Valentiny Contest Entry: A Valentine’s Day Cake for the Queen

Today’s post is a treat…my story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s 2nd Annual Valentiny Contest.


Before you read my entry,  it might be fun for you to see a bit of the process I used in writing it.

  1. I read Susanna’s guidelines. Whether you are entering a contest or submitting a story to an agent or editor, ALWAYS make sure you follow the guidelines.
  2. When my kids were young, I loved baking cakes for their special occasions…and they loved eating them. I figured that a story about a cake might be something kids could relate to.
  3. Since the guidelines called for confusion on the part of one of the characters, I thought that it would add a bit of humor and tension to have the pastry chef perplexed by the stacking of the layers of the cake.
  4. Children need to identify with a character in the story so I added a young kitchen boy who saves the day.
  5. I wanted to add some fun words, so I checked the thesaurus for alternative terms for confused…I found a LOT and chose two that made me smile: befuddled and discombobulated…I hope they make kids smile also. I also gave her a name that’s a play on the famous Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Kids may just laugh at the name, DOUGHLITTLE, but parents and teachers may enjoy the deeper joke.
  6. I wanted the reader to know that Eliza, the pastry chef, was a bit arrogant and full of herself…but in picture books, we are not supposed to TELL…we are supposed to SHOW. I didn’t say: Eliza was arrogant. Instead, I said: Eliza STRUTTED into the kitchen. If you close your eyes, you can just imagine how she entered the room. And before she began, she PUFFED UP HER CHEST. Yes, she’s quite vain about her baking abilities. When the young boy wants to help, Eliza PURSED HER LIPS AND RAISED HER EYEBROWS. Quite hoity-toity (hmmm…that’s another fun word…maybe next story).
  7. Keeping within the 214-word limit was a challenge…but I made it! I hope you enjoy my little story. If you want to read a whole bunch of wonderful Valentine’s Day tales or enter with your own story, please hop over to Susanna’s post.


A Valentine’s Day Cake for the Queen (210 words)


Pastry chef Eliza Doughlittle strutted into the castle kitchen. Valentine’s Day was tomorrow. The king had ordered a 7-layer cake for the queen.  Eliza snapped her fingers. She puffed up her chest—she could do it!

She pulled out pans. She lined up ingredients. She studied the recipe.

“Can I help,” said a small voice from behind the flour sacks.

“How can you help me?” Eliza told the kitchen boy. “You scour pots and pans!”

Eliza measured. She mixed. She poured. She baked. She frosted. Perfection!

Eliza stacked the layers.

The cake leaned to the left.

Befuddled, Eliza tried again.

It leaned to the right.

Discombobulated, Eliza rearranged the layers.

The tower teetered



“Please,” said the kitchen boy. “Let me help.”

Eliza pursed her lips. She raised her eyebrows. “What do you know about making cakes?”

“Not much,” said the boy. “But I stack stones by the riverbank.”

Eliza moved aside. The kitchen boy set the largest layer on the platter.








Eliza peered at the cake from every side.

No teeter.

No totter.


“Thank you,” said Eliza. “Now I have a Valentine’s Day cake to present to the queen.”

“You’re welcome,” said the boy. “Now I have a job as assistant pastry chef.



If you’d like to read the other entries, please hop over to Susanna’s blog. The contest ends on February 14.

And on February 15th…HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS…we are going to unveil the 2nd Annual #50PreciousWords contest. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare your entry…the contest opens on March 2nd, the birthday of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THAT POST!

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on February 11, 2017, in Uncategorized, Valentine's Day, Writing Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 91 Comments.

  1. O, what sweet story, Vivian. You showed it very well. “It teetered. It tottered. Perfection!” Loved those lines.
    All the best with your entry! ❤🎂🍰

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! Adorable, funny, and concise!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SWEET story, Vivian! Eliza sounds a bit like me when I bake. Happy Big Birthday too! Maybe the assistant pastry chef can make you a fabulous cake. Enjoy 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • My daughter’s best friend brought me a cappucino cake, my son got a decadent chocolate cake for me, and at dinner on my birthday, the restaurant brought out what they called: sinfully chocolate delight…oh yes…I’ve had a year’s worth of cake calories in one weekend. 😉 Glad you like the story. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that you wrote about your process and took us into your thinking on this entry, Vivian. Yay for the kitchen lad! Super story – you have mastered this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Discombobulated and befuddled! I LOVE this. Vivian, you wrote a super fun and tasty Valentiny Contest entry.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love your story! And, appreciated reading the process as well! I think you are a born teacher!😀 Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once a teacher, always a teacher. 😉 Yes, I taught kindergarten for many years…you can take the girl out of teaching…but you can’t take the teacher out of the girl…or something like that. 😉 So happy your enjoyed it!


