantic prizes on offer…but still (hopefully!) tons of fun!)

    Here’s how it works:

    Starting today, each Monday until June 21st (which makes 7 Mondays total and will get us to the end of the school term) I will post a Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt for a 100 word story.  Post your story in the comment section for that week’s challenge (or if you have trouble posting it, email it to me and I’ll post it for you.)  At the end of the 7 weeks, everyone who has posted one story for each week’s prompt will

    A) have 7 brand new stories to play with!  (Who knows? Your next picture book or even chapter book or longer might be sparked by something you write for the Challenge!)

    B) be able to take credit for entertaining lots of fellow writers and their kids (not to mention you’ll entertain yourself and your own kids!)

    and

    C) qualify to win a prize from the Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Mystery Bag of Marvelous Prizes for Writers! (Last year we managed to scare up enough prizes that all of the approximately 40 people who completed the challenge got something, but we’ll have to see how the available prizes stack up this year – if there aren’t enough for everyone who completes the challenge we’ll have to randomly draw winners until we run out of prizes, but you will still win A and B above!)

    You can compete with yourself to see if you can write all 7 stories!  You can compete with your writing friends to see if you can write more than they do! And if you want to get really competitive, you can all read the stories that are posted and “like” the ones you think are best and see who gets the most “likes” 😊 (If you do that there might be some special prizes…who can tell??? 😊)

    When the going get’s humdrum, children’s writers beat the blues by playing writing games and creating new stories to keep themselves and everyone around them entertained!

    So here we go!

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #1 for Week of May 10:

    Choose a character from Column A and something the character needs from Column B and write a 100 word story for children entitled _____Column A_____ Needs A _____Column B_____ If you wish, you may also select a random item from Column C to include in your story.

    For example: Hermit Crab Needs A Home. (And perhaps you’d include a harmonica somewhere in the story.)

    Or, if something in Column C strikes your fancy you can use that as the thing your character needs, e.g. Hummingbird Needs Help.

    Get the idea?

    Here are the options:

    Column A – CharacterColumn B – Something NeededColumn C – random item
    HedgehogHomeHockey Stick (or Hockey Puck)
    HammerheadHugHorse (or Sea Horse)
    Hermit CrabHintHarmonica
    HummingbirdHobbyHero
    HareHolidayHelp
    Henry or HilaryHatHelicopter

    If a central idea would be helpful to you in your writing, you can focus your story on Mother’s Day, since that is fresh in all our minds this morning 😊, but that is NOT required.

    In an attempt to answer possible questions I will say:

    • you can write as many stories as you want each week
    • you can post them at any time during the week (just make sure they’re on the Monday Mix ‘n’ Match Mini post for the week you’re entering – e.g. below for Week #1))
    • you can play catch up (so if you miss a week you can go back and add to an earlier week if you’re trying to complete the challenge and qualify for prizes as long as all entries are posted on the correct week and are posted no later than Saturday June 26th at midnight Eastern time.)
    • no illustration notes
    • You may go over the word count if you’re on a roll and you wish to (because there is no judging 😊)
    • You may write in poetry or prose

    (This is where the sample I intended to write belongs, but since I haven’t had time to write it yet I’ll have to add it in!)

    And here’s a little sampling of the prizes up for grabs to whet your competitive spirit 😊 MORE TO COME!

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

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

    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

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

    Check out the Week 1 Stories!

    Henry Needs A Holiday – Joyce Uglow

    Hank Needs A Hug – Jen Subra

    Hare Needs (To Take) A Hint – Candice Marley Conner

    Hummingbird Needs A Holiday – Laura Bower

    Hummingbird Needs A Hug – Ann Gray

    Humphrey Hummingbird Needs A (New) Hobby – Clearywriter

    Hedgehog Needs A Hobby – Erika

    Hare Needs A Hug – Brenda Whitehead

    Henry Hare Needs A Hat – Marty Bellis

    Henry Needs A Hug – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Hermit Crab Needs A Home – Sarah Hawklyn

    Henry Hedgehog – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Henrietta’s New Home – Rose Cappelli

    Hilary Needs A Hug – Sarah Meade

    Hermy The Hermit Crab’s New Home – Susan E. Schipper

    Helicopter Hummingbird – Linda Schueler

    Untitled – Marta Magellan

    Hilary The Hummingbird – Julie Kurtz

    A Holiday For Mrs. Hare – Judy Sobanski

    Alphonso’s Real Estate: Fashionable Homes For Hermit Crabs – Nicole Loos Miller

    Hyena’s Hiccups – Marla Yablon

    Hermit Crab Needs A Holiday – Carrines Clifton

    Henry Hummingbird Needs A Home – Jennifer Reichow

    Henry’s Discovery – Dawn Young

    Henry Needs Some Luck – Allison Strick

    Henry Needs A Holiday Hero – Ashley Sierra

    Hoglet Hurry Home – Sally Yorke-Viney

    A Hat For Hammerhead – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Hallie Hummingbird Needs A Holiday – Christine Alemshah

    Hudson Hammerhead Needs A Hug – Jeannette Suhr

    Henry Needs A Hobby – Sue Lancaster

    Hare And His Harmonica – Lyn Jekowsky

    Horst Needs A Hug – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf

    Hummingbird Needs A Holiday – Sara Kruger

    Hammerhead Needs A Hockey Stick – Les Degnan

    Henry Needs A Hint – Deb Sullivan

    Hare Needs A Hobby – Marta Cutler

    Hare Needs A Holiday – Aly Kenna

    Hilary Needs A Hint – Mia Geiger

    Henry Needs A Hint – Elenore Byrne

    Hare Style – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Hillary Hare Needs A Holiday – Barbara Farr Renner