  8. Vivian, marvelous solution of stacking and twist at the end❤ I know you will get a cake fit for a queen for your birthday 🎂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve had a few cakes teeter and totter on me, so I can relate to Eliza. Love the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful wordplay both audibly and visually! Love it, Vivian!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the language and your clever idea 🙂 I could envision the task and hear a strong voice for this kid friendly read. Good luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So cute, Vivian. And so relatable and taste-able! I love how the tower teetered and tottered. And I hope that kitchen boy got the job!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What an imaginative story, Vivian! And thanks so much for sharing the diabolical details.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Glad that boy persisted! Thanks for sharing your process. It’s interesting to see how these stories evolve. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love your humor, Vivian! Great entry.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Absolutely delicious Vivian!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Loved your entry Vivian. So sweet and real.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Clever! I enjoyed your fun entry.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I always enjoy reading your SLH contest entries. Man, can you weave a great story! And, Eliza Doughlittle, what a name!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What a “sweet” story! 🙂 Love your language and her clever last name

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I loved everything about your story, Vivian – from Eliza’s name, to the thesaurus words, to reading about your thought process. This is a winner!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I love it, Vivian. Great characters, great story, great wording, perfect ending lines.

    Good luck with your contest entry.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Vivian, I really enjoyed this! I love Eliza’s name, the boy’s cheeky response at the end, and your concrete poem-like structure. Thank you so much for sharing your process too. It’s fabulous to see the inner workings and how it all came together!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Too cute! My favorite line(s): “No teeter. No totter.”
    I enjoyed reading about your process. I think most people would be surprised how much thought goes into a (good) “little” story!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Nancy. And I think the shorter the story, sometimes the more time it takes to make it right. I hope lots of people will give my #50PreciousWords Challenge a try…posting about it on 2/15. Glad you enjoyed my word fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Very fun. Obviously, stacking stones and layering cakes are the same. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your process – that was fun and enlightening.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Love your story Vivian – great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Sweet story with wonderful wordplay and imagery, Vivian!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This reminded me of the Waldorf school near my house. The kids stack rocks near the river. Maybe they will become assistant pastry chefs. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Such a sweet story, Vivian. She gained a sous chef! You have such fantastic word play, e.g., “Eliza Doughlittle” and “puffed up her chest” (I mean, what else is a pastry chef going to do?). I also love the way you formatted the text to convey the idea of stacking. Very clever!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Love this Vivian! Great name, great idea, and valentine-y! Good luck! (Hope you don’t win a critique with yourself 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Very fun and clever story. I loved the way you explained your process. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What a sweet story, Vivian. I loved how you incorporated the confusion and I loved how you shared your writing process. And what a lovely idea to write about a cake – on your birthday! I hope your birthday cake didn’t teeter or totter!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Vivian, I love that Eliza trusted the help of the kitchen boy and that he solved her problem using his skills and ingenuity. This is a heartwarming, clever story.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. It’s wise to not overlook someone’s potential! Well done.
    I wish you well with this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I loved both your pre-story commentary and your story! You are very gifted Vivian!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Loved reading this story!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Well crafted story. Good pacing and fun to read. You can tell you put a lot of work into this one. And we can all learn from your comments as to how you followed the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    Oh I am SO hungry for cake! Glad the lad could stack so well. Here’s another fun word for a mortarless stone wall builder – cantilever!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. I really like your story! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  40. An expert Jenga player and cake maker!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Ali Earle Pichardo

    Vivian, I loved that the kitchen boy stacked stones, so he could stack a cake.I love giving my characters just the right name and enjoyed your naming process. My favorite part of the story was No Teeter. No Totter. Perfection! It’s a perfect story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness…thank you so much, Ali…your words are music to my ears…every writer wants to hear that the elements of their story are in a state of…perfection.;) 🙂 You are very kind…I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


  42. Scrumptious, Vivien. Eliza may have had trouble, but you mixed the right ingredients to perfection and assembled your story so it’s a perfect treat. Thank-you for the peek behind the scenes as well (BTW, The name “Eliza Doughlittle” is my favorite element!)


  43. Fabulous! Plenty of showing not telling. And I loved taking a peek at your process!


  44. This is fantastic. Very creative, and I love the characters.


  45. What a fun story, Vivian! LOVE the language – it leaned to the left… it leaned to the right… it teetered… it tottered… such fun to read! And love her name – Eliza Doughlittle 🙂 I’m glad the cake was worthy of presentation to the queen and that the kitchen boy got promoted 🙂 Thanks so much for joining in the Valentiny fun!


  46. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 I can read that story over and over again! Great job!


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