    Hammerhead Needs A Holiday – Dianne Irving

    Hilary Needs A Harmonica – MWREX

    Henry Needs A Hug – Val McCammon

    Harry Hammerhead Has A Hard Day – Susan Summers

    A Horse For Hermit Crab – Jill Lambert

    A Home For Hedgehog – Elizabeth Volkmann

    Hare Needs A Home – Jessica Murray

    Hammerhead Needs Help – Katie Schwartz

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Hedgehog Needs A Hat – Candace

    Hedgehog Needs A Home – Summer Hinderer

    Spiny The Hedgehog – Eva Kaman

    Hopping Lonely – Jamie Bills

    Henry Needs A Hint – Lauren Scott

    Hare Needs A Hat – Jana Mattern

    Hilary’s Holiday – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Henry Hare’s New Hobby – Bru Benson

    Hedgehog Hugs – Marty Findley

    Hermit Crab Needs A Hat – Lynn Katz

    Henry Hammerhead Needed A Hug – Padgy Soltis

    Hedgehog Hates Hugs – TL Fales

    Hammerhead Needs A Hat – Amy Leskowski

    Mama Hedgehog’s Mother’s Day Holiday – Robin Currie

    Henry Needs A Hero – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Hugo Hammerhead Needs A Hat – Deb Buschman

    Henry Hedgehog Needs A Home – Elizabeth Muster

    Hedgehog Needs A Hint – Brenna Jeanneret

    Hummingbird Needs A Holiday – JC Kelly

    The 2021 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!!!

    Rise and shine, my friends!

    I know it’s Monday.

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

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

    But.

    BUT!

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

    Yes!

    It’s true!

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


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

    No?

    Ok, how about

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

    Oh no, wait! I’ve got it!

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

    I don’t know what’s happening here.

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

    Who could that be?

    But never mind, because GUESS WHAT?

    It’s time to announce the WINNERS of

    The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

    ~ for children’s writers ~

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

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

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

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

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

    Elizabeth Volkmann for Class List

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

    David McMullin for Brave Brave Brave (also funny 😊)

    Laken Slate for The Brave Little Conversation Heart

    M.R. Haqq for Soon

    Mia Geiger for Peanut’s Brave Valentine’s Day

    Ashlee Hashman for The Wildflower

    Lindsey Hobson for U R Brave

    Audrey Day-Williams for Legendary Valentine

    Sara Ackerman for Arrrrr Is For Valentine

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

    Donna Kurtz for The Owl and the Kitty-Kat

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

    Una Belle Townsend for Six Secret Valentines

    Jan Suhr for The Lost Valentine

    Kaylee Gwarjanski for Mission: Cancel Cupid Call

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

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

    3. For Original POV:

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

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

    4. For Humor:

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

    Catherine J Lee for The Valentine on My Shoe

    Karyn Curtis for The Valentine’s Quest

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

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

    Brenda Whitehead for Step-Brother Battle

    Shannon Howarth Nelson for Super Brothers

    Danielle S. Hammelef for Scaredy-Cat

    6. For Beautiful Writing:

    Ciara N M Greenwalt for The Gift Tree

    Sandhya Acharya for Sarla Asks A Question

    Jyoti Rajan Gopal for A Cocoon of Love

    Amy Flynn for Tilly’s Great Big Heart

    7. For Best Short Valentiny Story:

    P. J. Purtee for A Simple Valentine

    8. For Sweet Valentiny:

    Kelly Swemba for Brave For Gigi

    Anne Bromley for Caleb’s Heart

    Carmen Castillo Gilbert for Roses From Valentina

    9. Best Story From A Young Writer:

    Sophia Zafra for Bravery Is From The Heart

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

    And now…

    …the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

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

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

    DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

    In First Place

    Winner of the whole shebang…

    who gets first choice of all the prizes…

    Sarah McDermott
    for

    Lemur in Love!!!

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

    In Second Place

    Sarah Meade
    for
    Jana’s Valentine Visit

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

    In Third Place

    Nancy Derey Riley
    for
    Percy’s Valentine

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

    In Fourth Place

    Jessica Hinrichs
    for
    Valentine’s Gotcha Day

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

    In Fifth Place

    Carrie Boone
    for
    The Ballad of Bad Bart

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

    In Sixth Place...

    Nicole Loos Miller
    for
    Stella & Hank

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

    In Seventh Place…

    Paul Kurtz
    for
    Someone Special!

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

    In Eighth Place…

    Chambrae Griffith
    for
    Octopus Hugs

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

    In Ninth Place…

    Janie Reinart
    for
    Untangled Valentines

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

    In Tenth Place…

    Anne Lipton
    for
    Most Valuable Valentine

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

    In Eleventh Place…

    Katie Brandyberry
    for
    Valentine Delivery

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

    In Twelfth Place…

    Lauri C. Meyers
    for
    Charmadillo

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

    In Thirteenth Place…

    Judy Sobanski
    for
    Brave Little Friends

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

    In Fourteenth Place…

    Samantha Haas
    for
    Valentine’s Day Rocks

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

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

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

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

    Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! 😊

    The Prizes:  Swoonworthy!

    Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

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

    (from Belcastro Agency’s website)

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

    Renee LaTulippe

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

    Dawn Young

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

    Kirsti Call

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

    Melissa Stoller

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

    Becky Scharnhorst

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

    Ellen Leventhal

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

    Rebecca Kraft Rector

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

    Julie Abery


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

    Author Jenna Waldman

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

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

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

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

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